Friday, September 7, 2007
There's been an awful lot of debate lately between faithful believers and "faithful believers" about whether people who believe in Christ should be evangelizing OR "reading books by a bunch of dead guys". I submit that both should be happening, but one cannot do the former without first doing the latter. It's like if I went to Calculus class and told my teacher that I was ready to take the test and later tutor others into a true knowledge of the subject, but I was woefully ignorant about the majority of the material the subject involves. How could I possibly convey any honest and truth bearing witness to the questions that are posed? I couldn't... but I certainly could cut and paste what little I did know and have heard from skimming over the book and hearing various "lectures" along the way to make up the answers as I go with the wish of receiving "partial credit" in the end. If I did do that and received say a B on a test, it would be very tempting to tell others that I got out of the class with a B or a certain honor when I didn't even know the subject's material enough to merit a B. All I would have to do then was hope that others, maybe even those in charge, would lower their standards in issuing the proper grade as well as my standard is for receiving it, then no one may seem to notice. I could point out to the fact that these "teachers" verify me to justify my lack of understanding! "Look at my grade! The "teachers" said I merited it!" If this were to progress, I may even receive an A before long. Even with that, though, what kind of respect does that have for the actual material? Am I honoring the subject covered by trying to squeeze my way through the class without showing the proper honor and respect to the subject that I've been presented? Since the truth is that I would not be, what honor and respect does one show God when one neglects studying the Scriptures to show themselves approved (2Ti 2:15), and, in place, skim by on the milk and mock those that do take up study? What would happen if some sincere believers got tired of relying on these people and their teachers to justify their ignorance and started to look to the source (ie. the Bible) daily and nightly to see if these things were true instead of relying on people that are woefully ignorant of what the Scirpture means in context to tell them what it means? (Acts 17:10-12) I believe we're starting to see the result today.
So, with that said, here are a few "books by a bunch of dead guys" that I've been reading. It's amazing what I've been learning the more I've been respecting and honoring the subject by relying on the true credit and merit of Jesus Christ who is come in the flesh and not on "partial credit" to get me by to put in its place the idol of being seen among men...
Book 1): Psalms by David
In this book, many psalms and hymns of praise from the now deceased King David are given. Along with references to our Lord, David's own inner struggles after he committed murder and adultery are shared with us to help us poor, pathetic, narcissistic sinners learn by growing in the truth of God's grace.
Excerpt: "He has delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many against me. God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abides of old. Selah. Because they do not change, therefore they fear not God. He has put forth his hands against such as were at peace with him: he has broken his covenant. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords. Cast your burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain you: he shall never permit the righteous to be moved. But you, O God, shall bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in you."
Book 2): The Book of Job
The author of this book (now deceased) is unknown although Jewish tradition claims that it was Moses. This book gives a wonderful account of what happened when God allowed Satan to afflict one of the most righteous in the land, Job. Job's commrades think that Job has done some great injustice to God and come to mock him and give him advice. Job's repsonds by telling them that they are all miserable comforters for sharing their own carnal wisdom rather than coming to him in truth. (Job 16:2) The book ends after Job has been tried, his trivial friends have deserted him, and he realizes his folly. Job is then rewarded by the Lord for his faithfulness and not turning aside to Satan, his lies, and his servants of "comfort". (1Tim. 5:15)
Excerpt: "From where then comes wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and concealed from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame of it with our ears. God understands its way, and he knows its place. For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the wind; and he apportions the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding."
Book 3): The Book of Daniel
Daniel, the now deceased author of the book, gives not only a recollection of the events involving Nebachadnezzer the King, but also gives prophecy equivalent to that of Revelation.
Excerpt: "For the ships of Kittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and rage against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and show favor toward them that forsake the holy covenant. And forces shall appear on his part, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flattery: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and take action. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by plunder, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be aided with a little help: but many shall join to them with flattery. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to test them, and to purify them, and to make them white, until the time of the end: because it is yet for the time appointed. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath is accomplished: for what has been determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all."
Book 4): The First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians
Ok, this is not a book, but the premise is the same. In this letter, the Apostle Paul (now deceased), among warning believers to beware of deceivers who shout, "Peace and saftey!" but the Lord then comes as travail upon a woman with a child, and they do not escape (1Thes. 5:3), Paul exhorts believers to "stand fast in the Lord" (1Thes. 3:8) and decalres that the true and faithful believers are their "glory and joy." (1Thes. 2:20) This is a letter, but I decided to include it just the same.
Excerpt: "For, my brothers, you yourselves know our coming in to you, that it was not in vain. But also suffering before, being insulted in Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much agony. For our exhortation to you was not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile, but as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who tries our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor with pretense of covetousness; God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, neither from you nor from others, being able to be so with heaviness, as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse warmly cherishes her children. So affectionately longing for you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not only the gospel of God, but also our own souls, because you have become beloved to us."
(1 Thessalonians 2:1-8)
Book 5): The Second Epistle of Peter
Although, this is not a book, either, here is the second letter from Peter (...yes, now deceased as well). Here, not only does Peter refute universal redemption (2Peter 3:9), but he also lays out the foundation for what will happen to those "teachers" who try to win false professions of faith from people to maybe, make their minisitries grow in numbers to be highly esteemed in the sight of men? Here is chapter 2 in it's entirety for you to read for yourself to show how Peter warns of these people:
Excerpt: "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who secretly will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their pernicious (working or spreading in a hidden and usually injurious way) ways, and because of them the way of truth will be evil spoken of. And through covetousness they will use you for gain with well-turned words; for whom judgment from of old does not linger, and their destruction does not sleep. For if God did not spare sinning angels, but thrust them down into Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness, being reserved to judgment. And He did not spare the old world, but saved Noah the eighth one, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, He condemned them with an overthrow, setting an example to men intending to live ungodly. And He delivered righteous Lot, oppressed with the lustful behavior of the lawless. For that righteous one living among them, in seeing and hearing, his righteous soul was tormented from day to day with their unlawful deeds. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust for a day of judgment, to be punished, and especially those who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise dominion. They are darers, self-pleasing; not trembling at glories, speaking evil. Where angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reproaching accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as unreasoning natural brute animals having been born for capture and corruption, speak evil of the things that they do not understand. And they will utterly perish in their own corruption, being about to receive the wages of unrighteousness, deeming indulgence as pleasure in the daytime, and reveling in spots and blemishes, feasting along with you in their deceits, having eyes full of adultery and never ceasing from sin, alluring unstable souls, having a heart exercised with covetousness. They are cursed children who have forsaken the right way and have gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, but had reproof of his lawbreaking, a dumb ass speaking in a man's voice, held back the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds driven with a tempest, for whom the blackness of darkness is reserved forever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they lure through the lusts of the flesh, by unbridled lust, the ones who were escaping from those who live in error; promising them liberty, they themselves are the slaves of corruption. For by whom anyone has been overcome, even to this one he has been enslaved. For if they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the full knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and are again entangled, they have been overcome by these, their last things are worse than the first. For it would have been better for them not to have fully known the way of righteousness, than fully knowing it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But the word of the true proverb has happened to them: The dog turning to his own vomit; and, The washed sow to wallowing in the mire."
These are a few "books by a bunch of dead guys" that I've been reading lately, and honestly, I do not feel any remorse whatsoever for doing so. Although these people and other wonderful men whom God has raised over the past 2,000 years including Martin Luther, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and John Calvin are definitely great men but "dead men nonetheless who wrote books." But also, as one of these dead men so eliquoently wrote as inspired by that precious Holy Spirit of God:
"But I would not have you ignorant, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, that you be not grieved, even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him all those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For we say this to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not go before those who are asleep."
- Paul the Apostle
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-15)
Hmm... it seems that those who are asleep in Christ now will be before those who are alive and remain. Maybe those that are asleep knew a thing or two. That's probably why it's good to brush up on reading "books by a bunch of dead guys" so we can always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us (1Pet. 3:15) to those who are in need of the truth, the way, and the life, and not only be able to answer back with rhetorical questions about the weather, entertainment, the lastest sporting event, or triviality regarding ourselves.