I was reading through our Sunday School Quarterly last night and came across a common illustration that isn’t based in truth. The lesson writer states that,
“Being sincere literally means to be without wax. This is a potter’s term and it refers to the devious practice of patching cracked pots with a mixture of colored dirt and wax in order to hide imperfections. An unwary buyer would think he had bought a good vessel until he used it. Then he would discover that it was defective. A sincere person does not have a cracked character that will be revealed under pressure. Of course, those who are sincere will not give offense to others. We should be honest with ourselves and God and allow God’s Word to mold our character.” (Fall Quarterly, Growing in Love, Joy and Knowledge p. 15, Bogard Press) (Note: I have serious concerns about this lesson writer and the publisher, but I digress.)
This sounds really good, and the premise has been used in many sermons to encourage people to be genuine and authentic. Unfortunately, it isn’t rooted in reality.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “There has been a temptation to see the first element as Latin sine ‘without.’ But there is no etymological justification for the common story that the word means ‘without wax’ (*sin cerae), which is dismissed out of hand by [this dictionary] and others, and the stories invented to justify that folk etymology are even less plausible.”
If we are to be sincere in studying and teaching God’s Word, we must be very careful when using stories like this. When we use “preacher stories”, we actually communicate untruths. Now, I won’t say that those of us who use illustrations like this are lying when we do so, because lying is telling an untruth with the purpose of deceit. What the lesson writer does is not unlike many Bible teachers when we use eisegesis instead of exegesis to study the Bible. Eisegesis means to read into whereas exegesis means to read out of. The dead giveaway for me — that sent me to research this – was the use of “literally” in the definition of sincere. Sadly, many times we say, “literally”, it isn’t literally true.
The Scripture Passage in question is Philippians 1:10 The lesson writer takes an English word sincere that was translated from the Biblical (Koine) Greek word εἰλικρινεις (eilikrineis) which means “pure”. Instead of translating the word from Koine Greek forward into Modern English and translating the word, “pure”, the lesson writer goes from 1611 Elizabethan English (KJV) backward to Latin to find a word pair that never existed to make an illustration that isn’t based in reality. This is a classic example of reading into the Bible what you want it to say, rather than simply letting the Bible Text speak for itself.
Thankfully, this illustration does little actual harm to a Sunday School Student. But being sloppy like this in studying and teaching God’s Word is irresponsible. And if the educated teachers (and degreed lesson writers) are sloppy and irresponsible, can we expect better from our students?
Let’s be sincere and let God’s Word speak for itself.
So what are your thoughts on this? Before you answer, please listen to how Southern Seminary’s Dr. Thomas Schreiner answers the question. The Biblical answer isn’t as cut-and-dry as many of us would like for it to be.
I came across this video a bit ago. It describes a “healthy church member”. Are you one?
As I type this, we have less than 364 days left in 2017. How many New Year’s Resolutions have you broken already?
Yesterday morning, I challenged our church to read through the New Testament in 2017. Together. We’re going to use The Navigators’ Discipleship Journal 5x5x5 plan. You can use this link for the YouVersion Bible App to track your progress.
I also challenged the church to memorize twelve passages from the Bible in 2017. Together.
We’ll start with Joshua 1:8:
Joshua 1:8 (ESV)
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
In a mixed blessing, I received a text tonight from one of our members who suggested that my book had a typo. OUCH! And I thought my first book was inerrant. Not quite! As I said, this was a mixed blessing; at least I know that one person is reading my book! And it’s a good reminder that there’s only ONE Book that’s inerrant!
If you’re interested in having a copy, please use my contact page (donations will be appreciated). I hope to have an eBook version available in a couple of days. Go ahead and start reading the New Testament and memorizing Joshua 1:8, the book will just add a little fuel to the fire to encourage you in your pursuit of God this year.
I’ll update you here, Facebook, Twitter, and the church website when the eBook (and Sunday’s Sermon) is available.
Sunday’s sermon is now online at the church website, as well as iTUNES! You can subscribe to my podcast here!
Will you join us in reading through the New Testament together and committing a few Bible verses to memory together in 2017? God has some pretty powerful promises of success and prosperity for those who do! Join us!
WOW! Not many people saw it coming. We have a President-elect who is clearly an outsider with no political experience. He overcame vicious lies propagated by the liberal left and lapdog Mainstream Media. As I have said here on my blog, from my pulpit and on Facebook, Donald Trump has major character issues. He was not my candidate of choice.
However in light of Hillary Clinton’s very radical ideas, Trump became the only viable candidate to stop her agenda. (Yes… radical: outside the view of even mainstream pro-choicers). Her views on abortion would allow for late-term, partial-birth abortion up until just before delivery; she said in the last Presidential debate that she would litmus-test her SCOTUS nominees in order to politicize the Court in order to push her very radical views.
Our Nation’s Founders set up a Democratic Republic. We do not have a true democracy…. by design.
For better or for worse, this is America. If you don’t like the outcome, voice your objections at the voting booth in two years and four years; that is exactly what happened in 2014 and this past Tuesday. The People have said that enough is enough; we are tired of the political and media elites telling us how we should live our lives. Anyone who disagrees with the narrative has been dismissed and ridiculed. The former “watchdog” media has become the lapdog of the DNC and other leftists. The People have said “ENOUGH!”
It’s time for us to realize that the choices have been made. We must come together. As President Obama said several years ago, “Elections have consequences.” It’s time for the left to adjust to the populist views. It’s time for the Republican Party to deliver on what it says it will do and reduce government, reduce spending and protect our nation’s interests.
It’s time to come together. Our real enemy isn’t the people on the other side of the political aisle. Our real enemy is Radical, Jihadi, Shariah Islam which seeks to eliminate the US and the only Democratic nation in the Middle East, Israel.
It’s time to come together.
But mostly, it’s time for the Church to be the Church. It’s time to PRAY!