Bruce’s knowledge of the Bible was prodigious. Those who knew him well believed that he had the whole Bible, in the original languages and in several translations, committed to memory.
When he was asked a question about the Bible, he did not have to look up the text. He would sometimes take off his glasses, close his eyes as if he were scrolling the text in his mind and then comment in such an exact manner that one knew he was referring to the Hebrew or Greek text, which he either translated or paraphrased in his answer.
If he were in an academic context, the reference might be directly to the original language; in speaking to students who were not necessarily theologians, he would normally use a contemporary translation; in church he would use the appropriate translation familiar to the majority of his hearers, whether the Revised Standard Version, the New International Version, the New English Bible, the King James Version or in conservative Brethren circles, the New Translation by John Nelson Darby, again normally quoting exactly from memory.
He also seemed to know all the hymns of the classical and evangelical Christian traditions by heart as well as a large body of secular poetry–English, Scottish, Greek and Latin. (239)
I often interact with Christians who “believe” the Bible, but don’t read it very much.
I know several non-Christians who don’t believe the Bible, but still read it.
“Ah,” you say, the non-Christians read it for the wrong reason. They just want to be literate.
“True,” I concede, but what about the Christians who don’t read the Bible?!
I await your answer…
Latest interview on one of our culture’s challenging issues:
Yarhouse And Gender Dysphoria
Yes, you read that correctly. It is actually what John says in the book of Revelation. I am currently reading the book of Revelation for my devotions.
Here is Rev. 2:24 from the New American Standard Version of the Bible:
“But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.“
According to Gary Burge in his terrific work on John’s gospel, John likes to allow for double meanings at times.
It seems that the “deep things of Satan” could both be a sort of mockery, and it seems to describe a Gnostic-like (Gnosticism does not kick in this early, more of second century reality) idea of special knowledge for certain, select folks.
Either way, the deep things of Satan are unimpressive in light of the riches of the true gospel!
Talk about hubris! I do agree with a one of their selections. I am sure you can guess which one!
HT: Dan Wallace
My interview with Professor Doug Sweeney:
Doug Sweeney On Jonathan Edwards
From Pastor Mike Woodruff:
Years ago, while traveling in troubled parts of Africa with Tim Dearborn – then a senior member of World Vision’s leadership team – I wondered why God allowed so much suffering. Dearborn reframed the question, asking why we allow it. He noted that if Christians gave ten percent of their income away, which he argued was a starting point, we could: 1) Wipe out extreme poverty; 2) Provide a 6thgrade education to everyone; 3) Provide clean water to everyone; and 4) Double every church budget and double every mission budget in the world and still have hundreds of billions of dollars left over. He argued back then that the question is not: when is God going to provide, or when are we going to be generous, but when are we going to be faithful and obedient?
I called Tim last week to see if he wanted to update his thinking. He said the numbers still hold, and then observed that there were four things that got the Jews in trouble during the Old Testament era: 1) a failure to circumcise; 2) a failure to tithe; 3) a failure to keep the Sabbath; and 4) a failure to welcome the stranger. He argues that these were all issues of trust. In every situation they (we) were being asked to give something up something they did not want to give up. With circumcision – well, there is no desire to give up anything on that front. With the tithe, it’s money. With the Sabbath, it’s time, and with our home, it’s control / privacy. On all four fronts, obedience protects us from idolatry and helps us learn to trust God.
The following is not an uncommon occurrence for me while preparing to preach…
Not always, but there are certainly times of struggle either to make sense of the text and/or to make sure I really believe it. As the Puritans liked to say, make sure to preach to yourself before you preach to others. Really believing the Word of God is more difficult than determining its proper meaning.
Then God brings light, many times much light, and I can’t write fast enough.
It is one reason I don’t like to preach every week. The process of preparation is best if I have months to mull and consider a text. I want to stew on it for a long time.
I take many notes and ask many questions. Commentaries come at the end to make sure I am in the ballpark of sound exegesis.
All this is one reason why I wish lead pastors preached less frequently. It would be better for them and for the congregation.