Saturday, February 26, 2011


Here is a segment of Gordon Fee’s article titled "Why Christians Read their Bibles Poorly" that suggests three steps on better reading and understanding of Scripture:
1.  People need to learn to read in meaningful sections; and in order to do this they must get rid of the numbers. As useful as those number are for finding things, they are absolute distractions when it comes to informed reading. Not only are they all too often put in the wrong place, but they give people the idea that God had something to do with giving us a Bible in “verses”! And as long as people have numbers, they will read “a chapter a day looking for a verse for the day,” which in turn will keep them basically illiterate about Scripture as a whole. Fortunately, there will soon be such a Bible on the market, published by the International Bible Society, which attempts to format the Bible so as to be in keeping with almost everything else people read. But whatever else, in order to read well, one must get rid of the numbers.
2.  People need to learn to read Scripture aloud. Silent reading, which works well in libraries, thank you, does not work well if people are trying to read with understanding and memory. Silent reading is a modern invention, whose advantage is reading more quickly—and please continue to read the newspaper and Time silently! Everyone in antiquity read—and prayed—aloud; this was simply the norm. The advantages of reading aloud are two: First, it slows one down enough so as to catch all the words, and often the nuances; second, three of your senses are involved not just one, which makes for better memory.
3.  Most people will need to read with some kind of guide, such as our HOW TO READ THE BIBLE BOOK BY BOOK.  Whatever else, the guide should be a guide, not a commentary or study Bible that explains too much and gives the reader someone else’s opinion as to the meaning of what is being read. The guide should guide the reading, not comment on the meaning.
From Reading Isaiah as Christian Scripture blog / Feb 16, 2001

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

400TH Anniversary

Four Hundred Years ago a single publication was printed that has impacted the world more than any other book: THE KING JAMES BIBLE. It is the grand old English translation. In the age of a proliferation of English translations, I dare say none will equal the impact or the staying power of the King James Bible. While some want to disregard it and others want to worship it, no one can deny it is the most influential version of the Bible ever printed. It has impacted the centuries not only because it is the Word of God, but for its influence on faith, literature, language, and history. Its prose is said to have inspired Paradise Lost, Pilgrim's Progress, Negro spirituals, and the Gettysburg Address. This one book sparked literacy around the world. It was the cornerstone of education for centuries. It provided inspiration to countless writers. It influenced such documents as the Mayflower Compact and the Constitution of the United States. Respect for the KJV's impact on language, literature and faith should result in celebration.

The KJV was the product of 54 men who formed the translating team. However, Cleland Boyd McAfee said, "Tyndale is the real father of our King James Version. About 80 percent of his Old Testament and 90 percent of his New Testament have been transferred to our version." Tyndale translated the Bible into English in the 1500’s, and was burned at the stake because of it. While the language has been applauded, it was not translated to become an example of effective use of language or literature. It was translated to provide the world with translation accuracy of the original Hebrew and Greek. Their aim was an accurate, accessible Bible for the English speaking people. No, the KJV was not the translation Paul used, although many lay people believed it was the original Bible—it had that kind of influence.

The KJV still demands our respect and use. It should not only be celebrated, but read. May it not be relegated to a shelf, but stored in our soul. While we may use and even prefer newer translations, let us not neglect it nor forget its words, rather may we read it, memorized it, and cherish it in our hearts and minds. It is the Word of God. It is the grand translation of all translations

Sunday, February 20, 2011

LUKE: A model of a Bible student.

This is from BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR originally published in 1887 and now available from Ages Digital Library. I read this today and decided it was worthy to pass it on. It still speaks…

This complete knowledge of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach
suggests the importance of endeavoring to gain a more perfect knowledge
of the Word of God. There is a great readiness in quoting certain texts or
favorite portions, but the fullness of which St. Luke speaks is rare. The
Word of God cannot be said to be unknown, but it does not “dwell richly
in us in all wisdom.” Hence truths are magnified into undue proportions,
and important doctrines are passed over slightly, because they do not well
enter into some peculiar system.
did not go beyond what God made known by His Son. Here, again, we
may learn the importance of not going beyond the revealed Word
whenever we attempt to review God’s dealings with mankind, anti
especially of the redemption of the world by Christ. If there be danger in a
partial knowledge of God’s truth, there is perhaps more in adding to the
things which God has revealed. It is this which has caused so much
III. He recognized that a knowledge of “all that Jesus began to do and to
teach,” however comprehensive and however free from mixture, will not
prove a saving knowledge unless it be CONVEYED TO THE SOUL BY THE
POWER OF GOD. St. Luke describes the commandments of Jesus as given
unto the apostles by the Spirit. It is possible for any man to learn these
commandments. The letter of the law and the facts of the gospel are within
the reach of the poorest capacity. But, in order to make the knowledge
available, the Spirit of God must take of the things so learnt, and show
them to the soul. “No man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy
Ghost.” It is impossible to read the Acts without seeing that the Holy Spirit
was the acting Guide of all the sayings and actions of the first teachers of
Christianity. Looking upon the doctrines of the gospel as a medicine to
heal our spiritual sickness, we must suppose that the medicine is taken, and
that it penetrates through the constitution of the sick soul.
cause of the Redeemer, our desires for the advancement of His glory, our
prayers for the prevalence of His truth, will all be in proportion to the
depth of our conviction that this is the Word of God. The earliest
impressions are liable to be effaced by time, by the world and its cares, by
the changes of our own views, by the speculative views of others, etc. We
have need, therefore, of watchfulness, lest that which is within us lose its
power and freshness, and we begin in the routine of duty and form to think
less and less of the power of godliness. (R. Burgess, B.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Matthew 8:14-17

Matthew writes around themes and did not record Jesus' miracles in strict chronological order. In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew presented the teaching of the Messiah King concerning His Kingdom (Matt. 5-7). In chapter 8 His miraculous acts are the focus. There are ten miracles in this section which demonstrate His authority over disease and nature. The third instance of healing was at Peter’s house. Peter’s house is traditionally located about 100 yards from the synagogue at Capernaum. This city was the headquarters of Jesus ministry in Galilee. There was more than one healing on this occasion, Matthew treats it as one event. We see a process in the travel of Jesus in chapter 8. He came off the mountain (healing the Leper), then entering the city (where He meet the Centurion), now he comes to his destination—the house of Peter.

Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s home, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left here. And she arose and served them: (8:14-15). This event is stated in the simplest terms and in a matter of fact manner. We see three elements to the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law:

·         The High Fever. It was normal for extended families to live under one roof in those days. Peter was married (cf. 1 Cor. 9:5) and his mother-in-law lived with the family. Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. What caused the fever we are not told. In Jesus’ day they saw fever as the disease, not a symptom of disease or infection. There were three kinds of fever common in Israel at the time: (1) Malta fever, which was long term, and caused weakness, anemia, and often led to death. (2) an intermittent fever, which was like typhoid fever, and (3) malaria, which was common in the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee area. The word lying is the Greek word beblhmenhn, it is a passive perfect participle and means “having been thrown down.” This was no mild everyday fever, for the word indicates the severity of the fever.
·         The Healing. Jesus touched her, which was forbidden in rabbinic tradition. Upon His touch the fever went away instantly. This shows the instantaneous effectiveness of the healing power of Jesus.
·         The Helping. The instant cure led to instant service. It also indicates instantaneous restoration. Fever usually leaves one weak, but no indication of such here. The touch of Jesus gives strength. Constable notes: “This miracle shows Jesus' power to heal people fully, instantaneously, and completely. It also previews His compassion since the object of His grace was a woman. The Pharisees considered lepers, Gentiles, and women as outcasts, but Jesus showed mercy to them all.” [Thomas Constable, NOTES ON MATTHEW, 123.]

The word evidently got out that Jesus was healing in the area. By evening a number of people came to be touched by the healing hands of Jesus. We read, “When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses’” (8:16-17). This breaks down into two sections:

·         The possessed (8:16). As word got out, people brought those possessed with demons and sickness. Demon possession had its hayday during the time of Christ and will have again during the end times. Interestingly Demon possession seems to cause physical infirmities: dumbness (Matt. 9:32-33), blindness (Matt. 12:22), sickness (Luke 13:13-16), and lunacy (Matt 17:15), to name a few. The location is still Peter’s house, but probably not inside the house. If the ruins that are identified as Peters house are correct, then we know two things: First, Peter’s home had an outside courtyard, actually two of them. It was not unusual in Jesus’ day for homes to have outside living areas. Second, outside the front of Peter’s home was a public area large enough where a crowd could gather. [J.F. Stranges, H. Shanks, “Has the House Where Jesus Stayed in Capernaum Been Found?” BIBLICAL ARCHEOLOGY REVIEW, 1982, 26-37.] The text does not indicate exactly where the healings took place.

The action of Jesus was immediate. He casted out spirits and healed all who were sick. This was done by the power of His word. The Greek word is the same as in verse 8 and used by the centurion—“with a command.” The word all (
pantas) is inclusive. There was no sickness that Jesus could not heal, nor did not heal. The action notes the compassion and grace of the kingdom.

·         The prophecy (8:17). “That” or in order that is a preposition of purpose. Matthew sees the purpose of these healings as a direct fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. He uses this quote as a summary of the triplet miracles. He sees these events as a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:4 and quotes it (sort of): “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sickness” (8:17 cf. Isaiah 53:4). Morris notes that if Matthew is either quoting the LXX in its more paraphrased or free translation, or he may be quoting an independent translation from the Hebrew. In other words it is not a direct quote, either from the official Hebrew Masoretic version, or the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the Old Testament. This is the second of three that Matthew uses from Isaiah the prophet (cf. 1:22, 12:17-21). Isaiah 53 predicts the events surrounding the coming of the Servant of the Lord. Matthew associates the Isaiah text and its servant motif with the healing ministry of Jesus.

Since this passage is used by many claiming divine healing on the basis that Christ bore our sicknesses the same as sins. They believer there is physical healing in the atonement. Baker gives six answers why this is not proof of healing in the atonement.
(1) Matthew makes clear that Christ fulfilled this prophecy two years before His death and His making atonement. Thus, healing is not in the atonement.
(2) The verbs for bearing sin and bearing sickness are not the same.
Anaphero is the Greek word used of bearing sin (1 Pet. 2:24; Heb. 9:8; Isa. 53:12 [LXX]). The Greek word for bearing sickness is bastazo (Matt 3:11; Gal. 6:2; Rom. 15:1; Isa 53:4). Christ bore sickness in a separate way than our sin.
(3)  If salvation and healing are in the atonement, then healing and salvation are to be equated and if one loses his health, then one could lose his salvation. 
(4)  Paul experienced infirmities (the same word as Matt. 8:17) in which he gloried (2 Cor. 11:20; 12:9-10). Was Paul unsaved because his infirmities were not cured? Was Paul out of the will of God? Did He glory in being out of the will of God? Of course not.
(5) Such of view as healing in the Atonement denies Romans 8:23. Our final salvation includes a redeemed body, but not in this age. Turner calls these healings by Jesus as “tokens” of the ultimate eschatological results of redemption.
[David Turner, MATTHEW, 235]. To this we may add that they were tokens of the coming Messianic Kingdom.
(6) It should be noted that God promised the nation of Israel health (Deut. 28:1-14).  To Israel He revealed Himself as “
Jehovah-Ropheca,” the Lord who heals thee (Ex. 15:26). This is the reason Jesus’ earthly ministry to Israel involved physical healing. It was part of his compassion and sympathy as the Messiah-servant.

Peter’s house was a house of compassion because Jesus was present.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Important Words

Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints. Live by the day--aye, by the hour. Put no trust in frames and feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust in God alone, and lean not on the needs of human help. Be not surprised when friends fail you: it is a failing world. Never count upon immutability in man: inconstancy you may reckon upon without fear of disappointment.

--Lectures to My Students, 164
In my humble opinion every Pastor should read this book. It may be dated, but you will be richer for it. This old mine still has gold in it.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Matthew 9:9

In this verse, Jesus calls a tax collector. Shepard gives us insight into this tax collection system pointing out there were two types of tax collectors—the ordinary tax collector and the custom house official. He tells us:

“Levi was a custom-house official. The Talmud distinguished between the tax collector and the custom house official. The Gabbai collected the regular real estate and income taxes and the poll tax; the Mockhes, the duty on imports, exports, toll on roads, bridges, the harbor, the town tax, and a great multiplicity of other variable taxes on an unlimited variety of things, admitting of much abuse and graft. The very word Mockhes was associated with the idea of oppression and injustice.” [J.W. Shepard, THE CHRIST OF THE GOSPELS, 142]

Being a Mockhes, Matthew was disliked by the general public and official Judaism. He was a hired hand of Rome. His social rank was that of the lowest of the low—being classed with such people as gamblers, thieves, harlots, and men of no good. Men in this position were detested; they were seen as licensed robbers. Such was Matthew.

Jesus sees Matthew at work and calls him to follow him. Luke and Mark call him Levi by name. Many who question and doubt the text, suggest that they are not the same person, but the reasons given are based on a bias against the trustworthiness of the text and are weak to say the least. It is likely, since Jews could have two Semitic names; Matthew used his preferred name here. Or, another reasonable but weaker possibility, is that like Peter, Jesus changed Levi to Matthew, although we do not have any statement as such in Scripture. There is no good reason to believe they are not the same person. It is clear that Jesus took the initiative to call Matthew. The call and salvation of God is always at the initiative of God. Matthew immediately responded and followed Jesus. He risks all to follow His Lord. In salvation God acts, man reacts. It is how we react that determines the outcome. Matthew reacted in faith and followed Jesus. He is a testimony to the transforming power of God.

Matthew would serve well. He had a heart for the mission of Jesus. He had skills that become evident, for as a tax collector, he would have been experienced in record keeping. It is believed that Matthew is an author of a record of Jesus sayings (a view of tradition), as well as the author of the Gospel of Matthew. He may well have been the record keeper of the Twelve. He left the life of a tax-collector, but he took his pen. Barclay says “Here is a shining example of how Jesus can use whatever gift a man may bring to him. It is not likely that the others of the Twelve were handy with a pen…this man, whose trade had taught him to use a pen, used that pen to compose the first handbook of the teachings of Jesus, which must rank as one of the most important books the world has ever read.” [Wm. Barclay, DBS: MATTHEW, 1:339]. Interestingly, there is no record of his speaking in the Gospels. Matthew let his pen speak, and it has spoken for over 2000 years.

  • It is God who called and saved us. He works in our lives.
  • This call is by grace, not merit (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-31).
  • The only acceptable way to react to God is by faith and obedience to His call.
  • God uses what is in our hand. A pen was in Matthew’s hand. What is in your hand? He will use it if you will let him.