“Watch out for bad advice!” June 2

 

The Danger of Bad Advice - There is great danger in bad advice. God's commands and principles are not intended to limit our joy and blessings, but to protect us. Often we learn too late that going our own way or listening to the wisdom of fools leads to disaster and heartache.There is great danger in bad advice or trying to live life our own way.

A wise person seeks for wisdom all the time and keeps it “in his sight,” right in front of him to guide him. He doesn’t have to go looking for it when he needs it. He studies God’s principles for living and seeks to walk wisely at all times.

The fool, on the other hand, is looking for answers all over the place. Maybe Oprah has the answer or I’ll learn something from my horoscope or from some co-worker whose own life is a mess.

God’s commands and principles are not intended to limit our joy and blessings, but to protect us. And when we reject them, we often learn too late that going our own way or listening to the wisdom of fools leads to disaster and heartache.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 13 & 14
Psalm 69.16-21
Proverbs 17.23-24
John 12.27-50

 

Watch Out for Bad Advice

 

1 Kings 13 & 14:

Ungodly Counsel

 

In yesterday’s reading, Jeroboam had set up altars to false God’s to keep the people from going back to Jerusalem where they were supposed to worship. In chapter 13 God sent a prophet to Jeroboam to warn him his great sin was about to be judged.

Once it was obvious that the prophet was from God, Jeroboam invited him to “stay for dinner.” Perhaps he thought the prophet could get God to change His mind or maybe he wanted to kill him. Whatever the reason, God had already told the prophet that he was not to eat or drink there or even return home the same way he had come.

Once he left, another prophet caught up to him and claimed an angel had told him it was alright for him to eat and drink with him. Listening to his advice cost the Judean prophet his life!

God had already clearly spoken to him and he should have sought confirmation from God Himself as to any change in plans.

Like the Judean prophet, when God has clearly spoken to us, which He does primarily through His Word, we cannot allow some opposing message to sway us from God’s commandments and His truth.

This is also true when it comes to good Bible doctrine. We need the counsel of the Word and people who are solidly fixed in truth to help us understand God: His character, His principles, His commands, and His purposes for our lives.

In Galatians Paul said:

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed (Gal. 1.6-9).

Adult Woman Reading a Bible. CloseThere are all kinds of opposing “gospels” out there and all kinds of people giving all kinds of advice. Learn to recognize the real thing. Read God’s Word, spend time with Him hearing His voice in the pages of Scripture and then “the voice of a stranger you will not follow” (Jn. 10.5).

I’ve said it before but, we all need to be theologians and good theology does not have to be difficult to understand. Theology is simply the study of God.

If you want to read more check out my posts on “Bite Sized Theology.” I started this series some time ago, but my schedule at that time kept me from continuing it. I’ll be picking it up again soon. Here’s a list of the earlier posts.

Bite Sized Theology: Why Theology?
Bite Sized Theology: The Bible “The Book”
Bite Sized Theology: The Canon
Bite Sized Theology: What is special revelation?
Bite Sized Theology: Bible Study – How & Why?

 

The Danger of Bad Advice - There is great danger in bad advice. God's commands and principles are not intended to limit our joy and blessings, but to protect us. Often we learn too late that going our own way or listening to the wisdom of fools leads to disaster and heartache.

Proverbs 17.23-24:

Seeking Wisdom from Fools

 

Verse 24, “Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.”

A wise person seeks for wisdom all the time and keeps it “in his sight,” right in front of him to guide him. He doesn’t have to go looking for it when he needs it, like some lost set of keys.

Portrait of young couple reading newspaperThe foolish person, on the other hand, is looking for it all over the place. Maybe Oprah has it or I’ll learn something from my horoscope or from some co-worker whose own life is a mess. There are even people who will try to sound spiritual. Remember, the old prophet claimed he was speaking for God and it cost the man of God his life! Again there are many “gospels” out there vying for our hearts and attention!

But if we are faithful to grow and walk in the wisdom that we have, God will give us more wisdom and understanding and we will recognize bad advice when we hear it. Hebrews 5 tells us:

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 69.16-21:

When Friends Desert Us

 

Verse 20, “Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.”

Too often even the best of people desert us when we need them most. When that happens we must remember that God will never forsake or abandon us (Heb. 13.5). He is the one we must look to in our times of trouble. Though He may use people, we are not to depend on them, but on God alone.

 

 

John 12.27-50:

When We Harden Our Hearts

 

In verse 40 it talks about God having blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of the Jewish nation as a whole. As we continue reading through the Old Testament, you can see the people continuously hardened their own hearts and turned away from God even as He continued to reveal Himself to them in miraculous ways. His judicial hardening (the final hardening of judgment) came after they had willfully hardened our own hearts.

Hebrews 3.7 says, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says. ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion'” and verses 12-13, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

We, too, must set our hearts to obey in all things. Those “little” willful “rebellions” are not little to God because they reveal our heart attitudes and set the stage for rebellion in other areas, and before we know it, we have hardened our hearts. Let’s be doers of the Word and not hearers only in all areas of our lives (Jas. 1.22).

 

Closing Thoughts:

bible illuminationWe have completed almost half of the Bible. Have you noticed how frequently our Old Testament reading relates to the New Testament passage or to Psalms or Proverbs or vice versa? I’m continually amazed at people who doubt the validity of God’s Word. As we read more and more of His Word and get the big picture, we can see that it is one continuous story told by a variety of men over a period of several thousand years. Men who were guided and inspired by God in such a way that they wrote the actual words of God. No one but God could bring about such an amazing feat!

As the Apostle Peter said:

“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1.19-21).

Blessings,
Donna


FREE eBOOK:

Prayer for Busy, Imperfect Pray-ers: 5 Strategies to Jumpstart Your Prayer LifeI would love to have you join me on this journey through the Bible. Just sign up for the BIBLE IN A YEAR daily posts so you don’t miss a single one.

Sign up now and receive a copy of “Prayer for Busy, Imperfect Pray-ers: 5 Strategies to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life.”


Handling Emotions Biblically - Emotions are real and part of being human. In fact, God created us as emotional beings. But problems result when we allow our emotions to control our thoughts, words, and actions. When that happens, we can quickly end up in a ditch, spiritually and relationally.

You can also SIGN UP FOR SPECIAL “CHRISTIAN LIVING” posts, including the new series “Handling Emotions Biblically.”

Previous Posts in the “Handling Emotions Biblically” Series

Marriage Made in Heaven?

Previous Posts in the “Marriage: Made in Heaven?” Series


Blended Families + LINKUP - I'll be talking about the common issues and challenges, offering some solutions, and providing resources to help. If you're not a blended family, I'm sure you know someone who is. The first post will start in the next linkup.

Previous Posts in the “Blended Families” Series



I sometimes LINKUP with these blogs:

Mondays The Modest Mom The Art of Homemaking Musing Mondays God Sized Dreams Embracing Everyday Blessed But Stressed
Tuesdays Purposeful Faith Tea & Word Tuesday Talk
Wednesdays A Wise Woman Builds Her Home Messy Marriage Coffee for Your Heart Christian Blogger Linkup Women of Intention Mississippi Mom Writer Wednesday Seeking God in All I Do Coffee & Conversation
Thursdays Chasing Community Warriors of the Word Booknificent Thursdays Dare2Hear Quietly Through
Fridays Missional Women Grace & Truth Faith & Friends Fresh Market Friday Dance with Jesus
Sundays Spiritual Sundays

This post may contain affiliate links, but I only recommend books and resources that I believe are theologically sound and beneficial to the reader. Thank you for supporting this blog and ministry by supporting my links!

“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.

“How are you at defending your faith?” February 16

 

How are you at defending your faith? - How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you're not a believer because it's inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a "personal thing" when you had an opportunity to "give a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.

 

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 3 & 4
Psalm 23
Proverbs 9.1-6
Matthew 27.55-66

 

How are you at defending your faith?

 

Matthew 27.55-66

Are you prepared?

 

bible study

In this passage, we find three of the women who followed Jesus there at the cross “looking on from afar.” It’s interesting to note that there is no record of any of the women who had followed Jesus leaving Him or denying Him in those last hours, when most of the men fled in fear.

What about you and me?

Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to defend and talk about what you believe?” Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.

Maybe we’re afraid someone won’t like us? Or of jeopardizing something we want? Or we’re afraid of the consequences?

Certainly, we need to be wise in the work place, but, at times, we keep silent more because it’s uncomfortable. Other times, we don’t speak up because we don’t really know how to defend our faith and we’re afraid we’ll sound foolish or mess it up.

Yet look at what the Apostle Peter told a earlier generation of believers–people who lived in almost constant danger of persecution or worse:

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).

What do you need to do to be better prepared to “defend the faith”? Do you need to get involved in a discipleship class or Bible study so you can learn the basics of the Christian faith? Do you need to pray for boldness or freedom from fear? Do you just need to step out in faith?

Leave me a comment at the bottom of this post if you would like more information about discipleship or check out Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 Lessons to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Leviticus 3 & 4

The Messy Business of Sin

 

The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).

The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.

And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.

But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and the only remedy is Christ.

When we see our complete failure to be holy and come to understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe, we can exchange our sin for His holiness.

But sometimes, before that can happen, Continue reading

God’s Attributes: Rest for Life’s Struggles + LINKUP

 

God's AttributesWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is God’s Attributes: Rest for Life’s Struggles by Brad Hambrick.

 

Theology … we tend to think it’s for pastors and teachers or, maybe, students in seminary or Bible college, but not for moms and dads, office workers, storekeepers, and others of us who work in stores and offices and homes every day.

But as you’ll learn from Brad Hambrick’s book, we all have a theology, including our ideas about God’s attributes. How does our understanding of God’s character affect how we view the events of our lives, especially the hard ones and how do we arrive at our view of God, sometimes, without even realizing it?

One portrayal of how we do theology is provided by breathing: inhale, process, and exhale. We inhale information, experiences, relationships, hopes, dreams, opportunities, tragedies, successes, failures, and an incredible number of mundane moments. These pieces are then processed by personal evaluations as good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant, painful, pleasurable, significant, noticed, or unnoticed. Finally, we exhale beliefs, correlations of cause and effect, life principles, optimistic or pessimistic expectations, and ideas about God (i.e., whoever or whatever we believe to be “in charge” of it all).

Think about some of the formative events of your life, the good and the bad. These major memories have the greatest impact on our core beliefs, our theology.

As you reflect on these formative life events, the hard or negative ones will fit into one of two categories: sin or suffering. Sin encompasses those actions, beliefs, and emotions that are contrary to God’s Word or character. Suffering includes the tragic and deteriorative effects of living in a fallen world, as well as the consequences of other’s sin against you.

The guiding principle of this entire study is simply: Our battle from and against sin and suffering is first and foremost a battle toward and for God.

With this said, our concept of God, resulting from the theological breathing discussed above, greatly influences how we read the Bible. If we believe that God is a cosmic cop, we read the Bible fearfully wanting to know the things for which God will “pull us over” and for which he will “let us go”—the equivalent of the “how far over the speed limit can you drive and get away with it” debate. If we believe that God is a heavenly grandfather, then we read the Bible to find out what good ideas he has and how to stay on his good side to get the extra treats of his approval.

This devotional study can help us identify the connections between our sins and struggles and our understanding of God. It can help us identify those attributes we need to understand better. Doing so will help us trust, enjoy and emulate Him more and better. When we have a wrong view of God, Brad says:  Continue reading

Bite Sized Theology: “Bible Study – How & Why?”

 

Bite Sized Theology: Bible Study - How & Why?In this post we are going to take another bite out of the Doctrine of the Bible or Bibliology. This week we will talk about studying the Bible. 

 

In my last “Bite Sized Theology” post I covered general and special revelation. In earlier posts I talked about why the Bible is The Book, not just a book about God, but a book written by God Himself, and what is meant by The Canon, why we can trust the fact that the 66 books of the Bible are God’s Word.

Today we’re going to talk about Bible study: why it is important, some important principles about Bible study, and how to get started?

 

16 Reasons to Study the Bible:

 

  1. The Scriptures show us the way of salvation (Rom. 1.16; 2 Tim. 3.15; John 3.1-21).
  2. It helps us grow spiritually (2 Pet. 3.18; 1 Pet. 2.2).
  3. It guides and directs our lives (Ps. 119.105).
  4. As we study and meditate on God’s Word, keeping it in our hearts and minds, it cause us to prosper spiritually and experience true success in life (Josh. 1.8; Ps. 1.1-3).
  5. It helps us recognize the difference between truth and error (Acts 17.11).
  6. It prepares us to share the Gospel and the hope we have in Christ (1 Pet. 3.15).
  7. It prepares us for the “one-anothering” (teaching, admonishing, and encouraging) we are called to do in the family of God (Col. 3.16).
  8. It prepares us to teach our children and the next generation (Deut. 6.6-7).
  9. It provides us with hope and encouragement (Rom. 15.4).
  10. It is an important part of the armor of God and protects us from the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6.10-17; Lk. 4.1-13).
  11. When we commit it to our hearts, the Holy Spirit brings it to our minds when we need it, and it helps us stay away from sin (Ps. 119.11).
  12. As we hear it, read it, and come to understand the Word, it grows our faith (Rom. 10.17).
  13. It exposes our hearts (Heb. 12.12-16) so we can see where we need to grow and change.
  14. It enables us to obey the two great commandments: love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40).
  15. It helps us become more like Christ (1 Tim. 4.7).
  16. It enables us to know God and His Son Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.3).

Continue reading

Bite Sized Theology: “What is Special Revelation?”

 

Bite Sized Theology: What Is Special Revelation? - We’re going to take another bite out of the Doctrine of the Bible or Bibliology. This week we’ll talk about Special Revelation.

 

Two weeks ago I said the Bible is The Book. It is not just a book about God, but a book written by God Himself. Last week we discussed The Canon, why we can trust that the 66 books of the Bible are God’s Word.

Today we’re going to talk briefly about the two ways that God reveals Himself to mankind: General and Special Revelation. Then we’ll focus on Special Revelation as it relates to the Bible.

 

General Revelation

 

General Revelation is just that … it’s general. It’s God’s revelation of Himself to all men at all times. He does so through creation: the wonder and beauty of nature, the magnificence of the universe, and the human body, including the conscience.

General Revelation is spoken of in Psalm 19.1-4:

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
    The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
    night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
    their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
    and their words to all the world.(NLT)

And in Romans 1.20:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

We are “without excuse.” Creation itself reveals enough to make us accountable before God to believe in Him.

In fact, Romans 1 goes on:

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.

 

Special Revelation

 

Special Revelation is more limited. It includes things such as: angels, prophets, dreams and visions, miracles, the lot, His appearances to various people, and through His written Word, the Bible. But the ultimate revelation of God to mankind was through His Son, Jesus Christ.

God has been involved with and has been speaking to people since Creation. He walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the garden (Gen. 3.8), He gave them instructions for living even before the fall (Gen. 2.15-17).

He spoke to Cain and warned him of the lurking danger of sin in his life (Gen. 4.6-7). He spoke to Abraham, Noah, Moses, Paul and many others in both the Old Testament and the New.

He revealed Himself through a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire and through a burning bush. He manifested His presence in a cloud of glory and various other ways.

He spoke repeatedly through prophets, judges, and through the intermediary of the Priesthood. He performed miracles: making bitter water sweet, parting the Red Sea, raising the dead, bringing plagues and famines, and protecting from the same. He defeated armies against all odds, healed lepers, caused the lame to walk, and opened barren wombs.

He revealed present and future events through dreams and visions. He brought messages through angels.

He spoke His Words through the writers of the Bible and preserved His written Word even amidst the rubble of defeat:  Continue reading

Bite Sized Theology: The Canon

 

Bite Sized Theoloy: The Canon

This week we’re going to take another bite out of the Doctrine of the Bible or Bibliology. This week: the Canon.

 

Bite Sized Theology: The Canon

 

Last week I said the Bible is The Book. It is not just a book about God, but a book written by God Himself. Check out last week’s “Bite Sized Theology,” if you missed it.

The Bible is made up of 66 books written by more than 40 different men. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament.

One big question is “How did those 66 books become recognized as the Bible, also called the Canon of Scriptures?” Good question!

The word canon comes from a Latin word that means “a rule or a measuring rod.” Referring to the Canon, Charles Ryrie in his book Basic Theology says:

“It refers to the list of books that met certain tests or rules and thus were considered authoritative and canonical. But it also means that the collection of canonical books becomes our rule of life.”¹

So what were the tests?

 

The Old Testament:

 

All 39 books of the Old Testament have the authority of a lawgiver, a prophet, or a leader of Israel behind them and all 39 books were accepted without question well before the New Testament period.

In Matthew 5.17 Jesus validated the Old Testament when He said He would fulfill them all:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

Jesus and the other New Testament writers quoted the Old more than 250 times and there are many cross references within the Old Testament itself.

 

The New Testament:

 

All 27 New Testament books have the authority of an Apostle behind them. The writers themselves witnessed to the validity of their own and each others writings (Col. 4.16; 1 Thess. 2.13, 4.15; 2 Pet. 3.16).

“as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Pet. 3.16).

There was also the test of acceptance. The Church Fathers recognized them as Scripture, as did the Churches themselves.

Various Church Councils took up the issue and by 397 A.D. with the Council of Carthage all 66 books of the Bible were confirmed as the Canon.

It’s important, however, to remember that the books of the Bible are not canonical because certain church councils decided they were. They are canonical because they were authored by God Himself. Groups of learned men merely confirmed by careful study what was already true.

Books by various cult leaders that have been placed along side the Bible are not Scripture and the books that have been added to the Roman Catholic Bible, the Apocrypha, are not part of the Canon. Because the Canon is closed, there are no “so called” lost books and any continuing revelation is not a part of God’s inspired Word.

Over the next few weeks we’ll talk more about the Word of God, why it is inerrant and sufficient, and why we can trust God’s Word as the guiding standard for our lives.

 

Every believer should be a theologian. But theology doesn’t have to be difficult to understand. Each week I’ll be explaining another concept and why it is important to your life and mine.

Why not join me for this series of weekly posts on “Bite-Sized Theology” so you don’t miss any new ones? Sign up here.

¹Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 119

 


FREE eBOOK:

Prayer for Busy, Imperfect Pray-ers: 5 Strategies to Jumpstart Your Prayer LifeI would love to have you join me on this journey through the Bible. Just sign up for the BIBLE IN A YEAR daily posts so you don’t miss a single one.

Sign up now and receive a copy of “Prayer for Busy, Imperfect Pray-ers: 5 Strategies to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life.”


Handling Emotions Biblically - Emotions are real and part of being human. In fact, God created us as emotional beings. But problems result when we allow our emotions to control our thoughts, words, and actions. When that happens, we can quickly end up in a ditch, spiritually and relationally.

You can also SIGN UP FOR SPECIAL “CHRISTIAN LIVING” posts, including the new series “Handling Emotions Biblically.”

Previous Posts in the “Handling Emotions Biblically” Series

Marriage Made in Heaven?

Previous Posts in the “Marriage: Made in Heaven?” Series


Blended Families + LINKUP - I'll be talking about the common issues and challenges, offering some solutions, and providing resources to help. If you're not a blended family, I'm sure you know someone who is. The first post will start in the next linkup.

Previous Posts in the “Blended Families” Series



I sometimes LINKUP with these blogs:

Mondays The Modest Mom The Art of Homemaking Musing Mondays
Tuesdays Purposeful Faith Tea & Word Tuesday Talk
Wednesdays A Wise Woman Builds Her Home Messy Marriage Coffee for Your Heart Christian Blogger Linkup Women of Intention Mississippi Mom Writer Wednesday Seeking God in All I Do Warriors of the Word Coffee & Conversation
Thursdays Chasing Community Booknificent Thursdays Dare2Hear
Fridays Missional Women Grace & Truth Faith & Friends Fresh Market Friday Dance with Jesus
Sundays Spiritual Sundays

This post may contain affiliate links, but I only recommend books and resources that I believe are theologically sound and beneficial to the reader. Thank you for supporting this blog and ministry by supporting my links!

“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.

Bite Sized Theology: The Bible, “The” Book

 

Bite Sized Theology: The Bible, "The" Book - This week we're going to take a little bite out of the Doctrine of the Bible or Bibliology.

 

Bite Sized Theology: The Bible, “The” Book

 

This week we’re going to take a little bite out of the Doctrine of the Bible or Bibliology.

The Greek word for Bible is Biblos, but when the early Christians wrote the name on a scroll containing God’s Word, they wrote Ho Biblos: Biblos meaning Book and Ho meaning The.

The Bible is no ordinary book. It is The Book.

2 Timothy 3.16-17 says:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

It was inspired by God. The literal translations says God breathed it out.

The Bible is not a book about God, it is the very Word of God.

 

Didn’t Men Write the Bible

 

But wait a minute, didn’t men write the Bible? What about Moses, Peter, Paul, John and other biblical authors?

Men penned the Bible. They were His instruments transcribing what was in the mind of God.

I’m a note taker. I take lots of notes … during church services, in classes, and when I’m counseling. I even have a preferred writing instrument, a special pen I like to use when writing. Yet, it would be silly to say that my pen took notes. It was merely the instrument.

2 Peter 1.21 says:

21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

The same Greek word was used in Acts 27.15 talking about a ship caught in a powerful storm. It says:

15 and when the ship was caught in it and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and let ourselves be driven along (NASB).

The storm was so fierce that the sailors couldn’t sail into it without great danger. They had to allowed the ship to be “driven along” by the wind.  Continue reading

Bite Sized Theology: Why Theology?

 

Bite Sized Theology: Why Theology?I heard someone say once that being a believer + time does not necessarily equal spiritual maturity.  The longer I’ve been a follower of Christ, the more truth I see in that statement.

I believe the writer of Hebrews knew something about that when he wrote:

12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.

Having a good understanding of the rich truths in God’s Word (theology) isn’t about knowledge for the sake of having knowledge. Good theology is important because, properly understood and applied, it gives us the wisdom to live the Christian life well (“to recognize the difference between right and wrong” v. 14). As Paul told Timothy:

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly (1 Tim. 4.7 NLT).

That’s not possible without the right blueprint. Godliness is not determined by our religious activities, but by how much we resemble Christ. If we are going to grow to be like Him, we must know Him, know what life looks like when lived His way, and understand how He deals with His people. We must know and understand basic theology.

While theology is important for every follower of Christ, it doesn’t have to be difficult to understand. I’ll be taking one concept at a time and explaining Bible terms and why they are important to your life and mine.

Why not join me for this series of weekly posts on “Bite-Sized Theology”? Sign up here to receive new posts in this series and other special posts.

quote bubble“Good theology is important because, properly understood and applied, it gives us the wisdom to live the Christian life well.”


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November 16 “Why you need a theology of suffering”

bibleWe all have a theology. The question is, “What is the source?” And when hard times come, what is our theology of suffering?

Today’s Readings:

Ezekiel 23 & 24
Psalm 127.1-5
Proverbs 28.24
Hebrews 11.1-16

 

Ezekiel 23 & 24:

A theology of suffering

Before I lose anyone with the title, we all have a theology. Theology is simply the study of God and His relationship to the world. The question is, “From where do you get your theology—from your circumstances or from God’s Word?”

And when it comes to suffering and hardship, our theology and its source make all the difference.

What if God called you to make the sacrifice that Ezekiel had to make—losing his wife and not even being allowed to grieve? Could you trust God to give you the strength to do it? Or would you fall into self-pity or a “why me” attitude? And how would you view God for even asking such a thing?

How would you respond if the child your raised to love God becomes a prodigal, throwing aside everything your believe? Would you still trust God?

What if the doctor handed you a bad report? Or your child didn’t get better? Would you still believe that God is good?

What if you or your spouse lost a job or your savings or your retirement plan? Would you still be able to trust Him to meet your needs?

I know for some of you these questions aren’t hypothetical, they are reality. The truth is suffering is a part of life in this fallen world. Someone has said that we’re either in the midst of trial, coming out of one, or getting ready to go into one.

They may vary in degree and some may be easier to handle than others, but we all suffer.

When God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Could you say with the psalmist, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me” (Ps. 119.75)?

It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know.

When your toddler jumps into your arms in the swimming pool for the first time, he doesn’t trust his ability to swim, he trusts you because he knows you. When your doctor says she needs to do surgery, you’ll either trust her diagnosis, or you’ll get another opinion.

A toddler learns to trust his parents because of his experience with them. You may come to trust your doctor because of her care and knowledge in other situations or because someone you trust recommends her. But somehow we must have knowledge of a person if we’re to trust in them.

We trust God first by faith. We make that choice to believe His Word and to respond to His wooing. But we walk it out by coming to know Him through His Word.

BibleWhat can we know about God that will steady us in trials and suffering?

We can know His character by coming to understand His various attributes.

God is love (1 Jn. 4.8). It’s not that He merely does loving things, He is love. Love seeks the good of the person loved. His love is perfect and unselfish. He loves us so much that He was willing to suffer and die in our place (Jn. 3.16). Even in hardship God is working for our good (Rom. 8.28; Gen. 50.20).

Joseph told the brothers who had sinned against him in such horrible ways:

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50.20).

Charles Ryrie says, “Love consists of affection and also of correction. Babies are cuddled and corrected, and both are true expressions of parental love.”

Even when God disciplines His children, it’s because of His love:

“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12.6).

God is good (Ps. 73.1). Like love, good isn’t something He does, it is His very essence.

He is, also, merciful and faithful. His is patient and forgiving, righteous and just. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (always with us), omnipotent (all-powerful) and He never changes. And that’s just the beginning of His attributes.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2.4-6)

We can never fully know God, but He has revealed much through His creation, through His acts, and, especially, through His Word. Coming to know Him will allow us to trust Him even in suffering.

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29.29).

There are numerous resources which can help us come to know Him, to know His attributes, and to better understand how God works in and through suffering. A friend told me her life and perspective changed when she read Trusting God by Jerry Bridges as a young widow. I’ve seen numerous people helped by reading It’s Not Fair! by Wayne Mack. Both talk about the attributes of God and help us know Him better. And A.W. Pink’s classic The Attributes of God is a little gem.

You can also use Bible Gateway or another concordance to look up the attributes of God and study them out for yourself.

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