The Bible, of course, is a book with history, not only in its pages but about its pages. For centuries the Scriptures have been passed down, translated, copied and established in many dialects and languages. No ‘version’ of the Holy Writ has held the heart of a culture as has the English translation from 1611 known as the King James Version. This copy of the Scriptures included not just the Old and New Testaments, but also the Apocrypha and other related non-canonical writings. The language of that era is breathtaking and even the small and quirky nuances are cherished by millions as the voice of “their bible” from childhood. Through the years the King James Bible has been changed, updated, corrected and supplied to any household who wanted one in English speaking lands. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this translation of Scripture, very few people have actually read an original and fewer even have a replica of this literary masterpiece. Strangely in contrast to this fact, many taut that the King James Version, or KJV, is God’s ordained “translation” from the original “tongues” and any other translation efforts are “unauthorized”.  This type of thinking is rooted in a wide pool of theories, suspicion, conspiracy, fear, and ignorance. 

The KJV is a fine contextual representation of the Scriptures but it is no different and no better than other good translation efforts put forth in contemporary times. Now there is a difference between a translation and a ‘version’ of Scripture. A translation concedes to the original meaning in context and word-for-word accuracy as able, so that the message of the original text and its variants can be brought forth. A paraphrase or thought for thought commentation is not translation work at all. These types of so-called “bibles” are best left alone. For the KJV, it along with many of its English counterparts are good copies of Scripture and can be safely utilized to know the truths of God and the Gospel of Grace. But when it comes to those who try to wage war with the KJV as a divinely ‘inspired’ or ‘authorized’ version of Scripture, they are committing idolatry and in a real sense, are exposing a very dark side of human depravity and the ploys of the enemy. 

Dr. Edward Dalcour and I produced an informal podcast on this topic a few months ago and have it published at the ChristianPodcastCommunity.com for anyone who’s interested you can listen above. We discuss the idea that while the KJV is a perfectly fine version of Scripture, the dark side of KJV “onlyism” is that many fail to understand the silly ignorance behind it and worse, they fail to see the horrible sinfulness of placing undue burdens on the church who fear things that Scripture itself commands not to fear. They have no authority to hold to their views on the very book that claims sovereign authority over the church.  We’d love your thoughts and engagement. If you have any questions for our show, please go over to TheologyAnwers.com and post them!  

Christ Bless.

Gospel of John
John 6:22-29


Many people followed after Christ but not because they belonged to Him or even loved Him. This text reveals to us the nature of humanity and most of all the religious of our day just as they were in the days of Jesus, so they are in these last days.

 

 

Covenant Theology

  • The Parties include the mediator and the subject of the covenant.
  • The Promise can be natural or supernatural or both.
  • The Conditions are established at the behest of the mediator and must be met.
  • The seal or ceremony shows us something about the covenant as it also reveals the certainty of the promise.

 

A COVENANT

A promise given from one party to another upon which are imposed stipulations or conditions that are sealed by a token, symbol, or ceremony.

Trey teaches us about covenants and shows that when it comes to redemption, God meets the stipulations or conditions of the covenant that has been established and the promise is given to some before the conditions are even met. 

Ephesians 1:1–14

[1] Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

[2] Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, [4] even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love [5] he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. [7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, [8] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight [9] making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ [10] as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

[11] In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, [12] so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. [13] In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (ESV)


Thomas (Trey) Mason is an elder candidate with GraceTruth Church and actively serves in areas of teaching, research and pastoral care.

 

 

 

John 6:11–22 (ESV)
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 
JESUS MIRACLE EXPOSED THE MIRACLE OF REDEMPTION
  • V11 – Took the loads and distributed and also the fish
    • The bread that he was GIVEN gave forth more bread. It was transformed 
14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
THE PEOPLE KNEW THE SCRIPTURE and WANTED THEIR EARTHLY KING
Deuteronomy 18:15–19 (ESV)
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
  • Their hope was in escape from ROME and revitalization of Judaism
  • Their focus was that Messiah’s significance was Earthly: Wealth, Food, Victory, Freedom 
    • They could not see the DIVINE revelation of Jesus Christ, nor Him being the bread of life, nor their own true need for salvation!
15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
THE WORK OF JESUS CAUSED THE MIND OF MAN TO DO ANY CREATIVE THING
REMEMBER THIS IS THE PASSOVER THAT POINTS TO JESUS, but 
JUST LIKE THE JEWISH LEADERS OF JOHN 5, THE MULTITUDE COULD NOT SEE
***REVEIW*** 
SECOND PASSOVER
Jesus is the LAMB – He is about to focus on FEEDING to FILLING, this miracle.
  • Lamb dies points to the death of Christ
  • Bread and fish will FILL but not satisfy
  • MANNA is a shadow of the TRUE BREAD
  • PASSOVER is removed and JESUS BECOMES THE BREAD and the WINE (His flesh is now the true lamb)
JEWS IN AWE
  • In John 5 the JEWS put their hope in Moses.
  • They saw Scripture but could not see Jesus
  • Passover was their PRIME festival
  • NATIONAL pride was at its highest
  • THE people were taught that EXODUS was a picture of FUTURE GLORY that Messiah would bring and give them freedom from ROME, just like Egypt.
THE WORD OF GOD NOT IN THEM (SO these people also were taught WRONGLY – generation to generation of error)
  • They came to Christ on their own terms with their own conditions
  • They saw Christ through their human interpretation and practice of Moses
  • They comprehended by the flesh, not the Spirit for they were not born of the Spirit
  • They searched the Scriptures for salvation but they spoke of JESUS and His gospel, not them
  • John 5 leaves us seeing the condition of Israel and her spiritual leaders: Dead and blind, feasting on morals not grace!
  • John 6 reveals to us the product of the sheep without a shepherd; feasting on manna not glory!
THE WORK OF JESUS CAUSED FOCUS
  • They wanted Jesus as King and would do anything to get Him there
    • They had the numbers, He had the power, they were all in Jerusalem and could do something!
    • Jesus would provide for their bodies and families, how much more could come from His hands if He were made their King!

RECAP: WEEK 42’s notes.
JESUS IS THE ONE WHO TOOK INITIATIVE
5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 
6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 
  • He sees them and is concerned with their need for food (but mostly spiritual food)
    • He feeds them to later show them their true god… their bellies.
    • Mark records the crowd running and trying to catch up on the north side of the hill and that Jesus taught them for a while, then speaks of them needing to eat.
    • JOHN focuses on the continuity of his gospel’s THEOLOGY, not CHRONOLOGY
  • He inquires, not for the sake of needing to know, but for the image of revealing that NOTHING could be done with ANYONE’S help. It was a HOPELESS cause
    • Just as it was hopeless for these people to eat food, it is hopeless for these people too be fed the true bread from heaven.
MANS FEEBLE FAITH AND FOOLISH ATTEMPTS
7 Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 
  • Mary needing wine
  • Jews thinking 48 years
  • Nicodemus thinking natural birth and wind
  • Samaritan woman considering a bucket of water
  • Disciples looking for real food
  • Philip looking at the world’s market
  • Andrew shows that this is an impossible task
    • The disciples never once considered that Jesus COULD do anything, they set out to prove that they could neither AFFORD nor PRODUCE any food that would feed the 13 of them, much less the crowd. 
CHRIST NEEDS NO ASSISTANCE
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 
  • HE could have asked the crowd to bring all they had etc.
  • INSTEAD he asked them to sit down in an orderly fashion, he had a plan, he was going to feed them
  • WHAT were the disciples thinking at this moment as Jesus only had the one man’s lunch.
  • 5000 men alone were to large to handle and feed, but also women and children could make this crowd a number of 15-20K large. 
  • Imagine that 5K men could easily have overtaken Jesus at any point. 
  • THIS MIRACLE IS ABOUT TO BE A PRECURSOR TO A SPIRITUAL PICTURE (manna vs Jesus)
CHRIST PROVIDES THE NEED WITHOUT INCIDENT OR HESITATION
11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 
THE SATISFACTION AND FILLING OF THE GIFT OF GOD
12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 
THE BLINDNESS TO TRUTH WITH THE VOICE OF TRUTH
14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”
  • Many believed he was messiah, but they did not know his intention nor their need for true salvation.

THE WORK OF JESUS CAUSED FEAR 
  • With Rome and the Jews
  • With Herod Antipas (Galilean King) Mark 6; though JTB had risen from the dead.
  • Ceasar – John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
  • JESUS KINGSHIP was to die by the Spear, not Fight by the Spear
  • JESUS withdrew from them, dispersed the crowd and TOLD His disciples to leave there in boats
  • Jesus went to pray, because what had just happened, and what people wanted to happen were grave and serious events, very burdensome and pushing toward the ultimate end: His crucifixion. 
THOUGH THE WORK OF JESUS WAS MIGHTY, WITHOUT HIS PRESENCE, THERE WAS DARKNESS
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 
  • People were looking for him
  • His disciples were looking for him
  • Authorities were looking for him
  • ALL for different reasons: crowed wanted more from him, disciples believed he was their life in the flesh, authorities were fearful of his teaching (against their own)
  • DARKNESS seemed to be the state of men without Jesus; they were scared, alone, and didn’t know where they were going. 
  • EVEN though JESUS had proven His power, when he wasn’t CLOSE, they feared. Even when He was close, they feared: (sleeping in the boat).
  • Jesus had JUST FED (like manna) the multitude and now His people faced the sea!
18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 
  • This act of creation was enough to topple the faith of the men. WE LOSE ALL SIGHT when things go ary. We lose all hope, like being in darkness. (Storm) 
  • The disciples were looking for Jesus
JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF ON HIS OWN TERMS TO THE DISCIPLES
19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 
  • Jesus appears in the sea. MIRACLE number 5: He walks on the water. 
  • He had power over the water, the bread, and now the sea. He defies the laws of nature
  • Peter comes out to him here, but John doesn’t record it because it is already recorded in the Synoptics.
  • THREE OR FOUR MILES is to PROVE that Jesus was not walking on the shore! They were in the middle of the sea.
  • Their fear is not the point of John’s writing… he is focusing on what takes away their fear:
THE PRESENCE and REVELATION OF JESUS CALMS FEAR
20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 
  • Jesus is our refuge, hope, and life
  • Jesus brings faith for His people so they walk in confidence that he is near
  • Jesus is the only ONE who would have calmed them in this situation, they were no longer afraid.
    • ANY STORM is in the hands of Christ. He is always near… 
21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
  • Jesus also is the GOD of time and space. He moves the boat and the 12 with himself immediately to dry land. 
Psalm 107:23–32
23  Some went down to the sea in ships,
doing business on the great waters;
24  they saw the deeds of the Lord,
his wondrous works in the deep.
25  For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26  They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27  they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits’ end.
28  Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29  He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30  Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31  Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32  Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
THE UNREGENERATE MAN CONTINUES TO LOOK FOR JESUS ON HIS OWN TERMS FOR HIS OWN PURPOSE ( that will soon change)
22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone.

 

Scripture teaches all that we need to know about God the Holy Spirit but so many times professing believers have determined a different view of Him and also a different view of the Scriptures thereby denying the power and person of The Holy Spirit as God.

It appears that the death of Billy Graham has brought out a type of worldwide idolatry masked under the guise of appreciation. I won’t speak to Graham but I have to speak to the matter most disturbing relating to the authority of what Scripture teaches. If one holds to the sufficiency and efficacy of Scripture as the arbiter of truth, the full revelation of God, and the place by which they find the gospel of grace, then I must object to this overwhelming bandwagon of foolishness concerning “other” means of salvation. Scripture teaches that God’s word is profitable for teaching, that it is the message of the cross of Christ and His atonement (that is the gospel), that it is the Power of God unto salvation, and that those who do not hold to its authority and message are condemned already because they do not believe on the Son of God.

Paul teaches in Romans that God uses the preaching of the gospel by the power of Spirit in order to bring regeneration and that no man can come to trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ without this working of the Spirit. The point being that if Scripture teaches this and so many who profess to be “in Christ” are refuting this in favor of a kinder, more gracious God who would not “condemn” a man because of his lack of hearing, then to what end are we able to believe in any portion of Scripture?

We must hold the full Witness of God through the Scripture to which we would all do well to pay attention. Even the personal testimonies of the Apostles were not the authority of the revelation and message of Jesus Christ. Peter tells the church to listen to the Scriptures through which God will save them and secure them. Paul tells Timothy that the Word of God is able to make one wise and the means of salvation. What a glorious truth! Listen to the word of God, listen to the Scriptures and reject anyone who tells you that there is salvation found through any other medium!

The second commandment is something that many people have questions about often. I wrote an article last year in relation to the question, “Can a Christian Violate the Second Commandment with Pictures of Jesus?” Here is a podcast on that answer.

Success can be confusing. No matter the field or context of life, measuring success is a dominant desire. This measuring becomes problematic when the matrix is misunderstood. Ignorance of what constitutes success can bring a plethora of issues both externally and internally in the life of an individual or organization. Considering successful ministry can be daunting and I know in my tenure as a pastor I’ve been taught conflicting thoughts on how to know if I am successful. For over 20 years the idea of ‘counting’ heads and money has been the measure of success but if we peer into the pages of scripture, there would be no example of a successful church, pastor, apostle or Savior if that were the case. Others have concluded that success should be based on the experience of the individual or the congregation. They would posit that true success isn’t how many, but rather, how powerful the experience. Again, if this is measured in comparison to the New Testament, there would be no historic picture of success found in these measurements.

There is the room of course, for many conversations of practical wisdom as it relates to dealing with people, communicating, caring and doing life together, but any human being can pull off successful ventures of gathering up people with a common goal or vision. It only takes a brain and a voice. The problem comes when all this discombobulated instruction on success invades the mind of a pastor or congregation and they begin to make strides to ‘measure up’ according to man’s wisdom. While I’ve spoken to these things before, I want to know just put the authority where it should be; the Word of God.

When we want to see an amazing feat we can go to either a magic show, and be deceived and enjoy it, or we can go to a sporting event or daredevil exhibition. Either way, there are many amazing things to behold in the world of daring humanity. If we want our breath to be taken we can listen to a chorale of voices singing the classics of old, a symphony bringing the trills and tonal harmonies to life in our ears, or we can view the grandeur of the sea, the mountains or the beyond! Sadly, all of these things, while awe-inspiring, are not majestic or awesome in comparison to the glory of God. So, in man’s feeble mind, he has tried to find other ways to behold the power of God and then painted the canvas of “worship” and “church” with these silly and boring tactics.

How amazing would it be if I were preaching this Sunday and out of the blue I began to float in the air and fire came from my hands as I read the words of Jesus? People would think they had witnessed a miracle and their hearts and minds would be overpowered by that experience. Likewise, if I walked out into the congregation and touched the ailing and their bodies were actually healed, legs grew back, eyesight restored; people would lose their mind in amazement. What if I were able to know things that were not mine to know or had the ability to provide music that would shudder the soul and cause others to feel, what they thought, the very presence of God? I would submit that all of this, even if it happened in greater detail, would be boring and nothing in comparison to seeing the glory of God face-to-face!

So, if we want to SEE a miracle, it is better to stop looking for the next great “work” of God and realize that there is already a perfect miracle for us to behold every moment of our lives! Jesus in John 6 says, “This is the work of God that you believe in the Son that He has sent.” See, the people of John 6 wanted more miracle food. When Jesus refused to feed them in their hunger and commanded them to be satisfied in Him, they wanted a sign for Jesus to prove Himself as worthy. In the same manner, many professing believers seem to believe in anything they can feel, create, and experience that satisfies their flesh instead of actually believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption. The point is that success in ministry is not measured by the number of people in the pews, money in the bank, missionaries in the field, miracles on the stage, healings in the clinics, or tongues in the air like cymbals. It is measured by the majesty and glory of God in the face of the people of God, who believe, worship and love each other with all authority. So how then are we to measure this? How is this experienced and evident in the life of the church? Through the Word of God Alone!

God’s word faithfully proclaimed is the only measure of successful ministry.

2 Timothy 3:[16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

ὠφέλιμος – means valuable, profitable, having worth and bringing a yield. So, the word of God, which is God speaking, is profitable for all things that the church needs. It teaches (doctrine), reproofs (disapproves), corrects (sets right), and trains in righteousness (teaches Christ). The successful pastor is equipped for every good work through the Scripture. That is the miracle of God and a display of His creative power at work. His word being taught, His sheep hearing and heeding, and His people being governed by the Miracle of New Life by His everlasting Grace. Anything else is just boring and of lesser awe than this!  Stop seeking out the devil’s measure of majesty and rest in the revelation of God to you.

Rest in Christ!

With today’s culture of constant interaction, information, and interruption, getting ‘away’ from it all has taken many forms. It appears as if instead of scheduling time away through short trips or vacations periodically, most people feel the need to ‘vacate’ every day. With every week containing 168 hours, most people spend 40 laboring to live. That leaves 128 hours of time that has to encompass sleep, eating, restroom breaks, bathing, preparation, and relationships. Let’s take 56 out for sleeping 8 hours per day leaving 72 hours every single week for necessities and obligations. For the Christian, there should be a minimum of 3 to 4 hours a week in fellowship, if we never make excuses to miss work, we should not make excuses to miss fellowship with the saints, it’s actually stupid to do so.

So now we’re down to 68 hours.  That’s time enough to take on another FULL-TIME job still leaving 28 hours to spare.  Where does the time go? Well, I could write for ages on the wasters of time in the name of profitable things. How many of us have one full book of the bible memorized? OK, how about one chapter? Maybe one portion, let’s say the introduction to the Gospel of John? That’s 18 verses… I know for a fact there are several people recently who know each lyric of each song on their iPhone. That equates to five verses of music times 400 to 600.  Why?  I know many people who know the lines out of movies verbatim. But can’t tell a clear story of Jesus life and ministry.  A movie that takes two hours vs. a story that takes 25 minutes? The problem here is not time, it’s idolatry. But that’s not the point of my writing.

Out of all this waste of time, it seems that people want to meddle in worthless areas of life while professing that Christ is enough. See, the scripture shows us what to do when we feel overwhelmed, broken, fearful, worried, angry, forgotten, martyred, etc.  We are to “think on the things that are eternal….”  The matter is simple. When we want to “escape” we often pray that God would help us get out of the matter at hand or change our circumstances, our hearts, or our minds. The conflict arises out of a misunderstanding of how to pray and how to listen to the scripture. See, getting away from everything can be found in books, media, movies, sports, vacations, games, etc., but those things are just temporary deflections. They do not actually set us in any real place or give us any real benefit at all. Without quoting myriads of research on the matter, psychologists have long known the effects of constant avoidance of life through natural or ‘artificial’ means. They have a word for it, addiction.

Addiction to stuff, feelings, thoughts, stories, interaction, social media, phones, games, sports, solitude, or whatever robs us as believers of the core of God’s presence which is found in the Bible. Some argue, “well, I read other books and the bible, can’t I just enjoy escape in reading, after-all, the bible is a book right?” No, is my answer. NO! The Bible, while a book in its form, is not a book. It is God’s word, thus it is the utterance of God speaking to us. Scripture teaches that the basics of salvation come through hearing the Bible (Rom 10:17) and that comfort comes from putting our minds on the scriptures. The error rests in the attitude of approach. That is that so many times we just peek into the bible for answers rather than digest the scripture in order to be intimate with Jesus Christ. Scripture reading is intimacy. So putting our minds on eternity is to literally put our minds on the teaching of the truth of Jesus. Who He is and what He’s done. We don’t run after Jesus in the biblical texts to find His “message” about our problems, we run into Jesus through the Holy Writ because while we read God the Spirit interacts with us. So, reading Scripture puts our mind on the very thing that we will ETERNALLY be focused on: Jesus Christ and HIS GLORY!

So here’s the point: Read Scripture for your escape. It will not rob you of glory and power but will put you in an intimate place with God. Through scripture, God will speak, settle us, and give us the ability to rest in His promises as He comforts us. Our relationship with God is only found in His word. And for those who are constantly reading, listening, gleaning, and hounding after other “theological” arguments, stop that also. Find more time in the word so that your joy will be full.  “These things are written…”  This is found many times in Scripture to the following end: that you may BELIEVE in Jesus Christ and so have ETERNAL LIFE. This life beloved is NOT eternal and I think it’s time that we as the church spend out time thinking on better things.

Precision is an important virtue in many areas of life. For the marksman, precision is the only thing on his mind. For the surgeon, it could be the difference between life and death. For the orator or teacher, it could be the difference in understanding and confusion, and that, related to eternal life, could contrast between purveying a truth or a lie. Defining terms for an audience is one thing, but recently I’ve noticed that a lack of precision in wording can create a deep misunderstanding. Language is a funny beast. It is as unique to people as is DNA and even among its own, it can often be convoluted. I’ve noticed in the last year how so many things I say may indeed make sense to me in my understanding of them, but in reality, they can sound like something else to the hearers. Oft what I say may even be offensive or even heretical.  Years ago I was preaching, and a comment that I made birthed controversy. I said simply, “don’t let the devil dupe you, don’t be a sucker.”  A few days later the request to have my sermon pulled from the church website caught me off guard. The brother really thought that the word “sucker” was a profane reference and for several days he had lost a great deal of respect for me.

Other things have caused me to consider my language and to pray that the Lord would grant me the grace to be aware of the need. Recently a church member brought to my attention the difference in a wording related to the ‘illumination’ of the Spirit of God versus His revelation. Someone has even suggested I should be sparing with the usage of the word “brother” when speaking on social media. Another person brought to my attention that the usage of words like faith, trust, believe, etc. are confusing in context at times.

Looking back twenty years ago, I would describe myself as a conservative, Baptist, orthodox, Americanized Pastor who pressed daily to see the church grow in depth and number. The problem was that my “Americanized” training and examples had surely removed a lot of actual truth from my arsenal of ministry. The language of my teaching centered on the actions of men, the thinking of men, the emotions of men, the dedication of men as the “gospel” remained at the center as a gracious offer. The gospel was an opportunity evidenced by the continued invitation to “receive” Jesus, or “pray for salvation.” These practices birthed out of generations of ill-informed and ignorant men who just replicated what they observed and labored through it any way they knew how. I’ll discuss these things at a later time.

Because of this long history, it is even more important now that I utilize wording that is not ‘mainstream’ and expected everyone to grasp it. In a conversation with a gentleman two nights ago I asked the question, “How do you know you have eternal life?” He began a barrage of answers beginning with, “You must ask Jesus into your heart.” He concluded with these “steps” of salvation: “One must then repent of sin, study the Bible, obey Jesus, and begin to grow and do things for others… all in love.”  While all of these things are good experiences, attitudes, actions and efforts, none of them, even the first, are effectual in salvation. Precision needs to be understood as vital in preaching and teaching the Bible. The simplicity of scripture and the gospel message is such that a child can hear the word and be saved.

Jesus says that He is THE TRUTH, THE WAY, and THE LIFE. I use capital letters for emphasis on the definite article, THE, and the object of what and who Jesus is. So a relationship with Jesus Christ is one that agrees with what He says about Himself. Faith is believing on what Jesus says, not finding another way of experiencing Jesus. In reality, there is no other way to know Jesus without reading or hearing the language of Scripture. Jesus is “the eternal life” manifested to us, He is the “image of the invisible God” and no one can come to the Father “except through Him.” The Apostles wrote the words of Christ’s teaching and through them alone can one find faith. Therefore, faith in Jesus Christ is faith in the words of Christ, I believe this is clearly stated by Paul in Romans 10:17, right after he says that no one can believe if someone doesn’t go to them and speak the simple language of the Bible.

The point of this is not to debate the aforementioned truths, but to show that because it is true, and because eternity is in the balance, precision is vital. Being exact goes together with exclusivity and explicitly. Jesus is the exclusive and explicit truth of God. Believing in Jesus Christ is believing in what He says and what His Word says about Him. Trusting in Him is exactly the same. It is holding as truth to the written word of God and its propositions about who Christ is and what He has done. This is something that needs to be understood as the reason so many people are falsely converted to an illogical and invisible faith in an ambiguous and caricatured Christ. That ‘christ’ cannot save anyone. That faith is not saving faith. And no matter how transformative one becomes in their lives, Jesus said that if our righteousness is not greater than that of the Pharisees that we could not have eternal life. So, complete obedience to all things plus some. This is bad, bad news.

The precise good news though is clearly seen in the writing of and about Jesus Christ. And certainly, this information is ONLY found in the Bible. Period. No exceptions. The Bible reveals Jesus as the Image of God, He is the knowledge and wisdom of God. He is the creator of the world. Jesus Christ is the one whom God the Father has sent, as a man, and as God, both equally true at the same time. Scripture teaches that God is holy and just, therefore, He must punish evil. Sin is evil, men are sinners. Therefore, it is good and loving for God to destroy sinners and cast them into eternal damnation. God, however, before the foundation of the world, decreed not a plan, but a promise. A covenant to save His people from their sin and from His just wrath. This is done through Jesus Christ. He was born, he lived a perfectly obedient life as a human being, thus satisfying all the righteous requirements of the law. Then God put Him on the cross to destroy Him. See, God cannot forgive sin, he must punish it. So, because God has decreed to save sinners, Jesus Christ took our sin on Himself, then we can be forgiven because Christ has paid the debt with His blood.

Precision matters. Words matter. Theology matters. If you are reading this and your faith is not in what Scripture says about Jesus, then you, my friend are not found in Jesus Christ. If your faith is in any other thing, place, function, action, thought, determination, experience, attitude, fruitfulness or association, you are desperately in need of seeing the truth of Christ from Scripture and need to believe on Him, the living LOGOS – Word – His speaking about Himself. Because Scripture has taken such a low place of authority and has been replaced by humanism, philosophy, professional ministry and the like, the Gospel has been hidden. Now is the time to see. Now is the day of truth. Today is the day of Salvation. Hear the word of the Lord.

If you don’t believe me, please believe God.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

[1] Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [2] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.[3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, [5] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. [6] Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. [7] Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. [8] Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. [9] For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. [10] But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. [11] Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

For His Glory by His Grace

Pastor James