Category Archives: Preaching and Teaching

Preaching Christ!

I’m a preacher, so call me biased but I believe there’s a need for preaching in the church regardless of the logistics involved. I don’t believe that preaching alone is sufficient for making disciples of Christ but I do believe preaching necessary for the purpose of forming Christ in us. The question is then what kind of preaching fosters the formation of Christ in us?

Last week I was asked to speak to some other preachers on this very question. So some of what follows is condensed version of what I said.

We’ll begin with the assumption that preaching must be based upon the scriptures and faithful to what the scriptures say. But is that all? Certainly not! Preaching must always proclaim Christ!

One of the first professors I ever had at Harding University, Dr. Dan Stockstill, used to say, “What we win them with is what we win them too.” In twelve years of ministry, I’ve seen nothing to suggest he was wrong. I remember a man who wanted me to know that his church was the only right church because they read from the King James Version only and interpreted the apocalyptic passages from Daniel and Revelation correctly. He obviously seemed won to his particular dogma or hobby-horse rather than Christ because that is what animated him, what he wanted to talk about and convert me to. We have to remember that if we are going to make disciples of Christ and expect preaching to foster the formation of Christ then our preaching must proclaim Christ!

The goal here is the proclamation of Christ so that God may call his people into the life of Christ as participants of the story Christ reveals to us which is the redemptive mission of God. There’s a lot there and it seems like a tall order to fill because it is. However, here are two criterions which I believe can help maintain preaching as the proclamation of Christ requires:

  1. Gospel-Centered. According to 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, the gospel is of “first importance” because it is about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ “according to the scriptures.” That is to say, the gospel belongs to the story of which the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the climax. Gospel-centered preaching always connects the text to this larger story in light of Christ himself and the life he lives. Gospel-centered preaching is always rooted in this story so that it may point us toward our role and responsibility within this story as we become a living embodiment of all that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is. And yes, it’s an ongoing endeavor.
  2. Grace-Oriented. According to Titus 2:11-14, it is the grace of God that teaches people to say “No” to sin and live godly lives filled with hope and eager to do good works. Fear may temporarily motivate us to renounce sin and pursue righteousness but fear only works so long as fear continually employed. Further more, fear does not develop maturity where we learn to live as participants in the gospel story because it’s what we believe in and what we desire in our hearts. right themselves simply because it pleases God. Grace oriented preaching always remind us that it is God at work, who is bringing this story we are participants of to its final conclusion (telos). It is grace-oriented preaching that helps us learn to follow Jesus further into the gospel story as we trust him and obey him; obedience is always a response to the grace of God, not a condition.

It’s not always easy to preach Christ as I have described here. I’m still learning how to do it consistently but I believe such preaching is ever so needed in churches today. I’ll end by recommending one book that I believe is very helpful in helping us learn preach Christ as I have in mind here: John W. Wright, Telling God’s Story: Narrative Preaching for Christian Formation, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2007.

This Is God!

I’ve not blogged much of late because I’m very busy working on a paper for a class. But I thought I would share with you a video of me preaching :-).

This is a sermon I preached before the Picayune Church of Christ in Picayune, Mississippi on Sunday, April 13, 2014. The message is titled “This Is God!” and it is based on the text from Exodus 3:1-10.

“The good news comes to us as a promise so that we can endure with hope. And we’re able to endure because we know that suffering and death will not be the final word of life. Jesus has not only died but Jesus has been raised from death and has been exalted as the Lord. And therefore the last word, the word that endures is the promise of life in Jesus Christ.

“…So I don’t know what you’ve been told about who God is but right here in this passage in the Bible, God does tell us who he is. And God reveals himself as the Holy Creator, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, who comes to deliver, to rescue, to redeem!”

A Good Minister of Christ Jesus

When I was a student at Harding University, I belonged to the “Timothy Club.” [1] This was a group for those preparing to serve as ministers of the gospel named after the Apostle Paul’s protégé Timothy. The club provided further encouragement and mentoring for ministry students beyond the college classroom. And all of these students, including myself, believed God had called us to serve as ministers and was preparing us for that task so that he may send us out. [2]

Leaders Among the Church

Paul wrote Timothy saying, “If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching you have followed” (1 Tim 4:6). Space will not permit much analysis of what “these things” are. However, the passage hints at the great responsibility Paul expected of Timothy and under different yet similar circumstances, I believe Paul expected the same of Titus.

Whether we call them ministers, evangelists, or else, the work of Timothy and Titus was a continuation of what Paul began in helping establish the churches in Ephesus and Crete.  From a cursory reading of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, this ministry involved preaching and teaching as well as administrative work, all for the purpose of building up the churches as God’s holy people. For example, when it came to addressing the concerns of widows, Paul told Timothy to “Give these commands” [2] to the church (cf. 1 Tim 5:7, NRSV).

As a minister of Christ Jesus, this responsibility comes from Jesus himself. While all good ministry involves communal discernment, it is not a responsibility subject to the church’s approval but for the sake of the church — so that the church may continue participation in the mission of God. Both Timothy and Titus were sent as leaders among the church… not the only leaders, as they were to appoint elders and deacons (cf. 1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9), but leaders nonetheless.

The Need for Ministers

Churches today find themselves among a drastically different historical context and sometimes facing very different issues. Nevertheless, even though the circumstances are different, churches still need a minister of the gospel like Ephesus and Crete needed Timothy and Titus. Churches need ministers who spend time drinking from the deep well of God’s word so that they may preach and teach the scriptures, always pointing the church in the way of Jesus. Likewise, churches need these ministers acting administratively so that God’s people may, as followers of Jesus, increasingly become living expressions of the scriptures.

Whether a minister serves in the role of a “lead” or “senior” minister or in other specialized roles, such as a“youth” or “children’s” minister, they serve with the church as ministers called and sent by God to the church. Whatever fiscal arrangements are made for supporting a minister, these provisions should not bear upon the minister’s spiritual responsibility. This is not to suggest that there are never circumstances in which a minister has lost the ability to serve but to say that a minister’s service should not be reduced to employment.

Like elders, deacons, and even the church, ministers are not perfect. However, a good minister, one who understands the responsibility as working for God, has spent years learning and continues learning. Like Timothy, a good minister nourishes “on the truths of the faith” and has a good sense regarding what is necessary for building the church up. Likewise, a good minister is not defined by the approval of the church but whether or not that minister remains committed to that “good teaching” from the word of God.

A Final Word

There is so much more to say about the responsibility of a minister. However, in closing this essay, remember Paul’s encouragement to Timothy saying, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…” (2 Tim 2:6). The greatest service a minister can offer the church is to do just this.

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  1. This post is dedicated to my fellow Compadres (you know who you are), who serve God and the church as ministers of the gospel. Keep up the great work!
  2. A similar article is published as the same title in Connecting 29 (March 20, 2014), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.
  3. The word paraggellō involves making an announcement and is an expression used throughout the New Testament in an authoritative sense, see Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3d ed., rev. Frederick William Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 760.

Combative Emails: How Do We Respond?

Last Sunday you preached a real challenging message, taught a Bible class that really challenged a long-held traditional belief on a particular passage, made an announcement that is not appreciated by everyone, etc… Now you open your church email account and in your inbox is one of those emails. You know the kind of email I’m talking about… The email comes from a church member who means well but nevertheless is chocked full of emotion and criticism, correcting your wrong interpretation of scripture with enough proof-texts to create a topical index of the Bible.  I call them combative emails because they’re usually the critical kind of emails that are screaming for a combative response.

Don’t!

Let me say that again: Don’t!

Sympathetically, I don’t envy you one bit. I’ve received my share of combative emails during my ministry. It’s easy and very tempting to fire back a response, defending your message and correcting this person’s take on things. That’s a natural reaction because for many people, including myself, our response when challenged is to go on defense. But I have learned that this is normally a poor-defensive strategy and one that is likely only to create further problems. So what should the response be?

There are several things to consider before making any kind of response:

  • Wait awhile! The first and most important thing you can do is wait. Give yourself some time to think and reflect on what the person is and is not saying. This way you avoid making a reply that is emotionally reactive and likely only to make matters worse.
  • Let it go! Not every battle is worth fighting. This is true of any relationship, like our marriages and it is certainly true for ministry as well. Some issues are not worth the time it takes to discuss them and sometimes, the battle is not worth the price it will cost in the end. Furthermore, there’s not much wisdom in discussing a matter with someone if that person has proven themselves to be unreasonable and close-minded.
  • Tell ‘em thanks! In most cases, the writer of an email like this would at least like to know that you received the email and read it. So a short and simple reply telling the person “Thanks!” will help a lot. You might even suggests that after having some time to think about their concerns more, that perhaps they would like to get together and talk over some coffee or lunch. In all likelihood, the person who sent you the email just wanted to be heard and this will oblige him or her while defusing something that could become very disastrous. And use discretion about any further engagement by emails.
  • Talk face to face! There are occasions where things are said and done that must be addressed. Whether it’s a misunderstanding, an accusation, or else, if it is possible then the best way to handle the matter is to arrange a time to sit down and talk face to face. Generally, I think it’s ok to arrange such a meeting by email or phone but that is it. Save the discussion for some conversation over a good cup of coffee or a warm bowl of soup. In this way, by seeing each others face, you remind each other that this is a conversation between two Christians and that allows you to speak in ways that builds each other up.

These I have learned the hard way… And I’m still learning.

There is one more suggestion I have and it has to do with fostering immaturity. I have found that these combative emails of reflect immaturity on the part of the sender, especially when the emails are accusatory and are full of incoherent arguments that proof-text the Bible at will. It’s unfortunate that such immaturity exists among Christians but the greater tragedy is to foster such immaturity by resorting to the same tactics in response. My suggestion is don’t! By doing so, you are simply telling the other person that it’s ok to act this way and it will not serve any purpose except to create more problems… including a giant headache. There have been a couple of occasions, where I refused to even respond and acknowledge my receiving of an email, choosing instead to go directly to that person. If they can’t handle that then there isn’t any conversation to have on the matter they want to address.

So what suggestions do you have for responding to people who send combative emails?

Repost: Those Noble Bereans

I’ve been really busy this week and have not had the time to blog much, so let me share a post from a few years back titled Those Noble Bereans. The post is about how we read our Bibles, a subject that is of interest to me.

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In the Churches of Christ, there has been a great admiration for the Bereans. We have admired these Bereans for their “back to the Bible” legacy and for good reason. In Acts 17.11-12 we read:

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.*

For clarification sake, it should be noted before going any further that the scriptures these Bereans were examining was what we Christians refer to as the Old Testament. There wasn’t any such thing as the New Testament yet.

So this passage in Acts 17 has been the oft cited proof-text encouraging the examination of the scriptures to test whether what is being preached is truth. Like I said, there is good reason for carrying on the legacy of these Bereans and I want to encourage every one of us to read the Bible, study the Bible, and let the Bible reveal the living God and his will to us.

However, it also seems that this passage has been cited for the wrong reasons at times too–not all the time, just sometimes. Here is what I am getting at. While praising the legacy of the Bereans for their examination of scripture, there has been a tendency to overlook the disposition of the heart with which the Bereans examined the scriptures. Let’s read our passage again but pay attention to what else it tells us (which I have emphasized in italics):

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

These Bereans were both listening to the message being preached by Paul and Silas as well as examining the scriptures with an open mind and open heart. That is why they were able to receive the message “with great eagerness” and “As a result” come to belief. This means they were not examining the scriptures just to prove Paul wrong.

As a Christian, I believe we should be reading our Bible’s but I also believe it should be done with an open mind and heart. That is the legacy of the Bereans. However, I fear that this passage is sometimes cited–and I’ve heard it cited nearly all of my life–to justify an approach to scripture that simply seeks to prove others wrong. If this is our approach to scripture, I think we will succeed in accomplishing our goal every time we try. One of the things I’ve learned over time is that when we open our Bible just to prove something or someone wrong, in almost every instance we will find what we are looking for whether the Bible really says it or not.

Thus, as I said in my last post, “As Christians we can be people who have a strong faith in Jesus Christ but are humble enough to remain learners and know that some of our views regarding the Christian faith might be wrong. This requires us to never become complacent about what we’ve learned or where we are at in the way we live in the footsteps of Jesus. It requires an openness to God’s work through the Holy Spirit as we pray, read scripture, join in fellowship with other Christians, and listen to other voices so that we can hear a word from God that we have yet to hear.”

This is what it is to honor the way of the Bereans. So yes, be like the Bereans, reading and studying our Bibles but also be like the Bereans, reading and studying our Bibles with an open mind and heart.

Preaching and the Mission of God

Per the request of a few people, I am uploading the paper I wrote for my first Doctor of Ministry class at Northern Seminary, Missional Ecclesiology, with Dr. David Fitch. I have reformatted the paper as a single-space, 13-page pdf.document.

This paper, which I have titled Preaching and the Mission of God, critically examines my own practice of preaching within the Columbia Church of Christ as we strive to participate in the mission of God. I begin by describing the doctrinal and ecclesiological formation of the Churches of Christ in order to understand how this bears upon my own preaching. Following this, I explore this formation in light of the cultural transition from a modern and Christendom culture, which the ethos of the Churches of Christ emerged in, to a postmodern and post-Christendom culture. The paper the turns with a focus on the mission of God and the role the church is to play within this mission in order to understand how I must engage in the practice of preaching.

Though the paper focuses on my own practice of preaching, I hope it will help others think critically about the practice of preaching — especially those who minister among Churches of Christ. So here is the paper:

Preaching and the Mission of God

Seeing and Hearing: Preparing for Sunday’s Sermon

Every Sunday when churches gather for worship, there’s likely to be a message preached from scripture. Maybe you’ll be the one doing the preaching or maybe you’ll be one of the listeners. Either way, we all are involved in this event called preaching. In fact, just as necessary as preaching is, so also is our involvement.

Preaching is Powerful

It might be tempting to dismiss the importance of preaching but don’t. Like singing and praying, preaching has always been a practice of the church but that alone is not the only reason for preaching.

Preaching is powerful because it is the proclamation of the word of God. According to Hebrews 4:12, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…” (NRSV). When the word of God is faithfully proclaimed it is able to convict, encourage, and inspire us to walk in the way of God as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. As a minister, I have witnessed the changes in people, including myself, because the word of God was preached.

To be clear, the power of preaching does not rest upon any human ability. Before Jesus was crucified, he promised that his Father in heaven would send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who would convict and testify to the truth (Jn 16:7-15). Likewise, the Apostle Paul taught the Christians in Corinth that the church has received the Holy Spirit so that it may have understanding (1 Cor 2:12). So the power of preaching, which teaches us and calls us to live more deeply and faithfully in the way of God, is the work of the Holy Spirit living among us as the church.

Preparation Is Necessary

There’s a human element to preaching that cannot be overlooked or underestimated. First of all, there is the preparation of the one who will preach the word. Whoever preaches the word has the responsibility of preparing for that message through prayer and study. Occasionally I’ll hear someone say that this is unnecessary, suggesting that preparation stifles the Holy Spirit. They’re wrong! In fact, most of the time this is just a veiled excuse for laziness.

Those who think preparation is unnecessary for preaching the word of God might suggest that it gets in the way of the Holy Spirit working. That is absolute nonsense! If the Holy Spirit works during the preaching of God’s word, which it does, then he is also able to work in preparation for a message.

Yet there’s more to the human element than just the preparation of the preacher. There’s the part of the church as well. Allow me to explain…

Preparing Our Eyes and Ears

Have you ever wondered why, as Jesus preached and did many miracles, some believed while others did not? I have and having spent nearly the last ten years of my life preaching every Sunday for a church, I believe the difference has to do with our eyes and ears.

In Mark chapter 4 Jesus told a parable about sowing seed. In this parable he likened people to soil, some of which was good soil for planting seed while other people were like bad soil unfit for seed. In the middle of that parable, Jesus made a very difficult reference to people seeing but not seeing and hearing but not hearing (v. 12). I’m not so much interested here in how that statement has been understood exegetically in the Gospel of Mark. I mention it in order to point out the fact that we all have eyes and ears and yet it’s possible that we remain blind and deaf.

So what does this have to do with preaching?

Everything!

Typically before I begin to preach, I start with a prayer. I pray for God to pour upon me the gift of preaching through his Spirit. I do so because even though I have spent thorough time in preparation for the message I will preach, I don’t want to rely on my own power in preaching. But I also pray that God will grant the church I serve the eyes to see and the hears to hear. I pray for this so that through the preaching of God’s word, the Spirit may bring an understanding that calls the church into a deeper and more faithful life together in Christ.

Now knowing that your church will gather in worship this Sunday and, among other things, hear the word of God proclaimed, WHAT WILL YOU PRAY FOR?

The Pastor and Prophet

I’m a preacher and minister, so my official “job” title says. Not a pastor and prophet. But the more and more I serve in ministry the more it seems that pastor and prophet is a better job description.

I don’t mean prophet in the sense of like Isaiah the Prophet or John the Baptist, who have an inspired word from God. I mean prophet as one who spends time in the word of God, listening to what God is saying while understanding the culture in order to point the way of God for the times we live in today. Sometimes this prophet still gets it wrong and that is why the people of God must test the words of the prophet (cf. 1 Thess 5:20), but prophet this disciple of Jesus is.

And I don’t mean pastor as someone who is spiritually above the rest of the flock. Any pastor worthy of the calling is a sheep first. That is, the pastor is a follower of Jesus and therefore a humble servant among the people rather than a master over the people. That’s also why it’s called ministry because it is about serving.

But as I said, the more I serve in ministry the more it seems that pastor and prophet is a better job description.

It’s not just standing up to preach for a little while during a worship gathering. Every minister know the depth of emotion and self-giving love poured into the preparation of that sermon because the minister knows who is going to hear that word—the couple whose marriage is falling apart, the one whose child is struggling through depression or addiction, the one who is living with chronic illness, and the one who keeps justifying sin.  The minister prays that this will be the day when the word preached becomes a word of hope and encouragement, a word that brings repentance, a word that calls a somewhat a church-goer out of their religiosity and into faithful life of following Jesus.  If not during the message, then perhaps during a chat over coffee or dinner.

There’s the vision to be cast too so that the church may always go towards the future rather than settled in the land of complacency.  Of course, sometimes pursuing that vision is seems so difficult.  Because sometimes there are other issues that must be dealt with (and every minister knows the issues).  But whatever it be, it is the task . . . the work of the pastor and prophet among God’s people for the sake of God’s glory and mission.

So the church might call on someone to be their preacher and minister but after nearly fifteen years spent in ministry, it really seems that they’re calling for is a pastor and prophet.  Just saying…

But you can still call me the preacher or minister!  Or you can just call me “Rex” and that will be fine too.

unChristian Christians

I chose the title  unChristian Christians because in some sense what I want to share might have in mind the Christians described by Kinnaman and Lyons in their book unChristian.  Yet in this post I want to talk about the unChristian Christians Jesus has in mind.  To do that, let’s read a passage from the Gospel of Matthew.  These words, spoken by Jesus, are quite alarming.  Matthew 7:15-23 reads:

15 “Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  16By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.  21Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!'”

Alarming?  They ought to alarm us.  They’re words of judgment.  They tell us that there are some people who appear to be the Lord’s people but are not.  Instead they are false prophets!  People whom Jesus will deny ever knowing!  People under the judgment of God!

But Who Were These People?

Most of the people I have heard in my lifetime referring to this passage have either quoted or paraphrased verse 15 and then verses 21-23.  Usually this is done as a proof-text with little, if any, consideration of the context.  In other words, verse 15 and verses 21-23 have become ad hoc proof-texts  used to label and condemn anyone who did not preach sound doctrine—according to their standard of sound doctrine—as false prophets, the people whom Jesus denies knowing.  Growing up in the Churches of Christ, the false prophets were the church goers and preachers among other denominations because they may have held a different view on baptism than we had, or because they used musical instruments in their worship, or because they had a different understanding of the end times, or because…  And one and on it went.

Of course, I know many of these other denominations considered the Churches of Christ to be false prophets for the same reasons . . . doctrinal differences.  But it all completely misses the point of what Jesus is saying.  In fact, it’s an easy conclusion to perpetuate if we only read this passage out of context to rehash what we have been taught and accepted with little question.  And let’s not be mistaken, this view is not one that we would likely reach if we were simply reading the Bible for ourselves!

Who The False Prophets Really Are!

When Jesus warns of false prophets and the people he will deny knowing, he does not have in mind all the many doctrinal disputes that we have assumed.  As I alluded to earlier, the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:15-23 has a context and it is the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7).  Read through this sermon, if we dare.  Rather than addressing matters of Christian doctrine the hobby-horse issues of our churches, Jesus is preaching about the way of life his disciples are to live as people who belong to the kingdom he has started proclaiming (cf. Matt 4:23).

So in the middle of this passage from Matthew 7:15-23, Jesus reminds us that we will recognize false prophets by the fruit they bear.  However, given the context, it seems that the difference between good and bad fruit is whether or not people embody the way of life imagined in the Sermon on the Mount.  That has nothing to do with Christian doctrines and to say it does or apply this passage to those who disagree with us on different doctrinal issues is to go beyond this text (a problem in itself for those who claim to take scripture seriously).  So the false prophets Jesus is warning us about are the people who profess the name of Jesus, who may be able to quote scripture after scripture, and who may even be more than able to defend every doctrinal issue they deem important, but ignore the moral and ethical way of life Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount.

And This Matters Because…

Believe me, I’ve met some preachers and some churches who thought they were the epitome of “sound doctrine” but had little idea of what it was to be merciful, to leave their gift at the altar and go reconcile with their fellow Christians, to love their enemies, to pray the kingdom prayer Jesus teaches, etc…

I’ve been one of them at times.  I’m trying not to be one any more.

This is also to say that we all should take Jesus’ warning about being quick to pass judgment on other Christians, accusing them of being false prophets.  For if we take Jesus seriously and keep his alarming words in context, the false prophets may be closer to home then we would like to admit.  And one of them just might be us . . . which ought to be alarming.

May we be people who follow Jesus, bearing good fruit as we live the life our Lord has taught us to live in the Sermon on the Mount!

Just Read The Bible!

Over the past year I have been reading through the entire Bible chronologically, thanks to my YouVersion Bible App on my iPad.  I’ve read through the entire Bible before but never according to the chronological schedule that I am following this year.  But whether I am reading the Bible chronologically, traditionally, or whatever, I continue to learn, be challenged, and most importantly, desire to live in righteousness before God (which doesn’t always happen).

I normally read from several translations.  My two favorite are the New Revised Standard Version (1989) and the New International Version (2011) of which I also do most of my preaching and teaching from.  There are other great translations to choose from.  A lady who recently began attending our church still reads from the old King James Version and she asked me if that was alright.  Of course, it is.  With few exceptions, a person should read from whatever translation they are most comfortable with, prefer, or find the easiest to read from.

While all versions of the Bible are just translations of the original language, every committee translation is reliable to teach us who God is, who we are as God’s creation, and the life we are called to live as people redeemed in Jesus Christ.  With every translation there will be questions about how certain words from the original language have been rendered in English (or whatever language the Bible has been translated into).  But that fact itself does not render any translation as unreliable, especially those translations done by a committee of scholars.

I have six graduate hours of instruction in Old Testament Hebrew and twenty-one hours of graduate and undergraduate instruction in New Testament Greek.  Yet I am not even close to having the qualifications to say that one translation is unreliable, filled with error, and so on.  However, I am continually amazed at how many Christians there are who have less instruction, if any, in Hebrew and Greek yet they believe they are somehow qualified to condemn one translation over another (such as the NIV in particular).  These Christians preach and teach to people about such hearsay information that they have learned (often from people just as unqualified as they are) when they have the slightest ability to even determine if what they have heard is true or false.

Stop it!

Stop preaching and teaching such poisoned messages that only distracts people into talking about the Bible rather than reading the Bible!

I’ve been preaching for over ten years now and the more I continue preaching the more biblical illiteracy I encounter, even among Christians.  So with little exception, rather than wasting time on stupid arguments about which translation of the Bible is better, let’s spend our time trying to encourage people to read the Bible—reading from whatever translation they prefer (KJV/NKJV, RSV/NRSV, ASV/NASB, NIV, ESV, NEB, CEV, etc…).

Just read the Bible!