Tuesday, March 31, 2009
The first question that we should ask, not about a specific text but about the Bible as a whole, is “Where did this book come from?” Friend, until you get that question answered and answered correctly you will be wasting your time trying to study the Bible. The Bible makes some pretty strong claims about itself and its truthfulness. Ultimately, though, all its claims rest on the fact that it came from God Himself. Peter tells us in verse twenty that we need to “know this first of all”. The Bible is the divine revelation of God and understanding that it is supernatural in origin is of prime importance. Of course, some liberal theologians would concede that the Bible “contains” the word of God. In other words, some of what is in the Bible is inspired, but not all of it. You have to dig through the uninspired stuff to find the inspired word of God. However, Peter refutes such an absurd by plainly stating that “no prophecy of scripture is of one’s own interpretation”.
Peter’s statement, therefore, covers the entire Bible not just parts of it. No one can say “Ok, I’ll give you that this is inspired and inerrant, but that passage certainly isn’t”. Sorry, liberal pundits. The entire Bible, all 66 books of it, is inerrant, infallible, and inspired. Furthermore, the Bible doesn’t represent the mere opinions of the men who wrote it in any place whatsoever. The words that we have handed down to us as scripture did not originate with any man and were not the author’s ideas. Peter says that the words of scripture are not “of one’s own interpretation”. This phrase has been interpreted by Bible scholars in different ways. Some folks believe that it means you must interpret scripture with scripture—that you can’t take a verse out of context. I would affirm that be true but I’m not sure that’s what Peter had in mind here. Other scholars say that the right to interpret scripture is not a private right and scripture must be interpreted by the church. However, since I’m not catholic I respectfully disagree with that statement. I believe the idea that Peter is trying to convey is that no scripture was ever written because some man discovered the truth for himself. The word translated “interpretation” is the Greek word “epilusis” (1955). The word has the meaning of untying something or loosening it. In other words, no person was able to write scripture because they unloosed the truth. The origin of scripture is not in the mind of man but rather it has its genesis in the mind of Almighty God. Therefore, as Peter writes in verse 21, we can be sure that we are hearing from God not from men when we read scripture because “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will”.
How, then, did God get the words of scripture to us through these men? That is a reasonable question. If we’re to assume that the words we read are not just the ideas of the author the question that begs to be asked is “How did the words get from God to the parchment through the human author?” Peter answers that question in verse 21 when he says “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God”. The Greek word “phero” (5342) is translated “moved” in this sentence. The word means to carry a ship along by means of the wind which would be an appropriate analogy considering that Peter says that the Holy Sprit moved these men. The verb is in the present tense which means they were continually carried along presumably while they were writing scripture. Again, this emphasizes the fact that the total of what the men wrote was scripture—not just parts of it. Secondly, the verb is in the passive voice which means the men did not initiate the action of being borne along but rather they were acted upon by an outside force, the Holy Spirit.
However, they were not mindless drones who wrote scripture in some sort of trance and were not conscious during the process. In fact, God used these human authors and their individual personalities to produce the exact words He intended to give us. Peter writes that these men “spoke”—they were the human instruments through which God produced His perfect revelation. The verb is in the active voice which means they carried out the action—they were the penmen for the scripture (or they dictated it to someone who wrote it down for them). However, they didn’t speak what they wanted to say or what the audience might want to hear. They spoke “from God”. While they each had different perspectives, personalities, and styles of writing, God was able to use those differences to have these men speak the exact words that He intended for us to hear.
Let us praise God for loving us so much that He revealed Himself in a book. By doing so, He made His message unchanging. In a world where so many people want to deny the truth, we who know the truth of scripture should proclaim it faithfully and boldly because it is not of human origin but it came from God. Because it came from God, our question should never be "What does this scripture mean to me" but rather "What does this scripture mean?"
Monday, March 30, 2009
Ed Stetzer reported on some research by the Pew Forum related to chuches and the acceptance of homosexuality.
Below is a chart of their findings within Mainline Protestant churches.
Now, this is sad but not altogether surprising. However, I have read on more than a few Southern Baptist blog comment threads how we should be accepting of homosexuality and should not lovingly call folks to repent of that sin. In fact, the SBC has yet to disfellowship a church in Texas with openly unrepentant homosexual members. That issue has been tabled until the SBC meeting this summer in Louisville.
We should have two responses to this research, I think:
1) We must be active in sharing our faith with a lost and dying world at every opportunity calling all men and women to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
2) We must be vigilant to not allow liberals (who now call themselves "Mainstream") to gain control of our denomination so they can shift it leftward a la the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Mainline Protestants.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Update--For some reason the embed didn't work. Let's try this dance again and I'll try to get it right this time, 'kay.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
In, fact, Jesus commands us “do not use meaningless repetitions”. Now, this doesn’t mean that we should never repeat ourselves in a prayer. In fact, Jesus Himself prayed 3 times in the garden “Not as I will, but as You will” when asking God the Father to let the cup of God’s wrath pass. The idea is not that we should never repeat ourselves but rather that the repetition should not be “meaningless”. The Greek word translated “meaningless repetition” is “battoloego” (945) and it basically mean to babble or prattle senselessly. In other words, we’re not to just say things to God as a prayer with no rhyme or reason.
In fact, Jesus further qualifies this command by saying we’re not to babble “as the Gentiles”. As noted in Robertson’s Word Pictures, pagan’s would repeat themselves often to see if they could annoy the gods they worshipped and get the gods to give them what they wanted to the worshippers would hush. As a parent with two small children, I can see why someone might think that would work. I’ve given in to my little tricycle motors on more than one occasion trying to buy myself some peace and quiet.
However, God is not a human father who has imperfections such as impatience but is a perfect heavenly Father who desires the highest and best good for us in His perfect time. In contrast to having the attitude that the Gentiles had that “they will be heard for their many words” we can have the confidence of David as expressed in Psalm 23. We can say “The Lord is my Shepherd” and trust Him to respond to our prayers not based on their wordiness but based on our relationship with Him. God knows that we depend on Him. In fact, as Jesus observes, the Father ‘knows what you need before you ask Him”.
We can praise Him and thank Him for being so loving and gracious. We can pray to Him with an attitude of humbleness and trust because we know that He cares for us.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Peter tells these believers that they would “do well to pay attention” to the word of God. The Greek word “prosecho” (4337) is translated “pay attention”. The word means to hold close to something or to keep your mind on something. It is so easy to allow our minds and focuses to drift from Christ and our relationship with Him. I know I have a job, family responsibilities, and other things that demand my time and rightly so. However, to be the kind of employee, husband, and father that I should be I need to constantly meditate on the word of God and the God of the word. I need the word to empower me to live a life that is pleasing to God.
Living a life that is pleasing is difficult because we live in a sinful world with temptations around us on all sides. I have stubbed my toe or bruised my shin on my than one occasion while I was walking through my house in the middle of the night to get something to drink or go to the restroom. That happened because it was dark. I can’t see very well anyway—put me in a dark room and I’m useless. The sin that permeates everything in this world makes this world a “dark place” to live. Max Lucado (ugh, I can’t believe I’m quoting him) made the point that the reason we see so many people hurt and hurting one another is because we’re trying to walk in the darkness without a light. Peter tells us where we can and should look for a source of spiritual light in this world. Peter says the word of God is a “lamp shining in a dark place”. God in His mercy has revealed Himself in His word and as Peter says in verse 3 this word gives us “everything [we need] pertaining to life and godliness”.
But what we have in the word of God is like a wrapped present. We read about our home in heaven. We read about our freedom from sin and temptation. We know what’s in the box under the tree, so to speak. But one day, finally, we will get to open those presents when the “lamp” gives way to the true Light as the “day dawns”. This world is not our permanent home. The darkness of this world will one day give way to the light of our Lord Jesus. When that day dawns, we will finally see what our hearts have been longing for when “the morning star arises in [our] hearts”.
What a glorious day that will be. No more sin. No more death. Praise God for our future redemption.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Friday, March 20, 2009
But, if the group - church - as a whole has recognized several people who generally make wise decisions and generally live life in a way that honors God and helps others - elders/pastors - then the church has a resource to help make these kinds of decisions. If we respect these leaders then we will choose to follow them and their opinions instead of following our own ideas and opinions. (Of course, if the elders/pastors care about people, then they will also listen to the ideas and opinions of others. And, also, elders/pastors will tend to listen to other elders/pastors as well.)
Notice, Alan writes about the idea of the church as a whole recognizing elders, not just one person picks folks that are generally compliant and will do what he wants. Further, notice the church respecting these elders and wanting to follow them not being compelled to accept their decisions because, well, they have no choice.
Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing to see in our churches today?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
First of all, notice that Jesus assumes that the people He is preaching to will be praying. He doesn’t say “If you pray” but rather “When you pray”. “Pray” translates a Greek word “proseuchomai” (4336) which means “to supplicate, to worship, to pray”. The idea is that the person making petition is earnestly seeking favor with God. I read somewhere this week that a life marked by a lack of prayer is rooted in a feeling of self sufficiency. I have to admit that when I read that, it stung. I don’t pray as often or as earnestly as I ought to from day to day. As I’ve studied this passage, I have also felt convicted. We should go to God with our needs because He loves us. We are His children. We are His sheep and He wants to take care of us.
As Jesus assumes that we will pray, He exhorts us to not follow the example of the “hypocrites” or those who just play a game with religion. While you or I might not be able to tell it by just looking at them, they may have activity but they can’t fool God. Jesus points out that their religious activity of praying is only external. First of all, notice how they pray”. They “love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners.” Now, this wasn’t just a case of public prayer but rather these guys had certain times of the day they were expected to pray. So, let’s say Mathais was a devout Jew and he was on the street walking from the market in the most crowded part of the day and the time came to pray, he would stop right there in the middle of everybody, strike a pose, and pray. People would look at him and think “Wow, that dude is hard core about his faith in God”. However, as Jesus points out, his sincerity is not genuine. In fact, the reaction our hypothetical Mathais got from the by-standers is exactly what he was going for and in reality is the only thing he’s going to get out of it. As we saw in chapter 5, God knows the heart of man and He knows that Mathais is just playing a part—a hypocrite through and through. He pretense of piety impresses other people, maybe, but not God.
Now, in contrast to this put-on display of religiousity (Is that a real word?), Jesus commands true followers of Christ to have a different atmosphere about their prayer life. Matthew records in verse 7 that Jesus says that we should “go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret”. Now, I don’t think that Jesus literally means that we should never pray in public because He Himself prayed in public on several occasions and acknowledged that He knew people were listening. Certainly we should not pray in public with the attitude of the hypocrites, but it is not forbidden from the passage to pray in public. I believe Jesus is contrasting the attitude of true faith with the attitude of the hypocrite. Even if we can’t isolate ourselves so that our focus is only on God we should have the attitude and intent in our heart to focus only on God when we pray. God knows the difference, too. He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts and because of that when we pray with a proper, humble attitude with our focus on God He will know that and “will reward [us]”.
We should pray to God because we love God and recognize that He loves us. We wouldn’t think of not communicating in any earthly relationship and have expectations for that relationship to grow and develop. In like manner, if we’re not talking (praying) to God and listening to Him (studying His word), we can’t expect to grow in our relationship with God. Let us be humble to seek His face in prayer every day.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I would recommend the entire article to you. One quote in particular sums up the situation more clearly than anything I've read on the subject:
I believe that this action, if taken, will be an important milestone in our needed strengthening of biblical ecclesiology within our convention. It will be a clarion call to our churches to remember that membership does matter and that we are indeed responsible for the spiritual health of all of those who are members in our congregation. Particularly this is true for those of us in church leadership “who will give an account” (Hebrews 13:17) for these folks. At least with regard to homosexuality, the message from our convention will be clear: Loving and redemptive discipline toward known practicing homosexuals in the church is the only biblical option for our churches. (Emphasis mine)
Great point, Pastor Barber.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This past Sunday, March 15th, 2009, John MacArthur preached the first sermon from the last book he will go through verse-by-verse. He started the Gospel of Mark, preaching an introductory message from Mark 1:1. It was a biographical sketch of Mark with the working title something like, Mark: A portrait of a restored deserter. He plans to be in the book, the good Lord willing, for the next 2 years. I predict at least 3.
I'm thinking it's gonna be a little longer than 3. Of course, I have nothing to base that on, but I don't see him getting finished that quick.
There are some things he's said that I roll my eyes over ("All self respecting Calvinists are Pre-mils", his rants on music) but the fact is this--the man will leave as his legacy the most complete resource for understanding the New Testament of anyone who ever lived except for the authors of the New Testament. I praise God for him and the impact that God has had on my life through him.
However, dude needs to hurry up. He needs to get started on the Old Testament.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
First of all, notice that we are commanded to have a different approach to giving to the poor. Jesus calls us to not imitate the “hypocrites” (those who put on an act) who give with an atmosphere of pomp and circumstance. Using picturesque language, He describes them as “sounding a trumpet” as they give. One can almost picture in their mind a Pharisee with his chest puffed out and his head held high strutting down the aisle to give a charitable gift. They look as much like a peacock as they do a human. Furthermore, notice that they do this “in the synagogues and the streets”. Doing good for them is a public spectator sport with other people being the spectators. They take this approach to giving because they are motivated by their desire to be “honored by men”. The word “honored” translates a Greek word that could be understood to mean having a good reputation. They want people to think they’re good, honorable, religious men. Well, let us further notice that if that’s what these people have in mind and that is their goal then, as Jesus says, “they have their reward in full”. They have nothing more to look forward to than the praise of other men which passes away. People typically have short attention spans when it comes to things that make them go “Wow”. Ever hear the phrase “15 minutes of fame”? This kind of behavior might buy you about that much recognition.
That’s a cheap imitation for what the Father wants to give us. Instead of following the example of the hypocrites, Jesus calls us to “not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing”. In symbolic language, Jesus is calling us to be sneaky in our giving. Instead of drawing attention to ourselves, we should be so stealthy that not even our other hand notices what we’re doing, like a magician fooling you with a slight of hand trick. If our one hand doesn’t notice what we’re doing, imagine how unnoticeable our actions will be to other people. The goal, when giving to the poor, should be to meet the need not to meet OUR need for recognition. It is nice to be patted on the back. It is more important, however, for us to follow the command of Christ.
In fact, as Christ observes in verse 4, when our giving is done in this manner, it is done “in secret” (kruptos-2927 root word of our English word cryptic). However, just because we don’t get a standing ovation from people does not mean that our deeds go unnoticed. God is omniscient. He sees and knows everything even, things that are done out of the sight of men. Jesus says our Father in heaven “will reward you”. The God that judges perfectly, in whom there is no shifting shadow, will reward us out of His love and His infinite resources. If we think that men can reward us, how much more can our God reward us?
Of course, ultimately we should give to demonstrate the love of God and be faithful stewards of what He has entrusted us with. Still, we can be encouraged to give as the Lord has given us knowing that God will reward our faithfulness.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
As I have said, notice that Peter refers to his own experience. He says in the last part of verse 16 “we [Peter, James, and John] were eyewitnesses of His majesty”. Of the twelve disciples, only these three saw firsthand Jesus transfigured and glorified here on earth (Matt 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). While certainly the miracles Jesus performed testified to His deity, these three men were the only ones to actually see first hand their Lord in all His glory. This was a special privilege for these men. In fact, Peter seems to be making just that point in this phrase. The word translated “eyewitnesses” is the Greek word “epoptes” (2030) which was used to describe someone who had been permitted to look firsthand at the secrets of the mystery religions of the day. Since Peter was probably writing to Christians who were being plagued by heretical teachers, it seems natural for Peter to remind them that while these false teachers claimed to have special knowledge that Peter himself had seen firsthand the God of the universe veiled in human flesh.
What happened, then, on the Mount of Transfiguration? From Peter’s perspective, we see that Jesus “received honor and glory from God the Father”. First of all, by having His glory revealed by God for these men to see, God demonstrated that Jesus had tremendous value (honor-Greek time’  value assigned to something). Further, the men observed Jesus’ “glory” (doxa-1391) which probably referred to His physical glorification on the mountain where “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” (Matthew 17:2). This wasn’t an illusion or a figment of their imagination. These three men saw something that no human being saw before or since. But they also heard the voice of God Almighty speak from the cloud and declare, in verses 17 and 18, the identity (“This is my beloved Son”) and faithfulness (“in whom I am well pleased”) of Jesus. Now, imagine what an awesome sight this must have been for these guys. Picture yourself there if you can able to actually view the shekhinah glory of Jehovah God. Certainly, we can understand why Peter was so bold in proclaiming the gospel after the resurrection. He saw Jesus in His majesty. He knew who Jesus was.
However, Peter says even his personal experience is not the most powerful testimony of the truth. In fact, he says in verse 19 “So we have the prophetic word made more sure”. The word “made” is added in the NASB. In fact, the Greek word order literally reads “We have the more sure prophetic word”. Do you realize how awesome that is? Peter is saying that what you and I have is a more reliable witness of the truth than even his own firsthand supernatural experience of seeing Jesus Christ glorified. What we have in God’s word transcends human experience and in fact sits in judgment on that experience. We have truth that doesn’t change, grow old, or become irrelevant. The scripture, Peter says, is a better witness of the truth than even the eyewitness of three men who saw and heard things that we who have the bible will never see or hear.
We should give praise to our God who has so richly blessed us by giving us His perfect word as His perfect revelation. Furthermore, we should hear Peter’s exhortation in this chapter to these believers to study the word as an exhortation to us as well. We cannot live for Christ without the empowering of the word of God as applied by the Holy Spirit.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Jesus must have had this idea in mind when He spoke to the crowd and told them to “Beware”. There is nothing in the Bible that I would ever say is unimportant but there are some things that are more significant than others. If Jesus gives a warning, I’d say that would be a good thing for you and I to listen to and make a point of remembering. We should examine our motives to make sure our service to the Lord comes as a result of our love for our Savior and our thankfulness for what He has done for us.
Our motivation should never be to be noticed by people. When we serve God and do good works it should never be in order that we will “be noticed by them”. Frankly, it is a temptation that many Christians fall prey to as they minister. It is easy for preachers or singers to hear the praise of people and bask in the limelight. Everyone likes to be noticed and recognized and certainly there is nothing wrong with us telling someone how much their song blessed us or thanking a man for faithfully proclaiming God’s word. However, when we serve we must guard against having a goal of pleasing people. Rather, our prayer should be that they “see [our] good works and glorify [our] Father who is in heaven.”
In fact, being motivated by the recognition of other people in the end cheats us out of a true blessing. We are robbing ourselves of the joy of being rewarded by God. I’m not sure if you ever did this when you were a kid, but I can remember trying to convince my parents to let us open Christmas presents early. Most of the time, it didn’t work. However, a few times they gave in just to get some peace and quiet. We would excitedly open presents. When Christmas morning rolled around, though, we realized we had robbed ourselves of the excitement of opening ALL of our presents that morning. In much the same we, we rob ourselves of being rewarded by our loving, gracious heavenly Father when we choose a cheap substitute of praise from other people. They can give us recognition and a pat on the back. However, that recognition quickly grows faint and the pat on the back fades from our memory. They give praise out of their limited resources. In contrast, our Father in heaven gives lavishly out of His infinite supply of goodness. Dwelling in His presence forever, the sound of “Well done” will never fade as we praise Him forever for saving us.
Instead of settling for a cheap substitute of praise from people, let us always be motivated to serve God with the goal of pleasing Him with our service.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
As we see, Peter reminded them of the doctrine which they had been taught already. He taught from his authority in Christ (“We did not follow”) and he taught what he knew to be true (“cleverly devised tales”). Furthermore, he taught them about something they didn’t know already. He writes here that he “made known” to them certain truths. The word translated “made known” is the Greek word “gnorizo” (1107) which is related to the Greek word “ginosko” (1097) which means to learn or come to know. He revealed something to them that they had not previously known or been taught. It was these truths that he wanted to remind them of in the letter that he wrote. The false teachers came to these believers claiming to have more advanced or special revelation from God. Peter writes here to remind them that at a specific point in time in the past he had given them the knowledge of Christ. It was that knowledge that saved them. It was that knowledge they should cling to when harassed by false teachers.
But what, you may ask, was it that Peter taught them? What knowledge did he reveal to them? Peter answers this question in his next phrase when he says they made known “the power and coming” of Jesus. He had surely taught them that Jesus Christ was God in human flesh and that He displayed His power through miracles and wonders while ministering here on this earth. I would imagine Peter taught them about his being called to walk on the water with the Lord and how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Certainly as an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus, Peter would have many thrilling examples of the wonders he saw while a disciple of the Lord. However, I think he had something else in mind when he wrote these words.
Peter uses a Greek word “parousia” (3952) here that is translated into English as “coming”. The word literally means “to come along side” or “a being near”. It is used 27 times in the New Testament. Of those 27 times, 17 (62.9%) refer to the second coming of the Lord Jesus. I believe Peter was thinking of this blessed hope as he wrote. Our Lord demonstrated His power as He worked miracles and as Paul writes in Romans 1 He was proven to be God when He was raised from the dead. However, it is the image of a conquering King coming to make a final war over sin and sinners that will conclusively show Him to be the King of kings and Lord of lords. To encourage these believers during the trails they would surely face as false teachers tried to lure them away, Peter reminds them of the “power and coming” of the Lord Jesus at His second coming.
Just as these believers were encouraged by Peter’s words as he wrote this scripture, we can take comfort too in the fact that our Lord will return. In His presence in heaven, we won’t have to worry about sin or pain ever again. Our Lord will return for us just as He promised. What a day that will be.
Monday, March 2, 2009
The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to a serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart.
This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named Adam and Eve, resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect has been technically termed...... "Subsequential Internal Non-Morality,"
Or more commonly known as S.I.N..Some other symptoms include:
1. Loss of direction
2. Foul vocal emissions
3. Amnesia of origin
4. Lack of peace and joy
5. Selfish or violent behavior
6. Depression or confusion
10. Excessive Drinking
The Manufacturer, who is neither liable nor at fault for this defect, is providing factory-authorized repair and service free of charge!
The Repair Technician, Jesus, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden!The number to call for repair in all areas is: P-R-A-Y-E-R. Once connected, please upload your burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure.
Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, Jesus, into the heart component. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Jesus will replace it with:
9. Self control
Please see the operating manual;
B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)
WARNING: Continuing to operate the human being unit without correction voids any manufacturer warranties, exposing the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list and will result in the human unit being permanently impounded.
DANGER: The human being units not responding to this recall action will have to be scrapped in the furnace.
Thank you for your attention.
You may contact the Father any time by "kneemail".