Monday, February 14, 2011

Romans (An Interpretive Outline)

p.88 “Since the heathen sin against God by breaking the law written on their hearts, they will perish unless the message of Christ is carried to them. There is not justification for sinners apart from faith in Christ! Those whom God has chosen to save He saves through the means of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; He calls them outwardly by the message of the Gospel and inwardly by the Holy Spirit who enables them to believe the message. ‘But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ (II Thessalonians 2:13-14).

There are some who believe that those who never hear the Gospel cannot be damned. They argue that ‘God would not be so unjust as to condemn to hell those who have never been given a chance to accept or to reject Christ.’ Yet they advocate the sending of missionaries to those who have never heard and who, therefore, according to their view, could not possibly be lost. It seems contradictory to hold that the heathen are safe because they have never heard of Christ, and yet to support the missionary movement. For if the heathen cannot be lost without first hearing the Gospel and if after hearing it some of them reject it, then, would it not follow that missionaries, instead of bringing the possibility of salvation to the heathen are, in fact, bringing only condemnation to those who reject Christ after hearing the message? But, as Paul shows in Romans, men are lost, not by their rejection of the Gospel of Christ which frees them of the guilt of their sins, they must first hear it. Thus, the sending of missionaries is absolutely imperative if the heathen are to be saved.

As to the question of the salvation of those incapable of understanding and believing the Gospel (i.e., infants, the mentally incompetent, etc.) the Scriptures are silent-it is enough to know that the Judge of the world will do right. That they stand in need of salvation is clear from the fact that Adam’s sin has been charged to all the race (5:12-19); but we are given no information as to what provision has been made for them. This much is certain: if they enter heaven it must be through the merits of Christ, and not because they are innocent or free from guilt. When considering such matters we should ever keep before us the words of Deuteronomy 29:29, ‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God;’ but the things that are revealed belong to us and our children forever…’”

Monday, February 7, 2011

Readers Are Leaders

by Warren Wiersbe

The next time you pick up any English translation of the Bible, give thanks to God for the life and ministry of Wil¬liam Tyndale (1494-1536). It was Tyndale who paved the way for the translation of the Bible from the original languages into English, and this ministry cost him his life.

The difficulties Tyndale had to overcome to get his work done were colossal. He experienced shipwreck. His precious manuscripts were lost. The established church hounded and persecuted him, and secret agents were constantly after him. The police even raided the printshop where his translation was being published. Some of his "friends" betrayed him. Tyndale was arrested in 1535 in Belgium, and in 1536 he was strangled and burned at the stake.

My reason for citing these facts is to pave the way for a quotation from one of the letters Tyndale wrote while he was in prison:

"I entreat your lordship, and that by the Lord Jesus, that if I must remain here for the winter you would beg the Commissary to be so kind as to send me, from the things of mine which he has, a warmer cap; I feel the cold painfully in my head. Also a warmer cloak, for the cloak I have is very thin. He has a woollen shirt of mine, if he will send it. But most of all, My Hebrew Bible, Grammar, and Vocabulary, that I may spend my time in that pursuit."

Every reader of the Bible will immediately associate this request with one which the Apostle Paul made to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. "The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments" (II Tim. 4: 13).

We have no idea what these books were that Paul urgently requested, but we do know that they were important to him. It is possible that portions of the Old Testament Scriptures were among them. At any rate, it is worth noting that both Paul and Tyndale requested books as their companions as they awaited trial and certain death.

Charles Spurgeon had a marvelous comment on Paul's request:

"He is inspired, yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for 30 years, yet he wants books! He has seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He has had a wider experience than most men, yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it is unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, yet he wants books!"

How I wish that this same desire for good books character¬ized more believers today!

Some years ago, an American paper manufacturing com¬pany ran a series of ads in the major magazines, and each one had the same caption: "Send us a man who reads!" In recent years, the slogan “Readers are Leaders!” has appeared in many places. Somehow, these messages have not gotten through to some of God's people. One purpose of this book is to encourage our readers to invest their time in reading good books.

After all, reading is to the mind what eating is to the body: it provides nourishment. I read somewhere "The mind grows by what it takes in, and the heart grows by what it gives out."

Many people are starving their minds by neglecting the nutri¬tious volumes that are available for their reading. They try to minister to others, but they have nothing to give.

Our God is a God of truth. "He is the Rock, his work is perfect ... a God of truth and without iniquity" (Deut. 32:4). God put truth into creation and thus made possible science and engineering. His Son is named "the truth" (see John 14:6); and the Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of truth" (v. 17). We never have to fear truth because all truth comes from God and leads to God. "Thy word is truth" (17:17). God can write his truth in the skies (Ps. 19:1-6) or in the Scriptures (vv. 7-11), and there will be no contradiction.

God made man to appreciate and use truth. He gave us a mind to think with, and he expects us to use it. God puts no premium on ignorance, even though he warns us against trust¬ing the wisdom of the world. Years ago, when 1 was a young Christian heading for college, Dr. Torrey Johnson advised me, "Learn all you can, put it under the blood, and use it for Jesus' sake." I have tried to follow that wise counsel and share it with others.

We must face the fact that God wrote a book-the Bible. We must also face the fact that he gave teachers to the church (see Eph. 4: 11), and that "apt to teach" is one of the important qualifications for a pastor (1 Tim. 3:2). Of course apt to teach implies apt to learn. Yet many pastors, sad to say, do not read and, as a consequence, they do not grow. This means that their people do not grow and that the church does not prosper. "You have a fine library ," I said to a pastor who had invited me to minister in his pulpit. "Yes," he replied, "and 1 wish 1 had time to use it."

Reading is not a matter of having time, but of taking time, of making time. We always make time for the things that are important to us. God gives each of us twenty-four hours a day, and how we use those hours reveals the priorities in our lives. If you devoted only thirty minutes a day to serious reading, you could complete the average book in at least a week. 1 always carry books with me when 1 travel (you could write a book waiting for some planes to take off), and when I make my visits to the doctor or dentist or anywhere else that might involve a wait. I would rather read a good Christian book than the ancient magazines in the doctor's office!

"But, I'm just not the student type!" someone may argue.

I'm not sure I know what the student type is. You can be sure that I am not encouraging anybody to become an ivory-tower recluse, a bookworm who isolates himself from life and reads himself into senility. There is no such thing as the student type, because all kinds of people enjoy reading. Many readers of this book are serious Bible students, and that in itself proves that they can handle books; for a knowledge of the Bible is more important than a college education. If you have learned to use your Bible, you can master any other book.

No, the time has come for us to lay aside our feeble excuses and come to grips with the serious business of reading for learning and living. Never underestimate the power of a book. According to one authority, for every word in Hitler's Mein Kampf, 125 lives were lost in World War II.

What shall we read? Certainly the Bible and books that help us understand it better. We also need to read books that will help us serve the Lord better. But along with these we must also read books that will help us build our lives and our homes-biographies of great Christians, the classics that have endured the test of time, and those mind-stretching books that we have always avoided.

One of my purposes here is to introduce you to the best in Christian reading, to encourage you to go to your own book¬shelf, the church library, or your nearest Christian bookstore, or perhaps borrow from a friend that one book you have al¬ways meant to read-and start reading it!

Remember, readers are leaders.

Warren Wiersbe, “Readers Are Leaders,” Victorious Christians You Should Know, p. 7-10.