Issue #59

A Warning about Bible Verses, Myths about Liturgy, the Most Misunderstood Verse, and more...

Issue #59
Photo by Pedro Lima / Unsplash

Consider Another Perspective 🤔

A Warning about Bible Verses | Greg Koukl 📃 →

Let me offer you a warning that will vastly improve your ability to understand Scripture—if you heed it. It’s an insight for every person who has ever asked, “How does this verse apply to my life?” Here it is: There are no verses in the Bible. Nope. Not one. At least, not in the original, and that’s the Bible that matters.

I haven’t thought about it this way before, but it is helpful. When we want to take a particular verse and apply it to our lives they did not exist in that form when they were written.

In fact, standing on their own, most “verses” have no application to anyone’s life, Christian or Hebrew. None. Why, then, are they in the Bible? Because much of the time, the precise point of a passage cannot be found in a single verse, but in the role that verse plays in relationship to the verses above and below it.

Remember, the verse, as such, doesn’t exist. Rather, the sentence exists as part of a passage that might apply to your circumstances. It makes no sense, though, to isolate a line from its context and ask, “How can I stick this sentence into my life?”

I own a few different Reader Bibles which remove chapter and verse numbers and many Bible apps can be configured to remove verse numbers. I’ve found it helpful to read a Bible book without these markers as they were originally written. It gives me a sense of the big flow of the book, rather than focusing on the details.

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Consider the Culture 🎨

How the Lottery Preys on the Poor | John Piper 🎧 →

Pull-tabs and scratch games incentivize risky, destructive behaviors, especially among those who can least afford to play.

There has been little more harmful to the poor, weak, and disadvantaged of society than gambling. Dr. Piper does a wonderful job of explaining why. As Christians, we should fight for an end to the lottery as a matter of justice to stop the strong from taking advantage of the weak.

Challenge Your Brain 🧠

William Lane Craig Defends His View on the Historical Adam | William Lane Craig and Gavin Ortlund 📽 →

As I’ve linked before, Dr. Craig has been embarking on a multi-year study of the early chapters of Genesis and natural science. His goal has been to find out what options are available to Christians about Adam and Eve as historical figures.

The conclusion he came to is: Adam and Eve were historical figures, but probably lived several hundred thousand years ago. He came to this conclusion through his study of both the theology of Genesis 1–11 and the best available science.

His result has been controversial, but many of his critics have attacked what they think he believes, and not what he actually believes.

William Lane Craig Defends His View on the Historical Adam

For More:

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Read and Reflect 📖

5 Myths about Liturgy | Jonathan Gibson 📃 →

As I’ve written before, in the last few years I’ve rediscovered the value of liturgy in my life and relationship with God. Jonathan Gibson has written a devotional liturgy Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship (linked below), and in this article, he walks through misunderstandings about liturgy and its value.

Myth #1: Liturgy is not a biblical word.
Myth #2: Liturgy is only used by some churches.
Myth #3: Liturgy is not relevant for our quiet times or devotions.
Myth #4: Liturgy quenches the Holy Spirit and leads to nominalism.
Myth #5: Liturgy is restrictive, repetitive, and boring.

For More:

Christianity Is True ✝️

Did It Really Happen? Questions on the Reliability of the Bible | N.T. Wright and Justin Brierley 🎧 →

How should we approach historical scholarship that undermines the Bible? Was early Christian persecution exaggerated? Did saints really rise from their graves as Matthew 27 claims?
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Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

Build Spiritual Habits in Just a Few Minutes | Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra and Megan Hill 📃 →

I (Sarah) never used to make the bed.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like our bed to be made—I really did. A made-up bed is nicer to slide into at night, creates a level surface for folding clothes, and makes the whole bedroom look more orderly. But I just didn’t have time. Making a bed takes forever.

I sighed over this until I happened to run across some advice…if you know how long it takes to do something, you can better judge if you have time to slide it in before you need to run out the door.

Curious, I gave it a try…Ninety seconds.

We even do this with spiritual disciplines, where the consequences are more serious. Who has time to read a chapter in the Bible? Write in a prayer journal? Memorize a verse?

My friend, we do. If you need proof, grab your phone and measure for yourself. Or if you don’t have time for that, Megan Hill and I have been busy with our stopwatches.

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Does the Bible Promise God Is Present When 2 or 3 Gather? #1 Misunderstood Verse (Matt 18:20) | Sean McDowell 📽 →

This also fits the theme from our first link: the Bible is not made up of verses, because verses didn’t exist in the original writings. They can be helpful to locate passages, but those passages are part of paragraphs, which are parts of sections, which are parts of books, which were written by particular authors in particular places at particular times.

Dr. McDowell takes a look at what he thinks is the most misunderstood verse in the Bible:

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
— Matthew 18:20 (ESV)

Taken alone, this can mean any variety of things, just like overhearing someone in a coffee shop say, “We are absolutely going to murder them!” could mean anything from a mob hit to a sports team before a game. Texts take their meaning from the context, so watch this very short video and Dr. McDowell shows how the context of this verse does not mean, “God’s presence is more particularly there when multiple Christians are together.”

Does the Bible Promise God Is Present When 2 or 3 Gather? #1 Most Misunderstood Verse (Matt. 18:20)

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
— Matthew 7:12–13 (CSB)

Joel Fischer