To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘The Word’ Category

Bible Project

I want to recommend the video overviews of each book of the Bible which are produced by The Bible Project

Here is the link. The videos are towards the bottom of the page.

In a short space of time they reveal so much truth in a ways which are accessible. Please use them and recommend them; they are such a valuable asset for the church.

For anyone who wants to get into into serious Bible Study they are invaluable. And every Christian should want to do that because every Christian should want to know God. And we can only know God through solid Bible study.

Preaching Heaven And Hell

We should never preach heaven and hell without preaching God and sin. Heaven is only heaven because God is there. Hell is so very terribly hell because it is the eternal experience of the consequences of our sin.

To preach heaven on its own is to be like a spiritual travel agent. A travel agent describes a place so as people are persuaded into buying a ticket to get there. It is all based upon emotionally persuading people that this is the best deal available and they need to go for it. That is what the preacher who just preaches heaven does. They present heaven as the ultimate holiday destination and a must to be enjoyed. This approach is never engaged in in scripture.

To preach hell without saying it as a place of judgement for sin is to be a scare-mongerer. We present the ghastliness of hell, and truly it is ghastly beyond what words can convey, purely as a means of frightening people. What we should do is present the ghastliness of sin before a holy God.

We may have very good motives in adopting the approaches just mentioned, after all we want people to be heaven bound and not hell bound. If these are not our motivations then there is no love in us and, in a sense, there is no humanity in us. However, good motives are not enough. Such approaches depend upon our rhetorical skills to entice to heaven or deter from hell.

Inherent in these approach is the tendency to depart from the scriptural portrayal of heaven and hell and engage in speculation in order to gain an effect. So we conjure up vile images for hell and virtuous images for heaven to achieve our ends.

The corrective is always to be rooted in scripture for our approach to these matters. So we preach God as wholly beautiful in all His trinitarian, Father, Son and Holy Spirit magnificence. The consequence of such preaching is the awareness that heaven is only heaven because God is there.

Similarly hell is presented as the just vengeance of God against sin. Hell is an understandable place when we realise how vile an offence and sin is against a beautiful all loving holy Lord God.

We must be careful that our emotions in preaching flow out of a heart in tune with scripture. So our passions for being in glory with the Lord flow as we appreciate our God and our passions of alarm and concern flow when we present the vileness of sin. Yes we should be emotional in preaching, passions should flow. But they flow not because we are great thespians, but because God, through the Word of God, has got a hold of us.

Anyone who has attended drama school can whip up a fervour as regards to heaven and hell. But, only the Spirit anointed preacher can bring people to appreciate God and his ways. And through that, by the Holy Spirit, to see life transformation.

 

 

Red-Letter Bibles

They really should be banned should they not? That is red-letter bibles. I understand the good intentions behind them to have the words of Christ our Lord highlighted so that special attention is drawn to them. And it is beautiful to know of the words actually spoken by our Saviour.

However, the big cost is found in the fact that all other scripture is regarded as being “also-rans”. Yes it is a Word from the Lord, but is is not as good as the Word of our Lord Jesus. This is just no good. Paul tells Timothy and us. that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The words spoken by our Lord are not more important than other words recorded in scripture. They are all equally part of the revelation that the Lord has given to us in His Word.

This also saves us from all false notions about how Paul or Peter had a lesser view, or alternative view, of the faith. Not at all! They all stand on a level with our Lord Jesus in terms of revealing the same faith.

This has to be so because it is the same God who spoke through the apostles who also spoke in Jesus Christ.

Accordingly, we receive the Word as one whole Word from our Lord.

What Are You Enjoying?

Our Lord Jesus declared to His disciples  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b). Our Lord is in the business of granting abundant life to His followers. I feel a lot of us, as Christians, respond to that by wondering how we can enter into this abundant life. One key way is through enjoying fellowship with our God and our Saviour by the Spirit through the study of, and mediation upon, the Word.

Reading the scriptures very easily degenerates into being a duty which we undertake because we have to. There is something good and wholesome in the studying of the scriptures because it is our necessary food. However, we should be concerned if we are not experiencing something of the discovering of beautiful things in the Word of the Lord.

Here is the book which tells of my God and His way of salvation. Therein is the declaration of all of God’s purposes. In it we find the beauties of our Saviour. In fact the whole book is about Him. There is so much to enjoy.

So why am I not enjoying my God and my Saviour through His Word? Possibly it is due to sin; in which case I need to repent. May be, it is because I have never realised that the book has such riches; in which case I need to be stirred up to view the scriptures in a whole new way. Or could it be I have forgotten all about the need for the Holy Spirit to illuminate and bring alive what is in the Word. If that is the case I need to be asking the Holy Spirit to be with me whenever i read the Word.

Whatever way, it is our Father who has ordained that through the Scripture we have so much to enjoy. Real, lasting, satisfying enjoyment comes through reading and meditating on the Word. So what are you enjoying at the moment?

And perhaps it would be so strengthening to our fellowships if we were asking each other more: What are you enjoying at the moment? Then from our lips would be delivered the fresh groceries we have obtained from God’s beautiful superstore in Scripture.

Let’s get reading and studying the scriptures, brothers and sisters in Christ. And let’s get asking the Holy Spirit to reveal His Word and His ways to us.

Daily Bread

As part of the pattern prayer delivered to us by our Lord He instructed us to pray Give us this day our daily bread (Matt 6:11). There are two key principles underlying this petition and we do well to have them firmly implanted in our lives.

Necessity

We are called to ask for our daily bread. We are not called to ask for our daily chocolate biscuits or crisps or whatever. It is bread we are called to ask for. Bread was the staple of the diet at the time of our Lord’s ministry. Bread was necessary to survive physically. Accordingly, the Lord is saying that we should ask that the Lord would give us what is necessary for the maintaining of our lives.

What we are being taught is that it is not our wants or our whims that we should be praying for. It is our needs.

Physical food must be included here and so we can literally ask our Father for our daily bread. However, it also, no doubt, should also include other aspects of physical and practical necessities in our lives such as clothes and housing.

Moreover, when we think about necessities in our lives we are led to think of the words of our Lord who said quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt. 4:4b). There is a more profound bread that we are in profound need of and that is the bread of the Word of Life. We need to be fed in our souls on the wholesome nourishing Word of the Lord. We should be praying that this should be the case everyday.

But let us never forget in our studying of that Word that the One who is the focus of that book is the Bread of Life. In John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.We need to ask everyday that we would be having our Lord Jesus, through the Word, nourishing our lives.

Dependence

The fact that we have to ask for “daily bread” and ask for it “this day” means that each day we have to come afresh. We are not bidden to ask for six months supply. But rather we are called to ask for a daily supply. Everyday I must come again and ask for His supply.

This applies in every realm of the necessary bread required for our lives. Even though I may have a freezer full of food. I should continually be aware that I cannot presume on tomorrow. Everyday I need to come and acknowledge the Lord as the giver.

Moreover with the spiritual food from the written Word I need to come every day for fresh supply from His store. Yesterday’s food was for yesterday. Now we need today’s food. Any food left-over from the previous day putrefied.

The experience of the nation of Israel in the provision of the manna was a clear example of this principle. To find out more read Exodus 16. Daily, except on the sabbath, they had to go and get their daily food. Any food left-over from the previous day putrefied. They had to learn to depend on God everyday.

We live in a society where we are encouraged to be self-dependent so that we might be self-made. The Lord’s prayer teaches us, in the request for daily bread petition, that we need to be God-dependant and God-made.

 

God Is Speaking.

In my recent travels around different churches consequent to my illness one thing I have picked up is the need to be aware that God is speaking. My emphasis here is on the present tense. We can sometimes offload the God who vocalises himself in the past: He did speak, or into the future: He will speak. But God is the living God who is speaking today.

I fear our conduct after services can betray the attitude that we do not believe God speaks. Generally if we have been in the presence of someone important who has spoken on an issue we will speak among ourselves about what has been said. I fear that is so very often lacking in our churches.

Perhaps we don’t hear God speak because we don’t feel the need for Him to speak. After all I have acquired a certain amount of Biblical information over the years that will be enough for me to keep going in the right direction. Accordingly, we come to church with little expectation of anything happening through the preached Word.

Now in saying what I have I am not arguing for the ongoing gift of prophecy. I believe that this gift terminated at when the Word of God was completed. We now have a more sure Word of prophecy.

However, I think we should be expecting God to come and speak when His Word is accurately declared. Even after services we should be asking about whether there was anything that has particularly affected us from the Lord into our lives.

Do We Have Faith In His Blood?

All of humanity is called to believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. There is, after all, salvation in no other. When we believe in Christ, we place our weight on Him totally as the deliverer from our sins. We rely on Him; we depend on Him.

In believing in Christ we are to believe in the true Christ who is revealed in Scripture and Scripture alone. We are not to believe in concocted misrepresentations of the Christ who are only false Christs. The crucial implication of this is that we believe in the One who was incarnate, born of a virgin, delivered up to death on the cross of Calvary, shedding His blood for the forgiveness of the sins of all who believe. We believe in the One who was buried and rose again on the third day; ascended into heaven and will return again. If we have faith in any other Christ, we are not believing in the true Christ for salvation.

Further, our faith, as Christians, is in a real living being. When we connect with Christ, by faith, we connect with one who is animate with life. furthermore, It is through Him we are brought to the God of life.

Which brings me to the original question do we have faith in the blood of Christ? To which I answer that Scripture teaches that we are to have faith in the Christ who shed He blood on the cross and not faith in the cross itself. To emphasize the matter I ask the question in a slightly different way: Do we have faith in Jesus’ blood or in His cross? The answer is neither. Paul puts it like this when he says in Ephesians 1:7-8a In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Redemption is in Him who shed His blood and not in His blood itself.

Accordingly, we do not preach the crucifixion, but we preach the crucified One. Again we listen to Paul who says we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23-24).

But what of Romans 3:25? There the KJV has the phrase “faith in his blood”. W.E Vine says this. “The rendering “faith in His blood” is incorrect. Faith is never said to be in the blood. Faith is imposed in a living person. Faith is the means of making the pardon ours; the blood is the means of its effect. The preposition of the original is instrumental. The phrase “by His blood” expresses the means of propitiation.” 

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