Family Talk

Members of the Calvary Baptist Church family are encouraged to send comments on this post to dtaylor@calvarysimpsonville.org .  Pastor Dean Taylor will read all comments and questions and will endeavor to provide a response.  This may come in a direct email to you, and/or may be posted along with the question (anonymously, without your name or address) on this website so others can benefit from it.  Comments on this blog are closed for now.

Calvary members and regular attendees who missed the Family Talk can obtain a CD or DVD of it free of charge.  Contact the church office or go to the Information Center in the church lobby.  Additional copies can be ordered for the normal cost of sermon recordings.

Sunday evening, August 23, I presented a “Family Talk” to the dear people of Calvary Baptist Church of Simpsonville. I began with some observations from Ephesians 4:1-16 regarding how God uses pastors to lead the church in developing maturity (12-13, 14a, 15), unity (2-6, 13a), stability (14), and efficiency (16).  Growth requires change.  Good change is good, bad change is bad.

Certain things do not change (e.g., truth, doctrine, values).  I as Pastor and we as a church are committed to remaining unchanged in our position and practice in these areas.  At the same time, I believe that we should be eager for and embrace change that develops our maturity and enhances our efficiency in fulfilling Jesus Christ’s purpose for us.  My calling and passion is to see us as a church fulfill our potential for the glory of God.

I endeavored Sunday to communicate as the shepherd of this flock, opening my heart, being transparent, and giving clear information.  Here is a summary of what I shared:

I was asked a year and a half ago at our deacon retreat whether I would consider introducing the use of a current English Bible translation at Calvary. Since that time I have had numerous discussions with the pastoral staff, deacons, Extended Leadership Team, and other individuals and groups about this issue.  I have prayed for wisdom from above and clear direction to know whether this is something we should consider.  The conclusion I have reached is that I want to “open the conversation” with the church family so that we can discuss it freely and discern God’s direction for us as a church on this matter.   I realize this issue is highly controversial, potentially volatile, and intensely personal for many people.  Christians have the right to determine for themselves and their families what they will do.  Every local church has this right and responsibility also.  It is a personal issue, a family issue, and a local church issue.

I recognize there are dear Christians who have a strong attachment to the text we have traditionally used at Calvary, the King James Version. Reasons for this love and loyalty to the KJV may include comfort and familiarity from many years of reading, study, and memorization; appreciation for its beautiful, reverential language; belief that it is the “Bible of Fundamentalism” or the “Bible God uses;” conclusions about the manuscripts and texts that form the basis for translation; belief that the Word of God is preserved in only one English translation; and other deeply personal and strongly held opinions and convictions.  I respect each individual Christian’s right to develop his or her own position on what Bible translation to use.

Our constituency also includes numerous people who use a current English translation of the Bible for their personal reading and study as well as when attending church and Bible studies.  There are many among the children, teens, and young adults in our church to whom much of the language spoken and written in 1611 in Britain is foreign.   There are people in our community, of whom we are commissioned to make disciples, who will not comprehend the meaning of the truth of Scripture if they cannot read it in their spoken language.

I have decided to “open the conversation” with our church family in order to discern whether we should consider recognizing and potentially using a current English Bible translation to some degree in our ministry.  There are three reasons I am doing this:

  • God’s Word never changes, but language does.
  • People should have access to God’s Word in the clearest, most accurate form possible.
  • The use of a current English Bible translation could enable us to fulfill our vision of outreach to all people within our region of influence and even greater fellowship around the Word of God.

I am not making a case for change.  I am explaining why I am open to considering it.  From my heart, I want what is best for Calvary, and am passionate about leading our church to fulfill our potential for the glory of God.

It is my desire for us to walk together through this as a church family.  Here is what I am asking of you as we proceed.

  • Pray for God to lead our church.  Spend time alone, as families, in classes, and anytime you can asking God to direct me, our leadership, and our ministry.
  • Attend and listen as we finish my message series on The Eternally Enduring Word Sunday evenings, September 6, 13, and 27. My stated purposes for this series are:  to strengthen our faith in God’s Word, to encourage interaction with God’s Word, and to equip for discernment regarding God’s Word. My final messages will include topics related to the manuscript basis for English translations, the history of the Bible in English, the translations in use today, and how to personally benefit from your reading and study of God’s Word.
  • Interact with me through email, conversations, question and answer meetings, and a survey that we will make available.  More information about these avenues of discussion will be provided later this week and Sunday.
  • “Endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We are a family of believers, and we will engage in gracious discussion, be respectful of one another when we disagree, and remain Holy Spirit-controlled, not allowing a contentious spirit in any form.
  • Determine that we can all be transparent and direct as we communicate with one another.
  • I suggest that you read from one or more of the following current English Bible translations:  New King James Version, New American Standard Bible, English Standard Version.  This link will take you to a site where you can pull up passages from all three translations.  (James 1 is already loaded).  For ease of reading, you can turn off the footnotes and cross-references in the text by going to Preferences and hiding them.  Make sure you save your preferences at the bottom of the page.  I encourage you to read select passages, for example, the first chapter of Genesis, Psalms 1-3, John 3, Romans 5-6, and James 1.These three are, in my estimation, the clearest and most accurate and readable current English Bible translations.  If we determine that Calvary should accommodate the use of a current translation, it would likely be one of these three.  It will help you to experience the language and flow of one of these translations so that you can better evaluate and discuss the issue.  I would also encourage you to read the preface of each (see links at end of post), which will explain the philosophy and methods of translation.
  • Commit to walking through this together as a church family.

My calling and passion is to clearly communicate the Word of God in order to nourish and strengthen believers and expose unbelievers to the gospel of Jesus Christ so they can believe and be saved. Nehemiah 8:8 describes the model for Bible preaching:  So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

The men who translated the King James Version faced opposition for producing a new translation.  They wrote a lengthy preface defending their work.  In it, they stated the following:

But how shall men meditate in that, which they cannot understand? How shall they understand that which is kept close in an unknowen tongue? as it is written, Except I know the power of the voyce, I shall be to him that speaketh, a Barbarian, and he that speaketh, shall be a Barbarian to me. The Apostle excepteth no tongue, not Hebrewe the ancientest, not Greeke the most copious, not Latine the finest. Nature taught a naturall man to confesse, that all of us in those tongues which wee doe not understand, are plainely deafe; wee may turne the deafe eare unto them. The Scythian counted the Athenian, whom he did not understand, barbarous: so the Romane did the Syrian, and the Jew, (even S. Jerome himselfe calleth the Hebrew tongue barbarous, belike because it was strange to so many) so the Emperour of Constantinople calleth the Latine tongue, barbarous, though Pope Nicolas do storme at it: so the Jewes long before Christ, called all other nations, Lognazim, which is little better then barbarous. Therefore as one complaineth, that alwayes in the Senate of Rome, there was one or other that called for an interpreter: so lest the Church be driven to the like exigent, it is necessary to have translations in a readinesse. Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtaine, that we may looke into the most Holy place; that remooveth the cover of the well, that wee may come by the water, even as Jacob rolled away the stone from the mouth of the well, by which meanes the flockes of Laban were watered. Indeede without translation into the vulgar tongue, the unlearned are but like children at Jacobs well (which was deepe) without a bucket or some thing to draw with: or as that person mentioned by Esau, to whom when a sealed booke was delivered, with this motion, Reade this, I pray thee, hee was faine to make this answere, I cannot, for it is sealed.

Emphasis added.  You can read the full preface here.  You can also find it in updated English 🙂 at other sites.

Their word “vulgar” meant “common, generally used, vernacular” [an example of how language changes!]. Their goal was to put the Scriptures into the commonly spoken language of the people.  If Calvary considers using a current English Bible translation, it will be to accomplish this same worthy purpose.

 

May God help us to discern how to best clearly convey God’s Word to the people of God as well as those who need Him.

Click here for information on the New American Standard Bible

Click here for preface to the New King James Bible

Click here for preface to the English Standard Version

Abandoned by God?

Listen to the entire message here.

The following is an excerpt.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?

Psalm 22:1

 

This man felt that God had abandoned him.  He had prayed for God to help him, but it seemed that God was so far from helping him.  But it seemed that God was so far from helping him.  “Why aren’t You helping me?  Why aren’t You rescuing me? Why aren’t You changing things?”  He says, O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you hear not; and in the night season, and am not silent.” He says, “I am persistent in my prayer, I am passionate in my prayer, I groan, I cry, I call out day and night.  I know in my head that God answers prayer.”

He had seen it on the bumper sticker of his neighbor’s ox cart.  It was right there on the wall of his friend’s house in cross-stitch – ‘God answers prayer!’  We do the same thing, “God, I’m praying!  There’s no answer.  Would you just at least let me know that you are listening?  Give me some indication.  I’d like to know that an answer is coming, that help is on the way.”

But God is silent.  That is hard, isn’t it?  We feel that we can’t bear it; we want to overcome it; we desire to get through it.  We want to please God in it and we are calling out to God for help but it just doesn’t seem to be there.  Nothing changes, no one answers.

Now what?  Some people respond this way.  “God has abandoned me, so I just give up.  I just can’t go on.”  They drop out, drift away.  “I just don’t have the heart to carry on, I can’t pull myself together enough to go forward.”

Some people respond, “God has abandoned me, so I’ll just quit.  I’ve served, I’ve been faithful, I’ve witnessed and this is how He is treating me?  Fine, I quit.”

Another response is, “God has abandoned me, so I’m finished with Him.  I’ll show God!  I’ll go do what I want.  Goodbye church, goodbye Christian life.  I’ve been wanting to try some of this stuff anyway.

But, when someone who is a believer thinks like that, there is something, a voice, an awareness that sounds and speaks through all of that confusion and discouragement.

Let me try to illustrate it this way.  Let’s say you are in your car driving down the road and you want to listen to some music and you turn on the radio and push “seek” because you are looking for something to listen to – something light that you can enjoy.  After hitting the button a few times, you land on a classical music station.  Something catches your ear.  There is a pleasant sound.  There is an enjoyable harmony and melody playing and it attracts you, so you stay there.  Pretty soon you are getting caught up in it.  There is a little bounce to it and you start looking around to make sure no one is looking and you start directing the music.  It just feels good; there is something about it that lifts you up.  Then as classical music sometimes does, it enters a part of the song where things change.  It’s like the instruments go off in their own directions.  Pretty soon it sounds like the instruments and the sounds they are making are fighting against each other.  It becomes dissonant.  It clashes and there is conflict.  It produces unrest and you reach for the button ready to move on.  Then, all of a sudden, something else comes through.  You almost feel it before you hear it.  Those huge, massive, deep basses begin with it, then the mellow cellos pick it up and the rich violas and the bright, joyous violins and the perky flutes join in.  Then all those instruments start to modulate and somehow come back together and resolve and you start to hear that melody again and it captures you again.  Maybe that is what it is supposed to do – to make you appreciate and enjoy it when it finally comes back together.

I think David’s life is like that.  Everything is chaotic and seems to be in conflict with itself and life doesn’t make sense.  “How is this ever going to be resolved.  How will my life ever be comfortable again?”  Then something that David knew was right and true started to sound in his soul.  “But You are holy” (v. 3). He remembers what he knows to be true about God.

Holy is “set apart.” It means to be way above, totally different.  I think he is saying this – and these are my words, “You are infinitely superior to me and supreme over me.”  Then, the simple response to that is, “You can do anything You want.”  By ‘can’ I don’t mean have my permission, I mean ‘you have the right.”  If you are holy, if you are completely separate from me and superior to me and supreme over me, then You can do anything as God that you want or not do whatever you choose not to do.  You have the supreme, sovereign right to do that.

Then I think it means “pure.”  To be holy is to be pure.  “You are pure, You are flawless in Your character, in Your purposes and in Your acts.  Therefore, whatever You do is right and good, or whatever You choose not to do is also right and good.  You are infinitely superior to me, You are supreme over me, You can do anything You want.  You are pure and flawless, so whatever You do is right and good.”

You see, he redirected his concentration from what was happening around him, what he was seeing, what he was feeling, how it affected him, how it burdened him, what threatened him – which is our natural way of viewing life.  “How are you?”  The response is based on how you view life at that moment – what is happening to you and how it makes you feel.  “What are your prayer requests today?”  The response is usually what is bothering you or what is burdening you.  That is natural and not necessarily wrong.  But here he shifts his concentration from that to what he could not see and what he could not feel but what he knew to be true about God … “but You are holy.”

Musical Worship

There are several biblical components of worship which we are examining in our studies of God’s Word at Calvary.  Yesterday morning and evening we considered Musical Worship.  You can listen to the morning exposition of New Testament texts on musical worship here and the evening application to our church family here.

There are several New Testament texts that are descriptive of musical worship.  The New Testament prescriptive texts for musical worship include Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16.  We examined the prescriptive texts that give instruction to believers and the church regarding musical worship.

Principles based on these texts

 

The setting for musical worship (Eph. 5:18) is saved, Spirit-filled believers gathering on the Lord’s Day as well as at other times to recognize God’s worth and respond accordingly (worship).

Kinds of musical worship (Eph. 5:19) include vocal and instrumental, formal songs of praise as well as personal songs of testimony.  The Psalms provide a model of content (descriptions of God as well as individual experience of God’s work), language (lofty and exalted as well as intensely personal), and tone (formal as well as passionate).

The origin of musical worship should be your inner man, the source of your thoughts and emotion (Eph. 5:19 “in your heart” + 1 Corinthians 14:15 “with the spirit . . . with the understanding”).

The motivation for musical worship is your personal experience of and appreciation of the grace of God (Col. 3:16 – “in grace”).

The object of musical worship is, of course, God (Eph. 5:19 & Col. 3:16 – “to the Lord”).

Applications based on these principles

Christ-filled believers will worship with music.

Worshiping God with music is an outflow of being saved and under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  Christians will sing!

Both voices and instruments contribute to musical worship.

See Psalm 150.  Develop musical skills in order to contribute to the worship of God.

Variety in musical worship is right and good.

We endeavor to use music that contains a balance of theological and doctrinal content with personal and experiential testimony.  We use a hymnbook and we use PowerPoint to project words onto the screen so we can access and benefit from both old and new music not contained in our hymnbook.

What is spiritual in content should not be unspiritual in style and presentation.

Music can be worldly in sound or style because of its sensual appeal.  It can lead to wrong thoughts because it is associated with sinful practices.  It can be worldly because it is performed in a showy manner.  Each individual, family, and church must exercise wisdom and make decisions regarding their musical worship.  We don’t rock and roll at Calvary.

Mindless singing is not worship.

Engage your mind.  Develop your understanding of Scripture. Music leaders should help us with archaic language and unfamiliar biblical allusions, especially in older music, by explaining, updating, or eliminating them.

Musical worship should edify Christian brothers and sisters, not offend them.

We try to use music in public worship that reflects not only true doctrine and faithful practice, but also the character, culture, and conscience of our church family.  We will undoubtedly use music that some choose not to use personally, and we will not use music that some will use as individuals or families.  We should be gracious and accommodating in our attitudes toward one another when we differ.

Every believer is a participant in musical worship.

Everyone can participate.  Gifted and skilled musicians lead and present.  “Spiritual music comes from spiritual people; beautiful music comes from skilled people; poor musicianship clouds the message.”  (Clayton Erb)

Musical worship is not a performance but a presentation.

Hebrews 13:15  By him let us therefore offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Music is an offering to God.

Listen to the messages for more detailed explanation and application.  Comments welcome!