Why We Teach the Bible the Way We Do

By “we” I mean the pastors and elders of Grace Community.

The world needs the church to be the church. In essence: to know what we believe, live it in and by grace and be willing to clearly and kindly share it.

This isn’t about a particular preaching or teaching style. This is about the substance. Whether fast or slow, verse by verse, or high flyovers, we must TEACH God’s Word.

I was reading this morning in 2 Chronicles 17

7 Also in the third year of his reign he sent his leaders, Ben-Hail, Obadiah, Zechariah, Nethanel, and Michaiah, to teach in the cities of Judah. 9 So they taught in Judah, and had the Book of the Law of the Lord with them; they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught the people.

The text goes on to describe, in part, some of the result of teaching:

10 And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.

Just a couple of chapters before we get a quick synopsis of the times and why this stood out:

3 For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law.

Remember what the Lord told Joshua in 1:7-8

7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

I know the settings and parameters of the community of God were quite different in the Old Testament than we see in the New Testament church. 

We have similar emphasis given in the New Testament as well:

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Ti 3:16–17 

4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Ti 4:1–4

These verses need little commentary. Look around. The time isn’t coming, it’s here. I love and pray for my fellow pastors, teachers, and missionaries who are committed to faithfully teaching, often with much labor, the Scriptures we’ve been given. Join us at Grace each week as we humbly approach God’s great Word, currently in Romans, for a sobering look at His view of things. 

That’s where we learn grace. Where the gospel is clearly laid out. Where hope is promised.

Books and Bibles

For some time now I’ve noticed the difference between using my electronic, digital Bibles (mostly on my iPad, sometimes on the phone) as compared to using my regular, print Bibles.  I have never really left the printed Bible for my devotional reading or preaching.

I grew up using mostly one Bible, until college. I remember the pastor saying, “let’s turn…” and we did. Everybody. The sound was awesome. But better than that was the familiarity I had with my Bible.  I grew to know where certain passages were on the page.  Obviously, with time and a growing library of Bibles, I lost some of that.  I appreciate the various translations that have been produced through the years for the benefit of study and clarity, but I really do miss everyone (mostly) being on the same page.

I came across an article recently that I resonated with on a similar topic: digital books. I have a great library in print but an outstanding library in digital format. I read with the Kindle app on my iPad mostly, then of course there’s the enormous Logos library that still blows me away every time I open it.

Yet, Michel Hyatt’s words spoke to me of the reality that there’s just nothing like reading the printed book over the digital.  I too have no plans to disband the digital library or the continued building of it, yet I feel the freedom to admit that I not only like but need to return more to the printed library, mostly for the same reasons Hyatt mentions in the linked article.  You should read it. I won’t copy it here, but go check it out.

I love that many people read the Bible electronically, and I will too. But there is nothing like the familiar feel and sight of my Bible, with underlinings and notes and worn corners.

What do you think?

This Week @ Grace

Last Sunday I began teaching through the New Testament book of Philippians. Wow! What a letter for the church today.  How revolutionary in our thinking that we too are “servants of Christ Jesus” and “saints in Christ Jesus”. And! He’s not done working on us yet.

“He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” 1:6

This coming Sunday we’ll discover what I believe to be one the biggest keys in the entire Bible on ‘how to live for God’.

This Sunday also provides an opportunity to learn about our awesome Children’s Ministry and how you can be a part of a great team doing an amazing work.  Right after our service there is an informational lunch just for you. Whether you have experience or are just curious, please plan on joining the team downstairs in the Commons for lunch and a brief meeting.

To my fellow Servants and Saints: wherever you go to church, go this week expecting. Go prepared to worship with the other saints, be ready to bless someone else and be ready to hear from God.

Praying for the saints

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints  Eph 6:16-18

What a great word!

The evil one is sending darts, it’s who he is and what he does. But he’s a loser. What we have is our faith in the living God who already won this battle. We have faith. What an amazing gift. That I can know God and trust Him for salvation in the future (heaven awaits us!), but also in today’s salvation. This is a battle and we have a shield. Do I trust Him in what’s happening today and what He’s doing through it all?

God has given us His word, the Bible, our sword. Gotta know it. Must be familiar with it. Read it. Memorize parts. Meditate throughout the day on what you read in the early hours.

As I pay attention throughout the day, God allows me to come before Him on behalf of others. I’m not in this alone, nor are they. We’re in this together. Pray for one another.

The shield was a large ‘body-size’ type of protection. It could be used to stand side by side with others, making a protective wall.  So, we advance. Side by side, praying for one another.

Teaching at the Bible College

We’re here in Sriracha teaching a few classes each day at the Bible College.  I really do love teaching the Bible and that is only highlighted when you’re teaching students at a Bible College.  Pray for these students as they are preparing for ministry and just like the rest of us are learning to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”

A Growing Faith

If you missed Grace yesterday, you can hear the sermon here.

A few thoughts to think about during this week:

  • God is both incomprehensible and knowable, yes, He’s THAT big!
  • It all started with God: first 4 words Gen 1:1
  • God, in His goodness revealed Himself to us through general revelation Ps 19:1-6
  • God, in His grace has revealed Himself to us through special revelation; His Word and His Son!  Ps 19:7-14; Jn 14:6-7
  • My faith will grow as I exercise it
  • My faith is built on an everlasting GREAT God who loves me and gave Himself for me
And to apply it all:
  • Am I believing God for what I’m about to do?
  • By faith, what do I believe God is asking me to do?

Organized Praise

At Grace we are currently in a series entitled, Psalms of Summer.  A few weeks ago I taught from Psalm 34. You can hear the sermon here if you’d like.

What I didn’t tell you that day was that this psalm is one of a few that is written in an acrostic.  Simply put, David went down the Hebrew alphabet as he penned each new verse. As you may know, the Bible was not written with chapter and verse markings, so he simply wrote this poem in acrostic style then later numbers were added to denote verses.

So here’s a quick thought for you today. What if you wrote out a prayer or praise to God using our alphabet? Write out a poem, speaking about God and why we praise Him. Or maybe make a list of things in your life that you give Him praise for. Perhaps write one word for each letter of the alphabet, each saying something about God. For instance, Awesome, Beautiful, Compassionate…

Go ahead. Give it a try. I bet it’s a worshipful experience you won’t soon forget.

But God.

I think it’s important for the Believer to know his lost estate before saved by God. The only reason I think it’s important is because Paul seems to think so as he reminds the Ephesian readers of this in the first three verses of chapter two.

Let’s be honest. We’d all like to forget our past, especially the blunders, the mistakes.  I recently had someone remind me of something I said years ago, and my first thought was “Really, that’s what you remember?” It wasn’t even a bad thing.  When I think of my past, I’m glad there are things that don’t come to mind.  Paul, however, seemed to think it was good to remember who we were and in what condition we were in before we met Christ.

Eph 2:1-3 ESV

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Read what Charles Ryrie says of our depravity:

The scriptural evidence provides the basis for what has been commonly called total depravity. Depravity means that man fails the test of pleasing God. This failure is total in that (a) it affects all aspects of man’s being and (b) it affects all people.

Negatively, the concept of total depravity does not mean (a) that every person has exhibited his depravity as thoroughly as he or she could; (b) that sinners do not have a conscience or a “native induction” concerning God; (c) that sinners will indulge in every form of sin; or (d) that depraved people do not perform actions that are good in the sight of others and even in the sight of God.

Positively, total depravity means (a) that corruption extends to every facet of man’s nature and faculties; and (b) that there is nothing in anyone that can commend him to a righteous God.

Total depravity must always be measured against God’s holiness. Relative goodness exists in people. They can do good works, which are appreciated by others. But nothing that anyone can do will gain salvational merit or favor in the sight of a holy God.

(from Basic Theology, Copyright © 1986, 1999 by Charles C. Ryrie.)

I think it matters that we understand this because of the next two words in the English text: But, God.

It seems to be possible to lose the wonder of God when we forget who He is and what He did for us, in our place.  We were lost without Him. We sinned.  Gen 3:6-13; Rom 5:12; Rom 3:10-12, 18, 23, 24

But God.

Eph 2:4-7 ESV

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Here Paul sums it up in one verse: Rom 5:8

You can listen to a full sermon on this passage here.

Identity In Christ

Last Sunday I read a few verses that described who we are in Christ and I wanted to make the whole list available to you! I hope these words encourage you today. Don’t forget to keep Gal 2:20 on your mind this week.

Can’t wait to see you on Sunday as we take back our faith!

Have a great week!
Pastor Mark

I got this list from:  http://crossinglouisville.com/2009/05/03/our-identity-in-christ/

Who Am I?
Matt. 5:13 I am the salt of the earth.
Matt. 5:14 I am the light of the world.
John 1:12 I am a child of God (part of His family).  (see Rom. 8:16)
John 15:1, 5 I am part of the true vine, a branch of His (Jesus’) life.
John 15:15 I am Jesus’ friend.
John 15:16 I am chosen and appointed by Jesus to bear His fruit.
Acts 1:8 I am a personal witness of Christ for Christ.
Rom. 6:18 I am a slave of righteousness.
Rom. 6:22 I am enslaved to God.
Rom. 8:14, 15 I am a son of God.  (God is my “daddy” so to speak) (see Gal. 3:26, 4:6)
Rom. 8:17 I am a joint-heir with Christ sharing His inheritance with Him.
1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19 I am a temple (home) of God.  His Spirit dwells in me.
1 Cor. 6:17 I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.
1 Cor. 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.  (see Eph. 5:30)
2 Cor. 5:17 I am a new creation (new person).
2 Cor. 5:18, 19 I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation.
Gal. 3:26, 28 I am a son of God and one in Christ.
Gal. 4:6, 7 I am an heir of God since I am a son of God.
Eph. 1:1 I am a saint.  (see 1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2)
Eph. 2:10 I am God’s workmanship (handiwork) created in Christ to do the work He planned beforehand that I should do.
Eph. 2:19 I am a fellow citizen with the rest of God’s people in His family.
Eph. 3:1 / 4:1 I am a prisoner of Christ.
Eph. 4:24 I am righteous and holy.
Phil. 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven and seated in heaven right now (see Eph. 2:6)
Col. 3:3 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Col. 3:4 I am an expression of the life of Christ because He is my life.
Col. 3:12 I am chosen of God, holy, and dearly loved.
1 Thes. 1:4 I am chosen and dearly loved by God.
1 Thes. 5:5 I am son of light and not of darkness.
Heb. 3:1 I am a holy brother, partaker of a heavenly calling.
Heb. 3:14 I am a partaker of Christ … I share in His life.
1 Pet. 2:5 I am one of God’s living stones and am being built up (in Christ) as a spiritual house.
1 Pet. 2:9, 10 I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession to proclaim His excellencies.
1 Pet. 2:11 I am an alien and stranger to this world that I temporarily live in.
1 Pet. 5:8 I am an enemy of the devil.
1 John 3:1, 2 I am now a child of God.  I will resemble Christ when He returns.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God; the evil one (the devil) can’t touch me.
Psalm 23 & 100 I am a sheep of His pasture.  Therefore, I have everything I need.

What Happened to Me?
Rom. 5:1 I have been justified (completely forgiven and made righteous).
Rom. 6:1-6 I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule on my life.
Rom. 8:1 I am free forever from condemnation.
1 Cor. 1:30 I have been put into Christ by God’s doing.
1 Cor. 2:12 I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God.
1 Cor. 2:16 I have been given the mind of Christ.
1 Cor. 6:19, 20 I have been bought with a price.  I am not my own.  I belong to God.
2 Cor. 1:21 I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God in Christ.
2 Cor. 5:14, 15 Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Him (Christ).
2 Cor. 5:21 I have been made righteous.
Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  (The life I am living is Christ’s life.)
Eph. 1:3 I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.
Eph. 1:4 I have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him.
Eph. 1:5 I was predestined (determined by God) to be adopted as a son.
Eph. 1:7, 8 I have been redeemed, forgiven, and am a recipient of His lavish grace, Eph. 1:13, 14 and have been given the Holy Spirit as a pledge (a deposit/down payment) guaranteeing my inheritance to come.
Eph. 2:5 I have been made alive together with Christ.
Eph. 2:6 I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven.
Eph. 2:18 I have direct access to God through the Spirit.
Eph. 3:12 I may approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence.
Col. 1:13 I have been delivered (rescued) from the domain of darkness (Satan’s rule) and transferred to the kingdom of Christ.
Col. 1:14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (the debt against me has been cancelled).  (see Col. 2:13, 14)
Col. 1:27 Christ Himself is in me.
Col. 2:7 I have been firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built up in Him.
Col. 2:11 I have been spiritually circumcised (my old, unregenerate nature has been removed).
Col. 2:10 I have been made complete in Christ.
Col. 2:12, 13 I have been buried, raised, and made alive with Christ.
Col. 3:1-4 I have been raised up with Christ.  I died with Christ.  My life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Christ is now my life.
2 Tim. 1:7 I have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.
2 Tim. 1:9 I have been saved and called (set apart) according to God’s doing.
Heb. 2:11 Because I am sanctified and am one with the Sanctifier (Christ), He is not ashamed to call me brother.
Heb. 4:16 I have a right to come boldly before the throne of God (the throne of grace) to find mercy and find grace in time of need.
2 Pet. 1:4 I have been given exceedingly great and precious promises by God by which I am a partaker of the divine nature (God’s nature).

Psalm 151

Okay, I know you didn’t fall for that. There is no Psalm 151.  There are only 150 recorded in the OT book of Psalms.

Yesterday at Grace I spoke from Jonah chapter two, you can listen here.  Sometime after Jonah enjoyed the flight from the belly of the Big Fish to the shore, he sat down and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote out what had just happened.  Apparently during the three days and three nights in the big boy’s belly, he had time to reflect and process just how awesome it was that God delivered him. In what I called a potential 151st psalm, Jonah gave God praise for the great thing He had done for him.  Like many of the psalms, we read about the despair of Jonah’s sin, the consequences of his actions and the Lord’s hand in a remarkable delivery. God is faithful as our sovereign Lord of all.  For that we praise Him.

Jonah recalled what happened and how God was sovereign over every detail.  After Jonah disobeyed and ran the other way as fast as possible, God allowed him to be tossed overboard and soon delivered by the really large fish. In Jonah’s psalm he says it was God who threw him overboard and the waves and billows that were messing with him, were all God’s.  So after the bad day at sea, Jonah looked back and saw God at work the whole time.

How about writing your own Psalm 151 as a praise to God for how He has worked in your life.  Remember, He invites us to be a part of His story.  So, take a few minutes. Think back on a time when you were really going through something hard. It may have been running from God, like Jonah, or simply a difficult time, like the death of a loved one, or loss of job.  During that time you may not have noticed God’s grace in the details, but afterwards it was more obvious that God never left you. He is sovereign over the mess of our lives and all the while loving us and inviting us to be a part of His amazing story of grace.

Think and pray about it. Write it out.  Feel free to use the ‘comment’ section below for your “not real long” psalm of praise. Or if you’d rather, you can email it to: pmarksblog@gmail.com