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).
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.
(1/21/18) – Medical science informs us that the events surrounding a baby’s birth is a key factor in a child’s development. A long, drawn out, painful and complicated birth can have a lasting negative impact and that is why it is vital that much attention is given to provide a safe, healthy process and environment for a baby. When it comes to spiritual birth into the kingdom of God, how can we make sure the new baby is off to a good start in its new life in Christ? What does a NORMAL Christian birth look like? If we could standardize the process, what things would we put in place?
I received an email today asking me about why I started King’s Church, especially knowing it would be a very small start up situation. I will edit some of what they wrote so that they are not identified in any way, but they are wondering about their own situation and whether or not a new Church should be started near them.
They wrote: I understand that King’s Church began in your home. I am wondering if you have any link to a testimony you have given as to why King’s Church began in your home. Was there a need for it? A church plant from another church?
No, I don’t have a link to any testimony regarding starting King’s Church.
Need? Well there is always the need for sound, biblical churches in any locality, and of course, there is biblical precedent for a church to meet in a house (Rom. 16:5; Col. 4:15), but the reason King’s Church started was just a burning and lasting conviction (for more than a year) that this is what I should do. In a nutshell, I felt starting the Church was “the call of God” on my life.
It is vital that this is in place in the heart and mind of the pastor. I cannot stress that enough. If the man can live his life without doing this, he should not start the Church.
There is no doubt the enemy will not leave a biblically sound church alone but will seek its destruction for sure. That is true, no matter what the size, but a small church starting can easily be hit by even a few people leaving. The winds and waves can be strong and even severe at times. There needs to be a long term commitment from the pastor that this is his life’s work – he is not there to merely “try” this, or to see if it works… he is there for the rest of his life (if needed) to establish this – BECAUSE HE CANNOT SLEEP AT NIGHT IF HE DOES NOT DO THIS! Then there needs to be a life that backs that commitment up.
Just about everything in life starts small and as a seed. Scripture says “Do not despise the day of small things.” (Zech. 4:10) We are told this for the simple reason that it is VERY easy to do exactly that – to despise something that is small. This is especially true in America when so much is measured by its size. Lets always remember though, a large oak tree is simply an acorn that held its ground.
The call of God to pastor and specifically to start a church is difficult to explain and very subjective (I realize) – but in my own case, this conviction only seemed to grow over time and I felt it was confirmed by other pastors both locally and far away who provided much encouragement for me to do so. I think that is important. Many believe they have gifts suited for a task but it is the Body of Christ who can confirm whether this is true or whether someone is self-deceived. By way of analogy, in a worldly setting, a lot of people think they are amazing singers, only to be exposed on “American Idol” as having a “talent” the Lord wouldn’t mind them burying.
Bear in mind too that I had decades of pastoral experience both in the UK and here, specifically in start up churches, so this proposed new venture would be done with my eyes wide open, so to speak – knowing some of the hardships and issues we may well encounter before we began.
While we were not a church plant, I was assured that other pastors would be behind me, at least in prayer, so I would not be on my own. It would be the best scenario if we were a church plant, and had access to resources beyond our own, but such was not the case. But at least I could get good advice from fellow pastors. They also expressed their willingness for me to talk with them at any time.
I say this because I don’t think it is wise to be totally on your own in starting a Church. The road is never an easy one, and it is imperative to have others you can turn to for advice along the way.
I hope something in what is above can be helpful to you.
The Ascended Christ has given gifts to men (Eph. 4:11,12), one of these gifts being the pastor/teacher. Pastors are given the assignment of leading, feeding and caring for the sheep, as well as fending off wolves who would seek to devour them.
Every Pastor is very human. As the saying goes, “the best of men are men at best.” Some things encourage them greatly, while other things are definitely hard to deal with. A pastor must always remember Whom he is most trying to please, that being God Himself. He must please the Audience of One. While he wishes all to be happy as the local Church moves forward in the Lord, in the final analysis, if God is pleased, it does not matter who is displeased. Conversely, if God is displeased, it does not matter who is pleased. A Pastor lives, eats, sleeps and breathes to see a people formed who want that also – the will of the Chief Shepherd in their lives.
With this in mind, Dr. Ligon Duncan answers the question, “how can I as a Church member best support my pastor?”: