Experience In Perspective

Experiences Kept In Perspective

Warren E. Berkley

Except for those who were born this morning, we are all creatures who carry in our minds the accumulated experiences we’ve been through, good or bad. There are the highlights we cherish. Those great experiences help us maintain gratitude.

Bad experiences hold the potential of creating long-term bitterness and can cause a loss of objectivity.

Illustration: I had great experiences with Christians in my childhood. My parents were committed to the Lord. While I cannot say that every member of the local church was without flaw, I can say that most of those people wanted to do what is right and that influence became a strong factor in the choices of my adult life.

In my early years of preaching, there was a bad experience. A person I considered to be godly and well-equipped as a servant of God became a great disappointment.

This second (bad) experience could have become so stuck in my mind and could have so embittered me, I could have walked away from preaching and perhaps from the Lord. Though immature, I was somehow able to keep that bad experience in healthy perspective. I knew this man was the exception. The valuable experiences I had as boy combined with my knowledge of God’s Word, afforded me the ability to keep the experiences in perspective.

In 72 years, like everybody, I’ve had good experiences and bad experiences. I’ve witnessed the rich depth of godly discipline in the vast majority of Christians I’ve known. Rarely, I’ve witnessed dark disappointments. I’ve not let these embitter me. And, when I read and study God’s Word, I strive for objective conclusions, un-influenced by experience.

When I read Romans, I want to get into my head the writer’s original intent as he was guided by the Spirit. I don’t want to read Romans through the eyes of my experience, but I do want to apply it to my life.

I cannot let outside life experience factor into my understanding of Scripture, though I must apply Scripture to life experience. If you get locked into your history, your experience and your memories and feelings about what you’ve witnessed, it can distort your reading of Scripture. Continue reading “Experience In Perspective”

Never Judge A Book By Its’ Movie

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Never Judge A Book By Its’ Movie

By Warren E. Berkley

Perhaps you have heard this quote, generally attributed to J.W. Eagan: “Never judge a book by its’ movie.” This observation can certainly be pointed to movies on Biblical themes like “Noah,” “Son of God,” and “The Apostle Paul.” Here are some observations I came across a few years ago.

 (1) “Hollywood” is not in the business of evangelism or edification. Even assuming well-intentioned producers (?), in order to navigate the grid of major movie production, there is a strong element of theatre and drama that must be built into the project. Following the text of Scripture – as a faithful gospel preacher would do – is not the goal. The goal is to attract one to the visual drama to entertain. Hollywood is not devoted to getting it right, straight from the Book. Here’s what Christian Post observed about the Noah movie: “Reviewers argued that the movie removed the meaning of sin from the biblical account, and twisted the story to fit a Hollywood agenda. ‘This is not some attempt to tell the Bible story — they want to make it into an Action/Adventure,’ Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture for The Media Research Center, told CP earlier. ‘It’s laughable what’s in the trailers’.” Source: http://www.christianpost.com/news/noah-blockbuster-least-biblical-film-ever-made-director-says-116002/

(2) Part of your “movie discernment” should be – who is associated with the movie and what is their use of the movie? Who is promoting the movie and how? Who is investing or funding the movie? Is there a religious group backing the movie? Before you ever get to the venue, this may inform your choices and attitude. If there is a “who’s-who” of evangelical Christian leaders supporting and promoting a movie, that will mean the movie reflects in some ways their theological agenda.

 (3) “Hollywood” leaves off application! Applying a Bible story to real life, or connecting the narrative to the larger Biblical context is simply not without the framework of the Hollywood purpose. There will not be an addendum with practical lessons. There will be no invitation to change your life. The movie will not storm your will and then inform you of what Scripture says about responding to Christ.

So, whatever you do about the current movies, read the story from the original source. And never make that turn from the written Word to theater as your motivation or source of authority.

 “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Heb. 4:12). There will never be a humanly produced book or movie was powerful as God’s Word.

How Much More

How Much More

Hebrews 10:1-10

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),  then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

In previous sections of Hebrews, the writer has made it clear – the law of Moses foreshadowed the good things to come through the gospel of Christ. That law was for the Jews before Christ’s death; it was functional in good ways for the Jewish nation on earth, but one of it’s purposes was – to foreshadow the good things announced through the gospel of Christ.

That important aspect of Hebrews comes out clearly as you enter chapter ten. “The law” was “a shadow of the good things to come.” One conclusion is quickly stated: The animal sacrifices of that system could never, though repeated often, provide what Christ now provides for His people.

In those sacrifices there was reminders without permanent remission. It was and is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Christ came, not desiring more animal sacrifices. He came to do the will of God, and thus become qualified to offer Himself. The last phrase here captures that: “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all.”

Christian, that’s what you have. And that’s what you keep, as you serve God day by day.

Quality Corn and Sharing

This has made the rounds on social media. It communicates good principle. (Not original with me.)

pathway in middle of corn field
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Quality Corn 

There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn. Every year he won the award for the best grown corn. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”

So is with our lives… Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all…

– Author Unknown (Proverbs 11:24-25)

John 19

The Emotional Impact & The Obedient Response

Teaching from John 19 recently, the emotional impact of the narrative hit me unlike before. It is emotionally challenging to hear about any death. Even greater if you knew the person. Greater still if you were close to the person. Then if you become aware it was the unmerited murder of your innocent friend. Then add to all of that, He went through this for you, for me; for sinners to have a way out of sin and into fellowship with God. How can the narrative be anything but emotional.

These verses exhibit to our minds through words the ugly picture of hostile, corrupt, unbelieving men – taking Jesus to His death. It is important for everybody to know what happened to Jesus, why it happened and not only be sad, but with love and obedient trust. Don’t skip this part of the gospel of John.

On John 17

Albert Barnes, Commentary on John 17

It is a matter of unspeakable joy that each Christian, however humble or unknown to men—however poor, unlearned, or despised, can reflect that he was remembered in prayer by him whom God heareth always. We value the prayers of pious friends. How much more should we value this petition of the Son of God! To that single prayer we who are Christians owe infinitely more real benefits than the world can ever bestow; and in the midst of any trials we may remember that the Son of God prayed for us, and that the prayer was assuredly heard, and will be answered in reference to all who truly believe. All may be one. May be united as brethren. Christians are all redeemed by the same blood and are going to the same heaven. They have the same wants, the same enemies, the same joys. …. Hence they should feel that they belong to the same family, and are children of the same God and Father. There are no ties so tender as those which bind us in the gospel. There is no friendship so pure and enduring as that which results from having the same attachment to the Lord Jesus. Hence Christians, in the New Testament, are represented as being indissolubly united—parts of the same body, and members of the same family, Acts 4:32–35; 1 Cor. 12:4–31; Eph. 2:20–22; Rom. 12:5. On the ground of this union they are exhorted to love one another, to bear one another’s burdens, and to study the things that make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another, Eph. 4:3; Rom. 12:5–16.

2 Jno. 4-6

John’s Second Epistle

2 Jno. 4-6

The Joyous Walk

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. 2 Jno. 4-6

What makes you happy? Payday? A great movie? Vacation? Fun week-end?

John was filled with joy when he heard of people walking in the truth of God, doing what God commanded. (A way of life made possible by the death of Christ).

This walk (way of life) included all the commandments of God. One John brought was, “that we love one another.” You can get everything else right, keep all the commandments that apply to you, etc. But if you leave this out, Paul says – it is like so much noise (see 1 Cor. 13). John rejoiced greatly knowing his readers were walking in the truth.

That “love” John stressed meant – not just love for people, but keeping the commandments of God.

When a sinner makes the choice to come out of sin and into fellowship with God through Christ, that initial obedience begins a walk in the truth that produces great joy.

Variety – but Same Source

Check my podcasts on the gospel of John, now all complete: Click Here.

From Preaching with Variety: How to Re-create the Dynamics of Biblical Genres (Jeffery Arthurs)

Preachers are heralds who speak on behalf of the King, and their job is to faithfully and skillfully re-communicate what has already been communicated. Thus, when I advocate variety, I propose variety of form, not of subject matter.

Heb. 9:23-28

God Has Spoken By His Son, #20

Once For All

Hebrews 9:23-28

23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. -Heb. 9:23-28

First, I want to mention a phrase in this text, reference another one like it – then make a point. This passage begins, “It was necessary” in the English Standard Version. Similar to this, back in 7:26, “it was fitting.” My Point à When God through Moses, set up the Old Covenant system for the Jews, with the Levitical priesthood, the altar for animal sacrifices and everything that went with that – it was necessary or it was fitting – because God was sending a signal or image of what He intended to do in the future. The future being, the coming of Christ and all that attended the person and work of Jesus Christ.

So, with respect to the aspects of the Mosaic Covenant under consideration in Hebrews nine – “it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites” in just the manner God commanded – because, God was picturing the New Covenant of Christ. It was necessary from God’s point of view to the future plan, for all these things to occur just as God said.

Something else to observe here. We are beginning to get a clear view of the difference between the animal sacrifices repeated over and over – in contrast to the SINGULAR, PERFECT SACRIFICE OF CHRIST. Christ was “offered once to bear the sins of many.” That singular sacrifice can be your redemption, if you will respond to Jesus Christ and be His disciple.