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International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church: Nov. 6 & 13, 2016

[See the Bible Gateway Blog post, International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church]

[See books in the Bible Gateway Store on the subject of Christian persecution]Buy your copy of Killing Christians: Living the Faith Where It's Not Safe to Believe in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (#IDOP), a time set apart to remember millions of Christians around the world who face persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ.

Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Hebrews 13:3 (NIV)

Buy your copy of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

“According to statistics, persecution is the daily reality of at least 100 million Christians around the world,” says Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director, World Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Commission (@WEARLC1). “These Christians, who face routine harassment and difficulties, often suffer in silence and isolation. Over the years, the IDOP has served as a platform to highlight their stories and advocate their plight. Moreover, in so doing, the IDOP has also been a source of solidarity and encouragement to persecuted Christians by reminding them that they are part of a larger, global family of believers.”

[See the Bible Gateway Blog post, I Am N: An Interview with Cole Richards and Jason Peters]

Buy your copy of The Persecuted Church Prayer Devotional: Interceding for the Suffering Church in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

…We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out. We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies….
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (CEB)

According to Open Doors USA, in 2015, more than 7,000 Christians were killed specifically because of their faith. Open Doors, with its list of countries where Christians are most in need of prayer, urges Christians and churches to remember those killed and pray for those in more than 60 countries still facing persecution because of their faith. Open Doors will be hosting Facebook Live events this week, featuring interviews with persecuted Christians along with other news, stories and special guests.

“Under Caesar’s Sword” is a three-year, collaborative global research project by the University of Notre Dame to discover and draw attention to the ways Christian communities around the world respond to the severe violation of their religious freedom. These strategies vary widely, ranging from nonviolent protest movements of the kind that Pope John Paul II led in communist Poland, to the complex diplomacy of Christian churches in China, to simply fleeing from persecution en masse, as Christians have in Iraq. The project aims to raise solidarity with persecuted Christians worldwide and to help them respond justly and effectively. Watch the documentary film.


The above slide presentation is a production of the Office of Social Justice, a ministry of the Christian Reformed Church.

Basic Biblical Teaching About Persecution

Persecution Foretold

Jesus Warns and Teaches About Persecution

The Apostles and First Missionaries are Persecuted

  • Acts 4:1-22 – Christ’s supremacy threatens the supremacy of the totalitarian and theocratic leadership. (vv. 2, 17)
  • Acts 5:12-41 – Power and attraction of the gospel arouses jealousy. (v. 17)
  • Acts 6:7-15 – Success of ministry arouses competition.
  • Acts 7:54-8:4 – Stephen becomes the Christian Church’s first martyr; persecution breaks out.
  • Acts 12:1-4 – Herod persecutes apostles for political gain.
  • Acts 12:1-18 – While Peter is in prison, the church prays.
  • Acts 13:49-14:7 – Opposition to the gospel forces missionaries to flee.
  • Acts 16:16-34 – The gospel threatens trade, economic prosperity and the fortune-telling industry (v. 19); false accusations lead to missionaries being severely beaten. (v. 22)
  • Acts 17:1-15 – Missionary success arouses jealousy; missionaries forced to flee. (v. 5)
  • Acts 19:23-32 – The gospel threatens trade, economic prosperity and the idol industry; idol-makers incite riot that goes out of control.
  • Acts 21:27-36 – Enemies of the gospel incite hatred and violence; Paul beaten and arrested.

Prepare for Persecution

Conduct Under Persecution

Results of Persecution

Rewards for Suffering Persecution

Place and Power of Prayer

Possible Forms that Persecution May Take

The above list is a production of the World Evangelical Alliance, Religious Liberty Commission.


The above video is a production of The Voice of the Martyrs.

Prison Fellowship® Offers Children’s Bibles to Over 140K Families of Incarcerated Men and Women

Prison Fellowship website

For American children with an incarcerated parent, Christmas can be bittersweet as they are separated from their imprisoned parent—often by more than 100 miles.

Buy your copy of the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on salePrison Fellowship’s (@prisonfellowshp) Angel Tree brings joy to these children through gifts given by volunteers on behalf of their parent, and this year, an additional offer of good news in English and Spanish: The NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers (Zonderkidz, 2014) and the NVI Biblia Aventura (Editorial Vida, 2010) from Zondervan’s children’s and Spanish imprints, Zonderkidz (@Zonderkidz) and Editorial Vida (@EditorialVida).

[Read the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) Bible translation on Bible Gateway]

[Read the Nueva Versión Internacional (NVI) Bible translation on Bible Gateway]

Buy your copy of the NVI Biblia Aventura in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

This is the first time Prison Fellowship has been able to offer a free Bible to every one of the Angel Tree families it serves—anticipated to be more than 140,000 families this Christmas season.

“Through the Angel Tree program this Christmas, we will deliver gifts to over 300,000 children; better connecting children with their incarcerated parent. Through this partnership with Zondervan, we have the opportunity to place a Bible in the hands of hundreds of thousands of children—and what better way to show kids the true meaning of Christmas than to offer them God’s Word as they open their Angel Tree gifts?” says James J. Ackerman, president and chief executive officer of Prison Fellowship. “We are appreciative of Zondervan, which has partnered with Prison Fellowship to make this possible.”

Every Christmas in all 50 states, Angel Tree mobilizes churches to minister to hundreds of thousands of children by delivering a gift and the gospel message on behalf of their incarcerated parents. Last year, the program provided more than 300,000 children with Christmas gifts. Since 1982, Angel Tree has delivered more than 10 million gifts to children on behalf of nearly 4.2 million imprisoned parents.

“Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program has always been near and dear to the hearts of our team at Zonderkidz,” says Annette Bourland, senior vice president of publishing. “To be able to present the NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers in English and the NVI Biblia Aventura in Spanish to young readers who will find comfort and strength in God’s message for them is a tremendous joy for our team.”

Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree is the only nationwide, year-round program that reaches out exclusively to children who have a parent in prison. Through collaborations with local churches and community organizations, hundreds of thousands of children receive a gift each Christmas on behalf of their incarcerated parents. In addition, partner churches meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of prisoners’ families through year-round ministry, such as camping events and mentoring. Click for more information on Angel Tree.

About Prison Fellowship
Prison Fellowship is the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners and their families, and a leading advocate for criminal justice reform.

About Zonderkidz
Zonderkidz™, the children’s division of Zondervan, inspires young lives through imagination and innovation. As a leader in Christian children’s communications, it creates products that awaken the hearts and touch the souls of kids under 16. Zonderkidz is also the publisher of the NIrV (New International Reader’s Version) Bible translation, the 3rd-grade reading level edition of the NIV. For additional information, please visit www.zonderkidz.com.

About Editorial Vida
Editorial Vida, the Spanish division of Zondervan, publishes Spanish Bibles, books, devotionals, and other resources that promote a faithful relationship with Jesus. Vida maintains the largest catalog of Christian products and resources in the Hispanic culture—US, Latin America, and abroad. Vida holds the exclusive distribution rights of the NVI (Nueva Versión Internacional)—New International Version of the Bible in Spanish. For more information please visit www.editorialvida.com.

About HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc. is a world leading Christian content provider. With nearly 300 years of publishing expertise, the company produces bestselling Bibles, inspirational books, academic resources, and curriculum in both traditional and digital formats. Its two foundational publishing groups, Thomas Nelson (@ThomasNelson) and Zondervan (@Zondervan), house the works of the world’s most renowned Christian leaders. The company is home to Olive Tree Bible Software (@OliveTreeBible), an innovative biblical resource that makes studying God’s Word accessible anywhere, and Bible Gateway (@BibleGateway), the world’s largest Christian website. HarperCollins Christian Publishing (@HCChristianPub) is headquartered in Nashville, TN with additional offices in Grand Rapids, MI, Spokane, WA, and international operations in Mexico City, Mexico, and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

The Bible Verse from the Movie Hacksaw Ridge

Andrew Garfield acting as Pfc. Desmond T. Doss in prayer in the movie Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge is a movie about the true story of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss, who won the US Congressional Medal of Honor despite refusing to bear arms on religious grounds during WWII. Doss was drafted and ostracized by fellow soldiers for his pacifist stance. But he went on to earn respect and adoration for his bravery, selflessness, and compassion after he risked his life—without firing a shot—to save 75 men in the Battle of Okinawa.

The movie opens with the following Bible verse from Isaiah 40:28-31 (KJV)

Desmond T. Doss pointing to the Bible

Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard,
that the everlasting God, the Lord,
the Creator of the ends of the earth,
fainteth not, neither is weary?
There is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint;
and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
and the young men shall utterly fall:
but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.

Tweetable Nietzsche: An Interview with C. Ivan Spencer

Dr. C. Ivan SpencerThough he died in 1900, Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical sway on modern thinking persists, inspiring numerous movements that weave the tapestries of contemporary culture: existentialism, theology, nihilistic culture, Nazism, 20th century film and art, atheism, ethical egoism, deconstruction, the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the postmodern age. His stark prophecy that “God is dead, and we killed him” thrives in this accelerating secular age where postmodernists lionize him as a prophetic voice of a new era.

Bible Gateway interviewed Dr. C. Ivan Spencer (@scizen) about his book, Tweetable Nietzsche: His Essential Ideas Revealed and Explained (Zondervan, 2016).

Buy your copy of Tweetable Nietzsche in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale


Who was Friedrich Nietzsche?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: Friedrich Nietzsche was a 19th century European philosopher from Germany.


You write, “On a Richter scale of thinkers, the Nietzschean earthquake ranks well above 9.0 with many serious aftershocks.” In what ways has Nietzsche influenced Western culture?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: Nietzsche pervades general culture through the arts and humanities, but especially in philosophy, theology, and literature. He inspired existential life patterns that urge and compel us to create ourselves and transform our nature through the tenacity of will, not predetermined formulas or socially constructed patterns of existing as individuals. We must create our essence and choose our own virtues.

In theology, some radical movements are rooted in Nietzsche’s thought. Secular theology derives some of its orientation from the stark Nietzschean prophecy that God is dead and that we killed him. Our secular age no longer centers on transcendent values, believing the divine source for such values has passed away. If God died, so did all wholesome values rooted in God.

In literature, Nietzsche conceives and gives birth to a hermeneutic that annihilates textual meaning. Few understand what has happened here or why. Nietzsche unleashed a category 5 hermeneutical hurricane. Now texts have no meaning other than the meanings powerful people or groups say they have. Thus the infamous hermeneutics of suspicion.


Why has Nietzsche’s philosophy been so readily and widely accepted?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: Nietzsche’s ideas take root because they appeal to the emptiness of the human experience and enable a postmodern and existential worldview. They enable an identity shift where one climbs out of the dark abyss of meaningless nihilism and into a self-constructed system of values and significance. His transvaluation project triumphs and fuels our hyper-individualism.

What was Nietzsche’s view of the Bible?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: Nietzsche’s view of the Bible differs greatly from Christians today. He grew up Lutheran and experienced the Pietistic faith among his family. His father was a minister. Nietzsche was a professor of the Greek language and worked among many 19th century German scholars doing higher biblical criticism.

He lost his faith as a young man in university. Much of his atheistic thought would view the Bible as another ancient text that people embraced to make sense of their world.


How can Christians counter Nietzschean views of the Bible held by people whose worldview is composed of a post-modern belief that there is no absolute truth and that morality varies in every situation?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: Christians who believe the Bible believe it because they think God exists. Nietzsche did not believe God existed. Our view of Scripture rests on whether God exists or not.

Most worldview philosophers acknowledge that the answer to the question of God’s existence is an assumption. It is not a matter of science, evidence, or proofs. How one interprets evidence comes from the assumption. Evidence does speak clearly, but it says what one assumes about God.

Some theologians (for example, Calvin) say there’s a sensus divinitatis, an innate sense of the divine that orients everyone to believing in God’s existence. However, our evil heart obliterates this homing signal.

Other theologians (for example, Aquinas) say that evidences of God’s existence make it inescapable.

The easiest way to counter Nietzschean views of the Bible is to recognize that one’s deep assumptions about God generate how we see the Bible. The same applies to Nietzsche.


Why have you written this book and why should Christians read it?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: Christians need to be aware of the influencers of the world they live in. To engage our culture, one needs to understand its influencers. I wrote this book so anyone can understand it, not just the specialist or the academic. Nietzsche ranks as one of the undisputed masters who have fashioned this age.

What’s the meaning of the title?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: Tweetable Nietzsche captures the unique approach I took to unveiling his ideas. I wrote “Tweets” of his ideas; 140-character quotes that distill his ideas. This makes the book very easy to grasp. Each Tweet and its explanation can be read in 5 minutes or less, making it approachable for fast-paced lives.


You write, “Even if we reject his conclusions, we can learn from him the values of tenacity and intellectual honesty.” Please explain.

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: Nietzsche lived a hard life of much physical pain, and he didn’t take any drugs to kill it. His intellectual honesty—often brutal—shocks most people. Authenticity is his brand. You won’t like what he says about many things, but he carried his naturalism to its authentic and logical conclusions. If you don’t believe God exists, and you carry that to its conclusions, you wind up with some grim conclusions. He went there and didn’t try to bootleg Christian values back into his worldview the way many atheists do.

What was the end of Nietzsche’s life like without any hope in God?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: His last decade descended as a sunset of the mind. In 1900, he died a complete and unconscious invalid, but extraordinarily famous and revered, almost like an atheistic prophet or saint. Unaware of his popular inspiration, his life would soon rip through the German world and fuel its culture in the first half of the 20th century.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Dr. C. Ivan Spencer: It’s a great resource for people who need its valued insights into matters of faith, theology, Bible, and the church.


Bio: C. Ivan Spencer (PhD, University of Texas at Arlington) is professor of History and Philosophy at The College at Southeastern, in Wake Forest, NC. He teaches the history of ideas, philosophy, and history. Ivan was the creator of the school’s History of Ideas curriculum and major, and has cultivated the study of the greatest thinkers from the past to the present.


Biblical Theology Bible Study: Heaven and the City of God

This post is a thematic Bible study on the topic of the New Jerusalem from the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, which includes study tools that specifically focus on biblical theology—the progressive unfolding of theological concepts through Scripture.

Browse the many available editions of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The NIV Zondervan Study Bible: An Interview with Dr. D. A. Carson.]

We often think of the New Jerusalem as “heaven,” a happy place we go when we die. But this New Jerusalem is just the culmination of a theme that runs from the very beginning to the very end of Scripture: the construction of the City of God.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Test Your Heaven IQ: What Does the Bible Say?.]

Two acts of God’s creation frame the books of the Bible: Genesis opens by describing how God created the heavens and the earth, and Revelation concludes by anticipating the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. God begins with two humans overseeing a lush garden and concludes with multitudes of people in a golden city. Resplendent in glory, the new Jerusalem completes what God began when he created the earth. From beginning to end, Scripture unveils a “Holy City Project;” disclosing God’s special interest in eventually constructing a holy city upon the earth, where he and humanity will reside in intimate harmony.

Enlarge this Infographic on Heaven and the City of God from the NIV Zondervan Study Bible

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Accolades for the New NIV Zondervan Study Bible.]

Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden throws life into chaos, allowing their authority to rule over the earth to be usurped by Satan and they themselves to become subject to God’s enemy.

Rather than building God’s holy city as he had originally wanted, rebellious humanity builds an alternative city, traditionally known as Babel (the Hebrew name for Babylon). The city casts a long shadow over the whole Bible. Babel/Babylon is the archetypal godless city. It not only typifies the wonders that humans can accomplish as God-created beings, but also the arrogance of those who turn from God and the vanity of every social enterprise that seeks to exalt the creature over the creator. From Genesis to Revelation, Babel/Babylon features prominently as the symbol of humanity’s attempt to govern themselves in defiance of God.

In contrast stands the city of Jerusalem—also known as Zion—after King David captured it. When the ark of the covenant is brought to Jerusalem, it becomes the capital of God’s kingdom on earth.

King Solomon enhanced Jerusalem’s status by building a magnificent temple there. Jerusalem is the interim holy city where God lives with his people until, centuries later, he abandons the city because its immoral inhabitants defiled it.

Ancient Jerusalem as a holy city merely anticipated something greater to come. As Isaiah reveals, the morally corrupt Jerusalem of Old Testament times will in the future be replaced by a radically transformed Jerusalem, to which the nations will come in peace.

The author of the book of Hebrews links the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) with God’s construction of a unique city to come. And the future experience of all Christians involves this city (Hebrews 11:39-40; 12:22; 13:14). This city is the goal toward which everything in creation is moving; it brings to completion what God began in Genesis.

God’s plan to build his city on earth appeared to receive a major setback when the Old Testament city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. But this is not the end of the story. The book of Isaiah contrasts a disgraced Babylon, sitting in dust, with a renewed Jerusalem, shouting for joy and knowing salvation.

Recognizing how present-day Babylon opposes God, the book of Revelation exhorts Christians to live here and now as citizens of the future new Jerusalem, anticipating the future existence of a redeemed humanity living together in harmony on a real earth. There is good reason to believe that our existence in the world to come will not be entirely dissimilar to what we experience now, but without the negative impact of evil, sin, and death. Every citizen, without exception, will not only serve and worship God but also reign with him.


Conduct in-depth studies in Scripture on the subjects of heaven and the city of God (as well as other themes of the Bible) with the NIV Zondervan Study Bible; always on sale in the Bible Gateway Store.

This post is adapted from the article “The City of God” by T. D. Alexander in the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, general editor, D. A. Carson. Copyright © 2015. Adapted by permission of Zondervan, part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. www.zondervan.com. All rights reserved.

The Authority Of Scripture: An Interview with Matthew Barrett

Matthew BarrettHistorians and theologians have long recognized that at the heart of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation were five declarations (or solas) that distinguished the movement from other expressions of the Christian faith.

Five hundred years later, we live in a different time with fresh challenges to our faith. Yet these rallying cries of the Reformation continue to speak, addressing a wide range of contemporary issues, including the authority of Scripture.

Bible Gateway interviewed Matthew Barrett (@CredoMagazine) about his book, God’s Word Alone: The Authority Of Scripture (Zondervan, 2016).

Buy your copy of God's Word Alone in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, How to Boost Your Bible Study with The Reformation Study Bible for Free on Bible Gateway]

Please briefly explain what the Reformation was and describe the five solas of the Reformation.

Matthew Barrett: The 16th-century Reformation was first and foremost a reform in doctrine. The Protestant Reformers were convinced that the medieval Catholic Church had compromised biblical teaching on essential matters of the Christian faith.

For example, Church tradition was believed to be a second infallible source of divine revelation alongside Scripture. The Reformers argued, however, that as important as church tradition is as an aid, helping Christians understand and interpret the Bible, the Bible alone is inspired by God, without error, and fully sufficient for faith and practice. Therefore, Scripture alone is the church’s final authority. The Reformers concluded that while tradition may play a ministerial role for the church, only Scripture has a magisterial role. This belief, called sola Scriptura, outraged Rome because it meant that the Pope was not the final, infallible authority; that position of prominence belongs to Scripture and Scripture alone.

The Reformers also believed the late medieval Catholic Church had misunderstood in a very serious way the nature of salvation. While God’s grace was necessary for salvation, man’s right standing was based in part upon man’s good, meritorious works, even if they be grace-enabled good works. This created a massive crisis in the life of Luther. No matter how many good works Luther performed, at the end of the day Luther could not escape the fact that he fell short. Luther admitted that he hated the righteousness of God because it reminded him that he was a sinner condemned before a holy God.

Then Luther started studying the apostle Paul, especially his letter to the Romans, and he realized that when Paul refers to the gospel he has in mind a righteousness from God, that is, the righteousness God gives to guilty sinners as a gift. This gift of righteousness is imputed or credited to man’s account upon faith in Jesus alone.

Luther, along with many other Reformers, concluded that man is justified by God’s grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide), in Christ Jesus alone (solus Christus). This discovery changed everything. No longer did the sinner need to perform works of penance or purchase an indulgence certificate; rather, he needed to abandon all efforts at self-righteousness and trust in the righteousness of Christ alone. When Luther’s eyes were opened to these solas, suddenly it was as if he had discovered the gospel for the very first time.

As you might have guessed, rediscovering this biblical understanding of salvation meant all glory, honor, and credit in salvation was to be given to God (soli Deo Gloria). This emphasis on the glory of God, however, was not restricted to the Christian’s initial conversion. The Reformers believed soli Deo Gloria was to change the whole Christian life. Every Christian had a God-given vocation that was to be performed for the glory of God.

Why is sola Scriptura considered the foundation of the five?

Matthew Barrett: Luther’s rediscovery of the gospel happened progressively. When his 95 theses were posted in 1517, challenging the abuse of indulgences he saw in own his day, that was but the beginning of a mature understanding of God’s grace still yet to come. Increasingly, therefore, Luther hit heads with Rome. It was not long before Luther realized that behind the debate over justification was a more foundational debate: who has ultimate authority to decide on these matters? Is it the Pope, church councils, or Scripture? Luther had a very high regard for church councils, but church councils, he argued, were not infallible. Only Scripture is inspired by God and without error. Final authority, therefore, resides with Scripture, argued Luther.

All that to say, if agreement could not be reached on the issue of authority, then it was increasingly difficult to see how there could be agreement on the issue of salvation. Luther believed the Pope and the Bible drew radically different conclusions concerning our right standing with God. Yet if final authority did not reside in Scripture, but the Pope had the final word, then a divide between Rome and Luther was inevitable. Famously, this became the dividing line at the Diet of Worms. Though he feared for his life, Luther boldly declared:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they often err and contradict themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise, here I stand, may God help me, Amen (LW 32:112).

Who was William Tyndale and why is his story so important to the idea of Scripture being its own interpreter?

Matthew Barrett: Luther tends to get all the attention when we discuss the Reformation, and for good reason too. But we cannot forget that the ideas of the Reformation were not limited to Luther’s Wittenberg. They were taking root in other territories as well. In England, William Tyndale risked his life in order to translate the Bible into the vernacular.

We take Bible translation for granted today, given the numerous excellent Bible translations we have readily at our fingertips, but in the 16th-century it was the Latin Vulgate that dominated the scene. The average churchgoer, however, may not have had the ability to read Latin. Even if he did, the Vulgate became increasingly untrustworthy for those sympathetic with the Protestant cause. Biblical scholars like Erasmus had exposed the Vulgate for mistranslating the original Greek, and sometimes its mistranslation only further perpetuated Rome’s faulty view of salvation. Add to this the fear in Rome that if the Bible was placed into the hands of the people, in their own native tongue, the authority of Rome as the infallible interpreter of the Bible would be undermined.

Enter William Tyndale. Tyndale was educated at Oxford and lived in Cambridge when Luther’s writings were burned in 1521 at both London and Cambridge. With Luther’s revolutionary ideas swimming around in the heads of young theologians and Erasmus’s groundbreaking work in the Greek text freshly printed, the atmosphere was ripe for further advances. The people were hungry to read the Bible, even if the legal authorities said otherwise. Tyndale felt a deep-rooted conviction that he was called to make God’s Word available to God’s people. John Foxe recounts a telling encounter with Tyndale that reveals his single-minded passion:

Master Tyndale happened to be in the company of a learned man and in the communing and disputing with him, drove him to that issue that the learned man said, “We would be better off without God’s law than the pope’s.” Master Tyndale hearing that, answered him, “I defy the pope and all his laws,” and said, “if God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth a plow shall know more of the Scripture than thou doest.”

Sadly, Tyndale would be strangled and burned at the stake, but not before he translated the New Testament into English from the original Greek.

Why is Tyndale’s story so important to our understanding of sola Scriptura? Tyndale believed Scripture possessed the words of eternal life. By bringing the Bible to the common person in the common language, the Word of God was, often for the very first time, piercing the hearts of the people, igniting gospel reformation that the church had for so long been without.

How can Christians best communicate the concept that the Bible is absolute truth when living in a “truth is relative” culture?

Matthew Barrett: The “truth is relative” culture we live in today is one saturated by a postmodern worldview. According to postmodernism, truth can no longer be “Truth” with a capital “T” but only “truth” with a lower case “t.” In other words, no longer do people believe there is absolute truth. Truth is relative. For the postmodernist, the ultimate sin is claiming one knows the truth. Naturally, postmodernism is anti-authority. It’s little surprise, then, that postmodernism is a self-professing enemy to biblical authority.

In the Christian worldview, we, as readers, are subservient to God, the divine author. Meaning and truth are not determined by us (the readers), but by God, the divine author.

How should we, as evangelicals, respond? We must return to sola Scriptura. The God of the Bible not only speaks, but claims to speak the truth, even sending his Son who is the way, the truth, and the light (John 14:6), the Logos who speaks the truth with authority (John 1:1), a truth that liberates the enslaved (John 8:32).

Historic Christianity has argued that Scripture hands to us not just any narrative, but the metanarrative that interprets reality and judges all other competing narratives. This claim lies at the heart of sola Scriptura and the Bible’s claim to authority. The Bible gives to us the supreme, final, truthful, objective, clear, and sufficient metanarrative, and this claim makes sola Scriptura offensive to the postmodernist mind. For many evangelicals, postmodernism and historic Christianity could not be more antithetical.

How has the modern Protestant church, including evangelicals, veered from the concept of sola Scriptura?

Matthew Barrett: The battle over biblical authority that started in the early 20th century is far from over. There continues to be an ever-growing number of books published on the subject every year, many questioning Scripture’s authority, inspiration, inerrancy, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency.

In God’s Word Alone I use the label “evangelical Bible critics” to refer to certain evangelicals today who are critical of Scripture (in varying degrees) but nonetheless still identify themselves in some sense as “evangelical” (or at least did so at one time). For these thinkers, the Bible is primarily a human book, and since it was written by humans it naturally errs. Historical errors and contradictions, they argue, are present throughout (for example, Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch, Paul didn’t write many epistles bearing his name, the flood and exodus never happened, Nineveh never repented, Gospel writers contradict each other, the prophecy of Christ’s return is mistaken). But these errors are not only historical in nature, but theological and ethical, as the Bible espouses values that are sinister and evil. Even Jesus’s teachings, they claim, were not immune from the fallen condition. Therefore, the Bible, being fallen and broken, has a dark side. Nevertheless, they qualify, Scripture is still God’s Word and authoritative in its main message, since God accommodates himself to error, redeeming and sanctifying man’s broken word. So the argument goes.

Evangelicals must be ready to spot the loopholes in such claims. I explore many in God’s Word Alone, but let’s consider just two. First, while the “evangelical Bible critics” look at apparent Bible “problems” and conclude that the Bible is not inerrant but nonetheless remains the “word of God,” skeptics (for example, Bart Ehrman) look at the same Bible “problems” and conclude that the Bible most definitively is not the “word of God.” On this point, ironically, evangelical inerrantists and skeptics have much in common over against “evangelical Bible critics”—they agree that if the Bible errs, it cannot be the authoritative “word of God.”

Second, for “evangelical Bible critics,” not only is the historicity of the biblical accounts called into question, but the very theology and ethics of the Bible are questioned. We should not think that “evangelical Bible critics” have a problem with minor issues. Rather, their criticism of Scripture is with the Bible’s own theology and ethical instruction; indeed, the Bible’s own worldview.

Needless to say, sola Scriptura will be seriously compromised and abandoned should evangelicals go down this path. What we need, then, are evangelical Christians bold enough to take a stand for biblical authority, even if it means being laughed at by “evangelical Bible critics” today. In doing so, evangelicals defending sola Scriptura will find the 16th-century Reformers to be their greatest allies.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Matthew Barrett: I have benefitted in the past from Bible Gateway. I especially appreciate how Bible Gateway makes the Bible, in a variety of translations, so accessible to Christians everywhere. God has blessed us with technology in the 21st century and it’s a great responsibility. It’s encouraging to see Bible Gateway using this technology to advance biblical literacy.

If readers would like to learn more about your new book, as well as The 5 Solas series, where can they go?

Matthew Barrett: Over at Credo Magazine you can read endorsements for the book from thinkers like Albert Mohler, D. A. Carson, and Kevin Vanhoozer. There you’ll also find other articles I’ve written explaining what sets the book apart and how it can help Christians today apply the doctrine of sola Scriptura today.


Bio: Matthew Barrett (matthewmbarrett.com) is Tutor of Systematic Theology and Church History at Oak Hill Theological College in London. He’s the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine, as well as the author and editor of several books, including Salvation by Grace, Four Views on the Historical Adam, and Owen on the Christian Life.

Matthew is the editor of the Five Solas Series: God’s Word Alone: The Authority Of Scripture, Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification, Grace Alone: Salvation as a Gift of God, Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus As Savior, and God’s Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life

Buy your copy of God's Word Alone: The Authority Of Scripture in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale  Buy your copy of Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale  Buy your copy of Grace Alone: Salvation as a Gift of God in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale  Buy your copy of Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Jesus As Savior in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale  Buy your copy of God's Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale


Bible News Roundup – Week of October 30, 2016

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
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Support Bible Gateway—Browse the Bible Gateway Store
BibleGatewayStore.com

November 14 is International Day of the Bible (@IntlDayofBible) (#biblecelebration)

Kickstarter’s Million-Dollar Bible Is Finally Finished
CT
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—A Bible Designed for Beautiful Reading: An Interview with Adam Lewis Greene

German Bible Society to Publish Unique Illustrated Wiedmann Bible
News Release

Pope Interview: “Luther Took a Great Step by Putting the Word of God Into the Hands of the People.”
Vatican Radio
See the Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store

Wartburg Castle—The Most Visited Reformation Site
Deutsche Welle

Mind-Blowing Bible Translating Taking Place
OneNewsNow
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—Wycliffe Associates—Helping to Translate the Bible Where Persecution of Christians Is Severe: An Interview with Bruce Smith

An Online Trove of Biblical Manuscripts
The University of Chicago Library News

Women in the Book of Genesis on Display in Baker University Collins Library
The Baker Orange
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Exhibit: The Gutenberg Bible
The Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin
Read the King James Version (KJV) Bible translation on Bible Gateway

The Oldest-Known Carving of the 10 Commandments Is Going Up for Auction
Smithsonian Magazine
Read the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 on Bible Gateway
See resources about the Ten Commandments in the Bible Gateway Store

Since 1918, Missouri Family Members Carry Family Pocket Bible to War, in Military Service for Decades
Ozark County Times

Many Persecution Cases Going Unnoticed, Warns UN Expert
Premier
CBN News: International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Takes Place Nov. 6 & 13
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post—International Day(s) of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Donations to Religious Institutions Fall as Values Change
The New York Times

British Families Only Attend Church at Christmas, New Figures Suggest
The Telegraph

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

The Broken Way: An Interview with Ann Voskamp

Ann VoskampBrokenness doesn’t only find us in the big things—like illness, hardship, or grief. It also finds us in the every day stinging moments when we feel forgotten, or under-appreciated by our loved ones, or sense the inevitable change that years of living has marked on our hearts. We’re fragile and we know it. Sometimes, living with Christ in a messed-up world feels less like victory and more like walking uphill. How do we walk in a way that both glorifies Jesus and bears witness to our weakness?

From the bestselling author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are comes the impassioned message: We are desperately loved by Jesus just as we are, and his love compels us to be broken open for others!

Bible Gateway live-streamed on its Facebook page an interview with Ann Voskamp (@AnnVoskamp) and her Zondervan editor, Sandra Vander Zicht, about Ann’s book, The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life (Zondervan, 2016). The interview took place at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan, before a standing-room-only audience.

Buy your copy of The Broken Way in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

Buy your copy of The Broken Way, Study Guide with DVD in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale Below are the time stamps for the interview above at which point Ann begins to answer each question.

04:00 Tell how The Broken Way has changed and formed your life.

05:30 You wrote The Broken Way out of a raw, honest, and vulnerable place. Tell us what you hope readers might find in its pages.

08:50 In The Broken Way you say “koinonia is about more than a cup of coffee and small talk; it is the fellowship of the broken sharing brokenness.” In One Thousand Gifts you wrote that eucharisteo always precedes the miracle. And in The Broken Way you write “koinonia is always, always, always the miracle.” Unpack that for us. What is koinonia and why is it the miracle that we need?

Buy your copy of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

12:16 Speaking of vulnerability, you tell a lot wonderful stories in The Broken Way. You alluded to the story that opens the book about you cutting when you were a teenager. Tell the audience, of all the stories you tell, what is your favorite story.

22:00 Thank you for telling the story of your adopted daughter’s brokenness in terms of her heart surgery. What encouragement would you offer other parents of children with heart disease who struggle with the question of, “Why my child, God?”

24:10 What is the one thing you would say to someone with a fairly tragedy-free life who is struggling with doubt about God?

26:00 You said this on Twitter: “When the church isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the church isn’t for Christ. What is a practical way of suffering for good?


Bio: Ann Voskamp’s the wife of one fine, down-to-earth farmer; a book-reading mama to a posse of seven; and the author of The New York Times bestsellers The Greatest Gift: An Advent Devotional and Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, and the 66-week New York Times bestseller One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, which has sold more than one million copies and has been translated into more than 18 languages.

Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, Ann knows unspoken brokenness and big country skies and an intimacy with God that touches wounded places. Millions do life with her at her daily photographic online journal, one of the Top 10 most widely read Christian websites: www.annvoskamp.com


Celebrate Reformation Day at Bible Gateway

Martin LutherWhile Halloween is the holiday most people are looking forward to next week, it’s also the 499th anniversary of Martin Luther’s famous nailing of the “95 theses” to the door of the church at Wittenberg. Luther’s actions informed and inspired the Protestant Reformation, which materialized in reaction to perceived theological errors and abuses in the church.

If you’re looking to get into the spirit of the Protestant Reformation today, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Five Bible Verses to Read on Reformation Day: Last year, we picked five Bible verses to read on Reformation Day—five verses that informed the Protestant Reformation. How many of these verses are you familiar with? Do you see why they would have had a special significance to the Protestant Reformers?
  2. Try the 1599 Geneva Bible: The 1599 Geneva Bible—available as one of many Bible translations on BibleGateway.com—was an important and influential Bible throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, with ties to many famous Protestant writers and thinkers. It’s also considered by many to be the world’s first study Bible, as it included a vast number of notes and commentary, written by a veritable who-‘s-who of the Reformation. Here’s John 3:16 in the 1599 Geneva Bible; you can also read more about its significance. When reading this Bible on Bible Gateway, be sure to have footnotes toggled on, so you can enjoy the accompanying study notes. (Here’s how to toggle footnotes and other page options.)
  3. Access the Reformation Study Bible online: The Reformation Study Bible is a study Bible with thousands of helpful notes on every part of Scripture, written by distinguished theologians and scholars like Wayne Grudem, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, and many others. And it’s available in full on Bible Gateway! To access the Reformation Study Bible notes alongside your Bible reading, click the Study This button on any Bible passage page. Here’s a step-by-step guide to doing so. (You can also pick up a print copy at the Bible Gateway Store.)
  4. Insight from R.C. Sproul: Speaking of R.C. Sproul (one of the leading Reformed theologians preaching today), our devotional library contains several devotionals written and edited by him. Essentials of the Christian Faith, Tabletalk Devotions with R.C. Sproul, and Tough Questions with R.C. Sproul will all take you on an accessible, honest journey through the basics of Christian belief.
  5. The Best of Charles Spurgeon: Charles Spurgeon was one of the most eloquent and influential Reformed preachers of the modern era, and his Morning and Evening devotional is beloved around the world. We’ve also got two devotionals that draw on Spurgeon’s sermons—Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and the New Park Street Chapel. As with the Sproul devotions, you can read them online or have them delivered to you via email.
  6. John Piper Devotional: Explore what it means to live a life of faith with daily insights from author and Bible teacher John Piper, accessible online or in your email inbox.
  7. The Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store: Among the 500,000 resources available in the Bible Gateway Store are Bibles, books, videos, and more that focus on the Protestant Reformation. Come browse the Reformation section in the Bible Gateway Store, where everything is always on sale.

We hope one or more of these resources will help you explore and appreciate the legacy of the Protestant Reformation. Whether you consider yourself “Reformed” or not, there’s something to be learned from the Reformation’s emphasis on the centrality of the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Happy Reformation Day!

Discovering Your Identity in Life’s Storms: An Interview with Tim Tebow

Tim TebowWhat’s the best way to handle life’s mountain high victories and depths of failure? What are the biblical principles that help ground your identity in Jesus through it all?

Bible Gateway interviewed Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) about his book, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms (WaterBrook, 2016).

What does your book’s title Shaken mean to you? Why did you choose it?

Tim Tebow: The reason I titled it Shaken was because in life you’re going to have highs and lows. There are going to be great times, and there are going be tough times. So, who was I when I won the Heisman Trophy versus when I got cut three times—well, maybe four times—in the NFL? Was I the person that was praised by presidents or the person that was debated and scrutinized by most of the media? So, who was I? Am I that person who I was at the high or am I that person who had all those lows?

Buy your copy of Shaken in the Bible Gateway Store where it's always on sale

I’m so thankful because of my relationship with Jesus Christ and being adopted in the family of God that I don’t have to live the highs and the lows and the roller coaster that the rest of the world lives, because I know where my identity lies. My identity lies as a child of God, and that’s something that will never be shaken.

Why did you decide now was the right time to share some of these personal experiences?

Tim Tebow: It’s something that God put on my heart. I’ve been traveling for the last three or four years speaking all over and being able to see so many people in today’s society that are searching for a firm foundation. They’re searching for identity, and I feel like this book is about identity; about not being shaken. To have a firm foundation as a child of God is something that so many people are longing for and wanting because they’re searching for something more. There’s got to be more out there. What is it? Well, I can tell you what it is. It’s a relationship with the God of this universe, who loves you so much. That’s what is it. That’s what you’re searching for. That’s what you’re longing for, and that’s what you need.

In those places of doubt and even darkness I’ve realized that who I am has nothing to do with wins or losses, applause, or negative criticism. It has to do with whose I am. Knowing this, I can live out what the king of ancient Israel wrote in Psalm 16:8: I have set the Lord continually before me; Because he is my right hand, I will not be shaken.

You’ve had to deal with issues of self-identity, such as fear, doubt, and criticism on a much bigger scale than most of us. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Tim Tebow: I’m a people pleaser by nature, and I want to make everybody happy. But at the same time, it’s not fulfilling to make everybody happy. What’s fulfilling is to stand for something that’s right. Now that doesn’t mean you’re going to be perfect. We’re going to fall and we’re going to mess up every day, but we can at least try to stand for something. When you stand for something, then you won’t fall for everything else around you. For me, my goal is to be able to impact as many people as possible for something good, for something right; to be able to leave a legacy of something bigger than myself—not for winning games, not for scoring touchdowns, but that Jesus Christ has changed my life. You can love God, and you can love people. There’s more to this world than money, fame, and power. You can have an impact, no matter who you are; no matter what platform. No matter how big or small of a role model, there’s someone watching you. There’s a life that you can change. There’s a life that you can impact.

For me, it’s to be able to see that every life matters. Every life matters—no matter where, no matter how big, no matter how small. I’ve been able to see that in so many of the trips that we’ve taken around the world. That’s been something that’s been so eye-opening to me. I share that concept with everyone I come in contact with, so that we can unite around people. We can unite around one nation under God here, and we can unite that everybody matters. I think in this day and age right now, it’s important. People need to be able to see something bigger than themselves.

How do the things you’ve learned about identity differ from what our culture teaches?

Tim Tebow: Wow, I think our culture right now is a culture that’s trying to find itself. They’re trying to figure out what is it? Is it social media followers? Is it trying to be popular? Is it money? Is it fame? Is it power? They’re searching for identity and so many of us have been there, and we’ll get back to that place of what is our identity? Who are we? More importantly, whose are we? For me, I find my identity in a relationship with Christ.

I’ve also seen that in so many of my role models. So many people that have gone before me that I’ve been able to see—wow, I want what he has. I want what she has. I’ve seen what they have and wow, they have peace no matter where they’re at. They have assurance no matter what they’re going through. It was fun in this book to be able to highlight role models of mine that have been able to find a firm foundation in whose they are no matter what life throws at them.

What does it mean to you to stay grounded?

Tim Tebow: I think staying grounded is one of the hardest things we’ll ever do in our lives. It’s always back and forth. To be able to stay grounded, we need to live with open hands that everything that we have has been given to us by the creator of this universe. He can take it, and he can give it back to us. He can take some things, and he can give us new things. When a door closes, a new one is going to open.

Where we start to lose it is when we start to grasp onto what we think is ours. No, this is mine. No, that’s my career. That’s my money. That’s my platform. But really, no, it’s yours, God. It’s not mine. You might lend it to me for a little while. You might let me hold onto it. You might let me use it for a little bit, but that’s not mine; it’s yours. Thank you for letting me use that for a little while. I think that’s what staying grounded means.

In what ways have you found reaching out to others as an important part of the process of getting and staying grounded?

Tim Tebow: Ah, I think it’s huge. I think that’s what the church really is. It’s not a building. It’s not the logos out front. It’s not the denominations that we’re part of. No, it’s the people that we get to do life with. It’s the people that have courageous conversations with us. It’s the people that love us. It’s the people that invest in us. It’s the people we get to do life with. And we also get to share with them. It’s being able to have those people in our lives who we’re able to inspire and they’re able to inspire us. When we’re down, they pick us up. When they’re down, we pick them up. Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

How important is serving others to your identity?

Tim Tebow: Well, I feel like the closest that we get to fulfilling our calling is making a difference in other people’s lives. I feel like it’s different for everybody. Our purpose and our calling are different. We’re all called to do different things. But some way, somehow, it has to be impacting other people. If not, what are you doing? How does it have an impact? How does it have an eternal impact? It has to be investing in other people, somehow making a difference in their lives. When we do that, I really believe that we’ll fulfill why we’re here and what we’re supposed to do.

What role has the Bible played in your life and career?

Tim Tebow: The Bible is God’s love story to us. It’s changed everything in my life and means everything to me.

How has the Bible sustained you in the midst of public criticism?

Tim Tebow: During tough times I can always go back to it and find encouragement. The Bible tells us what God says about us. In it, we read about how much he loves us and that he’s got a plan and a purpose for our lives.

What’s your favorite Bible passage and why?

Tim Tebow: John 3:16. It’s the essence of Christianity and the essence of our hope.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Tim Tebow: It’s extremely easy to use and get familiar with God’s Word.


Bio: Tim Tebow is a two-time national champion, first round NFL draft pick, and Heisman trophy winner. After playing in the NFL for the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets, Tebow joined the SEC Network. In addition to his role on SEC Nation, the network’s traveling road show, Tebow also contributes to a variety of other ESPN platforms. Through everything Tim’s true passion remains the work of the Tim Tebow Foundation which he began in 2010. The foundation’s mission is to bring faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. The foundation is fulfilling that mission everyday by serving thousands of deserving children around the world. Tim is the author of Everything in Between (DVD), Through My Eyes, Shaken, Shaken Bible Study (DVD), and the forthcoming What God Says About You: Believing in Yourself When Others Don’t.

Tim’s writing partner is A.J. Gregory, known for over 35 book collaborations—some New York Times bestsellers—with fascinating high-profile figures from celebrities to scientists. She’s also the author of Messy Faith: Daring to Live by Grace and Silent Savior: Daring to Believe He’s Still There. A.J. calls New Jersey, and her husband and three kids, home. Learn more at www.ajgregorybooks.com.


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