Volume VII, Number 19
In this issue:
In contrast to the heritage of Christians, we would like to examine in this article some prevalent present day attitudes expressed concerning God’s word. The following quotes will help to reveal these attitudes. They are taken from an article which appeared in the Life section of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram on August 14, 1999. The article was titled Neglecting the Good Book.
“According to one religious research firm, two-thirds of Americans don’t regularly read the Bible or know the names of the Four Gospels. More than half of Americans surveyed can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. And the majority say they find the Good Book irrelevant.”
“‘We still hold the Bible in high regard, but in terms of actually spending time reading it, studying it and applying it -- that is a thing of the past,’ said George Barna. The reasons cited range from changes in American culture to the intrinsic difficulty of the text itself.”
Regarding changes made in the text by various versions to make the Bible more palatable to Americans, notice the following quotes:
“Other translations reflect attempts to bring the ancient Scripture in line with modern realities and political sensitivities. Whether God, and people in general, should be referred to as ‘he’ -- a debate over what’s known as ‘inclusive language’ -- is the hottest translation controversy today within both Judaism and Christianity.
“In the 1995 translation known as The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version, for instance, the classical phrase ‘Son of Man’ is changed to ‘Human One’ and the Lord’s Prayer invokes ‘Our Father-Mother in Heaven.’”
In documenting the troubles Bible publishers and religious groups are having in getting people back to reading the Bible, note the following.
"For starters, the
book carries some pretty deadly baggage. The Complete Idiot's Guide to the
Bible, for instance, bluntly acknowledges the reader's possible 'ghosts of
Bible studies past.' These include 'droning priests, pulpit-pounding
pastors, knuckle-rapping nuns, or sermons that seemed hours long.'
“In today’s religiously diverse environment, more people are exploring other wisdom traditions and finding the Bible wanting.
“And there is no getting around the fact that the Bible is simply a difficult book.
“The problem is exacerbated by a striking phenomenon: People are discouraged by the Bible’s perceived difficulty, yet millions of Americans still prefer a version (King James, SC) that is beyond the literacy level of most of them, Barna said.”
(Ft. Worth Star Telegram, 8/14/99)
Oh me, where to start! Articles such as these are so frustrating to read for several reasons.
1. They make no attempt to argue, pro or con, about whether or not the Bible is the inspired word of God. Such statements as “more people are exploring other wisdom traditions and finding the Bible wanting,” indicate that people seem willing to disregard God’s wishes, and do what they please regarding His will. This despite the claims the Bible makes for itself:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
2. The quotes indicate a willingness to bend the will of God to a changing culture, rather than conforming our culture to the unchanging words of the Almighty. This despite the following passages:
“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19).
“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
“Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:18-19).
3. The quotes indicate an inaccurate perception of the gospel. While there are indeed some difficult passages of God’s word which some “wrest to their own destruction,” the good news is by and large simple, and the “common people” heard Jesus gladly. For example, there is nothing difficult to understand about the following passages of scripture:
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Regardless of the world’s attitude, the Bible is God’s word. It is worthy of our respect and study. We can’t “hold it in high regard”, and yet not read it. Such paradoxes simply show that the world is under the sway of the wicked one. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
How Do I Show Reverence For God?
Scripture Reading: Deut. 10:12-22
1. Deut. 10:12-22 – God has continually
called upon His people to fear Him.
I. WHAT IT
MEANS TO FEAR GOD – Eccl. 12:13; 1
II. HOW WE EXPRESS REVERENCE FOR GOD.
Toward God Himself: Worship Him – Psa. 89:5-10 (111:7-9); Jno.
4:23-24; Matt. 15:7-9.
III. GOD REWARDS THOSE WHO FEAR HIM – Rev. 11:17-18.
His Pleasure – Psa. 147:11; Ac 10:35.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 94:1-15
God’s people can (are becoming, already are) desensitized to sin…souls are being lost! – Jer. 6:15; 1 Tim. 4:2; Heb. 3:12-13
I. WHY DO WE BECOME DESENSITIZED TO SIN & ERROR?
A. Lack of
Knowledge – Heb. 4:6 (Eph. 4:20-21; Heb. 5:12-14).
II. RENEW SENSITIVITY TOWARD:
Dress – 1 Tim. 2:9-10; cf. Prov. 7:10; Jer. 8:12.
Concl. When we become desensitized to sin & to God’s truth we will lose our souls! (Jno. 17:14-19)
Pope's 25th Anniversary
October 16, 2003 marked the 25th year of the papacy of Pope John Paul II. A devout Catholic in Seattle called it “a big, big day.” Please carefully consider these comments about the pope and the Catholic Church and the Biblical reflection and analysis following each one.
1. “I believe we can talk to God through him” (Lee Daruthayan, Catholic faithful, Seattle, WA). Of course, the Bible says nothing about a “papacy” or a “pope”, so one would be hard pressed to give Biblical evidence that one can speak to God through the pope. In truth, the Bible teaches that God speaks to mankind “by His Son” (Heb. 1:2); Christians speak to their heavenly Father by means of Christ (Matt. 6:9; Phil. 4:6). To trust one is speaking to God through the pope is a false hope.
2. “John Paul will go down in history as the most important world leader in the second half of the 20th century” (Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine, America). Maybe so. But, that has nothing to do with whether his position, his power or his presence on the world stage constitutes him as the visible symbol of God on earth. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve” (Matt. 4:10).
3. “The pope is a great guy, man! He’s like this great symbol of a personal servant of God. …He’s supposed to be in bed, in the hospital, but he still goes out there, talks to the people.” (Paul Ndep, Catholic faithful, Seattle, WA). One who offers himself as the visible sign of God on earth and who is exalted by man as such is not a personal servant of God, regardless of what men think and say. The head of the church is Christ, not John Paul II or any other man (Eph. 1:22-23). Many on the day of judgment will say, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7:22-23)
4. “The Catholic Church is the one true church, as I was taught. Catholics have an obligation to love everyone and show compassion. But you also need to show them and instruct them in the true faith. If I say, ‘Your religion is as good as mine,’ I’m lying.” (James Bendell, attorney for Roman Catholic Faithful, a conservative Catholic group) For the Catholic Church to be the one true church we would expect to find its doctrine, its organization, its worship and its pope on the pages of the New Testament. Since we do not, we must conclude it is a perversion of the gospel and implore every Catholic to renounce Catholicism for the truth of the gospel (Gal. 1:6-10; Acts 2:37-41, 47; Matt. 7:21-29).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 10/18/2003
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA