The importance of framing your worldview

Slide1The landscape of our culture’s thought patterns is changing rapidly. You will struggle to grasp how significant those changes are unless you examine their foundations. The following slides will walk you through seven different worldviews that have left a significant impact on our society, and provide you with the Biblical response.
J.B. Phillips warned us:

Do not let the world squeeze you into its mold, but instead let yourself be transformed by the renewing of your mind (J.B. Phillips translation of Romans 12:2)

Now is the time to think carefully about what you believe (slides read from left to right).


5 key words applied to the Bible

Five words are essential to understand how the Word came into being, and how we are to study and apply it to our daily lives.
Revelation refers to the message (2 Pet. 1:4; John 1:18).
In The Moody Handbook of Theology Dr. Paul Enns writes, 
Revelation is…that act of God whereby he discloses himself or communicates truth to the mind. . . that could not be known in any other way.
Simply put, we weren’t going to figure it out on our own. We needed God to communicate the message, and he did through his Word and through his son.
Inspiration refers to the method (2 Pet. 1:20-21)
The apostle Peter captured it this way:
knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21)
God moved the writers of Scripture. Like a gentle breeze moves a sailboat, God took them where he wanted to take them to go. Benjamin Warfield described inspiration in this way,
. . . a supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are given Divine trustworthiness. 
Preservation refers to maintaining (Matt. 5:18)
God promised that no portion of the Word of God would slip away until it all had been fulfilled (Matt. 5:18). Such a promise was God’s committment to maintain the message through the years. While the Bible is a work of antiquity, the Spirit of God has maintained it with the highest level of integrity. Discoveries like the Dead Sea Scrolls verify for us that the message is indeed intact, and has been handed down with integrity. There was nothing lost in translation through the years.
Consider the following:
•Tacitus, the historian of Rome wrote Annals of Imperial Rome in 116 AD, there is 1 manuscript dated to 850 AD. A gap of 700 years.
•Josephus, the Jewish Historian wrote in the first century, there are 9 manuscripts dated to the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries. A gap of 1000 years.
•Homer’s Iliad was written in 800 BC, there are 650 manuscripts that date to 2nd and 3rd century AD. A gap of 1000 years.
•The Bible’s New Testament was written in Greek in the 1st century, there are over 5000 manuscripts; several of them date to the second century. A gap of 50 to 70 years.
Up against such evidence Dr. Bruce Metzger comments,

The quantity of New Testament material is almost embarrassing in comparison to other works of antiquity.

 Interpretation refers to meaning (2 Tim. 2:15)

Paul challenged Timothy to divide it rightly (2 Tim. 2:15). Peter told his readers that if you weren’t careful you could misunderstand Paul’s writing (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Sometimes we get all excited about our discovery in the Word. We would do well to ask, “Is this what God meant by what he said?” We should be after God’s intended meaning, not our own.

My pastor for a number of years, John MacArthur, was fond of saying,

More important than what the Scriptures means to me, is what the Scripture means.

Application refers to making changes (Jam. 1:22; 2 Tim. 3:16)

James challenged us that we should be doers of the Word, not hearers only. If we claim to have learned a truth from the Word, but can’t live it out we are deceived. As we complete our study of God’s Word we ought to look for places in our own lives where application is appropriate.

D L Moody said,

The Scriptures were not given for our information but for our transformation.

In what ways is the Word of God transforming you today?

Believing in what we cannot see

The Bible says that “Faith is the realization of things hoped for, the confidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Perhaps you, like others, struggle to put your confidence in something or some-one you cannot see. Some people believe that if they can’t see it, it can’t possibly be real.

Imagine that I am holding in my fist a 1941-42 wartime mercury dime. A friend of mine tells me that such a piece is valued at $250. Because my fist is closed, you can’t see it. You simply have my word that it’s there. Whether you can see it or not, however, doesn’t make it any less real. Reality isn’t limited by what you see anymore than it is limited by what I see.  Let’s say that I wanted to determine whether you really trust me. Imagine that, in my system of values, whether you believed me was more important than all the things you did to impress me.

The best way for me to determine the sincerity of your belief is for me to ask you to put your confidence in me for that dime even though you have not yet seen it. If you do only that, I say, the dime can be yours. But you must believe even though you cannot see. When someone asks me if I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior, my answer is a definitive Yes!  When they ask me how I can believe in what I cannot see, my answer is that I believe God when He says He cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and that His promise of eternal life to those who believe in His Son (even though they haven’t yet seen Him) is true (John 1:12).

And one other thing, I believe that one day He will open His hand, but I won’t look upon a $250 dime. Instead I will see for the first time the scars from the nails that bought my salvation.  Do you still want to believe only in what you can see?

Creation and God’s existence

There are people who say that they don’t believe in God because they have never seen Him. I must confess, I’ve never understood that argument. Have they ever been sailing? Or do they refuse to go because they would be dependent upon the wind they cannot see?

The apostle Paul spoke about this in Romans 1 when He recorded, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

Theologian Paul Enns illustrates this principle through his love for Bulova wristwatches.  He writes,

I have always been partial to Bulova watches, because my father was a jeweler and always wore a Bulova wristwatch. A wrist watch is a precision instrument – it is small, intricately made, amazing in its ability    to    keep    accurate    time. If I were to open my wristwatch it would probably say, ‘Made in Switzerland.’

Although I have never been to Switzerland or a watch factory I know that somewhere there is a watch factory that manufactures wristwatches. How do I know? Because my wristwatch bears witness of the fact. Every effect demands a cause. Something does not come from nothing. A wristwatch demands that there is a watchmaker; . . .a house demands that there is a carpenter, and a creation demands that there is a Creator. Since the world exists there must be a cause for its existence; it did not come into being by accident.

I agree with Paul Enns. It only makes sense to believe in God. So next time someone tells you they don’t believe in God, ask them where they got their watch. For if they believe that something as simple as their watch didn’t come about by chance, how could they possibly say that something as complicated as human life came about that way?

What we can learn from Church history…

One Sunday morning I took a chance. I did something I’d never done before, and that I’d never seen done before. We took the morning teaching time and studied church history. I confess I was a little nervous. History isn’t known as a subject that inspires most of us. After all the dates, places, and names of the past may help us with a game of Trivia Pursuit, but that’s about all they can do. Not so with church history. It can inspire.

As we study Christians from the past that put their careers, their families, and their very lives on the line for Christ we are encouraged to live more Godly lives.

Take Ignatius and Polycarp for instance. Two leaders in the early church whom when asked to turn their back on Jesus Christ and live, chose to remain faithful to Him and die. And others followed suit. You see, as those in the early church watched their leaders die for the faith they too were inspired to surrender their lives.

The best example? Take the Christians who lived in Rome under Nero’s reign. The historian Tacitus reminds us that the citizens of Rome believed that it was Nero himself who started the fires that broke out on June 18th, A.D. 64. These fires burned for six days and seven nights destroying ¾ of the city. When it was all over, Nero began looking for scapegoat – someone to blame for the fires. His eyes fell upon the 1st century Christians. Although they were guilty of nothing, Nero sought creative ways to take their lives. He had them dressed in furs to be attacked and killed by dogs. Others he would crucify.  Others he would impale upon stakes and light his gardens by night using them as human torches. And still the Christians refused to deny Christ and worship the Roman gods.

What they had found in a personal relationship with Christ sustained them through great suffering. Those early Christians not only discovered a Person worth living for; they had also discovered a cause worth dying for. May we learn our commitment from those who counted the cost and lived like it mattered.

Who has known the mind of the Lord?

Creation helps us stand in awe of the Creator. His wisdom. His power. His strength. We are left to say with Job, “I know you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). Few acts of creation do this as well as the vastness of the universe. The video is entitled “In the Heavens.” My daughter added the music of a good friend of our family, Jodi Frankfurt, who has since gone home to be with the Lord. Reflect upon the greatness of our God as you watch and listen. For additional reflection consider reading Psalm 19; Job 40, 41, 42.

The pictures were discovered by the Hubble space telescope that was carried into orbit in 1990 and began to send back images  from the parts of our universe that we did not even know existed. . .  although our Creator did.

If you receive this blog by email, you may need go to the home page to view the video. It is approximately 6 minutes in length.

Courage in the Face of Storms

There is a simple prayer uttered by the early disciples of Christ in Acts chapter 4.  In the face of threats from the religious bureaucracy of the day they prayed to the Lord for courage. In their words, “grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word” (Acts 4:29). Remarkably, in spite of the persecution that ensued, God honored that request.  What you discover is a group of men who preached the gospel about Jesus Christ in spite of the outcome.

While at the temple they were found to be preaching the message of salvation through Jesus and they were thrown in prison (Acts 5:17).

 Unbeknownst to the jealous religious leaders, and the jail-keepers that night an angel let them out of prison. The next morning when the leaders went to the prison to bring them to trial, they opened the door and found they weren’t there! But these prisoners didn’t simply evaporate. While the high priest wandered how he could find them, a messenger brought him word that they were back telling the truth about Jesus in the temple (Acts 5:25) – the very place where they had been arrested the first time. When confronted and asked to stop preaching the message about Jesus, Peter responded, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

 This time before their release they were beaten (Acts 5:40). That would seem to be a fairly effective deterrent for most of us. If when we proclaimed a message we were beaten for it, we might have a tendency to speak with greater political correctness the next time around. However, this group had a different perspective. Know where they went upon their release? Right back to the temple, and there they “didn’t cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42). What a great example these disciples provide us with.  The Gospel of Jesus was something worth being courageous about.