Good morning, my friends. Grace and peace be with you today.
(Yesterday on the blog: The Blessings Lent Us for a Day…)
“There are times when as churches and pastors we make things more complicated than they need to be. I sometimes fear that evangelism is made out to be something that you need to learn, that there’s a magic course or a seminar out there that will unlock the hidden evangelist in you.” But it’s not nearly so complicated.
“It’s common in certain circles to hate on the New Living Translation. That hate is undeserved.” Tommy Keene explains why the NLT isn’t nearly as bad as some make it out to be.
“Technically, of course, there is such a thing as an empty gun. But if you think it’s empty and you’re wrong, the consequences can be so tragic it’s better to just pretend that no gun is ever empty, except in very specific situations like cleaning or repairing it. I’m beginning to think we should have a similar attitude towards so-called ‘righteous anger.’”
This is worth considering: “Ask yourself this question, and answer it honestly: if you were able to view actual recordings of the events in the Bible, would you still need the Bible, or because you could watch and listen to the events themselves, would you have a better revelation of God than the Scriptures?”
“God is governing, providing, preserving, pardoning, and saving. He is sustaining and guiding. And He is frustrating.” He is, indeed, as long as you’re thinking of the correct use of the word.
“In a span of minutes, from when we gave our baby a taste of what we were sure would be his new favorite food to when his body rebelled, we were living in a different world. A more hostile world. Someone described the mental shift to me as though the color orange could send your child to the hospital: suddenly you notice it everywhere.”
Harold Senkbeil’s The Care of Souls is a book that has made a deep and immediate impact on me. I hope you’ll indulge me in another brief excerpt from it that I found particularly meaningful.
Where we always look for and request deliverance from suffering, the testimony of Scripture is mostly about what God wants to do for us in our suffering. —Jared C. Wilson
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By Tim Challies — 2 months ago
Back in the 1950s, humanity entered into a great age of space exploration as the United States and the Soviet Union battled to be first to the moon. It seems to me that we are now entering into a second great age of space exploration as billionaires battle it out to see who can be first to establish a permanent outpost in space.
We don’t need to push our minds too hard to imagine a scenario in which one of these billionaires announces he is establishing a new nation somewhere beyond earth. We might imagine him making an announcement and saying, “This world is falling apart, the earth is collapsing under the weight of war and epidemic and pollution, so we are going to start over. We are putting out the call to help create Humanity 2.0. Join me as I found the Kingdom of Space.”
The billionaire who is founding this state might explain something like this: “This new nation will be better and greater than any nation or any civilization in the whole history of mankind. Because we are going to recreate humanity, we need to ensure we bring along only the best of the best—only the sharpest minds, only the most impressive personalities, only the most beautiful bodies, only the most accomplished individuals. We need the wise, the winsome, the winners, the well-to-do so together we can fulfill our potential and become all humanity can be. Come to me all who are mighty and self-sufficient. Bring in the rich and the beautiful, the impressive and the accomplished.”
Jesus, too, has founded a kingdom—the kingdom of heaven—and his kingdom could hardly be more different. It’s a kingdom where the call goes out to the low instead of the high. Its king says “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden,” and “bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.” But even that’s not enough. He sends his emissaries to the halfway houses and drop-in centers and group homes and says, “Bring them all in!” If the human instinct is to build a kingdom upon those who are strong and mighty, impressive and successful, God’s instinct is to build a kingdom upon those who are weak and lowly, who are meek and merciful.
Keeping these two perspectives in mind, let me present you with two different visions for humanity. Let’s imagine now that our billionaire is ready to blast off to begin his Kingdom of Space. He has chosen the cream of the human crop to accompany him, and now together they are parading toward the great ship will that take them to their new nation.
At the head of the parade is our billionaire himself. He sits tall, proud, and resplendent in an open-roofed limousine. The crowds cry out their praise to this champion among men. Behind him come a whole host of winners of the Nobel Prize, each of them displaying their medal. Behind them walk the founders of the world’s great corporations carrying huge stacks of their money. Next are kings and queens, holding the scepters of their power. Next are athletes clutching their trophies, musicians displaying their awards, actors holding their Oscars and Emmys. It is a parade of the powerful and beautiful, the wealthy and accomplished, the influential and formidable. The crowds stand and applaud as these great people parade by. And soon enough they rise to the stars to found their new nation. But what they don’t know is that their kingdom, too, will end, for though it may be a kingdom beyond the bounds of this earth, it is still within the kingdom of this world. Their medals and scepters and money and trophies and everything else they cling to, everything else they count as a credential, will rust and decay and turn to dust.
But now let’s watch a second march. Let’s watch as the citizens of the kingdom of heaven pass by. At the head of them all come the humble, the ones who can barely lift their faces but can say only, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Their hands are empty. Next come people whose eyes are red with mourning over their sin and sinfulness. They too have empty hands. Some of them limp by on crutches, some roll by in wheelchairs. Behind them are the ones who are meek and the ones who have waged a lifelong battle to become holy. Watch now as people pass by who dedicated their lives to extending mercy to the overlooked and marginalized, then people whose hearts and hands have remained pure in a world that tempted them so sorely. Then see the ones who brought peace where there was conflict, and ones who stood strong even when they were hated and beaten. See how among them there are representatives from every nation, every tribe and people and tongue. See how they each have empty hands, see how each of them wears just a simple white robe, unadorned by medals or ribbons or regalia.
Last of all, comes a simple man all alone who looks despised and rejected. He has no form or majesty that we should look at him, no great beauty that we should desire him. He comes in the form of a servant; he is humble and lowly and riding on a donkey. Look carefully and you will see that his hands and feet are deeply wounded, that blood runs down his forehead from where thorns have been pressed into it. Listen to the crowds as they raise their voices to jeer and hiss and boo.
But look again, look closer, look with eyes of faith, and you will see that as he passes you by he is utterly transformed. Look and see that this lowly servant has become a king, a warrior whose name is Faithful and True. See that his lowly colt has become a mighty white horse, that his crown of thorns has become the crown of a king, that the crowds suddenly fall to their faces before him. See that as he passes by he turns and looks you in the eye and he opens his mouth and he says, “Follow me.”
And so, my friend, if you have not already done so, hear his call, heed his welcome, receive your citizenship, take up your place in his march and follow him into the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom that has now begun but which will never, ever end.
By Tim Challies — 4 weeks ago
This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by RHB Publications. Everyone who enters the prize draw will have the opportunity to be one of three people picked to receive a copy of all the following new titles from RHB:
The Puritan Path:
From the Reformation to the Modern Era: A Pictorial Witness by Joel R. Beeke & Stephen McCaskell
A pictorial history across two continents about the origins, growth, and influence of the Puritans. Includes additional essays on the Puritans and the filming of the documentary, Puritan.
The God and Me series
Joel and Mary Beeke
I Need to Trust in God
I Need to Hope in God
I Need to Love God
I Need to Love Other People
(For ages 4-7.) Based on scriptural verses on faith, hope, and love to God and neighbor, essential concepts are expressed in simple forms in conversation, prayer, actions, and thoughts.
How God Renews Your Mind to Make You More Like Jesus by Esther Engelsma
Are you being transformed into the image of Christ, or are you just frustrated? Transformed shows how the Holy Spirit helps us think in obedience so more Christlike behavior follows.
God with Us (2nd ed.):
Knowing the Mystery of Who Jesus Is by Danny Hyde
In God with Us, Daniel R. Hyde explores the historic, orthodox understanding of the person called Emmanuel—God with us. A clear and practical introduction to classical Christology.
A Practical Theology of Family Worship:
Richard Baxter’s Timeless Encouragement for Today’s Home by Jonathan Williams
Baxter’s belief in the importance of family worship meant every family in some Kidderminster streets upheld the practice. Williams examines Baxter’s methods and shows how they can work in churches today.
Bible Doctrine for Younger Children (2nd ed.)
Using over 150 stories and illustrations, educator James Beeke teaches children aged nine years and up how to live out the Christian faith. Suitable for homeschooling, church, or family use.
God’s Grace Shining through the Law
Joel R. Beeke (ed.)
Christians struggle to understand the relationship between God’s law and grace: neglecting law resulting in antinomianism or grace resulting in legalism. Instead, here’s how you can live in joyful obedience.
Rejuvenated Classics from RHB
Disease, Scarcity, and Famine:
A Reformation Perspective on God and Plagues by Ludwig Lavater (translated by Michael Hunter)
Outbreaks of disease and famine are nothing new. Ludwig Lavater, a leading pastor in sixteenth-century Zurich, explains the ultimate source of plagues and God’s purposes and promises during them.
The Shorter Writings of George Gillespie, volume 1
The first of a three-volume set that presents all Gillespie’s known shorter works, carefully edited from the most accurate texts – includes newly transcribed writings not included in 19th-century editions of his works.
The Pearl of Christian Comfort
Petrus Dathenus (Translated by Arie W. Blok)
Using a dialogue between a mature believer and a young Christian, Dathenus explains the relationship between faith and works in an experimental manner, typical of the early Dutch Further Reformation.
3 people will get a free set of all these books
Again, there are three sets to win. And all you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below.
Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. When you enter, you opt-in to receive marketing emails from RHB. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes on Thursday 30th September 2021 at midnight.
By Tim Challies — 2 months ago
Today’s post is written by Bill Mounce and is sponsored by Zondervan. Bill is the author of Why I Trust the Bible and Basics of Biblical Greek.
The Bible makes some astonishing claims about itself. The apostle Paul tells his friend Timothy that every word of the Bible comes from the mouth of God (2 Tim 3:16). The Bible says God personally wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger (Exod 31:18; Deut 9:10). Almost five hundred times, the prophets preface their prophecies with the claim “says the Lord.” Jesus says, “I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken” (John 12:49). Under normal circumstances, if someone says they speak for God, I doubt many of us would pay attention. But this is exactly what the Bible says about itself. Do you believe it?
We can no longer assume that people trust their Bible and believe what it says about itself. Western culture has shifted away from its Judeo-Christian heritage, and the popular media has launched such an attack on the believability of Scripture that many churchgoers have serious questions about the Bible. Questions like:
Did Jesus actually live?
Did the biblical writers get it right, or did they slant, massage, or even create the Bible we have today?
The Gospels were written long after Jesus lived; how can you trust them?
How can you believe a Bible that’s full of internal contradictions with itself and external contradictions with science and history?
Why should we believe the right books are in the Bible? Many books were left out, like the Gospel of Thomas.
Why trust the Bible when there are so many contradictory translations?
Wherever I travel in the world, whether I am speaking at conferences or universities or churches, there is one burning question. Can I trust the Bible? Why should I trust the Bible? Gone are the days of the veneer of a Christian culture where trust was assumed. Gone are the days when the Bible was given the benefit of the doubt. We live in a culture that aggressively attacks the Bible and those who were raised to trust it. University freshman are being challenged in every class. Parents often do not know what to do or how to help.
Some people feel it’s wrong to ask these fundamental questions; but if you never seriously ask them, you’ll never be convinced that the Bible is true and trustworthy. So I invite you to ask the hard questions, read the controversies and solutions, and decide for yourself whether you trust your Bible. Does it contain the very words of God?
I wrote the book, Why I Trust the Bible because people need to know the challenges of the day and the solutions to the questions raised. As is true of all systems of belief that deal with the ultimate questions of reality—Christianity, Islam, Materialism, Atheism—we all must have faith. I can’t prove the Bible is trustworthy, but I don’t have to put my brain on the shelf in order to believe in its trustworthiness. There are good answers to the hard questions being asked today, and none of the questions need to drive anyone to despair.
After forty-nine years of consistent and serious study of the New Testament, I am more convinced than ever that the Bible contains the very words of God and is wholly trustworthy.
This post is adapted from the Preface of Bill Mounce’s book Why I Trust the Bible. Order the book or find out more info.
Bill Mounce (PhD, Aberdeen University) lives as a writer in Washougal, Washington. He is the President of BiblicalTraining.org, a non-profit organization offering world-class educational resources for discipleship in the local church. See www.BillMounce.com for more information. Formerly he was a preaching pastor, and prior to that a professor of New Testament and director of the Greek Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of the bestselling Greek textbook, Basics of Biblical Greek, and many other resources. He was the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version translation of the Bible and is serving on the NIV translation committee.
What people are saying about Why I Trust the Bible:
“Bill Mounce has produced a remarkably clear, comprehensive, and level-headed resource that carefully and graciously explains each type of objection that has been lodged against the Bible, and then answers each objection with convincing facts and arguments. I expect that all who read it will gain deeper confidence in the trustworthiness of the Bible.”—WAYNE GRUDEM, Phoenix Seminary
“Ordinary believers wonder whether the Bible is really true, whether we can truly trust the Scriptures. Why I Trust the Bible represents a learned and accessible response to such questions. Many, I believe, will be assured in their faith by reading this important book.”—THOMAS R. SCHREINER, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“We live in a time when truth is subject to a person’s preferences and what is called ‘truth’ is really just formulated montage of misinformation. We need accessible and accurate information for people from all walks of life. In Why I Trust the Bible, Bill Mounce invites Christ-followers and doubters to consider the reasonable and sound answers he provides to today’s tough questions.—ERIC MASON, Epiphany Fellowship
“This excellent volume is a treasure trove of explanations of difficult texts and answers to skeptics’ questions about the Bible. With each chapter, I found my confidence in the integrity of the biblical text reaffirmed and strengthened. Bill Mounce is uniquely qualified to respond to the many arguments against the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible, and I highly commend this book to anyone who is struggling to believe that Scripture is genuinely God-breathed.”—SAM STORMS, Bridgeway Church
Go here to order Why I Trust the Bible or find out more info.