These words cause my heart to quicken and my mouth to salivate – topics near and dear to my heart. Areas that I am passionate about – talking about, learning about, growing in. And they are all inter-connected.
Bible reading and study lead us to develop our beliefs about God – our own theology and doctrines, what we believe about who God is and what He has done for us. This theology and belief about God is then worked out in how we live our daily lives, our own discipleship with Christ and teaching and discipling of others.
It seems that many American Christians are not actively involved in reading and studying their Bible. As a result, their theology and doctrine is weak. They don’t know what they believe and so are tossed about by the winds of the times, the beliefs that are prevalent in the society around them. Without knowing what they believe (and why) they are then unable to defend their beliefs to others. They do not grow in their Christian walk and as disciples of Christ. And thus are unable to disciple others in the faith.
We need to be reading the Bible and studying it! We need to be learning theology and doctrine, who God is and what we believe. These things are vital for the Christian to grow.
God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This pretty much sums up the book:
“The doctrine of vocation is a theology of the Christian life, having to do with sanctification and good works. It is also a theology of ordinary life. Christians do not have to be called to the mission field or the ministry or the work of evangelism to serve God, though many are; nor does the Christian life necessarily involve some kind of constant mystical experience. Rather, the Christian life is to be lived in vocation, in the seemingly ordinary walks of life that take up nearly all of the hours of our day. The Christian life is to be lived out in our family, our work, our community, and our church. Such things seem mundane, but this is because of our blindness. Actually God is present in them – and in us – in a mighty, though hidden, way.”
And this quote is a good reminder:
“The promises of God’s Word and the conviction that right now, where I am, I am in the station – the vocation – where God has placed me – those constitute the basis for confidence and certainty that God has assuredly placed me here and that He is faithful and that He, even though I cannot see Him, is at work in and through my life.”
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Jeremiah 29:11 is not a promise for us Christians today. When it is used in this way, it is being ripped totally out of context. The context of this passage is God speaking to the Israelites while they are in captivity, telling them to go ahead and settle down, marry, grow crops, for they are going to be there a while. Using Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise for today’s Christians, is like saying Jeremiah 29:14 is a promise for us:
“I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Instead of using this verse incorrectly, why not use these verses that are promises for today’s Christian? Hebrews 13:5-6: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Context – it’s critical to understanding the Bible’s message!
Recently a friend of mine on Facebook posted why they use the KJV vs. the NIV. One of their questions was why are there so many different English translations. Here was my response on why there are so many different translations in English today:
because there is no direct translation for every Greek or Hebrew word into every English word. all translations have some interpretation involved because of it being from one language to another. the best is to read the Bible in original Greek or Hebrew but most people don’t know these languages. No english translation is exactly word-to-word, they all have to translate what the original authors were saying into readable English. Word to word would be impossible to understand. Which means there will always be some interpretation by the translators – even the KJV is not a direct word-to-word translation of the original Greek or Hebrew. No translation is perfect unfortunately.
While I don’t think I convinced my friend on what he believes regarding the KJV and other Bible translations, I thought it does make for some interesting discussions. I’ve read several books recently that deal with why there are different translations, the philosophy behind them and the problems that are inherent in any translation.
Unless we are able to read the Bible in its original languages – Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic – we have to use a translation. Translations will always have some error involved because they are done by humans. At times there is no direct word-for-word translation between the original language and our English language today. The translators have to translate what the writer was saying but there may not be a word in English that matches what the original language word is. So they have to determine the proper English translation that is closest to what the original language meant. Sometimes that may take a phrase rather than a single word. So there will always be some interpretation involved with any translation – even the KJV! It is better not to rely solely on one translation but to use a variety of translations for Bible study.
Some helpful books that I have read on this subject include the following:
The Complete Guide to Bible Translations by Ron Rhodes
How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth by Mark Strauss & Gordon Fee
Books on cultural and other contexts for remembering when reading the Bible:
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien
Out of Context by Richard Schultz
Haven’t read myself but deal with this subject:
A User’s Guide to Bible Translations by David Dewey
Which Bible Translation Should I Use? A Comparison of 4 Major Recent Versions by multiple authors
One Bible, Many Versions by Dave Brunn
Translating the Bible: from William Tyndale to King James by Gerald Bray
Translating Truth: The Case for Essentially Literal Bible Translation by Leland Ryken, Wayne Grudem, and more