Monthly Archives: February 2014

Make God’s Word Your Own – Part 3

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How did that go again? “Listen, remember, and obey.” I guess it’s time for the “obey” part.

So – a pilgrimage to the holy land? Fasting for forty days and forty nights? Healing a leper? What do we do now?

When we believe God’s Word – which is a result of reading and retaining it – we will naturally desire to act on it. “To believe” is a verb. Verbs are all about action. Of course, reading and retaining God’s Word are actions, done in obedience to God’s will.

But wait, there’s more! What we’ve done so far is all very private (at least it seems so to us). But, if we have been doing these things, the people around us have started to notice a change. They might not say anything but they’ve noticed. We owe it to God to tell them why. We should give credit (glory) where credit is due (to God).

The simplest, most accessible, and perhaps most difficult step we can now take is to act as a witness. To speak to people about God and His son.

Speak the Truth

We’ve already alluded to the benefits of speaking The Word to ourselves; it bears repeating.

Psalm 15:1,2
LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

Do we do desire to dwell in God and receive the blessings he’s made available? We’ll need to speak the truth in our hearts. But we’ve also received a commission to speak the truth to others – both to our Christian brothers and to those who don’t yet believe.

Ephesians 4:15, 25
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Since we desire to make God’s word our own – to become grown-ups in Christ – we need to speak the truth (God’s Word) to one another. Concerning unbelievers, let’s look at one of the last things that Jesus Christ said while still on earth.

Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Christians are instructed to be witnesses, telling others about the marvelous accomplishments of Jesus Christ. Did the Christians in the first century carry out this commandment?

Acts 8:1-4
And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

Yes, they obeyed. The threat of imprisonment or death didn’t slow them down. They spoke God’s word wherever they went. 

“But, deLaune, I don’t know enough to speak The Word to anyone. I’m an introvert. And shy. And the dog ate my Bible…”

Hold it! If you have started reading your Bible; if you have memorized a couple of verses and thought about them; then you have something to share.

Have we read any verses that command us to preach a sermon in the company cafeteria? Which verse says that we must speak everything we know? (These are rhetorical questions). To start building the habit of speaking the truth, all we must do is to say one true thing. We’re laying the first brick on the foundation. Finishing the building lies far in the future.

Will it be uncomfortable at first? Of course. We’re used to talking about negative things like death, unemployment, sickness, politics. It’s going to feel very strange, at first, to speak the living Word of Truth. Let’s look at a hypothetical interaction with a coworker:

Fred: “You’ve been a lot more cheerful lately. Getting laid regular?”

You: “I’ve been reading the Bible and thinking about it. I’ve been feeling more peaceful.”

Fred: “The Bible! What are you talking about?”

You: “Well, one verse I’ve been thinking about says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'”

Fred: “That seems too simple. How can that possibly work?”

You: “I don’t know. It just does. Do you have those quarterly reports that Jack needs?”

Congratulations! You’ve just spoken the truth. You could have kept your mouth shut and let Fred’s assumption stand. But that wouldn’t have been the truth. When Fred tried to get argumentative about it, you could have gotten pulled into a useless debate. But you didn’t. Don’t be afraid to stop talking. If people try to pressure you, you might say, “Ask me again next week. Maybe I’ll know more by then.”

It’s really that simple. Develop the habit of replying with the truth. You don’t have to explain the truth, you don’t have to defend the truth, you just speak it and move on. If Fred really is interested, you can tell him more as you learn more. But it’s a good idea to teach less than you know. That way you aren’t tempted to go beyond into philosophies and vain janglings.

Conclusion

To make God’s Word our own we begin by reading it. But we can’t simply study it as an intellectual exercise – we must hold onto it, retain it in our minds, believe it. We do this by remembering what we’ve read, thinking about it, and repeating it to ourselves as needed. Then, as we begin to see the benefits, we speak the truth to others. This is a lifelong process – we’ll never run out of things to learn. And the more we do this the more we will manifest the fearlessness, peacefulness, and confidence that God will always bring His Word to pass.

Unfortunately, many Christians never even begin. They try to live a Christian lifestyle based on the watered down platitudes and opinions of Churchian preachers. They get the opposite results – confusion, powerlessness, and defeat. Let us – you and me – not end up like that. By God’s mercy and grace we can determine to make His Word our own. We can work – fight if need be – to be able to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Make God’s Word Your Own – Part 2

This is part of an ongoing series. Please see the introduction and definitions. Leave a note in the comments if you would like something else defined.

Retain God’s Word

In part one we discussed reading and studying the Bible, the Word of God. In this section we’ll add the next key to making God’s Word our own; which is to retain it in our minds. In the book of James there is a verse that tells us how to receive God’s Word and then segues into the next step.

James 1:21b
…receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

I hesitated to use this verse because of the phrase “receive with meekness.” Today, we equate the word “meek” with the idea of being a doormat. Note well: the Bible sometimes uses words differently than we do. The translators did their best, but occasionally there was no English word to match the original meaning.

In this verse, the quality of mind called “meek” can be simply defined as “free from haughty self-sufficiency.” It means to acknowledge that we aren’t as bright as God. It goes further and implies that God is more interested in our best interests than are we. So, when His Word disagrees with our opinions, we accept His Word. We do what He says rather than what we feel like doing.

If you wish to study this word for yourself, check out the very first time it’s used in the Bible. Then start in Exodus and read about the meekest man on the face of the earth. Are you going to call Moses a doormat?

James 1:21 contains an interesting phrase, “the engrafted word.” Some versions of the Bible have, “the implanted word.” As we receive God’s Word it is our responsibility (with God’s help) to graft it to our minds, to plant it in our hearts. Then this Word can start to become a living part of us. This is what it means to retain God’s Word.

Remember those Pharisees who didn’t allow the Word to abide in their hearts? The Bible speaks of people today who have the same failing:

Romans 1:28
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want to be inconvenienced! Remember, the Pharisees were “very religious;” they were the preachers and teachers of their day. But their fruits are described in verses twenty-nine and following.

The benefits of retaining God’s Word in our minds are as spectacular as the problems caused by failing to do so. Let’s take a look at the very first verse in the Bible that I ever consciously memorized:

Psalm 119:11
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

To live in sin is to live in separation from God. As we hide God’s Word in our hearts we will be far less likely to stray from God’s side. We can walk in fellowship with God. This, I have found, is an excellent place to be. Remember, God is more concerned about our best interests than we are.

Isaiah 55:8, 9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Meekness is realizing the truth of this verse. But…as we train our minds to think God’s thoughts, our thinking will be higher – more perfect – than we can currently imagine. We’ll see, in later studies, that we can also bring our ways (actions) in alignment with His. We will manifest God’s power in our lives.

Have you ever listened to a Bible teaching by an accurate, dynamic teacher? Did you notice that the weight of the burdens on your shoulders grew less? There’s a reason for this.

Romans 10:17
So then faith [believing] cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Hearing God’s Word preached will actually increase your believing, your trust in God. But, when you have the Bible abiding in your mind you can preach the good news, the gospel, to yourself as many times a day as you want! The more of God’s Word that you retain in your mind the more you will be ready and able in every situation. You will be imitating Jesus Christ in Luke chapter 4. He faced every temptation with: “It is written.” Jesus had God’s Word abiding in his heart.

So, where do we start?

It’s like the old saying, “the journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” In our case, the journey of a lifetime walking with God can begin with a single verse.

Back when I was a lad – before the invention of electricity – I wrote down Psalm 119:11 on a stone tablet 3 x 5 card. Each time I thought of it, I took it from my pocket to read and consider. By the end of the day I had it memorized. The next day I picked another verse. On the weekend I reviewed all of the verses I had looked at that week.

With every verse I also memorized the reference (“Psalm 119:11”). That way I could find it again! There are few things more annoying than a person who “quotes the Bible” but can’t find the verse to prove it.

I know what you’re thinking – isn’t there a pill I can take that will do this for me? How about a smart phone app?

It’s true that, for many tasks today, there is an electronic helper we can use. You might, however, want to try the old-fashioned method. Many have noted that there is something about actually writing the words that helps drive it into our mind. The important part, though, is that it gets into our minds. Electronic aids to memory are marvelous – I use them myself. But having the Word of God in your smart phone is not the same as having it in your heart.

There are number of ways to select verses when we’re starting out. You could pick one from your daily Bible reading. If there’s a problem in my life I wish to overcome I could search for an appropriate verse. We must always be sure, however, to pick verses that we clearly understand.

Here are some suggestions:

Is your life full of turmoil?

Isaiah 26:3
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Are your circumstances making you afraid?

Psalm 34:4
I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Do you have money problems – too much or too little? Read the context below and memorize verse 13.

Philippians 4:11, 12
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Maybe you’re struggling with health issues. Here are two to consider.

1Peter 2:24
Who [Jesus] his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes [sufferings] ye were healed.

3John 2 [3rd John has only one chapter!]
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Whatever verses you might pick, never forget that God wants you to succeed. If you fall short – if you miss a couple of days (or years) – get back on your feet and keep plugging away. God is on your side.

Philippians 2:13
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Make God’s Word Your Own – Part 1

This is part of an ongoing series. Please see the introduction and definitions. Leave a note in the comments if you would like something else defined.

Introduction

To really understand the Bible – making it our own – takes work. This work consists of three different activities – tasks that must be kept in balance. We must read and study the Bible to find out who God is, who we are in Christ Jesus, and what God’s will is for our lives. We must retain God’s word in our minds. Finally, we must act on what we have learned so that we can see the power of God.

When I taught children’s fellowship, I summarized these steps as “Listen, Remember, and Obey.”

Studying the Bible intellectually, without ever putting it into practice, leads to a life of sterile intellectualism. Forgetting what you have studied leads to – nothing. Attempting to live a Christian life without knowing God’s will results in confusion and brings no glory to God.

Jesus speaks of these three steps as he accuses the religious leaders of failing to follow God.

John 5:38-40 [KJV]
And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

Note the order Jesus uses when speaking to men who, theoretically, have spent their lives studying the Word of God: 1. You are not retaining God’s Word. 2. Study the scriptures, again! 3. But even if you do, you will not believe and act.

Study

I know, you don’t like that word. I didn’t either when I was in school. Fortunately for me I learned that studying the Word of God can be very satisfying – even fun.

2Timothy 2:15 [KJV]
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

For a man of God – a man or woman who speaks for God – to be approved he must study the Word of Truth. There’s no escape clause.

A person might, when he reads this verse, think that it’s a command to go to Bible college. Once he has finished (or so he reasons), studying will be over and he can get on with his life. Hold it! Does this verse say anything about college? This sort of reasoning is, to put it delicately, dead wrong.

In college—any college—you’re sitting in a classroom listening to men’s opinions. Your studying consists of reading textbooks full of men’s opinions. That isn’t studying God’s Word. To study God’s Word is to get your nose in the Bible and let it speak for itself. Search the scriptures!

How often should we study and search the Scriptures? Speaking of the people of the city of Berea, God says:

Acts 17:11 [KJV]
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Uh oh. Every day? Yes, if you want God to call you “noble.” Now, this doesn’t mean that, if you miss a day, the wrath of God will descend upon you. You just do your best. God knows that we’re frail and fall short. Also notice who the teacher was in Berea. It was the Apostle Paul! Yet God calls these people noble because they: 1. Received the Word preached by Paul and 2. Searched the scriptures to check out his words.

Now, to start studying the Bible you’ll need to know a couple of secrets (shh!).

Okay, I won’t keep you waiting. Here’s the first and most important secret. This is almost completely unknown among all the people of the world. Whatever you do, don’t tell anybody! Ready? The Bible, the Word of God, is true. It has integrity and you can trust it – because God doesn’t lie.

Numbers 23:19 [KJV]
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

There are many, many more verses in the Bible that speak to its truth – its integrity. If you’re interested then here’s your assignment: go to the Bible Gateway home page and do a search for “word truth” in any version of the Bible. I promise you, it will be fun! And if you’re not interested, why are you reading this blog?

Here’s secret number two. There is one fundamental, critical skill we must acquire in order to study the Bible. We have to know how to read and understand English. When we read Bible verses we must read exactly what is written. This is harder than it sounds.

Imagine you’ve just finished reading a well-written blog – and you agree with the author. Then you scroll down to the comments and you discover, to your horror, that some of those idiots didn’t understand the essay at all! They have no comprehension of what the author was actually saying!

Or, even worse, those idiots are right and you didn’t understand what you read. It might be a good idea to go back and read it again. Did you really read what you thought you read? Unfortunately, most commentators on the Internet merely skim an article and then say the first thing that pops into their heads. They are a lot like preachers studying the Bible.

Most schools in the United States today are worthless for teaching reading comprehension. It sometimes appears to me that the curriculum is deliberately aimed at making people worse readers. When my sons were in school…but I digress.

I’m not telling you this to frighten you – you can overcome the handicap of having a high school or even college “education.”

There are a whole bunch of tricks you can use to improve your reading comprehension. The best is simply to read a lot. Another good trick is to read aloud – it slows you down and makes sure you don’t miss any words. One more good possibility is to take notes. Read a couple of verses in the Bible and write down what you think you just read. Then go back and carefully check to see if you got it right.

One technique that I use to improve my comprehension is to ask, “what does this verse not say?”

Let’s look at Numbers 23:19, above. It obviously says that God doesn’t lie. Does it say that God reveals everything? No. Does it say that all men lie? It certainly implies it. Does it tell us that everything men say is a lie? No. Does it imply that women don’t lie? No, because in English the word “man,” unless otherwise qualified, includes both male and female.

I encourage you to practice your comprehension skills on everything you read. If it’s not worth comprehending then it’s not worth reading.

An Interlude With Herr Nietzsche

I have two sons of whom I am inordinately proud. From now on I will refer to them as Robert (age 24) and Anson (21). They like to read.

Last night Robert and I went on a little camping trip. To enjoy it as much as I did you’ll need a little background information.

When my boys were much younger I sent them off to Hunter safety Camp. They loved it so much that, on subsequent summers, they repeated the experience (there were then three levels of training).

It covered hunting skills, fishing, and wilderness survival. Marksmanship included compound bows, muzzleloading and modern rifles, and shotguns. In addition they learned field dressing, ATV driving, how to escape from quicksand, etc. In other words, the basic stuff all boys should learn.

When Robert was fourteen his program included a voluntary, “unsupervised,” multi-day backpacking expedition (the instructors were keeping an eye on them from a distance). The camp itself is situated on a large lake – the students were given a destination on its far side. The route around the lake was through a trackless wilderness and included crossing streams and wading through swamps. The temperature was in the mid-90s – dropping into the high 80s at night. The humidity was approximately 100%. This is Florida in the summertime.

As I remember there were twelve boys and two girls in the group. They were informed that they were never more than minutes from rescue by a motorboat.

And so the story begins. A number of them gave up during the course of the day’s hike and sat down to await rescue. When the others reached their designated campsite they found it infested with biting flies. Some of the kids set up their tents and started preparing supper, but several more threw in the towel.

Those who were left got a smudge fire going – and kept it going twenty-four hours a day. They did their own cooking and cleaning; they practiced their wilderness skills together. And more dropped out. At the end of the designated time only two boys walked out under their own power – and Robert was one of them.

When I drove to Ocala to pick up Robert and Anson I was regaled with the highlights of the story (Robert told the story and the instructors proudly confirmed his veracity). When he finished, I said to him, “sounds like a Nietzsche experience.”

He looked at me in puzzlement so I recited the quote that had popped into my head , “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

“Nietzsche experience” immediately become our family’s code phrase for any difficult experience successfully survived.

And now to the present day.

Robert lives and works on the far side of Tampa Bay – about fifty minutes away in good traffic. He rooms in a house with a young couple from our Christian Fellowship (you would call it a “church” but we don’t). This household is a center of a lot of ministry activity – so Robert wasn’t surprised when, two weeks ago, the Frau announced that she would be teaching a Saturday class for younger women – single and married. It was entitled “Keepers at Home.” The men were invited to vacate the premises for the day.

My son decided this would be a perfect opportunity to spend time with the old man. He called me up and asked me if I was up for a backpacking trip. Honestly, the idea made me a little nervous. I hadn’t been camping in about five years and I work in a sedentary job. But hey, this would be a good test to see just how out of shape I might be.

Then Robert informed me that we would be stealth camping in a portion of a state forest where overnight stays are prohibited. This would give us easy access to an enormous dry cave – one that is off-limits to the public. Sounds like fun! If we don’t get caught.

The weather forecast was for a low of 51° with occasional light sprinkles of rain. I met him at his house yesterday after work and he drove us to the park. By the time we had stashed the car it was full dark. We hiked in, set up camp, built a fire, and cooked some steaks. After we cleaned up it was time for bed. Because of the forecast we had only set up light tarps to keep the sprinkles off.

This morning I woke up at my usual time – 4 AM – with the thought of going back to sleep for another couple of hours. I often do that on Saturday mornings. Then I noticed something odd – my pillow was soaked, and my sleeping bag and sweatshirt were, too. I wasn’t cold – I was actually quite comfortable (hooray for wool and modern synthetics!). But I was stiff and sore and decided against trying to go back to sleep.

It turned out that a driving rain had hit us during the night (not that I noticed). The tarps had not been adequate. The whole campsite was drenched.

Robert got up shortly after I did – he was pretty wet too. It was still sprinkling – off and on – so we broke out our ponchos. He made coffee on his alcohol stove as we sat around talking about this and that. Robert opined that this unexpected rain would probably make entering the cavern too dangerous. I told him that I would go along with whatever he decided.

He prepared breakfast (oatmeal with trail mix plus a pound of bacon) but, just as we finished eating, the skies opened up and the rain poured down. Thunder and lightning and everything. At least we had self washing dishes – just lean them against a tree.

Robert then took me on a tour of a nearby sinkhole – not the one with the large cave, but very impressive nonetheless. He wanted to take me over to view the cave (from the outside) but the trail was completely underwater. We returned to camp and packed up our sopping wet gear – all rather willy-nilly – and set out to hike back to the car.

Robert was fairly upbeat – but was doing a little grumbling about his plans being ruined. I simply laughed and reminded him that it was just another Nietzsche experience.

The rain was still coming down as we hit the trail. This led up over a ridge and down the other side. The trail, overnight, had turned into a rushing stream. It varied from ankle-deep to knee deep. By the time we strode out of the woods we were completely drenched. But we were very thankful to God for keeping us safe and healthy (and well fed).

The best part of this whole experience, for me, was that Robert organized everything. He put together the equipment and food. He planned the trip and route. He selected the campsite and had scouted the items of interest in the area. All I had to do was show up and follow orders.

The tough little boy of fourteen had grown up to be a man full of godly confidence. I couldn’t have been prouder.

P.S. It turns out the old man is still pretty tough, himself.

Who Wrote The Bible?

This is part of an ongoing series. Please see the introduction and definitions. Leave a note in the comments if you would like something else defined.

Christian theologians, over the centuries, have written millions (billions?) of words telling us what they think about the Bible. Here I would like to look at what the Bible says about itself.

Who wrote the Bible? It’s apparent from the evidence we have that men wrote down the words. There’s only one record in the Bible (that I know of) where God wrote down a portion of his word personally.

Exodus 31:18
And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Unfortunately, when Moses came down from the mountain he found the children of Israel (including his brother, Aaron) practicing blatant idolatry. Moses became so angry that he threw the stone tables to the ground, breaking them.

God kindly wrote a second copy. This time, however, he made Moses hew out the tablets himself. See what happens when you let your temper control you?

Exodus  34:1
And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

Now let’s look at a couple of records where the Bible reveals to us the name of the man who did the actual writing of certain portions.

Jeremiah 36:4
Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.

So we know that the person who actually wrote down the words that made up a part of the prophecy of Jeremiah was a man named Baruch. Why then is the book of Jeremiah not named the book of Baruch? Let’s look at another verse.

Romans 16:22
I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

Why is the book of Romans known as a Pauline epistle, rather than a Tertian epistle?

In both cases the answer is obvious. Baruch and Tertius were scribes – secretaries. They did not originate the words they wrote but merely took dictation. Jeremiah and Paul are listed as the “authors” of their respective books. But were Jeremiah and Paul really the authors? The Bible records the testimony of each of these men. First, Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 36:1, 2
And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,
Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day.

Aha! Jeremiah was not the author of these words. He merely spoke to Baruch the words that he had heard from the Lord. God (Jehovah, Yahweh) was the actual author of the book of Jeremiah. Of course, this information was already given at the beginning of the book.

Jeremiah 1:1-4
The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

How about Paul? Many men have accused him of being a theologian who, basically, invented Christianity. Many unbelievers claim that Paul destroyed or obscured the teachings of Jesus. What did God tell him to testify of himself?

Galatians 1:11, 12
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

So, we see here that the Bible came to Jeremiah when the Lord spoke to him. Paul received his portion by revelation. Are there other verses that corroborate this?

2Peter 1:21
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

So the prophecy – the Bible – did not come by the will of man. Moses didn’t write down his own words – and neither did Isaiah, the psalmists, or any of the other “authors” of the Bible. They were moved by the Holy Ghost – God.

2Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

In this verse we are informed that the Scripture was given by inspiration of God. It’s interesting to note that the phrase, “given by inspiration of God,” is one word in the Greek. That word is theopneustos, god-breathed. “All Scripture is God-breathed…”

So the Bible testifies that God himself is its one true author.

We’ve read the Bible’s description of how it came to be. The Lord “spoke words” to the prophet. It was “received by revelation.” Men of God were “moved by the Holy Ghost.” And the Scripture came by “God breathing.”  Question to ponder: Are all of these simply different descriptions of the same process?

For me the Bible is God’s word and his will for my life. God said it, that settles it.

Some Christian Basics: Definitions

It might be helpful if I let y’all know how I use certain words. I’ll be adding to this list as I see a need. Some of these definitions will come up in future posts.

Bible, The

The Scriptural Word of God currently available to us. This includes our native language versions as well as the available Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts.

We no longer have the original manuscripts – some copying and translational errors have crept in. But over the centuries God has inspired many talented men to work with the available texts; I believe that today there are only tiny sections that are incomprehensible to us.

Prophecy

The words spoken and/or written by a prophet.

Prophet

A man or woman who speaks for God. Very little of that which God reveals to a prophet will be foretelling of the future. Moses, for example, was a prophet – yet the five books attributed to him contain almost no foretelling.

In the Old Testament all those with special ministries were referred to as “seers” or “prophets.” In the New Testament these ministries have been split into categories by function.

Word of God, The

The Word of God contains no errors or contradictions. It includes:

  • Written Scripture as originally given to holy men of God
  • Words of God spoken by Prophets
  • Jesus Christ, the revealed Word

Some Christian Basics: Introduction

I’ve previously mentioned my teenage pilgrimage, going from church to church in search of the truth. Not too many months after I graduated from high school I decided that my search was over – I was going to look to the Bible, the Word of God, as my sole source. I believed that it contained all the knowledge necessary to know who God is, how to be saved, and how to live in a godly fashion.

Over forty years have passed since then and I still believe it. Of course I screwed up on many occasions – I could give lectures on “What Not to Do.” But God, by His mercy and grace, forgave me every time.

One amusing aspect of my walk with God is that I have never joined a church. I’ve attended many church services as a visitor. I earned a BTh (bachelor of theology – Scriptural) at a Bible college without ever becoming a member of a denomination. I even did three years of missionary work in three separate cities (within the USA) without becoming an employee of a church.

What, I figured, would be the point? My salvation rests solely upon believing in and accepting the accomplished works of Jesus Christ. I certainly won’t get “holier” by signing a registry.

One “shortcoming” of this approach to biblical understanding is a lack of knowledge of theology. I’ve studied the Bible on my own with concordances and lexicons. I’ve taken classes taught by men who are serious about the Bible in the way that I am serious. I’ve worked with men much, much smarter and better educated than myself regarding biblical languages and textual criticism. I read biographies of Luther and Calvin. What I never did was take a course in theology.

In sharing the good news with people I never felt the need to spout theological jargon.

It wasn’t until 2013 that I started looking at some websites written by Christians. Seriously! I’m a late adopter. I found that many such Christians used words that I had never seen (in the Bible) as shorthand for their doctrine. I found it quite confusing.

Honestly, I didn’t even know what the word “Evangelical” meant. Does it have something to do with evangelism? I had to spend a lot of time with Wikipedia to figure out what the heck folks were talking about.

I suppose, if you must pigeonhole me theologically, you’ll have to stick to the “Five Solae.” You won’t be too far off.

This, I hope, will be the first post in an ongoing series. Since I don’t seem to fit any of the standard categories of “Protestant” I thought it might be a good idea to give examples of how I work with the Bible. I pray that this series will be useful for others who want to get to know God and His Word better.

I certainly don’t have all the answers – and I’m willing to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But I am certain about some things – and that’s what I’d like to share about here.

Please note that I normally use the King James Version of the Bible. It’s the version I’m most comfortable with. There are other excellent translations available.