Skip to content

3

There’s no such thing as a free lunch – so the saying goes.  The LORD begs to differ:

Isaiah 55:1-3 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

A free lunch is exactly the kind of thing our heavenly Father provides.  After all, if we ask for bread, will He give us a stone?  If we ask for an egg, will He give us a snake?  (Matthew 7:9-10)  No, He gives us free sunshine, free air, free water, free life.  His very nature is to offer us free sustenance.

How does this sustenance come?  Through His word.  Notice how the LORD says “Listen, Give ear, Hear me.” Whatever God has for us, it’s dished up in the word.  See verses 10-11:

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Just as rain brings grain, so the word brings food to us.  The purpose for which God sends his word is to bring life.  It’s like rain on a parched land.  It makes people dying with thirst to bud and flourish.

Back in verse 3, simply to hear this word brings life to our souls.  Why?  Because through God's word we receive His “faithful love promised to David.”

Now think about that!

In the words of the King James version, He offers "the sure mercies of David" to peoples and nations.  He invites the world into His covenant with David.

When Isaiah wrote this, King David was long dead.  Yet all Israel knew that David foreshadowed the true King of the Jews.

In Isaiah 9, we read about the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace who reigns on David's throne.  Christ is the true David and Isaiah knew it.

In Isaiah 11 he prophesies about Christ as the shoot of Jesse.  The Messiah is the Ideal David, filled with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.  He is a Cosmic King to bring justice and righteousness to the world.

Thus "the sure mercies of David" refers to the Father’s covenant love for His Son.  This is what God wants to give us: He wants the world to enjoy His love for Christ.

In Isaiah 42, we read about how the Father feels towards Christ:

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.

Those are the sure mercies of David.  That’s the Father’s everlasting love for His Son.

From all eternity the Son has been the true David – the Anointed King.  He is the Father’s everlasting delight and He pours His Spirit without measure onto Christ.

This is the everlasting covenant.  These are the sure mercies of David.  They’re all found in Jesus.  And in God’s word we are given Christ for free.

That’s why we read our Bibles.  That’s why we have preaching.  That’s why we encourage each other with the word.  Because in God’s word, God’s Son is offered.  And He is Bread for the hungry.  He offers Living Waters for the thirsty.  All without money and without cost.  We simply “listen” / “give ear” / “hear” our Father and through the gift of Christ our souls will live.

Why listen to God's word?  To feast on Christ.

.

This is taken from the introduction to my Isaiah talks

It's also the theme of my latest devotional's preface

 .

25

Thanks so much to Matthias Muller for making this available and Theo Karvounakis for reading the Koine Greek!

The Koine Greek (Textus Receptus) audio Bible is now available for download for all who have already learned Greek but don't mind getting used to modern Greek pronunciation (100% native). Freely you have received, freely you shall give...

437MB, 260 chapters, 27 folders, 20 hrs, 48kbps mp3s, £0.00, value - infinite.

Add it to your dropbox for simple download and spreading. It’s meant to be public domain. Glory to Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 .

Download Koine Greek Bible via Dropbox

 .

The videos are coming as well but take longer.

 .

Koine Greek New Testament (audio)

.

12

 

Talk 1 - Reigning and Serving, part 1.  Audio.  Text.  Powerpoint.

Talk 2 - Reigning and Serving, part 2.  Audio.  Text.

Talk 3 - Judgement and Salvation.  Audio.  Text.  Powerpoint.

Talk 4 - Religion and Redemption.  Audio.  Text.

Talk 5 - Old Creation and New Creation.  Audio.  Text.  Powerpoint.

.

14

This post is taken from a comment posted by Paul Blackham on this post...

As we all know Wycliffe is a wonderful organisation with deep commitment and passion for the Bible – yet this debate is going on within Wycliffe itself.

Wycliffe's mission statement at  is especially useful here because it indicates the kind of theological questions that are at the heart of this debate – and why so many Arabic speakers are upset about it.

In the section dealing with “Son of God” the initial assumption is made that the English phrase “Son of God” “is a tremendously meaningful term in English. It carries a critical message about Christ, the Messiah, the second Person of the Trinity.” However, I would suggest that this is only the case among the minosrity Christian community. The English phrase “Son of God” no longer communicates the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity to general English speakers. Many English speakers feel that such a phrase either does imply some kind of procreation or else it is polytheistic or even simply incoherent. I constantly come up against massive misunderstandings of “Son of God” in English – but I’m not convinced that we need to use a different English vocabulary to deal with this. Notice the kind of discussions and arguments about the Trinity that are increasingly common in English culture. We have to constantly and carefully explain and define what we are trying to say with these words.

My Arabic friends tell me that the new words and phrases do not convey the ontological Trinity and they do not reflect the full deity of Jesus as the original languages do. I have to take their word for that becuase my own Arabic is too weak to grasp the nuances. BUT, for us English speakers, try the same experiment. If we want to avoid all the misunderstandings that “Son of God” has acquired, what alternative words or phrases could we use? Can we think of words or phrases that are genuinely equivalent to Father/Son that contain the same relationality and ontology? If we say that Jesus is “the specially loved one from God” or the “unique messenger”… do those phrases do the job? Would those phrases lead us to see how Jesus is the eternal Word/Son/Angel of the Father/Ancient of Days? The Bible itself uses different words and phrases to express the Trinity… and yet if we lose the Father/Son language from the pallette then can we properly understand the other terms correctly?

The final paragraph of the article on the Mission Frontiers website with the summary points is a clear statement of the translation practices, but they don’t quite solve the problem that has been at the heart of the debate. The problem is that the words “father” and “son” in English, and in Greek and in Hebrew, basically “are biological in meaning and imply procreation”. Yes, father/son can also have other non-biological meanings in specific contexts, but to ENTIRELY escape those natural connotations means a serious danger of losing the ontology that is so vital for the doctrine of the Trinity. All languages struggle to grasp this aspect of the Trinity. The normal usage of these words is in terms of procreation. Think of the long lists in the Bible of this man begot that son etc… and yet with all those long lists defining “begetting” in such normal, biological ways, yet the Holy Spirit still used the ‘begetting’ word to describe how the Father and the Son relate. It seems a bit too risky for Him to do that… yet by doing it that way we see how the Son is of the very ‘substance’ of the Father rather than any emanation or creature. The Son is of the very being – “of the same stuff” as the Father… and no matter how messy or complicated it is to get our minds around this in a non-sexual and non-chronological way, yet anything less than that understanding of the Son is a serious problem.

The article by Rick Brown on the Mission Frontier website almost perfectly expresses the problem. He does a great job of clearly and simply setting out the reasons why the new translations have selected words and phrases that are more like “Lord” or “God” for the Father and “Messiah” or “uniquely Loved One” for the Son. Rick seems to quite genuinely believe that the “social” understanding of father/son is more appropriate in most contexts than a biological one.

On page 29 Rick acknowledges the ontological dimension of the Father/Son relation, but then goes on to say – “Bible scholars suggest that the mediatorial meaning is the most prominent in many contexts of Scripture, but they also recognize that the Bible uses the phrase with six additional components of meaning: familial/relational, incarnational, revelational, instrumental, ethical and representational.”

Might I suggest that far more of the Bible’s usages of Father/Son language are to do with ontology than some may allow.

That assumption about replacing ‘biological’ father/son words with equivalent ‘social’ ideas of father/son is precisely why there have been these protests over recent years. The deep concern from the Arabic churches is that if Muslims and new Muslim background believers read a version of the Bible that does not articulate, in the main text rather than in footnotes, the ontological Trinity, then how can they get to grips with the reality of the Trinity?

Round the world, in all kinds of cultures and languages, for hundreds or thousands of years, there has been that wrestling to understand and express the rich complexity and wonder of the One God who is the Spirit who proceeds from the Father who begets His Son – all in an eternal, non-successive and non-sexual but ontological way. Look at how careful and nuanced we try to be In English… and in every other language. Remember how the ancient Greek theologians had to invent and adapt and superintend words and language to articulate what the Bible means by Father and Son.

Rick suggests that people in polythesistic cultures might struggle to understand the relation between the Father and Son – yet, it was precisely in the polytheisic culture of Greek and Roman gods on the one hand and the philosophical culture of the Platonic One who was too pure to have any contact with material things on the other hand that the classic creedal formulations of the Trinity arose. We might look back and wonder how they managed to avoid both the sexuality of the pagan gods and also the untouchable transcendance of the Neo-Platonic One, so beloved of Arius.

To try to short-cut or even entirely avoid this wonder and glory may have profound consequences not only in the short-term understanding of this generation of Muslim background believers but also in the longer term theological health of the emerging churches around the Islamic world.

For those of us who have been involved in this debate, especially over the past 5 years, the points that Rick so clearly make actually underline why there is such concern among Arab speaking Christians. The strongest protests against these new translations are from Arabic speakers because they claim that the family or ontological connection between a father and a son is such a vital aspect of the relationship between Jesus and the Father.

The ‘problem’ with the father/son language is part of the basic fabric of the Bible itself. When we go back to the church fathers of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, they too are wrestling with how God the Father begets/begot God the Son yet without physical procreation or chronological succession. It is not as if we can simply import an analogy to solve it because the ontological connection between God the Father and God the Son is so essential.

The alternative words and phrases cause so much upset with many Arabic Christians precisely because to use words like “Lord” or “God” instead of Father or to replace “Son” with words like “Messiah” or “Uniquely Loved One” do not contain the ontology that is so vital to a Biblical doctrine of God.

Yes, there is a massive and common misunderstanding of the Trinity among most of our Muslim friends – yet, this misunderstanding [focussed on the idea that God the Father had sexual union with the human Mary in the way that the Greek/Roman gods would do], still continues among Muslims who speak English as their first language. Look at Islamic websites that engage with the Trinity – in any language. Many commonly discuss the idea that Christians believe that the Trinity is the Father, Mary and Jesus. This is not simply a matter of words but doctrine.

3

I'm half way through Mike Reeves new book "The Good God".

It is.... drum roll... sensational!  It's life shaping for the reader, and I hope career shaping for Mike.  Let's pray that Christ-centred trinitarian theology becomes more than a curiosity or a passing fad, but the very atmosphere of our lives, our theology, our ministry.

Below I'll list some favourite little quotes in my reading so far.  But really I could have picked a hundred others.  And I'm aware that piecemeal nuggets won't convey the real strength of the book.  Essentially "The Good God" is a luxurious soak in the loving life of Father, Son and Spirit.  It's mind-stretching, vision-lifting, paradigm shifting and all the things that a radical trinitarian theology should be.  But the greatest strength of the book is simply this: Mike loves God.  Hugely, tangibly, contagiously - he revels in the Spirit's knowledge of our generous Father in the face of Christ.  And as you read, you cannot fail to love Him more yourself.  I can't think of a better reason to read a book!

So pre-order your copy here!

"We must confess Father and Son before we can apprehend God as one and true" Hilary

"When you start with the Jesus of the Bible, it is a triune God that you get"

"For eternity the Father has been fruitful, potent, vitalizing."

"The God who loves to have an outgoing Image of himself in his Son loves to have many images of his love (who are themselves outgoing)."

"The triune God is an ecstatic God: he is not a God who hoards his life but one who gives it away, as he would show... at the cross."

"God's pleasure is in diffusing and communicating to the creature rather than in receiving from the creature" J. Edwards

"The world must learn that I love the Father" John 14 means that the world learns from the Son how to be a counterpart to the Father [my summary].

"Absolutely singular supreme beings do not like creation"

"The very nature of the triune God is to be effusive, ebullient and bountiful; the Father...finds his very self in pouring out his love"

"To be coherent and meaningful, maths requires the existence of ultimate plurality in unity."

"Through the cross we see a God who delights to give himself."

"To be the child of some rich king would be nice; but to be the beloved of the emporer of the universe is beyond words."

"Our God does not give us some thing that is other than himself, or merely tell us about himself; he actually gives us himself."

They say there’s a big man who lives far away,
Supposedly jolly but it’s hard to say.
I’ve never seen him, and neither have you.
But the children believe, and I spose that’ll do.

He’s known as a loner, with many a quirk
No time for a chat, he’s embroiled in his work
He keeps to himself, for most of the year,
I reckon we’re grateful he doesn’t appear.

We send him requests, for particular needs,
But we never hear back, who knows if he heeds?
We try to be good, give his arm a twist,
To merit our place on his blessed little list.

And maybe one day if we do what we should,
He’ll give us our things, so long as we’re good.
I’ve had it to here, I’m calling his bluff:
He’s a weird moralistic dispenser of stuff!

Granted, this rant is a strange one to pick
But listen I’m not really after St Nick
As strange as he is, and Santa is odd,
In fact I’m attacking most folks’ view of God.

It’s God who we see as a distant Big Guy –
An ancient, invisible, St Nick in the Sky.
“He’s sees you asleep, He knows when you wake
He’s watching and waiting to spot your mistake.”

And just like with Santa, requests we hand in,
We want all his things but we don’t want him.
That’s our connection with old Father Christmas.
We might dress it up, it’s essentially business.

Throughout the year, good behaviour’s our onus
When Christmas rolls round we’re expecting our bonus.
“Just leave us the gifts Nick, we’ve been good enough!
And then please push on, now we’ve got all your stuff!”

I mean Santa is interesting, curious, quirky
But no-one wants him to share their Turkey!
I’m sure his “ho, ho, hos” are sublime,
But I fear what he’ll say once he's drunk our mulled wine.

That’s old St Nick, but the picture rings true,
It’s how we imagine what God is like too.
But Christmas resounds with a stunning “Not so!”
The One from on high was born down below.

To a world in need He did not send another.
God the Son became God our Brother.
He drew alongside, forever to dwell,
Our God in the flesh, Immanuel.

This God in the Manger uproots all our notions:
A heavenly stooping, divine demotion.
Born in a stable, wriggling on straw,
Fully committed to life in the raw.

Santa gives things and then goes away.
Jesus shows up, to befriend and to stay.
Santa rewards those with good behaviour.
Jesus comes near to the broken as Saviour.

If you don’t like God, I think I know why…
You probably think He’s St Nick in the Sky.
You're right to reject that far-away stranger!
This Christmas look down to the God in the manger.

.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IokTM3PEGiM]

Based on this former rant...

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXYcZ3y65Bo"]

Slides for all talks

Three - God is THREE Persons united in love (Galatians 3:26-4:7)

Text    Audio

.

Two - The story of the world is the story of TWO men (Romans 5:12-21)

Text    Audio

.

One - Who are you ONE with?  Adam or Christ? (John 15:5; Rev 19:6-9; Heb 4:14-16; 1 Sam 17)

Text    Audio

.

Seminar on Answering Questions

Audio of opening teaching.

.

Emma's got some Reformation Day Lutheran gold here.  Which reminds me of these, also from his Galatians commentary:

"The genius of Christianity takes the words of Paul “who gave himself for our sins” as true and efficacious. We are not to look upon our sins as insignificant trifles. On the other hand, we are not to regard them as so terrible that we must despair. Learn to believe that Christ was given, not for small and imaginary transgressions, but for  mountainous sins; not for one or two, but for all; not for sins that can be discarded, but for sins that are stubbornly ingrained. Practice this knowledge and fortify yourself against despair, particularly in the last hour, when the memory of past sins assails the conscience. Say with confidence: “Christ, the Son of God, was given not for the righteous, but for sinners. If I had no sin I should not need Christ. No, Satan, you cannot delude me into thinking I am holy. The truth is, I am all sin. My sins are not imaginary transgressions... [Yet because my transgressions are multiplied]... therefore Christ the Son of God gave Himself unto death for my sins.” To believe this is to have eternal life."

"Let us equip ourselves against the accusations of Satan with this and similar passages of Holy Scripture. If he says, “Thou shalt be damned,” you tell him: “No, for I fly to Christ who gave Himself for my sins. In accusing me of being a damnable sinner, you are cutting your own throat, Satan. You are reminding me of God’s fatherly goodness toward me, that He so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. In calling me a sinner, Satan, you really comfort me above measure.” With such heavenly cunning we are to meet the devil’s craft and put from us the memory of sin."  (Galatians 1:4)

"By faith in Christ a person may gain such sure and sound comfort, that he need not fear the devil, sin, death, or any evil. “Sir Devil,” he may say, “I am not afraid of you. I have a Friend whose name is Jesus Christ, in whom I believe. He has abolished the Law, condemned sin, vanquished death, and destroyed hell for me. He is bigger than you, Satan. He has licked you, and holds you down. You cannot hurt me.” This is the faith that overcomes the devil."  (Galatians 2:19)

"Whenever sin and death make you nervous write it down as an illusion of the devil. There is no sin now, no curse, no death, no devil because Christ has done away with them."  (Galatians 3:13)

"Let us become expert in the art of transferring our sins, our death, and every evil from ourselves to Christ; and Christ’s righteousness and blessing from Christ to ourselves." (Galatians 3:14)

"[Galatians 5:5: "We eagerly await for the hope of righteousness."] This is sweet comfort for us. And we are to make use of it in comforting the afflicted. We are to say to them: “Brother, you would like to feel God’s favour as you feel your sin. But you are asking too much. Your righteousness rests on something much better than feelings. Wait and hope until it will be revealed to you in the Lord’s own time. Don’t go by your feelings, but go by the doctrine of faith, which pledges Christ to you.”

Defy Satan in times of despair. Say: “O cursed Satan, you choose a nice time to talk to me about doing and working when you know very well that I am in trouble over my sins. I will not listen to you. I will listen to Christ, who says that He came into the world to save sinners.  This is the true Christ and there is none other. I can find plenty of examples for a holy life in Abraham, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Paul, and other saints. But they cannot forgive my sins. They cannot save me. They cannot procure for me everlasting life. Therefore I will not have you for my teacher, O Satan.” (5:8)

8

In the 16th century, nowhere was as dangerous for a would-be Bible translator as England.  In 1517 (the year of Luther's 95 theses), seven parents were burnt at the stake for teaching their children the Lord's Prayer in English.

Back in 1215AD, the Fourth Lateran Council declared:

“The secret mysteries of the faith ought not to be explained to all men in all places... For such is the depth of divine Scripture that, not only the simple and illiterate, but even the prudent and learned are not fully sufficient to try to understand it.”

Two centuries later the English church, under Archbishop Thomas Arundel, turned this "ought not" into a heresy punishable by burning.  England was the only major European country where translation was banned outright.

As a side-note, it's interesting to see that in England it's the Bible that got you burnt, while on the Continent it was doctrine that was truly deadly (gross generalisation!).  But a similar split occured a century later in philosophy - the Continent produced the rationalists (climbing into their ovens and thinking hard about reality), while England produced the empiricists (who went out into the world to gather sense data).  Still today it's the English speaking world that populates biblical studies while the Europeans produce theologians.  (Again, gross generalisation, but some truth to it I think).

It was in this English context that Tyndale, aged just 22, spoke his famous words to another clergyman:

“If God spare my life ere many years, I will cause a boy that driveth the plow, shall know more of Scripture than thou doest.” (1522, Foxes Book of Martyrs)

Tyndale was fluent in eight languages, a genius of translation and a true reformer.  It was this passion to make the “plow-boy” know the Scriptures that cost him his freedom and then his life.  He moved to the continent and in 1525 he produced the first printed New Testament in the English language.  His prologue was a combination of his own views on the gospel (he was an ardent believer in justification by faith alone) and a part translation of Luther's forward to his 1522 New Testament.

The first print run was 3000 and they were smuggled into England in bales of cloth.  This New Testament was incredibly popular despite the fact that, if found with a copy, you would be burnt along with your Bible.

Tyndale has been called the architect of the English language, and in many cases he invented words to better convey the original:

"atonement"

"scapegoat"

"Jehovah"

"mercy seat"

"Passover"

And scores of his phrases have proved impossible to better in the last five centuries...

“Let their be light”

“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”,

“There were shepherds abiding in the field”

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”

“Signs of the times”,

“Skin of your teeth”,

“In Him we live and move and have our being”

“Fight the good fight”

This year I have marvelled at the beauty of so many ‘King James phrases’.  Yet on closer examination the great majority turn out to be Tyndale phrases.  Only around 20 of the 365 phrases I have been considering at the King's English are original to the King James Bible.  And Tyndale has provided the bulk of the rest.

Computer analysis has revealed that more than three quarters of the King James Version can be traced directly to Tyndale (83% of the NT and 76% of the OT).  Many times we can wish he was followed even more closely.  Consider Tyndale’s matchless translation of Genesis 3:4.  The serpent tempts Eve saying, “Tush, ye shall not die”!

By 1535 he had translated all of the Old Testament from Genesis to 2 Chronicles as well as the book of Jonah.  But he was betrayed by a friend and imprisoned for 18 months.  He was condemned as a heretic, degraded from the priesthood, strangled and then his body burnt.  But not before he cried out a famous prayer: "O Lord, open the King of England's eyes."

He was 42 years old.  He had been on the run for 12 years.  He had never marred and was never buried.  But within three years his prayer was answered.  In 1539 Henry VIII ordered an English translation (the Great Bible) to be placed in every pulpit in England.  Miles Coverdale was responsible for the translation.  He was not a linguist.  So whose translation did he depend upon?  Tyndale's.

Between Tyndale and the King James Version there were another 5 English translations, but none of them could get away from the monumental work of this giant of the reformation.

The King James Version is sometimes called ‘the greatest book written by committee.’  And I suppose there is something to celebrate about that.  Yet, for the most part, those 47 scholars, working in peace and prosperity, could not improve on the work of a young evangelical who gave his liberty and his life for the gospel.

Thank God for William Tyndale.

Twitter widget by Rimon Habib - BuddyPress Expert Developer