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Spurgeon: Reading, and Bible Reading Importance

May 29, 2015 3 comments

In my ongoing chronological reading through Spurgeon sermons, near the end of 1863 comes a sermon  which includes a great quote I recognized – from its inclusion in some free audio recordings of classic Christian books:

Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted; he who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own! Brothers and Sisters, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritan writers, and expositions of the Bible.

The full sermon references Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:13, Bring the cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come—and the books, but especially the parchments.”  Spurgeon here notes some interesting points that I had not considered: we do not know what these books were (and books were few and rare in ancient times, unlike our world after the invention of the Printing Press), yet:

Even an apostle must read. He is Inspired, and yet he needs books! He has been preaching for at least 30 years, and yet he needs books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he needs books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he needs books! He had been caught up into the Third Heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he needs books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he needs books!

The apostle here is also not ashamed to confess that he reads books. He has no secrets to keep from young Timothy, and tells Timothy about his books. Paul needs books, and is not ashamed to tell Timothy that he does; and Timothy may go and tell Tychicus and Titus if he likes—Paul does not care.

Furthermore, Paul is in prison, yet here shows himself as industrious. He cannot work a trade, and he cannot preach – so he will read. He is in prison; he cannot preach—what will he do? As he can-not preach, he will read! As we read of the fishermen of old and their boats, the fishermen were out of them. What were they doing? Mending their nets! So if Providence has laid you upon a sick bed, and you cannot teach your class—if you cannot be working for God in public, mend your nets by reading! If one occupation is taken from you, take another, and let the books of the Apostle read you a lesson of industry.  

Especially the parchments: possibly these were scripture parchments, or even some of Paul’s own parchments, his epistles we know as part of the inspired canon of scripture. Here again, great words from Spurgeon affirming the importance of reading the Bible:

 Now, it must be, “Especially the parchments” with all our reading; let it be especially the Bible. Do you attach no weight to this advice? This advice is more needed in England now than almost at any other time, for the number of persons who read the Bible, I believe, is becoming smaller every day. … the Book, the good old Book, the Divine Fountainhead from which all Revelation wells up—this is too often left! You may go to human puddles until you forsake the clear crystal stream which flows from the Throne of God. Read the books, by all means, but especially the parchments! Search human literature, if you will, but especially stand fast by that Book which is Infallible, the Revelation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

He Said in His Heart: David and Jeroboam

January 15, 2013 4 comments

From recent Bible readings in my Genre reading plan, I’ve noticed certain phrases often mentioned throughout the Bible. One to consider this time:  “Said in his heart” and similar variations such as “say in your heart.”

The phrase occurs first in Genesis 8:21, telling what the Lord said in His heart, in reference to God’s receiving Noah’s offering after the flood.  All other uses of the phrase tell us the human reasoning of certain individuals, indicating the person’s inner, secret thoughts: the thoughts of the spirit within a man, which we cannot know (1 Cor. 2:11) — except that in all these cases through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the writing of scripture, these thoughts are revealed to us.

I notice that whenever the phrase “said in his heart” refers to a person or people, the idea expressed comes from human reasoning not directed by the Lord God, an error in the person’s thinking.  The phrase, or similar wording such as “say in your heart,” is found in many passages including Deuteronomy 7:17, 8:17, 9:4, and 18:21; in Obadiah, about Edom, and Zephaniah 2:15 about the exultant and wicked city; Isaiah 47:8, about the wicked, and Isaiah 49:21 about God’s people when they return to Him; also in Jeremiah 13:22, Ecclesiastes 2:1, 15; and finally in Romans 10:6, quoting an Old Testament passage.

Two such occurrences are especially interesting, in the similar wording yet the great contrasts:  David, and Jeroboam.

“Jeroboam said in his heart” (1 Kings 12:26) — Here we see Jeroboam’s human reasoning, a fear that the people of Israel would go up to Jerusalem to worship and turn against Jeroboam — and the disastrous result, the introduction of idolatry to Israel.  It’s also the same phrase used of David in 1 Samuel 27:1 (Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul.”) which introduced David’s declension and backsliding away from the Lord for the next year and a half in Philistine territory.

Both men faltered, thinking something in their own heart that was contrary to the word of God.  Yet in David’s case, by God’s grace, David was later restored to fellowship with Him:  1 Samuel 30:6, “But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God,” indicating David’s return to a right relationship with the Lord.  God did not do that for Jeroboam when Jeroboam said something in his heart.  I’m reminded also of the common contrast between Peter and Judas: they both committed a sin against the Lord, one denying the Lord, the other betraying; and yet one was saved, the Lord interceding for and restoring him to right relationship, and the other (Judas) was not.

Water from the Rock: Genre Reading Selections

November 24, 2012 4 comments

From my recent readings in a genre style plan, the following passages came up together one day — a few interesting passages to think upon:

  •  John 7:37-39, when Jesus stood up, on the last day, the great day of the Feast, and proclaimed Himself the source of the river of living water
  • Next, Exodus 17:1-7, the story of that event so well remembered thousands of years later at the Feast in John 7: Moses striking the rock, and water coming out for the thirsty people in the desert
  • An unrelated event, one I wouldn’t have thought of except that it was also in the daily genre reading selection:  Judges 15:19, a time when Samson was given special grace, that a “hollow place” in the wilderness split open and provided him water, so that “his spirit returned, and he revived.”
  • Isaiah 48, a great chapter about the suffering servant, including a well-known Old Testament trinity verse (Isaiah 48:16), and in verse 21 another reference to the water from the rock:

They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts;
he made water flow for them from the rock;
he split the rock and the water gushed out.

In God’s word, water is often used as a picture of the Holy Spirit, that which refreshes our soul as physical water refreshes our thirst.  Many other Bible verses also speak of coming to the water, as for instance Isaiah 55:1 and again at the very end of the Bible, Revelation 22:17.  The rock is our God (the first mention in Deuteronomy 32:31), also Christ specifically (1 Corinthians 10:4).  Thus the scriptures also show the importance of the idea of water from the rock, through repetition and remembrance as in the above mentioned texts.

Bible Verses Misused: Missionary and Other Topics

November 13, 2012 4 comments

Many of us can think of particular misapplications of scripture verses, such as topical sermons where the preacher starts with the topic and then picks out certain Bible verses to “fit” that topic—especially a problem when the text chosen has nothing to do with that particular topic.  Often, indeed, the idea being taught is found in the Bible, but we realize that other verses, more to the point, would have been more suitable.

A particularly bizarre time, from a layperson filling in for the regular pastor, involved a sermon about the salvation of children and how children come to know the Lord – from Jeremiah 48:11:

 ​​​​​​​​“Moab has been at ease from his youth and hassettled on his dregs; he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into exile; so his taste remains in him, and his scent is not changed.”

The book of Revelation, including narrative sections describing events such as Revelation 11 or Revelation 13, being taught only as basic soteriology, is another obvious example.  The way some preach through Revelation, one wonders why God chose to give us that book of the Bible and why it was included in the canon of scripture.  After all, the way it comes out in some sermon series, the only truth found in Revelation is that which is already taught, very clearly and in abundance, elsewhere in the New Testament.

Another common area for scripture misuse, that I’ve especially seen in the last few weeks:  Old Testament texts treated as having to do with the spread of the gospel and missionary work throughout the world in this age.  A visiting missionary with a pragmatic topical message about getting people involved in evangelism and sharing the gospel with all the foreigners now among us in the U.S., who took part of Exodus 9:16 as the sermon verse:  “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”  Only the last part of the verse was referenced, of course, because Exodus 9:16 is actually a great statement about God’s sovereignty, God’s sovereign purposes especially in election of saved individuals: the same meaning of which is taken up by Paul when he quoted it in full in Romans 9:17.  The missionary took a declarative statement, similar to other great statements such as Habakkuk 2:14, about God’s name and God’s glory being proclaimed throughout the earth, as the purpose statement for mission work.

Agreed, mission work is important and not to be neglected:  but so is the truth and context of God’s word.  Many other passages are suitable, ones that actually relate to mission work: the “Great Commission” of Matthew 28, for instance, as well as Romans 10 and especially parts of the book of Acts, the main book describing actual missionary work, its adventures and its fruit.

Furthermore, such misuses of Bible verses lead to error, perhaps subtle, but nonetheless error – what would be avoided by careful teaching and preaching of the actual verses that do speak to missionary work.  The subtle, implied idea behind Exodus 9:16 as a missionary statement, is man’s involvement and even the necessity of man doing the work, in bringing about what God has already declared: that His name will be declared in all the earth.  Yes, agreed, God uses means to accomplish His work, and that work does include the work of missionaries to foreign lands, bringing the gospel to areas so that people can hear God’s word – so well brought out in Romans 10.  But to take Exodus 9:16b as a statement for missionary work comes across as a way of attempting to rob God of His glory, since that verse especially has to do with God’s power and sovereignty, a passage and section of God’s word focused on the attributes of God, not on men doing evangelism and missionary work.  My glory will I not give to another  (Isaiah 42:8) comes to mind.

The Genesis Patriarchs: Ages, Years and Arithmetic

November 5, 2012 2 comments

For my Bible reading I’ve been following a genre style approach with 12-14 chapters per day, from Professor Horner’s Ten List idea, for about 3 ½ years now.  Over time, I find that through repeated readings I notice more and more things in the same text: a lot of the wonder of God’s word, that it is always fresh and new and never runs out of depth of material.

I’m now reading through Genesis, a book included in a 109 day cycle through the Pentateuch.  S. Lewis Johnson’s Genesis series is one that I remember more than some series. I learned of the doctrine of first mention from this series; that Sarah is the only woman in the Bible for whom we are given her age at death (127 years); and the biblical-historical rationale and importance concerning the burial of the body as opposed to cremation.  Also, the frequent mentions of Isaac and his love of Esau’s game, such that SLJ observed that Isaac probably had a large pot (belly) from his great love of food, as well as the overall life lessons of Jacob and how God dealt with him, sending him a Laban just as shrewd as himself; and why it was necessary for Jacob and his family to be sent to Egypt, and in the way it was done: to keep the family line secure and separate from the other peoples.

Now to another observation from regular reading through Genesis:  the many numbers and year and age figures provided, and the fact of the very long lives of people during the patriarchal period, with lifespans twice that of now (and even of the lifespans less than a thousand years later).  This especially comes out in the Jacob saga and the people associated with him.  We first meet Laban in Genesis 24, an adult brother of Rebekah.  Esau and Jacob were born twenty years later (Genesis 25:20, 26), were past age 40 (Genesis 26:34) and actually in their 70s (continue reading) — when Jacob stole the blessing from Esau.  Then Jacob — over ninety years after Genesis 24 — meets his uncle Laban, who continues in the story for the next twenty years.  Over a hundred years after Laban’s sister Rebekah left to marry Isaac, Laban is still physically active and able to pursue after Jacob in Genesis 31.

We also learn from Genesis that Joseph was born at the end of the 14 years work for both brides Leah and Rachel (Genesis 30:25).  Benjamin was born at least seven years later. Genesis 31 verses 38 and 41 note that Jacob had been with Laban 20 years at that point: six years after Joseph was born; and other verses indicate that Jacob’s children were still young when Jacob fled from Laban.  Then allow some period of time for the events of Genesis 34, perhaps a year, and then Rachel gave birth to Benjamin while they were journeying from Shechem to Ephrath (Genesis 35:16-18).  This agrees with the fact that Benjamin was not involved in the plot of the older brothers selling Joseph into slavery, when Joseph was 17 but Benjamin was still a young boy perhaps ten years old.

Jacob was 120 years old when his father Isaac died (Genesis 35:27-29): Isaac 180 years old, minus 60 years when Jacob and Esau were born.  If the later time and age sequences are correct, though, Isaac’s death occurred during Joseph’s time in Egypt, after the events of Genesis 37.

Working backward from Genesis 47:9 when Jacob was 130 years old, apparently Jacob was 91 when Joseph was born.  Jacob and sons entered Egypt after two years of famine, with five more years of famine, and so Joseph was then 39 years old: age 30 when he entered Pharoah’s service (Genesis 41:46); then seven years of plenty, plus two years of famine = 39.  Thus Jacob was in his 70s when he entered into service with Laban. So the incident of Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing came when they were in their 70s, after Esau had been married for many years to the Hittite women.  After all, by the time of Genesis 27 Isaac is old and his eyes set so that he cannot see; and he wanted to give the blessing to his son, since “I do not know the day of my death.” When Jacob and Esau were 75, Isaac was 60 years older, 135 (not knowing he would live till age 180).  Perhaps Esau already had children by those wives he married at age 40, a part not relevant to the story, which concerned the two men and the blessing.

Of course the book of Genesis has much more to tell, of which all these numbers and years are merely the background.  Yet we can also learn from these details, as well as the genealogies spread throughout Genesis, that our God is involved in the lives of His people, and that He is even interested in the details of people’s lives and their families and family lines.

The First Mention of Caves in the Bible

October 27, 2012 5 comments

Earlier this month on vacation, I visited Mammoth Cave National Park, and so the topic of caves was near to mind in my daily Bible reading this week when I came upon this first mention of a cave, Genesis 19:30 (speaking of Lot): “So he lived in a cave with his two daughters.”

One thing clearly brought out by the rangers doing the cave tours, concerning the history of man and caves, is the fact that – despite the common joke about men who “could live in a cave” — people don’t live in caves.  Men have explored caves for their treasures, and they have at times lived in the shelter overhangs of rocks, near the caves – but never in the caves, for several obvious reasons including lack of light and food.

From a quick look at all the references to caves in the Bible, the main idea associated with caves is as a place of hiding, when in great fear and distress.  Caves also are the place of the dead, the burial sites as described later in Genesis as well as John 11, Lazarus’ tomb.  In Gideon’s time the people built the caves and strongholds, meaning of course not actual caves themselves but places near the surface and among the rocks and caves.  David and his men often hid in the caves, as did Elijah in his flight from Jezebel.  Caves are also sometimes associated with judgment, as the place where the wicked go to in their attempts to evade capture and judgment: for instance, the Canaanite kings defeated by Joshua (Joshua 10:16-27); but especially during the future Great Tribulation (Revelation 6:15; Isaiah 2:19-21).

The first mention account of caves, near the end of Lot’s recorded life, adds this sad if seemingly trivial fact, that he lived in a cave.  After trying to have both the world and a godly life, and ending up with no influence in Sodom or even in his own family, the sad picture of Lot includes hiding and actually “living in” a cave: a fear so great, one difficult even to comprehend, that one should willingly dwell in a place of darkness, and a tragic testimony to what the fear of man can do.

J.C. Ryle’s observations concerning Lot, from Holiness, are well for us to remember:

Lot left no evidences behind him when he died. We know but little about Lot after his flight from Sodom, and all that we do know is unsatisfactory. His pleading for Zoar because it was “a little one,” his departure from Zoar afterwards, and his conduct with his daughters in the cave — all, all tell the same story. All show the weakness of the grace which was in him, and the low state of soul into which he had fallen.

We don’t know how long he lived after his escape. We don’t know where he died, or when he died, whether he saw Abraham again, what was the manner of his death, what he said or what he thought. All these are hidden things. We are told of the last days of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David — but not one word about Lot. Oh, what a gloomy deathbed — the deathbed of Lot must have been!

The Scripture appears to draw a veil around him on purpose. There is a painful silence about his latter end. He seems to go out like an expiring lamp, and to leave an ill odor behind him. And had we not been specially told in the New Testament that Lot was “just” and “righteous” — I truly believe we would have doubted whether Lot was a saved soul at all!

Another Horner Bible Reading Variation: 9 Lists Through the Bible in 109 days

June 16, 2012 Leave a comment

A follow-up from last month’s update concerning Bible genre reading. I recently switched over to the 8 list plan described there, and made slight modifications to make it a 9-list plan.  The main change this time is to have two separate New Testament lists of one chapter each, instead of two chapters going through all of Acts through Revelation.  One list reads through all the non-Paul NT books: Acts, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1-2-3 John, Jude, and Revelation, one chapter per day.  The other list is the Pauline epistles: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.  The lists for Psalms and Proverbs have slight changes too:  Psalms and Ecclesiastes together, two chapters per day, then five days of Lamentations at one chapter per day, for 86 days through that list.  The Proverbs list, minus Lamentations, is now 85 days.  In the actual plan a few days’ readings are adjusted to one or two chapters in some cases, for handling of shorter or longer chapters along with the “lowest common multiple” list-realignment factor.

I’ve also experimented with different list orders, applying the alternating pattern (between New and Old Testament readings) with the wisdom books in the middle.  The nine list plan, with an extra New Testament list, gives more flexibility in list sequence:  start with the gospels, and end with one of the New Testament lists, but insert the other New Testament list in the middle.  Sequence is of course only a matter of personal preference.  Many people who start the Horner or similar reading plan at first just want to read the lists in actual sequence from Genesis to the end.  But alternating between the different genres, including NT versus OT genres, helps with the overall daily reading flow.

The nine lists:

  • Gospels (1 chapter/day):  89 days
  • Pentateuch (1-2 chapters/day):  109 days
  • Pauline Epistles (1 chapter/day): 87 days
  • History (2 chapters/day):  98 days
  • Prophets (2 chapters/day): 94 days
  • Psalms/Lamentations/Eccles (2 chapters/day):  86 days
  • Proverbs/Job/Song/Ruth (1 chapter/day):  85 days
  • Esther-to-Chronicles (1 chapter/day): 106 days
  • Acts-to-Revelation (non-Paul) (1 chapter/day): 83 days

The PDF reading list

Doctrine and the Spirit

May 10, 2012 2 comments

This week has seen some excellent blog articles on the ever-important topic of doctrine and the Holy Spirit:

Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs:  “What is Written”

The Cripplegate:  Driscoll vs. Calvin, Doctrine vs. the Spirit

Then, from listening to S. Lewis Johnson’s Romans series (in Romans 10) recently, the following great words:

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  …  Mr. Moody said, “I prayed for faith and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning.  But faith did not seem to come.  One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘Now faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’  I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith.  I now opened my Bible and began to study the word of God, and faith has been growing ever since.”

If you want to know how to have faith, begin and grow, it’s through Scripture.  The reason the apostles had faith was because they had contact with Jesus Christ.  The only way in which you can have contact with Jesus Christ is through the Scripture.  By the Scriptures you may be with our Lord Jesus Christ.  You may be with Him when He preaches the word.  You may be with in that boat on the Sea of Galilee when the storm comes.  You may be with Him in the synagogue when He casts out the money changers.  You may be with Him as he makes his way toward Calvary.  You may even be with Him around the cross of Calvary, and Hear him cry out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”  You may be with Him in his resurrection.  You may hear the lessons that He taught the apostles.  You may really be there by the Holy Spirit.  You see, faith comes through contact with Jesus Christ in the word of God.  That’s the only place that you can find faith, but we go looking for every other place than that place.

The Horner Bible Reading System: Another Variation

May 5, 2012 2 comments

I’ve often blogged about the Horner Bible Reading Plan and modifications to it. At the core is a genre-based reading system in which one reads one or two chapters from each of several lists each day.  Such a plan usually includes anywhere from 6 to 12 lists, and each list has a certain number of Bible books; each list represents a different genre, such as the Pentateuch, history, prophets, literature, gospel, NT epistles, and so forth.  In this way one is always reading a small portion from each of the different parts of the Bible.  The Horner Ten List plan is the most well-known one, announced a few years ago by Professor Grant Horner.  In such a plan, for the first day one reads the first one or two chapters from list 1, then one or two chapters from list 2, and so forth through all the lists. The next day, read the next chapters for each list, and so on until you reach the end of the list.

For most genre plans, the lists are of different lengths, so that one list will be finished while still reading through the other lists. When you finish the end of one list, you start back at the beginning of that same list. The result is an infinite possibility of different reading “combinations” each day, that you’re never reading the exact same set of Bible chapters from day to day.  Currently I follow an 8-list, 12-13 chapters genre plan, the result of various modifications made to the original Horner 10 List Plan, which I began in early 2009.

In early 2011 I created and read through a “90 day genre reading” plan to complete the Bible in 90 days: not the usual 90 day plan of going straight through from Genesis to Revelation, but a set of 9 lists for the different genres.

The genre plan is easy to follow and modify, and it’s fun to come up with different reading lists.  On the facebook genre Bible reading group, a few others are reading with the 90 day genre plan — and coming up with their own modifications to that, such as to have fewer lists (six total) and more chapters, in some cases three chapters at a time.

Now for another 8 list plan idea, one I plan to switch over to in the next few weeks.  (Here is the link to the plan.) This one incorporates the Jewish Old Testament book sequence (this site shows the Jewish book sequence), which differs from the Christian canon, for a few different reading lists.  Note that the Pentateuch and gospel lists remain unchanged, and List 8, NT books, is the same as that list in the 90 day plan.  Like the 90 day plan, this one is more balanced between Old and New Testaments, for only three chapters per day (two lists) in the NT.  The Psalms list is similar to the one for the current 8 lists, except that I removed “Song of Solomon” and put it with List 6, per the Jewish OT book sequence.  As seen in the PDF, I tweaked the actual readings for a few days, to compensate for lengthier or shorter chapters within the lists, as well as to minimize the frequency of list realignment. (List realignment occurs when, after multiple times through the various lists, two of the lists are “synced” back to the same days as in the first time through.  This reading plan will have its first realignment — lists 2 and 5 — after almost 2 3/4 years of doing this plan.  Other lists would take over 7 years to realign to the original lists.)

List 1: Pentateuch — 1 or 2 chapters per day, 109 days
List 2: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Ezekiel (from “The Prophets”): 2 chapters per day, 98 days
List 3: Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Twelve (minor prophets; from “The Prophets” list): 2 chapters per day, 94 days
List 4: Psalms 2 chapters per day, Ecclesiastes 1 chapter per day: 87 days
List 5: Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, 1 chapter per day: 90 days
List 6: Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles, 1 chapter per day: 106 days
List 7: Gospels, 1 chapter per day: 89 days
List 8: NT Acts through Revelation, 2 chapters per day: 88 days

The PDF reading list

The Mature Christian Worldview And Its Fruit

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve enjoyed reading Dan Phillips’ books (see this post).  From those books and other recent events, the following are just some observations about the Christian life and our worldview.

From The World-Tilting Gospel:  yes, studying God’s word can (and often does) lead to pride and looking down on others who haven’t studied it.  Dan admitted it happened to him; it happened to me as well.  However, NOT studying God’s word will also bring pride.  Pride can feed on anything, and even on absolutely nothing, such as the deliberately-empty “waiting on God” attitude.

From God’s Wisdom in Proverbs: a very good point about how we choose our friends and even (especially) marriage partners: we should choose our friends not only from those who are Christians, but from those who are growing and maturing Christians.  Indeed the difference is so important, and how I wish these books had been available in my early Christian days 20 years ago (and that I had read them then).  It is not enough to be satisfied with friends who are Christian, yet who in their daily lives are focused on this world’s cares instead of growing in their knowledge and understanding.

It really is true, that where our treasure is, there our heart will be as well (Matt. 6:21, Luke 12:34).  I think of specific individuals (preachers) and their attitude toward God’s word – and the fruit of such an attitude.  Take for instance the local preacher who continually shows only a low view of scripture and superficial understanding of God’s word, combined with man’s views of scripture (such as progressive creation, amillennialism, preterism).  Like with so many who refuse to believe, the mind is instead focused on pointing out how the words in the Bible really don’t mean what they say they mean, but instead “it really means this.”  What are the fruits of this type of mindset?  He is also very focused on preserving and hanging on to  this life, with casual comments about how our lives are so uncertain, how short our lives are, we never know when it will end; even remarks about how we all say we want to go to heaven, just not right now.

Certainly such a view has some truth — provided that it is balanced with the Christian worldview.  After making such comments about preserving this life, why not continue the application?  When good preachers who highly treasure God’s word and spend their time studying it rather than “reinterpreting it” point out the uncertainty of life, they don’t stop there —  but direct such comments specifically to the unsaved in the audience, imploring them to come to Christ before it’s too late.

Contrast the above attitude with that of individuals with a high view of scripture, who show great depth of understanding, who believe and love the doctrines in God’s word.  The focus is on God’s word and conforming the mind to what God says, rather than trying to conform scripture to man’s understanding.

Here I observe the following fruit from such preachers:  humor and illustrations that focus on our eternal existence.  S. Lewis Johnson would joke about how he didn’t really understand what a certain person said about the term “heavy” – because he hadn’t received any of George Foreman’s blows, and he didn’t want to do that until he had his resurrection body (when he wouldn’t particularly mind). He often talked about what we’ll do when we get to heaven, about meeting with and having conversations with characters from the Bible.  Then he would relate that to the importance of studying God’s word, and why we should even study the minor characters: so that when you meet up with Obadiah you’ll know who he is and know what to talk about him with.

Instead of speculating and reasoning from man’s view to come up with ideas not in the text (such as a preterist view that the “shaking” mentioned in Hebrews 12:26 actually happened at the cross followed by judgment in 70 A.D.), SLJ would speculate about heavenly things, wondering if the saints in heaven are aware of us and what we’re doing.