Read the Bible

Did you read your Bible today? Do you read it everyday? If not, why not? How many hours did you put into watching TV instead? Did you think about His Word? Did you face a choice to follow His Word or ignore it? Did you even know there was a choice?

The Bible is the book of life. “Living oracles” as Stephen says. His word can impart life. It is the most important book in history. TV, radio, Facebook, Twitter, Harry Potter books, movies about vampires do not impart life. They distract us from the path of Life. A little amusement is fine, but did you read your Bible today?

Jesus was flogged with whips that had tips of bone and other sharp objects tied on them, and He was made to carry His own execution stake to a hill where He was nailed to it alive. He spent torturous hour after hour hanging there, trying to breath by pushing up against the nail in his feet and pulling up against the nails in His hands. His flayed back (likely cut to the bone) scraped against the rough wood with every breath. And He didn’t do one thing to deserve it. All He asks of us is in return is to abide in His Word of life.

So tell me, did you read your Bible today?

Feelings, Nothing more than Feelings

Feelings are a key factor in “decisions for Christ.” Most public appeals for these decisions rest on emotion and don’t generally last. Ray Comfort says he found an 80% to 90% failure rate for decisions in one study. He cited a major denomination which in the early 90’s racked up 294,000 “decisions” but later could find only 14,000 in fellowship (95% failure).

Besides, have you ever tried to teach someone how to feel? Specifically, to “feel” like doing something? It can’t be done. Many things we have to do in spite of our feelings. We don’t pass on the Word of God to the next generation by getting them to ‘feel’ it. We pass it on by living it. When we back up the truth with our lives, then the kids get it.

Feeling for Truth

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 1 section on Feel for Truth

Dogma in Greek means “that which one thinks is true” and comes from the root word dokeo meaning “to seem good” or “to think.” But at some point we stop thinking and switch to what “seems good” but is not sustained by the Word.

One way that people enable a part-Bible church is that we substitute feelings for truth. According to the survey ‘Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth on Feelings’ from Barna Research (February 2002; The Barna Group of Ventura CA; barna.org) many prefer to do whatever “feels right or comfortable,” or would “produce the most beneficial results.” Sadly, what is captivating many Christians these days is a form of godliness lacking in power and appealing to “various impulses.”

1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 NASB95)

Summaries of the Law

A number of times in the Word the Law is summarized. Some of them equate the Law to the fear of the Lord through the treatment of the widow and orphan and the proliferation of sorcery (probably connected with the use of drugs), adultery, oppression of the hired worker by stealing his wages (like our government) and those who swear falsely (such as politicians who take the oath of office to defend the Constitution and do not).

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:5, ESV)

Some equate justice and righteousness to the treatment of the widow and orphan or the shedding of innocent blood (think of Benghazi, abortion or the Gosnell murders).

Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. (Jeremiah 22:3, ESV)

And some are more comprehensive, covering what is “just and right” whether it is ceremonial, civil or moral.

“If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity, does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment, does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man, walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 18:5–9, ESV)

But His statutes and rules by any measure are the definition of justice and righteousness.

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18–19, ESV)

The Bible is Clear

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 4 section on It Is Clear

At the time of the Reformation, the average person did not read the Scriptures (sound like today?). But back then it was because they were in languages no one used and translations into common languages were forbidden so the church could hold onto its power. The synod of Toulouse in 1229 for instance specifically forbade people to have the Bible in their own language. It wasn’t until 1962-64 at Vatican II that Catholics were encouraged to read their Bibles (after people were already doing it). Reading and interpreting for many even today is the special province of the clergy, and they insist that priests (pastors, rabbis) are the only people qualified to determine meaning and application. They allege the Bible is too difficult for the average person to understand. Of course, they used to think the earth was flat, too.

But God made sure the Word was well within the ability of anyone to understand it. Some of the people during the Reformation called this ‘perspicuity.’ They were saying we don’t have to be scholars to grasp most of the Word. We need to be reminded of this today because there are those who want to complicate the Word and keep it out of our hands.

It seems clear to me that the main issue that causes Scripture to be unclear is a refusal to do what is read (Jeremiah 7:28; Hosea 6:6). We have a nature, inherited from Adam, which tends to walk away from God. Many times, it wants to sprint. We hide from Him because of His perfection, holiness and power. Just like Adam and Eve in the Garden.

Obedience to the smallest word helps to clear up the meaning of more of the Word – more abiding means more understanding (Deuteronomy 4:6). Sometimes we don’t understand, and sometimes we just don’t know, but the bottom line is abiding. Obedience requires humility. Humility allows the light of the Spirit unhindered access to the darkest corners of our hearts. Disobedience comes from pride, and pride causes confusion. Pride hardens the heart and actively resists the Spirit.

Scripture itself tells us that many of the things that are written are for our understanding. Luke 1:4 says “so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” Paul says something similar.

I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15 NASB95)

The truth of the Word is plainly evident to everyone. But prepared hearts (looking for truth) who “study to show (themselves) approved” will get more out of it as reading and doing progress. A hard hearted person understands, it’s just that they profess ignorance or confusion because they don’t want to follow under any circumstances (Acts 7:51-53; Ephesians 4:17-19).

Shai Linne song False Teachers

Another one for Maggie. I’m not a big fan of rap, but this song is good both for content and for listenability. Lyrics are in the notes.

False Teachers. It’s about time someone is naming names.

Law Before Law

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 4 section on Law before Law.

At least 40 observances of Law, implicit and explicit, before the Law was ‘given’ at Sinai.

Genesis 2:2-3 – Sabbath
Genesis 2:17 – Choose life not knowledge Deut. 30:19.
Genesis 2:23-25 – One man, one woman for marriage.
Genesis 3 – Redemption, blood sacrifice, and atonement.
Genesis 4:3-7 – Offering first born of flock and fat Deut. 12:6, 15:19
Genesis 4:4 – acceptable and unacceptable sacrifices
Genesis 4:10 – manslaughter penalties; avenger of blood; see Numbers 35.
Genesis 6:5, 11-13, 17 – Flood destroys innocent people?
Genesis 7:2, 8 – clean and unclean animals on the ark.
Genesis 8 – Noah’s burnt offerings, uses clean animals.
Genesis 9:4 – Don’t eat blood Lev. 3:17, 7:26; Acts 15:20
Genesis 9:6 – Don’t murder; equal justice; compare to Numbers 35:33.
Genesis 9:20-27 – Uncovering father’s nakedness Lev. 18:7, 20:11
Genesis 14:20, 28:22 – Tithing or giving.
Genesis 17:13-14 – Circumcision given as sign of covenant made in chapter 15.
Genesis 19:4-7 – Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed for homosexual sins.
Genesis 20:3 – Adultery wrong.
Genesis 22 – No sacrificing children.
Genesis 22:13 – Abraham makes a burnt offering.
Genesis 24:3, 28:1 – Don’t marry Canaanites Deut. 7:3.
Genesis 26:4, 5 – Abraham obeys God’s charges, commandments, statutes, laws
Genesis 27, 29:26 – Firstborn inherits Deut. 21:15-17; Genesis 48:18.
Genesis 30 – wrong to cheat a worker of his wages Lev. 19:13.
Genesis 31:35 – Rachel prevents finding idols while in the ‘manner of women.’ Compare to Lev. 15.
Genesis 31:54 – Jacob sacrifices.
Genesis 35:2 – Jacob has the family put away gods, purify themselves and change garments. Compare to Exodus 19:10, 14; Lev. 14:9, 15:3; Numbers 8:7; John 13:12; Heb. 10:22.
Genesis 35:14 – Jacob and drink offering with an altar and oil.
Genesis 38:6-26 – Er & Onan and an heir for a brother (Deut. 25:5)
Genesis 46:1 – Jacob sacrifices again.
Exodus 4:26 – Circumcision again.
Exodus 11 – Passover
Exodus 12 – additional mentions of circumcision.
Exodus 13:2 – The firstborn belong to Adonai, compare to Exodus 22:29, 27:26; Numbers 3:12, 13, 16-18.
Exodus 13:16 – “It shall be for you a token upon thy hand…”
Exodus 16:4 – Manna, “that I may prove them, whether they walk in my law or no.”
Exodus 16:26-28 – “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments & laws?”
Exodus 18:16 – Moses uses and teaches God’s laws before Sinai.

Pentecost at Sinai

Of flames, clouds, shining faces, and God’s voice.

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. (Exodus 24:15–17, ESV)

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Exodus 34:29, ESV)

And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. (Deuteronomy 4:11–13, ESV)

(On Horeb, the mountain of God.)
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11–13, AV)

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:1–5, ESV)