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.

10 Great Reasons To Go To Church Regularly

Without exception, all human beings have exactly 168 hours in a week. No one gets any bonus time and no one has any hours taken away. We’re supposed to get 8 hours of sleep a night, and most of us work about 40 hours each week. So let’s do the math…

168 hours per week
– 56 hours for sleeping
– 40 hours for work
=72 discretionary hours

In those 72 hours there must be time for eating and taking care of chores. But what about going to church? The problem for many people is looking at church attendance as just another “chore” or item on their “To Do” list.

But instead of thinking of going to church as “I have to,” how about if you looked at all of the “I get to” benefits?

Here are 10 great reasons for going to church regularly. I get to…

  1. …draw closer to my Heavenly Father, just like Jesus did (Luke 2:49)
  2. …be an example to others (1 Timothy 4:12)
  3. …hang out with some really great people (Hebrews 10:24)
  4. …get to know Jesus and my brothers and sisters better (1 John 1:3)
  5. …reaffirm the priority that God is first in my life (Matthew 6:33)
  6. …learn to better understand Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15)
  7. …join with a choir of God worshipers (John 4:23-24)
  8. …grow spiritually (1 Peter 2:2-5)
  9. …complete the Body of Chris (1 Corinthians 12:12)
  10. …avoid becoming isolated and possibly lost (Proverbs 18:1)

“Sometimes we make it sound like we’re making a sacrifice to go to church, but think about the very real sacrifice Jesus made so that we could meet together as brothers and sisters!” —Scott Troost

How about it? Do you think you could invest an hour or two of your 72 discretionary hours in a local church this week?

My thanks to my brother, Scott Troost, for sharing such a timely message!

The Dawn Of Christianity (book review)

Sometimes when people are reading the Gospels and the Book of Acts in the New Testament of the Bible they forget what an accurate history is presented at a pivotal time in world events. In The Dawn Of Christianity, Robert J. Hutchinson makes the history behind, surrounding, and after the biblical accounts come to life in a fresh way.

The Dawn Of Christianity tells the history surrounding Jesus of Nazareth and His followers almost in a novel-like format. Hutchinson masterfully puts together the four Gospel accounts and Luke’s history of the early church in chronological order, and then brings in archaeological, geographic, and anthropological resources like a supporting cast to the biblical account. Along the way, we are introduced to extra-biblical characters, places, and customs that add a new depth of understanding to the history presented in Scripture.

Hutchinson notes, “Recent archaeological discoveries are showing that the New Testament in general, and the Gospels in particular, are far more reliable historical sources than previous generations of New Testament experts realized.” Indeed, he makes good use of as many pertinent finds as possible to enhance his storytelling.

The Dawn Of Christianity spans the time from just before the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and then tracks the spread of Christianity for about 20 years following Christ’s ascension into heaven. It’s a fascinating and enlightening story for both Bible aficionados and skeptics alike.

I am a Thomas Nelson book reviewer.

The Promised Power Of Pentecost

When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt on the night of Passover, fifty days later they arrived at Mount Sinai where God delivered the Ten Commandments to them. This became the birth of the Jewish nation. For millennia following this, not only did the Jewish people observe Passover but they also celebrated “The Feast of Weeks” (also known as Pentecost) fifty days following Passover.

But on the first Pentecost after Christ ascended to Heaven, something amazing happened which was a game-changer for the new Christians. An event which became the birth of the Christian nation.

On that Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit was poured out on Christ’s followers in a way never before seen in history. Although this had never been seen before, it was the fulfillment of something God had promised thousands of years before.

  1. Promised

This blessing of the Holy Spirit had been hinted at when God first called Abraham, as He promised that from Abraham would come a blessing for all peoples on earth (Genesis 12:3). Jesus said that this blessing would be realized with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and then Peter tied the Day of Pentecost experience to the fulfillment of those promises (Acts 2:38-39).

  1. Commanded

Jesus had this empowerment of the Holy Spirit and He wanted all of His followers to have it too, so His directive to His follower is not a suggestion. Twice when Jesus tells His followers to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the verbs He uses are commands (see Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:4).

  1. Normal Experience

For the first Christians, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a normal experience for them following salvation. This baptism gave them power to…

  1. Initial Evidence

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is accompanied by an initial physical evidence of speaking in a language you’ve never studied. This is to be an unmistakable proof—primarily to you—of the Spirit’s outpouring. But the ongoing development of Christlike character is the continual evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

So what’s the controversy? Why do people spend so much time arguing this baptism isn’t for us, or for now? If we start down that path, what else are we going to say is outdated or exclusive for some?

Doesn’t seem much more logical to simply accept what God promised all His people?!

So here’s the question I would ask you—Have you been baptized in the Holy Spirit? If not, why not?

Are You Healthy Enough To Love Serving Others?

Jesus was wholly healthy. That is to say, He was healthy in every aspect of His life—mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally (see Luke 2:52). This is important to note because Christians are called to be healthy in all of these same areas.

The phrase Dr. Luke uses about Christ’s growth is a telling one: Jesus grew in favor with men. People liked having Jesus around. The word for favor is from the same root word where we also get grace. So Jesus was a graceful man.

What does it mean when someone is graceful? It means they are pleasant to be around … you feel safe around them, knowing they will never belittle you or put you down … their focus is on your agenda, not their own … they are a “there you are!” person, not a “here I am!” person.

Bottom line: they are filled with love for others.

Jesus was healthy in His mind, His body, His spirit and His emotions, which allowed Him to be in a unique place where He fully knew how powerful He was, yet He chose to use His power not for His own benefit, but to serve others (see John 13:1-4).

Healthy love loves God and then serves God by loving and serving others. Only a wholly healthy person can truly serve with a right attitude…

  • People with unhealthy thoughts won’t serve because they don’t know they’re supposed to serve.
  • People with unhealthy bodies can’t serve because their disease won’t let them.
  • People with unhealthy spirits shouldn’t serve because they are promoting hypocrisy.
  • People with unhealthy emotions don’t serve because their attitude gets in the way.

Jesus not only told us His loving service was an example for us (John 13:15-17), but He went on to say that our loving service would be an example for others (vv. 34-35).

Healthy love loves God and then serves God by loving and serving others.

Do you have that kind of healthy love? Are you becoming wholly healthy enough to serve?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What do I know that I’m not yet doing?
  2. What will it take for me to turn knowing into doing?
  3. Can people tell I am growing wholly healthier year by year?

Becoming Spiritually Fit

To me this sounds weird: Jesus grew spiritually strong. Think about that: Isn’t He already God?!

When Jesus came to Earth as a man, the writer of Hebrews says He was made like us humans in every way. So just as you and I have a spiritual health to maintain, so did Jesus while He was on earth.

Dr. Luke noticed this as well when he noted that Jesus grew mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Luke notes His spiritual growth by saying Jesus “grew…in favor with God.” In other words, God was more and more pleased by what He saw developing in His Son.

Yesterday I listened to Pastor Josh Schram explain the parallels between our physical health and our spiritual health. He said that we all know what we need to do to grow physically strong—eat the right food, exercise, get proper rest, and have some way of monitoring our health.

It’s exactly the same way spiritually! We need…

…a good diet—Man does not live on bread alone but on every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus repeated this truth when He was confronted by the devil, and lived it out every day.

…proper exercise—All the health food in the world won’t do us a bit of good if we just sit around. It’s the same with the Bible: we can read it, memorize it, and talk about it, but if we don’t exercise it we won’t get spiritually fit. Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).

…the right amount of rest—We can’t be in perpetual “go” mode if we want to be healthy physically or spiritually. Jesus knew the value of rest, and frequently He would “withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

…to monitor our progress—James talks about the Word of God being a mirror for us, and Paul advises us to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

But here was the most important takeaway for me in Josh’s message…

Health is not just one big one-time choice. Health is small daily choices.

A good question for all of us to ask ourselves: Am I making good daily choices which will help me grow spiritually fit like Jesus.

I so enjoy sharing the teaching duties with a couple of really solid pastors-in-training in our church. They have helped me develop this series called Wholly Healthy, and have taken part in sharing messages in various aspects of this series. Please watch how Josh lays out the plan for our spiritual fitness.

What If Jesus Had Been Physically Weak?

physical-healthWe have been exploring the whole health of Jesus, as Dr. Luke recorded it in Luke 2:52. In this verse Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom (mental health), stature (physical health), in favor with God (spiritual health) and in favor with men (emotional/social health). Being unhealthy in any one of these areas will ultimately pull down the health in all of the areas.

The life of Jesus shows us that we, too, must strive to live wholly healthy lives.

Yesterday at Calvary Assembly of God, Scott asked a challenging question: “What if Jesus hadn’t been strong enough to make it to the top of Calvary’s hill?”

Think about the excruciating torture Jesus went through—

  • He was sleep deprived.
  • He was dehydrated from His intense prayer time in Gethsemane, where He sweat blood.
  • He was emotionally depleted from having all of His friends abandon and deny Him.
  • He was beaten multiple times by temple guards and Roman soldiers.
  • He was brutally whipped to the point that His back muscles and nerves were exposed.
  • He had thorns crushed into His scalp.
  • He had His beard ripped out.
  • He had to carry a 60- to 90-pound wooden crossbeam nearly 650 yards uphill.

All of this took place before He had metal spikes slammed through His wrists and ankles, and then was hoisted up rudely into the air to be suspended from His Cross.

Jesus went through all of that for you and me. In making it all the way to the point where He said, “It is finished,” He fulfilled every prophesy concerning His death.

The only way Jesus could have made it through this is if He was at optimal physical health.

If Jesus had died from exhaustion or heart attack or loss of blood before He was actually nailed to the Cross, how many of the prophesies would have been left unfinished? He needed to keep His physical body in tip-top shape throughout His entire earthly life in order to be ready for this one crucial moment.

Being physically weak makes it difficult for us to…

  • …think clearly (mental health)
  • …concentrate on the things of God (spiritual health)
  • …control our emotions and respond appropriately to other people (emotional/social health)

So we, like Jesus, must work on our physical health. God has a plan for your life. In order for you to fulfill all God has in mind, you must be wholly healthy. Are you taking care of your physical body? If you’re not, you are slowly robbing all of the other areas of your life of the strength they need.

If you’re not as physically healthy as you could be, what are you willing to do differently?

Check out this 3-minute clip where Scott asks us what physical health changes we’re willing to make for God’s glory…

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