Genesis – The Beginning

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Image result for the big bang images public domainLast time we were together I mentioned to you that all the old episodes of the show were back up and available. I can’t tell you how excited I am about that. But it kind of changes the direction of the show. All the programs related to books of the New Testament, are available to you, beginning with episode 16. That’s where we started looking at the book of Matthew. I’m going to link to that episode in the show notes, but I will also put a link to the Podcast Garden website, and an RSS feed link so you can get the episodes. For those of you with a Stitcher app on your phone, you can search ReDiscovering the Bible and get all the episodes that way. I still haven’t checked to see what our status is on iTunes, but since iTunes is going away, I’m not in a big hurry to look at it. I do know that if you have the podcast player app, that you can find us there. Please tell your friends about the show, and let me know if there are other places we should be. I’m still working on Spotify. Stay tuned.

Today, we’re going to start looking at the books of the Old Testament. Honestly, they are much harder to understand in the 21st century than the books of the New Testament. That’s why I always recommend reading the NT first. And twice if you can, before you read the Old Testament. And, read the book of Hebrews in the New Testament just before you start reading the old testament, as it’s like a decoder ring for helping you understand the Old Testament. I’m serious. If you read Hebrews first, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

The Old Testament, just like the New, is about Jesus. But is was written long before he was born. The oldest books were about 1400 years before, and the most recent was about 400 years before he was born.

From the 12th Chapter of Genesis on, the OT deals with the nation of Israel, the Jews. The storyline goes simply that God chose this guy Abraham to bring the savior of the world through his offspring. As you read, you’ll see why. I just don’t want to get into the weeds just yet. Since Abraham had multiple children, God chose to work through his son, Isaac. Isaac had 2 sons, Jacob and Esau. The bloodline was to go through Jacob. Jacob has 12 sons. They become the nation of Israel. The rest of the Old Testament is about their trials and tribulations as a people. Their great successes and their catastrophic failures. The Bible doesn’t suggest that the Jews are the only people on earth or that God doesn’t care about other nations. It’s simply that the coming Saviour is to come through the Jews.

God gives them some special and strict laws. Those laws were for the Jews only. There are some horrific things that happen in the Old Testament. I will try and explain them as we get to them. We are not under the old testament laws anymore. Jesus changed all that. The new testament tells us that He fulfilled all the requirements, and we are in a new covenant with God. It’s not one written in stone, but written on our hearts. Jesus has set us free from all that. And as we go, you’ll see why Christianity is such a great thing.

One other thing. The books of the Old Testament are not put together in your Bible in chronological order. They are grouped according to theme. Oddly, the first books, are the first ones. There are 5 of them. In fact, the Books are divided into 5 themes. And you only have to remember these numbers, 5, 12, 5,5, 12. There are the 5 books of law, followed by the 12 books of history, then we have the 5 books of poetry, followed by 5 the five, Major prophets, and we finish with the 12 minor prophets. The names major and minor are only because of the lengths of the books. Nothing to do with importance.

God is the ultimate author of these books. Paul wrote to Timothy and said, that all Scripture is God Breathed. But God had nothing to do with the order in which we have them in our Bible. It’s probably not in the best reading order. But we’ll go through them in the order you find them in the table of Contents.

The first book is Genesis. Genesis, means beginning. Kind of makes sense. And there are several beginnings described in the book. Moses is the author. It was written between 1447 and 1407 BC, during the 40 years the Israelis were wandering in the wilderness.

In the book, Moses tells us about several beginnings. He tells us about the beginning of the world. Then he tells us about the beginning of Sin, and God’s plan to redeem the world. And he describes the Beginning of the nation of Israel. As you read, keep in mind that the Bible never pretends that the Jews, are the only people on earth. It is focused on them, because they are chosen to bring the Saviour to the world.

You will learn a lot about how bad Sin is. How great God is. And how impossible it is to be religious. Say what? One of the things the old testament teaches us is that sin separates us from God and that religion, however good it is, is not effective. But I’ll come back to that. You’re still shocked by hearing a conservative preacher say such things about religion.

Let’s take a closer look at the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Those chapters sound so odd to our 21st century ears. In many ways, it reminds of of reading Gilgamesh, or Homer, or old stories from Greco or Roman legends. Some of that has to do with writing styles. And some is just the way the history is remembered and passed on.

Remember, Moses wasn’t there at the beginning. He was relaying the story as it was handed to him from generations before. In fact, most scholars think that Genesis 1 is like a poem, or something similar, which is how each generation taught the Creation of the world. There’s a huge difference is the style in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

I think Chapter 1 is Moses relaying the creation story as it was relayed to him. It is poetic and majestic. But that doesn’t mean it is not true. Was the earth created out of nothing, or did it evolve over billions of years. None of us was there. We can’t possibly speak from experience. I remember going to Carlsbad Caverns when I was a sophmore in college. I remember very well, the guide saying that if the stalagtites were growing at the same rate since they began, then it would take X billion years to reach their current size. But there’s no way of knowing whether or not things have changed. I also remember learning that there were stalagtites in Churchills tunnels build for WW II. Those had begun growing very fast and were only 50 years old when at the time.

Honestly, Darwinian Evolution has been shown to be absolutely rife with holes. If you dig a little you’ll see what I mean. None of us was there and we have to make assumptions. The whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation says that God made the heavens and the earth. He is the creator. Jesus himself believed that. Therefore, so do I.

I’m not anti science. I can just look at the world around me and see consistency with what the Bible says. Was it created in 7 days? I’m not going to get into that discussion. I’m just not. I think that the Bible is consistent in how it uses the word day. I believe it was 7 literal days. I think that to deny that, creates problems with other parts of the Bible. I know the Bible says God made the world. He made it on purpose and for a purpose. He made humans different that the other animals. And the Bible is about people. The Gospel is about people.

Ok, I’m getting bogged down. My goal is not to defend creationism. Maybe I’ll do that another time. But I do want to defend the fact that the Bible teaches that God made the world. All of it. And that humans are different than the other animals. We alone are made in the image of God. We alone have created speech and written languages. We alone have invented the airplane and the smartphone. God made us the top of creation. But He also told us to be responsible to take care of it. We’ve done a terrible job of that.

When you look at the plastic in the ocean. Oh my gosh is it bad. By the way, it’s not coming from straws in California. In fact, less than 3 % of the water pollution comes from the western world. Less than 3%. It comes first from Asia. China, India, Thailand, etc. Secondly it comes from Africa. The USA and GB could stop using plastic 100% and it would have no impact on the oceans. I’m just saying that the outrage makes us feel better but it’s not going to help.

I get just as frustrated with commercial agriculture. If you look at the poison in our waterways you’d be stunned. We have millions of tons, millions upon millions of gallons, of chemicals being washed into our waterways from factories and factory farms. Is it any wonder that we have the mess we have. We’re killing off birds, butterflies, and bees by trying to have the best looking lawns in our HOA. We’re doing it. Big agra and Big Pharma are making them, but we buy them and spray our fields and our gardens and our yards. We are killing our planet. Even a little thing like a bag on the back or side of a lawnmower is helping to kill the planet. Yet, we’re blaming cow farts. Oh my gosh. Sin had made us stupid.

Ok, I’m getting sidetracked again. I do that. After Creation. Genesis describes the beginning of Sin. First in Adam and Eve’s disobedience followed by Cain killing Abel. Sin and its consequences are what the Bible is all about. Adam and Eve sinned. That cost them eternal life. It greatly increased their work load. It cost them their garden home. Their access to the tree of life.

Sin is universal. If we learn anything about life from the OT, it’s that. One of the interesting thing about the Bible is it does not hide the flaws of it’s heroes. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and later Moses, David, Solomon, and so on…are flawed people. Some of them seek God’s forgiveness. Some walk away from God altogether. But sin is everywhere.

If you learn anything from reading Genesis, learn that. Look for it as you read the book. Sin cost adam and Eve so much. Besides their eternal lives and their home. It cost them their first two sons. Abel because he died, and Cain because he was forced to leave his home and wander the earth.

By the 6th chapter, sin has become so all encompassing, the human race has made sinning a kind of worship. Even Angels join in the rebellion. That’s why the flood came.

Humans had become so corrupt that God was sorry he ever made us in the first place. But, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. It was grace, undeserved favor, that kept Noah and his family alive. I’m so grateful that God is gracious and forgiving.

In fact, all the way back in Genesis chapter 3. When Adam and Eve sinned, God told them that one day, a savior would come. In 3:15 we read the first promise that Jesus would come. And that verse sets the stage for the entire OT. It’s about God preparing the world for this saviour.

There are also some things in Chapter 6 that will help you to understand why God is so upset with the people of Canaan when the Israelis inherit the land upon their release from slavery in Egypt. I want you to take note of verses 2-4. About these Nephilim. These hybrid people that were physical giants and very evil. I know it sounds like something out of Greek mythology. But perhaps greek mythology is based on something that really happened. Nearly every people group has a legend of giants, and a flood, and a survivor of the flood.

Even the North American native people told of Giants. And their fear of 6 fingered men. We’ll talk about that again in a few weeks. I promise.

I’m convinced that the Bible has the story right and that other myths and legends are just that. I’m convinced of it because of Jesus. Jesus put his stamp of approval on the story of creation. On the story of Noah. And Jesus rose from the dead. That gets my attention.

I want to make clear that the Bible says more that that it rained for 40 days and nights. Gosh I live in Scotland. It does that here every year. The Bible says that the heavens opened up. The clouds emptied themselves in torrential rain. But it also says the fountains of the great deep broke up. That means the earth exploded. The clouds above emptied themselves and the earth blew up. The tectonic plates shifted and everything went crazy. The very earth reshaped itself. That’s why the fossil records are so chaotic. That explains so much about geology. The whole world went through a kind of recreation. Everything changed. The story of Noah’s flood is not a children’s fable. It’s a horror story that holywood can’t possibly recreate. It will keep you up at night if you really think it through.

What could possible cause such a catastrophy? What could make God that angry? Sin. Sin separates us from a relationship with God. He cannot allow it in his presence. It was so all encompassing, that he had to destroy the earth and nearly every person on the planet because of it.

But Noah found Grace in the eyes of the Lord. We got a brand new start on a rebuilt earth. And yet sin is so widespread, it has taken the human race captive within a single generation after the flood. By my reckoning, Shem, the son of Noah, was still alive at the tower of Babel. One who saw the destruction of the entire planet was still around yet the people were caught up in rebelling.

We’re going to see that over and over through the Old Testament. Sin, it’s consequences, and it’s control over the people will be a constant theme of the O.T. That’s why it’s such a hallelujah moment when Jesus is born in Bethlehem.

 

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(Re)Discovering the Bible Relaunch Part 2

Image result for Very Excited images public domainGood News, the old podcasts are up. They have been found and reposted. I’m so excited. I will include a link on how to find them at the end of these notes. This episode is short, but I really needed to finish our review. It was just going to be incomplete. 

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Do remember if you listen on Stitcher, that it takes a while before the episode is available there. I’m working to make sure we’re connected to some of the other podcast hosting sites.

When we started this podcast, we were going to use it as a kind of supplement for my books of the same name. Those books, Vols 1 and 2, are still available on Amazon. I probably won’t get started writing volume 3 for a few more months. I’m writing a book of weight loss and eating right. It’s taking a toll on my brain, but I want to get it done before the beginning of 2020, because a lot of people start in January, thinking about losing a pound or two with their new years resolutions. Since I’m convinced I’ve found a plan that works, does not cause great hunger pains, and is consistent with what the Bible teaches about food, I’m really excited to get it finished. I’ll keep you posted on progress. My hope is, to finish my research on Re Discovering Volume 3, Pauls letters, and get started writing it, as soon as I get done with my food book.

I’m thinking that we should probably spend two or three weeks in review of Ground we’ve already covered just to get us all up to speed and get our minds in gear. Hopefully, that works for you.

If you are new to the Bible, or let’s say new again, you probably should listen to the last episode, ReLaunch. It will give you some good tips on what the Bible is all about, and how you can find a translation that suits you and your style. That’s really important. You need a version, a translation that matches your reading style. And there are lot’s of them available, for FREE, if you’re willing to download them to your smartphone, or tablet, or laptop, or even your desktop, if you’re still using one of those.

I really believe there are a lot of people, as in millions upon millions, who are really confused about faith and religion, and even Jesus. There’s a great deal of conflicting information out there. It can make your head spin. But you can go directly to the source of our available information. You can read the Bible for yourself, and draw your own conclusion.

But the thing is, and I’m sorry to say it, while the Bible is truly God’s love letter to the human race, the human race has put it together in a way that makes it harder to understand. Seriously. If you read the Bible in New Testament First, then Old Testament, it will make a whole lot more sense to you. It really will. And frankly, I have created a reading plan that will make it even clearer to you than that. If you’ll write to me, samburtonpresents@gmail.com, or use the comments section at samburtonpresents.com, where I put the show notes, and ask for it, I’ll send you the reading plan for the New Testament absolutely free.

You see, the Bible is not A book. Its 66 books, 27 in the New Testament and 39 in the Old Testament. Those books are given to us by God himself. Truly. But the order in which they’re put together was created by book editors and Church leaders. Not by teachers who were trying to help you understand it. That’s where I come in. I’m just a teacher. A guy who wants you to read the Bible and understand it. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is who you’re looking for, whether or not you even know you’re looking for him. I also want the Bible to make sense to you. It’s not a bunch of religious jargon. And it’s certainly not boring. Sometimes we preachers are, but the Bible isn’t.

Don’t just listen to someone on YouTube, read it for yourself.

And for those of you who are familiar with the Book, my reading plan will help you see the Bible differently than you ever have before. You’ll understand the flow of the book much better. And I’ve got the harder to understand books later in the plan, because as you understand more of the thought processes in the Bible, the books are not so hard after all.

But whether or not you want to use my plan, do yourself a favor, and read the New Testament first. Then go back and read the old. The whole book is about Jesus. I encourage you to start with reading all about Him, then go back and see how the Old Testament is preparing the world for his coming.

Then after you’ve read the New Testament, think about all it says. After you read one of the Gospels, I suggest Luke first, you’re going to have some decisions to make about Jesus. Then read the book of Acts to find out what you should do about and with Jesus. After that, I’ll leave you to read it on your own if that’s the way you want to do it. But read all the New Testament before you read the old. But just before you read the old testament, read the book of Hebrews again. I believe that Hebrews is the key to unlocking the Old Testament. It’s like a magic pill.

You might be wondering why I ask you to read Luke’s gospel first. Instead of one of the other three gospels. It’s simply because he also wrote the book of acts and it’s literally reading part one and part two of the same story. I also believe that if you read Luke, then Acts, then the Gospel of John, you’ll have a real grip on the whole Jesus message.

When you first start reading the New Testament, you’re going to be surprised at how short the books are. And you’re going to scratch your head at the Chapter and verse divisions. Especially the chapters. Keep in mind, those are not original. The chapter divisions came in the 1200s and the verses in the 1500s. They were to help with memorizing passages and in knowing where you left off reading from the last time you read. They’re not perfect, but they are helpful.

Each book was written for a specific reason. Maybe to answer some questions. Maybe to straighten out some misunderstanding. When the author was finished with that, the book was done. For example, the Gospels are not biographies of Jesus. Even all together they’re not a biography of Jesus. They are memories of Jesus. Kind of like at a family or class reunion, when everyone is telling stories. Sometimes, their not even chronological. That’s true with Matthew and Mark. They are sharing their stories and are not particularly concerned about chronology. Luke is very orderly, so he pays a lot of attention to things like chronology. So does John. But John and Mark don’t say a word about Jesus’ Birth or childhood. Because they are not biographies. Matthew is trying to show that Jesus is the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. He’s the King of the Jews. Mark’s Book has a verse in chapter 10, verse 45 that says, the son of man did not come to be serve, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many. And that seems to describe the book. The first part is huge on Jesus serving and healing people. Then he gives his life as a sacrifice for the human race. Luke’s book could be called, The son of man. That phrase is used many times in the Gospel. It shows that Jesus is a fulfillment of prophesies, and the gospel deals with the human race. Our problems. Our crises, our need for God’s intervention. And John’s gospel is clearly to prove that Jesus is both God and Man. He states that in the very first verse and each story clearly establishes one side or the other of Jesus’ dual nature.

The book of acts tells us how important the Resurrection was to the Church. It was not Jesus miracles, nor his teaching, but His death and Resurrection that set him apart. It tells us how churches were born and how the message spread through the Roman empire. And it’s the only book in all the Bible that tells us how people became Christians.

The rest of the New Testament is written to followers of Jesus, whether Churches, or individuals to help us learn to live for Him. And the book of Revelation is there to explain how things will turn out in the end.

I think that will catch you up if you’re new to the show, and is a great brief review for long time listeners.

Last Episode, Part One – Click HERE to listen 

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(Re)Discovering The Bible Podcast Relaunch

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After two plus years, we’re back. I’m so excited. Attached are the show notes, in rather unedited form. I just wanted to get the podcast to you. Thanks for waiting. And thanks to you new listeners.

 

 I want to welcome you, or, welcome you back to ReDiscovering the Bible. I’ve been away a long time. A lot has happened since we were last together. My wife and I have moved to North Eastern Scotland. I’m back full time in ministry. I’ve had a heart attack, 4 strokes and had triple bypass surgery to repair the damage. But I feel great, and I’m looking forward renewing our relationship, or getting to know you for the first time, whichever situation describes you and I. For those of you who were regular listeners before, we don’t have farm animals here in Scotland, so we won’t be interrupted by crowing roosters or braying donkeys, or goats calling for their dinner. And the camper, that I used as a recording studio is also a thing of the past.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is the Bible. It’s message is unchangeable. It still points us to Jesus,

I’m looking forward to our time together. For reasons no one can explain, all our old episodes have disappeared. The hosts can’t explain it, but they are doing their best to get them back. But it’s ok with me either way. We’re going to start over. If the old episodes come back, great, if not, most of you are new, anyway, so we’ll do this together.

So let’s get started. What is the Bible? And why do I think it’s such a big deal? First of all, it’s still the best selling book of all time. Plus it’s the most given away book of all time. And each year, it’s best seller. Often, the year’s number one seller. So much so, that most charts just ignore it. The Bible is a category all it’s own.

But while it’s a best seller, and a cherished book to give away, or receive, it’s surprisingly unread. Millions upon millions of copies gather dust and go completely ignored. Yet, it’s subject matter is discussed, and argued about, daily. Many people offer opinions about it without ever reading it. And because their hearers haven’t read it, ignorance is compounded and a huge majority of human beings, especially those in the western world, think they know all about it. And that’s tragic.

Another scary thing, is with the advent of YouTube, ignorance and misunderstanding about the Bible has exponentially increased. Oh there’s some great stuff out there, but there are also hours and hours of drivel and garbage. Frankly, and sadly, people don’t go to Church anymore so they don’t know how much garbage is being published. And, even worse is, there are many Churches teaching junk as well. It gives me a headache just thinking about it all.

So I decided to address the subject for the ordinary person. My books are simple. My podcasts are simple. My sermons are simple. We’re all starting from the beginning. Some of us all over again. Since I have a face for radio, I’m focusing on podcasts and books rather that YouTube. I may sometime try a video or two, but like I said, I have a face ideal for radio, so why push my luck.

I do have two e books available on Amazon, if you want to read them. They are called Rediscovering the Bible Vol 1 and 2. The first volume is on the subject of today’s episode, and vol 2 covers the 4 Gospels, and Acts. Matthew Mark, Luke, John, and Acts of the Apostles are the first 5 books of the New Testament.

But what is the Bible? And why should I read it? First, the Bible is not religious. And frankly, Christianity in not a religion. Religion helped create the mess the world is in. Christianity, and it’s Scriptures, are the answer to the problems created by, and without, religion. The Bible is God’s love letter to the Human race. The short version goes like this, The first 4 books of the New Testament tell us Who Jesus is. The next one tells us, what to do about who he is. And how the news about Jesus spread through the Roman empire. The next 21 books tell us how to live as followers of Jesus, and the last book, Revelation, tells us how it’s all going to end.

The Old Testament is different. It’s main purpose is to show how sin came into the world, and what a mess the world was in before Jesus came, and what steps God took through the human race to get the world ready for Jesus. There are some absolutely awesome stories in it. Things that hollywood can only dream of. There are some beautiful songs, some promises and prophesies, and much more. The Old Testament gets a really bad rap, primarily because people don’t pay attention to the why things are happening. That and they don’t read it, but pass their interpretations of things they haven’t read to a public who haven’t read it either. It’s the oldest form of Fake News.

But I’m kind of getting ahead of myself. Surprise Surprise. The word Bible is just the greek word for book. Seriously. It’s an ordinary word that was used by greek speakers everyday. But it’s not a book. It’s actually 66 books in one volume. Like a whole library in one cover. It’s not in chronological order, or even in importance of topic order. Heck it’s not even written in the best order to read it. Seriously.

The best way to read the Bible is to read the New Testament first, then the Old testament. You will understand the flow of the book much better if you do that. In point of fact, I have outlined a reading program for the whole bible in volume 1 of my book. I believe that alone is worth the three bucks the book will set you back. But if you write me either using the comments section of the blog where I put my show notes, www.samburtonpresents.com, or email me at samburtonpresents@gmail.com. I’ll send you a New Testament reading plan at no charge. I put this plan together to give you the best possible way of reading the Bible to get the most out of it.

The Bible calls itself, “God Breathed”, meaning it comes from the very breath of God. It’s his heart. He’s the ultimate author, as he guided the authors of each book in areas of correct doctrine and history. You will hear claims that the Bible contradicts itself, but that is not the case. That is ignorance or bias speaking. We’ll look at those supposed contradictions as we go along.

Why are there so many translations of the Bible? Now that’s a great question. First of all, the Bible wasn’t written in English at all. Not even King James english. The old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Neither of those languages is spoken any more. Modern Hebrew is as different from Biblical Hebrew as Modern American English is from King James English. And for what it’s worth, King James English was different in 1611, when that version came out, than it is in it’s modern form. We’ll come back to that.

The New Testament was written in something called Koine Greek. That is different that either classical greek or Modern Greek. For years, it was called Biblical Greek, because people thought that only the Bible was written this was as some kind of code. But archaeology has shown us conclusively, that the Koine Greek of the Bible was the way people spoke in the first century A.D. We now have thousands of books from that time period that demonstrate that classical Greek was formal, or generally accepted, but that Koine was the commonly spoken variety. Much like we all have our own dialects of english.

This shows us that God was trying to be understood rather than being formal or grammatically correct. And the New Testament was translated into the commonly spoken languages literally as soon as early evangelists entered those countries.

But language changes over time. So lovers of the Bible have translated it repeatedly as we have better understanding of the original languages and as our own spoken English changes. That’s also why there are often updated editions of various translations.

I encourage you to try out several, to see which one you like best. You can do that for free. They are pretty much all available via apps for your phone, or via google on your home computer or laptop.

Just search Bible on your phones app store, and you’ll see loads of options. To save space on my phone, I settled on YouVersion as my app. I’ve downloaded multiple versions so that I don’t require internet access every time I want to use it. There are other excellent apps. I’ve used most of them. On your home computer try Biblegateway.com. There are many translations there. You can try them out and see which you like best.

Again, there are loads of good places to find translations, I’m just trying to keep things as easy as possible here on the radio show.

If you want a Bible study tool, and you have a laptop or desktop, I highly recommend, e-sword.net. I’ve used it for 20 years. You can download many translations, commentaries, old books, maps, and more. The tool is free. You can make donations if you like. I made a donation some years ago, because the program is so valuable to me.

If you want recommendations for translations, I’m going to give you three here. First of all is the English Standard Version. It’s a solid translation. While it’s not my all time favorite, it’s what I currently preach from. It has become extremely popular in strong Bible Believing Churches over the last 8 or 10 years.

Next is the New Living Translation. This is my wife’s favorite. Again, it’s extremely popular and strong.

The third, surprises a lot of old timers, but it’s the Good News Bible. It used to be called, Good New For Modern Man. Each edition of it has gotten better than the one before it. If you are not a good reader, or if English is not your first language, this translation is for you. I absolutely love it.

You’ll note, I didn’t mention the King James, aka The Authorized Version. That translation is historically very important. It changed everything for the Protestant Reformation in England and the British Colonies. It was an excellent version for it’s time, written in the everyday common language of the people.

I grew up reading the King James. I still love certain parts of it, like the 23rd psalm, and the Christmas story from Luke chapter 2. But it is not even close to the most precise translation available to people today. Those who say it is the ‘only Bible to use’ are mistaken. On the other hand, it is not a bad translation. If you still love the KJV, use it. That’s fine.

If you have questions about another translation, feel free to write and ask me about it. I will be totally honest with you. These three are recommendations for those of your who don’t know where to start or don’t have a Bible.

One thing I want to mention is there are some things about the Bible that are NOT inspired. The chapters and verses. The Bible was written without those. They were added later to help people in memorization and to serve as bookmarks to know where they stopped and started reading. The chapters were introduced by Stephen Langton in the early 1200s. And the verses weren’t added until the mid 1500s by Robert Estienne.

Also, just for the record, neither is the paper, ink, or cover of your Bible. Leather editions, and Red Letter editions are sometimes considered more valuable that hardbacks, paperbacks, or e-versions. It is the message, not the vessel that’s important.

I recommend you try and read at least a little every day. Even if it’s only a chapter or two. Start with the Gospel of Luke, then Read the book of Acts of the Apostles. They were written by the same guy, so the flow is good. Like I said, you can get my entire Bible reading plan from Vol 1 of Rediscovering the Bible, or I’ll send you the New Testament plan absolutely free, if you write me and request it.

Gosh, I’m glad you stopped by today. That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll be back next week. Have a good one. For now, I’m out…..

First Anniversary Of My Open Heart Surgery. Let’s Celebrate

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Image result for Celebrate images public domainSpeaking of it being June, it was one year ago today, that I received triple bypass surgery. Between January 2107 and June 4, 2018, I had a heart attack and 4 strokes. The last stroke was during my heart surgery. That’s pretty scary. The only after effects of all those attacks on my body, are scars on my chest and legs, loss of vision in half of my left eye, and trouble remembering names and names of places. My speech is not slurred. My long term and short term memory are good. I’m not as quick remembering things. I used to be really good at quizzes and memory games. I could think of things quickly. I’m not as quick as I used to be. It’s kind of like the way you lose a step in football or tennis when you get older. But this is with my mind. I can still recall things, it just might take me a minute to process the question. But all things considered, I’ll take it. The heart specialist told me that it’s not uncommon for a patient to die if they have a stroke during heart surgery. Ok, I’ll take a bit of blindness and a slower recall of historical information. And, with the names, it’s not like I don’t recognize people. It’s just embarrassing, when I’ve known someone for years and suddenly their name is gone. Still, what’s a little embarrassment in the great scheme of things.

For a year and a half, I was so sick. I tell people all the time, that it’s like I was asleep. I have very few memories of what happened during my sick time. I remember being a lot of trouble for my wife, if we went places to sight see, or shop. I was always having to stop and rest, and often spraying my heart meds. Poor lass, couldn’t have had much fun.

We live two or three blocks from the Church of Christ, where I’m the minister, and I couldn’t even walk it without stopping to rest. I remember that Sundays took a lot out of me. Preaching in the morning and at night was almost more than I could do. I had to start taking Mondays off, because I couldn’t get out of bed.

But now, a year on, I feel great. I still need to do some work to get seriously fit. I need to lose some more weight, but I’m losing it. Last week, I walked down to Buckpool harbor and back with my grandchildren. There were no problems. I’ve walked up and down all the stairs over at Brodie Castle. And, I’m awake. I feel like I was asleep, and I’m awake. So today, I’m celebrating. Life is not to be taken for granted. We live in a beautiful world. Especially up here in Moray. From the Sea to the Mountains, and every mile in between. We are surrounded by some amazing views of nature. And let’s not forget all the wonderful people we meet. Life really is a blessing.

But what about after. What would have happened to me, if my stroke during surgery had been fatal. Sure there would have been a sense of shock for some of my friends, and all the folk at church. Probably my wife would have been pretty upset at me. And I hope, a little sad. But what about me?

I am 100% confident of what would have happened to me. I would have awakened with no pain, in a place even more beautiful than Moray. I would never know a moment of sadness or illness, or pain ever again. Not because we all go to a better place, but because Jesus promised a forever of joy for ever single person who would put their Faith in Him. He is the creator of the world we live in. He died on a cross because we sinned, and he didn’t want to be separated from us. And he rose again, to conquer death. Not just once, in his case. But for all of us. And I made the choice many years ago, to give my life into his care. For that reason I know what will happen to me when I die. I know I’m not perfect. I’m not even close. Just ask my wife. But I am forgiven. Like the apostle Paul, For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

And what about you? On this anniversary of my surgery I have to ask. There is a funeral going on right now in Buckie. I saw the cars. There have been quite a few recently. Yikes. What if one of them next week is yours? What if your family and friends dress all in black and weep at losing you. What happens to you? Have you made preparations? Do you have a will? Do you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt what your future will be? You can. Seriously. I’m not joking. You can hand the keys over to Jesus right now. You can say, Jesus, I need you. I surrender. You drive from now on. And I can tell you, from experience, that new life with and from Jesus is even better that waking up after surgery. I’m glad I’m alive. I love my life. I love this town. I even love all the rain. And it’s much easier to love it all, because I know that even after it’s all behind me, life gets even better.

We’d love to have you visit us at Church sometime. We talk about things like this. You don’t have to dress up. Wear something. Otherwise you might get arrested. But you don’t have to get all dressed up. Sometimes people think you have to put on fancy duds to come to church. No Way. You can. Some people do. Heck sometimes even I do. But not always. Come as you are. We meet at 11 a.m. At the intersection of West Church and Pringle streets. We also have a meeting at 6:20 sunday evenings. You’d be welcome at either…or both. If you have a church home, I encourage you to go there. But if you don’t you are more that welcome to visit with us.

That’s all I’ve got for now. We’ll talk again soon. But for the rest of this week…..I’m out.

Fish Dinners and Good Wine – How John Uses Jesus Miracles To Prove Both His Deity And Humanity

Episode 46

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It’s another gorgeous autumn morning here at the farmstead. I thought last week that I would wait until we got to Scotland to do this weeks show, but at the last minute I’ve decided to record a brief broadcast before we leave tomorrow since I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get a chance to record over there.

So, in the words of Sherlock Holmes, ‘Let’s crack on.’

Last week I announced that we would look specifically, and in depth, at John’s account of Jesus feeding the 5,000. As I studied, my direction was altered a little bit, so I’m calling an audible.  We ARE going to look at the feeding of the multitude, but we’re going to look at it in the context of some of the other miracles John writes about, including Jesus turning water into wine, the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5 and the raising of Lazarus in Chapter 11.  I’m doing it, because after 60 years on this planet, I finally see that John chooses these miracles, because they are perfect illustrations of Jesus’ humanity as well as his deity.

Joh 6:1  After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.

Joh 6:2  And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.

Joh 6:3  Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.

Joh 6:4  Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.

Joh 6:5  Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Joh 6:6  He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

Joh 6:7  Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”

Joh 6:8  One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him,

Joh 6:9  “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”

Joh 6:10  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.

Joh 6:11  Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.

Joh 6:12  And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”

Joh 6:13  So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

 

Jesus performed a lot of miracles during His ministry. In fact, John writes in his last chapter that if all of them were written down, the entire world wouldn’t hold the volume of books about it. So with all Jesus deeds to choose from, all 4 Gospel writers chose to record this one. It obviously had a profound effect on them.

First, it establishes Jesus as lord of Creation. He somehow manages to make 5 loaves of bread and two small fish stretch to feed a crowd of up to 25,000 people.  Secondly, He is the Lord of Abundance. There is not only enough to eat, but there are leftovers. It reminds me very much of the old testament story of the widow’s oil. He is the Lord of provision.

There is no doubt, this act of creation and multiplication is evidence of Jesus’ Deity, but the similarities to his miracle of water into wine, showed me evidence of His Humanity as well.  So I looked at some of the other Miracles recorded in John’s Gospel and realized that each one, as well as many of His encounters with people, note the woman at the well in Chapter 4, the woman caught in adultery in Chapter 10 and Jesus’ conversation with Mary and John in chapter 19, show clearly Jesus compassion and humanity. Remember, John’s purpose to persuade others to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Everything he writes is to demonstrate Jesus dual nature as the Word who became flesh.

Why did he turn water into wine? On the surface, it could be interpreted as showing off. At least until you think about the event for more than a few seconds. With a deeper look, we see not only His creative power, but how much He cares for the potential embarrassment of the ‘master of the feast’, the newlyweds, and His own mother.  Jesus is not just interested in the Big things, like sin and salvation, His humanity shows His care for the little things, the mundane, the ordinary. He is paying attention, and it matters.

At the pool of Bethesda in chapter 5, Jesus is knee deep in needy people. Some of them pious, some probably profane.  But He finds an individual in the mass of humanity and interacts with him, changing his life forever.

Jesus doesn’t miss the forest for the trees. He cares about the tree in the forest. He sees you. He knows your name. And He cares deeply for you.

The story of Lazarus shows us that Jesus has friends. He tenderly interacts with both Martha and Mary, and before he raises Lazarus, he weeps. He raises Lazarus in part to show that death is an illusion and under His control. But also because of His deep love for two grieving sisters.

It’s as clear as crystal for me that each of these events are obvious, intentional stories John includes to illustrate both the divinity and humanity of Jesus. And it makes me Love Him more and more. I hope it inspires you to dig deeper into who Jesus is, and ultimately to follow Him, if you don’t already.

That’s it for now. I need to catch a plane. Next time we’re going to look at Jesus’ promise of Eternal life from John 14, in an episode I’ll just call, “Trust me.”

Talk to you soon. If you want to follow some of our Scottish adventures, simple join our Facebook group, ‘Scotland Rising’ and you’ll get all the photos and updates during our time there. Have a great week. Be blessed and be a blessing.

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Jesus Unmasked – His True Identity Revealed

Episode 44

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I hope things are going well with you wherever you are.  It’s a beautiful day here at the farmstead. It’s a very emotional week as our remaining animals are going to their new homes as the week goes along. By next week’s show, all the animals will be gone. It’s a very surreal experience. If you could remember Brittan and me during your prayer time, I’d sure appreciate it.

On the other hand, It’s just a couple weeks until we head for Scotland. We’re so excited about the trip.  I hope you’ll follow our adventure on Facebook. All you need to do is search for ‘Scotland Rising’ on Facebook and like the page. We will update that page regularly with stories, photos, and prayer requests.

Today, we’re going to John Chapter one. Last week we started our journey in John with a look at the end of John’s gospel where he explained WHY he wrote what he did. His overt goal was proselytism. He wanted readers to not just know about Jesus life and teachings, he wanted readers to place their faith in Jesus as ‘the Christ, the son of God.’

Now, it’s time to go back to the beginning of the Gospel and look at the claims of Jesus, as recorded by John.

Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Joh 1:2  He was in the beginning with God.

Joh 1:3  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Joh 1:4  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

These 5 verses must be some of the most elegantly written pieces of Theology in existence. It is an extremely controversial set of statements in the  21st century, because it categorically declares the Deity of Christ.

Liberal and humanist minds have always chafed at these verses… They identify Jesus as God, as eternal, as creator and as redeemer.

First, John says Jesus was ‘In the beginning’.  John is deliberately identifying Jesus with ‘Elohim’ of Genesis 1.  Somehow they are different but somehow they are the same. The word was with God, suggesting some distinction. In fact, I found a translation called, “The Scriptures 1998” that actually translates the word, God as ‘Elohim’. Wild.  The word was God, suggesting equality. I’m not a theologian, nor do I play one on TV, but I can clearly see John is undeniably calling Jesus, God.

Those who argue against the deity of Christ, have worked hard to come up translations to try and make John say something less direct, but their arguments fall pitifully short. Even the extremely liberal RSV, is forced to translate verse one correctly. It’s simply impossible to do otherwise. The Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation tries to translate it the word was ‘a god’ with small g. And sometimes you might see it translated the word was divine or ‘godlike’.  But to do so is simply allowing theological bias to drive the translation rather than the other way round.  Sadly, I see this play out in a few other NT verses, but with this passage, only overtly pseudo Christian groups are bold enough to mistranslate John’s opening declaration.

By saying He was in the beginning, John is teaching the Eternality of Jesus. Before creation, only eternity and the eternal existed. Creation is the beginning of the bubble we call time. Jesus was there at the emergence of time. He is eternal.

John clearly identifies Jesus as creator when he says, By Him all things were made, and nothing was created apart from Him.

Finally John identifies Jesus as Redeemer when he says, In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

Quite frequently, light and darkness are considered opposites. You know, the opposite of light is darkness. In movies the Dark Force is often portrayed and the polar opposite of light, sometimes as even a necessary requirement to create balance in the universe. eg. The dark side of the force.

In both Scripture and in Science, darkness is not the opposite of light, rather it is the absence of light. They are not equals and it is never a fair fight. Light ALWAYS dispels darkness. And darkness can’t overwhelm light. No matter how deep the darkness, even the smallest light will send it running. In fact, the heavier the darkness, the more effective the light.

No matter what darkness does, nor how dense, it is impotent against the light. So John can say with confidence, a light has shined in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

I believe this is a reference to sin. Sin covered all the human race and it seems so omnipotnent. But Jesus sacrifice shined a light into the darkness and conquered it.

Many, maybe most of us are afraid of the dark. Darkness hides many secrets, many dangers, many monsters. And as long as the darkness reigns, they seem so powerful, but the instant a light shines in the darkness, the hidden is revealed. Some dark creatures, like rats and cockroaches go scurrying for cover and others are able to be dealt with in the light of illumination.  The monster is slain, the bogey man is unmasked as a fraud. And in the same way, sin is defeated by the light of Christ. That’s why John can say in his first letter, ‘we want to be in the light, as He is in the light.

Right there my friends is the Gospel. Christ is the conqueror of darkness. It is defeated once and for all. The darkness is exposed. And that is Good News.

I could probably end here, but there is one more verse we absolutely MUST look at, and that is verse 14.

Joh 1:14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

If the first verse is controversial in the 21st century, it is verse 14 that caused all the arguments in John’s day.

We’ve talked on and on about Gnosticism but John 1:14, must have caused blood to come out of their eyes and ears. And the Word became flesh was in conflict with everything they believed.  John does not say the word took on flesh, or the Word appeared to be flesh, but the Word BECAME flesh. The eternal became mortal. It is the perfect complimentary verse to Philippians 2 Php 2:6  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

Php 2:7  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

 

The true identity of Jesus of Nazareth has now been revealed. The mask is ripped off. He is the God Man, the one of a kind, full of Grace and Truth.

You can reject Him, but you can’t dilute the claim.

 

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Why John REALLY wrote his Gospel

Episode 43

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I hope you enjoyed our journey through the New Testament. I know I did. Very soon, we’re going to take a similar one through the Old Testament, but I wanted to take a break from our hectic race through the Bible and zoom in just a little on some topics from John’s Gospel. Full disclosure here: on some level, John was chosen at random.  I wanted to focus on Jesus, so one of the 4 Gospels was a given.  It could have been any of them, but I have always been drawn to John’s Gospel.  My reasons are quite subjective and personal, but, hey, it’s my radio show.

Keep in mind, the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation is about Jesus.  He is there in Genesis 1, the first promise of His incarnation in in Genesis 3. He is there in Revelation 22, when John pleads for His return.  I like to say the Old Testament is Waiting for Jesus, The Gospels are Memories of Jesus, Acts is Following Jesus and Carrying Jesus, The letters are Living for Jesus, and Revelation is Victory in Jesus.

But for the next 4 weeks (at least), we’re going to dip our toes in the water of the Gospel of John.  We’re going to go a bit deeper than during our fly over with our survey, but we’re not going deep enough that anyone is at risk of drowning.

This week, in this first lesson, we’re going to look at WHY John wrote his Gospel.  And to do that, we have to start at the end.  Just like Luke did in Chapter 1 of his memoir of Jesus, John explains he motives, but instead of being right up front, John waits until almost the very end of his Gospel, in Chapter 20

Joh 20:30  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

Joh 20:31  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

1 This passage begins, Now Jesus – I’ve already said that Jesus is the focus, the center, and at some level, the subject of the entire Bible. You will hear me repeat that over and over again as we survey the Old Testament beginning in just a few weeks. There have been many great teachers, outstanding philosophers, mighty prophets, excellent leaders and wise counselors down through the ages, but there has never been the like of Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible is unequivocal in it’s declarations about Him.  The Apostles proclaimed, There is no other name under Heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved.  Paul

Php 2:9  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,

Php 2:10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

Php 2:11  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I began (Re)Discovering the Bible Vol. 2 with these lines from the poem ‘One Solitary Live’, All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever set sale, All rulers that have ever ruled, and all the kings that have ever reigned on this earth, all put together, have not affected the life of man on earth, like this one, solitary live.

It’s true, there’s just something about that name.  As we’ve established over and over in our weekly time together, while it makes no logical sense, it is possible to reject Jesus. It is also possible, and I would argue, reasonable, logical, and desirable to accept and follow Him.  But it is not possible to remain intellectually and historically honest, and ignore Him.  Sooner or later, we all have to deal with Him.

John continues his thought: Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

What are these other signs? He may be referring to miracles recorded in the other Gospels, or perhaps miracles we know nothing about. After all, John finishes his Gospel with these words, Joh 21:25  Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Please remember, the Gospels are not exhaustive biographies of the Life and Ministry of Jesus, but collections of memories of Jesus words and deeds. So there were undoubtedly many remarkable things we don’t know.

In this case, however, the context of John’s statement about many other signs, appears to be in context of post resurrection appearances and interactions. It is very similar to  Luke’s beginning to Acts of the Apostles where he says, Act 1:3  He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

 

We’ve said many times before, that the entire key to understanding Jesus specifically, and Christianity in General, is the resurrection.  Jesus spent 40 days between His resurrection and ascension into heaven interaction with people. The Gospel and Acts accounts are limited to time He spent with the Apostles and a select few others including a group of women. 1 Corinthians  15, however, adds an appearance to James, and an occasion where He appeared to more than 500 people at one time.

The evidence is overwhelming that He was raised.

And John is clear that the purpose for Jesus’ resurrection and subsequences is to establish His identity first of all the Christ, the long awaited Messiah of Israel, the Son of God.  This is borne out in the Gospel Sermons of Acts. Each sermon to a Jewish audience is built around the idea that Jesus is the Messiah. And each message to Gentiles it to demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God and ultimate Judge of the human race.

He is not one of many, or one of a select few, He is the One.

John is quite specific in stating his purpose was to incite faith. He wants readers to Believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

Many contrast faith as something in the heart, rather than merely intellectual acknowledgment.  But that’s only part of the story.  If we had the time to dig really deep into the scripture we’d see that faith implies much more than a belief that is both heartfelt and intellectually satisfying, it leads to change in behavior and allegiance.  The Bible most frequently calls that repentance.

Interestingly, in Acts chapter 3, Peter commands the people to repent and believe, which is the inverse of how we usually talk. We normally ask people to believe and repent, but the conversion experience, at least our role in it, is so intimately interconnected, that we silly to talk about things like sequence.  Again, in Acts, Faith, Repentance, Baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit are seen in every conceivable order. I perceive that’s not an accident.  God would never want us to see conversion reduced to a formula. Salvation is His doing and His alone. Conversion, is our response to what He has done.

There are many places in the New Testament, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, I Peter, where the entire human response to Jesus is summarized by just one of those words, sometimes it is faith, sometimes, baptism, sometimes repentance, and once, confession.  In each case, our complete response is assumed. The Bible knows nothing of unbaptized Believers. That’s a modern invention. At the same time, it knows nothing of unrepentant ones, or of unbelieving baptisms or faith that doesn’t produce repentance. Instinctively, we know that’s true, but we want to categorize our response or prioritize or create and order of response.  But in our hearts, we know the ultimate truth of the old song, ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. ‘

John finishes his thought with, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This is another passage that liberal and fundamental tribes of Christians have each claimed half rather than the whole.

For most of my life, liberals have emphasized how the life and teaching of Jesus will help us improve our lives here on this green ball we call earth. Those with a conservative bent, have emphasized eternal life and forgiveness of sin.

I am utterly convinced when we do that, we parse a word that was never intended to be parsed. He meant both.  Watch as we look at John’s Gospel, we are going to discover a Jesus who comes to give eternal life, and life to the full, here. Jesus, the Christ, the son of God, is Lord over all, both time AND eternity.

The Bible tells me so.

Next week, we’re going to go back to Chapter 1, where John blows up the arguments of those who claim Jesus was never Human as well as those who claim He is ONLY human. Please, don’t miss it. Do send your thoughts and question to me by email or via the comments feature on the website with the show notes.

Until then, be blessed and be a blessing.

 

 

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