Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is The Bible - A Study

Below is the first in a series of studies we are doing in my Cell Group taken from the Following book Wayne Grudem - Christian Beliefs 'twenty basics every christian should know':

What is the Bible?

If we are looking at any single Christian belief it should be based on what God says about the subject. So as we start the series on some basic Christian beliefs it makes sense to start with the basis for those beliefs, God’s word, the Bible.

Q: What are your views of scripture? What is it?

Q: Why is it important that the Bible be the basis for our beliefs?

The Bible speaks thoroughly about itself and it tells us what God thinks about his very words. This can be broken down into four general categories: Authority, Clarity, Necessity and Sufficiency.

The Authority of the Bible

All the words in the Bible are God’s words. Therefore to disbelieve them or disobey them is to disbelieve or disobey God himself.

Many passages in scripture begin with “Thus says the Lord” (Exodus 4:22, Joshua 24:2, 1 Samuel 10:18). This was understood to be like the command of a King, to be followed without question or challenge.

Paul believed the scriptures to be all God’s words not just direct quotes from God.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16)

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)

Here Peter refers to Paul’s writings as one part of the scriptures. Thereby placing them on the same level as the Old Testament. Therefore Paul’s words were considered to be God’s words.

If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.(1 Corinthians 14:37)

So the Bible is made up of God speaking directly to the Author, on interviews and research like Luke, or by the Holy Spirits prompting of people’s memories. So as much as the words are extensions of their personalities, skills and backgrounds they are also exactly the words God wanted them to write.

As God’s very word the Bible is more than simply true, it is truth itself.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17)

So anything that conforms to scripture is true and anything that doesn’t is not true.

The truth of scripture does not demand that it report events with exact scientific detail nor does it require that it tells us everything we need to know or could ever know about a subject. In its original form it does not affirm or claim anything contrary to fact. So by seeking to understand the words of God in scripture we seek to understand God himself.

To believe the Bible affirms something false would be to disbelieve God himself and place yourself as a higher authority than God.

Clarity of Scripture

As we know some passages of the Bible are easier to understand than others. However it is written in a way that all things necessary to become a Christian, live and grow as a Christian are clear.

There are some mysteries in scripture but they need not overwhelm us.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130)

Understanding scripture is more to do with a person’s spiritual condition rather than their intellect. But every misunderstanding of the Bible is not necessarily due to a person’s spiritual condition.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

However it is easily possible to misunderstand and disagree on the meaning of what is written. But misunderstanding is not the problem of scripture but lies within us and our interpretation of it. We need to prayerfully read the Bible asking God to reveal its truth.


Without the Bible we could not know how to become, live or grow as a Christian. To know God personally, to know sins forgiven and to know what God wants us to do we need to know what is in the Bible.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14)

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

So if no one preaches the word, no one is saved.

and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)

But we don’t just start out our Christian lives with/from scripture it is required for us to continue our walk and to spiritually thrive .

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' (Matthew 4:4)

The word is our spiritual food, without it the health of our soul suffers.

The Bible is our only source of clear and definitive statements about God’s will. However it is not needed to know some things about God.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.(Psalm 19:1)

since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them (Romans 1:19)

So the unsaved can know of God and about God and in their minds know something of God’s moral law. This is known as General Revelation as it is given to all people in general, seen through nature, History and at some level an inner sense that is in everyone. By contrast the Bible is known as special revelation, given to specific people.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

The Bible tells us everything required to become, live and grow as a Christian.

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.(Psalm 119:1)

It equips us for ‘every good work’ that he wants us to do.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

So it is sufficient. Everything God wants to tell all his people for all time about that kind of issue or situation will be found in the pages of the Bible. It might not answer everything but will provide guidance ‘for every good work’.

If specific answers are not found we are not free to add to the commands of scripture things we have found to be pragmatically correct. We can certainly get daily guidance in particular situations but any modern revelation, leadings or other forms of guidance we believe is from God must not be placed on a par with scripture. We should not seek to impose such guidance on other Christians as we can be wrong about such things.

So we cannot impose what is not explicit in scripture. Similarly nothing is sin that is not explicitly or by implication forbidden in scripture so we mustn’t impose prohibitions where there are none.

The Bible is sufficient for all doctrinal, ethical and moral teaching.

Many issues we often argue over or have differences in are often issues the Bible places little emphasis on. So a humble approach is required rather than bashing others with our own viewpoint where it is not explicitly supported.

Q: What is one issue that the Bible speaks clearly on? What is one issue that the Bible does not speak clearly on? How does this affect the emphasis you should place on the issue?

Useful Links - About the Bible - Great Apologetics site on many subjects - Good articles on some controversial issues

Monday, September 22, 2008

Praise you in this Storm

This song sums up what it means to truly know what worship of the Lord is! The beginning introduction is a real heart wrenching story. I challenge you not to have a tear in your eye by the end, gets me every time, enjoy!


Friday, September 19, 2008

Men, their Caves, their Emotions and a whole lot of Internet searches!

I have been taking note again recently about how people come to visit my little piece of Cyber Space. My Stats counter records what link or search people enter this blog from. It has continued to surprise me how many people search on the following terms. This is over the space of about two weeks:

men and their cave
men and their caves
men and their caves
emotional support pgce
men and their caves=men and their cave
can men learn to show emotion
men in their cave
womans emotion men god
men emotions hurt

Well you get the idea and the theme here. So if you have stumbled upon my blog searching with the above then welcome and stick around, make yourself at home and hopefully something of what I have shared can help you on your quest.

This article I wrote about a year ago shows much the same thing as far as searches go. This must only be a fraction of the amount of searches done on the subject. I am not about to suggest that over the course of a year anything should have changed about Men's Emotions. However I wanted to give some further thoughts as to why this is such an issue in today's society . I dealt with this nearly two years ago, here and in some depth, but would like to revisit it a little if I may.

So the perception is that men do not either have emotions or simply won't share them. This is clearly nonsense as everyone has emotions. Women just don't understand this male behaviour of retreating into themselves and not wanting to talk about it or show emotion. Or the very different way men deal with emotional pain.

Some Possible Reasons behind the issue!

Back in January my one post mentioned a little saying that was given to me on a fridge magnet, which was:

How many roads must a man travel down before he admits he is lost?

Despite the obvious connotations of men never asking for directions what does this really say about us humans and men in particular?

The classic observation that men never ask for directions says much about the psychological makeup of today's men. I believe the reason why we, as I include myself in this, don't ask for help easily is this in built voice that whispers, or shouts, in our ear that 'to be a man':

  • 'We should know where we are going and how to get there'
  • 'we should know how to repair a puncture'
  • 'we should know how to do DIY'
  • 'we should know how to deal with family crisis'
  • 'we should be able to provide for and protect our families'
  • 'we should be able to father children'
  • 'we shouldn't show emotion openly, unless for football, as it is a sign of weakness'
  • 'we must not cry'
  • 'we must not admit we failed or can't do it'

Recognise any of those? I realise some of these are trite and some are very stereotypical views. However I guarantee they are all thoughts that take hold at some time or another. Look at what type of statements they are. Men are by and large goal orientated people. The pressures of upbringing, society and I believe, design all contribute to this behaviour. I am in no way saying this is necessarily wrong either. We are far by and large more goal orientated than women.

So we bluff our way through life hiding behind this facade of perceived manliness. Blagging our way in conversations we know nothing about. Pretending to be strong when inside we are cowering in fear of failure and weakness. In our marriages and relationships with the opposite sex we are at our most pressured and vulnerable to being found out.

Think about it, when watching a film with your partner. Say a 'Pride and Prejudice' or some heroic film like 'Gladiator'. Women love the strong, heroic, 'manly' types who would sweep them off their feet in passionate desire. I watch those films and it has a twofold effect on me. I identify with those characters and feel a deep tug in my soul to stand up and be counted, feeling inspired to be more. On the other hand I think how can I ever match up to that? More often than not the effect is to retreat inside in fear.

Men retreat and women talk when trying to cope with uncomfortable emotions. Sharing feelings is not natural to men for some of the reasons above and because we feel the need to deal with stuff by ourselves. We are solution orientated: Problem > analysis > solution. This is why a man wants to fix a situation when a woman presents it to him.

The Root Cause

The big problem lies when we place our sense of worth and security on these thoughts, beliefs and ultimately the subsequent goals. We believe that to be a man we should be able to do X and when that X is blocked, removed or underachieved it can have a devastating effect on a mans soul. I use the term soul as the effect goes much deeper than just impacting the emotions.

In every human, man or woman is a need to feel a sense of security, worth and significance. If we have been told when growing up, either directly or indirectly, that being a man means X, Y or Z then that is what we will pursue as one of our goals in life and that goal being expressed through the lenses of masculinity. Men's makeup leans us towards pursuing goals that fill the needs of worth and significance. Women tend towards goals of security. We all need all three to be fulfilled but the two sexes prioritise them differently. This is important for women to realise when trying to understand male behaviour and vice versa.

As I said if we place our need for worth, significance or security in something or someone then there will always be a sense of anxiety since it is uncertain if that something or someone can satisfy that need. Men live with an anxiety that they cannot fulfil their role as men because the goals we believe we need to pursue to satisfy those needs are misplaced. If you think your need for worth and significance is found in your job, your performance in bed, how you provide for your family, your chosen sport, to name a few then those things can be undermined and taken away.

The solution

I have found that there were many things I used to look to and do that brought me a sense of worth and significance. But none of them could ever fully satisfy. I believe as Christian that only in God can we find those needs fulfilled. He created us and put them there in the first place. He is the only one able to do it. The wonderful thing about it is that it takes away the striving and massive emotional effort that is required to satisfy those needs yourself. I find my worth, significance and security in my relationship with Christ. Nothing can take that away! Sure I still have many misplaced dependencies in my life but as I grow and seek God those things are revealed, challenged and gradually changed.

My wife would say I still don't show emotions enough. I still retreat into my cave and stay there for a while figuring things out rather than risk the open minefield of sharing. Of course I have deep, passionate emotions that bubble around inside and I express them as the man I am. Don't pressure us men too much with expectation of grand expressions of emotion.

How many roads must a man travel down before he admits he is lost?

Please don't carry on through your life without considering if you are lost, trying everything you can think of to find satisfaction in a world that can only provide muddy pools that have no lasting worth.

We are all lost without God and the saving grace of the cross of Christ. Apart from Him there is no life. Only a wearisome struggle from one source of unsatisfying excitement to another.

Only in Christ can we be set free to be the true men and women we were created by God to be. Only by placing all our core needs in him and being truly satisfied can we give to others without fear and express ourselves fully. The masks can only be laid at the cross, there is nowhere else. You cannot remove it yourself!

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Now that is Security! That is who you can be!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who are the British Creationists? Should it be discussed in School?

Just Who are the British Creationists?

This is the question posed by the BBC site (hotlink above) prompted by a comment by Professor Michael Reiss (BBC Link) where he thinks that Creationism should be allowed to be discussed in a Science lesson if a pupil brings it up. From what I gather this is purely from the point of view that this would then enable the teacher to point out, in his view, that Creationism had no scientific basis and that Darwinian molecules to man Evolution does. He believes it is better to open dialogue in order to hopefully 'educate' a person in a real scientific view.  To quote:

"However, if a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific."

Now this created a complete overreaction by some more vocal evolutionary evangelicals in the scientific community. I am not sure if they just read the media and believed the misquotes and assumptions made and got all emotional rather than approaching it 'scientifically' and finding out some facts first. However this has led to Professor Reiss being pressured into resigning his position as 'Director of Education' of the Royal Society (BBC Link).

All I can say is what does this tell us about the scientific community in this country. Are they so arrogant or threatened when anyone mentions Creationism that they react like this. If they are so sure they are right and Creationists are wrong then why are they so threatened by one of their own suggesting lets actually engage these young people in the classroom in the hope of convincing them that Molecules to Man evolutionary theory is the only scientific viewpoint.

As Dr Ross Rosevear, curator of the Genesis Expo museum and part of the UK Creation Science Movement, says in the first article I linked too.

"All we are saying is that it is not unreasonable to present an alternative explanation of how life began,"

The article fails to mention that he is a Biochemist who used to lecture at the University of Portsmouth and knows his stuff. He is not some ignorant crackpot with is head buried in the sand. Neither are most true Creationists, who have usually read widely both sides of the debate and are either actual research scientists or lay people with a scientific interest. I count myself in that second category. Many I know are former Evolutionists who realised the argument is in no way as cut and dry as the likes of Dawkins would like everyone to think.

So I am one of these British Creationists. I am not ignorant, stupid, blind or unquestioning. I question everything! This is why I 'AM' a Creationist when I looked at what I was taught in science class and what I was being bombarded with in the media. It didn't all fit and make logical sense.

I do believe genetic mutation coupled with natural selection causes changes/adaptations in the animal kingdom but only within kind. The straw man argument used that Creationists don't believe in Evolution is nonsense. Humans have artificially done to dogs for hundreds of years what would have taken thousands of years naturally to accomplish and they are still 100% dog and always will be. Just one example. No amount of this process could create the complexity and diversity of life we have today from a single common ancestor.

In some respects I think it will be difficult for teachers to deal with children who raise the Creationists viewpoint in class. They, the teacher, will have no understanding of it and likely the child will know more than them. They may end up losing any authority with the young people when they are unable to counter a strong Creationist argument or show Darwinian Molecules to man Evolutionary theory is in fact provable in science...... cause it isn't!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Star Wars - The Force Unleashed


I am waiting semi-patiently for Star Wars - The Force Unleashed to be released in the UK. I have a Wii so as much as the graphics won't compare to the PS3 version the actual gameplay should be great fun. wielding the Light saber and throwing enemies around should be fun.

Not very Christian I know but.... the story is one of falling into darkness followed by redemption in the end!

Only another week or so to go, then my wife won't get near her Wii! Okay that last statement may be a little inaccurate.

(I did see a friend playing Grand Theft Auto on PS3 and I was really sickened by that game. I didn't carry on watching it as the relentless bad language and violence got too much and I just found it offensive!)