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When Bike Meets Car

There’s an old adage among cyclists: “There are two types of riders; those who’ve crashed and those who are going to.” The longer you ride, the more likely this is realized. I’ve been in a few crashes. While in a large peloton, I went down hard at mile 48 (in the “Hotter than Hell 100”, in Wichita Falls). Miraculously, I didn’t break any bones, though I ended up with the worst road rash I’ve ever had. I finished the race, but later discovered my bike was totaled with a cracked frame. My helmet was cracked as well.

I had never been hit by a car, until a few weeks ago. And when bike meets car, there is no contest. Thankfully, I was not going fast nor was the car, but it was enough to take me down quick and the result was a fractured fibula and three broken bones in my ankle. I’m in week three of a long recovery. Six to eight weeks of no weight-bearing activity and ten weeks before I can drive. I will then be in therapy to strengthen the atrophied muscles, then six months to a year before I’m 100 percent.

But enough with “lesser things”. There’s a much bigger story here, and it’s the story we all find ourselves in. When bike meets car happens on a daily basis for all of us. When expectations meet reality is a daily challenge. When our hopes and dreams are shattered like my right ankle, what do you do? When joy and sorrow collide, how do you worship God? I’ve been holding on to and revisiting Romans 8:28-29. Read it again carefully:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:28-29

Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. God has a bigger plan than ours and it is great and glorious. We often read verse 28 without verse 29 and the two are inseparable. All things work together and it seems most of “all things” are bad But God works bad things into good things. Only He can do that, showing Himself sovereign, all-powerful, and loving. The key is to notice His purpose toward which He’s working all things. His purpose is for us to be “conformed into the image of His Son”. If we have joined Him in that purpose, then we have given our lives over to whatever He deems necessary to see that purpose fulfilled. We are not our own. We have truly become the clay in the Potter’s hands. We are liquid; He is the Cast. We are soft and pliable; He is the Mold. In short, we are the created and He is the Creator. He is God and we are not.
  2. God is big enough for our questions and bigger than our disbelief. When we initially face the trauma of a life disrupted, we are shocked and surprised that things will no longer go along the track we had laid out for ourselves. We need time to adjust to the new plan, regardless of how dark or hopeless it seems initially. In the early phase of a life interrupted, all we have are questions. God is big enough for all of our questions, even if they come to Him out of anger and disbelief. Sometimes we want to crawl into His lap other times we want to beat His chest. He’s big enough for both and our angst does not phase Him for a moment.
  3. Sometimes you can only hold on to what you already know. Even in our shock and change of plans we can trust the God of our experience – the God of the Bible. He is faithful and true and does not change. Clearly, if you have walked with Him closely prior to this sudden change of direction, you are quicker to trust that He is in control and has your best intentions in mind. You’ve seen it before. You know that He is true. If you have not, this phase can be brutal and will set the course of which way you will go from here. This is when you must turn to Scripture and to those who will speak the truth about God to you. Knowing who He is, we know that when you can’t see His hand we can trust His heart. He is at work. Almost always we see, looking back, how He was at work during hard times. The goal of the disciple is to see this gap between moments of suffering and complete trust condensed into real time. We really can trust Him in the moment of suffering and pain. This is worship.
  4. We cannot dictate to God what we want as conditions for our obedience. Our role is to trust and obey. His job is to place us in situations and circumstances by which we are conformed into the image of Jesus. This is His great and glorious plan for us. And the more we trust that it is best to be like Jesus, the more we are ready to embrace whatever comes our way in life. In the end (if you live long enough), you realize you do not control what comes at you in life anyway. You only control your response to it all. And it is comforting to know that “all things” come to us first, through the loving hands of our Father.
  5. Our role is worship, through obedience; His role is to conform us into the image of His Son. I’ve learned it really is possible to worship Him, even through writhing pain and severe suffering. Job, who serves as the constant example of worship through suffering, taught us that there is something better than getting all of your answers. He got something better than answers. He got God. Through worship we get God Himself and discover that He really is enough. As we worship Him through obedience (trusting that He is good, loving and kind), we become more and more like His Son.
  6. The Spirit speaks to us when we quiet all of our intellectual questions and get alone with Him and listen. When we are debilitated (physically, mentally, or emotionally) we find ourselves quiet and sometimes alone. Pain is humbling and sets us on our backs before God. It forces us to “be still” (literally, to “let our hands hang down”) and know that He is God (Psalm 48:10). At some point we must stop asking questions and choose to listen to His Spirit speak. He does so through His Word, so we must stop listening to our souls and start speaking to our souls. And what we speak must be the truth. His Word is truth. When we slow down to listen to Him, He speaks. When we don’t, He doesn’t. Pain forces us to stop working and to stop talking and He speaks to us in quiet solitude.
  7. God uses loving people as instruments of hope and healing. We cannot make it through pain and suffering alone. I do not know where I would be right now without the loving care and patient presence of my wife. Stacy has been by me to serve me in every way. In the midst of so much in her own life, she has shown me what unconditional love looks like. Apart from the Spirit’s presence in my life, she has been the single greatest gift in this time of suffering. Indeed, the Spirit has done His work in larger part through her. I’m not used to being on the receiving end of care and it is difficult and humbling. It is also a glory to God to see my loving wife as the tangible hands and feet of Jesus. Miraculous really. I have also been blessed by the outpouring of love from my amazing church family. From our preschoolers to the eldest among us, the love of Jesus expressed, has given me hope and kept me going. There is nothing like the local church. Do not neglect the power and purpose of being devoted to the Body of Christ. Love one another. Serve each other in love. This is the church at its best.

So when bike meets car life is turned upside down, at least for a while. I’m told I will be back to normal some day. I know others who do not have that hope. The true heroes are those (mostly older friends) who have gone through much worse than me and have no hope to improve, but continue to worship God fervently. These are the ones who have learned what I’m seeking to embrace with all my heart. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ and we know that “in all these things” He is at work to conform us into the image of His Son – all for our good and all to the praise of His glorious grace.

What a good God He is to us.

Fixer Upper

What do you do when you’re in the right location but you’ve got the wrong design? You’ve got to fix it up! On their wildly popular show, Chip and Joanna Gaines walk us through the process of transforming dilapidated, but potential-rich houses into showcases. This is an apt analogy for those of us who know we’re in the right family (by God’s sovereign design) but stand in need of help. Every family needs to be fixed up.

In Ephesians 5:21-6:4, God’s Word gives us principles to help us see how this happens.

In the end, here’s the radical truth that will change your family:

 To fix your family up, you need power down.  

Throughout this passage we see the word “submit” and the little word “as”, referring to Christ and His submission to the Father and His love for us over and over. Submission to one another in the family is what makes it work. We are to be “as” Christ in our relationships. In order to stay the course, and not bail when a remodel or redesign is necessary, we need exactly what God teaches us in Ephesians 5. A family that has “staying power” is a family that follows these biblical principles. Our culture continues to debate, define, and re-define the family. We’ve been asking the wrong questions: How can my relationships make me happier? How can my spouse fulfill my needs? How can my children make me happy? How can marriage be more fulfilling for me? What’s in it for me? God shows us a very different perspective on the family because:

God’s purpose for the family is not to satisfy us, but to sanctify us.
“Sanctify” is a word that means, to make holy, to set apart, to be made righteous. God’s original blueprint for us is to be created in His image and display His glory in all we do. We busted that plan up early on. Through God’s rescuing grace, we are brought back to His original design, sanctified. The process of sanctification then, is not becoming something I’m not, but becoming who already am in Him. My identity is secured. I am His “beloved”. The family serves as God’s subcontractors to create the environment within which this process takes place. We need families who will stay the course.

Staying Power

1. Stay submissive to Jesus Christ. (5:1-2) All of Ephesians up to this point is about God’s rescuing grace. The Gospel indicatives always lead to the Gospel imperatives. Paul moves to how we respond to God’s one-way love for us in Christ. Paul says, because you’ve been rescued from your sin, now submit to Christ.

2. Stay submissive to one another. (5:21) What does submission to Christ look like in the family? At the beginning of this entire passage on the family, he says we submit to one another out of reference to Christ. What does it mean to submit to another person? It means I will leverage my assets, my strength, my power, and my time for your benefit. This is Gospel reenactment in the family. It’s all I am for all that you need. Do you want to fix up your family? Power down. Submit to others, serve, and help one another. The radical, guiding question in the home becomes: How can I help? How can I serve you?

3. Stay committed to your marriage first. (vv. 22-33) The key to raising happy, healthy children is to give more time and attention to your marriage than you do to your children. Don’t forget that later is longer. You will be married long after your kids are gone and the days you have with your adult children will be long through the years. Stay the course and keep your marriage first in the child-rearing days. Keep dating. Get away. Keep growing.

4. Stay clear about the family structure. (v. 22-25, 6:1-4) Understand the family structure and communicate it clearly to the entire family. If the key to a great family is mutual submission, then is anyone in charge? This is where it becomes counter-intuitive. Jesus is the Head of the Church and He gave His life for everyone in it. He came to serve, not to be served and He ultimately gave His life away. He was Servant Number One. Husbands are to serve their wives and children in the same way. We feel if we give up power we’ll lose everything but Jesus, who is the Head of Church, is precisely so because He gave His power. He gave His life away. To fix up, we need to power down. Here we see that God’s family flow chart shows us that the husband is the head of the wife (practicing mutual submission in their varied roles) and the parents are over their children. The simple role of the children is clear: obey. Instead, in many American families, children have taken over. We’ve put kids in the corner office. They’re driving the family bus and calling the shots.

Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, once observed this about American families: “The thing that impresses me about American families is the way the parents obey their kids.”

Put your kids first and you can be assured that they will become manipulative, demanding, and unappreciative of everything you do for them. You will guarantee that they’ll grow up believing it is unfair to expect them to do anything and it will further guarantee your child’s unhappiness because happiness is only achieved by accepting responsibility for one’s self, not by believing that someone else is responsible for you. See the health of the family as a unit and it all starts with the health of the marriage. The parents are benevolent dictators. We need are more parent-centered families and fewer child-centered families.

5. Stay close to your children. (6:1-4) Being parent-centered doesn’t mean you don’t spend time with your children. You must stay in close to your kids. Know their friends names, the music they like, their favorite shows, clothes, and sports. Stay near to their hearts. Let dinnertime become a time to catch up and find out where their hearts are. Sit down with your child, do homework together, play together, and pray together at bedtime. You must stay in relationship with them. The old adage is so true: Rules without relationship breed rebellion. Remember to keep the end in sight: emancipation. You’re raising them to leave. And in parenting the days are long but the years are short. Keep in the end in sight.

6. Stay centered in God’s family. Make the church your family’s epicenter. Let the church help you raise your kids. Single parents, and parents who may feel you are, you’re not alone. Just as God has been very clear about our families, He’s also been very clear about His own big family, the Church.

“How great is the love of the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

God invites you into His family. There’s no perfect family, but there is a perfect Father. Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in a family.” What does this submission to Christ, submission to one another look like in the home? I think it was Andy Stanley who brought this whole idea of submission down to a single question. I’ve discovered it can change everything:

How can I help?

And as you seek to serve others well, don’t forget this: no horizontal relationship in your life will ever satisfy. And as you seek to be sanctified, remember in Christ you have been made righteous already. You’ve been holied.

And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” 1 Corinthians 1:30

Sanctification is not becoming something you’re not, but something you already are. It’s living out the new identity you now have in Christ. Rest in Him. You’re already loved perfectly and have nothing to prove. And because you now have all the love you’ll ever need in Him, you can love others without any need for love in return. I can power down and love like Jesus.

“For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

 To fix your family up, you need power down.  

 

Did the Resurrection of Jesus really happen? – by Sam Holm

Death.  When we contemplate our own mortality or experience a loved one’s death, we must come face to face with death.   For the Christian and non-Christian alike, death brings pain.  However, the Christian has a different perspective.  Jesus gives us hope in a better life now and after death.  Why?  Because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Did the Resurrection of Jesus really happen?

The reality of the resurrection can be examined and scrutinized.  Our faith in Christ is not only built on theology.  It is based on history.  In John 14:6, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Now, this is not a provable fact in the same way that His resurrection is provable, but it is nevertheless either true or false. It cannot be true that Jesus is the only way while at the same time it is also true that other religions can also offer salvation. If salvation comes through Jesus, then it is because He is the Son of God and it cannot come through any other means. As we have studied, if there are other ways to be saved, then Jesus is a liar and a fraud and He offers no salvation at all.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Paul addresses doubt about the resurrection.  He makes several strong statements.  “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”  At least some in the church in Corinth doubted whether or not they would be raised.  Paul addresses their doubt head on by listing many who saw the resurrected Christ and were still alive at the time of the writing.  “(Jesus in resurrected form) appeared to Cephas (Peter), and then to the Twelve.  After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me.”  He seems to say, look at all of the eyewitnesses.  Jesus rose again.

However, many of us still doubt about the Resurrection.  Let’s address several of the primary questions of doubt.

Did Jesus die?   – Yes.  The Roman Historian Tacitus wrote in his final work Annals 116AD (assessing blame on Christians for the fire that destroyed Rome in 64AD): “Christus, from whom the name (Christians) had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of . . . Pontius Pilatus..”  What was the extreme penalty?  Crucifixion.  The Romans were experts at executing and wanted to be sure He was dead.  They publically killed him.  He did not pass out.  When he was seen on Sunday, he was in full health.  If he had suffered on the cross and somehow escaped death, he would not have been worshiped as a resurrected Lord two days later.  He would have needed someone to nurse him back to health.  Jesus died on the cross.

Was the tomb empty?  – Yes.  Gary Habermas writes that “75% of historical scholars accept the historicity of the empty tomb.”  Even early critics like Justin Martyr and Tertullian say it was empty.  Jewish writers never refute it, they just try to explain it away.  In addition, the resurrection was first preached in Jerusalem.  If the tomb was not empty, the body would have been produced by the government and religious leaders.

Was the body stolen?  – No.  The Jews and Romans would have shown everyone if they had it.  The body would have squashed the Christian revolution.  The disciples were terrified and had no motive.  Just a few days prior they deserted Christ in his greatest time of need.  They would not have stolen the body knowing they would end up dying for what they said they believed.

Was it a group hallucination?  – No.  500+ people at the same time?  That’s funny.

Was the story made up?  – No.  Nothing looks fictional in the way it is presented.  The resurrection appearances suddenly stopped (at Ascension with the exception of Paul).  Women were the first witnesses in the gospel narratives and they were not given a voice in court.  You would not choose a woman to prove your story was true.  Witnesses were alive when the NT was written.  “500+ people – they are alive today.  Go ask them.”  What is the motive?  Suddenly, this group is ready to suffer and die for their faith.  No one would do this for something they made up.

Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews wrote around 93AD “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he . . . wrought surprising feats. . . . He was the Christ. When Pilate . . .condemned him to be crucified, those who had . . . come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared . . . restored to life. . . . And the tribe of Christians . . . has . . . not disappeared.”

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”

Jerry Vines says: “Gospel not a catch word for man made theology.  Nor a code word for man-made methodology.  But a clear word of divinely directed history.”

In verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says “His grace toward me was not in vain (NIV – Without effect… NLT – God poured out his special favor on me-and not without results…).  The transformation of thousands of lives and the explosion of the early church is the primary reason we know this story was not made up.  What happened to those who believed in the resurrection?  James, the brother of Jesus, was openly skeptical that Jesus was the Messiah. Later James became a courageous leader of the Jerusalem church, even being stoned to death for his faith. Paul, possibly the PRIMARY biblical example, was persecuting the church and then his life transformed?  Why?  He saw the resurrected Lord.  Faith in the resurrected Christ totally transformed the lives of all who saw him.

The resurrection of Jesus really happened.  The death of death.  Do you believe it? You can respond to the truth of the resurrection by responding to Christ Himself, as the Risen Lord.  You can receive salvation through believing in the resurrection.

Faith in the resurrection does not only transform the way you die, it transforms the way you live.  There is a member in our church.  I’ve asked permission to share his story.  He was a cultural Christian.  He grew up hearing the stories of Jesus, went to church on occasion and lived like the world.   Then, one Sunday he was faced with the truth of the God, Jesus and the resurrection.  Life totally changed.  He said when we were talking, “Suddenly, my faith was the most important thing to me.”  He read many books attacking and affirming the faith.  His conclusion.  The resurrection really happened. And his life is proof.

Jeff Warren’s father died last Monday.  In his obituary we read: “He was an active member at FBC Charlotte where he was a deacon and loved teaching Sunday school. Following retirement he became the Assistant to the Pastor (Dr. Charles Page) in the area of evangelism. Gene had a passion for sharing Christ with anyone who would listen.”  If Jeff’s father were here today, do you know what I think he would say?  The resurrection of Jesus happened!  And his life is proof.

Is your life proof that the resurrection of Jesus really happened?

 

 

Doubting Out Loud

Can I trust the Bible is true? Is it really God’s Word?

Rational evidence abounds for the existence of God. The Christian, however, believes in the one and only God revealed in the Bible. The Bible teaches us who God is, what He is like, what He has done, and what He is doing. Mostly the Bible points us to who He is in Christ. Crucial then, for the skeptic and believer alike, are questions like, “Is the Bible really God’s Word?”, “Is the Bible reliable?” and “Can I trust that the Bible is true?”

Who wrote the Bible and how was it written?

The Bible makes an audacious claim concerning itself: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The Bible is inspired by God – literally “Breathed out by God”.  It refers not to the writers but to the words written.

“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21

Men wrote the Bible as they were inspired by God. Why do you think God used regular men as “instruments” for His communication?

Over 2,000 times in the Old Testament alone we read, “God said…” or “Thus saith the Lord” It’s interesting that the writers themselves knew they were being used as mouthpieces for God and that He was speaking through them:

“The Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said, “Now I have put my words in your mouth.” Jeremiah 1:9

“The Lord spoke through me.” 2 Samuel 23:2

“What I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.” 1 Corinthians 14:37

What would you expect from a book inspired by God?

Is my Bible reliable?

Some people challenge the reliability of the Bible, not because they’ve read it but because they don’t want to confront its truth.

 Interesting Facts about the Bible

  • We don’t have the original hand writings of Paul, Peter, John or any other writer of the Bible. We don’t have any original hand writings, or what are called “autographs”, of any literary work from ancient history of any real significance.
  • The real test of the reliability of any ancient work then, depends on the manuscripts (the handwritten copies).

The key is how many manuscripts we have and when they were written.

  • The New Testament we read today is based on about 5,500 early manuscripts or pieces of manuscripts all written in the original Greek.
  • The Gallic Wars, written about the same time as the New Testament, is based on 9 or 10 manuscripts.  It’s interesting that no one questions the reliability of the Gallic Wars. The New Testament was written from 50 AD to 90 AD.  The earliest fragment dates about 120 fragments dating within 150-200 years. Compare that again to the Gallic Wars, written about that time, where the earliest copy dates about 1,000 years after it was written!
  • Another famous work of antiquity is The Iliad by Homer. It was written in 900 BC and the earliest manuscripts are found in 400 BC. The first complete copy is dated about 500 years after it was written.
  • The 5,500 manuscripts were found throughout the known world of the New Testament. These manuscripts are surprisingly exact in comparison to one another. The minor discrepancies never alter the meaning of any text. The bulk of these manuscripts agree word for word with one another. Our Bible today is based on these first manuscripts. There has not been a lot of “passing down through the ages” because we have access to these early manuscripts. The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in 1947, proved that the Old Testament had been passed down correctly through the years by scribes whose job was to copy exactly from one text to another.  Most scholars date the Scrolls at about 150 BC-50 BC.

More amazing facts about the Bible

  • The more you dig into the facts concerning the Bible the more reliable it becomes.
  • The early church leaders quoted the New Testament in their writings. Almost every New Testament book is quoted by Clement, bishop of Rome, who wrote about 96 AD.
  • More that 25,000 sites showing some connection with the Old Testament period have been located in Bible lands.  Archaeologists have found the Bible to be accurate.
  • The Bible is full of remarkable prophecies that have been fulfilled. Over 300 prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus alone including His birth, life, and death (i.e. Micah 5:2, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Luke 24:25-27).
  • Jesus Himself quoted Scripture as final authority (Matthew 26:54, 56).

How did we get the Bible?

  • It’s important to understand (in this age of the internet, smart phones and iPads) that the simple fact we have the Bible is a miracle in itself. The period of “textual transmission” was a process that was carried out by hand. The moveable type printing press was a product of the 15th century AD.

Textual Transmission

  • Scholars believe the earliest books of the Old Testament were written about 1,400 –1,300 BC
  • The books of the New Testament were all completed by about 50 AD to 90 AD.

By 150 BC we know that all the books of the Old Testament had achieved some textual form.

  • The “canon” (from the Greek word “kanon” meaning “rod” or “rule”) is the word given to the “list” or “series” or “standard” of Scripture – the authoritative and inspired Word of God.
  • The earliest evidence of any Old Testament books is from about 200 BC. There are no complete copies of the Hebrew Old Testament earlier than around 900 AD. The Jewish people held Scripture in such high regard that worn manuscripts were destroyed rather than to risk that they be profaned. Any worn or older manuscripts would be placed in a storage area in the Synagogue (called a “genizah”) where they were kept until proper disposal.
  • It should come as no surprise that little archaeological evidence dates back before the time of Christ.

The Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls

  • As mentioned earlier, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 in what has been called the greatest archaeological discovery of the century.  These scrolls, found in ancient jars are dated to 150 BC – 50 BC. In one dramatic stroke, the age of the manuscripts we now possess were hurdled back almost 1,100 years!
  • Comparing the scrolls with the Masoretic text (10th century AD) we found that the accuracy of transmission over the period of nearly a millennium was miraculous!

Significant translations and the standardization of the canon.

  • As early as the narrative of Exodus 24 we know of a document called “the book of the covenant” as Moses “wrote all the words of Yahweh”. (Ex. 24:4-8
  • The idea of a closed canon was seen as early as the book of Deuteronomy which has attached the warning – “you shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it”. (Deut. 4:2; 12:32)
  • By the time of the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, the standardization of the Old Testament seemed almost complete.  (The need for a closed cannon became evident with the advent of synagogues.)
  • The Council of Jamnia (90 AD) was a group of rabbis who gathered to debate certain books and to determine which ones did and did not “defile the hands”.
  • Rabbi Akiba (55 – 137 AD) insisted that the smallest details in the text had great significance providing an impetus to the standardization process.
  • The work of the Masoretes (from about 200 BC). This group of Jewish scribes passed on the Scriptures with incredible accuracy and gave us the “Masoretic Text”. They accurately passed on the Scriptures until about 1200 AD.
  • The Septuagint or LXX (because it was reputedly done by 70 Jewish scholars) is the Greek translation of the Old Testament and is dated at about 300 BC.  The LXX became the “Bible” for the early church.
  • The Latin Vulgate (384-405AD) was the primary Latin version which became the official version of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • The Wycliffe Bible, dated 1382 was the first complete English translation.  William Tyndale (1484-1536 translated from the original languages (not the Vulgate).  The King James Version of 1611 was a translation (not a revision) of all available textual evidence.

Some helpful definitions

  • Those who accept the Bible as the Word of God are often accused of taking the Bible literally.  What does it mean to take the Bible literally? (Read Isaiah 55:12 or Psalms 114:4,6). Isaiah 55:12 says, “All the trees of the field will clap their hands.” The Bible is to be interpreted in the sense in which the authors intended it to be received by its original readers.
  • Another important term we must clearly define is “inerrancy” which means “lack of error” or infallible”. Some use the words inerrancy and infallibility as one in the same; others do not. Biblical inerrancy is the doctrine that the Bible, in its original manuscripts, is accurate and totally free from error of any kind; and does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. Biblical infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is wholly useful and true. It is the belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish that purpose.
  • We must remember that the Bible was written, not as a science textbook or history book (though accurate in both), but as a love letter (a story) of God’s redemptive work throughout history, and namely through the life and salvific work of Christ. We must avoid imposing on the biblical writers our own twentieth century standards of scientific and historical precision and accuracy. For instance, Scripture often describes things “phenomenologically”- which simply means, as they appear to be. We speak in these terms when we say, “The sun is rising!” We don’t mean that the sun is rising. Scientifically we mean that the rotation of the earth and the trajectory of the it’s orbit is bringing the Western Hemisphere into a direct angle to view the sun’s rays coming to earth. But a scientific description is not why we are making the statement.

 No other writings even attempt to make the claims the Bible does of itself or make bold predictions with 100% accuracy.

Which do you think is truer?

  • I must understand in order to believe.
  • I must believe in order to understand.

Faith always precedes reason when we approach our infinite and eternal God. Don’t forget that the Bible is a spiritual book and the Holy Spirit speaks through Scripture to your heart. We cannot rely on reason alone.

Consider and discuss these questions:

If you are a follower of Christ, did you believe the Bible was inspired before you became a Christian? Did you think it was reliable?  What can we expect from a letter from God that we could not expect from any other literature?

You can have full assurance that your Bible is the Word of God. Read it, study it, cherish it, but most of all, obey it as you walk with the Savior to Whom it points.

 

 

And the Angels were Silent – Saturday

“He put Jesus’ body in a new tomb that he had cut out of rock, and he rolled a very large stone to block the entrance of the tomb.”  Matthew 27:60

How quiet it is on Saturday before Easter.  How sad it is.  How despairing it must have been for those who had seen their teacher, their friend, and their hope die right before them.  All of creation held its breath to see what would happen next.  All of heaven peered toward earth to see how we would respond.  And God didn’t move.  Not one word; not even a sign.  Have you ever been there?  You had great expectations that God was up to something big, something life changing, and then…nothing.  Have you ever put all of your hopes in a person or in yourself, only to see them come crashing down before you?  Then you know how the disciples must have felt.

They had all run away scared.  They couldn’t believe it.  Their leader, their master was dead.  He was really dead!  It was all over.  No hope, nowhere to turn, no plans.  On Saturday all they could do was run for their lives and hide out hoping no one would find them.  Do you ever think God is silent?  Do you ever pray thinking it doesn’t get past the ceiling?  Let Easter Saturday serve as a lesson for every day of the year.  God may seem to be silent, but in reality, He’s about to bring about His greatest work!  If you ever wonder if He’s at work on your behalf, ponder the difference between Saturday and Sunday.  Remember, God may seem slow, but He’s never late.

Pray:  Lord, I confess I have not trusted You in Your silence. I want You to work in my time and in ways that don’t require a lot of waiting and wondering. I realize that when You are silent is when You will soon show your greatest work.  And when You are silent, I can show my greatest faith and trust in You.