11 Ways to Reignite Your Passion for the Bible


Today’s post is by Dave Jenkins. Dave is the Director of Servants of Grace Ministries. He and his wife are members at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Nampa, Idaho. You can follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveJJenkins.

I graduated from seminary on May 11, 2012, and, since then, friends have asked me:

“What’s the biggest transition you’ve had since graduating?”

Before I go into my answer to that question, I need to give a little background. I graduated high school in June 2000 (I’m thirty-one years old) and ever since graduating high school I’ve either been a full or part time student. The past two months have been the first time in my life where I wasn’t taking one or more classes at a community college, university or graduate school. So when my friends ask what the greatest transition has been for me, my consistent answer has been I’ve been enjoying my Bible reading a lot more. Depending on your own experiences, my answer may or may not surprise you.

In school, I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the Bible over and over again. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy reading the Bible during this season of life; I’ve always enjoyed reading it. But after reading it academically for five years, I got to the point where I was reading more out of obligation than delight.

In the months since graduating, my passion for reading the Bible has only increased as I spend quality time every morning read the Word. If you’ve ever lost your passion, I hope the following helps you find it again, too.

First, grow in a love relationship with the Author of Scripture.

If a young woman received a love letter from her fiancée, she would eagerly read it since she is in love with the letter’s author. She would read and re-read those precious words, reading “between the lines” to discover the full richness of her lover’s message. Similarly, if we love God, we will find delight in the inspired words of God. Psalm 119:10-11, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Love God and love His “love letter” to you—the Bible.

Second, have a personal relationship with God.

Even more basic than this loving God, the author of Scripture, the reader and interpreter of Scripture should strive to truly know God through Jesus Christ the Lord. You should have a deep and intimate relationship with God who inspired Scripture through the Holy Spirit (John 17:3; 2 Timothy 3:16). It is vital to remember that joy comes through the work of the Holy comes in our lives (Galatians 5:22). If you truly know God, in Christ Jesus and through the Spirit, you will be more prepared to rejoice in your Bible study.

Third, approach your Bible reading with worshipful awe.

It is vital that you have a proper attitude and frame of mind and heart as you open the pages of Scripture. For example, God says “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2b). Here we see that the one who comes to the Word should have a humble, contrite, and fearful (or respectful) attitude. You should approach it with a worshipful attitude, a fearful and respectful attitude, a submissive and yielding attitude, and a love for the God of Scripture.

Fourth, consider it an amazing privilege to read and study Scripture.

Until about the year 1500, the common person didn’t have the Scriptures in his or her own language. It took centuries before the Bible was translated and circulated in many of the world languages. Today, you have a priceless gift in your hands! You can read the Word of the living God and understand the Scriptures yourself, apart from false religious leaders censoring what you read! With this privilege comes tremendous responsibility.

Fifth, develop a real interest as you read a portion of Scripture.

Some people complain that their reading is dry and boring. It need not be this way. Develop a captivating interest in what you are reading. Ask yourself: “Why did Peter deny Jesus in this passage?” “Why did the Pharisees react so vehemently against Jesus as He declared His relationship with the Father?” “What was the nature of Judaizers that Paul seems to regularly combat?” Also, notice the choice of vocabulary, the connection between sentences, and the development of the argument in each book. This will arouse your curiosity, awaken your interest, and give you the joy of Bible discovery!

Sixth, ask the Lord to give you true joy as you read the Scriptures.

We know that spiritual joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; Acts 13:52) that comes through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:1). Ask God to stimulate this joy in your heart as you open yourself to His divine Word.

Seventh, find a quiet place and time to spend quality time reading the Scriptures.

You should be undisturbed in your reading so that you can think through the text as you read it. Don’t allow background noise, music, TV programs, or conversations to disturb your concentration. Even a crying baby can interfere with your focus on the text. Find a time when you can be alone and also a time when you are most awake and alert in your reading. For some, this may be at 5 AM and for others it may be 10 PM, while for others it may be lunchtime or some other time during the day.

Eighth, begin your time in the Bible with prayer.

Before you begin to read verses or chapters for the day, pause to ask God’s blessing on your reading, the clarity of your thought, and the conviction that the Spirit brings through the Word that He inspired. The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18). Don’t just rely on your reading ability; depend on God to enlighten you as you prayerfully read.

Ninth, examine the Bible portion carefully and prayerfully.

Don’t read the Bible as you would cursory read the newspaper. Recognize that the Scriptures are God’s inspired revelation of His will. Every word has been inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and should be scrutinized with intensity. “One who looks intensely at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). Read to see and understand what the Bible writers wrote.

Tenth, determine to read for spiritual benefit from the Lord.

Paul writes, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The Bible gives encouragement, but it also gives us warnings (1 Corinthians 10:11), all of which are profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture gives us wisdom that leads to salvation (v. 15). The Word of God nourishes us (1 Timothy 4:6) and helps us to grow (1 Peter 2:2). If you keep the spiritual benefits of your Bible reading in mind, you can develop an unquenchable appetite for the Word. This will bring true joy!

Finally, always remember that you are seeking to know God’s will and obey it.

You should always bear in mind that you are not reading for mere curiosity, or to “do your duty,” or to compete with others. Instead, you are earnestly seeking to know what pleases God! We will be judged by Christ’s words (John 12:48), thus we should intently study that word to know it thoroughly. The Scriptures will keep us from sin: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). One time, someone wrote inside a Bible: “This Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

At times, every Christian goes through periods where reading the Bible becomes a duty instead of a delight. But I believe that by applying some of the above suggestions, you’ll find a fresh interest and passion for reading and studying the Word of God.

As you continue to grow in the Scriptures and the grace of God, you will come to have a burning desire to read, study, learn and meditate on His Word. A.W. Tozer said, “The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” As this happens, you will come to have a real enjoyment of His Word, a genuine delight in searching the Scriptures, and delight to understand and obey the Word of God.

Book Review: Women Helping Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Carol Cornish


Today’s post is by Kim Shay. Kim and her husband live in southwestern Ontario, where she’s spent the last 22 years primarily as a stay-at-home mom while teaching the Bible to women and serving on the Women’s Ministries committee at her local church. Kim blogs regularly at The Upward Call; follow her on Twitter at @UpwardCall.


As Christian women, it is inevitable that at some point we will be in a position to counsel another woman. Whether it is in a formal setting or an informal one with family or friends, as women, we need to be prepared to answer questions and advise in a biblical manner. We want to avoid handing out platitudes or, worse, error. Women Helping Women: A Biblical Guide to Major Issues Women Face is a valuable tool in that process. The editors, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Carol Cornish, set out to provide tools to help women counsel other women in order that they may live abundantly in Christ.

Women Helping Women is organized in two parts. The first sets the foundation for the biblical model of counseling, and specifically, the need for women to counsel women. The second section provides guidance with regard to a number of potential counseling situations. While the book can be used as a reference instead of read from beginning to end, the first part is crucial, as it establishes the difference between biblical and secular counseling. Fitzpatrick opens the section by emphasizing that biblical counseling is about vision, faith and hope. She reminds the reader that biblical counseling, obviously, begins with the Bible:

We believe the Bible is sufficient to answer every problem and meet every need that we, as God’s children have.

The following chapters are an outflow of that foundation. One of the necessities of biblical counselling is that women are encouraged to see how sin affects their circumstances. If a woman is not willing to accept that possibility, she will continue to struggle with her situation. This approach is not the approach of secular counseling, which frequently directs the counselee to place blame for her circumstances. Yes, people will sin against us, and we may have no control over how someone treats us, but that does not give us the freedom to sin in our reactions. Many of our problems are of our own making or are made worse by our own sin. [Read more…]

Can Christians Practice Ramadan?

Today’s post is by Paul Jenkins. Paul is a self-identified writing newbie, theology-lover, and in his better moments, an amateur evangelist. Paul and his wife, Susannah, attend Harvest Bible Chapel in London, Ontario. Paul co-authors the blog Laodecia Press and can be found on Twitter at @PJenkins70.

In Islam, Ramadan is a special month which is devoted to fasting, prayers, self-examination, scripture recital and reading, and deeds of charity. It is really interesting to read about this holiday which is certainly more religious for the average Muslim than Christmas is for the average professed ‘Christian’. The mandatory nature of this holiday is due to it being part of the fourth pillar of Islam.

What is even more interesting about Ramadan is that many of the main practices of this occasion are compliant with Christian beliefs and practices. The Bible specifically teaches on, and in some cases, commands Christians to do many of these things. Prayer, acts of charity and generosity, fasting, and reading/memorization/recital of Scripture are clearly laid out as acts that give glory to God. The Bible even references occasionally abstaining from marital relations for a time (1 Corinthians 7:5), which is part of Ramadan.

There are things that I admire about orthodox Muslims who practice Ramadan. They demonstrate a lot of discipline, self-control, devotion, and dedicate themselves to their scriptures. Conservative Muslims also demonstrate a lot of concern to follow orthodox, historical doctrines of their faith. Sadly, many Christians are devoid of these qualities.

On the surface, Ramadan seems like a holiday that even a Christian could practice. But the Bible says this:

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

(1 Samuel 16:7b)

A Muslim would probably agree with this principle. But beyond the outward rituals, what is Ramadan really about? [Read more…]

10 Helpful Resources on Family and Parenting


Today’s post is by Joey Cochran. Joey is married to Kendall, has two children (Chloe and Asher), and serves as a pastor at Fellowship Bible Church Tulsa. Joey blogs regluarly at jtcochran.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeyCochran.

Previously I wrote a post about parents who happen to pastor. Below is a list of recommended reading on parenting in general. I have collected this list over the past few years as I have processed my role as a parent. I still remember the first book on parenting that my wife and I ever read, “What to Expect When Expecting.” The first book we read gave my wife and I anxiety about parenting because it told us everything that could and would potentially go wrong. I assure you, the books in this list below are encouraging, helpful, and insightful works that will equip you to thrive as a parent.

  1. Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp
  2. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and David Powlison
  3. Don’t Make me Count to Three! By Ginger Plowman
  4. Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
  5. Gospel Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting by William Farley
  6. My Life for Yours: A Walk Though the Christian Home by Douglas Wilson
  7. Standing on the Promises: A Handbook of Biblical Childrearing by Douglas Wilson
  8. Future Men by Douglas Wilson
  9. Federal Husband by Douglas Wilson
  10. Reforming Marriage by Douglas Wilson

In closing, there is one other set of books that Kendall and I have found to have immeasurable worth. These books have also become a fun way to share with our daughter about her weak areas of obedience. We love reading to her The Berenstain Bears. They are so helpful when a particular area of obedience becomes a weakness for a child. Just the other night we read to our daughter The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV, in order to help her better understand why mommy and daddy are limiting her TV activity. Right now Chick-Fil-A is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Berenstain Bears by including them in their kid’s meals for a limited time.

Parents Who Pastor


Today’s post is by Joey Cochran. Joey is married to Kendall, has two children (Chloe and Asher), and serves as a pastor at Fellowship Bible Church Tulsa. Joey blogs regluarly at jtcochran.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeyCochran.

We are parents before we are pastors. I do not mean to say that every pastor has a child before he takes up the vocation of pastoring. Nor do I mean to say that you have to be a parent to be a pastor. However, it is interesting to observe that the norm and expectation in 1 Timothy and Titus is that an elder is one who is married and has children. I do not wish to get into the minutia of elder/pastor distinctions, qualifications and roles. What I do intend to illustrate is that for the parent-pastor, the primary and prerequisite ministry as a pastor is the ministry as the parent.

The day that I wrote this guest post for Aaron happens to be a Sunday. And on this morning before I ever pulled into my parking spot at the Church, I parented my daughter before I pastored God’s people. I carried her downstairs from her bed. I served her breakfast. I disciplined her for impolite behavior and I commended her for correcting her attitude. I held her and I kissed her goodbye. Of course I did not parent alone. My beautiful bride and help-mate partnered with me in this task, but it is critical that I played a crucial role in the process. I do not wish for my daughter to grow up thinking, “Daddy is the pastor. Mommy is the parent.”

No, pastors have without excuse for abdicating the role of parenting. In spite of how busy a pastor’s schedule is, how many meetings, programs and lessons to teach, counseling sessions and elder meetings to attend, the pastor must shepherd his home well before he can shepherd God’s church.

My first exposure to the work of Douglas Wilson was many years ago when our young married’s small groups studied Reforming Marriage. In this short and extremely helpful book Wilson explains, “Because the husband is the head of the wife, he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to abdicate in some way, he may, through his rebellion, lead poorly (Wilson, 24).” In like manner, the parent who pastors is either an excellent parent or a poor parent, but they are a parent nonetheless. Each time the pastor does not find it opportune for their child to need parenting, and thus passes on the responsibility to his spouse it sends a blaring message to his children that they were not important enough to experience tough love. But remarkably tough love is where our children experience the fullest picture of fatherhood. Moreover, as children experience the tough love of their earthly father they can best understand the oft-misunderstood character of God the Father in the Old Testament.

So, parent who pastors, parent your child in the foyer of the Church, in the hallway outside your office, in the parking lot, at the restaurant, in the park, at the zoo, in the retail center, and especially in your home. Correct the behavior and commend the corrected behavior. Love well and cherish your children. This is a model to the church, who desperately needs a parenting model today more than another class on how to count to three.

Total Depravity and Parenting

Today’s post is by my friend Dan Darling. Dan is the senior pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church and author of numerous books. His latest, Real: Owning Your Christian Faith, will be released July 3, 2012.

A few year ago, I took my family on a tour of the Jelly Bean factory in nearby Kenosha Wisconsin. I was fascinated by how a single jelly bean is chemically engineered, created by machines, perfectly formed, stamped, inspected, and dropped into a bag with other perfectly formed candy creations.

I love assembly lines. They have revolutionized American production.

But they are lousy systems when it comes to raising godly children, because faith in the next generation cannot be mass produced. It must be hand-crafted, carefully formed, and breathed into life by the Holy Spirit.

Much Christian parenting assumes the assembly line approach. We wrongly interpret Proverbs 22:6 as a formula and parent with results-oriented angst.

Then we wonder why our systems are “not working.” Are we not being consistent enough in discipline? Should we use timeouts instead of corporal punishment? Perhaps we are in the wrong church?

We search for the perfect model. We are constantly “tweaking the system.”  But our kids are not balance sheets. They are human souls born completely depraved.

So what they need is not a better system, but the gospel. We shouldn’t be surprised when they sin, because sin is sown into the fabric of their fallen hearts.

A gospel approach to parenting has three liberating effects:

First, it relieves parents of the pressure to produce.

If heart change is solely a work of the Holy Spirit, then parents can only influence their children. We can’t actually change their hearts. That’s work only God can do. So we apply the Scriptures to our children, not because there is a guarantee of success, but as an act of obedience and faith. We become a partner with the Holy Spirit in the spiritual formation of our children.

Secondly, it prepares our children for a life of dependence and repentance.

Our kids don’t need a better chore chart, they need a Savior. They don’t need Dr. Phil’s ten tips for terrible two’s. They need the gospel. And the sooner they realize their desperation and need of grace, the sooner their hearts are open to the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

Third, we give our children space to wrestle, repent, and find God in a personal way.

Naturally parents want to iron any potential struggle in their children’s lives. But each soul, regardless of background and heritage, must wrestle with God in a personal way. Only parents who yield control of their children’s hearts to the Spirit will create the space in the home for honest conversations about God and faith.

Bottom line: Discipleship is not an assembly line. It cannot be mass-produced. Every single child enters the world with a sin defect and needs the gospel of Jesus to being the work of heart transformation.

Jesus, The Bible and You

Throughout history, the church has rarely seen an attack on the inerrancy, inspiration and authority of the Bible of the magnitude of modern debates—debates which really only gained academic credibility in the last two centuries and popular consensus within the last generation. And make no mistake, the attack against inerrancy is inextricably linked to inspiration—certainly in the way we have traditionally responded to our critical scholars. By proving the words of the Bible are accurate, we are, at the very least implicitly, answering the attack on the inerrancy of Scripture. Therefore, the answers to inerrancy and inspiration will be given together.

Inspiration, like its sister doctrine, inerrancy, is not something invented by theologians and forced on the church—the arguments for them arise from the Bible and are based upon the internal consistency of the Bible. And make no mistake, the Scriptures are equated with God’s revelation in words (Matt. 19:4-5; Heb. 3:7; Acts 4:24-25; see also 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).

This truth is something that we have seen throughout this series, most recently in Aaron’s post offering a definition of verbal plenary inspiration. My goal in this post is to build upon these truths we’ve already discussed by addressing the question of how Jesus understood (and understands) the Bible before looking at four important conclusions on the matter of why this doctrine really does matter.

How Jesus Understood (and Understands) the Bible

As we look to Scripture, it’s crystal clear that Jesus recognized the authority and inerrancy of Scripture—indeed, the way he uses it explicitly affirms their inspiration. He made constant appeal to it when tempted by Satan (Matt. 4:1-11) and used it often in his ministry to defend his actions (Matt. 11:15-17, 26:54-56). This demonstrates the authority Jesus placed in the Scriptures, but we are not left to make assumptions on the basis of Jesus’ actions alone. He, on at least four occasions taught the Scriptures in such a way as to make clear His position on inerrancy.

In a confrontation with the Sadducees over the doctrine of the resurrection, which that group denied, Jesus silenced His opposition, arguing the entire resurrection belief on the tense of a simple verb, “to be” (Matt. 22:32). Jehovah had told Moses at the burning bush, “I am the God of Abraham,” but as Jesus implied, Abraham had been dead 480 years when the statement was made. Arguing that God was the God of the living, not the dead, Jesus claimed life after death must be true. Jesus used the tense of a verb to prove Abraham was not simply physically dead, but was living in the presence of God. The fact that Jesus used a word and it’s tense to demonstrate His deep confidence in inspiration and inerrancy. [Read more…]

A Biblical Battle Plan for Faithful Street Ministry

Artur Pawlowski. Street Church. Are these names ringing a bell? Depending on your theological convictions, they may be actually sounding an alarm. Many Canadian Christians already know about brother Artur’s “evangelistic escapades” in Calgary, Alberta, over the past six years—actions which have lead to his repeated injunctions, fines, and arrests. A recent National Post article gave him national (and international) attention as he voiced his frustration over the treatment he’s received from police versus that of the Occupy movement protestors.

Though this article is not in an endorsement of Artur’s ministry, it seems that he and I do share something in common: persecution for our faith right here at home.

As a minister of the Gospel, I too have been forced from street corners and threatened with arrest by local law enforcement. I have also been sucker punched while preaching open air. Doing spiritual battle always carries a cost…even when the mission field is right here in Canada.

But how does a good soldier of Christ Jesus both tactically and tactfully please the One who enlisted him, effectively reach out to the lost, sincerely respect authorities, and do so all without compromising the core Truth of the mission?

After years of experience, I have come to believe that biblically and culturally balanced street ministry in North America may be best modeled after what have been called the “three worlds” of Paul the Apostle.

Paul’s “Three Worlds”

The Cross Current (TCC) equips local missionaries to preach the Gospel specifically in the context of our increasingly complex North American culture.

TCC’s training is based on the ministry demonstrated by Paul the Apostle. As an evangelist to the Gentiles, Paul has been appropriately called the “man of three worlds” – an expert in the Scriptures, false beliefs, and rights of Roman citizenship.

This “tripod” of training expertise enabled Paul to be a fruitful and faithful witness predominantly in the context of a Greek (Acts 17) culture, much like ours today.

First, street ministers need to accurately apply the Scriptures. As a Jew, Hebrew of Hebrews, and former Pharisee (Phil. 3:5), Paul was masterful in his handling of Scripture in both evangelism and discipleship. As faith and regeneration come only by God’s sovereign grace through hearing His Word (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 10:17; 1 Pt. 1:23), street ministers must resist the pull towards pragmatism and “culturally relevant” preaching by constantly placing their trust in the power of the foolish preaching of the cross.

Second, street ministers need to biblically defend against false belief systems. As a Greek thinker, Paul demonstrated exceptional dexterity in boldly confronting the false belief systems of his day with the truth of Christ, yet always doing so with sensitivity and diplomacy (Acts 17). As ones called to bear witness to exclusive Truth amidst an academically charged culture steeped in philosophical/religious pluralism, street ministers must develop an appropriate balance of both presuppositional and evidential apologetics.

Preaching Christ in Canada, eh?

Granted, while the first two aforementioned Pauline “worlds” are hopefully very obvious to today’s street ministers, it’s been my experience that the third is rarely (if ever) explored. And that is that street ministers must know how to legally leverage their rights as citizens. In several instances, Scripture testifies to how Paul’s timely appeal of his Roman citizenship not only spared him further persecution, but also furthered His God-given mission of evangelizing the Gentiles (Acts 16:37; 22:25). Undoubtedly, this vital component of Paul’s public preaching ministry is the most often overlooked. [Read more…]

Inerrancy, the Church and the Cults

Today’s post continuing our series on the doctrine of inerrancy is by Dave Jenkins, Director of Servants of Grace.

The doctrine of inerrancy means that the Bible is entirely truthful and reliable in all that it affirms in its original manuscripts. The Bible does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. As Aaron pointed out last week, the Bible’s authority is derived from the character and authority of God. A tree has a root structure that supports the base and the weight of the tree. Inerrancy is the root structure and base upon which the doctrine of Scripture is built. God has given special revelation of Himself, and inspired His servants to record it. Believers want assurance that the Bible is a dependable source of revelation from and about God. The doctrine of inerrancy gives believers the assurance that God’s Word is without error, and entirely reliable in all that it teaches.

Inerrancy, the Church and Cults

There is evidence that when a theologian, school or a movement begins by regarding biblical inerrancy as unimportant or optional, and abandons this doctrine that such a move is frequently joined by other doctrines such as the deity of Christ or the Trinity. Church history is the laboratory in which theology tests its ideas. From church history one learns that moving away from the doctrine of inerrancy is to move away from the complete trustworthiness of Scripture. This move away from the doctrine of inerrancy is a serious step not only because of what it does to one’s doctrine of Scripture, but because of what happens to other doctrines as well.

Some may object at this point that I am overstating my case about inerrancy. Inerrancy is a test for orthodoxy, but it is not a test for salvation. One can deny inerrancy and be saved, but he/she is being inconsistent in his/her beliefs. All salvific truths are found in the Bible, but how can one trust those salvific truths without inerrancy? What if the salvific statements are wrong? To be consistent in her/her beliefs, one should affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. Further, one can be orthodox or evangelical in all other areas and still be unorthodox on inerrancy. For example, the neorthodox theologian Karl Barth affirmed the Virgin birth, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and Christ’s bodily resurrection, but denied the inerrancy of Scripture.

Inerrancy is not only an issue that is facing the Church, but it is also one that is under attack from cults. The Mormons teach that the Bible is correct only so far as it is correctly translated. It is basically trustworthy according to them. It is the only one of the four standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price) and is not considered infallible. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God but only in so far as they use their own translation (New World Translation) as the basis of their belief in inerrancy.1

Over and against all of these views is what the Word of God says about itself. The Bible teaches that it is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, most prominently in 2 Timothy 3:16—“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” All Scripture in distinction “from the sacred writings” in 2 Timothy 3:15 means everything which, through the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the church, is recognized by the church as canonical, that is, authoritative. Paul is referring here to the Old Testament, and later “all scripture” at the close of the first century A.D. had been completed. [Read more…]

Union with Christ and the Provision of the Spirit

Today’s post is by Nate Palmer. Nate is the author of Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church (Cruciform Press, 2010). You can follow him on Twitter at @palmernate.

In the book Seeds of Change: Six Plants That Transformed Mankind, Henry Hobhouse writes that the most influential plants in man’s history are sugar cane, tea, cotton, the potato, and cinchona plant. Most of us are very familiar with nearly all of the plants on Hobhouse’s list. The one curious oddity in the list is the cinchona plant. Most people have no clue what the cinchona plant even looks like let alone its roll in transforming mankind.

Native to South America, this special plant grows on the foothills of the Andes Mountain range. The Cinchona calisaya tree, which contains a special alkaloid known as quinine, single-handedly enhanced the welfare and safety of millions of lives. Despite the fact that people still use it daily to combat Malaria, the typical person in the 21st Century is actually quite unaware of the magnitude of the cinchona tree’s importance to mankind or even to their own life.

The cinchona plant was a major catalyst that helped form the modern geo-political and economic landscapes. By making colonization and exploration of the Americas and Africa possible, the cinchona allowed international trade to flourish in every corner of the globe.

In much more tragic omission, most modern Christians are equally unaware of the importance of Christ’s Ascension to their everyday life. The Ascension’s value to mankind is much more vast and profound than the medicinal effects of the cinchona plant. It ushered in a new era of Christ’s glorification and power. An ascended Christ is just important to understanding of who Christ is, but it is also vital to the ordinary and everyday life of the believer.

The wondrous impact of the ascension on the Christian life finds in roots in both the union with Christ as well as the provision of the great Helper – the Holy Spirit to guide and empower God’s people. Without an ascended Christ, there is no High Priest ruling and reigning over all creation, our assurance of heaven is in serious doubt, and we would not be living temples in which God’s Spirit resides helping us understand the things of God. In short, without an Ascension every book past John wouldn’t exist and our union with Christ stops at an earthly resurrection. But before delving into its importance to us, it is necessary to first understand the specifics of the Ascension what that says about Christ.

According to the book of Acts, Christ’s Ascension occurs forty days after His resurrection. During this interim period, Jesus proceeds to confirm his “Christ-ship” with his disciples and encourage them to believe in Him. Luke writes that Christ “presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”(Acts 1:3) After the forty days of ministering, Jesus leads his followers on small journey to Bethany outside of Jerusalem. [Read more…]

Bringing Back a Sense of Balance

Today’s post is by Nate Palmer. Nate is the author of Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church (Cruciform Press, 2010). You can follow him on Twitter at @palmernate.

The 2008 US Presidential Election was the most reported-on election in history. According to the Pew Research Center, the election was the subject of one-third of all media stories (across all mediums) in 2008. Given the amount of fervor and energy for political news in a 24hr news cycle, imagine if the media stopped covering politics entirely once the election was over—not one single copyedit, blog post, commentary, or headline.

Of course, this scenario would never happen – it is absurd. The campaign is not more important than the actual execution of the office. Yet, Christians often treat Jesus Christ in a similar fashion. Christ’s Humiliation is often the focus of our Christian study at the expense of his exaltation. But as we learned last time, the exaltation of Jesus is a vital piece of the Gospel.

Christ himself provides the most compelling justification for the importance of his exaltation and its inclusion in his Gospel message. In response to some of his follower’s expressed dismay of his pending ascent into heaven, Jesus tells them, “it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:7-11)

The exaltation secures work of the Holy Spirit, who produces both the spiritual awakening of the unbeliever as well as the process of spiritual growth in the believer. From his Throne, Christ directs the Holy Spirit in building his church and sustaining his people (Hebrews 9:14). Without the Holy Spirit’s work, our hearts remain hardened and our eyes closed to the truth of Christ. For Jesus, his Gospel message was deficient with His exaltation.

Omitting both the ascension and session from the Gospel is to think of Jesus like an actor, who having performed heroically in the first act, now rests comfortably backstage awaiting his dramatic return at the end. Yet, Christ is not backstage nor is he resting. Instead, he is actively involved in building and sustaining God’s kingdom from the very throne of Heaven. John Calvin states, “Christ by rising again began to show forth his glory and power more fully. Yet he truly inaugurated his Kingdom only at his ascension into Heaven.”1 Christ now sits triumphantly on the heavenly throne, having defeated once and for all the power of sin and death, still working as the old hymn goes “to ever life and plead for me”. [Read more…]

More Than a Footnote

Today’s post is by Nate Palmer. Nate is the author of Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church (Cruciform Press, 2010). You can follow him on Twitter at @palmernate.

Despite being one of the earliest and oldest of Christian holidays, the Ascension Day is nowhere to be found on the modern church calendar. It doesn’t even have its own hallmark card section or a catchy mascot like the Easter bunny. No one passes candy nor does anybody hang decorations. Each year, the once revered day passes by without any fanfare or remembrance. Ascension Day has vanished from our calendars and our consciousness. R.C. Sproul writes, “The significance of the Ascension is often overlooked in the modern church… Most churches, however, make little or no mention of the Ascension.”1 I not am arguing for another reason to eat at an overprice buffet, but the exclusion of the day Christ ascended into Heaven in our calendars is a symptom of much more dire ailment—an exclusion of its importance to the Christian life.

In today’s Christian culture, Christ’s birth, life and death are often the main in not sole focus in our celebrations, preaching, and publishing. Theologian Louis Berkhof makes observation that: “Even in evangelical circles the impression is often given, though perhaps without intending it, that the work accomplished by the Savior on earth was far more important than the services which He now renders from Heaven.” This is not to say that we shouldn’t study the amazing and life altering truths of Christ’s earthly ministry. Nor is to deny that all Christians should thoroughly seep themselves in their application. Yet modern churches unevenly focus in on these doctrines at the expense of Christ’s heavenly ministry – his ascent into heaven (Ascension) and sitting at the right hand of God (Session).

Often, Christians have a lopsided view of the work of Christ. We fail to see the complete spectrum of the entire work of Christ which includes both his humiliation and exaltation. A.W. Pink, in his commentary on Hebrews, writes, “There are many Christians who dwell too much on the crucifixion of Jesus in a one-sided way. We cannot dwell too much on the glorious truth that Jesus was crucified for our sins. Yet it is not on the crucifixion, but on Christ the Lord, that our faith rests…The ultimate object of his death upon the cross was His resurrection and ascension.”2 This unbalance has left many modern evangelicals with an incomplete view of the Savior. Consequently, this has given rise to an unbalanced gospel. [Read more…]

Jesus Christ, The Mediator Between God and Man

Today’s post is by Dr. Brian Mattson, Senior Scholar of Public Theology for the Center For Cultural Leadership, continuing his series on The Apostles’ Creed. You can fan his Facebook page (Dr. Brian G. Mattson), follow him on Twitter ( @BrianGMattson), and read his blog (www.drbrianmattson.com).

…and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord…”

Outside of the anomaly of Latino and Hispanic communities, there are not a lot of boys running around with the name “Jesus.” While I have no explanation whatsoever for the use of the name in those particular communities, I suspect that its absence among other cultural groups signals a lingering sense of reverence for the name. Somehow in the Western world people have named their children after dozens of biblical characters, yet “Jesus” is a name usually reserved for Jesus of Nazareth. To see that this is unique, one only has to ask how popular “Mohammed” is among Muslims.

Ironically, some parents would never dream of naming their child “Jesus,” and settle instead for “Joshua,” not realizing that they are the same name! Jesus is simply the Greek version of “Yeshua,” or “Joshua,” and it means “God saves.” And there we find the reason the name is so reserved for Jesus of Nazareth. There were lots of little “Joshuas” running around in Jesus’ time, but none of them wore the name the way Jesus did. For Jesus was, in the truest sense possible, “God saves.” He is the perfect embodiment of God’s saving action in the world. He is the Anointed One, the One by Whom God would rescue and save his people. The word for “Anointed One” is messiah or “Christ.” “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. It is his office. It is the role he fulfills. He is anointed to be the one who would mediate between God and humanity. He is Immanuel, “God with us.”

And that is what the Apostles’ Creed confesses. After telling us the identity of the one in whom we believe, “Jesus Christ,” the creed tells us two relationships Jesus has. First, Jesus is “his only Son.” He is his Father’s Son. He has a unique relationship on the divine side of things. But this Jesus Christ is also “our Lord.” He has a unique relationship on the creaturely side of things, as well, a relationship with us. We are really confessing what the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…” A mediator is somebody who stands “between” two parties. And in order to bring about a reconciliation between two parties, he must have a relationship with the two parties. And this is expressed for us in the creed by declaring that Jesus is God’s “only Son”—that is his relationship to His Father—and “our Lord”—his relationship to us. [Read more…]

The Apostles’ Creed: A Trailer

Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Brian Mattson, Senior Scholar of Public Theology for the Center For Cultural Leadership. You can fan his Facebook page (Dr. Brian G. Mattson), follow him on Twitter ( @BrianGMattson), and read his blog (www.brianmattson.squarespace.com).

Before I launch into my series of meditations on the Creed, I think it helpful to first examine it as a whole. Seeing the broad sweep of things before attending to its details, looking at the big, blown-up illustrations on our map, will make our reflections more fruitful.

What follows, then, might be called: “The Apostles’ Creed: A Trailer.” This is just a teaser designed to whet the appetite, to show us that there is so much more in this simple creed than meets the eye. Reciting this creed in church can often feel so ho-hum, so boring. Actually, it is a beautiful piece of writing, almost like a piece of Baroque music. We only need ears to hear. It encompasses in succinct form the whole of God’s works: creation, redemption, and consummation. Here is my brief, stream-of-consciousness commentary on this ancient map, bequeathed to us by our spiritual fathers and mothers:

I believeCredo. A Latin term. Not “I suppose.” Not “I surmise.” Not “maybe.” Not “I hope.” I believe. Christian faith is not the result of a giant “leap.” It is the place from which we leap.

in God, the Father Almighty” God is our Father, our source, our benefactor, the one on whom we rely and depend, who cares for us, protects us, admonishes us, forgives us. He is all-mighty. There is nothing to thwart him, nothing to stand in his way, nothing that lives, moves or has its being outside of his absolutely sovereign will. He is not a demiurge, a bumbling, low-level divine being, but almighty, transcendent above all, the one to whom all else must give an account.

Maker of heaven and earth.” Heaven and earth. A Hebrew idiom meaning, everything. God created all things out of nothing. He is not a sculptor, who works with preexisting material; rather, he speaks and it comes into existence. He is not the creation itself. He is not part of the creation. The creation is not him, nor is it a part of him. God brought the universe into being, distinct from his own being. He was, is, and will forever be Creator, and everything else was, is, and always will be creature.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord” Jesus=Hebrew, Yeshua, “God saves.” Christ=Messiah, Anointed One, God’s “right hand” who acts for the salvation of his people. He is the only begotten Son, divine, eternal, always with the Father in eternity. But he is also our Lord, the exalted one, David’s Son, the inheritor of the eternal kingdom of a new heavens and a new earth. He is the Lord to whom every knee will bow and every tongue will one day, willingly or unwillingly, confess. [Read more…]