Correctly handling the Word of God does not permit making the text say what we want. To understand the Bible accurately, we must discover (or “exegete”) the single, God-inspired meaning of every verse before us. The text of the Bible means what God inspired it to mean, not “what it means to me.”
When praying the Bible, our primary activity is prayer, not Bible intake. Bible reading is secondary in this process. Our focus is on God through prayer; our glance is at the Bible. And we turn Godward and pray about every matter that occurs to us as we read.Don Whitney, “What’s the difference between interpreting the Bible and praying the Bible?”
Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. (Luke 22:3-6 ESV)
Judas gave his name to the world as the greatest traitor to ever live. And for what? For pointing Jesus out when he was relatively isolated. Jesus even points this out when the gang came to get him at night, “Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me” (Matt. 26:55 ESV). The temple rulers feared the crowds, so they didn’t try to seize him in the middle of the day, but they didn’t have anyone follow him either. Without Judas, they appear to have been stymied.
But that doesn’t change the fact that what Judas did was almost nothing. He said, “I’ll show you who Jesus is. This is him right here.” If anyone had walked into the garden that night, even a Roman soldier, and asked if the Master was present, which of the disciples would have asked, “Who wants to know?” Any of them probably would have pointed him out himself.
Great evil is often committed with the most boring actions. Apathy is the frontrunner. Laziness, sloppy work, deliberate ignorance, truthful gossip, all have their place in the hallway of boring evil.
Even Judas was horrified by the results of his decision. I can’t imagine what he thought would happen or even his motive, except that asks this of the chief priests when he first goes to them: “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” (Matt. 26:15 ESV).
Your favorite Bible teacher John Calvin writes:
It is particularly worthy of notice, that the cause and source of so great blindness in Judas was avarice, which makes it evident that it is justly denominated by Paul the root of all evils, (1 Timothy 6:10.) To inquire here whether or not Satan entered into Judas bodily is an idle speculation. We ought rather to consider how fearfully monstrous it is, that men formed after the image of God, and appointed to be temples for the Holy Spirit, should not only be turned into filthy stables or sinks, but should become the wretched abodes of Satan.
J. Mark Bertrand reviews a new, rather different set of God’s Word for readers. “This is a beautiful concept executed beautifully. It’s one of the best editions I have ever covered at Bible Design Blog.”
— James K.A. Smith (@james_ka_smith) October 11, 2016
Pastor Andy Stanley has been making headlines by questioning what he calls “The Bible says” preaching. He says we live in a post-Christian world, and many people have already dismissed the Bible’s authority. How can we reach the lost, he asks, with sermons that appeal to the authority of Scripture if our audience doesn’t already trust that authority?
You’d be shocked by how many students and adults in your church view the Bible as a spiritual book that says true things to live by as opposed to an inspired collection of documents documenting events that actually happened. This is why I will continue to insist the foundation of our faith is not an inspired book but the events that inspired the book; events that inspired writers, born along by the Holy Spirit, to document conversations, insights and events—the pivotal event being the resurrection. While it’s true we would not know these events occurred had they not been documented, two other things are equally true. First, they were documented years before there was a Bible (i.e., New Testament bound together with the Jewish Scriptures). Second, it is the events, not the record of the events that birthed the “church.” The Bible did not create Christianity. Christianity is the reason the Bible was created. The reason many Christians struggle with statements like these is they grew up on “The Bible says” preaching. And that’s fine as long as one first believes the Bible is inspired.
Stanley compares this faith in the Bible’s inspiration to Muslims’ faith in the Quran. If you don’t already believe the Quran speaks to your life, why should anyone appeal to it as an authority?
Jared Wilson points out the huge problem with this statement.
There is zero room here for the actual reality of the Bible as God’s living Word. There is zero room here for the supernatural reality that the Bible carries a weight with lost people they don’t often expect it to! But this inadvertent nod to materialism and pragmatism is certainly expected from those with a proven track record of treating the Bible like an instruction manual rather than as the record of the very breath of God.
If preachers are trying to Christianize people into acting like Christians because the Bible says they should, then yeah, they will have problems motivating people to do what they want. But Christianizing people isn’t the gospel. We can’t justify recommendations found in Scripture based on unbiblical worldviews in an effort to make non-believers look like believers. What we can do is tell them about Jesus, to talk about life in the light of Christ, and to marvel at the Son of God in their presence. What we want to do is demonstrate our preeminent love for the Father by how we love our neighbor, all the while speaking of the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16).
How is anyone going to believe the Bible if we do not preach the Bible?
Illustration by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984, under Creative Commons license, CC-BY-SA 3.0
I was thinking about the Book of Esther.
You know the story – the orphan girl selected for the king’s harem, how she gained his favor and used it to reveal a plot to annihilate all the Jews in the Persian Empire. Thus saving her people.
But what particularly struck me was the means by which her people were saved.
The king’s law could not be revoked. Haman’s edict allowed anyone in the empire to kill the Jews and take their property, and that edict had to stand.
But Esther got permission for her uncle, Mordecai, to enact a counter-law:
“And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus… saying that the king allowed the Jews who were in every city to gather and defend their lives, to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them….”
You often hear people say, “Violence never solves anything.” It’s a stupid statement, demonstrably false. Jews, especially, ought to understand this. It wasn’t peace that saved the Jews. It was the basic human right of self-defense. The Jews of Persia weren’t frightened by their enemies – once they knew they were allowed to fight for their lives. “Just give us swords, and leave the rest to us.”
“And in every province and in every city, wherever the king’s command and his edict reached, there was gladness and joy among the Jews, a feast and a holiday.”
And the Jews have been celebrating it ever since – every Purim.
Ted Cruz has been rallying for religious liberty for months, and his efforts to draw conservative Christians to his camp have pulled out all stops. Last month, the presidential candidate said, “If we awaken and energize the body of Christ–if Christians and people of faith come out and vote our values–we will win and we will turn the country around.”
That reference to “the body of Christ” has drawn more attention this week when a commentator on CNN said she didn’t know anyone who takes their religion seriously who think Christ Jesus should rise from the grave to serve the Cruz campaign. Apparently, she interpreted Cruz’ reference to the church at large as a specific reference to Jesus himself, who was still in the grave.
Joel Miller points to this and mistakes made in the New York Times, even by columnist David Brooks, as evidence that the pundit class is biblically illiterate.
Imagine, says [Michael] Peppard, if they let slip “Columbus’s voyage on the Mayflower” or “Malcolm X’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.” Such an error would say that the facts of basic American history are unknown. To let Jesus’ supposed resurrection into heaven or his imaginary address to the Corinthians skate by betrays a sad reality: the basic facts of the Bible, the font from which so much of our culture flows, are increasingly unknown.
The Museum of Biblical Art in New York will be closing June 14. Founded by the American Bible Society in 1997, the museum needed to find a new venue soon and could not do it.
“I believe that MOBIA contributes a unique element to the cultural landscape of New York and the entire country, and it is with tremendous sorrow that we close our doors,” said Co-Chair of the MOBIA Board of Trustees John Fossum.
Mike Duran states, “It is indeed a tragedy if we can’t acknowledge the Bible and its influence as one of the great sources of modern Western art and culture,” but he wonders “whether the mainstream evangelical perspective of art has created an impassable breach.” Is a secular museum on biblical art an uncomfortable topic for Americans, particular New Yorkers?
The Atlantic answers this way. “The absence of religious context for religious art in American museums was not, as one might assume, a product of the culture wars or a precocious expression of the new atheism. It was actually the result of several hundred years of aesthetic politics.”
They quote Marcus Burk, senior curator at the Hispanic Society of America, saying, “This is just a torpedo at the water-line. It’s an enormous loss to the cultural life of New York and the whole country.”
The word for today from the Wordsmith is bibliolatry, used in this sentence: “Fifty percent of college graduates expect Jesus to be here any day now. We are, says Paul Boyer, almost unique in the Western World in combining high educational levels with high levels of bibliolatry.” Martin Gardner; Waiting for the Last Judgement; The Washington Post; Nov 8, 1992.
Bibliolatry is defined as “excessive devotion to the Bible, especially to its literal interpretation.” It’s also the worship of any book, but sticking to the first definition, I have to laugh when I see references to a literal interpretation of the Bible. I hesitate to use labels, but I’ll do it anyway. The idea in the example sentence is the essential thing conservatives think of when defining academic and some other types of liberals. They tell us if we would use our brains we would see the nuance, the deeper meaning, the shades of gray in the situation and not be so cock-sure of ourselves, but when pressed for a good answer, they don’t have one. They can only criticize the answers the conservatives have given.
Bibliolatry in this sense does not exist. There can be no excess in devotion to the Word of God. See Psalm 19 and Psalm 119, but don’t take them literally. Take them poetically. Your soul may not “cling to the dust,” because you can have life in His Word.