Posts Tagged ‘Bible Facts’

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What is Sin? The Unholy Trinity…

June 24, 2011

Sin, Transgression, and Iniquity In Psalm 51.

What is sin, really? 

From the very first verses in this psalm, David is upfront and honest about his actions and the punishment he deserves.  He has not only missed the mark, and failed to follow the law, he has actively engaged in criminal activity, adultery, murder, lying, theft, all of which leads up to a virtual rebellion against the God he now implores for forgiveness.  This is a pattern of evil easy to criticize, but also all too easy to mimic in our own lives.  Thankfully we serve a God or mercy, and compassion.  There is no reason that we should be accepted by a Holy God.  All of us from ‘small’ sins to great transgressions display hearts in rebellion to our maker.  Our only choice is to throw ourselves at His mercy and plead for grace.  David models both the confession and the call for mercy, for his sins, his life of iniquity and pattern of transgression.

 a.     Sin: The word used twice in this Psalm for ‘sin’ is the word חַטָּאָת or chatta’ath.  This word is rooted in the idea of mis-step, to stumble or falter.  To miss the mark, induce sin, or bring guilt and or condemnation.  It is from these sins that the Israelites sought absolution through sacrifice.  David rightly seeks to be ‘cleansed’ from this act and will feel confronted with his sin continually until he is forgiven.

 b.     Iniquity- The word here is עָוֹן or ‘av-own’. It occurs some 237 times in the Old Testament and describes a pattern or display of criminal activity.  This is not merely sin, or missing the mark but engaging in a crime, for which one would be prosecuted, tried and judged.  Sometimes it is the penalty for sin, in that sin brings about iniquity, a pattern or ‘life of crime’.  It is rooted in the idea, and comes from the word to bend or pervert, to twist or distort.  So one could see the natural transition here, from twisted and perverted to iniquity and crime.  To bend and twist the law to fit your own way is to commit a crime.  Certainly David is guilty of this, and rightly seeks to be absolved of his crime, ‘wash me thoroughly from my iniquity.’ Vs. 2.

 c.   Transgression- The word here is פֶּשַׁע or ‘pesha’.  It occurs some 99 times in the Old Testament.  It is rooted in the idea or rebellion or revolt.  Its root word means as much, to turn away from.  Israel was in rebellion against David’s kingdom (1 King 12:19) This is to commit sin against someone else, Joseph’s brothers transgressed against him by selling him into slavery.  Israel.  One can and does transgress against God, every time one sins.  God promises to punish those who transgress Ps. 89:32 but to those who he forgives, He not only forgives but places their transgressions far from them. Ps. 103:12.  But Christ was numbered among the transgressors bearing the sins of many and interceded for them. (Isa. 53:12)

John MacArthur writes:

“If I were to sum up what David was feeling, I might say it like this, “Sin had made him dirty and he wanted to be clean. Guilt had made him sick and he wanted to be well. Disobedience had made him lonely and he wanted to be reconciled. Rebellion had made him fearful and he wanted to be pardoned.”  That’s what comes out of Psalm 51, a man who feels dirty, sick, isolated and afraid…all consequence of his sin. And out of that, he pours forth this confession and it has all the right perspectives of a true confession would be threefold…see your sin for what it is, see God for who He is, and see yourself for who you are. Any true confession is going to have to interact with those components.”[1]


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Our Abiding Help… Can we lose the Spirit?

June 17, 2011

Psalm 51 is David’s great penitential psalm.  A record of his words of remorse and repentance following his adultery with Bathsheba, murder of Uriah, and deception of Israel.  In it he pleads to God for mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. (You can read my previous thoughts on his prayer here.)

Many of us have prayed this prayer.  Athanasius, the great church father suggested that it should be prayed by all believers when the lie awake at night.  Martin Luther said of the psalm that, “There is no other Psalm which is oftener sung or prayed in the church.”  For some of us Psalm 51 has become a well worn road of faithful repentance; relied upon frequently to reorient our minds toward our maker and renew our broken and contrite hearts.  But when we come to verse eleven, as Christians post-calvary, post-pentacost, having received the Spirit, how do we pray this prayer? In verse 11 though, he makes a request that is startling to consider; ‘take not your Spirit from me.’  All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for among other things training in righteousness; but concerning this verse, can it be prayed in light of the cross?

The answer is yes, we can pray this prayer, and recite this psalm to God, taking comfort from David’s prose and the God it addresses.  The task is not whether the words can be prayed but, what we mean by the words, and how we pray them.

Below are three treatments of the verse.  One, courtesy of Don Stewart, author and apologist and the other from C. John Collins and the ESV Study Bible both address the Old Testament context of the prayer.  And finally Charles Spurgeon from his Treasury of David, on how we should word this verse, consistent with our understanding to the abiding Holy Spirit and the desired favor of God.  I hope they are helpful.

 Can we Lose the Holy Spirit?[1] -Don Stewart

 Once the Holy Spirit enters a person, can He leave? In Psalm 51, David prayed:

Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:11).

 The Bible gives the example of the Holy Spirit leaving Samson:

 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke, from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him (Judges 16:20).

 In another instance, the Holy Spirit is said to have left Saul:

 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a distressing spirit from the Lord troubled him (1 Samuel 16:14).

 These passages seem to teach that one can lose the Holy Spirit. But this is not necessarily the case. There are other possible solutions to this question. Some believe that the situations of David, Samson, and Saul must be understood in their Old Testament context. It appears that during that period, the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers on a permanent basis; but rather His presence in the life of the believer was of a limited duration.

 Special Anointing

 A second view holds that it was not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that left these people, but a particular anointing or empowering of the Spirit that departed. David and Saul were kings and had a special anointing from God to rule the people. Samson also had a special anointing from God to lead Israel. What left Samson and Saul and what David prayed to retain was not the indwelling of the Holy Spirit but rather the Holy Spirit’s anointing to rule. In the same way, the Holy Spirit always indwells a believer, but can anoint that New Testament believer for a specific and temporary purpose.

 Whatever the case may be, the New Testament makes it plain that the Holy Spirit will not leave the believer.

 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever (John 14:16).

 Having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession (Ephesians 1:13,14).

From C. John Collins and the ESV Study Bible: (Crossway, 2008)

Ps. 51:11 “take not your Holy Spirit from me.” Some have taken this to imply that the Holy Spirit can be taken from someone, at least in the OT; others have suggested that the Holy Spirit is viewed here in his role of empowering David for his kingly duties, and that this is a prayer that God not take the kingship and the divine anointing for kingship from David as he did from Saul (1 Sam. 16:14;1 Sam. 16:13).

To evaluate these views, one should observe that the OT rarely discusses the Holy Spirit’s role in cleansing the inner life (besides here, Ezek. 36:27 is the main OT text on the subject), and certainly does not enter into technical questions of the Spirit’s permanent indwelling. Further, the fact that this is a psalm for the whole congregation argues against the idea that this is David’s personal prayer about his kingship.

The whole tenor of this psalm is that, if strict justice were God’s only consideration, he would have the right to bring dire judgment on those who sin (which includes all of his own people), and that the only possible appeal is to his mercy. The function of the psalm, as a song sung by the entire congregation, is to shape their hearts so that they feel this at the deepest level, lest they ever presume upon God’s grace.

Charles Spurgeon on Verse 11:

“Cast me not away from thy presence. Throw me not away as worthless; banish me not, like Cain, from thy face and favour. Permit me to sit among those who share thy love, though I only be suffered to keep the door. I deserve to be forever denied admission to thy courts; but, O good Lord, permit me still the privilege which is dear as life itself to me. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Withdraw not his comforts, counsels, assistances, quickenings, else I am indeed as a dead man. Do not leave me as thou didst Saul, when neither by Urim, nor by prophet, nor by dream, thou wouldst answer him. Thy Spirit is my wisdom, leave me not to my folly; he is my strength, O desert me not to my own weakness. Drive me not away from thee, neither do thou go away from me. Keep up the union between us, which is my only hope of salvation. It will be a great wonder if so pure a spirit deigns to stay in so base a heart as mine; but then, Lord, it is all wonder together, therefore do this, for thy mercy’s sake, I earnestly entreat thee.”

[1] Don Stewart, http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?id=489

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Online Tools for the Theological Trade…

January 12, 2011

There is a great site that I have just been made aware of; Theopedia.com is a “Wikipedia” like site for Theological topics.  It claims to be “essentially a community-driven, information-management system,” whose sole aim is to compile a library of theological and biblical topics.

Theopedia is separate and unrelated to Wikipedia and prohibits word-for-word copying/pasting of Wikipedia articles onto its site.

You can read their Statement of Faith, which every editor of the site is required to affirm prior to editing any material on the site.

As with any site of this type, discretion is called for when searching for and gathering information, as the “community-driven” nature of these sites can be unpredictable and sometimes unreliable.

If anything, use this site as a jumping off point to study and delve into the profound truths which spring from the Word and make up the body of theological studies.

Click here for Theopedia’s Home Page…

Click here for Theopedia’s about page...

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Lost in Translations…

August 26, 2010

When it comes to Bible translations, does it matter which translation you use?

Finding agreement among Christians on just about anything is difficult, often impossible. On the issue of Bible translation there is no exception. There are numerous choices presented to the Christian seeking to read and take comfort from the Holy Scriptures.

If you had a friend who recently came to Christ and they asked “what Bible should I read?” What would you tell them. Though the question might sound harmless it is not. For within the many treatments of the text there are variations; some are common and mundane others are radical and message altering.

What is the difference between the: ESV, NIV, KJV,NKJV, HCSB, RSV, NRSV, NASB, ASV, CEV, LB, NLT, MSG, TNIV, D-R, NJB? To name just a few. Each of the above translations can be found in the hands of earnest Christians and apostate heretics across the globe. So which one is the right one? And is there a right one translation?

That we have such a variety and such access to the Word is a true testament of the grace and mercy of God. But, in a post Gen 3 world, access and familiarity can often breed contempt and disregard.

What is called for in this task is discernment. We must avoid the all too common American tendencies toward consumerism and social sensitivity. We must strive to find and promote translations of the Word that strive to be true and faithful to the authors’ intended meaning and the original text, rather than our contemporary needs/wants. We must carefully work out our salvation in the word with fear and trembling.

Men throughout the centuries have risked much to provide translations of scripture that are accurate and have the strictest measure of fidelity to the meaning of the original texts. Their success in doing so often came at the cost of their positions, their pulpits and even their lives.

There is an immense and costly importance to the accuracy and right interpretation of Scripture. Failure to translate rightly the word of truth can cause disunity and dysfunction within the body of believers; and ultimately hinder the delivery of the accurate gospel to the lost.

Throughout the ages God has been faithful and steadfast in preserving His Word and promulgating His message to those called by His name. The ancient autographs and original penmanship of the biblical authors may have faded into the obscure haze of history; but what has been preserved and translated has been passed down according to His sovereign will. The scripture, rightly translated, remains to this day “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim 3:16-17 (ESV)

Man, in an attempt to be “relevant,” can do damage to what God has breathed out. So investigate and be discerning, test and see if your translation remains faithful to His text and His message and if not then find one that does and enjoy.

To that end I recommend this online resource: evangelicalbible.com is an interesting website providing both retail services for Bibles in multiple translations and a brief history of Bible translation and defense of the English Standard Version or ESV.

Also I have included a link to albertmohler.com, Dr. Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and has written several informative articles and provides audio commentary on the subject of Bible Translation

See the links below.

Bibles for purchase

Why the ESV?

Mohler on Bible Translation

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The New Testament, Old Tools…

August 23, 2010

As we strive to study and understand the Bible we have been given, it can often seem difficult to know where to turn for resources. ntgateway.com is an excellent website for introductory/advanced New Testament study.  The site’s description is as follows: ” The New Testament Gateway, the award winning web directory of internet resources on the New Testament. Browse or search annotated links on everything connected with the academic study of the New Testament and Christian Origins.”

ntgateway is a product of the Department of Religion at Duke University under the auspices of Associate Professor of Religion Dr. Mark Goodacre.  It contains various commentary resources, greek lexical aids, scholarly articles and catagorized resources on canonical, apocryphal, and historical resources concerning the New Testament.

Important to note is that this site is not explicitly or implicitly evangelical, but attempts to provide an academic resource for those who wish to study the New Testament and its history.  It is also important to remember that while there are some articles and points of view on this site that may make conservative minds a little wary, scholarship regardless of its source or bent can be useful for instruction.  As in all things exercise discernment and first and foremost cling to the Word, the measure of all arguments.

The NTGateway.com

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Find the Time and Redeem it…

August 5, 2010


I thought I would post a couple links to some resources for those who ask the question, “I have a Bible, so now what?”

The first is an excellent and brief book of instruction on studying the word entitled, How to Study the Bible” by John MacArthur from Moody Publishers, 2009.

This book attempts and succeeds to communicate the vital importance of the word to the life of any believer. It is an excellent aid for those new believers as well as those Christians who need to taste and see, again, why our Lord is good.

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The Fig, The Shepherd, and other thoughts…

August 5, 2008

 

 Reading the Old Testament can be difficult, at least for me.  There is often a great deal of background info that is required to understand what I am reading.  Occasionally things catch my eye and as a result are in need of further study.  A while back I was reading the book of Habakkuk one of the “Minor” Prophets which appear toward the end of the OT between Nahum and Zephaniah, or roughly 40 pages before Matthew.  Written around 600 years before the birth of Christ, Habakkuk ponders several questions as he gazes at Israels uncertain future and God gives His response.  The book to me is a book of hope and optimism, indeed Habakkuk recognises and rejoices in God of his salvation (3:17) despite difficult times.

The Third Chapter is what caught my eye, starting in verse 17 which was written “to the choirmaster” as a psalm to close out his Prophecy : “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herds in the stalls, 18. YET I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”  Quite bleak until verse 18 wouldn’t you agree?. 

What struck me about the passage is that all the examples given are covered by our Lord in the New Testament.  Summer will be near when the fig tree blooms (Matt24:32), and from this they will know that He is at the Gates(Mark:28-31).  Those who are gentiles have been grafted into a cultivated Olive tree(Rom11:24)  Christ was “thrown out” of the vineyard his father prepared and rejected by the workers(Matt 21:39) but He of course is the True Vine (John15:1), the fields once barren of food are now White for harvest(John4:35) sown onto fertile ground and ready for the reaper.  The best parallel is in the Shepherd, for while in Habakkuk the flock was cut off, and the stalls were empty of its herds, now the flock has found its Shepherd who will lay His life down for His Flock(John10:1-31).

All of these may not be direct parallels, but what is amazing is that this litany was written 600 years prior to there ever being a hope of fulfillment, and yet Habakkuk had hope and rejoiced in God.  All the OT prophets, we are told in I Peter 1:10-12, did what they did and wrote what they wrote considering the Christ; they ‘Searched and inquired carefully'(v10) ‘inquiring about what person or time His spirit was indicating to them(v11), ‘it was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but us'(vs12). 

We can be inspired in that while Habakkuk did not see the Christ, or experience the saving grace of God by His sacrifice, he believed.  In fact he blessed God in difficult times when all seemed hopeless knowing that in God his salvation lay.  He truly had faith the substance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.(Heb11:1)