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Through the years I’ve heard several Christian leaders make reference to the expansion of one’s soul. The word “soul” is used to define two different things, depending on whether the teacher is a Dichotomist or Trichotomist.
- The Dichotomist typically uses the word “soul” to speak of that eternal part of us, the eternal self.
- The Trichotomist uses the word “soul” in reference to one’s mind, will and emotions.
Either definition will fit our needs in this article.
My question is – does the soul have a limited capacity? Can it be expanded? Can it be exhausted? Is it like a tank that can be emptied then refilled again? If so, it would be wise of us to consider prioritizing that which has the attention of our soul, specifically in an age where the tragedies of an entire world are laid before us on a daily basis. One has to wonder if any person’s soul is designed to carry such a burden! It seems more likely that our souls are designed to carry the ordinary, immediate burdens of our lives. When we attempt to allow our souls to match the emotions expressed in the myriad of tragedies we are faced with through the international news media, our souls’ capacities quickly hit their limits. As a result, we have no capacity for the trials and tribulations in our immediate context, whether it is the trial of our teenage daughter, or the man who just lost his wife to cancer down the street. Could it be that we are not intended to take in all that is thrown at us on a daily basis – but rather just those things happening in our immediate circle of influence? How would life be different if we guarded our souls from international concerns and allowed ourselves to be more deeply affected by concern in our particular community? One has to wonder if depression is not a symptom of the overburdened souls of our population.
Consider a personal experiment where you begin to draw boundaries around your soul. Let in those things that you can see, touch, feel, and in which you can affect change. Limit the national and international drama that so many others are concerned with. You will at first feel as though you are coldhearted toward the pain of others around the world, but soon you will recognize that your heart is newly attuned to pain you never knew existed happening all around you.
After a long day playing on the lake with the kids, my wife and I treated ourselves to a late night dinner at the Waffle House. As we were checking out, I noticed a gentleman wearing a Vietnam Veteran cap. It was Memorial Day weekend, so it seemed right to pick up his bill. He thanked me, but he had already paid. I extended my hand and said, “Well, let me thank you for your service.” He took my hand, looked me in the eye and said with a smile, “You’re worth it, you’re an American.”
I know a lot of men join the service because it seems like the right next step. Perhaps some join because they are deeply patriotic. Others didn’t join at all but were drafted into service. Whatever his motivation for serving had been, he had thought deeply about what it meant for him and for our country. He had come to the conclusion that ultimately he wasn’t serving a collective ideal, he was serving and defending people, and a people that he deemed worthy of life and liberty.
I will think about that answer for a long time. Am I really worth all he saw and did in Vietnam? I don’t know that I am, but I want to measure up to what that man saw in everyone privileged to be called an American.
This week at Capshaw we will begin a journey through the New Testament Book of Colossians.
Before he launched his career, Billy Graham wrestled with doubts about the trustworthiness of Scriptures. His close friend and fellow evangelist Charles Templeton had recently left the faith and fell into liberalism.
Graham was at a personal crossroads uncertain of which direction he would go. Recalling those days of struggle, he says:
I believed it was not possible for me to understand everything in the Bible intellectually. One day some years ago I decided to accept the Scriptures by faith. There were problems I could not reason through.
When I accepted the Bible as the authoritative Word of God—by faith—I found immediately that it became a flame in my hand. That flame began to melt away unbelief in the hearts of many people and to move them to decide for Christ. The Word became a hammer, breaking up stony hearts and shaping men into the likeness of God.
A decision to believe the word of God really is a keystone decision. That is, it is one of those decisions that settles 1000 other decisions. It determines the course of your life, the quality of your relationships, as well as the destiny of your soul. I want to show you 6 reasons that I feel so strongly that the Bible is the word of God.
- It’s Source –
The bible (Old and New Testament) is humanly speaking a Jewish Document. Is there any argument that this relatively small and insignificant nation of people has wielded undue influence over the course of history as long as history has been recorded? They and their ancestors occupy a piece of land in the Middle East that is just over 8,000 square miles. They boast no large reservoirs of oil, or natural resources.
Yet again and again throughout history they have been attacked, dispersed, deported, detained, and murdered. It seems every villain history has produced has been fixated on the destruction of Israel.
This relatively small and insignificant people gave us the Bible. From the Patriarch Abraham to Moses, David and the Prophets – our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles were primarily of Jewish origin.
Time and again they have been attacked and defeated – from Babylon, Persia, Assyria then Rome. The majority of their enemies not only wanted to destroy them – but they saw it as essential that they destroy their book. From Antiochus Epiphanes to Adolf Hitler – there has been a concerted yet unsuccessful effort to destroy the bible.
Even in our day – you can hardly turn on the news without world events being described as they relate to Israel. Every world leader must declare his or her position on Israel before they take leadership. WHY? Wouldn’t you expect that this is how the world would respond to people who were uniquely chosen by the creator to be His mouthpiece? As one who came onto the world scene in 1976 – this was just something that I observed to be true – at a college student in 1994, I had to wonder why.
NOT ONLY THE JEWISH PEOPLE – but men like Wycliffe, Huss, Tyndall and Cranmer – People who sought to translate and preserve the text became the scourge of society. The fact that my father and mother handed me a bible was one thing – but my natural teenage rebellion had a tendency to reject my Father’s concept of truth. But the fact that throughout history the people who loved this book the most handed me the Bible with bloodied hands…and it’s very pages seems to carry the smell of smoke… I had to take a closer look at this book. I look at their life, I look at their death.. and I have to wonder – what is it about this book?
2. It’s Worldview-
Every religious book must answer 5 basic questions.
- What is our origin?
- What is the meaning of life?
- What should be our morality?
- What is our destiny?
- How do we enter into a relationship with Deity?
Atheistic Evolution answers the question of origin. But notice that it has no answer for meaning. If atheistic evolution is true – there is no meaning. You are simply a chemical accident. What is the use of morality? What difference does it make if we love our neighbor or eat or neighbor for breakfast?
But, I have never met an Evolutionist who does not hold to some form of morality. They all exhibit a belief in the inherent meaning and value to human life. The evolutionist has a moral system, they express moral outrage, why is that?
Islam answers the question of origin and destiny but look at it’s morality. Sherea Law states that if a woman has been raped she must produce four men as witnesses who suddenly develop a conscience and actually confess to witnessing the rape. If she cannot produce four witnesses she is tried for adultery and flogged.
Compare these things to scripture – Scripture describes the world being created perfect, mankind being created in the image of God. But then a terrible fall into sin. As such Man continues to bear the residual image of God yet in a fallen and shattered sense. God has pursued man, given him a moral law that tends to permeate every society.
The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that he would one day send a Messiah that would make all things new. He came in the person of Jesus Christ. That message has radiated out of Jerusalem into all the world for the past 2000 years.
Everything I observe in the world makes sense according to the worldview presented in the Bible. From the deepest and darkest effects of sin, to the most brilliant and ingenious evidences of human achievement.
3. It’s Accuracy –
The bible is not primarily a history book but when it speaks to historical events there are extra-biblical sources to corroborate it’s claims. The Bible is not primarily a science book but when it speaks to science it is remarkably accurate.
The bible begins will an account of humanity flowing from a single human individual – The most modern science tells us that DNA research proves that every person alive on earth today can trace their origin to one man who lived on earth many years ago.
The bible tells of an ancient flood through which God destroyed the world and began again with Noah and his family. One would expect that we would find evidence of sea creatures on Mountain tops and desserts all of which have been discovered.
The bible tells us that all people lived together and spoke a common language. They they were dispersed throughout the earth by God himself outward from Babel. If this were true one would expect there to be similarities in the ancient accounts of creation as well as record of the flood – We have such a reports in ancient writings, for example:
- The Enuma Elish – The Babylonian Creation Account
- The Epic of Gilgamesh
- Even native american histories record similar creation and flood accounts.
- Aztecs and Mayans have similar stories.
The more localized events of history have been disputed by historians time and again yet without fail the bibles accounts of history have been affirmed with discovery after discovery. Whether is it the walls of Jericho that clearly fell outward rather than inward, or the discovery of the ancient city of Ur. Archeology affirms again and again the historical record of the Bible.
Not only History but Science – If you read ancient literature you will see that all ancient people had certain beliefs about the nature of the earth. The Greeks believed the earth rested on 5 pillars. The Hindus believed it rested on the back of an Elephant – when the Elephant shook it caused earthquakes. The Elephants was on the back of a turtle, the turtle on the back of a serpent. The serpent swimming in a cosmic river.
Yet Job (The bible’s earliest book) in Job 26:7 (ESV) tells us…
7 He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.
For centuries man believed the earth was flat, but now we know the earth is a globe. The prophet Isaiah, writing 750 years before the birth of Christ, revealed that “God sitteth upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). The word translated here as “circle” was more commonly translated “sphere.” In other words, Isaiah explained that the earth was a globe centuries before science discovered it.
When Ptolemy charted the heavens, he counted 1026 stars in the sky. But with the invention of the telescope man discovered millions and millions of stars, something that Jeremiah 33:22 revealed nearly three thousand years ago: “The host of heaven cannot be numbered.”
The hydrological cycle. Rain or snow falls to the ground and runs off into streams, which run into rivers, which run into the sea. Water evaporates from the surface of the ocean and returns to the clouds, where it becomes rain and snow, which falls to the ground. The hydrological cycle is a discovery of fairly modern times, but the Bible speaks of it in Isaiah 55:10: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth …”
In the ceremonial laws Leviticus God commanded Israel to quarantine people who were sick. In the 14th century scholars studying the bible discovered that this could be the cure for the plague – it wasn’t doctors who stopped the plague it was theologians.
4. It’s Honesty – I love biographies but I have found that one of the biggest problems in reading biographies is that they are typically written by fans and we have a tendency to glamorize our heroes.
Consider how the Bible treats it’s heroes:
ENOCH – is one of the first good guys described in scripture but did you know that the bible says he walked with God 300 years. He left this earth when he was 365. So for 65 years of his life one of the greatest men in the OT didn’t walk with God.
ABRAHAM – the father of the Jewish People shared his wife with another man, lied about her, and when he discovered she could not conceive he took another woman as his wife.
MOSES – the lawgiver, was an insecure, reluctant leader, who, in his first attempt to come to the aid of his own people, killed a man, and then ran for life to the desert.
DAVID – Israel’s most loved King was an adulterer who took another man’s wife and then, to cover his own sin, conspired to have her husband killed.
In Ezekiel 16 the Scriptures describe the people of God, the nation of Israel, as being so bad they made Sodom and Gomorrah look good by comparison.
My observation is that men typically embellish the stories – the fish was never that big, if it existed at all. But scripture presents it’s heroes WARTS and ALL.
5. It’s Prophecy– One would think that if a document was in fact the Word of God it would be able to predict future events specifically and accurately.
When Julie and I went to Israel we heard about a ministry there that sought to convert ethnic Jews to the Christian faith. It was called the Isaiah 53 project. One of the things they would do is read Isaiah 53 to a jewish person and ask them who it was talking about and where the passage was found. Keep in mind in the Jewish calendar there is no reading of Isaiah 53, they read 52 and 54 but not 53. So they would read…
Isaiah 53:4–10 (ESV)
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Then they would ask they question – who is this talking about and where is it found? Most of the time the jewish person would say – that’s talking about the Christian Jesus and it’s found in the New Testament. Then they would open the Hebrew bible and show them it was written by the Prophet Isaiah 700 years before Jesus walked the earth.
Peter W. Stoner, a scientist and mathematician, utilized what he called “the principle of probability.” This principle holds that if the chance of one thing happening is one in M and the chance of another thing happening is one in N, the chance that they both shall happen is one in M × N. This equation is used in fixing insurance rates.
Stoner asked 600 of his students to apply the principle of probability to the biblical prophecy of the destruction of Tyre (see Ezek. 26: 3-16), which claims 7 definite events:
Using the principle of probability in a conservative manner, the students estimated the chances of all seven events occurring as described at 1 in 400 million, yet all seven did occur.
Stoner’s students did a similar study on the prophecy that predicted the fall of Babylon (see Isa. 13: 19). They estimated the chances of the Babylon prophecies occurring at 1 in 100 billion, but everything stated did come to pass.
Bible Prophecy is 100% accurate.
6. It’s Unity –
Keep in mind that The Bible is a collection of 66 documents (39 OT and 27 NT) written over the span of 1,600 years by over 40 authors on 3 different continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe) in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) that reveals one unified, progressing and unfolding message – which we call the Gospel.
Imagine we sent out at request for people from all 50 states to send a rock of their choosing and their particular cut to Huntsville, AL. So we have stones from CA, to NY. Then imagine if once they arrived in Huntsville someone was able to assemble those stones to create a perfect replica of the statue of liberty. Wouldn’t you assume that this was not random chance? Wouldn’t you assume there must have been some Mastermind at work behind the scenes telling each Mason how he was to cut a particular stone?
The same is true of the bible over 40 men wrote sections of this book, but when it is assembled it presents the greatest story ever told and becomes the best selling book of ALL TIME.
As logical and reasonable as a belief in the truth of scripture is – I didn’t come to my belief in scripture simply by logic and reason. those were means to an end but ultimately faith in God’s word is a gift.
1 Corinthians 2:14–16 (ESV)
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15
In the New Testament Jesus often taught in Parables. People would ask him, “why do you do that”? He said, “because it hasn’t been given to them to understand the word of the Kingdom but it has been given to you”. You see – the ability to embrace the bible as the living word of God is a gift that only God can give and He gives it to his children.
I’ve been preaching this book for over 20 years in those 20 years I have not found more and more errors and reasons not to believe, but my faith in the power of this book has grown. The longer I read it, the more I study it – the more I see it as a living document.
- It brings peace to the troubled heart.
- It stirs the complacent heart.
- It heals the broken heart.
- It uplifts the sorrowful heart.
- It calms the anxious heart.
Friend – The Bible is God’s Word. It is an anchor for your soul, it is a foundation for your family, it is a guide for our church – may God be true, and every man a liar by comparison.
W.A. Criswell once said, “Possibly the most theologically accurate, intellectually deep, morally inspiring song ever penned by the hands of men goes like this-”
Jesus loves me this I know, For the bible tells me so…
How can you believe that the world was created out of nothing? The Bible tells me so.
How can you believe in a Flood that destroyed the old earth? The Bible tells me so.
How can you believe that forgiveness is possible and available? The Bible tells me so.
How can you believe that after you die, you will see God? The Bible tells me so.
In a day where Moral Ambiguity, Situational Ethics and Relativistic truth seem to be the rule of the day – nothing can be more culturally out of step than to begin a sentence with, “The Bible says” or to open a lecture with the request, “If you have your bibles, please open them”. Yet that is how we begin every service. The most important defining characteristic of any church, or of any christian is what the believe about God’s word. And by the way – what you do, IS what you believe.
The Bible is a collection of 66 documents (39 OT and 27 NT) written over the span of 1,600 years by over 40 authors on 3 different continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe) in 3 different languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic) that reveals one unified, progressing and unfolding message – which we call the Gospel.
Authors of the Bible include kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statement, doctors, and scholars. The books of the bible fall into various genres or categories like history, sermons, letters, songs, poems, apocalyptic literature, prophecy, each of which contains their own interpretive norms.
The shifting genres are the main reason that people have a difficult time reading the bible. They read from book to book without taking into account the shifting genre. Imagine switching from reading a newspaper to watching StarWars. You have moved from non-fiction to fiction, from a print media to a video media. Both authors are trying to communicate something, but if you don’t take into account the shifting genre and media type you will be a very confused person.
The same thing can happen when reading the bible. For example, the interpretive norms shift majorly from reading Proverbs (short pithy wisdom literature), to 1 Corinthians (which is a letter), to reading Revelation (which is an apocalyptic discourse). One of the reasons there are so many weird interpretations of scripture is because people don’t learn how to read the Bible properly.
The OT was written on papyrus – a form of paper made out of reeds. The NT was written on parchment – prepared animal skins. The ink was typically made from Charcoal. Because these types of documents degrade so easily many copies were made of each book by meticulous scribes. Our modern translations are made from these ancient manuscript copies.
What do Christians Believe about the Bible? Broadly speaking – we believe it is the Word of God. But what each particular Christian, Church, or Denomination believes about the Bible varies widely.
There are 5 words used to describe our view of scripture. They are as follows:
- The Bible is Inspired
- The Bible is Inerrant and Infallible
- The Bible is Authoritative
- The Bible is Sufficient
Let’s break down each one of those statements:
- The Bible is Inspired –
The word inspiration in this context means more than how one might say, “Shakespeare was an inspired playwright” or this person wrote and inspired song. We believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture – that is, not only are the ideas of scripture inspired, but the very words are inspired of God. In other words, the human authors wrote down exactly what the Divine Author wanted.
That does not mean that the human authors like Paul and Peter were dictating as God spoke. (Incidentally, that is what Muslims believe about the Koran). The Bible’s writing is filled with the human author’s personality and perspective – the same way a letter you write may be. However, the Holy Spirit was using them as his pen to convey the very words he wanted to speak to his people.
2 Timothy 3:16–17 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The Phrase, “Thus says the LORD” occurs over 400 in the bible. “God said” occurs 46 times. So the we believe that the Bible is the word God wanted to give humanity
2. The Bible is Inerrant and Infallible
That is to say that the scriptures are true and accurate without any mixture of error. REMEMBER: The first question Satan raised was – “Did God REALLY say?” He perpetually raises that question over God’s word again and again. Typically Inerrancy has reference to the individual words and Infallible has reference to the scripture as a whole.
Psalm 12:6 (ESV) The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
The definition in simple terms just means that the Bible always tells the truth and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about. This definition does not mean that the Bible tells us every fact there is to know about any one subject, but it affirms that what it does say about any subject is true.
3. The Bible is Authoritative
Bernard Ramm describes authority this way, “Authority itself means that right or power to command action or compliance, or to determine belief or custom, expecting obedience from those under authority, and in turn giving responsible account for the claim to right or power.” The bible has such authority.
To say that the bible is authoritative is to say that ONLY the bible is authoritative in the ultimate sense.
4. The Bible is Sufficient
That is to say, The Bible is sufficient in all the areas it claims sufficiency. Wayne Gruden write, “We can define the sufficiency of Scripture as follows: The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly”.
2 Timothy 3:15 (ESV) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
So you don’t need the Bible plus some other book to be pleasing to God. It is sufficient. Friend you will find that when another authority or book tries to speak to the issues that scripture addresses it will inevitably contradict or repeat what the Bible has said. If it repeats scripture – we don’t need it. If it contradicts scripture – we don’t want it.
CONCLUSION: What do you believe about the Bible?
Do you read it?
Do you study it?
Do you meditate on it and memorize it?
Do you hide it in your heart?
Why don’t you recommit yourself like never before to being a student of the inerrant, inspired, infallible, authoritative and sufficient word of the Living God?
TwoMinutesOfTruth.com was inspired while I was listening to an interview with Morgan Spurlock. The comment was made that –
“Anyone will watch a single round of boxing, if it’s good enough – they will watch the entire fight.”
The idea came to my mind that I should capture short, 2 minute clips from sermons so that they can be easily shared on social media. Simple as that.
Dr. John Piper has often said, “Books don’t change people, paragraphs do — sometimes sentences.”
I would say that the same is true for sermons – while every word of a sermon is important, it is typically a single illustration or statement that makes it unforgettable. TwoMinutesOfTruth.com is about identifying and capturing those moments in a way that can be easily shared.
Recently, I had the opportunity to do some teaching on church planting during our midweek service and interview Thumper. Here is the audio
from that session.
As good Friday and Easter approach, here is a clip of a recent sermon that spoke to the essence of Christ’s work on the cross.
The full sermon is available here – https://youtu.be/9s2UG9AyQR0
Occasionally, I make a concerted effort to cross-pollinate my social media outlets. I use different applications to deliver different kinds of content. If you are interested – look me up on these various platforms:
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