Issue #56

What I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible, What Is an Idol, Vengeance is the Lord's, and more...

Issue #56
Photo by Aaron Burden / Unsplash

From the Garden 🌳

Humility and the Fear of the Lord 📃→

“The first step of humility is to cherish at all times the sense of awe with which we should turn to God.”
– Benedict of Nursia, Rule, via Common Prayer, pg. 313

While the dictionary may define “humility” as a low view of one’s importance, that’s not quite the Biblical view of humility. The biblical view of humility is to view ourselves rightly, neither too lowly nor too highly.

When we see ourselves as image-bearers of God, we cannot see ourselves as too high or too low. We see our need for a savior because of our wounded nature, but we also see our worth as his representatives on earth.

Consider Another Perspective 🤔

What I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible with Dr. Michael Bird | Sean McDowell 📽 →

Sean McDowell interviews Australian biblical scholar Dr. Michael Bird about his new book (linked below).

What are the most common mistakes Christians make when approaching the Bible? In this video, I interview Dr. Michael Bird about his recent book "Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible." We discuss misunderstandings about how we got the Bible, where it came from, and how to read it.

His goal is to help make Christians’ (especially conservative Christians’) ideas about the Bible more expansive in some areas and more nuanced in others. The interview is great and the book seems accessible, though I have not yet read it.

From the book description:

Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible is a short and readable introduction to the Bible—its origins, interpretation, truthfulness, and authority.

Seven Things presents a clear and understandable evangelical account of the Bible's inspiration, canonization, significance, and relevance in a way that is irenic and compelling. It is a must read for any serious Bible reader who desires an informed and mature view of the Bible that will enrich their faith.
What I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible: A Conversation with Dr. Michael Bird | Sean McDowell

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Explore the Scriptures 📖

Taking God’s Name in Vain? With Carmen Imes | BibleProject with Tim Mackie and Jon Collins 🎧 →

In this interview with Dr. Carmen Imes, Tim and Jon discuss the command, “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” What does this mean? Carmen discusses how many people miss the point of this commandment all about who we are and what we’re called to do.

This is an older episode about the most misunderstood of the Ten Commandments. It ranges into the purpose of the Mosaic law and more.

Just some of the takeaways from the podcast:

– To not take (carry, lift up) the name of God in vain means to not misrepresent him through our lives. We’re called to carry the name of God wherever we go.– Jesus taught us to pray “Hallowed be your name,” which is our way of expressing our desire that God’s character would be honored through the lives of us and others.– The Hebrew Scriptures forbade tattoos because they represented other names carried by the Israelites. Even today, it’s a good exercise to ask what we’re communicating about whose name we bear by tattoos today.

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Watch and Wonder 📽

NAR Vocabulary and Terminology | Joshua Lewis, Michael Rowntree, and Michael Miller 📽 →

Most Christians have probably not heard the term “NAR,” nor what it stands for, “New Apostolic Reformation.” I’m not a heresy hunter, and because of some internet heresy hunters, I downplayed both the terminology and the spread of the theology behind it. I have seen a soft form of the theology first-hand, and non-heresy-hunting work like this from the Remnant Radio crew has helped me to see the impact and dangers of this theology.

This is the kind of theology that most Christians, if you asked them, would say, “I don’t attend a NAR church,” but when you explain it, they may recognize some of the theology. Even if you agree with NAR theology, I think this video will be helpful for you as a charitable, cautious, but critical take. We all should be able to hear charitably critical takes on our views and be thoughtful and loving in our responses.

The New Apostolic Reformation is not a formal organization of clandestine churches but a category used by some to identify a specific sect of Charismatics. Unfortunately, the NAR is often used by heretic hunters as a derogatory catch-all for “dumb charismatics that we don't like”.

However, as we have engaged with a lot of charismatic literature, we find that it is a helpful category for identifying a specific branch of hyper-charismatics. Not a group of people who are “not Christian” rather a group of Christians who hold certain extra-biblical charismatic beliefs that we believe are harmful and or a distraction for the mission of the Church. We have done episodes in the past dealing with specific NAR practices, teachings, and doctrine, but in this episode, we will specifically be tackling the NAR vocabulary. Alignment, Portals, Realms, Apostolic favor, Kingdom Finances, Strategic Spiritual Warfare, and more!
NAR Vocabulary and Terminology | The Remnant Radio

Consider the Culture 🎨

How to Talk about Transgenderism with Your Neighbor | Beth Claes 📃 →

The point of this article isn’t whether a Christian should support transgenderism or transgender identities. The point of this article is much more urgent for Christians: how do we talk about our beliefs lovingly? One important point to remember is that we shouldn’t just have negative beliefs—“I don’t agree with that”— but positive ones—“This is what I believe and why.”

While gender clarity isn’t our greatest hope for our unbelieving neighbors, thinking and living by God’s created and intended design will help our society and the individuals in it to flourish. We are called to be agents of change in the world, but we should always do this with the desire for and movement toward heart transformation through the gospel.

Claes then offers four points to keep in mind for these conversations. Here is the first:

1. Lead with Compassion

We must treat every person with respect and compassion. Every human being is made in God’s image, and while we will never convince our enemies of our viewpoint, we might persuade our friends.

Demonstrating compassion in our conversations begins with respect and kindness toward people who are struggling with gender identity, and it must extend to those who passionately support the LGBTQ movement. Our aim is not to win a debate, but to share truth with abundant grace.

Listen and Learn 🎧

What Is an Idol? | John Piper 🎧 →

Ancient idols were literal carved or created figures that represented the dwelling place of a god. In the West, we generally don’t carve idols, so how should we understand the commands to turn away from idols? Is it legitimate to talk about “idols” of money and power? Dr. Piper works through the Bible to apply it to us.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Vengeance is the Lord’s | Mitch East 📃 →

The songbook of Israel isn’t skittish about vengeance. Rather, the psalmists celebrate the God of vengeance. “The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked” (Psalm 58:19). The psalmist calls God to rise up and judge on the basis that “the Lord is a God who avenges.” (Psalm 94:1). God’s people are counseled to be patient and “wait for the Lord.” They are not lulled into passivity because their God is passive. They wait for God because “He will avenge you” (Prov 20:22). The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah preach God’s vengeance upon Israel’s enemies. Even Joseph’s refusal to punish his brothers who sold him into slavery is based on God’s exclusive right to avenge. Joseph asks, “Am I in the place of God?” (Gen 50:19). Joseph assumes God has the position and authority to punish and repay, not him.

How can we better understand this word vengeance belongs to the Lord?

Try as we might, we can’t go to the New Testament to circumvent the vengeance of God. Paul counsels the Christians in Rome to not take revenge, but he doesn’t condemn vengeance itself. Instead, Paul tells them to “leave room for God’s wrath” (Rom 12:19). The sixth chapter of Revelation contains the desperate cry of the martyrs for revenge. God will answer their cry against Babylon when He “avenges on her the blood of his servants” (Rev 19:2). Not even an appeal to Jesus will work: He promises that the towns who reject his apostles will have it worse than Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt 10).

Alongside this consistent theme of God’s vengeance is the condemnation of men and women who take justice into their own hands. God hears Abel’s blood cry out from the ground when Cain avenges himself and exiles Cain east of Eden. Esau’s reconciliation with Jacob is shocking because it is such a monumental change from his wicked plan to kill his brother. Saul makes a rash vows to avenge himself on anyone who eats honey, not knowing his son Jonathan has eaten the honey to strengthen himself in battle. The take-away is clear: vengeance is the Lord’s, not Cain’s. Vengeance belongs to God, not Esau. Vengeance is right for YHWH, not right for Saul.

East then flows into discussing modern revenge stories and the light they can shed on God’s vengeance.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

“Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
— Matthew 7:7–8

Joel Fischer