Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Apologetics Study Bible

I was looking for an introductory book on Christian philosophy. Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason, in his Feb 11, 2007 podcast suggested Greg Ganssle's book, "Thinking about God," as an excellent book. I checked it out and then thought of J.P. Moreland. This is where I discovered that Moreland was working on this project.

The Apologetics Study Bible is a product of Broadman & Holman Publishing Group and will use the full text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation. Now, I do not know much about this translation, however, I did read somewhere that it is pretty good.

This study bible includes profiles on such notable apologists as Justin Martyr and C.S. Lewis, and contributions were made by people such as Charles Colson, J.P. Moreland, Josh McDowell and Norm Geisler.

If you want one of these Bibles, you will have to wait until Oct 1, 2007 when it is released, and if you are in South Africa, you will have to wait until Nov 2007.

It really seems that there are many good study Bibles appearing, and my hope is that Christians will buy these Bibles, not simply to own a "good" study Bible, but to actually learn and grow in the Lord and to move closer to the truth of the gospel.

Other study Bibles that I posted about are:
Archaeological Study Bible
The Literary Study Bible

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Never a Christian

For many years, indeed centuries by now, many Christians have thought that since they are in control of their own salvation (becoming a Christian), they would also be in control of remaining saved (a Christian). Therefore, some believe that if they chose to become Christians, they can also choose to no longer be Christians.

My assumption is that many that once claimed to be Christians, and now are 'ex-Christians' (whatever that means), fall into this category of "former" Christians.

This comes from preaching a God from the pulpit that is at the mercy of its creatures. This type of Christianity preaches a "god" that must beg his creation to believe in him. By some divine fiat he ascribed some sort of almighty free-will to humans that he cannot violate, and as a result people can either choose to follow him or to stop following him. This, therefore, can occur several times in a person's lifetime!

Now, that is serving and believing in a small god! A god that has no control over his creatures, and, in fact is completely subject to the sovereign control of his creatures! Who wants to serve such a small god anyway?

The Bible makes it clear that those who leave Christianity after a profession of faith, were never Christians to start with.

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us."
1 John 2:19

Jesus made it clear that once He saves someone, He saves that person completely!

"Jesus answered them, 'I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, ~26~ but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. ~27~ My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. ~28~ I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. ~29~ My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. ~30~ I and the Father are one.'"
John 10:25-30

Once Christ has saved someone that person will never perish, and no one will snatch the saved person out of His hand! This is called the Perseverance of the Saints, or like I like to call it, the Preservation of the Saints. Christ is the One who does the "saving" and He is also the One who does the "keeping."

Salvation belongs to the Lord. Why would He make it dependent upon us to "save ourselves" when the very reason we need salvation precludes us from being able to make such a saving choice?

To understand salvation Biblically, read the online book The Reformed Faith by Loraine Boettner.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Grace Seminary for Women

Visit Grace Seminary for Women A new seminary, called Grace Seminary for Women has started.

Like me, you probably asked the question, "Why a seminary for women only?" This is their answer:

"The Apostle Paul commended Lois and Eunice for teaching and training Timothy in the faith. Later, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he instructed Christian women to train their children as well as younger women in both doctrine and practice in order to better follow the Lord Jesus. The goal at Grace Seminary for Women is to equip and enable Christian women everywhere to hold the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God in one hand being enabled to defend the faith while hold the hand of a child or guiding a young woman in the faith, teaching and training them in the fear and admonition of the Lord."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The ESV Literary Study Bible

See samples of The Literary Study Bible. Having posted on the Archaeological Study Bible earlier today, I discovered that the ESV will soon be available as The ESV Literary Study Bible! Here is a short blurb on this new study Bible:

"The ESV Literary Study Bible approaches the Bible as literature and shows how the application of literary tools of analysis helps tremendously in reading and understanding the Bible. Readers are introduced to the literary features of each book of the Bible and to each section within each book.

"While traditional Bibles are reference books, this is truly a reader’s Bible. The format (single-column, black-letter, 8.5-point text, no section headings) and commentary make it ideal for private devotional
reading, for preachers and Bible teachers, and for use in group Bible

This looks like a study Bible worth purchasing! I had a look at the sample that is available (click on the image above to download the PDF sample) and it looks much different than the usual study Bible.

Many readers of the Bible are completely stumped while reading their Bibles at times, simply because they do not recognize the different genres that the Bible was written in. This study Bible will definitely help in diminishing that confusion!

It should be available Sep 2007!

HT: Justin Taylor.

Archaeological Study Bible

See a sample of the Archaeological Study BibleHave you ever heard of the Archaeological Study Bible? Well it is brand new. Here is a blurb from its website:

"To engage the Bible more, you need to enter the world from which it came. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, The Archaeological Study Bible is filled with study material that opens your eyes to the archaeological, historical, and cultural contexts of the stories you read and the people you meet in Scripture.

"Take a journey back to the lands and origins of the Bible for an unparalleled encounter with the Word of God. Get insights into the roots of the Bible that will strengthen your faith and open new vistas of knowledge and understanding. Like no other study Bible, this one provides a sweeping, detailed look at the lands and times of Scripture, bringing to light the importance of ancient civilizations, practices, historical records and artifacts, literature, architecture, religions, laws, events, movements, geography, agriculture, wars and battles, political and monetary systems, historical figures and other factors that are critical to a deep and accurate grasp of the Bible.

  • "Full-color throughout, including 500 full-color photographs!
  • Emphasizes the trustworthiness of the Bible, and uses the bestselling NIV Bible translation.
  • Satisfies widely-expressed interest in Biblical archaeology and makes the subject easily accessible to readers."

The only problem I have with it, is that Zondervan published it using the NIV as its text. I would have preferred a more serious translation such as the NASB or ESV.

The NIV is fine as far as it goes; however, being a dynamic-equivalent translation leaves much to be desired in terms of serious Bible study.

For that matter, both the ESV and NASB would have been preferable, since both are literal translations.

I suppose we would have to wait and see what happens in the future!

HT: Dan Phillips

17 April 2007
I emailed Zondervan earlier today to find out if they will ever publish the Archaeological Study Bible in either the ESV or NASB. I received the following from their Customer Care department:
"At this time there are no plans to make the Archaeological Study Bible in any other Bible version. I will pass your suggestion on to our Bible department for review."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Blogger Code of Conduct

It seems that there is something brewing in the blogosphere. It is the idea of a Code of Conduct for bloggers across the 'sphere. We have to admit that the 'sphere is huge, and it is growing at a rapid pace. All kinds of weirdos are jumping onto the blogging bandwagon. Of course, to someone else I may be a weirdo.

HT: Carla.

Tim O'Reilly has come up with a Draft Blogger's Code of Conduct. Naturally, not everybody agrees that there should be such a Code of Conduct.

O'Reilly even came up with a badge that can be put somewhere on your blog if you feel that you want readers to know that you are willing to enforce such a Code on your blog.

One of the dissenters is Dave Taylor over at The Intuitive Life Business Blog. You can read his argument about why he will never sign up to such a code at his post, Why I'll never sign up for any Blogger Code of Conduct.

I left the following comments at his blog. I just thought I'd share it with you too!

I think a Code of Conduct is good. In some kind of way I like to see the blogosphere mimic real life. Meaning, in real life there are acceptable and unacceptable ways of speaking to one another. If there was no Code of Conduct, society will unravel into a cess pool of anarchy.

The same thing will happen in the blogosphere. In fact, it is happening in many areas already. For that reason, if you do have either of the two badges on your blog, it will immediately make commenters aware of the type of conduct that is acceptable.

I think it is great to walk into a place and immediately know what type of behaviour is expected. Based on that, I don't have to waste my time there if bad behaviour is acceptable. It is a kind of banner above the entrance that gives a warning of the type of place you are about to enter. I can decide to act even
before I enter.

In the same way, I really do not want to waste my time reading a blog where bad behaviour is acceptable. We are all very busy, and it would help cut out wasted time reading unnecessary blogs.

O'Reilly even created a badge for those sites where anything goes.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

U2: Christian?

Many seem to think that the band, U2, is Christian, especially their lead man Bono.

In my mind, the jury is still out, since it is almost impossible to simply use the words of their songs as an indicator of their status concerning salvation. I many times wonder if some explicit Christian bands are really Christian! How much more when a world famous personality like Bono claims to be Christian!

Well, here are some links to get you started:
Why I Would Follow Bono Into Hell...
Mock the Devil
U2 Sermons (I know... it does sound like an oxymoron!)
Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Prophets for our profit?

It seems that the in-thing these days is to be known as a prophet! They are really coming out of the wood-work! I sometimes wonder if they listen to themselves at all?! If they had any theological savvy, they would come to realize that they speak a lot of nonsense most of the time.

With a little bit of Bible history they can avoid a lot of embarrassment!

In fact, churches that play up this type of nonsensical ministry might just avoid embarrassment for themselves!

Why do I say this? Well, a so-called prophet recognized by many as a prophet prophesied at church on Sunday. In his prophecy he spoke of the events of Joshua being 3000 years before Christ. Well, do you see the problem here?

The events surrounding Joshua's life are about 1400 years before Christ. To put it simply, either God was wrong in His words to this prophet, or this prophet did not hear God! We know God cannot be wrong; so, it is self-evident that this man did not hear from God and neither is he a prophet!

What is so amazing is that he gave his prophecy with this factual error intact and no-one even raised an eyebrow! Of course, I did! I immediately told my wife that this "prophecy" was in error.So, in fact, the whole church was duped!

It seems that prophets are not just hanging around our churches these days. They are setting up "shop" in suburban areas too where they advertise their services. Free, of course! There is a disclaimer! "The Lord cannot help those who fail to show appreciation to the prophets he sent to help them.”

The problem with many of these profits prophets, is that they think that because they are prophets, they do not need to study the Bible at all.

No REAL prophet of God will side-line the Bible like that!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Looking back to the gospel

It is that time of the year in which we do not just commemorate the real, historic and physical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we indeed celebrate it!

It is now that we once again think about the gospel, and I thought I'd take you back to a post I wrote back in October 2005 called, What is the Gospel? What is the foundation to the Gospel?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Decision Making and the Will of God - Part 5

Having finished Part Two of the book last time, we now enter Part Three of Friesen's book with chapter 8, Your Word is Truth.

Chapter 8 is really setting up the need for the Christian to know the moral will of God. This chapter, really, tells us that where God commands, we must obey. That is what the moral will of God is all about!

Even though Friesen uses the concept of the moral law to describe the revealed will of God, he goes further than the mere duty of obeying God's commands. He brings in the idea that we should love the Lord our God with everything and then also to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mt 22:37-40). It is in love that the law is fulfilled. Or as Friesen quotes one of his professors, "The law is what love would do."[1]

The nature of the moral will of God is that it is the expression of the character of God, it has been fully revealed to us in the Bible and it touches every facet and moment of life.

In its specifics, the moral will of God guides us in attaining our goals, our attitudes in attaining those goals and the means we use to achieve those goals. Friesen explains that the means must first be lawful and next must be wise.

"Since no decision is made in a vacuum, the degree to which we pursue godly goals with righteous attitudes and wise actions will be largely determined by our perspective on life. In particular, the Christian whose worldview is shaped by Scripture will have a sense of self-identity different from the world's."[2]

The final attribute of the nature of the moral will of God, is that it is able to equip believers everywhere for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).

Friesen makes a self-evident point that somehow escapes the understanding of so many Christians, that to gain a good understanding of the moral will of God, one has to go to the source of that knowledge, the Bible! It amazes me how many Christians do not get this point!

Once we come to an understanding of God's moral will, obedience must follow. We need to do God's will, not just know it. Friesen notes that John expected those born of God to give evidence that they were new creations by their obedience to the moral will of God. This obedience is not the basis for salvation, but rather is the evidence for it.

Finally, Friesen gives some practical suggestions on how to become acquainted with the moral will of God. First, it is important to read large portions of the Bible in a sitting to gain the big picture of those portions. This may even be good in a group setting, discussing those points that really spoke to the readers. Second, it is important to memorize Scripture. Repetition is of utmost importance. Finally, memorize short titles for each chapter of the Bible. That way, it will become a quick reference to just about any main subject in the Bible.

What is important in the learning of Scripture, is not to win some trivia competition, but rather to be trained for godliness.

What really interested me at the end of this chapter, is that Friesen seems to believe that God can still give us special revelation in terms of guidance, but that such revelation must be subject to Biblical tests. These cases of special revelation may include the divine voice, angels, dreams or some other special revelatory miracle. Friesen does limit this type of guidance by saying that although "special guidance is possible, it is not promised nor do most believers have reason to expect it."[3]

I did not see this one coming from Friesen. While he was debunking the whole idea of the Traditional View and its inner impressions, I assumed that Friesen would not be open to such "special revelation" at all! We will have to wait however for chapter 15 when he deals with the subject of special revelation to see what he has to say on this matter.

Anyhow, next we will deal with the God-given freedom to choose what we want to do in our lives.

Continue with Part 6...

[1] Friesen, p119.
[2] Ibid., p123.
[3] Ibid., p136.

Gay Anglican cleric denies Christ's death for sins

As we have seen so often now, the Anglican church in England (and indeed the Episcopal church in the USA), keeps digging the hole deeper in the miry clay of sin and heresy.

Another UK 'gay' Anglican cleric is speaking out against the death of Christ for sins.

"In other words, Jesus took the rap and we got forgiven as long as we said we believed in him," said Rev. Jeffrey John. "This is repulsive as well as nonsensical. It makes God sound like a psychopath. If a human behaved like this we'd say that they [sic] were a monster." You can read further about what irReverend Jeffrey John believes here.

What amazes me is that the Church of England has absolutely NO backbone to get rid of so-called ministers such as this man!

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