Translational Ignorance

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 2:14 (NLT)
But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

One of my greatest character flaws is that I have a very low tolerance for ignorance, but I think that I am probably in good company. As the saying goes, “there’s no cure for stupid!” Which brings to mind something that happened to me earlier in my ministry. At the time I was Pastor of a church where a number of people espoused what is known as “King-James-Only-ism.” This is belief of some that the King James Version of the Bible is the only “real” translation and that our modern translations are wrong. One man in particular said to me, “You know what the problem is with all these translations? Any drunk can pick one up, read it, and understand it?” My response was “Really, and that’s a problem? I thought that was the whole idea!” You see, in his way of thinking, only people like him could understand the King James language because it is for those who are spiritually discerning, and he uses this verse as his proof text. Unfortunately for him (and fortunately for us) that wasn’t what Paul was talking about at all. For one thing, the King James Version was still about 1500 years in the future, and remember, the Bible can never mean what it never would have meant. In other words, if it didn’t mean that to Paul’s original audience, and that was not Paul’s intent in writing, then it cannot mean that today. As acclaimed New Testament scholar Gordon Fee notes the contrast in this passage is between believer and unbeliever, not between elite Christians and “lesser” Christians who are living below their privileges. There are no grounds for elitism in the Bible (Fee, NICNT: The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 120). Paul here is not talking about some secret spiritual discernment that some Christians have and no one else has access to. He is saying that those who do not have the Holy Spirit cannot understand the simple truths of the Gospel, even if it is spelled in a clear and concise language. It is not that they do not understand the language, rather that they cannot grasp the concepts no matter how plainly they are presented. In fact, the New Testament was written in the common language of the day. The vernacular that is used is called Konine Greek, and the word Konine means “common.” Put more plainly, it was the language of the common people. Jesus told us, “For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me” (John 6:44-45). It is the Holy Spirit who touches people’s hearts and minds and makes it possible for them to understand that message of the Gospel as He draws them to Jesus.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

In Good Times and Bad

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

 Genesis 39:3, 21 (NLT) 

3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the LORD was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did…21 But the LORD was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the LORD made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.

We have the mistaken notion that when things are going well that God is with us, but when things are going against us He is not. The life of Joseph is a classic example from Scripture that God is with us in the bad times just as much as He is the good times. In case you are not familiar with the story, Joseph is his Dad’s favorite, which causes his brothers to be extremely jealous of him. So they hatch a plan to kill him, but one of his brothers, Rueben, tries to protect him and convinces them to throw him in a well instead. However, while Rueben is away the others decide to sell Joseph to a caravan headed to Egypt. Now Joseph finds himself as a slave to a high Egyptian official name Potiphar. While in Potiphar’s service, the official notices that the Lord is with Joseph and makes him in charge of his entire household. This is a sweet job and Joseph does it well. This is the good times, and as we can see from Gen. 39:3, the Lord was with him during this good time. However, Potiphar’s wife takes a liking to Joseph for another reason, and want Joseph to sleep with her. As a righteous man, Joseph refuses because it would not only be a sin against Potiphar but also a sin against God. Unfortunately, Potiphar’s wife doesn’t give up easily, and she tries to seduce Joseph. Yet Joseph still refuses to sin with her and runs away, but she grabs his clothes and tears them off of him in the process. She then accuses Joseph of rape. Potiphar comes back and believes her story and throws Joseph in jail. This would be the bad times, but as we can see from Gen. 39:21, the Lord is with him also while he is in jail. What do we learn from this? The Lord is with us in the bad times as well as in the good. We need to learn to do what James tells us, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy” (James 1:2, NLT). You see, my friends, the Lord is with just as much in the bad times as He is in the good times. We need to learn to ask the Lord what He is trying to teach us from the bad times instead of assuming that He has abandoned us in them. What is God trying to teach you today?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Can We Trust Scripture?

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 (NLT) 

10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

How do we know we can trust the Bible? First, of all we can trust it because it is God’s self-revelation of Himself from Himself. Paul tells us that God’s revelation comes from His Holy Spirit, and, and a result, we can trust Scripture because the Spirit reveals us to the “deep secrets” of life. Furthermore, since God Himself is the source “we can depend on the Spirit’s revelation of truth to us because He ‘searches, [or penetrates] all things,’ that is, He sheds light on them. Because He is deity, nothing is hidden from Him. So He can and does shed light on the deep things of God, the profound truths that no human thinking, even of the most brilliant philosophers, has ever probed. They cannot for they do not have the Spirit” (Horton, I & II Corinthians). Consequently, and our second reason we can trust the Bible, is we can trust the correctness of Scripture as God’s revelation because the Spirit knows the things of God as a member of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God, and therefore, is able to correctly reveal the truth about God. Who better to reveal the truth about God than the Holy Spirit. We can accept the Bible as truth because it comes from He who is truth.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark