Sermon Shorts from Spurgeon — Sermon 15: The Bible

If this be the Word of God, what will become of some of you who have not read it for the last month? “Month, sir! I have not read it for this year.” Ay, there are some of you who have not read it at all. Most people treat the Bible very politely . They have a small pocket volume, neatly bound; they put a white pocket-handkerchief round it and carry it to their places of worship; when they get home, they lay it up in a drawer till next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat, and goes to chapel; that is all the poor Bible gets in the way of an airing. That is your style of entertaining this heavenly messenger. There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers.

From the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 1, Sermon 15 by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Church Meetings – Part 4: Where Should Churches Meet?

As I stated in a previous article in this series, our modern view of church is typically associated with meeting in a building. We talk about, “Going to church.” By that we usually mean that we’re going to travel to a building and meet with other Christians for a formal assembly of believers. What do the Scriptures reveal about this?

There is no established place for Christians to assemble in the Bible.  The biblical text is clear.  They met in homes.  There was no “church building” for them to meet in. 

[As an aside, I have heard preachers use 1 Corinthians 11:18 as referring to a church building, “For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.” (KJV) There are two issues with the phrase “in the church”. First, the Greek preposition en, translated “in” has a broad array of meanings, depending on the context. Nearly every other English translation (NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, HCSB, RSV, et al.) renders it “as” which makes more sense in context. Second, there is no article (“the”) in the Greek text. The absence of the article usually means that it should be translated one of two ways: (1) “as church” indicating the character or quality of the church or (2) “as a church” indicating that the church is indefinite and not a specific one or location. (For you Greek students out there, I’m simplifying this for a general audience. It is understood that there are grammatical constructions which would make the phrase definite and thus require the article in English, but that is not the case here.) Again, context would indicate that it should be “as a church”. The only translation which does not follow this is the KJV. Now I love the KJV, but the Greek text trumps it.]

Again, I’m not saying that having a building is wrong.  I’m just saying that it’s foreign to the Bible.  So, if I meet with Christians at my workplace, even for a few minutes, to share, pray, and maybe even discuss Scripture, is that an assembly of the church?  Think about it before you answer.  We weren’t in a church building, but that’s not a biblical requirement.  We didn’t sing songs, but that’s not a biblical requirement either.  We didn’t take an offering, but since you cannot find even a single reference to a church in the Bible taking an offering for their own use, that’s not an issue either. 

Could it be that Hebrews 10:25 could refer to something other than our traditional concept of a church assembly?  The Greek word for “assembling” (episunagoge) refers to a “gathering together in one place”.  It does not speak to the number of people or a building or a need to have a pastor present or singing or preaching and it certainly does not refer to a denomination.  The context is that we “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works”.  (Heb. 10:24)  And remember, Jesus made a propositional statement in Matthew 18:20 that where 2 or 3 are gathered that He’s there.  It’s something to think about.

In conclusion, an assembly of believers (a church) can occur anywhere. Our concept of “going to church” is shaped by our contemporary view of it. The biblical text requires Christians meeting together and that can occur anywhere Christians are assembled.

The Pope Changes the Text of the Lord’s Prayer

The Pope has approved changing the Lord’s Prayer from “lead us not into temptation” to “do not let us fall into temptation”.  This was not done on textual grounds, but from a “theological, pastoral, and stylistic viewpoint”.  Excuse me, but since when does that trump the biblical text?

History of the Text

I looked at several English translations going back to Tyndale (1534) and they all have the traditional reading.  The reason is that the Greek text is clear and there are not even any textual variants for that verse.  All Greek textual traditions read the same.  The only other possible translation I can see is “may You not lead us into temptation” which emphasizes the subjective mood of the verb, but that doesn’t address the Pope’s concern.  Continue reading

Marriage: Leaving and Cleaving

Marriage is a great institution and one which has been established by God.  This is the primary passage in the Bible regarding the union between a man and woman.

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Gen. 2:24-25)

The first aspect of marriage is that it begins a new family.  The man leaves his parents and he and his wife start their own unique household.  This is not to say that the parents and other family members are forsaken, but that their union constitutes a newly formed family unit.

Marriage: Wedding rings over Bible

Marriage, rings over Bible

The second aspect is that there is a bond between the man and woman.  The husband cleaves unto his wife.  The Hebrew word for “cleave” means to “stick to” or “stay close to”.  Jesus elaborated on this theme when He said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:6)

The third aspect in this passage is that there is intimacy between the man and woman.  God reserves the expression of sex for marriage.  Our culture has moved away from this standard, but it is a timeless biblical standard which should be observed.  Sexual expression is a rite of marriage, so to speak.  As God instructs, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)

Marriage is a God-ordained institution and as such, God defines it, not our culture.  This union is defined by God in the Bible as always between one man and one woman.  While this standard has been defined by our culture as narrow-minded, old-fashioned, and far worse, it has been the undeniable standard throughout the ages. 

Is Immigration a Biblical Issue?

First of all, this is not an endorsement or condemnation of Donald Trump or the U.S. government’s immigration policies in general.  This article is simply addressing biblical interpretation errors and other fallacies in a Washington Post article written by a Yale Divinity School professor which takes issue with Franklin Graham’s insistence that immigration is not a Bible issue.  Here is the article:
This is not the first article I have read this week on this subject.  All of them have a common theme: Christians should let anyone immigrate to the United States because of how “strangers” are treated in the Bible.  Here’s my take:

Continue reading