Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times, Each Every Bit a Gift

I’ve been asked so many times in the last couple years what it’s like to be a pastor’s wife. My answers vary depending on who is asking and what I think their expectations might be. If it's someone I don’t really know who is just making small talk, I usually say something like, “It’s a gift and an honor.” If it’s a more familiar acquaintance, I might say something like, “It’s extremely challenging, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Those are true statements and probably about as much of a response as those particular questioners want to hear. 

BUT if it’s a young lady first beginning her own ministry as a pastor’s wife who is truly seeking counsel for the road ahead, I’m much more inclined to be more thorough and try to share the full reality of what she might encounter, complete with exhausting difficulty as well as unwavering joy (usually at the very same time). In those cases, I would say something like this:

It’s watching him pour out his entire heart and soul every Sunday morning and pray his guts out to the point of utter exhaustion that just one of the blank stares he encounters every week might finally come to life.

BUT it’s also seeing exhilarating joy on his face when someone experiences grace for the first time.

It’s teaching your children to graciously share their Dad and saying things like, “We need him, but sometimes other people need him even more.”

BUT it’s also embracing the hope that your children will grow up understanding the value of giving and serving because it was always just a normal part of their lives.

It’s aching when you see his brow furrow as he reads yet another angry email or sometimes even flat-out hate mail.

BUT it’s also admiring the confidence that builds in him every single day to know that obedience to a Holy God is so much more important than the opinions of other humans.

It’s knowing he’s right in the center of a conflict which involves people he cares about on either side and being helpless to ease that burden for him.

BUT it’s also the wonderful assurance that the people you care about have a Christ-centered liaison to help them through their difficult situations.

It’s hearing him get up in the middle of the night because he can’t sleep after the heart-breaking and/or joy-depleting counseling session(s) he worked through earlier in the day.

BUT it’s also seeing the fruit of that work in the glorious transformation of those whose lives have radically changed because of the Gospel that is never absent from his counseling sessions.

It’s learning to be ready to drop all of our plans for the day when the phone rings. And it’s finding ways to choose joy when that happens.

BUT it’s also being able to treasure time together as a truly special gift rather than a common occurrence that we take for granted.

It’s having zero benefits and almost zero insurance options that aren’t well beyond what we can afford.

BUT it’s also having an intimate relationship with Jehovah-Jireh because he has been so very present in our lives and has proven time and again that he deserves that name.

It's ugly but beautiful. It’s so very hard but so very worth it. It's the best of times but the worst of times. Somehow simultaneously.

It’s an overwhelming job every single day.

BUT it’s also upheld and infused and overcome and surrounded by an overwhelmingly powerful and helpful God.

It’s a job we are both completely under-qualified for on our own merit.

BUT it’s also the job we are exactly right for because of Christ. 

And then I would probably add: "PRAY FOR YOUR MAN EVERY DAY! YOU WILL BOTH NEED IT!" :-D

Friday, April 27, 2012

Roots of Sanctification

It's that time of year again. Yardwork. Uncovering plants that have been buried in snow, mud, dead grass and branches. Pulling up weeds. Trimming trees and bushes. What have you. I love it. The new growth. The excitement of checking on everything each day to see where there might be a new bloom or a fledgling piece of fruit or vegetable. It's so much fun.

And I'm always amazed by something. Not the trees and bushes that just go naked in the wintertime and then start sprouting new growth when springtime rolls around. Although that is awesome in its own way. But even more fantastic are the plants that all but disappear during winter. They die completely away and yet they come back WAY bigger and stronger than the year before. How do they DO that? Of course I know the answer is the roots, but the fact that I can't see what's going on under all that dirt still makes the discovery of new plants so mysterious and enjoyable. (Last year I planted 2 tiny patches of forget-me-nots, and this year there are at least a dozen patches in the corners of my garden. CRAZY!)

It makes me think of sanctification. Seems like it works much the same way. We plant seeds, water, fertilize, trim (just as we pray, read Scripture, sit under Godly teaching and surround ourselves with wise counsel), but the true success of a plant/tree/flower is what happens under the dirt completely beyond our control. (Sanctification.) It's out of our hands and mostly invisible, but it brings about such significant results. (Doesn't the Holy Spirit surprise us in similar ways? I love it when that happens.)

I'm not the best gardener. At all. I'm learning a lot, and I'm enjoying my amateur attempts at growing things that are beautiful as well as things that are delicious and nutritious, but I will never be an expert at this. Similarly, I'm so grateful that the work of sanctification is not dependent upon my ability to do everything right. I fail miserably over and over again, but the Holy Spirit continues to work under the surface and develop roots in the depths of my heart and soul. And every time I sense his presence in my thoughts/actions/reactions (in other words, the very few times I actually DO get something right), it's even more surprising and exciting than those pretty little flowers or new strawberry plants that sprouted from the underground work of nature that I didn't even know was happening all winter long. God is so creative and awesome. Not only does he do the work of sanctification in us. He makes it fun. So grateful.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Y'all. These things are the deep-rooted, habitual, evil sins of the plant world. They are! I am so serious.

And it's bad enough when they show up in the empty places looking less than beautiful . . .

. . . but it's even worse when they dig in right in the middle of where I've already been at work.

Look at the root on this thing. That dude dug in and wanted to stay around for awhile. There was no plucking him out with my bare hands. It took tools and work to get it done.

Don't mess around with these bad boys. They will take over before you realize what happened. Are you pickin' up what I'm puttin' down here? Get 'em gone. And don't just break off the leaves. They'll come back with a vengeance. They're evil. Just sayin'.

Happy Birthday, Vick!

Happy Birthday today to my one and only BIG sister! She makes me giggle like no one else on earth, and I love her dearly.

This is what I said about her last year. It is all still very much true.

Love you so much, Vick!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Good List 4-25-12

10. Crisp white-barked trees set against clear, bright blue skies.
9. Grapefruit topped with honey, cinnamon, and sea salt (equally good either "raw" or broiled). I'm not sure I ever would have come up with this combination on my own, but thanks to my friend Tara-Leigh, I'm enjoying it frequently now. YUM!
8. Celtics are in the playoffs!
7. The first moments of new life on naked trees.
6. High up hotel rooms. The 22nd floor in Louisville was a fabulous treat!
5. Witty, clever, funny people. They make life so much more interesting and fun!
4. The Great Escape indoor water park. Lots of watery fun for 5 little cousins during a not-so-warm spring break.
3. Studying by stained glass.

2. Grandmom and Granddad in Vermont for 2 whole weeks! (And a return trip for late summer is already in the works.) Love them so much!
1. THIS. It is still making me giggle. Go here if you're interested in the story behind this silliness. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Systematic Theology--Chapter 9

The Existence of God
How do we know that God exists?

A. Humanity's Inner Sense of God

  • All persons everywhere have a deep, inner sense that God exists, even unbelievers.
    • Romans 1:21: For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
    • Romans 1:25: because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
    • Romans 1:19: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
  • Scripture recognizes that some people deny this inner sense and even deny God's existence, but this is a willful suppression of the truth.
    • Romans 1:23: and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
    • Romans 1:28: And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
    • Romans 1:32: Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
    • Notice the active verbs in each verse.
  • In the life of a Christian this inner awareness of God becomes stronger and more distinct.
    • We first begin to know Him as our loving Father in heaven. (Romans 8:15)
    • The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God (Romans 8:16)
    • We come to know Jesus Christ living within our hearts (Ephesians 3:17; Philemon 3:8-10; Colossians 1:27; John 14:23)
    • The intensity of this awareness is such that though we have not seen our Lord Jesus Christ, we indeed know him and love him (1 Peter 1:8)
B. Believing the Evidence in Scripture and Nature

  • Evidence that God exists is of course found throughout the Bible.
  • The world itself also gives abundant evidence of God's existence.
    • Romans 1:20: For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
    • Man himself, created in the image of God, most abundantly bears witness to the existence of God
    • Nature offers excellent evidence as well
      • Acts 14:17: Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.
      • Psalm 19:1-2: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 
  • Everything in Scripture and everything in nature proves clearly that God exists and that he is the powerful and wise Creator that Scripture describes him to be. Rejection of these evidences doesn't mean that the evidence is invalid, only that those who reject it are evaluating it wrongly.
C. Traditional "Proofs" for the Existence of God

  1. The cosmological argument considers the fact that every known thing in the universe has a cause and therefore must have been created for a purpose by God.
  2. The teleological argument is a subcategory of the cosmological argument. It focuses on the evidence of harmony, order, and design in the universe, and argues that its design gives evidence of an intelligent purpose. Therefore, it must have been created to function this way by an intelligent and purposeful God.
  3. The ontological argument begins with the idea of God, who is defined as a being "greater than which nothing can be imagined." It then argues that the characteristic of existence must belong to such a being, since it is greater to exist than not to exist.
  4. The moral argument begins from man's sense of right and wrong, and of the need for justice to be done, and argues that there must be a God who is the source of right and wrong and who will someday mete out justice to all people.
  5. Because all of these arguments are based on facts about the creation that are indeed true facts, we may say that all of these proofs (when carefully constructed) are, in an objective sense, valid proofs. They are valid in that they correctly evaluate the evidence and correctly reason to a true conclusion--in fact, the universe does have God at its cause, and it does show evidence of purposeful design, and God does exist as a being greater than which nothing can be imagined, and God has given us a sense of right and wrong and a sense that his judgment is coming someday. The actual facts referred to in these proofs, therefore, are true, and in that sense the proofs are valid, even though not all people are persuaded by them. (p. 143-144)
D. Only God Can Overcome Our Sin and Enable Us to Be Persuaded of His Existence

  • In this sinful world, human wisdom alone is inadequate for coming to know God.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:5: so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
  • We are dependent upon God to remove the blindness and irrationality caused by sin and to enable us to evaluate the evidence rightly, believe what Scripture says, and come to saving faith in Christ.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Many Faces of Jared C. Wilson

Jared recently hosted a book giveaway which involved contestants submitting their versions/interpretations of his twitter icon. Some of them make me giggle. Here are some of the ones I was able to collect:

Original Photo:

Selected Submissions:

Clever book titles. ;-)

This photo came from a guy who said he tried several times, but then realized he isn't an artist. :-D

Brownie points for the Tom Brady love.

Friday, April 13, 2012

T4G12 Highlights (and some random observations)

  • Y'all. C.J. Mahaney could grip the fool out of a basketball. I'm just sayin'. . .
  • I finally got to hear in person the infamous voice and see in person the epic truck (if in fact that really is the correct definition of that thing) of Bradley Hughes. It made me very happy.
  • Free books. One of the few material things I treasure. Books. There is no such thing as too many.
  • There was a huge banner hanging in the zero dollar bookstore with the following quote on it: "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." --Mark Twain  Yep.
  • I got to follow my friend Josh via twitter on his long and adventurous journey from Maine to Boston and finally to Louisville (with possibly a side trip to North Carolina with a hobo on a train). Probably more fun for me to read about than for him to do, but I'm glad he arrived in one piece. :-D
  • Bob Kauflin is and has a tremendous gift. Just a piano and his passionate voice. Amazing.
  • I enjoyed seeing a whole crew of my LifeWay friends again. Some just got a quick hug (they were busy!), but I enjoyed great conversation with many others. I love those people.
  • Dr. Rainer was there! He took the stage for a few minutes during the Monday night sessions, and Jared laughed at me when my exact initial response was a kinda loud, "Awwwww! Dr. Rainer!"
  • Thabiti Anyabwile makes me giggle AND adore Jesus. I love that combination! 
  • I am always incredibly blessed by the relationships between brothers who disagree (pretty strongly) on secondary issues yet deeply respect and wholeheartedly support each other because of Jesus (the MAIN issue).
  • My friend Paul proclaimed his heartfelt support of Jared's *Gospel Wakefulness* (especially chapter 8) just as we were sitting down with the Crossway marketing team. Fabulous timing! :-D
  • Mark Dever has gentle eyes and a warm, engaging, pastorly presence, which Jared will never stop making fun of me for saying. Nevertheless, it is true. 
  • 8000+ (mostly male) voices exuberantly praising their Savior in song is easily one of my favorite foreshadowings of heaven. Stirs me to my soul. One of my favorite moments was the acapella rendition of this chorus: Behold our God, Seated on His Throne, Come Let us Adore Him! Behold our King! Nothing Can Compare! Come Let us Adore Him!  Just Awesome.
  • Matt and Lauren Chandler are so special. I didn't think it was possible ('cause it was already off the charts), but my respect for them grows and deepens exponentially every single time I talk to (or more commonly read or hear something from) either one of them. Their unwavering commitment to the TRUE gospel profoundly encourages my heart.
  • Jared and I got to hang out with Tim Brister, David Mathis, and Josh Cousineau Monday night. Quality dudes for sure.
  • I am eternally grateful for podcasts, especially since we had to catch a flight before Matt Chandler and John Piper spoke (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?)
  • It is always the joy of my heart to get to see Jared interact with so many wonderful men of God whom he respects so much and who have had such profound impact on him
  • It is equally joyous for me to see younger/newer in their ministry pastors and teachers approach Jared, viewing him much the same way he does his older, wiser teachers and asking for wisdom/advice/prayer. This is as it should be, is it not?
  • Spending time with my man is always a highlight of my life. Doing so in a setting that refreshes our very souls together makes it even more special.
  • Just after our last meal in Louisville, a young man approached Jared to thank him for his ministry in Vermont, because (GET THIS!) he has family in Rutland, VT who (in his words) are pagan as all get out. Garrett, I'm almost positive you will never read this, but if you do, THANK YOU for taking the time to say that. It was as great an encouragement as anything else we heard during the week and confirmed yet again why we moved to Vermont. They need Jesus.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

T4G Sound Bytes

These are some of my favorite brief thoughts from T4G so far (some for very different reasons than others). Such goodness from so many who treasure Christ so much.

From C.J. Mahaney:

"Why would anybody captivated by the glory [of Christ] want to draw attention to themselves?"

"Have you gotten over it?" (referring to the mercy of God)

"Ministry isn't just about proclamation; it also involves suffering."

"I'm so glad Paul was bewildered. I'm so glad Paul had an 'I don't know' in his pastoral toolbox."

"Your congregation isn't just listening to your sermons. They're studying your life."

"It's not about Paul's resolve. It's about the power and the grace of God."

"Every pastor has BUT NOT written over his life." (in reference to 2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

"How would you like to spend some time with Paul? It would seem to me that no whining would be allowed."

From Al Mohler:

"The gospel isn't a concept that needs fresh ideas; it is a message that needs fresh telling."

From Mark Dever:

"Our congregations are made up exclusively of sinners. So as pastors we spend all of our time with sinners. . . even when we're alone."

"False teaching will bring converts, but false converts. And false converts will hire false teachers."

"He who thinks lightly of sin will think lightly of our Savior."

"When we get this right [that Christ is our only hope], we offend and attract all the right people."

"Our basic posture as believers in the Bible is waiting." (in reference to the idea that we don't see the fullness of our salvation in this earthly life.)

From Thabiti Anyabwile:

"The greatest hindrance to the gospel is the Christian's lack of confidence in the power of the gospel."

"I love it when God puts the cookie on the bottom shelf where I can reach it."

"If we are confident in the gospel, we will position ourselves around the worst of sinners."

"Are we trying to release the gospel, or are we trying to rehabilitate it?"

"Is our confidence in our methods, or is our confidence in the gospel?"

"God only has one sermon--redemption of sinners through the atoning work of Jesus Christ his son."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Systematic Theology--Chapter 8

The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (4) Sufficiency
Is the Bible enough for knowing what God wants us to think or do?

A. Definition of the Sufficiency of Scripture

  • The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.
  • Significant scriptural support and explanation of this doctrine is found in Paul's words to Timothy, "from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ." (2 Timothy 3:15)
  • This is an indication that the words of God which we have in Scripture are all the words of God we need in order to be saved.
  • This is confirmed by other passages that talk about the words of Scripture as the means God uses to bring us to salvation.
    • James 1:18: Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
    • 1 Peter 1:23: . . . since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God
  • Other passages indicate that the Bible is also sufficient to equip us for living the Christian life.
    • 2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
    • Psalm 119:1: Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord.
B. We Can Find All That God Has Said on Particular Topics, and We Can Find Answers to Our Questions

  • Of course, we realize that we will never perfectly obey all of Scripture in this life.
  • However, the biblical teaching about the sufficiency of Scripture gives us confidence that we will be able to find all that God requires us to think or do in response to moral and doctrinal questions.
  • We differ from Roman Catholic theologians, who would say that we have not found all that God says to us about any particular subject until we have also listened to the official teaching of the church throughout its history. We would respond that although the history of the church may help us to understand what God says to us in the Bible, never in church history has God added to the teachings or commands of Scripture.
  • Scripture is sufficient to equip us for "every good work," and to walk in its ways is to be "blameless" in God's sight.
  • We also differ from nonevangelical theologians who are not convinced that the Bible is God's Word in any unique or absolutely authoritative sense, and who would therefore search not only the Bible but also many other early Christian writings in an attempt to find not so much what God said to mankind but rather what many early Christians experienced in their relationship with God. To this we would reply that our search for answers to theological and ethical questions is not a search to find what various believers have thought in the history of the church, but is a quest to find and understand what God himself says to us in his own words, which are found in Scripture and only Scripture. (p. 129)
C. The Amount of Scripture Given Was Sufficient at Each Stage of Redemptive History

  • The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture does not imply that God cannot add any more words to those he has already spoken to his people. It rather implies that man cannot add on his own initiative any words to those that God has already spoken.
  • This point is important, for it helps us to understand how God could tell his people that his words to them were sufficient at many different points in the history of redemption, and how he could nevertheless add to those words later.
  • At the time of the death of Moses, the first five books of our Old Testament were sufficient for God's people at that time.
  • Later God directed authors to add more so that Scripture would be sufficient for believers in subsequent times.
  • This means that we can cite Scripture texts from throughout the canon to show that the principle of the sufficiency of God's revelation to his people at each particular time has remained the same.
    • Deuteronomy 4:2: You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.
    • Deuteronomy 12:32: Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.
    • Proverbs 30:5-6: Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
    • Revelation 22:18-19: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
D. Practical Applications of the Sufficiency of Scripture

  1. The sufficiency of Scripture should encourage us as we try to discover what God would have us to think (about a particular doctrinal issue) or to do (in a particular situation).
  2. The sufficiency of Scripture reminds us that we are to add nothing to Scripture, and that we are to consider no other writings of equal value to Scripture.
  3. The sufficiency of Scripture also tells us that God does not require us to believe anything about himself or his redemptive work that is not found in Scripture.
  4. The sufficiency of Scripture shows us that no modern revelations from God are to be placed on a level equal to Scripture in authority.
  5. With regard to living the Christian life, the sufficiency of Scripture reminds us that nothing is sin that is not forbidden by Scripture either explicitly or by implication.
  6. The sufficiency of Scripture also tells us that nothing is required of us by God that is not commanded in Scripture either explicitly or by implication.
  7. The sufficiency of Scripture reminds us that in our doctrinal and ethical teaching we should emphasize what Scripture emphasizes and be content with what God has told us in Scripture.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Good List 4-4-12

10. Green Mountain Southern Pecan coffee. (Kind of ironic, but. . .) Yes, please!
9. In an unusual but welcome turn of events, I actually *lost* a pound while in Houston rather than gaining the typical 1-2 I usually pick up there from all the yummy seafood and Mexican food. I guess that is the one and ONLY benefit of literally sweating my booty off. :-D
8. Marc Martel, lead singer of Downhere, one of my favorite bands ever. His voice gives me chills.

Or if you prefer his more "regular" stuff (which is anything but regular in my opinion):

7. Getting to watch the PLNTD conference unfold via twitter even though I couldn't be there last weekend. Fun to read all the quotes and comments.
6. When more than half of my grocery list is fresh produce. It's that time of year. I love it!
5. Clem's is back! Well, sorta. . .  It's called The Coffee Exchange now, which was actually its original name before Clem's. Long story, but the important thing is that the corner coffee shop in downtown Rutland is re-opened, AND Kayla (our very most favorite barista) is even working there again! It's possible that I'm much more happy about this than what would be an appropriate amount, but love me anyway, ok? :-D
4. Planning special holiday meals for my family. Yes, I'm fully aware that I'm a nerd, but I'm ok with it.
3. Tea and conversation with the brilliant and wonderful Anne Miserocchi AND the always utterly fabulous Kim Carr within just a few days of each other (now THAT is a good week!) I love those ladies! I hope I can be half as wise and classy as they are when I grow up!
2. T4G is NEXT WEEK! I've been looking forward to this for a WHOLE YEAR!!!!
1. Grandmom and Granddad will be here in just "7 sleeps." 5 little munchkins are about to burst! (And their parents are pretty excited too!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prayer Time

Today the sun is blazing and the high temperature should be in the mid-50's. This is the perfect day for a hike up to our backyard waterfall to spend some time with God.

Please let me know if there are any requests you'd like me to bring to his attention on your behalf. And as always, comments on this post will not be published publicly for the sake of those concerned with privacy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Invest Wisely

I am so incredibly blessed and honored to have so many treasured friends and mentors in my life who are older than me and far wiser than I likely ever will be. They teach me, sharpen me, encourage me, help me, love me. And they do it well. Time spent with such as these is one of the richest joys of my life.

One of the most valuable lessons I've learned and probably the one that everyone whose opinions I value most unanimously agrees on is this:

Whatever you invest in during your 20s, 30s and 40s is almost definitely what you will have in your 50s, 60s and beyond.

If you primarily invest in yourself and spend most of your time and energy selfishly, you will likely be left with only yourself.

On the other hand, if you invest in others and truly desire to serve and love, you will likely be surrounded with those you've loved well.

I'm sure there are exceptions to this idea, but the more people I know, the more this seems to ring true. 

Lord, teach me to love well so that I might always be surrounded with people I love. And thank you so much for the treasured relationships in my life. May I always be among those surrounding them with as much love and honor as they have shown me.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Systematic Theology--Chapter 7

The Four Characteristics of Scripture: (3) Necessity
For what purposes is the Bible necessary? How much can people know about God without the Bible?

The necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God's will, but is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God's character and moral laws.

A. The Bible is Necessary for Knowledge of the Gospel
  • Eternal salvation comes only through belief in Jesus Christ and no other way. Therefore, one must either read the gospel message in the Bible for oneself, or hear it from another person in order to be saved.
  • Even those believers who came to salvation in the old covenant did so by trusting in the words of God that promised a Savior to come.
  • Even in the lifetime of Adam and Eve there are words of God that point toward a future salvation: in Genesis 3:15 the curse on the serpent includes a promise that the seed of the woman (one of her descendants) would bruise the head of the serpent but would himself be hurt in the process--a promise ultimately fulfilled in Christ.
B. The Bible is Necessary for Maintaining Spiritual Life
  • Matthew 4:4 (which is quoting Deuteronomy 8:3): But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
  • Here Jesus indicates that our spiritual lives are maintained by daily nourishment with the Word of God, just as our physical lives are maintained by daily nourishment with physical food. To neglect regular reading of God's Word is as detrimental to the health of our souls as the neglect of physical food is detrimental to the health of our bodies.
C. The Bible is Necessary for Certain Knowledge of God's Will
  • God has not revealed all things to us, but he has revealed enough for us to know his will: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law." (Deuteronomy 29:29)
  • If we are to have a certain knowledge of God's will, we must attain it through the study of Scripture.
  • What are our options for having certainty about any one fact?
    • We must learn all the facts of the universe in order to be sure that no subsequently discovered fact will prove our present ideas to be false, or
    • Someone who does know all the facts in the universe, and who never lies, could tell us some true facts that we can then be sure will never be (accurately) contradicted.
    • The first option is of course impossible while the second option is what we have in the words of Scripture.
  • In summary, for people who are not omniscient (hint: that's everybody), the Bible is necessary for certain knowledge.
D. But the Bible is Not Necessary for Knowing that God Exists
  • Evidences of God are all around us in creation to be seen by those who are willing to see them.
  • Romans 1:19-21: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
  • Paul notes that even wicked men recognize the evidence of God in creation, but this knowledge alone is rarely enough to bring them to salvation.
E. Furthermore, the Bible is Not Necessary for Knowing Something About God's Character and Moral Laws
  • Romans 2:14-15: For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
  • Even the consciences of unbelievers bear witness to God's moral standards (think of fairness, justice, right vs. wrong, etc.), but the evidence of God's law on the hearts of unbelievers is typically distorted or suppressed.
  • Saving faith does not come about by human speculation alone: rather, it is confidence or trust in God that rests on the truthfulness of God's own words.
    • James 1:18: Of his own will he brought us forth (metaphor for new birth) by the word of truth (God's Word), that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
    • 1 Peter 1:23: . . . since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.