What David Helm Calls, “Staying on the Line”

charles-spurgeon

The following quote is from Charles Spurgeon. For more information on what “Staying on the Line” is all about, please visit the Charles Simeon Trust.

More information here.

Never strain passages when you are expounding. Be thoroughly honest with the word: even if the Scriptures were the writing of mere men, conscience would demand fairness of you; but when it is the Lord’s own word, be careful not to pervert it even in the smallest degree. Let it be said of you, as I have heard a venerable hearer of Mr. Simeon say of him, “Sir, he was very Calvinistic when the text was so, and people thought him an Arminian when the text was that way, for he always stuck to its plain sense.” A very sound neighbor of ours once said, by way of depreciating the grand old reformer, “John Calvin was not half a Calvinist,” and the remark was correct as to his expositions, for in them, as we have seen, he always gave his Lord’s mind and not his own. In the church of St. Zeno, in Verona, I saw ancient frescoes which had been plastered over, and then covered with other designs; I fear many do this with Scripture, daubing the text with their own glosses, and laying on their own conceits. There are enough of these plasterers abroad, let us leave the evil trade to them and follow an honest calling. Remember Cowper’s lines—

“A critic on the sacred text should be
Candid and learn’d, dispassionate and free;
Free from the wayward bias bigots feel,
From fancy’s influence and intemperate zeal;
For of all arts sagacious dupes invent,
To cheat themselves and gain the world’s assent,
The worst is—Scripture warped from its intent.”
C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: Commenting and Commentaries; Lectures Addressed to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle., vol. 4 (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1876), 55–56.

Does “Jesus Calling” Set Off Alarms? It Should.

jesuscalling

That Jesus Calling is a runaway best seller, is well known. But this book can only be so popular as Biblical-thinking is eclipsed. The rising Biblical illiteracy of Western Christians is highlighted by the popularity of this book, where Jesus is said to say things that He didn’t, but arise from the author’s imagination.

Tim Challies offers a review here, “Ten Serious Problems with Jesus Calling.”

Fifteen Years On

Fifteen years after 911, and our local media outlets and politicians can only be concerned with how hard done by is the Islamic community. Shortly after 911, some local fools attempted (and failed) to firebomb a mosque, and then succeeded to burn down a Hindu temple, not knowing the difference. Today, after thousands of deaths at the hands of Islam-inspired terror, our concern is about how an Imam felt on that day.

A local radio personality asked, “Is Hamilton a more inclusive place today?” I sent a message (to no reply), “Is Islam more inclusive today? Why are there no Christians in Saudi Arabia? Why are Christians being massacred in Islamic lands? Why Christians have so little freedom in countries with Muslim majorities?”

Geert Wilders, a Dutch parliamentarian, released this video that has been banned in many markets, but so far the internet is still a free enough place.

A discussion about terrorism cannot leave out the greatest source of modern terrorism: Islam. It is widely claimed that the “Religion of Peace” has been taken over by radicals. But what if this is  the religion of peace?

About the Text: Observe, Look, and Observe Some More

Fish

This is one of my favourite stories, on observation. Apply this approach to Bible study before giving up on it.

The Student, the Fish, and Agassiz
By the Student

It was more than fifteen years ago that I entered the laboratory of Professor Agassiz, and told him I had enrolled my name in the scientific school as a student of natural history. He asked me a few questions about my object in coming, my antecedents generally, the mode in which I afterwards proposed to use the knowledge I might acquire, and finally, whether I wished to study any special branch. To the latter I replied that as I wished to be well grounded in all departments of zoology, I purposed to devote myself specially to insects.

‘When do you wish to begin?’ he asked.
‘Now,’ I replied.

This seemed to please him, and with an energetic ‘Very well,’ he reached from a shelf a huge jar of specimens in yellow alcohol.
‘Take this fish,’ said he, ‘and look at it; we call it a Haemulon [pronounced Hem-yu lon]; by and by I will ask what you have.’
With that he left me, but in a moment returned with explicit instructions as to the care of the object entrusted to me.
‘No man is fit to be a naturalist,’ said he, ‘who does not know how to take care of specimens.’

I was to keep the fish before me in a tin tray, and occasionally moisten the surface with alcohol from the jar, always taking care to replace the stopper tightly. Those were not the days of ground glass stoppers, and elegantly shaped exhibition jars; all the old students will recall the huge, neckless glass bottles with their leaky, wax-besmeared corks half eaten by insects and begrimed with cellar dust. Entomology was a cleaner science than ichthyology, but the example of the professor, who had unhesitatingly plunged to the bottom of the jar to produce the fish, was infectious; and though this alcohol had ‘a very ancient and fishlike smell,’ I really dared not show any aversion within these sacred precincts, and treated the alcohol as though it were pure water. Still I was conscious of a passing feeling of disappointment, for gazing at a fish did not commend itself to an ardent entomologist. My friends at home, too, were annoyed, when they discovered that no amount of eau de cologne would drown the perfume which haunted me like a shadow.
In ten minutes I had seen all that could be seen in that fish, and started in search of the professor, who had, however, left the museum; and when I returned, after lingering over some of the odd animals stored in the upper apartment, my specimen was dry all over. I dashed the fluid over the fish as if to resuscitate it from a fainting-fit, and looked with anxiety for a return of the normal, sloppy appearance. This little excitement over, nothing was to be done but return to a steadfast gaze at my mute companion. Half an hour passed, an hour, another hour; the fish began to look loathsome. I turned it over and around; looked it in the face—ghastly; from behind, beneath, above, sideways, at a three-quarters’ view—just as ghastly. I was in despair; at an early hour I concluded that lunch was necessary; so, with infinite relief, the fish was carefully placed in the jar, and for an hour I was free.

On my return, I learned that Professor Agassiz had been at the museum, but had gone and would not return for several hours. My fellow students were too busy to be disturbed by continued conversation. Slowly I drew forth that hideous fish, and with a feeling of desperation again looked at it. I might not use a magnifying glass; instruments of all kinds were interdicted. My two hands, my two eyes, and the fish; it seemed a most limited field. I pushed my finger down its throat to feel how sharp its teeth were. I began to count the scales in the different rows until I was convinced that that was nonsense. At last a happy thought struck me—I would draw the fish; and now with surprise I began to discover new features in the creature. Just then the professor returned.

‘That is right,’ he said, ‘a pencil is one of the best of eyes. I am glad to notice, too, that you keep your specimen wet and your bottle corked.’
With these encouraging words he added,—
‘Well, what is it like?’
He listened attentively to my brief rehearsal of the structure of parts whose names were still unknown to me: the fringed gill—arches and movable operculum; the pores of the head, fleshy lips, and lidless eyes; the lateral line, the spinous fin, and forked tail; the compressed and arched body. When I had finished, he waited as if expecting more, and then, with an air of disappointment,—
‘You have not looked very carefully; why,’ he continued, more earnestly, ‘you haven’t seen one of the most conspicuous features of the animal, which is as plainly before your eyes as the fish itself; look again, look again!’ and he left me to my misery.

I was piqued; I was mortified. Still more of the wretched fish! But now I set myself to my task with a will, and discovered one new thing after another, until I saw how just the professor’s criticism had been. The afternoon passed quickly, and when, towards its close, the professor inquired,—
‘Do you see it yet?’
‘No,’ I replied, ‘I am certain I do not, but I see how little I saw before.’
‘That is next best,’ said he earnestly, ‘but I won’t hear you now; put away your fish and go home; perhaps you will be ready with a better answer in the morning. I will examine you before you look at the fish.’

This was disconcerting; not only must I think of my fish all night, studying, without the object before me, what this unknown but most visible feature might be; but also, without reviewing my new discoveries, I must give an exact account of them the next day. I had a bad memory; so I walked home by Charles River in a distracted state, with my two perplexities.

The cordial greeting from the professor the next morning was reassuring; here was a man who seemed to be quite as anxious as I that I should see for myself what he saw.
‘Do you perhaps mean,’ I asked, ‘that the fish has symmetrical sides with paired organs?’
His thoroughly pleased, ‘Of course, of course!’ repaid the wakeful hours of the previous night. After he had discoursed most happily and enthusiastically—as he always did—upon the importance of the point, I ventured to ask what I should do next.

‘Oh, look at your fish!’ he said, and left me again to my own devices. In a little more than an hour he returned and heard my new catalogue.
‘That is good, that is good!’ he repeated, ‘but that is not all; go on.’ And so, for three long days, he placed that fish before my eyes, forbidding me to look at anything else, or to use any artificial aid. ‘Look, look, look,’ was his repeated injunction.

This was the best entomological lesson I ever had—a lesson whose influence has extend to the details of every subsequent study; a legacy the professor has left to me, as he has left it to many others, of inestimable value, which we could not buy, with which we cannot part.

A year afterwards, some of us were amusing ourselves with chalking outlandish beasts upon the museum blackboard. We drew prancing star-fishes; frogs in mortal combat; hydra-headed worms; stately craw-fishes, standing on their tails, bearing aloft umbrellas; and grotesque fishes, with gaping mouths and staring eyes. The professor came in shortly after, and was as amused as any at our experiments. He looked at the fishes.
‘Haemulons, every one of them,’ he said. ‘Mr … drew them.’
True; and to this day, if I attempt a fish, I can draw nothing but Haemulons.

The fourth day, a second fish of the same group was placed beside the first, and I was bidden to point out the resemblances and differences between the two; another and another followed, until the entire family lay before me, and a whole legion of jars covered the table and surrounding shelves; the odour had become a pleasant perfume; and even now, the sight of an old, six-inch, worm-eaten cork brings fragrant memories!

The whole group of Haemulons was thus brought in review; and, whether engaged upon the dissection of the internal organs, the preparation and examination of the bony framework, or the description of the various parts, Agassiz’s training in the method of observing facts and their orderly arrangements was ever accompanied by the urgent exhortation not to be content with them.

‘Facts are stupid things,’ he would say, ‘until brought into connection with some general law.’

At the end of eight months, it was almost with reluctance that I left these friends and turned to insects; but what I had gained by this outside experience has been of greater value than years of later investigation in my favourite groups.

Richard L. Mayhue, How to Study the Bible (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 1997), 65–69.

“Is disagreement about homosexuality an ‘intra-evangelical’ discussion?” Reblogged from Denny Burk

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Mark your calendars–this November, Zondervan will be releasing a new book, Homosexuality, The Bible, and the Church. While he hasn’t yet seen the book, Denny Burk has some helpful comments about its release notes.

Burk shows that the way the questions of affirmation are framed is of considerable importance, and he is concerned about the intentions of this book.

Full article here.

Burk and Heath Lambert have themselves addressed these matters in their bookTransforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change.

“Jesus Christ holds lawful title”

“The kingdom of God is the arena of God’s redemption. Jesus Christ redeemed the whole world — that is, He bought it back. He did this by paying the ultimate price for man’s sin: His death on the cross. The whole earth has now been judicially redeemed. It has been given “a new lease on life.” The lease that Satan gained from Adam has been revoked. The Second Adam (Jesus Christ) holds lawful title.

The world has not been fully restored in history, nor can it be; sin still has its effects, and will until the day of final judgment. But progressively over time, it is possible for the gospel to have its restorative effects. Through the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit, redeemed people are able to extend the principles of healing to all areas under their jurisdiction in life: church, family, and State.

All Christians admit that God’s principles can be used to reform the individual. They also understand that if this is the case, then the family can be reformed according to God’s Word. Next, the church is capable of restoration. But then they stop. Mention the State, and they say, “No; nothing can be done to restore the State. The State is inherently, permanently satanic. It is a waste of time to work to heal the State.” The Christian Reconstructionist asks: Why not?

They never tell you why not. They never point to a passage in the Bible that tells you why the church and family can be healed by God’s Word and Spirit, but the State can’t be. Today, it is the unique message of Christian Reconstruction that civil government, like family government and church government, is under the Bible-revealed law of God and therefore is capable in principle of being reformed according to God’s law.

This means that God has given to the Christian community as a whole enormous responsibility throughout history. This God-given responsibility is far greater than merely preaching a gospel of exclusively personal salvation. The gospel we preach must apply to every area of life that has been fouled by sin and its effects. The church and individual Christian evangelists must preach the biblical gospel of comprehensive redemption, not just personal soul-winning.’ Wherever sin reigns, there the gospel must be at work, transforming and restoring. The only area of life outside of the reach of Spirit-empowered restoration is an area that was not affected by the fall of man. This, of course, means no area at all.”

DeMar, Gary and North, Gary, Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t (revised Text), n.d.