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5 Minutes with Jesus

Sheila WalshYour life is hectic! Juggling family time, work, and church equals jam-packed days. You want to spend time in God’s Word, but the busyness of life keeps getting in the way. What if, however, you could take five minutes to invest in making each day matter?

In her new book 5 Minutes with Jesus: Making Today Matter (Thomas Nelson, 2015), Sheila Walsh (@SheilaWalsh) helps readers find perspective in the midst of their fast-paced lives.

The following article is an excerpt from 5 Minutes with Jesus: Making Today Matter.Click to buy your copy of 5 Minutes with Jesus in the Bible Gateway Store

Noise Pollution

Stop for a moment and just listen. What do you hear? Maybe the neighbor’s lawnmower . . . the barking dog a few houses down . . . a clock ticking . . . the cars on the street.

Now stop for a moment and just listen to the noise inside. What is keeping your heart from being quiet and at peace? Most likely, it’s many things, because although we long for peace, real life intrudes.

A call from the doctor

A note from the teacher about a child’s behavior

A lost job and a pile of bills

Real life does not foster internal peace!

In the last major conversation Jesus had with His closest friends, He spoke about peace—but not as we might have expected Him to. When I read Jesus saying, “I’ve told you all this so that you may have peace” (John 16:33), my first question is All what? If I didn’t look back to John 15 to see what Jesus had been saying, I’d guess that keys to peace would be something along these lines:

“You’re going to live to a ripe old age.”

“Your children will rise up and call you blessed—even when they hit fifteen.”

“You will always have enough money for all you need and most of what you want.”

“You will hear the Lord tell you ‘Well done’ after a lifetime of faithfulness.”

Sounds good, right? But not one of these things was included in the strangest “peace speech” I’ve ever read. Turn to John 15 and you’ll see that Jesus told His closest friends that they would be persecuted and no longer welcome in places they used to go. Go to John 16:2 and you’ll find these devastating words: “You will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.”

Clearly the peace Jesus spoke about is not what we think of at all. He was saying to His disciples—and to you and me today—“It’s going to get rough down here, but don’t worry. I am with you. I will never leave you. And I am your peace.”

No matter what is going on in your life, stop for a moment and speak His name out loud:

“Jesus . . . Jesus . . . Jesus.”

Know that He is with you and that He is for you even when the storm is raging all around.

Peace is not the absence of trouble; it is the presence of Christ.

Five Minutes in the Word

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
John 14:27

Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.
Psalm 119:165

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
Psalm 4:8

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end.
Isaiah 9:6-7

The above excerpt is from chapter one of 5 Minutes with Jesus: Making Today Matter. Copyright © 2015 by Sheila Walsh. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Publishers, part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. www.thomasnelson.com. All rights reserved. Taken from pp. 5-8.

Bio: Sheila Walsh, Bible teacher and speaker, is the author of the award-winning Gigi, God’s Little Princess series, God Loves Broken People, The Shelter of God’s Promises, and novel, Sweet Sanctuary. Sheila lives near Dallas, Texas with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian.

Bible News Roundup – Week of August 9, 2015

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
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The Truth About the NIV
Biblica
Read the NIV translation of the Bible on Bible Gateway

Finding Creative Ways to Get People Engaged with Scripture
Leadership Journal
Scripture Engagement section on Bible Gateway

Audio Bible Celebrates 900 Translations, Aims for Thousands More
One News Now
Hear the Bible on Bible Gateway

Pope to Present Library of Congress with Special Fine Art Bible Edition
The Hill
The Saint John’s Bible: A Work of Art

Exhibit of Historic Bibles & Artifacts to Precede Pope’s Philadelphia Visit
Philadelphia Inquirer
A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Radio Interview with John Dickson About A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible
612 ABC Brisbane: Mornings with Steve Austin
A Guide for Bible Skeptics: An Interview with John Dickson

What Was the First Study Bible in English?
The Gospel Coalition
Read the Geneva Bible on Bible Gateway

9 Reasons to Believe the Biblical Exodus Happened
The Huffington Post
Read the book of Exodus on Bible Gateway

Bible Communicated to Deaf in Thailand Through Story Crafting
Baptist Press

Treasure Trove of Sacred Writings Displayed by Penn Museum for the Public
Popular Archaeology
A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Ohio Bible Museum Finds Use for Discarded Celebrity Wax Figures
The Telegraph

What’s The Bible Project on YouTube?
BreakPoint

What Vacation Bible School Looks Like in a Nursing Home
Her.meneutics

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

The Truth About the NIV: Guest Post by Carl Moeller

Dr. Carl MoellerWe’re living in a time when words are cheap.

From the moment we wake up, all through our days, until we fall into bed, we’re bombarded by opinions, ideas, information, and advertising. While this makes it easier than ever to be informed and engaged in the world, it makes it much harder to sift out the good from the bad, and to spend our time in the Truth.

And what happens when that great Truth–the Bible–comes under attack? Many people have a lot of devious reasons to attack the Bible; usually in an attempt to undercut our faith. When we’re surrounded by “miracle cures” and “conspiracy theories” every day, it’s easier for seeds of doubt to take root–even about our most sacred text. But we must be very cautious about helping to circulate myths in social media, or elsewhere.

Click to visit the NIV Bible websiteThe best remedy for the virus of media myth is to be informed. The lamp and light of our faith is rock solid. In fact, this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the NIV Bible. That’s when 15 evangelical scholars–called the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT)–began pouring over the best Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts available to translate the Bible into modern English.

[See our blogpost: 50-Year Anniversary Celebration Continues with the NIV Bible: ‘Made to Study’]

People often ask me why we need a “modern translation” at all? First, every English Bible relies on translation. If all we had to read the original Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic texts, we would be in trouble. We rely on scholars to help us make sense or these original texts, so that God can speak into our lives.

[See our blogpost: Doug Moo’s Special Message on Bible Translation (Live Presentation from ETS 2014)]

I believe strongly in the NIV Bible. I believe in the scholarship that produced and continues to steward the NIV. The original scholars who translated this work were truly giants, in both spiritual commitment and intellectual knowledge. The scholars who continually monitor and refine the text extend this legacy by devoting their tremendous expertise and care to its stewardship.

As CEO of Biblica, the ministry that first sponsored the NIV and continues to translate and distribute the NIV around the world, I can say we take the ongoing translation process very seriously. The very reason Biblica exists is to profess and share the authority and trustworthiness of God’s Word with the world.

[See our blogpost: Learn What Bible Study Resources Are Keyed to the NIV Bible Translation]

There are many biblical translations and paraphrases that serve different purposes. For me, these four attributes sum up the NIV and secure its central place in our scripture reading: it’s accurate, clear, beautiful, and trustworthy.

Accuracy is the bedrock of the translation effort. Its authority is based on its scholarly, intentional approach. From the beginning, the translators have been committed to getting the words right. That means being rigorous in determining the meaning of the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic Bible texts, while at the same time rendering the Bible’s original meaning in natural, everyday English.

[See our blogpost: Zondervan to Release NIV Zondervan Study Bible]

Accuracy is also ensured by the Committee’s choices about what to include, and making updates based on source materials. While this can cause confusion at a surface level (because chapter or verse numbers may change), the process is actually positive. Like all good Bible translations, the NIV omits statements that were added later and were not part of the original texts. Since the era of the KJV, we now have hundreds of earlier and more reliable manuscripts. Most modern translations use these manuscripts, as well as detailed footnotes to elaborate on any changes. It’s worth noting that the original books of the Bible had no chapter or verse divisions. These were added later. So, as information is clarified or updated, that numbering system might change. But that reflects an improvement in accuracy, not manipulation of the text.

The message of the NIV comes through in clear terms. Experts in language will tell you that direct, word-for-word translation is completely nonsensical. We make adjustments whenever we speak a second language, when English idioms and structures don’t make sense. Choosing language that conveys the clear meaning of a biblical text requires a deep understanding of source languages, as well as current vernacular. The CBT meets for a week every year to ensure the NIV reflects the latest biblical scholarship and any necessary changes in the English language. Those changes are reflected in periodic updates to the translations, such as occurred in 2011.

The language of the NIV balances beauty and clarity. While the King James Version is deeply poetic, the NIV strives to convey the deep beauty of God’s message in an accessible way. This is not merely aesthetics. As the translation committee reviews and affirms the text, they ensure the precision of the language. Precision is the essence of beauty. NIV renders clearly and succinctly very difficult passages. Getting to the central meaning of the text is truly beautiful.

The NIV is trustworthy. As I mentioned before, the NIV was conceived and translated by a group of scholars who are committed Christians and believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. Biblica is privileged to serve as the worldwide publisher and copyright holder. We take this stewardship very seriously. We exist to bring God’s word to people around the world–not to sell books or to make a profit. We carefully choose licensing partners–such as Zondervan, Bible Gateway, and Hodder Faith–to help us get Bibles to people around the world. But, the Committee on Bible Translation is the only entity that can influence the text. This yields a unique level of integrity for the text itself, as there are no outside influences.

While I’m a huge fan of the poetic beauty of the King James Version, it simply doesn’t connect with many readers–especially new Christians. Many concepts are presented in language that only Christian “insiders” would understand. So, while it’s one of many translations I use, I firmly believe that most Christians benefit from more accessible language.

And, language is constantly changing. For example, we understand “suffer the little children” as Jesus’ beautiful invitation for all children to have full access to him. People without a church background might be confused that Jesus who would want children to “suffer.” Phrases like this simply don’t carry the same meaning as they did hundreds of years ago. We are proud to give these timeless truths a fresh voice–without sacrificing an ounce of truth.

So, as you see and hear critiques, questions, and even rumors about the NIV, we invite you to dig deeper into its rich history at www.biblica.com/en-us/the-niv-bible. Our mission is to give everyone access to this “ancient book” and its life-giving message that never changes. We offer people Bibles that connect with their hearts and help them know Jesus better. We believe the Bible has the most valuable message of all time and we are grateful for the privilege to share it with the world.

[Browse the Bible Gateway Store to see the many editions of New International Version Bibles.]

[Sign up to receive the free NIV (and other versions) Bible Verse-of-the-Day in your email inbox from Bible Gateway.]

[Download the free Bible Gateway App, on which is available the NIV and many other Bible versions.]

Click to visit the Biblica website
Bio: Dr. Carl Moeller (@carlmoeller) is CEO of Biblica (@BiblicaMinistry), which translates the complete Bible into the world’s top 100 major languages and is the translation sponsor and worldwide publisher of the New International Version® (NIV®) Bible, the most widely used contemporary English translation in the world. Prior to Biblica, Dr. Moeller founded Sequoia Global Resources, and served as president and CEO for Open Doors, USA, and a pastor at Saddleback Church.

Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines

Amber C. HainesAmber Haines (@AmberCHaines) is haunted by God. Like Eve in the Garden, she craved the fruit that she thought would lead her to freedom. But the whispers of temptation led her instead down a devastating path toward isolation, dissatisfaction, and life-altering choices. In her most broken moment, Amber met God waiting for her in the fallout, freely offering her grace and life.

In her new book Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire & Finding the Broken Way Home (Revell, 2015), Amber tells a story of the God who makes himself known in broken places. Amber calls readers to dispense with the pretty bows we use to dress up our stories and instead trust God to take our untidy, unfinished lives and make them free, authentic, and whole.

Click to buy your copy of Wild in the Hollow in the Bible Gateway StoreThe following article is an excerpt from Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire & Finding the Broken Way Home.

The Homesickness

If you were to meet me in person, the first thing you’d notice is the green from my Mama’s eyes and the prominent nose from Daddy’s sprawling Scotch-Irish and Native American line. If we were to speak, I wouldn’t be ashamed of my honeysuckle drawl, the sense of home that drips from my mouth.

If you were to see me as a child, you’d see me with my sister, our manes a tangled mess, wind-wild in saw-briar woods. We never knew then to relish our age. We only woke in our time like babies in a blanket unfolding. I had grandmothers in three directions, baby brothers, and good cousins. We had a canoe in the yard and the lake down the road. We caught crawdads and sang “Blue Moon of Kentucky” while daddy played guitar. The sky turned navy, and the whippoorwill called us in. We were Alabama girls in the dirt, Alabama girls lying down on the front steps. We knew the safety of a gentle Mama. Dark came, and the woods crawled, always a snap from something hiding. Eyes glowed everywhere. We knew the settled way, the silence within, and we knew how to listen in the dark.

The sky looked like a sea of bats, and under their darts, we would close our eyes and let the cicadas and an Audubon’s variety of frogs lift us into the hum and heartbeat of wild song. And then we would listen deeper. “What do you hear?” we would ask. An owl, the rustled leaves, truck door down the road, coyotes by the dozen: invisible things were everywhere, but we knew how to hear.

There had been a death in our house decades before us. A great-aunt had an aneurism. There was an attic, and I always wondered if she watched me from its window above. I knew that snakes lay in the dust. The crow’s shadow always weaved through the limbs. We were never terribly afraid but stayed close enough to hear and to eat from the garden.

Once I dangled from our Appalachian Mountain in a tire swing, my hands choking the rope, body spinning fast round. The pines climbed to heaven and shivered, letting go the needles. I was in the safe invisible arms, my father’s world. Then the terrible scream of a wildcat echoed into the hollow from right near by, and I fell and hit the ground as the wind picked up in a furious howl, chasing me into the house, then blowing down the hill through a field of bitter weed. The wind took up the small places, the black knots in dead wood and the frilly powdered undersides of mushrooms. The maypops and pecan hulls, every one encased by the wind, their scents rode on it and pushed at Mama Lois’s rippling pond while cattails danced. There’s something out there. I knew it then, and I know it now, something bigger and other. The terrible and the beautiful is watching me.

The invisible has always been as real to me as the smell from behind the barn, the hogs and then the sweet mix from the pile of chestnuts that Peggy Israel’s mama gave us. I always knew there was more than what my eyes could see. Maybe that’s why it’s easy for me to imagine Eden. I have my own version, the place where I clearly remember my early childhood experience as beautiful, wild, and protected.

I wonder if I know a little of what Adam and Eve may have felt, or at least I like to imagine it. Adam had home with God, who was still on his breath. He couldn’t have known how marvelous it was to simply unfold and speak in holy-tongue. God taught original language there but let Adam choose what to call the animals. When he woke to Eve, I wonder if he thought her like a dove. She wasn’t made from the ground like the rest but was made of his bone, strong. He loved her. He loved how he fit with her. They were whole there together at home, where a million metaphors began, all the ways to experience God.

They were naked by the river, listening, legs sprawled out how kids sit wide open in front of their mamas, no shame. The sky was a sapphire and full of water. They were in the freshness of God’s rest: easy sleep and fulfilling work.

When the angel came with the flaming sword in every direction, sending them away from the Tree of Life, what grief must have pressed in. This is where our inherited sense of homesickness began. The clothes they hadn’t needed before were sewn by hand of God, and then the babies came, and with them born violence, rejection, and enough shame to send the world into needing a flood. Belly to the sick ground, the snake’s slithering tongue became clearer and clearer.

How they must have looked back and remembered. How they must have missed home. When Adam’s plants bore no fruit, did he close his eyes and taste Eden’s pomegranate?

I wonder if he was like I am, when the seasons change, anything shifts at all, it reminds me of home. I long for it. I can taste it. I’ve been known to wake up early in the morning, imagine the biscuits, and start packing my four sons here in Arkansas to drive all the way to Alabama. I get sick with missing, but every time I go, it doesn’t seem to have the same sweet feeling as the one I had as a child. Not many even know my name there now, and the sense of freedom I used to have isn’t any easier there than it is here. It often doesn’t stop me from trying though. I long for a place to fit, and sometimes I forget and become desperate for a sense of peace. I want to hear my daddy say my name. I want to listen to the creek run white over rocks with my sister. I want my children to feel the wind sweep through.

All the striving to regain such feelings of home, even as I create home now as a wife and mother, I know none of it will do to give me peace. Home here really is a mere metaphor, but it’s one that anchors me, how wild and free we were when we were too small to care for ourselves in that hollow at mountain base. The way I remember home is the same way the prodigal son remembered his when he found himself eating scraps. It’s the place we know we can go, where we’ll be received and fed. It’s where we know we have a name.

I’m not so naïve to think that most people have lovely childhood memories of home like I do. I think we were the only people on the planet to have a ginormous swimming-pool slide in our yard without the actual pool at the bottom. Even still, I wonder if you feel it, too—the homesickness for a people and a place to belong, the desire for the freedom and safety you might find there, the thrill and the comfort. Maybe it’s what draws you toward the things you hold dear. We often hold on to memories, places, people, and things because there’s something of home in them. There’s a sense of freedom, the belonging that happens with real friends that makes you feel at home. So many of us are working out a homesickness, and I believe the homesickness is what all our wanderings are all about. We’re searching for home—a place of acceptance, a place of fulfillment, and a place of identity. At the basest level, we suspect that home is the place where we’ll find our fit, where we’ll finally be free.

The above excerpt is from Wild in the Hollow: On Chasing Desire & Finding the Broken Way Home. Copyright © 2015 by Amber C. Haines. Used by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. www.bakerpublishinggroup.com. All rights reserved. Taken from pp. 11-13.

Bio: Amber C. Haines is a soulful writer and a blogger at TheRunaMuck.com. She is curator, with her husband, Seth, of Mother Letters and is a contributor with many acclaimed writers and bloggers at DaySpring’s (in)courage. She has been involved as a coordinator with both BlissDom and !dea Camp Orphan Care and continues to build meaningful relationships with church leaders, lifestyle bloggers, authors, advocates, and poets. She lives in Arkansas.

Get to Know Bible Readers: Nicole Weider

Nicole WeiderNicole Weider (@NicoleWeider) is a former model and actress who founded the online community Project Inspired (@projectinspired), which focuses on helping girls find their inner beauty. Nicole is married to Eric, and lives in California with their son. She’s the author of Project Inspired: Tips and Tricks for Staying True to Who You Are (Zonderkidz, 2015).

Where do you live and go to church?

Nicole Weider: My family and I live in Los Angeles, and we go to a Presbyterian church near our house.

Click to buy your copy of Project Inspired in the Bible Gateway StoreWhy is reading the Bible important to you?

Nicole Weider: Reading the Bible is so important to me, because it’s time I really get quiet with God and I listen to what He’s telling me. I always feel close to God when I’m reading the Bible, and I learn something new each time I read it.

When did you first start reading the Bible and what was the first book of the Bible you ever read?

Nicole Weider: I started reading the Bible when I was 24, after I gave my life to Jesus and became a Christian. I started with the book of Matthew, because I wanted to read what Jesus said, and I wanted to get to know Him personally.

Name a Bible character you resonate with and why.

Nicole Weider: I resonate with the book of Esther, because she risked everything to follow what God was calling her to do. I also love her story because she used her beauty to give God glory, and by saving her people instead of using it to boast about herself.

What are you reading in the Bible at the moment?

Nicole Weider: I’m reading the book of Psalms, it’s one of my favorite books of the Bible. I love how David expresses all kinds of emotions with God, and yet He knows God can handle it and help him.

Where do you read the Bible?

Nicole Weider: I always read my Bible in bed, before I go to sleep. It also helps me sleep better, and it comforts me as well.

How do you read the Bible: print edition? digitally online? digitally on tablet? digitally on phone? audio?

Nicole Weider: I only read an actual printed Bible. I love to turn the pages, and highlight passages with my pen and star certain Scriptures.

What’s one thing from the Bible that’s stuck in your brain at the moment?

Nicole Weider: My favorite Scripture, which is “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6. I always think of this Scripture when I’m not sure what to do with a certain decision, or when I need guidance from God. It really helps me.

Name one part of the Bible you keep coming back to again and again and why.

Nicole Weider: The book of Matthew; I love reading Jesus’ words to his disciples and to the people. It’s so powerful and personal. Every time I read it, I learn something new.

What advice would you give someone struggling to read the Bible each day?

Nicole Weider: My best advice is to pick a scheduled time each day, and read at the same time. I would recommend reading at night in bed, because it’s quiet and it’s a great time for reflection.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Nicole Weider: I’m so glad I gave my life to God and started reading the Bible. When I started reading his Word, it truly transformed my thinking, which changed the way I lived dramatically for the better! It gave me hope and purpose for my life. The Bible saved my life.

If you’d like to read more about Nicole, and her new book for young women, you can buy her book here in the Bible Gateway Store.

My Final Word by Charles Colson

Chuck ColsonOne of the most respected and influential Christian leaders of the last several decades, the late Chuck Colson (@ColsonCenter) engaged millions through his books, public speaking, and radio broadcasts.

In the new book My Final Word: Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter (Zondervan, 2015), longtime Colson co-author Anne Morse has selected and arranged pieces Colson wrote mostly during the last decade of his life, spotlighting what he saw as key topics of ongoing importance for Christian cultural engagement.

Click to buy your copy of My Final Word in the Bible Gateway StoreThe following article is an excerpt from My Final Word: Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter.

Lost in the Cosmos

[Editor’s Note: Can the truth be known apart from Scripture? Yes. In this section Chuck argues that we can use the truths found in nature to point unbelievers to the truth of the gospel and God’s teachings about how we are to live our lives.]

I had an excellent conversation once with R.C. Sproul on the question of natural theology. Jonathan Edwards was strongly into natural theology—that is, that the truth can be known apart from Scripture. It can be known from general revelation. It can be known from observing things which Scripture doesn’t even deal with. The fundamental operative argument here is that all truth is God’s truth.

Thomas Aquinas was confronted with a huge problem along these lines: Islamic scholars of his day, when Islam was a shining light of culture, argued that there was such a thing as double truth—that is, something could be true in science but not in faith.

Aquinas took issue with this. He said there was only one certain truth. He got into the question of how things were knowable, and he said, “Some things are knowable by nature; some things are knowable by grace”—just exactly what I believe and what natural theology teaches.

Evangelical scholars such as Francis Schaeffer have generally shied away from Aquinas because they believe he is separating truth into two kinds of truth—truth which you get from grace and truth which you get from science or nature. But they’re ignoring the fact that Aquinas also said there are some truths, like the truth about God, that are known by both nature and grace.

In the final analysis, in any event, all truth comes from both. There is a unity of truth; it all comes from God. Aquinas, according to Sproul, was not separating nature and grace. He was simply trying to demonstrate what was false about the Muslim worldview and certain Aristotelian formulations that Muslim scholars had come up with.

The fact of the matter is I believe that truth is knowable both by revelation and by nature. And the reason I believe this is that it is often the same thing: revelation tells us about the creation, but the creation is just as knowable by our physical senses as it is by Scripture. All Scripture is doing is telling us that truth is knowable by creation because it refers to creation in the mountains, which declare the glory of God.

The Scriptures, as well, are historically recounting the actions of God working among His covenant people and the nations of history. Scripture doesn’t make God’s actions true; the Scripture itself is validating what actually happened, which was the source of the truth, God’s actions in the lives of people.

Similarly, the Epistles are written by men under the influence of the Holy Spirit. They are without error, yet the truth is not necessarily what is told us propositionally (though it is the truth). The Scripture is describing moral truth which God has wired into the universe and revealed to the writer. When you trace these things back, they all go back to God. The Scripture is truth, but it is also describing truth.

Now the problem, of course, comes when people believe that this opens the door to rationalism. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being rational; the problem is attaching the “ism” to it. In a sense one is indeed attaching the “ism” if one were to argue that everything is knowable apart from God, and with one’s own mind one could come to moral formulations and understand the moral laws of the universe as one can the physical law: by observation. Therefore, one doesn’t need the Scripture, and therefore, one reduces God to the force that started it all and wound it up and created it; that’s how one becomes a Deist.

But I would never suggest anyone could be saved by any revelation apart from the truth of the Scripture itself. Common grace can be understood rationally, but saving knowledge means that Christ, Who died on the cross—and again, the gospel, which is presented as a description of that truth—is revealed through Scripture. You have to hear the good news presented from Scripture; you have to have the gift of faith given to you by God. You have to, with that faith, react and be declared righteous. That’s the process of salvation. Human beings cannot do this. You can’t get there from here.

But there is a unity of truth even with regard to the good news, which rests on historical events. Christianity is, after all, a religion of history, so why would one exclude sources of understanding truth? If you were to carry this too far, you would say that God spoke once and for all through Scripture; He could never reveal anything again. And yet, there are continuous revelations out of nature.

Remember, too, the story of Nein Cheng, who was put into prison during China’s Cultural Revolution. She had only the sayings of Chairman Mao’s little red book. She was not allowed a Bible, but she looked up one day and saw a spider weaving a web, and she suddenly saw the hand of God in the beauty of the design. (What makes this particularly telling is that Jonathan Edwards also believed that the spiderweb was one of God’s great architectural creations.) Now, here comes this spider into a jail cell where a woman is languishing with her hands bound behind her, and she sees God in this spider; she is spiritually renewed. Did she not see the truth? Of course she saw the truth. That spiderweb was her Bible.

We are crazy when we say that all truth can only be known by Scripture; that becomes a circular argument. God says you cannot add to or subtract from Scripture, but nowhere does the Bible tell us that this is the complete source of all truth. It is a complete source of all truth—for salvation—but not for other considerations. We have to be able to look at nature’s revelation, as well.

The interesting thing about this whole exercise is that I came to these thoughts on my own. I did not read a book about Thomist points of view and then react. I did not listen to a great debate over presuppositional apologetics. I was just thinking deeply about these issues and came out at a point where, lo and behold, I discovered I was embracing arguments made by Aquinas without even realizing it. In fact, I got into natural law arguments over the homosexuality issue. Until I started discussing these arguments with BreakPoint writer Roberto Rivera, I’m sorry to confess, I didn’t even realize they were Thomist arguments.

To me this makes so much sense that I don’t know how you can argue about it. There is truth; there is reality. The ultimate reality has to be in the first cause. What started everything? By whom, through whom, and for whom all things were made has to be the beginning. There is one ultimate truth that holds together everything that exists.

By definition, that is God. We know it by faith because Christ came and revealed Himself, and we believe in Him and have come to that faith. We can see the truth of that faith in the creation around us and in the Scriptures. But even somebody who wasn’t a believer would know that there’s got to be some source of ultimate truth. We can’t always have just been here. An infinite universe begs the question. So once you get to the first-cause question, you get to the proposition that there has to be a God, and then you have to look at history. You have to begin to probe the truth. Where do you find truth? Were the Islamic scholars right in the thirteenth century? Let’s look at their proposition. They did not work out very well. How did the various political systems founded on differing presuppositions work out? Some have survived better than others.

I believe we are given, by God, certain abilities, and we’re to use those abilities to understand reality. And God has made certain things which make ultimate reality clear to us. Nature is one of them; Paul says so in Romans 2. He says here, too, there is a truth that is built within us. But we also know that from experience. The Tao is an example. Where does wisdom come from? It comes from God; all truth is from God.

I can see the vulnerability of this argument because it could clearly lead you away from Scripture unless you keep as your presupposition that Scripture is true. And why do we believe it? Because we believe God wrote the Bible, and it has been proven over the years to be infallible, and because it says it’s true on its face.

“Your [God’s] word is truth,” Jesus says (John 17:17). So we accept that presupposition, but we do not close our minds to other forms of inquiry that will enable us to defend the reality reflected in truth wherever we find it. God speaks it in one form, and He displays it in many other forms. Are we now separating nature and grace? Not at all. We’re saying they are complementary.

The only thing that makes life meaningful is if it is tied to truth—otherwise we are adrift in the cosmos; we are lost. We will drift around looking for some place to moor the boat. We’ll be caught up in the fads of the moment, and living with false presuppositions. So the most urgent, the most desperate need is to find truth.

So we have to be rooted in truth. That truth is then going to lead us to certain propositions which will give us a meaningful and fulfilling life.

The above excerpt is from My Final Word: Holding Tight to the Issues that Matter. Copyright © 2015 by The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.Zondervan.com. All rights reserved. Taken from pp. 32-36.

Bio: Chuck Colson was a popular and widely known author, speaker, and radio commentator. A former presidential aide to Richard Nixon and founder of the international ministry Prison Fellowship, he wrote several books that have shaped Christian thinking on a variety of subjects, including Born Again, Loving God, How Now Shall We Live?, The Good Life, and The Faith. His radio broadcast, BreakPoint, at one point aired to two million listeners. Chuck Colson donated all of his royalties, awards, and speaking fees to Prison Fellowship Ministries.

Anne Morse, a freelance writer, spent 18 years collaborating with Chuck Colson on BreakPoint commentaries, Jubilee and Christianity Today columns, and books. She is also the co-author of Prisoner of Conscience with Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia. She lives in Maryland with her husband.

Questioning the Bible: An Interview with Jonathan Morrow

Jonathan MorrowCan a thoughtful person today seriously believe that God wrote a book? An unprecedented number of sophisticated attacks are being waged on the origin, credibility, and reliability of the Bible. It can be difficult to know what to say when skepticism and secularism take over so many conversations. Confusion and doubt about the Bible being God’s Word are becoming as common inside the church as they are in the broader culture.

Bible Gateway interviewed Jonathan Morrow (@Jonathan_Morrow) about his book, Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority (Moody Publishers, 2014).

Click to buy your copy of Questioning the Bible in the Bible Gateway StoreWhat need do you see in society that prompted you to write this book?

Jonathan Morrow: The Bible is the most influential book in human history. But people are unsure what to do with it in the 21st century. Our culture no longer “speaks Bible.” What this means is that the Bible may still have sentimental value to some people, but it is no longer considered unique, authoritative, and true. At the other end of the spectrum we are seeing an increasing number of people who are outright hostile to the Bible and its message.

In addition to these realities, questions that used to be only asked in graduate seminars are now part of pop culture. It is increasingly common to see skeptical questions about lost Gospels, the origins of Christianity, Bible contradictions, and the general reliability of Bible talked about on YouTube, the History Channel, The Daily Show, and CNN. This is the world our young people are growing up in and they need to be prepared to have better conversations in the classroom and in everyday life. Also, parents need encouragement and training to help students find solid answers.

After wrestling with, investigating, and teaching on these kinds of questions for years, I wanted to write an accessible and reasonable response to the 11 toughest challenges to the Bible that every day people—curious students and busy moms and dads—could understand and use. That’s why at the end of each chapter of Questioning the Bible I summarize the three main points of the chapter and then give examples of how to use this knowledge in conversations. We need to both understand the truth and know how to help others discover it.

Questioning the Bible is a provocative title. Are you saying that it’s OK for people to question the Bible?

Jonathan Morrow: Yes that title is meant to start a conversation. Many people view Christianity and the Bible as just something you must blindly accept. But the reality is that all of us have questions about the Bible. At the end of the day, what we have to figure out is what we will do with those questions.

Will we keep them hidden and allow unanswered questions to slowly erode our confidence that God has spoken? Or will we courageously question the Bible in a way that actually builds our faith?

Honestly, the first hurdle is getting over the idea that good Christians shouldn’t ask the hard questions. It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing this as a lack of faith. And then there is the fear of what everyone else may think if they find out.

Questioning the Bible isn’t always comfortable. In fact it can be downright scary. If we dig underneath “because the Bible says so” what will we find? Have we based our lives on a bunch of fairytales?

My goal is not for everyone to become skeptics. I want Christ-followers to cultivate a more confident faith. That only comes about by walking through honest doubts and exploring hard questions. I wrote Questioning the Bible to help on that journey of faith.

Why does how people view the Bible matter?

Jonathan Morrow: How we view the Bible is no small matter. A lot is at stake. The God of the universe may actually have spoken (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If Christianity is true then there are authoritative answers to life’s biggest questions. But if there is no communication from God, then we are left to our own limited reason and experience to understand our purpose in the world—if there is any ultimate purpose or meaning at all.

Are there any biblical examples of people asking hard questions and wrestling with what to believe?

Jonathan Morrow: As I read the Bible I find people asking the hard questions. My favorite example is Luke who was one of the earliest biographers of Jesus. In a way, Luke was questioning the Bible even before there was a Bible. He investigated everything carefully. He interviewed eyewitnesses. He cross-examined the evidence (Luke 1:1-4). Why? So that he and others might know the truth. And knowing the truth is powerful because it sets people free for life.

Another example is John the Baptist who finds himself in prison questioning if Jesus really is who he claimed to be. I love Jesus’ response because he didn’t require blind faith of John in that moment. Instead he told him to focus on the evidence—what people see and hear about Jesus (Matt. 11:2-5).

There’s no doubt that questions can be messy. But life is messy. Deep down we all long for a real-world faith that’s rooted in reality. When we know why we believe, it frees us up to live out the truth with confidence. And that’s what our world desperately needs.

Has the biblical text been corrupted over the centuries?

Jonathan Morrow: One of the most common objections today is that the Bible has been changed and corrupted over the centuries. Often the “Telephone game” played in elementary schools is used as an illustration of how the copies of copies of copies of copies (you get the idea) have been changed and the message garbled over the years. This is not a good illustration because that is not how the biblical text has come down to us.

To see why, let’s briefly look at the New Testament. There was an intentional process of transmission in place and people cared about getting these texts right because eternal matters were literally at stake. When it comes to recovering the text of the New Testament, we need to ask the right questions:

  • How many manuscripts do we have to work with?
  • How early are the manuscripts we have to work with?
  • How important are the textual variants between these manuscripts?

When we examine these questions, the New Testament is by far the best-attested work of Greek or Latin literature in the ancient world—it’s not even close! I go into much more detail in my chapter in Questioning the Bible, but the bottom line is that we have a lot of manuscripts to work with; we have early manuscripts to work with, and none of the differences between the existing manuscripts affect any central teaching or practice in the Christian faith. You can trust that what was written in the first century is essentially what we have today.

How can Bible websites and apps like Bible Gateway be effectively used in impacting people’s lives?

Jonathan Morrow: While many people own a Bible, few people read the Bible. Bible Gateway is removing those obstacles for people through a great website and well designed apps. I am more convinced than ever that God has actually spoken in his Word. Christianity is true. And because it’s true, we can understand, study, teach and apply God’s Word to all of life.

The first step is to just pick up the Bible and start reading. Over time we will grow in our skill and ability to handle the Bible accurately and pay attention to context (2 Tim. 2:15). I love Paul’s reminder to the Thessalonians that God is at work in and through His Word:

“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.”—1 Thess. 2:13 (NIV)

Bio: Jonathan Morrow (DMin, MDiv, MA) is the author of Welcome to College and Think Christianly, and coauthor of Is God Just a Human Invention? He also contributed to the Apologetics Study Bible for Students.

Jonathan is director of creative strategies for Impact 360 Institute (@impact360) where he teaches in the college “Gap Year” program and high school summer Immersion experience. As the founder of Think Christianly, Jonathan speaks nationally on worldview, apologetics, and culture and is passionate about seeing a new generation of Christ-followers understand what they believe, why they believe it, and why it matters in life. His books have been featured on shows like Family Life Today, Stand to Reason, Breakpoint, WAY-FM, Frank Pastore, The Janet Mefferd Show, and Apologetics 315. He and his wife have been married for 13 years and have three children.

Bible News Roundup – Week of August 2, 2015

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Major USA Metropolitan Areas Differ in Their Religious Profiles
Pew Research Center
What Are Bible Gateway’s Most “Bible-Minded” USA Cities?

The Top Two Religious Groups That Dominate American Cities
Public Religion Research Institute

What’s in a Name? Religious Nones & the American Religious Landscape
Religion Dispatches

North American Bible Quiz Draws Students From Across the USA
NewsOK
Senior Bible Quizzing website

Archaeologists Unearth Entrance Gate of Bible City of Gath
Sci-News
Gath: from the Encyclopedia of The Bible on Bible Gateway

$70,000 Minimum Wage Brings Bible Parable to Life
Christianity Today
Read The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard from Matthew 20 on Bible Gateway

Chicago Pastors & Doctors Team Up to Encourage Healthy Eating Using the Bible
Rush University Medical Center
On the topic of good health: see The Daniel Plan resources in the Bible Gateway Store and subscribe to The Daniel Plan newsletter on Bible Gateway

NASA’s New Exhibit ‘Forever Remembered': Columbia Commander Rick Husband’s Bible Opened to Proverbs
US News & World Report
Read Proverbs on Bible Gateway

Alabama Sheriff Puts Bible Verse on Patrol Cars
AL.com
Read Matthew 5:9 on Bible Gateway

Century-Old Ushers Association Trains ‘Doorkeepers’ to Worship
The Baltimore Sun
Read Psalm 84:10 on Bible Gateway

Rare 1482 Bible at Bridgewater College Nominated for Virginia Statewide Preservation Program
Augusta Free Press

1537 Tyndale Bible Auctioned by Sotheby’s for $93,400, Double Its Asking Price
Catholic Culture

Any Christian Can Help With Bible Translation
Mission Network News
See the multiple Bible translations on Bible Gateway

Cuba Witnessing Christianity Boom as Bible Copies Pour Into Communist-Ruled Country
Christian Today
Read the Bible in Spanish on Bible Gateway

Israeli-British Project to Make Thousands of Rare Hebrew Manuscripts Available Online
Star Tribune

10 Distractions to Studying Scripture
Engage Magazine
Study the Bible on Bible Gateway

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

International Network of Children’s Ministry Adopts the International Children’s Bible® as Its Official Bible Translation

Read the International Children's Bible on Bible GatewayThe International Network of Children’s Ministry (INCM) (@INCM) has adopted the International Children’s Bible® (ICB™) as its official translation, the result of a partnership with Thomas Nelson Publishers (@ThomasNelson). This partnership coincides with Thomas Nelson’s upcoming new product releases that feature the ICB translation, the first version of the Bible translated specifically for children.

Click to buy your copy of the Holy Bible (ICB) in the Bible Gateway Store[Read the International Children’s Bible on Bible Gateway]

[Browse International Children’s Bible editions in the Bible Gateway Store]

“Thomas Nelson shares our dedication to igniting a passion for God’s Word in children’s hearts,” said Matt Guevara, executive director of INCM. “The opportunity to do so by encouraging kids to read the ICB was one we were thrilled to join, especially alongside such a strong partner. One of the most powerful things we can do to anchor today’s kids in God’s Word is to provide Scripture to them in a language they understand and enjoy reading. These Bibles provide not only a trustworthy translation, but an experience that will enrich children’s lives for years to come.”

The International Network of Children's Ministry websiteThrough the partnership, INCM will utilize its team of children’s and family ministry bloggers to read and review ICB products, share messages from the ICB in its weekly newsletter and via social media, and feature ICB passages in its quarterly resource, Dispatch. Additionally, INCM will host the launch of kidscanreadthebible.com, the website for children and parents to use as they read through the ICB.

Tommy Nelson website“The International Children’s Bible is truly remarkable in it makes scripture so accessible for children,” said Laura Minchew, senior vice president and publisher of gift books, Tommy Nelson (@TommyNelson) children’s books, and new media at Thomas Nelson. “With a third grade reading level, children are able to read and understand the Bible on their own. We are delighted that INCM selected the ICB as their official translation and are happy to join with them in the good work to partner with children’s ministers around the world.”

The ICB has more than 300 key Bible verses highlighted in the text so that children and new Christians can read and learn some of the most important foundational truths of God’s Word. This translation includes a topical index in each section, large, easy-to-read type, highlighted key verses, a children’s dictionary, and many more features.

Thomas Nelson websiteThomas Nelson Publishers, part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, is a world-leading provider of Christian content and has been providing readers with quality inspirational product for more than 200 years. The publishing group provides multiple formats of award-winning Bibles, books, gift books, cookbooks, curriculum and digital content, with distribution of its products in more than 100 countries. Thomas Nelson is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. For additional information, please visit www.thomasnelson.com.

Gaining by Losing by J.D. Greear

J.D. GreearPastor, adjunct professor, and author Dr. J.D. Greear (@jdgreear) believes a Christian’s ministry is less about working for God and more about letting God work through the Christian. He says the greatest power of the church is when all members are equipped and sent out in the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants people to stop judging a church’s “success” by its seating capacity and put more emphasis on its sending capacity.

In his new book, Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send (Zondervan, 2015), J.D. Greear unpacks ten ‘plumb lines’ to use to reorient a church’s priorities around God’s mission to reach a lost world. He says, “Every church, every ministry, and every follower of Jesus Christ ought to be devoted to planting—giving away—what they have for God’s kingdom.”

Click to buy your copy of Gaining by Losing in the Bible Gateway StoreThe following article is an excerpt from Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send.

We Are Under Obligation

In Romans 1:14 (ESV) Paul uses a strange word to encapsulate his life and calling, one with enormous implications for both church leaders and members alike. “I am under obligation,” Paul says, to everyone who has not yet heard the gospel. Many translations render “under obligation” as “debtor,” because Paul is invoking language that describes a debtor’s relationship to his creditor.

When you are severely in debt, your life no longer really belongs to you. It belongs to the creditor. You can’t spend money however you would like anymore. If your boss gives you a $10,000 Christmas bonus, you won’t be able to use it to take a vacation to Hawaii or to buy new furniture. The creditor has first and final say in how the money is spent. I once knew a church that was so severely in debt that representatives from the bank literally stood in the back of the lobby during the weekly offering, taking the money straight to the bank, where bank officials would decide how much the church could keep that week. The church was no longer free; it was “under obligation.”

Paul thought of himself as a debtor to those who had not heard about Jesus. His future was not free. But why did he owe them? Because he knew he was no more deserving of the gospel than they were. He was not more righteous, nor had God seen more potential in him (see 1 Timothy 1:15). Paul saw God’s grace toward him exactly for what it was—completely unmerited favor. Paul knew that placed him under severe obligation to the grace of God. Paul’s future, bright as it may have been, having a great education and all the right connections, no longer belonged to him. Every spare resource—every ounce of energy, every moment of his time—belonged to his “creditor”: the grace of God.

Every person who knows and understands the gospel is under this same debt of obligation. As David Platt says, “Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every unsaved person this side of hell.” If you are saved, you are under obligation to leverage your life to bring salvation to the nations. Those of us called to be leaders in the church are under obligation to train you up and send you out.

We pastors are not free to build ministries that mainly make life more comfortable for us. Each of us is under obligation to do whatever we can to get the gospel to those all around the world who have never heard. And that means releasing—planting—the seeds we have been given. It means letting go and sending out our very best to bring a harvest in God’s kingdom, even—especially—when it doesn’t benefit our church directly.

The gospel is that Jesus Christ died as a substitute for sinners, offered now as a gift to all who will receive him in faith. Jesus has instituted a new kingdom, a kingdom that someday will bring final and ultimate healing to the earth through his resurrection, but one that begins now when sinners are reconciled to him through his death. God has given to us, the church, the mission of preaching his offer of reconciliation to all people everywhere—that Jesus lived the life we were supposed to live and then died the death that we were condemned to die so that we could be reconciled to God. We signify the message of that new kingdom through acts of healing and extravagant generosity, which depict for others the nature of the kingdom Jesus is establishing (2 Cor. 5:14-21). Everyone who has received the reconciliation is sent on that mission. Every believer is sent. You go from mission field to missionary.

Our God is a sending God. He sent his best into the world to save us. Jesus is referred to as “sent” 44 times in the New Testament. After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his identity to his disciples: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

To follow Jesus is to be sent.

Jesus’ command to every disciple is to “go” (Matt. 28:19). We may not all go overseas, but we are all to be going. This means that if you are not going, you are not a disciple; and, church leader, if the people in our churches are not “going,” we are not doing our jobs. A church leader can have a large church with thousands of people attending, but if people are not going from it “outside the camp” (Heb. 13:13), to pursue the mission and call of Christ, those leaders are delinquent in their duty.

Planting, investing, sending, and sacrificing are costly. It hurts. But the trajectory of discipleship is toward giving away, not taking in. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “When Christ bids a man to follow, he bids him come and die.” Jesus did not say come and grow, but come and die. And he showed us what that means by his own example.

When Jesus laid down his life on that hill in Jerusalem, he had nothing left. Soldiers gambled for his last remaining possessions on earth. Everything he owned had been either given away or taken from him. But out of that death came our life. In giving everything away, he gained us. In Jesus’ resurrection from death, God brought unimaginable life to the world—to you and to me. Jesus was the first of many seeds planted into the ground to die.

Why would it surprise us that the power of God spreads throughout the earth in the same manner? Life for the world comes only through the death of the church. Not always our physical, bodily death (though it includes that sometimes), but death in the giving away of our resources. Death in the forfeiture of our personal dreams. Death in our faithful proclamation of the gospel in an increasingly hostile world. Death in sending our precious resources, our best leaders, our best friends.

When Christ calls any of us to follow him—whether he is speaking to us as individuals, or to our churches and ministries—he bids us, “Come and die.”

It is not through our success that God saves the world, but through our sacrifice. He calls us first to an altar, not a platform.

His way of bringing life to the world is not by giving us numerical growth and gain that enriches our lives and exalts our name. His way is by bringing resurrection out of death.

We live by losing. We gain by giving away. What we achieve by building our personal platform will never be as great as what God achieves through what we give away in faith.

It’s one thing to know these things, to believe they are true. It’s another to implement them. That is what this book is about. What does it look like to live sent—in your personal life, in your ministry, or in the church that you lead?

I will warn you: It’s relatively easy to nod our heads at this point and say, “Yes, like Jesus, we live by dying.” But to go to the next step—to invest some of your most cherished resources, or say goodbye to those whom you love as they go to begin something new—that is hard, and it never gets easier. Yet it’s how God’s kingdom grows.

We gain by losing.

The above excerpt is from Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send. Copyright © 2015 by J.D. Greear. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com. All rights reserved. Taken from pp. 16-19.

Bio: J.D. Greear, PhD, is pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. The Summit Church has been ranked by Outreach Magazine as one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States. J. D. has a PhD in systematic theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved and Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his wife, Veronica, and their four children.