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Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Reading the Bible through another person’s glasses.

In a post here, people were talking about a church with Calvinist sounding beliefs trying to join a local Baptist association. Without getting into detail explanation, basically a church that believed certain things about what the Bible said was trying to join a club that didn’t agree with that church. I posted a comment that I thought I would share here:

I think the bigger issue is that believers are aligning to a doctrine and allowing that to be the lens in which they view the Bible – the Living Word of God. I grew up in a church that had a hermeneutic that did just that. If you read the Bible through their glasses you’d see how what they said was true, but you’d have to dismiss, ignore, or excuse away other scripture. I think people do the same thing when they choose to adopt Calvinism, Arminianism, Wesleyan,  et. al.

Let me remind everyone that Calvin, Wesley, Stone, Campbell etc. are men. They are men who wrote an opinion of what they believed and found verses that agreed with such a belief. This is the essence of these doctrines – they are opinions!

Instead of allowing a doctrine or belief to shape how we read the Bible, we need to be reading the Bible with the mindset of the whole picture, letting the Holy Spirit guide us to proper interpretation.

The Bible doesn’t contradict itself. You can’t have free will or election exclusively; worship with instruments or a cappella exclusively; ‘once saved always saved’ with ‘one transgression and you’re condemned’. The Bible has verses that support all of these opposing views. This means that not one of them is exclusively correct. There’s a middle ground, explanation, or interpretation that will allow all these views to agree. We need to seek that agreement.

Whether or not one adopts Calvinism/Reformation theology or any other doctrine as their personal doctrine is one thing. Letting that doctrine read the Bible to them and close them off to anything the Scriptures may be saying outside of their preferred doctrine is another.

Imagine taking off the doctrine glasses, and reading the Bible with as little presumptions as possible.  I did this 17 years ago and it was the best thing I ever did for my spiritual growth.                                                                                        pts-bible-glasses-photo


Is the Bible for Real: How did the ancients know?

This post is a continuation of the last one, discussing if the Bible is really accurate and true…

I got this information from Stand To Reason’s website. Feel free to check out their page. Another good page for learning how the Bible and its events are true is Answers in Genesis.

Is the Universe Expanding?
Primitive cultures couldn’t observe the nature of the universe. Because of that little is written in ancient writings about the nature and origin of the universe. Secular scientists didn’t discover the expansion of the universe until the 1920s. But the Bible mentioned it 2600 years before that.

Isaiah 45:12 “It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.”

Isaiah 40:22 “He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”

Stand to Reason explains this:
“The expression ‘stretched out’ is used over and over again in the scriptures to explain the process by which God created the universe. There are many other words or expressions that could have been used, but God inspired men to use THIS expression. Why? Well, it is certainly consistent with our present understanding of an expanding universe. Our present ability to observe the cosmos has confirmed that the universe is, indeed, expanding. The distance between the stars is ‘stretching’, just as the writers of scripture first indicated, even when their contemporaries were completely silent or mistaken on this issue.”

What is the Shape of the Earth?
Primitive man had no way to actually know that the earth is spherical. Most all primitive men and cultures said it was flat. The Bible says differently:

Isaiah 40:22 “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth…”

Hindu and Buddhist teachings taught that if they travelled too far in any direction, they would fall over the edge. Arab Muslims would speak of infidels being pushed over the edge of the earth into space. But 2700 years ago, the Bible said the earth was round.

The Bible is archaeologically and scientifically true. More than any other mythical or religious document known. Because of this truth, the Bible is not mythology and it’s not “just another religious book.” Since it’s true about scientific things that none of the writers could have known on their own, we can deduce it’s true about all other matters in the text. The Bible is the source of truth.

These two issues aren’t the only things I found. As I’m writing this I’ve got a 9 page document full of these questions and Biblical proof texts to answer them.

If you question the validity of the Bible from a scientific point of view, go check out Stand To Reason and Answers in Genesis. If, after reading through what I’ve linked, you still have questions, I’d love to talk to you about it.

Is the Bible for real?

A lot of what I’m going to be putting on this blog will be referring to Bible passages, or thoughtsapologetics1-full and ideas from the Bible. Lately there seems to be a lot of doubt concerning the Bible. Was it written by men or God? Did men manipulate it over time? How can a book that claims the earth is about 10,000 years old agree with modern science that says the earth is millions of years old? There are whole books that address some of those questions. Even so, scholars can’t agree on which of those books are even right.

Few people would doubt that Homer or Plato really wrote the works credited to them. The Bible is far more authenticated. In other words, there are more historical documents and original documents that are consistent. More than any other religious or ancient book! If someone’s going to argue against the Bible being authentic, they’re going to have to doubt the authenticity of all other ancient works.

Some passages of the Bible, which critics once claimed were myth, have now been confirmed archeologically. For example:

  •     Secular archaeologists once thought the five cities of the plain described in Genesis 14:2 were  mythical. Now documents have been found that list these cities as part of ancient trade routes.
  •     The excavation of Jericho reveals that the walls did fall as described in the book of Joshua.

A few passages in the Bible predict future events in  detail. These are future events to the writers that have since occurred. Around 536-539 BCE, Daniel wrote a prophecy that predicted the next three world empires and their falls: Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires. If the Bible weren’t inspired by God, how could the human writers in know about these later empires?

While the Bible isn’t written as a science book, it mentions scientific principles and facts that go beyond what was known to people back then. It’s has been historically and archaeologically proven that the following books were written:
Genesis – 1445-1405 BCE
2 Samuel – late 900s BCE
Psalm – late 900s BCE
Proverbs – 970-700 BCE
Ecclesiastes – 935 BCE
Isaiah – 700-680 BCE
Jeremiah – 585-580 BCE
Jonah – 760 BCE
1 Corinthians – 55-56 CE
Job – The event of Job occurred around 2000 BCE but may not have been recorded until 583-538 BCE.

This page has this to say:

“The truth of the Bible is obvious to anyone willing to fairly investigate it. The Bible is uniquely self-consistent and extraordinarily authentic. It has changed the lives of millions of people who have placed their faith in Christ. It has been confirmed countless times by archaeology and other sciences. It possesses divine insight into the nature of the universe and has made correct predictions about distant future events with perfect accuracy.”

Next post we’re going to look at some scientific principles and compare them to what the Bible says about it.

Infinite Forgiveness

FathersonforgivenessI was in 4th grade when I was baptized. The church I went to was very legalistic so I read the Bible and developed an interest in how to understand it. My problem was – as it is with most kids – living it out. There was an adult male who, technically, had authority over me. He went to the same church until he grew up, then he quit attending. I don’t know what he was taught back then but something got distorted along the way. Quite often he would use Bible verses to make me feel guilty or ashamed of something I did.

There’s one of those talks that really sticks out to me. I had done something I had been told not to do again. He said something like “What does God think when you keep doing ____?”
I replied, “I’ll just ask him for forgiveness.”
He spoke as if he had knowledge of the Bible when he responded, “Do you think God will just keep forgiving you over and over?”
“No.” I answered. I think my answer was more out of fear of him. Because I know that’s the answer he was looking for.

When retelling this to a counselor years later, I told them that deep down I believed that lie I responded to. They showed me the truth of what God’s Word actually says about infinite forgiveness and prayed with me. I haven’t believed that lie since.

Here’s only a few verses that talks about Gods forgiveness versus condemnation:

Nehemiah 9:17 “But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in faithful love, and You did not abandon them.”

Psalm 86:5 “For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You.” …He’s ready to forgive all who call on him. Ready. To forgive!

Psalm 103:3 “He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases.” …All means all. Not a limited number of times.

John 3:18 “Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” …I never was condemned, even back then. Likewise…

John 5:24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.”

Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” …No condemnation. None. None means none!

Romans 8:34 “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.” …Whether an authority figure, parent, church leader, age, size – no one can condemn those in Christ.

Hebrews 8:12 “For I [God] will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.” …By remembering it means God won’t hold them against us.

It can’t get more plain than this: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. …No stipulations. No use limits.

Truth takeaway: God forgives. He’s ready to forgive, not reluctant to. There’s no limits to his mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Freedom takeaway: If you feel God can’t or won’t forgive you because of something you’ve done; or if you feel like you’ve just done too much – He will. He can. As often as you need it.

In the meantime…

Even before, and since starting this blog, God gave me a lot of ideas of stuff to post. The last 2 days I’ve been at work and I’ve been working on those posts. While I’m trying to get a few of them finished I’ll leave you with this link to Jason Johnson’s blog. This post talks about things we Christians tend to say, that really may not be correct at all.

Throughout the year I’m going to write about “Stuff We Say.” Those little Christian sayings that we ascribe to the Bible but really may or may not be Biblical.

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