The Q Series—The Bible

Our annual Q Series is where folks send their questions to me on a variety of subjects and we do our best to answer them. This week many of the questions were about the Bible. Questions like:

  • What books should be included in the Bible?
  • What about Bible translations?
  • Is it okay for the Bible to have pictures in it?

Here’s what we discussed, along with the time this discussion appears on the video:

  • How was it decided what books would be included in the New Testament? [5:38] **Be sure to check out this post: How We Got The Bible on Biblegateway.
  • J. Warner Wallace’s list of criteria for New Testament books [9:45]
  • Did contemporary sources support or refute the New Testament authors? [11:45]
  • How did the final 27 books of the New Testament make the list? [15:02]
  • How was it decided what books would be included in the Old Testament? [18:22]
  • Evidence presented by the Apostle Paul [20:31]
  • How do we know the Scriptures were accurately transcribed? [22:50] **Be sure to check out this post: Why Trust The Bible? on Biblegateway.
  • The history surrounding the complete Latin Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls [23:45]
  • What are Bible translations and paraphrases (with references to the Wycliffe Bible and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone)? [25:45]
  • Some cautions about Bible paraphrases [33:23]
  • Is it okay for a Bible to have pictures in it? [35:16]
  • Are icons of the Cross acceptable or a blasphemy? [37:42]
  • How can someone better understand the Bible when they read it for themselves? [41:32]
  • Why ask questions? [48:39]

We’ll be discussing more questions this upcoming Sunday, so be sure to send them my way. For all of the ways you can send questions, please click here.

One-And-Done? Ongoing? Later?

If I were to ask five different Christians to give me a definition of sanctification, I just might get five different definitions!

Part of this comes from incorrect either-or thinking. However, Jesus seems to tell us that sanctification requires a both-and thinking.

In Christ’s prayer for His followers in John 17, He uses the word sanctified three times (see verses 17-19). Although He is using the same Greek word each time, He uses a different “flavor” of the word to make it really clear what He means.

First of all, the Greek word for sanctified means the process of being made into a saint. So sometimes I like to say the word this way: SAINT-ified.

Check out Christ’s prayer. First He says, “I sanctify Myself,” and then He says, “that they too may be truly sanctified.” Same Greek word, but each time is slightly tweaked.

Jesus uses a “flavor” of Greek which means sanctification is something that He has done completely and totally on His own once and for all. In other words, Christians are completely and totally sanctified at the very moment they surrender their life to Him.

But when He talks about His followers, the “flavor” of Greek means sanctification is something that is an ongoing process. In other words, we are being SAINT-ified.

So which is it? Sanctified once, or sanctified through an ongoing process?

It’s not either-or. It’s both-and!

Think about a married couple. From the moment the pastor says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” they are married. It is done; fully completed. There is nothing the bride or groom can do to become more married.

However, the groom can begin to look at the marriage through his bride’s eyes. Then he can serve her in a way that helps her feel more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within the marriage. Neither of them becomes more married, but they can get more enjoyment within the marriage.

The same thing for Christians. At the moment we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior we are saved from the penalty of our sins. We can’t be more saved. But through the process of SANIT-ificiation we can experience more joy, more satisfaction, and more fulfillment within our relationship with Jesus.

My paraphrase of 1 Peter 1:15-16—But just as He who called you has paid for your once-for-all saint-ification, so keep on being saint-ified in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

What about you? Are you satisfied with just being saved, or are you striving for a joy-filled, more fulfilling, increasingly satisfied relationship with Jesus Christ? It can truly be a wonderful both-and relationship!

Thursdays With Oswald—A New Look At Some Old Bible Studies

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

A New Look At Some Old Bible Studies

     It is important to notice the difference between the Wisdom of the Hebrews and the Wisdom of the Greeks. The Wisdom of the Hebrews is based on an accepted belief in God; that is, it does not try to find out whether or not God exists, all its beliefs are based on God, and in the actual world of things as they are, all its mental energy is bent on practical living. The Wisdom of the Greeks, which is the wisdom of our day, is speculative; that is, it is concerned with the origin of things, with the riddle of the universe, etc., consequently the best of our wits is not given it to practical living.

     The value of the Book of Job is not in what it teaches, but that it expresses suffering, and the inscrutability of suffering. In the Book of Psalms, Wisdom is applied to things as they are and to prayer. The Book of Proverbs applies Wisdom to the practical relationships of life, and Ecclesiastes applies Wisdom to the enjoyment of things as they actually are; there is no phase of life missed out, and it is shown that enjoyment is only possible by being related to God. 

     The record of the whirl of things as they are is marvelously stated in these books of Wisdom: Job—how to suffer; Psalms—how to pray; Proverbs—how to act; Ecclesiastes—how to enjoy; Song of Solomon—how to love. … 

     Solomon sums up the whole thing as follows: If you try to find enjoyment in this order of things, you will end in vexation and disaster. If you try to find enjoyment in knowledge, you only increase your capacity for sorrow and agony and distress. The only way you can find relief and the right interpretation of things as they are it is by basing your faith in God, and by remembering that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Jesus Christ is the One Who can transmute everything we come across.

From Shade Of His Hand

Sometimes the “wisdom” books of the Bible can be difficult to understand in our modern day, Western culture. But perhaps you may be able to read them differently with these insights that Oswald Chambers shares.

Why not try giving a new look at some old Bible studies, and then comment below on how it worked for you.

4 Terrible Ways & 4 Great Ways To Study Your Bible

Isaac Newton Bible study.001There are two Greek words in the New Testament that have to do with trying to figure things out. One of them leads to less knowledge, and one opens the way for greater learning. Not surprisingly, Jesus never used the first way, but He confronts people who try to.

The first Greek word is defined as learning through self-calculation. In other words, I try to get at the right answer by either teaching myself, or by talking with people who don’t know any more than I do. This way leaves me in the dark.

For example, notice the phrase “discussed among themselves” in Matthew 16:7 and Mark 11:31. These are people who wanted to try to get answers without going to someone who could teach them. So that leads to four terrible ways to study your Bible—

  1. Approach your Bible with a know-it-all attitude.
  2. Try to figure out what the Bible is saying all on your own.
  3. Try to be your own Bible teacher.
  4. Grade your own tests as to your answers being right or wrong.

These are not only terrible ways to learn, but they are the exact opposite of what God desires. God says things like, “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), and “Call to Me and I will tell you things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

There is another Greek word which means to learn by having a conversation with someone more knowledgable than myself. So that means four great ways to study your Bible are—

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate Scripture to you (John 16:13).
  2. Study the Bible in a daily systematic way (Acts 19:9).
  3. Don’t take anyone else’s word for what the Word says (Acts 17:11).
  4. If you’re confused, ask God to make it clear to you (Jeremiah 33:3).

Luke records an important story for us that took place on the day Jesus was raised from the dead. Two men were walking along “discussing these things with each other,” but not consulting the Scriptures. The result: they were sad and confused. Jesus join them on their journey (although they didn’t recognize Him at first), and took them to the Scriptures that showed them the answers for which they were yearning. They even said, “When He talked to us from the Scriptures, that’s when our hearts burned within us!” (see Luke 24:13-32).

You can try to figure life out on your own, and you will probably end up stymied like the religious leaders in Mark 11, or downcast like the disciples in Luke 24. Or you can ask the Holy Spirit to show you truths from the Scriptures, and have your eyes opened, like the two disciples after Jesus met with them. I think the choice is obvious!

Join me next week as we continue our series How To Study Your Bible.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The world has put a little letter before the word ‘musing,’ and these are the days, not for musing, but for a-musing. People will go anywhere for amusement; but to muse is a strange thing to them, and they think it dull and wearisome. … Now there is much virtue in musing, especially if we muse upon the best, the highest, and the noblest of subjects. If we muse upon the things of which we hear and read in sacred Scripture, we shall do wisely. It is well to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. A man who hears many sermons, is not necessarily well-instructed in the faith. We may read so many religious books, that we overload our brains, and they may be unable to work under the weight of the great mass of paper and printer’s ink. The man who reads but one book, and that book his Bible, and then muses much upon it, will be a better scholar in Christ’s school than he who merely reads hundreds of books, and muses not at all.” —Charles Spurgeon

“Patients do not serve their physicians. They trust them for good prescriptions. The Sermon on the Mount is our Doctor’s medical advice, not our Employer’s job description.” —John Piper

“Every time I open my Bible I will read it as the Word of ‘God, that cannot lie;’ and when I get a promise or a threatening, I will either rejoice or tremble because I know that these stand fast.” —Charles Spurgeon

I can use this: 25 habits to get a better night’s sleep.

Rev. Tim Dilena has an amazing reminder of God’s perfect timing in sending Jesus to earth—He Couldn’t Have Timed It Any Better.

“Given the Greek and Roman acceptance of homosexuality, it is difficult to overstate the courage and conviction required by the early Church to write and speak out on behalf of a biblical, sexual ethic.” Read more in the article When Christians Rejected Homosexuality.

Eric Metaxas shares some good news from Baltimore.

Quotes From “No Idols”

No idolsAs requested, here are the quotes I shared in my message this morning…

“In Greek the word idol has in it the sense of unreality. Plato used it for the illusions of this world as opposed to the unchangeable realities of eternity.” —William Barclay

“What we think and believe, we are; not what we say we think and believe, but what we really do think and believe, we are; there is no divorce at all.” —Oswald Chambers 

“Until the love of God that knows no boundary, limit, or breaking point is internalized through personal decision; until the furious longing of God seizes the imagination; until the heart is conjoined to the mind through sheer grace, nothing happens. The idolatry of ideas has left me puffed up, narrow-minded, and intolerant of any idea that does not coincide with mine.” —Brennan Manning

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