Friday, April 29, 2016

Why Jesus is Better than Josiah

Not all of the kings of Judah were good kings. In fact, most of the kings of Judah were not good kings.  In picking out people to name your son after there's not really a plethora of worthy names to be found in the books of 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles. But this doesn't hold true for all the kings, including one by the name of Josiah. Here's a snippet of what the Bible tells us about King Josiah:

Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.         - 2 Kings 23:25

Josiah began to reign at age 8 and sought the Lord during the 8th year of his reign. He led many reforms including digging up old priests' bones and burning them for leading the people astray in the worship of false gods! In the 18th year of his reign he began to repair the Temple, and through this, his administration rediscovered the Book of the Law of the Lord.  This led to further religious reform and the last revival prior to the Exile. While it is certainly true that Josiah was a good king, he wasn't a perfect king. Later in his reign he got involved in a conflict he shouldn't have with the king of Egypt and this cost him his life. Not long after his death, Judah would be led away into exile (read 2 Chronicles 34-36).

Josiah also appears in the New Testament in Matthew 1:10-11:  and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father ofJechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

This New Testament reference is, of course, the genealogy of a greater king to come, who was in the direct lineage of Josiah. It turns out, not only is Jesus in the physical lineage of Josiah, but we might also say He is in the 'spiritual' lineage as He too did wonderful things for His people. In fact, His work for His people is much more glorious since He is God incarnate, who came to dwell among us. Josiah's life then, including his rule as a good king, and his zeal for God's glory in repairing the temple, holding the Passover, and leading religious reform and revival, actually point us to an even greater King, namely King Jesus. While there are many more, below are 7 reasons Jesus is better than Josiah:

§ Josiah sought the Lord at age 15/16, but one after him, Christ our King, sought the Lord perfectly his whole life, never wavering.

§ Josiah repaired the temple, but one after him, Christ our King, said He Himself was the Temple. He tabernacled among us and the Temple was destroyed but He raised it up again the 3rd day

§ Josiah tore his clothes when he heard the curses from the book of the Law. But, Christ’s own flesh was torn as he became a curse for us.

§ Josiah renewed the covenant with the people of Judah. Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and perfectly kept the covenant with His Father to fulfill the covenant of works in meeting all the demands of the Law perfectly and dying in the place of covenant breakers

§ Josiah provided thousands of lambs for the Passover meal. Christ provided the One Lamb we all needed, His own flesh, on that old rugged cross so that He himself could be our Passover Lamb taking the wrath of God upon Himself in our place.

§ Josiah foolishly fought king Neco and died at the hands of Egyptian archers and he remains dead to this day. Christ faithfully fought sin and death and died at the hands of wicked men, but He rose again in victory, defeating death, hell, and the grave, and is alive for evermore!

§ Just a few years after Josiah’s death, God’s people were defeated in shame and began to be exiled to Babylon. 2000 years after Jesus’ death His Church, though She is plagued and imperfect, is still marching on to victory as we await our King’s return!

While the life of Josiah is commendable, it turns out that he actually isn't the hero or the hope of the chronicles of the Kings of Judah.  That belongs to Christ alone. Are you resting by faith in His finished work?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

4 Book Reviews from Together for the Gospel

One of the blessings of going to Together for the Gospel is the free books! I'm going to be posting some brief reviews as I read through some of the books we got. Thanks to t4g for investing in us in this way! Three of today's reviews actually come from the Band of Bloggers giveaway. So a big thank you to them as well.

A quick rating review:

5 Stars - Stop whatever you're doing and order the book!
4 Stars - A great book, you should put it on your reading list
3 Stars - A good book, there are some helpful things in it
2 Stars - An ok book, it may have some beneficial things in it, but it's not worth buying
1 Star - Not really a good book at all
0 Stars - Heresy!

Let me say one final thing on books. Please don't ever let reading books trump reading the Bible. If you are one of those people that will read about the Bible instead of reading the actual Bible, please repent, pick up the Book and read! With that being said, if you do enjoy reading good books, I hope these brief reviews are a helpful guide...

1. Rescuing the Gospel: The Sory and Significance of the Reformation by Erwin W. Lutzer (Baker Books, 200 pp.)

Stars: 4.5

Review: Lutzer does a great job at introducing us to the Reformation. The book spends most of its time with Martin Luther, but does eventually delve into the lives and significance of Zwingli and Calvin.  This is a very engaging read. Once you start reading you'll be finished before you know it and hungry for more. Not only will you brush up on your Reformation history, you will also be emboldened to carry on the fight in 2016! We are still protesting...

Favorite quote: "Every generation, including ours, has to fight for the purity of the gospel."

2. Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle (Banner of Truth, 75 pp.)

Stars: 4.5

Review: Classic Ryle. A short book and an easy read. But don't let that take away from it's 'punch'. Ryle offers practical and pointed thoughts for young men warning them of the dangers of wasting their youth on sin and worldliness. It also contains applicable exhortations on reading the Bible, praying, godly friendships, and gathering with the church body, etc. I think men of all ages will find this work beneficial. It would be a great read for a father and son.

Favorite quote: "What will you believe if you do not believe the Bible? There is no choice but to believe something absurd. Depend on it, no man is so grossly credulous as the man who denies the Bible to be the word of God."

3. Passion Cry: How Apathy is Killing the Church and How Passion for Christ will Revive It by Robbie Symons (Word Alive Press, 140 pp.)

Stars: 3

Review: I wouldn't necessarily classify this work as a 'go put on your reading list right now' sort of book. But don't let that take away from the truth Symons shares with us. He is passionate about passion for Christ.  The church needs to 'wake up' and be reminded of the glorious gospel by which we've been redeemed. We must eschew worldliness and lay hold of the eternal truths of living for Christ and His glory. This is a pretty easy read. The sort of book you might take on an airplane with you or leave by your night stand. You don't have to 'think' hard to read it but can just let Robbie's passion encourage you, and in some areas (rightly) convict you!

Favorite quote: I love his quote of Ravenhill: "The only reason we don't have revival is because we are willing to live without it." As far as what Symons wrote, I liked: "To be dull of hearing is not an ear problem but rather a heart problem. A lack of hunger for the Lord and His Word is fundamentally a heart problem."

4. Who Moved my Pulpit?: Leading Change in the Church by Thom S. Rainer (B&H, 134 pp.)

Stars: 2

Review: I was greatly disappointed in this book. I thought Rainer's I am a Church Member was pretty basic, but also helpful. But this work takes a move in the wrong direction. There are some helpful points and some practical things to use as a Pastor. However, the glaring issue in my opinion, is that 'change' is not grounded in anything other than the fact that churches are dying. What I mean is, Rainer does not do well at grounding the need for change on the Bible. He does not do well with laying out Christ's vision for the church. In some ways, you could put this book in the hand of a CEO of any company and it be applicable. Yes, Rainer does use Bible verses. But the book is not Scripture driven. Of course you get the typical Lifeway stats and those are helpful, but as far as grabbing a book that will help you lead true reformation in the church, pass on this one.

Quote I didn't like: "If your church has declined in worship attendance from 300 to 175 in ten years, something is going wrong." Why? I was part of a church one time that worked on cleaning up the church rolls. Do you know what happened? We lost some worship attenders! But guess what? Something was going right and the church became healthier. I do not understand why we continue to equate numbers with health.

Later in the book Rainer does say "True biblical success is ongoing faithfulness." It would have been nice if he would have fleshed that out more and let Scripture drive the definition of 'faithfulness.'

BONUS! - The Absurdity of Unbelief: A Worldview Apologetic of the Christian Faith by Jeffrey D. Johsnon (Free Grace Press, 330 pp.)

Stars: 5

Review: No, I didn't get this book from t4g or Band of Bloggers! But, I wanted to include it on here nonetheless since it's the most recent '5 Star' book I've read (although I did really enjoy Lutzer's book on the Reformation). I encourage you to pick up Johnson's book and read it. I wrote a longer review HERE. But let me just say that in our increasing secular age it is vital that we know what we believe, why we believe it, and why to hold to any other worldview besides the Christian one is absurd.

Favorite Quote: (there were many!) "To treasure Christ and to know that He treasures us is the key to happiness; it is the true meaning of life."

Friday, April 22, 2016

Too Heavenly Minded?

The following quote comes from the book Passion Cry by Robbie Symons (a Canadian eh!). Thanks to the organizers of Band of Bloggers at Together for the Gospel for this free book...

"It has been said that those who are heavenly minded are of no earthly good. I don't think I could disagree more. Heavenly mindedness is an aspect of the Christian life that brings true identity to the soul. I am resolved in my thinking that those who consider most the reality of their heavenly future will have the greatest impact upon the world in the present. It is the compelling call of heaven that frees us from the whispered idolatry of the world. It is the anticipation of heaven that allows us to see today with true eternal vision, and it is the reality of heaven that causes us to live out our true identity and citizenship (Phil. 3:20)...A child of God's view on life is oh so glorious. Our identity is not found in this world; our identity is found with Christ, and therefore with Him in heaven." (pp. 51-52)

Another Danger of the Prosperity Gospel

Enjoy today's guest post by Eddie Ragsdale. Eddie is a fellow pastor in our local Arkansas Baptist association, a faithful brother, and a dear friend for whom I am deeply grateful...

I am sure that we all abhor the evident danger of the prosperity gospel. Namely that it encourages people to worship gifts and not God who gives the gifts. As well it also causes people to be taken advantage of by the swindlers, so called preachers, who propagate this false message. If these things were not bad enough these teachings twist and pervert the scriptures which are the very words of God this is the most heinous of sins to misrepresent God for one's own benefit and to the detriment of the poor souls believing this heretical teaching. So all of us who desire to follow God rightly must obviously denounce this horrid proclamation and seek through prayer and true preaching to see those caught in this trap rescued and redeemed.
However in case we think that the dangers inherent in this teaching are only for those false teachers and their hearers, I would argue there exists a great danger for us as we respond to this teaching in our own lives and doctrine. The danger I am speaking of is this: that we would so overreact to the prosperity gospel that we end up rejecting the true teaching of scripture about how God actually deals with His people. The true gospel is that we are sinners by nature and by choice and that in our deadness of heart we cannot and will not have God to rule over us. But God in grace alone grants us repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can pardon our sin and give us the righteousness we need to be in right standing with the All Holy God. So knowing this to be true we can react to the prosperity 'gospel' with a denial of the fact that God does bless obedience and judge disobedience.
First, we must understand that through out the scriptures God promises to bless obedience to His will and His Word. I have been reading through Leviticus as of late and there are so many times when God is explicit that obedience will bring blessing. Along the same lines the scriptures are replete with examples of judgement on those who disobeyed God's word. Think about all the wicked kings that Israel and Judah had and how God judged them accordingly. In case you think that this is just an Old Testament phenomenon I would urge you to consider Jesus teaching about those who do the will of God. Also look at the account of Ananias and Sapphira, how they suffered because of their disobedience.
Secondly, one might argue that the wicked are always prospering and that God's people are always afflicted. This is true but this is also the greatest cause for understanding that regardless of the outward appearances God is always blessing the obedient and judging the disobedient. You may ask "how so?" Well the answer is in the fact that as Paul tells us in Philippians we rejoice in our suffering. So even if the obedient believer seems to be suffering greatly and actually is suffering greatly in this life, that one is still filled with peace that passes all understanding and joy that is inexpressible and full of glory. On the other hand even if the wicked disobedient sinner seems to have everything this world can offer and is enjoying every kind of sinful pleasure both scripture and experience tell us that this to is vanity and that this one is not finding real peace, joy or fulfillment.
My point in writing these words is simply to warn us, or maybe myself, that grace alone isn't left alone because this marvelous wondrous matchless grace will always produce humble obedience to the will and word of God. Let us always remember that the gate is narrow and the way is strait may we not stray to the right or to the left 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Change and the Church: Why the Local Church Still Matters

We are excited to announce this year's FREE one day Bible conference!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER! (Again, we are not requiring registration, but it will be a help to us if you do register. Plus, the first 80 people who register will receive a FREE copy of Dr. Jeff Johnson's book The Church: Why Bother?)

Date: August 27, 2016

Time: 10am - 4:30pm

Location: (NEW PLACE THIS YEAR!) 2nd Baptist Perryville, AR.  Perryville is about 45 minutes NW of Little Rock, 35 minutes west of Conway, and 15 minutes south of exit 108 on I-40 at Morrilton. CLICK HERE for MapQuest. 


We are living in unprecedented times in America. By the time of the conference, we will be just over a year out from the Obergefell decision.  And things aren't just changing from without, but within the Church (or those who claim to be) we've seen entire denominations capitulate on a variety of issues.  Even within faithful denominations we've seen sketchy evangelism tactics, a confusion of the role and function of the local church, and anover-emphasiss at times on parachurch organizations. In the Southern Baptist Convention we continue to struggle with a great disparity between membership rolls and actual meaningful membership within our churches.  With all of these changes that are taking place within and without we want to address the theme of Why the Local Church Still Matters. Our chief priority is to be faithful to the Church's Head who is Christ our Lord. The conference will feature three different plenary sessions and a Q&A Panel to discuss these important issues. 


Steve Burchett

Steve is a speaker, writer, and assistant to the president for Christian Communicators Worldwide. He thoroughly enjoys communicating the Bible at retreats, conferences, and pastors’ meetings of various denominations. In addition, Steve loves to teach through writing. He is a co-author of Divorce and Remarriage: A Permanence View, and many of his articles may be found at , , and .

In 1998, Steve earned his B.A. from Cedarville University, followed by a Masters of Divinity in 2001 from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. For nearly five years prior to serving with CCW, he was the pastor of First Baptist Church of Athens, Ohio.

Along with his current ministry with CCW, Steve serves as an elder in Christ Fellowship of Kansas City , a unique church made up of home congregations in the Kansas City metro area.

Steve married Patty Noble of Westwood, New Jersey, in 1998, and they now have three children: Katie, Luke, and Lilly. You can keep up with Steve’s ministry and family by visiting

Ray Van Neste

Dr. Van Neste is a believer in Christ, husband, father, pastor, and professor. He and his wife Tammie and have 5 boys and one little girl. This is his first ministry. He teaches at Union University, his alma mater and where he met his wife. He teaches classes in New Testament, Greek, and pastoral ministry. He also directs the R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies. He also serves as one of the pastors at Cornerstone Community Church, a church in Jackson, TN, affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Tom Nettles

Dr. Tom Nettles is widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historians in America. In 2014, after 38 years of teaching, he retired as Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky where he had served since 1997. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including By His Grace and For His Glory and Baptists and the Bible (with Russ Bush), Stray Recollections, Short Articles and Public Orations of James P. Boyce, Whomever He Wills (edited with Matthew Barrett), and Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. (taken from

The Q&A Panel will consist of the above speakers as well as Dr. Jeffrey Johnson of Conway, AR. (Dr. Johnson gave a powerful message at our conference last year on The Authority of Scripture). Please submit a question for the panle to answer! You can do so by clicking here


It is our vision to keep this conference completely free to those attending. We have a great set of speakers lined up this year and we also plan on doing some giveaways.  If you do feel led to contribute monetarily to the costs of this conference or if you would like more information you can contact me at the form below:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pressing on to Know the Lord

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6

Knowledge is power so they say. When it comes to knowing the character of God, the lack of knowledge is detrimental. The weight of this verse lies on the spiritual leaders of God’s people. What an absolute travesty that God’s own people would lack knowledge of Him. This goes back to the one’s teaching. Let us first then take care if we are teachers of God’s Word in any capacity. Whether it be in Sunday School or to our own children and families, it matters to God that we teach about Him rightly. Secondly, though, let us consider that there is a direct correlation between increasing knowledge of God and growth in our walk with Him. The more we know God, the more we love Him. True knowledge of God is impossible apart from Christ. Jesus, God in the flesh, revealed to us the fullness of who God is. By knowing Christ and surrendering to His Lordship we come to know God in a personal way. How have you sought to increase your knowledge of God lately? Let us think intently on Christ and His person. Let us think intently on Christ and His work. We do this by drinking deeply from Scripture. Not just reading it, but meditating on it. It is not enough for us to just say we know God. Many people say they know God but on closer examination of their lives there does not appear to be any genuine love for Christ. No, the more we know God, the more we love Him. And the more we love Him, the more we will see our lives in conformity to His revealed will. The more we love Christ the more we love Scripture because Scripture points to Him on every page. And the more we come to love Scripture the more we will know about Christ, and the more we know about Christ the more we will love Him! What a sweet cycle of knowing and loving God. But where there is a lack of knowledge of God, you will see destruction. Where knowledge of God is weak, sin reigns unchecked. In so many places lip service is given to God but His ways are forsaken. It is as though people think they can really know God while simultaneously rejecting what He has revealed to us in His precious Word. Yet, to reject the truth of Scripture is to reject the God who wrote it. So, this day, and this year, resolve to grow in your knowledge of God. To grow in your understanding of His attributes. His goodness. His power. His sovereignty. His love. His mercy. His grace. Grow in your understanding and application of His word. To grow in your understanding of Christ’s work in the gospel. We do not know what the rest of this year has in store, but we do know that a year where we fail to grow in the knowledge of God, is a year wasted. “Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD…” (Hosea 6:3).

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

All Other Ground is Sinking Sand

I just wrote an Amazon Review for a book that I think many (perhaps most?) Christians ought to pick up, The Absurdity of Unbelief by Jeffrey Johnson. I recently blogged about one chapter here.

Today, I just want to repost this Amazon Review in an effort to encourage you to pick up this book and read it! Perhaps you might even like to read it with a few friends. I think it would make an excellent resource for group discussion. Perhaps you might even read it with an unbelieving friend! The challenges to Christianity seem to be ever present and coming in from all directions these days. Have some biblical footing. Have an answer to give. Contend for the faith! This book will help you do just that. The kindle version is temporarily discounted and might be a good grab. I like the paperback because I can write notes in it easier! But I actually have both versions, so pick up whatever works for you.

Here's the review I posted below:

What is the meaning of life? Can your worldview answer that question sufficiently and consistently?

The Absurdity of Unbelief helps us to see the answers to the above questions.

I'm not sure how much I can add given the overwhelmingly positive feedback already written about Dr. Johnson's book.  I can say this: I am currently dialoguing with an atheist friend via email whom I've known for a while but we've been out of touch since high school.  This book has really helped me to challenge some of his own atheistic presuppositions and to show him the true absurdity that is the outcome of suppressing the truth of the reality of God. Obviously, as Dr. Johnson affirms in his work, it is only the Holy Spirit who can truly awaken a person's heart to embrace the gospel. But in this day in which we live Christians ought to be better equipped to give answers to some of the challenges that are thrown our way. This book helps equip the church to do just that.

As you read this book you will soon learn that Dr. Johnson is very familiar not only with the Christian perspective but also the other side, which manifests itself in a variety of futile worldviews such as naturalism, existentialism, post-modernism, Non-Trinitarian Religions, etc., etc... Non-Christian worldviews are allowed to speak for themselves through direct quotes of those who hold these various positions, and then they are dismantled by sound Christian logic based on the authority of Scripture. Another bonus of this is to actually be able to understand the presuppositions of some of the people you interact with every day. The banker, the grocer, your professor, or even a family member. They may not articulate that they are an 'existentialist' so to speak, but reading this book will help you to see some of the presuppositions those around you have so that you can help give them a truthful and biblical response.

Not only is this book well researched, and well written, it is also easy to read. Don't get me wrong, you'll have your mind stretched in some places! But it is not so 'technical' and filled with so much 'philosophical jargon' that you the common reader can't benefit from it. Dr. Johnson does an excellent job of introducing new concepts that the reader may not be familiar with and defining terms so as to keep the reader engaged instead of having to go google words to figure out what they mean. In other words, this isn't just a book for pastors, but for anyone desiring to grow in his or her ability to do apologetics better, or to simply be a better gospel witness to those you interact with on an everyday basis.

If you are a Christian you should buy this book in order to help sharpen your mind so that you may give a reasonable answer to those who reject or even try to suppress your faith.  If you are not a Christian you should buy this book so that you may see "we were created to walk with God. If we evict Him from our lives, we drive ourselves into captivity. God does not need us in order to be happy...We, on the other hand, will never find purpose, meaning or happiness without Him. No amount of power or money will ever satisfy us" (pg. 196). Believer and Unbeliever alike: You will see through reading this work that the Christian worldview is not just 'one option' among many. Rather, if you desire internal cohesion and logical consistency, it is the only worldview plausible for us to hold because of the reality of the Triune God. To hold to anything else is absurd.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Beauty and the Beast

Recently our local high school put on a stage performance of Beauty and the Beast. We took our family and enjoyed it. You could tell a lot of hard work went into it and I was appreciative of the School putting this on for our community. I was actually pretty impressed with the acting and singing of our local high school students.

This post isn't about the play though. Other than that it was a launching point for my thought process!

I couldn't help but think of this concept after I had watched the play: Beauty and the Beast might be an appropriate allegory for Christ and the Church if you just switched a few important things up. (I'm sure I'm not the first to consider these comparisons)

1. Christ is the Beauty, and we are the Beast -

Christ is the glorious one. Infinite in beauty (cf. Ps. 27:4). He gave His life for the church (Eph. 5). He did not give His life because the church was beautiful but in spite of it. He came to ransom His Bride to make her holy and blameless, not because She already was.

2. We did not want to be rescued -

In the play Beast wants the curse to be broken. But we can't say the same for us. We were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-4) and in our unregenerate state, we enjoy our sin.

3. Christ gave His life to break the curse -

It's wicked Gaston who stabs the beast in the play and this is ultimately what ends up causing Belle to profess her love for the wounded monster. Jesus died on the cross while we cheered and jeered. There was no profession of love on our behalf, but only on His. As He he was stretched out on that Tree, He bore the wrath of God down to the last dreg for His own. In His own time, He wakes up our dead hearts to receive the good news of His gospel so that what was accomplished 2,000 years ago can be applied to our wretched hearts.

4. There is real transformation -

It was neat to see the actors change from being the household items, back to their 'real' characters. With the gospel, however, there is change even greater than that! We are brought from death to life. We are brought from hating God to loving Him. We lose our heart of stone and it is replaced with a heart of flesh.

5. There is a real 'happily ever after' -

There is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. While it's true our lives may end like those of Faithful (see Pilgrim's Progress) we can rest assured that the Bride will live eternally with the Bridegroom in glory. We don't look for our best life now. In this world we will face various trials, and temptations. But let us live for the glory of the Beautiful One! He who gave His life for us to propitiate the wrath of God and clothe us in His own blessed righteousness! Let us look to His coming again with expectancy.

It's a tale as old as time. 

Only, it's not a tale. It's the Truth of God. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

How to almost treat the Bible rightly

The 1689 London Baptist Confession says the following about the Holy Scriptures:

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased. 

...The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word, and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

Scripture is precious. Not only is it inerrant and infallible but it is the only sufficient rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. It is a treasure to all true Believers. This is a post I've been mulling over a few days. I decided to finally write it out and I hope you find it edifying. We don't want to be a people who almost treat the Bible rightly. We want to use, treat, and love Scripture as God intended us to. Here are 8 ways we almost do that. (Which is sort of like almost going to heaven. Not a good thing).

Here we go:

1. When it's admired but not read -

Is the bible important? Absolutely. Most churches in the Bible Belt wouldn't think of having a Pastor who came in and said the Bible isn't God's Word. But admiring the bible isn't quite enough is it? Not if its not ever actually taken up and read. I've heard the myriad of excuses:

- It's too difficult 
- I'm just really busy 
- I know I need to read it but... (fill in the blank)

Frankly, we no excuse in this area. If we admire the Bible but don't read it, we are almost treating it right. And to almost treat it right is to treat it wrong. 

It's interesting but pastors and seminarians can even get caught in this trap. We can read so much about the Bible that we fail to actually take up and read the Bible!

2. When we read it but don't cherish it -

So, another category of people are those who know they need to read it and do make time to read it but that's where they stop. Maybe a chapter is read here or there. Maybe a verse or two is ready in some devorional l book. But, the bible isn't actually cherished. It's not meditated on. It's not memorized. It's not really studied. It's all duty and no delight. There's no confrontation with the living God in the pages of Holy Writ. Things just continue as they've basically always been and we are satisfied that we've checked off bible reading for the day, week, or month. 

I think there is also danger in reading the bible just to prove a theological point. So, let me compile all th verses that teach this particular doctrine just so I can prove a point instead of cherishing the very doctrine you're proving. Shame on us. 

3. When our religion is based on it instead of shaped by it -

Lots of folks are practicing a religion based on the Bible. In these churches sometimes the gospel may even be correctly heralded. But it's not enough just to 'base' our view of Chrisitianiry on Scripture. Rather, the Bible must shape how we view Christianity. In other words, we can't come to the Bible and say "well, I know the bible says this, but..." We must be resolved to place traditions, confessions, creeds, and preferences, as subservient to Scripture. We don't bend Scripture to fit into what we think Christianity is. We must bow everything to the Bible, period.  

Probably one of the most tangible examples I can think of is our soteriology. It's surprising to me what many conservative churches will accept as a credible salvation even when vital aspects of the gospel are rejected. We have to move away from 'this is what I've always thought' to 'this is what the bible says.'

We treat the bible wrongly when we use th bible to back up our already held positions instead of pouring over it to let it shape our positions.

4. When it occasionally crosses our minds or consciences but rarely ever our lips

It's quite alarming how little the Bible is discussed in our day. Sure, you've always got the person willing to post proof texts on Facebook. But I'm talking about actually discussing the Bible in community. Talking of God's word and ways with our children. Applying Scripture to everyday life situations with our neighbors. Asking one another at our church gatherings and throughout the week how our bible reading is going, what we are learning, what the Lord is showing us in His Word. 

5. When we know some of the Bible but don't hunger for more -

Practically speaking most people are satisfied with their level of bible knowledge. They may say they need to know it better but nothing in their life would really suggest they are actually trying to learn it better. This is a travesty given our access to God's word in our day. We have Bibles, study tools, and actually time to be in Bible. If you don't have time, what are you doing reading this post?

The things revealed belong to us (Deut. 29:29)! Don't you dare relegate deep knowledge of the Bible to just 'scholars' or 'pastors'. Take up and read! But that's the issue isn't it? One of appetite. We all know we need to eat spinach more, but it's just not that good is it? Similarly, many know they need to be in Scriptire more to increase their knowledge but they don't have the appetite. 

6. When we consider the Bible important, but optional for holiness -

Really this probably goes back to soteriology. Many people think you can be saved and not holy. You won't find this teaching in Scripture. Nobody (that I'm aware of) is pressing 'perfectionism'. We can't be perfect. Be we can (and if we are Believers we do) pursue holiness. God's Word is vital to our practical holiness. Jesus Himself prayed that Believers would be sanctified in the truth stating that God's Word is truth (Jn 17:17). 

Many are operating on a view of holiness that separates feeling from Truth. Don't misunderstand me. We must feel. But feeling can't be removed from the Bible. Many people 'feel' right with God but that feeling isn't rooted in Scripture. The typical Bible Belt church member treats the Bible like a last resort, or at least an optional resort, instead of necessary for our walk with God. We may talk with God but we take His 'speaking' to us as the things we feel instead of the plain spoken word He's given to us in His Book.

7. When we almost preach the meaning of the text 

An almost correct view of the bible leads to almost preaching the bible correctly. When we almost get to the meaning of the text, when we almost get to the intended applications, when we almost use God's Word as God intended we are missing the precious vitality the Bible is meant to give God's people through the power of the Holy Spirit. It's true, the  Holy Spirit can and does use even poor preaching to accomplish His good purposes. But we must remember, even the Devil preaches the Bible (see Mt. 4)! It's not enough to be faithful just by preaching the bible. We must do so correctly! The point of the passage must be the post of the sermon. We must get to the intended meaning of the authors and the Author. 

8. When we read it and don't see Jesus 

The Bible isn't about us. I mean not its main sense. It's about Christ, His glory, and what God is doing in and through Him to reconcile the world to Himself. We've got to quit with the narcigesis (think 'Furtick').  When we read the Bible and boil it down to just being about facing our giants we miss the big picture. Quit reading yourself into the text!

We don't read the Bible for the sake of the Bible in and of itself. We read it because we love Christ. We want to know Him more and we desire to live joyfully under His blessed headship. I'm not saying we need to read Jesus into places He's not but if we don't read Scripture through the lens of the gospel we are merely almost treating it rightly. 

So there ya go. My hope is that you'll ask yourself "Do I treat the Bible as God interned me to?" And if the answer is 'no', you'll repent, run to Jesus who gives more grace, and take up and read. 

Solid Deo Gloria.