Tag Archives: scripture

Who I Am and What it Means

I am a brand new person; not a forgiven sinner (as seen on bumper stickers) but a heavenly saint.

  1. Naturally (which a Christian is not – Romans 8:9) a person is self-ish (which is the basic human problem and the root of all sin).  And since no one is satisfied with himself the way he is naturally (physically, etc.) we all tend to have a poor self-image.  The only answer is not psyching oneself up (“I’m OK, you’re OK”), nor even making changes in what we are or aren’t, but becoming a brand new person, somebody different.
  2. In order to effect this, all that we are “by nature” has to die, be buried, and forgotten. (Matthew 10:38, 16:24)  The Bible says that happened to us when Christ died on the cross (Romans 6, Col. 3).  Christ was not simply our substitute, who died for us; we died with Him.  It is up to us to believe that and practice it. (Romans 6:11, Col 2:20)  He that would “save” his life will lose it….etc.  He cannot be two persons, one old and one new.  The Christian is only one person; he does not have two natures, like a Jekyll and Hyde.
  3. In place of our “old man” (like a kernel of corn that dies, or a graft on a stump, even baby in a womb) a new self is born.  (John 3, Matt. 18:3)  It began – just as we all “began” physically in Adam – when Christ came out of the tomb, a new man, Second Adam.  It starts – is born – individually when we become Christians.  It is Christ himself in us, the very Spirit that animated Him.  We are Christ-ians!  (Col. 1:27, Romans 8:10)
  4. This new person, the new”you”, is perfect (can Christ be anything else?).  (I John 3)  That is why Christians are called “saints” in the Bible; it is what they are, now.  The new “you” is immortal; eternal life does not begin when we die, but at re-generation. (John 3:36, I John 3 :14)
  5. How then do we explain the “dualism” in a Christian, his sin?  A Christian consists of three “parts” (like the Old Testament temple, even the triune God).  In this way he is a true human being, a real reflection of God; an unbeliever is just body-soul, a refined animal, whose “spirit” is empty like the Holy of Holies in Herod’s temple.  (Matt. 7:23, I Peter 2:10, II Peter 2:12)  The Christian’s spirit is God’s very Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27), the Spirit of Christ; his soul (mind, will, emotions) is “sanctified” gradually by that perfect Spirit (Gal. 5:16–); his body also is bettered because of its controlling Spirit, but is made up of corruptible elements in order to fit its earthly environment, and perfect Spirit.  (I Cor. 15)  A Christian is satisfied with his present body – insofar as it cannot be improved – , knowing it is perfect for its present purposes.
  6. The “struggle” that a Christian has, then, is not a war with himself (the worst kind there is), but what the Bible calls the “flesh” (including soul as well as body).  These “motions of the flesh” are like the “knee-jerks” of a corpse, or coasting of a “dead” auto.  They are not “you” (Romans 7:17).  Romans 7 is not a description of normal Christian life, but the struggles of a moral unbeliever, or carnal Christian trying to improve in his own strength.

What are the results of all this?

  1.  I am a new person NOW (not in some uncertain future).  Cannan in the Bible is not a picture of heaven (and Jordan of death) but a condition of rest and possession that we ought to enjoy right now.
  2. Total forgiveness; sins of future as well as past (don’t have to ask for forgiveness; thank God for it).  God even says he forgets all our sins. (Isaiah 38:17, 43:25, Jer. 31:33, Hebrews 8:12, 10:17)  We must too.  (Hebrews 9:14; 10:2, 22; I John 3:20; Phil. 3:13)  Satan cannot rob us of our salvation, but he can and does rob us of our assurance, which is almost as bad.
  3. We do not have to fear a future judgment.  (Romans 5:1; 8:1,33,34)  If we already died with Christ, we have been judged and all sin paid for.  (John 5:24; 3:18; I John 2:28, 4:17; Hebrew 9:28) Our old sinful self, dead and gone, will not even appear at the Judgment; just the new perfect “you”.  Matthew 25 and John 3:21 indicate that final “judgment” for the Christian is an awards-assembly! (Also see Psalms 26, 43)
  4. We do not even have to fear death!  The old “us” died with Christ already, once and for all.  Eternal life began at conversion.  What we call death is a painless doorway out of an evil world.  True, our bodies die, but that is only an exchange for a new one; good riddance.  (John 11:25; 5:24; 8:51;  I Cor. 5:14;  I John 3:14;  Romans 8:23;  II Cor. 5:1-8; 4:16)
  5. We have the power and ability not to sin; it is a cop-out to say we have to.  (I Cor. 10:11;  Hebrews 2:14;  I John 2:13, 3:8, 4:4, 5:4;  II Cor. 2:14;  Romans 8:37)
  6. We have the ability to live perfect lives.  (I This 5:23;  Hebrews 13:21;  Eph 3:20;  I Cor 1:30;  Eph 2:10;  Phil 1:6, 2:13)  What God commands, He expects and enables. (Matt 5:48;  II Peter 1:3,9;  1:15,16;  I This 4:3;  I John 2:1)  Paul made self an example!  (I Cor. 4:16, 11:1;  Phil. 3:17; II Thes 3:7)

The Means of Realizing this Security

  1. One must want it.  Unbelievably, there are many Christians who do not want it; they prefer selfness (false humility, etc.).  We must be willing.  Eph 3:20.  This requires open-ness, readiness to change.
  2. We must simply ask; God wants nothing more than to give it.  (Luke 11:13, Matt 7:11)
  3. Abandon all self-effort.  We are especially weak here, thinking that once we are Christians, we must “work out our own salvation”, forgetting Phil. 2:13.  Christian life is not one of gratitude, but Christ’s life in us.  So: we are not to ask that God give us love, etc., but that He be our love, wisdom, joy, truth.  Sanctification is not we growing in grace, but more of Christ in us.  (Phil 3:10, 14)
  4. Have the very mind of Christ, so as to know the will of God and God Himself.  (Phil 2:5;  I Cor 2:16;  Romans 12:2)  The way to achieve this is by saturating oneself with Scripture, which is God’s mind on paper; think like God!
  5. Rejoice always!  God operates via the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3.  Note context.)  Jesus did; Paul did.  (Eph 5:20;  Phil 4:4, 6;  Col. 3:15;  I Thes. 5:16,18;  Phil 1:18;  Col 1:24;  II Cor 6:10; 12:9,10.)
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Expository Preaching

A simple definition of expository preaching is not a running commentary, a verse-by-verse reading and “explaining” of individual words, phrases, and ideas (which can miss the forest on account of the trees).  Usually  (not necessarily) is SERIAL study of the Bible, usually a book at a time (not necessarily in Bible-order); a given unit may be a chapter or part of one (sometimes an entire book of the Bible, even a big one!), with discovery of the key idea in the passage, its relation to the context, the supporting sub-ideas, and the application of the whole to the current listeners.  Despite the virtues of this system and the advantages to a pastor, various pressures make inferior kinds of sermons (topical, “occasional”) more popular.  For this reason we list some arguments in favor of expository preaching:

  1.  Agreed; the Bible should be the textbook for all preaching.  What other textbook is used in any other way than “expository”? (As it is, we use scripture as a recipe-box of slogans, mottoes, maxims, edifying ideas, and unsystematic theology as “texts”.)
  2. Agreed; preaching is (should be) teaching; exposition is simply teaching.
  3. This is the way the Bible was written; not as a book of theology, a catechism or creed, but a progressive unfolding, a revelation, with order, sequence, unity, system.
  4. It is the way that the typical Christian ought to study the Bible for himself; sermonizing (preparation and presentation) on the part of a preacher ought to be a model, example of this.
  5. This was the method by which God’s people in the Old Testament studied the Word of God. (Note the Providence by which Jesus’  “text” in his sermon at Nazareth was arrived at, and the impact that it had on the audience just because it wasn’t artificially selected for the occasion the way we will pick “inaugural” sermons and others. (Luke 4)
  6. Jesus used this method of “preaching”.  Cf. “sermon” on the road to Emmaus.
  7. Paul and the Early Church followed this practice.
  8. The Reformers practiced this system; cf. Calvin’s commentaries, which are his “sermons”.  With their aversion to multiplication of special days, sermons on “Christmas” etc. were not necessarily on nativity texts or subjects.
  9. All times of revival generally and re-emphasis upon preaching have been marked by it.
  10. Church-building preachers have been known of this method; Campbell Morgan, Ian Thomas, Spurgeon, M. Lloyd-Jones, Donald Barnhouse, John MacArthur.  (Versus “name” preachers!)
  11. Today, wherever the church is growing, preaching is usually expository; S. America (Juan Ortiz), Korea.
  12. All the popular Bible-study systems – Navigators, Campus Crusade, Walk Through the Bible – are basically expository (in contrast to devotional booklets with random texts).
  13. The abysmal ignorance of the Bible outside and within the church demands a “return” to this type of Bible study.  (How many “indoctrinated” church members can tell the theme of Colossians, Philippians?  Where to find the Sermon on the Mount? The 7 “I Am’s”?
  14. Such a system will be certain to cover the “whole counsel” of God, instead of constant repetition of a few familiar themes by following the “church calendar” or other.  (As mentioned above, sermons are given added impact because the listeners can never suspect the choice of subject was contrived, self-serving, audience-pleasing or -scolding.
  15. It is really the easiest for the pastor – in terms of subject selection, preparation.  Other systems spend too much attention on form, to neglect of contents.  Illustrations tend to leap from Scripture itself.  (Preparation for the ministry itself is simplified or concentrated on Scripture in the case of expository preaching.  Men like Billy Graham have had only Bible-college training versus expensive liberal arts diversification. The modern minister cannot be expected to be an expert in more than the Scriptures.)
  16. For the Native American, expository preaching lends itself to his synthetic approach to life, versus the analytic, theoretical, abstract, philosophical.
  17. Expository preaching makes long-term pastorates possible (as evidence by men mentioned under Pt. 10, above. (Topical preachers who spent a lifetime in a given church usually had a big turn-0over in their audiences.)  All agree that short pastorates are far from ideal, and do not build up a congregation.  The big reason for the “game of musical chairs” in parsonage and pulpit is that the pastor is “preached out”, (despite the inexhaustibleness of the Scriptures) because of the limited number of ways a minister can preach on a limited number of subjects, be they ethical, doctrinal, or other.

Inspiration of Scriptures

This doctrine (article faith) is basic to all others, for what do we know about God, ourselves, salvation, etc. apart from the Bible?  And if the Bible is not infallible (contains error), then “the game is up”.  Preaching is a waste of time.  (Which is why many of those who continue to “preach”, though themselves not believing in the authority, etc. of Scripture, use other books, etc. for their “texts” besides the Bible.  Confucius and others undeniably said many sensible things.)

First, infallibility (freedom from error) is not the same as inspiration.  A textbook (on math or physics) might be free of error, but hardly inspired (or inspiring.)  By in-spiration we mean that the Holy Spirit is in it, much like God “occupied” the hair and fingernails of the body of Christ, who also is called the Word of God.  In other words, the Bible (unlike many inspiring, influential books by merely human authors) does not simply change us, so that we become abolitionists (after reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin) or ecology-minded, but we ourselves are trans-formed, are made over into the very likeness of the Author.  (James 1:18, I Peter 1:23 – 2:3)

Like God himself, neither infallibility nor inspiration of His Word can be “proved” in the “scientific” sense.  (The Bible doesn’t try to do either, but simply states them as fact.)  On the other hand, there are many evidences for all these truths, and none of them, of course, have been “scientifically” disproved.  In fact, many supposed errors in the Bible are increasingly being found to be factual.  “Inaccuracies” of timings (military vs. civilian), measurements (metric vs. British), etc.  Despite our emphasis upon scientific accuracy, like the Bible, we speak of the sun rising and setting, and the “four corners of the earth” (directions) when we know it is round.   Historians of the future may wonder how “Pearl Harbor” was Sunday in Hawaii and Monday in the Philippines.

Matter of fact, the timeless and accurate Word of God displays its divine endowment of the human authors by saying that our sins are separated from us as far as East is from the West (not such precise statements as North from the South, with their measurable distance, a difference which was of no significance to people in Jesus’ day, with their ignorance of the world geographically).  Jesus’ incidental story of people in bed while others were working in the field must have seemed droll, if not ridiculous, to people without a comprehension of our time zones, true in those days even though they were not marked off from Greenwich.

Suffice it to say that the infallibility and inspiration of Scripture are “proved” by that best of confirmation, personal experience, like the once-blind man who could not defend Jesus’ divinity nor explain his cure medically, but simply said, irrefutably, “Once I was blind; now I see.” What non-inspired book would have accomplished what the irresistible, God-Indwelt Word (His voice, that brings into being and makes the dead come alive) has done in history and in our own lives?

Next time we will talk about the subject of miracles in the context of the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture.