Monday 20 December 2010

The Authority of Scripture:Part 1

It is my endeavour to re-visit the issue of the authority of Scripture because in my many dealings with many people this seems to be a fundamental problem. Sometimes I talk with people and after a while it seems as if we are almost talking about two different forms of the Christian faith. One that accepts and rests upon the Bible as revealed in the 66 books of the Bible and another which gives mental assent to the Bible but these people also seek additional revelations outside of Scripture, such as personal prophecies, dreams and personal opinions. A post-modern view regularly places one's personal opinion above the plain teaching of Scripture. The common expression can be heard; "That is your opinion but I don't agree!". Perhaps a question should be introduced instead, one which the apostle Paul asks in Romans 4:3: 'What does the Scripture say?'

It will be my aim to look briefly in the coming time, at a number of issues that impinge on the authority of Scripture. However the first step to solving a problem is to recognise that there is a problem. Let us ask ourselves: 'Do we accept the full and final authority of Scripture as revealed in the 66 books of the Bible? Are we willing to search the Scriptures concerning all matters of faith and practice? Do we submit to the plain teachings of Scripture, even when it contradicts our own opinions?

In conclusion for this first blog post on this subject, let us hear the teaching of Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 where Paul exhorts Timothy to pay heed to the written scriptures:

'... how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work'.

Let us make a New Year's resolution to commit ourselves and submit to, the authority of Scripture!

Friday 10 December 2010

Some Suggested Books for Christmas Presents

The time is drawing near when many of us will unwrap our Christmas presents and what better gift than a quality Christian book, one that is filled with sound doctrine. Here is a list of potential books that you could give some family members of friends.

Iain Murray, Revival and Revivalism. A sound panorama of Christian history from 1750-1850 and it will help people to understand the issues that the church faces today. An excellent book, a monument to biblical truth!

Graham Miller, Calvin's Wisdom. An excellent book of pithy quotes from Calvin. An invaluable resource for preachers.

Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision. A heart-warming book of Puritan prayers. This teaches us not just to present a list of requests to the Lord but to fill our prayer with thanksgiving praise and adoration for who God is.

Terry Johnson, The Parables of Jesus. This could be used as a basis for Bible study, family devotions or sermon preparation. As ever Johnson is clear, straightforward, accurate and very readable.

Sing Psalms, Free Church of Scotland. A great resource for recovering the singing of metrical Psalms in modern English.

I hope that this whets your appetite for Christmas shopping.

Kevin Bidwell

Friday 3 December 2010

Burial or Cremation: What does the Bible Teach?

This matter of burial or cremation was forcefully brought to my attention over 15 years ago as my wife and i travelled to The Netherlands for the funeral of my Father-in-law. As I spoke to the undertaker, who was a committed Dutch Reformed Christian, we discussed the matter of burial and cremation. I explained that I did not have a clear view on either and he confronted me in true Dutch style. He asserted that 'Cremation is not Christian!'. Sometimes we need a sharp rebuke to make us think through the issues at hand and as ever must go back to the Scriptures and let God's Word determine our views. This is what I did.

While it is true that burial or cremation does not affect our eternal destiny, because we are saved by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-10), the fact remains that the OT and NT saints have consistently practiced the burial of people, who are made in the image of God, in the hope of the future resurrection. A helpful booklet that handles this matter sensitively is published by the Banner of Truth and it is called: Burial or Cremation: Does it Matter? by D. Howard.

It is not co-incidental that God declared to Abraham 'You shall be buried in a good old age (Gen. 15:15)' when God spoke the promises of the Abrahamic covenant. God had spoken: Abraham would be buried! Similarly our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was buried, consistent with the practice of handling the dead, since the beginning. The practice of the burial of the Christian dead appears to be one of obedience to the Bible, a manifestation of our hope in the future resurrection and a sensitive way of handling a loved one who is made in the image of God.

We cannot alter our past practice but I hope that this little blog article stimulates some people to seriously think through this matter in our own generation.