Jimmy Davis: We rightly expect our pastors to spend hours preparing before they preach on Sundays. But what should the people in the pew be doing? How can God’s people prepare to receive the message the preacher has prepared? While reading through Acts, I noticed a pattern of preparation tucked away in chapter 10. When Peter arrived to preach the gospel to Cornelius, he was welcomed with these words: “I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord” (Acts 10:33). Cornelius displays the desire we ought to have as we wait on God’s Word to be delivered to us. We can prepare our hearts for preaching by cultivating five characteristics. 1. Eagerness to Hear from God As soon as Cornelius heard from the angel that God had a message for him, he “sent for
The word of God
The Divine Word of God
Matt Foreman: In the book, “Taking God At His Word”, Kevin DeYoung writes, “Scripture, because it is the breathed out word of God, possesses the same authority as the God-man Jesus Christ. Submission to the Scriptures is submission to God.” Over the last 200 years, many critics have disputed such a claim. They have accused Christians of worshiping the Bible and not making necessary distinctions between the Bible and God. Some have said that we need to see the truths behind the Bible, and not worry so much about the Bible itself. However, the Bible itself actually supports DeYoung’s claim, and often deliberately blurs any distinction between God and the Scriptures. Hebrews 4:12-13 is one of the most famous statements in the Bible about the Bible: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the
4 Roles Scripture Plays in the Life of a Believer
Paul David Tripp The Word is a Gift of Grace The doctrines of the word of God were not intended just to lay claim on your brain, but also to capture your heart and transform the way you live. Those doctrines are meant to turn you inside out and your world upside down. Biblical doctrine is much more than an outline you give confessional assent to. Doctrine is something you live in even the smallest and most mundane moments of your life. Biblical doctrine is meant to transform your identity, alter your relationships, and reshape your finances. It’s meant to change the way you think and talk, how you approach your job, how you conduct yourself in time of leisure, how you act in your marriage, and the things you do as a parent. It’s meant to change the way you think about your past, interpret the present, and view the future. The doctrines of the word of God are
Are You Shaped By the World or By the Word?
Nancy Guthrie: There’s a section in department stores these days called “shapewear.” It’s in both women’s and men’s clothing. These stores are banking on our concern with the shape of our bodies and our willingness to invest in garments that promise to give us the shape we’re looking for. But when we read Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, we discover it’s not what is shaping our bodies that he is most concerned about. He’s concerned about what is shaping our perspective, our priorities, our pursuits, and our opinions. He writes: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:2) His words force us to ask ourselves: What external forces are shaping my internal dialogue about what matters? What pressures me to make the choices I am making about how I spend my
Ten Reasons to Read the Bible Every Day
John Piper: I have never met a mature, fruitful, strong, spiritually discerning Christian who is not full of Scripture, devoted to regular meditation on Scripture, and given to storing it in the heart through Bible memorization — and that’s not a coincidence. So, what I want to do is persuade our new believing friend that it is absolutely essential, after coming to faith in Christ, to be radically, deeply, experientially devoted — unshakably, unwaveringly persuaded — that reading and meditating on and understanding and memorizing and enjoying the Scriptures is absolutely essential for the Christian life, which would include being in the word every day with the aim that we will meet God there and, little by little, the glory of his truth will fill and transform our lives. And that may seem obvious to them or to others, but it isn’t obvious, because I know fairly well-along Christians who don’t do this. They don’t do this, and they’ve been Christians
How Scripture Empowers Personal Holiness
John MacArthur: Becoming More like God Godliness, Christlikeness, and Christian spirituality all describe a Christian becoming more like God. The most powerful way to effect this change is by letting the Word of God dwell in one richly (Col. 3:16). When one embraces Scripture without reservation, it will energetically work God’s will in the believer’s life (1 Thess. 2:13). The process could be basically defined as follows: Christian spirituality involves growing to be like God in character and conduct by personally submitting to the transforming work of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Holiness Embodies the Very Essence of Christianity Christians have been saved to be holy and to live holy lives (1 Pet. 1:14–16). What does it mean to be holy? Both the Hebrew and Greek words for “to be holy” (which appear about two thousand times in Scripture) basically mean “to be set aside for something special.” Thus, God is holy in that he sets himself apart from creation,
4 Reasons We Must Not Disregard God’s Word
R. Kent Hughes: The Piercing Word of God I was twelve years old when I came under the knife of God’s Word. The cuts went deep, deeper than blood, as they cut my soul in gracious surgery. I was cut with the clear understanding that though I was an outward son of the church, I was not a son of God. The other cut that the knife brought was the conviction that Jesus Christ was God and that he had died on the cross for my sins. My pastor directed me to read John 1:12 and Romans 10:9-10. And as I read, the lights came on. It was as if the marrow of those verses were sucked off the page and into my soul. I did believe! Thus began my experience with the penetrating power of God’s Word. It has cut me untold numbers of times since. But each pain, responded to, has brought a fresh, satisfying healing. All Scripture is, as Paul
What Does the Church Most Need Today?
W. Robert Godfrey: What does the church most need today? In answering this important but rather general question, Psalm 81 is uniquely important and helpful. This psalm obviously contains beautiful promises and clear directions to help the people of God. But careful study of this psalm will deepen our appreciation of it, increase its value for us, and show us how distinctive it is for helping the church. As we study psalms, we soon learn that the central verse of a psalm is often significant as a key to its interpretation. The central line of Psalm 81 is the heart of that psalm, as the plaintive cry of God is heard: “O Israel, if you would but listen to me!” (v. 8b). The center of Psalm 81—indeed the whole psalm—is a reflection on the Shema. The centrality of this line and its importance are underscored when we recognize that Psalm 81 is the central psalm of Book 3 of the Psalter. Book
What does it mean to worship God “in spirit and truth”?
Sam Storms: Everyone is familiar with the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4. But not everyone can explain what Jesus meant when he said that the Father is seeking men and women who will worship him “in spirit and truth” (v. 23)? To say that we must worship God “in spirit” means, among other things, that it must originate from within, from the heart; it must be sincere, motivated by our love for God and gratitude for all he is and has done. Worship cannot be mechanical or formalistic. That does not necessarily rule out certain rituals or liturgy. But it does demand that all physical postures or symbolic actions must be infused with heart-felt commitment and faith and love and zeal. But the word “spirit” here may also be a reference to the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul said that Christians “worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no
read more What does it mean to worship God “in spirit and truth”?
Are You REALLY Interpreting the Bible Literally?
Stephen Altrogge: Interpreting the Bible literally can be a good thing. It probably means that you want to know exactly what God says and obey his words. It means you don’t want to play Bible roulette with which verses you obey. It means you’re willing to obey all the commands of the Bible, even the painful ones. It means you’re in less danger of drifting into the post-modernism, the Bible is Jello interpretations. But, interpreting the Bible literally can also get you into a lot of trouble. Harold Camping thought he was interpreting the Bible literally, which in turn led him to mispredict the end of the world…twice. Pinstripe wearing, silk handkerchief mopping, prosperity preaching pastors think they’re interpreting the Bible literally, which leads them to teach that God never wills illness. Heck, the hellfire, hate-throwing folks at Westboro Baptist Church probably think they are interpreting the Bible literally. Today there is a total solar eclipse. There are definitely some
Theological Minutia Matters
Trevin Wax: Who needs theological education? Doesn’t theology just lead to mind-numbing debates over insignificant matters? Only theological eggheads insist on parsing doctrines and dogmas until powerful, life-changing experiences with God get dissected and reassembled as stale and crusty formulas. Who cares about the minutia? Give me something simple and relevant! That’s the cry from many in the church these days. We’re told that the next generation doesn’t have patience for rehashing theological quarrels from previous centuries. To reach millennials, we need to get back to the basic message of Jesus’s love. Stay simple. Stay practical. Whatever you do, don’t get mired in meaningless distinctions about ancient words or complicated concepts about the essence of God or the nature of salvation. But what if the minutia matters? Like, really matters? Draw to Theological Controversy I realize that, as commonly understood, minutia often refers to trifling and insignificant matters that don’t deserve our attention. Perhaps you’ve been in a place where
What the Word of God Says About the Word of God, Book by Book
Jared Wilson: What God says about his word is a deep, complex, and staggering thing. And each book of the written word testifies to the wonder of his revelation. I decided to take a look, book by book, selecting a representative passage from each to highlight many of the things God’s word says about God’s words. The word of God is . . . Effectual Genesis 1:3 – And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Personal Exodus 6:2 – God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord.” Authoritative Leviticus 20:22 – You shall therefore keep all my statutes and all my rules and do them, that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. Exclusive Numbers 15:31 – Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him. Necessary
read more What the Word of God Says About the Word of God, Book by Book
The Word-less “Church”
W. Robert Godfrey: Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs? What has gone wrong? At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God. They still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important for the people of God. Increasingly they treat the Bible as tidbits of poetic inspiration, of pop psychology, and of self-help
What Did Jesus Believe About the Bible?
Paul Carter: Recently I wrote about the 3 different ways that Post Evangelicals are relating to the Bible. The more conservative group will tend to appeal to the Protestant Reformers while the more progressive folks will cite Origen or Gregory of Nyssa. While it is interesting and helpful to be guided by history, the past can be used to support just about anything. As the wise man of the Old Testament said: What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9 ESV) Today’s novel interpretation is likely a repackaged version of yesterday’s discarded heresy. A footnote is not a foundation. Rather than grasping for a quote from the sixth or sixteenth century, Christians ought to be primarily concerned to study the example of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word of God. He is the Spirit of Prophecy. He is God in the flesh, so if
Thinking Like Jesus
R.C. Sproul: Several years ago, I was asked to give a convocation address at a major theological seminary in America. In that address, I spoke about the critical role of logic in biblical interpretation, and I pleaded for seminaries to include courses on logic in their required curricula. In almost any seminary’s course of study, students are required to learn something of the original biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek. They are taught to look at the historical background of the text, and they learn basic principles of interpretation. These are all important and valuable skills for being good stewards of the Word of God. However, the main reason why errors in biblical interpretation occur is not because the reader lacks a knowledge of Hebrew or of the situation in which the biblical book was written. The number one cause for misunderstanding the Scriptures is making illegitimate inferences from the text. It is my firm belief that these faulty inferences would
The Urgency of Preaching
Al Mohler: And how will they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14 Has preaching fallen on hard times? An open debate is now being waged over the character and centrality of preaching in the church. At stake is nothing less than the integrity of Christian worship and proclamation. How did this happen? Given the central place of preaching in the New Testament church, it would seem that the priority of biblical preaching should be uncontested. After all, as John A. Broadus–one of Southern Seminary’s founding faculty–famously remarked, “Preaching is characteristic of Christianity. No other religion has made the regular and frequent assembling of groups of people, to hear religious instruction and exhortation, an integral part of Christian worship.” Yet, numerous influential voices within evangelicalism suggest that the age of the expository sermon is now past. In its place, some contemporary preachers now substitute messages intentionally designed to reach secular or superficial congregations–messages which avoid preaching a biblical text, and thus
Luther, and the Creative Power of the Word
. Carl Trueman: . The importance of Luther to the Christian faith cannot be overstated. For many today, he is probably a figure who looks larger as a symbol of defiance or a heroic rebel against a corrupt church and decadent theology.There is much truth in such images. His stand at the Diet of Worms was a remarkable act of courageous defiance. And his theology represented nothing less than a self-conscious attempt to overthrow the medieval thought which he had been taught and replace it with a comprehensive understanding of God and the gospel as refracted the incarnate and crucified Christ. . Yet there is more to Luther. Indeed, perhaps his greatest contribution to the faith, and one that we can still learn from today, is his understanding of God’s Word. When we hear this term, our modern evangelical minds typically go to the contemporary debates about inerrancy, infallibility, interpretation and the like. Certainly such questions are legitimate. But for
How Scripture Empowers Personal Holiness
Adapted from Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth by John MacArthur. Becoming More like God Godliness, Christlikeness, and Christian spirituality all describe a Christian becoming more like God. The most powerful way to effect this change is by letting the Word of God dwell in one richly (Col. 3:16). When one embraces Scripture without reservation, it will energetically work God’s will in the believer’s life (1 Thess. 2:13). The process could be basically defined as follows: Christian spirituality involves growing to be like God in character and conduct by personally submitting to the transforming work of God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Holiness Embodies the Very Essence of Christianity Christians have been saved to be holy and to live holy lives (1 Pet. 1:14–16). What does it mean to be holy? Both the Hebrew and Greek words for “to be holy” (which appear about two thousand times in Scripture) basically mean “to be set aside for something special.” Thus,
Wayne Grudem on What We Mean by the Phrase “Word of God”
Wayne Grudem: What is the Word of God? The Word of God actually refers to several different things in the Bible. Sometimes the phrase “the Word of God” refers to the person of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We find out later in the chapter that John is referring to Jesus Christ as the Word of God. There’s also a portion of Revelation 19 that refers to Jesus as the Word of God. You may have found that when you talk about the Word of God as the Bible, people object: Wait a minute—we don’t want to spend as much time talking about the Bible as the Word of God. We’d rather talk about Jesus as the Word of God. A couple things can be said in answer to that. First, we don’t know about Jesus except by reading
read more Wayne Grudem on What We Mean by the Phrase “Word of God”
What We Mean by the Phrase “Word of God”
Wayne Grudem: What is the Word of God? The Word of God actually refers to several different things in the Bible. Sometimes the phrase “the Word of God” refers to the person of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We find out later in the chapter that John is referring to Jesus Christ as the Word of God. There’s also a portion of Revelation 19 that refers to Jesus as the Word of God. You may have found that when you talk about the Word of God as the Bible, people object: Wait a minute—we don’t want to spend as much time talking about the Bible as the Word of God. We’d rather talk about Jesus as the Word of God. A couple things can be said in answer to that. First, we don’t know about Jesus except by reading what’s in the Bible. It’s