Daily Archives: March 6, 2014

Questions about the Bible: What makes the Bible so special?

 

Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible alone is the revealed Word of God. Even though it was written by men, the ultimate author was God Almighty. This claim was not invented by the Church, but is the claim the Bible makes for itself.

“The word of the Lord endures forever” (I Peter 1:25, MLB). “All Scripture is God-breathed” (II Timothy 3:16, MLB). “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21, KJV).

Over 2,000 times in the Old Testament alone there are clauses such as “And God spoke to Moses,” “the word of the Lord came unto Jonah,” and “God said.” Moreover, the Bible claims to be a record of the words and deeds of God, thus the Bible views itself as God’s Word.

The mere fact that the Bible claims to be the Word of God does not prove that it is such, for there are other books that make similar claims. The difference is that the Scriptures contain indisputable evidence as being the Word of God.

One reason that the Bible is different from other books is its unity. Although this book was composed by men, its unity betrays the hand of the Almighty. The Bible was written over a period of about 1,500 years by more than forty different human authors. These authors came from a variety of backgrounds, including Joshua (a military general), Daniel (a prime minister), Peter (a fisherman), and Nehemiah (a cupbearer).

The authors of the various books wrote in different places, such as the wilderness (Moses), prison (Paul), and Patmos exile (John). The biblical writings were composed on three different continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), and in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).

The contents of the Bible deal with many controversial subjects. Yet, the Bible is a unity. From beginning to end, there’s one unfolding story of God’s plan of salvation for mankind. This salvation is through the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Jesus Himself testified that He was the theme of the entire Bible.

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me…  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:39, 46, 47, KJV).

In another place, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27, kjv; see also Luke 24:44).

The Old Testament is the preparation (Isaiah 40:3). The Gospels are the manifestation (John 1:29). The Book of Acts is the propagation (Acts 1:8). The Epistles give the explanation (Colossians 1:27). The Book of Revelation is the consummation (Revelation 1:7). The Bible is all about Jesus.

The entire Bible is a unity with each part needing the others to be complete. Dr. W. F. Albright puts it this way: “To the writers of the New Testament, the Hebrew Bible was Holy Scripture and they were the direct heirs of its prophets. It is, accordingly, quite impossible to understand the New Testament without recognizing that its purpose was to supplement and explain the Hebrew Bible.

“Any attempt to go back to the sources of Christianity without accepting the entire Bible as our guide is thus doomed to failure” (cited by Roger T. Forster and V. Paul Marston, That’s a Good Question, p. 67).

Lest anyone think this isn’t something marvelous, we’d like to give you this challenge. Find ten people from your local area who have similar educational backgrounds, all speak the same language, and all are from basically the same culture, then separate them and ask them to write their opinion on only one controversial subject, such as the meaning of life.

When they have finished, compare the conclusions of these ten writers. Do they agree with each other? Of course not. But the Bible did not consist of merely ten authors, but forty. It was not written in one generation, but over a period of 1,500 years; not by authors with the same education, culture, or language, but with vastly different education, many different cultures, from three continents and three different languages, and finally not just one subject but hundreds.

And yet the Bible is a unity. There is complete harmony, which cannot be explained by coincidence or collusion. The unity of the Bible is a strong argument in favor of its divine inspiration.

The unity of the Scriptures is only one reason among many which supports the Bible’s claim to be the divine Word of God. Others which could be explained in detail are the testimony of the early Church, the witness of history and archaeology, and the evidence of changed lives throughout the centuries, to name but a few.

These factors led the great archaeologist, W. F. Albright, to conclude, “The Bible towers in content above all earlier religious literature; and it towers just as impressively over all subsequent literature in the direct simplicity of its message and the catholicity of its appeal to men of all lands and times” (The Christian Century, November, 1958).

The Bible is special. It is unique. No other book has any such credentials. No other book even comes close. “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England” (Victor Hugo, cited by Mead, Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations, p. 49).[1]

 


[1] McDowell, J., & Stewart, D. D. (1993). Answers to tough questions. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

Epicenter, Chapter 7 (2006): “Future Headline: A Czar Rises In Russia, Raising Fears of a New Cold War.”

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

A Czar is born. A Czar is born.

(Washington, D.C.) — Recently, I was criticized for describing Vladimir Putin as a “Czar” and a danger to the U.S., Europe and Israel. On that charge, I plead guilty.

I do believe Putin is a Czar, and I believe he sees himself that way. It’s a case I’ve been making going back at least as far as 2004.

In the fall of 2006, I published my first non-fiction book, Epicenter. Chapter Seven was titled: “Future Headline: A Czar Rises In Russia, Raising Fears of a New Cold War.” (I’ve included excerpts from that chapter below.)

We are certainly seeing such headlines and commentaries today. Consider a brief sampling:

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To Lent or reLent? Some thoughts on a recent post at The Gospel Coalition

Reformed Baptist Fellowship

 Ash-Wednesday

Recently, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) site posted a blog entry entitled – “Lent Is About Jesus: A Free Devotional Guide.” No, I did not make that up. You can read the whole thing here. As I read the post and thought about it a bit, I concluded I would like to respond to it. So, as many of you do on various blogs, I sent a comment to that post. Before sending the comment, however, I sent copies of my response to a few friends, just to make sure I was responding correctly and clearly. They encouraged me to post my thoughts. Here is (below) what I sent to TGC’s site, which is still awaiting moderation, even though there has been at least one comment posted after I sent mine, I received notice of that post via email, and there were, at one point this afternoon, 25…

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Pope suggests Catholic Church Could Tolerate Civil Unions, Support For Same Sex Marriage Reaches New High, and The Gay Manifestos.

These Christian Times

SCROLL DOWN FOR NEWS LINKS AND VIDEOS: The acceptance of every sin is becoming the norm. You are not allowed to voice your opinion and are told that you are a bigot for disagreeing with a choice or a lifestyle. The attack on traditional marriage is nothing more than an all out war on the Law Giver who created it: Genesis 2:21-24, “21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father…

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Resting in Forgiveness

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

Every sin that you have ever committed has been put on record. Every sexual sin. Every lustful thought. Every shameful action. Every dark secret. Everything. And just one one of those God-belittling sins is sufficient to cast you into hell for eternity. This is your record of debt. What a sobering, terrifying thought!

Yet it is equally true that if you are among those whom God has “made alive together with Christ,” the record is no longer yours. That record of debt that stands against you is cancelled. You are no longer in debt. You will not endure even the smallest measure of the wrath of God against you, because Jesus already endured it all. He paid your debt in full. There is not one sin on your record of debt (past, present, or future!) that has not been paid by Jesus. Rest in that today. Rest in that every day.

Father, because you accepted Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf, I am forgiven. I ought to have a record of debt that would separate me from your goodness for all eternity. Yet, in Christ I am debt-free. Thank you for accepting his payment of my debt. Thank you that even while I was a helpless and hopeless sinner, Christ died for me. Thank you for not requiring that I clean myself up in order to obtain your forgiveness, because I know I could never make myself clean enough. But you can. Help me, Father, to rest in your forgiveness as I fight this sin. 

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More Than a Misfit

…but you do know misfits. People we view that way, anyway.

  • Maybe you view that girl at youth group—the one with the lip ring—as a misfit. Or maybe you view that girl without piercings as a misfit. But have you ever stopped and thought of her as more than a misfit . . . as your sister in Christ?
  • Maybe you refuse to even make eye contact with that guy who smells like he sleeps in a trash can. But do you realize he’s more than a misfit . . . he’s your brother in Christ?
  • Maybe you make fun of those quiet sisters with the long skirts and braids. Or maybe you look down on those girls wearing the tight skinny jeans. But do you receive them as your sisters in Christ?

Just because they look or smell or act differently than you, do you really believe God loves you more because you perceive yourself as more “normal” on the outside?

Or are you flat-out stunned that God would pick you up out of the trash heap of sin, clean you inside and out—even your heart—and open wide His arms to you? Cause He did that for you. And for them.

They are so much more than a misfit . . .

Source

5 Reasons Marijuana Should Remain Illegal

It is my conviction that followers of Christ need to be equipped to intelligently discuss whether or not marijuana should be legalized.

In this featured article columnist John Hawkins gives 5 reasons why marijuana should remain illegal.

Hawkins argues that marijuana should remain illegal because:

1. It’s extremely addictive for some people

2. This experiment hasn’t worked out so well for Amsterdam

3. Marijuana is terrible for your mental health

4. Marijuana is terrible for your physical health

5. The drug decimates many people’s lives

You can read the entire article here.  Hawkins offers studies and resources throughout for those wanting to dig deeper.

Additionally, here is a great article by Rich Deem that reviews the current scientific literature and what it tells us about so-called “medical marijuana.”

Young, Restless, and Reformed Homeboys on Lenten Fasting

Young, Restless, and Reformed Homeboys on Lenten Fasting

Keith Miller:

Here’s the thing. Evangelicalism has been around for centuries and its practice is strongly rooted in the past. In the churches I’ve attended over the past decade (sometimes called Young, Restless, and Reformed), most worship songs are rearrangements of lyrics penned by eighteenth-century figures Isaac Watts, Augustus Toplady, and Charles Wesley. And what’s true of the songs is true of the theology, long-dead folks like John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon are revered, a phenomenon summed-up by the famousJonathan Edwards is my Homeboy t-shirt on the cover for Colin Hansen’s article describing this movement. In their sermons and theological treatises, these YRR Homeboys said quite a lot about keeping the season of Lent. Here’s a sampling of takes from the sixteenth (John Calvin), seventeenth (John Owen), eighteenth (Jonathan Edwards), nineteenth (Charles Spurgeon), and twentieth centuries (Martyn Lloyd-Jones).

What’s Wrong With Buying Your Way Onto the Bestseller List?

What’s Wrong With Buying Your Way Onto the Bestseller List?

Jared Wilson gives five reasons:

  1. It’s dishonest.
  2. It’s egocentric and lazy.
  3. It may eventually harm your reputation and will bug you in the long run.
  4. It’s poor stewardship and bad strategy.
  5. It disadvantages those actually gifted.

Jesus, Friend of Sinners: But How?

Everyone who knows anything about the gospels—and even those who don’t—knows that Jesus was a friend of sinners. He often drew the ire of the scribes and Pharisees for eating with sinners (Luke 15:2). Jesus clearly recognized that one of the insults hurled against him was that he was “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34). As Christians we love to sing of this Pharisaical put-down because it means that Jesus is a friend to sinners like us. We also find ourselves challenged by Jesus’ example to make sure we do not turn away outsiders in a way that Jesus never would.

As precious as this truth is—that Jesus is a friend of sinners—it, like every other precious truth in the Bible, needs to be safeguarded against doctrinal and ethical error. It is all too easy, and amazingly common, for Christians (or non-Christians) to take the general truth that Jesus was a friend of sinners and twist it all out of biblical recognition. So “Jesus ate with sinners” becomes “Jesus loved a good party,” which becomes “Jesus was more interested in showing love than taking sides,” which becomes “Jesus always sided with religious outsiders,” which becomes “Jesus would blow bubbles for violations of the Torah.”

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You’re Going to Die (and So Might Your Dreams)

. . . for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Genesis 3:19

One of the problems I have with all the “chase your dreams!” cheerleading from Christian leaders is not because I begrudge anyone wanting to achieve their dreams, but because I don’t think we readily see how easy it is to conflate our dream-chasing with God’s will in Christ.

You know, it’s possible that God’s plan for us is littleness. His plan for us may be personal failure. It’s possible that when another door closes, it’s not because he plans to open a window but because he plans to have the building fall down on you. The question we must ask ourselves is this: Will Christ be enough?

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4 Reasons Sin is Better than Legalism

legalism

You might be surprised to learn what is the biggest threat to Christianity.

Despite what you might hear from some churches, It’s not gay people.

Despite what you might hear from some politicians pandering for votes, it’s not democrats (or republicans). Not Obama either!

Despite what you might hear from some preachers, it’s not Muslims.

Despite what you might hear from some men, it is not women preachers.

It’s not greed or gluttony. It’s not sports. It’s not Hollywood. It’s not Wall Street. It’s not Russia or China.

No, the biggest threat to Christianity is the one that is probably present in all of the lives and congregations which say the things above, and which Jesus primarily concerned Himself with during His ministry.

The biggest threat to Christianity.

I’ve written on this before, but I’m doing so again because legalism is such a threat that I am firmly convinced that if we had to choose between self-righteous religious legalism and committing sin, we should choose sin every time.

Why? Here are four reasons:

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7 Suggestions to Get the Introverts Sharing in Your Meetings So You Don’t Miss Their Input

7 Suggestions to Get the Introverts Sharing in Your Meetings So You Don’t Miss Their Input – Ron Edmondson

In large team meetings, it is easy for introverts to be left out or to not speak up altogether. Ron shares seven ways to make sure everyone at the table provides input—even the introverts.

Criteria for evangelical leaders?

The evangelical movement is amazingly dynamic: entrepreneurial, decentralized, and given to splitting, forming, and reforming.…

The tendency is for us to anoint as leaders those who build a mass following in the free religious market. The thorny problem is that these leaders are not necessarily wise churchmen. They are more likely to be those who assume prominent political roles or who build mass special-purpose ministries. To the extent that this is the case, we allow the market to set the terms of church leadership.

The long-term question for evangelicals is what kind of shepherds we will follow, whether we will follow leaders whose interest is the well-being of the church itself, men and women who are theologically savvy, historically informed, and committed to seeing the church prosper in all of its dimensions and for all of its people.

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Second Genocide for the Middle East Christians in Less Than a Century

ICC Note: In the midst of the conflict that has plagued the Middle East in the last decade it has been the minorities who suffer the most and also do not benefit from any protections. The situation is even worse for Christians who because of their faith are not considered as “full citizens” even in their homeland. These realities have forced many to leave, not primarily because of economic hardships, though that exists, but because of the threat to their very lives.

By: Suleyman Gultekin

03/05/2014 Iraq (Ankawa) – The situation of Middle East Christians is deteriorating to such an extent that they face existential threat and are forced to flee their homeland Mesopotamia, which is the Cradle of Civilization and Christianity.

Revolting is that human tragedy is happening in the 21st century. It goes almost unremarked, as it is not covered by international media. And international governments remain particularly silent and inactive.
It goes without saying the Christians, by their very nature and faith, condemn all conflicts, wars and killing of any single human being whatever its origin and beliefs.

Like in any conflict or war, the minorities suffer the most and do not benefit from any protection.
This is especially true in countries where minorities are not considered as full citizens and are not politically represented.

Even more dramatic is that the minorities and especially the Christians living in Middle East, although being indigenous people of Mesopotamia, are treated as foreigners.

The recent and majors attacks in Syria and Iraq should take away any doubt about the horror and terror lived by all Christians and other minorities in Middle East. This is happening systematically since 2003 in Iraq and since the beginning of the conflict in Syria in March 2011.

In Egypt, the situation is similar and has only become worse since Egypt’s popular revolution which overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In the past three years, more Christians were killed in Egypt – for the only reason that they were Christians – than in the last 20 years.

The current report focuses on the situation in Iraq and Syria where Christians, mainly Assyro-Arameans, represent smaller percentage of the population compared to Egypt’s Copts. In Iraq and Syria, Christianity could become extinct in the next few years if nothing is done very urgently.

It should be emphasized that the Christians are not begging for financial help or charity even if they need it due to the circumstances; they are not fleeing their homeland for economic reasons but only to save their lives and those of their relatives!

The Christians would rather prefer to stay in their homeland Mesopotamia where they live for many millennia; they therefore request to live safely, freely and in peace and be treated as full citizens in their respective countries. They request the Middle East governments to protect them and allow them to contribute in building a multicultural and secular state and taking part in all societal activities and responsibilities as well as in the public administration.

[Full Story]

The End of the ‘Wrong Side of History’

Report: The Bible in American Life

The Story: Surveys have found that nearly eight  in ten Americans regard the Bible as either the literal word of God or as inspired by God. At the same time, other surveys have revealed—and recent books have analyzed—surprising gaps in Americans’ biblical literacy. These discrepancies reveal American Christians’ complex relationship to their scripture, a subject that is widely acknowledged but rarely investigated. To understand that paradox, the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture conducted the first large-scale investigation of the Bible in American life.

woman-reading-bibleThe Background: “The Bible in American Life” is a national study by the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture. The purpose of the study is to understand better how Americans use the Bible in their personal daily lives and how other influences, including religious communities and the Internet, shape individuals’ use of scripture. The project, according to its researchers, was driven by the recognition that, though the Bible has been central to Christian practice throughout American history, many important questions remain unanswered in scholarship, including how people have read the Bible for themselves outside of worship, how denominational and parachurch publications have influenced interpretation and application, and how clergy and congregations have influenced individual understandings of scripture.

The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the report include:

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More on Driscoll and His Willingness to Pay to Have his Book Falsely Puffed

Zwinglius Redivivus

Warren Throckmorton writes

Yesterday, World Magazine published an article by Warren Cole Smith which described a contract between Mars Hill Church (MHC) and ResultSource, Inc. (RSI) for the purpose of elevating Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage to various best seller lists.  The arrangement was successful, leading to a week atop the New York Time’s best seller list for advice books. Mars Hill Church does not deny this but spun the arrangement as a means to spread the gospel.

I have a copy of the contract signed by Mars Hill executive pastor Sutton Turner and Mat Miller at RSI. In 2013, Jeffrey Tractenberg investigated RSI for the Wall Street Journal and interviewed various people who had worked with RSI. In that article,  author Melissa Wilson described the RSI strategy as “the secret sauce.” With World’s reporting, the sauce isn’t so secret anymore.

Initially, the contract spells out the numbers of copies…

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Notes from Mark Dever’s Shepherd’s Conference Message: God’s Judgement and Salvation

The Domain for Truth

Shepherds Conference

What follows is my notes from the evening service of the first night of Shepherd’s Conference 2014.  The speaker was Mark Dever.

Establishing the need: How are you brother pastors?

There are those here tonight in ministry who are:

  • The Resigned
  • The Hopeless

Isaiah has a Word for you.  Turn to Isaiah 34-35.

Context:  

  • Chapters 1-11 Warns Judah
  • Chapters 12-27, God’s call to repent
  • Chapters 28 onwards, Judah Judged
  • Recurring theme: Judgment and Salvation

Outline:

  • Chapter 34 Judgment
  • Chapter 35 Salvation

Do you feel you are about to give into fear of days ahead?

  1. Hold on, God’s judgement is coming (Chapter 34)
    • It will be universal (v.1-4)
      • Don’t forget when God waits to vindicate, He waits to vindicate His name!
      • He has more of an incentive to vindicate His name than just vindicate us!  We need to remember that.
    • It’s for us (v.5-8)
    • It’s is final (v.9-17)
      • Real description…

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