Thursday, May 25, 2017

Scripture: Why Teach the Bible?

Scripture: Why Teach the Bible?
     The Bible is at the center of Christianity. Indeed, it should be at the center of the Christian life. Believers ought to immerse themselves in word of God. After all, it is just that, the word of God! We should read it, know it, believe it, live it, sing it, memorize it, trust it, meditate on it, preach it, teach it, hear it, and obey it. In a word, Christians need to feast on the scriptures. The Bible is our food, light, guide, and drink. The Bible reveals to us our great God, his amazing salvation, the Son, the Spirit, the work of the Trinity, the glory of God, and a myriad of other life-shattering and eternal truths.
The word of God is to be taught. Why? Because of the examples of teaching that have come before us. Here are many examples of teaching throughout Scripture.
  1. God taught (Ex. 3:15; Deut. 4:36; Ps. 25:12, 32:8; Is. 2:3)
  2. Christ taught (Matt. 5:2, 7:28-29; Lk. 24:27, 44-49; Eph. 4:21)
  3. Holy Spirit teaches (Neh. 9:20; Lk. 12:12; 1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Jn. 2:27)
  4. Creation teaches (Ps. 19:1-6; Rom. 1:20)
  5. Old Testament priests taught (Lev. 10:11; Deut. 24:8, 33:8-10; 2 Kin. 17:27-28; Ez. 7:10; Neh. 8:7)
  6. Kings taught (Ps. 34:11, 51:13; Prov. 1:1-7; 1 Kin. 4:32-34; Ecc. 12:9)
  7. Prophets taught (1 Sam. 9:27, 12:23; 2 Chron. 17:7; Mic. 5:2)
  8. Parents are to teach their children (Deut. 4:10, 6:7; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15)
  9. Disciples taught (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:42, 4:2, 6:2-4)
  10. Paul taught (Acts 11:26, 20:20; Col. 1:28; 1 Tim. 2:7)
  11. The church and its teachers are to teach (Col. 3:16; Acts 13:1; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; Tit. 1:5, 9)
  12. Pastors are to teach (1 Tim. 3:2, 4:11; 2 Tim. 2:24, 4:13; Tit. 2:1)
  13. Older women are to teach younger women (Tit. 2:3-4)
     Teaching, as we can see, is essential. Teaching is ministry. But, what is to be taught. Obviously, the word of God, but what does one teach?
     First, teach Christ. He is at the center of the Bible. Teach Christ to the lost (Acts 8:35, 17:3, 18:25-28, 28:23-24). Teach Christ to believers (Acts 5:42, 15:35, 28:31). The lost and found alike both need to hear about Christ.
     Second, teach spirituality. Teach what the Bible teaches on any number of subjects. Christians need to know what God expects of them- how they are to live, grow, and most importantly, how to honor and glorify God. Teach...
  1. To the immature (1 Cor. 3:1-3, 14:20; Heb. 5:13-14)
  2. To the mature (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Jn. 2:14)
  3. Read Scripture (Acts 17:10-11; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Col. 3:16)
  4. Follow Christ (Col. 3:1-2; Heb. 12:2)
  5. Prayer (Lk. 18:1-8; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:1)
  6. Self-control (Rom. 6:12; 1 Cor. 9:24-25; Gal. 5:23; Tit. 2:2; 2 Pet. 1:6)
  7. Holiness (Lev. 11:45; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 4:24; 1 Pet. 1:16; 2 Pet. 3:11)
  8. Patience (Rom. 12:12; Gal. 5:22; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:24; Jms. 5:7)
  9. Love (Jn. 15:12; Rom. 12:10; 1 Cor. 13:1-13; Eph. 5:2; Col. 3:14; Heb. 13:1)
  10. Perseverance (Matt. 10:22; Jn. 8:31-32; Gal. 6:9; Eph. 6:18; Col. 1:22-23; Heb. 3:14; 12:1)
  11. Joy (Rom. 5:2-3, 11, 14:7; Gal. 5:22; Phil. 3:1, 4:4; 1 Pet. 1:8)
  12. Peace (Rom. 5:1, 8:6; Gal. 5:22; Col. 3:15; 1 Thess. 5:13; 2 Thess. 5:16)
  13. Faithfulness (2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 5:22; 1 Jn. 5:4)
  14. Put away sin (1 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 4:26; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 5:22; Heb. 12:1)
  15. Forgiveness (Matt. 5:39-41; Rom. 12:20; 1 Cor. 6:7; Col. 3:13)
     Third, teach ethics. The word of God is replete with instruction on ethical issues. Believers need to know how to live in this world. Teach...
  1. Faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2; Rom. 14:12)
  2. Holiness (Lev. 19:2; 1 Pet. 1:16)
  3. Love God and neighbor (Matt. 22:37-39)
  4. Golden Rule (Matt. 7:12)
  5. Forgive (Matt. 6:12-15, 18:21-35; Lk. 12:13-34)
  6. Submit to God's law (Rom. 8:7)
  7. Submit to government (Rom.13:1-5; Tit. 3:1)
  8. Submit to leaders (1 Cor. 16:16)
  9. Gossip and busybodies (2 Thess. 3:11; 1 Tim. 5:13; 1 Pet. 4:15)
  10. Murder (Ex. 20:13; 1 Jn. 3:15)
  11. Divorce (Matt. 5:31-32; 1 Cor. 7:27)
  12. Homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11)
  13. Miscellaneous (Matt. 5:21-6:4; Eph. 5:3-5; Col. 3:5-14; Heb. 13:4-5)
     Fourth, teach the word. This sounds so easy, in fact, everything that has been said thus far has to do with the word. It must go beyond that. Teaching cannot and must not remain on the surface- it has to be taught in order for the word of God to penetrate the minds and hearts of God's people in order to change their wills and desires.
  1. Teach doctrine (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Tim. 1:3-5; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Tit. 1:9, 2:1)
  2. Contains the promise of the gospel (Lk. 24:27, 44-47; Rom. 1:2, 3:21; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Tit. 1:2)
  3. Testifies of Christ (Jn. 5:39; Acts 10:43, 18:28)
  4. Guide (Prov. 6:23; Ps. 119: 105; 2 Pet. 1:19)
  5. Make wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15; Jms. 1:21)
  6. Profitable for doctrine and practice (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  7. Living and powerful (Heb. 4:12)
  8. Perfect, pure, and true (Ps. 19:7, 12:6, 119:140, 119:160; Jn. 17:17)
  9. Written for the believer's instruction (Rom. 15:4)
  10. Regenerates (Jms. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23)
  11. Illuminates (Ps. 119:130)
  12. Revives the soul, makes the simple wise, brings joy to the heart, enlightens the eyes, warns (Ps. 19:7-11)
  13. Sanctifies (Jn. 17:17; Eph. 5:26)
  14. Produces faith, hope, and obedience (Jn. 20:31; Ps. 119:49; Rom. 15:4; Deut. 17:19-20)
  15. Promotes growth (1 Pet. 2:2)
  16. Builds up, admonishes, and comforts (Acts 20:32; Ps. 19:11; 1 Cor. 10:11; Ps. 119:82; Rom. 15:4)
  17. Works effectually in believers (1 Thess. 2:13)
    The Bible, the very words of God, ought to be at the center of our lives as believers. Our lives ought to conform to God's standard. In order for this to be achieved, the Bible has to be taught. Scripture should be...
  1. Standard of teaching (1 Pet. 4:11)
  2. Believed (Jn. 2:22)
  3. Read (Deut. 17:19; Is. 34:16)
  4. Read publicly (Deut. 31:11-13; Neh. 8:3; Acts 13:15)
  5. Searched (Jn. 5:39, 7:52; Acts 17:11)
  6. Heard and obeyed (Matt. 7:24; Lk. 11:28; Jms. 1:22)
  7. Loved and delighted in (Ps. 119:97, 113, 159, 167; Ps. 1:2)
  8. Meditated on (Ps. 1:2, 119:99, 48)
  9. Memorized (Ps. 119:11; Matt. 4:1-11; Col. 3:16)
  10. Trusted and obeyed (Ps. 119:42, 67; Lk. 8:21; Jn. 17:6)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Gospel

The Gospel
    The gospel is important. So important, in fact, souls hang in the balance. It is the message of life. The gospel is important to the lost and Christian alike. The lost need the gospel in order to hear the soul-saving message of Christ. Christian's need the gospel in order to grow, continually repent, praise God, be assured, be filled with joy, and be humbled. The gospel needs to be studied so that it can be appreciated and shared. It needs to be heard and treasured. It humbles and exalts. Humbles the sinner and exalts the Savior.
    I write on the gospel because I love the saving message of Christ. I love the Savior of the gospel. The God of the gospel is astounding. What demonstrates the glory and grace of God more than his plan of redemption? The gospel is glorious, life-changing, God-honoring, breathtakingly complex, yet simple enough for a child to understand. What is the gospel?
Gospel Begins with God
    Lest we over complicate matters, let us keep the gospel simple. The gospel begins with God. God is the righteous Creator who purposed to save fallen sinners by grace through faith in Christ. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). God is holy and filled with wrath; he will punish them who do not trust his Son. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (Jn. 3:36).
     Why did God send his Son? Why does man need saving? Because man is sinful; mankind is unholy, ungodly, lost, unrighteous, rebellious, and spiritually dead. “[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked” (Eph. 2:1).
God Sent His Son
    But God sent his Son. Christ joined himself to the nature of man. He obeyed the law perfectly to satisfy the justice of God because we perfectly disobey. He then died upon the cross, bearing the curse of sin and the wrath of the Father toward that sin. He was buried but rose to life on the third day, thus vindicating himself and testifying to the world that the Father accepted his work. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Gal. 4:4-5). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
Repentance and Faith
    Sinful man is now commanded to repent and trust Christ alone for salvation. This is the only response that sinners could have toward God's good gift. “[T]estifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2Cor. 7:10)
    Allow me to quote two passages at length which will explain the gospel. The gospel is not neatly packed into a convenient summary, but it is spread throughout the Bible. There are a few very enlightening verses, however, which do explain the gospel very thoroughly. They are Romans 3:19-26 and Ephesians 2:1-10. I will simply reproduce them here. I will not offer commentary or elaborate on them. Read them for what they are- the very words of God that reveal his amazing salvation by grace through faith in Christ for his glory. Read and ponder what has been read. Repent and trust Christ; search out his unsearchable riches.
    “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:19-26).
    “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- among whom we all once lived in the passions of out flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, eve when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:1-10).

Scripture: Special Revelation

Scripture: Special Revelation
     Special revelation is initiated by God and is about God. It is very specific, as opposed to general revelation. Truths about God are disclosed, as are humanities sinful condition, and God's desire to call a people to himself. The Bible is the word of God- the source of God's special revelation. The Bible identifies God, his will, his mighty works, his plan of redemption, and everything a Christian needs for faith and life. Unlike creation, the Bible is very understandable and particular.
     Special revelation is available to specific people at specific times and in specific places. Not everyone had the word of God revealed or available to them. God revealed himself to certain people and had these encounters preserved in Scripture.
     God chose to reveal himself in a more specific manner than he did previously through creation, providence, and conscience. General revelation unveils truths about God through what can be observed with the senses. Special revelation uses words to communicate more accurately the truths of God. It is a more accurate and faithful mode of informing man what God wants them to know.
     Special revelation was progressive. God did not reveal himself all at once, but through stages. He made his will and truth known slowly over a period of time. The words of God were recorded, preserved, and handed down. They can now be read, studied, taught, proclaimed, and treasured.
     The primary focus of special revelation is God and his redemption. God chose to reveal himself in a direct way to fallen humanity. The truth is, God did not have to make himself known. He is under no obligation. Not to mention, sinful man is undeserving. God does not owe his creation anything. And he especially doesn't owe anything to sinners, except of course his judgment and wrath. But, praise God, he has revealed himself and his amazing salvation. That is grace!
    God spoke and acted in space and time. At certain times and to specific individuals, God revealed himself, taught his ways, thundered his laws, and proclaimed his salvation. The special revelation of God culminated in the sending of the Son, the Word (Jn. 1:1, 14). The special redemptive word of God is that Christ, the Son, took on flesh, came and bore the curse of sin and the wrath of the Father on the cross for all those who would repent of their sin and trust in him alone for salvation. This is the gospel. This is the most special of all God's revelation.
     The incarnation of the Son is the pinnacle of God's special revelation. It is the most complete mode of God's revelation to mankind. God spoke, and still speaks, through the life, actions, miracles, teachings, death, and resurrection of Christ (Heb. 1:1-3). Christ fully reveals God (Col. 1:15-20, 2:9). This was the message of the Old Testament (veiled in prophesies, types, and shadows) and the New Testament (unveiled precisely).
    God's special revelation centers around the person and work of Christ. Thankfully, the Lord saw fit to preserve his message in written form- the Bible. Now, his word, his saving truth, can be known, understood, and trusted. The glorious God of the universe has made himself known.
    In revealing himself in all his glory and grace, God has also revealed the truth about humanity. We are fallen. Broken, corrupted, and dead in sin. We are not like God; the serpent, the devil, lied in the garden (Gen. 3). God is holy, we are unholy. God is truth, we love lies. God is righteous, we are unrighteous. But, thanks be to God, his word contains the message of our salvation. Christ is the Savior. Man is now commanded to repent and believe on Christ for deliverance from the just punishment due their sin (Acts 17:30-31, 20:21). This is the message of the Bible. This is God's special revelation.