Is There a Conspiracy in Our Bible Translations?

Thursday is for Discipleship

Knowing who we are, who we really are, who we are in Christ, how we are to view ourselves as men and women under the Lordship of Jesus, is critical to making any progress in spiritual formation. This is the theme of my own essay, Settlers or Sojourners, but it is provocatively exposited in Slave, by John MacArthur.

“Scripture’s prevailing description of the Christian’s relationship to Jesus Christ is the slave/master relationship. But do a casual read through your English New Testament and you won’t see it.

The Geneva Bible

The reason for this is as simple as it is shocking: the Greek word for slave has been covered up by being mistranslated in almost every English version–going back to both the King James Version and the Geneva Bible that predated it. Though the word slave (doulos in Greek) appears 124 times in the original text, it is correctly translated only once in the King James. Most of our modern translations do only slightly better. It almost seems like a conspiracy.”

Instead of translating doulos as ‘slave,’ these translations consistently substitute the word servant in its place. Ironically, the Greek language has at least half a dozen words that can mean servant. The word doulos is not one of them.”

—John MacArthur,
Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ,
p. 16-17.

Why do translators, but also the rest of us, want to wiggle away from the clear teaching of Scripture related to our position and identity?

American Christians are More American than Christian

In 2010, while we were still living in Bolingbrook, Chris Fabry interviewed me on his radio program about this particular post. I’m more convinced than ever that this is a huge problem for the American Church. Who am I kidding? It’s a huge problem for me. God forgive us and change us.

For more see:
American Christians are More American than Christian

Bonhoeffer on Humility and Confession

Tuesday is for Reflection

Bonhoeffer book cover (Metaxes)Why do we neglect confession of sin in the church?

There would be no Church if the God did not lead us to confess our need for a Savior. There is therefore no way to escape the admission by the members of churches to acknowledge that they are sinners.

We are not righteous. We need, desperately need, the righteousness of Christ. Yet in many churches, many (most?) people (congregation and pastors included) are diligent to put on their mask of …

  • “perfection” (what a joke?!)
  • “no need”
  • “I’m okay”
  • “I don’t struggle”

It’s as if we have forgotten that Jesus doesn’t save righteous people; He saves sinners. Bonhoeffer got it right. “The root of all sin is pride.” But the only way forward to what God calls us to be, to what the world needs us to be, is not forward but down. Down in humiliation. Forward movement starts by going down in confession to God but also to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Bonhoeffer again:

Confession in the presence of a brother is the profoundest kind of humiliation. It hurts, it cuts a man down, it is a dreadful blow to pride. To stand there before a brother as a sinner is an ignominy that is almost unbearable. In the confession of concrete sins the old man dies a painful, shameful death before the eyes of a brother. Because this humiliation is so hard we continually scheme to evade confessing to a brother. Our eyes are so blinded that they no longer see the promise and glory in such abasement.

Life Together, p. 114, (emphasis added).

This is precisely what our prideful hearts are prone to forget, but it is also what we must remember if we are to progress in the Christian life. We never graduate from the cross. We never graduate from need. We never walk a day in this life without the need to confess our sins to God, yes, but also to one another.

Let’s remember that and stop playing games. The mask of having “spiritually arrived” has got to come off if the people of God are going to experiences the riches and glory and thrill of what it means to be forgiven.

“I Used to Like Jesus …”

As I work on this week’s message from 2 Chronicles 15, God led me back to this post from 2010. Every text, of course, challenges our devotion to Christ and the gospel, and every text should lead back to the cross, even Old Testament texts. This week’s message is the second in a series called “The Journey of a Lifetime.” And the message this week is titled, “Never Leave Home without These Three Things.” Join us at any of our sites in IL and IN or online at MyTrinity.TV.

For more see: “I Used to Like Jesus …”

Speaking the Language of the Culture as the Church Dies

The Church in America is so entangled with the culture, so mesmerized trying to be “hip” that it is losing all doctrinal integrity. At the same time, some churches are so doctrinally precise and all relationship and relevance is looked down upon. Our churches need a marriage between doctrinal orthodoxy and warm-hearted practical faith.

For more see: Speaking the Language of the Culture as the Church Dies

Lessons from the Saddle of My Bike

Monday is for Discussion

[I started this post back in early July and I’m just getting back to it now.]

bicycle 2Turns out 60K on a 40 pound bike is about the limit for my 60 year old bones. I am completely wiped. But I also got to pray through the streets of Sheldon, IL. Today [July 3] was the day I took another step toward my 1,000 mile goal before the snow flies in the Fall. The goal was to do 60K (42 miles). The next goal is to do 60 miles sometime in September-October but by then, I am hoping to have a much lighter bike with better gear ratios.

42 miles is a good bit of time on a bike and beyond trying to ignore the pain in my legs, the fatigue in my muscles, and the stiffness in my right shoulder which somehow absorbs much of the road bumps, it is a good time to pray and think about the wonder of the gospel.

At about 11 miles I stopped to visit Bob and Phyllis Hartman. Body weary but spirit refreshed, I continued my trek. There is something about a goal that drives performance. So I pushed on.  Eventually, I finished the trip, showered and began the rest of my day off.

Now the weather has changed. Every day is a fight against the wind, wetness, or cold. Friday of last week was too windy to be on the bike so I retreated to the garage and pedaled away on my trainer for the equivalent of about 5-6 miles. I hated it.

Pedaling in place for 22 minutes is harder than pedaling down a road. How is that possible? In the garage, there is no wind, no hills, no upgrades of any kind, no rain, perfect smoothness for the tire, no cinders, no trucks, no cars, no farm machinery to pay attention to, no stop signs, no crossings of highways, no deer jumping out in front of you, no dogs chasing you, no railroad crossings to negotiate, no stop lights to pay attention to, no teenage drivers to be wary of, no drivers hurling things from their windows at you, no startling horns, no chickens to dodge, no pot holes to look out for, no drivers cursing you because they didn’t see you soon enough. None of that happens in the garage.

In the garage, I can listen to the radio and sing, and worship. I can sit up straight and take my hands of the handlebars. I can even close my eyes if I want to.

But it is harder to ride in the garage. Why?

Because I can’t SEE any progress. There is no place that I am making progress toward. My GPS stays in one place. I can’t tell how far I have gone or even know the pace at which I am pedaling with any precision. I have to guess. And there is nothing new in my field of vision.

It’s boring.

It turns out, those challenges mentioned a few paragraphs ago make riding the bike enjoyable. Hard but enjoyable.

And that’s true spiritually as well. The challenges of life, and the challenges to daily walking with God are what adds joy to our lives. Doing hard things with the goal of knowing God better is the only way “to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.” (2 Pt. 3:18)

Walk with the living God today. Know Him as your Savior and friend. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4:7). There is great reward in enduring to the end of the journey (Hebrews 10:35-39).

Final note:   I’ve now completed 914 miles toward my goal of 1,000 miles before the first snow.