80-Day Reading Plan
I created this reading plan last night and started this morning. In 80 days it will take you through the New Testament, the Psalms, the Proverbs (twice through), and gives you 18 days of elective readings (you know, to pull in some Old Testament passages). Each day should take 15-20 mins. Just thought I would share!
This Sunday we looked at Ephesians 4:17-24, where Paul encourages Christians to "put away [the] old self" and to "clothe [themselves] with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." As I said briefly in the sermon, part of the "old self" that Christians need to take off are the "customs, practices, values, and attitudes" that they have adopted from the world around them. Many of our assumptions about the "good life" (in other words, what we believe is good, real, important, beautiful, and true) resemble the lies of the world more than the truth in Christ.
Unfortunately, the problem with lies is - they are deceitful. They don't present themselves as malicious little devils that we can easily detect and resist. Rather, they appear to us as sensible and wise ways of living. To see the lies for what they really are, we need renewed minds. Paul says in Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. It takes the renewal of our minds - minds "renewed" by the truth of God - to transform our sense of the "good life."
How do we renew our minds? A lot of different ways! The primary way is to read, study, memorize, wrestle with, and be challenged by the Bible. (This is the primary source of God's truth, of course.) But we should also carefully consider the claims of theologians, philosophers, novelists, artists, and even our neighbors and coworkers. Paul says earlier in Romans (1:20) that although creation is in a fallen state, it is nevertheless embedded with remnants of God's truth and wisdom. So yes, all people are capable of making true and wise claims, even if they don't recognize God as the source of that truth and wisdom.
One theologian who provokes my earnest consideration of truth and wisdom is Timothy Keller. I don't always agree with his claims, but I have found the video below to be wise and refreshing. It's less than 20 mins long and is a fitting companion for the sermon yesterday. Enjoy!
An interesting question came up in Sunday School earlier this week: Why is Acts 8:37 included in the King James Bible, but not this modern translation (pointing to the NIV)? I tried to answer the question as best I could, but started throwing out terms like Textus Receptus and Textual Criticism, which probably left my audience more confused. This morning I found a nice little article which explains the answer better. I've tweaked it a little bit for the purpose of this specific question. Keep in mind that this is a summary of complex issues (an entire book could be dedicated to this question):
It is important to understand that we do not have an "original copy" of any book of the Bible. What we have are copies of copies of copies... (what we call "manuscripts"), from which Textual Critics seek to ascertain the original wording of the author. It is the original wording that most Bible scholars hold to be perfect and inspired by God.
Many modern Christians view "The Bible" that is sitting on their shelves as the perfect, exact word of the living God, but that belief is not quite correct. What is sitting on your shelf is an English rendition OF a particular translator's interpretation OF the group of manuscripts he studied when writing his translation. The KJV is no different.
The difference between the KJV and modern translations is the particular set of manuscripts they are based on. During the 16th century, when the KJV was written, a very limited set of manuscripts were available for translation. But since that time, thousands of manuscripts have been excavated, which have given us more insight into what the original wording might have been.
Modern translators (e.g. the NIV translators) seek to faithfully handle the word of God by considering as many reliable manuscripts as possible during translation - which is exactly what the KJV translators sought to do in their day (they just had far fewer manuscripts to work with.)
So, the NIV translators are not trying to lead you into a fiery demise by deceiving you with false translations. In fact, many of the so-called "missing verses" are referenced in the side-column of your NIV Bible. The only reason they were left out is that the translators of the NIV honestly believed that the evidence was overwhelmingly against those verses being part of the original writing.
I hope that clears up some confusion! Check out the videos below for more information about Greek Manuscripts and Translation.
Greek Manuscripts and Translation
I found these videos to be interesting and insightful. Bill Mounce, whose Basics of Biblical Greek is the preferred Greek textbook among seminaries, explains some of the issues surrounding the Greek manuscripts and translation. Both videos are short and definitely worth your time.
As I mentioned on Sunday, my sermon was an attempt to explain the importance of Christian character formation. My thoughts on this subject have been shaped (in large part) by a book I read several years ago entitled: After You Believe. The video below is a presentation of the book's content by the author, N.T. Wright. Enjoy!
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I've been feeling the need lately to share those extra thoughts that don't make it into Sunday's sermon. So this is where they'll end up!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)