I fell in love with my Bible between church and Christian private school. To this day my New Scofield King James Bible sits on my shelf packed with my handwritten notes in the margins and on the blank pages. I took that Bible with me in the top of my sea bag while in the Marines, ensuring I had it anywhere I was stationed. All the use I gave it virtually wore it out. I’ve since Gorilla taped the leather cover back together on the inside to keep it intact.
And while there were Christian books available, I rarely read them. The only person I listened to on the radio was J. Vernon McGee as he went verse-by-verse through the whole Bible. I never watched T.V. preachers. I just read and studied my Bible.
- Do you have a Bible like that? Do you have one that you just love using, reading, studying? It’s worn in and comfortable like a pair of Wrangler Blue Jeans? It’s got your notes in it where you’ve encountered deep truths that excited you? _____________________________________
As I’ve suggested, a solid Bible translation works best (there are scores of versions out there, with many trying to dumb the Bible down so that it’s at a child’s reading level, yet they market them for adults). Next, obtain one in a solid study version that digs into the Greek and Hebrew to help explain the text better, that gives you the doctrinal themes, that shows you cross references, that even starts each book with information on the theme, the author, the date, the background of the book, etc. My personal suggestions are:
- New American Standard: By far the most literal and accurate version available. Since every word matters to God (Matthew 4:4), the translation committee is committed to working hard to be as accurate as possible.
- English Standard Version: A close second to the NASB. Very solid version that I love as well.
- King James or New King James: If you’re up for modified Shakespearean English, then do the King James. The New King James has modernized it (and one of my professors worked on the translation committee). These are very literal versions as well.
- Holman Christian Standard or Christian Standard: The HCSB is good, and I prefer it over the newer CSB. It starts deviating from being a literal translation into a mixture of literal and dynamic equivalent.
- McArthur: He has one of the most detailed study Bibles available with a cohesive and solid theological structure, and deep explanations of the text. You can get almost any major/popular Bible version.
- ESV Study Bible: This is an awesome resource as well. I use it now and then when I study. The theologians behind it are solid and they present solid theology and application.
- Scofield III: This is the updated version of the New Scofield that I own. I believe it has more maps in it so you can see where things took place.
But, no matter, the main thing is to be reading it and feasting on it. Love your Bible so much that you feel like something is wrong if you miss a day of reading. Realize that you can’t properly know God outside of His Word, and in it you will get closer to Him.
I mentioned Sunday, albeit briefly, that the pastors of the Seven Churches in Revelation (chapters 2 and 3) were being scolded by Jesus (actually, only one church was commended). They were responsible for their churches and had failed to fulfil God’s requirements:
- Ephesus had right doctrine but lost their zeal and passion for Jesus.
- Smyrna was heavily persecuted and Jesus encouraged them.
- Pergamum loved God but had allowed false teachers to spread false doctrines. He tells them to repent and turn the other way before He snuffs out their church altogether.
- Thyatira had a sexually seductive false teacher in their midst identified as a Jezebel whom Jesus plans to kill along with those who follow her.
- Sardis had people who were trying to have Jesus and their worldly sins as well. He says they will go to Hell unless they are clothed in white (pure) and not soiled with the filth of the world.
- Philadelphia was a fairly decent church yet had some who were of Satan who needed to be dealt with.
- Laodicea was an uncommitted church that had a “take it or leave it” Christianity. They weren’t hot for God nor cold, but lukewarm. Jesus plans on vomiting them out and calls the rest to repent.
This is why I take my task of teaching the Bible so seriously. I will continually encourage your reading of Scripture and hope that you will develop a passion for it. But I can’t change hearts, only God’s Word can through the power of His Spirit. So, I will teach you the Word and let God do the work in your lives just as He is in mine.
If you have time, I recommend listening to this message from Phil Johnson on II. Corinthians 4 about the serious responsibility of pastors to be teaching the Bible in a manner that glorifies Him, points to Him, and is blessed by Him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm5xOpNU2ZI
- Hosea 4:6a “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” What game plan do you employ for increasing your Bible knowledge? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- In the 19thcentury some of the best theologians in the U.S. were Presbyterians teaching at Princeton. Great men such as A.A. Hodge, B.B. Warfield, John Gresham Machen, and Archibald Alexander were replaced with liberal, German-influenced theologians that challenged the veracity of Scripture, that no longer found it sufficient, and that embraced human-oriented philosophical teachings. Assuming this is new information to you, think back in your mind. Can you remember anything about Princeton University being about God? ________________________________________________________
- How about the University of Chicago? (which was once Baptist) ___________________________________________________
- Yale? (founded as a Congregational ministerial school) ___________________________________________________
- Harvard? (founded to primarily train Congregational and Unitarian ministers) ___________________________________________________
- Rutgers? (Dutch Reformed Church) ___________________________________________________
- College of William & Mary? (Church of England) ___________________________________________________
- Columbia University? (Church of England) ___________________________________________________
- Brown University? (Baptist) ___________________________________________________
- Dartmouth College? (Puritan) ___________________________________________________
Notice the theme here? A digression from the Word of God has led each and every one of these schools (plus scores more) into godless secularism, so much so that many of them have no religious affiliation anymore while others are only religious in name!
And watch out! This has become the theme of many a Southern Baptist college as well and will only continue to get worse so long as school leadership waffles in its commitment to the inerrant, authoritative, inspired, sufficient Word of God!
Lastly, this is not just a school problem. The problem is that these schools reflect our American churches!
I am asking you to stand with me and guard our church against doctrines of devils, against increased worldliness, and against attacks to God’s Holy Word.
- Quick Quiz—Which of these (from the Bible) do you recognize?
- Zadok _______________________________
- Valley of Dry Bones _______________________________
- Wheel within a wheel _______________________________
- Nazarite Vow _______________________________
- Red Heifer _______________________________
- The sun standing still _______________________________
- Cyrus _______________________________
- A command to cook bread over human dung _______________________________
- Jesus calling a Gentile woman a dog _______________________________
- A man so fat that when he was killed, the dagger disappeared in the folds of his fat _______________________________
There is so much packed into the pages of the Bible. Let’s continue reading, and reading, and reading it, which translates into feasting, and feasting, and feasting on it.
Holy Bible, Book Divine Hymn by John Burton
1 Holy Bible, Book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine:
Mine to tell me whence I came;
Mine to teach me what I am.
2 Mine to chide me when I rove,
Mine to show a Savior’s love;
Mine thou art to guide and guard;
Mine to punish or reward.
3 Mine to comfort in distress,
Suffering in this wilderness;
Mine to show by living faith,
We can triumph over death.
4 Mine to tell of joys to come,
And the rebel sinner’s doom:
O thou holy book divine,
Precious treasure thou art mine.