Monday, November 20, 2017

Book Review: Who Is Jesus?

Who Is Jesus? (Crucial Questions #1) R.C. Sproul. 1983/2010. Reformation Trust. 114 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: There are vast numbers of portraits of Jesus in the art galleries of this world. These images are often so conflicting that they offer little help in achieving an accurate picture of what Christ looked like during the period of His incarnation. We need Christ—the real Christ. A Christ born of empty speculation or created to squeeze into the philosopher’s pattern simply won’t do. A recycled Christ, a Christ of compromise, can redeem no one. A Christ watered down, stripped of power, debased of glory, reduced to a symbol, or made impotent by scholarly surgery is not Christ but Antichrist.
Who is Jesus? is the first title in R.C. Sproul's Crucial Questions series. (Many of these titles are available as free kindle e-books on Amazon.)

It is true that it is a short book, but it isn't short on substance. There are three chapters addressing the 'crucial' question: Who is Jesus? These are "Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?," "The Titles of Jesus," and "The Life of Jesus." Sproul concisely answers the question and invites readers to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

One point that he definitely emphasizes is that Jesus cannot be found outside of the Word of God. He writes, "To search behind or beyond the New Testament is to go on a snipe hunt equipped with the flashlights of pride and prejudice." He warns, "The Christ we believe, the Christ we trust, must be true if we are to be redeemed. A false Christ or a substitute Christ cannot redeem." He concludes, "Apart from the Bible, we know nothing of consequence concerning the real Jesus. Ultimately our faith stands or falls with the biblical Jesus."

I loved Sproul's writing style.

Favorite quotes:

  • The temptation of Christ offers a striking parallel to the probation of Adam in the Garden of Eden. We note both similarities and differences between the first Adam of Genesis and the one whom the New Testament calls the second Adam, Jesus. Both were tested not only for their own sakes but on behalf of others. Jesus endured temptation in isolation, in what Søren Kierkegaard called the worst situation of human anxiety, existential solitude. Jesus was utterly alone. Adam was tested while enjoying the help and encouragement of a companion whom God had created for him. Adam was tested in the midst of human fellowship, indeed intimacy. However, Jesus was tested in the agony of deprivation of human communion. Adam was tested in the midst of a feast. His locale was a gourmet’s dream. He faced Satan on a full stomach and with a satiated appetite. Yet he succumbed to the temptation to indulge himself with one more morsel of food. Jesus was tested after a forty-day fast, when every fiber of His body was screaming for food. His hunger had reached a crescendo, and it was at the moment of consuming physical desire that Satan came with the temptation to break the fast. It is the similarity, however, between the tests that is most important for us to grasp. The central issue, the point of attack, was the same. In neither case was the ultimate issue a matter of food; the issue was the question of believing God. It was not an issue of believing in God, but believing God. There was no doubt in Adam’s mind that God existed; he had spent time in face-to-face communication with Him. Jesus was equally certain of God’s existence. The trial centered on believing God when it counted.  
  • Jesus believed God, so Satan departed from Him. Where Adam collapsed, Jesus conquered. Where Adam compromised, Jesus refused to negotiate. Where Adam’s trust in God faltered, Jesus’ never wavered. The second Adam triumphed for Himself and for us. One parallel remains to be noted. At the end of Jesus’ trial, angels appeared to minister to Him, precisely as the Father had promised. Adam saw an angel too. His angel was carrying a flaming sword as he stood guard at the gates of paradise. That sword banished Adam to live east of Eden.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My Autumn with Psalm 119 #17

I will be continuing on in my study of Psalm 119 this autumn. I have spent months reading Thomas Manton's exposition of Psalm 119. In November, I hope to cover the next eight verses of the psalm. 

41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
your salvation according to your promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in your rules.
44 I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever,
45 and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
47 for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.

Sermon 52 (Psalm 119:46)

  • Two things hinder a free confession of God’s truth carnal fear and carnal shame. Both are obviated by the resolution of the man of God; he would neither be afraid nor ashamed to recommend the ways of God to the greatest princes of the world.
  • The terror of kings or men in power may be supposed to be a hindrance to the free confession of God’s truth; therefore he saith, I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings.’
  • Carnal shame may breed a loathness to own God’s despised ways; therefore he addeth, 'I will not be ashamed.’ David would neither be afraid nor ashamed, if called thereto, to make this open confession, to own God and his truth.
  • Doct. 1. That nothing is so necessary for kings, princes, and magistrates to know as God’s testimonies. 
  • Use 1. To inform us that religion hath a great influence on the welfare of human societies; for it equally respects governors and governed, carving out their respective duties to them, causing the one to rule well, and the other to obey for conscience’ sake.
  • Use 2. It showeth us what to pray for, for our princes and governors, even a wise and an understanding heart, and a spirit of the fear of the Lord, that they may rule for God, and take his blessing along with them in all their affairs.
  • Doct. 2. That God’s testimonies are so excellent, that we should not be afraid or ashamed to own them before any sort of men in the world.
  • Fear represents danger in owning the ways of God; shame represents mockage, scorn, and contempt. Fear considereth our superiors and governors; we fear them that have power and authority in their hands. Shame may arise not only from the consideration of superiors, but inferiors and equals also. Fear respects the danger of the party professing; shame, the cause or matter professed. Therefore, of the two, to be ashamed of the ways of God doth more destroy godliness than to be afraid to own them, for then it is a sign we are not so soundly convinced, and deeply possessed of the goodness of them;
  • In short, to be afraid respects our interest; to be ashamed respects the cause, the gospel itself.
  • We are afraid to own God and his ways, because we have not such a high opinion of God as we should have, but too great a love to ourselves; therefore faith, fear, and love is necessary to confirm and strengthen this resolution in us, and also the lively hope of blessedness to come.
  • Faith informeth us of the truth, goodness, power, and excellency of God, the worth of his favour, and the terror of his wrath, that the displeasure of God is much worse than the frowns of men. When we think of a higher Lord, why should we be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man that is as grass?
  • A Christian, because he loveth Christ, will own him, and his ways and truth, though they be never so much, despised in the world. A superficial bare assent to the gospel may let Christ go, but a faith working by love will not.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Week in Review: November 12-18

CSB Spurgeon Study Bible
  • Genesis 15-50
  • Exodus
  • Job
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Matthew 8-28
  • 1 Corinthians
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

2018 Reading Challenge: Reformation

Reformation Reading Challenge
Host: Operation Actually Read Bible (sign up here)
Duration: October 31, 2017 - December 31, 2018
# of books: minimum of 1 book OR 1 sermon series


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Do you read with your eyes shut?

Today at Young Readers, I reviewed Dr. Seuss' I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. The premise is silly and over-the-top. How could anyone really "read" with their eyes shut, after all? There is one book that you shouldn't read with your eyes shut: the Bible.

It takes spiritual eyes to read the Bible; ones eyes must be opened by the Holy Spirit in order to read and understand the Word of God. Else one is, figuratively speaking, reading with one's eyes shut.
It is not enough to seek truth in the scriptures, but you must seek life in the scriptures. It is not an object only to satisfy your understandings with the contemplation of truth, but your hearts with the enjoyment of life; and therefore you must not only bring your judgment to find the light of truth, but your affections to embrace the goodness of life offered. Thomas Manton
The clarity of the Scripture is twofold, just as the obscurity is also twofold. The one is external, placed in the ministry of the Word; the other internal, placed in the understanding of the heart. If you speak of the internal clearness, no man sees one iota in the Scriptures but he that has the Spirit of God. All have a darkened heart so that, even if they know how to speak of and set forth all things in the Scripture, yet they cannot feel them nor know them. Neither do they believe that they are the creatures of God, or anything else according to that of Psalm 14:1: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” For the Spirit is necessary to understand the whole of the Scripture and every part of it. If you speak of the external clearness, nothing at all is left obscure or ambiguous. But all things that are in the Scriptures are by the Word brought forth into the clearest light and proclaimed to the whole world. ~ Martin Luther
God has ordained that the miracle of new birth, by which we are made alive from our spiritual deadness happens through hearing the word of God. The new birth is a work of the Holy Spirit sovereignly making the dead live, giving sight to the blind, so that we see the glory of Christ in the word… He shone in your heart. He overcame your blindness. He caused you to see the glory of God in the face of Christ. That means when the word was preached to you or taught to you or read by you, God said, “Let there be light.” And the self-authenticating glory of God in the person of Christ shone in your heart, as the broad day sun. You were born again. No more deadness. No more bondage. No more guilt. No more wrath. All of it because of the God’s word by the Spirit (see 2 Corinthians 4:5). ~ John Piper, "Scripture, The Kindling of Christian Hedonism"

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, November 17, 2017

2018 Reading Challenges: TBR Pile

The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge
Host: Adam (Roof Beam Reader) sign up here
Dates: January 2018 - December 2018
# of Books: 12 (+2 alternates)
Another note to self: On Social Media, please use #TBR2018RBR

The list will be must be finalized by January 15, 2018.

_ 1. Beyond Suffering Bible, NLT (2016)
_ 2. Darby Translation of the Bible (1890)
_ 3. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (2009)
_ 4. Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958.
_ 5. Great Lion of God. Taylor Caldwell. 1970.
_ 6. Ben-Hur Lew Wallace. 1880
_ 7. The Joyful Christian. C.S. Lewis. 1977.
_ 8. God's Word Alone by Matthew Barrett. 2016.
_ 9. Faith Alone. Thomas Schreiner. 2015.
_ 10. God's Glory Alone. David VanDrunen. 2015.
_ 11. Cash. Johnny Cash. 1997.
_ 12. My Utmost for His Highest. Oswald Chambers. 1926.
_ 13. Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War. Joseph Loconte. 2015.
_ 14. John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace. Jonathan Aitken. 2007.

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Journaling the CSB Spurgeon Bible

Tomorrow it will be one week since I received the Spurgeon Study Bible. It hasn't disappointed. I love, love, love it. So far I've read Genesis, Job, Ruth, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Matthew, and James.
The only way to repel Satan's subtlety is by acquiring true wisdom. Again I repeat it: man has none of that in himself. What then? Herein is true wisdom. If we would successfully wrestle with Satan, we must make the Holy Scriptures our daily resort. Out of this sacred book we must continually draw our armor and our ammunition. We must lay hold on the glorious doctrines of God's Word--make them our daily meat and drink. So will we be strong to resist the devil and joyful in discovering that he will flee. ~ Spurgeon Study Bible, Genesis, Genesis 3:1
When the Lord Jesus Christ intended to save us and to give us a sense of pardon of our sins, he began by convincing us of our iniquity. He dealt heavy blows at our self-righteousness. He laid us in the dust and seemed to roll us in the mire. It seemed as though he delighted to tread on us and to crush our every hope and destroy every fond expectation. It was all to wean us from self-righteousness, to pull us up by the roots, to prevent our growing and taking fast hold on the earth, to compel us to rest in his blood and righteousness and to seek our soul's life entirely from him. That great blessing of salvation is often preceded by thick clouds and tempests. Spurgeon Study Bible, Genesis 42:23-26  
From the first moment when the love of God is revealed to us, right on to the hour when we will be in the presence of the Father in glory, we may depend on it that there is infinite love in every act of God in taking from us, just as much as in giving to us. ~ Spurgeon Study Bible, Job 1:21
One who is in Christ has Jesus as his nearest kinsman. Even closer than a brother, this kinsman participates in every pain that pierces our hearts. He is nearer to us than the nearest earthly relative can possibly be, for he enters more fully into the whole of our lives. Spurgeon Study Bible, Job 19:25 
The Christian's sympathy should always be of the widest character because we serve a God of infinite love. Spurgeon Study Bible, Job 30:25
God still has a great many unwise children. You can easily find one if you look in the right place--I mean the mirror. Spurgeon Study Bible, Jonah 4:1-2
Love no one else and nothing else as you love God; but give him your whole body, soul, and spirit. Humble yourself before him. Come also with a firm reliance on his unchanging mercy, believing that though you have often forsaken him, he has never forsaken you. Spurgeon Study Bible, Amos 4:12 
Faith is as vital to salvation as the heart is to the body. Therefore the javelins of the enemy are mainly aimed at this essential grace. Your faith is peculiarly obnoxious to Satan and to the world. If you had no faith, they would not be your enemies. Faith is that blessed grace that is most pleasing to God and, therefore, most displeasing to the devil. By faith God is greatly glorified, and by faith Satan is greatly annoyed. He rages at faith because he sees in it is own defeat and the victory of grace. ~ Spurgeon Study Bible, James 1:3
To see ourselves as God would have us see ourselves in the mirror of Scripture is something. But we must afterwards go to Christ for washing or our looking is superficial work. ~ Spurgeon Study Bible, James 1:24
The first link between my soul and Christ is not my goodness but my badness, not my merit but my misery, not my standing but my falling, not my riches but my need. ~ Spurgeon Study Bible, Matthew 1:21
When Christ calls us by his grace, we ought not only to remember what we are, but we ought also to think of what he can make us. It is, "Follow me, and I will make you." We should repent of what we have been but rejoice in what we may be. It is not, "Follow me, because of what you are already." It is not, "Follow me because you may make something of yourselves," but "Follow me because of what I will make you." ~ Spurgeon Study Bible, Matthew 4:19 
"Our Father in heaven" -- I am a child away from home.
"Your name be honored as holy"--I am a worshiper.
"Your kingdom come"--I am a subject.
"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"--I am a servant.
"Give us today our daily bread"--I am a beggar.
"And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors"--I am a sinner.
"And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one"--I am a sinner in danger of being a still greater sinner. ~ Spurgeon Study Bible, Matthew 6:13
"Love your neighbor as yourself." There are three important questions to consider regarding this command. First, whom are you to love? By the word "neighbor" we are to understand any person who is near us. Second, what are you to do to your neighbor? Love him. It is a hard thing--to love someone. It is not enough for you to say you do not hate your neighbor; you are to love him. It is not a negative command; it is a positive command. Love is not in the not doing; it is the doing. True, you must not injure him, but you have not done all when you have simply refrained from harming him. You ought to love him. Third, how are you to love your neighbor? This answer is "as yourself." How much does one love himself? None of us too little; some of us too much. You may love yourself as much as you please, but take care that you love your neighbor as much. Spurgeon Study Bible, Matthew 19:19  
A humble heart is the key to profitably hearing the gospel. The soul-saving Word is not received except with meekness. A stiff back makes for a bad gleaner. What the gleaner gathers she keeps. If she dropped one ear to find another, the result of her day's work would be but meager; she is as careful to retain as to obtain. How often do I forget all that I hear; the second truth pushes the first out of my head, and so my reading and hearing end in much ado about nothing. Do I understand the importance of storing up the truth? Hunger helps make the gleaner wise; if she has no corn in her hand, there will be no bread on her table. My need is even greater, Lord; help me feel it, that it may urge me onward to glean in fields that yield to diligence a plenteous reward. ~ Spurgeon Study Bible, Ruth 2:17

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible