Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus Online

Just wanted to let those of you Biblical Greek aficionados know, who didn't know already, that the Codex Sinaiticus is now available for viewing online. This is a great opportunity to look at this amazing manuscript! For those of you who aren't familiar with the manuscript and would like to know more about its importance please click here. If you would like to view the manuscript click here or on the image of the text above. Of course I prefer a Bible without the apocryphal books and an OT translated from the Masoretic text, but this text is still immensely important to studies of Biblical Greek.

Friday, July 10, 2009

John Calvin: Only as Relevant as He Was Biblical and Therefore Still Relevant

Here's a most excellent post by Pastor Kevin DeYoung on John Calvin and why a 500 year old figure still holds the interest of so many. Below are a few excerpts. You can read the whole thing at his blog DeYoung, Restless and Reformed.

"Calvin’s confidence was in the Word of God, and that’s why his theology and vision of the world continues to capture the minds and hearts of people in the 21st century. That’s why five hundred years later we remember his birth. That’s why Calvin the preacher and expositor has millions more spiritual children than Erasmus the scholar and hermeneutical skeptic. Strive for relevance in your day, and you’ll may make a difference for a few years. Anchor yourself in what is eternal and you may influence the world for another five centuries.

I’m all for young people dreaming big dreams. Go out and change the world. Make a difference. Discover a cure for cancer. Write a best-selling novel. Become president. But remember, your “glory” (and mine) will not last. Your great accomplishments will fall away–either in your lifetime, or in a generation, or at the end of all things.

No one will care about your GPA and SAT scores in ten years. If you win a state championship, you’ll be forgotten the next year you don’t. Your beauty will get wrinkles and trim figure plump. Write a great book and it will gather dust in a library some day. Have a big famous church, it won’t last forever. Be an important person in your field, you still be unknown to over 6 billion people in the world. Build an amazing house, it will crumble some day, if it doesn’t go into foreclosure first. All of our achievements and successes are destined to be like dead grass and faded flowers.

But...the word of our God stands forever. The word about Babylon in Isaiah 40 stood firm. and so will his word in our generation. All God’s declarations about himself and his people are true. All his promises will come to pass. Our only confidence is in the word of God. John Calvin was a man, an imperfect, sinful man, but a man that God used enormously because he put his confidence in the word of God."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Sanctification of Your Studies

It is all too common in this modern age for there to be a separation between theological studies and all others studies, especially the sciences. Even in our studies of theology, whether it be a casual reading of the Bible or in depth exegesis, we approach "it" much as a forensic scientist, a morgue technician or a medical student approaches a dead body. Our study of God is reduced to the study of yet another subject or specimen. Our purpose, therefore, becomes to understand as opposed to knowing. The forensic scientist does not know the subject on the cold steel table. He or she does not know their favorite color, what gives them joy or what makes them sad. To them the subject need not be alive because their interest in them is only to understand scientific facts about their physiology and anatomy.

Is this the way you approach God? Is He just another subject for you to understand, a specimen to dissect to prove to others and yourself that you "know" God? The "study" of God is not a study of a cadaver. Have you not heard?

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalms 42:2)

Our God is a living God and so is His Word.

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

God is more alive than you and I have been or ever will be. We find our life in Him as does all of creation. If this is so, then both our "study" of God Himself and of His creation are like getting to know ones own father or a dear friend. Does anyone study their friends or dearest loved ones as a mere subject to be well versed in? More importantly do you want people to know simple facts about you or to really truly know you? If a book were written about you, and someone read it would you consider it to be acceptable for them to say they know you? I don't think so.

If creation finds its life in God, then a study of creation is a study of God as well. All of creation tells us something unique about the Artist who created it. The Puritan Richard Baxter (1615-1691) says this about the study of God and His creation in "The Reformed Pastor":

"It is the work of Christ to bring us back to God, and to restore us to the perfection of holiness and obedience; and as he is the way to the Father, so faith in him is the way to our former employment and enjoyment of God. I hope you perceive what I aim at in all this, namely, that to see God in his creatures, and to love him, and converse with him, was the employment of man in his upright state; that this is so far from ceasing to be our duty, that it is the work of Christ to bring us, by faith, back to it; and therefore the most holy men are the most excellent students of God's works, and none but the holy can rightly study them or know them. 'His works are great, sought of all them that have pleasure therein;' but not for ourselves, but for him that made them. Your study of physics and other sciences is not worth a rush, if it be not God that you seek after in them. To see and admire, to reverence and adore, to love and delight in God, as exhibited in his works--this is true and only philosophy; the contrary is mere foolery, and is so called again and again by God himself. This is the sanctification of your studies, when they are devoted to God, and when he is the end, the object and the life of them all."

If at first we come to know God through His Word and Spirit, and truly come to "admire, to reverence and adore, to love and delight in God" then we will also come to adore the great works of His hands, as though creation were another book of His. Are physics and other sciences so separate a study from theology if they are in essence a study of God Himself? Baxter thinks not.

"Theology must lay the foundation, and lead the way of all our studies. If God must be searched after, in our search of the creature, (and we must affect no separated knowledge of them) then tutors must read God to their pupils in all; and divinity must be the beginning, the middle, the end, the life, the all, of their studies. Our physics and metaphysics must be reduced to theology; and nature must be read as one of God's books, which is purposely written for the revelation of himself."

So in summary, first, do not approach the "study" of God as the forensic scientist does his most recent dead body or as mere facts. To "study" God is to come into a deeper friendship and enjoyment of God Himself. Approach your reading of the Bible and theological studies prayerfully asking God that you might come to better known, adore and delight in Him.

Secondly and lastly, do not see the study of created things, whether it be physics, metaphysics, mathematics or anything else as a study separate from your getting to know and worship God more correctly. Come to your studies prayerfully asking God that you might better know, adore and delight in Him just as you do in your studies of His Word. As you do this you will come to see and know God in all things. You will see Him as the all in all, and your observations and enjoyment of the world around you will serve to deepen your relationship with God rather than distract from it. Satan will loose one of his greatest tools in this modern, busy world--the power of distraction. The world is God's and everything in it. Sanctify your studies.

~Quotes from "The Reformed Pastor" by Richard Baxter; Banner of Truth Trust, pg. 58-59.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

New Creation's Sun

Here is some powerful imagery from the English Puritan author George Swinnock (1627-1673). We are not nearly thankful enough for the guiding and warming light that is God's Word!

"Consider what a distinguishing mercy and precious treasure the Word of God is, how without it you would have forever been both unholy and unhappy, and how by it you may eternally be both gracious and glorious. Without question you will find cause to bless the Giver for such a rare and profitable gift. The apostle ranks this favor among the blessings of the highest form: 'What advantage hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision?' (Rom. 3:1). The answer is chiefly, that unto them were committed the oracles of God. The psalmist, mentioning this mercy, concludes with 'Praise ye the Lord' (Ps. 147:19-20). The light of the sun, moon, and stars is of such concern to men, that without them the beauty of the old creation would be buried in darkness, and therefore the children of God have given the Most High the credit of those greater and lesser candles (Ps. 136:7-9)...The light of God's law and Word is of infinitely more worth, for by it the glory and beauty of the new creation, and that curious piece of man's redemption, is seen and known. What honor God deserves for this favor!"

~George Swinnock; Works of George Swinnock (vol. 1; London: James Nichol. 1868), 163-164.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Bible Works 8 Contest

Check out this link for directions on how to win the new Bible Works 8 Bible software. This is some of the best Bible software on the market and contains some awesome new resources and features. There's a few simple steps to entering to win.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Exceeding Pleasure of Self-Denial

Here is a quote from the Puritan author Jeremiah Burroughs I read recently:

"Oh, that you would test the ways of God, tasting to see that He is good! If your hearts were such that you would be satisfied without earthly pleasures, it would make the moderation of them more pleasant than the excess. You would find more pleasure in the very act of self-denial than in all the pleasure of your lives, and if there is so much enjoyment in denying false pleasure, what joy is there in enjoying true pleasure? Surely God has pleasure enough for you, if you had a heart to trust Him with your pleasure; you shall only lose your sin, not your pleasure. Bernard has a notable expression: "If you are willing to sacrifice your Isaac (which signifies laughter), your Isaac, which is your pleasure, shall not die." It is the ram, that is, your stoutness of spirit, your selfishness, that shall die. Isaac shall live, and you shall have pleasure still.

Do not harbor ill thoughts of God, to think that He is an enemy to your pleasure and delight. He does not delight to grieve your spirit. If you would trust Him with your pleasure...You must trust God with your soul's eternal condition; will you not trust Him with your pleasures? Do you think Christ came to die and shed His blood to bring you into a worse condition than before? Oh no, certainly Christ did not come to take away any pleasure from His people, but to bring them the pleasures of heaven, and of earth too, as far as they are needful. Is it not true that you should have pleasure when you are reconciled to God, and not when you are an enemy?"

-Jeremiah Burroughs; Moses His Choice, With His Eye Fixed Upon Heaven