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Passage of the Week – January 22, 2014

January 22, 2014

“Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done?
They were not even ashamed at all;
They did not even know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
At the time that I punish them,
They shall be cast down,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 6:15 NASB)

Does this apply to you? Do you experience shame for sin or are you so calloused against it you feel little to no shame? I know that there are times when I look back on a sinful thought, word, or action and realize that I felt little to no remorse for it.  It is easy to become this way when we are confronted with all the temptations and trials of this world. It really does not matter whether you are inside or outside Christ. It is easy to get used to sin. 

This is the normal state of non-Christians. Those who are unaware of their sin do not feel it’s sting because they have become numb to it. This is why preaching the gospel is often so difficult. People don’t feel the burden of their sin and don’t like being told they have it. It takes a working of the Spirit of God to slice through the thick calloused skin and expose the flesh to the horrors of its own condition. This is the first step in salvation. A knowing of one’s own status as a sinner. 

Unfortunately it does not end for those who are in Christ. We still struggle against the sin nature that is within us. With that struggle sometimes we lose and can become used to a sin. This is why it is important to constantly remind yourself of the gospel. Remember that Christ paid for all your sins, even those you haven’t committed yet. 

Do not misunderstand. This is not a license to sin. Rather, it serves as a reminder of the price Jesus paid for your sins and can help in times of temptation. It can also help prevent the callus from forming and keep you sensitive to your sin. 

Remember always that you are a great sinner and that Christ is a greater Savior. He is better at saving than you are at sinning. 

God bless. 

Things To Come

January 15, 2014

I’ve been away from the blogging world for awhile. The only excuse I can offer is life simply got in the way. When you move, lose a job, get a job, and adjust to a new job it can take a little wind out of your sails. 

Now that things have finally settled back to a relative sense of normalcy, I feel like I can get back to my blog. So I thought I’d give all my readers (both of them) a preview of what I am planning. I have not been completely idle during my time away. The wheels have been turning and I have a number of ideas…

(In no particular order.)
1. Articles of interest: There are times when I would like to write about things that are of interest but not necessarily theological in nature. Things like products I find useful, humor, and experiences I have had. These should be interesting and fun as well as a bit of a break from the more serious things. 

2. Passage of the week/month: I previously tried to do a Bible passage and commentary every week. While I am still making that a goal, I know that I will not make it each and every week. Sometimes it may be once a month. 

3. Book reviews: I am attempting to read one non-fiction book per month and along with that I am going to try and provide a review on the blog. I also may do a few from books I have read in the past. 

4. Bible translation: There is no question that my most popular articles have been around this subject. I am by no means done with my ongoing study of translations. Look for more articles on this. 

5. No Compromise: One of the things that has so distressed me over the last few years has been the amount of compromise many Cristians are willing to tolerate to their core values. This has motivated me to tackle several of these issues and explain why the Bible really leaves us no room to compromise. Issues like Bible Inspiration, homosexuality, marriage, and many more. I don’t claim to have all the answers but maybe this can be useful to someone. 

6. Christian Knight: I still need to finish my articles on what it means to be a Christian Knight. More on that coming. 

I’m looking forward to getting back into the groove and I hope those who graciously take the time to read what I write enjoy it and are benefitted by it. 

God bless. 

Passage of the Week – November 18, 2012

November 18, 2012

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified. ’” And Aaron held his peace. – Leviticus 10:1-3 ESV

I would be willing to bet that that there are not many people out there who have ever heard a sermon preached on this verse (granted, I have but I’m funny that way). In some ways it can be understandable why someone would wish to avoid this passage. Here we have the unvarnished wrath of God against people. This is a far cry from the depiction of God as a loving “grandpa-like” figure which has been popular over the years. Let’s take a minute and look through this passage.

The sons of Aaron were designated to be the priests of God and function as intermediaries between the people of Israel and God. It was they who were charged with offering sacrifices and being the representatives of the nation to the Most High God. Not a position to be taken lightly especially given the miracles and blatant examples of the power of God they had witnessed in Egypt and in the wilderness. So Aaron’s sons offered “unauthorized fire” to God (some translations use the word “strange” but I do not find this to be as accurate). On some level we have to wonder what they were thinking. Nowhere had God commanded them to do this and He had not left anything open in how He was to be approached. We could spend all day guessing why they wanted to do this but the bottom line is they rejected how God commanded them to worship and instead developed their own way.

Is this not how we are? Don’t we often want our way rather than His? As I look at my own life I can count many times when I would have preferred to not do things His way and when I didn’t I paid a price. By our own nature we don’t want to do things His way. We want to be in charge. We want to command our own destinies. However, God’s Word has the exact opposite to say on the subject. He is God and we are not.

Aaron’s sons dared to challenge a Holy God and defy His commands. God’s judgement and sentence was swift. Aaron’s sons were dead and before he can even say anything Moses is reminding him that God has every right to tell His people how He is to be worshipped. What objection could he have to that? He was every bit the witness to God’s power and deliverance that his sons were and more. He did the same thing any one of us would do, he kept silent.

Before we buy into experimental and innovative worship let us take a moment to remember this overlooked account in Leviticus. When you worship God be careful you are not emulating the world. Also be careful that you are not choosing a worship “style” just because it is what you like. We should always be asking ourselves two questions: 1) “Is this something God has commanded us to do and not forbidden?” 2) “Will God get the glory for this instead of me?” A negative answer to either of these should give us pause. I am not aware of God recently burning people up who worship him inappropriately (though sometimes I wish He would) but know that is only because His is patient and merciful. Let us also be grateful that our priest is a perfect priest and is sitting at the right hand of God after having redeemed His people.

God bless.

Review: NASB Ultrathin Reference Bible

November 12, 2012

As English speaking Christians we have an abundance of choices when it comes to the choice of a Bible. There are many translations and formats for almost every style and taste, not to mention there are also Bibles for specific purposes (study, devotional, reading, etc.) If, however, you are a fan of the NASB, your choices narrow somewhat as most Christian bookstores will carry this translation but will only have one or two editions available at any given time. There are plenty available but in comparison with the ESV or NIV, the pickings are somewhat slim.

About ten years ago I discovered the NASB. Though I grew up in a Christian home, the subject of a Bible translation was not one that we discussed or even concerned ourselves with. I knew about the NIV and the KJV but that was about it. When I discovered the NASB I found I liked it for its accuracy compared to the NIV and readability compared to the KJV. I immediately purchased a copy of the Zondervan Classic Reference NASB but there were two problems with this edition. 1) It was verse format. Not bad but not necessarily easy to read from. 2) It was a glued binding. I had two Bibles fall apart on me when I was younger and both were glued. I didn’t want a repeat of that performance. Then I discovered the NASB Ultrathin Reference from Foundation Publications…

ImageI purchased this edition in 2006 and have been using and carrying it on and off since then. It has become my go to Bible whenever I go to church, travel, or just sit and read. I have underlined and marked in it and it has become something unique to me.

Format

The NASB Ultrathin Reference is a double column, paragraph format Bible with red letter and references in the center column. It is significant that this is a paragraph format since there are not many NASB’s formatted in this way. The translation tends to be printed in verse format so finding one in paragraph, while not rare, is uncommon. The font is about 9pt so it is good for reading as long as your eyes are not too bad. Someone with weaker eyes would likely prefer a larger font but then you would not have an “ultrathin.” As with everything, there is a tradeoff. The margins are not large at about 3/8” but they are sufficient for minimal notes.

This is a classic look for a Bible and should not be ignored just because it is so “regular.” If you want a basic reference Bible without study notes or commentary then this is the kind of format you go for. This also has the benefit of packaging into a relatively small format so it can be carried easily. Don’t miss the significance of this. I have found that a bible that is too large or cumbersome to carry around tends to get left on the shelf. There is something to be said for simple and this edition does it well.

Overall the format is good but it does have some areas where it is lacking. First of all, the lines are a little close together. This can make reading difficult and makes a relatively small font feel even smaller. Any highlighting or underlining needs to be done with care. Also, the red lettering tends to be more on the pink side of red in my edition. I should note that in recent printings (China as opposed to my Korean edition) the red lettering is much better. Note the comparison between my older edition and my wife’s newer one. The print is much darker in the newer printings. (Newer edition on the left.)

Image

Binding

The binding on this edition is genuine leather, which is, I think, a form of pigskin. Foundation also has this in bonded leather and a couple options in synthetic material. If genuine leather is not your speed I recommend one of the synthetic materials. It is durable, attractive, and economical. (You can always have it rebound later.) I have been using my edition for almost seven years and, while it is beginning to show age, it still feels durable and supple. It is not a premium calfskin or goatskin by any measure but it manages to be tough with a rugged appearance to it.

This Bible also possesses a sewn binding and it has proven to be one of the most durable in any edition I have ever seen. Pages have not fallen out in almost seven years and the Bible opens very flat from Genesis to Revelation. The only wear I have seen is a small separation of one of the signatures in the maps section in the back of the Bible. The binding in that area is fine but the maps have been folded a few too many times and are beginning to tear at the fold. This is disappointing but not surprising since I have not exactly been gentle with it and used to fold the cover behind the Bible (I know, my bad.) I am hopeful that if I ever decide to have the edition rebound this can be repaired.

In the newer editions the binding is not as good in my opinion. My wife’s edition has the typical “puckering” in the center that seems common to bibles that are bound a little too tight or not bound with the right grain direction on the paper. This does not detract from the use of the Bible but some may find it concerning. Another area of concern is the ribbon. There is only one and it is rather thin. I do not really expect an ultrathin to have more than one ribbon but it would have been nice to have a nicer one than this.

ImagePaper

As you may expect, the paper in any ultrathin Bible will be, well, thin. This simply cannot be helped, as a thick paper will defeat the purpose of producing an ultrathin Bible. However, thinner paper does not mean it has to be translucent to the point of reading Matthew from Ruth. This has been a sore point with me as I have looked at Bible editions. I personally find ghosting to be annoying and distracting when reading. I also find it rather annoying that many high end and expensive editions have this issue (call me picky.) Some have attempted to go with thicker and thicker paper thus reducing the problem while others have attempted to use line matching to mask the thin, translucent paper.

The good news is that the NASB Ultrathin Reference has, what I believe to be, an acceptable level of ghosting. As with many things it partially hinges on your expectations. As an inexpensive (<$40) ultrathin Bible, we don’t really expect that this edition will have perfect paper. However, I find that it is even better than that. My edition has been abundantly marked in and I can only see a faint image from the other side of the page. Also the double column, tight format fills most of the page and hides what does show through from the pages behind. All things considered, I would say this is very good for a Bible this size and at this price point.

Overall

Looking at the big picture I would have to say that I would recommend this edition to anyone looking for an everyday use NASB. It is portable without being compact, durable without being expensive, and readable without being a brick. If you are not a person who has to have premium leather and can live with a smaller font then this may be a good choice for you. I would call this a working Bible. Not one you leave on the shelf all day and not one you put in a museum. It is one you put to work.

God bless.

Passage of the Week: November 11, 2012

November 11, 2012

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30 NASB)

Romans 8:28 is perhaps one of the most quoted verses when you or someone you know is going through a period of trouble, pain, or persecution. No matter what happens this verse usually comes out. Since this is so common, few people ever ask if this makes sense. So does it?

Like so many things in theology, and in life, the answer is both yes and no. This passage is a strong encouragement to believers that God will work all things for good. This should be no surprise as He is sovereign over all things and His will is always good all the time. It should be a comfort to us that, no matter our circumstances, God will work good from it. The problem is that God’s good and perfect will may involve our circumstances getting worse before they get better. That sickness you have to endure may involve a few trips to the hospital and much pain before it gets better. That wayward child you have been praying for may need to be taken even lower before they turn to God in repentance. God’s will is perfect but it is not always according to our timeline. 

Joseph understood this. His story reads like a soap opera tragedy. Hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of a crime, imprisoned, and forgotten by those who should have remembered. Once he was through all of that hardship he understood that God’s plan was right and for the ultimate good. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50:20 NASB) He could see God’s hand in his own life. Can you?

One of the hardest things about being a Christian is that our lives are not always better than our unsaved friends and family. In fact they might be worse in many ways. Why? The passage in Romans gives us some clue. We are being conformed to the image of Christ with the ultimate being our glorification. The trials will come and they may get harder and harder but we need to rest in the promise that His will is right and we will get through the trials. This may mean deliverance from the trial and it may mean eternity with our Savior. Either will be for our good and God’s glory.

God bless.

November 8, 2012

Knight:

Reporting a 3 year old article. I think we need reminded of this.

Originally posted on Christian Knight:

A brother in Christ passed this along to me. I originally had this posted on my previous blog around the time of the election. Since I am transitioning to this new blog I do not want this to get lost. Given the increase in the discussion of this subject due to recent events I think this bears another look Enjoy… – Knight

Dear Friends, Lately I have been meditating on the impending election. Some questions popped up to which we not only need an answer but we need an answer from a proper Biblical/theological standpoint. These questions are as follows:

  • Do we as Christians have a role to play?
  • Are we as Christians responsible for how we vote?
  • Is there a theological imperative to how we vote?
  • What is the proper Biblical way to look at the various political issues?

Indeed this may be a late date to do this…

View original 1,349 more words

Reformation Day 2012

October 29, 2012

I am not a huge fan of Halloween. Perhaps that is not accurate. After all there is nothing about the day in particular that I dislike. It is a day that the Lord has made like any other. What I do not like about it is the way we as Christians have decided to adopt the philosophy of, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” I make no mistake about this and it is a small source of contention between me and many evangelical Christians and churches today. Personally, it do not believe it is appropriate to celebrate a “holiday” with it’s roots in paganism, it’s symbols designed to frighten and entice, and it’s practice filled with disturbing imagery and (let’s be honest) the appearance of evil.

What is there about this “holiday” that is so special? What is it that makes believers in Christ want to emulate the world and culture around them? This is a holiday with its roots in pure paganism and superstition yet churches everywhere emulate it. They don’t usually call them Halloween parties. Rather they are referred to as “Fall Festivals” or, as when I was young, “Harvest parties.” Same candy with a different label on the package. Where is the Scriptural support for this? You won’t find it. Instead you will find well-meaning Christians trying to “redeem” the day by handing out Gospel tracts and calling this an evangelistic opportunity. I’m all for evangelism and preaching the beautiful Gospel of Christ but how much credibility do we have when we hand out candy and tracts with one hand and in the other our Bible says things like:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” - Romans 12:2 ESV

Our culture can discern inconsistency better than we can sometimes. What happens when one of these people start asking questions about personal and corporate holiness in the Church and then we do things like this? Is this a consistent message? I think not.

One could certainly argue that we have absorbed other pagan rituals into Christian holidays and they would be correct. After all things like Christmas trees and Easter eggs have little to do with the holidays in question and are in fact carried over from ancient worldly rituals. To be honest there are aspects of some of these things that I find uncomfortable as well. However at least I can draw a crystal clear line down to a specific Christian event from which these holidays originate. (Though the dating of Christmas is dubious at best.) Such cannot be said of Halloween.

(For a fuller discussion of the issues around Halloween I refer you to Al Mohler’s excellent article on the subject, Christianity and the Dark Side — What About Halloween?).

There is a significance to October 31st that, sadly, goes unnoticed by most all of your average Christians. While the rest of the country is celebrating ghosts, goblins, vampires, and generally scaring the pants off each other, I sincerely hope that there are some Christians out there who join me in celebrating another holiday commemorating an event that took place on October 31 – Reformation day. 495 years ago (1517 to be exact) in the town of Wittenberg, Germany an Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis on the door to the church in Wittenberg. Thus striking the match of the Reformation and setting the gospel free from its Roman imprisonment.

I am not a Lutheran (the denomination that sprung from Luther’s reformation) but even as a Baptist I can appreciate the way God used this man. To be fair, Luther never intended to spark a Reformation. He was severely displeased with the practice of selling indulgences and wrote the Thesis as a scholarly objection to this practice and others. He sought to truly reform the church rather than break from it. Time does not permit me to recount the whole story but after some time Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic church and he, along with others helped to bring about the Protestant Reformation.

Where would we be without men like this? The gospel would still be tied to the Roman system of works, penance, and indulgences. While I am in no way attempting to exalt Luther, I must acknowledge the contribution he made and the way he was used by God. May we all spend a few minutes today apart from the silliness that is Halloween and thank God for men like Luther, Calvin, Knox, and many other Reformers. Thank Him for giving these men the courage and conviction to stand up against the only system they knew and embrace the God-breathed Scriptures and the freedom of the Gospel. Thank Him for reviving the gospel.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:21-25 ESV)

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)
Sola Fide (Faith Alone)
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
Solus Christus (Christ Alone)
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)

God bless.

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