The Bible and a Cell Phone

I find the truth of this post quite enlightening and wanted to share this and keep it as a reminder of my priorities:

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

  • What if we carried it around all day?
  • What if we flipped through it several times a day?
  • What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
  • What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
  • What if we searched through it to find useful information?
  • What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?
  • What if we talked about it with our friends and family?
  • What if we shared the discoveries we have made?
  • What if we told others about the helpful things it does?
  • What if we gave it to kids as a gift?
  • What if we used it when we traveled?
  • What if we used it in case of emergency?
  • What if we used it as a GPS to tell us where we are?
  • What if we used it for navigation to help us get to where we want to be?

This is something to make you go….hmm…where is my Bible? Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Does this make you stop and think about priorities? And never a dropped call!

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Four Basic Doctrines

The following is another lesson from my Sunday morning Bible study, covering about four weeks!

In James 2, he discusses the subjects of godless favoritism and godly faith. Immature people talk about their faith; mature people practice their faith. James gives the simplest of tests to see if one is mature or immature: the way we treat other people really indicates what we believe about God. A man can’t say he loves God and yet hate his brother (1 John 4:20).

Let’s take an overview of what we find about favoritism:

  1. The Command Against Favoritism (James 2:1-8)
    1. The Examples (James 2:1-4): His readers are guilty of the following sins:
      1. Treating rich visitors with great respect (James 2:1-2a, 3a)
      2. Treating poor visitors with no respect (James 2:2b, 3b-4)
    2. The Enigma (James 2:5-7): James cannot understand this, for often it was the rich who persecuted them and ridiculed their Savior.
    3. The Exhortation (James 2:8): James says, “Obey our Lord’s royal command found in the Scriptures.”
  2. The Consequences of Favoritism (James 2:9-13)
    1. To break this law is to break all laws (James 2:9-12).
    2. To show no mercy is to receive no mercy (James 2:13).

Here is the meat of the four lessons. In the beginning of James chapter 2, the author examines four basic doctrines in light of the way we treat other people:

The Deity of Christ (James 2:1-4)

  1. Jesus was not a respecter of persons (Matthew 22:16)
    1. Jesus did not look at outward appearance, but at the heart.
    2. Jesus was not impressed with status and riches (Mark 12:41-44)
    3. Jesus saw potential in sinners (Matthew, Peter, the woman at the well)
    4. Jesus was a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19)
    5. Paul was judged by his past (Acts 9:26-28)
  2. Jesus was despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:1-3)
    1. Jesus had no home to call his own (Matthew 8:20)
    2. Jesus grew up in despised Nazareth (John 1:11, 46)
    3. Jesus was judged by human standards, and rejected by his own people (John 7:24)
    4. Jesus used Peter, Zaccheus and John Mark in spite of their failures in the past.
  3. A prescription for us:
    1. Look at people through the eyes of Jesus.
    2. Look at people as children for whom Christ died.
    3. Check our prejudice and motives (James 2:4)

The Grace of God (James 2:5-7) the emphasis is on the fact that God chooses, which involves grace. We are his children by his sovereign choice, not our merit. No one deserves salvation (Ephesians 1:4-7, 2:8-10).

  1. God ignores national differences
    1. Peter at the home of Cornelius (Acts 10:34)
    2. Must one become a Jew before becoming a Christian? (Acts 15)
    3. No distinction between Jew or Greek (Galatians 3:28)
    4. No condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 2:6-16)
  2. God ignores social differences
    1. Masters and slaves, rich and poor all equal to God (Ephesians 6:9)
    2. Who makes one poor or rich? (1 Samuel 2:7-8)
    3. God chooses the poor (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)
  3. Poor in this world and rich in the next (1 Timothy 6:17-18). God promises the kingdom to those who love him
  4. James slams the people (a stern rebuke) in James 2:6-7.
  5. The doctrine of grace forces us to relate to people based on God’s plan and not the basis of human merit or status. Jesus broke down the dividing wall (Ephesians 2:11-22) between Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, male and female, educated and ignorant, young and old, black and white.

The Word of God (James 2:8-11) James reaches back into the Old Testament laws (Leviticus 19:18), and teaches a lesson like what we find in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

  1. Why is love of neighbor called the royal law?
    1. Love affirms that we are his disciples (John 13:34): true believers are taught to love one another (1 Thessalonians 4:9).
    2. Love rules all other laws: love is fulfilling the law (Romans 13:10). Who needs other laws if we would only love one another?
    3. Obeying out of love makes you a king: since hatred makes one a slave, love sets one free from selfishness and enables us to reign like kings.
  2. Take any of the Ten Commandments and you will find ways to break it when you respect a person’s position or status. For example:
    1. It makes you lie to some people.
    2. It leads to idolatry, lifting some people up.
    3. It even leads to mistreatment of parents.
  3. Christian love does not mean I have to like the other person, or agree with him on everything; but treating that person as God would treat them, and the way God has treated me.
    1. It is an act of my will.
    2. The motive is to glorify God.
  4. Christian love does not leave a person where I find him: love helps people to reach higher and go better, helping the poor, love builds up others.
  5. We only believe as much of the Bible that we practice. If we fail in this most basic challenge, then we will not do other lesser matters of the Word. Let’s not be like the Pharisees and careful about lesser matters and careless about the important foundational stuff (Matthew 23:23).

The Judgment of God (James 2:12-13) believers will not be judged for our sins (John 5:24, Romans 8:1) but our works will be judged (Romans 14:10-13, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10).

  1. Our words will be judged
    1. The two visitors mentioned in James 2:3.
    2. Careless words (Matthew 12:36).
    3. Words from the heart (Matthew 12:34-37).
    4. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-26, 33-37, 7:1-5, 21-23).
  2. Our deeds will be judged
    1. Additional insight (Colossians 3:22-25).
    2. Sins are not held against us (Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 10:17).
    3. But our sins affect our character and works.
  3. Our attitudes will be judged (James 2:13)
    1. Contrasts: showing mercy, showing no mercy.
    2. The lie: that we can earn mercy by showing mercy.
    3. The law of liberty (obedience sets us free).
    4. We are able to walk in liberty (Psalm 119:45)
  4. The law prepares us for liberty: a child under rules is not mature enough to handle himself. He received outward discipline until the time he develops inward discipline.
  5. Liberty is not a license to do whatever you want, but the freedom to become who we are meant to be in Christ.

This is just the first half of James 2; next time we will dissect various types of faith.

What to Do With the Bible

The Bible is a great book because it divinely inspired and supplies us with the knowledge of God, His plan of redemption and mission for the world, as well as the knowledge of the nature of mankind, and of the universe. No other book can be compared to it on these topics. It not only informs us about these important truths, but it also tells us what we are to do with this information and truth. The Bible is our only source of faith and practice, so we ought to:

1. “Read it” (Nehemiah 8:8). May we read slowly, carefully, prayerfully, in large portions, repeatedly, reverently and with a willing spirit to follow what it says.

2. “Believe it” (Romans 10:8). Since it is the Word of God, it has been given to us to increase our faith in God and His working in the world.

3. “Receive it” (James 1:21). It is the grafted word that is to be received as the soil received the seed, or the tree receives the graft. Taking the Word of God in our lives, allowing it to grow and to bear its own fruit in motives and actions.

4. “Taste it” (Hebrews 6:5). It is the good Word of God. Some seem to be afraid of the Bible for fear it will require them to do something they do not wish to do. Don’t be afraid; it is good and right in all its requirements.

5. “Eat it” (Jeremiah 15:16). Eating it suggests that we not only taste but actually live by it, as Jesus said, “You shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

6. “Hold it fast” (Titus 1:9). The Bible is faithful. All the promises are true and will come to pass. All its history is true and has been or will be confirmed. All its statements are true, about God, mankind, living and salvation. Therefore we are not to put our in it, but put our faith upon it.

7. “Hold it forth” (Philippians 2:16). The Bible is the Word of Life. All who come under its teaching will feel its life giving power.

8. “Preach it” (2 Timothy 4:2). Here it is called simply the Word. It suggests that we are not to preach just parts of it or any one section of it, but to preach it in its entirety and fullness.

9. “Search it” (Jeremiah 29:13). This word “seek” suggests work and patience (Endeavor, Inquire, Inquiry, Require, Seek). The Greek word carries the idea of “ransack” as the housewife goes through the home at housecleaning time; or “to track” as the hunter laboriously follows the game through the brush, so we are to search for truth and run down the tracks of God’s revelations to man.

10. “Study it” (2 Timothy 2:15). Here is a word that means close application to the Word of God, as the builder carefully studies the plans of the architect before building the structure.

11. “Meditate on it” (Psalm 1:2). This word has much the same meaning as “eat” because it means literally “to chew the cud.” Turning the Word of God over and over in the mind until the sweetness of its message feeds our souls.

12. “Compare it” (1 Corinthians 2:13). We don’t often do this. It is not so much what we do with the Scriptures as what the Holy Spirit does with them in our hearts. This is a divine commentary always at hand. Or as John puts it (1 John 2:27) “Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him.”

13. “Rightly divide it” (2 Timothy 2:15). This is not an arbitrary division of subjects but following a line of truth from the first place mentioned to the last place mentioned; noticing it in relation to other truths and as the word literally means “the cutting of a straight line” of truth in the Bible.

14. “Delight in it” (Psalm 37:4, 119:92). Seven times in this Psalm the Psalmist speaks of delighting in God’s word. This should always be the heart ambition and attitude.

* Based on “What to Do With the Bible” by the Reverend W. H. Pike, frontier preacher and pastor from Ontario to Alberta, Canada around a hundred years ago.

The Importance of Scripture

The Bible is our only source for faith and practice. While we may have personal experiences that are meaningful in our lives, the subjective nature of personal experience opens the door to doctrinal error if we put that on the same level as God revelation of objective truth. This is not discounting the Holy Spirit active in our lives, but God has given us everything we need for life and godliness(2 Peter 1:3) and will not provide new revelation (new truth). If He does does, perhaps the Mormons, Muhammad or the Jehovah’s Witnesses are right.

Quotes:

The word of God is like a mirror in that it shows us who we really are. It is like a map because it shows us where we need to go. It is like a portrait for it paints for us a picture of who God is. — David Wallace

Never let good books take the place of the Bible. Drink from the Well, not from streams that flow into the Well. — Amy Carmichael

If the reader understands very little of the word of God, he ought to read it very much; for the Spirit explains the word by the word… The frequent reading of the Scriptures creates a delight in them, so that the more we read them, the more we desire to do so. — George Muller

Top 10 Reasons to Memorize Scripture:

  1. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (Ephesians 3:20).
  2. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).
  3. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8).
  4. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11).
  5. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:2-3).
  6. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6).
  7. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:6-7).
  8. …but those who hope in the LORD, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31).
  9. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  10. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).