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Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

Understanding Silence

April 16, 2010

John Allan

The topic of Biblical silence has been an area of intense debate for generations. Some believe that if the Bible does not specifically say you can do something then you cannot do it. Others suggest that unless the Bible specifically says “Do not do that” then you can go right ahead.

It is of interest and importance to know which view is correct. Is silence prohibitive or is silence permissive? The answer to this question is yes.

Determining whether silence is permissive or prohibitive is greatly aided by understanding the difference between generic and specific. In Mark 16:15 Jesus told the apostles where to go (into all the world) and what to preach (the gospel). However, he was silent on the method of going. Does that mean Jesus authorized them to go but did not authorize them to use any means of transportation? Certainly not!

The command to “Go” is generic. The apostles could use any lawful method to carry out the order. They could walk, run, sail etc. even though Jesus did not expressly tell them they could walk, run or sail. In a generic command such as this silence is permissive.

There are times, however, when silence is prohibitive. In Hebrews 7:11-14 the Hebrews writer is making the point that Jesus being our priest required a change in the law. Why? Hebrews 7:14 gives us the answer: “For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood” (NKJV).

The tribe of Levi was the priestly tribe under the Old Covenant; this was specifically ordered by God (Numbers 1:49-52). When God specified the Levites he therefore automatically excluded the other tribes. Silence was prohibitive because the charge was specific. Jesus, from the tribe of Judah, was prohibited from being a priest under the Old Covenant.

What have we noted, then? We have noticed that silence is neither always permissive nor always prohibitive. There are many things that the Bible does not mention specifically. Some of them are permissible because we see from Bible principle that they are permitted (ex: driving a car). Others are prohibited because God has specified exactly what He wants (ex: the specific command to sing forbids the addition of a mechanical instrument in worship).

It is intended that these words be helpful to us as we consider the significance of silence in the Bible. Any time we consider whether a matter is permitted by God or not we do well to consider it prayerfully and in light of what the Bible teaches: that is certainly true with regards to the area of silence.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Posted in Bible, The Church, Worship

Take His Word for it

January 27, 2010

Blake Watson

When I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2007 I did so with a very small library. I still remember talking with a classmate about the fact that I did not even have a good Bible concordance. He was stunned by this (and I am glad I have one now) but I had managed to do OK without one.

My library is still small for a preacher, but it certainly has grown. Yet, I am reminded again and again as I look at books to add that the best book is the Bible. Magazines, catalogs and bookstores offer material on various Bible topics. These resources can help, but they can also tempt us to replace diligent study of the Bible with man’s interpretation.

We must not surrender the belief that the Bible is the source for our answers. The scholarship and opinions of others can be very helpful, but if those things are keeping us from searching the scriptures for ourselves they will transform from an aid to a stumbling block.

There will always be others willing to explain the Bible for us. Some even do it within the pages of our copies of the Bible. Devotional Bibles and study Bibles are filled with information supplied by man and therefore subject to mistakes. That does not mean there is no benefit to them, but we must remind ourselves to take caution and remember those additions are the conclusions reached by man.

We should not take the comments that line the pages of a study Bible over the inspired words of God which fill those pages. The only way to assure we do not is to be grounded in the scriptures. This is achieved through ongoing, diligent study.

I recommend that you do your daily Bible reading from a copy of the Bible that has as few man-supplied additions as possible. Even chapter and passage headings supplied in translations can be misleading! Removing such distractions will allow you to look at God’s word and see what it says. It will help you avoid the temptation to read somebody else’s comments and instantly make that your understanding. It will help you be a better student of the Bible, which in turn will boost your appreciation for the beauty of God’s word.

Posted in Bible

Do all in the name of the Lord

January 17, 2010

Blake Watson

Acts 19:11-12 mentions “unusual miracles” which God worked by the hands of Paul. In that passage the Bible specifically mentions the sick being healed and evil spirits cast out by handkerchiefs or aprons being taken from Paul’s body to the sick. It is easy to see why they are called “unusual.” This is not the sort of thing you read about regularly in the Bible.

As is the case with virtually anything good you can expect somebody to try to duplicate it. “Itinerant Jewish exorcists” knew what Paul was capable of doing and tried to exorcise evil spirits “by the Jesus whom Paul preaches” (Acts 19:13). Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were also involved.

Their attempt was unsuccessful. The evil spirit said “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). This was followed by the man possessed by the evil spirit leaping on them. After this violent outburst the men fled the house naked and wounded.

Why were they unsuccessful? The answer to that lies in verse 13. They “took it upon themselves” to try to cast out evil spirits in the name of the Lord. They had not been given the miraculous ability to cast out demons. They did not have authority from God to cast them out. Yet they presumed they could and gave it a shot.

They are a reminder to us that when go beyond the authority God has given us failure will result. We might not notice the failure right away, but if our action is contrary to God’s will we will suffer the consequences.

Whether it was Israel trying to do something when God told them not to or somebody today trying to do something in worship that God has not authorized: to go beyond God’s authority is to “take it upon ourselves.” Let us remember that God’s word, the Bible, is our guide and subscribe to the admonition Paul gave the Christians at Colosse: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17; NKJV).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Posted in Bible

Spiritual gifts

January 8, 2010

Blake Watson

It is not uncommon to hear a preacher or elder say that we should use the gifts God has given us. It is important to understand that when we talk about using the gifts God has given us we are not talking about the exercise of miraculous gifts.

There was a time in the early days of the Church when miraculous gifts were available. The apostles were able to impart these gifts. We know this was not an ability just any Christian had. In Acts 8:14-18 it was necessary for apostles to come from Jerusalem to impart spiritual gifts to the believers in Samaria. In that same chapter we see that a convert named Simon wanted to buy that unique ability and was rebuked by Peter.

There were many spiritual gifts present in those early days of the Church. Paul speaks of this diversity in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. In the very next chapter he makes it clear that the need for spiritual gifts would run its course. He said in 1 Cor. 13:10 “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” Some believe “that which is perfect” refers to Jesus’ second coming, but that interpretation does not fit the context.

Paul asserted in verse nine that they did not have complete knowledge at that time, but would. “That which is perfect” is referring to the completion of God’s revelation to man. When all the information God intended us to have was revealed there would be no more need for methods that could only provide information “in part.”

Miraculous gifts are no longer available because they are no longer needed. Jude 3 tells us that the faith was once for all delivered. They are also no longer available because the apostles, the ones who had the ability to impart the gifts, have all died.

Since we do not have miraculous gifts today what sort of gifts do we have? We have human abilities that God has blessed us with. They are talents we can use to His glory. They were not endowed to us in a miraculous way, but they can be developed and put to good use.

God is pleased when we use the ability that we have. May that be our ambition today and every day.

Posted in Bible, Law, The Church

Why the Bible is important to us…

July 21, 2009

John Allan

Everything we need is written there

  • According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (2 Peter 1:3).
  • All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
  • Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)
  • It was given by God for us to learn and study

  • Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:20-21).
  • And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
  • For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12).
  • Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23).
  • Why should we obey His word…

  • If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15).
  • Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23).
  • For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3).
  • Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:14).
  • Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17).
  • Bible Facts

    The following are various Bible facts that every student of the Bible will want to know and understand:

    • As many as 40 authors wrote the Bible over a period of more than 1,500 years (from 1500 B.C. to about A.D. 100). The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament were composed between 1400 and 400 B.C., the twenty-seven books of the New Testament between A.D. 50 and 100. These forty authors differed widely in their culture and education, and with personality and intellectual perception, and yet the books they wrote do not contradict one another.
    • The first books of the Bible were written by Moses, and the last by John. Moses wrote the first 5 about 3,500 years ago, and John the last, 1,600 years later.
    • Some 30 authors wrote the books of the Old Testament. Their lives covered a period of about 1,200 years.
    • The New Testament was written by 8 men in a period of about 50 years: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude.
    • The Bible deals with the subjects of history, biography, poetry, speeches, proverbs, songs, parables, prophecies, romances, drama, tragedies, sermons, dialog, and ethical teachings.
    • The English Old Testament in the Greek, or Septuagint version, is divided into 4 parts: The Pentateuch, History, Poetry, and Prophecy. The Hebrew is traditionally divided into 3 parts: The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Jesus so referred to it in Luke 24:44.
    • The New Testament has 3 main parts: history (the 4 Gospels and Acts), doctrine (in the Epistles), and prophecy (Revelation). The New Testament may also be grouped into 4 Gospels, one book of history, 21 letters to churches and individuals- or 14 Epistles of Paul and 7 General Epistles- and one prophetic book.
    • The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language, except that portions of Ezra and Daniel were written in Aramaic. The New Testament books are generally acknowledged to have been written in Greek, the universal language of that time.
    • The early Bible was written by hand on rolls of papyrus. The Jews later wrote them on leather rolls. The pens were finely-beaten reed brushes, or sharp-pointed reeds; the ink was made from soot, gum, and water.
    • Up to the fifteenth century copies of the Bible were made by hand. It was not until the fourth century A.D. that the Bible was circulated as one complete volume or unit.
    • The Bible was divided into chapters in the middle of the thirteenth century by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury. The verse divisions were introduced in 1551 by Robert Stephanus (or Estienne), a Paris publisher of the Greek-Latin edition of the New Testament. The entire Bible divided into chapters and verses first appeared in the Geneva Bible of 1560.
    • There are more than 5,000 known Greek manuscripts, preserving all or part of the text, dating from about A.D. 200. There are some 8,000 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate, and at least 1,000 other versions into which the original books were translated.

    Posted in Bible

    Is the Bible complete?

    July 21, 2009

    John Allan

    Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The phrase, “All scripture” is all inclusive of “all” the inspired words (or writings – Greek word: “graphe”) of God (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21; John 6:63).

    2 Peter 1:3 tells us that we have been given “all things” that pertain to life and godliness, “through the knowledge of him….” The “knowledge” of Christ (2 Peter 1:2) can be fully known by a study of both Old and New Testaments, which contain the totality of inspired scripture. Without a knowledge of the totality of the inspired scriptures, how could we have been given “all things” that pertain to life and godliness?

    Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. (Psalm 119:160)

    How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:17)

    Jude 1:3 tells us that the faith was “once for all delivered to the saints.” The meaning here is that the God’s truth has been “once” delivered for all time . It is a permanent delivery from God that will never be superseded, amended, or modified (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19; cf. Gal. 1:6-12).

    Additionally, James 1:25 states, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” The word “perfect” in this passage is translated from the Greek word, “teleios” which signifies “having reached its end” (telos), “finished, complete, perfect.” In James 1:25, the word is “referring to the complete revelation of God’s will and ways, whether in the completed Scriptures or in the hearafter” (Vine’s, 1996, p. 466).

    Posted in Bible

    Why are there four gospel books?

    July 21, 2009

    John Allan

    Have you ever wondered why there are four gospel accounts instead of just one? In this brief article, let us investigate the makeup of each gospel account, determining why each account is necessary.

    Matthew’s Account

    Being a Galilean Jew (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13-14; Luke 5:27,29), Matthew wrote primarily to Jews. He quotes many Old Testament prophecies Jesus fulfilled which declare Him King. Jesus is not only the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy, but He is the King who came through the royal line of David to sit upon his throne forever (2 Samuel 7:12-17; Psalm 132:11; cf. Luke 1:31-32; Acts 2:22-36) The terms “king” and “kingdom” appear more in this account than the other accounts. In Matthew’s account, Jesus is beautifully portrayed as King (Matthew 16:13-20; Matthew 28:17-18 ; cf. Isaiah 9:6-7).

    Mark’s Account

    He wrote considering Gentiles (primarily the Romans), because he explained Jewish cultural considerations (cf. Mark 7:1-8). Mark emphasizes Jesus’ actions and servant spirit. Mark records more about what Jesus did than what He said. One of the key words in Mark’s account is the word, “immediately” or “straightway” (used some 19 times), which emphasizes action, moving swiftly from one event to another. Jesus was not just King, but he was also a Man of the people. He demonstrated the servant spirit all true disciples will display (Mark 10:43-45).

    Luke’s Account

    Luke wrote with the Greek community in mind. Luke emphasizes Jesus as the perfect Son of man (Luke 19:10). For example, while other gospel writers speak of Jesus’ prayer life, Luke shows us more of Jesus’ teaching regarding the frequency of our praying (cf. Luke 18:1; Luke 21:36; Luke 22:40,46). Jesus relied on His Father in prayer and models how we should rely on God (Luke 11:1-4). Luke also emphasizes Jesus’ teachings. While he records many miracles, there is more emphasis on what Jesus said than did. Here we see Jesus as the Master Teacher.

    John’s Account

    The primary scope of John’s account is to declare to all men that Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:16-17). Not only does John declare Christ as having human attributes, but declares Him having divine attributes as well (John 1:1,14; cf. Hebrews 4:14-15). Jesus is the Son of God by nature; that is, the Father and the Son both possess the qualities of being God (Philippians 2:5-6) His miracles, recorded by John, is evidence of this (John 20:30-31).

    Conclusion

    Without all four gospel accounts, we would not be able to see the complete portrait of our Savior; His words, His life, and His mission. The Jews needed to know that Jesus fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah and King (cf. Luke 24:44). The Gentiles needed some Jewish cultural concepts explained (cf. Mark 7:3-4). We must see Jesus as King (Matthew), the perfect Man of action (Mark), the Master Teacher (Luke), and God (John).

    Posted in Bible

    The three dispensations of time

    July 21, 2009

    John Allan

    Patriarchal Age

    The word “patriarch” means “father.” In this age God began to deal with man as the head of his family. Instead of revealing a written code of law and a system of worship, He spoke to the fathers through visions, dreams, and angels (Genesis 15:1; Genesis 22:11,15; Genesis 31:11; Genesis 31:24; Genesis 46:2; Numbers 12:6; Numbers 24:4,16). Because of the limitation and nature of God’s revelation during this long age, lasting thousands of years, it has been called the “Starlight Age”.

    Mosaic Age

    Here the name springs from the great lawgiver, Moses. During this period God expanded His method of dealing with man by choosing a nation (Israel – Deuteronomy 7:6-8). Man was now ready for additional revelation from God; hence this age is often called the “Moonlight Age”. Through Moses, God set down a definite written code for social, political, and religious life, with the Ten Commandments as its foundation (Exodus 20).

    Christian Age

    The name here refers to Christ, the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). The chief characteristic here is that God now turns from a family and a nation to the whole world (John 3:16-17; Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 1:5; Romans 16:25-26). Now the grand purpose of God is fulfilled through His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2); the redemption of all mankind on earth (those who are willing to be saved by the Gospel or “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). Thus, this age is often called the “Sunlight Age” – the present age in which we now live. More than nineteen hundred years have transpired thus far.

    Posted in Bible

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