Monday, August 7, 2017

God Gave...His Word (Part 4)

I have spoken to some degree about the importance of a proper understanding of the authority of scripture as God's divine word.  However, just as it is important to have some understanding of the nature and character of God as we establish a foundation for this journey through God's word; we must also have a proper understanding of the nature and character of God's word.

Now, let me just say from the beginning that there is so much more that can be said than I will say here.  Each of the characteristics that I will reference could have their own blog post or sermon if not multiples.  That is how deep and significant they are.  So if it seems mildly academic or heavy on terminology, please bear with me.  These are not things that many churches ever teach but they are important truths to understand about the only written source of truth that will ever matter, the word of God.

The reformers and early Christians of the Church thought that scripture was easy enough to be understood by the "common man" that many of them died in order to make sure that it was translated from Latin to English, German, and many other languages.  If they thought it was easily understood and worthy of dying for, then perhaps it is worth a little effort to think about the very characteristics of God's word.

Red Letter Truth!

Image result for pics red letter bible


In John 17:17, Jesus in praying to the Father during what is known as the high priestly prayer prays, "Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth"

It is at this moment that I would like to say to all of those "red letter" folks out there that want to contrast all other aspects of scripture with the words in red i.e. Jesus' words.  This is a false dichotomy and Jesus would have taught us so, in fact he did.

It is clear that Jesus, of all people, considered all of scripture to be God's word.  He established all that He is according to the Old Testament scriptures.  So many times he states that something is being done to fulfill what was written in the prophets thus qualifying those very words.  

For example, in Luke 24:25-27 Jesus said to the disciples with whom he was walking along the road to Emmaus, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."

You might say, "Ok. but what about all the words written after Jesus died?  How do we know that those are legit?"  To establish that, we must understand that Christ taught that He would build His church from beginning to end. 

In Matthew 16:18, while speaking to Peter about his gospel declaration that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus tells Peter, "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it."

Hebrews 3:3-4 tells us, "For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, as much glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.  For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God."

Psalm 127:1 states, "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain."  Now that can be applied to any number of scenarios but it has often been understood as properly applied to the building of the church in general based on Matthew 16:18, Hebrews 3-4.

So much more could be said, but I pray that this very basic provision of texts and thoughts will be enough to provide a basis for the understanding that, God is in charge of His word from beginning to end because through His Son, THE WORD, He is building the Church.

Every bit of development of doctrine and application in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is authorized and inspired by the Living God. We know this because the Spirit of God testifies to our hearts, through the very word of God that this is true.

Now, if you will allow me, I will wax academic just a bit, but not with the intent of sounding intelligent or speaking over anyone's head.  No, I believe that anyone and everyone can and should understand everything I am about to say.  Please indulge me for a moment.

God's Word Of Truth Is Authoritative, Inspired, Infallible, Inerrant, Clear, and Sufficient
Related image





"And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in  a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.  For no prophecy was every produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."(2 Peter 1:19-21)

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)


Authority and Inspiration
  • These two passages of scripture were written by two of the great Apostles of Christ in Scripture, Peter and Paul.  These scriptures are the summation of the truths in the larger heading of this section which is underlined above.  The authority and inspiration of the scriptures are enacted, empowered, affirmed and supported by the very Spirit of God in the hearts of every believer. 
  • If this does not register as truth, a professing believer should question the possession of true faith in their hearts, because that very faith is not real if it is not supported by these self-affirming Scriptures.

Infallibility and Inerrancy
Image result for inerrant word pic
  • Infallibility regarding scripture simply means that the Bible cannot err.  In the whole of scripture it is incapable of doing so.
Inerrancy regarding scripture means that the Bible is without error.  In the whole and in it's parts, it is altogether free of it.
  • It could be said that scripture is inerrant or free from error without requiring infallibility.  We could not say however that scripture is infallible or incapable of error if it is not in fact inerrant.

  • So to make it clear as mud, a proper understanding of scripture is that it is not only free from error, but that it is free from error because it is incapable of erring to begin with.  This is because it is not just any old literary work, rather it is the very word of an infallible and inerrant God.


  • So you see, if we do not believe that God's word is infallible and inerrant, then we cannot believe the same about God in which case our beliefs about our salvation, being based in the perfect love and sacrifice of a perfect God, are null and void.


Perspicuity

  • What is that?  It is a fancy theological word that means "clarity".  A proper understanding of scripture will include an understanding that God's word is easily understood and clear in all matters that pertain to what God intends to be clear.  In other words, the things that He has revealed in Scripture are there to be understood when studied and meditated upon faithfully and with a proper understanding of interpretation.

Image result for perspicuityImage result for perspicuity

  • A number of ideas in God's word require that they be understood in light of other parts of scripture.  In other words, scripture interprets scripture.  Often times, we need to think through the surrounding text, the intent of the author based on the who they are writing to, and the genre i.e. history, poetry, letters, etc.  When all things work together, there are no contradictions, half-truths or lies.  When understood in full. God's word makes itself clear.  Is it work?  Yes, sometimes.  At no point does God call us to laziness.  He intends for us to "study to show ourselves approved, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."(2 Timothy 2:15)


  • Understanding the depths of salvation and all the ways that scripture speaks to it requires study and a broad understanding of the whole of scripture.  As it pertains to the basics of salvation, very little is required.  You can read through the book of John and get a very solid understanding of who Jesus was and is and what He came to do for us.  If you read Paul's letter to the Romans, there will certainly be aspects that would be clearer with a broader understanding of the story of redemption however, a straight reading will paint a very clear picture of our sinful nature and it's origins, our guilt and condemnation because of it, and the good news of what God did through His son, Jesus.  It will paint a picture of desperate need and glorious hope as well as an understanding of the God's sovereign work through it all.


  • This is the most basic meaning of the statement that God's word is clear.  That is why the Reformers wanted people to be able to read the scriptures for themselves rather than having a Catholic priest give them a corrupt, manipulated version that served their purposes and kept the people enslaved. The Catholic church teaches that IT is the final authority on what the Bible teaches.  Scripture teaches and the Reformers believed that God's word alone was the final authority and that we had to work together to hold each other accountable to that word.
Simply put:  YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THE SCRIPTURES!!  
It is God's gift to you, that you may know Him and glorify Him.


Sufficiency

Image result for sufficiency of god's word
  • Finally, God's word is sufficient.  Granted, scripture will not tell you what pants to put on, what career to choose, or even who to marry.  Many pastors rightly go to the Psalms for references regarding the sufficiency of scripture.  Now I cannot flesh this out here but I do want to include the references and pray that you will look them up and that the Holy Spirit will make clear many ways in which scripture is sufficient; in short : it is perfect, reviving the soul; sure, making wise the simple; right, rejoicing the heart; pure, enlightening the eyes; clean, enduring forever; true and righteous(Psalm 19:7-9)  Another example would be Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path."  Last but not least, Psalm 119:11, "I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."


  • A couple of other good references would be again 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which is written out above regarding power and inspiration.  In 2 Timothy 3:15, Paul tells Timothy that "the "Sacred Writings" are able to make him wise for salvation through Christ Jesus."  This speaks to both the sufficiency and the clarity of scripture.   Also, Jude 1:3 which refers to scriptures as "the faith once for all delivered to the saints"



Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, This barely scratches the surface of the depths of understanding and knowledge that can and should be pursued and understood regarding the scriptures.  I just pray that perhaps I have provided brief insight into some new ideas and understandings for someone.  If I peak even one person's interest enough for them to delve deeper and take God's word more seriously, it will have been more than worth it. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

God Gave...The Creator (Part 3)

God The Creator

Related image



We will begin again by remembering what the Nicene Creed states about God the Creator.

"Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible"

I stated in the previous post that God cares very much for His creation and even more for His children.  Did you catch the distinction.  Some don't realize that God has a different love for His children than He does for the rest of creation and He will respond to them differently in the end.  We will speak more to that.

This may seem like a strange way to introduce God as Creator but this is the biblical truth of the matter.  God is the Creator of heaven, earth, animals, and humans, everything that exists comes from Him. But if you remember, God as Father has a special love for those whom have put their trust in Him. They are the ones He calls children.

I like to bring the two together because I think it is awesome to remember that I have a Heavenly Father that is all powerful and without whom nothing would exist.  Now let's briefly consider a few scriptures that speak to the creative awesomeness of our God.

Genesis 1:1 tells us that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."

Psalm 33:8-9 declares, "Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!  For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm."

Romans 4:17 tells us, in reference to Abraham, that "as it is written, 'I have made you the Father of many nations'--in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist."

Hebrews 11:3 reminds us that "By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."

We know from the whole of scripture that God the Father is Creator.  It is He who spoke creation into being.  It is He who said, "Let there be light and there was light"(Genesis 1:3).

Isaiah 40:12 declares, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?"


Image result for picture of god holding the world in his handsImage result for picture of god holding the world in his hands






So much more could be said and I hope that over the course of this series, I can bring more depth and breadth to the greatness of our God.  I have spoken here to God the Father as the creator and beginning of all things.  It may be prudent to mention as well that John tells us 
"In the beginning was the word and was with God and the word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made"(John 1:1-2).
This is a direct reference to Jesus, God's Son, as part of John's introduction to his Gospel.  In this scripture, as well as in the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Colossians which states, 
"For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or rulers or dominions or authorities--all things were created through him and for him."(Colossians 1:16)

we learn that Jesus was at creation with the Father, not only observing the creation, but being a part of it as the very agent of creation:  the very Word of God.

In addition to this astonishing truth, I would like to take a moment to speak to God as the middle and the end as well.  I imagine we will get here again in this series but it seems pertinent to speak to it now as well.  So here goes.

Revelation

Revelation is the last book in the bible.  It comes in the form of visions given to us by Jesus, through the Apostle John, while he is exiled on the island of Patmos.  In it Jesus states three different times, I am the Alpha and Omega.  He establishes himself at the beginning of this letter in Revelation 1:8 as he states, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty".  

Then at the appearing of the new heaven and the new earth, when the New Jerusalem is revealed, it states in Revelation 21:6-8"And he said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."

Finally in Revelation 22:12-13 as Jesus speaks further to the final judgement he states, "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."

Image result for pics of Alpha and Omega as JesusImage result for pics of Alpha and Omega as Jesus


If you notice He virtually begins and ends the letter of Revelation with this declaration.  Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last.  However, I think it is clear that God is not talking about letters here.  It would seem that God thinks it important that we understand; He, in His fullness, began all things, sustains all things, and will bring the consummation of all things.  What He started He will finish.

Good News

Did you take note of the distinction made by God in Revelation 21:6-8 between the reward due those that are called His sons and those who have lived rebellious lives in impenitent sin.  This is a huge distinction that should be taken seriously and considered fearfully.

Perhaps you are wondering, "How can I become a son or daughter rather than experiencing the eternal second death?"  I am glad you asked.  You see I am making a point to speak to each of the persons of the trinitarian Godhead.  The next person of the Trinity that we will speak to is God the Son.

This Son came down as God incarnate, fully God and fully man.  He lived the perfect life we could not live, that His righteousness might be credited to us.  He then took our punishment for all who would believe.  God's wrath will be poured out on all sin and thus all sinners.  However, for those whom put their trust in Christ, Jesus has borne that wrath so that we will not have to.  After suffering the consequences of our sin, He rose on the third day, conquering death and the grave and making eternal life available to all who would put their trust in Him.

You can know Him.  Follow this series, read the bible beginning with the book of John and then Romans.  Get into a bible-teaching church that teaches Christ and the Cross as the blazing center of all that a Christian should believe.

If you feel so inclined now or at any point in the sequence of events listed above that you need the saving power of Jesus to change your heart and make you new, forgiving your sins and rescuing you from the power of sin and death(Romans 8:1-2), CRY OUT!  There is no formula.  What I have presented above is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is the power of God unto salvation(Romans 1:16). Scripture teaches that in order to be saved you must repent and believe the gospel(Mark 1:15).  Begin a conversation with God regarding these matters that never ends.

He will hear you.  He can save you.  You can be made new and be called a child of the Most High.

May it be so in Jesus name.  Amen.

I will likely not be giving long invitations at the end of every post in this series but it felt appropriate here, so there you go.  Whether this your first time hearing these truths or the 100th time, I pray your heart has been moved to a fresh expression of worship by this brief picture of the Creator of all things and the Heavenly Father of all who repent and believe.

Coram Deo (Before the face of God),

Josh  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

God gave...The Father (Part 2)

As previously discussed I will speak briefly to the person of God the Father within the Godhead, also known as the Trinity.  Please remember that this is a series so if something needs clarification, look to previous posts in this series or hold on and it will likely become clear as we move forward.  We will begin by remembering what the Nicene Creed states about God the Father.

We believe in one God, The Father Almighty

Please allow me briefly to point out again that we are speaking of one God.  He is one in essence and three in persons.  That is the overarching nature of the Trinity.  My goal going forward is to help make clear the persons of the Trinity; never to create a notion of three God's.

God The Father

The beautiful thing about our God and what makes him different from other Gods is this idea of Fatherhood.  No other God call us His children.  No other God promises forgiveness of and redemption from our sinful rebellion against Him through the sacrifice of His own Son.  No other God gives a new nature that no longer desires to rebel against Him.  No other God then, puts His Spirit inside of us, giving us gifts to help us in this life and empowering us to use them successfully.

Though God does have a certain love for his "children of creation" (i.e. all of mankind), He does these things for those who are His children by faith alone(John 1:12-13).

We are privileged to call Almighty God Abba! Father because, as true believers, we have received the Spirit of adoption.  The Spirit by whom we are led, bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and thus fellow heirs with Christ.  However, adoption into the family of God comes with a responsibility. That responsibility is that we suffer with Christ in order that we may also be glorified with Christ(Romans 8:14-17).

We know that we can trust our Heavenly Father because our Savior, His Son, trusts Him entirely. Jesus taught us to pray "Our Father who art in Heaven"(Matthew 6:9-13).  All that the Son, Jesus, spoke and did was by the will of the Father and because He sees Him do it first(John 5:19-20, 8:28).  He trusted His Father completely and so can we.


God's word teaches us that we are not separated from God by some great span or chasm.  No God condescended to provide knowledge of Himself to us in our languages, using figures of speech, and genres that we could relate to.

In the Old Testament He appeared to man as The Angel of the Lord to David(1 Chronicles 21:16), a burning bush to Moses(Exodus 3:1-2), a pillar of fire(Exodus 13:21) and a cloud on the mountain to the children of Israel(Exodus 16:19), as a whisper to Elijah(1 Kings 19:12), and as a whirlwind to Job(Job 38:1).  There are many other Old Testament examples of God coming down and revealing Himself to His people.

The Father's Greatest Gift of Love

In the New Testament, God the Father tops all of the Old Testament examples by sending His Son as God in the flesh.  In fact, His greatest condescension was in the incarnation when God the Father sent His Son in human form to dwell among us, live perfectly in our stead, and ultimately die as our substitute receiving the punishment of God's wrath for our sins.  Then he raised Him from the dead verify Christ's deity and the validity of all that He accomplished.

Let's just say that Jesus was the greatest gift of love that the Father ever gave us.(Romans 5:8)

After this,  Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father and sent the third person of the Trinity, Holy Spirit.  More on the Son and the Spirit soon.

Let it suffice to say that God the Father cares very much for His creation and even more for His children.  He is not out of reach.  And no matter how far you think you have run or fallen, you are never out of His reach.

Coming up, we will speak to the subject of God the Creator and discuss further the details of His love for His creation and the magnificence of his creative power and how He is not only the beginning, but also the middle and the end of all things.

Please continue with me on this journey as we learn Coram Deo (before the very face of God).

Much love,

Josh



Sunday, June 4, 2017

God Gave.....Himself (Part 1)

IN THE BEGINNING...



Image result for pics of Alpha and Omega as Jesus


Before time began......God was!


Ok. So maybe this would be considered a bit obnoxious by some, what with the huge lettering and all.  But the fact is, He is a...

BIG GOD!

Alright. I think I have made my point.  Maybe someone might think, "If we are speaking to what God gave us, why not start with Creation?"  That is a reasonable question.  But what we often forget is that before creation God gave us himself, by simply being.  In all of His glory, might, and trinitarian splendor.  It is to the trinitarian nature of God that I want to speak here because, who He is makes all the difference in how we understand what He gives us.

Jesus tells us in John 5:26 that "For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself."

Self-Sufficiency

A.W. Tozer expounds on this in Ch. 6 of his book, "Knowledge of the Holy" when he states,
"Whatever God is, and all that God is, He is in Himself.  All life is in and from God, whether it be the lowest form of unconscious life or the highly self-conscious, intelligent life of a seraph. No creature has life in itself; all life is a gift from God.  
The life of God, conversely, is not a gift from another.  Were there another from whom God could receive the gift of life, or indeed any gift whatsoever, that other would be God in fact.  An elementary but correct way to think of God is as the One who contains all, who gives all that is given, but who Himself can receive nothing that He has not first given.
To admit the existence of a need in God is to admit incompleteness in the divine being. Need is a creature-word and cannot be spoken of the Creator.  God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made, but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself.  His interest in His creatures arises from  His sovereign good pleasure, not from any need those creatures can supply nor from any completeness they can bring to Him who is complete in Himself." 
The Apostle Paul tells us in Acts 17:24-25 that 
"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." 
Hopefully these references give a clear understanding of the undeniable self-sufficiency of God. He came from nothing.  He exists in and of Himself.  He needs nothing.  He is completely fulfilled in Himself.  And through this trinitarian nature, He is the only God capable of understanding and giving love to another because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have lived in a perfectly loving relationship with each other for all of eternity.  No other religion in the world believes in a trinitarian God because no other religion in the world believes in the God of the Bible.

So What Is This Trinity?

I actually want to take part of this series and speak to the nature of the Trinity, the best I know how.  I believe it is important to give time to this because the rest of the series is about the who, what, where, when, and how of this trinitarian God.  He is seen throughout scripture and will be referenced in three distinct persons throughout this series.


The Nicene Creed was written at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.  It is not just some document or set of phrases designed to express some nice thoughts about Christian beliefs.  It was created to answer heresies that denied this very biblical doctrine of the Trinity and the person and deity of Christ.  It fleshes out nicely the basics of each person of the Trinity.

So my intent is to include it hear and then include each section as I briefly speak to who each person of the Trinity is.  I do intend them to be three separate and brief posts that will hopefully peak and hold your interest in this discussion.  If you are at all interested in delving deeper into your understanding of who God is, what He has done for you,  and what your purpose in this life is, please stick with me.

So, without further adieu, here is the Nicene Creed proclaiming the glorious nature of the Trinity:


We believe in one God, The Father Almighty
Maker of heaven and earth
And of all things visible and invisible

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds
God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,
begotten, not made, 
being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; 
who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, 
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary
and was made man; and was crucified under Pontius Pilot;
he suffered and was buried; 
and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures
and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, 
who proceeds from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; 
who spoke by the prophets;
and we  believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church;
we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and we look for the resurrection of the dead, 
and the life of the world to come

AMEN!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Journey of Knowledge: Knowing and Being Known

Knowing God


One of the most important things we can do to lead our hearts into adoration and praise of our Creator and Father, Savior and Lord, Comforter and Counselor; is to remember the many things he has given to us and consequently, done for us.  In doing so we discover who God is.  As we begin to think on these things, we develop a theology.

Oh I know many a preacher and fellow Christian has mocked theologians and downplayed theology as if it is the high-falutin mumbo-jumbo of Christianity.  But theology is nothing more than the study and understanding of who God is.  

Everyone who professes faith in any God is a theologian in that they all have an understanding of who that God is.  The question is, "Are they a good theologian or a bad theologian?"  And on what God is their theology centered?  For Christians this theology must be based in the word of God and that God must be the author of that scripture.

I want to give credit where it is due.  This concept and question have their origins for my part, in the teachings of and specifically a book written by Dr. R.C. Sproul, a world-renowned theologian and the founder of Ligonier ministries.   His book is entitled, "Everyone is a Theologian".  I confess I have not read the book, but I have listened to him speak on it, listened to him teach enough in general, and read another book in which he makes the same point to have an idea what he is getting at.  

This is not a new idea and Dr. Sproul would be the first to admit that this idea does not originate with him.  It goes all the way back to the New Testament.  I am striving however, to take us on a journey through theology or "the study of God" by considering what He has given us and consequently done for us.   And I want to do it, by simply scanning scripture and looking for the many blessings He has poured out on us.

What Do We Know or Not Know?


Image result for biblical ignoranceMany have some clue about something that the bible says about God.  Some might even believe that the OT and NT somehow go together, even if they are not all together sure how.   Many Americans however, are disturbingly illiterate when it comes to the bible.

Image result for biblical ignorance Here you will find an article discussing biblical illiteracy among Americans, many of which profess to be evangelical Christians.  Concerningly, it suggests that fewer than half of all Americans can name the four Gospels and 60% of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments.

It also states, among other things, that, 82% of Americans believe that "God helps those who help themselves" is a bible verse, 12% of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife, and over fifty percent of graduating high school seniors in a study thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.  To top it all off, a considerable amount of respondents to one poll thought that The Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham.

Image result for biblical ignorance

It is important to note that while many of these stat's are generally found among the American secular population, similar studies show that biblical illiteracy of this nature is prevalent among the church as well.  You may think this is ridiculous or you may be shocked to find yourself realizing some serious bible ignorance of your own.  I have been there myself.  These stats are based on fairly rudimentary biblical knowledge.

I shared these stats with a professing unbeliever who stated, "I actually knew the answer to all of those stats because I have actually read your bible."  This person had read it and it wasn't even his! This simply reinforces the fact that reading the bible gives you much knowledge that you should be able to understand without great difficulty however, by itself it will not change the heart.  The word of God must be applied to the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in order for regeneration(a heart change) to take place.

However, if you are a true convert to Christianity, you should quickly discover some of these basic truths.  And, you should hunger and thirst for biblical knowledge more often than not.  Trust me, the more you study, the more you realize how much you don't know; not because it is difficult to know or somehow unavailable, but because the opportunities for learning more from scripture are endless.  This is true of all of us however, what you must know for salvation is clear in scripture for even the most basic of Christians.

Image result for biblical ignorance

The truth is that ignorance is extremely dangerous as a follower of Christ.  We are subject to all kinds of false teaching and deception.  Knowledge of the word of God not only gives us the necessary weapons to defeat the enemy in the many battles we will face, but it allows us to remember continually the sweetness of what Christ did for us, who we are in Him, and what He wants to do through us.  

We must not be careless and lazy in our pursuit of the knowledge of God.  He gave everything for us.  Should we not give everything for Him?


The Sweetness of Discovery!

Even if you consider yourself to be a pretty well read Christian as it relates to the bible, have you ever journeyed from beginning to end and gotten an overview of all that God has given us?  Have you ever really spent time considering not just what He did for us yesterday, but what he has been doing from the beginning; even from eternity past?  

There are many Christians, even academic theologians who do not properly understand that the OT and NT are not separate stories, nor are they speaking of two different natures of God, i.e. God of wrath(OT) and God of Love(NT).  

The bible is one grand narrative; a beautiful love story from beginning to end full of love and wrath, grace and judgement, mercy and punishment, war and peace; but the Creator of the universe is the God of that whole story.  

He is self-sufficient, all knowing, and all powerful.  He needs nothing, is surprised by nothing, and in his sovereignty, is in control over everything.

If you think of theology that way, rather than thinking of it as some academic study about God that is for doctoral students in seminary, I promise you will discover life-giving truths about the loving and generous nature of God.  I am not talking about the rose-colored glasses approach that picks and chooses which parts to believe and pay attention to.  I mean discovering all of who God is.
He is not only love, He is also wrath; not just a forgiving Savior but a righteous and just judge; and while he is all knowing and always in control, he still allows us to be a part of His plan through the obedience of prayer, evangelism, and living a life worthy of the gospel.
No matter how well read you are, there is always a fresh discovery to be made.  Sometimes it is old knowledge renewed, but it is made all the sweeter in your remembrance.  Sometimes whether new or old, truth is applied to your life in such a way as to make it come alive in ways you never thought possible.

God is loving and personal; and he wants you to know and understand who he is and consequently, who you are.  What amazes me most is that in knowing God, you become known by Him!(Galatians 4:9, 1 Corinthians 8:3)  

Join Me!

It has been a while since I have written here but I find that when I blog, it helps me to dig deeper and stay more faithfully plugged in to His word and all that it has to teach me.  For this reason, it is important enough to me to try to blog regularly even while going to school and working.  Lord willing I will be able to be consistent.  I pray it is as much a blessing to those who read it as it is to me as I write it.

So will you come with me?  Will you journey on a series that will give an overview of the goodness of God to His creation, most especially humanity?  

Along the way, we will likely consider the importance of bible study, which is the means by which we discover all that we need to know about who God is to us and who we are to God.

I confess, I have an idea of what we will discover, but I fully expect to be freshly reminded, excited, and renewed by the truths that scripture reveals about the only God whom is worthy of worship on this earth today.

I hope you will join me.

Sincerely,

Josh