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Great Grief

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

When a person loses their spouse or child to death, how does that remaining person keep from becoming like Jacob in the book of Genesis when he lost his son Joseph, and he mourned so hard he "let his grey hair down to Sheol"?

Sincerely, Deep In Sorrow

Dear Deep In Sorrow,

This is a great question… which is why thousands of books have been written

on the subject of grief. The statement you referred to is made by Jacob immediately upon hearing of his son's death and when he contemplates the loss of a second son (Gen 37:35, Gen 42:38). That emotion is a normal one. When one learns of the death of a spouse or child, their first reaction is so painful and the grief is so deep that they feel they will never have another happy moment on this earth. Jacob's first reaction was normal in this respect. Jacob later received the good news that his son was alive, so he didn't have to go to his grave in pain.

But your question is about us today. How do we handle grief, so that we will be able to recover and find happiness again? This process of handling grief is called "Healing Grief." It means we go through the grieving process in the right way, so we can heal. This is where those thousands of books come in, and I suggest you read many of them if you are in this condition. Some of the major things most people need to do are:

1) Go ahead and cry your eyes out. Don't be ashamed to express your pain by crying. (Ps 6:6-7)

2) If you have a friend who will listen, talk, talk, talk. Crying and talking are very therapeutic. Don't hold it in! Cry and talk. (Eccl 4:10)

3) Cry out to God in prayer and listen to God as He speaks to you through His Bible, especially the book of Psalms (Phil 4:6; 1 Pet 5:6-7). 4) This next one sounds funny to someone who has not been through this experience, but those who have will know what I am saying. After a few months, you will realize that you don't want to let go of your loved one. You don't want them forgotten. You actually hope they might, in some way, come back. At this stage, you must accept the fact that they are gone. This is not easy, but it is a big step that is necessary to healing. (2 Sam 12:22-23)

When this acceptance actually comes into your life, you will begin the final period called ‘recovery’. It is at this time that hope will come back into your life, and you will find happiness again. You are going through a grieving process God built within us humans who are made in His image… so don’t give up. Even Jesus Himself experienced this emotion (John 11:35).

New International Version

Friday, June 26, 2015

I know the New International Version Bible is considered undesirable among the churches of Christ. What I'm wondering is... why? Are there verses in that version you believe to be translated incorrectly, altered, or just plain wrong? If so, can you name the verses in question? Thank you.

Sincerely, Textual Critic

Dear Textual Critic,

The New International Version (NIV) is designed for readability and widespread religious acceptance, not for accuracy. If you read the foreword of an NIV Bible, you will find an explanation of how they went about creating the translation. The following is an excerpt from that explanation:

The New International Version (NIV) is a translation made by more than one hundred scholars working from the best available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. It was conceived in 1965 when, after several years of study by committees from the Christian Reformed Church and the National Association of Evangelicals, a trans-denominational (emphasis mine – AYP) and international group of scholars met at Palos Heights, Illinois, and agreed on the need for a new translation in contemporary English. Their conclusion was endorsed by a large number of church leaders who met in Chicago in 1966.

One of the major goals of the NIV version was to create a translation that was acceptable to a great deal of religions- regardless of what the text said. Consequently, there are many verses left out of the NIV version. Matt 17:21, Matt 18:11, Matt 23:14, Mk 9:44, Mk 9:46, Mk 11:26, Mk 15:28, Lk 17:36, Lk 23:17, Jhn 5:4, Acts 8:37, Acts 15:34, Acts 24:7, Acts 28:29, and Rom 16:24 do not exist in the NIV version.

The American Standard, New American Standard, King James, and New King James are considered ‘word for word’ translations… meaning that they translate word for word what is written in the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The NIV version is considered partially a ‘word for word’ translation and partially a ‘thought for thought’ translation. A ‘thought for thought’ translation does not attempt to keep all of what is found in the original text, but it is comfortable paraphrasing what the translators think the writers intended. This is a very dangerous proposition with the Bible. God says that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired (1 Cor 2:13, Matt 5:18). A great example of this paraphrasing is in Matt 5:44.

  • AV (word for word) reads: “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.
  • NIV (thought for thought) reads: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

The NIV leaves out numerous important details from that verse because the translators deemed them ‘unnecessary’. There are literally hundreds of examples of this paraphrasing in the NIV.

The NIV also uses ambiguous synonyms for words because they thought the precise words were too archaic. The problem is that by using these synonyms, they make many verses mean very different things. Some examples are:

  • ‘Grace’ becomes ‘favor’ (Ex 34:9; Ps 84:11)
  • ‘Righteousness’ becomes ‘does what is right’ (1 Jhn 3:7)
  • ‘Believe’ becomes ‘trust’ (Jhn 14:1)
  • ‘Comforter’ becomes ‘Counselor’ (Jhn 14:16)
  • ‘Think’ becomes ‘feel’ (Php 1:7)
  • ‘Dead’ becomes ‘useless’ (Jas 2:20)

All of these details add up to a translation that is much easier to read, but no longer the exact words of God. The NIV sacrifices accuracy for popularity.

Begging For Bread

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I believe the Bible does not contradict itself in any way, as it is inspired of God.  Yet, I have pondered two scriptures and wonder about them.

In Psalms 37:25, King David writes: "I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his seed begging bread."

But what about Luke 16:19-20?

As the story goes, the beggar died and was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom while the rich man also died, but found himself in Hades in torment.

I am curious about your thoughts on Lazarus and the fact that he was a beggar before he died.

Sincerely, Begging For Answers

Dear Begging For Answers,

The most likely reason for this seeming inconsistent is the nature of how the Psalms are written. The Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes are written in a generic way. They are intended to highlight what happens in 99.9% of the cases. Even David admits that he was stating what ‘he had never seen’ – the Psalm is an observation of what happens most of the time. It could even be argued that David begged for bread from Nabal during his time in the wilderness (1 Sam 25:5-8), so that even David knew he was making a generality. The fact that there have been some righteous people who have suffered such economic loss that they had to beg does not negate the fact that the vast majority of the faithful do not ever have to.

There are other examples of this generality of speech in the wisdom books (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon):

  1. Pr 22:6 – not all children that are raised well remain faithful later in life… but the majority do.
  2. Pr 28:11 – not all rich people are conceited, but many are.
  3. Ps 112:3 – not all righteous people are wealthy, yet prosperity does come to God’s faithful more often then not.

In fact, Solomon addresses that there are exceptions to these rules (Eccl 8:14), and that those exceptions are sad and grievous things. Lazarus is an exception that proves the rule of Ps 37:25. But even though Lazarus suffered in this life, great is his reward in heaven (Lk 16:25).

Who Wrote The Bible?

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

At work we often have conversations about politics, religion, world events, etc. I’m the only conservative in my department, so you can imagine… it gets lively.  Our conversation was on marriage one particular day, and I pulled out my Bible and read what Paul wrote in Ephesians 5: 22-32. It is beautifully written, and I could see it impacted their thinking. However, one of them said, ”Men wrote the Bible, right? Don’t men have their own agenda; are not men fallible?” I did the best I could to answer this question, but I don’t think I did a great job. What is the best way to show that the men who wrote the Bible were inspired by God?

Sincerely, Defending the Faith

Dear Defending the Faith,

The best way to show it is to show the uniqueness of the Bible. The writers of the Bible admit that it is their hands that wrote it (Gal 6:11), but they also explain that God’s Spirit guided those hands (Eph 3:3-4). If that is true (and it is!), then the Bible would show signs that it was written by God and not man. Here are some simple reasons that the Bible is unique from every other book:

  1. It is 100% scientifically accurate. Isa 40:22 mentions the earth being round. Job 36:27-28 explains the water-vapor cycle. These and other verses mention scientific principles that were not understood until centuries later.
  2. It never contradicts itself. Over 40 different writers penned the pages of the Bible. They came from different walks of life and different eras, yet no one has ever found a contradiction from Genesis to Revelation.
  3. It has been perfectly preserved throughout history. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint are copies of the Bible written 1,000 years apart, and yet, there is no difference in the text.
  4. No book is as widely distributed as the Bible. Written in over 2,500 languages and sold by the billions, the Bible is the most published book on the planet. No other book comes even close.
  5. The Bible is accurate in prophecies. The prophecies of Tyre (Eze 26:3-21) and Babylon (Isa 13:19-22, Isa 14:23) give specific, detailed accounts of the fall of those cities. Those prophecies were written many years before the events took place, and yet they came to pass exactly as the Bible foretold.

These are only short answers to the question ‘Why is the Bible unique?’, but they are a good start when discussing the issue with someone. If you want a more detailed answer, I recommend Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell and Has God Spoken? by A.O. Schnabel as great reference material on this topic.

What the Holy Spirit Does

Friday, May 29, 2015

     I know the Holy Spirit was responsible for getting the Bible (Jhn 14:26) to us via gifts of the Spirit (Heb 2:4), and I know He intercedes for us when we pray (Rom 8:26), but what other roles does the Holy Spirit actively play in our lives? 

Sincerely, I've Got Spirit, Yes I Do?

Dear I've Got Spirit, Yes I Do?,

     Since the Holy Spirit is God (1 Cor 2:11, Gen 1:2) just as much as Jesus and the Father are, He is capable of being involved in our lives in a variety of ways.  The Holy Spirit’s primary task was to bring the gospel to mankind.  As you mentioned, He is why we have the Bible, and that is how the majority of His impact is made upon mankind.  Here are some examples of things that the Holy Spirit does through the Word:

  1. He shows us God’s love for us (Rom 5:5).
  2. He teaches us how to be born again (Jhn 3:5).
  3. He dwells in our hearts (Rom 8:9) as we allow His words to lead us (Rom 8:14).
  4. He bears witness for the saved before men (Rom 8:16).
  5. He tells us what is on God’s mind (1 Cor 2:10).

     By inspiring the writers of the Bible, testifying of their divine authority by miracles, and preserving their words through all history, the Holy Spirit has made Christ’s sacrifice available to all of mankind.

     The Holy Spirit also actively does a few things that don’t directly relate to the Bible.

  1. He makes sure our prayers are understood (Rom 8:26).
  2. He intercedes for us with God (Rom 8:27).
  3. He acts as our guarantee from God of eternal blessings (2 Cor 5:5).  One way to think of this is that God sent Him to be with us- sort of like a downpayment on His promise to spend eternity with us in heaven.
  4. He grieves when we sin (Eph 4:30).

     There can be no doubt that the Holy Spirit is actively preserving and distributing God’s Word, watching over our lives with providential care, and intimately caring about how you live and where you will spend eternity.

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