Saturday, October 24, 2015

Striking It Rich

October 24, 2015

What if you suddenly discovered that you were fabulously wealthy? And I don't mean just along the lines of Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Rupert Murdoch or Mark Zuckerberg...I mean REALLY wealthy! 

What if you found out that somehow you had a credit card that had no limit, and that you would never have to pay off the balance. In fact, the balance would be paid in full by someone else, regardless of the amount. It's a crazy thought, but let's just imagine that it really happened and right now you're holding that piece of priceless plastic in your hand. And, just to keep you from veering off track, you don't have to worry about any eventualities that might put a damper on seeing your wildest dreams fulfilled (in as far as money is able to achieve them). None of the negative side-effects that immediately begin to come to mind are a possibility. All you need to do is point and shoot. Bam!

What would you do?

I'm assuming that as a Christ-follower (or even as a reasonably decent human being) your mind would begin to focus on all the good you could do in the world rather than on all the cool stuff you could buy to make your life cushy. There would be no problem in the world that you couldn't address, provided that the only hindrances to solving the problem are ones that money could overcome. Given that you would have no worries whatsoever about 'running out' of resources, I'm sure you would become prodigally magnanimous. It would be insane (as long as you really believed that the unlimited line of credit was really real) for you to give a second thought to being selfish or miserly.

But, leaving the orbit of fantasy, and re-entering the atmosphere of reality, we find that we are back in the world of limited means, where we judiciously consider whether a person or cause is worthy of a chunk of the finite resources that have been entrusted to us. And thus, we find ourselves often arbitrating as to whether, if we give in to our consciences that tell us that as followers of Christ we should be generous, we will have enough to meet our own needs. We know that some Christians give a 10th of their paychecks. Some even tithe on the gross amount of their earnings. And some go even further than that. But many of us, because we're "not under the law, but under grace" choose to give only sparingly. We seem to only have enough to meet our own needs, and it would be irresponsible (our reasoning goes) to put our families at risk since the Bible tells us that we are to provide for our families and "anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

However, life in the Kingdom of Heaven, is not subject to that brand of 'reality'. Life in the Kingdom is upside down. The problem with us 'believers' is that we often fail to believe! Even though we are told "Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back". (Luke 6:30 ESV), we somehow justify not obeying Jesus' instructions. Or maybe we are quick to whip out a dollar for the homeless guy, but when the offering plate comes around we treat it like the homeless guy! :-p

But we are the children of the King of kings and Lord of lord!. Everything in the universe (and beyond) belong to our Heavenly Father. And we are his heirs, co-heirs with Christ! 

For all things are yours, whether ... the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's. (1Co 3:21-23 ESV)

Therefore, Jesus tells us that we should imitate God, who out of his love that is beyond comprehension, sent his own Son to earth to experience all of the trials, struggles and temptations to be selfish and stingy that we experience, and then to die on the cross in our place that we could be set free from the distorted reality of a life of limited means that results from choosing to live it apart from the rule of the Benevolent King and Creator and Owner of the Universe...and beyond! 

"give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." (Luk 6:38 ESV)

God promises that if we seek to imitate him in our generosity toward others that he will ensure that our resources never run out. But that requires faith, because in the natural world, unless you are very fortunate, no one is going to give you anything you don't earn yourself. In fact nearly everyone in the world and most institutions and organizations are trying to get a piece of what you have. And if you squander it or otherwise use it up, it's on you to figure out how to replenish your coffers, and it's usually by the sweat of your own brow.

But that's not how it works in the Kingdom of God. Our Heavenly Father is fabulously wealthy and ridiculously generous; and not just to those who are righteous and deserving (as if there were any who are).

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Mat 6:33 ESV)

The point I'm trying to make is that this is the Gospel. It's the good news about the Kingdom of God. We need to ask ourselves whether we are truly in the faith. The Apostle Paul challenges us to do this because of the very real possibility that we have veered from the authentic Good News of the Kingdom and have built our faith and practice on a false one. The Gospel that Jesus and his disciples preached was "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand". It is available here and now. Eternal life, abundant life is not in the future. It is here...NOW! In fact, it's ONLY available here...and now. If we don't take it here and now, and invest it in the world around us, we won't have it when we transition into eternity. Jesus demonstrated the Kingdom way of life by healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry, and bringing the Good News of God's prodigal generosity to the poor.

We so need to understand and receive the love of God, which is beyond understanding, deep into our souls. It needs to become as real to us as the things that we can see, touch, smell, and hear around us right now. When we are overcome with how much we don't deserve God's goodness, kindness, mercy and generosity, and the reality of the availability of all of it to us right now, we will begin to live differently. We will understand the urgency of bringing the Good News of the Kingdom of God to every creature. We will understand why Jesus left us with the command: 

"And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."" (Mat 28:18-20 ESV)

God has generously offered ALL the resources of his Benevolent Kingdom, here and now, to 'whosoever will' and it's our job to live in and promote that reality to an impoverished world. May it be so in my life...and yours.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Who You Callin' a 'Fool', Fool?!!

Just try to use the Bible to establish a code of righteous behavior that will get you into heaven. Just try to use the Bible to establish a code of righteous behavior that will get you into heaven. Actually don't... you'll fail miserably! 

For example: Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:22 that calling someone a fool can send you to hell. But in Luke 12:20 he tells us that God calls someone a fool. And here Paul (for no reason I can discern) calls the hypothetical person who would ask a simple and, in my mind, understandable question, a fool.

It's clear that a dogmatic approach to sorting out Biblical truth can be problematic at best and lethal at worst. Jesus himself told the Pharisees, "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me," (John 5:39 ESV)

The more I study Scripture and try to be a genuine disciple of Jesus, the more I realize that following Jesus is a heart and soul thing. 

" will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV)

"And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."" (Luke 10:27 ESV)

The bottom line is LOVE and without a divine intervention none of us has it. 

"We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19 ESV)

In John 5:39 Jesus warns us that trying to make the Bible into a step by step guide to getting to heaven only produces a hell-bound self-righteousness. If you get two people in the same room who are taking this approach you'll soon have a fist fight over some finer point of biblical interpretation. "...Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies." (1 Corinthians 8:1 NKJV)

'Having' Jesus is the only sure path to eternal life. Knowing him...abiding in him...eating his flesh and drinking his blood...loving him above even our own lives is the path to heaven. And that is not attainable without God's supernatural intervention in our lives. The Good News is that it is available to 'whosoever'. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world and God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the Truth (Jesus is THE TRUTH). But though it is offered freely to 'whosoever' it must be actively received. There is no such thing as 'Irresistible Grace'. If there was, there would be no sense to the many exhortations and admonitions in the Bible to act decisively regarding our spiritual condition and the eternal destiny of our souls.

"Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to CONFIRM YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall." (2 Peter 1:10 ESV)

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)

"STRIVE for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which NO ONE will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

""Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, BUT THE ONE WHO DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

"And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation TO ALL WHO OBEY HIM," (Hebrews 5:9 ESV)

"Yet you have still a few...people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" (Revelation 3:4-6 ESV)

The free gift of forgiveness and abundant, eternal life is offered to 'whosoever' but only those who will humbly acknowledge their profound need for it and daily reach out and actively make it their own can receive it.

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And WHOSOEVER WILL, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17 KJV)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Daily S.O.A.P.: Wash Your Step!

John 12:7-10
"Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”"

This passage gets preached on frequently in the context of how we should serve one another and prefer one another in honor, etc. All of this is, of course, unquestionably true. If we claim to be Christ-followers, disciples of Jesus, then we must learn from him that we are not primarily here for our own self-gratification and self-promotion. We are here as servants of Christ and by extension servants of those who bear the image of Christ, who are members of his body.

But, I've never heard anyone address what to me seems an obvious, though somewhat puzzling comment that Jesus makes about this object lesson that he presents at his final meal with his disciples. He tells them that they are not going to get what he is really trying to convey to them by his act of foot washing. And I think we don't get it either. I mean, what is difficult to comprehend if we view this demonstration as simply an act of uncommon humility in which the master becomes the servant? It's not rocket science! And it's not a new theme in the disciple's curriculum either. Humility and service are woven through much of Jesus' teaching.

So what is it that he is claiming that they will miss in this living parable? The key, I believe, is in what he says to counter Peter's prideful protest: "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me." We just gloss over this statement as if it's just Jesus trying to squeeze some extra juice out of this moment by raising an off-topic parallel. But I believe that he's actually speaking to his central point about this act of foot-washing. He explains it further with the clarification that Peter is already clean and that he only needs his feet washed occasionally. He's not talking about physical acts of service here, but about the central focus of what will become the 'sanctification process' after he completes his work on the cross and returns to the Father: confessing our faults (sins) to one another and praying for one another that we may be healed. And it's not just about us each volunteering our self-disclosure to a fellow disciple, Jesus also tells us that when we see one of our brothers or sisters sinning, we are to confront them in private with their trespasses. We are not very good at this, in general, in the body of Christ. We do so-so at creating safe environments for self-disclosure, but avoid consistently Jesus' command to be confrontational when we see a brother blowing it. It's not easy and it takes intentionality and lots of grace.

I definitely have room for growth in this area. I struggle with a co-dependent fear of rejection when it comes to pulling a brother's covers. I can recall a situation that was so egregious that it screamed to have this spiritual CPR administered, but the offending person has such a strong personality that I kept my trap clapped out of fear. It didn't stop me from sharing it with my wife though, which probably was gossip for me. Though I have exercised this spiritual discipline on several occasions, I think that often when there has been a blip on my radar I've waited, out of fear and doubt, until the the target was nearly out of range before launching the torpedo. I recall one incident recently where the person couldn't completely recall the situation that I was trying to bring to their attention. Stalling is not helpful, and in most cases I think it's better to wait for another infraction before bringing it up. If significant time has elapsed...forget it!

Heavenly Father, thank you for the blood of Christ. Thank you for his finished work on the cross that settles the issue of sin and eternal life for everyone who responds in faith to your call to repentance and to make your Son, Jesus, Lord and Savior of their life. Thank you that though you accept me as I am when I come to you in faith and repentance, you don't leave me as I am. Thank you that you have taught us and demonstrated the means of grace by which we find healing and transformation through confession and prayer. Thank you for giving us this holy commandment to be our brother's keeper and to lovingly hold one another accountable for how we represent your Holy Name. Please help me and my brothers and sisters to be courageous and wise in how we relate to one another. Help us to have pure hearts as we follow your example of washing the world from one another's feet. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Daily S.O.A.P: #AtTheTable

Daily S.O.A.P.: #AtTheTable
March 24, 2016

Psalm 23:5
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."

I'll bet this Psalm has been quoted, recited, preached on and written about as much or more than any other Bible passage I could name. And for good reason. It fully captures the beauty and intimacy of our Heavenly Father's love and intent for our safety and provision in this fallen world. There is such a serene, tranquil tone to it, even when it's speaking about 'my enemies' and the 'valley of the shadow of death' there is a comforting sense of God's loving presence that banishes all fear and concern from my thoughts. I am almost oblivious to the fact that enemies and death are even mentioned in these verses. I think this is because just reading this amazing little collection of revelations about the tender heart of God towards me and his all encompassing provision for my welfare and sustenance gives me a sense of well-being like nothing else can. I am drawn from whatever inner chaos or outer conflict I may be experiencing into a 'happy place'. Into a place where even the prospect of impending death itself is non-threatening. I am in the embrace of the Good Shepherd and nothing can disturb that. I have the peace that passes understanding.

In spite of the preceding observations, I find that I'm quickly cast into chaos and tribulation where such comforting realities evaporate like sweat on a fry cook's griddle. After all I'm a sheep and my natural inclination is to wander away from the capable and vigilant Shepherd into some thorny thicket or near to the tooth and talon of a 'roaring lion'. But the Lord's table is always set for me and his provision of wine and oil, representing the Blood of the Covenant and the Anointing of the Holy Spirit are always at hand. Regardless of the battle that rages around me and the taunts of the enemy, regardless of even the very real threat of death, I need not be in a state of turmoil or terror. God's provision is always abundantly and immediately available if I will just take a seat #atthetable.

Dear Shepherd, Dear Savior, I am so grateful for your loving provision for my life - both this present earthly existence and for life eternal. Thank you that your loving care is always available to me; that I never need to be alarmed at the the noise of the enemy - even when the enemy is me. Please help me to live in this Psalm. Help me to remain always within the reach of your rod and staff. Help me to never let my seat at the table get cold. Help me to bring the tranquility of your presence and the abundance of your provision into every circumstance and let my cup overflow to the benefit of the many needy individuals whom you cause to cross my path. Let them be drawn to your loving kindness and goodness through my life and find that there is a placard upon which their name has been inscribed, reserving their place #AtTheTable. Amen.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


I recently made a bold commitment to fast and pray for the purpose of bringing 2014 to a close and getting some insights for launching 2015. Well...I'm still kind of a weenie in regards to the fasting thing. My new goal is just to stay out of the ice cream carton for a week...just a freakin' week! Yes, I'm still in recovery. Step 1 - Admitted that we were powerless...

But, I did spend an amazing weekend away with my former sponsor, and current dear friend and mentor, Bud Lamb. You might know him if you ever attended Santa Cruz Bible Church back in the days right before and after Chip Ingram left there to launch 'Living On The Edge'. Anyway, during that weekend getaway, I was listening for God's whisper and what I clearly perceive to be my watchword for 2015 is SIMPLIFY! It's time to STOP THE CHAOS! Or at least get a leash on the dang thing. :-)

I recently read Bill Hybels' book 'Simplify' and two things struck me as very profound and yet very obvious. 

The first is that if I want to have a positive impact for Jesus in my spheres of influence, I need to discern those vocations to which God is calling me, and prioritize my activities accordingly. This, by it's very nature, will cause me to 'simplify' my life by eliminating the expenditure of my time and energy on stuff that isn't part of my job description. I'm not called to be or do everything. I'm just called to do a few things ...really well. Sounds simple, but I get excited about SOoo many things, that I am reluctant to let go of a lot of stuff. I think the answer, for me, is to relegate those things that clearly aren't among the 2 or 3 very highest priorities to recreational pursuits. Those things then become things that I can still be in touch with, but they just add spice to my schedule. They're not the main ingredients. For me...still a work in progress. Right now, my top 3 are my relationship with Christ, my marriage, and discipling men. (Actually, I think stewarding my health should be up near the top, but it might actually be part of #1...I'd love to hear your thoughts on that!)

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 
1Co 6:19-20

The second thing that I find just brilliant (but which I've thus far not managed to make very much progress on) is making my calendar work for me. If something is a priority, shouldn't it have a spot on my calendar? Some wise person said "If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail!". Another wise person said, "If your calendar has no blank spots, you're planning to have a massive coronary!" (I think that was me ;-) But I think you get the point. If I don't at least have a 'To Do' list on my desk or somewhere (Outlook Calendar, Evernote...I'm sort of a geek), then I'm probably being driven by the 'urgent' instead of the 'essential'. I hate to admit that I resemble that remark much more than I would like to. But...'progress - not perfection' as they say in the 12 Step rooms (or is that just CR?).

Uhhh...too much white space on my calendar...gotta go!

Peace & grace,

Friday, August 01, 2014

To Heal or Not to Heal...

A minor dispute broke out yesterday morning at a local, weekly prayer gathering which I attend with religious regularity. It was triggered by a prayer offered up for a person suffering with an illness. In my usual fashion, I was somewhat preoccupied with my internal talk show ('Waynez Whirled' of which I am the host and the main guest), so I wasn't aware of the precise phrasing of the request. Apparently though, something was expressed that seemed to give God an 'out' in case he was not particularly in favor of performing a healing in the case of this particular person (it really bothers me to use both the adverb and the adjective form of the same word in a single sentence!) . Or, perhaps, as was subsequently expressed by one of the other Saints, the verbiage was more along the order of giving the pray-er an out should their faith or confidence in God's willingness to heal in a manner consistent with what we read in the Gospels was less than compelling.

The objection raised, in the form of an exhortation with 'all due respect' offered, is one with which I am well familiar. As a frequent guest speaker on 'Waynez Whirled' I have raised it myself on numerous occasions. It goes something like this: Why, when Jesus clearly expects that we "shall do greater works" than the ones he did, and that the laying on of hands should produce healing for those who believe (Mark 16:17-18), should we shy away from fully expecting that a complete healing should result from our faithful intervention on God's behalf toward the sick? Even though we believe, based on the overwhelming evidence presented in the New Testament, that the confirmation of the Good News that 'the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand' is the accompaniment of miraculous signs (the most obvious of which is physical healing), we struggle to reconcile our belief-system with our practice and experience. I believe there are two primary reasons for this.

The first is a survey of our present reality. Although we hear about miraculous healings on a fairly regular basis, very few of us have ever actually seen one first hand. We are mostly only familiar with them through second or third-hand (to be generous) anecdotal evidence, or partial or gradual improvements in the condition of some sick person whom we personally know that we proudly point to as evidence of our (or someone's) faith, being careful of course to verbally assign the glory to Whom it is due. Based on our firm belief that we have been commissioned by Jesus to carry on the mission which he began, to establish the Kingdom of Heaven of earth, it stands to reason that, in the absence of any real scriptural evidence that the gift of healing (or any of the charismatic gifts) were to cease upon the death of the last of the original apostles, that we should fully expect them to continue today. And to a large extent the church today firmly believes that to be true. But...when the subject of the supernatural character of God and his Kingdom comes up, most of us sheepishly admit that we seem to be lacking some key ingredient to our faith or knowledge that keeps us resigned to a reality that is mostly pretty mundane and constrained by the 'laws of nature'.

The second reason that we 'hold to a form of religion, but deny the power thereof' (OUCH!) is a little escape clause in the form of an interesting little explanation from the Apostle Paul about his 'thorn in the flesh'. Though we will never (on this side of eternity) know for sure the nature of Paul's troublesome condition, some scholars have offered an explanation that seems very plausible: that Paul had impaired vision possibly caused by cataracts resulting from the blinding light he experienced on the road to Damascus. Hence his comment in Galatians 4:15 that the Galatians would have given him their eyes if they could have, and also the evidence of his comment at the end of several of his epistles that the readers could verify the authenticity of his authorship by his over-sized signature (alluding to the fact he couldn't see what he was writing unless he made the letters remarkably huge). The only thing that casts possible doubt on this theory is that Paul describes this annoyance at one point as a 'messenger of Satan'. How could a buffeting from a mischievous specter produce a physical malady? Well, I personally think the most sensible explanation is that the 'buffeting' and the 'thorn'  are two different aspects of God's purpose to keep Paul's ego under wraps. The thorn was Paul's near-blindness and the buffeting was a 'shoulder buddy' whispering in Paul's ear something to the effect of "Hey, big shot, if you've got this faith thing dialed in so well, why ain't you healed big phoney?!" Nevertheless, if we believe, based on this one incident, that in any given scenario there may be a key piece of undisclosed evidence that would cause God to override his default disposition of compassion to heal, in favor of achieving some greater purpose, we will always have a reason to explain away our lack of faith as a lack of knowledge.

But, ironically, even those of us who protest most vociferously about the apparent lack of faith in the church concerning healing, and advocate most vehemently for the manifestation of the supernatural, aren't really seeing much more than wisps of evidence that could mostly be explained by an over-active imagination or mass-hallucinations. The restoration of withered limbs or the restoration of sight to the blind is only something we read about in a para-church organization's online newsletter or hear about in a corner somewhere over coffee. And so we mostly just don't bring the subject up. And we mostly pray "Lord, if it be your will...".

So where does all this cogitation leave us? Well for one thing, I think we correctly focus on how we can love our fellow human beings who suffer by using Jesus-with-skin-on natural methods. There is no question that LOVE trumps everything in God's economy. The supernatural can apparently become a stumbling block that actually dooms us to getting it grossly wrong. The pronouncement of Jesus over those who thought they did good by focusing on the supernatural in Matthew 7 is frightening: "I never knew you!" They got it decidedly wrong. And Paul warns us again in 1 Corinthians 13 that even good works, if motivated by anything but the love of God, are just kindling for the fire. Nothing will remain that isn't originated and sustained by God's love. We can keep God's commandments (at least outwardly) and apparently even do the works Jesus did and still be sons of Satan. It's not just what we do that is evidence of a genuine faith (James 2:17). It's whether we have been reborn by God's love...'recreated' into the image of the God who loved the world so much that he gave...EVERYTHING! And for that to happen requires nothing less than THE SUPERNATURAL!!!

""For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16 ESV

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

"For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation." - Galatians 6:15 ESV 

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." - John 15:7-10 ESV


"Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy." - 1 Corinthians 14:1 ESV

Friday, August 23, 2013

"A Rose By Any Other Name...": Does the Bible lose it's value or credibility if we abandon the unsupportable tenet of 'inerrancy' and/or 'infallibility'?

It's clear that unless we believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, we have no solid basis for trusting what it says. It then becomes just a collection of wild ramblings and tales of questionable veracity. But, the fact that it is inspired and divinely secured for the ages is indisputable (you can dispute it if you like, but if you do, do it with someone else because you clearly haven't researched it or even bothered to read the research of numbers of scholarly people). But most churches and para-church organizations also believe that the Bible is 'infallible', which I, frankly, find unsupportable practically, and even on the basis of what the Bible says about itself. (And don't quote me Psalm 19:7 - 'perfect' doesn't mean what you think.)

So here are the questions that cover this topic in a complete fashion:

1. How can we know that the Bible is the inspired word of God?

2. How do we know that the Bible as it now exists is faithful to the original?

3. Is there really any substance (or even necessity to adhere) to the belief that the Bible is 'infallible' (or 'inerrant' - see:

For myself, I have no problem with the first 2 questions. I've heard wonderful lectures on the statistical improbability of the number of detailed prophecies that have been fulfilled and the history of Satan's futile attempts to rub out the Scriptures. The facts are imposing concerning the multitude of original manuscripts and their consistency and reliability when judged by the same criteria as other ancient works that the secular world holds as reliable and faithful to the original. However, I do find convincing arguments against the idea that the Bible is infallible or inerrant in the common sense of the words.

Let's start with by defining the words (thanks to Professor John M. Frame):

Inerrant: without errors
Infallible: there can be no errors

First of all, Paul says that 'all' scripture is inspired by God and 'profitable' for (this, that, and the other). He never says anything close to "Everything I had my scribe write down was written by the Holy Spirit taking over his will to choose every word and arrange it exactly where you now find it." He even says that some of it is his own opinion and not from the Lord. And then there's the issue of whether we can even be sure of which nuance of a Greek or Hebrew word is actually evoked in a particular context, which in many cases can radically impact the meaning of a passage. And since every one can't be a Greek and Hebrew scholar, we have to rely on 'fallible' men and women who undertook to translate from the original. And even the scholars are at a loss to find words in the target languages that effectively represent the meaning of the original. It's clear that unless God himself was the sole agent in producing the written words (in whatever linguistic form), the abundantly fallible and biased hand of sinful man has ruled out the possibility of infallibility from both the origin and the interpretation of what we now hold in our hands as God's word.

And don't even get me started on the canonization of the books of the Bible! Which version of the canon is the infallible one? Are we to believe that the Protestants, some of whose champions (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli) followed Augustine's heretical belief that torture and execution are acceptable forms of evangelization and church discipline (based on the parable where the king tells his servants to 'compel' the guests to come to the wedding feast) were 'inspired' in their canonization process but the Catholics weren't? And if an 'infallible' Bible is necessary for salvation, sanctification and rule of life, then how could someone who is illiterate or even mentally disabled find salvation through faith? It's not "All who read and memorize the infallible, inerrant words of scripture are the sons of God" - it's "All who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God." Paul makes a point in Romans of explaining clearly that the law (the Jewish Bible) isn't even necessary for knowing everything we need to know about about God and righteousness. Nature and our own consciences will get the basic job done quite nicely, so that there's no excuse for anyone.

Anyway, I can't buy the ideas of infallibility or inerrancy as I think they are implied by most, and I don't think it's a necessary tenet in order to anchor the fundamental beliefs of our faith. Jesus warned the Pharisees that their dogmatic way of approaching Scripture was blinding them to the saving truth of the Gospel: John 5:39 NASB - "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me." If we deify the written words, we are basically committing idolatry. God isn't contained in the pages of a book. We aren't saved by obeying the letter, but by being led by the Spirit through the real-time Word of God, Jesus, speaking into our hearts "this is the way...walk in it". A static faith in even the fundamental truth of Christ's substitutionary death on the cross won't save us as James clearly reveals: James 2:14 NASB - "What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" Believing that the Bible is true, whether or not we hold it to be infallible, won't save us. So why do we cling so tenaciously to this unsupportable idea? The Bible is 'profitable' for knowing God's revealed truth about himself and his way of salvation, but to say that it is 'infallible' is my opinion. Only God is infallible and the written word is not God - the Living Word of God, Jesus, is God...and he's still speaking: