Friday, August 29, 2014

Rightly Approaching the Bible

"Here, in the Bible, is our sole authority.  Very well; it is obviously important that we should approach this Book in the right manner.  We must start by agreeing that merely to read the Bible is not enough in and of itself.  It is possible for us to read the Bible in such a mechanical manner that we derive no benefit from doing so.  That is why I think we have to be careful with every kind of rule and regulation in the matter of discipline in the spiritual life.  It is a good thing to read the Bible daily, but it can be quite profitless if we merely do so for the sake of being able to say we read the Bible daily.  I am a great advocate of schemes of Bible reading, but we have to be careful that in our use of such schemes we are not content just to read the portion for the day and then rush off without thought and meditation.  That can be quite profitless.  Our approach to the Bible is something which is of vital importance."
~Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 6.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: How Will the World End?

In his book How Will the World End?, Jeramie Rinne's primary purpose is "to help regular Christians regain that big picture about the end of the world."  In his 96-page book, the author provides a very brief, but balanced, overview of (1) how the world will end, (2) what happens before Jesus comes back, (3) how Jesus will come back, (4) Jesus' return in light of the Millennium, (5) what happens after Jesus' return, and (6) how we should live as Christians until he returns.

As noted by Mr. Rinne in his discussion on how the world will end, the prevalent view in the evangelical world today is the secret rapture theory, which says that all Christians will mysteriously vanish from the world before the time of tribulation.  Many Christians think that this belief has always been the view of the church.  Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised that the author rightly attributed the secret rapture theory to John Nelson Darby and noted that this theory was not widely spread until the 19th century through the Scofield Reference Bible.  

Mr. Rinne is specifically writing to believers, but near the end of his book he acknowledges that some of his readers may not be Christians; and therefore, provides a Gospel presentation, (Kindle location 942).  However, this Gospel presentation is weak because he does not tell the reader that sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God, (Baptist Catechism Question 17), nor does he define repentance as godly sorrow and self-abhorrence over sin, (Ezek. 36:31, 2 Cor. 7:10-11).  Earlier in the book, the author previously stated that "God loves us so much that he sent his one and only Son to die on the cross as the substitute sufferer for our sins, and then rise again," (Kindle location 848); but he doesn't reiterate this crucial part of the Gospel when specifically addressing unbelievers, (1 Cor. 15:1-4).  The author's ineffective call to "repent of your sins and trust in Jesus" is not the complete Gospel that will lead to saving faith.

Because of its brevity and simplicity, this book is more appropriate for Christians new to the faith or young believers that are starting to delve into eschatology.  I consider myself one of the regular Christians that the author is writing to, and while I enjoyed reading this book, it provided no new information, nor did it enhance my view on Christ's second coming.  Therefore, I recommend this book for Christians who have little or no knowledge of biblical end-times and want an easy-to-read primer on the subject.

Full Disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Bible & Other Paraphernalia

I have finally found the perfect Bible and supplies for my personal and corporate Bible study, so I thought I would share them with you.

First, let's look at my King James Bible.  I have two that I actually use:  one to read at home & church and one to write in for my personal Bible study.  I purchased them from Local Church Bible Publishers in Lansing, MI.  My reading Bible is their 355 Hand Size Standard Bible.  I love the size (approx. 9" X 6"), the red edges, and the self-pronouncing text.  It is a beautiful, smythe-sewn Bible in black leather (cowhide).  I highly recommend this Bible.  My personal study Bible is their 400 Mid Size Note Takers Bible.  This Bible is also smythe-sewn in black leather, but it's a little bigger in size (approx. 10" X 7") with gold edges.  I like the fact that there is just one column of text per page which leaves a 2.5" margin for notes, but it doesn't include a self-pronouncing text.

I use the Pentel 8-Color Mechanical Pencil and the Pentel Graphgear 1000 Drafting Pencil (0.3 mm) in my Note Takers Bible.  I prefer using a colored pencil rather than a highlighter so that there's no bleed-through or wrinkling of the pages and a 0.3 mm drafting pencil to write so that my writing is small and neat.  I have always favored a pencil over a pen.

I also keep a separate journal for sermon notes, book quotes, favorite hymns, prayer requests, etc.  I purchased  my journal at our local Office Depot.  It's a 5.25" X 8.25" Foray journal with grid paper, elastic strap, and back pocket (similar to a Moleskine, but cheaper).  I like darker writing in my journal, so I use the Zebra M-301 Mechanical Pencil (0.5 mm).  In the back pocket, I keep my Staedtler Sketch Master Template so that I can make straight lines in my Note Takers Bible and journal.  I also use the template to make different shapes in my journal for emphasis or easy reference.  I skipped the first page of the journal to use as a table of contents and numbered the remaining pages.  I don't add every page, but if I take copious notes on one subject or copy quotes from a book, then I will add the subject title to the table of contents and note the page.

I also found a solid book on systematic theology from a Baptist perspective: Manual of Theology by John L. Dagg.  There are 8 books in Dagg's Manual of Theology, which correspond nicely to the eight colors in my Pentel 8-Color Mechanical Pencil.  Therefore, each book has its own color:
  1. Study of Religious Truth--Green
  2. Doctrine Concerning God--Light Blue
  3. Doctrine Concerning the Will & Works of God--Dark Blue
  4. Doctrine Concerning the Fall & Present State of Man--Brown
  5. Doctrine Concerning Jesus Christ--Red
  6. Doctrine Concerning the Holy Spirit--Pink
  7. Doctrine Concerning Divine Grace--Orange
  8. Doctrine Concerning the Future World--Yellow
I've placed a color legend in the front of my Note Takers Bible, and as I come to a verse that supports a listed doctrine, I underline it in the appropriate color.  I'm also outlining the books in my journal and including the Scripture references.

It has been a long road, but I'm very pleased with this set-up and thankful that I have the time to dedicate myself intensely to the Word of God.

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which ye also are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly in all wisdom," (Col. 3:15-16a).

Earthly-Mindedness -- Chapter 6

I'm continuing my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' Earthly-Mindedness.  Please see my introduction and Chapter 1 summary here, Chapter 2 summary here, Chapter 3 summary here, Chapter 4 summary here, and Chapter 5 summary here.

In Chapter 6 Jeremiah Burroughs looks at the seven reasons of men's earthly-mindedness:
  1. The things of the earth appear real to men, and heavenly things are but a notion.
  2. Men look upon earthly things as the immediate, necessary things.
  3. These earthly things are most suitable to men's hearts.
  4. Earthly things have a very fair show to the flesh; they have a kind of goodly appearance in the eye of sense and in the eye of reason that is not corrupted by sin.
  5. Men naturally know no better things.
  6. Earthly principles are continually dropped into men by conversing with other men of the earth.
  7. Men's sensible experience of sweetness in earthly things takes their minds off of spiritual things.
In my next post for this series, we will look at eleven considerations to take the hearts of men off of earthly-mindedness in Chapter 7.

"Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven," (Psalm 23:5).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

God's Perfect & Sure Word

I'm doing an in-depth study of Psalm 19 with the help of Charles Spurgeon's The Treasury of David, Volume I.  In his exposition of this Psalm, Pastor Spurgeon talks about how the Word of God is perfect and complete, (p. 272):  "There are no redundancies and no omissions in the Word of God, and in the plan of grace; why then do men try to paint this lily and gild this refined gold?  The gospel is perfect in all its parts, and perfect as a whole: it is a crime to add to it, treason to alter it, and felony to take from it."

While I can attest to the questioning of God's preserved Word in today's church, I can also take comfort in the fact that His Word is sure:  "God's witness in his Word is so sure that we may draw solid comfort from it both for time and eternity, and so sure that no attacks made upon it, however fierce or subtle, can ever weaken its force."  Even as the critical text proponents continue to promote the modern translations based on man's logic, I keep in mind how Satan tempted Eve starting with these four simple words:  "Yea, hath God said...?," (Gen. 3:1).

"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple," (Psalm 19:7).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Earthly-Mindedness -- Chapter 5

I'm continuing my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' Earthly-Mindedness.  Please see my introduction and Chapter 1 summary here, Chapter 2 summary here, Chapter 3 summary here, and Chapter 4 summary here.

In Chapter 5 Jeremiah Burroughs looks at five things that may be wrought in an earthly-minded man:
  1. His judgment may be convinced that there is a vanity in all the things of the world, but still be earthly-minded.
  2. He may have some kind of contentment in his estate.
  3. He may speak great words about the vanity of this world.
  4. He may be free from getting anything by deceit.
  5. He may despise some earthly things.
I'm not an avid shopper, and I normally go when I actually need something; but one thing that I do like is a good sale.  As he continues to describe the earthly-minded, Mr. Burroughs quickly exposes where my heart truly lies:  "What is it which most troubles your hearts?  Is it the loss of the light of the face of God or the loss of an estate?  The loss of a voyage, or the commission of a sin?  What's your chief joy?  Your profiting from the Word or gaining from a bargain?"  My trust should be in God alone, and I should rest in Him for all outward things in this world.

Each day I strive to be more spiritually-minded by reading my Bible, commentaries, & other Christian writings, listening to sermons, and writing about what I read & hear.  However, it's my thought life (those roaming thoughts when I'm not focused on something in particular) that are not captive to the obedience of Christ, (2 Cor. 10:5).  While this may seem minor, I'll quote Mr. Burroughs at length to show how evil roaming thoughts can be when left unchecked:
"In worldly matters, when you are walking from here to London, you can run your thoughts on business all the way.  You can plot this and contrive that.  You can foresee this objection and that one, and you can answer each one in your own thoughts.  But let me put this to you.  When you walk through the fields, settle upon one meditation about Christ and see whether you are able to draw out that meditation the entire time you walk, whereas you can spin out an earthly meditation no matter how far your journey is.  When you awake in the night, your thoughts are upon the things of the world, and you can draw them out and work with understanding, but how about the things of God?  Oh, how barren and simple are you there!  There is scarcely anyone who can outdo you in the things of the world, but in the matters of religion you are outdone, every slight temptation overcomes you there."
It's very important that Christians align their thoughts to the things of God because Mr. Burroughs points out that "even during that time that God has set apart for Himself, you are often discoursing in your own thoughts about the business of the world.  You do it when you are praying, you do it when you are hearing the Word.  The communication and discourses of men should relish what they have heard out of the Word, not go and talk about some earthy occurrences."

In my next post for this series, we will look at seven reasons of men's earthly-mindedness in Chapter 6.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there by any praise, think on these things," (Phil. 4:8).

Monday, August 4, 2014

Earthly-Mindedness -- Chapter 4

I'm continuing my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' Earthly-Mindedness.  Please see my introduction and Chapter 1 summary here, Chapter 2 summary here, and Chapter 3 summary here.

In Chapter 4 Jeremiah Burroughs looks at eight additional evils of earthly-mindedness:
  1. It causes many foolish lusts in the heart.
  2. It is the root of apostasy.
  3. It wonderfully deadens the heart in prayer.
  4. It is just with God that the names of earthly-minded men should be written in the earth (the earthly-minded have cause to fear God because they do not partake of the good things of God; therefore, the earth shall be their portion).
  5. It causes the curse of the serpent to be on earthly-minded men.
  6. It is a dishonor to God and a scandal to religion.
  7. It exceedingly hinders preparation for death.
  8. It will drown the soul in perdition.
Mr. Burroughs states the obvious in this chapter, but I think it's a good, daily reminder for all Christians:  "A man cannot truly repent of sin and yet willfully continue in it."

He also pricks the heart when describing the effects of an earthly mind on the Christian's prayer life:  "You complain many times of your vain thoughts in the performance of holy duties.  You cry out of dead spirits then, but here lies the cause.  You have given yourselves up so much to the things of the world at other times, that when you come to converse with God, your hearts are so dead and dull.  This is the ground of it, this is the great root of all, it lies here in your earthly-mindedness.  Oh, how many prayers have been spoiled by an earthly heart!"

In my next post for this series, we will look at five things that may be wrought in an earthly-minded man found in Chapter 5.

"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition," (1 Timothy 6:9).

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Earthly-Mindedness -- Chapter 3

I'm continuing my look at Jeremiah Burroughs' Earthly-Mindedness.  Please see my introduction and Chapter 1 summary here and Chapter 2 summary here.

In Chapter 3 Jeremiah Burroughs lists the six evils of earthly-mindedness:
  1. It is adultery.
  2. It is idolatry.
  3. It is enmity against God.
  4. It is opposite and contrary to the work of grace.
  5. It puts men upon great temptations.
  6. It is one of the greatest hindrances to profiting from the ministry of the Word.
Mr. Burroughs warns that "The things of the earth do not hinder in an open way, for thousands of men who have earthly hearts do not know that they have earthly hearts.  No, it is the deceitfulness of riches, and it chokes the Word."

In my next post for this series, we will look at eight additional evils of earthly-mindedness found in Chapter 4.

"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God," (James 4:4).