Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Ten Songs You Should Consider Adding to Your 2020 Holiday Playlist

2020 is unlike any other year--at least in our living memory--and the upcoming holiday season will likely be different as well. Though some may choose to keep things as normal as possible, as traditional as possible. This might be a good time for reflecting on why we celebrate the season to begin with. 

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” from Matthew 1 
The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! from John 1
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. from Isaiah 53

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. from Romans 5

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. from 2 Corinthians 5

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. from Ephesians 1 

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. from Ephesians 2

1. Turn Your Eyes/The Glorious Christ. Sovereign Grace Music. YouTube videoLyrics
2. Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery. Matt Papa and Matt Boswell. YouTube videoLyrics
3. Sing to Jesus. Fernando Ortega. YouTube video. Lyrics
4. Give Me Jesus. Fernando Ortega. YouTube video. Lyrics
5. Is He Worthy? Andrew Peterson. YouTube video. Lyrics.
6. His Mercy Is More. Matt Papa and Matt Boswell. YouTube video. Lyrics
7. How Can I Keep From Singing. Chris Tomlin. YouTube video. Lyrics
8. Blessed Be Your Name. Matt Redman. YouTube video. Lyrics
9. Behold the Lamb of God. Andrew Peterson. YouTube video
10. Let the Nations Be Glad. Matt Papa and Matt Boswell. YouTube video. Lyrics.  

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 28, 2020

8. NIV Young Discoverer's Bible

NIV Young Discoverer's Bible. 1985. Zondervan. 1979 pages. [Source: Childhood copy]

First sentence: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

I love, love, love, love, love this Bible. This started out as my school Bible--in 1985. (My school having recently switched from the King James Version to the New International Version. I was in second grade.) I don't have any memories of actually reading the King James Version as a child--though surely the memorization verses of kindergarten and first grade were all in KJV. 

But this Bible, this Bible I remember well and fondly. It isn't my only, only Bible from childhood--I received a Living Bible in December of 1986--but it's probably one that I read the most often. Actually both the Living Bible and the NIV 84 are incredibly special to me. Happy, happy memories all around.

So there's the memories of reading it throughout most of my childhood--it wouldn't be replaced as my school Bible until my junior year? my senior year? But what else do I love about this one? 

I love, love, love the size of the font! If only EVERY SINGLE BIBLE could have print this big. It's proof that big print doesn't have to mean crazy heavy. This Bible isn't heavy at all. It's actually very comfortable to hold. 

I love, love, love the fact that it's black letter. 

I love the fact that it's well-worn and well-loved yet not falling apart. 

I love the fact that as an older Bible published during a time when quality mattered for everyone--that the pages aren't super-super-thin and see-through. I love that it doesn't have a lot of bleed-through or ghosting of the text. I want those days back. Decent pages shouldn't be a luxury for those that can afford to pay several hundred dollars for a Bible. 

It does have pictures--illustrations--but that is neither here nor there. That's not a reason I love it in particular. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 25, 2020

79. Unfolding Grace

Unfolding Grace: 40 Guided Readings Through the Bible. Drew Hunter. Illustrations by Peter Voth. 2020. Crossway. 608 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: We all love epic stories. This is because—most deeply—we are part of one. The Bible tells one overarching narrative, and it is the true story of the world. It is the story of God’s unfolding grace. We are all born into this drama, and it is only as we come to know the story and its Author that we find our true identity and purpose. The Bible came to us over many centuries with many authors and in many different literary genres. Yet every part fits together into a coherent whole.

Unfolding Grace introduces readers to the big picture of the Bible. Crossway has selected 40 daily readings taken directly from the Bible--using the English Standard Version. Each reading highlights three or four--mostly four--consecutive chapters of the Bible. Each daily reading is introduced by Drew Hunter. His words are few--perhaps concise is the better word?--the spotlight remains on the Word of God. But they do serve as a bridge connecting the readings together. 

"The Bible’s opening words direct us to the very beginning of the story of the world. In these first chapters we learn how God creates all things and makes humanity in his image. We learn how he has made us to enjoy his presence and to reflect his goodness by ruling over his world. We learn that originally there was no sin, suffering, or sadness—everything was “very good.” Humanity was in right relationship with God, with one another, and with the creation itself. This is a picture of shalom—peace—universal flourishing, harmony, and happiness. But this story also shows the fall of humanity into sin. As a result of humanity’s rejection of God, the world is now filled with sin, suffering, and death. Life is not the way it is supposed to be. Yet God speaks his word of grace into the midst of our brokenness. He promises that a son of Eve will conquer the Serpent, which signals that God will reverse the consequences of sin and restore blessing to the world. This is the first promise of grace, the promise that unfolds across the Bible’s pages and through history’s ages. The Bible unfolds God’s gracious plan to restore God’s people to God’s place, to enjoy his presence and reflect his rule."

The big picture approach is very bare bones. Missing are many of the most beloved and most significant passages of Scripture. For example, it skips over Genesis 22--when God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, a very telling and prophetic event. And one that is often referred to in the New Testament. Along the same lines, you won't read of the lifting up of the bronze serpent. I suppose both can be overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Though why they're excluded and yet we get "treated" with Judges 17-21 is beyond me!!! 

What I find more difficult to overlook--as a reader who hasn't had to make this tough call--is the complete and total exclusion of chapters from the book of Psalms, the Gospel of John, or the epistle to the Romans. How does one exclude Romans?!?!?!?! I mean if ANY one book gives a big picture story of the Bible it would be Romans. (Or Hebrews, which is also excluded.) Romans you see man as sinner, God as righteous Creator, Judge, and Savior. It packs a LOT of substance. And is essential to understanding the faith. Rightly interpret the book of Romans and you're on your way. 

For better or worse, this one instead of picking and choosing from the four gospels includes the whole book of Mark. And over half the book of Acts. Seriously. I can't fathom leaving out John 13-17. I can't even. In my opinion, how anyone could choose Mark--probably just because it's short--over another gospel like John or Luke or Matthew. (I mean I understand Matthew is super long and all.) But Luke or John seems a better fit. Perhaps the editor just really, really, really loves Mark?!?! I don't know. Seems strange. 

I do like the inclusion of the whole book of Ephesians. But I still *need* Romans represented somehow, someway.

I read an e-galley of this title. But what video clips I've seen of the book-book make it look premium and gorgeous. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

78. 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians (Thru the Bible #45) J. Vernon McGee. 1977/1996. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The author of the epistle is Paul. Paul had written 1 Corinthians from Ephesus where he had been engaged in a great ministry. He had written, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:9).

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. (Most recently his volume on 1 Corinthians.) 

Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

In this volume, he has a lot to say about the Word of God. He is so very quotable when he gets on the subject of Bible reading and actually believing what you read.

  • My friend, if you are not sure that He is God, you are not sure of anything. And they were sure of the Word of God. They rested upon it at all times.
  • If you are in the will of God, it makes no difference where you are or how you are or what your circumstances may be, you are in a wonderful, glorious place. You may even be lying in a hospital bed. If that is the will of God, that is the proper place for you.
  • So much is being said today about love. It is sloppy theology to say that God saves us by His love. Now it is true that God loves us. Oh, how He loves us! We just don’t know how much He loves us. It would break our hearts if we could comprehend how much God loves us. But God does not save us by His love. The Scriptures teach that we are saved by God’s grace.
  • He saves us by His grace. Why? Because He is also the God of all mercies—the father of mercies. Mercy means that God so loved us that He provided a Savior for us because He couldn’t save us any other way.
  • Anything that we have today is a mercy from God. He is the Father of mercy. In fact, He is said to be rich in grace and rich in mercy.
  • He is the God of all comfort. He will comfort you in the hospital. He will comfort you at the funeral home when you have a loved one there. He can comfort you in any place at any time. He is the God of all comfort.
  • My friend, if today you are on a bed of pain, and you are in the will of God, that bed can become a greater pulpit than the one preachers stand behind.
  • The gospel is something God has done for us—it is good news. We have not only the faithful God, but the sure Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Any man who stands in the pulpit today has a tremendous responsibility to rebuke what is wrong. Many of the saints don’t like this.
  • A faithful pastor shows his love by preaching the Word of God as it is rather than “buttering up” the congregation.
  • Sometimes the Devil gets us to shut our eyes to gross immorality.
  • We need to remember that we are all capable of any sin. Whatever the other man has done, we are also capable of doing. When such a man repents from his sin, he is to be restored in the spirit of meekness. He is to be brought back into fellowship.
  • To me it is very simple—the proof of the Word of God is what it does. They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. God put it like this: “O taste and see that the LORD is good …” (Ps. 34:8). This is His challenge to you.
  • What is it that makes God happy? The thing that makes God happy is that He is a lover of men and He delights in mercy. He wants to save man. We are told in Micah 7:18: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.”
  • My friend, in the Word of God we see Him.
  • Do you want to be Christlike? Then spend time looking at Jesus.
  • All the religions of the world say, “Do, do, do.” The gospel says, “Done.” The gospel tells me that God has done something for me; I am to believe it; I am to trust Him. The only way I can come to Him is by faith. That is my approach to Him. “But without faith it is impossible to please him …” (Heb. 11:6). In contrast to this, the religions of this world all say, “Do.”
  • It is a glorious thing to preach the gospel, but it is an awful thing to preach it if down underneath there is a lack of sincerity, a lack of being committed to Him and having a conviction about Him.
  • Believe me, my friend, you and I are helpless when we give out the Word of God. There is an enemy opposed to us, and he blinds the minds of people.
  • We cannot have our way and His way in our lives. We need to make up our minds whether we are going to follow Him or not.
  • Let us not preach a watered-down, sunshiny gospel. Our God is a holy God, a righteous God. It is this holy God who loves you. It is this holy God who wants to save you. But, my friend, if you don’t come to God His way, you will have to come before Him in judgment.
  • There is many a pulpit from which is never preached a sermon on hell. There are few sermons on punishment, few sermons on judgment. As a result, God’s judgment is almost a lost note in Protestantism today. The Lord Jesus said that He had come to seek and to save that which was lost. My friend, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. We need to fear the judgment of God. We need to recognize that we are going to be held accountable to Him.
  • In other words, if you are declaring the full counsel of God, you can do it in a loving manner. You don’t have to bring down thunder and lightning. However, we need to recognize and we need to state very clearly that men are lost. If we do say that, we are not commending ourselves; that is, we are not trying to become popular.
  • May I say to you that if you are without Christ, it is not a psychological adjustment that you need. You are a hell-doomed sinner, and you are on the way to hell. What you need is Christ!
  • May I say that there is a real need in this land of ours. The United States is one of the greatest mission fields today. People in our land are on the way to hell. You rub shoulders with them every day.
  • You don’t have to shed tears to soften the heart of God. He loves you. He wants to save you. Why? For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [2 Cor. 5:21].
  • An offense here doesn’t mean hurting people’s feelings. I don’t think anyone can serve in the church today without hurting the feelings of someone.
  • There are a great many Christians who consider themselves separated. They wouldn’t think of doing this or of doing that. Yet they gossip and have the meanest tongues, never realizing that that very thing is worldly and unclean. Or they go in for the latest in dress or for gluttony and yet consider themselves to be separate from worldliness. I don’t mean to sit in judgment—and we ought not to sit in judgment on each other—yet I feel I must point out these things because we need to be very, very careful. It is very easy to talk about the things of God, to claim the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, to say we love Him, to consider ourselves separated unto Him, and still not in reality be separate from the world and separated unto Him.
  • God says, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, … and touch not the unclean thing.” Don’t be a Christian unless you mean it. Don’t say that Jesus satisfies you if He is not really satisfying you. This is what Paul is talking about. Then there is this glorious promise: “And I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” You will be the kind of son or daughter who brings honor to the Father.
  • We need to have confidence in the Word of God. It is the sword of the Spirit.
  • We, too, need to have confidence in the Word of God. We need to have a firm confidence in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. This must be more than just a creed. I listened to a preacher who said he believed in the verbal inspiration of the Bible. He quoted poetry and some cute clichés and some pert epigrams. He had every form of philosophical argument but no exposition of the Word of God. May I say to you, that is not confidence in the Word of God, nor is it using the Word as a weapon.
  • The second weapon is the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • I cannot overemphasize the need of more simplicity in getting out the Word of God. So many of our young preachers are the products of seminaries which are trying to train intellectuals. I was listening to one of these men the other day, and I couldn’t tell what he was talking about. After about fifteen minutes, I was convinced that he didn’t know what he was talking about. They try to be so intellectual that they end up saying nothing. What he needed to do was give out the Word of God. Oh, the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus!
  • When the Devil saw that persecution would not stop the church, he changed to a different tactic. He joined the church. He began to hurt the church from the inside. He still does that today. He attacks the validity of the Word of God, and he tries to discredit the gospel. If that doesn’t work, he tries to discredit the man who preaches the gospel.
  • We still face the problem today of the preaching of another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel.
  • It is our business to try to reach folk with the gospel so that they will be in heaven someday.
  • Although I cannot tell you much about heaven, I can tell you about the One who is in heaven. We can talk about Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are to fix our eyes on Him. My, how this epistle has emphasized that! Beholding Him, we will become like Him in many ways. The pilgrim journey through this world will be a great deal easier if we will keep our eyes fixed on Him. The sun won’t be so hot, the burden of the day won’t be so heavy, the storms of life won’t be so fierce if we keep our attention fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • We should declare the Word of God and not spend our time defending it. God doesn’t ask us to defend it. He asks us to declare it, to give it out.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 24, 2020

77. The Gospel in Dickens

The Gospel in Dickens: Selections from His Works. Charles Dickens. Edited by Gina Dalfonzo. Foreword by Karen Swallow Prior. 2020. 264 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Good literature is fresh water for the soul. While some writers offer a sip ladled from the well, Dickens takes us to a mountain waterfall where rushing waters saturate, overwhelm, and put us at risk of drowning as we drink. But fear not. This book of selected readings is more like a gentle brook whose waters will quench the thirst of Dickens’ aficionados and neophytes alike. I know this volume will attract those who know and love Dickens already. But I hope it woos those who have yet to drink from his depths.

Only read this book if you want to struggle with the dilemma of what Dickens book to pick up next. I jest. 

I definitely enjoyed reading The Gospel in Dickens, and would happily recommend it to any and all who enjoy Victorian literature and/or the classics.

The book is divided into three sections: Sin and Its Victims, Repentance and Grace, and The Righteous Life. Each section has excerpts thoughtfully selected and introduced by the editor Gina Dalfonzo. 

Before reading The Gospel in Dickens I wouldn't have thought much of Dickens being a Christian--or not being a Christian. I probably would have assumed that he believed in God to some extent, perhaps attended church services, held Christian values and morals to some degree. But I wouldn't have really thought here is a man who knows and loves the Lord. The truth is when you read all these excerpts together it paints a powerful portrait of a man who does just that--love the Lord and love the Word of the Lord. 

This one features excerpts from 
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Great Expectations
  • Hard Times
  • Bleak House
  • Oliver Twist
  • Sketches by Boz
  • Martin Chuzzlewit
  • Our Mutual Friend
  • Little Dorrit
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • David Copperfield
  • Nicholas Nickleby
  • The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain
  • The Life Of Our Lord
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • The Old Curiosity Shop
  • Dombey and Son
  • personal letters

My background? I have a BA and MA (bachelor of arts, master of arts) degree in English literature. I love and adore Dickens. Perhaps he's not my absolute favorite, favorite, favorite, favorite Victorian author. (That may be Gaskell or Trollope). But I love Dickens. I have often found that it takes reading each book twice to really go from like to love or love to REALLY love, love, love. There is something substantive and unforgettable about his characters and stories. I have read all but three of his novels. I've read most of them twice--though not all. Every January I start off thinking this will be the year where I read TONS of Dickens. But usually I just manage one or two. Not from lack of desire--but from a million or so books competing for my attention saying read me, read me, read me. Dickens doesn't push himself forward into the fight to be read. But there are certain times of the year when I seek him out. 

As I was reading this one I kept thinking, I HAVE to reread this one. Then I'd go onto the other excerpt and it was, NO, I have to read THIS one. I may never make up my mind!!! 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

76. The Trinity An Introduction

The Trinity: An Introduction. Scott R. Swain. Edited by Graham A Cole and Oren R Martin. 2020. October. 161 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Trinity is a book that is part of a new series by Crossway. About the series, "While the specific focus will vary, each volume will (1) introduce the doctrine, (2) set it in context, (3) develop it from Scripture, (4) draw the various threads together, and (5) bring it to bear on the Christian life."

The author states the purpose of The Trinity is to recatechize the evangelical mind after the Trinitarian controversy of 2016 revealed the need for clarity among evangelicals. 

I have mixed feelings on The Trinity--the book not the doctrine. On the one hand, it's overly complicated and complex. I feel the author would rather use a string of long syllable words that few actual laymen know the definition of instead of more straight forward language that anyone and everyone could appreciate and understand. This book almost needs an interpreter. Someone to translate the scholar-ese into English. On the other hand, it is comprehensive and saturated in Scripture rather than conjecture. Each chapter does develop the doctrine of the Trinity drawing largely if not exclusively from Scripture itself. (A few creeds and church fathers are also mentioned, though their contribution to the argument the author is making is supplemental and supportive rather than foundational and fundamental.)

Here--for better or worse--is my interpretation of what the book is about. It's entirely possible that I missed key points because as I said earlier this book is overly complicated and complex--a bit full of itself.

What does the Bible have to say about the Trinity? Which passages shed light on the doctrine of the Trinity? What can we learn by reading and studying passages on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit? How are these three as being the same one true God? How does Scripture distinguish between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit? How does the Trinity work together for our salvation? What is the role of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in relation to our creation, redemption, salvation, etc. Why is important for Christians to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity? Why is it important for Christians to understand the persons and works of each member of the Trinity? What effect does this knowledge have on our worship?

Here's some sample sentences: 
  • "The purpose of the present chapter is to honor the Father’s name by considering the manifold ways in which the Bible’s Trinitarian discourse manifests the Father’s fecundity."
  • "First, we will consider “innerTrinitarian conversation texts,” where we overhear the persons of the Trinity speaking to and of each other. Second, we will consider “cosmic framework texts,” which frame the entire cosmos, as well as the entirety of God’s work in the cosmos, in relation to the Trinity. Third, we will consider “redemptive mission texts,” which display the sending or “mission” of the Son (and, sometimes, the sending of the Spirit) as the great divine acts whereby God fulfills his redemptive purpose, establishing his dwelling among us, for the praise of his name."
  • "In previous chapters we had opportunity to consider a distinction fundamental to the Bible’s basic Trinitarian grammar, the distinction between “common predication” and “proper predication.” Common predication refers to what the three persons hold in common as the one and simple God: they share the one God’s holy name, YHWH, one divine being, one divine wisdom, one divine goodness, and one divine power. In contrast to common predication, proper predication refers to what each person of the Trinity holds in distinction from the other two persons. The “personal properties” of paternity, filiation, and spiration identify that which foundationally and fundamentally distinguishes the persons of the Trinity: the Father eternally begets the Son (paternity), the Son is eternally begotten of the Father (filiation), and the Father and the Son eternally breathe forth the Spirit (spiration)."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 18, 2020

75. The Ultimate Commentary on Romans

Romans. The Ultimate Commentary on Romans. By Albert Barnes, John Calvin, Adam Clarke, Matthew Henry, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and John Wesley. 2016. 4164 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: This Epistle is placed first among Paul‘s epistles, not because it was the first written, but because of the length and importance of the Epistle itself, as well as the importance of the church in the imperial city. 

I have spent the last four months reading and studying the book of Romans for the Growing for Life Bible Reading project/group. The project started in June and concludes in September. I still have a few more days--about ten--before the project wraps up. I hope to read through the epistle a few more times. But. I have finished this one!!!

What you see is exactly what you get. SEVEN commentaries in one e-book. Every single verse of all sixteen chapters is covered. Though perhaps readers should know not covered seven times. A few of the commentaries skip around a bit and don't cover every verse of every chapter. But at least three or four of the seven do cover EVERYTHING and in great detail.

When I bought the commentary I was most familiar with Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry. And to a certain extent John Calvin. (I've read an abridged Institutes; and the first volume of an unabridged Institutes. But this was my first time reading a commentary by Calvin.) 

So this is how I read the book, the facebook group (Growing 4 Life) would have one chapter of Romans to focus on each week. I would read the commentary for that chapter that week from these seven authors. (Again, some authors did not have commentary for all sixteen chapters of Romans. One author, I can't remember who offhand, skipped Romans 9-11, for example!) So over the course of the week, I'd read many commentaries on that one chapter. 

Because I didn't read this book in a traditional sense--all of Barnes, all of Clarke, all of Calvin, all of Henry, etc. I may not have a true sense of which is my most favorite and best commentator. I know who I like least--Wesley. Perhaps because he was placed last. Perhaps because by that point I'd already read anything/everything that I would/could possibly need to be enlightened. Perhaps because he's Arminian. Perhaps because he really didn't have much to say about any verse or chapter. His commentary is definitely the shortest! By the time I got to Wesley it was more so what??? 

Of the seven, Charles Spurgeon and Alexander MacLaren had more of a sermon feel. I think their "commentaries" were more gathered resources of expository sermons. They were excellent--most of the time I truly insightful and worth my time. But more devotional and application. 

A few of the commentaries were definitely more scholarly and were packed with Greek words and interpretations. I'm thinking Clarke and Barnes. I think. Again I didn't read the book traditionally, so it's hard for me to recall with preciseness the uniqueness of each author.

But is it worth your time???? YES. 

  • Either your sins must die, or you must. If they are suffered to live, you will die. If they are put to death, you will be saved. No man can be saved in his sins. ~ Albert Barnes
  • The Christian has joys which the world does not know; but he has also sorrows; he sighs over his corruption; he is in the midst of calamity; he is going to the grave; and he looks forward to that complete deliverance, and to that elevated state, when, in the presence of an assembled universe, he shall be acknowledged as a child of God. This elevated privilege gives to Christianity its high value; and the hope of being acknowledged in the presence of the universe as the child of God - the hope of the poorest and the humblest believer - is of infinitely mere value than the prospect of the most princely inheritance, or of the brightest crown that a monarch ever wore. Our trials are so great that nothing but the prospect of future deliverance would uphold us; and the prospect is sufficient to enable us to bear them with patience. ~ Albert Barnes
  • the whole gospel is included in Christ, so that if any removes one step from Christ, he withdraws himself from the gospel. For since he is the living and express image of the Father, it is no wonder, that he alone is set before us as one to whom our whole faith is to be directed and in whom it is to center. ~ John Calvin
  • Perseverance is not founded on our power and diligence, but on Christ; though at the same time by saying, that we stand, he indicates that the gospel ought to strike deep roots into the hearts of the godly, so that being strengthened by its truth, they may stand firm against all the devices of Satan and of the flesh. And by the word stand, he means, that faith is not a changeable persuasion, only for one day; but that it is immutable, and that it sinks deep into the heart, so that it endures through life. ~ John Calvin
  • if we seek God sincerely, let us follow the way by which alone we can come to him. For it is better, as [Augustine ] says, even to go limping in the right way than to run with all our might out of the way. ~ John Calvin
  • It belongs not indeed to us to imagine a God according to what we may fancy; we ought to possess a right knowledge of him, such as is set forth in his word. And when any one forms an idea of God as good, according to his own understanding, it is not a sure nor a solid faith which he has, but an uncertain and evanescent imagination; it is therefore necessary to have the word, that we may have a right knowledge of God. No other word has he mentioned here but that which is preached, because it is the ordinary mode which the Lord has appointed for conveying his word. ~ John Calvin
  • The unutterable groan is big with meaning, and God understands it, because it contains the language of his own Spirit. Some desires are too mighty to be expressed; there is no language expressive enough to give them proper form and distinct vocal sound: such desires show that they came from God; ~ Adam Clarke
  • Have no hypocritical love; let not your love wear a mask; make no empty professions. Love God and your neighbor; and, by obedience to the one and acts of benevolence to the other, show that your love is sincere. ~ Adam Clarke
  • Hate sin as you would hate that hell to which it leads.  ~ Adam Clarke
  • Be Cemented or Glued to that which is good; so the word literally signifies. Have an unalterable attachment to whatever leads to God, and contributes to the welfare of your fellow creatures. ~ Adam Clarke
  • A life devoted to God is a new life before, self was the chief and highest end, but now God. To live indeed is to live to God, with our eyes ever towards him, making him the centre of all our actions. ~ Matthew Henry
  • While we are in this world, hoping and waiting for what we see not, we must be praying. Hope supposes desire, and that desire offered up to God is prayer we groan. ~ Matthew Henry
  • It is our love to God that makes every providence sweet, and therefore profitable. ~ Matthew Henry
  • It is Christ living in the soul by faith that makes the body a living sacrifice, ~ Matthew Henry
  • God is a merciful God, therefore let us present our bodies to him he will be sure to use them kindly, and knows how to consider the frames of them, for he is of infinite compassion. We receive from him every day the fruits of his mercy, particularly mercy to our bodies: he made them, he maintains them, he bought them, he has put a great dignity upon them. ~ Matthew Henry
  • The eternal happiness we chose for our portion is now nearer to us than it was when we became Christians. Let us mind our way and mend our pace, for we are now nearer our journey's end than we were when we had our first love. The nearer we are to our centre the quicker should our motion be. Is there but a step between us and heaven, and shall we be so very slow and dull in our Christian course, and move so heavily? ~ Matthew Henry
  • Either God is my centre, and that is holiness; or self is my centre, in more or less subtle forms, and that is sin. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • My yielding of myself to Him can only be the echo of His giving of Himself to me. He must be the first to love. You cannot argue a man into loving God, any more than you can hammer a rosebud open. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • There is no faith which does not lead to surrender. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • To preach our doubts, to preach our own opinions, to preach poor platitudes, to talk about politics and morals and taste and literature and the like in the pulpit, is profanation and blasphemy. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • A gospel which says much of Christ, but little of His Cross, or which dilates on the beauty of His life, but stammers when it begins to speak of the sacrifice in His death, is not Paul’s Gospel, and it will have little power to deal with the universal sickness of sin. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • God does not love men because of what they are, therefore He does not cease to love them because of what they are. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • You cannot lean half upon Christ and half upon yourselves. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • There is but one Being who can make a change in our position in regard to God, and there is but one Being who can make the change by which man shall become a ‘new creature.’ The Creative Spirit that shaped the earth must shape its new being in my soul; and the Father against whose law I have offended, whose love I have slighted, from whom I have turned away, must effect the alteration that I can never effect-the alteration in my position to His judgments and justice, and to the whole sweep of His government. No new birth without Christ; no escape from the old standing-place, of being ‘enemies to God by wicked works,’ by anything that we can do: no hope of the inheritance unless the Lord and the Man, the ‘second Adam from heaven,’ have come! He has come, and He has ‘dwelt with us,’ and He has worn this life of ours, and He has walked in the midst of this world, and He knows all about our human condition, and He has effected an actual change in the possible aspect of the divine justice and government to us; and He has carried in the golden urn of His humanity a new spirit and a new life which He has set down in the midst of the race; and the urn was broken on the cross of Calvary, and the water flowed out, and whithersoever that water comes there is life, and whithersoever it comes not there is death! ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • Ceremonies are nothing, notions are nothing, beliefs are nothing, formal participation in worship is nothing. Christ is everything to him that trusts Him. Christ is nothing but a judge and a condemnation to him who trusts Him not. And here is the turning-point, Am I resting upon that Lord for my salvation? If so, you can begin upon that step, the low one on which you can put your foot, the humble act of faith, and with the foot there, can climb up. If faith, then new birth; if new birth, then sonship; if sonship, then an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ.’ But if you have not got your foot upon the lowest round of the ladder, you will never come within sight of the blessed face of Him who stands at the top of it, and who looks down to you at this moment, saying to you, ‘My child, wilt thou not cry unto Me “Abba, Father?”‘ ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • We are told that the Biblical view of human nature is too dark. Well, the important question is not whether it is dark, but whether it is true. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • If you and I really believed what we say we believe, that Jesus Christ has died for us, and lives for us, and is ready to pour out upon us the gift of His Divine Spirit, and wills that we should be like Him, and holds out to us the great and wonderful hopes and prospects of an absolutely eternal life of supreme and serene blessedness at His right hand, should we be, could we be, the sort of people that most of us are? ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • Truth professed has no transforming power; truth received and fed upon can revolutionise a man’s whole character. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • Blessed be God! the Christian view of sorrow, while it leaves much unexplained, focuses a steady light on these two points; its origin and its end. ‘He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness,’ is enough to calm all agitation, and to make the faintest heart take fresh courage. The slings and arrows which strike are no more flung blindly by an ‘outrageous fortune,’ but each bears an inscription, like the fabled bolts, which tells what hand drew the bow, and they come with His love. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • We cannot say that sorrow produces hope. It does not, unless we have this connecting link-the experience in sorrow of a God-given courage which falters not in the onward course, nor shrinks from any duty. But if, in the very press and agony, I am able, by God’s grace, to endure nor cease to toil, I have, in myself, a living proof of His power, which entitles me to look forward with the sure confidence that, through all the uproar of the storm, He will bring me to my harbour of rest where there is peace. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • Yesterday’s faith will not bring joy to-day; you cannot live upon past experience, nor feed your souls with the memory of former exercises of Christian faith. It must be like the manna, gathered fresh every day, else it will rot and smell foul. A present faith, and a present faith only, produces a present joy and peace. ~ Alexander MacLaren
  • What a God we trust in — a God who quickeneth the dead. We have no faith unless we believe in such a God as this. We shall need such a God in order to bring us safely to his right hand at last. ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • The more trial you have the more spiritual education you receive. You cannot learn the virtue of patience without tribulation, any more than a man can learn to be a sailor if he stops on shore: ~ Charles Spurgeon
  • As you submitted yourselves to sin most cheerfully and voluntarily, and yet were slaves under it, so now come, and be slaves under Christ with most blessed cheerfulness and delight: endeavor now to lose your very wills in his will, for no man’s slavery is so complete as his who even yields his will. Now, yield everything to Christ. You shall never be so free as when you do that, never so blessedly delivered from all bondage as when you absolutely and completely yield yourselves up to the power and supremacy of your Lord. ~ Charles Spurgeon

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 17, 2020

74. John 11-21

John 11-21 (Thru the Bible #39) J. Vernon McGee. 1995. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It is generally assumed that the Gospel of John is easy to understand. Often you hear the cliche, “The Gospel of John is the simple gospel.” And the simplicity of the language has deceived a great many folk.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. (Most recently his volume on 1 Corinthians.) I honestly can't recall if I've read his volume on the Gospel of John before. 

Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

One of the things that I love about McGee's commentaries is that he just speaks timeless truths. He almost always leaves me thinking!!! IF I was reading this in a traditional book format, I would probably find myself underlining, putting stars, putting exclamation points, and a couple of AMENS. (With only a few question marks or zahs thrown in.)

*Note, I would have included the first sentence of *this* section of the gospel of John but I didn't highlight that. I thought the book separated at chapter 13? I don't know why. 

  • Jesus loved Lazarus when he was sick. Not only that, Jesus will let Lazarus die—but He still loves him.
  • The soul never dies, nor does the soul ever sleep.
  • Death is a reality, an awful reality of the body. But, remember, the resurrection is also reality.
  • Many of our churches are turning away from God and the things of God. They are no longer places of delightful fellowship and blessing. So perhaps the church will return to homes where true fellowship with Christ will be found.
  • The glory of God is seen in that cross. That is why He could say that the time had come for Him to be glorified. Friend, He was glorified when He died for you and me. He was glorified when He came forth from that tomb. Mercy and pardon and forgiveness are found at that cross.
  • You haven’t seen Jesus until you have seen that He is the One who died for you on the cross. He is the One who died for the sins of the world.
  • My friend, the most dangerous thing in the world is to hear the gospel and then turn your back on it. If you just go on listening and listening and do not accept it and act upon it, there comes the time when you cannot hear and you cannot see. God is God, and it is He who has the final word.
  • It is more important to know the Word of God than it is to partake of Communion. There is no blessing in Communion apart from a knowledge of the Word of God.
  • Our Lord Jesus came down to this earth, took upon Himself our humanity, and was made in the likeness of a servant. He did all this because He loved us. He could have gone out free, but He died on the cross to provide salvation for us. He did this to establish a wonderful relationship for us and to make it possible for us to have fellowship with Him. He has become a slave because He loves us.
  • It is the Word of God that will keep the believer clean. And when we sin, how are we cleansed? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Too many people treat sin as a light matter.
  • That is the amazing thing and the most wonderful thing in the world. God loves us! He loves you and me, not because we are worth loving, but He loves us in spite of the fact that we are absolutely, totally depraved. We belong to that kind of human race. If you deny that, look around you.
  • We are going to spend all eternity with Him. For those of us who love Him, the goal of our lives is to come to know Him.
  • The peace He is talking about here is not the peace of sins forgiven. This is the glorious, wonderful peace that comes to the heart of those who are fully yielded to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the peace of heart and mind of those who are in the will of God.
  • In the Old Testament it is prophesied that the Lord Jesus would grow up before Him as a tender plant and as a root out of the dry ground. Think how often the Father intervened to save Jesus from the Devil who wished to slay Him. The Father is the One who cared for the Vine, and He will care for the branches, too.
  • There are tremendous words like propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption that cover particular phases of salvation, but the entire spectrum of salvation is in the phrase “in Christ.” There are only two groups of people: those who are in Christ and those who are not in Christ. How do you get “in Christ”? By the new birth.
  • This passage is directed to believers, to those who are already in Christ. Jesus is not talking about how a person gets saved. He is not actually talking about salvation at all in this passage. Rather, He is talking about fruit-bearing, and that is the next word we wish to mark. Fruit is mentioned six times in the first ten verses. We will find as we go further that there are three degrees of fruitbearing: fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. The whole theme here is fruit-bearing.
  • One of the reasons so many of God’s children get hurt by this method of pruning is that they get so far from God, so far out of fellowship. The closer we are to God, the less it will hurt.
  • The purging is accomplished by the Word of God. The cleansing power of the Word of God is a wonderful thing. We hear so much today about modern wash-day miracles, but I’ve never found them to be as miraculous as the claims made for them. The only true wash-day miracle is the cleansing power of the Word of God.
  • There are light views among believers today that you can live any kind of life so long as you are fundamental in your belief of salvation by the grace of God. Believe me, God uses the Word of God to reveal to us when we are not walking according to His will.
  • I don’t think that you will ever be clean before God if you don’t study the Word of God. I believe that the people who are really dangerous are the ones who are as active as termites in our churches but who are reluctant to study the Word of God. I consider them the most dangerous element against the Word of God and the cause of Christ in this world. My friend, we need to study the Word of God and apply it to our lives.
  • The professing church, instead of taking the position of Christ, has gone out into the world, boasting that they are going to convert the world. They, of course, haven’t done it in over nineteen hundred years. In their attempt they always try to popularize religion, make it very attractive to the world. You will find that today there are churches using all kinds of devices to attract the ungodly. Today music has come down to the level of the world. They say, “We have to do this to win the world.” Who told them they were going to win the world? I’m not talking about liberal churches now—they went off the track years ago—I am talking about fundamental churches. Today fundamental churches are going off the track. In them you will find enemies of the Word of God!
  • Friend, if you stand for the Word of God, you will find that the world won’t love you. You will experience the hatred that Christ experienced. “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.” He is warning them ahead of time in order to strengthen them and let them know what is coming. He loves them right on through to the very end, and He lets them know that He will be with them and that He understands what they are going through.
  • The Spirit of God wants to present evidence in your heart and in my heart to bring us to a place of conviction, and that, of course, means a place of decision. There must be a conviction before we can turn in faith and trust to Jesus Christ.
  • If you do not trust Him, you are lost. It is just as simple as that. It is just as important as that. This is a decision that every man must make. The man today, whoever he is, if he is rejecting Jesus Christ, is, in the sight of God, the greatest sinner.
  • We cannot stand in God’s presence if we are nothing more than pardoned criminals. Christ has made over to us His righteousness. That is the righteousness Paul spoke of: “… that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:8–9). He not only subtracts our sin, but He adds His righteousness. If we are to have any standing before God, we must be in Christ and He is our righteousness. Either we have as much right in heaven as Christ Himself has, or we have no right there at all. He was delivered for our offenses, and He was raised again for our justification (righteousness).
  • My friend, you are not on trial. God has already declared you a lost sinner, and He has already judged you—“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). We live in a world that has already been judged and is like the man waiting in death row for his execution. The judgment against all of us is “Guilty” because all our own righteousnesses are as filthy rags in the sight of God. If we had to stand before God in our own filthy rags, we would not only be ashamed of ourselves, but we would also see how guilty we are.
  • Notice the seven steps that are here: (1) The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, has come; (2) He will guide you into all truth; (3) He will not speak of Himself; (4) He shall speak whatsoever He shall hear; (5) He will show you things to come; (6) He shall glorify Jesus; and (7) He shall receive of mine and show it unto you.
  • Jesus Christ was made sin for us, friend. There was a rent in the Godhead as well as a rent in the veil. Yet at that very moment, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.
  • It is the longest prayer in the Bible, although it would take you only three minutes to read it. I think that is a good indication of the length of public prayers. If you can’t say all you’ve got to say in three minutes, then you’ve got too much to say.
  • This is the prayer which John Knox read over and over in his lifetime. When he was on his deathbed, his wife asked him, “Where do you want me to read?” He replied, “Read where I first put my anchor down, in the seventeenth chapter of John.”
  • Every instrument should be tuned up before it is played. Before you and I begin to pray for others, we need to pray for ourselves. That is not selfishness; it is essential.
  • The church is God’s love gift to Jesus Christ. So He gives eternal life to as many “as thou hast given him.” This brings up the question of election and free will, and I don’t want to go into that extensively. There are extreme Calvinists and extreme Arminians, and the truth is probably somewhere between the two.
  • If God would somehow reveal to me who are the elect ones, I would give the gospel only to them. But God does not do this. He has said that whosoever will may come. That is a legitimate offer to every person. You have no excuse to offer at all if you will not come to Him. It will be your condemnation that you turned down the offer that God has made to you.
  • Does election shut out certain people? No. Life eternal is to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Do you have a desire to know the true God and Jesus Christ? Then you are not shut out. You must be one of the elect. He gives eternal life to those who have heard the call and have responded down in their hearts. They have come to Christ of their own free will.
  • Future tense for God is just as accurate as past tense.
  • The reason we know so little about election is because it is God’s side, and there are a lot of things that God knows that we don’t know.
  • Jesus Christ does not pray for the world today. His ministry of intercession is for His own who are in the world. He doesn’t pray for the world; He died for the world. What more could He do for the world? He has sent the Holy Spirit into the world to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Jesus Christ prays for His own.
  • The Word of God causes problems in the world today. The Bible is the most revolutionary Book in the world. It is revolutionary to teach that you cannot save yourself, that only Christ can save you. And you can’t make this world better. Only Jesus Christ can do that. That’s revolutionary, and the world doesn’t want to hear that. They’d rather plant a few flowers and try to clean up pollution. The problem is that the pollution is in the human heart.
  • “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Even in this dark hour when He was yielding Himself as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, He revealed His deity—and they fell backwards! He revealed to these men that He was absolutely in charge, and they could not arrest Him without His permission. They didn’t fall forward to worship Him. They fell backward in fear and in absolute dismay.
  • They are seeking Jesus of Nazareth. Well, here He is, but He is the Lord of glory. My friend, whom do you see? Do you know who He is? The unsaved man doesn’t know Him. People may even read the Bible and be very religious and very moral and not see that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
  • “My kingdom is not of this world.” The preposition is the Greek ek, meaning “out of.” Literally, He said “My kingdom is out of this world.” He is not saying that His kingdom is not going to be on this earth someday, as He is going to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords and “… the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). But His kingdom is not going to be of this world system. It will not be a power structure built on politics. It will not come through worldly measures. Jesus will not be elected King by either the Democrats or the Republicans or by the United Nations. It is not going to be built by war and turmoil and hatred and bitterness.
  • From the standpoint of God, the cross is a propitiation. It is the mercy seat where God can extend mercy to you and to me. It is the place where full satisfaction was made, so that a holy, righteous God can reach down and save sinners. The very throne of God, the place of judgment, is transformed into the place of mercy where you and I can find mercy instead of the judgment we deserve. Jesus Christ bore our guilt, and God is satisfied.
  • From the standpoint of the Lord Jesus, it is a sacrifice. He is the Savior, and He makes Himself an offering for sin. He is a sweet-smelling savor to God. It is also an act of obedience for Him. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:8 that he became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.
  • From the standpoint of you and me, believers in Christ Jesus, it was a substitution. He took my place and He took your place. He was the sinless One suffering for the sinner. He was the just One suffering for the unjust. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).
  • From the standpoint of Satan, it was a triumph and also a defeat. It was a triumph for Satan to bruise the heel of the woman’s seed as had been foretold way back in Genesis 3. It was a defeat because the head of Satan is yet to be crushed: “… that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
  • From the standpoint of the world, the cross is nothing but a brutal murder.
  • There are a great many of us today who read the Bible but still do not know certain scriptures. I believe there are two reasons for this. One is that we may read a passage many times and each time see things in the passage that we have never seen before. The Holy Spirit gives us further light as we study and read the passages over and over again. Also I believe that we must experience some of the scriptures to understand their meaning. The trials and sufferings and experiences of life explain their meaning to us.
  • What is it that forgives sins? Even God cannot just arbitrarily forgive sins. Forgiveness of sins is only and alone through the blood of Jesus Christ. Back in the Old Testament, the forgiveness of sins was based on the fact that Christ would come and die. God saved “on credit” in the Old Testament until Christ would come and pay the penalty. Today God forgives our sins when we believe that Christ died for them.
  • We have the only thing that will bring forgiveness to the world. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. My friend, what are you doing?
  • “Come and dine”—what an invitation! Jesus did say, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel” (see Mark 16:15), but He would rather you would come and have breakfast with Him before you go. The lovely part is that the resurrected Lord, God Himself, feeds them. If only we would sit today and let Him feed us! He wants to feed His own.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

73. John 1-10 (Thru the Bible #38)

Thru the Bible #38: John 1-10. J. Vernon McGee. 1995. 180 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It is generally assumed that the Gospel of John is easy to understand. Often you hear the cliche, “The Gospel of John is the simple gospel.” And the simplicity of the language has deceived a great many folk.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. (Most recently his volume on 1 Corinthians.) I honestly can't recall if I've read his volume on the Gospel of John before. 

Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

One of the things that I love about McGee's commentaries is that he just speaks timeless truths. He almost always leaves me thinking!!! IF I was reading this in a traditional book format, I would probably find myself underlining, putting stars, putting exclamation points, and a couple of AMENS. (With only a few question marks or zahs thrown in.)

  • We will never grow spiritually by singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” umpteen times at Christmas. John won’t take us to Bethlehem because he wants you and me to grow as believers.
  • John takes us down the silent corridors of eternity, through the vast emptiness of space, to a beginning that is not a beginning at all. “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1).
  • The Christian who has come to a knowledge of Christ and faith in Him doesn’t need to have the Virgin Birth gone over again; he already believes that. Therefore, when he comes to the Gospel of John, he finds sheer delight and joy unspeakable as he reads and studies it.
  • The Gospel of John is for those who already believe. When you come to chapters thirteen through seventeen you can write a sign over it, For Believers Only and you could put under that, All Others Stay Out. I don’t think that section was ever meant for an unbeliever.
  • Man does not know God; man is in rebellion against God; man is in sin that blinds him to God. In the Lord Jesus Christ there is life, and the life that He gives is the light of men. In fact, His life is the only thing that can kindle light in the heart of an individual. An unregenerate man has no spiritual life within him. This is the reason that when you present to him Jesus Christ, he says, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand that at all.”
  • A great many people do not seem to recognize that unbelief and atheism go naturally with the natural man.
  • Obviously atheism precludes the possibility of being Christian, yet unbelief has moved into our seminaries and pulpits across the land. The world does not know Him.
  • Some people treat the church and the cause of Christ as something so cheap that at times it becomes necessary to sound an alarm.
  • There are two things that we need to note here. One is that we must be born again. The other is that the Son of Man must be lifted up. They are related. It takes the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ—He must be lifted up. Since He has been lifted up, since He bore our penalty, the Spirit of God can regenerate us. And we must be born again—that is the only way God can receive us.
  • It doesn’t say that God’s love saved the world, because the love of God could never save a sinner. God does not save by love, friends. God saves by grace! “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9).
  • But God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever (you can write your name in here and I can write mine) believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Notice that with the word believe is the little preposition in which means to believe in Christ. That is, we trust Him as the One who bore the penalty for our sins. This is a personal thing. We must each believe that He died in our place and in our stead. My friend, you must believe that He died for you.
  • The world is lost. You and I live in a lost world, and we’ll not wait until the final judgment to see that we are lost. Our position is something like a man who is in prison being asked whether or not he will accept a pardon. That is the gospel. It is not telling a man that he is on trial. He is already condemned. He is already in prison waiting for execution. But the gospel tells him a pardon is offered to him.
  • You can influence someone that no preacher can reach. In fact, nobody else can reach that individual but you. You have that influence over that individual. Be very sure that you bring him face to face with Christ.
  • Although I don’t find Him on every page, I believe He is on every page of the Pentateuch. He says, “Moses … wrote of me.” I think He is on every page of the Bible.
  • Friend, the mission of Jesus was not to restore our physical bodies. He wants to be Lord of our hearts.
  • Man has always felt that if he could just work at it, he could be saved. Man feels thoroughly capable of working out his own salvation. He feels competent to do it, and he feels that God must accept his works.
  • There is a theological argument that rages today on election or free will. There are some people who put all their eggs in the basket of election. There are others who put all their eggs in the basket of free will. I’m not proposing to reconcile the two because I have discovered that I cannot.
  • Election and free will are both in this verse. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” states a truth, and that is election. But wait a minute! “And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” is also true, and “him that cometh to me” is free will. I don’t know how to reconcile them, but they are both true.
  • The Father gives men to Christ, but men have to come. And the ones that come are the ones, apparently, whom the Father gives to Him. You and I are down here, and we don’t see into the machinery of heaven.
  • We have the right to be the judge of others provided we meet the requirement. That requirement is sinlessness. May I say to you, my friend, I don’t know about you, but that takes me out of the stone-throwing business.
  • One is not lost because he is a murderer, or a liar, or a thief, or an adulterer, or because he has borne false witness or committed other sins. A person does these things because he is lost and does not believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ forgives sins. He is the Savior. He died for the sins of the whole world. Any person who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ is forgiven.
  • The truth shall make you free. The truth is that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is the Truth. First we come to Him as our Savior. Then as we go on with Him, we know by experience that we are free. We are free from the penalty of sin—we don’t need to lie awake at night worrying about going to hell. He doesn’t even ask us to live the Christian life. He asks us to trust Him and let Him live His life through us. When we yield to Him, we are free.
  • It is our responsibility to get out the Word of God, and there our responsibility ends. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to open the heart of the listener and cause him to obey the Word. We should present the Light of the World to people, but the Holy Spirit must open the eyes.
  • It may be true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but after a man is sick, it’s pretty important to get that pound of cure for him.
  • God has created you and me for His glory. He did not create us that we might try to be a somebody down here. He created us for His glory. If we miss that, we miss the entire purpose of our creation.
  • Unless the Son of God, by means of the Holy Spirit, opens our eyes so that we can see spiritual things, we will remain blind as bats.
  • It is the most wonderful thing in the world to know that, when we give out the Word of God, Jesus is calling His sheep. The Spirit of God is the Porter who does the opening, and the sheep will hear. Our Lord will lead His sheep out of a legal system, perhaps even out of a church where they’re not being fed. They will follow Him. You cannot permanently fool God’s sheep.
  • I believe that you can fool some of God’s people some of the time, but I don’t think you can fool God’s people all the time. For a time, God’s sheep may think they hear Him but eventually discover that it is not His voice. Then they will turn to the teaching of the Word of God because they know their Shepherd.
  • Wherever we find people who are eager for the Word of God, we know they are His sheep.
  • The Lord Jesus Christ has a threefold relationship to this flock which is known as His church. First of all He is the Good Shepherd, and He defines the Good Shepherd in verse 11: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Then He is the Great Shepherd, for we read in the magnificent benediction given in Hebrews 13:20: “Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an eternal covenant, even our Lord Jesus, make you perfect in every good thing to do his will …” (ASV). So today He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep, as seen in Psalm 23. But wait, that does not give the total picture. He is also the Chief Shepherd. This speaks of the future.
  • Modern cult leaders actually get rich off the people. In contrast to this, the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep, and He protects His own.
  • Friend, when He gives to them eternal life, that means they don’t earn it and they don’t work for it. He gives it to them. Note that it is eternal life. It is forever. If it plays out in a week, or in a year, or until they sin, then it is not eternal life after all. They are not really His sheep if the life does not last forever.
  • When I say to you that He gives me eternal life and I shall never perish, you may accuse me of bragging. No, my friend, I am not bragging on myself; I’m bragging about my Shepherd. I have a wonderful Shepherd. He won’t lose any of His sheep. If He starts with one hundred, He will not end with ninety-nine. If one gets lost, He will go out and find it. None will be lost.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible