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

8 Quotes From “Paths To Power” by A.W. Tozer

As I said in my book review, A.W. Tozer’s words frequently make me say both “Ouch!” and “Amen!” Maybe you’ll feel the same thing in these few quotes.

“Left to herself the Church must have perished as a thousand abortive sects had done before her, and have left nothing for a future generation to remember. That the Church did not so perish was due entirely to the miraculous element within her. That element was supplied by the Holy Spirit who came at Pentecost to empower her for her task. For the Church was not an organization merely, not a movement, but a walking incarnation of spiritual energy. …

“In short, the Church began in power, moved in power, and moved just as long as she had power. When she no longer had power she dug in for safety and sought to conserve her gains. But her blessings were like manna: when they tried to keep it overnight it bred worms and stank. So we have had monasticism, scholasticism, institutionalism; and they have all been indicative of the same thing: absence of spiritual power.” 

“The weakness in our message today is our overemphasis on faith with a corresponding underemphasis on obedience. This has been carried so far that ‘believe’ has been made to double for ‘obey’ in the minds of millions of religious persons.”

“In every denomination, missionary society, local church, or individual Christian this law operates. God works as long as His people live daringly; He ceases when they no longer need His aid.” 

“To any casual observer of the religious scene today, two things will at once be evident: one, that there is very little sense of sin among the unsaved, and two, that the average professed Christian lives a life so worldly and careless that it is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man.”

“It is always dangerous to isolate a truth and then press it to its limit without regard to other truth.”

“It may be stated as an axiom of the Christian system that whatever makes sin permissible is a foe of God and an enemy of the souls of men.”

“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, 10 and 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.”

6 Quotes From “The Dawn Of Christianity”

Robert J. Hutchinson makes the history around the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, as well as the history of Christ’s followers after His resurrection, come to life in The Dawn Of Christianity. Check out my full review by clicking here.

“Skeptics make much of the fact that historians have no independent corroboration from outside sources of most of the events described in the Gospels, but this is common with ancient history and hardly unique to Christianity. For example, virtually everything historians know about the Three Hundred, the Spartan warriors who held off a Persian invasion at the mountain pass of Thermopylae in 480 BC, comes from the writings of a single Greek author, Herodotus. What’s more, the earliest copy historians have of Herodotus’s chronicle of this event, The Histories, dates to the tenth century AD—or more than 1,350 years after it was written! In comparison, historians have a cornucopia of historical sources and archaeological evidence about Jesus of Nazareth and the early Christian community. For example, more than fifty papyrus manuscripts of New Testament texts exist that date before AD 300. The earliest of these manuscripts, a papyrus fragment from the Gospel of John known as P52, dates to around AD 125 or just thirty years after the original was likely written.”

“Around 20 BC, the half-Jewish King Herod the Great set himself the task of renovating and expanding the temple and surrounding area. There had been a small natural plateau there before, fixed atop the ridge in the northeastern corner of Jerusalem; but Herod wanted something far more spectacular. He therefore enclosed this natural plateau on all sides with four immense retaining walls, some more than one hundred feet high, made up of massive rectangular ashlars, or cut stones, that weighed as much as 415 tons each. These stones are so large that even modern cranes and bulldozers would have some difficulty moving them. Herod then filled in this entire quadrangle with stones and dirt, creating an artificial hilltop plaza—roughly 1,500 feet long by 1,000 feet wide—of more than thirty-five acres. In modern terms, Herod’s Temple Mount is so large that about twenty-six American football fields could fit in the space available. This massive engineering marvel has endured for two thousand years and still stands today, almost wholly intact.”

“Simon the Rock continued to loudly protest that he was willing to die, if need be, but would never deny Jesus. The other disciples said the same. This is one of those incidents that even many skeptics believe must be historical under the ‘criterion of embarrassment,’ which means that the Christian community was unlikely to invent a story that cast such a bad light on its leaders; therefore, it must have actually happened.” 

“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.”

“All four Gospels report that this board, what the Romans called the titulus, held the inscription ‘The King of the Jews.’ John’s Gospel alone reports that Jesus’ name was also on the titulus, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,’ and that it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek (19:19-20). In Latin the charge read Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum, which is why, to this day, the letters INRI appear at the top of crucifixes.”

“In 1968, archaeologists uncovered a first-century tomb at Giv’at ha-Mivtar, northeast of Jerusalem. Inside the tomb they found in ossuary containing the skeleton of a crucified man—the first and only relic of a crucified man found in Israel. Inscribed on the ossuary was his name in Hebrew: Yehochanan. On top of the bone of his right heel was a wooden board, and through the board, and his heel, was a 4.5-inch iron nail.”

New Name = New Nature

All throughout the Old Testament we find hints about Jesus. Then as the New Testament dawns, the brilliant light of Jesus makes sense of all the hints we had previously seen.

One of the way God hints at the arrival of Jesus and what He would do for mankind is found in the names of people. Hebrew names are interesting things. Sometimes they are quite literal. For instance…

    • A baby who was born at one of Israel’s lowest points was named Ichabod = God’s glory has departed.
    • A baby who was born with quite a lot of hair was named Esau = hairy baby.
    • Esau’s twin brother was hanging on to his heel when he was born, so they named him Jacob = the one who grabs the heel.

At other times God tells parents what to name their babies before they are born. These names tell a story in themselves of what is coming…

    • After a time of upheaval in Israel’s history, God directed the parents to give their son two names: Solomon (which means peace) and Jedidiah (which means beloved by God). This brought reassurance to the parents and to the country.
    • When God was about to bring a quick answer to a problem, He directed the parents to name their son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, which means God will bring the reward sooner than you think.

But what is most interesting to me is when God changes someone’s name to reflect the new nature in their life.

Abram’s name meant exalted father, but God changed his name to Abraham, which means father of a multitude. His wife’s birth name was Sarai (princess) and it was changed to Sarah (a noble woman).

In these name changes, two things happened (see Genesis 17:1-15):

  1. God put His own name into theirs. God’s name means I AM. We sometimes pronounce it Yahweh, but that is only a guess since the Jews wrote His name without the vowels. That means His name was the unpronounceable YHWH, sort of a breath-sound. So Abram became Abrahaaam and Sarah became Saraaaaah. 
  2. God took the burden off them and put it on Himself. It was no longer Abram’s responsibility to become an exalted father, or Sarai’s responsibility to make herself a princess. God said, “Only with Me in you can you become who I want you to be!”

As you follow Abraham and Sarah’s descendants, you will see time and time again God reminding people: You can’t do it on your own. You must have Me in you in order to live the life I have for you!

Hoshea was born as an Israelite slave in Egypt, yet his parents gave him this name that means deliverer. Before God could use Hoshea to bring the Israelites into the Promised Land, He first changed his name to Joshua, which means God is the ultimate deliverer.

Joshua in the BC Hebrew language is the same as Jesus in the AD Greek language.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of being able to fully deliver people not just from physical slavery, but from the eternal consequences of sin. Man cannot save himself, but Jesus Christ can.

That’s why when you surrender to Christ and allow Him to be your Lord and Master, He puts His name in you: CHRISTian! A new name, and a brand new nature because of what it means to have Christ in you.

Check out this video where I explain the cool story behind more name changes—

Does Your Life Have A “BC/AD” Split?

Today we live in 2017 AD. But 1800 years ago the A.D. stood for “Anno Diocletiani” which means “the year of Diocletian,” a ruthless, anti-Christian Roman emperor. In 525 AD, a monk named Dionysius proposed changing the A.D. to “Anno Domini” which means “the year of our Lord,” referring to the Advent of Jesus Christ. Then to mark the dates of the calendar before Christ’s birth properly, the “B.C.” (before Christ) period was introduced.

But BC/AD is just a dating system. There is no such thing as “BC”—there has never been a time before Christ! He has always been! Throughout what we now refer to as the Old Testament (or the BC period),  Jesus is constantly revealing Himself through little hints here and there, but when He comes to earth as a Man, all the hints become a bright, blazing, unmistakable Truth!

Just like Dionysius came up with a new dating system based on the Advent of Jesus, the Israelites had a new starting point marked by the Passover (see Exodus 12:1-7). Everything from this point backward is reset and dates are now counted forward from this moment. Before this time they were slaves in Egypt; after this time they were free and called God’s special people.

The “BC” Passover had three important components:

  • A perfect lamb without any defect (Exodus 12:5)
  • The lamb is slaughtered at twilight (v. 6)
  • The blood is applied to the door (v. 7)

When Jesus came to Earth, He showed how He was all three of those elements. In the “AD” Jesus is—

In both BC and AD God declares the same message: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The blood seals the deal and brings God’s forgiveness of sins, and His blessings on the life that is now completely His.

The word remember appears frequently in the BC, as in “remember what God did for you.” In the AD remember appears at a pivotal time—when Jesus shared His last supper with His followers, He told them that Communion would be a time for them to remember all that Jesus did for us as the Perfect Lamb, whose Blood is applied to the Door of our heart, so that God’s judgment could pass over us.

Do you have a Passover date? A time when the BC became AD in your life? If so, good! Keep remembering that, and don’t ever go back to being a citizen of anything but God’s Kingdom.

If not, today can be the first day of a new era for you. By faith you can apply the Blood of the Perfect Lamb to the Door of your heart, and you will no longer be a slave of “Egypt” (a picture of being utterly trapped and unable to help yourself), but a citizen of Heaven! All it takes is for you to believe that Christ’s blood purchased your freedom, so you can ask God the Father to forgive you of all your BC past, and then you can live forever in the AD with Jesus as your Savior and Master!

Check out this video where I explain this BC/AD system more, and join me next week as we learn more about how Jesus Christ bridges the BC/AD divide.

Passover And Communion

Last Sunday we began a new series called BC / AD, which is helping us discover how Jesus fulfills all of the “hints” we see of Him throughout what we now call the Old Testament. In truth, there is no such thing as “BC,” as there has never been a time before Christ. He always IS.

Yesterday, Jeff Hlavin shared with us a marvelous look at the foreshadowing of Christ’s work on Calvary in the institution of the Old Testament observance of Passover. In the “AD” period, Christians now remember what Jesus did through the observance of Communion.

Watch the video of Pastor Jeff’s message to learn more.

And if you would like to download the handout from his message, please click here → Passover and Communion

If you don’t have a home church in the Cedar Springs area, I invite you to join me on Easter Sunday as we continue to see how Jesus fulfilled in the “AD” all that was promised about Him in the “BC.” It’s going to be a fantastic morning!

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