April 21, 2007

A Few Words about the Word of God

Ran across this in preparation for Sunday morning (planning to use it by the way) and thought it might be worth posting for others to enjoy. If anyone knows the original source I would love to have that information. For now it will be credited to that great author, A. Nony Mous.

"The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers.

Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise.
Believe it to be saved.
Practice it to be holy.

It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character. Here paradise is restored, Heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed.

Christ is its grand subject, our good the design, and glory of God its end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully.

It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.

It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and remembered forever.

It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents."

April 19, 2007

Out of the Country

If you happen to drop by in the next couple of weeks and note that it's been a few days/weeks since I last posted please understand this is due to my being out of the country. I will be speaking at a national prayer conference in Venezuela followed by a brief visit to explore missions opportunities in Guatemala. If you are of the praying kind I would greatly appreciate your prayers during these days. I will look forward to sharing some news and views from another part of the world when I return.

For your enjoyment I've included a couple of pics from VZ. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people and very little opportunity to hear the gospel.

Some things are the same all over the world!

A marvelous waterfall near Caripe'!

By no means indicative of how all live in VZ but many exist in this kind of housing.

Blessings to each of you.

April 18, 2007

Can the Bible Be Trusted (video)

Here's an interesting and informative video short that speaks to the reliability of scripture. Enjoy!

Unshakable Word

Can the Bible Be Trusted (part B)

Point first, there is no such thing as a perfect translation. (See my previous post for more on this). With this in mind we can turn to the process of translation. I have been asked why a committee of men and/or women (depending on what translation you are considering) did this work. The simple answer to this is that a committee of peers, working together, provide a natural check and balance system to the work of translation. Thus, rather than getting one person's thinking on how a particular phrase or word should be translated the committee works together to come to the best way to say what is at hand in accordance with the goals of the translation.

So why a committee? It's much like receiving a serious diagnosis from one doctor. You could accept his interpretation of the facts but you would be wise to seek a second opinion. After receiving a second opinion you could then proceed with confidence knowing that two knowledgeable, trained physicians agreed on the nature and treatment of your ailment (assuming they agreed). In extreme cases you might even seek a 3rd or 4th opinion. This in no way impairs the truth of your diagnosis, in fact, just the opposite is true. Having additional eyes look at your particular case assures you of getting a clearer and more accurate picture of what you are facing. What one man may have missed another man may notice. What one may think unimportant, another may have experience or information that highlights its importance. I trust you are able to make the leap from the medical example to the process of translation.

Rather than degrade the reliability of scripture, translation by committee enhances the reliability of the work that is done. Are there good translations? Absolutely. Are there some that are not so good? Again, absolutely (note especially the New World Translation - translated to suit one particular theological view point).

I will address the different translations which are available in my next post and discuss the difference in approach to translations.

April 13, 2007

John Chrysostam's Easter Sermon

Still mulling over this one in the aftermath of the Easter celebration. Good stuff from the early church. I really like the line, "Hell took a body, and discovered God." Enjoy!

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see. O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

April 11, 2007

It Is Finished

While leading a bible study for our Governor and his staff Tuesday morning the question was raised concerning the last words of Jesus, "It is finished." (John 19:30) One of the staff members stated their pastor on Sunday indicated this statement was in fact a word used by merchants to show that a bill had been "paid in full." Said staffer commented that this was quite a jump in translation from "It is finished." This was my cue to enter the conversation.

I explained, as I did in a previous post, there are words/phrases that simply don't translate into English (or other languages, I suppose) very well, if at all. With this particular phrase the Greek word is tetelestai, from the root word telos meaning end, the last part, conclusion, or goal. This verb is in the Perfect tense which "involves a present state which has resulted from a past action. The present state is a continuing state; the past action is a completed action." (Syntax of New Testament Greek, Brooks and Winbery). The evident impact of this information makes it clear that much more was being said by Jesus than "It's done." While the notion of the completion of an activity is certainly involved it in no way begins to gather up all the significance of this marvelous statement. "It is finished" as a continuing state resulting from a completed past action means that our debt of sin continues to be "finished"/"paid in full" as a result of the completed past action of Jesus on the cross.

So, what is a translator to do? As always, the best they can. If all of the significance of this one word in John 19:30 was put into a translation it would weigh the reading so heavily as to be unacceptable. Even multiple translations, taking this word from various angles, fail to gather up all of the significance and power. As a further commentary on this idea of "It is finished" see Hebrews 7:26-8:2. Jesus is here described as the superior High Priest. Note that He is seated. Unlike the priests of old, who were constantly offering sacrifices, Jesus has no need to offer sacrifice because "It is finished."

April 4, 2007

You Need To See This

This is a really well done presentation. It will take about 15 minutes to watch but I think you'll find it worth your time. Let me know what you think!


April 3, 2007

Can The Bible Be Trusted?

This will be the first post in a series that will address the reliability of scripture. I have an enjoyable, civil, and (hopefully) ongoing conversation with another blogger that has precipitated this thread. Not much original thought to add to the already copious amount of material on this topic but a few initial observations that I regularly share with my church family.

Point first, there is no such thing as a "perfect" translation. All of you "KJV only" folks please save your hate mail. Anyone who has ever done any language study knows that there are some words in different languages that will simply not translate. There are simply no equivalent words. What's a translator to do in such a situation? They try and find an equivalent way to say it. For example, in John 3:7 (find it for yourself to get the full context) Jesus tells Nicodemus, "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again." (ESV). "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'" (NASB) "You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'" (NIV) "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." (KJV). "So don't be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be 'born from above' - out of this world, so to speak." (The Message). Five translations - all good, but all fall short of communicating what is present in the Greek (original language).

Two things here. "Do not marvel..." is trying to get at the Ingressive Aorist Tense. Could literally translate it as, "Don't start marveling..." We just don't have the ingressive Aorist in English. Second, unless you have a good translation with solid textual notes you will miss the fact that the second "you" is plural ("ya'll" in southern speak). So Jesus is addressing not only Nicodemus but all who are like him.

Sorry this got technical but it lays the groundwork for a lot of the other discussion to follow. Let me clearly say it again in case you got lost along the way. There is no such thing as a "perfect" translation. There are, however, a number of very good and very reliable translations available. Your best bet is to learn Greek, but since most of us won't do that we have to rely on good translations.

April 1, 2007

In The Company of Geniuses - Job 12

“But all of them are sure they know God’s will. I am the only man who does not know it.”

-Stephen Vincent Benet (1898-1943)

The beginning of this chapter comes as a relief to me. I am weary of Job taking the unnecessary abuse being heaped on him by his ‘friends’. Finally he calls them out and answers their stabs with a well placed jab of his own. “Doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you.” A contemporary rendering reads like this, “I'm sure you speak for all the experts, and when you die there'll be no one left to tell us how to live” (The Message). Job goes on to say, “I’m not stupid, you know. I’m aware of the things you’re trying to tell me” (v.3).

As wonderful as it is to hear Job finally taking up for himself, the terrible truth is that arguing with people who are convinced they know it all is often a fruitless and frustrating endeavor. It reminds me of this old wag, “Wrestling with a pig is pointless. It only gets you dirty and it irritates the pig.”

It’s hard to believe that some people are simply beyond reason, but, sadly, it is true. You’ve met them and walked away wanting to pull out all of your hair as well as a few handfuls of theirs! What are we to do when we find ourselves in the company of geniuses? Thankfully, as always, God’s word offers us counsel.

Paul’s instructions to Timothy on this very matter read like this, “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (1I Timothy 2:24-26). So far Job has been pretty kind and reasonably gentle. How about you?

Today’s Application: There are people whom you will violently disagree with today. Rather than be violent with them, exercise the gentleness of God in speaking the truth to them. The day of violence will come. Just remember, that day belongs to the Lord.