The Holy Scriptures

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As I consider the Scriptures from week to week, passages that I am studying for my own edification and for sermon preparation, I tend to think of how important it is to know them. Now I would suspect that there are those that think we don’t have to be “so deep” when it comes to the Scriptures, however, I’m not so sure that we can ever go deep enough! The Scriptures are deeper than anything we can think or imagine. The reason is that it happens to be the Word of God: “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (CSB)

This is where we need to consider what we think about the Scriptures and what we think the Scriptures say. Dr. Burk Parsons writes, “While we are certainly entitled to hold our own opinions, we are not entitled to hold to our own versions of truth, for it is impossible for more than one version of the truth to exist.” What he is saying is that “our truths” may not be truth at all–especially if “our truths” contradict the Bible. What we end up doing is conceptualizing what we want or desire to be true. Parsons further writes, “Conceptualism provides people with a way to create their own personally conceived realities of truth so that they can believe whatever they want to believe and deny whatever they choose to deny in accordance with their own concept of truth–even if their own conceived reality has no basis in what is in fact reality.”

The definition of “truth” is “fact or reality.” Jesus said that it is “the truth that sets you free” (John 8:32). So what is “truth”? Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Truth is reality–it is fact. And truth is always truth for all people of all generations past, present, and future. However, it seems that we have conceptualized a different reality that fits our feelings or our own understanding of how the world is working. Proverbs 3:5, 6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (CSB) Solomon knew what he was speaking about. After experiencing so many different things that he thought would bring him joy in this life (read Ecclesiastes), he came to realize that the only true way to live is not according to our own understanding, but according to what it is that God knows, understands, and gives by way of wisdom. And where do we find what God thinks? In His Word! His Word has the answer.

So as I am considering the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 1 deals with “The Holy Scriptures.” Here’s what it states:

1. The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain, and infallible standard of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.1  The light of nature and the works of creation and providence so clearly demonstrate the goodness, wisdom, and power of God that people are left without excuse; however, these demonstrations are not sufficient to give the knowledge of God and his will that is necessary for salvation.2 Therefore, the Lord was pleased at different times and in various ways to reveal himself and to declare his will to his church.3  To preserve and propagate the truth better and to establish and comfort the church with greater certainty against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of Satan and the world, the Lord put this revelation completely in writing. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are absolutely necessary, because God’s former ways of revealing his will to his people have now ceased.4

12 Timothy 3:15–17; Isaiah 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Ephesians 2:20. 2Romans 1:19–21; Romans 2:14,15; Psalm 19:1–3. 3Hebrews 1:1. 4Proverbs 22:19–21; Romans 15:4; 2 Peter 1:19, 20.

2. The Holy Scriptures, or the Word of God written, consist of all the books of the Old and New Testaments. These are:

THE OLD TESTAMENT: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

THE NEW TESTAMENT: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation.

All of these are given by the inspiration of God to be the standard of faith and life.5

52 Timothy 3:16.

3. The books commonly called the Apocrypha were not given by divine inspiration and so are not part of the canon or standard of the Scriptures. Therefore, they have no authority for the church of God and are not to be recognized or used in any way different from other human writings.6

6Luke 24:27, 44; Romans 3:2.

4. The authority of the Holy Scriptures obligates belief in them. This authority does not depend on the testimony of any person or church but on God the author alone, who is truth itself. Therefore, the Scriptures are to be received because they are the Word of God.7

72 Peter 1:19–21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 5:9.

5. The testimony of the church of God may stir and persuade us to adopt a high and reverent respect for the Holy Scriptures. Moreover, the heavenliness of the contents, the power of the system of truth, the majesty of the style, the harmony of all the parts, the central focus on giving all glory to God, the full revelation of the only way of salvation, and many other incomparable qualities and complete perfections, all provide abundant evidence that the Scriptures are the Word of God. Even so, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority of the Scriptures comes from the internal work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.8

8John 16:13,14; 1 Corinthians 2:10–12; 1 John 2:20, 27.

6. The whole counsel of God concerning everything essential for his own glory and man’s salvation, faith, and life is either explicitly stated or by necessary inference contained in the Holy Scriptures. Nothing is ever to be added to the Scriptures, either by new revelation of the Spirit or by human traditions.9

Nevertheless, we acknowledge that the inward illumination of the Spirit of God is necessary for a saving understanding of what is revealed in the Word.10 We recognize that some circumstances concerning the worship of God and government of the church are common to human actions and organizations and are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian wisdom, following the general rules of the Word, which must always be observed.11

92 Timothy 3:15–17; Galatians 1:8,9. 10John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:9–12. 111 Corinthians 11:13, 14; 1 Corinthians 14:26, 40.

7. Some things in Scripture are clearer than others, and some people understand the teachings more clearly than others.12   However, the things that must be known, believed, and obeyed for salvation are so clearly set forth and explained in one part of Scripture or another that both the educated and uneducated may achieve a sufficient understanding of them by properly using ordinary measures.13

122 Peter 3:16. 13Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:130.

8. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the native language of the ancient people of God.14  The New Testament was written in Greek, which at the time it was written was most widely known to the nations. These Testaments were inspired directly by God and by his unique care and providence were kept pure down through the ages. They are therefore true and authoritativea, so that in all religious controversies the church must make their ultimate appeal to them.15 All God’s people have a right to and a claim on the Scriptures and are commanded in the fear of God to read16 and search them.17  Not all of God’s people know these original languages, so the Scriptures are to be translated into the common language of every nation to which they come.18  In this way the Word of God may dwell richly in all, so that they may worship him in an acceptable manner and through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.19

aauthentical
14Romans 3:2. 15Isaiah 8:20. 16Acts 15:15. 17John 5:39. 181 Corinthians 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 24, 28. 19Colossians 3:16.

9. The infallible rule for interpreting Scripture is the Scripture itself. Therefore, when there is a question about the true and full meaningc of any part of Scripture (and each passage has only one meaning, not many), it must be understood in light of other passages that speak more clearly.20

csense
202 Peter 1:20, 21; Acts 15:15, 16.

10. The supreme judge for deciding all religious controversies and for evaluating all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, human teachings, and individual interpretationsd, and in whose judgment we are to rest, is nothing but the Holy Scripture delivered by the Spirit. In this Scripture our faith finds its final word.21

dprivate spirits
21Matthew 22:29, 31, 32; Ephesians 2:20; Acts 28:23.

The Holy Scriptures are holy because they come from the One and True Holy God. The Holy Scriptures reveal God’s thoughts. The Holy Scriptures reveal God’s understanding. The Holy Scriptures reveal God’s wisdom. Simply put: The Holy Scriptures reveal TRUTH–ABSOLUTE TRUTH because the opposite of our Holy God is error/falsity/lies/non-truth. He can only speak that which is true and only true.

Now let’s consider what He says, dig deeper into His Word this week, and see where our thoughts are not His thoughts and change our thoughts to fit His thoughts. Let’s do what we can to understand how He thinks so our concepts will not be our own, but will truly be a concept of reality/fact/truth.

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God and the Holy Trinity

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I am reading over the The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith In Modern English (accessed from https://founders.org/library/1689-confession/, on November 25, 2019) which historically was held by the 293 delegates that constituted our Southern Baptist Convention in Augusta,Georgia in 1845. The section that I am reviewing this afternoon is the second chapter entitled God and the Holy Trinity. This is what it states with Scriptural references:

1. The Lord our God is one, the only living and true God.1  He is self-existent2 and infinite in being and perfection. His essence cannot be understood by anyone but him.3  He is a perfectly pure spirit.4  He is invisible and has no body, parts, or changeable emotions.a He alone has immortality, dwelling in light that no one can approach.5  He is unchangeable,6immense,b,7 eternal,8 incomprehensible, almighty,9 in every way infinite, absolutely holy,10 perfectly wise, wholly free, completely absolute. He works all things according to the counsel of his own unchangeable and completely righteous will11 for his own glory.12  He is most loving, gracious, merciful, and patient. He overflows with goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. He rewards those who seek him diligently.13  At the same time, he is perfectly just and terrifying in his judgments.14  He hates all sin15 and will certainly not clear the guilty.16

apassions
btranscends all space
11 Corinthians 8:4, 6; Deuteronomy 6:4. 2Jeremiah 10:10; Isaiah 48:12. 3Exodus 3:14. 4John 4:24. 51 Timothy 1:17; Deuteronomy 4:15, 16. 6Malachi 3:6. 71 Kings 8:27; Jeremiah 23:23. 8Psalm 90:2. 9Genesis 17:1. 10Isaiah 6:3. 11Psalm 115:3; Isaiah 46:10. 12Proverbs 16:4; Romans 11:36. 13Exodus 34:6, 7; Hebrews 11:6. 14Nehemiah 9:32, 33. 15Psalm 5:5, 6. 16Exodus 34:7; Nahum 1:2, 3.

2. God has all life,17 glory,18 goodness,19 and blessedness in and of himself; he alone is all-sufficient in himself. He does not need any creature he has made nor does he derive any glory from them.20  Instead, he demonstrates his own glory in them, by them, to them, and upon them. He alone is the source of all being, and everything is from him, through him, and to him.21  He has absolute sovereign rule over all creatures, to act through them, for them, or upon them as he pleases.22  In his sight everything is open and visible.23  His knowledge is infinite and infallible. It does not depend upon any creature, so for him nothing is contingent or uncertain.24  He is absolutely holy in all his plans, in all his works,25 and in all his commands. Angels and human beings owe to him all the worship,26 service, or obedience that creatures owe to the Creator and whatever else he is pleased to require of them.

17John 5:26. 18Psalm 148:13. 19Psalm 119:68. 20Job 22:2, 3. 21Romans 11:34–36. 22Daniel 4:25, 34, 35. 23Hebrews 4:13. 24Ezekiel 11:5; Acts 15:18. 25Psalm 145:17. 26Revelation 5:12–14.

3. This divine and infinite Being consists of three real persons,c the Father, the Word or Son, and the Holy Spirit.27  These three have the same substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence without this essence being divided.28  The Father is not derived from anyone, neither begotten nor proceeding. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father.29  The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.30  All three are infinite and without beginning and are therefore only one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being. Yet these three are distinguished by several distinctive characteristics and personal relations. This truth of the Trinity is the foundation of all of our fellowship with God and of our comforting dependence on him.

csubsistences, or individual instances of a given essence
271 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14. 28Exodus 3:14; John 14:11; 1 Corinthians 8:6. 29John 1:14,18. 30John 15:26; Galatians 4:6.

The God of the Bible whom we believe truly is magnanimous, or as A.W. Tozer once said, “He is oceanic!” Although He is transcendant and something totally different than all of us, He has made Himself known to us through several different avenues: 1) He has given us His name; 2) He has given us language; 3) He has given us His Word; 4) He has given us the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior; and, 5) He has given us His Holy Spirit. Dear Ones, I don’t know about you, but I am so grateful that God has made Himself known to us in the way that He has. We may not fully comprehend Him or fully comprehend His Word, but He is who He is and He has made Himself known to those who beleive. And although He has made Himself known, Romans 1:18-32 and 3:10-18 describe those who do not know Him. They have exchanged the truth of the existence of God for a lie and they worship the creation rather than the Creator. They are all unrighteous as we are but they don’t seek after God nor do they understand Him. And according to 1 Corinthians 1:18-24, what is foolishness to those who are perishing is the wisdom of God to those of us who beleive. I cannot help but praise the One who loved me before I ever loved Him (1 John 4:19)!

Today, although I am uncertain of the future, I am praising the One who is certain of all that He is, all that He has decreed, and all that He intends to accomplish in my life, my wife, my children, and Sagamore Baptist Church. Let’s love Him, adore Him, praise Him, and bless Him together!

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Anyone else dealing with anxiety?

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I’m a couple of days late and a few dollars short! I think that’s how that saying goes! As I have been preparing for my wife’s surgery coming up this weekend, anxiety has decided to rear its ugly head. I know that my wife will be fine. She knows that she will be fine. But it’s the thoughts that run through my mind over and over again. It’s like a CD that is on repeat. It’s like that moving What About Bob? You know the types of thoughts that we have when we have anxiety? For instance, try some of these on for size:

“I doubt that I’ll die on this airplane, but I certainly hope it’s not the pilot’s time to go!”

“I’m worried about ‘so-and-so’ because I haven’t seen them in a long time. I hope something hasn’t happened to them!”

“I know that God is in control, but…(we can fill in this blank with all sorts of things!).”

There’s just so many variables in this life–so many possibilities–that it is unfathomable to us to think that everything is going to be alright when there are troubled seas ahead.

Today, after having a special lunch with a counseling professor from my alma mater, I was telling him how I deal with anxiety and how it’s really affecting me right now. He said to me, “Do you know what anxiety is? Anxiety is based in the past and it is fear of what’s going to happen in the future.” There are so many things that all of us have been through in our lives that affect us. It is something that happens when we face traumatic experiences, especially as young children. Then our mode of operation is set in stone until we ask the Stone Crusher–that is, Jesus Christ–to crush that stone of anxiety that we have.

Let me see if I can illustrate this a little bit better. If you were traumatized when you were younger by someone who abused you, the fear that is based in your past is now your anxiety for what might happen in the future. You may fear being abused again. Perhaps you’ve been involved in other abusive relationships and you just don’t know how to break the cycle so this anxiety with which you deal is something that seems like it can’t be broken. Various degrees of anxiety, ranging from concern to fear and dread, are natural to a degree, but they are also unnatural to a degree.

Anxiety is natural when a parent exhibits anxiety for his child. First Samuel 9:5 says, When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, “Come, and let us return, or else my father will cease to be concerned about the donkeys and will become anxious for us.”

A natural anxiety is when we have strong feelings of concern for the well-being of someone we love. Philippians 2:19-20 says, But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.

Natural anxiety might occur when we experience something that we don’t quite understand. Daniel 7:15 says, As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within me, and the visions in my mind kept alarming me.

War causes natural anxiety as well. First Chronicles 17:9 says, I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and not be moved again; and the wicked will not waste them anymore as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I tell you that the LORD will build a house for you.

Jesus Christ our Lord cautions us concerning anxiety that is unnatural. For instance, the “cares of this world” may hinder the life of our faith and our participation in the kingdom of God. Mark 4:18, 19 says, And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfullness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Again, in Luke 8:14, Jesus said, The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

So what’s the cure for anxiety? So glad you asked! This is what I’m learning from Matthew 6:25-34. Read slowly what Jesus Christ said to us about anxiety:

This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worryabout clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for youyou of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow ill worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (HCSB)

Three times! Three times Jesus tells us not to worry. If He takes care of the sparrows and the lilies of the field, how much more will He take care of us? Because we know that He tells us the truth all of the time the cure for anxiety is to trust Him at His word! We have to remind ourselves of what He says because it is the truth that sets us free (John 8:32)!

Anxiety has reared its ugly head this week. So what? What does anxiety do for me? For you? Absolutely nothing! It doesn’t add one day to any of us nor does it add any heighth to us. Therefore, in the midst of my uncertainty, I will trust the One–the Stone Crusher of anxiety–who is certain in what He has said and will not worry about what tomorrow holds. My past doesn’t hold my future–Jesus Christ holds my future!

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