New Book: You Are A Theologian: Thinking Right About The Bible

sliderYou Are A Theologian: Thinking Right About The Bible is an introduction to God’s Word. In this book, the reader will learn about the nature of God’s revelation, how the Bible was recorded and the books of the Bible became recognized as canonical, and how the English Bible ultimately was translated through the centuries. The reader will also learn about how to study the Bible and apply basic rules of hermeneutics.

What others are saying about You Are A Theologian: Thinking Right About The Bible:

This concise tool from Ben will very quickly unwind false truths and firmly build up those who are just beginning to learn of our God. (Jake Sutton, minister at the Moultrie church of Christ)

We all need this book. It fills a critical void for many Christians in Bible understanding. (Glenn Colley, minister at the West Huntsville church of Christ)

Ben brings a substantive study in simple form to the table. You Are A Theologian: Thinking Right About The Bible will benefit many congregations of the Lord’s church as it helps Christians to understand and interpret scripture faithfully. (Jacob Rutledge, minister at the Dripping Springs church of Christ)

Click here to purchase.

She Facebooked her Friends and said “Rejoice with Me!…

unnamed-5

…for I have found the piece which was lost!”

Several sisters have asked about the lost dress. Facebook can be a huge umbrella of encouragement even in the mundane.  I know life’s not all about finding Cindy Colley’s heirloom dress, of all things, but I was truly humbled and amazed that so many of you cheered us on as we searched for and found a little dress that I very much wanted to put on BabyG2 next September.  Hundreds of you (literally) and many that I’ve never met have been the sweetest sisters a woman could ever have. I love Facebook for giving your encouragement to me. 

The dress was deep in a closet at Hannah’s (my daughter’s) house. It was in a garment bag hiding behind her wedding dress, which was in the back of that closet in another very huge garment bag. The funny thing was, I had everyone looking for a pink box in which I’d originally wrapped that dress for the gender reveal two years ago…the gender reveal that turned out to be for a boy. Thus, the dress was never opened at the reveal. 

What I had forgotten was that the dress had been removed from the box and used as an illustration at a ladies day in Middle Tennessee a few months after that reveal…the very weekend, in fact, that Ezra was due. (Thus the reason it never got out of my car at my house….It just went straight to Hannah’s house and got hung in a closet there because hospital luggage is not conducive to dress preservation.) That’s just where Facebook became very helpful. You found out I was looking and three of you remembered the dress. You identified where you saw it and the garment bag in which it had left the church building at East Main. In turn, I told my son Caleb (via his Facebook page) to stop looking for a box and start looking for a garment bag. Truth be told, I don’t think he’d done a whole lot of looking for either. (He’s a good egg, though.) But Hannah, being the faithful Facebook follower that she is, immediately saw that post about looking for garment bags. She had moved all the hanging clothes in that closet more than once, laid them on the bed and searched the back of that closet for a box. But this time, she rushed home and actually looked through those clothes she’d been moving  back and forth. She looked for a black garment bag. She found the dress and tried to call me…twice. Unable to reach me, she called her Daddy, who got in the car and drove across town with photos on his phone to spread the cheer.

When he walked in the kitchen door in the middle of last Tuesday, I was surprised to see him. 

“What would you give a man…?” he began. 

“You found my dress??!!”

“I think so. But what would you give a man?…Is this the dress?” He offered his phone and a series of photos.

“You found my dress!!!!” 

“Yes and you should call your daughter on that phone that I don’t even know why I pay for.…She wants to hear from you.”

******************************************************

There are always lessons, of course. Here they are:

  1. If Facebook can find a lost dress, surely we can connect some dots and find some lost souls, too. Facebook is a more personal and encompassing kind of outreach than email or USPS. It’s the kind of networking in which you never know if a click that posts or comments may be the click that does click with some lost soul and opens a door to a relationship, a study, an invitation that could result in a saved soul.
  2. Facebook is a neutral commodity. You get to decide whether your use of it is for the Lord or for the devil. Now, finding a dress is not a work of the Lord. But encouraging each other, as Facebook friends did (and do regularly for me) through this medium, is a great way to get the most good out of something the devil loves to control.
  3. You’re never going to find what you’re looking for if you’re looking where it’s not. That dress was not in all those absurd places (like on top of way-up-there kitchen cabinet and in overflowing trunks where I would have never crushed that batiste and damp basement corners) where I was looking. Sometimes life is like that. We can’t find contentment. We look in all those hard-to-do absurd places instead of the obvious place where the “owner” of truth has put it in the first place. 
  4. You may be own, be picking up, carrying, and moving about the answer to all your dilemmas. But until you recognize that, open it up and really look inside, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Hannah did that with that garment bag. She moved it over and over as she looked other places, to no avail. That’s what we do with our Bibles. We lay them on the table beside our beds. We pick them back up and take them to worship. Sometimes we move them back and forth and back and forth without ever really opening and examining them. We move the book, but we don’t meditate on it, memorize it or mark it. There are many people who own a Bible but do not own truth. It’s very important that we show our kids the difference. The Bible is not a lucky amulet. It’s what’s inside that can bring us joy. But that joy exists for me only when what’s inside the book gets inside of me. Hannah had a garment bag that she was transferring mindlessly back and forth, while what was inside eluded us all. 
  5. Some people are so close to what they really want, but just not quite there. Jesus told a scribe as much in Mark 12:34. “You are not far from the kingdom,” Jesus said. I have many friends who are close to the kingdom. I hurt for them because, of  course, being close to the kingdom of God is not enough. Hannah was near that dress we were hunting each time we talked about it on the phone. It was sometimes right there in the same room with her. Close is not good enough. We have to give people the information they need to identify that for which they search. 
  6. Some news is so good, you want to personally deliver it. I love that about my husband. He loves to bring joy…not just to me, but to everyone in all circumstances. We have the very best news of all. When we understand the wretchedness of that from which the good news— the gospel—rescues people, we can’t be stopped. We are going to those people. We will move heaven and earth to reach them with the good news. In fact Heaven has already moved that they might have this good news. It’s up to us to make the move on earth. We simply must. We are going to tell them that we’ve found that for which they are searching. 

Can We Interpret the Bible Alike?

After hearing the simple truth of the scripture, some will say, “That is just one way to interpret the Bible. I interpret it differently.” In other words, they are saying, “It is impossible to agree about what the Bible says.” Such a statement is grossly in error. In an attempt to justify society’s religious diversity, many end up portraying God’s Word as a relatively confused and ambiguous book. Do we serve a God who is unable to give mankind clear instructions on matters of salvation, worship, obedience, and spiritual living?

By saying it is impossible to agree on what the Bible says, several implications must be accepted:

  1. The wisdom of God is insulted. To say that God, who is infinitely knowledgeable (Job 36:5, Isa. 40:28) and abundantly wise (Isa. 55:8-9, Rom 16:25-27, 1 Cor. 1:25), failed to give man a revelation that can be logically understood is nothing short of blasphemy. If fallible man can produce a written work that can be reasonably understood and followed, such as a textbook or a cookbook, why can’t the Infallible Creator give the human race a written work that also makes sense? The Word renders the man of God “complete” and by it he finds himself “thoroughly equiped” (2 Tim. 3:17).
  2. Unity among Christians is rendered impossible. Unity means oneness, sameness, likeness, harmony, concord, agreement, unanimity, etc. How can Christians be united and divided by interpretation at the same time? If the Bible is explained merely by man’s relative interpretation, then there can only be unity in confusion! In contrast, our Lord prayed heartily for unity among Christians (John 17:20-23). The apostle Paul begged Christians to “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions” among them (1 Cor. 1:10). How can this instruction be taken seriously if people are incapable of understanding the Bible alike? How can unity be possible without being able to agree upon the fundamental teachings of the Bible, such as how to be saved, how to worship God, and how to distinguish between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’?
  3. Espousing ‘relative interpretation’ puts one in opposition to Biblical teaching. Jesus told His disciples they can “know the truth” (John 8:32). Can anyone “know” anything from the Bible if one interpretation is as good as another? Paul commanded Christians to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). Is it possible to understand the will of the Lord if the specific details of what we are to understand are relative to the individual? Jewish leaders once asked Jesus an ignorant question about the afterlife, to which Jesus replied, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). Could the problem of relative interpretation actually be a problem of Biblical ignorance?

The simple truth of the matter is that we can understand the Bible alike. Whenever a specific passage is studied, several things should be understood before a conclusion is drawn:

  1. The context of the passage (Who is the author? Who is he writing to? Why was it written?)
  2. The covenant under which it was written (Patriarchal, Mosaical, Christian)
  3. The difference between custom & principle
  4. The difference between figurative & non-figurative language
  5. The elimination of any prejudices and personal biases

As we hope to better understand God’s Word, we must recognize that some scriptures in the Bible are difficult to understand. Peter plainly taught that there are some things that are “hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). Difficult topics, therefore, require more in-depth study. The responsibility to understand the truths of the Bible is placed upon the individual. Paul instructed Christians to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:13), which should make understanding the Bible a high priority for each of us. The Christians in Berea were commended for studying the Scriptures “daily” to better understand the Divine truths (Acts 17:11). There are other things that are beyond our capacity to understand (Deut. 29:29, Isa. 55:8-9). We must acknowledge that God is without beginning or end and is infinitely wise and understanding. We, on the other hand, are fallible creatures who are bound by time and matter. There are some truths (not essential to salvation) that we simply can’t comprehend.

The statement that one interpretation is as good as another is made because of one of two reasons. The first reason is due to ignorance. Obviously, we can understand the Bible alike. The second reason is due to an attempt to justify error, and in so doing, they are “twisting” the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16). Personally, I prefer to place my salvation in the truth of God’s Word. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psa. 118:8).