How Real Are You?

A Look at Todd Wilson’s book, Real Christian

The thesis of Todd Wilson’s book, Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith is right there in the title: if one’s faith is real (authentic), then there will be marks (evidence) in their life. Wilson tells his readers something they already intrinsically know: Jesus wants real follows that are sold-out, on-fire, and completely committed to Him. Anything less is not pleasing to the Lord nor is it conducive to successful disciple-making. In an increasingly fake world with disingenuous leaders spreading plastic ideologies, there has never been a more relevant time than now for this sort of battle cry.

I was reminded of the chorus in Daniel Bashta’s song, “I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus)”

Give me the real thing

Not just religion

Stir up my passion

With more of conviction

I want it all

Not just a portion

Give me Your presence

Not just some feeling

At the end of each chapter, Wilson includes resources such as, “Questions for reflection,” “Scripture to ponder,” and “Book to help you dig deeper.” One of the suggested books is Kyle Idleman’s not a fan. It is my opinion that Wilson’s Real Christian and Idleman’s not a fan should be sold together and considered required reading for any Christian longing to grow in the knowledge of the will of God. Absolutely required.

Titus 1:15-16 talks about those who profess to know God, but by their deeds, deny Him. If someone was drinking a huge sugary cola and smoking a big, fat cigar while he gave you health and fitness advice, would you take him seriously? Of course not, you would say, “Why would I listen to you? Who are you to tell me anything about health?” Now, if a fit person does the same thing, you may be more inclined to at least listen to them. They must know what they are talking about because their very physique is a testament. They must be doing what they are saying. The world knows a phony when they see one. If your actions do not match up with what you say, they will cry, “Foul!” and use the unbeliever’s favorite term for Christians: hypocrite.

Francis of Assisi is attributed with the famous quote,” Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Today we would say, “Talk the talk and walk the walk.” In Matt. 7:16, Jesus tells us, “by their fruits you will recognize them.” What is on the inside will be revealed by what is on the outside. The easiest way to know if a cherry tree is a cherry tree is if it has cherries on it. This concept is so simple that even a child can understand it.

Evaluating my life and assessing where I fall short of reaching these marks of maturity is a humbling exercise. Repeatedly (and sadly with such ease) I am quick to get angry. I can exchange sarcastic jabs with the best of them. It shames me how instinctively cruel I can be if I think I have been slighted. I am overly-sensitive, thin-skinned, and un-teachable more often than I care to admit. Pride rears its ugly head in my life far too frequently. Thankfully, God’s mercies are made new every morning (Lam. 3:23). We are all works in progress and God is still working on my progress.


Bibliography

Idleman, Kyle. Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2011.

Wilson, Todd. Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course DSMN 520: Spiritual Formation.

God’s Very Words

God’s Very Words

“So here’s the situation: no autographs (original manuscripts) exist and the manuscripts that do exist show many differences. What do conservatives hold to be inspired? Conservatives hold the autographs to be inerrant and infallible. How can conservatives claim to have God’s very words?”[1]

Every single Christian has heard this question. In fact, every single Christian (if they are being honest), has asked this question. How can we know that what we are holding is literally the Word of God delivered to man? How close is it to the original text? These pivotal questions can be answered several ways:

  1. Through Internal Evidence (the Bible, Itself).
  2. Through External Evidence (historical documents outside of the source material).
  3. Through Faith.

Let’s just go ahead and skip the last one right off the bat, because any skeptic asking the initial question is not interested in “Faith” as an acceptable answer. We’ll also need to skip “External Evidence” seeing as it falls well outside the scope of this blog post. So, that leaves us with the Bible.

There is profound truth in the classic children’s song, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” 1 Peter 1:20-21 says, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (NASB)” If you believe that what the Bible says is true, then there you have it. The Holy Spirit moved humans to record words spoke directly from God. This scripture also points to the fact that prophecy cannot come from man, but from God. There are over 300 (fulfilled) prophecies about Jesus alone. This could not be accomplished by man’s intellect, but only by men inspired by God. Continuing on in 1 Peter 1 to verse 25, we read “but the Word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the Word which was preached to you (NASB).” The pure fact of the Bible’s longevity and staying power also clearly points to its supernatural source.

Just how close is the Bible we hold today to those elusive original autographs? Well, of the over 10,000 (!)* OT manuscripts we have, Fields reports the reliability of the Old Testament text as being 90% accurate. 90%! And addressing the discrepancies, Fields writes, “Of that 10%, the vast majority of variations are matters such as spelling that have no significant affect on the meaning of the text.”[2] Come on, man. 90% is pretty close considering the Bible’s 38 different authors writing over a span of almost two millennia!

* Consider this: There are over 5,700 NT manuscripts with less than .5% variance, and the earliest dates to within 60 years of the original writing. Compare that to Homer’s The Iliad, which only has 640 manuscripts available, none of which date to within 300 years of the original writing. However, no historian is questioning the legitimacy of The Iliad, are they?

The real question is why are we holding the Bible to such insanely high standards? Are people scrutinizing other old manuscripts with the same diligence and skepticism? Or would 90% accurate be indisputable evidence?


[1] Lee M. Fields, Hebrew for the Rest of Us: Using Hebrew Tools Without Mastering Biblical Hebrew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 43-44.

[2] Ibid., 44.


Bibliography

Fields, Lee M. Hebrew for the Rest of Us: Using Hebrew Tools Without Mastering Biblical Hebrew. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course OTCL 505: Hebrew Language Tools.

A GIANT and a child’s song: The Conversion of Augustine

A GIANT and a child’s song

The Conversion of Augustine

            I know the conversion of a theologian from the Middle Ages doesn’t seem… interesting, but stick with me here and see how elegant God can be. What I learned about Augustine’s conversion is that God relentlessly pursues His children. Augustine had a ferocious intellectual appetite. He was obviously searching for answers to life’s big questions. However, every group or “-ism” he explored could not fully satisfy his need to know. He bounced around from intellectualism to skepticism to spiritualism.[1] His extreme range went from magic to monastic.[2] In today’s speech, I believe we would say that Augustine was “in his head too much.” What I mean by that is, he seemed to lead with his mind more than his heart. He had the tendency to side with his intellect over his faith. It is a tricky juggling act and an all too common snare for many intelligent people.

However, no matter where Augustine found himself, there was someone to guide him back to God. Whether it be Ambrose or Simplicianus, God had an agent ready to point Augustine to the truth of His Word.[3] When you step back and see the whole picture, it is obvious that God had a hand at every turn.

Ultimately, it was the sing-song turn of phrase from a child that wooed him over to faith in Christ.[4] Interesting that of all the giants of intelligentsia and academia that tried to influence Augustine, it was a child and her simple rhyme that finally pierced Augustine’s heart. After all, pride and vanity are man’s greatest obstacle. As he heard the child’s refrain of “pick up and read,” he just happened to have the Bible next to him open to the letters of Paul (Romans 13:13-14).[5] What this a coincidence? Of course, as anyone who has had any experience with the Lord can attest, there are no coincidences. This was a divine appointment. One wonders if this was a person at all, or actually an angel? Regardless, Ferguson states, “It was as if the Lord had spoken directly to him.”[6] This whole scenario reminds me of another letter from Paul, the one to his church in Corinth. Paul states, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). The year was 386, and Augustine would never be the same. This simple moment would have profound implications and send ripples of change through Augustine’s life leading to his being known as the “Architect of the Middle Ages.”[7]


 

[1] Everett Ferguson, Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 269.

[2] Ibid., 271.

[3] Ibid., 270.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid., 268.


Bibliography

Ferguson, Everett. Church History Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2 ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.


Submitted to Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of the course CCHI 520: History of Christianity.


 

A Beautiful Walk

A Beautiful Walk, Acts 3:1-10
Acts 3:1-10

I don’t have any money. But what I do have, I’ll give to you.*

Peter said this to the lame beggar at the gate of the temple called Beautiful. The man had been handicap since birth. Every morning he was carried and set down at the gate where he would beg. This was his life.

One morning, He saw Peter and John pass by and asked to recieve alms. Peter stared him down, “Look at us!” The beggar got excited. He thought he was going to get some money! “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene – WALK!” In an instant his legs were strengthened and with a LEAP, the lame man walked. I imagine he probably did more than walk too. I don’t have any scripture to back this up, but I figure he most likely moonwalked.

Sometimes we ask God for something and He gives us something else. If God gives you something else, you can bank on that something else being much much better.

Sure, some extra money would’ve helped this man. No doubt about it. But God, through Peter, gave the lame man something far greater than he could have ever imagined: a new life! God is in the business of making things new and better.

One last thought: Could any other name have healed that man? In the name of Moses! No. In the name of Abraham! Nothing. In the name of Caesar! Give me a break. Only the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God has power. Just the name, folks! No other name EVER could done one little thing to help that man.

Be on the look out. If you ask God for something. He may surprise you with something… else. Something Beautiful.

God bless!

*Acts 3:1-10