A Precious Memory

I grew up in the small town of Cedarville, Ohio, which is also home to a small Christian Liberal Arts University, Cedarville University. This University had a wonderful man as President for 25 years that led it to new heights in the academic world and also in the area of Biblical leadership and cultural influence. Dr. James T. Jeremiah served as a Pastor before taking the responsibility of President and then Chancellor after retirement from Cedarville University. Growing up in this small town as a child, I knew Dr. Jeremiah and appreciated his godly influence from afar.

When I graduated from high school it seemed only logical for me to go to Cedarville University. As I went to school I also worked as a waitress at Perkins to help pay the bills. (God’s provision was evident through this time in my life, and even now I am amazed at how my God provided for my needs.) One morning as I was working I went to one of my tables to wait on a customer, and to my surprise and delight it was Dr. Jeremiah. I felt honored to take care of this great man that day. I learned as we shared together that he was on his way to visit his lovely wife, Ruby, in a nursing home. As he left that day, I felt like God had blessed me with honor of meeting Dr. Jeremiah and serving him breakfast. Imagine my delight the next week at the same time, Dr. Jeremiah was again at Perkins for breakfast on his way to visit Ruby. I don’t remember how many weeks after that I had the privilege of waiting on Dr. Jeremiah, but I knew that I had been blessed by being in his presence and seeing his faithfulness to his wife as he went to see her.

A few weeks ago, I needed some books related to my study on canonicity. As I was asking some people for resources and looking for various books, I came across a book written by Dr. Jeremiah, The Importance of Inspiration. I picked up that book and felt like I was holding a treasure. Here was a book that was written by a man highly esteemed, and I felt like I had been given a great gift. I read the book and every time I picked it up to read it, I pictured Dr. Jeremiah sitting in that booth at Perkins eating his breakfast on his way to visit his wife. I looked at that book as a special treasure.

As I opened my Bible one day, I thought do I look at God’s Word the same as I look at Dr. Jeremiah’s book? At that moment I felt saddened by my answer…no. It is not that I don’t read God’s Word every day and learn from it every day, but it had lost its preciousness to me. After all, I have access at my finger tips to a Bible on my phone, on my computer, and many in print form. Bibles are not scarce in America. With scarcity comes value.

As I talked with God about this and thought about this, I realized that I had taken God’s Word for granted. I enjoyed reading it every day, studying it, using it to teach the girls; but the awe had worn off. With this conviction on my heart I began to change my attitude. The Bible is God’s Word to me. Seems like a simple enough thought, but it had a profound impact. When I hold the Bible it is also a treasure.

There will probably come a day when this preciousness wears off again, but when it does I trust that the Holy Spirit will gently tell me to remember, “You are holding God’s Word to you. Don’t forget to cherish it.”

The grass withers, fame fades, but God’s Word lasts forever.

I was at the mall a few weeks ago with my daughters. As we rounded a corner in the mall, there was a large group of girls. What caused this great girl frenzy? A member of One Direction was inside a music store signing autographs and all the girls were going crazy trying to get a picture of him. Fame seems to attract a crowd. Fame is a peculiar thing. Those most famous have biographies written about them, TV shows about them, videos posted on YouTube, and blogs and twitter accounts that keep you informed about their latest activities. The social media did not exist in Jesus’ day, but there were still large crowds and many stories written about Jesus’ time on earth. The question is how do we know we hold the authentic stories when we are holding our Bibles?

John in I John 1:3 says “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” If you have time pick up your Bible and read I John 1:1-4 and see how much John wanted you and me to have an account of what he witnessed as he walked with Jesus for three years.

My last blog reviewed the five questions of canonicity (the standard by which writings are recognized as Biblical) related to the Old Testament. We also have five statements related to the canonicity of the New Testament. We will review those here.

1. Selecting procedure-This selecting procedure went on among the apostles themselves. Luke writes in Luke 1:1-4 that an orderly account was written and was based on eyewitnesses so that the truth would be known.

2. Reading Procedure-Books or letters that were written were commanded to be read to the churches. “Read to all the brethren.” (I Thessalonians 5:27).

3. Circulating Procedures-Writings were read as authoritative to the churches and were circulated among the churches. God told John to “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:11) Paul commanded the Colossians “When this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea.” (Colossians 4:16). This crucial passage indicates that authority of one epistle included a larger audience than just the one to which it was written. Not only was the book of Revelation to be read and circulated throughout the churches, so also were the other epistles to be exchanged.

4. Collecting Procedure-If there was a circulating procedure then there also must be a collecting procedure. Peter speaks of “all of Paul’s letters” as being on a level with “all other Scriptures.” (II Peter 3:15, 16)

5. Quotation Procedure-In I Timothy 5:18 the Apostle Paul placed a quotation from Luke 10:7 alongside a quote from Deuteronomy 25:4, and he named them both Scriptures. This gives us an indication that those books written by the Apostles were considered as highly as those books written by Moses. The books in our New Testament are just as much a part of the inspired canon of Scripture as the Old Testament books.
Again, the overarching test is whether the Books are inspired. “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete lacking nothing.” (II Timothy 3:16, 17) Another overarching test in the New Testament was whether the book or letter had come from an apostle or whether it was backed by apostolic authority. An apostle is someone who was an eyewitness to Christ. They had seen Him. Once that was established then it must meet the above criteria of it being circulated, received, collected, preserved, and used among the churches. If the book was written by someone who had not seen Christ then the book was not considered to be a part of the canon.

“…No prophecy of Scriptures comes from someone’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1:20, 21)’

That young man in the mall who had all the girls clamoring over him will pass and fade and be a distant memory, but God and His Word remain a foundation for many lives. The Bible has not lost its authority though many have and many will continue to try to disprove it. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

The grass withers, fame fades, but God’s Word stands forever!

I was at the mall a few weeks ago with my daughters. As we rounded a corner in the mall, there was a large group of girls. What caused this great girl frenzy? A member of One Direction was inside a music store signing autographs and all the girls were going crazy trying to get a picture of him. Fame seems to attract a crowd. Fame is a peculiar thing. Those most famous have biographies written about them, TV shows about them, videos posted on YouTube, and blogs and twitter accounts that keep you informed about their latest activities. The social media did not exist in Jesus’ day, but there were still large crowds and many stories written about Jesus’ time on earth. The question is how do we know we hold the authentic stories when we are holding our Bibles?
John in I John 1:3 says “That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” If you have time pick up your Bible and read I John 1:1-4 and see how much John wanted you and me to have an account of what he witnessed as he walked with Jesus for three years.
My last blog reviewed the five questions of canonicity (the standard by which writings are recognized as Biblical) related to the Old Testament. We also have five statements related to the canonicity of the New Testament. We will review those here.
1. Selecting procedure-This selecting procedure went on among the apostles themselves. Luke writes in Luke 1:1-4 that an orderly account was written and was based on eyewitnesses so that the truth would be known.
2. Reading Procedure-Books or letters that were written were commanded to be read to the churches. “Read to all the brethren.” (I Thessalonians 5:27).
3. Circulating Procedures-Writings were read as authoritative to the churches and were circulated among the churches. God told John to “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:11) Paul commanded the Colossians “When this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea.” (Colossians 4:16). This crucial passage indicates that authority of one epistle included a larger audience than just the one to which it was written. Not only was the book of Revelation to be read and circulated throughout the churches, so also were the other epistles to be exchanged.
4. Collecting Procedure-If there was a circulating procedure then there also must be a collecting procedure. Peter speaks of “all of Paul’s letters” as being on a level with “all other Scriptures.” (II Peter 3:15, 16)
5. Quotation Procedure-In I Timothy 5:18 the Apostle Paul placed a quotation from Luke 10:7 alongside a quote from Deuteronomy 25:4, and he named them both Scriptures. This gives us an indication that those books written by the Apostles were considered as highly as those books written by Moses. The books in our New Testament are just as much a part of the inspired canon of Scripture as the Old Testament books.
Again, the overarching test is whether the Books are inspired. “All Scripture is inspired by God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete lacking nothing.” (II Timothy 3:16, 17) Another overarching test in the New Testament was whether the book or letter had come from an apostle or whether it was backed by apostolic authority. An apostle is someone who was an eyewitness to Christ. They had seen Him. Once that was established then it must meet the above criteria of it being circulated, received, collected, preserved, and used among the churches. If the book was written by someone who had not seen Christ then the book was not considered to be a part of the canon.
“…No prophecy of Scriptures comes from someone’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1:20, 21)
That young man in the mall who had all the girls clamoring over him will pass and fade and be a distant memory, but God and His Word remain a foundation for many lives. The Bible has not lost its authority though many have and many will continue to try to disprove it. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

You aim for nothing, you hit it every time.

We need something to guide our life. Without a guide for our lives we are living by the old adage, “You aim for nothing, you hit it every time.” If we walk through life aimlessly there will be no direction and without direction, you will be lost. If the basis for your direction is always wavering, then what direction will you be headed?
David said in Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” God’s Word, the Bible, can be a lamp and a light to the path of our lives. How do we know that God’s Word is an unwavering source of truth that will lead us in a clear direction and not like a leaf blowing in the wind?
Here are a few facts about the Bible. There have been over 6 billion copies of the Bible published. The Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different authors and yet it all fits together. Many events that happened in the New Testament were foretold at least 500 years before the event actually took place. The theme throughout the Bible is evident even though it was written by 40 different men. This theme is clearly seen as man’s problem (sin) and the cure for man’s problem (Jesus Christ).
So how do we know that “God’s Word is truth?” (John 17:17). There are 5 tests that have been used through the ages of time to determine the canonicity (a standard by which writings are recognized as Biblical) of Scripture. These tests are questions that each book in the Bible must be able to answer. Through the ages many councils have come together to determine whether the books included in our Bibles are actually the Words of God given divinely through humans as the expressed Words of God.
1. Is it Authoritative? The Prophets in the Old Testament were recognized as having authority by their characteristic words, “And the Word of the Lord came unto the Prophet” or “The Lord said unto…” or “God spoke.” Books that were rejected are fanciful and magical and do not have enough evidence to support their claim. “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:22)
2. Is it Prophetic? In the Old Testament we see time and again things that were foretold come true in the New Testament. Isaiah writes about the coming Messiah as a baby in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
3. Is it Authentic? Many books were rejected by the Jewish Fathers and early Christian Fathers based on there being historical inaccuracies and moral incongruities. There must be coherence with books that were already established as books that were a part of the canon.
4. Is it Dynamic? Does the book come with the power of God? Hebrews 4:12 “The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword…”
5. Is it received? Has this book been accepted by the people of God. As the people of God met together to discern the truth did they see inconsistencies with the whole of Scripture that caused doubts in their minds?
These five questions are primarily used for the canon of the Old Testament. There are also five statements used to determine the canonicity of the New Testament. Those will be the topic of my next blog.
Overarching above all of these questions is “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:16, 17). If the passages were not inspired by God than they did not come from God and they are not to be included in the canon. These questions have helped man to determine whether the words they were reading were indeed inspired or breathed out by God and written for man for “our learning” (Romans 15:4).

Ask Google for truth?

At our house we like to, “Ask Google.” If we are looking up what is the deepest lake in the world, or the largest mammal in Africa, or what is the Pythagorean Theorem; we ask Google. As I homeschool our girls, Google has helped me understand Algebra problems and Chemistry problems that I wasn’t quite sure how to explain. Google has even been asked some very funny questions like “What is another word for thing?” I am trying to teach the girls to be descriptive in their language and had banned the word “thing” from being used, so they thought maybe they could ask Google for a synonym to “thing.” I think they missed the point I was trying to make. Ah well, we are learning together.
Google is a great tool for finding the answers to concrete questions such as, “What is the capital of Michigan?” It is not the right place to go to find the answers to questions such as, “When was the earth formed?” or “Was the earth created in 7 literal days or 7 ages of time?” or “When does life begin?”
In order to navigate through life we need to have a concrete basis for truth. If truth is based on the postmodern mindset of “there is no real knowledge, but rather interpretations based on impressions, relativism, subjectivity, and constant reinventing;” then how can we make decisions, hold down a job, be a part of a lifelong marriage relationship, or be parents that raise their children? There must be some governance of truth, an unwavering source that provides guidance through all the decisions that must be made in life. If the theories you learned in Psychology 101 or Philosophy 101 in college have changed over the years and now there are new theories on how to live life or solve problems, then are the theories you learned irrelevant to today?
There must be a guide to lead us through life. A guide that is unwavering, that does not change through the course of time, and that does not succumb to the whims of man. There is such a guide, but man has been attempting for years to destroy it, disprove it, and ignore it. This guide is the Bible.
Everyone believes something; even if they say they believe in nothing that is something. Even if a person wants to be a free spirit and live by their own set of rules; they are still living by a set of guidelines…their own.
King Solomon in all his wisdom at the end of his life penned these words, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, ‘Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). King Solomon had it all…fame, fortune, and wisdom. Yet, after he had pursued everything that a human being can pursue to provide pleasure for himself, he came to the conclusion that all of these pursuits are worthless. What was important in the end was to “Fear God and keep His commandments.”
In conclusion, what is truth? On what should truth be based? Is truth variable or is it something concrete that is a solid foundation to the house of your life? Is truth something that will always guide you through life no matter the circumstances? My next post will review why the Bible is our guide to truth.