Audiobook for Whole Bible Christianity Available

It took a while, but an Audiobook version of our book Whole Bible Christianity is now available. It’s about 15 and a half hours, narrated by Bruce. You can get it free if you sign up for a trial membership at Audible.com. You get a free audiobook when you first sign up for the service. After the first month it costs $15.00 per month but you get one free book per month too.

If you click this link to view the print version, then click on the Free with your Audible Trial button and stay with Audible for two months, not only do you get two free audiobooks (for $15.00 the second month) but we get a $50.00 bonus! You can exchange any audiobook you decide is not for you, and your credit for one free book rolls over to the next month if you don’t use it. Even if you cancel membership after a while you can keep all your audiobooks.

What a great deal! Whole Bible Christianity, Blessings Pressed Down and Overflowing audiobook for free, a bonus to us, and you get more free audiobooks.

There’s also the print version of the book, and Kindle version for a pretty low cost. The Kindle and audiobook versions do not have the Scripture Index with almost 1,500 entries from every book in the Bible, and the audiobook doesn’t have the footnotes, but still you can listen on the way to work and back or read on a Kindle at your leisure. Get all three and get it all.

Shalom

Bruce

Literally Wood

Tired old argument #24: The Bible is not to be taken literally.

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say that the Bible is not literal or not to be taken literally. If you disagree, as I do, that the Bible should indeed be taken or interpreted literally, this person will then drag out a few verses to prove his point. Usually the verses have something to do with what they think is a ridiculous comparison such as God as a rock or Jesus as a lamb. Obviously, they intone, God is not basaltic, sedimentary or igneous. Jesus is not actually a small fuzzy critter either. And so they dismiss the literal interpretation.

But did they ever look up the term literal in the dictionary? If they had, they might not be so dismissive. The online Merriam-Webster defines literal thusly:

1 a : according with the letter of the scriptures

  • adheres to a literal reading of the passage
b : adhering to fact or to the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression : actual

  • liberty in the literal sense is impossible
  • —B. N. Cardozo
c : free from exaggeration or embellishment

  • the literal truth
d : characterized by a concern mainly with facts

  • a very literal man

Literal is “concerned mainly with facts” or is “free from exaggeration or embellishment.” So dismissing a literal interpretation of the Bible is dismissing facts.

Dr. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and others define literal as “the author’s intent.” God literally means what He says and says what He means.

God deals in facts. He communicates the fact that humans are lost in sin and must have a payment for sin. The fact is, He provided payment Himself in the form of the death of His only begotten Son on a chunk of wood. It is a fact that if we do not repent and accept this payment, we will not have enough to pay for sin ourselves and so will end up in a literal lake of fire. Does it matter if it’s a real lake or not? Either way it will be immersion in something painful and agonizing for a long, long time.

The Scriptures are literally God’s Word, as testimony if not His actual speech. Literally, God is a rock because He doesn’t change. Basaltic or igneous, it doesn’t matter. Did the rock come first, or did God make rocks so we would have a picture of His unchangeable nature?

What some people mean by literal is “wooden,” which is a literal term meaning they are inflexible when it comes to interpreting God’s Word. People are wooden when they attack the Word of God which allows them to relegate the parts they don’t like to the outer darkness. They start with a wooden interpretation of God as a rock or Jesus as a lamb so they can move on to getting rid of what to them are all the distasteful parts of God’s Word such as obedience, faith, Law, and salvation. It’s a slippery slope using faulty logic and ignoring facts that require a response.

Literal doesn’t mean wooden. It means that the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression from God is the truth and demands we adhere to that truth. God literally means we have to conform to His Word, all of it, in every respect. If we don’t, we will literally end up separated from Him forever.

Shalom

Bruce

God is Going to Live With Us!

Reading through the biblical account of the Tabernacle caused me to ponder a number of issues. I mean, to be honest, it can be quite boring trying to visualize while reading all of the details. I have difficulty placing all of the sockets, clasps, curtains and boards together into a coherent picture of what the Tent looked like. The initial preparations were extensive, but Israel also had to keep things going with many offerings and sacrifices. I’m glad my English Standard Version Study Bible has a picture and some helpful notes or I’d still be lost in the details.

It’s also difficult to see the relevance. Even if someone tells me that all of the parts and pieces, as well as the finished product and continuing handling instructions, represent some aspect of Jesus or His ministry, it still boggles the mind to try and see the connections. How does reading all of the details of the construction, transport and use of the Tabernacle apply to me today? Why are all of these somewhat tedious instructions included in the Word in the first place? I can see how the ministry of Jesus is represented, at least partially, but doesn’t having Jesus sort of make the Tabernacle unnecessary? So why include the details in the Bible? Was Moses bored and just kept writing because he had nothing else to do? Or maybe he wrote the instructions in case he died and the Tabernacle wasn’t finished?

A side thought was that I wonder if the inclusion of the instructions was for the future? What if Israel decided that instead of a Temple they could build a Tabernacle? A tent would be something portable they could set up easily and move if there was a problem with the building site for a temple.

As I pondered these issues it dawned on me before I completely zoned out that God was coming to live in Israel and the Tabernacle was one of the things they had to do to get ready. God is coming to live with us! How cool is that? For over 2,000 years at that time believers were separated from Him, wandering in the proverbial desert as the unbelievers built cities and kingdoms and seemed to have their way unendingly. Now He is reversing that separation and making a home within the nation of Israel. What excitement! What a monumental change! What a nerve-wracking event!

I know how my wife gets when we are expecting company. Everything must be cleaned and put in order. She makes me change my clothes and I have to put on my best jeans. If the company is really important I even have to shower. All the food is chosen with care with an eye towards what the guests might like. Any decorations are carefully assembled and placed or hung. Etiquette is reviewed and the children rehearsed in it. We want to make our company welcome and comfortable so they want to come and eventually come back.

So it is with the Tabernacle. God is coming to live with us! The people are getting ready for company and for a very special and unique company at that. Everything must be just so. Each item in the Tent needs special care and must be constructed with the utmost skill and talent given to the best craftsmen and finest artisans we have. Every stitch, every hammer blow, every forging, the tanning of all the skins and each and every thread simply has to be as beautiful and perfect as we can manage. So now when I read the instructions I don’t get a sense of an onerous God demanding slavery to useless details. I get a sense of the excitement we have when a special visitor is coming to our home.

Another connection to the Tabernacle popped into my head before I dozed off. You probably remember the verses where Jesus tells us that he is going to prepare a place for us. I wondered if perhaps He is as excited to prepare a place for us as we would be for Him.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1–3, ESV)

I don’t think He is building a tent, but still the idea is that He is also preparing for us to come and live with Him. Currently we are living in a tent (our body) that is not our permanent home. Living in a tent shows us that this place and our current circumstances are only temporary. The permanent home for believers is with God. When we are there we won’t be moving around like many of us do now.

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. (2 Corinthians 5:1–3, ESV)

In the meantime God lives with us in our tent. The blood of our Messiah, His only begotten Son, makes this possible. The sacrifice of the Lamb of God cleanses us so that God can come and live with us here and now. Jesus has made us clean. He has granted us forgiveness for sin and prepares a permanent home for us. He continues to forgive us our sins to maintain our relationship in this tent.

By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:14, ESV)

Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:5, ESV)

Israel did not earn a right for God to dwell with them, He just granted it. It was His desire and only within His power that we be reconciled. We cannot earn any of His regard but He has given it to us anyway. This is what we call grace. So how do we prepare and keep this dwelling, knowing it is the residence of God? Do we take it all for granted? Do we presume on His graciousness, living out our own will? Or do we keep the preparations of our tabernacle going, finding and living His will? In view of the preparations for the Tabernacle, how do we regard the gift of God tearing the veil of the Holy of Holies and allowing unfettered access to His glory?

We can’t earn access to His presence; He just gave it to us. But we can make our dwelling holy by continually following His instructions for living. Like priests we can partake of the sacrifices as we consume the body and blood of the Messiah, which is every word He speaks. His Words are the showbread of life, and living them out we offer incense that is unlike any other.

God is living with us!

Shalom

Bruce

We No Longer Live in Christendom

Baltimore Sun October 23, 2017

Article: Churches merge, close: “We no longer live in Christendom. We really have to accept that it’s a thing of the past”

The quote above is from Reverend Daniel Webster, canon for evangelism and media for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. He’s studied the trend of churches closing and merging for 20 years. The article presents his point of view, as well as documenting the decline in church attendance which occasions the closing and merging.

Jonathan Pitts, the writer of the article, offers Mr. Webster’s opinion of one of the most important factors in declining church numbers.

While it’s hard to pinpoint a single most important factor, Webster says, it’s impossible to ignore the repeal of most of the old state blue laws, regulations that had long placed restrictions on commercial activity on Sundays, starting in the mid-20th century.

Today’s faith leaders must compete with everything from youth soccer and pro football games to shopping at the mall.

Mr. Pitts doesn’t really spend much time on causes. He just assumes that competition from the world is the cause and details a number of church’s efforts to merge or close.

However, I do not agree that competition from the world is the cause of church closings and mergers.The world has always been in hostile competition with the Kingdom of God. Believers have been in a fight since the Garden of Eden with those who oppose God and His plans. Perhaps you’ll be surprised at my opinion that the church has also been in hostile competition with the Kingdom. The church (in general) and the world are not much different from each other. Churches claim to follow Jesus, but when we compare their beliefs and practices with the Bible we can see that they don’t have much in common. On the other hand, compare churches with the world and we can see that the real merging has already taken place.

Just because the church has some trappings that look Christian, does not mean a church is automatically part of the Kingdom of God or the body of believers. Much of what the church has done is to merge some stories and tradition borrowed from the Bible with self-seeking behavior. Way back in 325 A. D. when the Roman emperor Constantine took a fancy to some of the Christian concepts the merger with the world got a big boost. For centuries the visible church has been in a tug-of-war with the world sometimes holding to God’s Word better than at other times. But in modern times it has mostly been tugged in the wrong direction.

The church merged with the world a long time ago, and the loss of some people or buildings is not the biggest hurt. It is the loss of God’s Spirit due the refusal to do what God says that has really sunk the church. Churches might be shrinking or merging, but the body of Christ has been steady and growing because we hold tight to the Word of God, living and teaching it to all who would listen.

I don’t even agree that “we no longer live in Christendom.” Believers have never lived in Christendom. We are salted throughout the world, and even throughout the church or churches. A church member is not the same thing as a believer although there are believers who might be church members. The world has always been hostile to God and the body of believers, and we’ve never had a Christendom. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that we no longer live in Churchdom.

Shalom

Bruce

The Demise of Christian Bookstores

Publishing a book is not an easy task. Traditional publishers want you to get a literary agent and won’t accept manuscripts if you don’t. A literary agent can be good or bad, but mostly they are limited by their own perspective on what will sell. What sells is frequently not really connected with the Bible or good Bible teaching but more likely something based on feelings only loosely connected with the Bible. If you write a book, as I think I have, that is not only biblical but comes from an unexpected direction then you are pretty much out of luck with traditional publishing. You won’t even get a second look.

Another huge problem in publishing is the Christian bookstore. My wife and I are getting ready to take another trip to see family in San Diego. So I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to buy some copies of my book and take them around to the bookstores there and see if they would like to carry some copies. I started researching on the web to find the stores and got a shock. One chain calling themselves Family Christian had just closed (something like 240 stores) after filing for bankruptcy a couple years previous. Another chain calling themselves Lifeway tells me on their website that they don’t accept Product that is self-published. The “Product” must come from a traditional publisher or a literary agent. A third option I remembered in San Diego was the Evangelical Bible Bookstore which was famous for a long time because they carried a lot of serious theology books, were very knowledgeable and helpful, and discounted their books. To my surprise they had gone the way of many independents and closed their doors too after 40 years in business.

Locally, the three or four independent Christian bookstores we used to have are also out of business. The only stores around here are a Barnes and Noble (not exactly a Christian hotspot) and a couple of church bookstores. We used to have a Borders also, but they bit the dust some years ago. You would think we could maybe try the church bookstores and see if they would carry our book. But the problem with the church bookstores is if you have a book that is not “church friendly,” such as our book Whole Bible Christianity, or you are not one of their own famous people or pastors, you are not going to get a fair hearing from them. They only carry stuff with which they agree, usually written by their own people.

The church bookstore does okay because the overhead is paid by the church, and they don’t have to meet sales goals. They are present just to push the publications and music of the particular church or denomination. Catholic bookstores sell Catholic books, Calvary Chapel sells books by Chuck Smith or others of their pastors, Christian Science sells their own teachings, and so on. Since Whole Bible Christianity just teaches the Bible, and we don’t push a particular church teaching, we are out of luck.

So why is the Christian bookstore (or even just bookstores in general) disappearing from the landscape? Many people jump to blame the internet, and Amazon in particular. They have a point. Amazon has a tremendous selection, fast shipping, discounted prices, and are open 24/7. But did the rise of Amazon kill the bookstore, or did Amazon and others like them come into existence because the bookstore wasn’t getting the job done in the first place? Did Amazon kill the bookstore, or did the bookstore help create Amazon?

In my estimation, Amazon or the internet in general has not killed the bookstore. It is also not the main factor hammering the traditional publisher either (traditional publisher sales, Christian and otherwise, are also slumping). Two things I think are doing it. One is the lack of vision; the ability to discern what people need and would want, or if you will, the ability to tell the difference between a good product and a bad one. The second is the church itself.

Publishers and bookstores have to make money. Printing is expensive, and carrying space in stores costs money. If a publisher prints a bunch of copies of a book and they don’t sell, it can get costly. A bookstore has limited space, so if a book doesn’t sell it is a double whammy because the space could’ve been used by a book that did sell. So the industry is forced to gear all of their decisions around what will sell. If they make a mistake it can get real expensive real quick. So the nature of the market causes them to be super cautious. The publishers use literary agents to sift the writers material, which helps a little, but the literary agents work off of commission and tend to be extra cautious also. They have reputations to protect too, because if they keep recommending books that bomb then they will not be able to continue in the field. Everything is driven by money, which is not necessarily a bad thing (costs have to be paid somehow) but it tends to make people in the industry want to find the guaranteed “sure thing” and stay away from stuff they simply don’t have the vision, skill, imagination or judgment to evaluate properly.

A couple of cases in point. The first Harry Potter book was universally turned down by every publisher by the account of J. K. Rowling. A book called The Shack which has become a multi-million bestseller (although I think it is a piece of trash) was also turned down by everyone. Many more examples could be listed, but I think you get it. People in the book industry have purposefully become dumber than a sack full of hammers, too afraid to take a chance because of the dollars involved and reputations that could suffer.

The same problem afflicts the Christian book industry. But another problem serves to double the damage, and that is the church. I will go out on a limb here and say that the church doesn’t teach the Bible anymore. They just teach opinions about the Bible. Pastors, priests and rabbis have (in general) made themselves into champion ear-ticklers. They have convinced themselves that no one wants the truth, because the truth may not fill the pew or the offering plate. The lure of a bigger paycheck, a mega-church or a spot on late night talk shows is too strong for most of them.

Obviously, the Bible is the champion bestseller in history, so why would we back away from teaching it? Money and ego, again. It is easier to write and sell a book catering to the latest fad or to sentiment than it is to take the time to learn and teach the Bible or anything from it. You also don’t (seemingly or immediately) get very far with Bible teachings because those require humility to learn and teach.

Fortunately, God doesn’t need the world’s systems (including the worldly church) to get His Word out. One way or another He gets the job done. His Spirit is causing all sorts of people all over the world to wake up and embrace the pure, plain, soul-saving teachings of the Lord of Life. We may or may not be able to sell a single book, but His work goes on and on for eternity. His holy, just and life giving will is being done, and you can come along for the ride if you want. A bookstore could find that the difference between bankruptcy and success lies in the radical marketing concept of the Book that beats all others. Publishers would see fewer reverses if they would just commit to serving up the meat of the Word instead of the bland, nutrition-less saccharine they insist on providing at the present time. If we submit to His Word we find that judgment for finding what really matters comes roaring back.

The bookstore, the publisher, and the church/synagogue are sowing the seeds of their own demise. Blame Amazon if you want and it makes you feel better. But you might want to look in the mirror instead.

Shalom
Bruce

Crucifying Another Christian

Well, they’ve got another Christian up on the cross.

The Duggar family is the latest to donate a sacrificial lamb for the slaughter, and the morally bankrupt media are gleefully driving in the hypocritical nails. The corrupt and flaming leftist Lena Dunham writes a book detailing the sexual abuse of a younger sister and the Pontius Pilates of this age just yawn.

But a man who has proven himself to be an exemplary adult, who paid for his sins while still a minor, and whose record should’ve been sealed, has those same neo-Roman officials washing their hands.

You and I both know what is really going on. The people who don’t shrink back from following God are being torn down, just like that guy who walked here 2,000 years ago. This world cannot stand anything or anyone associated with God, especially those high profile people who make People magazine. The goody two-shoes are despised and always will be. Even reformed, repentant goody two-shoes are targets, not because what they have done is so wrong or so different from the normal behavior of the godless but because the depth of godless hate runs so deep. Those oh-so-tolerant Canaanites simply will not tolerate someone who reminds them they are on a path to hell.

If the Duggars are smart they’ll be preparing lawsuits as I write. Hopefully they won’t chicken out and hide behind a few frequently misinterpreted Scriptures about loving everyone and letting God be the judge. There is more at stake here than just hurt feelings or resignation from a job. The fight is not physical, it’s spiritual. Christians are being wrongly maligned left and right (mostly left) and there are solid biblical reasons for using our God given judgment to push the darkness back even if only a little. Our weapons might be spiritual, but there’s nothing wrong with smacking the lions on the nose with a sword every once in a while. Or the Pilates.

Shalom
Bruce

A Whole Bible Look At Romans 9 through 12

The third video in our Romans series is up, and I’ll bet you’ve never heard Romans this way!

Shalom
Bruce

Making It Personal

Hosea 6:7–10 (ESV)
7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. 8 Grand Junction is a city of evildoers, tracked with blood. 9 As robbers lie in wait for a man, so the pastors band together; they murder on the way to Denver; they commit villainy. 10 In the house of the United States I have seen a horrible thing; Ephraim’s whoredom is there; the United States is defiled.

Sounds a little different when we make it personal, doesn’t it? Grand Junction is where I live; interstate 70 runs through it to Denver. Okay, pastors don’t really band together to murder. Yet. But the similarities are there.

You could probably do this yourself with your own town and country. Because while it may not be an exact match, the whoredom of Ephraim is all over.

You’ll maybe say, “But we don’t have idols!” And I’ll say, “Are you sure?” Idolatry is not just a statue. It is really self-will. Self-seeking. A statue is just one expression of self-will. There are many others, such as movie or music stars, your job, your house, your church, or your position in the community. There are lots of expressions of self-will, and not all of them include a statue.

Idolatry is anything short of complete devotion to God. That’s why He hammered it so much in the first two-thirds of the Bible. A little bit of cheating, and next thing you know we have the whoredom of Ephraim with the judgment of God coming soon. Adam and Eve were idolatrous; they didn’t have a statue either, but they made decisions based on what THEY thought was good or right, and not what God said was right. We do this every day in almost every way. A statue is wrong because it represents the start of going our own way. Self-seeking my not utilize a statue, but it is still idolatry.

Churches have been leading the way into self-seeking idolatry for a long time. Every time someone preaches that “we can’t do the law,” or “Jesus fulfilled the law so we don’t have to follow it” we have another step toward the whoredom of Ephraim and the judgment that will surely follow. Every step away from His Word is a step further into idolatry, whether we use a statue or not. Sitting in judgment on God’s Word is, as surely as Adam and Eve kicked themselves out of the Garden, the crooked path to whoredom.

Try making other passages more personal by inserting your name or your church’s name or the name of your own town here and there. We’re pretty much doing the same things, after all. It might help us to realize that a journey that takes us a thousand miles away from God starts with a simple step of self-seeking. Just because there is no idol in the house doesn’t mean that we aren’t just as idolatrous as ancient Israel.

Happily for us, He is merciful in His warnings. We are being warned in no uncertain terms. Beast attacks, disease, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, drought, wars and rumors of wars are on the increase. He is telling us to repent and return to Him. Everyone wants to make the Bible more personal when it comes to blessings. Shouldn’t we personalize the warnings too?

Shalom

Bruce

Atheism: The Seinfeld of Religions

New video just got uploaded to our youtube channel which is already raising the ire of atheists (shown by their clicking of the dislike button and the comments they make). I couldn’t be happier. Like I told one of them who made a disparaging comment that my dad used to say, “Throw a rock into a pack of dogs and the one that barks the loudest is the one that got hit the hardest.”

Boy are atheists going to bark now.

Shalom

A Whole Bible: The Acts 15 Council

A favorite tool for part Bible Christians to hammer God’s Law back into insignificance is Acts 15. It is claimed that this council met to eliminate the Law once and for all. We have a choice: we can listen to the rhetoric, or we can read it to see what God really says. Wow, what a concept, huh?

If the Law was eliminated, then why give us four laws right from The Law? And if only the “moral” laws were passed through, then why give us three laws that are ceremonial and a fourth that could be related to ceremonial? Why does James say that Moses is taught in the synagogues every Sabbath, showing that the Law is still going to be taught, that it is going to be taught on the Sabbath, and it will be taught in synagogues?

Nothing about the modern teaching makes any biblical sense. What does make sense is our video that discusses the actual contents of Acts 15 and the biblical context. Instead of eliminating the Law, the Acts 15 council unquestionably reaffirms and establishes it.

Shalom
Bruce