Category Archives: Christian Living

GTY Blog: The Christian’s Job Description

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

Code: B180507

Years ago, a mundane event turned into one of the more interesting and memorable moments of my life. I was flying from Los Angeles to El Paso, Texas, to speak at a men’s conference. I was seated in the dreaded middle seat, slowly progressing toward El Paso. The man in the window seat next to me was a Muslim from the Middle East. His presence was distinguished and palpable—he was in traditional dress and had a quiet demeanor. About thirty minutes into the flight, he looked over at me. I had my Bible out and was writing a few notes. He said, “Excuse me, sir. May I ask you a question?”

“Sure,” I said, and he asked, “Is that a Bible?”

“Yes, it is a Bible.”

“Oh,” he replied, “Sir, can I ask you then another question?”

“Of course,” I said.

He said, “Can you tell me the difference between a Catholic, a Protestant, and a Baptist?”

That was not at all what I was expecting him to ask, but I was happy to oblige. And after I explained the difference between Catholics, Protestants, and Baptists, I said to him, “Now may I ask you a question?”

“Of course, of course,” he said.

We were already talking about the nature of the gospel, but I wanted to bring the issue to his spiritual doorstep. I asked him, “Do Muslims sin?”

“Oh, yes. We have many, many sins.”

Testing his self-awareness, I asked, “Well, do you commit them all the time?”

The honesty of his answer still stuns me. He said, “Yes. In fact, I am flying to El Paso to commit some sins.”

“Really?” I said, somewhat surprised.

“Yes. I have just immigrated into the U.S. I came through the El Paso immigration center, and I met a girl there. We have arranged to meet this weekend to commit some sins.”

Since he was comfortable with blunt honesty, I said, “May I ask you another question? How does Allah feel about your sins?”

I had clearly found a sore spot. “Ah,” he groaned, “it’s very bad. I could go to hell forever.”

“Really? Why don’t you stop doing those sins?”

“I can’t stop,” he said.

I prodded a little further. “Do you have any hope that in spite of your sins, you might escape hell?”

I’ll never forget what he said next. “I pray Allah will forgive me.”

“Well, why would he do that?”

Somewhat hopelessly, he said, “I don’t know. I just pray he will.”

Here was the opportunity I had been pressing for. I said, “Well, let me tell you something. I know God personally, and I can promise you, He won’t.”

He looked at me like I was crazy, as if to say, You know God personally, and you’re in the middle seat on Southwest? You’ve got to be kidding me. I was determined to push past his visible incredulity. “I know the one true God personally, and He cannot overlook your sin.”

“But,” I said, “I have some good news for you. There is forgiveness available. There is a way to be reconciled with God.” And I went on to present the gospel to him.

That’s what I do—I tell people how to be reconciled to God. It’s my job; it’s my life. And it’s yours, too, if you’ve been reconciled to God through Christ. That’s what Christians do—it’s our primary function. We preach the forgiveness of sins and redemption by God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 5:18–21, Paul speaks about the responsibility that we have as believers to proclaim the message of forgiveness—the message of reconciliation. And that’s the pivotal word we’ll carefully examine in the days ahead.

 

(Adapted from Good News)

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180507
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

KJV Only Movement? Is the King James Version the Only Bible We Should Use?

Many people have strong and serious objections to the translation methods and textual basis for the new translations and therefore take a strong stance in favor of the King James Version. Others are equally convinced that the newer translations are an improvement over the KJV in their textual basis and translation methodology. GotQuestions.org does not want to limit its ministry to those of the “KJV Only” persuasion. Nor do we want to limit ourselves to those who prefer the NIV, NAS, NKJV, etc. Note—the purpose of this article is not to argue against the use of the King James Version. Rather, the focus of this article is to contend with the idea that the King James Version is the only Bible English speakers should use.

The KJV Only movement claims its loyalty to be to the Textus Receptus, a Greek New Testament manuscript compilation completed in the 1500s. To varying degrees, KJV Only advocates argue that God guided Erasmus (the compiler of the Textus Receptus) to come up with a Greek text that is perfectly identical to what was originally written by the biblical authors. However, upon further examination, it can be seen that KJV Only advocates are not loyal to the Textus Receptus, but rather only to the KJV itself. The New Testament of the New King James Version is based on the Textus Receptus, just as the KJV is. Yet, KJV Only advocates label the NKJV just as heretical as they do the NIV, NAS, etc.

Beyond the NKJV, other attempts have been made to make minimal updates to the KJV, only “modernizing” the archaic language, while using the exact same Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. These attempts are rejected nearly as strongly as the NKJV and the other newer Bible translations. This proves that KJV Only advocates are loyal to the King James Version itself, not to the Textus Receptus. KJV Only advocates have no desire or plan to update the KJV in any way. The KJV certainly contains English that is outdated, archaic, and sometimes confusing to modern English speakers and readers. It would be fairly simple to publish an updated KJV with the archaic words and phrases updated into modern 21st century English. However, any attempt to edit the KJV in any way results in accusations from KJV Only advocates of heresy and perversion of the Word of God.

When the Bible is translated for the first time into a new language today, it is translated into the language that culture speaks and writes today, not the way they spoke and wrote 400 years ago. The same should be true in English. The Bible was written in the common, ordinary language of the people at that time. Bible translations today should be the same. That is why Bible translations must be updated and revised as languages develop and change. The KJV Only movement is very English-focused in its thinking. Why should people who read English be forced to read the Bible in outdated/archaic English, while people of all other languages can read the Bible in modern/current forms of their languages?

Our loyalties are to the original manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments, written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Only the original languages are the Word of God as He inspired it. A translation is only an attempt to take what is said in one language and communicate it in another. The modern translations are superb in taking the meaning of the original languages and communicating it in a way that we can understand in English. However, none of the modern translations are perfect. Every one contains verses that are at least somewhat mistranslated. By comparing and contrasting several different translations, it is often easier to get a good grasp on what the verse is saying than by only using one translation. Our loyalty should not be to any one English translation, but to the inspired, inerrant Word of God that is communicated by the Holy Spirit through the translations (2 Timothy 3:16–17).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2002–2013). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Lessons About Worship and Faith – GTY Blog

Luke 10:38-42

Code: B180502

We don’t often consider the lessons we might learn from the strife between siblings—even when it is recorded in Scripture. But through a brief episode in Luke’s gospel, the Holy Spirit has much to teach us about the nature of faith and worship.

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

The Priority of Worship over Service

It’s interesting to read this narrative and try to imagine how the average woman might respond if placed in a situation like Martha’s. My strong suspicion is that manywomen would be inclined to sympathize with Martha, not Mary. After all, it would normally be considered rude to let your sister do all the hard work in the kitchen while you sit chatting with guests.

So in a real sense, Martha’s feelings were natural and somewhat understandable. That may be one reason Jesus’ rebuke was so mild. In normal circumstances, any older sister would think it obligatory for the younger sister to help in serving a meal to guests. In other words, what Martha expected Mary to do was, in itself, perfectly fine and good.

Nevertheless, what Mary was doing was better still. She had “chosen the good part” (Luke 10:42). She had discovered the one thing needful: true worship and devotion of one’s heart and full attention to Christ. That was a higher priority even than service, and the good part she had chosen would not be taken away from her, even for the sake of something as gracious and beneficial as helping Martha prepare Jesus a meal. Mary’s humble, obedient heart was a far greater gift to Christ than Martha’s well-set table.

This establishes worship as the highest of all priorities for every Christian. Nothing, including even service rendered to Christ, is more important than listening to Him and honoring Him with our hearts. Remember what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well: God is seeking true worshipers (John 4:23). Christ had found one in Mary. He would not affirm Martha’s reprimand of her, because it was Mary, not Martha, who properly understood that worship is a higher duty to Christ than service rendered on His behalf.

It is a danger, even for people who love Christ, that we not become so concerned with doing things for Him that we begin to neglect hearing Him and remembering what He has done for us. We must never allow our service for Christ to crowd out our worship of Him. The moment our works become more important to us than our worship, we have turned the true spiritual priorities on their heads.

In fact, that tendency is the very thing that is so poisonous about all forms of pietism and theological liberalism. Whenever you elevate good deeds over sound doctrine and true worship, you ruin the works too. Doing good works for the works’ sake has a tendency to exalt self and depreciate the work of Christ. Good deeds, human charity, and acts of kindness are crucial expressions of real faith, but they must flow from a true reliance on God’s redemption and His righteousness. After all, our own good works can never be a means of earning God’s favor; that’s why in Scripture the focus of faith is always on what God has done for us, and never on what we do for Him (Romans 10:2–4). Observe any form of religion where good works are ranked as more important than authentic faith or sound doctrine, and you’ll discover a system that denigrates Christ while unduly magnifying self.

Not that Martha was guilty of gross self-righteousness. We shouldn’t be any more harsh in our assessment of her than Christ was. She loved the Lord. Her faith was real, but by neglecting the needful thing and busying herself with mere activity, she became spiritually unbalanced. Her behavior reminds us that a damaging spirit of self-righteousness can slip in and contaminate even the hearts of those who have sincerely embraced Christ as their true righteousness. Martha’s harshness toward Mary exposed precisely that kind of imbalance in her own heart.

Jesus’ gentle words of correction to Martha (as well as His commendation of Mary) set the priorities once more in their proper order. Worship (which is epitomized here by listening intently to Jesus’ teachings) is the one thing most needed. Service to Christ must always be subordinate to that.

The Primacy of Faith over Works

Another vital spiritual principle goes hand in hand with the priority of worship over service and is so closely related to it that the two actually overlap. This principle is the truth (taught from the beginning to the end of Scripture) that what we believe is ultimately more crucial than what we do.

Martha’s “preparations” were a distraction (Luke 10:40) from the “one thing” (v. 42) that was really needed—listening to and learning from Jesus. Religious works often have a sinister tendency to eclipse faith itself. Proper good works always flow from faith and are the fruit of it. What we do is vital, because that is the evidence that our faith is living and real (James 2:14–26). But faith must come first, and it is the only viable foundation for true and lasting good works. All of that is wrapped up in the truth that works are not the instrument of justification; faith is (Romans 4:4–5).

Martha seems to have forgotten these things momentarily. She was acting as if Christ needed her work for Him more than she needed His work on her behalf. Rather than humbly fixing her faith on the vital importance of Christ’s work for sinners, she was thinking too much in terms of what she could do for Him.

Again, this seems to be the natural drift of the human heart. We wrongly imagine that what we do for Christ is more important than what He has done for us. Every major spiritual decline in the history of Christianity has come when the church has lost sight of the primacy of faith and begun to stress works instead. Virtually every serious doctrinal deviation throughout church history has had this same tendency at its core—beginning with the error of the Judaizers, who insisted that an Old Covenant ritual (circumcision) was essential for justification. They denied that faith alone could be instrumental in justification, and that undermined the very foundation of the gospel.

Human instinct seems to tell us that what we do is more important than what we believe. But that is a false instinct, the product of our fallen self-righteousness. It is a totally wrong way of thinking—sinfully wrong. We must never think more highly of our works for Christ than we do of His works on our behalf.

Of course, such a thought would never consciously enter Martha’s mind. She loved Christ. She genuinely trusted Him, although her faith had moments of weakness. Still, on this occasion, she allowed her anxiety about what she must do for Christ to overwhelm her gratitude over what He would do for her.

I’m very grateful that Christ’s rebuke of Martha was a gentle one. I must confess that it is very easy for me to identify with her. I love the privilege of serving the Lord, and He has blessed me with more than enough to stay busy. It is tempting at times to become swept up in the activity of ministry and forget that faith and worship must always have priority over work. In these hectic times, we all need to cultivate more of Mary’s worshipful, listening spirit and less of Martha’s scrambling commotion.

Martha and Mary also remind us that God uses all kinds of people. He has gifted us differently for a reason, and we’re not to despise one another or look at others with contempt, just because we have differing temperaments or contrasting personalities.

Martha was a noble and godly woman with a servant’s heart and a rare capacity for work. Mary was nobler still, with an unusual predisposition for worship and wisdom. Both were remarkable in their own ways. If we weigh their gifts and their instincts together, they give us a wonderful example to follow. May we diligently cultivate the best instincts of both of these extraordinary women.

 

(Adapted from Twelve Extraordinary Women.)

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180502
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

False Teaching Out There and In Here – Ligonier Ministries

by Nathan W. Bingham

Here’s an excerpt from False Teaching Out There and In Here, Sean Michael Lucas’ contribution to the April issue of Tabletalk:

The recognition that heresies often start from a biblical platform and basis should humble and warn us. It should humble us, even chasten us, to recognize that we might unwittingly propagate error even as we teach God’s inerrant Word. Though we labor over our sermons and lessons, wrestling with the text, trying to get it right, there is always the possibility that we might teach error in ways that lead God’s little ones astray.

Continue reading False Teaching Out There and In Here

Loving the Word in a Distracted World – enCourage

Loving the Word in a Distracted World:

How do we get excited about God’s Word? Technology can be a constant distraction that can keep us from loving God’s Word in a meaningful way, so how do we disengage from the distraction to focus on tasting and seeing that God is good? Today, Mary Haberkorn joins Karen Hodge to share about her research on technology and Bible study.

— Read on encourage.pcacdm.org/2018/04/24/loving-the-word-in-a-distracted-world-2/