Category Archives: Bible Study

Bible Gateway Makes Changes

I am a big fan of Bible Gateway ( and use it almost daily. They recently did a remodel of their user interface for Scripture. It’s a taking me a little time to adjust to the new version, but when it’s all said and done, I think I’m going to conclude that it is a positive upgrade.

Below are a couple of screenshots which enable you to sample the difference. At minimum, I think you will agree the upgrade is cleaner and less cluttered.

BG old
The “Classic” site
BG new
The New Look

Stop Studying Your Bible!

I hope the title of this post got your attention! It’s not that I am against Bible study… indeed I am not! But I am concerned that in American Christianity we have elevated the pursuit of knowledge through “Bible study” to a level that the Lord did not intend. You see, just as your body needs a balanced diet of the various food groups, so does your spiritual life need the balanced intake of spiritual disciplines.  I mean it’s good to have fruit in your diet, but eating fruit while neglecting other food groups would not be wise in the long run. It’s the same with spiritual disciplines.

When it comes to engaging with God’s Word, Bible study is one of several disciplines. I fear that too many Christians study their Bibles to the neglect of simply reading the Bible, memorizing Scripture, meditating on God’s Word, praying about God’s Word, and seeking to apply God’s Word.

Yes, study your Bible. But make sure you don’t neglect the other disciplines of the Word.

Great Prayer… Wrong Verse?

In that classic film The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya says to Vizzini, in regard to his frequent use of the word “inconceivable”:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I’ve increasingly been hearing evangelical Christians, in prayer, say something like this: “Lord, you told us to ask for the nations and You will give them to us as an inheritance, to the ends of the earth. Lord, we’re asking.” The point of the prayer is great: petitioning for global evangelization. Far be it for any reader to read into this post that I am not excited about this emphasis!

My point is that the verse referenced, Psalm 2:8, is the wrong verse for this prayer.

Psalm 2 is a prophetic Psalm that makes perfect sense when you see it in the light of God the Father and His Anointed, God the Son. When you read the whole Psalm you soon realize that God the Father’s offer to give all the nations to His Son is so that He might pour out His wrath upon them. Verse 9 is clear: “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

This is a prophetic Psalm of the coming judgment of the Son of God when He returns in glory. Only those who fear the Lord and bow their knee to him now will escape His wrath, as verses 11 and 12 reveal:

“Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.
Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

So, as much as I love the spirit of this prayer I’m increasingly hearing, I must say to those who are quoting Psalm 2:8 in reference to global evangelization…

You keep quoting that verse. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Examine Yourself… Are You Truly a Christian?

A person is a Christian by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone. Works don’t contribute anything to our standing before God, but are simply evidence of our faith. Someone has said that the root is faith and the fruit is good works. You simply cannot be born again without it making a significant difference in your life. As 2 Corinthians 5.17 says, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new.”  The Bible also tells us to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13.5). The book of First John (in the New Testament) was written for that purpose. Near the end of the book it says: “These things I have written unto you so that you may know what you have eternal life” (emphasis mine). The entire book contrasts real faith with false faith. John MacArthur has come up with 11 questions based upon the tests of 1st John. Here they are:

11 Tests of True Faith
1. Do you Enjoy Fellowship with God and Christ?
2. Are you Sensitive to Sin in your Life?
3. Do you Obey the Scriptures?
4. Do you Reject this Evil World?
5. Do you Love Christ and eagerly await His Return?
6. Do you see a Decreasing Pattern of Sin in your Life?
7. Do you Love other Christians?
8. Do you Receive Answers to your Prayers?
9. Do you Experience the Ministry of the Holy Spirit?
10. Can you Discern between Spiritual Truth and Error?
11. Have you Suffered on Account of your Faith in Christ?

Now, it’s not like you have to score an A+ in all those areas. But if you have not seen a change in your life since professing faith in Christ, then you have reason to be concerned about your salvation.

“The Bible That’s Falling Apart…”

“The Bible that’s falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn’t!”

You may have already seen this picture, as it has been circulating on Facebook and the world wide web. I’ve seen the quote attributed to Charles Spurgeon and Vance Havner. Here are what I consider to be the options:

A. Spurgeon said it and Havner repeated it, thus it should be attributed to Spurgeon.

B. One of the men actually said it, and the other was falsely attributed the quote. This seems to be a real possibility because both men have many famous quotes.

C. Using the same logic behind option B, neither of these men actually said it.

That all said, it sounds to me like something Havner would say, so I’m going go with option B…Havner likely said it and somewhere along the way Spurgeon was falsely attributed the quote because he has so many other great quotes as well.

Of course, if any reader has evidence for the source of the quote, that would be fantastic. Please leave a comment.

Regardless of who said it, it makes a great point.  Dig into God’s Word and be transformed!

Help With “Missing” Bible Verses

If you are carefully reading and studying your Bible and you are using a popular modern translation such as the ESV, NIV, or NLT, at some point you are probably going to notice that the numbering system will occasionally, albeit rarely, skip a verse number. Acts 8 in the New Living Translation (NLT) is an example:

34 The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?’ 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.

36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, ‘Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?’[d] 38 He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.”

Why no verse 37?

Or consider the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John…

1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.[b]5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’”

Where is verse 4? What happened to it?

One of the initial responses you might receive will be from the “King James Only” camp: these examples help prove that the modern translations cannot be trusted.

But there is another explanation, indeed a better one. I highly recommend reading THIS EXPLANATION ( by Greek and New Testament Scholar Bill Mounce.

Bible Saturation – Studying the Bible

So much could be said about studying the Bible. But here are a few pointers that will go a long way in helping a person study the Bible:

1. Study God’s Word humbly. Approaching the Word with reverence and awe and humility will grant you favor in understanding the text. Isaiah 66:2b (ESV):

But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.”

2. Study God’s Word contextually. Always read the Bible with the immediate and larger context in mind. Immediate context refers to what is close by the text you are reading. In other words, when studying a book like Colossians, keep reminding yourself of what is before the verses you are reading and what is right after the verses you are reading. Larger context refers to the basic overall theme of the Bible, which is that God through Christ saves His people from their sins for His glory.

3. Study God’s Word inductively. Perhaps no other organization has done more to promote personal inductive Bible study than Precept Ministries. But their method is not new. Inductive Bible study means starting with what the text says (observation), moving next to what it means (interpretation), and then, finally, seeking to discover how to apply it to your life (application). Getting these three out of order usually leads to bad doctrine, bad thinking, and ultimately, bad behavior.

4. Study God’s Word dependently. Depend on God’s Spirit to give you wisdom. Also, and this is very important, depend on good teachers to help you. God’s Spirit has given saints through the centuries much wisdom in studying God’s Word. Avail yourself of resources from others to help you: Bible dictionaries, Study Bibles, commentaries, sermons, etc. But a word of caution is warranted: be careful not to place these resources as more important than spending quality time at the source itself, God’s Word.

Coming Off My Mini-Sabbatical

I am in the process of concluding a mini-sabbatical (3 1/2 weeks) and am grateful for the time I’ve had away to rest and refresh myself spiritually. More congregations need to demand that their pastors take these types of breaks to protect themselves against the pitfalls of ministry. And yes, there are many pitfalls.

The North American Mission Board recently published some alarming statistics gathered by my old friend Darrin Patrick:

Continue reading Coming Off My Mini-Sabbatical