by John Samson | Mar 21, 2018 | Articles
Transcript of The Dividing Line. March 6, 2018 at the 9:00 minute mark, Dr. James White.
“I believe very, very strongly that the central act of worship of the Church is the full and careful and balanced ministry of the word of God to the people of God, gathered together to hear what God has to say. So meaningful, sound, solid exegesis – everything we do before and after – if there is anything after – is simply meant to heighten and to prepare us, to put us in the proper frame of mind to be obedient and to have hearing ears. Anything that we put into that worship service that closes our ears, distracts us, in any way shuts down our ability to hear the word is wrong – it is going the wrong direction. And the most important thing that a shepherd of the sheep can do is to faithfully communicate not just the part of the message you think is all fire important but if you really believe that all scripture (not just some) but all scripture is theopneustos (God breathed) then you need to deliver all of it… all of it. And that means covering some stuff that ain’t going to make people see gold-dust coming out of the ceiling. I mean there is some tough stuff to handle – there is some difficult stuff in there. And that means there are going to be services that are highly instructional, there are going to be services that are incredibly uplifting, there are going to be services that do bring you into the very presence of God in heaven and there are others that absolutely smack you down into the dirt, when you realize how much of God’s grace you take for granted, and how few of the duties are ours we actually pursue with the proper zeal of redeemed people. In other words, it is going to be balanced. And the balance is determined not by us but by what is found in the Scriptures given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – that canon of Scripture God has given to us – that… that is where our balance is to be found.”
by John Samson | Mar 13, 2018 | Articles
Pastor John Samson
Here at King’s Church the English Standard Version of the Bible is the translation most frequently used in our services. I mention this for two main reasons; the first being that it can be very confusing if we have the different words in front of us in our Bibles as the sermon is being preached. This can be very alarming for new Christians who are not aware of the issues and see a text in front of them that is sometimes quite different from what the preacher is using.
Decades ago, there was only one real Bible version of choice, the King James Version. History tells us that it was actually the Geneva Bible, with its Reformation based explanatory study notes, that was the very first Bible to come over to the shores of America on the Mayflower. However, the growing popularity of the KJV eventually made seeing the Geneva Bible a rare event in church services and homes.
The King James Version is certainly an excellent translation which has served the church for many generations. However, the meaning of words have changed a great deal in the centuries since the first printing of the KJV in 1611. Many preachers (me included) found that when using it, much time was required in a sermon to update and explain the archaic language used. A newer translation removes the need for this.
In addition to the archaic language of the KJV, what we know of the original text and languages has improved significantly in the last 400 years or so. The Church in our day has needed a Bible translation which reflects this great advancement in scholarship.
In some church services, there can be as many as 10 to 15 different versions in use. Of course, people can use any translation they like. They are definitely free to do so! Yet I think it is very helpful for pastors and elders to recommend one main translation to eliminate any potential confusion for a congregation.
With this as a foundation, the next question we need to ask is “which is the best Bible to use?”
This leads me to talk about the second reason for choosing the ESV. It stems from the desire to have an essentially literal translation (a “word for word” translation) in use rather than a dynamic equivalent, or “thought for thought” one. The primary advantage in choosing a “word for word” translation is that it gives us confidence that what we read in our Bibles are the equivalent English words for what the authors actually wrote. There is no need to wonder at every point where translation ends and subjective, personal commentary begins or if important material might be omitted from the original. The ESV is highly regarded for both its accuracy of translation and readability.
Certainly, there are other excellent translations out there. For years I have used the New American Standard Bible (NASB) which is a wonderful and accurate translation. However, a choice needed to be made and it is the ESV that is our Bible of choice here at King’s Church.
STUDY BIBLE: For those interested in a study Bible, the King’s Church Elders highly recommend the Reformation Study Bible in the ESV, available in a number of formats at ligonier.org. Along with sound and helpful study notes and articles written by trusted scholars, it also contains the main historic ecumenical Creeds and Confessions of the Church, including the one we affirm, the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689).
by John Samson | Mar 1, 2018 | Articles
The Bible does not merely show sinners to be undeserving, but as ill-deserving. So often we are inclined to think of ourselves, prior to our salvation, as in some sense “neutral” in the sight of God. We are willing to admit that we have done nothing to deserve His favor, but this is entirely insufficient as a background to the understanding of divine grace. It is not simply that we do not deserve grace: we do deserve hell!
Grace is stripped of its meaning when it is merely thought of as a “good business decision” on God’s part. I am referring here to the mistaken idea that God saw our “worth” and decided that the high price was indeed right, and that He would pay the necessary expense to bring us safely to heaven. No, a thousand times, no! That’s not grace at all. That’s just a good business deal!
Grace is seen in this – while we were wretches; while we were sinners, shaking our fists at God, hating God, defying God in thought, word and deed – every single one of us; God did something ridiculous – paying an outlandish and scandalous price to redeem us (the blood of His beloved Son). This was not because He calculated it all out and thought it was a good investment on His part; that we were “worth it.” No, God was motivated by His radical, amazing, abundant and all conquering love alone, as He set about saving a people for Himself. There was nothing of intrinsic worth in the creatures He redeemed. Any worth we had was entirely borrowed from the God who made us in His image.
I find that all of us really need to get this in our bloodstream, so to speak, before grace can be fully appreciated. At times, we are far too quick to talk of God’s remedy for sin before we have described and firmly established our terrible plight before a holy and just God. Fallen humanity is not to be thought of as merely helpless, but as openly hostile toward God. It is one thing to be without a God-approved righteousness. It is altogether another thing to be wholly unrighteous and deserving of divine wrath. It is, then, against the background of having been at one time the enemies of God that divine grace is to be portrayed, for “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10).
Grace is sovereign and free. Although God is gracious in His eternal being, He need not be gracious or shower His grace upon anyone. Think about it – though many angels had fallen into sin, no plan was ever initiated to rescue even one of these angels from the fierce wrath of God. Yet, the angels of God surrounding the throne are still singing “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.” In the heavenly courts, there is not even a hint of injustice in any of this. Why? Because God is never obligated to show mercy to any of His creatures. No injustice takes place when justice is administrated! If God was ever obliged to show mercy, we would not be speaking of mercy at all, but of justice.
Grace is not to be thought of as in any sense dependent upon our merit or demerit. This may be expressed in two ways. As said above, in the first place, grace stops being grace if God is compelled to give it. But more than this, grace treats a person without the slightest reference to merit whatsoever, but solely according to the good pleasure of God. Since grace is a gift, no work is to be performed, no offering made, to repay God for His favor.