Many biblical passages either command or commend the direct personal hearing or reading of the Scriptures by everyone, without distinctions of age, education, office or gender. In addition, the Christian reader has the indispensable assistance of the Divine Author, the Holy Spirit, in reading the Bible.
John 14:26—“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”
John 16:8—“When [the Counselor] comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.”
Acts 16:14—“A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God, was listening. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention what was spoken by Paul.” Compare Luke 24:44-45—“Then He told them, ‘These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
1 Corinthians 2:9-16—“But as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, and what has never come into a man’s heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him.’ Now God has revealed them to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the concerns of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the concerns of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order to know what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. For the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For, ‘who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
Compiled from Dr. Warren VanHetloo’s “Cogitations,” October, 2010.
Dr. Van, I have a question about the origin of Baptism. I’ve always been taught it pictured the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. But according to Matthew 3, John was baptizing before Jesus died, even before he had even met Jesus. It then appears that believers (Jews?) displayed their faith in God by getting baptized. Any conjecture on why John seemed to come up with this idea at a time when it doesn’t mean what it means today?
No need for conjecture, there is enough in Scripture. There are several answers, and all are important.
First, God chose John to introduce something entirely new and different from the nation-centered dispensation of the Old Testament era. “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). John was sent to bear advance witness of a once-for-all-time revelation of the Light which lights every man who enters this world (John 1:3-9). Second, his water immersion was intended to prepare for a spiritual immersion to follow shortly (John 1:25-27): “I immerse with water, but…the same is He who immerses with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26, 33).
My maternal grandfather never finished the eighth grade. But like many of his generation, what he lacked in book smarts he made up in practical skills. He was a jack-of-all-trades. His garage looked like a hardware store. When the Lord called him home, he had more than enough tools to spread around to his three grandsons. In fact, in the twenty-five years since he died, I have had to buy very few tools. Unfortunately I don’t know what to do with most of the tools in my toolbox. A handyman I am not.
Thankfully I am a little handier with the sixteen tools in Beynon & Sach’s toolbox. Regardless of your interpretive skills, this book is worth reading. The authors, both of whom minister in Great Britain, have written an easy to read, practical manual on how to better understand the Bible. They sharpened these tools while working with college students, but I believe Bible readers of all ages will profit from this book.
The authors demonstrate their high view of Scripture in portions such as the following:
“[American Bible Society and Scripture Union/USA ] have joined forces to fight the decline of Bible engagement in America, where 76 percent of people identify themselves as Christian but only 46 percent say they read the Bible in a given a week outside of church.” More
It was with great fear and trepidation that I boxed up all my books in December, as my wife and I prepared to move roughly forty five minutes to the south of our then current location. While I will not bore you with all the details, we had found out that we would have to move suddenly, and then we lost more precious time struggling to find a suitable apartment just a few weeks before Christmas. What added to my consternation was the fact that now I was charged with shepherding a small church in our original town, and I was concerned about trying to do sermon preparation without my books. Fortunately, I had received a copy of Logos 4’s Leaders Library program for Christmas, and I expected it to be a godsend and blessing. Although it is a very powerful program, and there is a lot of potential with the program’s abilities, I have to confess that I am disappointed in it.
Compiled from Dr. Warren VanHetloo’s “Cogitations” April 2010.
I have a question involving church names in light of 1 Corinthians 1:10-13: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
While I agree with you that having a denominational name is certainly expedient in terms of resolving confusion, and to allow outsiders to have some idea of where a congregation is coming from, it would seem to be contrary to the spirit of what Paul is saying in this passage, because having a denominational name obviously sets forth the divisions among us, and that rather than minimize or heal them, we are actually defining them. Hopefully for a good purpose, but defining them nonetheless. Is there a solution? Is there any way that we can edify outsiders (or insiders) without being contrary to the spirit of Paul’s admonition? Or would you say that denominations are not contrary to what Paul has written? And if so, how?