Jesus’ second ministry: the WORD (Luke 5:1)

As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret.  (Luke 5:1)

People came for the miracles, but they stayed for the message.  They were drawn in by the wonders, but they were hungry for the word.

Credibility and interest can be built by the supernatural power and love of God.  This is why we must make space in our church gatherings and our relationships with others to let the Holy Spirit show up and show off.

Yet, it is just as vital that after the display, we have something deeper to give.

The people were hungry for an authentic word from God that was bigger than their personal experiences and traditional religion.

Maybe they still are.

What do you think?

–Pastor Phillip

God has greater truths for you

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.  (Hebrews 5:14)

Good parents don’t give car keys to their toddler and put them behind the wheel on the freeway.  Yet, certainly they hope their child grows up to drive someday, and they surely help along the way.

So it is in Christ.

God desires growth for His children, an ever-increasing depth of Scriptural knowledge and spiritual power and understanding.  He has great treasures of wisdom and insight that He wants to give, but they can only be received by those with enough depth and strength to handle them.

This means that your everyday decisions matter, because they are either preparing you for or preventing you from receiving greater and greater power in your walk with God!

As you follow Jesus, let Him grow and deepen you, and surrender yourself to the process. Though it may be hard sometimes, don’t give up, keep digging deeper, and be encouraged as you remember this reality: God has greater truths for you.

–Pastor Phillip

God’s Word prepares you for God’s work

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 2 Timothy 3

GOD’S WORD PREPARES YOU FOR GOD’S WORK

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

God has a goal for all creation.  The universe was created to bring Him glory, and even though sin has stunted the process, His desire remains the same.

In order to accomplish this desire, God could have chosen to micro-manage the process, but He didn’t.  Instead, He chose His people to make it happen, despite our inherent lack of worthiness for the job.

But Jesus made us worthy.

Not only that, but God gave us a guide, a toolkit, an empowering resource that contains all the knowledge and power we need to accomplish all the assignments He’s given us.  What is that resource?  It’s His Word, inspired and illuminated by His Holy Spirit.

If you find yourself feeling unqualified for great things, turn to Scripture as your source.

If you find yourself feeling unprepared for good works, turn to Scripture as your supply.

No matter what your background may be, the Bible can give you the tools you need for Kingdom success.  So, rest in God’s provision and read God’s Word, and let this truth set your mind at ease: God’s Word prepares you for God’s work.

–Pastor Phillip

God’s Word is your firm foundation

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Matthew 24

GOD’S WORD IS YOUR FIRM FOUNDATION

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  (Matthew 24:35)

There are many things in this world on which to build your life.

You can build it on your achievements, always seeking one more win to validate your existence.

You can build it on your relationships, tying your sense of worth to the ups and downs of how things are going with the people in your life.

You can build it on your money and possessions, feeling your greatest sense of value based on the value of the things you own.

You can build a life on any of these things, but it won’t last forever.

Jesus says all of these things will “pass away,” will vanish, will disappear in time.  Achievements will be forgotten.  People will die and relationships will fall apart.  Money and possessions will either slip away in this life or be wrenched away when this life is over.

However, there is something that Jesus said is a solid and eternal foundation for your life: the words of God.

God has spoken in the Scriptures, and He still speaks today through the Holy Spirit.  When you build your life on that foundation, then that is a life that is strong and resilient.  That is a life that is full of joy and peace.  That is a life that flows with the blessing of God, because it’s founded on something eternal and good.

Don’t look to the things of the world for your answers and security, look to the substance of Heaven.  As you do, your heart will find its hope in the realization of this truth: God’s Word is your firm foundation.

-Pastor Phillip


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God’s Word is your empowering perspective

Scripture Notes on Psalm 119:89-176

If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life. (Psalm 119:92-93)

Discouragement can destroy your life. When affliction arrives, often it’s not the hardness of the circumstance that’s most deadly to our soul, but the hopelessness that can so quickly set in.

Without hope, we perish.

How good is God, then, that He has given us an accessible antidote against this poison of the soul!

His Word is filled with hope.

His Word is filled with truth.

His Word is filled with all you need to have courage in any calamity.

Read it. Know it. Believe it, and watch this truth bring fresh strength to your life.

God’s Word is your empowering perspective.

-Pastor Phillip

Bible Translations: KJV vs. NIV (pt1)

Is the NIV truly “Apostasy in print”?

As a pastor, I often get questions about the Bible.  This is a good thing, of course, not only because people need a place to go with questions, but also because it gives me the chance to study topics and ideas I may not normally have the occasion to explore.

Now, I’ve also realized that “theology” isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so a steady diet of it isn’t always the most helpful thing to be posting, at least not one hopes to reaching more readers!  So, I’ve decided that when I have questions or topics that come up that tend towards a more academic or scholarly feel, Thursday will be the day to post them.

Why Thursday?  Because it starts with a “th” just like “theology.”  DUH!

That said, I hope this post is a blessing to you, and if not…just check back tomorrow 😉

— Pastor Phillip


QUESTION: I’ve heard some theologians recently speak critically on the New International Version of the Bible (NIV), that many of the powerful truths have been altered for a more palatable presentation to general audiences.

So, this was the issue raised by a good friend of mine, and what a great topic it is! He’s a very intelligent person with good insights, so I enjoyed researching some of the links he sent. I was drawn to one in particular, specifically some of the individual claims the author makes.

I decided to test them out.

I have read the NIV all the way through but don’t use it day-to-day.  Though I don’t remember finding any problems with it before, I am personally VERY committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and the importance of having accurate translations, so I set out to use the tools I have available to explore the context of the passages, the original Greek words used, and how other translations have handled some of these passages.  The original criticism site can be found here, and my and below are some of the things I discovered in my search.

PLEASE NOTE: My intention here isn’t to attack or even defend any particular translation, simply to explore the texts referenced by the author and try to dig underneath the surface to see what’s there in each individual case.

 

CLAIM ONE
“Jesus is called ‘Master’ forty-six times in the New Testament. The NIV used the term ‘teacher’ instead of ‘Master.’ Why reduce Jesus to a teacher when His very Person calls for the term ‘Master’?”

I searched for “master” in the New Testament, to see what Greek words were used and how they were translated.  Here are some examples of the words used.

WORD NUMBER ONE
“Didaskalos”  (G1320) From G1321 (“didasko”) ; an instructor (generally or specifically): – doctor, master, teacher. Additionally, the root word “didasko” means “A prolonged (causative) form of a primary verb δάω daō (to learn); to teach (in the same broad application): – teach.”

Matthew 8:19
-KJV: And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
-NIV: Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
-ESV: And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
-NLT: Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

Matthew 26:18
– KJV: And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
– NIV: He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'”
– ESV: He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”
– NLT: “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.'”

This seems to be a common theme, where the KJV translates “didaskalos” as “master” and other translations translate it “teacher.”  It seems the Greek supports “teacher” more readily than “master” in this case.

WORD NUMBER TWO
“Kathegetes” (G2519), From a compound of G2596 and G2233; a guide, that is, (figuratively) a teacher: – master.  This is made up of the words “kata” which means “down”  and “hegeomai“, which means “to lead, that is, command (with official authority); figuratively to deem, that is, consider: – account, (be) chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over, suppose, think.”

Matthew 23:8
– KJV: But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
– NIV: But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
– ESV: But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.
– NLT: Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.

Matthew 23:10 (two verses later, Jesus continues His speech)
– KJV: Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
– NIV: Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.
– ESV: Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.
– NLT: And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.

These are the only two places this word is used in the New Testament.

WORD NUMBER THREE
“Rhabbi” (G4461) Of Hebrew origin [H7227] with pronominal suffix; my master, that is, Rabbi, as an official title of honor: – Master, Rabbi.

In the KJV, this word is transliterated eight times as “Rabbi”, and occurs an additional nine times as “master”.  However, look at what Vines Word Studies has to say…

Rabbi
My great one; my honorable sir. Explained by Jesus himself as διδάσκαλος, teacher (Matthew 23:8, where the proper reading is διδάσκαλος, instead of καθηγητη’ς, guide, master, found in Mat_23:10). Used by the Jews in addressing their teachers, and formed from a Hebrew root meaning great. It occurs commonly in John, and is found in Matthew and Mark, but not in Luke, who uses ε’πιστατής. See note on Luke 5:5.

Note the passage referenced, Luke 5:5.  Here the word used is “epistat’ace”, “From G1909 and a presumed derivative of G2476; an appointee over, that is, commander (teacher): – master.”

Luke 5:5
– KJV: And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
– NIV: Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
– ESV: And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
– NLT: “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”

We can see that all the translations render this word “master,” so no problems there.

From these examples, it appears the issue of “Master” vs. “Teacher” is almost more a case of the KJV imposing terms of Lordship on the text when “teacher” seems to be actually more applicable and faithful to the original Greek.  There are plenty of other passages that rightfully explain Jesus’ Lordship, so it seems unnecessary to find serious ill-intent in the way these particular passages are translated.

 

CLAIM TWO (A and B)
“Sodomy” was eliminated from their text. The rendering was changed to “temple prostitute.” Yes, the Sodomites were “temple prostitutes” but were more than just “temple prostitutes.” This is a serious violation and was applauded by Virginia Mollencott, a lesbian that served as a consultant and English stylist (The word “fornication” was also completely removed.) 

(To be continued…)

 

Sweeter than Honey

“What does he know that I don’t?”

David, the writer of Psalm 119, says, “How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.” (Psalm 119:103) Granted, there are some nice things in the Bible, but really, “sweeter than honey?”

Here’s what David understands that we often miss when we read the Scriptures.  ALL of the Bible is good news.

  • Good news that God made the world a beautiful place and will return to make it new again.
  • Good news that God made a way for Adam and Eve and has made a way for us.
  • Good news that God is always faithful to His people no matter how long they wander in the desert or how far they go.
  • Good news that His commands lead to life, and life abundantly.
  • Good news that Jesus is the true light of the world, and has come to shine in us and through us to drive back the darkness in our world.

When you understand good news like that, it is very sweet indeed.

Hidden Treasure, part 2

Why bother with the genealogies in the Bible?

For most of us (myself included), it’s hard to really “get something” out of the long lists of names scattered throughout the Bible. However, with a little digging, you can find some pretty interesting things. For instance…

Matthew 1:1-11 records the genealogy of Jesus Christ. I was told that in the original Greek language in which it is written:

The total number of words is evenly divisible by 7.
The total number of letters is evenly divisible by 7.
The total number of vowels & consonants are also divisible by 7.
The number of words that begin with a vowel is divisible by 7.
The number of words that begin with a consonant is divisible by 7.
The number of words that occur more than once, divisible by 7.
The number of words occurring in more than one form, also divisible by 7.
The number of words occurring in only one form is divisible by 7.
The number of nouns shall be divisible by 7.
Only 7 words are not nouns.
The number of names is divisible by 7.
The number of male names is divisible by 7.
The number of generations is divisible by 7.

Now, I’ve not dug in to this extensively to verify everything, but think about it. If only half of the things on the list check out, that’s still pretty impressive…

Just some things to think about.

Prayer for 08/26/10

O God,
Let me read your word, let me know your word.

Let me hear your word, let me heed your word.

Let me love your word, let me live your word.

Let me not simply read your word, but
Let me open myself so that it might read me.

Let me not simply live by your word, but
Let me live in it, and it in me.

Let me lean on your word in confidence, and
Let it lean on me in conviction.

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.

In the name of the Word made flesh, Jesus,
Amen.

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