Frequently you'll hear people talking about the authority of the Bible - but what do they mean? In the quotations below you'll find a number of good answers.
It's the end of the 1st century. Persecutions are on the rise. The apostles are all dead. What's the next move for the Christian Church?
As a new year dawns it is a great time to reflect on God's Word. But let's face it! Reading the Bible from cover to cover can be a challenging and time-consuming journey. Like all journeys, therefore, what is needed is a roadmap to get us to our desired destination. A good Bible reading plan is a great roadmap!
Here are four great Bible reading plans for you to choose from so that in 2016 you can read more of the Bible each day and know the true blessing of arriving at journey's end. Along the way you'll learn more about God and His wonderful redemptive purposes in Christ.
Choose a plan, stick with it, read, and grow! God has good things in store for His people in 2016!
Bible Reading Plans for 2016
An Encouragement to Think About Revelation 4&5
This past Sunday in our adult Sunday School class we continued our studies in the book of Revelation.
Having managed to make it through Revelation 1-3 without getting at all sidetracked by sensationalism and/or the kinds of speculative nonsense that puts so many people off of Revelation, we found ourselves Sunday looking at Chapters 4&5. In those chapters the Apostle John is carried away to the very throne room of heaven itself and while there he sees many wonderful and comforting things. Through our study I was personally reminded of why Revelation 4&5 are some of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible.
Why Not Give it a Read?
Why Not Give it a Listen?
Once you've read the passage please make the time to listen to one of the finest talks I’ve ever heard on Revelation 4&5. It was delivered by Christian Apologist and Oxford University Professor of Mathematics, Dr. John Lennox at the '09 Basics Conference. I was in the audience that night and remember the talk very well. It was a great blessing to me and pray it might be a blessing to you too.
The Bible reveals that sex was created by God and is good. It was His idea. The very first recorded words of God addressed to mankind encapsulate the Bible’s teachings on sex: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). This very positive command demonstrates that sex was meant to glorify God, cement the bond between husband and wife, be experienced exclusively between one man and one woman in the marriage relationship, and propagate the human race.
On this side of the fall, sex and sexuality are distorted to lesser or greater degrees. However, today there is controversy about homosexuality raging in evangelical circles and, increasingly, in Reformed churches as well. Not only is homosexuality often presented as good but it is also presented as something to be pursued with God’s blessing. It is alarming that the acceptance of homosexual behavior among professing evangelicals is increasing. We hear from some people that the kind of homosexual relationships we see today (loving, monogamous ones) aren’t addressed in Scripture. Although this trend seems likely to continue, these revisionist views must be rejected by followers of Jesus Christ.
God’s Word is firm in its negative view of homosexuality and same-sex sexual desire. The Bible is the infallible standard by which we must view homosexuality and understand the gospel remedy for it. Unfortunately, the reliability of the Bible in this area has been questioned by many today who claim the Christian faith. Christians who view Scripture as authoritative and inspired must not accept this watered-down view of God’s Word. The Bible reveals God’s assessment regarding the problems of the human heart, homosexuality being one of many.
How are Christians to think about homosexuality? We need to understand it in three ways. First, homosexuality in Scripture is always spoken of in terms of an action—something done physically with another person, or an internal, active thought pattern of the mind and heart. The Greek word most often used to describe homosexuality in the New Testament is arsenokoitēs, which refers to a male lying with another male. Therefore, whenever it is mentioned, it’s always defined in terms of an activity, a behavior, or a person who engages in that behavior of heart and body.
Second, homosexuality is labeled as sin in every place it is mentioned. It’s prohibited and is expressly seen as contrary to God’s will. Scripture states this clearly in Genesis 19:4–9; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; 1 Timothy 1:9–10; and Jude 7. Romans 1:24–27 also describes the activity of heart-centered passion and lust, as well as the behavior. It references both men and women. The behavior is listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, where we also learn that it was the history of some Christians in the early church. Among those who had experienced salvation were former practitioners of homosexuality.
Therefore, not only is homosexual behavior of body and heart defined as sin, but it is also portrayed as a consequence and effect of the fall. Referring to the reality of sex gone awry, Leviticus 18:6–19 lists more than a dozen forms of sexual sin, including homosexuality and sex with animals. Again, the gravity of sexual sin, particularly homosexuality, is stated strongly in Romans 1:24–26 using vivid and stunning phrases such as “the lust of their hearts to impurity,” “dishonorable passions,” and having a “debased mind.” That is in addition to the verses in Jude that speak of “perversion of the grace of God into sensuality” and of people who “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” This latter designation is specifically tied to what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah.
But did God really have to convey that misusing sex in the aforementioned ways (and, by inference, the desires leading to that misuse) is prohibited and seen as sin? Of course. Our desires, especially our sexual desires, are never neutral. To see same-sex desire as neutral, especially when that desire either objectifies the other person sexually or sees the person merely as an object of sexual passion, is to misunderstand the depth and intricacy of sin. In Scripture, the heart is often seen as the seat of our desires. In Mark 7:21, Jesus describes the heart as the seat of all sexual immorality and sensuality. These propensities are portrayed as evil things that come from within. He is talking about desire, whether the object of that desire is someone of the opposite sex or the same sex. James 1:14–15 tells us we are lured and enticed by our desires and that desire gives birth to sin. Desire is not an impartial part of our being, but rather a very active part of it.
Admittedly, these views of Scripture are widely rejected. There is an overarching factor in the attempt to legitimize homosexuality biblically. Simply put, in today’s culture, our sociology is increasingly interpreting, defining, and determining our theology. What do I mean by that? There was a time when believers routinely looked to the Bible both to know how to think about issues of life and to find solutions to the dilemmas they faced, including issues surrounding sex and sexuality. No more. Today, the impact and influence of one’s social network and experience with friends and family have displaced what the Bible might say on this topic. Another term to understand this transfer of authority and credibility away from God’s Word to personal experience is cultural accommodation. Today, it seems that many people believe that the Scriptures must bow to our experiences or those of others.
We must also note that homosexuality is never described in Scripture as a condition or state of being. Contrary to the modern idea of an innate homosexual “orientation”—a term only frequently used in the last twenty-five years or so—this concept is not found in Scripture. It’s assumed in the Bible that we can become inclined or “oriented” to anything to which we continually give our minds and hearts. Do something in thought or action enough times and over a long enough period, and it will become ingrained in us.
However, we have to be careful of simplistic thinking here, especially when we think of our responsibility—something many don’t believe they have when it comes to their same-sex desires or behavior. We are the product of complex interactions of many factors over many years. Why are some prone to any number of psychosocial persuasions, including anger, depression, or chemical dependency? Here is the answer: we do not always choose our struggles or temptations, although we bear responsibility for what we do with them. They develop in us through a complicated interaction of temperament, internal and external influences, and our own hungry, broken, and sinful selves.
We easily and by nature cooperate with these influences so that habits of heart and behavior become strong and ruling. In one sense, we are the sum of thousands of small decisions we have made. We have cooperated with our cultivated desires. So, despite the external factors that may have been in play in the development of those temptations we find particularly enticing, we are still responsible for leading godly lives, including in the area of sexuality.
Finally, we need to understand that God offers forgiveness, a clean record, and restoration through Jesus Christ for all repentant sinners, including those who have a history of homosexual behavior and other sins. He not only forgives us as we are prone to misuse His gift of sex and sexuality, but His grace actually “trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11–12). This does not necessarily mean that we can pretend as if we hadn’t misused sex as part of our history or that illicit sexual desires will not continue to trouble us or be a source of temptation, but it does mean that the grace of God gives us power for transformed living as followers of Jesus Christ. He enables us to resist temptation and live unto His glory.
Christ mediates this grace and empowers believers, but the church, the body of Christ, also plays a crucial role. I overheard a pastor once say, “Repentance is killing that which is killing me without killing myself. ” I don’t know anyone who can do that all by himself. Learning to walk in obedience and put to death our sin and our sinful nature is never something to be attempted alone or in isolation. Biblical change is a community activity. The call of the church is to offer support and encouragement to those who experience same-sex attractions and other sexual temptations. Walking with those who are tempted in this way means we help bear the burdens of their struggles and temptations, offering friendship and fellowship, and helping them to believe for the first time or to re-believe the gospel every day. That’s what Christ does for us and what we need to do for others in dealing with sexual sin. In so doing, we will also be reminded that we, too, are forgiven for our transgressions.
The above article was authored by John Freeman, president of Harvest USA, a Reformed ministry aiding individuals affected by sexual sin. Freeman is also the author of Hide or Seek: When Men Get Real with God about Sex.
This article originally appeared in Tabletalk magazine and is also available online at www.ligonier.org/tabletalk
Assuming you are nerdy enough you might enjoy my presentation of a paper about Martin Luther's personal understanding of the doctrine of sanctification especially as some in Reformed circles accuse Luther of having no real understanding of sanctification at all. I contend that by examining Luther in his own words even we Reformed believers can discover otherwise.
Just in case you don't know
WHO WAS MARTIN LUTHER?
Martin Luther (Nov 10, 1483 - Feb 18, 1546) was a German theologian, an Augustinian monk, and an ecclesiastical reformer whose teachings inspired the Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines and culture of the Lutheran and Protestant traditions. Luther's call to the Church to return to the teachings of the Bible led to the formation of new traditions within Christianity and to the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic reaction to these movements.
Luther's contributions to Western civilization went beyond the life of the Christian Church. Luther's translations of the Bible helped to develop a standard version of the German language and added several principles to the art of translation. Luther's hymns inspired the development of congregational singing in Christianity.
A timely article about truth, tolerance, and Jezebel
For those keen to get started reading Genesis, here’s a bit of context that might help you in your reading:
Q: Who wrote Genesis?
A: Moses, the great law-giver wrote the book of Genesis under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Q: When Did Moses Write Genesis?
A: No official date is given though I personally believe Moses wrote Genesis during the first 40 years of His life while still in Egypt (before 1487 BC.) During these years Moses would have had unhindered access to the Hebrew community and their records. From these records (both oral and written) Moses likely compiled the book of Genesis.
Q: To whom did Moses write Genesis?
A: The book of Genesis was written for a nation of Hebrew slaves.
A: There are at least three basic purposes for the writing of Genesis, they are:
1) Historical – Moses wrote to provide comfort in suffering and to inspire hope that God would deliver His enslaved people.
2) Doctrinal – Moses wrote to show that God is absolutely sovereign and faithful to all of His promises - particularly to those promises relating to redemption.
3) Christological – Ultimately Moses wrote to point his original readers (and us) to Jesus Christ, the coming Redeemer who would provide a great spiritual deliverance from the slavery of sin. Man's Savior would be God's Son - God in the flesh - and as such He would be the final proof of God's faithfulness.
Answering The "Why-Question" of Bible Reading
Why do we have the Bible at all?
Simply put, the Bible is a gift from our great Triune God. It has been written and preserved for us so that we might come to know and love Christ. In its pages our heavenly Father condescends to communicate with us thereby demonstrating His generosity and love. Having been inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Bible offers life, joy, and fullness to our Christian experience. In all of these things the Bible makes the true God known to us – the God in whom our salvation rests. Therefore, the Bible exists so that we might come to know God and by knowing Him, love and trust Him more and more.
This clears things up, right?
What?!?!? There are still some of you who don't read the Bible? Let me guess the top three reasons why you don't and offer you a few loving pastoral responses.
Reason #1: You don't feel like you have enough time to read the Bible.
Loving Pastoral Response: You aren't telling the truth.
A) 60 seconds in every minute
B) 60 minutes in every hour
C) 24 hours in every day
D) 365 days in every year
E) 10 years in every decade
My point is that in every moment that passes, one human being has had the exact same amount of time as any other human being. There are not the “busy people” who are only allotted 45 seconds per minute, and the regular people who have the standard 60 second allotment. We are all 60 second per minute people. The guy who reads the Bible through 12 times per year (yes, I really know of someone like that) and the person who gets burned out after only 12 chapters all experience the future at the exact same pace.
To put it another way, how we use time reveals what we truly value. As an example, consider the values of M.C. Hammer. How did he make use of his time? By publicly advocating that all of life should stop for something called "Hammer Time."
Reason #2: You were under the impression that Bible reading was about you.
Loving Pastoral Response: It isn’t.
Hmmm.... What a disappointment!
In these circumstances you have been left to conclude (though you wouldn't dare say it aloud for fear someone might think that you're unspiritual) that the Bible is more or less a mystery and that the only portions of it that are really helpful are those handful of passages that offer you:
A) Nuggets of wisdom for daily living.
B) Stories to allegorize and/or moralize without having to think very hard.
C) Proverbs reminiscent of something you once read in a "Chicken Soup For the Soul" book.
This approach can become very, very frustrating - and rightly so! You must resist the temptation of approaching the Bible as a moral how-to guide. To begin with begin with, this approach misses the whole point of the Bible, but more importantly you must see that approaching the Bible in this way indicates a very uncomfortable truth about yourself.
The fact is, sin has turned you into an egomaniac.... Yes! It's true for you and it's true for me too. As a matter of fact we have become so self-centered that we can even open the pages of God's Word thinking that it is a book primarily about (....get ready for this one....) us. But the Bible isn’t primarily about us. The Bible is a book about God. It is about His redemptive activity and His desire to rescue the ruined race of Adam through the person and work of the Lord, Jesus Christ.
In other words, the Bible ultimately exists to show us the glory and beauty of Jesus. Reading the Bible with our eyes on Him allows us to move our gaze from ourselves to our Savior. We must read the Bible and allow Christ to conquer our hearts day-in, and day-out and only then can we stop obsessing over ourselves and start obsessing over Him.
Reason #3: You were trying to read the Bible as a favor to God.
Loving Pastoral Response: You don't have any favors to offer Him.
If you’re like me you feel a kind of nagging guilt. Somewhere inside of you a voice is saying, “If you really cared about God then you would be reading the Bible more faithfully.” Eventually you succumb to the nagging guilt, reasoning with yourself, “Oh yes! If only I had stayed the course how much more satisfied I would feel about my spiritual vitality. If I had only persevered through that vast section of Leviticus that goes on and on about rashes, and hairs and priests, I would now be resting comfortably in my maturity as a Christian!"
Ah… but you see, you’ve given yourself away!
You’ve admitted that you believe you’re doing God a favor by reading His word. Yes! And the crushing guilt you feel when you miss your Bible reading is your heart telling you that God is frowning on you. On the other hand the satisfaction and contentment you feel after completing your day’s reading (assuming you occasionally do) is your heart telling you that God is just tickled pink with your deep spirituality. You are so convinced of this that you go off to work or school with the kind of smug confidence that encourages you to insert things into conversations like: “While I was thumbing through Song of Solomon early this morning I had this profound thought….”
What is the solution to this approach?
Just this – you must more fully recognize that God is not living in your favor. If you are a Christian, you are living in His. We call this favor, "grace" and we must intentionally live in the knowledge of it. You must remind yourself that as a Christian you are eternally loved and accepted NOT because of the disciplines of your daily devotional life BUT because of Jesus. Christ alone is the reason that sinful people can approach God at all… this is not only the very heart the Christian faith but also the reality which should permeate every aspect of the individual Christian life – including the way he/she approaches their Bible-reading.
As Christians we must virulently resist the Devil when he tempts us to think that God’s love for His people is either diminished or increased due to the regularity with which they read their Bibles. This is Satan's subtle way of cheapening what God has given His people in Christ.
While it is true that we ought not neglect regular, daily Bible reading, we must keep in mind that neglecting our Bibles is not a matter of inviting God’s wrath as much as it is failing to take advantage of one of His greatest blessings. The Bible is, after all, not a project that we must complete before death. It is a gift to delight in while we live.
Here’s what you know: You need to read your Bible regularly.
Here’s what you now know: Why.
Please prayerfully assess these things with glad hearts and an renewed enthusiasm to read His Word and thereby see more of Him.
Oh... and by the way, if you want to start reading the Bible through here's a helpful plan.
On This Episode:
* Did you ever wonder what is meant by "The Fall of Man?"
* Are new born babies innocent or are they sinners?
* Isn't it a little unfair that all of mankind should have to suffer because Adam ate a piece of fruit?
How To Wield The Regulative Principle of Worship
Dragons are always villains and the disrupters of life. This is why in fairytales dragons are to be slayed… but the question of every fairytale is how?
For the dragons lurking in the shadows of corporate worship I suggest we slay them with the regulative principle.
Maybe you are asking, “what in the world is the regulative principle?” According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, it is simply an acknowledgement that: “the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself and... limited by His revealed will (in the Bible).” This means that our worship services should only contain those elements that we can show to be appropriate from the Bible. In other words, the regulative principle asks, “Why don’t we just worship God in the way He wants to be worshiped and avoid introducing elements to our services that have no Biblical warrant?”
Some Of The Dragons The Regulative Principle Slays
As we all know what's trendy today becomes what's laughably outdated tomorrow (see photo).
Today’s pastors are under tremendous pressure to conform to the latest trends of Christian pop-culture. In many churches this pressure is painfully obvious. In my own experience it is possible to visit a church and to come away from it with something not unlike motion-sickness. The whole atmosphere of the place seems to be one of frantic movement to keep up with the latest trend. As a result the ministry lacks steadiness and the church is constantly being retooled to attract this or that demographic. The Bible is put on the back-burner and imaginative novelty becomes the determining factor of what is “relevant” in worship.
The regulative principle slays this dragon.
Opinions are like… well… they are very, very prevalent.
Of course, the regulative principle cannot totally eliminates the role of opinion and preference within a given congregation but it can go a long way to free a church from going to war over such things.
Also, the regulative principle acts as a nice filter to run our preferences through. I recall being in a worship service once where a pastor preferred to forgo preaching and instead play tragic death scenes for the congregation. After which he gave an emotional appeal to turn to Jesus before it was too late. For all I know the pastor in question might have been very well-intentioned in what he did that Sunday but… well... it all came across as fairly goofy in my opinion. The point is, the regulative principle would have weeded out his approach to Sunday morning worship. (After all, nowhere in the Bible is the watching of Hollywood death scenes sanctioned as an acceptable method of worshipping God.)
The regulative principle slays this dragon.
Here’s a shocker: Americanized Christianity is not necessarily Biblical Christianity. For that matter neither is Russianized Christianity, Anglicized Christianity, etc. Though the Church is an inculturated body we have to avoid becoming slaves to our cultural norms. The regulative principle helps us to do this.
Like all other aspects of Biblical Christianity the regulative principle allows the Church to transcend cultural, ethnic, and even geographical boundaries. What determines the elements of our corporate worship is not “what does our culture want and/or value?” But rather, “what does the Bible say?” Therefore, simple services with singing, prayer, the reading of Scripture, preaching, and the administration of the sacraments “work” anywhere in the entire world and help the church truly embrace her identity as a people from every tribe and language and people and nation.
The regulative principle slays this dragon.
My friend Alistair Begg often says, ‘the main things are the plain things.’ There is great wisdom in that, you know. And yet, how confused we often are when it comes to the elements of our worship services. Someone wants to do a liturgical dance. A group of young people want to do a drama. Here comes a man with a gift for whistling. A cat-lady wants the pastor to add a pet-blessing element to the service once in a while. A group of old timers suggest a concert of Southern Gospel quartette classics for Lord’s Day worship…. And on and on it goes…
What is a poor pastor to do?
He simply must point his people to the Bible… to the main things…. to the plain things…
He should patiently ask his people, “What were Christian worship services like in the Bible?” And together they can discuss the following points:
The Christians sang the Bible.
They read the Bible.
They preached the Bible.
They prayed the Bible.
They administered the sacraments in light of the Bible.
And the God of the Bible was pleased.
“Why don’t we just stick with that too?” The pastor can ask. In so doing the pastor is helping his congregants slay the dragons lurking in the shadows of corporate worship.
Someone was approaching him. Who was it? A gentle voice called out the child’s named even as a hand reached down to help the boy to his feet. As the boy reached out to take the hand he was startled to see that it had been torn and mutilated by large spike nails. The kindly man helping the child to his feet was the Lord Jesus.
Eventually the boy was told that he was to come back to life, return home, and tell people about his experience of heaven… and so the boy did.
According to numerous news outlets, Malarkey, who is now 17 years old is recanting his entire story about dying, going to heaven, and meeting Jesus. According to a written statement from Malarkey, “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention.”
So what should our response be to this sort of literary and theological… er… malarkey?
Let me offer a personal disclaimer first: To begin with, I DO believe in heaven, I DO believe that the souls of departed saints immediately go to be with Christ, I DO believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead when Christ returns, I DO believe in a coming new creation... However, I am highly suspicious of "Heavenly Tourism" books.
Even so, as it relates to this particular "Heavenly Tourism" book, I think we need to recognize that the young boy at the center of the aforementioned book has faced quite a lot of debilitating trama in his young life due to the accident he was involved in and he deserves our sympathy and our prayers. More than this, however, he deserves our hearty praise. It takes guts to publicly confess that you’ve lied about something – especially when the lie took place on such a massive scale. Young Malarkey has done the right thing even though the right thing was certainly very difficult to do. He told the truth... Over and above all of this there is something else about Malarkey that should determine our response to his recantation - namely, the reason Malarkey made it…. His recantation was the result of a new-found conviction about the absolute authority of Scripture.
Yes, according to Malarkey, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven was/is unhelpful not merely because it was/is malarkey, but much more importantly, it is unhelpful because it is unscriptural…. (Go back and read the previous sentence again and stew on it for a while.) Yes, that’s right, these kind of “Heavenly Tourism” Books, represent direct (though possibly unintentional) attacks on the Word of God, The Bible.
"'The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven' is... unhelpful because it is unscriptural."
Let me suggest three unhelpful things that “Heavenly Tourism” Books imply about the Bible.
Heavenly Tourism Books Suggest the Bible is NOT Complete
Since its earliest days the Church has understood Scripture to be God’s perfect and final revelation to man. In other words, Biblical Christianity maintains that God has said all He wanted to say in the 66 books of the Bible. There is nothing He forgot. Nothing He put in it by mistake. There is no further revelation to be given. It is complete.
Heavenly Tourism books, however, add to God's revelation as if He had accidentally left something out. These books contain specific details about death, heaven, angels, the saints in glory, and the Lord Jesus, that God did not reveal in the Bible. But if the Bible is complete and without error, as the Church has historically maintained, then God has given us all the information that He, in His wisdom, wanted to reveal. We do not need appendixes to Biblical revelation written by 6-year olds (or anyone else) claiming to have spiritual knowledge beyond what God has revealed in His Word. To do so constitutes nothing less than adding to God's Word.
Heavenly Tourism Books Suggest the Bible is Not Sufficient
Here’s a great technical term to impress your friends with – “perspicuity” – a word that simply means “clarity.”
Central to Biblical Christianity is the belief that the Bible is a clear book. No, we do not mean that every individual passage of scripture is equally obvious in its meaning, but we do mean that the Redemptive Historical flow of Scripture is clear to the person who will only take time to read the book. It is clear who God is. It is clear what man is. It is clear what God requires of us. It is clear what God has done in Christ to redeem us. And therefore the Bible is sufficient in and of itself to give us a full and clear knowledge of God in Christ. And in this full and clear knowledge we see not one single account of Heavenly Tourism. The closest we get to it is a fairly obscure statement made by the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). He hints that he has actually seen heaven but then stops himself saying that it would be "unlawful" to say anything else about the subject.
Ironically, though the Apostle to the Gentiles, and arguably the greatest missionary-evangelist who ever lived claimed that it was improper to share first-hand accounts of heaven, the evangelical publishing giants of modern America believe that it is perfectly fine for 6-year olds to do so... After all heavenly Tourism books "inspire" people and lead them to saving faith in Christ.... right?
Sensationalistic extra-biblical data about heaven cannot be of any use to get a person into heaven. It cannot reveal Christ to a person, cannot save him/her, cannot educate him/her accurately in the things of God… Yes, it can give him/her a pseudo-spiritual sugar buzz and tweak his/her emotions temporarily but (as someone has said) it is perhaps best to avoid glandular Christianity.
Heavenly Tourism Books Suggest the Bible is Not Authoritative
If you’ve actually managed to read thus far you might feel like shouting, “Who cares about all of this talk about Biblical sufficiency and completeness and whatnot? Even if this Malarkey kid says that his story is false there are plenty of other people who haven't recanted their stories about heaven. Surely just one recantation doesn't disprove all of the other stories about heaven! And anyway, who are you to question the validity of another person's experience?”
Those are all good points and I don't have the answers to them all. And also, it must be said that I am not an authority on other people's experiences... But I know where an authority can be found - the Bible.... and our experience as Christians, and the alleged experiences of others (particularly the religious and spiritual ones) are to be understood and interpreted in light of Scripture alone.
"But what about the experiences of those other people who went to heaven and came back to write books about it???"
Ah, yes! There it is! You've hit the nail on the proverbial head... We live in a day where "experience" is the great idol our culture bows down to. What we feel like or what we've felt like has become the final judge and arbiter of all reality... and even Christians are not immune this this. Whereas we Christians are supposed to evaluate reality by what God has actually said (or left unsaid) in His word we often evaluate reality by how we feel... My friends, there is great danger here... You see, when we begin determining right or wrong and truth or error, by a strictly subjective standard we have replaced the objective standard of Scripture as our sole authority.
I can almost hear them say, “Crabtree, stop trying to burst my bubble. I genuinely like these “Heavenly Tourism” Books – as you call them. They are encouragements to me. They inspire me. They make me want to go to heaven one day.”
To answer you let me first point you to Malarkey, who offers a warning to those drawn to sensationalistic books like, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven. According to Malarkey, “People should read the Bible (instead)… (because) the Bible is the only source of truth.”
Also let me say this… I want you as a Christian to be encouraged and inspired too. In addition to this, I want you to desire to go to heaven…
Therefore I encourage you to read a real life-after-death drama.
It’s found at the heart of Christianity and it’s true. It’s a story of someone who did in fact die.. a story of someone who did in fact come back to life… a story of someone who has gone on to leave us with a very wonderful book. That someone is Jesus. That book is the Bible. Read the latter and you’ll see more of the former.
Also available as an iTunes podcast here
Rev. R Crabtree
"...a son, a husband, a father of 6, a friend, a Presbyterian
(not the liberal kind), an eccentric, and a minister of the gospel... I am also the Pastor of All Souls Church and a Professor of Religious Studies at OCBC."
All Souls Church
Attributes Of God
Irenaeus Of Lyons
Journey Of Faith
Means Of Grace
Order Of Salvation
Westminster Confession Of Faith