The Bible: Our True North

In this social media/personal opinion driven culture we are in desperate need of truth. (Especially during election years.)

“What is truth?”, Pilate asked Jesus.

The great theologian, Foghorn Leghorn, used to say, “It’s more confusing than a termite in a yo-yo – which way is up?”

Satan is a smooth operator. He usually includes a nugget of truth in his lies. But, a half truth is still a whole lie.

Falling for slick rhetoric is nothing new.

Paul warned the Ephesian believers to study the scriptures so they could safely discern what was true from what wasn’t. As a result, he said,…

“We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” (4:14)

Don’t be deceived or beguiled into believing what someone espouses just because it sounds convincing. Weigh everything against scripture.

What is truth? The Bible tells us…

“…the truth is in Jesus.” (Eph. 4:21)

“Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

“The sum of your word is truth.” (Ps. 119:160)

“I am the…Truth.” (Jesus Christ: John 14:6)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

 

Every Christian is a Theologian

“Theology” simply means “the study of God.”

That means all believers are theologians – or, at least, should be.  To be clear – and fair – this does not mean that everyone is an academic or scholar i.e. someone who has made a career out of studying the Bible.  But, nonetheless, we’re all biblically commanded to be theologians: a person who studies the Word of God.

I ran across a wonderful article on this topic this past week.  You can access the article here.

From the article:

“Laypeople have no biblical warrant (argument) to leave the duty of doctrine (a set of beliefs) up to pastors and professors alone.”

Besides, pastors being human and flawed, it is completely possible for a Bible teacher to actually misinterpret something and get it flat wrong.    Paul would end up writing a third of the New Testament.  But that hadn’t happened yet.  And the Bereans took no chances:

“…they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

Finally, it’s simply what we’re commanded to do:

Study and do your best to present yourself to God…accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.”

By the way, it’s vital for us all to remember that Paul’s instruction to Timothy above was a command, not a suggestion. 🙂

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Bible: Gospel, Guide or Garbage?

Linked for you here is a dialogue between New Testament scholar and theologian, NT Wright, and Harvard philosopher, Sean Kelly, as they discuss one of history’s most influential books – the Bible.

It’s an audio link only (no video) and is over an hour in length.  Whether you listen in “small bites” or “swallow the entire dialogue whole”, please consider listening and thinking deeply about what is said.

I have in my library Wright’s 700 page classic, The Resurrection of the Son of God. It is heady, but a rewarding read.

The audio clip is just below the photo at the top of the linked page.

You can access the link here.

Enjoy, nick

Our True North: the Word of God

After our son, Jordan, took his life the earth shifted underneath our feet. Our world was turned upside down.

We soon took scripture printed on copy paper and taped it to every door-jam, every mirror, every cabinet door – you get the idea. (A few of them are in the very spot we placed them 4 years ago.)

So, while the enemy assaulted us with lies: “life for you is over; your marriage is over; your son’s death is your fault; there is no God; etc….”, we made a conscious choice to focus on what we knew to be true: the infallible Word of God.

Both Matthew & Luke record the “showdown in the desert” between Satan and Jesus. Even a cursory reading reveals that, in light of Satan’s lies, Jesus responds with a single, devastatingly powerful weapon: the Word of God. Satan fled in defeat.

The same happened in our home. Oh – I’d be lying if I said it was easy. The spiritual battle was intensely brutal. But, in the end, Satan, the “father of lies”, was rendered impotent when confronted with the Truth.

Throughout this ordeal, my family learned – on a deeper level – what Jesus meant when he proclaimed, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Psalm 119 is almost entirely devoted to the exaltation of God’s Word. In verse 28, the psalmist prays, “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.”

Are you confused? Hurting? Afraid? Tired? Lost? Find your “true north” in the powerful Word of God.

Soli Deo Gloria, nick

The Bible, the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon

I’m presently neck-deep in an outstanding 450 page tome titled, In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture.

No disrespect to my Muslim and Mormon friends. This is simply an observation for the reliability of the Bible when compared to other major world religion texts by Paul Wegner (Ph.D. University of London):

“The Bible (both Old and New Testaments) was written by approximately forty different authors over a period of over 1,000 years, and yet there is a consistent and clear message throughout the book; neither the Qur’an nor The Book of Mormon has such a pedigree.

“There is extensive manuscript evidence for the Bible, including at least 300 Hebrew manuscripts and 5,800 Greek manuscripts, as well as more than 20,000 ancient manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments written in various languages, and more than 30,000 scriptural quotations in the early church fathers which help confirm the accuracy of Scriptures. Neither the Qur’an nor The Book of Mormon can make this claim.

“The OT contains specific prophecies that claim to be fulfilled in the NT (e.g., Isa 53:3–4 = Matt 8:17; Isa 53:7–8 = Acts 8:32–35; Isa 53:12 = Luke 22:37; Mic 5:2 = Matt 2:6; Joel 2:28–32 = Acts 2:16–21); neither the Qur’an nor The Book of Mormon contain anything like this.

“It is interesting that both the Qur’an and The Book of Mormon claim to be a continuation of divine revelation from the Bible through their specific prophets, and yet both works contain significant contradictions with the theology of the Bible. The book of Hebrews (1:1–2) claims that Jesus is the final revelation, implying there will be no further divine revelation.”

Sola Scriptura, Nick

The Story of God

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Writing about the Bible, author/speaker, Greg Koukl writes,

“This is not a fairy tale, but rather it is the Story all fairy tales are about. Indeed, almost every tale ever written is an echo of this story embedded within our hearts (“He has set eternity in the human heart.” Ecc. 3:11) Yet this story is not a tale at all, since the Story is true.” (C.S. Lewis famously referred to the story of Christ as the “true myth.”)

“Every worldview has four elements: (1) Where did we come from? (2) What is our problem/What went wrong? (3) What is the solution? (4) How will things end up? Biblically, this is categorized as creation, fall, redemption and restoration.”

“Notice, [in the Bible] you have all the parts of a good story: beginning, conflict, conflict resolution, ending.” (Gregory Koukl; The Story of Reality)

Interestingly, following Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, when the two men on their way to Emmaus had questions about Jesus in Luke 24, Jesus, himself (not yet recognizable to them), rather than explaining the events that had only recently transpired, began explaining the events of the past few days in light of the greater story, “beginning with Moses and the prophets.”

The Bible’s story is still the best explanation and answer to the questions listed above by Koukl.  Further, author/theologian, Graeme Goldworthy, writes, “It is my deep conviction that every part of the Bible is given its fullest meaning by the saving work of Christ, who restores a sinful, fallen creation and makes all things new.”  (According to Plan)

The Bible is a fascinating story.

It’s God’s love story for you and me.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

Reading the Bible Through, Cover-to-Cover…

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A professor once remarked to former atheist, Josh McDowell: “If you are an intelligent person, you will read the one book that has drawn more attention than any other, if you are searching for the truth.” That book, of course, is the Bible.

A common New Year’s resolution among Christians is to try and read the Bible through, cover-to-cover.  I well remember the first few times I attempted this.  I rarely made it past the first part of Leviticus.  Then, I discovered something that helped me complete the task.  I started reading about the Bible as I read through the Bible.  This discipline took me longer to read through the Bible but the payoff was priceless:  I was finally understanding what I was reading.  And this made all the difference.

While studying over the holidays I stumbled upon a wonderfully helpful blog by theologian, R.C. Sproul, on this very topic.

From the article:

“If God delivered a letter to your mailbox, I am sure you would read it. (The Bible is that letter.) But the Bible is a pretty big letter, and its sheer bulk is somewhat daunting, even to the person with the best of intentions. Therefore, few Christians actually keep a resolution to read through the Bible.”

Sproul continues,

Here’s my recommendation: begin with an overview of the Bible. Get the basic framework first… Once you understand the basic framework, you are much better equipped to read the Bible.

The entire article is, in my opinion, spot-on. In fact, I have a quote by Sproul (rhymes with “roll”) that I jotted down in the front of my Bible back in the early 90’s: “If we can identify the author, the author’s chief purpose, as well as the author’s intended audience – this goes a long way in helping us understand [each book’s/letter’s] teaching with greater accuracy.”

In addition to the resources Sproul mentions, I would highly recommend two more options: (1) “Know Your Bible: All 66 Books Explained and Applied” – 2008; Barbour Publishing;  I’ve given away a ton of these. And, (2) “The Baker Illustrated Guide to the Bible: A Book-by-Book Companion” by Hays & Duvall; 2016.

Taking time to study about the Bible while reading it will take longer than just “diving in and reading”. But, I can assure you that you will come away with a far richer understanding of what you’ve read.

(You can access R.C. Sproul’s blog by clicking the highlighted phrase in paragraph three, or by simply clicking here.)

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick