Tag Archives: Bible

The Bible: Easy to Understand?

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119: 105

 

The Bible is the Word of God by its immeasurable majesty, moral purity, essential unity, and time-tested faithfulness. The Bible is unique in its power to convince and convert our hearts, comfort and build-up our spirits, and divide and measure our motives. The Bible is encouragement in trial, insight into the tribulations of life, and guidance in the midst of confusion. The Bible is the only book whose author can personally and directly apply its truths to our daily lives.

The Bible is to be believed, obeyed, trusted, digested, and honored. When we read the Bible, the Spirit leads us to repent that we may be made holy; hear God’s voice that we may be drawn nearer to Christ, renounce the world that we may be transformed into the image of Christ, revived as the people of God that we may be a light unto the world, and prepared for the Second Coming of Christ that we may be ready to see Christ face-to-face.

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship.

Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Søren Kierkegaard

HT: Joe Carter

 

The Book That Understands Me

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7 ESV

In his commentary on 1 & 2 Samuel, Bill Arnold relates what happened to French philosopher Emile Cailliet. During World War 1, as a 20-year old youth, he was confronted with the horrors of war. He asked:

What use, the ill-kept ancient type of sophistry in the philosophic banter of the seminar, when your buddy – at the time speaking to you of his mother – dies standing in front of you, a bullet in his chest? Was there a meaning to it all? A [person] can endure anything if only it appears meaningful. But what of the caprices of Fate, what of random killing, of senseless ordeal? Deep in the mud during long winter nights when silent knives became arms of predilection on both sides, I wondered. By then, my thinking had no longer anything to do with philosophy taken for the sake of a qualifying exam… I too felt, not with my reason but with my whole being, that I was naked and – war or no war – destined to perish miserably when the hour came.

He descended into a state of utter pessimism:

The moment came when I was overwhelmed by the inadequacy of my views. What could be done about it? I did not know. Who was I, anyway? Nay, what was I? These fundamental questions of human existence remained unanswered.

Then Cailliet was shot, but was saved by an American field ambulance crew. After his recovery and discharge he resumed his graduate studies. He reflected:

During long watches in the foxholes I had in a strange way been longing – I must say it, however queer it may sound – for a book that would understand me. But I knew of no such book. Now I would in secret prepare one for my own private use. And so, as I went on reading for my courses I would file passages that would speak to my condition, then carefully copy them in a leather-bound pocket book I would always carry with me. The quotations, which I numbered in red ink for easier reference, would lead me as it were from fear and anquish, through a variety of intervening stages, to supreme utterances of release and jubilation.

Eventually he put the finishing touches to “the book that would understand me”. He sat down under a tree on a beautiful sunny day and, as he read his precious anthology, found himself becoming increasingly disappointed. As Arnold comments:

Instead of speaking to his condition as he expected, the passages only reminded him of their context, of the circumstances of his labor over their selection. Then, Calliet says, he knew that the whole undertaking would not work, simply because it was of his own making.

That same day, in quite an extraordinary manner, his wife came into the possession of a Bible. Prior to this Emile had been adamant that religion would be taboo in their home and he had never even seen a Bible by the age of 23. But on that day he was eager to read the Bible and recalls:

I literally grabbed the book and rushed to my study with it. I opened it and ‘chanced’ upon the Beatitudes! I read, and read, and read – now aloud with an indescribable warmth surging within…. I could not find words to express my awe and wonder. And suddenly the realization dawned upon me. This was the Book that would understand me! I needed it so much, yet, unaware, I had attempted to write my own – in vain. I continued to read deeply into the night, mostly from the gospels. And lo and behold, as I looked through them, the One of whom I spoke, the One who spoke and acted in them, became alive in me.

The Bible – the book that understands me!

Bill T. Arnold, 1 & 2 Samuel: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 87-89.

HT: Face-to-Face Intercultural 

Be Alone with the New Testament

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.

Ps. 119:130

Perspicuity of scripture is the belief that the Bible is sufficiently clear for open-hearted and spiritually-seeking individuals with some degree of faith to understand the Bible’s intent enabling them to come to faith and repentance in Christ. Evangelicals affirm that a man or woman with some measure of literacy can pick-up the Bible and understand it sufficiently to come to saving faith in Christ.

In fact, Evangelicals believe that the difficulty with the Bible is not understanding it, but obeying it. This is the rub, do we make the Bible complicated because we want to avoid the obvious truth of the Word? Do we avoid Scripture study because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit and his desire to conform us to Christ? Are we afraid to be alone with the New Testament?

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?

Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

Søren Kierkegaard, Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Soren Kierkegaard , ed. Charles E. Moore (Rifton, NY: The Plough, 2011).

HT: Scott Howard

Grace Unites Scripture (NT)

 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Tim. 3:16–17 ESV

In my previous post, Dane Ortlund discussed the unity of the Old Testament as found in the grace of God. Today, I post the grace theme as found in the New Testament books.

Remember, grace is pardon and power. Grace is the person, Jesus, extending himself to us in love. A love that relentlessly pursues us and never stops until he wins our hearts. His grace is a love which condescends, surrenders, and assists, a love which is gracious to the unloving, and patience with the unthankful. God’s grace is unmerited favor, but also power to overcome for the weak and needy. Grace lifts us out of the pit of our sin: grace renews, grace empowers, and grace elevates us into God’s presence.

Matthew shows God’s grace in fulfilling the Old Testament promises of a coming king. (5:17)

Mark shows God’s grace as this coming king suffers the fate of a common criminal to buy back sinners. (10:45)

Luke shows that God’s grace extends to all the people one would not expect: hookers, the poor, tax collectors, sinners, Gentiles (‘younger sons’). (19:10)

John shows God’s grace in becoming one of us, flesh and blood (1:14), and dying and rising again so that by believing we might have life in his name. (20:31)

Acts shows God’s grace flooding out to all the world–starting in Jerusalem, ending in Rome; starting with Peter, apostle to the Jews, ending with Paul, apostle to the Gentiles. (1:8)

Romans shows God’s grace in Christ to the ungodly (4:5) while they were still sinners (5:8) that washes over both Jew and Gentile.

1 Corinthians shows God’s grace in favoring what is lowly and foolish in the world. (1:27)

2 Corinthians shows God’s grace in channeling his power through weakness rather than strength. (12:9)

Galatians shows God’s grace in justifying both Jew and Gentile by Christ-directed faith rather than self-directed performance. (2:16)

Ephesians shows God’s grace in the divine resolution to unite us to his Son before time began. (1:4)

Philippians shows God’s grace in Christ’s humiliating death on an instrument of torture—for us. (2:8)

Colossians shows God’s grace in nailing to the cross the record of debt that stood against us. (2:14)

1 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in providing the hope-igniting guarantee that Christ will return again. (4:13)

2 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in choosing us before time, that we might withstand Christ’s greatest enemy. (2:13)

1 Timothy shows God’s grace in the radical mercy shown to ‘the chief of sinners.’ (1:15)

2 Timothy shows God’s grace to be that which began (1:9) and that which fuels (2:1) the Christian life.

Titus shows God’s grace in saving us by his own cleansing mercy when we were most mired in sinful passions. (3:5)

Philemon shows God’s grace in transcending socially hierarchical structures with the deeper bond of Christ-won Christian brotherhood. (v. 16)

Hebrews shows God’s grace in giving his Son to be both our sacrifice to atone for us once and for all as well as our high priest to intercede for us forever. (9:12)

James shows us God’s grace by giving to those who have been born again ‘of his own will’ (1:18) ‘wisdom from above’ for meaningful godly living. (3:17)

1 Peter shows God’s grace in securing for us an unfading, imperishable inheritance no matter what we suffer in this life. (1:4)

2 Peter shows God’s grace in guaranteeing the inevitability that one day all will be put right as the evil that has masqueraded as good will be unmasked at the coming Day of the Lord. (3:10)

1 John shows God’s grace in adopting us as his children. (3:1)

2 and 3 John show God’s grace in reminding specific individuals of ‘the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.’ (2 Jn 2)

Jude shows God’s grace in the Christ who presents us blameless before God in a world rife with moral chaos. (v. 24)

Revelation shows God’s grace in preserving his people through cataclysmic suffering, a preservation founded on the shed blood of the lamb. (12:11)

by Dane Ortlund

A Gushing Spring

 

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103 ESV

The Bible is the Word of God by its immeasurable majesty, moral purity, essential unity, and time-tested faithfulness. The Bible is unique in its power to convince and convert our hearts, comfort and build-up our spirits, and divide and measure our motives. The Bible is encouragement in trial, insight into the tribulations of life, and guidance in the midst of confusion. The Bible is the only book whose author can personally and directly apply its truths to our daily lives.

The Word of God is in your heart. The Word digs in this soil so that the spring may gush out.

Origen quoted in Ancient Christian Devotional: A Year of Weekly Readings, Lectionary Cycle B, ed., Thomas C. Oden and Cindy Crosby [Kindle Edition] (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011).

His Blood Is Bibline

A Life That Is Bible Saturated

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that ethe man of God2 may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV

The Bible is the Word of God by its immeasurable majesty, moral purity, essential unity, and time-tested faithfulness. The Bible is unique in its power to convince and convert our hearts, comfort and build-up our spirits, and divide and measure our motives. The Bible is encouragement in trial, insight into the tribulations of life, and guidance in the midst of confusion. The Bible is the only book whose author can personally and directly apply its truths to our daily lives. The Bible is to be believed, obeyed, trusted, digested, and honored. When we read the Bible, the Spirit leads us to repent that we may be made holy; hear God’s voice that we may be drawn nearer to Christ, renounce the world that we may be transformed into the image of Christ, revived as the people of God that we may be a light unto the world, and prepared for the Second Coming of Christ that we may be ready to see Christ face-to-face.

Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord—not crawl over its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models, and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord.

I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like the reading the Bible itself. He had read it till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress—that sweetest of all prose poems — without continually making us feel and say, “Why, this man is a living Bible!” Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God. I commend his example to you, beloved.

”Mr. Spurgeon as a Literary Man,” in The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon, Compiled from His Letters, Diaries, and Records by His Wife and Private Secretary, vol. 4, 1878-1892 (Curtis & Jennings, 1900), p. 268.

Bible-Based Convictions

Beliefs vs. Convictions 

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33

Are our Christian beliefs just interesting advice, or good counsel, or pleasant thoughts? Or, are our Christian beliefs true convictions that we will not violate, even if, our commitment to those truths cost us precious time, important relationships, and real money?

To pursue holiness, one of the disciplines we must become skilled in is the development of Bible-based convictions. A conviction is a determinative belief: something you believe so strongly that it affects the way you live. Someone has observed that a belief is what you hold, but a conviction is what holds you.

Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey Devotional (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), 154.

240 Words

The Bible Storyline in 240 Words

God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.

Eph. 1:9

D. A. Carson is wonderful teacher, I have read a number of his books and listened to scores of his sermons. Below, Carson lays out the entire Bible storyline in a few sentences. Why is this important? To fully understand what God has done in Jesus Christ, we must know the Bible storyline. We must learn of the Fall, the covenants, the law, the prophets, and the sacrifice. We should appreciate that from time immemorial, God planned and purposed to redeem us in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:4).

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

D. A. Carson, “The Biblical Gospel,” in For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

HT: C. J. Mahaney

We Love the Bible Because We Love Christ

Love for the Scriptures

You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!

John 5:39 NLT

To be in love with Christ is to be in love with the Word of God, the Bible. Through God’s Word, we come to know and experience all of Christ’s perfections, beauty, and glory. To read and examine what Christ has done for us is to be encouraged to trust God’s promises, empowered to love in a world full of chaos, and strengthened against the assaults of the evil one. To love Christ is to love his Word. The quality of our reading, studying, and meditation of God’s Word is an indication of the quality of our love, zeal, and passion for our Savior.

A man who loves his wife will love her letters and her photographs because they speak to him of her. So if we love the Lord Jesus we shall love the Bible because it speaks to us of him. The husband is not so stupid as to prefer his wife’s letters to her voice, or her photographs to herself. He simply loves them because of her. So, too, we love the Bible because of Christ. It is his portrait. It is his love-letter.

John Stott, Fundamentalism and Evangelism (London: Crusade Booklets, 1956), 22.

I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to the Jews: You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God. For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of God, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah (?)

What is Bible Meditation?

Word and Spirit

Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.

Psalm 119:33

Bible meditation is the diligent and careful consideration of God’s Word for the purpose of growing in the knowledge of God and for the obtaining of practical holiness. The believer uses his or her own rational abilities combined with Spirit-led illumination and heart-felt participation to engage God’s Spirit-inspired Word. We study the Bible to learn God’s ways, grow into God’s character, and learn God’s commands.

God has ordained that the eye-opening work of his Spirit always be combined with the mind-informing work of his Word.

John Piper, A Godward Life, Book Two (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 1999), 184.

I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions. If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.

George Muller, http://www.mullers.org/ .