The Jewish leaders did not seek the glory that comes from God. Which meant that they did not have the love of God in them (John 5:37-44). It is not possible to rightly handle God’s word if the love dimension is missing.
What Did Jesus Say about Bible Study?
In John 5, Jesus is both in trouble and on trial. He had healed a man on the Sabbath and then made himself equal with God when confronted by the authorities. His extended speech in verses 19-47 is actually a legal defense speech in what had quickly become a capital trial. By the time we get near the end of the chapter, Jesus is actually turning the tables and putting the Jewish authorities on the back foot.
Jesus knew that he needed a second witness. But as the angry leaders looked at this man from Nazareth, they could not see anyone standing with him. However, he had the best witness of all: God himself. The problem was on their side though, because according to Jesus, they had never heard God’s voice, nor seen God’s form, and they did not have God’s word abiding in them.
Bible Study Experts?
Understandably these Jewish leaders would have balked at that diagnosis of their spiritual state. They, of all people, spent the most time with their nose in the scrolls. They were the Bible men of their day. They could quote more of the Old Testament from memory than many Christians today have even read. And yet, Jesus was right. Something was missing. And it meant that their hermeneutical approach was rendered useless.
You Might also like
By Dean Davis — 10 months ago
He is up above us in heaven, where he is praying for us, and where, on the day of our death, our perfected spirits will see him and fly to him with inexpressible joy.He is up ahead of us in the World to Come, which he himself will create at his return, when he raises the dead, judges the world in righteousness, and welcomes the saints to eternal life with God in the new heavens and the new earth.
Hinting broadly at the deity of the promised Messiah, the prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus Christ as Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:9). A few Christmases back, that name got me to thinking about the many fascinating ways in which our Immanuel is related to us. Here are a few of the choicest:
He was before us—together with the Father and the Holy Spirit—prior to the time when time began and the world was created through him.
He was ahead of us, when, for four millennia, the Old Testament prophets longingly foretold his coming.
He was down here among us after he left heaven and, through the Spirit’s work, took up residence as a true human being in a virgin’s womb.
He was out there among us, when, in the days of his flesh, he lived, worked, taught, and ministered (miraculously) to the children of Israel.
He was in behalf of us, when, through all of the above, he obeyed every divine command, fulfilled every law, and passed every test, thereby attaining a perfect righteousness that God will credit to all who believe in him.
He was instead of us, when, on the cross, he endured the sentence of suffering and death for all who would place their trust in him for the forgiveness of their sins.
He is now over us, having risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, and taken his seat at God’s right hand as King of the Cosmos and Head of the Church.
He is now in front of us in the person of his people and their proclamation of the Gospel, through whom and through which he urges everyone who hears to receive him by faith as Savior and Lord
He is within us (and at work within us) through the gift of the Holy Spirit, if and when we do receive him.
He is up above us in heaven, where he is praying for us, and where, on the day of our death, our perfected spirits will see him and fly to him with inexpressible joy.
He is up ahead of us in the World to Come, which he himself will create at his return, when he raises the dead, judges the world in righteousness, and welcomes the saints to eternal life with God in the new heavens and the new earth.
How is Immanuel with us? In these and many other ways. May he be with you in them all.
Dean Davis is the Director of Come Let Us Reason. This article is used with permission.
By Michael J. Kruger — 1 year ago
Written by Michael J. Kruger |
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
The New Testament canon that we possess today is due not to the machinations of later church leaders or to the political influence of Constantine but to the fact that these books imposed themselves on the church through their internal qualities. In other words, these books were used the most because they proved themselves to be worthy of that use.
From the very beginning, Christians have plainly affirmed that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God. That much is clear. But looming in the background of such an affirmation is a question that won’t seem to go away: How do we know that these books are from God? It’s one thing to say that they are from God; it’s another thing to have a reason for saying it.
Of course, critical scholars have long challenged the Christian view of Scripture at precisely this point. It’s not enough to merely claim that these books are inspired. Christians need to have some way of knowing whether they are inspired. As James Barr liked to point out, “Books do not necessarily say whether they are divinely inspired or not.”
Over the years, Christians have offered a number of answers to this question. Certainly, the Apostolic origins of a book can help identify it as being from God. If a book can be traced to an Apostle, and Apostles are inspired, then we have good reasons to think that the book is from God.
But this is not all that can be said. Christian theologians—especially in the Reformed world—have long argued that there is a more foundational way that we can know that books are from God: the internal qualities of the books themselves.
In other words, they have argued that these books bear certain attributes (Latin indicia) that distinguish them as being from God. They argue that believers hear the voice of their Lord in these particular books. In modern theological language, they believe that the canonical books are self-authenticating. As Jesus said in John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
Anyone familiar with Reformation-era authors will know that this was the core argument given by the likes of John Calvin, William Whitaker, and John Owen in some of the key discussions on Scripture. Moreover, the idea of self-authentication is expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which holds that the Bible does “evidence itself” to be from God by its own internal qualities:
We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to a high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God. (1.5)
Beyond this, the concept of a self- authenticating Bible played a central role for later Reformed thinkers, particularly Herman Bavinck, as they sought to explain how we know that books are from God.
But some will wonder, Is this whole idea of a “self-authenticating” Bible just a novel invention of the Reformers? Did they invent the idea just as a tool in their fight against Rome? Not at all. When we look back even in the patristic period, we see that this concept was there from the beginning. Here are a few examples.
By Joe Gibbons — 1 year ago
We know that the sacraments have a teaching function. They exist to encourage and edify the body of the faithful. By maintaining a standard of the appropriate mode (and therefore appropriate symbolism) for baptizing, we are shepherding our people. We are teaching them about the Lord’s nature of interacting with His people and the way He saves and revives us.
The sacrament of baptism is perhaps the most widely debated topic in the Protestant church world. There is no shortage of fraternal disagreements on this topic, especially within the Reformed evangelical setting. However, debates around baptism often focus around who should be baptized. Is baptism reserved for believers alone? Or are the children of Christians to be baptized as well? Comparatively less ink is spilled debating about the mode of baptism, or how people are to be baptized. The nature of the debate over whether biblical baptism should be administered to families of believers can often distract from this all too important topic. This can lead to misunderstandings about why certain traditions hold the practices they do, or assumptions that one’s own practice is right, without prompting any further investigation into the matter. It has even led to some considering this issue of no consequence at all.
What do the scriptures teach about the mode of baptism? How are believers to be baptized? Unfortunately, there is no “gotcha” passage in the New Testament that points us to a quick resolution of this, but as we tread beyond the usual stomping ground of whether baptizo means to immerse (and only to immerse), we should find a deeper meaning for baptism. Just as what we do with the bread and wine matters for observing communion, what we do with the waters of baptism matters as well.
Signs and Wonders
The Westminster Confession of faith opens its 28th chapter by defining baptism as a sacrament, and listing its many benefits:
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his church until the end of the world.—WCF 28.1
So what is baptism all about? Well, it is a sign (or a symbol) of the Christian’s regeneration and the remission of their sins. Baptism displays, in symbolic visual form, the new birth that is experienced by the believer and wrought by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). For once we were dead in our tresspasses and sins, but God “made us alive, together with Christ–” (Eph. 2:5) God has given His church baptism to show us that in Christ we are made alive.
This baptism verifies the promises of the Gospel in scripture. God promised to revive, and so he showers us with the water of life through His Spirit. God promised to cleanse, and so he washes us of our sin & iniquity. It is the Gospel in picture, for the person being baptized and for all who witness the event and consider the sign. More than an empty ceremony, it gives testimony to the promise of redemption; it shows God as he holds out a righteousness that can be had by faith. In this way, baptism is similar to circumcision in that it preaches to those who receive it, although baptism does this more than circumcision ever could. Circumcision as a sign showed Christians in the Old Testament that they, by their sin, were fundamentally broken as creatures and needed their wickedness removed in order to stand in the light of a holy God. Baptism shows us more, as the washing with water pictures our Savior who was covered by our sin and cleansed as he rose again on the third day.
And yet, baptism does even more. It shows us, as Chad van Dixhoorn writes, not only redemption promised and redemption accomplished, but redemption applied.1 Baptism points us to something real, something that happened. This sign represents to us the way in which we were brought into the house of God, and the relationship between our spiritual baptism and our righteous standing with Christ before God. Paul says as much in Galatians: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27) Just as Christians are joined to the visible church at their baptism, so they are ushered into Christ’s arms when they are resurrected through spiritual baptism.
Problems With Immersion
The question then becomes, what does this symbolism have to do with the mode of baptism? This particular moment is where many well-meaning Baptists ride down the hill as the cavalry coming to the rescue, declaring with every fiber of their being that immersion (or dipping) is the appropriate mode, and in fact, the only biblical mode. They are not without reason to have such confidence in immersion, as it conveys much through its symbolism. They derive their meaning from the language of being buried with Christ from places in scripture like Romans 6:4 and Colossians 2:12. The Baptist connects these passages with what he sees as the “burial” in water during an immersion baptism, or the “watery grave” as the prominent preacher Adrian Rogers called it, and there consider the matter to be ended.