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Wordwise Insight, Issue #002 -- What not to do with the Bible!
February 14, 2005

WORDWISE INSIGHT is the free monthly newsletter of


Bible Insights. A message outline you are welcome to use, "Seven Things Not to Do with the Bible."

READER Q & A. About "The Lie," and the best English language hymn," and more.

IDEAS FOR YOUR CHURCH. Teaching hymns to children, how to choose a hymn book for your church, and a new Bible study series called "Exploring Christianity."

NEWS & REVIEWS. An exciting Christian novel that is worth reading.


Seven Things Not to Do With the Bible
(From Genesis 3:1-13)

1) Question (or slander) it. "Has God indeed said...?" the devil asked (3:1), when both he and Eve know full well God had! In effect, Satan seeks to ridicule God's Word, in the process casting doubt on His goodness.

2) Add to it. "Nor shall you touch it..." (3:3a)--which God had not said (cf. 2:17). Eve has begun to take Satan's side, representing the Lord as unfairly harsh.

3) Subtract from (or weaken) it. "Lest you die (3:3b, lest perhaps, in case you might). But God had said "You shall surely die" (2:17). Eve weakens the impact of God's holy Word, implying a possible inconsistency on His part.

4) Reject (deny) it. "You will not surely die" (3:4). Satan builds on Eve's growing uncertainty, now impugning God as a liar.

5) Disobey it. "She took of its fruit and ate (3:6a). Eve replaced God's standard with her own, in essence becoming her own god.

6) Tempt others to disobey it. "She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate" (3:6b). The tempted becomes the tempter, urging the devil's ways upon another. Eve, the first missionary!

7) Evade responsibility for it. "The woman whom You gave me...she gave me of the fruit....The serpent deceived me..." (3:12-13). Denying responsibility for sin stands in the way of true repentance and reconciliation.


If you have a question, why not share them with us?

Question: Glenn asks, "In Romans: 1:25, it states, ‘...who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and serve the creature rather than the Creator...' Explain the meaning of the words, ‘for the lie,' and what was the ‘creature'? And at the end of the verse, it reads, ‘...who is blessed forever.' Please explain."

Answer: "The lie" is mentioned a number of times in the Word of God. John 8:44 (literally) says of the devil, "When he speaks the lie, he speaks from his own resources. for he is a liar and the father of it [i.e. of the lie]." And of those who will be deceived by the coming Antichrist we read, "God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie" (II Thess. 2:11).

"The truth of God" in this case might be summed up by the words of the Lord Jesus to Satan, "You shall worship the Lord Your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matt. 4:10). Only Almighty God is worthy of our allegiance and our worship. That is the truth of God. And an assertion that we should worship anything or anyone other than God "the lie."

In the context, in Romans (vs. 23) the heathen worship various creatures (animals) made into idols, rather than the One who created them. And you'll notice "man" is included in vs. 23. The glorifying of man is humanism, a religion whose ruling passion is pride, with man himself as its ultimate god.

This was behind "the lie" of Eden--"Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God" (Gen. 3:5). In other words, "You don't need God; be your own god!" "The lie" of Second Thessalonians is akin to this, since it involves the worship of Satan's counterfeit Christ, a mere man.

You also ask about the closing words of Romans 1:25. "...the Creator, who is blessed [praiseworthy, or praised] forever" is simply Paul's way of saying he totally rejects "the lie." He refers to God in a similar way in Romans 9:5. "Blessed" translates the Greek eulogia which gives us the English word eulogize--a eulogy being words of praise for the dear departed at a funeral. In Mark 14:61, Jesus is asked, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed [the One Forever Praiseworthy]."

Question: Ken asks, "What is the best hymn, in your opinion?"

Answer: Though there is agreement on some hymns that belong near the top of the list, a final choice will always come down to subjective opinion. And it depends a lot on the criteria laid down for evaluating them. The three traditional hymns that hymnologists often put at the top of the list are: Jesus, Lover of My Soul; Rock of Ages; and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Others ranking near the top are: All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending; and Abide With Me.

If the question were to be a bit different, and we asked what are the most popular hymns, the answer has changed somewhat over the years. An extensive poll, taken 50 years ago, rated the following as the top ten favourites (in order of rank): The Old Rugged Cross; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; I Love to Tell the Story; In the Garden; Rock of Ages; Sweet Hour of Prayer; Abide with Me; He Leadeth Me; Jesus Lover of My Soul; and Nearer My God To Thee

In 1990, ten thousand people of all ages were asked to list their favourites. The top ten (in order) were: Amazing Grace; How Great Thou Art; In the Garden; The Old Rugged Cross; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; A Mighty Fortress Is Our God; Blessed Assurance; He Lives; Victory in Jesus; and Holy, Holy, Holy.

You will notice that the two favourite hymns on the more current list do not even appear in the top ten a generation ago. So, are they new hymns? Hardly. "Amazing Grace" was first published in 1779, and "How Great Thou Art" was written in 1886. But in 1955, the Billy Graham Toronto Crusade introduced a "new" hymn they had found, and within the next few years "How Great Thou Art" had become the most popular hymn in America. Then, in 1970, folk singer Judy Collins made a recording of "Amazing Grace" and it went on to achieve "Top 40" status on the hit parade--one of the few Christian songs ever to do so. It has been popular ever since.

Question: Andrew asks, "What does 'exelcis deo' mean in [the carol] 'Angels We Have Heard on High'?"

Answer: The four words, "Gloria in excelsis Deo" form a Latin phrase meaning "Glory to God [Deo] in the highest," quoting the angels' words of praise from Luke 2:14.

Next month's newsletter will answer this question: "What is the meaning of Jesus' words, ‘If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off...' (Matt. 5:29-30)?"


If you have programming suggestions that worked for you, why not share them with us?

1) To use only children's songs and choruses in children's programming may handicap their integration into the adult services of worship later on. Instead of "Heavenly Sunshine" and other old chestnuts, why not use the first verse of a good hymn as a "chorus" (or perhaps the refrain of a hymn as a chorus, if it can stand alone).

In some cases, you might have to define a word or explain a concept or two. (But so much the better. How often have we taken a moment to do that with adults?) You could also tell a story about the author, or tell how the hymn came to be written. That way, what children learn in Sunday School, children's church, and week-day clubs, will help to prepare them for more meaningful worship with the whole congregation.

In addition to fine children's hymns such as "Jesus Loves Me," and "Jesus Loves Even Me," here are some other hymns that could be used in this way: "My Jesus, I Love Thee" (explain "follies"); "Ye Must Be Born Again;" "Wonderful Words of Life" (explain "duty"); "O How I Love Jesus;" "Jesus Is the Joy of Living"(refrain only); "The Light of the World Is Jesus;" "Amazing Grace" (explain "wretch"); "Trust and Obey;" "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" (explain "griefs" and "forfeit"); "Praise Him! Praise Him!" (by Fanny Crosby); "Constantly Abiding" (refrain); "Blessed Be the Name" (explain "majesty supreme"). You will be able to think of many more.

2) Is your church thinking of purchasing A NEW HYMN BOOK? Check out Choosing a Hymnal for Your Church for nearly three dozen excellent tips and ideas to help you make your choice.

3)NEW! A Bible study series to help seekers, or new Christians! A wonderful "review" for long-time believers as well! The free 10-part series is now available at Exploring Christianity.


Looking for good Christian fiction to read, or to add to your church library? Check out The Resurrection File by Craig Parshall. When a lawyer is asked to defend his client's belief in the resurrection of Christ, his accusers claim to have evidence that will not only defeat him but destroy the very foundations of Christianity. Tim LaHaye calls it "One of the most fascinating books I have read in years."

If you have a question or an idea to share, please go to the Wordwise website and use the question form.

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