READING AND QUOTING OTHERS
On May 22 of this year, my young preacher friend, James Hayes, in his weekly column “Something To Think About,” wrote about the uniqueness of Scripture. James is a good and careful student of the Scriptures, and a good and careful writer (pays attention to spelling, grammar, syntax, etc.). Hear what he says.
“Any discussion of the Bible must be based on this fundamental premise: God’s word is not in the Bible; it is the Bible. The pages are not sacred. The ink is not holy. But the message of Scripture, the good news of Jesus, is divinely inspired.
“The Bible is not structured like modern books. It has several unique characteristics.
“(1) Considering the scope of material, the Bible is brief. The first 34 verses tell the story of the creation of the material world, plant life, animal life, and man. Genesis covers 2,500 years of history in just 50 chapters. Jesus’ baptism is recorded in only five verses. Yet, a federal directive regulating the price of cabbage contains 26,911 words.
“(2) What the Bible omits is significant. The gospel of John covers only 20 days of Jesus three-plus years of ministry. We know little to nothing of the lives of most of the apostles. We have no physical description of Jesus. It is clear that through inspiration of the Spirit, the Bible writers gave us what we needed to know and not a bit more (John 20:30-31).
“(3) The Bible shows remarkable restraint. Not only does the Bible omit things that uninspired writers might include, it also describes dramatic events in undramatic ways. The transfiguration. The feeding of the 5,000. Jesus and Peters walking on water. All are told in a straightforward, Just-the-facts-ma’am. sort of way. Uninspired writers would have elaborated for chapter upon chapter, trying to ‘wow’ the reader.
“The Bible is not just another book. There is nothing man can say or do to lessen the power of God’s word. Man can only embrace it for his salvation or reject it for his condemnation. What do you do with the Bible?
“… but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God’ (John 20:31).”
“You’re out of date,” said young preacher Bate,
To one of our faithful old preachers;
Who carried for years, in travail and with tears,
The Gospel to poor sinful creatures.
“You still preach on Hell, and shock cultured ladies,
With your barbarous doctrine of blood;
You’re so far behind you will never catch up;
You’re a flat tire stuck in the mud.”
For some little while, a wee bit of a smile,
Enlightened the old preacher’s face;
Being made the butt of ridicule’s cut,
Did not ruffle his sweetness or grace.
Then he turned to young Bate, so suave and sedate,
” ‘Catch up,’ did my ears hear you say?”
Why I couldn’t succeed, if I doubled my speed,
My friend, I’m not going your way.”
Finally, from Dr. Cecil May and the Spring 2015 edition of his “Preacher Talk” comes this little blurb titled “No S”:
Three things often quoted as plural are actually singular.
Describing heaven, John says, “And the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass” (Rev. 21:21). Not “streets.” John mentions one.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). They are collectively “fruit,” not individually “fruits.”
“Revelation” is “the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). There is one revelation of one Lord. No biblical book is called “Revelations.”
Yes, we all need to learn to read carefully labels, street signs, directions on meds, books, newspapers, magazines, legal documents, but especially the Bible. Many do not, you know.
July 28, 2015