Psalm 138.2

Sunday I said Jesus has NOT exalted the Bible above himself; a friend sent me a note asking how I reconcile that statement with Ps 138.2? Here is my response:

Has God exalted the Bible above His Name? Does Psalm 138.2 teach that the Bible has a higher precedence then God Himself? When the psalmist wrote, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name [emphasis mine].” Did he mean, “for thou hast magnified the Bible above thy name?” Does this verse account for the place of preeminence the Bible is given in the sanctuaries of some Baptist churches? Have you seen this? I have. I have been in sanctuaries before where the traditional place of a cross on the pulpit has been replaced with a Bible, often with the number 1611 on the graven image.

The question is, “What exactly did David mean by ‘thy word’?” Some have concluded that this was a prophetic reference to the 1611 KJV Bible. Is this possible? If it were true, how would you prove it? How does one move from “thy word” to “1611 KJV”? (I think some believe that the Greek and Hebrew were vehicles God used to get the Church to 1611 when He would give us a perfect word in Old English.)

Why wouldn’t it be just as proper to move from the “thy word” to “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1.14)”? Is it possible that David was praising God for choosing to reveal Himself to Israel? Could “word” here be utterance, speech, and communication?

What is the Bible? The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5.39). So then would it be fair to say that David was saying that God has magnified the revelation of Himself above His name. In this case, David would be emphasizing or communicating that He serves, worships and loves a God who has revealed much more than His Name, but a more complete understanding of Himself.

Consider a little girl whose father died before she was born. She knows He existed; she knows he was her earthly father. He died of terminal cancer and only his name is known. Other than that, this little girl knows very little about her father. Then at a more mature age she discovers a series of letters he wrote to her even before she was born. In them he reveals his love for her, his thoughts, desires, aspirations, plans, past, etc. (Don’t get ahead of me.) Can you imagine her joy at discovering these words written by her dad? As she pours through these personal letters, tears flow down her cheeks and stain the letters as she discovers how precious she was to her father in the womb of her mother. The more she reads, the more in love with him she becomes. Previously she knew she had a father and knew his name, but always desired to hear his voice, to know his thoughts. And now all this is happening as she reads the very words he penned.

Is it possible that this is what David is communicating? Read the words in the verse before the “for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” and you see that David is praising God.

Psalm 138:1-2, “I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”

David doesn’t now turn his affection, praise, worship and love toward the book over the author of the book. The little girl who lost her dad before birth and now has a set of love letters doesn’t go around taking down the pictures of her father and replacing them with the letters. The letters serve as the supplement or the augmentation to the pictures. Now she is able to pick up the beautifully framed 8x10 of her father and say, “let me tell you about my daddy; it used to be I only knew His name—Dad—but I praise him for choosing to reveal himself to me through these letters” (the law, prophets, gospels and epistles). Look at what he said about…His mercy, love, grace, goodness, etc.

Do you get the idea? It is all about Him.

David’s words were spoken and penned hundreds of years before the Son of God donned flesh and walked on this earth. If we interpret “thy word” as the scrolls of Scripture being magnified above his name, then we would say that even while Christ was on this planet, as the perfect revelation of God, the law and the prophets were superior to Christ. This in my opinion is ludicrous. The revelation of God has but one purpose and that is to further exalt and glorify God.

Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images” is very clear. God is not going to share His glory with another person or any graven image—including a paper copy of the revelation of Himself to mankind.
The purpose of the Bible is to draw me closer to God—not to interfere with Who or what gets my attention. When I read the Bible, I say and think, Oh’ God how I love you. I do not think oh Bible how exalted are you—how has God magnified you.

The context of this phrase within the verse and the chapter demands that the Lord continue to be the focus of all worship, not the Bible. God being magnified above His name is the further revelation of Himself. This then is in concert with Philippians 2 where Christ is highly exalted and given a name above every other name.

To suggest that Christ has exalted the Bible above His own name draws in question His sovereign authority over the law. The person who authors the law retains the freedom at all times to reinterpret and terminate the law as he sees fit. This is what Jesus repeatedly demonstrated each time he healed on the Sabbath.

“Thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps 119.89) is typically quoted and associated with the defense of the Bible being exalted or magnified above the name of God. What is interesting though is the fact that the same Hebrew words are not used for word in Ps. 119.89 and 138.2. Somehow there has crept into the church a misperception that God has a KJV Bible in heaven preserved from the very beginning of time. Ps 138.2 and Ps 119.89 are linked and are interpreted with KJV Bible as the “word.” Is that what the Psalmist was prophetically referring to? Why did God chose English?

Read this paragraph copied directly from an AV 1611 KJV only website: “Over four hundred years ago God chose the English nation for a special purpose. It began with England’s defeat of The Spanish Armada in 1588. It is a year to remember in history. For in that year there was set into motion the ascendancy, and the eventual domination of the English language as the language of the end times.” Says who? According to whose authority? I know of only one people group chosen by God according to His Word and that group is the children of Abraham. The above paragraph in italics is propaganda clear and simple.

I must stop now as I am getting even more frustrated from the lack of attention to detail and academic honesty from some of my KJV only brothers in Christ.

Proverbs 19 The Rich and the Poor

What is my attitude like concerning the poor, homeless and less fortunate? If I spend too much (or perhaps any) time listening to the afternoon talk shows hosts, I may find my mind being polluted with ideas that are unbiblical. I may find myself despising the poor. I may begin to think of myself as better than them.

Proverbs 19 (read each proverb once a day) presents a contrast between the rich and the poor that spoke to me this morning during my devotions. Verse 1 starts off by telling me that it would be better to be poor and keep my integrity than the opposite. Now that is something that has been nearly abandoned in the 21st Century. Scandals like the Enron incident are pointed reminders that many do not believe that walking in integrity is better than being poor or less rich.

Verse 4 states that people with money have many friends but the poor, as if being poor isn’t enough, also begin to lose friends the longer they are poor. Why is that? Do I have any poor friends is what I ask myself when I read that?

Then verse 7 states that poor people struggle at finding friends, can you imagine? Moreover, the proverb states that the relatives begin to hate them; no doubt they begin to be seen as a burden. Oh initially we may find joy in helping a poor family, but what about the 4th week of providing help, or what about the 7th week? We must guard against becoming weary. A healthy dose of the realization that it is the grace of God that has blessed us to the point of being able to help keeps everything in its proper perspective.

One commentator wrote concerning verse 7, “His efforts to find a friend are often unsuccessful because people avoid him.”[1] My friends, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning in a clear manner about keeping my attitudes right about the poor.

In the book of James (ch. 2) the apostle is very sharp toward Christians who give more attention to a person who enters the auditorium dressed in a manner that shows he has money in comparison to the person who enters and immediately communicates by the clothes he or she is wearing I am poor. James states that to cater to the rich one while ignoring the poor one is a mockery of the commandment from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves.

May God give us the grace to never despise the poor in our church or those entering our church. They are just as much a part of our family as the rich.

[1]Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985.

God Never Directs Against His Word

The Local & State section of the Monday morning, March 12, 2007 Fayetteville Observer paper really got me fired up. The title of the article was “THE CALL TO PREACH.” The more I read the paper and ate my breakfast the more vocal I got with Pam. Let me tell you about it. The feature story is about a lady who believes she was called to preach 40 years ago and finally got her chance to preach in her home church which up until recently had taken a Biblical standard toward males only as pastors. However, in 2006 the church changed its policy and Mrs. M. was able to deliver her first sermon in this church and was ordained as a Reverend this past Sunday.

My issue is quite simple. This (I am sure) wonderful, godly lady believes God directed her toward something, in this case a call to preach, that is clearly prohibited in His Word. The apostle Paul, under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes it clear for the church that bishops (pastors and elders) are to be husbands of one wife—the Greek noun there, both husband and wife, is not gender neutral and any translation that does not translate in the male and then female gender is ignoring the text. Paul did not write the spouse of one spouse.

This lady is the wife of one husband which is not the same and is not what the Bible says. The heart of the issue today is the prevalence in our “Christian” society to state that God is revealing truth that contradicts His written Word—the Bible. The Bible is not a dated religious book for the 1st Century church. It is the very revelation of God in so much as we do not know the Truth—our Lord Jesus—apart from the Bible. Far too many Christians are too quick to assume God is giving them something different from His Word. Truth is not relative.

Now let me also hasten to say that I believe that God probably has equipped this sweet lady, who presently calls herself a Reverend, with a gift to teach or orally communicate His Word. This is wonderful and needed. Every church needs women who are willing to share what God is teaching them from His Word with other women. A spiritually gifted woman can communicate very effectively with other women and should do so. She can and must say things to other women that the preacher would never be able to say as effectively. The church needs to create venues and opportunities for women teachers to use their gift. But the church pulpit is not one of these places. While there are some OT examples of female prophets, there are no NT examples of female elders, bishops or pastors. The church is a NT assembly of believers. Furthermore, let me say that a church and Christian school are not the same. There are many godly gifted female leaders who should be using their administrative and leadership gifts in schools, businesses and other non-profit agencies. Christ did not say I will build my Christian school and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The church is a very unique entity which is quite different from the government, a business or any other organization of the planet. Nothing else can claim to be the body of Christ.

Finally, I also realize that there is an example in Acts 18 where a husband and wife co-taught the Apostle Paul truth. However, this should not be taken as a license to presume that the pulpit is an acceptable place to do such teaching. I believe anyone who is being fair to the text will admit that they took Paul aside and privately “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” In the privacy of a home, conference room, or office, I think a wife, with her husband present, should feel comfortable adding to the conversation or discussion when God’s Word is being taught. However, the Bible also teaches that when a question arises concerning what is taught the wife should ask her husband first at home (1 Corinthians 14.35). There is a tension presented that requires spiritual maturity.

God’s plan is for the male to be the spiritual leader of his home and for males to be the spiritual leaders of His churches.

Not all Bible translations are equal!

Not all Bible translations are equal. I was doing some research for my Easter sermon and noticed how significantly different Revelation 5.5 is translated in the New Living Translation (NLT). In the NLT Jesus, the Lion of Judah, is described as the heir to David’s throne; whereas, in the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, and others the Lion of Judah is described as the Root of David.

The words root and heir clearly do not mean the same thing. Now there must be a reason why previous translation committees did not use the word heir or something very similar. Instead, they chose to use root. Rhiza, root, in the Greek has a double meaning it can be talking about that which proceeds before the plant and it can be talking about an offshoot. The root is in the ground underneath the plant it existed before plant; the root will be growing before you ever see a plant or tree. Likewise Jesus existed before David when the word heir is used instead of root the preexistence of Christ before King David is completely lost.

The idea that Christ came after David and is a descendent of David by blood is not supernatural per se; however, the idea that the one that came after David was before David is special and supernatural and highlights the uniqueness of Christ as God.

While it is true that rhiza does at times speak of being an offshoot or branch it seems best to not interpret the verse in such a way that forces a meaning upon the text; instead, a good word-for-word translation like the KJV does its best to give the reader a literal rendering—root in the case—and allow the interpretation to be determined through prayer, mediation and additional study.

Herein is the difference between a word-for-word translation (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV) and a thought-for-thought translation. The NLT does not make it a priority to be accurate in the word for word rendering of the text. The NIV is somewhere in the middle. Give me a literal translation and let me study the text. At the present time, I can’t read the Greek, but I can study the English, can’t you?

Sunday at Berean

Sunday was a great day at Berean. God really showed up in a big way and we praise Him for His awesomeness! Of course God is always there in our midst, but sometimes it seems as though He dumps the honey bucket of Spirit-filled presence and we praise Him for His Glory.

If you were not able to be present for either of the services DVDs/CDs are available. If you don’t come to Berean call the church at 910.868.5156 to obtain copies of the services.

In the morning message, I dealt with the issues and implications of the “Lost Tomb of Jesus.” I will post more about this in the future. Needless to say I am very disappointed in the way the theologians and scholars are failing to adequately communicate the consequences of denying a bodily resurrection.

To say that the bones of Jesus can be on this earth and Christianity is still a valid religion and a reason to live is a complete misrepresentation of the Scripture and all that the Apostles taught.

The Bible is very clear flesh of Jesus did not see corruption and Jesus clearly declared He was not a spirit. I praise God that He raised the body, soul and spirit of Christ from the grave. Study the resurrection and you will see the entire Godhead was involved in the resurrection. Nothing of Christ’s human body remained on this earth; when Christ ascended the Son of Man ascended emphasizing His humanity as well as Deity.

It has been great being on vacation this week. Happy Birthday Steve! I praise God for your ministry to our youth—they are Berean’s future.

Destruction in Enterprise, AL

I received this email yesterday and thought it most appropriate to share this with you:

To Berean Family-

Though we have been away from Berean for almost a year now and we do have a wonderful home church down here in Enterprise, AL we still think of Berean as our NC church. If we were ever to get stationed in NC we would go immediately go back to Berean and pick up where we left off.

As you have all heard Enterprise, AL was hit by several tornados on March 2nd. Our community is pulling together in the best ways that it can. The High School was hit the most dramatically and that is where we lost the most lives. Everyone in this small knit community (3 cities acting as 1) was touched as everyone knew someone who lost a son, daughter, friend or cousin. Many more are hurt and some are still fighting for their lives.
The news does not mention all the destruction they have yet to mention that right behind the HS was church row. Three churches right in a row including our current church
Hillcrest Baptist Church. Our church opened its doors immediately to all the hurt students and became a makeshift hospital while they tried to figure out the mess that once was a school. Yet the church itself was badly damaged. Church itself was canceled for the Sunday after the tornados because of damage instead we had house church in people’s homes around the community. The church lost part of the roof along with many windows blown out. I myself have not seen it but my husband said it had a lot of damage to it but ever pastor and employee was out working at the HS or at the homes of members trying to help the community while counseling and witnessing. The church will get itself on its feet but it wants to make sure it helps the community too. Government has said that there will be money to rebuild homes and the school in this area but we all know that church and state aren't supposed to mix thus the churches may not get such help.

After the tornado hit I sat and talked with a woman whose son was missing at the HS. She was my trainer for a new job I had just started and a wonderful Christian woman we talked about God and an Acronym. F.R.O.G. Fully Rely On God that I have lived my life on especially since my open heart surgery. It brightened her day and she said it was her new saying from now on. I found out the next day that she lost her son that day, but from now on I know a FROG will always mean something special to her.

I am not sure what I am asking of you I know we need your prayers. I would ask that anyone that can give blood to please do that. I know they had to ship in blood from everywhere they could into this area on Thursday to try and save lives and stocks are low. Other than that I really do not know. I honestly want prayers and to know that my brothers and sisters are praying for our little community. We have friends with no homes and others with empty beds with their child use to sleep. Yes money is needed here and I am sure the Lord will provide over time.

My heart ached after I read this note and was once again reminded just how blessed my family is and I know a major part of that is your faithful prayers--thank you.