Jan 232015
 

slaveryBefore we start, let’s establish what we mean by slavery. If you mention the word slavery to most people in our society they will immediately think of the slave trade of the 17th and 18th centuries where Africans were forcefully removed from their lands, transported on cramped ships and made to work on places like plantations in the Caribbean and the southern United States.

This is not what the bible means by slavery. In fact that practice of ‘man-stealing’ is clearly spoken against in the bible. For instance, in Exodus 21:16 it says that if anyone does that, then they should be put to death! It’s also clearly listed as a sin in 1 Timothy 1:8-10.

Slavery, however is mentioned many times in the bible. The Old Testament especially, mentions slaves frequently. It was a very common practice in ancient times, often resulting from the displacement of people due to war etc. Slaves were often treated really badly and thought of as no more than property to be treated how their master liked. In the Mosaic law God provided for slaves so they were treated respectfully and humanely. They were even to be released from their obligations after 6 years, unless they themselves chose to stay with their master (Exodus 21:2) These regulations that God provided for slaves, were really radical in ancient times. God cares for individuals but especially for the poor, destitute and marginalised.

As we are talking about slavery in the bible, let’s analyse why there was slavery in Israel. Without any form of social security it would have been easy for someone to fall upon hard times and selling yourself into slavery might be the only way you could provide for your family (Leviticus 25:39) A thief who was caught might have to go into slavery to pay off his debt (Exodus 22:3) people heavily in debt too could sell their children into slavery (2 Kings 4:1) This may sound cruel but it ensured their children were provided for.

In New Testament times slavery was still equally prevalent and universal. It was still a means for people to pay off debts and even survive if times were really hard. This is probably why slavery was not condemned outright in the bible. If Christians had somehow managed to get slavery banned, there would undoubtedly be more deaths, so you could say keeping slavery in that society was actually the humane thing to do! So rather than condemning slavery, Paul and the writers of the New Testament wrote some very counter cultural advice on how slaves and masters were to behave in a society where slavery was very normal. Their attitudes were to be radically different to the way the rest of society behaved, which is no different to how we should behave, as Christians, in our workplaces.

As long as there has been human sin and mankind’s inhumanity to his fellow man, there will always be a form of slavery. Don’t for one minute think that in our modern age that slavery has been eradicated, far from it. In a 2014 comprehensive study it was reckoned that there are currently 35.8 million slaves living in the world today! (http://www.walkfree.org/)

The bible knows that the human heart is in slave to sin and that while we walk in that sin, slavery will always be prevalent. But far from condoning slavery, the hope of the gospel is that everyone who puts their hope in Jesus will stand victoriously free, no longer in Physical slavery or spiritual slavery and that is something to look forward to.

 January 23, 2015  Posted by at 12:00 pm Bible No Responses »
Nov 282014
 

disagree with bible 2Last week we started to look at the reasons why people disagree with the Bible. We talked about the correct interpretation of the Bible, “hermeneutics”. We also looked at the importance of interpreting the Bible based on various historical and cultural factors, original language and context in which the passage was written. This then helps us understand the original meaning, enabling us therefore to fully grasp what God is actually saying to us. We cannot simply interpret it in any way we choose, nor completely disregard certain passages simply because we don’t like them.

This week we will look at some reasons why people disagree with the Bible.

The first problem which may be encountered is the fact that the Bible is very honest in describing God as He actually is, not how we think He is. We are inclined to make God in our image rather than the other (proper) way round. If a particular Bible passage describes God in a way that is uncomfortable to our 20th century, western, comfortable sensibilities we can get quite upset. This can be heightened if we don’t truly understand the context in which the passage was written. We can get so hooked up on the fact that God is love (and He clearly is) that when we see the ‘just’ or ‘righteous’ side to His character, we recoil. We can perversely think that loving people is somehow letting them off all the time. This is not love! Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to bring discipline as correction.

As human beings, we are inclined to believe we have a divine right to live full and trouble free lives and we get upset when it doesn’t quite turn out like that. God’s holiness would truly be served if He killed us as soon as we sinned, but actually His love and mercy allow us to live many more years than we deserve, even living them in rebellion to Him. We get upset at the wiping out of entire people groups in the Old Testament, yet fail to fully see how sinful and evil these races were and how long God allowed them to continue in this state. God is so much more patient than any person on this planet and we need to remember that sometimes many years have passed between one chapter and the next in our Bibles. If we were in God’s position we would not be able to stand for the injustice witnessed for a fraction of the time that He does.

We have a tendency to seriously underestimate the holiness of God. We can be naturally accommodating of sin, especially ones we consider small. God is not like that; He is supremely holy and therefore cannot stand sin in any measure.

Even when we get past God’s character and nature, we can find ourselves feeling upset with some of the things He says. The Bible describes certain behaviours and attitudes as right or wrong, no matter what society says. This is probably the most common reason the Bible causes offence. The Bible states that “…There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).

Many things may seem right to us, but that doesn’t mean they are. Our society gets very upset when we proclaim something as wrong. They want to call it an ‘alternative viewpoint’. This is because human beings will go to great lengths to defend their own decisions and behaviour. When we uphold the Bible’s standard we are accused of being intolerant. Society doesn’t like judgemental statements. But God is our highest authority and He can say and do as He likes; this is what greatly upsets people and may be perceived as unloving: “Who is God to tell me what I can and can’t do?”. But the fact is, He knows us because He made us and He knows what is right and wrong. He says it for our own good as a loving parent, much like a parent who tells their child not to play near the road. The parent is in a much better position to see the danger than the child who thinks the parent is spoiling their fun.

So how should we approach the Bible, especially when we read bits that we really struggle with?

(1) Pray

Ask God to change your heart and desires. We live in the world and we can so easily subconsciously take on the world’s values without even noticing it. If we read the Bible with an openness to learn and a love for God in our hearts, He will help us and change our hearts. He does this because we are His children and He loves to speak to us and direct us. The passages we struggle with and the reasons we struggle with them could well be God’s vehicle to remove false idols and bad attitudes from our lives.

(2) Study

Make sure that you are reading and interpreting correctly the passage of Scripture in question. Does it really say what you think it does? Follow the principles of hermeneutics as highlighted in last week’s blog and keep digging. Get a good study Bible or a good commentary. The more we study the Bible and understand the story as a whole, the more we learn that the parts that seem hard to understand on their own make much more sense within the wider context of the whole Bible.

(3) Understand that our culture is not ‘normal’

Our culture is not to be the means by which we judge things. Actually, our culture is permanently shifting its beliefs and attitudes. Things we believed 50 years ago are very different to what we believe now and what we will believe in another 50 years time. God’s word is constant, eternal and unchanging. Be willing to look at your worldview, culture, and the values around you and understand that just because they are what you are familiar with, this does not make them right or good. As a Christian, the Bible should always be your highest authority

The most important thing is to keep reading and keep trusting God to bring clarity. Sometimes we simply have to accept that He knows best and we need to trust Him.

If, whilst reading this, particular bible passages that you struggle with have come to mind, why not contact me and I’ll see if I can provide an explanation. I enjoy a good dig!

 November 28, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Bible No Responses »
Nov 212014
 

Disagree with bibleThe Bible is undoubtedly one of the most controversial books ever written. It has been discussed and argued over for centuries and continues to be hotly disputed today.

Some claim the bible is irrelevant. However, its amazing claim to be the very word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) demand that it at least be looked at and considered. I have real problems with people who claim it to be irrelevant, and yet have never really read it properly. I find that attitude very arrogant. Usually people dismiss it and claim it to be irrelevant simply because they heard it somewhere, or read a newspaper article from some so-called intellectual, believing this person’s view to be correct due to his reputation.

I would strongly advise to check everything out personally. Never assume that worldly intelligence equals wisdom or that intellectuals know everything about what they are talking about. One day God will ask you what you made of His word and it will seem pretty feeble if we quote some atheist or sceptic who disagreed with the God of the universe!

I suspect that people who dismiss the word of God may be secretly worried that it might actually be true. This being the case, it would then mean major upheaval in their lives, therefore they don’t really want to dig any deeper. If you have stumbled upon this site and you are of that opinion, I challenge you to take more than just a cursory glance.

Since the Bible claims to be the inspired word of God we should definitely sit up and take notice of what it says. By not reading it, surely we are telling God that His opinion doesn’t count, or that we find other things more important. But even if we don’t believe in God, it at least makes sense to be open to exploring the Bible’s claims so that we can say with integrity “I’ve looked into it closely and I believe it leads nowhere”.

Even people who read and study it closely can fall into two camps. Firstly, there are those who believe it is just another ancient book, interesting from a historical point of view but not really relevant for us today. When people take this view it is very difficult to persuade them to change their lifestyle based upon what it says. Then there is the second camp of people who believe the Bible is true, that it is the Word of God, but find themselves interpreting certain parts of scripture in vastly different ways from each other. We can very easily interpret the Bible based on our own beliefs and make it say what we want it to, explaining away the difficult passages as not being relevant for today. Clever and persuasive people can twist the Bible to say anything they want to and they can often sound extremely convincing. I don’t know about you, but if (as I believe) the Bible is the inspired word of God, then I want to know exactly what God is wanting to say, not someone’s opinion of what they think He is trying to say based on their own prejudices and opinions.

So how can we work through this ‘minefield’ of interpretation?

The ‘science’ of interpreting the Bible is called “hermenuetics”. Good hermeneutics helps us to be confident that we are interpreting correctly. This process involves ‘digging deep’ and is the key to good bible study. There are such precious truths in the Bible which are not always obvious from just a surface reading. They are like gold nuggets set deep in a rock which need to be chipped away at in order to be discovered.

One of the most important principles of hermenuetics is to interpret the Bible from its main meaning, by this I refer to its most obvious meaning. This is our starting point and if it then disagrees with other passages, we dig deeper and we search for more understanding whilst still remaining faithful to its intended meaning. To get to the intended meaning we need to have an understanding of the history (culture and background). We also need to understand any grammatical nuances of the original language it was written in. Then finally we put it all into the context in which it was written.

Are there any parts of the Bible that you simply don’t understand and therefore ignore? Or is there something that you just don’t agree with and causes you a major problem? Next week we will look at some reasons why people don’t like what they read in the Bible and how we can handle our own disagreements.

 November 21, 2014  Posted by at 12:00 pm Bible No Responses »
Nov 212013
 

The sword of the spiritAt last a weapon! I’ve enjoyed writing about ‘the armour of God’ and we are now on the sixth blog in this series. Everything so far has been about defence, armour that we put on to protect ourselves, and rightly so. It is very important that we are protected, but we must keep a good balance so we don’t become overly protective. (We can imagine cowering under the onslaught of the enemy’s schemes, just surviving.)

This week we are going to look at our offensive weapon, the sword.

I used to absolutely love sword fighting when I was a child. If I didn’t have a sword, a branch from a tree would do. I was inspired by films such as Robin Hood or The Three Musketeers, imagining myself as the hero (though not rescuing the maiden – I didn’t like girls very much then!).

The sword we are referring to in the context of this blog is, of course, the Bible, the word of God. It has tremendous power for defeating the enemy:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Just as my heroes from the movies were expert swordsmen, my ultimate hero of all time- Jesus Christ, was expert at wielding the sword of the spirit. One of His many names is “The Word of God” as written in John 1: 1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

I love the swordplay that Jesus uses when He is tempted by the devil in Matthew 4:1-11. The devil attempts to quote scripture at Jesus to tempt Him but Jesus expertly parries every thrust and comes back with a verse each time. Jesus is our example of how to handle the word of God. He regularly meditated on scripture and memorised it, so when the attacks came, He always had an answer.

As soldiers of Jesus we need to know our weapons, we need to be familiar with them and know how to use them. I have written previous blogs on memorising scripture here which you may find useful. Also if you click on the tag to the right called ‘Bible’ you will see other blogs I have written about this very important subject.

As I have said before, the battle we are in is not physical. Wielding the sword of the spirit will damage the enemy in different ways, such as when we bring comfort to others through scripture and use it to build one another up. Let me encourage you again to pick up your sword daily. You never know when you might need it.

 November 21, 2013  Posted by at 11:39 am Armour of God, Bible 2 Responses »
Sep 042013
 

Mistakes when reading the bibleThroughout the summer we have been looking at the subject of having a relationship with God. If you have been reading these posts, I hope you have been freshly inspired to a relationship with God, which actually is the purpose of our lives and the reason we were created.

We have spent some time on the subject of prayer, last week exploring the idea of reading our bibles as a way to find out what God wants to say to us, hence deepening His relationship with us.

The bible is a very big book and large parts of it can be difficult to understand. I wonder if you have ever started reading from the beginning and by the time you have reached the book of Leviticus, really started to struggle? There are a number of hurdles we can face, along with mistakes we can make while approaching and reading the bible. Allow me to address some of these mistakes here:

1. Reading the Bible without prayer.

The bible is a spiritual book, so it is a mistake to read it like any other book. We need the Holy Spirit’s help to properly understand it, and to accurately apply it. Therefore praying for God’s help and understanding is vital and a good habit to get into both before we read, enabling us to hear God speak to us, and after we have finished reading, to help us apply His truth to our lives.

2. Getting tripped up by the things we don’t understand.

While we’re reading the Bible, it is very common to come across passages or verses that we simply don’t understand. The best thing to do is to read the whole passage through and try to get the gist of what is being said. If you are still struggling, have a look through a good commentary or ask a friend. I would avoid ‘googling’, especially initially as there are some really whacky ideas on the internet. Get your small group leader or someone you trust in the church to point you in the right direction.

We must remember that the bible was written a very long time ago and we need to understand the historical and cultural context.

3. Don’t read too fast.

You shouldn’t read the bible quickly, as you would a novel. However, some parts you can, for example when a story is being told. Other parts need to be read slowly. I have known people spend weeks on just a couple of verses. If you combine your reading with prayer (as mentioned in point 1 above) you will be amazed at what God will reveal to you, sometimes through passages you’ve read many times before.

4. Applying Old Testament laws personally.

The bible is a book where God’s plans have been given greater clarity over time and so we need to be aware of which laws are still relevant now and which have been superseded, for example, the 10 commandments are still very much relevant to today. However, many of the dietary laws, such as not eating pork, have been done away with. We are now in a new covenant. As in point number 2, if you are unsure, ask someone you trust in your church or read a good commentary.

5. Reading the Bible out of context.

This has been a huge problem throughout church history. The problem arises when people approach the bible with their own agenda. A classic example is the Jehovah’s witnesses who seem unable to come to terms with the fact that God is one and yet three distinct persons, thereby re-interpreting parts to fit what they want the bible to say. It is important that we take time to read the context and the historical setting of every book of the bible before we actually begin, in order to have an understanding of who the book was written to, when it was written, and what the surrounding context of the writing of that book was. This will go a long way to understanding what is actually being said. There will always be minor disagreements when we are not quite sure what the writer meant, but if we take the passage in the context of other passages (as long as they don’t disagree) we should be ok.

And finally . . .

6. Reading the Bible without taking it personally.

Sometimes I can read the bible in the same way I do other non-fiction books – in order to gain information. But if I start with the first point of praying before and after I read, I will be much more likely to discern what God is telling me right now. The bible describes the word of God as living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). If I come to it knowing that God’s desire is to communicate with me through it, I will be a lot more likely to take it personally.

I believe that if we take into consideration the above points we will experience far greater depths of revelation and insight as we delve into the delights that our Father is waiting to share with us through His word. Enjoy!

 September 4, 2013  Posted by at 10:37 pm Bible 1 Response »
Aug 292013
 

Reading the bibleSo far in this mini-series on having a relationship with God we have focussed on our prayer life. We have looked at many aspects of this. If you missed any, click on any of the links on the left hand side.

This week we are going to have a brief look at how the bible can help us in our relationship with God.

If you have been following this blog for any length of time you will be aware that I am constantly quoting scripture. I want ‘the word of God’ to be central in my life. It is not just a book with some good ideas; it contains the living, breathing words of God. The bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”.

I am sure you will agree that this is a bold statement and one which can be understood in the context of the gospels and the epistles. But what about Leviticus, or indeed some of the more obscure Old Testament books?

God can use any part of the bible to teach us about His character, His plans or anything He wants to communicate.

If we want a relationship with God we need to know what He thinks about everything. This will help us follow and serve Him. We need to open our bibles daily and allow God to speak to us. The bible is God’s love letter to us, it is the maker’s handbook. Without it we are floundering around in the dark. We need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Some while back in this blog I did a whole series about the bible. Below are some links if you would like to explore further.

How reliable is the bible?

The Canon of scripture

The authority of the bible

The sufficiency of the bible

Can you trust the bible?

Bible contradictions

Interpreting the bible

Bible versions

Memorising the bible

Helpful links

If you would like any help to get started please feel free to contact me (see tab at the top) and I will do my best to help you.

 August 29, 2013  Posted by at 8:38 pm Bible No Responses »
Aug 222013
 

Pray reading bibleOver the last few weeks we have been looking at developing our relationship with God through prayer. I do hope you have found it useful. If you have missed any, please feel free to click on the subjects on the left hand side of this web page.

We have looked at how we can come to God boldly at any time; we have discovered what we can actually say to God when we approach Him; and last week we looked at the model that Jesus gave us to approach God in prayer.

This week I want to take one more look at this subject. This may seem quite obvious but I believe it easily gets overlooked: Did you know that great chunks of the bible can be turned into prayers? In other words, we can actually pray the bible as we are reading it. Let me explain:

Take Philippians 4:6-7 which says:

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This passage can be turned into a prayer quite easily. Choose the thing that is worrying you the most at the moment and pray something like, “Dear Lord, Your word says that I am not to be anxious about anything but I confess that “such and such” (insert worry here) is really bothering me. I thank You that You want me to bring this problem to You. Help me to leave it at Your feet. I accept and look forward to the peace You have promised me in this passage, the peace You say will guard my heart and my mind. This is all possible because I am ‘in Christ Jesus’ who has provided peace to me through the cross. I accept Your gift with thanksgiving in Jesus name. Amen”.

See how easy it is?

Let’s just do one more here. This is how I would generally pray for a friend who wants a deeper experience of God (do you know someone like that?). I would take Colossians 1:9-13:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

I would pray in the following way: “Lord I want to pray for (name). I pray that You will make Your will known to him/her and that he/she walks in a way that pleases You and You will help him/her to bear much fruit in his/her life. I pray that he/she is strengthened with Your power and is able to endure and be strong even when the going gets tough. I pray that You will give him/her joy as he/she realises that You have qualified him/her to share in the inheritance of your son”… etc.

There are very many prayers in the bible and even more passages that can be turned into prayers.

Next week I plan to move on to the subject of reading the word of God as another way of developing our relationship with Him. But this week, as you are reading the bible, why not try praying God’s word back to Him? I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

I shall leave you now with a few passages that can get you started:

2 Kings 19:14-19

John 17

Ephesians 1:15-21

Ephesians 3:14-21

1 Timothy 2:1-2

 August 22, 2013  Posted by at 10:05 pm Bible, Prayer No Responses »
Dec 282012
 

Read meTo wrap up my series on ‘God’s book’, the Bible and especially as we are near to the start of a new year, I thought we could consider going through the bible in a year.

Have you ever read the whole bible from cover to cover? It’s not as difficult as it may appear and if you were to commit about 20 minutes a day to reading it you could easily finish it in a year. There are various ways to go through the bible in a year so I thought I would give you a few links below with some suggestions:

(1)  Read it from beginning to end, starting Jan 1st at Genesis 1 and finishing the last chapter of Revelation on the 31st December. This doesn’t require too much imagination!

(2) Chronological:  Read the bible as the events occurred in real time. For example, Job lived sometime after the beginning of creation (Genesis 1) but before Abraham was born (Genesis 12). As a result, the book of Job is integrated into the Book of Genesis.

(3) Historical:  Read the books of the bible as they were written historically, according to the estimated date of their writing.

You can find these three ways of reading the bible in a year at this link http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/.  You can also choose which version to read it in.

Have a look at this site http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com/.  It sort of does what it says on the tin. There are lots of ways to do it; sign up to an RSS feed, mobile phone app, print a plan off etc.

Here’s one to print off and tick after completing each day http://www.navpress.com/uploadedFiles/15074%20BRP.dj.pdf

I am going to join in with Queens Road Wimbledon daily bible reading plan. They are changing their name to ‘Everyday Church’ on 1st January 2013. Their leader is Phil Moore, who will be tweeting comments on each days reading. He is an excellent bible teacher with great insights. The link is here http://www.qrc.org.uk/biblereadingplan

I pray that God will help you to read the whole bible in a year, but don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. It should be a delight not a chore.

Finally, I just wanted to recommend a few resources that I have found really useful as I have studied the bible. I hope you find them useful too:

I use the following website whenever I am looking up bible verses in different versions. I also sometimes sign up to receive a free daily e-mail, they have all sorts of subjects http://www.biblegateway.com/

This website has quite a lot of resources for studying the bible, with many bible versions, daily bible readings, a daily devotional and lots more http://www.biblestudytools.com/

The following website has a vast array of bible commentaries and other material covering just about every verse in the bible. I found this site really useful for looking up all sorts of Greek New Testament words and phrases, giving a greater understanding of what is meant in the text. http://www.preceptaustin.org/

I have already mentioned the following site when I talked about bible difficulties as it is really useful for looking into apparent bible contradictions.  It also covers all the major cults and where they misinterpret the bible www.carm.org

Here is a website where you can get a free bible download service and good Sunday school resources check it our here http://www.houseandhome.org/niv-bible-download

Now we have finished this latest series, please feel free to contact me if there is anything you would like me to cover.

God bless, Adrian

 December 28, 2012  Posted by at 10:46 am Bible No Responses »
Dec 202012
 

Memorising scriptureI really hope you have been enjoying this ‘God’s book’ series. The Bible needs to inspire us, educate us and reveal more of God’s character and plans for us. It needs to be in our lives on a daily basis. It is our daily bread (Matthew 4:4).

This week I want to talk about the power of memorising scripture. In the process of committing each verse to memory we are being sustained and changed by its living power.

In Joshua 1:8 it says “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

But not only does memorising scripture bless us, it is also a great tool for witnessing and telling others about Jesus. (I listed a number of verses to learn in my post about ‘sharing the gospel’).

Probably the best way of meditating on scripture is to memorise it. This can probably seem like a huge task but actually, if you break it down, just by simply memorising a couple of verses a week you would know over a hundred in a year.

There are various techniques for memorising scripture. You need to find the one that you find easiest and adapt it to suit yourself if necessary. I have listed out a number of ideas below which I hope you will find useful:

  • Take your first verse and read it ten times, close your eyes and read it out ten times. Repeat the next day 5 times each and so on for a week. Then revisit it at about monthly intervals until it comes to mind easily.
  • Alternatively you could just read it out loud 25 times without even trying to memorise it.
  • Try to memorise the reference first. Say it a few times until it comes easily to you. That way if you do forget the verse you can always look it up to remind yourself.
  • Try and remember the gist of the verse first.
  • Try to form an association between the verse and the reference by linking them together.
  • The memory process is really helped by reading out loud.
  • As you read out loud, put an emphasis on a different word each time eg. for God so loved, for God so loved, for God so loved, for God so loved… etc.
  • Put your verse on a piece of card and carry it around with you, get it out each time you have a few spare moments, for example, standing in a queue, waiting for someone etc.
  • Reviewing what you have learned is crucial.
  • Record the message onto a dictaphone (most of the newest phones have one installed, or you could download an app) and play it back to yourself.
  • Stick various cards around the house on places you visit frequently, like the back of the toilet door or the fridge!
  • Get a friend to help you and learn it together, test each other. You will both find it encouraging and you are more likely to do it with mutual motivation.

You may be wondering what verses would be good to start with. I would suggest that as you continue reading scripture and come across verses that really speak to you, perhaps highlight them in your bible and determine to commit them to memory. However I have compiled a list below of really good verses for your own edification, along with verses that are good for sharing the gospel. You may know many of these already and so you are already well on the way. You may just have to fix the reference with the verse. Hover over each one and the verse should appear. With reference to last weeks post on bible versions, some versions flow easier than others and therefore make it easier to memorise. I personally prefer to memorise verses from the NIV although you may like the ESV versions below.

Joshua 1:8                                            Psalm 119:11

Psalm 119:105                                    Proverbs 3:5, 6

Matthew 28:19, 20                           John 1:12

John 3:16                                             John 14:6

Acts 4:12                                              Romans 3:23

Romans 6:23                                      Romans 12:1, 2

1 Corinthians 6:19, 20                    1 Corinthians 10:13

1 Corinthians 10:31                         Ephesians 2:8-10

Philippians 4:8                                  Philippians 4:19

2 Timothy 2:15                                 2 Timothy 3:16-17

1 John 1:9

My last post on the series ‘God’s book’ will be next week and I will talk about reading the bible throughout the year, which will be very timely ready for January 1st.

It just leaves me to wish all my readers a very merry Christmas, I hope you have a great time. God bless  – Ade

 December 20, 2012  Posted by at 9:21 pm Bible 1 Response »
Dec 122012
 

Bible versionsUp until 1895 the Bible was like the original Ford motor car when Henry Ford famously said (supposedly) that “you can have any colour as long as it is black.” The Bible at that time was only available in one ‘colour’, the King James version.

But things changed in 1895 when a German pastor by the name of Adolf Deissmann began reading everyday ancient Greek manuscripts (private letters, business transactions, other documents etc) which were written in the same vocabulary as the NT texts. In other words, the New Testament was originally written in everyday Greek language, not some sort of distant religious language. The consequence of this discovery was that if the original writings were written in easy to understand terms, so subsequent translations should be easy to understand too.

Translation Differences

These days there is an overwhelming choice when considering which bible translation to read, so I am hoping to guide you through the ‘version’ maze in order to help you make an informed decision.

Most people think that the best version would be a word-for-word translation but this isn’t necessarily so. If you have ever tried to learn a foreign language (as I have) you will find that most languages have many pseudonyms and phrases that if translated word for word would make no sense whatsoever. For instance, the term ‘kick the bucket’ wouldn’t make any sense at all if you translated it word for word. You would need to find the corresponding phrase in that language which best fits the meaning behind it. The downside of not using word-for-word translation but rather interpreting the general meaning of the passage, is that you need to be sure you understand what the original meaning actually is! This is not always obvious and in the case of the Bible, having been written thousands of years ago, there will always be arguments as to what the writer did actually mean (unfortunately the writers are no longer around to ask!). We also have to bear in mind that even with the most honest of intentions, the people who interpret the bible will have their own understanding as to what they ‘believe’ the Bible says, especially those versions that have been translated by only one person (Moffatt, JB Phillips etc).

The different versions then can be put on a sort of scale ranging from ‘word-for-word’ (sometimes called ‘formal equivalence’) to a ‘thought-for-thought’ (called ‘dynamic equivalence’). The scale would look like the one below:

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Overview of some of the more popular translations

King James Version (KJV)

This is the Bible with the ‘thee’s’ and the ‘thou’s’ in, also called the “Authorised” version. It has had a huge impact in shaping the English language. It is a literary masterpiece with the words and phrases beautifully crafted. From my own observations it seems some people hold this particular version in too high esteem and use it with an air of superiority, as if the words are more holy if spoken in “olde” English. The vocabulary and grammar have now been updated into the New King James Version (NKJV) which is much more a ‘word-for-word’ translation.

Revised Standard Version (RSV)

The RSV was completed in 1952 and was intended to be, in part, a revision of the King James. The RSV attempts to be a word-for-word translation where possible. It has not been without controversy; some opponents claim it denies the virgin birth. The NRSV follows the same principle of translation, though it has now become more “gender-inclusive” (somewhat irritating if, like me, you find the excesses of political correctness tiresome). A blanket gender-inclusive translation can be very misleading.

New American Standard (NASB)

The New American Standard Bible (First published in 1971) is widely regarded as the best ‘word-for-word’ translation available today. It was translated by very ‘conservative’ minded theologians so even though it is very accurate, the language does not flow particularly well, especially as each verse is laid out separately rather than in paragraphs, making it even more ‘wooden’ and ‘stilted’ to read

New English Bible (NEB)

The NEB was completed in 1971, after a quarter of a century of labour. It marks a new milestone in translation: it is not a revision, but a brand new translation. It is a phrase-for-phrase translation. Unfortunately, sometimes the biases of the translators creep into the text. The REB (Revised English Bible) follows the same pattern: excellent English, though not always faithful to the Greek and Hebrew.

New International Version (NIV)

The NIV was published in 1978. It may be considered a counterpart to the NEB. (The NEB is strictly a British version, while the NIV is international). It is more of a phrase-for-phrase translation than a word-for-word translation. The translators were generally more conservative than those who worked on the NEB. In making it easy to read it is perhaps too simple in its language (although this is always going to be a difficult balancing act).

English Standard Version (ESV)

The ESV, published in 2001, is the newest and most up-to-date formal equivalent translation. The ESV has eliminated the stilted English of translations such as the NASB, while maintaining the literary excellence of translations like the KJV. The ESV has also consistently translated specific terms in the original language to make theological developments easier to follow, and English concordance searches more accurate. Like the KJV, it has many unforgettable expressions, suitable for memorizing.

New English Translation (NET)

The NET Bible was published in 2005. The NET has all the earmarks of a great translation. At times, it is more accurate than the NASB, more readable than the NIV, and more elegant than both. It is clear and eloquent while maintaining the meaning of the original text. In addition, the notes are a genuine gold mine of information, unlike those found in any other translation. Until I researched this blog I must admit that I had always assumed the NET to stand for internet and although it is only available on the Internet, I hadn’t realised how good it was considered to be.

New World Translation (NWT)

If you ever see this version, don’t buy it! It is the one translated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is a classic example of translating text with pre-conceived ideas (God cannot be three persons, for example) and so attempting to translate it using huge amounts of interpretation. Yet there are other parts which have been translated so literally they are barely readable.

Conclusion
My recommendation would be that when studying, use a couple of translations together to compare. I personally prefer the ESV study bible because the notes are really good. I also use the NIV as this is the version I grew up with and have memorised the most verses from. For just simple reading I quite enjoy the Good News bible. Some people like ‘The Message’ but I personally dislike it. I find it incongruous and grating and nothing like the English I speak. (It’s like your dad embarrassing you with his dance moves at a family wedding or Stephen Hawking reading the sonnets of Shakespeare. There, I’ve got that one of my chest!! )

The most important thing is to keep reading. I believe the Holy Spirit will guide you into truth, so read with a prayerful submissive spirit and be open to what God speaks to you, because He will.

 December 12, 2012  Posted by at 9:46 pm Bible 1 Response »