A Deeper Look at What the Bible Says About the Bible

By Matt Smethurst: The Bible makes many claims about itself within its text. What does it say? Click here to download a hard copy of this article. There are only two options when it comes to knowledge of a divine creator: revelation or speculation. Either he speaks, or we guess. Christians believe that, thankfully, he has spoken. The God of heaven and earth has “forfeited his own personal privacy” to reveal himself to us—to befriend us—through a book.1Scripture is like an all-access pass into the revealed mind and will of God. By virtually any account the Bible is the most influential book of all time. No shortage of ink has been spilled on writings about it, against it, and in favor of it. But what does the Bible say about itself? The Bible Is Inspired When people claim the Bible is “inspired,” what do they really mean? Are they just saying it’s inspiring? Well, not quite. Sure, the Bible may inspire some of its readers,

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Three Surprising Ways to Grieve the Holy Spirit

Kevin DeYoung: The Holy Spirit is often described as light. He shines into the dark places of the heart and convicts us of sin (John 16:7-11). He is a lamp to illumine God’s word, teaching what is true and showing the truth to be precious (1 Cor. 2:6-16). And the Spirit throws a spotlight on Christ so that we can see his glory and be changed (John 16:14). That’s why 2 Corinthians 3:18speaks of becoming more like Christ by beholding the glory of Christ. Just as Moses had his face transfigured when he saw the Lord’s glory on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:29; 2 Cor. 3:7), so will we be transformed when, by the Spirit, we behold God’s glory in the face of Christ. The Spirit, then, is a light to us in three ways: by exposing our guilt, by illuminating the word of God, and by showing us Christ. Or to put it another way, as Divine Light, the Holy Spirit works

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Preaching with Authority: Three Characteristics of Expository Preaching

Al Mohler: Authentic expository preaching is marked by three distinct characteristics: authority, reverence, and centrality. Expository preaching is authoritative because it stands upon the very authority of the Bible as the word of God. Such preaching requires and reinforces a sense of reverent expectation on the part of God’s people. Finally, expository preaching demands the central place in Christian worship and is respected as the event through which the living God speaks to his people. A keen analysis of our contemporary age comes from sociologist Richard Sennett of New York University. Sennett notes that in times past a major anxiety of most persons was loss of governing authority. Now, the tables have been turned, and modern persons are anxious about any authority over them: “We have come to fear the influence of authority as a threat to our liberties, in the family and in society at large.” If previous generations feared the absence of authority, today we see “a fear

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Preaching today? Listening to preaching today?

Encouragement from Darryl Dash: Pastors can always use encouragement. If you’re a pastor (or even if you’re not), here are some truths that you might find encouraging today. God promises to use his Word (Isaiah 55:11). When God speaks, things happen. No matter how feebly preached, God honors the proclamation of his Word. Our weakness displays God’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:7). Our weakness doesn’t diminish God’s glory. It provides greater contrast between us and the surpassing power of the God we serve. God uses the “things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:28). If you and your church don’t look like much, you are just the type that God loves to use. Your position is secure (Romans 8). There is no sermon that you could preach that would make you more acceptable to God. There is no sermon, however bad, that can remove you from the love of God. Our imperfect churches display the

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All Scripture–All of It

Kevin DeYoung: If all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16), then there is a unity to be found across the pages of the Bible. Without minimizing the differences of genre and human authorship, we should nevertheless approach the Bible expecting theological distinctives and apparent discrepancies to be fully reconcilable. The unity of Scripture also means we should be rid of, once and for all, this nonsense about being red letter Christians, as if the words of Jesus are the really important verses in Scripture and carry more authority and are somehow more directly divine than other verses. An evangelical understanding of inspiration does not allow us to prize the truths in the Gospel more than truths elsewhere in Scripture. If we read about homosexuality from the pen of Paul in Romans it has no less weight or relevance than if we read it from the lips of Jesus in Matthew. All Scripture is breathed out by God,

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Conservative Christianity and the transgender question

By Russell D. Moore: The Internet is abuzz with conversation about the “T” in “LGBT” this week, after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law legislation supporting “equal access” for students who believe themselves to be the opposite gender from their biological sex. As a conservative evangelical Christian, I believe the so-called transgender question will require a church with a strong theological grounding, and a winsome pastoral footing. Here’s why. Ultimately, the transgender question is about more than just sex. It’s about what it means to be human. Poet Wendell Berry responded to techno-utopian scientism with the observation that civilization must decide whether we see persons as creatures or as machines. If we are creatures, he argued, then we have purpose and meaning, but also limits. If we see ourselves, and the world around us, as a machine, then we believe the Faustian myth of our own limitless power to recreate ourselves. This is, it seems to me, the question at the

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The Best Book on the Doctrine of Scripture

Fred Sanders: The best book on the doctrine of Scripture has never been written, and is by J.I. Packer. Every time I teach on the doctrine of Scripture, I find myself reaching for a few J.I. Packer quotations that have coalesced in my memory to form a complete statement on bibliology. But when I reach for the book they’re in, I discover that they’re not in a book. They’re in three different books: ‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God (1958), God Has Spoken: Revelation and the Bible (1965, rev 2005), and Truth and Power: The Place of Scripture in the Christian Life (1996). I don’t know how Packer or his publishers think of these books, but I think of them as his Scripture trilogy. They don’t exactly fit together tightly, and don’t seem to be part of a plan. There is a great deal of repetition among them. They were provoked by very different situations and aimed at different audiences. The ‘Fundamentalism’ book is feisty and contrarian, God Has

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Turn Your Back on Sterile Aberrations

J.I. Packer’s words, as relevant today as they were in 1958: “The honest way to commend God’s revealed truth to an unbelieving generation is not to disguise it as a word of man, and to act as if we could never be sure of it, but had to keep censoring and amending it at the behest of the latest scholarship, and dared not believe it further than historical agnosticism gives us leave; but to preach it in a way which shows the world that we believe it wholeheartedly, and to cry to God to accompany our witness with His Spirit, so that we too may preach ‘in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.’ The apologetic strategy that would attract converts by the flattery of accommodating the gospel to the ‘wisdom’ of sinful man was condemned by Paul nineteen centuries ago, and that past hundred years have provided a fresh demonstration of its bankruptcy. The world may call its compromises

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The Twin Temptations of Pragmatism and Authoritarianism

Jonathan Leeman: It is easy for church leaders to look only to their left or only to their right in seeking to avoid the errors of others. Something I have learned from watching Tim Keller is the importance of looking in both directions. Hence, the man always seems to have a “third way” on offer. When the topic turns to philosophy of ministry or church practice, it has been the tendency of 9Marks writers like myself to look leftward toward the squishy tendencies of mainstream evangelicalism. This is a response to the evangelicalism of my youth that was constantly anxious to avoid slipping too far rightward toward some type of authoritarian fundamentalism. Many things in life are binary, and there is no third way. But I do believe there are errors both to the right and to the left of a biblical philosophy of ministry. On the left are the errors of pragmatism, and on the right are the errors of authoritarianism. What’s most

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Bringing Jesus into Focus

John Piper: If you ever wondered why we at Desiring God write so much about doctrinal particularities, here’s one answer. If glory includes beauty, as I wrote last week, it includes lines. They may be curved or straight. But without lines there is no form. You would never see a cloud, if there were no border to it. The whole sky would be one color. You would never see the sun or the moon or a baseball, if there were no circumference. Never see an oak leaf, if there were no fingered outline. Never see a human face, if the cheeks and nose and brow and chin had no edge. Therefore the glory of Christ has lines. Without them, “glory” is just a word. These lines define forms of beauty. Aspects of glory. Particularities that can be seen and enjoyed. This is who Jesus is. He is not a vague glory. He is a glorious coherence of particular glories that have

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Delighting in Scripture

Sam Storms: As you read what Jonathan Edwards said about Scripture, ask yourself if it reflects your own point of view: “I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the holy scriptures, of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading; often dwelling long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every sentence seemed to be full of wonders” (Personal Narrative). How far removed this is from the declarations of boredom that I so often hear from people who describe their reaction to reading Scripture! I think what Edwards here refers to must be what the author of Psalm 119 had in mind when

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William Tyndale’s New Testament

By Tim Challies: The moment Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-Five Theses” to the door of the university chapel at Wittenberg, he set into motion a series of events that brought about a great Reformation. This Reformation would soon spread beyond Germany and as it did so, it would forever transform the Christian faith. One of the jewels of that Reformation is now in the collection of the British Library: William Tyndale’s New Testament. It is the next of the twenty-five objects through which we are telling the history of Christianity. William Tyndale was born in 1494 in Gloucestershire, England. Born into a wealthy family he had the privilege of studying at Magdalen Hall, Oxford and at Cambridge. He was a brilliant scholar who was soon fluent in eight languages. At Cambridge he studied theology, but remarked later that the study of theology had involved little study of the Bible. Also at Cambridge he encountered the teachings of Desiderius Erasmus and became

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The Primacy of the Word in Worship

By Ron Man: The Word of God is of supreme importance in the life of the Christian, containing as it does God’s revelation of his Person, his will and his ways. The Word needs to be pored over, ingested into one’s mind and heart, meditated on, and acted upon. It is a unique and precious repository of spiritual truth and guidance and encouragement. There is no aspect of the life of the church or of the individual believer that should not be tied to a scriptural mooring and infused with biblical substance (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Bible is indeed 
”a lamp unto my feet, and a light 
unto my path” (Ps 119:105). When Christians gather for
 corporate worship, it is logical that 
the Word of God should play a 
central and dominant role. For 
since worship involves focusing our
 thoughts and hearts and voices on 
the praise of God, in response to
 his self-revelation and his gracious
 saving initiative, we

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Going Soft Against Wrath

Ray Ortlund: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. What is the wise response to an angry person who says something cruel, false or demanding? Proverbs 15:1 helps us in those awkward moments at home, at work, in our churches. The key is “a soft answer.” So, you’re standing there, stunned by those words that have just exploded in your face. In that instant of decision, as your mind is forming a response, “a soft answer” is the category you need. What is that? Maybe, for Sure The word “soft” means tender, delicate, gentle, even weak. We don’t like being weak, especially when we find ourselves in the crosshairs of anger. We would rather justify ourselves. It is hard to be wronged. It is doubly hard to be wronged and not fight back but respond softly. Of course, if the angry person is a heretic, bent on wrecking your church, he or she must be confronted

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God’s Passion for His Glory

Justin Childers: 10 things God has done (or will do) that He specifically says He did for His own glory: 1.      God created us for His glory. a.      Isaiah 43:6-7: God says, “bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” b.      Isaiah 43:21: God describes His people as: “the people whom I formed for myself, that they might declare my praise.” 2.      God forgives sins for His glory . a.      Isaiah 43:25:  God says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” b.      Psalm 25:11:  “For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” 3.      God hardened Pharaoh’s heart for His glory. a.      Exodus 14:4, 14:17-18: God says, “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his

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Confessional Integrity and the Stewardship of Words

Albert Mohler: In the beginning was the Word. Christians rightly cherish the declaration that our Savior, the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, is first known as the Word — the one whom the Father has sent to communicate and to accomplish our redemption. We are saved because the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Believers are then assigned the task of telling others about the salvation that Christ has brought, and this requires the use of words. We tell the story of Jesus by deploying words, and we cannot tell the story without them. Our testimony, our teaching, and our theology all require the use of words. Words are essential to our worship, our preaching, our singing, and our spiritual conversation. In other words, words are essential to the Christian faith and central in the lives of believers. As Martin Luther rightly observed, the church house is to be a “mouth house” where words, not images or dramatic

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On Not Losing the Gospel in the Next Generation

Justin Taylor posts: Daniel Darling, writing for Leadership, asks Don Carson, “You’ve often said that the Church is three generations from losing the gospel entirely. What advice would you give to pastors and church leaders to ensure that this doesn’t happen?” Here is his answer: This question is an important one, but very difficult to answer in a few lines. Read and meditate on the Scriptures constantly, and self-consciously place yourself under Scriptural authority. Walk with epistemological humility—and that means carefully learning from Christian leaders in the past so we do not tumble into precisely the same mistakes. Devote yourself to disciplined prayer. A prayerless person is a disaster waiting to happen. Never stop evangelizing: it is much easier to get sloppy about the gospel if you are not proclaiming it and seeing men and women come to Christ. Develop close attachments with a handful of trusted people who are experienced and discerning, and make time for edifying fellowship. If you

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Christ Is Not Just Another Theme in the Old Testament

By Scott Redd: I am increasingly hesitant to use the phrase “finding Christ in the Old Testament” (or Pentateuch, Psalter, or Wisdom Literature, and so on). It seems to imply that the person of Christ is merely a theme among others to be mined from the Old Testament alongside other themes such as justification, resurrection, or the like. The second person of the Trinity made incarnate is, of course, more than simply a theme of God’s self-revelation in the Old Testament Scriptures. He is the culmination of God’s self-revelation in all of history, the perfect embodiment of the godhead (Col 2:9). To a certain extent, we could say that the quest to find Christ in the Old Testament is analogous to the quest to find Thomas Jefferson in Declaration of Independence. Christ is everywhere throughout the Old Testament. It speaks of him explicitly and implicitly, in promises, patterns, types, hints, and images. Through these various ways the Old Testament reveals

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