Category Archives: The Bible

Famous Last Words

When we look at the books of the New Testament (NT) chronologically, we can do something kind of interesting.  We can look at the main authors of the NT (Peter, Paul, and John), and figure out which words we can read in scripture were the “last words” of aforesaid Peter, Paul, and John.  That is what we are going to do in this article, but it is also interesting to go through and read the last sentences of the books of the Bible; it doesn’t take long and it can really make you think, so when you have some free study time, try it out.

Alright, here’s the list:

Peter: 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Paul: 2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

John: Revelation 22:21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Do you see the theme yet?  I see 3 components that are always there.  This article is inspired by a teaching by Doc Scott, and he picked one aspect to focus on so I mention that component first, and that is grace.  “Grow in grace,” “grace be with you,” and “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”  Do you think grace is important?  Each and every last word from the heavy hitters of the NT includes grace.  What is the second?  Jesus Christ.  What is the third?  The “amen,” the affirmation to the reader of these things.  When God repeats things, they tend to be important don’t they?

In order of importance:

1) Jesus.  Let’s look at the phrases used: Lord, Saviour, Christ.  Those are the titles given to Him in these three passages.  The way that the word “Lord” is used here by Jewish individuals can leave no room for debate, it means they are bestowing the honor of the word reserved for God and apply it to Jesus.  Remember Thomas’ “my Lord and my God?” Here that is underscored by the big 3.  Saviour meaning one who saves. Christ meaning Messiah.  So Jesus, our “God is with us,” Who is our Savior and Messiah is the cornerstone of the great last words of Peter, Paul, and John.  We would expect no less, but do we recognize Him in such a profound way in our speech, even in our churches in today’s world?  Should He not be included in every single last word that we have in our churches and between believers? Our Lord, Saviour, and Messiah; Jesus.

Peter even admonishes us to grow in the knowledge of Jesus.  We should learn of and be reminded of, His life, death, and resurrection.  His life including perfection, and His teachings, His death and why He had to die, and His resurrection as the sign and promise of our faith.  Study it, teach it, learn of Him because His yoke is easy and burden light.

2) Grace.  I’ve taught on here about grace.  The Greek means “unmerited favor.”  Peter received the grace of Jesus firsthand after denying Him 3 times.  Jesus forgave and forgave and forgave.  Peter never earned it.  Neither do we ever earn forgiveness.  We cannot work our way to forgiveness, there is no physical act we can do to earn forgiveness, He bestows it upon us and we are to grow in it!  This is why I decry anything that smacks of sacramentalism.  Peter, Paul and John offer the reminder of grace and the free flowing nature of it from God to us, and we don’t do anything to merit it.  The Lord and Saviour Jesus the Messiah did everything to merit the grace for us!!  What is our response? Faith.

In Galatians 2:21 Paul boldly proclaims “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”  Jesus died for the free flow of grace to us from our God!  His death was both necessary and sufficient to open the gate… to tear down the curtain dividing us from God.  Paul clearly says, “grace be with you.”  Unmerited favor be with you.  No hoops, no red tape; grace be with you.  The same comes from John, the Apostle of love; “grace be with you.”  Do you get it yet? lol Grace be with YOU.

3) Amen.  Amen translates into “so be it.”  Grace be with you, so be it.  That’s double affirmation being displayed with faith.  It is the communication that what has proceeded the “amen” is in line with God’s will, and that it shall be done because of His goodness and promises. When we have faith, which is trust, in what God has said and done, we have that ability to say amen; so be it.  Jesus is Lord, Saviour, and Messiah.  Learn about Him.  Grow in His grace. So be it!  If only our preachers and teachers reminded us of this, and underscored the meaning of it, and taught it with authority.

So, those are the things that Peter, Paul, and John believed were so fundamental that they included them at the very end of their correspondence.  Humans tend to remember the first things and the last things mentioned to them in letters and speeches. Pay attention to these things and put them in your heart, because they are fundamental to what it means to be Christians.

To my fellow believers in Jesus who have placed their trust in Him, I say; grace and peace be with you through faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

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It Matters Who Your Friends Are…

There are so many things that are different in our modern world than in days gone by that it is hard to pick out a topic to cover. Recently, however, I have been thinking and studying the effects of good parental involvement and teaching in children’s lives. One of the things in by-gone times that parents monitored were who their children befriended.

Now it seems it isn’t “cool” for parents to monitor something so “personal” as their children’s friendships, let alone to actually teach children that it does indeed matter who they hang out with, and that they need to be aware of the effects of their peers. We all know the peer pressure commercials and they have become a joke. How often, though, do we think about wisdom, intelligence, social manners, morals, etc… when it comes to who the next generation surrounds themselves with?

God makes no bones about it; Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. The teaching here is twofold; walk with wise individuals and you will actually be wise. Walk with foolish individuals and you will be hurt. It is crucial to remember that the bulk of Proverbs is underscoring listening to our Parents’ wise counsel, so the safe assumption here is that this bit of knowledge should be on the list to teach the next generation. Try that in today’s world, and the world will say that you have your nose in the air. That’s the world… so that underscores that we should indeed be teaching our kids to be selective in their friendships and that means monitoring who your children “befriend.”

For us older types, this brilliant Proverb also means we need to take a good hard look at who we attach ourselves too. As one simple example, this isn’t limited to friends, is it? How about our spouses? If we pay attention to the Lord and His guidance, and our blessed enough to stay married, our spouses are going to be one of the major people we “walk with.” So you’d better pick a good one, and not on the basis of the short-lived romantic hogwash love that the world forces down your throat. Do you want wisdom? The first step is to ask God for it, and that will include studying scripture to see what He has to say about wisdom. It is apparent to me that one of the keys is deliberately picking who we walk with.

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When are they going to realize it’s all true?

A new find discussed in an article at Archaeology Archive offers evidence that supports the accuracy of the book of Jeremiah (surprise, surprise)  Read all about it here: Book of Jeremiah Confirmed?

Here’s a snippet:

“Austrian Assyriologist Michael Jursa recently discovered the financial record of a donation made a Babylonian chief official, Nebo-Sarsekim. The find may lend new credibility to the Book of Jeremiah, which cites Nebo-Sarsekim as a participant in the siege of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

The tablet is dated to 595 B.C., which was during the reign of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II. Coming to the throne in 604 B.C., he marched to Egypt shortly thereafter, and initiated an epoch of fighting between the two nations. During the ongoing struggle, Jerusalem was captured in 597, and again in 587-6 B.C. It was at this second siege that Nebo-Sarsekim made his appearance.

He ordered Nebo-Sarsekim to look after Jeremiah: “Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.” (Jeremiah 39.12)

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John MacArthur’s misunderstanding about the sufficiency of scripture

I recently listened to several sermons by John MacArthur on the sufficiency of scripture, which is what is prompting this article.  By the middle of each sermon I was shouting at the radio, and not “Amen” or “Hallelujah.”  The lead-off was talking about how psychology has infiltrated the church.

Now, I have to be clear from the outset, I don’t think a psychologist has the requisite training to be a pastor, that takes a whole other type of schooling and training.  The opposite holds true; a pastor that has only been trained to teach out of the Bible doesn’t have the requisite training to be a psychologist.  What does any of this have to do with the sufficiency of scripture?  Well, Johnny Mac’s point was that the Bible is sufficient for all spiritual need… which apparently includes mental need from his POV.

Does the Bible contain teachings that apply to psychology?  Yes.  Is it, sufficient in and of itself to treat someone’s mental disorder?  Well, let me ask this; is the Bible sufficient to teach someone to set a broken leg?  The answer to both is “no” without any insult to the Bible.  A human is physical, mental, and spiritual.  The Bible is mainly a spiritual guide, with overlap in the physical and mental areas.  We would never make the argument that if someone is suffering from cancer, that the Bible gives us specific cures.  It is the same for mental health.

MacArthur bemoans the fact that people look for answers outside the Bible… we do that all the time, in fact he does that all the time.  When you have a problem with your car, the Bible does not teach you how to fix it.  Beyond that, what MacArthur teaches sounds like a form of idolatry; the Bible isn’t to be worshiped, God is.  The Bible, as a physical, written document is not sufficient to save anyone.  Only God is sufficient. That is why the Bible should be labeled the word of God, while Jesus is The Word of God.

Further, I did not hear MacArthur teach on Ephesians 4; specifically:

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Notice that these people are to teach, so a written manuscript is not sufficient for the perfecting of the saints.  It takes teaching and guiding, it also takes the Holy Spirit!  Should psychology run the church? No.  Should psychology be preached from the pulpits? No.  Do humans have a mind that can have issues that need addressed outside of scripture? Yes.  To teach anything else is to neglect a God-given aspect of humanity, and to put believers in danger who are listening to John MacArthur.  The danger is that someone suffering from a mental disorder, or mental pain may not get the help they need, being scared that psychology is somehow “of the Devil.”

The Bible teaches us about life, and eternal life.  Without God we are doomed, without Jesus we are doomed, so the eternal state of your soul should be your number one priority.  However, there are aspects to our earthly lives that will have to be dealt with alongside scripture, not out of scripture.  Mental health overlaps with spiritual and physical health, and we need to make sure each of the three is getting fed, and treated.  Scripture helps with all of them, and is sufficient for moral and spiritual teachings, but it was not meant to cover all we humans will encounter here, so the next time my power goes out, I’m not going to quote scripture and think it will magically come back on, someone at the power company is going to have to fix it.

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Feedback; The Bible…

I had a recent question on my stance on the Bible; here is the link to a previous article on my blog: The Reliability of The Bible.  I encourage all the new readers to my blog (hello, BTW!) to utilize the “search” function on the side of the page when looking for certain topics.  As always, comments welcome…

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The Reliability of the Bible…

One question that comes up in many Apologetics discussions is the reliability of the Biblical manuscripts.  In this post, I am not going to go into detail, as others have already done so.  What I am going to do is give an overview of why this is important, and also give resources for everyone to utilize.

First a word about a common misunderstanding.  Many times, atheists and other non-believers will accuse Christians of circular logic.  They present a straw man which says, “Christians always refer to the Bible as evidence of God, and they use the Bible as evidence for the Bible which is circular.”  Now, I personally haven’t read any Christian doing this; what I do see often is fundamental lack of knowledge on the part of the atheist/non-believer as to what the Bible actually is, and why we cite it as evidence, and why it can indeed be cited as evidence.

The Bible is not a single document.  It is a collection of ancient documents into one binding; there is a distinct difference.  These documents often have different authors and are written at different periods of time; they are not one solid document that someone can accuse of trying to “prove itself.”  This would be like entering into a conversation about the formation and continuation of the United States government.  In this discussion, one person pulls out a book titled: Political Documents of the United States.

Within this single book is a collection of many US documents; The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Federalist Papers, The Records of the Continental Congress, etc…  Then, the person they are dialoging with says, “You can’t use that as a reference, or as evidence when talking about the formation and continuation of the US Government!  Political Documents of the United States is just used to prove itself, that’s circular logic!”

So, a basic understanding of the composition of the Bible is needed; it is a collection of manuscripts authored by around 40 human authors (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit).  It’s contents were written over a large span of time, and in different languages, mainly Hebrew and Greek.  Then these manuscripts were collected together into one volume; The Bible.  Using various historical manuscripts to support other historical manuscripts is not “proving itself.”

There is also discussion about how these particular manuscripts made it into the collection.  Many non-believers try to make this into some huge conspiracy, while the Roman church tries to use it as proof that they are the one true church, and them alone; some fundamentalist Christians act as though God handed the KJV in it’s final form to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  The truth is that it was a very organic and logical process, though the inclusion of some of the books were debated.  I just read a good description of the process in Ravi Zacharias’ new book; Beyond Opinion.   In fact, the very first chapter of Ravi’s book is devoted to “Postmodern challenges to the Bible,” written by Amy Orr-Ewing.

In general, certain criteria were met, and as these criteria were met, the books eventually came to be “canonized” formally, though many of the books were already recognized as canon.  (The criteria were things like; authorship by an apostle or an immediate follower of an apostle (which obviously included dating), church usage, etc…)

Are the documents reliable?  Are they accurate?  Can you trust the Eyewitness accounts in the NT? There are many good resources for these questions here are only a few:

Online resource examples;Manuscript evidence for superior New Testament Reliability on CARM,  The Textual Reliability of the New Testament from Tekton, Miscellaneous Questions on the Text of the Old Testament from Tekton, Testimony of the Evangelists by Simon Greenleaf, Archaeology and the New Testament from Apologetics Press,  Is scripture a “faithful record” of historical events? from Apologetics Press, etc… etc…

Other resource examples; The New Testament Documents by F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce, Trial of the witnesses by Thomas Sherlock, General Introduction to the Bible by Geisler and Nix, Can I trust the Bible? by D. Bock & R. Zacharias, and also examples of general resources that touch upon Biblical matters: The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, The Case for Christ by Strobel, etc… etc…

These resources are for everyone; believers, skeptics, anyone interested in Biblical apologetics.  What I offered here is not even a drop in the bucket of information available on this topic.  One of the most frustrating things in Apologetics can be talking to people who glean all their knowledge of the Bible from proselytizing atheistic websites that have lists of points to try to bring up in a debate.  Why is it frustrating? Because the answers are readily available to all, and are very easy to find, and also it shows, to me, that the person isn’t really wanting an answer, no…they are trying to proselytize their own beliefs.

Take the time to study the Bible.  It can be trusted and is highly reliable; historically, prophetically, internally, archaeologically, etc…  The resources I gave above have many other resources cited in their notes, so, keep digging and studying.  The Bible can stand up to all scrutiny.

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Biblical food metaphors…

Have you ever noticed how many times a food metaphor is used in the Bible?  Many times, it isn’t “cream puff” ideas being put forth either…Jesus Himself employed them about various subjects, including Himself.  Why do you think that is?

John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst

Food and drink are two things every human can relate to.  We know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty; these are experiences we’ve all had.  When a food metaphor is used, it is then easy to connect to no matter who you are.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Food and drink are essential to life.  Food gives us energy, and strength.  It helps us to grow and even to think.  Have you ever noticed that when you are hungry that it is easier to zone out; usually we just concentrate on the rumblings in our stomachs.  When you are thirsty all you can think of is how thirsty you are, how great it would be for a nice cool glass of some kind of sparkling liquid to quench that thirst.

John 4:13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

When Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, one of the outcomes of the isolation was that Jesus was hungry.  Here comes the devil to tempt Him with food.  Command the stones to become bread, the devil prodded.  How did Jesus answer?  Matthew 4:4…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The metaphor is doubled when we consider that Christ Himself is the very Word of God.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

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

So, that is our answer to getting spiritual food; we turn to the word of God; scripture, and also to The Word of God; Christ.  In the same way that physical food nourishes our bodies, helps us to grow, to concentrate, to be strong…so too does turning to the word and The Word of God.  I’ve mentioned before that I find it interesting that those who do not have a relationship with God; those that are not permanently quenching that thirst, try to quench it through various means, be it with drugs, human relationships, fame, physical food, man-made philosophy, etc…  While in their current lives, these things may add something, we are more concerned with eternal life. It reminds me of the occurrence of pica; the ingestion of substances that don’t really have any nutritional value…such as clay from a river bank.  Often times it gives the impression that one is feeding oneself, it makes you feel full for a time, but in reality, the person is not getting anything from what they are eating.  In fact, their body may be in need of some essential nutrient, but they are not getting it from the substance that they consume.

2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come…. 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So, for me, it is clear why food metaphors are used; they are central to the human experience, food and drink are necessary for life, we gather energy and strength from them, and let’s face it, most of us like good food.  Food, in the best of times, also becomes a communal experience, something shared between people.  Food connects us and enhances our lives…so it should be with spiritual food as well.  Just as with physical food and drink, we need to keep part of our minds on our health.  It matters very much what we put into ourselves, what we feed on, what we draw our nutrition from.

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