Reflections on Making God’s Word Your Priority

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We’ve talked a lot about the Bible in these last six posts. We’ve discussed everything from how the Canon was formed to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in writing the books to its authority in our lives.

We’ve covered a lot of ground. I thought it would be best to give you my takeaways from my own studies in these areas.

  • I am sure that God preserved and prepared his Word just for me. He painstakingly regarded it through thousands of years just so I could read it. Because he took such great care in making sure I received it, I hold his Word in high honor and am honored to read it.
  • God moved heaven and earth to make sure that I wouldn’t only come to know Jesus but also know exactly what God expects of me through the Bible. I honor him when I live the life that pleases him. And I know exactly what he wants because he was careful to preserve his Word against all odds.
  • I am 99.7% certain that I hold the Bible in my hands that is accurate to the original manuscripts written thousands of years ago. I have no worries about whether or not I am reading the original words that got inspired human authors to write. I know this Word comes from God.
  • I am convinced that the human authors of the Bible books were not God’s robots when they wrote them down. Every word matters because it was carefully handpicked by the Holy Spirit as he inspired writers to write down God’s words with their personalities. I can see a bit of them in the Bible but I can hear all of God.
  • I know that when I study every word of the Bible I get a glimpse into the mind of the Spirit. Every word that I study gives me a glimpse into his awesome power and infinite love. When I discover an amazing truth about each word, I know that he is speaking to me even now.
  • Because I am sure that God preserved his Word for me, and because I know that he used the authors of the Bible through inspiration to speak directly to me, I hold the Bible in highest esteem and turn to its pages for every aspect of my life. I know he is speaking into every situation. I turn to the Bible to discover his wisdom and expectations for me.
  • I don’t worry about any other books. These 66 books challenge and encourage me. They discipline me when I stumble on the path with Jesus. I can feel the breath of God on these pages. Other books may be interesting, but they do not add to my life as the Bible does.
  • The Canon of Scripture is closed. I don’t have to worry that I missed God or I missed something important about following him. I don’t go looking for other things to satisfy me. I’m thoroughly satisfied and sustained by the Bible itself.

In a way, these thoughts are core beliefs of the faith. But they are also personal convictions based on my deep study of these topics. I hope after reading these posts, you have been encouraged and your faith has been strengthened.

We can be sure of the Bible. We can be sure that God composed, preserved, protected, inspired, and authorized it. That’s why it is so useful to us. Where else can you turn to get truth, wisdom, and blessing?

Every time I turn to a passage in the Bible, I receive a current and powerful message that I can apply to my life in that moment. Every time I study it, I see facets upon facets of new ways to understand what God is speaking to me. There is no other book like that!

What are your favorite parts about God’s Word? Have you had these experiences? What are your personal convictions about the Bible? Leave a comment and tell me what you think about the Bible after our studies.

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Thou Shalt Not…

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One of the first things that comes to our minds when we start talking about holiness is the Ten Commandments. Just about everyone comes face-to-face with what they think is the only forceful way that God has to make us do what he wants.

Most people have a problem with one or more of them. If it’s not them, it’s the rest of the Old Testament laws and commandments concerning how to live with other human beings. They like to find a negative command that seems to not make sense anymore.

Negative commands throughout the Bible refer to what I would call “negative holiness.” These are all the things we are told not to do because they lead to actions and thoughts that displease God. The Ten Commandments are only one example.

But people may not realize that there are also positive commands, what I would call “positive holiness.” These are the things we are encouraged and exhorted to do that please God. One of these, although there are many, might be a combination of negative and positive commands such as “Do not get drunk on wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

Something must be said about the negative commands in the Bible. I know it seems like an overbearing God is telling us what to do but it’s more about what he is trying to prevent. When parents tell their children not to do something, it is because they know that they may hurt them.

It is no different with God. Because he designed the universe and everything in it, he knows the very best things that we can do to make our lives great. When we listen to him, whether the commands are negative or positive, he is trying to set us up for success.

Farmers put fences around the fields for two reasons. Sure, it limits the movement of the cattle, but it also protects them from the dangers outside of the fence. God’s laws do the same thing. Also, while we may think of the limitations of that fence, died is thinking about our safety and success.

In the same way, his positive commands encourage us to live in ways that honor and please him. When all is said and done, God will be our judge. He does not want to send us to an eternity in hell. He wants us to be with him in heaven. But that requires holiness because a holy God cannot dwell with an unholy people.

Because God wants us to be with him, he gives us these two approaches to holiness. Each one of them shows us his desire and his heart for us. Each one of them shows us his Fatherly desire to become like him.

Perhaps this has changed your perspective on the laws of God. Perhaps it has shown you another way to look at the positive and negative holiness commands in the Bible. Tell me what you think and leave a message in the comments.

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Trying Something New

I’ve noticed that I haven’t been very efficient lately. In the efforts to write my first book, the one on holiness, I began finding all kinds of resources and beginning to go through them. I joined an online community of writers, discovered an entire world of resources, and learned how to launch my books.

All of that took time and I actually began to work on other projects than the holiness book. I am trying to find ways to spend time on my book but all kinds of other ideas keep popping into my head. I’ve even thought about doing online courses on the Bible and a podcast.

I would like to do those things but I really need to finish my holiness book. I have several other books in the wings as well. I don’t want to be a da Vinci, someone who doesn’t finish their projects. That man was created but he rarely finished something.

Instead, I want to be effective and efficient for God’s kingdom. He’s given me all of these ideas but I want to actually see them become reality. So in an effort to work on my holiness book and a novel I started way back when, I went out on a limb and signed up for a writing challenge.

I’ve never tried this before, but there is a challenge out there for writers called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In the month of November, thousands of writers join this free online community and encourage each other to write 50,000 words in 30 days!

Generally, the rules are that you work on one piece and you try to produce those 50,000 words in that amount of time. It’s unprecedented! I’ve never done it before and I don’t know that I’m really ready for it now. But if it helps me finish even a chapter or two in my books, and I plan to do much more than that, it will be worth it.

So I’m working on my holiness book, currently titled “A Holy Dare: Principal Holiness for a New Generation” and also a novel I started called “Deep Despair of Darkness.” To accomplish such an enormous goal, I will have to write 1700 words per day!

But as I considered doing the challenge, I realized I needed a kick in the pants. I’m not going to get anything done of such significance by getting distracted every day. So I’m all in for this writing challenge.

I figured I’m not the only person who needs to try something new to become more effective in whatever I’m doing. What about you? Is or something out there to help you become more effective, more focused, and more productive? Leave a comment and tell me what you think you could find to become more effective in your life.

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Missing Books? Part 2: Pseudepigrapha and Other Writings

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Last time we considered the Old Testament Apocrypha, books written between the time of Malachi and the beginning of the New Testament. I want to discuss works written after the New Testament, after about 95-96 AD. These range from the 2nd to 5th century.

First of all, there are books that no one considers inspired, which were written by the Early Church Fathers, the second generation Christians and disciples of the apostles, and successive generations of Christians.

These are not inspired. Even the Early Church Fathers who wrote them knew they weren’t. They never claimed they were. They are helpful because they contain quotes of Scripture, sermons, and theology and Christian thought.

Other writings from this time period are called Pseudepigrapha, meaning “false writings.” Christians railed against many of these types of writings and consider most of them heretical.

One common heretical group was known as the Gnostics. Gnostic comes from the Greek word for knowledge. These were false teachers who believe that a person could gain a secret knowledge of Jesus.

It’s possible John addressed them in some of the messages in Revelation 2-3 and 1 John. They didn’t believe Jesus was physically human. They considered him a spirit masquerading in a body. They also believed the spirit was good, but the flesh was evil.

These Gnostics would take scriptural quotes and sayings that sounded like Scripture and weave false stories and doctrines throughout the work. Recently, they’ve become very popular again and many want them added to the Canon. But this must never be done.

You can find the whole text of many of them on the internet. Lists of these false writings include:

  • Gospel of Thomas
  • Gospel of Peter
  • Gospel of Mary
  • The Acts of Peter
  • The Acts of Paul
  • The Infancy Gospels of James and Thomas

There are more where those came from. But notice already why they are called the false writings? They are taking the names of biblical authors and also the genres that they would use, for instance the gospel style or the acts style.

Even the scholars who want to pass these off as biblical books date them later than the first century. They were written after the deaths and martyrdoms of the apostles. This means the apostles didn’t write them, one of the requirements for inspiration.

If we considered their dates to fit near the time of New Testament books, we still have many problems with these writings. They contradict historical and theological data that we have in the inspired books.

Some tell fanciful stories of Jesus stretching wood because as a carpenter he cut the piece too short. Others talk of Jesus resurrecting childhood friends that jump off of roofs. Several of these books sound like they would fit until they hit that, “Umm, what just happened?” moment.

Would Jesus cut a board too short? Resurrections are rare even in the New Testament and they always had a purpose behind them. These writings make light of Jesus’ life and ministry. They strip the biblical books of their profound power.

A popular example will show the theological dangers of including these books in the Canon of Scripture. The Gospel of Thomas, a Gnostic gospel, can be found in an online translation here:

As you read, you can see how some verses of this text might pass for sayings of Jesus. But as you get farther and farther, there is one terribly shocking ending to the book. Take a look at verse 114. This one will make all the ladies super happy. It reads:

(114) Simon Peter said to him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.” 

Jesus said, “I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Now I thought that we had to become like children (and even then not literally children but LIKE them) to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s a good thing I’m a guy, because I don’t need a sex-change to get to heaven.

But sorry, ladies. This Gnostic gospel demands that women must go through some miraculous sex change to enter heaven. Does that bother anyone? Inspired books in the Canon include these types of thoughts:

  • Genesis 2:18, 20 – Where it is not good for the man to be alone and God makes a “helper” for him.
  • Proverbs 31:10-31 – If such a woman is so wonderful, then why must she be changed to enter heaven?
  • The whole books of Esther and Ruth. Without them, the line of David in Ruth and the whole Jewish nation in Esther would not exist.
  • The first evangelists were women who went to Jesus’ tomb early on Sunday morning after His resurrection. Why did they get to be first in a male-dominated society if they are not good enough to share the gospel?
  • Galatians 3:28 – I cannot stress how paramount this verse is. Paul says that anyone can be saved despite their background and environment. When we are part of Christ’s kingdom, there is neither male nor female. Gender isn’t a dividing factor in God’s kingdom.

It makes no sense and violate Scripture to suggest that a woman must have a sex change to enter heaven. These kinds of misogynist texts being pushed by liberals actually go against their principles!

These are only a few of the reasons the Pseudepigrapha are very dangerous. I don’t recommend reading them unless you are strong in your faith and can discern between the truth of God’s Word and these works in which truth and lies are interwoven.

I have found as I study these works and the Apocrypha that God has given us more than enough in the 66 books we have. He has already blown our minds hundreds of times over. They are a complete Canon with everything we need to know to become part of God’s family, learned God’s truth, and guide us into his presence. We don’t need the other books.

We are not missing any essentials or even non-essentials of the faith by not having these extra books in the Bible. Until we can say with assurance that we have mastered what God has given us in the 66 books, we should not attempt to put our efforts into these books, especially when they are contrary to His Word.

The final point I wish to make about inspiration and the canon and whether or not the Bible is complete is this: Do we trust God that He would give us everything we need to know Him?

You see, these questions over the canon come down to our trust in a good Father who gives us every good gift. Would God leave out essentials that we need to know to love and serve Him? Is He that kind of God?

If we have everything that we need in the canon, we don’t need the other books. Is there mystery in the Word of God? Absolutely. But it is a mystery that is designed to be there. So when we look at Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha they don’t help us grow closer to God.

And after all, that is the true test for inspiration, that His Words facilitate growing in our relationship with him. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of missing books in the Bible.

Next week I will share my personal recollections and takeaways about the Canon of Scripture, inspiration, authority, and the possibility of missing books.

with him. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of missing books in the Bible. Next week I will share my personal recollections and takeaways about the Canon of Scripture, inspiration, authority, and the possibility of missing books.

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The Principle Thing

I’ve been in some churches where the rules, either written or unwritten, were the law of the land. There’s nothing wrong with this as long as everyone in the community is willing to submit to such rules.

I’ve also been in churches where there were no standards whatsoever. People didn’t even take the Bible seriously, let alone the commands inside of it. Unfortunately, churches tend to fall on one side of the fence or the other. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground these days for anything.

So when we come to the subject of holiness, what’s more important? Should we follow strict rules so we know exactly what to expect or should we say there is no way to fulfill God’s highest standards, so why try?

I believe God’s heart hurts when he sees his people not even try. After all, he did command us to be holy like him. If he said it, then it’s possible. We should strive to bless God’s heart that he delights in us as we attempt to be obedient to him.

When we read our Bibles, we will find an interesting assortment of rules and principles for holy living. Why can’t we just pick either one, rules or principles? The Bible has both for some very good reasons.

Rules can easily become outdated. They are also meant for a certain time, culture, and situation. They don’t cover every possibility. They are very limited. Principles are a much better system for covering more possibilities.

The other problem with rules is that they can foster legalism in our communities of faith. Rules can lead us to interpret them so narrowly that the spirit of the rules can be easily broken. If parents tell their children not to have a party in the house when they go away, the child will easily obey that I going to someone else’s house to have the party. Legalism is a dangerous monster that can eat away at God’s design best for us.

The Bible doesn’t have any commands concerning smoking, insider trading, and several other practices we might consider sinful or at least a little under the table. Does that mean that these things are okay?

The sad fact of the matter is that humans are depraved enough to find ways around straight commands and rules. Look at the rich young ruler who declared that he followed all of the 10 Commandments since his youth. Like the Pharisees, he probably could only say this because he had interpreted them extremely literally.

God does give us black-and-white commands to show his expectations of our behavior. But he is a wise God who knows we’ll take advantage of every opportunity to sin against him before we know Jesus.

So to help us out, he also included principles for holiness. Where the rules don’t flat out tell us what he expects, he has also provided principles. These principles give us guidance and a framework to live holy lives in new situations not experienced by Bible cultures and times.

Let’s take the same example of smoking. There is no command not to smoke in the Bible. However, there is the principle of our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should treat our bodies with respect and that includes a healthy lifestyle. We know from science that smoking ruins our lungs and can even cause cancer. We should avoid it as much as we can.

What a wise God we serve to give us direction with both commands and principles. Unlike in any other religion, our God speaks directly to us and tells us what he expects. He provides the right framework so we don’t have to guess his desires for us.

Leave a comment and tell me what you think about this two-pronged system of rules and principles. What kind of background have you come from? In your church family, was it more about rules or was it more about principles?

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Missing Books? Part 1: Old Testament Apocrypha

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We’ve been discussing how the Canon of the Bible was made, its inspiration, and authority. This raises several questions about which books belong in the Bible and which books don’t. From time to time in the media and scholarship, someone inevitably discovers an ancient document and asks why it can’t be included in the Canon of Scripture.

There are several books that are sometimes included in the Bible but not considered by Protestants to be inspired. And there are a host of other ancient pieces of literature that beg our attention. So what should we say about these documents?

I want to focus on the Old Testament Apocrypha. Why can we not consider these as inspired works that belong in the Canon? Those are precisely the questions we seek to prompt us into a closer look at these claims as we discuss the Canon of Scripture.

Let me start by defining terms and pointing out the books we’re referring to. Then I will give the reasoning for why these books are not included, and finally, I will state the theological reason for why most people would tell you they don’t deserve to be in the Canon.

The word Apocrypha means “hidden things” and refers to books included in some Bibles and manuscripts. “Apocryphal books” applies not only to works that historically were written between the writing of the Old and New Testaments, but also refers to some works written after the New Testament as well.

We have 39 books that compose the Old Testament in the Canon today. Historically, Rabbis have challenged about 5 of those books for different reasons. The book of Esther, never mentions God’s name. However, others have convincingly argued that the letters of God’s name, YHWH, are used in literary patterns that are purposefully composed, as well as the message that God works behind the scenes and fulfills his plans in our lives.

Many suggest Song of Solomon doesn’t belong in the Canon. It has been interpreted in one of two ways. The first is as an image of Christ and the church. The second is as a romance that gives godly principles for marriage and dating. For these reasons, it has always been included in the Canon.

But the Old Testament Apocrypha was written between Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, and about the 200s AD. There are about 20 works, including books and excerpts. Some are extensions of inspired books like Esther and Daniel.

Others are historical accounts like the Maccabees. Some are simply stories or wisdom literature, like the Wisdom of Sirach. Old Testament Apocrypha books are listed in some Bibles and and other literature. Here’s a list of the most common works:

  1. Tobit
  2. Judith
  3. Addition to Esther
  4. Wisdom of Solomon
  5. Wisdom of Joshua Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus)
  6. Baruch
  7. The Letter of Jeremiah
  8. Additions to Daniel
  9. The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews
  10. Susanna
  11. Bel and the Dragon
  12. 1 Maccabees
  13. 2 Maccabees
  14. 1 Esdras
  15. 2 Esdras
  16. 3 Maccabees
  17. 4 Maccabees
  18. Prayer of Manasseh
  19. Psalm 151
  20. Enoch

These works are found in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. They were also translated in the Vulgate, the Latin translation, and are even found in the earliest editions of the King James Version.

However, not all books are in each one. They are listed in different orders and some are missing from those lists. Because of these differences, we can tell these books weren’t considered as crucial as the inspired books of the Bible. While the biblical Canon is preserved throughout time, the Apocryphal books are not as strongly represented.

Most scholars remind us that the Jews didn’t consider these apocryphal books inspired. But that does not mean that they are not useful. In fact, they tell us a lot about the times in which they were written, as well as the cultural and historical understanding of those eras.

Some books do not contain completely accurate data historically or geographically. These are all reasons why they are not considered inspired. It is enjoyable and interesting to read them. I have not truly studied them myself but I have read all of them.

One book of great interest is Enoch’s work, although Enoch did not write it. It was given his name for credibility. This is another reason that some of these books are not inspired. It is believed that they try to garner the credibility of a true writer of Scripture in their names at times.

Jude quotes from Enoch in Jude 14-15. But quoting from a book by the inspired writers does not give that work inspiration. Paul quotes from secular poets in Acts 17:28 and 1 Corinthians 6:13. Just because biblical authors use these sources, they aren’t inspired. This is especially true when the writer uses the source to deny its premise or as a counterpoint to his argument.

In the early 16th century during the Protestant Reformation, Catholics and Protestants went to war not only over principles of faith but also over the Canon itself. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) decided that the Catholics consider the Apocrypha inspired because the Protestants did not.

Even the Canon became a bone of contention among these two groups. When the Apocrypha is inconsistently translated or absent from Bible versions, this gives us clues about questions of inspiration. Do such inconsistencies measure up to the high standard of the Canon books?

Historically, these books have been used to separate groups of Christians. They do not achieve the goal of unity in Christ’s body. They are of great interest and even profitable for the study of history, but they are not inspired.

There is also one looming theological reason these books are not included in the Canon of Scripture. The Canon was closed with the final book of the New Testament, Revelation, in 95-96 AD. None of the early church fathers considered their writings canonical. Only heretics try to add to Scripture after that date.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t read them. Because Jude quotes from Enoch, we can tell what the first century Jews believed in the times of Jesus. What do you think about the Old Testament Apocrypha? Leave a comment and tell me if you’ve ever read them and what you think about them.

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3 Areas of Holiness

The topic of holiness is one mainly for the church. The time the world talks about holiness is when it thinks Christians are hypocrites because they don’t follow their own standards, which are actually God’s standards.

A lot of ethereal debate can happen with holiness if we’re not careful. It can become a theological subject with little application. But that’s not what holiness is supposed to be. To be sure, holiness begins with God’s character, as we discussed in an earlier post.

My concern is that Christians love to talk about holiness but not practice it. Sure, God’s standards are incredibly high, but we are not going it alone. We have the Holy Spirit’s help. So I’d like to discuss three areas of our lives that holiness touches.

  1. Principled Holiness – Some separate biblical principles of holiness from holiness rules and commands. When I use “principled,” I am referring to using God’s commands for holiness and his principles when direct commands aren’t given.
  2. Personal Holiness – This is where the rubber meets the road in our personal lives. Are we following the commandments and principles for holiness found in Scripture? These are the cultural, social, and character issues that affect us every day.
  3. Relational Holiness – This concerns every relationship we have from our vertical relationship with God to our horizontal relationships with every other human on the planet.

To clarify principled holiness, some churches and church leaders demand that their people follow biblical commandments and rules within their communities. If the Bible doesn’t have specific commands on a topic, that community makes community standards that people must follow.

Other churches and faith communities may see biblical commandments as nonbinding for “New Testament Christians” or members of their communities. They have a very light and when it comes to standards of holiness.

But when I speak of principled holiness, the principle is that God made his standards that apply to all Christians. As we study the commands he gives in Scripture and the principles that are laid out, we have a framework to apply his high standards to our character and practice them in our lives.

Personal holiness calls us to personally practice their standards we see in the Bible. But it also means that we are responsible to apply and practice that holiness according to our own situations. Every person has different weaknesses and struggles. God’s principles are personal.

Relational holiness considers every relationship and every interaction with every person in our lives. It starts with pleasing God in our relationship with him. But to please God, we must also have holy relationships with the pinnacle of his creation, humanity. Every relationship profile is different, and so the holiness principles for relationships we apply will be different.

These aren’t the only three areas of our lives and persons that holiness touches. But for our intents and purposes, these are three of the most important areas. What do you think of these? Leave a comment and let me know what you think about one or all of these.

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No Other Book Part 2: Authority of Scripture

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Why should we do with the Bible tells us to do? Most people don’t even consider what God thinks about their actions. They just do whatever they want. But Christians are called by the Bible to live a certain way.

Last week we discussed how the Bible is inspired by God through human writers. This week we’re talking about why Scripture is authoritative for our lives. Why turn to the pages of Scripture when we need to hear from God?

Inspiration of Scripture explains how God recorded His word for us today. It is concerned with how God’s Spirit interact with human authors. Authority is concerned with the importance and priority of the Bible in our lives. Authority is about credibility.

The Bible speaks into our lives and directs us. It must have authority for us to listen to it. Any parent knows what it’s like for a teenager to deny them the authority to speak into their lives. We must recognize and respect the Bible’s authority.

We looked at 2 Timothy 3:16 when we talked about inspiration, and now we must look at the second part. Paul explained that the Bible is useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

These four categories cover doctrine and practice. The New Testament writers and the Church knew for a long time that the Bible is the authority for Christian belief and practice. The Bible has the right to speak into our lives because it contains God’s words.

Scriptural authority gives the reasons for trusting in Scripture above all other sources. When we need advice, comfort, encouragement, rebuke, or anything else, the Bible is the place to go. Authority gives the Bible high honor as the greatest book ever written.

The great God spoke the greatest Word. Through the Bible, he speaks to us today. No other book in all of creation reveals his plan and purpose for our lives. No other book guides us and shows us his expectations.

The Bible has God’s fingerprints on it. It is unparalleled, matchless in the unity of its books. No other collection of books contains such a cohesive unity with such a diversity in language, cultures, and time periods.

Consider the thousands of years, number of authors, and the ability to reveal God and his plan throughout time. The Bible’s authority on ethics and morality in the time of its writing alone was greater than other moral codes.

Atheists may argue that the Bible is rife with ethical quandaries, citing examples such as God calling Israel to kill all the Canaanites, incest in its early pages, and contradictions in its teaching. But the more they would study the Bible, they would find that these are not contradictions, inconsistencies, or questionable ethics.

The Bible is not an easy book to interpret by far, but its overarching message is simple and complete. Its simplicity and complexity paradoxically run beside one another. A person can study the Bible all of their lives and still find more to know.

Authority also speaks to the historical accuracy and correctness of the spiritual and doctrinal information it contains. It speaks to other disciplines, like science, archaeology, and anthropology. We must note that at the time of its writing, it was completely accurate to the understanding of those disciplines, and sometimes provided a view advanced in its time.

For instance, some point out that it says that the sun rises and sets, suggesting that the earth is the center of the solar system. However, it also talks about the sun moving across its circuit in a circular motion, pointing to the earth revolving around the sun.

I firmly add that the Bible is not a science textbook. It’s revelation from God through the understanding of humans. We are finding as we discover more in archaeology at the geography and historical people are correct. New archaeological discoveries prove that the Bible is accurate.

One external evidence concerning the Bible’s accuracy is that it has been around for thousands of years. It has survived through human and natural attacks to destroy it. I showed in the post on the Canon some of these attempts.

God has allowed his Word to continue through the ages. He has protected and preserved it for us today. It is the true living document because God spoke it many years ago but it still speaks to us today. It does not fade away or fail with the passing of time.

Every contradiction or inconsistency people find has an answer when it is studied. Sometimes the solution is to let go of preconceived notions. For instance, the Bible contains predictive prophecies in which God historically calls his shots. Well before the event, one of the prophets declared it would happen.

People who don’t believe in predictive prophecy say that the prophecies were written that much later dates, usually after the event. They would call these self-fulfilling prophecies. We must consider in further study the calendars that are being used by each author. Aside from that, if they refuse to look closely at when the documents were written, they will never see predictive prophecy.

The Bible is authoritative for our lives today because God accurately penned through human beings the truth of their time. He has preserved his Word through centuries of danger and possible destruction. Ultimately, when we read the Bible today, the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts.

I have one more note about inspiration. Both inspiration and authority flow together. Only after realizing that God spoke his word through human authors and then made it authoritative for our lives today can we accept its counsel for every situation we encounter.

Often linked with inspiration are the issues of inerrancy and infallibility. Inerrancy is the trustworthiness of Scripture. Infallibility says the words of Scripture are faultless. Many suggest that the message may be infallible but the text may have inaccuracies or errors.

In my studies, dealing with the original languages and manuscripts, I have personally compared manuscript to manuscript. I was practicing a discipline called textual criticism in my third year of Greek at my undergrad. I still use this technique today.

Textual criticism is when scholars compare all of the manuscripts we have found to gain the most accurate reading from the original documents. I personally use the word inerrant because it decisively suggests that there are no mistakes in God’s Word.

God has no errors in himself, and he spoke the words of Scripture. The original autographs of Scripture, the original writings on parchments are both infallible and inerrant. Unfortunately, because we don’t have them anymore, we must use these copies of manuscripts.

Don’t be alarmed! As I have described before, having so many copies helps us to understand what the most accurate reading of the original is. Through comparing the manuscripts we have, we notice misspelled words, where people who copied manuscripts skipped lines, and other common mistakes.

So the manuscripts we have do have contain errors. This is why I prefer inerrant instead of infallible. The copies we do have are not infallible..But the words of Scripture are inerrant because they come from and infallible God.

God has spoken in a clear and obvious way. We can trust that the Holy Spirit spoke through human authors. We know that our Bible is so close in accuracy to the original writings that we need not fear we have it wrong.

Our understanding of the inspiration and authority of Scripture should cause us to have great joy and worship God for the Bible. He didn’t leave us to our own devices. He guides, encourages, teaches, disciplines, and blesses us through the Bible.

We can be certain that God speaks through the Bible to us on a daily basis. Every time you open the Bible, you are reading God’s words to you. You can put into practice with great success every part of his word when you accurately and faithfully interpret and apply it.

God inspired people long ago to write the things we would need to be told over and over because they don’t come naturally to us. He preserved everything we need to know to personally know and live for him.

The Bible is like no other book in all of creation. Allow God’s Word to speak to you and receive it in obedience. But as a caution, don’t worship the Bible because it is accurate and authoritative. Worship the God who wrote his Word and reveals himself to us. The Bible leads us to God and that’s why it’s like no other book. Leave a comment and tell me what you think about the authority of Scripture. What are some situations in your life or the Bible has helped you to know what God wants you to do?

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Holy God, Holy People

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When we start listing the rules and principles in the Bible for holiness, some people wonder if it’s even possible to live a holy life. Some say yes, some say no. Great theological debates have raged for centuries about holiness.

Living a holy life isn’t easy. Even if we get the outside right, our inner character is thoroughly challenged by God’s high standards. We can hide our inner thoughts, motives, and intentions from others. But we can’t hide them from the Holy Spirit. He’s got a front row seat.

We’ll get into this later, but even Christians can struggle with battling temptation and sin. Many talk about trying to be holy for just one day. Holiness is so all-encompassing that it is difficult, but not impossible.

Holiness begins with God himself. When his chief characteristics, or attributes, is holiness. Holiness as God’s attribute speaks of his uniqueness above creation, his separation from what he has made. God is unlike anyone else or any celestial being.

In the same way, God calls us to be separate from the world (1 Peter 1:15-16). But this isn’t an easy task. We are so integrated into the world that it’s very hard to live a holy life. But if God has called us to be holy, then it must be possible.

God has very high standards that are impossible to reach on our own. It’s a good thing the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us from the moment we begin to follow Jesus. He is called the “Holy” Spirit for a reason. He guides us into holiness if only we listen and obey.

So it’s not impossible. God is not the kind of God to command us to do something that we can’t do. The question is if we’re willing to listen to the Holy Spirit and obey him. At every turn we will battle temptation and our desires. These desires have been changed, but our environment is constantly pulling us into that old life.

Join me in the fight not to use willpower but to rely on the Holy Spirit. Join me in the battle for holiness. This is something God desperately wants for each of his children. It does require commitment, obedience, and hard choices when we are faced with temptation.

It’s not God’s will for you to struggle with temptation with this world system. Don’t fight a battle Jesus has already won. You can please God every day through holy living with his help. Leave a comment and tell me what you think about practicing the character of God through holiness.

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No Other Book Part 1: Inspiration of Scripture

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People question the Bible’s composition, transmission, and whether there are books missing. This series adds reason to faith concerning the Scriptures for every believer. It is also designed to give you loads of information that you can give to those asking you about the Bible.

This is the third installment in my series about the Bible, its composition, inspiration, authority, and whether there are missing books. In the previous two posts, we explore the composition of the Canon, or standard rule, of Scripture. It showed that there are criteria for considering a book canonical.

In the third and fourth installments, I want to consider first the inspiration of Scripture and then the authority of Scripture for our lives. What gives the Scriptures the right to challenge, rebuke, encourage, and exhort us? Why do we turn to them in every situation of our lives? The first reason for this is that the Bible is inspired by God.

Do you remember the moment you realized beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real and you need him? You committed yourself to following Jesus for the rest of your life. That was a wonderful moment, wasn’t it? A moment of clarity when everything fit into place.

For me, a sense of calm and serenity enveloped me. All my worries and cares fell to the side. Simultaneously, there was a sense of trepidation. Now what? God saved me from his wrath and into his kingdom, but what was I supposed to do? That’s when we turn to the Bible.

Inspiration and authority lay down a rule of faith, a foundation and a roadmap for following God’s will. Abraham’s faith guided him when he left his family and culture to travel to the middle of nowhere. Without trust in God, he would’ve never made it. And we’re on the same type of faith journey.

Faith in action, not a belief system, will guide us. But what can we place our faith in? First, Jesus, the Living Word of God. But we know about him and what he expects because of the written Word of God. Inspiration claims that God in some way affected the text of the Bible as it was produced.

We believe that God prescribed the best and most godly way to live. The only way we know what he expects is if he communicates that to us. We must believe the Bible we hold in our hands and read every day and follow comes from him.

How do we come to the idea of the inspiration of the Bible? There is internal evidence that the Bible is inspired by God. This is why we call it the Word of God. It claims to be God’s Word, and so we must ask about the process of writing it.

Inspiration considers how God and humanity worked together to produce the Bible. Internally, we learn in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that Paul uses the unique description “God-breathed.” The first part of this passage affirms inspiration and the second part authority.

“God-breathed” is sometimes translated “inspired.” It contains the idea that God himself spoke the words in Scripture. But the Bible was written by human beings. Inspiration seeks to meld the relationship between God and human authors.

There are up to five different understandings of inspiration. Each of them considers the relationship between God and humanity during the writing.

  1. Verbal Dictation Theory – God dictated every single word of the Bible to the human authors, who were more like robots or secretaries.
  2. Verbal Plenary Inspiration – God used the biblical writers along with their backgrounds, literary styles, and personalities to write according to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
  3. Intuition Theory – Biblical writers were very wise men with advanced insight.
  4. Partial Inspiration – The Bible is infallible in matters of faith and practice that can have historical and scientific errors. If it doesn’t speak to the subject of faith, it can have errors.
  5. Dynamic Inspiration – The thoughts and concepts of the Bible are inspired but the words were left to biblical writers, not God’s words.

The first two are held by Christians of all stripes. But the last three become questionable. They essentially take God out of the picture of inspiration. I am in the camp of verbal plenary inspiration because I see the perspectives and backgrounds of each writer and yet believe there’s no point in studying the words of Scripture if God didn’t give them to the writers.

Inspiration means that when I read Scripture, God is speaking to me through it. Every word is important, not just the principles and concepts. This is why we do word studies and studied the context of every word that is used. When you love someone, you listen to everything they tell you.

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Paul is talking about the Old Testament. So how can we claim inspiration for the New Testament also? In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul calls the quotation from Deuteronomy 25:4 Scripture, but includes Luke 10:7.

In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter comments that Paul’s writings are hard to understand and calls them Scripture. The New Testament writers realized that there was a special inspiration in their writings even while they were still writing.

There is so much more to talk about when we consider inspiration, but realize that the whole Bible is inspired by God, literally breathed out by him! When you read your Bible, God is speaking to you. He spoke to the writers of the Bible and his Holy Spirit speaks even now.

Scripture is his full and complete revelation to us. Everything we need to know God personally is contained in those 66 books. No more, no less. Only God could make sure that his words were written in the book while allowing for the personalities of the human writers. I am amazed at the wonderful Word of God! There is no other book like it in the entire world.

Next week we will discuss the authority of the Scriptures. Why should we turn to them to guide our lives? What’s so special about the Scriptures of the Bible and how can a 2000-year-old book speak to my current issues? Stay tuned to find out! And don’t be shy. Leave a comment to tell me what you think about the inspiration of the Bible. Which of the theories of inspiration do you ascribe to?

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