The Starry Firmament on High

The starry firmament on high,
And all the glories of the sky,
Yet shine not to Thy praise, O Lord,
So brightly as Thy written Word.

The hopes that holy word supplies,
Its truths divine, and precepts wise,
In each a heavenly beam I see,
And every beam conducts to Thee.

Almighty Lord, the sun shall fail,
The moon forget her nightly tale,
And deepest silence hush on high
The radiant chorus of the sky;

But fixed for everlasting years,
Unmoved, amid the wreck of spheres,
Thy word shall shine in cloudless day,
When heaven and earth have passed away.

-Robert Grant

9 Unbiblical Statements That Bible-Loving Christians Believe

By Shane Pruitt

One of the greatest gifts that God gave mankind was the Holy Bible because the Bible is literally God revealing Himself, and communicating Himself to mankind in written word. Anything and everything that we know about God comes from these Holy Scriptures, and they contain the totality of what we need to know about becoming a Christian, and everything that we need to know about living the Christian life.

Orthodox Christianity teaches that the Bible was inspired and authored by the Holy Spirit of God using human instruments. It also believes that in it’s original languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic; it is without error and fault.

However, there are many things that Jesus-following, Church-going, Bible-believing Christians believe that are completely unbiblical. How does this happen? Often, we’ll hear someone quote a statement that sounds nice to us, and we’ll begin repeating it as though it’s Biblical truth without ever researching it in the Scriptures. Several of these unbiblical statements have gained enough traction that many people believe they’re actually Bible verses. Not only are the statements unbiblical; most of them teach the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Here is a list of nine popular unbiblical statements that Bible-loving Christians tend to believe:

God helps those who help themselves.

This statement is actually anti-Gospel. Self-reliance and self-righteousness, or the attitude of trying harder and doing better actually gets in the way of the work of God. Jesus saves those who die to themselves: “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).”

God wants me to be happy.

It’s a common belief that God exists to be our “personal genie” waiting to give us our every wish. It’s amazing how we will justify our sinful actions by saying, “God just wants me to be happy.” Happiness is tied to feelings and emotions that are often based on circumstances, and those change all the time. God wants us to be obedient to Him, trust Him, and know that everything He does is for our good, even if it doesn’t make me feel “happy” in that moment. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).”

We’re all God’s children

Although, God has created everyone. . .not everyone relationally belongs to Him. Only those who have repented of sin, placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and possess the Holy Spirit of God inside of them can claim Him as their Father: “But you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:15b – 16).”

However, those who don’t have Jesus as their Savior, nor have the Holy Spirit of God inside of them actually belong to Satan: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1 – 2).” “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:10).”

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

The people around you may appreciate you staying clean, but this is not Scripture. Parents may us this unbiblical statement to motivate their kids to clean their rooms. However, I’d suggest using an actual biblical statement: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12).”

God won’t give you more than you can handle

Actually, all of life is more than we can handle. The point of living in a fallen world is not for us to try really hard to carry our heavy burden, but rather give-up, quit, and surrender to God, that’s what faith is all about. Every thing is more than I can handle, but not more than Jesus can handle: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8).” “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).”

We all worship the same God

Yes, there is only one true and living God: “know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:39).” However, He only accepts worship that comes through Jesus Christ, not Muhammad, Buddha, Joseph Smith, etc: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).”

Bad things happen to good people

Often we place ourselves in the judgment seat of what is good and bad, or who is good and bad. The most popular way to make that judgment is by comparison. For example, Bob is a good guy, because he is not as bad as Sam. However, according to the Bible we’re all on equal ground because none of us is inherently good: “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10)’.”

When you die, God gains another angel

Plain and simple. Humans are humans, and angels are angels. This remains so even in eternity. In fact, angels are intrigued by the interaction between God and His “image-bearing” humans: “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look (1 Peter 1:12).”

We’re all going to the same place when we die

There are two possible destinations when we pass: Heaven and Hell. However, only those who are in Christ will be with Him for all eternity when they physically die: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).”

The fact that many of us Christians believe these unbiblical statements shows our unfortunate overall biblical illiteracy. Instead of swallowing popular statements hook-line-and-sinker; may we be like the Bereans in the Book of Acts. When they heard Paul preach, they wanted to research the Scriptures themselves to authenticate what he was saying: “The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so (Acts 17:10 – 11).”

-Shane Pruitt, http://www.alreadyam.com/9-unbiblical-statements-that-bible-loving-christians-believe/

Deuteronomy 6 For Father’s Day

Deuteronomy 6

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

“This is the command—the statutes and ordinances—the Lordyour God has instructed me to teach you, so that you may follow them in the land you are about to enter and possess. Do this so that you may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life by keeping all His statutes and commands I am giving you, your son, and your grandson, and so that you may have a long life.Listen, Israel, and be careful to follow them, so that you may prosper and multiply greatly, because Yahweh, the God of your fathers, has promised you a land flowing with milk and honey.

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love theLord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

10 “When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give you—a land with large and beautiful cities that you did not build,11 houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, wells dug that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful not to forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. 13 Fear Yahweh your God, worship Him, and take your oaths in His name. 14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you, 15 for the Lordyour God, who is among you, is a jealous God. Otherwise, theLord your God will become angry with you and wipe you off the face of the earth. 16 Do not test the Lord your God as you tested Him at Massah. 17 Carefully observe the commands of the Lordyour God, the decrees and statutes He has commanded you.18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that you may prosper and so that you may enter and possess the good landthe Lord your God swore to give your fathers, 19 by driving out all your enemies before you, as the Lord has said.

20 “When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand.22 Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household,23 but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. 24 The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today.25 Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’

A Psalm for Boko Haram

The past few weeks we’ve been hearing of wickedness of Boko Haram. The latest wave of evil committed by this group of militant Islamic radicals has been the kidnapping of 230 girls. CNN article on Nigeria abductions. Why were these girls abducted? Because they were seeking an education.

In my Bible reading today, I discovered an appropriate Psalm. God hates injustice; He abhors the oppression of the helpless. May the Lord fulfill Psalm 10, by vindicating His justice for His glory!

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?

      Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;

      let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.

For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,

      and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.

In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;

      all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

His ways prosper at all times;

      your judgments are on high, out of his sight;

      as for all his foes, he puffs at them.

He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;

      throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”

His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;

      under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.

He sits in ambush in the villages;

      in hiding places he murders the innocent.

His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;

      he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;

      he lurks that he may seize the poor;

      he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.

The helpless are crushed, sink down,

      and fall by his might.

He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,

      he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;

      forget not the afflicted.

Why does the wicked renounce God

      and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?

But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,

      that you may take it into your hands;

to you the helpless commits himself;

      you have been the helper of the fatherless.

Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;

      call his wickedness to account till you find none.

The Lord is king forever and ever;

      the nations perish from his land.

Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;

      you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear

      to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,

      so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

 

(Psalm 10)

Four Essential Characteristics of Scripture

By Kevin DeYoung

Sufficiency: The Scriptures contain everything we need to know for knowledge of salvation and godly living. We don’t need any new revelation from heaven.

Clarity: The saving message of Jesus Christ is plainly taught in the Scriptures and can be understood by all who have ears to hear it. We don’t need an official magisterium to tell us what the Bible means.

Authority: The last word always goes to the word of God. We must never allow the teachings of science, of human experience, or of church councils to take precedence over Scripture.

Necessity: General revelation is not enough to save us. We cannot know God savingly by means of personal experience and human reason. We need God’s word to tell us how to live, who Christ is, and how to be saved.

God’s word is final; God’s word is understandable; God’s word is necessary; and God’s word is enough.

-Kevin DeYoung, Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me, (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014), 44.

The King of Glory – Psalm 24

In honor of Earth day: 

“A Psalm of David.

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,a
the world and those who dwell therein,

for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.

He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah”

Psalm 32

Blest is the man whose trespass is forgiven,
Whose sins are covered in the sight of heaven.
Blest is the man against whom, LORD, Thou wilt
Not count all his iniquity and guilt.
How happy he, contrite of heart and lowly,
Who has confessed his sins, O LORD most holy;
Who does not secretly Thy laws transgress,
Whose spirit harbors no deceitfulness.

When I kept silent, sinful ways condoning,
I pined away through my incessant groaning.
Thy hand weighed down on me in my deceit;
My strength was sapped as by the summer’s heat.
To Thee, O God of justice and compassion,
I then at last acknowledged my transgression.
I said, “I will confess my sins to Thee,”
And all my guilt Thou hast forgiven me.

Let all the godly when they grieve and suffer
To Thee, O LORD, their supplications offer.
Surely when floods of mighty waters rise,
They shall not reach him who on Thee relies.
Thou art a hiding-place for those who serve Thee;
Thou, mighty God, from trouble dost preserve me.
Songs of deliv’rance everywhere resound:
Thou me with great rejoicing dost surround.

I will instruct you, with my aid provide you,
And in the way that you should go will guide you.
My counsel will be ever at your side,
And, keeping watch, I will with you abide.
Be not a fool, who has no understanding;
Do not behave like horse or mule, depending
On bit and bridle to control their course;
They disobey unless restrained by force.

With many woes the wicked are afflicted,
But he who trusts in God is well protected;
Him will the LORD with steadfast love surround.
Those who revere Him are with mercy crowned.
Be glad, O righteous, in the LORD rejoicing;
Exult in Him, your jubilation voicing,
For light and life He will to you impart.
Now shout for joy, you men of upright heart.

-William Helder, 1980.

Four Reasons the Gospels Could Not Be Legends

“The most popular theory today against the Bible is that the gospels are a bunch of myths and legends. As the theory goes, Jesus was a great guy with some commendable teachings, but the stories we have about him in the four gospels are made-up legends intended to beef up Christianity’s claims.

Entire books have been written on this, but here are 4 brief reasons the gospels simply could not be fabricated legends:…”

Read more from J. D. Greear here: http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2013/10/four-reasons-the-gospels-could-not-be-legends.html

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy Part 4

(continued from yesterday)

ARTICLE X

We affirm that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.

We deny that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.

ARTICLE XI

We affirm that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

We deny that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.

ARTICLE XII

We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

ARTICLE XIII

We affirm the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.

We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

ARTICLE XIV

We affirm the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.

We deny that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.

ARTICLE XV

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.

We deny that Jesus’ teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.

ARTICLE XVI

We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history.

We deny that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by Scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.

ARTICLE XVII

We affirm that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God’s written Word.

We deny that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.

ARTICLE XVIII

We affirm that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.

We deny the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.

ARTICLE XIX

We affirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.

We deny that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy Part 3

(continued from yesterday)

ARTICLES OF AFFIRMATION AND DENIAL

ARTICLE I

We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.

We deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.

ARTICLE II

We affirm that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.

We deny that Church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.

ARTICLE III

We affirm that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.

We deny that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.

ARTICLE IV

We affirm that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.

We deny that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God’s work of inspiration.

ARTICLE V

We affirm that God’s revelation in the Holy Scriptures was progressive.

We deny that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.

ARTICLE VI

We affirm that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.

We deny that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the

parts, or of some parts but not the whole.

ARTICLE VII

We affirm that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.

We deny that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.

ARTICLE VIII

We affirm that God in His Work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.

We deny that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.

ARTICLE IX

We affirm that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.

We deny that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.

(continued tomorrow)