Links & Quotes

“This is one of the rewards of reading the Old Testament regularly. You keep on discovering more and more what a tissue of quotations from it the New Testament is; how constantly Our Lord repeated, reinforced, continued, refined, and sublimated the Judaic ethics, how very seldom He introduced a novelty.” —C.S. Lewis, Reflections On The Psalms 

I have shared quite often about the historicity of the Bible. Here is some additional evidence for that: Top 10 discoveries related to the Book of Daniel.

The folks at Fight The New Drug provide excellent research on the dangers of pornography as well as many helpful resources for folks to break free from a porn addiction. Pornography often attracts people when they are emotionally drained, but viewing porn actually increases feelings of loneliness and isolation.

If we ever start to think the Church is one or two ministers and a whole bunch of parishioners, it really won’t be a Church. According to Ephesians 4, all Christians should be ministers. 

You can check out the full message that this clip is from by clicking here.

Here is a word of encouragement for anyone in a time of spiritual warfare—

Check out my regular Monday Motivation series.

Wow, this post from T.M. Moore on how we respond to God’s “call” is a much-needed reminder. In the post, he wrote,

“Probably most Christians treat the calling of God as a kind of punctuated equilibrium. He breaks into their lives to ‘call’ them to some activity or task, but only from time to time, and only for that activity or task. He ‘calls’ us to believe the Gospel, and we do. He ‘calls’ us to this or that church, and we go. He ‘calls’ us to some ministry or other Christian activity, and so we participate. He ‘calls’ us to make a special gift, go on a mission trip, send a note of encouragement to a friend, and so forth. Our lives run on their own schedules, so whenever God ‘calls’ us to do something, we’ll try to get it done.

“But most of the time, other things have prior claims on our lives. We have jobs, families, friends, responsibilities, things we like to do or must do. We can’t respond to every calling from God because, well, there just isn’t enough time. We say, when friends press us to consider this or that Christian opportunity, ‘If God calls me to it, I will.’ But aren’t we just using the language of piety to relieve the discomfort of pressure to do something we’d rather not do?

“We are called of God. Of this there is no doubt. But for most Christians, the way they understand God’s calling is not the same as the way God issues it. And they have not yet learned to value His calling as He intends, as the defining and guiding value of our lives.”

Links & Quotes

“…and let us all hasten to approach to perfect manhood, to the measure of the completed growth of the fullness of Jesus Christ, in Whom let us love one another, praise one another, correct one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, that with Him in one another we may reign and triumph.” —Columbanus, Letter to Certain Bishops, Irish, early 7th century

This is pretty cool: Mastodon bones were discovered in our community. It is cool to think that these amazing creatures were wandering around in our neighborhood.

Have you ever wondered how the laws of the Old Testament era should be applied to New Testament Christians? Theologian T.M. Moore has an excellent series of articles on this, but I think his post The Church is not Ancient Israel is especially informative.

Here is one way the Holy Spirit can speak to us—

“It is not the body of truth that enlightens; it is the Spirit of truth who enlightens. If you are willing to obey the Lord Jesus, He will illuminate your spirit. He will inwardly enlighten you. The truth you have known intellectually will now be known spiritually. Power will begin to flow up and out, and you will find yourself changed—marvelously changed.” —A.W. Tozer

“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” —F.B. Meyer

This is pretty cool: some fossilized human footprints in the salt flats of Utah. “Both creationist and uniformitarian scientists agree that these tracks were made during the Ice Age, although they disagree about when the Ice Age occurred. Creationists think these footprints are just a few thousand years old. However, evolutionists think the tracks are more than 10,000 years old, because they believe the wet conditions needed to form and preserve the footprints have been absent from the Great Salt Lake area for at least that long. … wet Ice Age deserts are extremely difficult for evolutionary scientists to convincingly explain. However, the Bible’s real history makes much better sense of both these wet deserts and preserved Ice Age footprints.”

Don’t cut corners to get more. Instead, be faithful, do your best work, and the “more” will follow at the right time—

Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Mouth Of The Lord Has Spoken

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

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

The Mouth Of The Lord Has Spoken

…For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:20).

     However this sacred Book may be treated nowadays, it was not treated contemptuously, nor negligently, nor questioningly by the Lord Jesus Christ, our Master and Lord. It is noteworthy how He reverenced the written Word. The Spirit of God rested upon Him personally, without measure, and He could speak out of His own mind the revelation of God, and yet He continually quoted the Law, and the Prophets, and the Psalms…. I am sure, brethren, we cannot be wrong in imitating the example of our divine Lord in our reverence for that Scripture, which cannot be broken. … 

     The New Testament writers sit reverently down before the Old Testament and receive God’s words as such without any question whatever. You and I belong to a school that will continue to do the same, let others adopt what behavior they please. As for us and for our house, this priceless Book will remain the standard of our faith and the ground of our hope so long as we live.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

As I have discussed before, the 39 books of the Old Testament were called “Scripture” by Jesus and those living in that same era. The New Testament writers saw Jesus as the fulfillment of those Old Testament Scripture, and what they wrote for us then became Scripture also (Luke 4:18-21; 24:27, 44-45; John 2:22, 17:12; Acts 1:16, 8:35; Galatians 3:8, 16, 22; James 2:8, 23, 4:5-6; 1 Peter 2:6; 2 Peter 3:16). 

When we read the Bible, we are reading words from the mouth of God Himself! 

This Book is the measure of truth, the guide for our lives, and the blessed assurance we need as we anticipate the second advent of Jesus. We need to be much in this Sacred Book!

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Whole Counsel Of God’s Word

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

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

The Whole Counsel Of God’s Word

The words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6) 

     Beloved friends, consider the quality of the words of God. ‘The words of the Lord are pure words.’ From this statement I gather, first, the uniformity of their character. No exception is made to any of the words of God, but they are all described as pure words. They are not all of the same character. Some are for teaching, others are for comfort, and others for rebuke. But they are so far of a uniform character that they are all pure words. I conceive it to be an evil habit to make preferences in Holy Scripture. We must preserve this volume as a whole. …  

     Above all, do not drop into the semi-blasphemy of some, who think the New Testament vastly superior to the Old. … They are of equal authority, and they cast such light upon each other that we could not spare either of them. … In the whole Book, from Genesis to Revelation, the words of Jehovah are found, and they are always pure words. … 

     Whether the Holy Spirit speaks by Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or John, or James, or Paul, the authority is still the same. Even concerning Jesus Christ our Lord this is true. For He says of Himself, ‘The word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me’ (John 14:24). In this matter He puts Himself upon the level of others who were as the mouth of God.

From The Bible Tried And Proved

Because my parents were such amazing hosts, we had a steady stream of evangelists and missionaries that dined in our home. As a young man, I was so blessed to sit at the dining room table and listen to some of the wisest and godly preachers of their time. 

One such evangelist was C.M. Ward, who hosted the “Revivaltime” radio broadcast for a quarter of a century. I remember listening intently to a conversation in our home when he turned and looked right at me. “Young man,” he said, “The Word of God is pure. You can devour it and feed on all of it. But anything else you read is like eating chicken: There’s some meat that’s good, but you have to watch out for the bones that can choke you.” 

Those words have stuck with me for nearly 50 years. I delight in reading my Bible as my daily Bread—both Old Testament and New Testament, the words of the prophets, the words of Jesus, and the words of the apostles. It’s all so beneficial! 

In a recent sermon, I talked about the value in reading and studying the whole counsel of God’s Word.

I encourage you not to pick and choose the biblical passages that you like best, but to read, study, and meditate on the whole Book. Find a study Bible to use, get into a Bible-preaching church, and make God’s Word your daily Source of wisdom. 

ALL Scripture is for ALL servants of God. ALL Scripture is applicable to ALL the circumstances we will ever face in life.

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The Holy War (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Many of the principles taught in the Bible are conveyed to us through graphic stories. Think about some of the imagery the prophets of the Old Testament used or even the parables Jesus used in the New Testament. In fact, even the Hebrew language of the Old Testament and the Greek language of the New Testament are very picturesque languages. John Bunyan takes full advantage of this in his book The Holy War. 

If you have ever read a John Bunyan book or sermon, it is quite obvious that the Bible is his Source Book. In fact, Charles Spurgeon said of him, “Why, this man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” Much like The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Holy War is steeped in biblical imagery that makes the story so engaging. 

The title and subtitle of the book alone tell you the essence of the story: The holy war made by Shaddai upon Diabolus for the regaining of the metropolis of the world, or the losing and taking again of the town of Mansoul. With the assault taking place on Ear-gate and Eye-gate of Mansoul by such combatants as Lord Incredulity or Mr. Forget-Good, and the servants of King Shaddai such as Captain Conviction, Mr. Justice, and Mr. True-Man drawing up battle lines against the town, you can quickly see how picturesque the language truly is. 

Much in the vein of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, Bunyan also lets us hear the correspondence and war counsels of Lucifer and his minions, as well as the conversation between King Shaddai and His Son Emmanuel. 

As with anything I’ve ever read from John Bunyan, The Holy War is entertaining and insightful. If you have read and enjoyed The Pilgrim’s Progress, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this book as well. 

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The Best Commentary On The Old Testament

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Frequently, people will ask me what commentaries I consult when I’m studying for a sermon. Occasionally, I will consult a commentary—but only after I feel I’ve exhausted my own biblical studies. I discussed some thoughts from Charles Spurgeon on the use of commentaries in a previous post. 

But let’s look at this from another angle: Before there was an Old Testament and a New Testament, what did those who lived in the days of Jesus call what we now refer to as “the Old Testament”? They called it Scripture. 

Here’s a clip from a recent sermon where I discuss more in-depth why our New Testament is really the best commentary we have on the Old Testament:

I invite you to check out a couple of other resources: 

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Clinging To God’s Words

When it comes right down to it, faith and fear both hinge on our beliefs: Fear believes something bad; faith believes something good. Fear is an invitation for us to evaluate in who or in what we have placed our trust.  

According to the dictionary, fear is a distressing emotion we feel whether the threat is real or imagined. Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” Even more recently, an extensive study found that 85 percent of things people feared never happened!

According to the dictionary, faith is trust in something even without proof or evidence. That sounds tremendously close to the biblical definition of faith: Now faith is the assurance—the confirmation, the title deed—of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality—faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. (Hebrews 11:1 AMP) 

Mary is the second person to whom an angel says “Do not be afraid” in the First Advent story. Consider her story alongside Zechariah’s story and especially notice when these words were spoken. The angel Gabriel first tells Mary, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 

Mary’s initial response is being “greatly troubled.” This Greek word means an internal agitation that today psychologists would call “cognitive dissonance.” In other words, what Mary believed about herself didn’t line up with what God believed about her. Her next response is wondering how she could ever measure up to God’s high standard of her. 

It’s at this point that Gabriel says those key words, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have already found favor with God.” She didn’t have to make herself worthy of God’s favor because she already had it! Now Mary just had to believe it. 

Fear is overcome by clinging to God’s words instead of the world’s words. 

Mary did indeed choose this. Her song (in vv. 46-55) is loaded with Old Testament references, and she concludes by singing to God, “You have helped Your servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as You said to our fathers.” 

Here’s the truth—

  • Your Word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89) 
  • God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19) 
  • And Jesus would tell us that clinging to God’s words puts us on the surest of foundations that no storm of life could ever shake (Luke 6:46-49)! 

Clinging to God’s words lets us realize God’s grace toward us. 

If you know Jesus as your Savior, you can insert your name in the same place where Gabriel said to Mary: “Do not be afraid, ____________, you have found favor with God!” 

If you have missed any of the messages in our Advent series Do Not Be Afraid, you can access the full list by clicking here. 

Halley’s Study Bible (book review)

I believe Halley’s Bible Handbook may have been the first Bible study resource I got my hands on when I was a pre-teen. It was a slender book but packed with insights that even this third-generation Pentecostal boy hadn’t heard before. So I was quite intrigued when I heard about Halley’s Study Bible. 

Let me get something out of the way right upfront. I’m a blogger for the BibleGateway Blogger Grid (sometimes called #bgbg2 on Twitter), so I’m occasionally offered a free book in exchange for my honest book review. However, there are more books that I pass on than books I agree to review. Since I am already working my way through the Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible, I wasn’t too eager to dive into another study Bible just yet. But I’m so glad I did! 

Reading Henry Halley’s concise overview of each book of the Bible was nostalgic for me, reminding me of what initially intrigued about his handbook: taking voluminous information and giving such a clear, concise overview. 

The study notes on each page offer fascinating insights, and the unique perspective Halley offers of the people, places, and practices chronicled in the pages of Scripture are unparalleled. And what I especially appreciate is Halley’s whole-Bible approach. By that, I mean his ability to show you a theme that originates in the Old Testament and finds its fulfillment in the New Testament, showing how all of the Bible is interconnected. 

If you are looking for a new way to study your Bible, I highly recommend Halley’s Study Bible to you. 

I am a HarperCollins book reviewer. 

The Old Testament Affirmed In The New Testament

(click image for a larger view)

Sometimes, instead of referring to the two major divisions of the Bible as the Old Testament and the New Testament, I prefer to use the First Testament and the Second Testament. This helps me remember that “Old” doesn’t mean outdated and “New” doesn’t mean forgetting what came before it. 

I love how B.B. Warfield describes the First Testament as being like a mansion with richly-decorated, beautifully-ornate rooms, but which are dimly lit. With Christ’s Advent described in the Second Testament, the light is turned on and we can now appreciate the beauty that was always there! 

Sadly, there are far too many people who see the two divisions of the Bible as separate. In reality, the First Testament is affirmed over and over again in the Second Testament. In fulfilled prophesy alone, there is an abundance of evidence! 

But let’s get even more obvious: In just the four Gospels there are at least 100 direct mentions or quotations of passages from the Old Testament. Clearly, both Jesus and the Gospel writers saw the First Testament as an integral part of Christ’s ministry. 

Check out this list that I compiled and look up the references for yourself (a great place to look up Scriptures is on BibleGateway.com). 

If you would like to download a PDF version of this list, click here → Old Testament affirmed in the New Testament ← If you would like to use this document in a teaching session, just be sure to mention that you downloaded it from craigtowens.com. Thanks! 

More resource for your Bible study: 

The Holy Spirit On And In

I’m in a series right now at Calvary Assembly of God called We Are: Pentecostal. This is the second time we have rejoined this series because, quite honestly, there is just way too much for me to cover effectively! 

I have pointed out how most people in the Old Testament had the Spirit of God come ON them, but in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit comes IN Christians. And I’ve made the case that IN > ON (read more about that by clicking here). 

The Infographic Bible has a wonderful graphic depicting the On/In nature of the Spirit in the two Testaments—

 

And if you would like to see a short video where I try to illustrate the difference between on and in, please check this out. 

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