Friday, June 01, 2007

Spurgeon on being chosen by God

I believe in the doctrine of election, because I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never have chosen him; and I am sure he chose me before I was born, or else he never would have chosen me afterwards; and he must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why he should have looked upon me with special love
C H Spurgeon

Haven't posted to this site in quite a while.

I like the title of this blog, but I seem to get more traffic at my Gontroppo one.

Want more Spurgeon?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Before it's too late

I'd like to encourage everyone reading this blog to think back to people who have stood out as guides in your Christian walk. Have you thanked them?

Please take the time to do it, if it's possible. If you are able to thank them personally, and in a letter, please do this in preference to a phone call or email.

I'm glad I was prompted, I trust by the Holy Spirit, to do this a few years back, and thank
Cec Williams
Sunday School Superintendent who challenged us to think through our Christian faith and
Tom Mascord
a gracious, kindly man who taught me for several years in Sunday School.

I can still think God for them today, but not them personally as they have both passed into the presence of our Lord Jesus.

Got one or two people in mind? Now where's that nice writing pad?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Favourite quotes

As a keen conservationist, I thought I should recycle some of my favourite quotes. You can find more at A Treasure Chest of Great Quotes.

Franklin P. Adams
I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way.

Greg Aldrik
Ask yourself, "If all jobs paid $2 an hour, what job would I want to do?"
When you answer that question, start doing it, even if you have to do it for free at first.

Thomas à Kempis[as often quoted by Scot McKay]
Man proposes, but God disposes.

G. K. Chesterton
"My country, right or wrong" is a thing that no patriot would think of saying, except in a desperate case.
It is like saying "My mother, drunk or sober."

Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it has a God who knew his way out of the grave.

Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.

These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own.

I may not practise what I preach, but God forbid that I preach what I practise.

Calvin Coolidge
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "Press On" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that never otherwise would have occurred . . .
Whatever you can do,
Or dream you can do,
Begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Begin it now.

If youth is a fault, it is one which is soon corrected.

If you must tell me your opinions, tell me what you believe in. I have plenty of doubts of my own.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dramatic presentation of Hebrews

Ryan Ferguson has memorised the wonderful book of Hebrews and has produced a superb dramatic presentation of Hebrews Chapters 9 and 10, which he presented at a recent Sovereign Grace Ministries conference.

It is well worth downloading and spending the 11 minutes watching his re-creation of these stirring chapters. It is a great lesson for everyone who reads the bible in church, as he has obviously developd an intimate knowledge of the passage's meaning through his hard work.

I hope he will continue to do these presentations and that they may be made available freely, and maybe others will also be inspired to do so.

I'm hoping to learn some of Hebrews myself and have begun on the first verses in the TNIV translation. But I would definitely memorise the alternative rendering in chapter 2. [Ryan used the ESV.]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ten years ago today ...

I first logged on to the internet. It took over a day to do, because the dial up modem I'd bought did not actually work. My ISP tried all sorts of things and never even suggested the modem might not work.

When I rang the company that made the modem, they told me I could send it back and they'd send me another, several days later.

While I had carefully selected the modem, choosing another was easy. I went to the local shop and bought the first one I saw ... which worked.

The past 10 years online have been very rewarding. I have "met" lots of interesting people also involved in the 2 matters I'm mostly interested in:

Christ and his church

In 2003 when we visited our son in California and our niece in Boston, I also made phone calls to American friends I'd "met" on the net and we spent a few days in London, where we met up with an aunty and uncle of my wife, and travelled up to Scotland where we met 2 Christian friends and one music friend. It was wonderful to meet them in the flesh and to enjoy their kind hospitality.

I can't imagine how I'd get on without the great connections we enjoy on the net and the amazing amount of information available online. Today I've been preparing a U3A talk on Tchaikovsky and his 1812 overture and, as usual, found some terrific resources to guide me through presenting this next Thursday.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Barbie's Dream Church

Barbie's Dream Church is a great dig at our materialism and lack of desire to confom ourselves to God's standards, I think.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The meaning of Greek words in the New Testament

I've been following a conversation at Theology List at Yahoo Groups about how Christians should relate to church leaders. Some folk are not keen on the idea of submitting to leaders and are not sure this is taught in the New Testament.

A recent comment was made about Hebrews chapter 13 verse 17, the first part of which is translated pretty consistently as something quite close to
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.

The person commenting remarked that the Greek verb PEITHO means be persuaded by rather than obey, as it is usually translated in this passage.

If you look the word up in a lexicon [fancy word for a bible language dictionary], you will find that the word has a basic meaning, but also lots of variations on the basic meaning, depending on the context and also whether it is in the active or passive voice and whether it is followed by an indirect or direct object or by the infinitive.

The standard lexicon most New Testament bible scholars use is Danker's revision of Arndt and Gingrich's edition of Bauer's German lexicon, which is usually referred to as BDAG, which honours Bauer as the bloke who created the dictionary in the first place, Arndt and Gingrich as the people who translated it into English, and Danker as the latest reviser.

Looking up BDAG, you will find the word is used in a variety of ways:

1. the first meaning is "to cause to come to a particular point of view or action" and there are verses where the best translation seems to be
a. to convince, as in Acts 18:4
b. persuade or appeal to, as in 2 Corinthians 5:11
c. win over, strive to please, as in Acts 12:20
d. conciliate, pacify, set at rest, as in Matthew 28:14

2. There is a second meaning "to be so convinced that one puts confidence in something" and there are verses where the best translation seems to be

a. for verses where PEITHO is followed by an indirect object and person or thing
"depend on" or "trust in" as in Philippians 1:14
b. for verses where the word is follwoed by a direct object or the infinitive
"be convinced" or "be sure" or "be certain" as in Romans 2:19

3. A third meaning occurs where the verb is in the passive or middle voice and amy be roughly translated "to be won over as the result of persuasion"

There are verses in this category that would seem to be best translated as

a. be persuaded, believe, as in Acts 21:14
b. when followed by an indirect object and a person or thing
"obey, follow" as in Hebrews 13:17

c. Danker admits that sometimes there is uncertainty whether the translation should be a or b, but does not see an argument for uncertainty about Hebrews 13:17. I have not seen a translation that renders this verse as anything else but "obey your leaders"

4. A fourth meaning is "to attainty certainty in reference to something, be convinced or certain" as in Hebrews 6:9

Having discovered the variety of meanings given, you might think that you can choose the one that you like best, or which feels right to you. If you don't like the idea of having to obey someone else, why not go for be won over as the result of persuasion?

But almost all bible translations have rendered this word into English as obey or an equivalent of obey. This agreement on how Hebrews 13:17 should be translated is not because the bible translators and lexicon writers are all power hungry bishops who want to lord it over us plebs! It is a consensus based on many hundreds of scholars reading Greek literature from before, after and during the New Testament period, and finding that obey is the most appropriate rendering for this context.

Interestingly, two recent less literal translations have softened the meaning a little. The Message, Eugene Peterson's paraphrase, and the TNIV, an updated version of the NIV translation, have the beginning of Hebrews 13:17 saying:
Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel.[The Message]
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority [TNIV]

If you find youself preferring the way the verse comes out in these versions, you need to consider whether there has been any new scholarship which would necessitate a change in the way the verse had been rendered for hundreds of years. Are they based on more ancient Greek manuscripts? Have they discovered something new about the meaning of the word PEITHO in this context? If not, we can't opt for this new rendering simply because we like it. We need a more sound basis than that.