The personal blog for Thomas Hochmann

Nail in the Coffin

September 10, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

Since I became a Christian years ago, I have faithfully clung to very literal, "formal" translations of the Bible such as the ESV and the CSB. These are very valuable translations and I greatly treasure how much of God's word I have learned from them. I say this even knowing about some of the awkward, funny, and archaic wording in the ESV that probably makes some people stumble.

That said, for the last year I've been spending more and more time with the New Living Translation and enjoying it a lot. I recently encountered a passage in the NLT that, for me, is the final nail in the coffin for me using the ESV or CSB as my primary reading and studying Bible. Here it is:

... Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:12b-13 NLT)

For years, I had been used to the more traditional rendering like in the ESV:

... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12b-13 ESV)

Consider how much more clear the NLT's version is. "Show the results of your salvation" is far clearer than "work out your own salvation." The traditional rendering sounds like you are solving a math problem, or trying to earn your salvation. Similarly, God gives us "the desire and the power" rather than working in us "to will and to work." Honestly, that last phrase always left me with a fuzzy understanding of what was going on. I always thought "to will and to work" was describing things God did, but in fact they are things he enables and empowers us to do — which the NLT rendering makes clear.

I've long been intrigued by so-called fighter verses which we can memorize and wield like a sword when Satan assaults us with sinful thoughts and urges. Philippians 2:13, in most "formal" translations like the ESV, is almost useless as a fighter verse. But it comes alive in the NLT in a way that is incredibly powerful.

Fiery arrows of sin shot out of hell and aimed at me? "God is working in me..." [sound of sword being unsheathed] "... and giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases him!" [SLASH!] Take that, Satan! I just used the sword of the Spirit to lop the head off one of your demons!

Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17 NLT)

Is the NLT perfect? No. No Bible translation wrought by human hands is perfect or ever could be. But is it readable, accurate, and brimming with the power of God's Word? Yes, yes, and yes.

Tags: bible-study

Oh, How I Love Your Law!

September 06, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

I was going to write a smattering of sentences about how much I cherish my various Bibles and how I spend all my waking hours at night and by day either reading the Bible, or thinking about what I read in it earlier... But, the psalmist said it far more eloquently than I ever could:

Oh how I love your law! 
   It is my meditation all the day... 

I love your commandments above gold, 
   above fine gold... 

My soul keeps your testimonies; 
   I love them exceedingly... 

I rise before dawn and cry for help; 
   I hope in your words. 
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, 
   that I may meditate on your promise. 

(Psalm 119:97,127,167,147-148 ESV)

Tags: bible-study, praise

Seven Arrows Bible Study

September 06, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

The "Seven Arrows" method of Bible study...

↩️ What does this passage say?

⬅️ What did this mean to its original audience?

⬆️ What does this passage tell us about God?

⬇️ What does it tell us about man?

➡️ What does this passage demand of me?

↔️ How does this change how I relate to people?

⤴️ What does this passage prompt me to pray to God?

Tags: bible-study

Blessings from God

August 31, 2019 — Thomas M. Hochmann

Christian, if you are grumbling or downcast, read the first two chapters of Ephesians very carefully and try not to smile.

I just sat down to read through those chapters and make a quick list of all the blessings God has given us as believers. Of course, God has given us infinitely more blessing than what's in the list below, but this is just me writing things down from reading through the densely-packed praise of God found in Ephesians 1-2.

Read this list and try to keep your jaw from dropping over how good, gracious, merciful, and loving our God is toward you and me as individuals, and us collectively as his church.

God has...

  • Given us every spiritual blessing (1:3).
  • United us with Christ (v.3).
  • Given us his love even before the world was made, and chosen us before we could ever have a chance to try to earn it (v.4).
  • Adopted us into his family through Jesus (v.5).
  • Poured out glorious grace on us (v.6).
  • Purchased our freedom with the precious blood of his Son (v.7).
  • Forgiven our sins (v.7).
  • Showered kindness, wisdom, and understanding on us (v.8).
  • Revealed to us his plan regarding Christ (v.9). (Stop and think about this! God, the creator of the universe, has stooped to tell us worthless bits of clay what his plan is. Astounding!)
  • Given us an inheritance from God because we are united with Christ (v.11).
  • Identified us as his own possession by giving the Holy Spirit as a seal of ownership (v.13).
  • Purchased us to be his own people (v.14).
  • Given us life, which he did by raising Christ from the dead (2:5).
  • Seated us with Christ in heaven (v.6).
  • Saved us by his grace when we believed (v.8).
  • Created us anew as his masterpiece in Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us in the beginning (v.10).
  • Brought us near to himself through the blood of Jesus (v.13).
  • Brought peace to us by Christ (v.14) — both peace with God (v.16) and peace between Jews and Gentiles (vv.15-16).
  • Made Jews and non-Jews into a new people (v. 15).
  • Given us direct access to himself through the Holy Spirit (v.18).
  • Transformed Gentiles from strangers and foreigners into members of God's family and citizens of the kingdom (v.19).
  • Joined all believers together in Jesus as a holy temple for God to dwell in (vv.21-22).

And we can't take credit for one shred of this amazing fountain of grace poured out on us! (2:8)

Tags: bible-study