Reminders

Bible Translation and Its Influence on English

Craig Blomberg has compiled a list of frequently used expressions in the English-language that originated in the King James Version (KJV) translation of the Bible. All of these expressions will be recognizable to you. Many of them are also recognizable to those who are not Christians and do not read the KJV, much less any other Bible.

  • “my cross to bear”
  • “labor of love”
  • “a sign of the times”
  • “a thorn in the flesh”
  • “wolves in sheep’s clothing”
  • “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth “
  • “as old as the hills”
  • “baptism of fire”
  • “casting your pearls before swine”
  • “falling from grace”
  • “faith moving mountains”
  • “turning the other cheek”
  • “going the extra mile”
  • “fighting the good fight”
  • “being led like a lamb to the slaughter”
  • “holier than thou”
  • “happening in the twinkling of an eye”
  • “to everything there is a season”
  • “the way of all flesh”
  • “the straight and narrow”
  • “the skin of your teeth”
  • “the root of the matter”
  • “the powers that be”
  • “the fly in the ointment”
  • “the blind leading the blind”
  • “sour grapes”
  • putting your “house in order”
  • “a house divided against itself”
  • “scapegoat”
  • “the fat of the land,”
  • “a law unto themselves”
  • “heart’s desire”

It is noted that “The King James Version of the Bible has been enormously influential in the development of the English language. It ranks with the complete works of Shakespeare and the Oxford English Dictionary as one of the cornerstones of the recorded language. After Shakespeare, the King James, or Authorized, Version of the Bible is the most common source of phrases in English.” (cf. The Phrase Finder: Phrases and Expressions that Originated in the Bible.)

As a personal validation of this, one raised reading and hearing from the KJV claimed she and her sister understood and grasped Shakespeare better than those who had not been exposed to the KJV. Familiarity with the Bible aided significantly in reading and understanding Shakespeare, which is also true for other great classic literature (cf. Leland Ryken).

As summarized by Blomberg, “the Bible has had a profound impact on English!” (NAE Insight, “The Bible’s Impact on English” [Fall 2014], 3)

Reminders

Talents, Teams, the Gospel, the Church and Ministry

When putting a team together, often the thought is that one gets the best players for the various positions and that will guarantee success. However, that is not always the case, as we know. The teams with the highest paid players and the owners with the highest budget do not always win.

Here is a very interesting article addressing the importance of elite athletes and the success of a team: The Surprising Problem of Too Much Talent. At the end of the day, one must recognize that it is not just about compiling the best, it is also about discerning what kind of “team” you are putting together and what sort of players best fit into the various roles in that team.

Mark Galli provides an assessment of this article:

 I found “The Surprising Problem of Too Much Talent” to be, well, surprising. It appears that if your group is more like soccer or basketball, too much talent is a problem. But if it’s more like baseball, it’s an asset. So before deciding to recruit more talent for your church committee, community task force, business, or whatever, you need to decide whether your team operates more like basketball or baseball.

This is not a Christian article written from a Christian perspective, but there are important things Christians can and should learn from this. As Christians who apply these lessons to our lives and ministries in the church, it is critical to remember that someone owns this team and He is the one who ultimately determines gifts, talents, teams, players (the priesthood) and leaders. God in all His fullness – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is the One behind it all. This is His work, not our own. We are saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those saved by the gospel make up a new community, the church, and this community created by the gospel now manifests the gospel to others, we are the embodiment of the gospel in the world.

In the EFCA, we summarize this truth as follows: “God’s gospel is now embodied in the new community called the church.” This is spelled out further in Evangelical Convictions (pp. 156-157, 182-183):

 But God in his grace has purposed to restore his fallen creation and to redeem a people for himself. In Jesus Christ, God has acted to rescue sinful human beings from his wrath and to reconcile them to himself. This work of Christ in his cross and resurrection is now applied to us by the Holy Spirit, who unites us with Christ so that what is true of him becomes true of us. . . . And in uniting us with Christ, the Spirit also creates a new community we call the church. The church, as those saved by God’s grace and united with Christ by God’s Spirit, becomes the embodiment of the gospel in the world.

To claim, as is often done in the church, that one is looking for the A player to place on staff may not be the wisest move for the health and well-being of the ministry. This is just one application. There are numerous others as well. What lessons do you learn and what additional applications can you discern?

As you ponder this remember the words of the Psalmist: Psalm 127:1: “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1). And also add to this the words of Jesus, who is the Head of the church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:10, 19): “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).

 

 

Hot Topics, Reminders

Driscoll Resigns: An End and a Beginning at Mars Hill Church

The elders at Mars Hill concluded the investigation into the concerns raised against Mark Driscoll. In the wake of this conclusion Mark Driscoll resigned. Christianity Today has also reported on Driscoll’s resignation.

I confess that is easier to sit on the outside away from the fray and to make comments on decisions made than it is to be in the midst of difficult situations seeking to make wise, God-honoring, Christ-exalting, people-serving decisions. I make this statement experientially, having been on both sides. However, because this situation has been so public, which is partly to explain why/how the church grew (remembering Christ builds His church [Matt. 16:18]!) and the influence Driscoll has had, what has now unfolded in more of a difficult and challenging manner has also been public.

With this confession and concession made, here is my brief assessment: I think they missed this one. Before explaining my rationale for this assessment, there are also a few other matters to address.

It is, on the one hand, disappointing that the full process could not have run its course. One would have desired that the process begun could have been completed. This is good and right for all. Hurts, pains, sins, misunderstandings, etc., could have been addressed through being spoken and then, in turn, listened to and then the appropriate response and follow up could have been implemented, that of repentance, discipline and restoration. The right place for this to occur is the place where it happened, the context of that local church. That is always the best course. The reason is because the gospel that was foundational to creating new life is also foundational for life together as the people of God. This new community created by the gospel lives by and manifests the gospel. This is why it is always the best course, because it is the right course as established by the gospel. It is sad that any attempt to work through these issues and manifest the fruit of the gospel in this church, the new community created by the Lord, are now aborted.

On the other hand, unless Driscoll resigned, it ultimately put the elders in a very awkward position for the ongoing well-being of the church. Rather than wait for the elders to make the decision, it was almost necessary for Driscoll to make this decision himself. As much as one would think the biblical principle would prevail, often in these settings relationship trumps principle. Although it is not often done purposefully or with the intent of compromising the gospel for the sake of relationship (as with larger matters in churches and denominations, this would be similar to unity/relationship vs. purity/truth), it does often occur. In these kinds of situations, for the pastor who is at the center of the discussion/debate, to force the congregation to decide is to divide the congregation based on the relationship with the pastor. That is not a biblical basis for making principled decisions. It then becomes more about the pastor/person than it does about Jesus Christ, His Bride, and the gospel. Better to be wronged than to tarnish any of those (cf. Phil. 1:18).

I considered in confusing and disingenuous to claim that there was no immorality, illegality or heresy. I have no reason to doubt the last two. From the outside, I have no basis to discern. Regarding the first, granted there was no sexual immorality. But his character issues of pride, arrogance, temper, domination, bullying, etc., are character issues. In fact, the report stated that they do “not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.” These character issues which are moral issues I believe disqualified him from pastoral ministry. They don’t fit under the list of qualifications of elders found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In accepting Driscoll’s letter of resignation, two of the five responses from the Board of Overseers were as follows:

  1. We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
  2. Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.

In Driscoll’s resignation letter, he notes this as one of the items of affirmation/encouragement:

Last week our Board of Overseers met for an extended period of time with Grace and me, thereby concluding the formal review of charges against me. I want to thank you for assuring Grace and me that last Saturday that I had not disqualified myself from ministry.

As noted above, I think his character issues were moral issues that did disqualify him from ministry. I do not believe it necessarily would have had to disqualify him permanently, but repentance and time would have to be the “test.” For the present, I believe they disqualify him. This is what had not been addressed for all these years, and it led to this.

This is not just an end of Mark Driscoll’s ministry as a pastor at Mars Hill, it is also a beginning to a new season, the next chapter in the life and ministry of Mars Hill Church. As they follow the Lord’s lead in this next chapter, may they – and we – remember the following seven truths:

  • the church is created by the gospel and exists for the gospel (Rom. 1:16).
  • Jesus Christ alone is the Head of the Church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:10, 19) and He authoritatively rules over the church through the Word.
  • the church is about people, not a person (1 Pet. 2:9-10).
  • although the church is influenced by pastors/vocational elders, it is not determined by them. There is one chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4).
  • with many and varied changes, including people and pastors, the church goes on governed by its Head and guided and led by the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn. 16:13; Acts 15:28).
  • we all, especially pastors/vocational elders, must watch our lives and doctrine closely for in this way we save both ourselves and our hearers (1 Tim. 4:16).
  • in these situations, whether we are living it from the inside or watching it from the outside, we grieve, we pray and we hope in God.

In another response, Trevin Wax writes of four lessons gleaned from this recent course of events and now this decision, though he does so “with a heavy but hopeful heart”: leadership matters, church polity matters, character matters as much as doctrine, and the celebrity culture hinders our witness.

Pastoring/Shepherding, Reminders

Intercessory Prayer, Requests and Gossip

Prayer is vital for living life together in the context of community in a local church. It is a key way in which we bear one another’s burdens . As we engage in intercessory prayer on behalf of others, we are reflecting the present ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ who now, at the right hand of the Father, “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

Since this is true, how do we ensure that we are truly engaging in this loving ministry of intercessory prayer and not just using it as a means to remain in the know, or to communicate issues that ought not to be shared, or to gossip?

Matt Mitchell, who serves as pastor at the Lanse EFC, Lanse, PA, wrote his Doctor of Ministry project on a biblical understanding of and response to gossip. Mitchell has multiplied the efforts of this excellent work by publishing the book, Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue, teaching and writing in various places regarding the content of the book. His desire is to be faithful to the Lord and the teaching of Scripture so that he can serve the body of Christ faithfully.

Mitchell recently had a guest post on The Exchange, Ed Stetzer’s blog, addressing the important and practical issue of Gossip and Prayer Requests. I encourage you to read this post. Though brief, it has much food for thought and teeth for pastoral practice.