Bible Posts

Misquoted Verses (Philippians 4:13)

Misquoted Verses (Philippians 4:13)

This post is part of a series looking at misquoted verses of the Bible. Click here to see others.

As we’ve seen in other passages I’ve looked at in this series, many of the misquoted verses we know are the result of bumper stickers or t-shirts designed to inspire and encourage Christians. There’s nothing wrong with that desire. However, many of the verses or expressions that are used in these examples are more catchy than they are Biblical. Today’s verse is a great example.

Consider the way most translations handle Philippians 4:13:

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” NASB95

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There Are No Good Guys or Bad Guys

There Are No Good Guys or Bad Guys

Almost every major story or movie involves the good guys versus the bad guys. In most of them, the bad guys lose. I recently watched the movie Lone Survivor and was reminded how often we frame stories like this. In the movie (and even the trailers), there are clear references to the enemy as the bad guy and the fact that the Navy Seals are the good guys.

But the problem is that this is a false dichotomy. There are no good guys or bad guys. There are just people. People who make choices both good and bad. Certainly, some people’s lives are characterized by a dominance of loving choices or a dominance of selfish choices. But we are all capable of both and indeed we all experience both in our own lives. Some of the best stories include characters who you disliked at one point and then loved at another point in the story. We refer to them as a dynamic characters and they make for a much stronger story than a cartoonish depiction of a good or bad guy.

I had a conversation with my son Gavin this week. As I was laying him to bed for the night he asked me, “Dad, will Jesus protect me from bad guys?” I struggled with providing him with a theologically sound answer that makes sense to a five year old. It’s tempting to simply tell him “yes” and allow him to go to sleep feeling better. But even at his age, I want my son to learn that life is deeper than that. I told him that Jesus will always be with him, but that Jesus also loves the bad guys. He looked confused by this.

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Doing Nothing

Let’s do a little exercise with logic. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is what Jesus teaches in John chapter fifteen. It goes like this:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 15:5

Without Jesus you can do nothing. That’s pretty clear.

But this also means the reverse: if you end up doing nothing, you are doing it without Him.

If your theology can handle it, it seems to me you can boil the transformational process in Jesus down to two steps. Step one is what Jesus does in saving us. We cannot earn this or merit this by any stretch of the imagination. We simply accept it. Step two is our response to this unbelievable deal and how it changes us for the rest of our life. To have the second without the first is works-based religion and will never work. But to have the first without the second is to miss the point of what happens when we remain in Christ. Christians are often susceptible to either of these mistakes.

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Misquoted Verses of the Bible (Mt. 18:20)

This post is part of a series looking at misquoted verses of the Bible. Click here to see others.

Today’s post is something you often hear from the stage in a church service. I’ve heard many worship leaders (the main culprit of this one) paraphrase this verse:

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

It’s usually said to rally the congregation gathered together that God is in our midst so get crazy! But consider, when used this way, what this also implies. If only one person showed up for church that week he or she would be very disappointed to realize that God wasn’t there. If only you had one or two more to motivate God to show up!

More damaging would be the false conclusion some might draw that God isn’t present with us when we are alone. We might infer that despite God’s omnipresence, He reserves Himself to groups only. While this might be laughable depending on your Biblical understanding, I’m saddened to think a person might genuinely conclude this.

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Bible Reading Plan for 2014

Professor Horner's Bible Reading Plan

January is quickly approaching and that means a new year to try new things or begin anew on things that you trailed off with in 2013. I would encourage you now to consider reading through the Bible in 2014. Sadly, few people ever read it cover to cover due to its size but it is completely manageable. The trick is to intentionally pick a reading plan and make it a natural part of your routine each day. When read daily it will balance your perspective and ground you in God’s Truth no matter what each day brings. Even greater is the perspective you get from reading year after year and seeing things you’ve never noticed before.

Those of you who have followed my blog for years now know that I pick a new reading plan and a new Bible translation each year. This is to stretch me and keep me from setting into a rut. This is the same concept as muscle confusion for those of you workout-nerds among us. One of the reasons this is recommended for physical workouts is that “The body should never be allowed to accommodate to an exercise to the point where the exercise is ineffective and results are no longer seen.” The same is true of your mind, heart, and soul when it comes to experiencing God’s Word. Sadly, many people either don’t read through the Bible or read it and don’t ever get much out of it. I’ve found that changing reading plans and changing translations each year are great ways to enhance your time spent reading.

Click here to see which reading plans and translations I’ve used in past years.

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Relocating Theology

paul and the faithfulness of god - NT wrightIn any case, it is time to relocate ‘theology’. Not to marginalize it, as though the study of everything else (especially sociology) is real’ and theology is to be dismissed as irrelevant theory; as we shall see, that would be a disastrous mistake in relation to Paul in particular. In fact, one of the extraordinary achievements of Paul was to turn ‘theology’ into a different kind of thing from what it had been before in the world either of the Jews or of the pagans. One of the central arguments of the present book is that this was the direct result and corollary of what had happened to Paul’s worldview. Paul effectively invented ‘Christian theology’ to meet a previously unknown need, to do a job which had not, until then, been necessary. If the reason for studying worldviews is the recognition that life is complex, multi-layered, and driven by often hidden energies, the method for such study must be appropriate to that quest.

N.T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God