The Scripture

I want to answer a question:
1. Does God breathe more Scripture into people in the present? (present day)
I think the question is does God still communicate to people in a way that is equal to the Scripture?
Start by reading the following about the power of Scripture.

The Bible can change not only a life but an entire lifestyle. Most of us have heard the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, but few of us have heard how the Bible played a very vital part in that historical event. The Bounty was a British ship which set sail from England in 1787, bound for the South Seas. The idea was that those on board would spend some time among the islands, transplanting fruit-bearing and food-bearing trees, and doing other things to make some of the islands more habitable. After ten months of voyage, the Bounty arrived safely at its destination and for six months the officers and crew gave themselves to the duties placed upon them by their government.
When the special task was completed, however, and the order came to embark again, the sailors rebelled. They had formed strong attachments for the native girls, and the climate and the ease of the South Sea island life was much to their liking. The result was mutiny on the Bounty, and the sailors placed Captain Bligh and a few loyal men adrift on an open boat. Captain Bligh, in an almost miraculous fashion, survived the ordeal, was rescued, and eventually arrived home in London to tell his story. An expedition was launched to punish the mutineers, and in due time fourteen of them were captured and paid the penalty under British law.
But nine of the men had gone to another distant island. There they formed a colony. Perhaps there has never been a more degraded and debauched social life than that of that colony. They learned to distill whiskey from a native plant, and the whiskey as usual, along with other habits led to their ruin. Disease and murder took the lives of all the native men and all but one of the white men named Alexander Smith. He found himself the only man on the island, surrounded by a crowd of women and children. Alexander Smith found a Bible among the possessions of a dead sailor. The Bible was new to him. He had never read it before. He sat down and read it through. He believed it and he began to appropriate it. He wanted others to share in the benefits of the book, so he taught classes to the women and children, as he read to them and taught them the Scriptures.
It was twenty years before a ship ever found that island, and when it did, a miniature Utopia was discovered. The people were living in decency, prosperity, harmony, and peace. There was nothing of crime, disease, immorality, and sanity, or illiteracy. How was it accomplished? By the reading, the believing, and the appropriating of the truth of God!

Okay, the short answer is “no.” God doesn’t communicate to us in that way anymore. Most would say that God developed the New Testament Canon throughout the first century of the church. By the second century we have quotes from the church fathers regarding what letters or books are acceptable for the New Testament Canon.
One source says:
Paul J. Achtemeier, Publishers Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature, Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Includes index., 1st ed., 700 (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985). He also writes: By the middle of the second century, a collection of the four Gospels was made. At this time, Luke was separated from Acts so that thereafter Acts had a life of its own. If one takes seriously the claim of Tertullian, some type of Christian canon existed before Marcion—a canon that the heretic cut down to his own canon of an expurgated version of Luke and ten ‘corrected’ Letters of Paul. If one does not accept Tertullian’s claim, then by the end of the second century, partially in reaction to Marcion, a NT canon of some sort existed. This canon was a collection of collections (the four-fold Gospel, the Pauline Letters, and Revelation, which was itself a collection of seven letters and seven visions), with the Pauline Letters introduced by Acts and supplemented by several general Letters to counter Marcion’s exclusive focus on Paul. The Christian writings that were produced within a period of seventy-five to one hundred years, in contrast to the period of nearly one thousand years for the production of the OT documents, were now on the road toward acceptance in a twenty-seven-book NT canon normally used by Western Christians today.

Okay, so the question still remains, “WHY?” “Why no more Scripture?”
Okay, about the Spiritual gifts Paul writes that they are given for the up-building of the church.
Ephesians 4:11-13:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
In the same way that the Spiritual gifts were given for the up-building of the church, God used the Apostles to communicate His Word for the upbuilding of the church. So, when the early church Fathers compiles the 27 books of the New Testament they had a strict standard to go by.
1) The book or letter had to have been written by an apostle or based off of the testimony of an apostle. To be an apostle they would have had to have been a disciple or had been picked by Jesus. See what Paul writes below:
1 Corinthians 9:1:
Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?
Paul says that as an apostle he saw the Lord. Jesus chose Paul.
This means that all the apostles were dead by AD 100 and so no others can write Scripture.
2) The New Testament books also cannot contradict the rest of the Bible.

But the main point is number 1. No, though God still speaks He does not communicate in the same way that He did to Peter and Paul and James and John.

Please comment with any questions.

thanks, Steve

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Another good book:

I have started reading a book by Gary McIntosh titled: There’s Hope for Your Church. 

http://www.amazon.com/Theres-Hope-Your-Church-Restoring/dp/B00A188JCC

Gary is the speaker at our American Baptist Churches of Ohio spring church leadership conference. Gary writes about revitalization for churches. Here are some interesting excerpts:

“At its root, revitalization is a spiritual issue. In a study reported in Your Church, the number one change made in churches that turned around was spiritual, such as added prayer initiatives. Seventy-five percent of the revitalized churches reported starting such initiatives.[19] Pastors and other church leaders regularly overlook this key point, preferring to focus on organizational or facility or program issues. This is not surprising, since dealing with spiritual issues, such as confrontation of known sin, is a challenging part of ministry. It is a mistake, however, to ignore the spiritual dynamic of revitalization.
As you begin the process of revitalizing a church, establish high morals, ethics, and credibility and stick to them. Show your people daily that these principles are more than words—that they live and thrive in you. Leaders who lack such principles are doomed to fail. Consider the following principles of revitalization and begin using them today.

another one:

“When the average age of people in a church is ten years or more above that of the average age in the community, the church finds it is no longer able to relate to the community. Few visitors walk through the doors of the church, and even fewer come back a second time.”

Excerpt From: Gary L. McIntosh. “Thereís Hope for Your Church.” Baker Publishing Group. iBooks. 

This material may be protected by copyright.

any thoughts? please share. 

blessings, Steve

 

The Post Church Christian

I am now reading a book titled: “The Post Church Christian.”

http://www.amazon.com/The-Post-Church-Christian-Dealing-Generational/dp/0802406408

This book is written by Paul and Carson Nyquist. Carson is a pastor and he is part of the millennial generation (born between 1982 and 2000). Paul was a pastor and is now the president of Moody Bible Institute. Paul is a baby boomer and they both are writing about generational differences. Both have theological degrees.

On page 25 of my Kindle edition Carson writes:

“Contrary to common thinking, a shallow version of Christianity is not compelling, relevant, or attractive to us. In fact, it’s the thing that often drives us away from the church.”   

That is an interesting quote. I have heard Barna statistics that show when the unchurched come to church they expect a sermon. My own analysis shows that when the younger generation comes to church they want something. They want depth and challenged or they don’t come. They no longer attend out of expectations. 

Carson also writes: 

“When you’re drowning in a culture of Christianity [Bible belt] that approves of everyone, people will look for more. Why? Because cheap Christianity, with low expectations, is virtually meaningless. I would argue our generation desires a significant faith. We want a Sunday morning message to challenge us to something deeper than tutoring a student or cleaning up a neighborhood.” He continues to say that those are good things but we need  connected to God.

He also writes: “Hearing a message on the nature, character, and power of God inspires us. We want to be challenged to love the unlovely, share our possessions with the poor, or give our lives to something that matters. This is what inspires our generation. We don’t want a watered-down version of God’s Word. We don’t accept a three-point  checklist to complete this week. Token Christianity has nothing to do with following Jesus.”  

As I personally read and listen to people like Francis Chan, Mark Driscoll and others this seems to be confirmed. Francis Chan challenges Christians to go deeper trusting the Holy Spirit and loving God and people in a crazy way. When challenged, this generation rises to the occasion, when not challenged they see no reason to commit to nothing. (meaning there is nothing of importance to commit to. 

When writing about the way things are done because they are always done this way, Carson writes:

      Ken and Deborah Lord, pastors and authors, elaborate on this issue: ‘

      “What if we older, more established church leaders who hold the authority, property, money, and other church resources were to hunt down eclectic, somewhat ragtag, young women and men, and give our power and stuff to them with the instruction, ‘We choose you because you are not like us. Here is your charge: Go after those who are seeking God. Do not copy our ways. Do not do what we have done. Innovate. Try. Fail. Succeed. Forge a new path. Build new kinds of churches and communities.'”

That is what we must do as we have lost this generation. 

Watch this video:

Andy Stanley’s church’s website under leaders on the right:

http://northpoint.org/

Two other great books: “Deep and Wide” by Andy Stanley and Visioneering by Andy Stanley.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_11?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=deep+and+wide+andy+stanley&sprefix=deep+and+wi%2Cstripbooks%2C227

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=visioneering&sprefix=visionee%2Caps%2C198&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Avisioneering

have a blessed week!

 

Word of Truth

I read the following on the Vertical Church blog:

Prioritize the Word of Truth

 

I love this: “accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). When I was a kid, I memorized this verse in the King James Version as “rightly dividing the word of truth.” Actually, in the original Greek there’s just one word. It’s a compound word that means cut it straight. Don’t you love that picture? We are supposed to be cutting it straight, rightly dividing, accurately handling the Word of Truth.

We need to cut it straight in our families. When your daughter wants to date an unbeliever—but the Word of Truth says in 2 Corinthians 6:14“Do not be bound together with unbelievers”—you go to her and cut it straight. When your son wants to listen to ungodly music in your house—but the Word of Truth says in Philippians 4:8“Whatever is pure, whatever is lovely . . . dwell on these things”—go to him and cut it straight.

Maybe you’re thinking, Hey, to be honest with you, my marriage is not doing very well right now. It’s more work than wow, for sure! I have to be honest and tell you that some days, in my darkest moments, I wonder if I can make it. I’m just not sure I can stick it out for the rest of my life. But the Word of Truth says in Matthew 19:6, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” So put that thinking out of your mind, and cut it straight.

Maybe you’ve been having a hard time at work, and the finances aren’t what they used to be. This hasn’t been a good year; sales are down, and you’ve been tempted to cut some corners. Maybe you’ve thought about withholding your giving to your church because you think, God, I have to provide for my family and cover certain obligations. You’ve been tempted to compromise the Word of Truth. But then you remember Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” No longer will you allow yourself the luxury of wandering from what the Word of God says. You are “cutting it straight”; you are accurately handling the Word of Truth. And you are making the Word of God a priority.

A number of years ago, we had some major rainstorms in our area. Many people had their basements completely flooded. The morning after the storm, two sweet sisters who live next door to us came by and said, “We were calling you on the phone in the middle of the night. We wanted to make sure your basement didn’t flood.”

“Well, we only have cordless phones,” I said. “When the power went out, our phones didn’t ring.”

“Only a couple of cordless phones for a family your size?” the sisters answered. “We have six phones in our house: three cordless phones, and three regular phones.”

I couldn’t believe it. “Wow, you have six phones? For what?” They answered, “Well, we work for the phone company. What do you expect? Isn’t your house full of Bibles?”

I laughed out loud, “Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it is!” I walked away smiling to myself, because that’s what I want our family and our church family to be known for—full of the truth of God’s Word.

That’s almost a decade ago now. Thankfully, those sisters gave their lives to Christ—in fact I saw them in church last weekend.

Pornography in Iceland

Check out this sound bite:

If that doesn’t work out go to

http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/breakpoint-commentaries-archive/entry/13/21660

This is a radio commentary about pornography in Iceland. It turns out they are recognizing the great dangers with an “anything is okay” society. This could be an interesting discussion. Jesus talked about lust and even if a man looks at a woman lustfully he commits adultery in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Thought you may be interested. Have a great week!