How the New Testament Can Begin in the Wrong Place

As you read the gospels, think forward by thinking backward.

You may be surprised to read this, but the New Testament begins in the wrong place. In our thinking, at least. Hang on, I haven’t lost it just yet. Here’s what I mean.

How the New Testament Begins in the Wrong Place

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

When we open the New Testament, we often read the gospels by thinking forward to the church. How does this apply to me today? After all, God’s Word has as its goal our changed lives. Nothing wrong with that. But we miss something important when we make a mad dash to application.

In fact, when we read the gospels by first thinking forward, we sidestep a truth that plays a critical role in the life change we long for.

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How Do We Know What Books Go in Our Old Testament?

How do we know what books of the Old Testament were truly inspired? Although we might take it for granted, the contents of the Old Testament canon have been debated for a long time.

How Do We Know What Books Go in Our Old Testament?

(Photo: By Naval History & Heritage Command from Washington, DC, USA. CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The term canon is from a Greek word that means a “rule or “standard,” and it came to represent truth revealed in Scripture.1 For different Christians in different churches, however, the canon represented different books.

  • Some people held that the canon extended to encompass all the books read in the church for edification, which would include what is known as the Apocrypha and sometimes even the Pseudepigrapha (a collection of anonymous, apocalyptic writings).
  • Others held that the canon represented simply the Jewish Bible, which corresponds to the Protestant Bible of today.2
  • In 1546, when the Council of Trent made a formal statement that all who did not accept selected Apocryphal writings should be condemned, Protestants responded with an equally resolute voice.

This disagreement continues. However, it is an issue that needs resolution, for as the theologian Roger Beckwith aptly states, “With no canon there is no Bible.”3

So, how do we know what books go in our Old Testament?

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10 Ways Woodworking Affirms Your Spiritual Life (Part 2)

Years ago my wife bought me a table saw for Christmas, and I’ve enjoyed the first hobby I’ve had in my life. I like what the Canadian born physician, Sir William Osler, once told an audience of medical professionals:

No man is really happy or safe without a hobby, and it makes precious little difference what the outside interest may be—botany, beetles or butterflies; roses, tulips or irises; fishing, mountaineering or antiques—anything will do as long as he straddles a hobby and rides it hard.

The master carpenter scrapes it smooth.

(Photo: by Just plain Bill. Own work, CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

But woodworking is more than a hobby. It has marvelous metaphors for your spiritual life.

In an earlier post, I shared the first half of 10 ways I’ve discovered that woodworking affirms your spiritual life:

  1. You will have to cut cross grain, so stay sharp.
  2. Good tools save you time and give you better results.
  3. You can do a lot more than you think with the little you have.
  4. Following a plan gets you where you want to go with greater success.
  5. Mistakes always teach you, and they rarely ruin the piece.

In this post, let’s complete the list it’s taken me years to write.

What would you add to the list?

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