Text: 1 Kings 21:1-16 - Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:15
- The word steal comes from a Greek word (Klepto) in which we derive the English word “kleptomania” which denotes a persons obsessive need to steal, or those known to have “sticky fingers”. One is guilty of stealing when they seize the property of another unlawfully, and appropriate it to one’s own use or purpose.
- The Bible teaches you that stealing is a transgression of the law, it is disobeying God and one sin that can lead to your eternal destruction – Exodus 20:15; Ephesians 4:28.
- Many in the world today do not believe or conceptualize stealing as a harmful wrong done against God and mankind, but it is a deadly poison, it will prevent you from inheriting the kingdom of God – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
Stealing Originates from Coveting and Greed – 1 Kings 21:1-4
- The spirit of stealing begins when your desire to have something that does not belong to you, trigger thoughts, strategies, and ways to obtain something in an unlawful, deceptive, or conniving way – Exodus 20:17; Luke 12:15; 1 Timothy 6:10.
- The Word proclaims when Ahab told his wife Jezebel, Naboth would not sell him his vineyard, Jezebel proceeded to obtain this land for her husband by wicked means – 1 Kings 21:5-14. She set up two false witnesses against Naboth to say he blasphemed God and the king, and he was stoned – 1 Kings 21:11-14.
- After Naboth was stoned to death, Jezebel told Ahab to take the vineyard for a possession. But Elijah the Prophet told Ahab that evil would come to him and his house and his wife Jezebel would be destroyed – 1 Kings 21:17-24.
Instead of Stealing, Trust God to Supply Your Need
- Jehovah God let’s us know He owns the earth and everything in it – Psalm 24:1-2; Psalm 50:10. Therefore you and I need not to worry about things we need in life or feel we need to steal something that belongs to someone else. Because in Philippians 4:19 God says “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
- When you commit your life to God, you must learn to live in whatsoever state God places you in, whether it be luxurious/modern or poor/primative - Philippians 4:11-13. If you’re in Christ what reason do you have to steal, since you already have all spiritual blessing which are in Christ – Ephesians 1:3.
- If you’re a Christian and are a truly godly person you already have salvation, joy, peace, longsuffering, and love which is great gain because God own everything and has give us all things to live a godly life – 1 Timothy 6:6-10.
Salvation: Hear - Believe - Repent - Confess - Be Baptized - Live Faithfully
Let God Be True, But Every Man a Liar – Romans 3:4
Who do you trust?
- Your parents?
- Your best friend?
- Your preacher?
Do these people always tell you the truth? Do they always give you the best advice? Are they always right?
Certainly, we ought to place our trust in those who are closest to us, but that does not necessarily mean that those people will always be honest with us, or that they will always know what is best for us, or that the things they tell us will always be right.
Human beings are fallible.
Even when we are being sincere and honest, it is possible that we may be wrong.
God will always lead you in the right direction.
There is one person who will always tell you the truth, always knows what is best for you and is always right about everything. That person is God, and He speaks to all of us through His Word. In Second Timothy 3:16, the Bible says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The literal meaning of the word, “inspiration” is “God-breathed.” That means that all of the Bible originated in the mind of God, and that it will always lead you in the right direction.
If you want to get to Heaven, don’t trust any human being.
Even your dearest loved ones might lead you the wrong way, but the Word of God will always lead you in the right way (Psalm 119:105).
These were more noble… they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. – Acts 17:11
“God will not permit man to have a knowledge of things to come; for if man had a foresight of his prosperity, he would become arrogant and careless; and if he had an understanding of his adversity, he would become listless and despairing” (Saint Augustine of Hippo).
For many years I have kept a log of my daily activities
I log things like where I’ve been, who I’ve seen, and what has happened in relationship to my work. Every now and then I review the record. As I get older, I find myself revisiting the past with greater frequency. I also find myself wondering about the future. What lies ahead?
You may wonder why I keep revisiting the past
The answer is that it helps me stay focused on the present and prepared for the future. Who among us will not be here in another year? Who will face declining health, a financial setback, or the loss of a loved one this year? Who will be blessed by the birth of a baby? Who will experience the joy of wedded bliss, or the heartbreak of divorce? Who will move into our community, and who will move away? I can’t answer any of those questions, and yet I know they are all part of what the future holds.
How will we respond to what lies ahead?
Only time will tell! James wrote: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil (James 4:13-16).
It is not wrong to think about the future, but we must not exclude God from it
He is in control. We are not. It is only when we understand His sovereignty and power that we can face the future with hope and confidence. This life at best is brief. Whether blessings or burdens come our way, neither stay for long. Therefore, we will not boast of our blessings or bemoan our burdens. We will acknowledge the hand of God in all, and simply say, “Your will be done!”
Leave the future to God
It was George Macdonald who wrote: “No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear. Never load yourself so. If you find yourself so loaded, at least remember this: it is your own doing, not God’s. He begs you to leave the future to him, and mind the present.” Good advice! I wonder how many of us will heed it.
MARCH 4, 2012
Trust involves confidence and reliance
The motto on our money reads: “In God We Trust,” but do we? Trust involves confidence and reliance. Quite honestly, for many, the motto would be more accurate if it read, “In Thee (money) We Trust.”
Materialism is a roadblock
Materialism has been and continues to be one of the greatest roadblocks to spiritual growth and maturity. Jesus had more to say regarding this sin than any other. In the Sermon on the Mount He said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24).
The love of money
The apostle Paul offered a similar warning: “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:6-10). Money is not inherently evil, but the love of money is!
Set your hopes on God
The apostle went on to say: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Money is not the true measure of a man
It never has been, and it never will be. Thus, Jesus warned: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
Men are fallible, not always dependable
Men also have a tendency to place their confidence in other men, only to be greatly disappointed. Because men are fallible, they are not always dependable. God, on the other hand, will never let us down. This led the Psalmist to observe: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in men. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7). We must put our trust in HIM, and HE will never let us down!
OCTOBER 16, 2011
Text: Daniel 6:1-28
1. The faith of Daniel has been an inspiration to many young people…
a. Due to his faith as a young man, when only 15-17 years old
b. In which he purposed in his heart not to defile himself – cf. Daniel 1:8
2. Daniel should also be an inspiration to elderly people…
a. As an example of service and commitment in our “golden years”
b. For we can also read of his faith as old man, perhaps in his mid-eighties
I. THE TRAP IS SET (Daniel 6:1-9)
A. DANIEL IS SUCCESSFUL…
1. He is appointed one of three governors over the kingdom – Daniel 6:1-2
2. Daniel “distinguished” himself above the others – Daniel 6:3
a. His success was due to his “excellent spirit”, not cunning or political maneuvering
b. Proving one can be successful in business and politics without compromising character
c. Darius contemplates setting Daniel over the whole realm
B. DANIEL IS ENVIED…
1. His success leads to envy by others – Daniel 6:4
a. Even the most godly men can have their enemies (e.g., David, Christ)
b. Enemies by virtue of jealousy
2. His noble character is attested to by his enemies – Daniel 6:4
a. They could make no charge against him, finding no fault or error in him
b. Because he was “faithful” (i.e., trustworthy, dependable)
3. His enemies determine there is only one way to defeat him – Daniel 6:5
a. To find some conflict between the law of God and that of the land
b. Which they then set out to do
C. DANIEL IS TARGETED…
1. The king is approached by Daniel’s enemies – Daniel 6:6
2. They propose a royal statute, a firm decree – Daniel 6:7
a. That no petition can be made of any god or man for thirty days, except the king
b. Under punishment of being cast into the den of lions
3. The king is encouraged to establish the decree – Daniel 6:8-9
a. Which according to the law of the Medes and Persians, cannot be altered
b. King Darius signs the decree
II. THE TRAP IS SPRUNG (Daniel 6:10-17)
A. DANIEL CONTINUES TO PRAY…
1. Knowing full well that the decree had been signed – Daniel 6:10
2. Practicing a custom common among the Jews – Daniel 6:10
a. Praying three times a day – cf. Psalm 55:17
b. Praying toward Jerusalem - cf. 1 Kings 8:27-30
c. Praying on his knees (a common posture for prayer) – cf. 1 Kings 8:54
d. Praying with thankfulness to God, even in times of trouble – cf. Philippians 4:6
3. His own custom since “early days” – Daniel 6:10
a. Though great and powerful, fervent prayer was not beneath him
b. Though aged, he had not grown weary of prayer
B. DANIEL IS CAUGHT…
1. His enemies catch Daniel praying – Daniel 6:11
2. His enemies report Daniel to the king – Daniel 6:12-13
a. Reminding Darius of the unalterable decree
b. Accusing Daniel of disregarding the king and his decree
3. The king is forced to abide by his own decree – Daniel 6:14-15
a. Displeased with himself, the king tries to deliver Daniel
b. Daniel’s enemies pressure the king to abide by his decree
C. DANIEL IS THROWN INTO THE LIONS’ DEN…
1. Yet the king is hopeful – Daniel 6:16
a. That Daniel’s God will deliver him
b. Whom Daniel had served “continually”
2. The den is closed with a stone and sealed – Daniel 6:17
a. Sealed with the signet ring of the king and his lords
b. Ensuring that the purpose concerning Daniel would not be changed
3. It appears Daniel’s enemies have won. He is in the lions’ den and it is sealed. Yet could any “seal” by man ever keep God from accomplishing His plans (don’t forget the “sealed” tomb! – Matthew 27:62-66
III. THE TRAP IS SPOILED (Daniel 6:18-28)
A. DARIUS IS WORRIED…
1. His night is restless – Daniel 6:18
a. He spends the night fasting, and without musicians
b. He can’t sleep
2. His concern for Daniel is evident – Daniel 6:19-20
a. Rising early in the morning, going in haste to the den
b. Crying to Daniel with a lamenting voice
c. Wondering if God has delivered Daniel
1) A servant of the living God
2) Who serves God continually
B. DANIEL IS DELIVERED…
1. Daniel answers the king – Daniel 6:21-22
a. With respect to the king (“O king, live forever!”)
1) Despite what the king had done to him
2) An example of blessing those who persecute you
b. With word of God’s great deliverance
1) Saved by an angel of God – cf. Daniel 3:28
2) Who shut the lions’ mouths
c. With affirmation of his innocence
1) Innocent before God
2) Guilty of no wrong before the king
2. Darius removes Daniel from the den – Daniel 6:23
a. The king being exceedingly glad
b. Daniel with no injury found on him
3. Daniel is delivered from the lions, because he believed in His God (i.e., saved by faith!)
C. THE CONSPIRATORS ARE EXECUTED…
1. Cast into the same trap intended for Daniel, along with their families – Daniel 6:24
2. As often happens, those who set the trap get caught in it!
a. Cf. Haman, hung on the gallows he built for Mordecai – Esther 7:10
b. As contemplated by David, warned by Solomon – Psalm 7:14-16; Proverbs 1:10-19
D. GOD IS EXALTED…
1. Darius makes a decree that the God of Daniel be feared – Daniel 6:25-27
a. He is the living God, and steadfast forever
b. His kingdom is indestructible, and His dominion everlasting
2. Another pagan king comes to realize Who is really in control!
a. As did Nebuchadnezzar – Daniel 4:34-35
b. As did Belshazzar, only too late – Daniel 5:26-28
E. DANIEL PROSPERS…
1. In the reign of Darius, who ruled Chaldea – Daniel 6:28
2. In the reign of Cyrus of Persia (who also ruled over Darius) – cf. Daniel 1:21
1. What were the noble qualities of this aged saint? He was a man…
a. With an excellent spirit – Daniel 6:3
b. Without fault in his business dealings – Daniel 6:4
c. Faithful to those over him – Daniel 6:4
d. Committed to prayer throughout his life – Daniel 6:10
e. Willing to obey God rather than man – Daniel 6:10
f. Putting it simply, he was a man who “believed in his God”! – Daniel 6:23
2. “Daniel in the Lions’ Den” is a story that has thrilled many children…
a. But its lessons are not just for children
b. Daniel is a role model for adults as well
1) For politicians
2) For everyone involved in administrative affairs
3) For all Christians, especially older ones
3. May we all learn from the example of Daniel, who exemplified what it means to seek first the will of God (cf. Matthew 6:33), and to obey God rather than man (cf. Acts 5:29)!
Text: Galatians 2:20-21
1. Much that we know of the Christian life is dependent upon the apostle Paul
a. Who wrote half the books of the New Testament?
b. His conduct and attitudes are set before us as an example – 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17
c. But what principles governed Paul’s life as a Christian?
2. In our text we find Paul expressing some of the principles – Galatians 2:20-21
a. That guided his life as a disciple of Christ
b. As he speaks of “the life which I now live in the flesh”
3. What kind of life was that? Are we governed by the same principles?
4. Notice first of all that Paul says his life which he lived in the flesh was
I. A LIFE CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST (Galatians 2:20a)
A. HOW IS “CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST” POSSIBLE…?
1. We can’t go back in time and join Christ on the cross!
2. But we can be united with Christ in His death when we are baptized! - Romans 6:3-8
3. Note that baptism into Christ is
a. A baptism into His death – Romans 6:3-4
b. Being united together in the likeness of His death – Romans 6:5
c. Crucifying our old man with Christ – Romans 6:6
d. Dying together with Christ – Romans 6:8
4. If we have been baptized into Christ, we can say together with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ”
B. WHAT DOES “CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST” MEAN…?
1. For some it means a death “to the Law” – Galatians 2:19
a. Paul wrote of himself as a Jew who was at one time under the Law of Moses
b. Those who have been crucified with Christ have died to the Law – Romans 7:1-6
2. For all it means a death “to self” – Galatians 2:20
a. “It is no longer I who live”
b. As Jesus taught, we must be willing to deny self to follow Him – Luke 9:23-24
3. For all it means we have crucified “the flesh” – Galatians 5:24
a. Which occurred in principle at our baptism – Romans 6:6, 11-14
b. Which occurs in practice as we continue to “put to death” the deeds of the body – Romans 8:12-13; Colossians 3:5- 9
4. For all it means we have been crucified “to the world” – Galatians 6:14
a. Before our obedience to Christ, we were in bondage to the rudiments of the world – Galatians 4:3, 9
b. But now, Christ is our rule and authority in life - Colossians 2:8-10, 20-22; 3:17
5. Any external (Law, world) or internal (self, flesh) controls have now surrendered to the authority of Christ
6. One who has been baptized into Christ and is letting Jesus be his or her authority in all things is living a “life crucified with Christ”. But note that Paul also wrote “the life which I now live” is:
II. A LIFE IN WHICH CHRIST LIVES IN ME (Galatians 2:20b)
A. HOW DOES CHRIST LIVE IN ME…?
1. It is like electricity
a. I may not comprehend how it works
b. But I know how to get it working!
2. We are taught how to make sure that He will abide in us
a. By Jesus Himself – John 14:21-23; 15:9-10
b. By His beloved disciple John – 1 John 3:24
3. As we keep the commandments of Christ, we are assured that He lives in us!
B. WHAT BENEFITS COME FROM CHRIST LIVING IN US…?
1. The wonderful love of the Father and the Son – John 14:21
2. There is fullness of joy – John 15:11
3. There is peace, even in the midst of tribulation – John 16:33
4. There is the hope of being with Jesus and beholding His glory – John 17:24
5. These are just a few of the many blessings of a life in which Christ lives in us!
III. A LIFE LIVING BY FAITH IN CHRIST (Galatians 2:20c)
A. WHAT IS LIVING BY FAITH IN CHRIST…?
1. The word ‘faith’ implies trust
2. Living by faith in Christ means constantly trusting in Jesus
a. E.g., for the forgiveness of our sins
1) Trusting in His blood to cleanse us from our sins - 1 John 1:7, 9
2) Trusting in Him as our Advocate – 1 John 2:1
3) Trusting in Him as our Propitiation – 1 John 2:4
b. E.g., that His words will provide a solid foundation for our lives – Mathew 7:24-25
c. E.g., that He will never forsake us – Mathew 28:20
3. Trusting in Jesus, not in self, not in the Law, not in the world!
B. WHY SHOULD WE SO TRUST JESUS…?
1. Because He loves us! – cf. Galatians 2:20
2. Because He gave Himself for us! – Galatians 2:20
3. Shall He not do more if we continue to trust Him? – Romans 8:34-39
4. Such love naturally compels one to live a life of faith in Him - 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
5. Does such love should compel us to trust in Jesus, living by faith in Him?
IV. A LIFE WHICH DOES NOT SET ASIDE GOD’S GRACE (Galatians 2:21)
A. WE MUST DILIGENTLY KEEP JESUS’ COMMANDMENTS
1. As a true indication of our love for Him – John 14:15
2. As a true indication that we really know Him – 1 John 2:3
3. One cannot ignore the commandments of the Lord
B. YET WITHOUT GOD’S GRACE, ALL IS VAIN
1. We cannot nor dare not try to earn or merit our salvation - Titus 3:4-5; Ephesians 2:8-9
2. After all is said and done, we are still unworthy servants – Luke 17:10
3. If not for the grace of God:
a. Our faith would be useless
b. Our repentance would meaningless
c. Our baptism would be fruitless
d. Our salvation would be impossible!
4. And so, from beginning to end
a. We must look to God and the Word of His grace
b. We must trust in His mercy offered through Jesus
c. We are totally dependent upon Jesus and His death on the cross for any degree of true righteousness
5. If we think we have earned or merited salvation on our own, Christ died in vain!
1. Such was the life Paul lived in the flesh
a. A life crucified with Christ
b. A life in which Christ lived in Him
c. A life living by faith in Christ
d. A life that did not set aside the grace of God
2. Can the same be said of us…?
a. Have we been crucified with Christ (in baptism)?
b. Is Christ living in us (manifested by keeping His commandments)?
c. Are you living by faith in Christ (trusting His blood, His Word)?
d. Are you always trusting in the grace of God (not your own goodness or obedience)?
3. May the words of Paul move us to live the kind of lives becoming of those who call themselves Christians!
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” – Galatians 2:20-21
(Can We Trust The Bible’s Preservation and Translation?)
1. Has the Bible we have today been altered or corrupted…?
a. We have no original “autographs” (manuscripts penned by the authors)
b. All we have are copies of copies, made over the years
2. How do we know there hasn’t been:
a. Significant changes or errors made in the process of copying?
b. Collusion (secret cooperation for deceitful purposes) by those who possessed the early copies?
3. It is not uncommon to hear such statements as…
a. “The Bible was corrupted by the Catholic church who possessed it” (Mormons, JWs)
b. “Only Catholic Bibles are reliable, since the church possesses the oldest copies” (Catholics)
4. Is it possible to have confidence in the Bible? That it:
a. Contains the Scriptures as they were originally written
b. Is free from attempts to twist the Scriptures to support a particular church or doctrine
5. This confidence comes from keeping two things in mind:1) Textual evidence for the Biblical documents, and2) Translation guidelines for selecting a translation of the Bible.
I. TEXTUAL EVIDENCE
A. FOR THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. The Massoretic Text (900 A.D.)
a. Earliest complete text of Hebrew OT, copied by Jewish scribes called the Massoretes
b. Comparison with earlier Greek and Latin versions
1) Reveal vary careful copying
2) With little deviation during the thousand years from 100 B.C. to 900 A.D.
2. The Dead Sea Scrolls (150 B.C. – 70 A.D.)
a. Discovered in 1947, containing copies of OT books dating back to 100 B.C.
b. Compared with the “Massoretic Text” of 900 A.D., they confirm the careful copying of Jewish scribes for over 1,000 years!
3. The Septuagint version of the OT (200 B.C.)
a. A Greek translation of the OT, done in 200 B.C. by 70 scholars
b. It also confirms the accuracy of the copyists who gave us the Massoretic Text
4. In his book, Can I Trust My Bible, R. Laird Harris concluded, “We can now be sure that copyists worked with great care and accuracy on the Old Testament, even back to 225 B.C….Indeed, it would be rash skepticism that would now deny that we have our Old Testament in a form very close to that used by Ezra when he taught the word of the Lord to those who had returned from the Babylonian captivity.”
B. FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. The number of the manuscripts
a. Over 4,000 Greek manuscripts
b. 13,000 copies of portions of the N.T. in Greek
2. The location of the manuscripts
a. Found in various places: Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Greece, Italy
b. Making collusion very difficult (not one church or religion contains them all)
3. The date of the manuscripts
a. Several papyri fragments have been dated to within 50-100 years of the original
b. We have several nearly complete N.T. Greek manuscripts within 300- 400 years
1) Codex Sinaiticus, found near Matthew Sinai
2) Codex Alexandrinus, found near Alexandria in Egypt
3) Codex Vaticanus, located at the Vatican in Rome
4. The variations of the manuscripts
a. The vast majority are very minor (spelling, differences in phraseology, etc.; modern translations often note the differences in footnotes)
b. Only 1/2 of one percent is in question (compared to 5 percent for the Iliad)
c. Even then, it can be stated: “No fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith rests on a disputed reading…It cannot be too strongly asserted that in substance the text of the Bible is certain: especially is this the case with the New Testament.” – Sir Frederick Kenyon (authority in the field of New Testament textual criticism)
5. Other translations of the manuscripts
a. More than 1,000 copies and fragments in Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Gothic, Ethiopic
b. 8,000 copies of the Latin Vulgate, some almost dating back to Jerome’s original translation (ca. 400 A.D.)
6. Writings of the early “church fathers” (100-400 A.D.)
a. Early religious leaders who left 1000s of quotations of the NT in their writings
b. Even if all the NT manuscripts and translations were to disappear overnight, it would be possible to reconstruct the NT from their quotations, with the exception of 15-20 verses
7. The evidence is sufficient to show that the Greek text of the New Testament has been faithfully preserved, without the possibility of collusion or corruption by any one religious party or faction
8. While the text of the Bible has been remarkably preserved in its original languages, how can we be sure that the version we use is faithful in its translation of the text?
II. TRANSLATION GUIDELINES
A. BEWARE OF THOSE BY ONE INDIVIDUAL
1. Some translations are the work of one person; for example:
a. The Living Bible, by Kenneth Taylor
b. Which is not really a translation, but a paraphrase
2. Though well intentioned, such translations often:
a. Express the views of one person
b. Convey the theological bias of that individual
3. It is better to find translations produced by a committee of scholars
a. With often hundreds of experts in Hebrew and Greek
b. Who examine and critique each other’s work in the translation
B. BEWARE OF THOSE BY A PARTICULAR DENOMINATION
1. Some translations are the work of one religious group; for example:
a. The New World Translation
b. Produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses
2. Such translations are often slanted to prove doctrines favorable to the group
a. E.g., the NWT translation of John 1:1-2 (“the Word was a god”)
b. E.g., the NWT translation of Colossians 1:16-17 (inserting “other” four times)
3. It is better to find translations produced by representatives from different backgrounds
a. Who are members of different religious organizations
b. Who check each other’s work to prevent theological bias
C. RECOMMENDED ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS
a. A classic, but somewhat archaic
b. Many people have problems with or misunderstand the old English
a. An updated KJV, desiring to preserve the beauty of the KJV
b. My personal choice, very easy to read
a. Most literal to the Greek, but therefore harder to read
b. Almost out of print
4. New American Standard Bible (NASB)
a. An update to the ASV
b. Though often wordy
a. English version of ASV
b. My second choice
5. Other translations useful as references:
a. New International Version (NIV) – easy to read, but prone to theological bias
b. New American Bible (NAB) – approved for Catholics, useful to show differences in doctrine are not due to translations
1. Can we trust the Bible? Yes, because:
a. The Hebrew and Greek manuscripts have been providentially preserved
b. Translations are available that are free from theological bias
2. Yes, it is possible to have confidence in the Bible, that it:
a. Contains the Scriptures as they were originally written
b. Can be read without fear that it has been tainted to support a particular church or doctrine
3. I can trust the Bible…do you? – James 1:21-22
(Can We Trust the Bible Regarding it’s Ability to be Understood?)
1. Some will acknowledge that the Bible
a. Has been faithfully preserved and translated
b. Contains the books that serve as our authority (canon) in religion
c. Is inspired by God
d. Yet they contend that Bible cannot be understood
2. Or at the very least they will argue
a. That we need a guide to help us (such as some church authority)
b. Or that we need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand it
3. Can the Bible be understood…?
a. Is it so difficult that the common man cannot understand it?
b. Is it so mysterious that only ‘Spirit-led’ people can comprehend it?
I. THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
A. REGARDING THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. It was written for our learning – cf. Romans 15:4
a. Jesus expected people to understand it (“Have you not read…?”) – Matthew 12:3-5; 19:4
b. Paul expected unbelieving Jews to understand it – Acts 17:2-3
c. The Berean Jews were commended for searching the Scriptures – Acts 17:11
d. Timothy understood much of it as a child – 2 Timothy 3:14-15
2. Didn’t some people need help to understand it?
a. Such as the disciples? – Luke 24:25-27,44-47
b. Such as the Ethiopian eunuch? – Acts 8:30-35
3. Yes, because it contained a mystery yet to be revealed
a. A mystery kept secret since the world began – Romans 16:25
b. A mystery now made manifest to all nations – Romans 16:26
c. A mystery now revealed by the Spirit to the apostles and prophets – Ephesians 3:3-5
4. With the aid of the New Testament, what was a mystery in the Old Testament can now be understood!
B. REGARDING THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. The writers expected their readers to understand
a. Luke wrote his gospel that one might know – Luke 1:1-4
b. John wrote his gospel that one might believe – John 20:30-31
c. Paul wrote for people to understand, to have his knowledge – 2 Corinthians 1:13; Ephesians 3:3-5
d. John wrote his epistle that one might know – 1 John 5:13
2. Aren’t some things hard to understand?
a. Like some of the things Paul wrote? – 2 Peter 3:15-16
b. Like the book of Revelation?
3. Yes, but that does not mean they cannot be understood
a. It is the “untaught and unstable” that have problems – 2 Peter 3:16
b. We are expected to grow in knowledge – 2 Peter 3:18; Colossians 1:10
c. As we mature, we are able to handle the “meat” – Hebrews 5:11-14
4. The New Testament was written to be understood, though in progressive stages
II. GOD EXPECTS US TO UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE
A. HE EXPECTS US TO UNDERSTAND HIS WILL
1. He desires all men to come to a knowledge of the truth – 1 Timothy 2:3-4
2. He commands it of His children – Ephesians 5:17
3. Would God desire and command that which is impossible?
B. HE EXPECTS US TO UNDERSTAND IT ALIKE
1. Jesus prayed for unity among His followers – John 17:20
2. Paul commanded Christians to have the same mind – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Philippians 2:2
3. There are essentials on which we must be united – e.g., Ephesians 4:3-6
C. Did Jesus and Paul demand that which is unattainable?
III. WHY SOME DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE
A. REASONS OFTEN GIVEN
1. “It can’t be understood”
a. We have seen that it was written to be understood
b. To say that man cannot understand is to impugn God’s ability to provide a revelation
2. “Only ‘Spirit-filled’ people can understand it”
a. This belief actually contributes to much misunderstanding and division over the Bible
1) Everyone claims the Spirit is leading them to their own understanding
2) Others are wrong because they don’t have the Spirit’s leading
b. It is based upon a misreading and misapplication of 1 Corinthians 2:14
1) That one cannot understand spiritual things without the help of the Spirit
2) Including understanding the Bible, that it requires the Spirit’s aid
c. But note the context – 1 Corinthians 2:6-13
1) Paul is contrasting God’s wisdom with the wisdom of this world
2) The world with its wisdom cannot know what God has prepared
3) What is known in the mind of God comes only through divine revelation
d. Note carefully the process:
1) God has prepared things which man cannot perceive on his own – 1 Corinthians 2:9
2) God has revealed them to the apostles through His Spirit who alone knows the mind of God – 1 Corinthians 2:10-11
3) The apostles received that which the Spirit revealed, that we might know the things given to us by God – 1 Corinthians 2:12
4) The apostles speak that which they received, using words of the Spirit, not words of human wisdom – 1 Corinthians 2:13
e. Here, then, is the proper meaning of 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
1) The ‘natural man’ is one who depends upon human wisdom (such as the ‘rulers of the age’)
a) Without the benefit of divine revelation
b) Who therefore is unable to receive the things of the Spirit of God
c) Who depending only on human wisdom considers the things of God foolishness
2) The ‘spiritual man’ is one who has the Spirit (such as the apostles)
a) Who has been given divine revelation of God’s will
b) Who is therefore able to judge all things, and is judged by no one
c) For such has been given the mind of the Lord3) Paul is therefore contrasting himself (and the apostles) with uninspired men
f. Remember now what Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:3-5
1) God has revealed what was unknown (the mystery) to the apostles and prophets by His Spirit
2) Who in turn have written what they received
3) Whereby when we read, we can now understand their knowledge!
3. We don’t need some special guidance of the Spirit to understand the Word; the Word of God itself is the Spirit’s own revelation of God’s will!
B. THE REAL REASONS
1. Many make little or no effort
a. They rarely read and study the Bible
b. They therefore remain ignorant
c. They remain babes in their knowledge and understanding
2. Many study for the wrong reasons
a. They may spend a lot of time studying, but with improper motives
b. To prove themselves right (reading only to justify their conduct or beliefs)
c. To prove others wrong (reading only to find arguments to support their position)
3. Many fail to apply their God-given common sense
a. Such as looking up words they don’t understand
b. Such as defining words in their context
c. Such as taking into consideration all that God’s word says on a subject
d. Such as studying the Bible the way it was written
1) Book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse
2) Starting at the beginning, reading through to the end
4. The problem is not with God’s Word; the problem is slothful, sloppy handling of God’s word – cf. 2 Timothy 2:15
1. The Bible can be understood
a. By children
b. By truth seekers
c. By babes in Christ
d. Though parts of it will always challenge even the mature Christian
2. God desires that all be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth – 1 Timothy 2:4
a. He gave His Son as a ransom – 1 Timothy 2:5-6
b. He sent His Spirit to guide us into all the truth – John 16:13
3. Through His apostles and prophets His truth and salvation can be known!
4. The question is not whether God’s word can be understood, but whether we will make an honest and sincere effort to understand and obey it!
Text: Ephesians 3:16
(presented on 12/31)
If we’re the resolution-making type, what we’re really resolving to do is to have more self-discipline, right?
- We just apply it to different areas of life:
- Weight loss (avoid Krispy Kreme)
- Productivity (manage time better)
- Spirituality (stick to one-year Bible-reading plan)
It’s all about self-discipline.
Everything will work out if I do this or don’t do that.
If I do what I don’t want to and don’t do what I want do.
If I stick with it.
It’s all about me.
Except it’s not. Not really.
Especially when we’re talking about spirituality.
Growing in our relationship to Christ is about what God does in us.
Notice the common factor in these verses:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).
Did you catch the common thread?
How can you can be more:
… and have more self control?
Paul says it comes from the Spirit; it’s His fruit (not ours).
How do you grow spiritually?
- Is it by trying harder?
- Is it by praying harder?
- Is it by serving harder?
It is God who strengthens you.
Too often we get frustrated spiritually because we think it’s all up to us.
We’ll reach our spiritual goals if we can just get the formula right: incorporate the spiritual disciplines in the right way, and conformity to Christ follows.
But it doesn’t work that way.
We need to realize that holiness, growing more and more into Christ’s image, is God’s work, not ours.
So much of our striving and stretching and reaching ends up putting the focus where it doesn’t need to be. On us.
And history shows that our efforts at attaining holiness fail miserably.
This year, focus on trusting God, not yourself.
- Talk to Him
- Love Him
- Worship Him
- Ask Him to mold you and shape you
Yes, read your Bible! But not so you can claim sainthood as a Daily Bible Reader. Do it to know God better.
Pray to God, not to shape His will to yours, but to cultivate your relationship with Jesus and shape your will to His.
Worship Him weekly, not for what you get out of it, but to love and adore Him openly.
When everything we do is God-focused, we might be amazed at the incredible things He will do.
He doesn’t really need our help.
Text: Romans 6:1-11
Can we trust in riches?
Jesus said it is hard for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:24). After all, the rich young ruler would not give them up in order to follow after Christ (Matthew 19:16-22).
Paul said not to “trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).” Riches are uncertain, for they will pass away (1 John 2:15-17).
Can we trust in ourselves?
Sometimes we think we can, and other times we know we cannot. We are not reliable. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and are not perfect. Paul said we should not “trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9-10).
One is tempted when enticed by his desires, and when the desire is conceived it causes sin. When sin is full-grown, death is brought about (James 1:14-15). This all started when Adam & Eve gave in to temptation and sinned when eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2-3).
As a result, “…in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
If we cannot trust in things or in people, in what or in whom can we trust?
We can trust in Christ!
- We heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is our guarantee of the inheritance (Ephesians 1:12-14)!
- We are not sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:4-6). The Old Testament shows how God provided for the children of Israel, and He will do the same for us (James 1:17; Ephesians 1:3).
- He is the Savior of all men, but especially of those who believe (1 Timothy 4:10). Even when we were in sin, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Those who are obedient to the gospel will be saved (Romans 6:1-11).
How do we show our trust in God?
Peter says the women who trusted in God adorned themselves with the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:1-6).
Paul told Timothy a true widow shows her trust in God by “continuing in supplications and prayers night and day” (1 Timothy 5:5). Christians are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18).
Text: Hebrews 11:8-22
1. In the first seven verses of the eleventh chapter, we saw:
a. Faith explained
1) As confidence of things hoped for
2) As conviction of things not seen
b. Faith exemplified
1) In Abel (faith worshipping)
2) In Enoch (faith walking)
3) In Noah (faith working)
c. Faith emphasized
1) Without which it is impossible to please God
2) We must believe He exists, and rewards those who diligently seek Him
2. Another aspect of our faith pertains to the promises in which we hope:
a. We are warned not to fall short of what’s been promised – Hebrews 4:1
b. Faith (along with patience) is necessary to inherit the promises – Hebrews 6:11-12
3. The faith which pleases God, then, is one that embraces God’s promises – Hebrews 11:13
a. In Hebrews 11:8-22, we learn of the faith of those who embraced the promises
b. Because of their faith, God is not ashamed to be called their God
4. Do we have the sort of faith that makes God unashamed to be called our God?
I. THE FAITH OF THE PATRIARCHS (Hebrews 11:8-12, Hebrews 11:17-22)
A. THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM
1. By faith he obeyed – Hebrews 11:8
a. When God called him to leave his country, he obeyed the voice of the Lord
1) Even though at first he did not know where he was going
2) This is an example of conviction in things not seen!
b. Here we see that faith and obedience are not contradictory terms
1) Indeed, Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him – Hebrews 5:9
2) Is our faith an obedient faith like Abraham’s? – Luke 6:46
2. By faith he sojourned – Hebrews 11:9-10 KJV
a. His faith required him to live as in a foreign country
1) Even though it was the land of promise, he and his descendants could not have it for four hundred years – Genesis 13:14-17; 15:13-21
2) He therefore patiently waited for the city whose builder and maker is God
a) This suggests that the promises he embraced were more than just those pertaining to the land of Canaan
b) Later, we will see he had a heavenly hope as well!
b. Our faith requires us to live as in a foreign country
1) For we too are sojourners and pilgrims – 1 Peter 2:11
2) Is our faith a sojourning faith like Abraham’s? – Hebrews 13:14
3. By faith he offered up Isaac – Hebrews 11:17-19
a. His faith required him to be willing to offer that which was closest to him
1) His son, Isaac – Genesis 22:1-19
a) Through whom the promises he embraced were to be fulfilled
b) He was sure that God would raise Isaac from the dead, if need be, in order to keep His promises
2) Thus he illustrated that confidence in things hoped for!
b. Our faith often requires forsaking things closest to us
1) Our loved ones, even our own life! – Luke 14:26-33
2) Is our faith an offering faith like Abraham’s? – Romans 12:1-2
B. THE FAITH OF SARAH
1. By faith she received strength – Hebrews 11:11-12
a. Though beyond the normal age of child-bearing – Genesis 18:1-3; Genesis 21:1-7
b. Though she laughed when she first heard of God’s promise, she later judged Him faithful who had promised
c. Through her faith, the promises of a great nation were fulfilled!
2. Our faith requires looking to God for strength, and trusting He will provide
a. We must look to God to find grace to help in time of need – Hebrews 4:16
b. Is our faith a receiving faith like Sarah’s? – Philippians 4:13
C. THE FAITH OF ISAAC
1. He blessed Jacob and Esau regarding things to come – Hebrews 11:20; Genesis 27:1-40
2. This illustrates how Isaac by faith embraced the promises
D. THE FAITH OF JACOB
1. Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph when he was dying – Hebrews 11:21; Genesis 48:14-20
2. His blessing involved the promises of God, showing how he embraced them also
E. THE FAITH OF JOSEPH
1. When he was dying, Joseph:
a. Made mention of the departure of Israel out of Egypt
b. Gave instructions concerning his bones – Hebrews 11:22; Genesis 50:24-26
2. In so doing, he demonstrated that he had embraced the promises!
F. Such was the faith of the patriarchs. I purposely skipped Hebrews 11:13-16, for what is said there not only applies to Abraham and Sarah, but to Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph also.
II. HOW THEIR FAITH PLEASED GOD (Hebrews 11:13-16)
A. THEY EMBRACED THE PROMISES – Hebrews 11:13-16a
1. They did not receive the promises during their lifetime
a. Yet with faith they could see them afar off
b. They freely confessed to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth
1) This implies that they sought a homeland, they could have returned to the old one
2) But what they desired was a better one, indeed a heavenly country
2. They died in faith (i.e., holding fast to the promises)
B. THEREFORE GOD IS NOT ASHAMED OF THEM – Hebrews 11:16b
1. He is not ashamed to be called their God
a. He is well pleased with them
b. It was their faith embracing the promises that pleased Him
2. He has prepared a city for them
a. What they waited for, He has prepared – Hebrews 11:10
b. That which He has prepared for them is what we look for, too – Hebrews 13:14
1) The new heavens and new earth – 2 Peter 3:13
2) In which will be the New Jerusalem, that great city descending out of heaven – Revelation 21:1-3, Re 21:10ff
3) Indeed, even now in a sense we have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem – Hebrews 12:22-24
1. What kind of faith pleases God?
a. Worshiping faith like that of Abel
b. Walking faith like that of Enoch
c. Working faith like that of Noah
d. But also a waiting faith seen in the patriarchs (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph)!
2. The faith that pleases God is one that embraces the promises made by God
a. Patiently waiting for their ultimate fulfillment, even if it doesn’t happen in one’s lifetime
b. But with conviction and confidence of things hoped for and things of unseen
1) We will obey His calling
2) We will sojourn here on earth
3) We will offer up whatever He asks of us
4) We will receive strength to do whatever He bids us
5) And we will make mention of His promises from generation to generation!
3. This is the kind of faith
a. In those who believe to the saving of the soul – Hebrews 10:39
b. In those of whom God is not ashamed to be called their God – Hebrews 11:16
c. May the Lord grant us grace and mercy to develop this kind of saving faith!
Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. He truly desired God’s work and people prosper, seeking God’s help in prayer and trusting in Him as he obtained permission from the King.
(Taking a Hard Look at Our Own Convictions)
Text: Hebrews 11:6
A. In this series of lessons, we are emphasizing the need to take God more seriously. There is not a single one of us who does not need to do this!
B. In the last lesson, we saw that it’s possible for us to actually PLEASE God. That ought to be our confident hope and our highest aim.
C. In this lesson, we’ll look at FAITH — “for he who comes to God must believe that He is.”
D. Do we believe that God is? Let’s take a hard look at our own convictions.
I. DO WE NEED THIS LESSON?
A. Some will already have said they don’t need to ask whether God is. They say, “of course we believe that God is!”
1. Well, perhaps we do, but in all honesty, the “faith” that many of us have is little more than a hand-me-down religion. Some indications:
(1) carnal attitudes and worldly lifestyles
(2) non-involvement in congregational life
(3) ignorance of the Scriptures
(4) vulnerability to temptation.
2. Ours may be a “Christian” nation — but few may really believe that God is.
3. And ours may be a faithful congregation but real, personal faith may be in short supply
B. The Scriptures speak of things like a “sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5) and a “genuine faith” (2 Timothy 1:5)
C. As individuals, our faith is somewhere on a continuum between the faith of others and a faith that is our own. The question is: what can we do to move toward a faith that is more our own?
D. Let’s look first at the difference between these two kinds of faith, starting with the one that we’re striving for: a truly genuine, personal faith.
II. THE INGREDIENTS OF PERSONAL FAITH
A. Genuine, personal faith has three basic elements:
1. Credence (belief) – John 8:24 - This includes not only the what but also the why – 1 Peter 3:15.
2. Confidence (trust) – 2 Timothy 1:12 - Real trust produces unconditional obedience: trust = obey.
3. Constancy (faithful unto death) – 2 Timothy 4:7-8 – Faith = Faithfulness – Revelation 2:10.
B. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your own faith in these three areas?
III. THE TRAITS OF MERE TRADITION
A. Definition: “tradition” simply refers to that which has been “received.”
B. In religion, some people’s faith is nothing more than tradition. They’ve simply been going with the flow, and their convictions are nothing more than those of the “chameleon.” Their faith is not really their own. It is a matter of convenience rather than conviction.
C. Now, what is wrong here is not tradition itself. There is nothing wrong with tradition! We are fools if we throw things away simply because they are traditional – 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
D. Our point is not that faith and tradition are opposites, but that real faith is MORE than tradition!
E. The difference is not in the CONTENT, but in the QUALITY of our faith.
1. If our faith is mere tradition, then it’s probably very weak.
2. We’ve probably never examined it or thought it through.
3. It’s probably never been seriously tested. Cf. James 1:2, 3; 1 Peter 1:6-7.
4. It’s probably quite abstract & impersonal — God is little more than an idea to talk about.
5. Worst of all, we’re probably not able to give a reason for the hope that is within us – 1 Peter 3:15 — we don’t know why we believe.
F. Three dangers of a faith that is mere tradition:
1. It won’t stand the test of temptation.
2. It won’t stand the test of hardship.
3. It won’t stand the test of judgment – Matthew 7:22-23; Matthew 15:8-9
IV. STEPS WE CAN TAKE TO GROW IN OUR FAITH
A. Many never really confront the issue of real faith until they’re faced with some serious crisis in life. Yet this is too IMPORTANT an issue to postpone until a crisis makes it URGENT.
B. Can’t we decide right now to move from “hand-me-down religion” to a deeper, more genuine faith? What practical steps can we take?
1. First, we can be honest about our faith – Mark 9:24, 2 Corinthians 13:5.
2. Then we can:
a. Feed it.
b. Challenge it.
c. Refresh it.
C. Like most valuable things, real faith has to be grown. There is no “get faithful quick” scheme – 1 Timothy 4:15-16 - We need incremental growth, little investments in our faith day by day.
A. We say we “believe that God is,” but how much do we trust Him in making real-life decisions?
1. Do you believe that somebody could walk over Niagara Falls on a tightrope while pushing a wheelbarrow? Many might say they believed it, but how many would . . . get into the wheelbarrow?
2. When tough, real-world decisions have to be made we find out whether we truly “believe that God is.”
B. The goal of gospel teaching is to produce love out of:
(1) a pure heart
(2) a good conscience
(3) a “faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5 KJV)
(4) what we want is a faith that is the “real deal.”