7 Thoughts on Reading the Bible

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openbible2JC. Ryle on “7 Thoughts on Reading the Bible”

  1. Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it.
  2. Read the Scriptures with a simple, childlike faith and humility.
  3. Read the Word with a spirit of obedience and self-application.
  4. Read the Holy Scriptures everyday.
  5. Read the whole Bible and read it an orderly way.
  6. Read the Word of God fairly and honestly.
  7. Read the Bible with Christ constantly in view.
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Digging Deeper into Acts (Chapter 2)

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actsRead Acts 2

Introduction

In Acts 2:1-4, we will read about the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  Pentecost means “fiftieth” and refers to the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22-23) or Harvest (Leviticus 23:16) which was celebrated 50 days after Passover.  At Pentecost, an offering of firstfruits was made so this fulfilled a “type and shadow” prophecy (a picture of something that will happen in the future) that the Holy Spirit would come on this day as the firstfruits of the believer’s inheritance.  It was also the church’s inheritance of the firstfruits of believers.

In Acts 2:5-13, we will read about the disciples who were speaking in tongues or dialects, which were known languages not ecstatic utterances. As the believers were speaking, every person in the crowd could recognize the language from their own country.

And finally in Acts 2:14-42, the first major event of church history was Peter’s sermon, in which the Holy Spirit saved 3,000 people and established the church. Highlights of Peter’s sermon is the gospel message citing God’s preordained plan of sacrificing Christ (vs. 23), a declaration of Christ’s Lordship and Messiahship (vs. 36), and call to repentance (vs. 38).  And the early church flourished in the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer (vs. 42).  The final section of verses 43-47 show the practical growth and fruit of the Spirit in the early church.

questions1(1)Questions:

1. What does the term “baptism of the Holy Spirit” mean?  What do other passages in the Bible teach about the baptism of the Spirit?  Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:3-4, and John 17:11, 21-23.

2. Why was the purpose of speaking in tongues or the dialects of the foreigners in Jerusalem?  (Hebrews 2:3-4 may help to answer this)

3. Why does God not need to use miraculous signs of speaking in tongues and signs and wonders today (only occurs two more times in Acts 10:46, 19:6)?

4. Using your own words, briefly write out how you would respond to someone who says the baptism of the Spirit happens some time after a person becomes saved.

5. When we tell someone the gospel as Peter did in his sermon, in what way should we encourage the person to respond?  (Refer to verses 21 and 38 as well as Ephesians 2:8-9 and Mark 1:14-15)

6. If baptism is not necessary part for someone to be saved, why did Peter include this in his instructions to the listeners in verse 38?

7. Do you find the qualities of the believers in verse 42 to be evident in your life?

digging deeperDigging Deeper

Ephesians 5:19-21 and Galatians 5:22-25 lists the results of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Do these things characterize your life? As a way of yielding more of your life to the Holy Spirit, consider what specific actions you can take now that would strengthen or bring about those characteristics in your life.

Spurgeon Sunday (March 9, 2014)

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Charles_Spurgeon_cartoon_1870_vanity_fairThe gospel is preached in the ears of all men; it only comes with power to some. The power that is in the gospel does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher otherwise men would be converters of souls. Nor does it lie in the preacher’s learning; otherwise it could consists of the wisdom of men. We might preach till our tongues rotted, till we should exhaust our lungs and die, but never a soul would be converted unless there were mysterious power going with it – the Holy Ghost changing the will of man. O Sirs! We might as well preach to stone walls as preach to humanity unless the Holy Ghost be with the word, to give it power to convert the soul.

Quick Links (March 8, 2014)

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Quick LinksThe Root of Idolatry – A great post by RC Sproul Jr. on The Son of God movie and its violation of the 2nd commandment.  He states:

In terms of soul winning strategies this is just the next great thing in a long line of failed next great things.

This movie, using a Western, soft, hipster-looking Jesus, is the next wave for evangelical, watered-down Christianity, promising “decisions” made for Christ and deeper emotional and religious experiences.  The problem is, that these “decisions” are largely short-lived and false and the emotional and religious experiences are man-made and counterfeit.  Both what the Bible clearly warns against and both at the root of idolatry.

He finishes this post by stating a clear truth about such films and fads:

The problem is that, for me anyway, I was lead right into the vicious heart of idolatry, which was cleverly disguised as a positive Christian experience.

 

 

How I Prepare A Sermon

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sermonBelieve it or not, I have never taken a seminary class.  However, I have listened to more seminary classes and more hours of expositional sermons than a seminary student would ever listen to or sit for throughout their academic experience.  You may then ask how I learned to prepare expositional sermons.

Honestly, if you have good hermeneutics (the art of proper Bible interpretation) and have had expositional preaching modeled to you, anyone can prepare a proper sermon.  So whatever you do, never buy a sermon, steal a sermon, just give your own stories and call it a sermon, hand-pick verses to support your own thoughts, or put little preparation into a sermon.  I would rather you never preach again if any of those are your “outs” instead of proper Bible sermon preparation.  Because you will be judged by God according to how you prepared.

Now if you never preach in your lifetime, this post will not be worthless to you because this is the same approach that I take to my study of the Bible in my everyday life.  I think God wants both preaching and daily quiet time to be glaringly similar in order to demonstrate that it is ultimately only the Word of God that has the power to change hearts and minds.

be prepared (1)So here is my methodology of preparing an expositional sermon.

1. Read.  Read the text over and over and over again.  This takes time, it takes persistence, and it takes discipline.  Read the entire book, chapters before, chapters after, and read the text you are going to preach on continually.  Pray through the passage.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your understanding and begin to love the text that God has written to you and the congregation you will preach.

2. Context.  Study the text and its context.  Study its author, its intended audience, its grammatical and historical and literary structure.  Find everything about the context so that you interpret the text rightly.

3. Observe.  This is where you start to write down a lot.  Write down every observation of the text you can.  Write down your questions.  Write down difficult words or phrases.  Write down cross-references to the Old or New Testament.  Simply observe.

4. Research.  Research and find out every observation you wrote in part 3.

5. The Body.  Start to write the body of the sermon.  Begin by simply explaining the passage and let your love of the passage and the explanation of the passage come out while you write.

6. Introduction, Outline, Illustrations, and Culmination.  I like to think of a great introduction to the sermon – one that applies in context to the main point of the passage and will truly grab your audience and prepare them to hear God’s Word in context.  This should not be a joke or a funny story as much as a way to transition into the text in an engaging fashion.  Many preachers like to get their outline before the body of the sermon, however I like to get my outline from the sermon itself.  I find this keeps me honest to the main points of the text and therefore, anyone who studies the passage could have created the exact same outline.  Adding illustrations to illuminate your points of focus are integral to explaining a text.  And the culmination is how you want to end the sermon, what one point or implication do you want to leave with your congregants.

I do not like to simply give the gospel at the end like a “tack-on” as many preachers do.  I give the gospel throughout my sermon (beginning, middle, and end) as I am preaching God’s Word and I give the call to repent and believe throughout my sermon as is appropriate.  However, I do not take for granted that everyone listening is a born-again believer, so I never miss an opportunity for the call to put one’s faith in Christ alone for salvation.

7. Edit.  I edit and edit some more and edit some more throughout the week.  I also read through it and begin to love the sermon I am about to preach.  There is nothing greater or more satisfying than preaching, teaching, or expositing God’s Word…and if I never take the pulpit on that Sunday, the work I did in study is not in vain.

1 cor

Advice to Young Men

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week, I transcribed J.C. Ryle’s 5 Dangers for Young Men.  Today, I would like to continue that list and give you Ryle’s general counsel or advice to young men, and offer my thoughts.

Get a Clear View of the Evil of Sin

Many young men do not know the true colors of sin.  In fact, the world celebrates sin and therefore, young men especially are blind to its “guilt and danger.”  The evil one truly perpetrates in our world that sin is a small matter, but understanding what sin has done to the world and the atonement for sin that Christ bore upon the cross.

Seek to Become Acquainted with our Lord Jesus Christ

Without a saving relationship with Christ, the warnings and advice are useless and the endeavors of man is in vain.  Being a young man without Christ is like being a watch that does not keep time.  And being acquainted with Christ is not just knowing Christ’s name or knowledge about Him, but truly knowing and experiencing His mercy, grace, and power within your hearts.  If you love life, seek to become acquainted with Jesus Christ.

Never Forget That Nothing is so Important as Your Soul

Today’s world is transfixed upon the temporary, but your soul is forever.  It will live forever unlike everything you see that will pass away.  Therefore you were not born into the world to merely eat and drink, indulge the desires of the flesh, work, sleep, laugh, and talk; no, you were placed here to train for eternity.

It is Possible to be a Young Man and Yet to Serve God

Many within today’s world sees it impossible to be a true Christian as a youth.  Many people do not expect much of young people since many youth have no time for seriousness.  Young men have strong desires and the world casts them over to those desires, opposite of the Bible’s call to self-control.  The world thinks that it is a young man’s right to “sow their wild oats” and that it is not possible for them to follow Christ.  This thinking is not found in the Bible, and this is a vain excuse.  Even young men are responsible and accountable to God, and therefore, to be a young man is to serve God.

Determine to Make the Bible Your Guide and Adviser

Psalm 119:9 states, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”  Make it a habit to read the Bible.  Read it with the prayer that the Holy Spirit’s grace will help you to understand it.  Believe what it approves is right and what it condemns to be wrong.  Whatever you read, read that first.

Never Make an Intimate Friend of Anyone Who is Not a Friend of God

This is not talking about acquaintances, this is not talking about not witnessing to those who do not know God, this is not talking about general friendship with peers.  This is advice to be careful in your choice of friends.  Never be satisfied with the friendship of any one who will not be useful to your soul.  We are creatures of imitation: precept may teach us, but it is example that draws us.  Bad company does indeed corrupt good character, and good friends are among our greatest blessings – those that keep us away from evil, remind us of our course, speak appropriate words, and draw us upward towards Jesus Christ.

Spurgeon Sunday (March 2, 2014)

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Charles SpurgeonCharles Haddon Spurgeon on How to Pray:”

Oh, my Brothers and Sisters, you will not do better, after all, than to quote Scripture, especially in prayer! There are no prayers so good as those that are full of the Word of God! May all our speech be flavored with texts!

Prayer should be the natural overflow of the soul: you should pray because you must pray, not because the set time for praying has arrived, but because your heart must cry unto your Lord.

It is a good fall when a man falls on his knees.

How To Get Out of the Ditch

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ditchIn the previous post, I demonstrated how a solid, healthy, Biblical church such as the one in Ephesus could easily fall into a ditch…the ditch of growing cold in their love for Jesus.  Many churches that are good at discernment, have solid theology, have godly men in leadership can and will tend to fall into the ditch of growing cold in their love for the Savior.  It is simply the ditch that we can so easily fall into.

So what do you do as a church and as a person if you fall into this ditch (or see yourself falling into this ditch).  The amazing thing is that our Lord in Revelation 2:5 gives us an exhortation to do two things – Remember and Repent.

Remember

Don’t remember the feeling, remember the knowledge that gave you the feeling.  Remember who you were and who you are today, and how much He loves you in spite of you.  If you just remember how bad you are you grow in despair and if you just remember how He loves you, you will grow blase and apathetic about His love for you – like you deserve it.  Remember who Jesus is and what He has done to save you.

Repent

Don’t sit around and wait for you to fall in love with Him again.  Break from it!  You will always find God very, very eager to meet you with His restoring grace, far more ready to forgive than you are to repent.

Friends, I urge you this week to remember and repent if you are in this place.  If you are growing cold in your love for Jesus, if you are in a difficult spot in your Christian walk, if you need to be restored once again as we always will.  He is far more ready to meet you with His beautiful grace than you think.