The End of Many Books

Living by the Book

by Howard Hendricks

This is THE book for learning how to do Bible study. It is book number ONE, and for many, the only.

I’ve been to Bible college and seminary, been assigned lots of books, taken hermeneutics classes and Greek/Hebrew classes. I’ve loved learning how to read and meditate and apply the Word. And Hendricks is the one I keep coming back to in order to get other people going.

I’m teaching a class at our school called Cornerstone. That’s Jesus, yes, who is the embodied Word. And it’s also a reference to the inspired Word, the Bible. This year I’ve got freshmen and sophomores, and I’ve taken a few other freshmen classes through it at a previous school.

Want to read the Bible but don’t know where to start? Want to study the Bible but need some basic steps to get going? Want some recommended resources to help you study, and would prefer not just Googling or Wikipedia-ing?

Living by the Book is your book. All the stars.

The End of Many Books

The Book that Made Your World

How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization

by Vishal Mangalwadi

This book is like great steak. There aren’t really that many surprises, but, man, it is GOOD.

I first heard about this book around the time Jordan Peterson was ranting about the Bible to Joe Rogan. There was some background on the socials, and it seems like, for as much as Peterson already paid attention to the Bible, Mangalwadi must have sent a copy to Peterson and it was like a shot of nitro into JP’s enthusiasm engine.

I happen to love the Bible. I don’t worship it, but it is the source of revelation from the true God whom I do worship. I started to read the Word for myself in high school, went to three different Bible colleges, and eventually went to the seminary I thought would teach me the most about ministering on the basis of and through the power of the Word.

But all through that time, and through almost my first decade of being a full-time Bible studying and preaching pastor, while I thought the Bible was AWESOME and as I looked to it first for ANSWERS, I kept reading it wrongly. I could say I was reading it partially, narrowly, dualistically. I read and studied it to learn “Bible” things, to glean theological truths, but failed to realize that the theological truths in the Bible provide the basis and the lens for reading and studying all things, as well as for building culture and civilizations.

Had I thought about it for even a second, it shouldn’t have been surprising. But I was giving credit to something “other” (without knowing or being able to name it) than God and God’s Word for creating the categories we share.

TBTMYW shows that secularism has no clothes; all idols likewise are naked. There just isn’t such a thing as neutrality. Ideas have consequences, and every idea comes from somewhere and connects with some kind of conduct. Cultures that haven’t had the Bible have had some good things, of course. Our Father makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. But the big, abundant BLESSINGS belong to those who receive the truth revealed in the divine Text.

Mangalwadi’s book is a who’s who and what’s what of Western Civilization. It has almost ALL the great names you’d expect. What makes it especially interesting is that Mangalwadi is looking into WesternCiv from the outside, from his Eastern culture. He argues that globalization, while certainly perverted and hijacked by some, has more to do with the Lord’s covenant to Abraham to bless all the nations of the earth.

TBTMYW a long book, but like a big steak, that should be the opposite of discouraging. Take it bite by bite. There is confidence in these pages. They obviously aren’t inspired, but they do inform our gratitude and increase our desire for the Word of God. God has been kind to give us a Book. We ought to read the Book, meditate on it day and night, and be careful to obey the Author of it. That would put some soul back into our civilization.

5 of 5 stars

Here’s the video of Peterson talking to Rogan about how “roughly speaking we have a bedrock of agreement…that’s the Bible.”

The Bible is the fundamental basis on which our (shared) categories of meaning and understanding depend.

The End of Many Books

Knowing Scripture

by R. C. Sproul

I’ve started teaching a Bible class again, though it’s got a WAY cooler name than “Bible Class.” We’re calling it Cornerstone. Boom. So I’ve been doing some extra reading, and this was my first time for Knowing Scripture by Sproul.

It’s got reasons to read the Bible, including an emphasis on the objectivity or “there-ness” of revelation, reminders on the perspicuity or understandability of revelation, and then some general principles for reading and interpreting.

His three primary rules for hermeneutics:

  • Sacra Scriptura sui interpres – Sacred Scripture is its own interpreter, similar to analogia Scriptura
  • sensus literalis – interpret according to the literal sense, meaning to pay attention to the “natural meaning of a passage…according to the normal rules of grammar, speech, syntax, and context”
  • Grammatical-Historical method – giving attention to the original meaning of the text rather than read in our own ideas

He also provides 11 practical rules for interpretation, and, they are…fine, sort of like guardrails a third of the way down the bank. They’ll stop you from exegetical death, but there’s plenty of off-roading you can do before stopping.

The whole thing is good, and as Sproul was a key player in the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy and the follow up statement on Hermeneutics, he had parchment in the game.

4 of 5 stars

The End of Many Books

Taking God at His Word

Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me

by Kevin DeYoung

In Taking God at His Word DeYoung shows not only that the Bible is trustworthy, but tasty. As he says, this isn’t a book about hermeneutics and how to interpret Scripture, yet it is a delightful and encouraging book about why we should believe it and believe that we can understand it. Here’s a few questions he asks:

“Is God wise enough to make himself known? Is he good enough to make himself accessible? Is he gracious enough to communicate in ways that are understandable to the meek and lowly? Or does God give us commands we can’t understand and a self-revelation that reveals more questions than answers?”

DeYoung answers these thoroughly and throughout the book. In particular his chapter on “Christ’s Unbreakable Bible” is an excellent demonstration of how the incarnate Word viewed and used the inspired Word.

I was edified by reading this, and would highly recommend it for Christians who are young in age (junior high/high school) and certainly for those who are new in their discipleship to Christ. Get in the Word, and let it get in you (per Colossians 3:16).

4 of 5 stars

A Shot of Encouragement

The Golden Rule of Reading

The “Golden Rule of Reading” – however you want others to read what you’ve written, so read what they’ve written. At least start by considering their claims to be true. This isn’t immature, it’s loving. Love believes all things, it doesn’t doubt all things.

This applies to all sorts of material, but maybe most to what has been written in Scripture. At least when starting out:

Read carefully, not assumingely.

Read charitably, not critically.

Read acceptingly, not suspiciously.

For even more mental marination, Joe Rigney wrote “Do Unto Authors – Four Principles for Reading Well” in which he talks about Golden Rule Interpretation.

And with confirmation from Isaac Watts in 1741:

“Lastly, remember that you treat every author, writer, or speaker, just as you yourselves would be willing to be treated by others, who are searching out the meaning of what you write or speak.”

On the Improvement of the Mind
A Shot of Encouragement

A Clear and Concise Demonstration of the Divine Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures

John Wesley wrote “A Clear and Concise Demonstration of the Divine Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures” in 1789. It’s GOOD.

“I beg leave to propose a short, clear, and strong argument to prove the divine inspiration of the holy Scripture.

The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God.

  1. It could not be the invention of good men or angels; for they neither would nor could make a book, and tell lies all the time they were writing it, saying, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ when it was their own invention.
  2. It could not be the invention of bad men or devils; for they would not make a book which commands all duty, forbids all sin, and condemns their souls to hell to all eternity.
  3. Therefore, I draw this conclusion, that the Bible must be given by divine inspiration.”

Based on what is in the Bible, the Bible is TRUE/right or FALSE/wrong, it can’t be just a “good” book.

Lord's Day Liturgy

Food that Fixes

Do we eat to live or live to eat? Food is necessary to sustain the body’s health and activity, and active bodies benefit from slowing down to eat, sometimes even to give thanks in an extended feast. So as is often the case, the answer is both. Sitting around the table for dinner as a family is a great blessing, and never getting up from the table to do anything is not.

This is true with spiritual food as well, with the bread and water of God’s Word. It is bread, it is light, it is strength, it is profit, and so we ought to crave it, read it, hear it, meditate on it. This can be done throughout the day, but it is also reasonable to have a set meal time, so to speak, to get a good helping.

As we start these summer months, many will have a different schedule, with at least different work and different schedule if not actually a break from school work. It’s wise to make a plan to eat well. Maybe it’s the #SamePageSummer plan. Maybe it’s just a few verses a day. But the “word of His grace…is able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Delighting in and meditating on the law of the Lord makes a man fruitful and blessed.

Redeem the time, receive the implanted word (James 1:21), put away your sin and taste that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:1-2). Reading the word fixes a lot of things.

And check out this new Substack newsletter by Patrick Moore on being a Christian Bible Reader. Perfect timing.

Lord's Day Liturgy

As a Man Scrolleth

What are you thinking about? There’s an old saying that a man is what he thinks. It’s not just old, it’s Solomonic, it’s scriptural. The context in Proverbs 23:6-7 counsels the wise to be careful what they consume from the hand of an apparently generous person. Watch out for the stingy man, the one with an “evil eye.” “‘Eat and drink!’ he says to you, but his heart is not with you.” The ESV starts verse 7 with “he is like one who is inwardly calculating,” but the KJV makes it more general, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Your thoughts are your character, stingy or not, regardless of what you spread on the table.

This exhortation isn’t about stinginess, but about Scripture. We are what we think, what we do and say comes out of the heart (Matthew 15:18-19), at least eventually. What are you thinking about? What mental marinade are you soaking your soul in?

There are so many goads in God’s Word about the profit of consuming God’s Word. Psalm 1 pronounces blessing on the one who delights in and meditates on the law of the LORD. Big tech has an evil eye, “Scroll and scroll,” Elark Zuckermusk says to you, but his heart is not with you. So many free things aren’t free, the price is our attention/minds, our affections/delights.

On New Year’s Day you’re not too late to start a Bible reading plan; a verse a day, a chapter a day; listen, read, both. In addition to another Bible-in-a-year reading plan, I am budgeting minutes for myself to memorize the Pastoral Epistles.

You are what you think about, and you are like a green and fruitful and blessed tree planted by streams of water when you think about whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable (Philippians 4:8). Think on the Word, and the Lord will give you understanding and success (2 Timothy 2:7; Joshua 1:8),

Lord's Day Liturgy

Blessed Bible Reading

The very first word in the hymnbook of the Old Testament is the word blessed: “Blessed is the man…” (Psalm 1:1).

The immediately following lines do not describe this man’s blessedness but rather his chosen source of information and direction. He does not spend time listening to sinners and scoffers. He doesn’t hang with them or identify with them on social media. Instead he delights in and mediates on the law of the Lord. He marinates his mind in God’s Word.

The blessing, more accurately, blessings plural, are found in the following verse.

He is like a tree
Planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

The blessings of God are at least stability and fruitfulness. The blessed man’s roots are established and he is not easily moved by the wind. His source of life is abundant so he is not threatened by the heat. He bears fruit when it is time.

To be #blessed is not to be driven by fads or driven by fear or driven to doubt by the wicked chaff. Blessing grows out of our chosen meditation.

With the new calendar year about to start, why not consider a Bible reading plan to provoke systemic meditation? I know a lot of you are reading the #ToTheWord plan, which is great, and that starts and stops following the school year schedule. But if you don’t have another, you could try my favorite: the Discipleship Journal plan, with four readings twenty-five days a month, from four different parts of the Bible.

Whatever you choose, put yourself in the right place to be blessed by the Lord.

Lord's Day Liturgy

The Owner of the Vineyard

If you are tracking with the Same Page Summer Bible reading plan, or if you happened to read the Gospel of Mark this past week, the Parable of the Tenants may be more fresh in your mind.

In Mark 12 Jesus told a story about a man who planted a vineyard and built a fence to protect it, who then leased the land to tenants while he went to another country. At harvest the owner sent one of his servants to get some of the fruit, and the tenants assaulted the servant. The tenants attacked a second servant, killed a third servant, and then murdered the “beloved son.”

Jesus asked, “What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others” (Mark 12:9).

The religious leaders who listened to the parable “perceived that he had told the parable against them” (verse 12), and He had. The good news is that while the parable was against them, it is for us. We are among the “others.”

In general the parable is against the hard-hearted Jews, the tenants in the story, who received a stewardship and then began acting like they were the owners. They indeed killed the Son of God’s love. The others in the story are the Gentiles, and here we are.

When it comes to eschatology, we believe that God still will cause a future generation of Jews to repent and receive the Messiah. And also, when it comes to eschatology, the owner of the vineyard has shared the riches of His glory in Christ among the Gentiles. We are built on the Cornerstone, it is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous (Mark 12:10-11)!