Light And Truth—The Old Testament (book review)

Horatius Bonar is a brilliant commentator on Scripture! His insights are on full display in Light And Truth—The Old Testament. 

But I do have one complaint about this book: it’s too short! Bonar has four volumes of commentary on the New Testament (the Gospels, Acts and the Larger Epistles, the Lesser Epistles, and Revelation), but sadly only one volume for all of the Old Testament. 

Bonar’s style is not an exhaustive verse-by-verse—or even chapter-by-chapter—commentary on Scripture, but more of a theme-by-theme. Having read the four New Testament volumes first, I knew what to expect when I picked up this book on the Old Testament. Although at times he may remain silent on large swaths of Scripture, when he does spot something that moves his pen to action, it is brilliant insight. 

It bears repeating something I noted in a previous review of Bonar’s commentaries: “The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, so He is the best source of illumination when reading Scripture. But Horatius Bonar is clearly a man immersed in the overall message of the Bible, and guided by the Holy Spirit in his writings.” Bonar is an excellent tour guide to help you see items of significance as you journey through the Old Testament. 

If you would like to check out my earlier reviews of Bonar’s Light & Truth series: 

9 More Quotes From “So Send I You”

So Send I You is a collection of lectures Oswald Chambers delivered to students who felt a call to missions work. But Chambers made clear that every Christian is a missionary—“A missionary and a Christian ought to be one and the same.” Here are a few more quotes from this challenging book.

“It is God who saves men; we have to do the discipling after they are saved.”

“Our Lord calls to no special work; He calls to Himself. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, and He will engineer your circumstances and send you out.”

“Our Lord’s word ‘go’ simply means ‘live,’ and Acts 1:8 describes the ‘going.’ Jesus did not say to the disciples—‘Go into Jerusalem, go into Judea, go into Samaria, go into the uttermost part of the earth’; but—‘You shall be My witnesses’ in all these places: He undertakes to establish the goings. So many people are obsessed with this idea—‘What are you going to do?’ I hope none of us are going to do anything: I hope we are going to be what He wants us to be.”

“We adapt the New Testament to suit our own ideas; consequently we look on Jesus Christ as One Who assists us in our enterprises. The New Testament idea is that Jesus Christ is the absolute Lord over His disciples.”

“One way in which satan comes as an angel of light to Christians today is by telling them there is no need to use their minds. We must use our minds; we must keep the full power of our intellect ablaze for God on any subject that awakens us in our study of His Word.”

“Unless the missionary knows God and trusts in Him entirely, he will step down to a lower level and compromise, and tell the people they need not do certain things in exactly the way that Jesus indicates. But if he stands true to God, he will preach the truth, at whatever cost to the converts. No nervous system can stand that strain, no sensitiveness of mind can stand that test, nothing but the Holy Ghost can stand it, because He has the mind of God.”

“Loyalty to the commission [see Matthew 28:19-20] means, first of all, that the missionary sets himself to find out all that his Lord taught. There is not a greater test for loyal concentration than that. Jesus did not say—‘Teach salvation,’ or ‘teach sanctification,’ or ‘teach divine healing,’ but—‘Teach whatsoever I have commanded you.’ … A missionary is not sent by Jesus Christ to do medical work, educational work, industrial work; all that is part of the ordinary duty of life, and a missionary ought to be so equipped that he does these things naturally. But Jesus Christ never sends His disciples to do these things; He sends His disciples to teach, to ‘make disciples of all the nations.’”

“God does not do anything with us, only through us; consequently the one thing God estimates in His servants is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

“The real center of the disciple’s devotion is watching with Jesus [see Matthew 26:38]. When once we have learned to watch with Him, the thought of self is not kept down because it is not there to keep down; self-effacement is complete. Self has been effaced by the deliberate giving up to another self in sovereign preference, and the manifestation of the life in the actual world of things is—‘I am not my own, but His.’”

My full book review of So Send I You is here, and you can check out the first set of quotes I shared from So Send I You by clicking here. And be sure to check out my weekly series “Thursdays With Oswald” where I share longer passages from his book I am currently reading.

Book Reviews From 2017

3 Apologetics For Your Christian Hope

There was a story circulating that a physicist once claimed that the bumblebee was defying the laws of physics and aerodynamics in its flight. Apparently, he calculated that the ratio of the bumblebee’s wing size in comparison to his body size just didn’t make the math work.

But entomologists and physicists quickly jumped in to say, “Hey, look, the bumblebee is flying, so clearly it works!” And then they went to work to try to explain it. They figured out that the bumblebee flaps its wings more back-and-forth than up-and-down, creating tiny hurricanes the propel them through the air. But then that created a whole new set of problems, like how does the bumblebee control a hurricane so precisely as it turns, stops, dives, and climbs. So then they had to create a new explanation, which they named dynamic stall.

All the while, the bumblebee is flapping its too-small wings 230 times per second(!), and going about its daily activities without being able to explain tiny hurricanes, the laws of physics or aerodynamics, or even knowing what dynamic stall is. It simply flies!

The ultimate argument for anything is doing something that critics say is impossible.

Peter tells Christians to be prepared to answer anyone for the reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15-16). The Greek word for “give an answer” is apologia, from which we get our word apologetic. Here are three apologetics for Christians to use for the hope that they have.

It really comes down to this: My hope is based on the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, which I believe because of the Bible AND because of the change in my life.

  1. The Bible’s authenticity

“No other work in all literature has been so carefully and accurately copied as the Old Testament. The particular discipline and art of the Jewish scribes came out of a class of Jewish scholars between the fifth and third centuries BC. They were called the Sopherim, from a Hebrew word meaning ‘scribes.’ The sopherim, who initiated a stringent standard of meticulous discipline, were subsequently eclipsed by the Talmudic scribes, who guarded, interpreted, and commented on the sacred texts from AD 100 to AD 500. In turn, the Talmudic scribes were followed by the better-known and even more meticulous Masoretic scribes (AD 500-900).” —Josh McDowell, God-Breathed

“No other ancient text is substantiated by such a wealth of ancient textual witnesses as is the New Testament. Roughly 5,500 separate manuscripts are available, variously containing anything from the entire New Testament corpus to a slight fragment of a single verse. … This textual support is far superior to that available for any other ancient documents, such as the classical texts from Greek and Roman writers (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero). Only partial manuscripts have survived for many works of antiquity, and it is not unusual to find that the only complete manuscript for some ancient writing is a copy dating from 1,000 years after its composition.” —Archaeological Study Bible, “The New Testaments Texts” (page 1859)

“The biblical Dead Sea Scrolls are up to 1,250 years older than the traditional Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic text. We have been using a one-thousand-year-old manuscript to make our Bibles. We’ve now got scrolls going back to 250 BC. … Our conclusion is simply this—the scrolls confirm the accuracy of the biblical text by 99 percent.” —Dr. Peter Flint

  1. Christ’s resurrection 

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Paul lists all of the eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection, giving critics ample opportunity to challenge these witnesses in person. If these witnesses would have been perpetrating a hoax, skeptics of their day would have been able to uncover the inconsistencies in their story. If the account of Christ’s resurrection was made-up, it’s doubtful the early Christian martyrs would have “stuck to their story” as they were being tortured, but none recanted.

Josh McDowell notes, “By AD 100, the apostles had died, but the Christian Church was still in its infancy, with fewer than twenty-five thousand proclaimed followers of Christ. But within the next two hundred years, the fledgling church experienced explosive multiplication of growth, to include as many as twenty million people. This means the church of Jesus Christ quadrupled every generation for five consecutive generations!

  1. My personal experience

“I am a changed person. I am not who I was before I met Jesus” and “My life tends to go better when I live by biblical principles” are both excellent apologetics!

Let others argue that God doesn’t exist, or that you shouldn’t have hope, and then you—like the bumblebee—just keep flying with Jesus! (see 2 Timothy 3:14)

What Is The Church Supposed To Be Doing?

Before ascending back to Heaven, Jesus commissioned His followers. He gave them a mission which Christian often refer to as The Great Commission.

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”

There are several pictures in the New Testament of how the Church could live out this Great Commission, but one of the pictures that I find the most helpful is that of a Body.

The human body is an amazing creation! Just to accomplish the simple task of picking up something between our thumb and forefinger is a miracle in itself. The structure of bones and ligaments and tendons, the interaction of nerves in the fingers coordinating with the optical nerve, not to mention the enzymes and blood vessels that are all doing their part.

Yet if any part is not functioning properly, that simple action becomes more difficult. Maybe it even becomes impossible.

The Church is the same way. Every part of the Church Body has to be functioning in healthy order for the whole Body to be effective.

Here are four aspects of a healthy Church Body that the Apostle Paul lists in Ephesians 4:

  1. Caring for one another
  2. Mobilizing for evangelism
  3. Making disciple-makers
  4. Helping organize for more meaningful ministry

If every part of the Body is doing its part, we’re Living out the Great Commission.

If some parts are missing or unhealthy, we’re Wallowing in the Great Omission.

It’s not about your church (small “c”) or my church. It’s about all Christian disciples being a part of one Church—one Body—going into all the world and making disciples of all peoples. That’s what the Church is supposed to be doing!

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.

The Cure For Spiritual Fanaticism

“Some time after Pentecost a group of believers met to pray for strength and power to meet the emergency then facing them, and to enlist the help of God on their behalf. ‘And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness’ (Acts 4:31). Some of these were of the original number filled at Pentecost. It is hardly conceivable that God acted contrary to His own will in filling them again after Pentecost. Still other outpourings are recorded in Acts 8, Acts 10 and Acts 19. All these occurred some years after the original act.

“In brief, the teaching of the New Testament is that the outpouring at Pentecost was the historic beginning of an era which was to be characterized by a continuous outpouring of the Holy Spirit. …

“This anti-emotionalism, though it is sponsored by some good people and travels in pretty orthodox company, is nevertheless an unwarranted inference, not a scriptural doctrine, and is in violent opposition to psychology and common sense. Where in the Bible are feeling and faith said to be at odds? The fact is that faith engenders feeling as certainly as life engenders motion. We can have feeling without faith, it is true, we can never have faith without feeling. Faith as a cold, unemotional light is wholly unknown in the Scriptures. …

“The Holy Spirit is the cure for fanaticism. Not the cause of it.”

—A.W. Tozer, in Paths To Power

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