A Mid-Week Bible Study and the Memphis Dialogues

I attended an interesting lunch time Bible study today. It meets once a week on Wednesdays here where I work. The leader said that since they were still working out technical difficulties, we would talk about what is on our minds. I took a question with me:

“Was James White ‘unequally yoked’ with Yasir Qadhi in Memphis?”

I just happen to be in the middle of a study in 2 John and already have some good notes (I am blessed to teach the class)! Talk about timing!

There were four of us and none of the others knew about Memphis, so it was perfect, as far as I was concerned. No chance of the others already having made up their minds.

I provided the necessary background and then read from a really good and fair article that was published by a Christian news outfit.

One of the other men had no problem with a general discussion about two religions, and did not see any ‘yoking’ going on (I shared the definitions from 4 separate commentaries.) One of the men had some of the same issues brought up by those who have already aired their ‘issues’ with James White. The last of the three other men didn’t give an opinion.

It was a good time of ‘dialogue’.

I learned something else that was disturbing. I heard Jimmy DeYoung, one of the regulars on Brannon Howse’s program (from the July 7 show) say

“James White does not believe the word of God and is a heretic. We should mark him and just forget about him. . .the man’s a heretic.”

Then Shrahram Hadian chimed in and said that Dr. Andy Woods said in a conversation with him that Dr. White should be given over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh. Fine Christian men, these!

And last but not least, in his latest podcast, at about the 1:20 mark, there is an interview with an actual missionary in Iraq that is quite illuminating and should be listened to by all of those who are ‘rebuking’ (bashing) Dr. White, especially the fellow on another blog that told me my missionary analogy was ridiculous.

My point was that the answer to being unequally yoked can be yes, no, or maybe, and maybe is probably the best answer.

Anyway, this whole ‘Christian’ fiasco has been a vehicle for this guy to dig a little deeper into His work to sharpen the few exegetical skills I might have, as well as taught me a bit more about ‘Christian’ behavior and humility

How to Receive God’s Word

by Jordan Standridge @ The Cripplegate

Have you ever stopped to think about how often you are exposed to God’s word?

Every time you open up the Bible for time with the Lord, the God of the universe speaks. Every time you go to small group and discuss a passage of Scripture He is speaking. When you quote verses in your head that you have memorized, He is talking. When exposed to His word He tells you who He is, He tells you how to live, He tells you what other people are like, He even tells you about the future.

It’s a dangerous thing to be exposed to the word of God, because every time one of two things happens. Either you will become more like Jesus Christ, or you will be hardened to the truth and become cold towards Jesus.

Steve Lawson in his biography of John Calvin says,

“We owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God because it has proceeded from Him alone, and has nothing of man mixed with it.” This was the unshakable foundation of Calvin’s preaching-the authority of divinely inspired Scripture. He firmly believed that when the Bible speaks, God speaks.”

Because of how dangerous it is to be exposed to Scripture, James, the brother of Christ, in James 1:19 is concerned for the Church. He’s already warned them to be prepared for trials, and temptation and now he wants them to be prepared to receive the word of God. In this verse he gives three short imperatives, that will remind us about the importance of how to react to God’s word when exposed to it.

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

Quick to hear

clip_image004People have a hard time listening in this day and age. I was recently watching the movie Bambi with my kids. I was shocked by how slow the characters were, how little was going on on-screen. Modern day cartoons are so different. Everything is faster, bigger, brighter, with so much more happening. We just have to face the fact that we have a hard time paying attention. And James wants us to make sure that we are alert and listening each time we come to hear from God.

We need to prepare ourselves beforehand. To hear the word we must be alert. We must get enough sleep, we must pray, we must repent of all wickedness and we must work hard to tune out temptations and distractions so that we can be fully prepared to sit under Scripture.

In James 1:21 he tells us to put aside all filthiness, in other words we need to clean out our ears. You’ve seen a child’s ear full of nasty gunk. I’ve had to clean a couple myself. In the same way we must clean out our wrong presuppositions and replace them with God’s. We must come to the word ready to listen and ready to be changed, because nothing can change us but the word of God.

clip_image006Slow to speak
In other words, “shut up!” Stop talking to yourself. If when someone confronts you, you right away get defensive and start defending yourself or change the subject, chances are you are talking to fast or not listening. During preaching we are all tempted to think, “Wow I wish ____ was here to listen to this!”, instead of allowing the word of God to break us. Or maybe mid-sermon you’re already thinking about what you’re going to be doing after the service or after Bible study. Or during Bible reading, somehow you read an entire chapter and don’t remember a word that you read because you were thinking about something else the entire time. Stop, shut up and listen to the word.

Receiving the word means that you aren’t so quick to say what you think. You aren’t a talker who gives his opinion on everything before you’re even asked. We need to practice being a listener and practice not talking, because the less you think of what you have to say, the more you’ll think of what God has to say.

If you value your opinion a lot and think highly of yourself then the word won’t mean much to you.

Slow to anger

clip_image008You must be willing to admit to yourself that you are imperfect. It’s easy at salvation. At salvation we said that we were terrible sinners and we deserve hell. But the sanctification process can only happen if you are willing to continue to say that you are a sinner. That you continue to need help. One of the ways you are able to know if you are receiving the word of God with the right attitude, is if you are slow to anger when confronted with the Bible. Whether it’s the preacher, whether its in your Bible reading, or more appropriate to us maybe, when someone confronts you, we must be slow to anger when faced with the word of God.

How do you react to confrontation?

The key to receiving God’s word is humility. Look at James 1:21 he says, “in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. “

So the point of this passage is to receive the word of God but the only way you will receive rightly is through humility.

· Being quick to hear can only happen if in humility, you realize that you need to hear the word. You are in absolute need of it!

· Being slow to speak can only happen if in humility, you believe that what you have to say is not that important and what’s really important is the Bible.

· And finally, you can really judge your humility when confronted by God’s word and you don’t get angry but humbly admit that you need to change.

So how do we know if we are receiving God’s word and it is bearing fruit in our lives? James 1:22 says that there is a result. You will do what it says! The right response to God’s word will always result in application. When we are exposed to God’s word, if we apply these verses, we will be more than ready to obey our Lord in everything.

Hearing God and Sharing With Others

When I want to hear God speak, I open the Bible and read it. If I want to hear God speak audibly, I read it out loud. B. B. Warfield, eminent Princeton theologian of the 19th and 20th centuries, is known for saying “When the Bible speaks, God speaks!” I agree.

If God’s revelation of himself in the Bible is everything we need to live a godly life and equip us for every good work, I have the best possible standard by which to order my life; ALL of my life within it’s pages. If my God spoke the universe into existence, he is more than capable of ‘breathing out’ scripture (writings) into the minds and hearts of men and ensure his infallible and inerrant truths are transmitted to us. Compared to speaking the universe into existence, transmitting his inerrant word to us is probably on the order of ‘chump change’.

And if the Bible is completely sufficient for my life, I don’t need ‘private revelations’ whispered into my ear. What I do need is the ‘illumination’ of God’s word to my heart. Isn’t that the role of the indwelling Holy Spirit? If it is, then we DO receive ‘revelation’ from God as the Holy Spirit illumines (sheds light upon) God’s word and sends it straight into our hearts.

At the same time, I need to choose my words carefully when I share what God is teaching me. We hear a lot of people say to us “God spoke to me…”, or “I had a revelation…” followed by the details. While both statements might be ‘technically’ true when the Holy Spirit teaches us, using those phrases might might not be wise. Here are a few reasons.

For one thing, most, if not all of the big name televangelists use them often and frequently to mean they have a special private communication link to The Divine – a virtual private network (VPN) to God, so to speak. And we are to receive what they say as the direct word of God, no matter how outlandish or theologically vacuous are their pronouncements.

Both phrases are also often used by ordinary, everyday believers. And because they are used so much by spurious televangelists and various false teachers peddling their snake oil, I feel the need to ask the “what do you mean” question and am suddenly hit with some version of the “why are you questioning me” demon.

Also, why would I use words that cause “issues” when I can just talk about what I believe God is teaching me? Am I trying to communicate that I am somehow special or am a more mature spiritual Christian? Maybe or maybe not, but why take a chance on there being any confusion because of how I express myself. I might not have evil intentions, but Satan sure does and he loves to pounce.

Lastly for now, claiming to have a VPN to God leads to the tendency to be declarative and assert as gospel truth what we share with others. I know some who will hardly ever say “I think”, “I believe”, or “it’s my opinion”, if they begin the conversation with “God told me” or “I had a revelation”, or if they are just convinced in their minds of same.

Am not judging (please stay off of that horse) but I’m old, sometimes tired, have listened to, read, and watched much in the last 40 years. It is was it is. And please note the frequent use of the hypothetical “if” in the above.

I pray you all have a blessed Lord’s day!