Should God have made us, knowing many will be lost?, by Doy Moyer

One of the more difficult questions asked about God is this: why would God create people whom He knew would reject Him and, therefore, be forever lost?

First, while the following may not typically satisfy the unbeliever who asks the question, we need to consider this:

“Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Rom. 9:20-24)

This gets into the nature of God, who is all-knowing, all-wise, and sovereign over life and death. Do we really have a right to question God on the way we are made? Even so, there is an important idea stated in this passage that helps inform us about the issue: God has shown His patience and wrath toward those who perish so that He can show forth His grace and glorify His people. The wicked do perish, and while God would rather that they all come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9), He will not allow that fact to keep Him from being able to glorify His own. He is a God who glorifies. He took the risk, at least in part, because glorifying people is worth it to Him.

God created humankind with free will and the capacity to choose love. He did this so that He can glorify, but we make a mess through our abuse of the freedom and choice to hate God and others. Should that fact have kept God from creating those whom He can glorify? Not at all.

Why should those who freely choose to love God be prevented from being blessed, saved, and glorified just because there will be those who choose not to love God? If people choosing not to love God should have prevented God from making the human race with free will and the capacity to love, then the idea of the negative, obstinate, hard-hearted who would have had no desire for God would have wielded more influence over God’s decisions and will than the fact that it is in God’s nature to bless and glorify free will creatures. Evil should not be allowed to suppress the good. For God to keep from doing good because He knows there will be evil would be to let the concept of evil have the final say in what ought to happen. This is not God’s mode of operation.

I can only conclude that the provision to bless and glorify His image-bearers is extremely important to God in the scheme of things — more important than letting the fact that many will perish stop Him from doing what He loves and wills to do. Allowing the knowledge of unbelief to keep Him from creating those whom He can glorify together with Him would be giving too much credence to rejection. Is Yahweh a God who allows the negative to trump the positive, the evil to overcome the good? Apparently not. Let’s not forget, either, that God has made this salvation and glory available to all by His grace.

Every parent knows that bringing a child into the world runs a risk. The child can bring great joy and happiness, or the child can bring much sorrow and pain. Parents desire to have children that they can bless and care for. They know they will have times of great difficulty. They know there will be growing pains. They patiently work with their children through the hardships to bring them up. Parental desire to bless their children doesn’t change even as they grow up and move out. Yet that risk is there that the children will finally rebel, reject parental love, and turn their backs on the blessings and love that come through the family. Even so, knowing this risk and possibility, people keep having children and holding on to the desire to have a family they can bless and keep in close fellowship. The potential for the love and joy is great enough to take that risk. There is goodness in being able to bless someone. That goodness and love is in the nature of God, and this motivates God to bless and glorify a special people, even though others will have turned their backs on Him to be lost.

Likewise, every potential friendship runs the risk of causing great pain and heart-ache. Yet, we believe strongly enough in the love, the fellowship, and the joy that comes from it that we are willing to run that risk of loss. Should we let the fact that some may betray us cause us never to seek out friendship, fellowship, or love? Should we let the fear of loss keep us from the potential of love and joy?

Why would God create people whom he knew would reject Him and therefore be forever lost? It would seem, at least in part, that the answer lies in the fact that God, in His goodness, love, and grace, has strong motivation to bless and glorify free will creatures made in His image. Yet to make free will creatures He can glorify also meant making free will creatures who would choose to reject and hate Him, which puts them in a very bad position. Bear in mind, also, that even if we never fully understand this, that does not put us in a position to deny God.

God’s offer and desire is to glorify us, but He won’t force us to accept. Will we be vessels of wrath prepared for destruction or vessels of mercy prepared for glory? As Moses told the people of his day, “So choose life in order that you may live” (Deut. 30:19).

Doy Moyer

find this and more thought provoking articles here: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/

Racism and Christ, By: Doy Moyer

Picture

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…” (Acts 17:26).

Racism is not just a political issue, and it cannot be fixed through political means or force. It is the symptom of a much greater problem, and this is not a problem that will ever be legislated or forced away by violence. First, and even most significantly, racism is a moral and spiritual issue. It is, at its heart, a failure to understand and appreciate that all humans are made in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). “Human” is not a skin color or ethnicity. Being human does not depend on being a particular ethnic background. The greatest human quality is that of mirroring God’s image, and this is shared by all humans, however imperfectly.

As sin entered the scene of human history, God put a plan into effect that would allow humans to be saved from their sins and the corruption of the world. To do this, He called out a particular person, Abraham, and through him a particular nation, which came to be called Israel. Through this nation He would bring about His promises. His purpose in doing this was so that “all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:3). The reason He maintained a distinction between His chosen people and all others (gentiles) was to keep them holy as His people (see Josh 23:4-13). The danger was not in other ethnicities per se (as is seen in the fact both Rahab and Ruth were Gentiles who became part of Christ’s lineage); the danger was that paganism had become standard among the nations and He wanted them to stay away from the influences that would lead them down that path of worshipping other gods.

God’s plan all along encompassed the idea that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would bring together all nations into one. This is not to say that all nations would become one big worldly kingdom. Rather, all nations would unite together in Christ as one “chosen race” and “holy nation” who would proclaim God’s excellencies (1 Pet 2:9). In this holy nation, there are no distinctions to be made when it comes to the outward matters of skin color. In Christ, there is no “white church” or “black church.” Such distinctions are unknown to the Gospel. Should Christians, then, continue to perpetuate them? Shall we willingly participate in the worldly stereotypes that only divide?

Perhaps the earliest, most significant challenges for the church came in the form of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles (cf. Acts 15). Let’s just say they typically didn’t care for each other very much. There was initial reluctance on the part of the Jewish Christians to preach to the Gentiles, as is seen in Peter’s response to the Lord’s desire for him to go Cornelius, a Gentile soldier (Acts 10). It took a vision and a command for Peter to get it, and once he did, there was no turning back. “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean” (vs. 28). It may have been a bit shocking, then, for some fellow Jews to hear Peter declare:

“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34-35).

God’s will is that all come to repentance, that all will come to the knowledge of the truth (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Pet 3:9; 1 Tim 2:4). Racism is a denial that Christ died for all. It is a denial of God’s desire for all to know the truth. It is a denial of the unity desired by the Lord. It is a denial of the gospel. It is sin.

Again, Peter said, “He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:42-43). Everyone. No one is out in this endeavor.

Political agendas will be what they are. God’s people need to transcend the clamor and evil trappings of the world in order to be what God intends. To be effective in reaching out to the world, we cannot pull back our hands because those of another person are a different shade. All hands are made by the same God, who desires all to be in His fellowship. Dare we deny this most important desire of God?

In truth, there is only one race. It is the human race. And there is only one holy nation, comprised of all of God’s people, who transcend the boundaries and borders of worldly kingdoms and earthly cultures. May God help us all to see all humans for who they really are—made in His image, fallen, and in need of His grace and mercy.

Doy Moyer

via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2014/01/racism-and-christ.html

 

ON INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN WORSHIP, by Doy Moyer

My Friend Doy Moyer has written an interesting piece on the subject of how we approach God with the music from our hearts, maybe with your spare time today you could sit down and give it a bit of consideration. -PWM

Picture

[A few disclaimers: 1) I represent no one but myself here. I do not speak for the “brotherhood,” the “Church of Christ,” a college, or anyone else. These are my conclusions. The reader is free to take them or leave them. 2) The intent here is not to cover every single facet of whatever touches on the question. I am making particular observations regarding the question of instruments in congregational worship. 3) I realize this can be an emotionally charged issue. I also know that many disagree with me and that I am in the minority today (though not historically). I do not claim to solve every question by some authoritative declaration. All I ask is for careful consideration of these issues. Please refrain from responses that would insult intelligence or call into question a desire to please God, for I know this much: we can please God without ever picking up an instrument in an assembly. 4) I’m not expecting to provide some all new groundbreaking argument. However, there are some points for consideration that some may not have thought much about, particularly in the latter section.]

The question of the use of instruments in congregational worship has continued to be one of the more emotionally charged issues of today. Some will argue that it just doesn’t matter, and some will charge those who oppose their use with being legalists. While emotions can run high on both sides of this issue, it is yet fair to explain why some of us continue to oppose their use in worship. This is not so much out of a desire to debate the subject as much as to provide reasons for a more well-informed discussion. Here, then, is a synopsis providing a few basic reasons why there are those who still argue against the use of mechanical instruments in the congregational worship of God. The arguments typically fit within the following:

1. While the Old Testament shows their use by God’s authority, the New Testament documents give no indication of God desiring instruments in congregational worship now. With no such indication of God’s desire for instruments under the New Covenant, we are without warrant in using them, and those who do use them have the burden of proof to show such a warrant. The issue then revolves around how to understand God’s silence on an issue. Some argue that silence is permissive, while others argue that silence gives no authority to act. There are many layers to these arguments, of course. The bottom line is that those who argue against instruments do so on the basis of authority. He is in charge of His worship, not us. God is particular about singing (e.g., Eph 5:19), which is one type of music, but gives no indication that He wants instruments, another type of music, added to the singing. Since God was so specific about them under the Old Covenant, His silence on the matter under the New Covenant is so conspicuous that we should be very careful about putting something into His worship that He gives no indication of desiring. Presumption is to be avoided.

2. Historically, the evidence that early Christians used instruments in their worship is lacking. The documented use of instruments does not occur for centuries later, within a Roman Catholic context, and even many of the reformers, like John Calvin, were solidly against their use. For example, Calvin, in his commentary on Psalm 33, argued in the context of speaking about bringing in instruments under the New Covenant, “To proceed beyond what we are there warranted by him [Paul] is not only, I must say, unadvised zeal, but wicked and perverse obstinacy.” It is not just a modern “Church of Christ” issue, as if only churches of Christ began opposing instruments (see, for example, Old Light on New Worship,by John Price, a Baptist pastor who opposes instruments in worship). The use of instruments outside of the Roman Catholic context is, historically speaking, relatively new. The weight against the use of instrumental music in worship is historically strong and not to be lightly discarded.

3. It is sometimes argued that assemblies of Christians were modeled after the Jewish synagogues, yet Jewish worship in the synagogues did not entail the use of instruments, for the Jews saw instruments as connected to the Temple. After the Temple was destroyed, they refrained from recreating those instruments outside of that context. Even many modern synagogues still refrain from instrumental music (though they are divided on the issue). A simple search will show varying perspectives on this. Jewish Rabbi David Auerbach, who defends instruments if they enhance “the mitzvah of public worship,” writes,

“There are those who claim that musical instruments should not be used in the synagogue service because it is an imitation of gentile (i.e. non-Jewish) practice. In its early years, the Church also prohibited instrumental music because it was considered secular and might lead to licentiousness. The Syrian, Jacobite and Nestorian churches still prohibit instrumental music.” (http://www.jewishperspectives.com/music.asp)

4. While everyone can agree that singing is desired by God under the New Covenant Scriptures, not everyone will agree on the use of instruments in public worship. Therefore, instrumental music is divisive in a congregational setting. Many, though not all, will concede that those who want to use instruments in their own private setting are free to do so as they live with their own consciences, but bringing it into the public setting will force it upon others and thus create a divisive situation. Others will respond that if the whole congregation agrees on their use, then no division has occurred and this objection is nullified. It is likely that this objection will not be quite as persuasive now as it might have been when instruments were initially being introduced and causing obvious splits. Yet, should unity not still be a consideration in what a group decides about a practice that will involve everyone? Pushing a practice out of self-will should never be an option for a Christian, especially when admitting that such a practice is unnecessary, if not wrong.

Instruments Under the Old Law

Here we will elaborate on the point about instruments being part of the old Law.

First, God was not silent about instruments in the Hebrew Scriptures, so their use was not presumptuous. They were commanded during the time of David in preparation for the Temple, and God was particular about them — what they were, who would play them, when and where they would be played, etc. In other words, their use of instruments was not a matter of self-appointed talent and desire that they expected God to rubber-stamp, but rather it was an issue of God’s authority: “for the command was from the Lord through His prophets” (2 Chron 29:25). Contextually, the playing of the instruments in Hezekiah’s reforms worked in conjunction with the burnt offerings (see 2 Chron 29-30 where all of this was re-established under Hezekiah as being what God wanted).

The same Law system that had them offering the burnt offerings also had them playing the instruments at the Temple. Let that sink in for a moment. This is the Law system that has been fulfilled in Christ. To take one part of that system as a justification for modern practice, but not take the other part, is to be guilty of proof-texting and misappropriating the passages to favor one’s desired position.

What if we used the same arguments to justify modern day animal sacrifices or a separate priesthood? Why are we not hearing those arguments for these practices? They are part of the same system. If the arguments work for one, they work for the other.

Is it not odd, then, that those who argue so strongly against a Law-keeping mentality (what they call “legalism”) will argue for a practice that is grounded in the Law system, then call those who oppose it the “legalists”? How is not wanting to be presumptuous being legalistic? If the argument for the practice is founded upon a Law system that they stringently believe is not a part of our system of grace, then why appeal to it as justification for modern practice under a New Covenant?

Aren’t there principles that we carry across? Of course there are (cf. Rom 15:4, and see below). What has changed are not the principles or the character of God, but the stipulations. The stipulations included the Laws, commandments, and expectations. Included in these commands, from the time of David, were God’s instructions on the use of instruments for His worship.

If people wish to find justification for the use of musical instruments in corporate worship today, they won’t find it based on appealing to the Law without also justifying continued ritual burnt offerings, circumcision (as a sign of the covenant), the Aaronic Priesthood, and the host of other Laws that went together. Those who would be offended at the suggestion that we bring back animal sacrifices based on the Law should also be offended at the suggestion that we bring back the instruments based on the Law. Why? Because they represent the same Law system we all agree cannot justify us, not the new covenant system of grace. If authority for the instruments is to be found, it will not be in the stipulations of the Law. Justification for the practice needs to be found another way or abandoned.

How, then, should we view instruments under that system? Rather than arguing that these have been “done away with,” I argue that they need to be thought of as being fulfilled in Christ, just as the sacrifices, priesthood, and other items under the Law.

How are Instruments of Music Fulfilled in Christ?

The more I study the Scriptures as a whole, the more impressive is the idea of Christ fulfilling the Law. The concept runs deep and wide. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matt 5:17). We see this working in so many ways even in statements and events that are not necessarily “law”:

He fulfills the image of God perfectly (Heb 1:3).
He fulfills the Exodus by providing the greatest exodus of all out of the slavery of sin (John 8:31ff).
He is the Prophet like Moses (Acts 3).
He is the Lawgiver (James 2).
He fulfills the Passover as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (1 Cor 5:7; John 1:29).
He fulfills the role of High Priest (Heb 5-8).
He fulfills the Davidic promise of the King who built the House of God in the greatest sense (Acts 2, 13, Matt 16:18).
He fulfills the Temple as God dwelling among His people in the flesh (John 1:14).
He fulfills all the sacrifices (Heb 9-10).
He fulfills the seed promise to Abraham (Gal 3:16-17).

The list can go on, but it doesn’t stop with Jesus. His body (His people, His church), also, fulfills very specific aspects of what the Law represented:

We are the completion of the nation promise (1 Pet 2:9).
We are the fulfillment of the levitical priesthood as a kingdom of priests (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1).
We are, with Christ, the fulfillment of the Temple (1 Cor 3).
We are, with Christ, the fulfillment of the sacrifices (Rom 12:1-2; Heb 13).
As the priests were to wear garments that represented holiness, so we put on Christ and are to live our lives adorned with holiness (Rom 13:14).
We are the fulfillment of the true circumcision, “who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3).
We partake of the Lord’s Supper as fulfillment of the Passover and feast of Unleavened Bread — feasts that showed the end of slavery and beginning of a new life.

I don’t want to overdo it, but it seems pretty clear that God intended for specific actions under the Old Covenant to represent spiritual qualities for fulfillment in the New Covenant. God didn’t do anything without meaning, and it is this very point that I want to explore with reference to the instruments of music, by asking this question:

How are instruments fulfilled in Christ? I believe that the instruments are fulfilled in Christ through His people. Like other aspects of the Law and promises, instruments have a typological significance in terms of praise. Just as there was a special priesthood under the Law, there were also special singers and instrumental players under the Law. While Solomon was still trying to serve God, we find this: “Now according to the ordinance of his father David, he appointed the divisions of the priests for their service, and the Levites for their duties of praise and ministering before the priests according to the daily rule, and the gatekeepers by their divisions at every gate; for David the man of God had so commanded. And they did not depart from the commandment of the king to the priests and Levites in any manner or concerning the storehouses.” (2 Chron 8:14-15) Though instruments are not specifically mentioned here, they were part of the very same order (2 Chron 29:25). Notice again the stress on all of this being by God’s command. The Levites had duties of praise.

Now all of God’s people fulfill this purpose of praising God and proclaiming His excellencies (1 Pet 2:9). Under Christ, all of us form a kingdom of priests and all share in the duties of praise equally. God’s specified form of praise is through vocal singing, and the instruments are our hearts: “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). Here the instrument accompanying the singing is the heart. All of us are the priests, all of us are the singers, and all of us are the instruments of praise–and this would extend beyond the assemblies into one’s life of holiness. Yet, as Calvin, again, wrote in his commentary on Psalm 33, when they “frequent their sacred assemblies, musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law.” The argument here is against resurrecting the shadows of the Law, of which instruments were a part.

We should clarify that our reason for refraining from an activity is not just because that activity is found under the Law. Those in Israel taught and sang, too. Yet God has specifically told us how to praise Him through song as we psalm in our hearts to the Lord. The fulfillment of these activities is found in the way that we tune our hearts to His glory. “I will put My Laws in their hearts,” God said through Jeremiah. This doesn’t mean that He didn’t want it in their hearts before, but it does show an emphasis that God intends. It is not through the outward ways by which He had Israel express themselves — a visible priesthood, animal sacrifices, instruments of music, specific clothing, etc. All of these are fulfilled in the hearts of God’s people as they offer up themselves as living sacrifices. Our clothing is Christ. We are His instruments for praise. We are His priesthood. So why do we still sing and teach? Because that’s what God has expressed as His desire. The bottom line is still that it is an issue of His authority. He has the right to tell us what praises Him.

Do I, then, believe in instruments of music today? In fulfillment, yes. I believe that we, His people, are the fulfillment of the shadow cast by the mechanical instruments under the old system. They were given for a reason in connection with the Temple. So we, in connection with being God’s Temple, are also the holy priesthood in holy array, offering ourselves as the spiritual sacrifices, presenting ourselves as the instruments for praise, and offering up prayers as incense. What began in the Temple is fulfilled in us and will find its ultimate completion before God in heaven (see Rev 15 where that imagery is carried forward).

My assessment, then, is this: when we focus on physical, mechanical instruments, we are missing the bigger picture. It wasn’t the physical Temple God was ultimately interested in. It wasn’t the animal sacrifices, the incense, the levitical priesthood or the instruments He ultimately wanted. All these were shadows of the greater fulfillment found in Christ. Instead, let us focus on how we, as God’s people, ought to be a holy Temple, a royal priesthood, and instruments of praise for Him now. Don’t focus on the shadow. Focus on the substance.

Doy Moyer

“Jesus’ Wife” Fragment: A Continuing Puzzle

Interesting continuance of similar thoughts from another article I read yesterday @

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2013/12/plagiarism-personality-driven-leadership-and-the-problem-with-evangelicalism/

Larry Hurtado's Blog

A few weeks ago I asked here what further news there was about the so-called “Jesus’ wife” fragment announced to the world in late summer 2012.  Since then, despite direct inquiry to Prof. King (the email address listed for her no longer valid) and asking several scholars who were in various ways directly involved in the analysis of the item last year, it has proven impossible to get anything further than the last notice about it given in early 2013, that it was undergoing further “tests”.  (How long does it take to conduct such tests, after all?)

We do know that the article on the fragment by Prof. King on the fragment announced as forthcoming in Harvard Theological Review was put on hold, and, so far as one can tell, seems now likely permanently so (i.e., it isn’t going to appear).  It also seems that the TV programme in preparation…

View original post 550 more words

Keep it in Context, By: Doy Moyer

Picture

As a principle, keeping in something in context is everything. In our Bible study, taking something out of context can be disastrous. It is easy to cherry-pick passages, use them as proof-texts, and make the Bible say whatever suits our fancy.

But sometimes the phrase, “keep it in context,” is also abused. It can easily become a phrase that substitutes for, “I disagree with you, and because I am always right then you are obviously taking things out of context.”

“Keep it in context” is not a catch-all for showing others how wrong they are when they disagree with us. Using the phrase (or other such terms like, “contextually”) does not automatically put a passage in context, nor does it prove we are right because we said the magic words. In all fairness, if we believe that someone has taken something out of context in a discussion, instead of just saying, “keep it in context,” we might want to point to what we believe that context is. If we cannot show how or where something is taken out of context, then do we have a right to say that others have taken something out of context?

In short, there is a difference between actually keeping something in context, and simply invoking the terminology to prove we are right.

To keep something in context requires a number of observations. For example, we might ask the following questions:

  1. What is the overarching context? What is the immediate context? What is the historical context? What’s going on in that time and place that may affect why or the way something is said?
  2. What is the occasion for the writing (particularly in the epistles)? What is the purpose of the work?
  3. What is the literary context? Is this historical narrative? Poetry? What is the genre? What is the nature of the symbolic language employed? How is language being used?
  4. Who is speaking? To whom? When? Why? How? (You know, the typical questions are never out of place)
  5. Is this meant to be limited to its own setting, or does it cross over time and culture? (Is anyone supposed to be building an ark today?)

This is not exhaustive, but these illustrate the kind of questions we would want to ask of a given text. Keeping something in context takes thought and study. Let’s not just say it. Let’s work at it.

via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2013/12/keep-it-in-context.html

Armchair Bible Interpreters, By: Doy Moyer

“Well, you believe in a god who commanded murder, permitted rape, and condoned slavery and homophobia. The same Old Testament forbade wearing different fabrics in the same garment. How naive do you expect us to be?”

These types of comments are not uncommon in discussions about the Bible, particularly among atheists. They take potshots at Bible passages that think they demonstrate the folly of the Bible itself, and thus justify their disbelief, then give no real considerations to responses.

It is amazing how flippant some of these comments can be. They show little to no respect for historical or literary context. They give no thought to the overall themes of Scripture. They just cherry-pick passages that sound bad when they are isolated and then use them (abuse them) to make their point.

This illustrates a problem with what we might think of as “armchair Bible interpreters.” These are people who sit on the sidelines in their comfy chairs while they take their shots at Bible passages. They haven’t done the hard work of really trying to understand the contexts, the covenants, or the themes. They see isolated passages that sound bad, pick them out, throw them at believers, then sit back and enjoy their self-proclaimed victory over those gullible nuts who accept those ancient myths and superstitions.

It is always easier to make a mess than it is to clean it up, and people know this. A sentence or two, or perhaps a paragraph, can make a real mess out of an issue, and it takes a much longer response to set things straight. One sentence can make a mess, and it takes a chapter to fix it. Looking at themes, contexts, and fuller considerations cannot be done in a sentence or two. It takes time, patience, and hard work, which is not typically what people want to do when they are trying to justify a preconceived position.

Bible study is indeed hard work. There is no short cut. There is no way to do justice to a passage or a context in a post of 140 characters. To do the work, one must be committed to it, roll up the sleeves (of the mind), and dig in. Once we do that, many of those alleged problems are not so much of a problem any more. I’m not saying there still won’t be difficulties; I’m not saying we’ll know all that we wish to know. I am saying that difficulties are exaggerated and worsened when given by armchair interpreters who are too lazy to dig in and do the work that is actually needed. Misrepresenting Scripture is easy. It is also lazy.

To clarify, I’m not talking here about an elite group of professionals who alone have the authority to interpret. Scripture should be in the hands of everyone, but that doesn’t make study easy. I’m speaking of the need for everyone to do the hard work of striving to grasp a text instead of just taking a cursory look and making major judgments about its meaning and application.

Even among believers, it is easy to cherry-pick and proof-text. We see a passage that says something we like for it to say, so we go with it before we’ve done any of the hard work of putting it in context and grasping the actual meaning. We might get lucky, but Bible study isn’t supposed to be about luck.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).

Of course, this passage is more than just studying (as the KJV puts it). Our diligence needs to go beyond reading the text into the application of our lives. Nevertheless, handling the word accurately is a prime concern for believers, and proper application begins with the initial meaning of a text.

Armchair interpreters are content with finding statements in the Bible that say what they want, whether it be believers or unbelievers. We must not be content with such an attitude. Be diligent. Get in the game. Do the work. Only then will we be in a proper position to talk about the text with more than an unstudied opinion.

Authority: Are We Worshipping the Bible? By: Doy Moyer

Picture
Sometimes, in discussions of biblical authority, we hear the derogatory charge that those of us who push so hard for authority are guilty of “bibliolatry,” idolizing or worshipping the Bible in particular. Since we put so much stress on the authority of Scripture, are we guilty of promoting Scripture over God Himself? Perhaps the better question is this: what is the relationship of God to Scripture?

Scripture is not simply words in black and white (and red) on a material page. There is nothing authoritative about simple words on a page by themselves. The issue is the source of the message that is written down. If we just coldly isolate the words and demand adherence to them without understanding their true relationship to God, then those who make the charge may have a point. On the other hand, making the charge could also be a subtle way of trying to distance oneself from Scripture. If Scripture really is authoritative because of its relationship to God, then there are restrictions to the way that we may acceptably serve God. If we can remove the restrictions by minimizing authority, then we will feel free to serve God as we please. In this sense, then, this issue may be more about self-will (or self-idolatry) versus God’s will. Who gets to decide how God should be served and worship?

The reason for believing that Scripture is authoritative is because of its relationship to God, not because it is someone’s creed from long ago written on paper. While this article is not about proving inspiration, the point should be understood: if Scripture comes ultimately from God, then it bears His authority. To the extent that Scripture is God’s word, then it is authoritative; if it isn’t His word, then it is no more authoritative than what any of us may come up with and put down on paper. That Scripture is from God is the very point reflected in Paul’s statement about the Hebrew Scriptures:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).

If it falls into that category of “Scripture,” then it is authoritative because it is God-breathed. This is not the worship of the Bible, but rather the worship and service of the God from whom the Scriptures come. Now the question would be this: can we truly serve and worship God when we ignore or minimize the message that He has given? God is directly tied to His own word, and Scripture recognizes this:

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two- edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb 4:12-13)

Notice in this text how the writer moves from “the word of God” to God Himself. There is really no way to separate the authority of God from the authority of His word. “Then God said” are some of the first powerful words of Scripture (Gen 1), and from this point, “Thus says the Lord” is a continual appeal of the prophets. If the Lord said it, it is authoritative and is not to be ignored. “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking” (Heb 12:25).

The word of God is not to be restricted only to written form, of course. The word of God has been much more than that which is recorded, and not every word God ever spoke (or everything He ever did) is recorded in our Scriptures (cf. John 21:25). Jesus Himself is the Word became flesh (John 1:1, 14). He is God’s message and communication in the greatest sense. But God’s message has been put down in writing, and that message is to be respected as much as anything the prophets, apostles, or even Jesus orally spoke.

The connection of Jesus to His words is vital: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48). If His “sayings” are written down on paper, does that make them any less authoritative and connected to Jesus? The words spoken by Jesus “are spirit and are life,” and He has the “words of eternal life” (John 6:63, 68). Whether these are heard orally or read from a book, they are still His words, His message, and His authority. “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

Indeed, where else shall we go for our authority? Shall we consider our own words more authoritative? Are our writings better than the first century New Testament documents? Where shall we go for the words of eternal life?  Is it worshipping the Bible if we give due respect to these words?

The reality is that if we don’t give Scripture its proper due when it comes to authority (as it is God’s authority), then we aren’t truly worshipping or serving God. To ignore God’s word is to ignore God Himself and give ourselves the authority that only belongs to Him. This isn’t about worshipping the Bible. It is about giving God the proper reverence and respect that only He deserves. We cannot give that respect to Him if we do not pay attention to the message that He inspired to be inscribed with ink on the pages of a material book. The material certainly won’t last, but the word of God will endure forever. If the word of the Lord uses the material for a time, then we are amenable to it and we will be held accountable. The word He spoke will judge us in the last day. Herein is the essence of the need for paying attention to His authority.

via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/6/post/2013/11/authority-are-we-worshipping-the-bible.html