“The blood and suffering of Christ, applied and relied on by faith, justify the sinner, silence Satan the accuser, purge the conscience from dead works, and open a way into the holiest of all.”
– Nathanael Vincent
Birth: Unknown – Death: 1697
This comparison came to me a while back while I was studying for a sermon. I do not presume to have unearthed deep truths, but pray this simple comparison prompts the reader to consider each Word that has proceeded from the mouth of God.
Contrasting Adam and Israel.
|Formed by God from the dust of the earth.||Formed by God from the dust of the people of the world.|
|Was brought to life by the word and breathe of God.||Was brought into being by the word of God.|
|Had close fellowship with God.||Had close fellowship with God.|
|Was given a covenant within which to live and prosper.||Was given a covenant within which to live and prosper.|
|Broke the covenant and received the penalty of death, which was carried out in due time.||Broke the covenant and received the penalty of death, which was carried out in the fullness of time.|
|Was cast out of the garden, cursed to walk and work in the world which was wrecked by The Fall.||Was divorced by God, left desolate, cursed to walk and work in darkness until the light of Christ.|
|As a type of Christ, Adam points us to the anti-type, Christ Jesus, in whom there is life for Adam’s children who are secure in the Last Adam.||As a type of Christ, Israel points us to the anti-type, Christ Jesus, in whom there is life for Abraham’s children of promise.|
Taste and See!
A review by Stuart Brogden
Barry Cooper has written a short but most excellent book, entitled Can I really trust the Bible? And other questions about Scripture, truth and how God speaks. While many very good and expansive apologetics books have been written, this small volume provides the reader an accessible wealth of information and insight as to the nature of the collection we call the Bible. Cooper gives us 5 short chapters, answering three questions, “Does the Bible claim to be God’s word?”, “Does the Bible seem to be God’s word?”, and “Does the Bible prove to be God’s word?” from 5 different perspectives:
- The world, the word, and what Jesus thought of the Bible.
- The word, the Word, and the rightness of writing.
- Consistency, conspiracies and corruptions.
- Canon, contradictions and criticisms.
- Tasting, seeing, and the sweetness of Scripture.
Our author introduces his book with a short look back at Winnie the Pooh and his penchant for honey – and how Pooh proved honey. The jar had a label claiming it was honey, but could the label be trusted? The contents looked like honey, but you can’t tell for sure by looking. The only way to be sure the jar contained honey was to taste it and see!
In explaining how the Bible is trustworthy, Cooper reminds us that the Bible does not claim to contain all knowledge about God – but that it contains all we need to know about God. And, still in chapter one, he points out Jesus’ attitude towards Scripture – He does not differentiate between the words of God and the word He caused men to write. The inspired word is trustworthy – not all any human author of Scripture wrote is inspired, only that which God intended and caused to be included in the canon of Scripture. In explaining the need we have of God’s written word, our author explains that giving it to us in writing allows God’s people to be sure and definite of knowing God’s word. If someone comes along claiming to speak for God, God’s word tells us how to respond – as the Bereans did, by searching the Scriptures to see if things are true; to test all things and cling to that which is good. Having God’s word in writing provides us this defense.
And since the Bible is the word of God, it is reasonable that He provided for its protection, preservation, and its identity as His word. The Roman Catholic Church claims that it decided what was in the canon of Scripture. Some evangelicals have been put off or discouraged by these claims. But Cooper rightly points out that the early church (hundreds of years before anything recognizable as the Roman Catholic Church) “didn’t willfully “declare” certain books to be from God; they could only recognize what was already apparent.” If God is God, sovereign over all He created, why should we be surprised when He uses His creation to produce, preserve, publish, and declare His word?
In chapter 4, Cooper gives us 7 quick arguments to refute claims that the Bible has errors:
- It’s not an error if it’s not in the original documents. There are scribal errors in every translation, but the enormous number of copies across the ages allows us to know what the autograph said.
- It’s not an error if we misunderstand the author’s intention. The Bible contains several genres of literature and literary customs of the authors’ eras. We cannot understand the Bible if we do not try to comprehend the historical and literary context of each passage.
- It’s not an error if it’s a paraphrase. Biblical authors often sum up accounts to provide something easy to listen to or read – same as when you summarize a movie you’ve seen.
- It’s not an error if it’s “phenomenological language”. When people describe things from their perspective, rather than objectively reporting facts, that phenomenological language. Cooper observes that a weatherman who talks about the sun rising is not called a liar – his audience knows what he means. He is using a literary custom of our day and telling it from his and our perspective.
- It’s not an error if someone else says it. This is when the Bible records someone telling a lie – the Bible is not in error. It is accurate in that it reports the lie. The liar is in error.
- It’s not an error if the Bible doesn’t speak definitively or exhaustively on every subject. Scripture doesn’t cover every topic, but it is authoritative on everything it does cover.
- It’s not an error if it ain’t written proper. Unlearned men speaking in sentence fragments are not errors. The issue is truthfulness – not passing a journalism exam.
Lastly, our author exhorts us to taste the Scriptures, to see if they are sweet to our souls as honey is to our tongues. Since the Spirit of God is the Author of Scripture, and since He lives in everyone who has been born of God, He will work in each child of God to develop our taste buds and give us understanding as we read and ponder the Word of God. Cooper warns us, the Bible “hasn’t been given to us so that we can know about God. It has been given to us so that we can know God.” He then quotes A.W. Tozer:
The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.
This, dear reader, is the bottom line: Those who have been made alive in Christ will experience what Cooper and Tozer wrote about. Those who have not been born again will not be able to. Our goal is not to convince unbelievers the Bible is true. Our goal is to know the Bible is true by our our knowledge of the Word Himself – and make noise about Him and His gospel to those who are not of His sheepfold, trusting that He will bring all the sheep home that the Father has given Him. This is what His word tells us – and His word is trustworthy.
This Thanksgiving Day, we are providing a post written by the Pilgrim from Thanksgiving 2009. So much has happened and changed in the world in the last 4 years, but there are also many things that have not. This is a reminder we should have in front of us every year.
As we in America celebrate Thanksgiving, and all the great freedoms, advancements, and benefits that the exporting of Christianity to this land brought with it, let us not forget about those millions of other people who are trapped in the bondage of their nations who are held captive to false religions and the human wreckage that those false religions bring.
Becoming Last had a post containing some pictures which reminded me exactly how thankful we should be, and exactly how starkly different the continent of North America may have turned out had the light of Christianity not pierced the darkness that covered this land.
The pictures in the post came from a piece in the Sacramento Bee. I’ve included some of these sobering but needful reminders below.
Let us not go to our graves having done nothing to see the advancement of the gospel to the uttermost parts of the world, where the worship of idols and demons keeps millions, if not billions, of souls in bondage.
Any preacher worth his office will tell you that proper handling of wisdom literature (particularly Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Proverbs) is most difficult. Even “simple” Hebrew narratives do not always flow in chronological form as does western literature. Wisdom literature adds another twist in that it not only is designed to impart wisdom, it requires wisdom from God to rightly draw out the meaning. In his book, God’s Wisdom in Proverbs, Dan Phillips leads us by the Word of God to rightly understand this part of the His Word. And he does it with a good sense of humor that should have you smiling broadly, if not laughing out loud. This is not a commentary – it is a guide-book to this overly familiar book in God’s Word.
This book has eight chapters:
Essentials for Understanding Proverbs
The Stated Design of Proverbs
The Foundation of Wisdom
WISDOM: Seeking and Finding
Relating to God by Trust and Worship
Skill in Godly Relationships
Skill in Godly Marriage
Skill in Godly Child-training
There are four appendices, covering the question of human authorship, word studies in Proverbs, an examination of Proverbs 22:6, and preaching and teaching from Proverbs.
Throughout this exceptional book (I only regret not reading it when I first bought it a couple years ago), Phillips keeps front and center the need we all have for a healthy fear of Creator God as the beginning of wisdom and as the posture that keeps us from being full of self and/or comfortable with sin. Says the author – “A God-fearer today is the man who has repented of his good works as well as his bad, trusted Christ alone as his Savior, relied on Christ’s righteousness alone, by the grace of God alone, and taken God’s Word alone as his marching orders, with God’s glory alone as his uniting motivation. That is the man who fears God.” AMEN!
Brothers and sisters – this entire book is founded on this very perspective. It will serve the body of Christ very well.
In telling us how to gain wisdom, he compares it to getting bread. Though the Lord’s prayer includes “give us this day our daily bread”, one doesn’t merely wish or pray for bread. He works for it, goes to where it is, buys it. The same principle, he tells us, applies whether we are after wisdom or whole wheat – pray and work. Creator God rules by means as well as ends.
In helping us understand the large volume of verses expounding foolish behavior, having just discussed the child who honors his parents, Phillips writes, “By contrast, in Proverbs the foolish child is neglectful during his years of instruction and learning (10:5), disregards what he has been taught (19:27), is abusive and insulting to his parents (19:26), is stupid (17:25, 19:13), ignores correction (31:1), and hangs around with sorts of people his father warned him about (1:10. 24:21, 28:7).” Which of us see our younger selves in this summary? Perhaps we are grieved by a close friend or a child of our own who embodies this whole-hearted foolishness. Our hearts should break – yet we should trust in God and cry out to Him for mercy on the fool. For no man can rescue a fool from his God-hating position, none of us can debate or argue the spiritually dead man to come to life. Let us continually thank the Lord for having delivered us from darkness and pray without ceasing for those who are perishing, while we proclaim the gospel to them.
I am tempted to tell you all the good things in this book – but then I would violate the reason for this review. Let me be content to assure you that each chapter and appendix will prompt you to think biblically, will cause you to repent of foolishness or a casual attitude towards the Word of God, will encourage you to trust God all the more and show you the joy that is ours as we walk as children of the light.
The chapter on child-training is worth the retail price of the book. Among the many good things he teaches us, Phillips says, “We must not rear our children in a certain way because it will work (pragmatism); we must rear them in such as way because it pleases and honors Yahweh (fear of Yahweh). God’s pleasure and glory must be our focus. Then we can trust the results to Him with a clean conscience (Prov 16:1, 3, 9).”
One of the comments that made me smile with irony – his style is priceless while the observation is sobering – is in the chapter on marriage. “Modern Christian thought often drinks long and deep at the trough of sociology and psychology, adds a sprinkling of Christainoid pixie-dust, and then merely closes in prayer.”
Lastly, I will tell you about the 3rd appendix, covering Proverbs 22:6. You know the text – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. How many of us have given serious thought to this verse? Do we know what Solomon meant, or our we content to merely see the words and allow our culturally trained brain and self-righteousness nature to guide to a conclusion? I’ve read of the interpretation Phillips argues for here and found it to make much more sense than the way I’ve been this verse all my life. He will make you think deeply, even if you do not agree with him.
I’ve been in contact with Dan Phillips and found him to be very cordial and brotherly, even though I told him I abhor dispensationalism (which he holds to). I dare say we would be friends if our paths crossed. He passed this along to me –during November the Proverbs book is actually on sale for 65% off. You have to order it from Kress here in Texas (http://bit.ly/18iX5b5), and use the coupon code BR60833557256.