Derek J. Brown

Friend of Sinners: Evangelizing Like Jesus Did

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Friday, September 8, 2023
Jesus didn’t eat with tax collectors merely to “hang out” with them, but to call them to repentance and salvation (Luke 19:10). Jesus’ model of evangelism, then, shows us that we must be willing to engage with the gospel those whom the world despises. But it also shows us that we are not called to merely spend time with flagrant sinners, nor should we engage with them in a way that condones their sinful lives or participates in their sin. Rather, we are to use these opportunities to lovingly call them to repentance.

To understand the tax collectors of Jesus’ day and how they were viewed by their fellow Jews, we must first gain some insight into the tax system in Israel. At the time of Jesus, Israel was under Roman occupation, and Rome exercised its authority over Israel by placing governors over some of its provinces (e.g., the Herods in Galilee and Judea).
Rome also installed a comprehensive tax system throughout its empire to fund the local and national governments, infrastructure, public building projects, markets, stadiums, and so on. Throughout the empire, taxes were levied on property, exports and imports, the use of roads, income, crops (wine, fruit, and oil), entrances into towns, the transportation of goods; and there were even taxes on salt, purchases (sales tax), animals, vehicles, and the selling of slaves. (The Jews were also taxed annually for use of their temple.)
Rome exercised little regulation over their tax franchises.
Rome eventually started to offer regional tax “franchises” to entrepreneurs who would bid for the opportunity to oversee a tax collection service in a given area. The entrepreneur would then hire local tax collectors to gather taxes from residents.
Apart from setting the required tax quota, Rome exercised little regulation over these franchises, so the Publican (a Latin term that referred to the owner of the franchise, not a local tax collector) was able to establish his own commission. By offering these franchises to the highest bidder and allowing the Publican to set his own rates, the system was vulnerable to fraud. These tax collectors were usually involved in collecting indirect taxes (tolls, customs, etc.) and were usually located at the entrance of major towns and ports of entry.
Jewish tax collectors in Jesus’ time were considered no better than thieves.
Jewish tax collectors in Israel were despised for at least two reasons. The first reason was due to their connection with a foreign power that was presently occupying Israel.
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What Is Biblical Meditation?

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Meditation plants the truth of God’s word deep into our souls so that we are genuinely changed and enabled to walk in faith and obedience. I am willing to risk exaggeration at this point by saying that the primary reason most Christians plateau in their spiritual growth is for lack of true meditation. Install meditation firmly into your arsenal of spiritual disciplines, and you will do much to promote intimacy with Christ, spiritual maturity, and wisdom in your life.

While many Christians know that spending time in Scripture must become a priority—a valuable discipline—in our lives, we will keep ourselves from much blessing if we don’t also make the discipline of meditation an essential part of our worship.
The moment I mention the word meditation, however, it is possible that you are immediately drawn to images of people sitting in the Lotus Position: eyes closed, legs crossed, with palms up on one’s knees, with the thumb and middle finger on each hand slightly touching. That’s because our culture is fascinated with Eastern meditation and, most recently, something called “Mindfulness” (although mindfulness experts do not all insist on one specific kind of posture, even though they would say posture is important).
What Biblical Meditation Is Not
This kind of meditation is generally characterized by the use of repeated mantras, the constant act of releasing one’s “bad” or “harmful” thoughts or the clearing of one’s mind of any “thinking” whatsoever. Mindfulness is not meditation per se but is usually achieved through a kind of meditation that focuses on controlled breathing and fixing all of one’s concentration on the “now” of one’s experience. “Mindfulness,” we are told, “is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
It is not an exaggeration that biblical meditation is almost completely antithetical to the brand of meditation described above. First, we know that biblical meditation doesn’t include the use of repeated mantras, for Christ himself tells us to not multiply thoughtless words in our prayers to God (Matt. 6:7).
Second, biblical meditation is best understood, not as mind-emptying, but mind-filling; not thought removal, but thought replacement. Nor is biblical meditation mere “mindfulness,” for without the instruction of God’s Word our act of being “fully present” may leave us vulnerable to deceitful spirits (Eph. 6:12); and our endeavor not to be “overly reactive or overwhelmed” will merely be an act of our will, unguided and unprotected by divine wisdom.
Finally, the effectiveness of biblical meditation is not dependent on a certain kind of posture. In fact, it’s not dependent on posture at all. You can meditate on your bed (Ps. 63:6), or you can meditate in the midst of your preparations for battle (Josh. 1:8). You can meditate day and night, no matter what you are doing (Ps. 1:1-6).
What Biblical Meditation Is
Meditation, very simply, is ruminating on, thinking over, and pondering God (Ps. 63:6), his works (Ps. 72:12; 119:27, 148; 145:3, 5), and his Word (Ps. 1:1-6; 119:15, 23, 48, 78). In Hebrew, the word for meditation literally means to mumble to oneself; speaking to oneself audibly or in one’s heart. But it is not a mindless activity or the repetition of a mantra. Biblically, to meditate means to ponder, consider, chew on, and mull over the word of God. Biblical meditation is full of content, not void of it; it is thoughtful, not thoughtless.
Why Is Biblical Meditation So Important?
The central reason why meditation is vital in the life of the believer is that meditation is the bridge between knowledge and obedience (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:98-100). How many of us have our minds filled with a broad knowledge of biblical truth, but have remained, for the most part, superficial and spiritually immature because we don’t allow the truth to go deep into our hearts through meditation?
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Should Christians be Sad When a Fellow Believer Dies and Goes to Heaven?

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Friday, May 12, 2023
Christians should grieve over the death of a fellow brother or sister in Christ. It is good and right to feel the weight of sorrow when our beloved fellow Christians are taken home. It is not a grief without hope (1 Thess. 4:13), but it is a grief, even a “sorrow upon sorrow.”

If we are citizens of heaven, awaiting a future of glory and an eternal inheritance—someday to be forever in the presence of Christ and again among our earthly brothers and sisters—then why should we grieve over our brethren who die and go on to heaven before us?
Isn’t it a sign of earthly-mindedness to grieve over such things? Isn’t it unspiritual to be sad when a fellow Christian dies? If so, wouldn’t it then be even more unspiritual for a Christian to rejoice when a fellow brother or sister is healed and allowed to live longer here on earth? The answer to all these questions is a resounding “no.”
“To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
The apostle Paul proclaimed, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). He reminded the Philippians that they were citizens of heaven, someday to receive new bodies like the body of their Lord (Phil. 3:20). Yet, Paul was also grateful to God for sparing his brother and fellow worker Epaphroditus from death.
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How Do Christians Love People with Different Worldviews?

A few self-described atheists didn’t think this statement sounded too loving. One suggested that I needed to “open my heart.” Another said that “Christian love” is a joke over which no one is laughing anymore.
My point in the tweet was to highlight the truth that the Christian worldview, when truly embraced, enables a person to love those with whom they disagree. For example, as a Christian I believe the biblical doctrines about God, humanity, Christ, heaven, hell, and salvation to be true. Because of this, I do not accept worldviews like atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Hindusim, and Islam, to name a few, because these belief systems are contrary to biblical Christianity and therefore not true. Yet the Christian worldview, while simultaneously requiring me to reject contrary worldviews as false, enables me to love atheists and those who adhere to other religions for two basic reasons.
All men and women are made in the image of God.
First, the one with whom I disagree is made in the image of God. Even though adherents of other religions reject the God of the Bible, they are, nevertheless, God’s image bearers (Gen. 1:26). For this reason they are worthy of love and dignity. I can treat them respectfully by listening to their position and making sure that I can articulate their beliefs in a way they would find satisfying.
And despite our vast differences in worldview, Christ calls me to love my neighbor, to feed my enemy, to do good to those who hate me, and gently correct those who oppose the truth of the gospel (Matt. 22:39; Rom. 12:20; Luke 6:27; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). Now, if you’re not a Christian, you may not like that last statement. To say that your opposition to Christianity needs correcting is to imply that your worldview is wrong, an implication you may take as tantamount to rejecting you as a person. But the two actions (rejecting your worldview and rejecting you as a person) are not the same. But more on this point in a moment.
Salvation is all of grace.
The second reason the Christian worldview enables believers to love others is because it teaches us that our ability to embrace Christ is not the fruit of any moral or intellectual superiority.
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Encouragement for Battling Spiritual Depression

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Sunday, October 23, 2022
A growing understanding of the gospel is the most important component in our battle with unhealthy introspection. We need to understand what God has done for us in Christ, so that we will look to Christ and his completed work for us, instead of constantly looking to ourselves.

The following is a response to an email I received a while ago.  A dear brother contacted me and asked me if I could expand on an entry I had posted. Specifically, he wanted to know if and how the Lord had helped me make progress in dealing with unhealthy introspective tendencies and spiritual depression. Below is the letter with a few slight edits for clarity.
Dear Friend,
Thank you again for your email. An inclination toward severe introspection and spiritual depression is something that has affected me since early in my Christian life, and I still find myself battling introspective tendencies and spiritual depression.
When I first came to Christ, I noticed immediately that I tended toward a severe examination of my inner life—my motives, my affections for God and for others, my faith in Christ, my holiness. Far from bringing me peace and assurance in my relationship with Christ, this propensity to question every inner-working of my heart instead brought much doubt, confusion and, inevitably, depression.
Yet, I can say that, by God’s grace, I have made significant progress in this area. As I reflect on the past several years, I can see specific means of grace that God has used to help me turn from an unhealthy preoccupation with self and sin—with the depression that inevitably follows—to a growing focus on the gospel and others. The following are several disciplines I have found to be particularly helpful in my fight against what Martin Lloyd Jones calls “morbid introspection” and the resultant spiritual depression.
A few words, first, about the following points. First, it is important to remember that overcoming introspective tendencies does not mean that we are to disregard all forms of self-examination. Sober-minded, thoughtful, doctrinally informed self-examination is required for believers (2 Cor. 13:5), and is, when conducted correctly, a means of real joy and peace.
Second, the following list includes those things I have found to be beneficial to me. It is a personal list. I hope and trust that much of what I offer here is grounded in Scripture. Nevertheless, it will be important for you to not receive this as an infallible map to spiritual health but rather as helpful suggestions as you continue to walk daily with the Lord, learning from his Word and from other counselors.
The first point (a robust understanding of the gospel), however, lays the foundation for everything else. Without this important point, our battle against morbid introspection and depression will malfunction at a fundamental level. With those two cautions in mind, let’s turn to considering the following points.
1. We need a robust understanding of the gospel.
I put this first because it is the most important. I have found that my tendency toward severe introspection is compounded to the degree that I am not seeing the gospel in all its beauty and doctrinal fullness. Specifically, this has meant understanding and embracing the important doctrines of justification, sanctification, and indwelling sin.
Justification: Scripture teaches that justification is the act of God by which he declares us wholly forgiven and righteous in his sight and on the basis of Christ’s perfect life and substitutionary death on the cross (Rom. 3:21-26; 5:1; 8:1), not upon any work that we have done or will do (Rom. 4:5; II Tim. 1:9; Tit. 3:4-7).
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9 Reasons You May Be in a Spiritual Drought—and How to Find Refreshment

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Monday, July 11, 2022
Because we are sinful and because we live in a fallen world with fallen bodies, we must face up to the reality that spiritual dryness will come again. That is why the psalmist says that the Word of God restores his soul (Ps. 19:7). That it was in need of restoring implies that his soul was no longer in a happy, satisfied state—it was in need of refreshment. Knowing this and recognizing potential causes of spiritual drought can help us to weather seasons of little or no rain.

If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you know that spiritual passion, sight, and affections ebb and flow. At times our sense of spiritual realities can be strong and vibrant. Other times our hearts feel like lead weights, and we find ourselves longing for God to visit us once again and bring refreshment (Ps. 85:4-7). These seasons are usually referred to as times of “spiritual drought” or “spiritual dryness” and find intimate expression in many of the Psalms.
David often cried out to God in times where his soul seemed like dust, and he yearned to be refreshed by the presence of the Lord (Ps. 13; Ps. 63). Other psalmists expressed their longing to have their parched souls be replenished by the Lord (Psalm 42). Those who have tasted of the goodness of Christ know what it means to be without that taste; it leaves us pleading, “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Ps. 13:3).
Spiritual drought, though a persistent and unwelcome visitor, is not something with which we must constantly live. There are Biblical means by which we can, by grace, put ourselves in the way of refreshment; we can be restored to once again feel the joy of our salvation. But this can only happen if we are able to discern why we might be experiencing spiritual dryness, so we can take the appropriate action. With this in mind, I would like to suggest a few reasons we may be experiencing a season of spiritual drought and provide the correlating remedies.
1. Unchecked Lust
Peter’s warning could not be more explicit: “Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11). Impure thoughts and freshly cultivated fantasies will only dull our sense of spiritual things; this is what Peter means when he tells us that lust “wages war against the soul.” Harboring lust defiles our conscience, feeds our sinful flesh, and withers our spiritual vitality.
If we are experiencing the ravages of spiritual drought, it may be because we are entertaining our minds with lust and feeding our sinful desires with suggestive movies, magazines, internet sites, or by simply visiting the local mall. The only remedy called for here is sincere confession and repentance (Prov. 28:13; I John 1:9). In order to find our souls once again enthralled with the joy of our salvation, we must confess these sins and turn from them (Ps. 51:1-12), resolving to no longer make any provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14).
2. Pride
Jesus, in confronting the Pharisees’ desire for self-exaltation, provides a valuable insight as to how pride relates to faith. The Pharisees were unable to see the truth and beauty of Christ, because they were infatuated with their own glory and loved receiving praise from men. Jesus asks them, “‘How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?’” (John 5:44). Saving faith was hindered by their pride.
And although this passage speaks specifically of pride obstructing saving faith, I think we can safely apply this principle to our lives as Christians: pride kills faith in Jesus. If we are nurturing self-love—seeking praise and appreciation from our friends, our congregation, our professors, our supervisor, or those who read our blogs—we will find out very quickly that “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6). Our souls will shrivel as we fill them with the glory that comes from man. On the other hand, turning from ourselves and our reputations to exalt Christ at all costs will bring about spiritual renewal since “[God] gives grace to the humble.”
3. Love of Money
There is also a direct correlation between our attachment to stuff and our ability to see the glory of God. Jesus connects our physical gaze with our spiritual sight in Matthew 6:19-23. Christ instructs us to store up lasting treasures in heaven rather than temporary riches here on earth. Whether we do this or not will have a significant impact on our affections, for “where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
Jesus continues, “‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness’” (Matt. 6:22-23). In other words, if we are fixed upon the glitter of earthly riches, the brightness of God’s glory cannot shine into our hearts, and we will only suffer spiritual thirst, not saturation. The solution here is to start taking our eyes off earthly riches. This is often helped through prayer and by regular and consistent giving to our churches, faithful gospel ministries, the poor, and to those in need. Isaiah 58:10-11 is encouraging in this regard,

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

4. Lack of Bible Reading, Meditation, and Prayer
When we neglect Bible reading, meditation, and prayer, we are cutting ourselves off from essential nourishment for our souls. It is impossible to thrive spiritually without feeding our minds and hearts with God’s Word. Psalm 1 reminds us of the benefits of meditation:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, or stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the sear of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, in all that he does, he prospers (Ps. 1:1-3)

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5 Reasons Every Christian Should Seek Assurance of Salvation

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Saturday, April 30, 2022
If we are ever wavering between confidence and doubt with regard to our standing with God, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to be decisive in spiritual matters. Obedience often requires earthly sacrifice, and if we are unsure that we possess eternal life, we will be unable to endure earthly trouble for the sake of Christ. Assurance is essential to the Christian life. If you have fallen into a pattern of doubt and have neglected the assurance of your salvation, let this be the day you heed the Scripture’s exhortations and, by God’s grace, find your footing through faith in God’s sure promises.

I remember a conversation during college in which a friend confessed to me that he did not think it was necessary, or even possible, for a believer to gain assurance of their salvation. I was surprised by his comments, especially because we were attending a Christian college that emphasized all the biblical truths related to assurance of salvation: election, grace, faith, repentance, substitutionary atonement, the fully deity and humanity of Christ, and eternal security.
As it turns out, this was not an isolated incident. Over the past several years as I’ve wrestled personally with the issue of assurance and had opportunity to speak to others about it, I’ve found that many Christians do not rightly understand the biblical basis or importance of this doctrine. Assurance is essential to genuine Christianity and central to the New Testament’s theological framework, yet plenty of Christians are content to walk through life without the sure knowledge that they belong to Christ. There are, of course, those who claim assurance who have no right to do so; but it seems that there are an equal number of professing Christians who have either resigned to the fact they will never have assurance or that they don’t really need it.
What is assurance?
When I use the phrase “assurance of salvation” I am referring to a professing Christian’s confidence that he is, through the gospel, presently in right standing with God and will, upon his death or at the return of Christ, enter into eternal life and be delivered from the penalty of eternal condemnation. Assurance is the present intellectual and heart-felt conviction that I am, at this moment and for eternity, at peace with the living God through Jesus Christ.
But is such assurance really that important? In light of our sin and struggles with faith, shouldn’t we be content with the reality that we may or may not achieve assurance in this lifetime? While Scripture acknowledges that we will wrestle with sin and a lack of faith, it also consistently calls professing believers to gain assurance of their salvation. Scripture doesn’t suggest that those who are without assurance of their right standing with God are not necessarily saved, but neither does it applaud those who lack it, as though being without assurance was a mark of spiritual humility and maturity. Here are five reasons why assurance is essential for the Christian life.
1. Assurance is God’s will for you.
The first reason we must say that assurance is essential for the Christian life is because assurance is God’s will for you. Listen to the language of the New Testament (emphasis added):

Colossians 2:1-3: For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Hebrews 6:11-12: And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 10:22: Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

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2 Things You Need to Know about the Exclusivity of Christ

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Thursday, April 28, 2022
There are no restrictions based on a person’s economic status, religious background, relative morality, geographical location, or family circumstances, for all are called to come to Christ (Matt. 11:27-30; John 3:16; Rom. 3:22). There is only one place to find salvation (narrow in location) but all people are invited to come to Christ for salvation (broad in invitation).

As you share the gospel with your friends, family members, classmates, and business colleagues, you may find that they tolerate much of your worldview until you press the point that Jesus is the one true Savior and the only one who can deliver them from eternal judgment and bring them into right relationship with God. In other words, your spiritual conversations may coast rather smoothly until you land on the exclusivity of Christ.
To speak of the exclusivity of Christ is just a way of saying, along with the apostles, that “There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It is simply an affirmation of Jesus’ own words when he spoke to his disciples in the upper room just before his execution: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Here are two things you need to know about the exclusivity of Christ.
1. The exclusivity of Christ is narrow, but not in the way you may think it is.
People usually don’t take well to these claims because they believe they are far too narrow. And we would be dishonest if we didn’t agree that these claims are, in fact, narrow. Yet, the exclusivity of Christ is not narrow in the sense that it is offered only to those who meet certain conditions, like an elite members club.
In her article for CNN travel, “10 of the world’s most exclusive members clubs” Michelle Koh Morollo quotes Vincent Lai, a managing director of an elite concierge service: “Those who are invited fulfill certain requirements, they usually have economic capital but most importantly they carry a lot of social clout.” These certainly are exclusive clubs, and they are narrow in the sense that only a few select people in the world qualify for entrance.
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Updating the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy: A Proposal

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Friday, March 25, 2022
The CSBI has enjoyed over four decades of usefulness due to the care the original framers took to articulate the doctrine of inerrancy within a broader doctrine of Scripture. In light of contemporary challenges to inerrancy, however, it is time to exercise that same care and re-formulate the CSBI to strengthen it for future generations.

Over a fall weekend in Chicago in 1978, approximately 300 evangelical scholars, pastors, and laymen gathered in the Hyatt Regency O’Hare to discuss and hear presentations on the issue of inerrancy. These presentations corresponded with the writing of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI), a 4,200-word document consisting of a preface, summary statement, 19 articles of affirmation and denial, and an accompanying exposition.
While the CSBI proved to be a useful document after its original publication, its influence has waned over the last two decades. Even so, some notable voices have sought to reclaim the CSBI as a theological touchstone for the doctrine of inerrancy. Recently, the late Norman Geisler labored to recover the CSBI as evangelicalism’s standard definition of inerrancy in his coauthored volume, Defending Inerrancy. In this book, Geisler argues for the adequacy of the CSBI by defending its various affirmations and denials in theological and philosophical detail, concluding that the document is in no need of revision or amendment.
But should we concur with Geisler that the CSBI is in no need of revision? Has there been no positive advance in the doctrine of Scripture since 1978 that may help strengthen the CSBI for future theological and ecclesial use? Even the framers of the CSBI left open the possibility of future updates. The document states, “We acknowledge the limitations of a document prepared in a brief, intensive conference and do not propose that this Statement be given creedal weight.” Carl F. H. Henry included the CSBI in volume 4 of his God, Revelation, and Authority, while also conceding that the statement was “subject to future revision.” Most recently, biblical scholars Robert Yarborough and G. K. Beale have gone on record suggesting the CSBI could use some updating.
But how might we update a document that has enjoyed more than four decades of theological and ecclesiological usefulness? Over the last few years as I’ve pondered this question, my research, writing, and academic engagement have led me to conclude that the best approach is not to wipe our slate clean. Instead, CSBI reframers should work with the document in its present form, modifying existing articles and proposing new ones where appropriate. Furthermore, because the articles of affirmation and denial serve as the “heart” of the document, it will be most fruitful to focus our energy there and then address the exposition and short statements after the articles are complete.
To give you an idea of how such a project might proceed, I will offer modifications to one of the existing CSBI articles while also proposing one new article.
Article IV: The Adequacy of Human Language for Divine Revelation
We affirm that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.
We deny that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God’s work of inspiration.
In this article, the CSBI directly confronts a problem that many opponents to the doctrine of inerrancy have exploited over the past several decades: the matter of human language as an adequate vehicle for revelation in light of human finitude and fallenness.
Article IV clearly affirms that God has used language to communicate his revelation to his creatures, while also contending that human corruption and our inherent limitations do not render language insufficient to convey divine truth. Although a human being is sinful and thus prone to error, it does not follow that one must err, or, much less, that one must err every time one speaks. Yet, while error is not a necessary property of existing as a human (it is an accidental property), it’s true that human beings have a tendency to lie and err. God’s work of inspiration (mentioned in the last sentence of Article IV) nonetheless overcomes the human propensity to lie and secures a text free from error.
Although helpful in answering some of the challenges related to the nature of revelation and the adequacy of human language, I contend that Article IV would benefit from some modification.
First, I would strengthen the affirmation statement by wording it in such a way as to highlight God’s intention in designing human language specifically for the purpose of divine revelation. As it stands now, the affirmation statement, while acknowledging that some relationship exists between God, the creation of mankind in his own image, and the adequacy of human language, is neither sufficiently clear nor strong enough in these matters. The original statement makes it appear as though God has chosen merely to use language to communicate; it does not indicate unambiguously that he has designed human language for the very purpose of providing a sufficient vehicle for divine revelation. I suggest, therefore, the updated affirmation statement reads as follows:
We affirm that the God who speaks created man in his image and designed human language for the very purpose of conveying divine revelation.
By establishing the starting principle of God’s intention in creating human language, this updated affirmation statement immediately precludes arguments that suggest human language is somehow inadequate for divine communication. In my judgment, by merely affirming that God used human language to reveal himself, the original affirmation statement is left vulnerable to the claim that God, in delivering his revelation to his creatures, simply utilized what was available to him.
Accordingly, it becomes easy to suggest that the divine work of inspiration, beleaguered as it was by the inherent weakness and insufficiency of human language, ultimately faltered in securing an inerrant text. If, however, God fashioned human language with divine revelation in mind, then it becomes far more plausible that language is a sufficient vehicle for divine communication.
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What Does the Bible Say about Self-Promotion?

Written by Derek J. Brown |
Sunday, November 14, 2021
A heart bent on self-promotion will keep a person from believing in Jesus for salvation. And although the self-promoter may gain a measure of short-lived recognition on this earth, the King of the universe will someday instruct him to take the place of eternal dishonor (Prov. 25:6-7). But if you are willing to humble yourself and give up your longing for people’s approval, then you will someday “hear another praise you and not your own mouth” (Prov. 27:2). But this time it won’t be a stranger; it will be Jesus when he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).

The desire for self-promotion is native to the human heart. We are all tempted to exalt ourselves in some measure, whether on a large or small scale. It seems, however, that social media has a special way of encouraging and showcasing one’s indulgence in this temptation. Granted, social media is not the cause of self-promotion; it is only the venue through which the human heart expresses its desires. But the prevalence of such self-promotion should compel us to think rigorously over this phenomenon, especially because so many Christians seem to be walking in lockstep with a trend the Bible so clearly discourages.
Self-Promotion and the Proverbs
The Proverbs, for example, speak directly to the temptation to promote oneself in two primary ways. First, the Proverbs extol diligence as a pathway to leadership and recognition. It is important to keep in mind that the attainment of leadership and recognition per se is not condemned by Scripture. It might be easy, in reaction against a culture propelled by self-promotion, to view the very desire for leadership and the idea of recognition with suspicion. But the Bible is not so restrictive. We are told, for example, that “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor” (Prov. 12:24). God has designed the world in such a way that diligence in one’s tasks will lead, most of the time, to some measure of leadership.
Whether the promotion is from cashier to manager at a fast-food restaurant, or from engineer to program manager at a software company, careful attention to one’s responsibilities and consistent development of one’s skills is usually rewarded with recognition and greater responsibility. “Do you see a man skillful in his work?” Solomon asks. “He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Prov. 22:29).
But the second way the Proverbs deal with our tendency to promote ourselves is by discouraging the practice altogether. “Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble” (Prov. 25:6-7). Note here the direct contrast with what we just saw in the previous verses. In Proverbs 12:14 and 22:29, there was a natural, unforced path to leadership and recognition. But in Proverbs 25:6-7, the person who thrusts himself into the place of honor is rebuffed because he might find himself vulnerable to public disgrace.
The danger with self-promotion is that we might have an unrealistic view of our skills, and our pursuit of a particular honor may appear as nothing more than vain presumption. But the recognition of which Solomon speaks is not gained by self-promotion, but by diligence. The person who now enjoys the privilege of leadership and standing before kings has worked consistently and carefully and has honed his craft to a point where his work is worthy of significant distinction.
That is why the Proverbs tell us, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2). If we were honest, most of us would admit that there is something about self-promotion that just doesn’t sound right. Even though self-promotion is viewed in many work environments as a non-negotiable key to success, no one really likes it when their colleague is the one indulging in the habit—indeed, many of us find it downright annoying.
How Self-Promotion Usually Backfires
But not only is self-promotion unfitting, it usually tends to keep one from growing in the skills required to advance in his or her career. Employees who exert their time and energy, not to developing greater competency in their field, but to figuring out how to leverage this or that relationship, pad that resume, impress that superior, maintain that image, or spruce up that LinkedIn account may learn—painfully—that their efforts neither impress their colleagues nor facilitate their advancement. In fact, self-promotion is probably a symptom of laziness and a replacement for diligence more than a mark of competence.
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