Course Spotlight: Render to Caesar!

Matthew 22:21 states: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” How is this Scripture applied today, and how does God want our attitude to be towards those who are placed in positions of authority?

Course Spotlight From The Life, Teachings, and Ministry of Jesus Christ: (Unit 3) The Judean Ministry

Forum Summary: An Unshakeable Core

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2020

“What if everything changed instantly?”

Mr. Phil Sena, pastor of several congregations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, presented the students with this question at the beginning of his forum. He explained that at some point, our lives will become drastically more difficult than they are now. “You may not want to live through the “beginning of sorrows,” but you cannot change the times in which you live. You can control your response.” 

Esther was a young woman thrust into a situation entirely out of her control.

Yet, she rose to Mordecai’s challenge. “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place” (Esther 4:14). She didn’t run. Esther became “one who influences positively,”—Mr. Sena’s definition of a good leader. After seeking the people’s and God’s support, she made her choice: “I will go to the king… If I perish, I perish!” (v. 16)

Mr. Sena stated that a leader’s ability comes from “an unshakeable core.”

We build our core by making decisions. God used Esther to do His Work—to deliver His people. “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (4:14) Mr. Sena explained that a young person’s example has far-reaching implications. “You represent the Kingdom.”  

We don’t have control over the times in which we live, but we can control our response. Mr. Sena inspired us to learn from the story of Esther: accept the challenge, become a leader, do God’s Work. 

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Digging Deeper: Ye Are My Witnesses

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Est. reading time: 7 min. 48 sec.

Did you know that God appointed the nation of Israel to be His witnesses to all other nations?

Of all the nations around the globe, God chose a slave people in Egypt, set them free by a series of miracles, guided them on a perilous journey through the Sinai wilderness, and delivered them to the Promised Land. They were a privileged but obligated people. With privilege comes responsibility. This Digging Deeper explores Israel’s God-appointed task to represent Him to the world. We will learn that even though they failed in that task, God did not abandon them and will yet employ them as His witnesses in the future. Additionally, there is a lesson for Christian witness today.

Our central passage for this study is: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God (Isaiah 43:10-12 KJV)”. Another companion verse is: “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any (Isaiah 44:8 KJV).”

Witnesses in the future

These verses are part of the second major section of the Book of Isaiah. Is it merely coincidence (or design?) that this book has 66 chapters, corresponding to the 66 books of our English Bible. Another parallel is that chapters 1-39 equal the number of Old Testament books (39) and chapters 40-66 equal the number of New Testament books (27). Even the themes of each section parallel those of the corresponding testament. The Book of Isaiah is heavily Messianic, especially in the second section. Our three primary verses referring to Israel as God’s witnesses all come from this second section. This informs us that God still has a plan for Israel to represent Him in the Millennium and beyond.

The scene portrayed in Isaiah 43 is a courtroom in which God challenges the nations to gather and present their gods to compete with the Almighty in prophesying the future (Isaiah 43:9). Verses 10-12 then notify Israel that they are to witness to the truth about the one true God: there is no other. Webster’s 1913 Unabridged Dictionary defines a witness in law as: “One who testifies in a cause, or gives evidence before a judicial tribunal; as, the witness in court agreed in all essential facts” (e-Sword 12.1). God chose Israel for this holy task to testify that there is one God, that He is supreme, that He is good, that He can be trusted, that He has our best interests at heart, and that someday we may join Him in eternity.

The Ideal Example

The Dake Annotated Reference Bible presents four reasons God chose Israel as His witnesses:

  1. That you may know Me (Isaiah 43:10).
  2. That you may believe Me.
  3. That you may understand that I am He.
  4. That you may witness that I am God (Isaiah 43:12). (Bible Analyzer

Israel will need to know God intellectually and relationally to teach other nations about Him. Jeremiah informs people how to know God: “And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart (Jeremiah 24:7 KJV).” This new heart requires faith and understanding to prepare witnesses to testify that the God described in Scripture is the only true God.

The Dake Annotated Reference Bible then describes eight things Israel was to bear witness to:

  1. That I am He (43:10; note b, 41:4).
  2. That before Me there was no God formed.
  3. That after Me there will be no God formed.
  4. That I am Jehovah (Isaiah 43:11).
  5. That beside Me there is no Savior.
  6. That I have declared former things which have already come to pass (Isaiah 43:12; 41:21-24; 41:26; 42:8-9; 43:9).
  7. That I have saved you (Isaiah 43:12).
  8. That I have showed you things when no strange god among you could reveal them to you. (Bible Analyzer

Only when Israel is cured of its idolatry is it capable of witnessing to polytheistic nations that the many gods they serve are vain, fiendish, and non-existent in reality. In the world to come, all nations will serve only one God. Pagan worship will not be tolerated and all icons will be removed and destroyed. God will not share His worship with other deities. There is no other Savior.

A Witness for Repentance

Solomon’s dedicatory speech for the magnificent Temple declared that one reason for its existence (among others) was to attract the Gentile nations to repent of their idolatry and serve the Creator. Notice what he said: “Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name’s sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house; Then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name (2 Chronicles 6:32-33 KJV).”

During Israel’s heyday, no doubt many Gentiles did take advantage of this golden opportunity to convert. For example, the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon to learn more about Israel’s faith. Regrettably, it was not long afterward that Solomon compromised with idolatry by accepting the gods of his foreign wives into his kingdom. This leaven eventually so corrupted the nation Israel that God was left with no choice but to punish His people because they rejected the prophets He sent for hundreds of years to call the nation to repent.

Witnesses Today

Ancient Israel failed in its responsibility to represent the Almighty (Amos 3:9-11; Jeremiah 2:9-13; 18:13). However, in the Millennium when it is cured of idolatry, it will finally fulfill its assigned duty. In the meantime, God’s church today has the same mission: to witness to the one true God and Savior. Numerous verses in our New Testament describe how the early church did just that: Luke 1:2; 24:48; Acts 1:22; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31; 1 Peter 5:1; 2 Peter 1:16. For example, notice what Paul wrote: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him (1 Corinthians 8:5-6 KJV).

Joseph S. Excell in his The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary enumerates qualities required of Christians to witness to God today: “1. Knowledge. 2. Veracity. 3. Consistency. 4. Patience. 5. Boldness, firmness. (H. E. I. 3922–3976) (e-Sword 12.1).” Christians need to study Holy Scripture to understand the true God since He has revealed His mind through it. They need to be reliable witnesses who affirm that what the Bible says is correct. They need to live consistently holy lives that effectively declare the truth. Patience and endurance are required to present this consistent message over and over if need be. In a world of opposition, they will require boldness and firmness. Strong convictions will fortify Christians that despite the opposition they will continue to represent a Holy God. The New Testament records how God’s early church did just that against all odds.

The lesson for Christians today is that the world is watching us, examining whether we live consistently holy lives that represent our only Savior, creating an attractive alternative to the hopelessness and futility of the gods of other world religions. In this time of world history with increasing danger and chaos, people need truth and hope. God calls upon His church to present this saving message to unbelievers by challenging us with this mission: “Ye are my witnesses.”  

Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Programa Bíblico para Niños – Nivel 3: Lección 8 ” Los dos árboles “

Pasaje Destacado: Génesis 2:8–9, 16–17, 21–23, 3:1–6; 1 Juan 2:16.

Dios creó al primer hombre y a la primera mujer: Adán y Eva. Los colocó en un hermoso jardín lleno de hermosas plantas y árboles. Dios también plantó en medio del jardín dos árboles que tenían un significado especial, y le dio a Adán instrucciones específicas sobre ellos. El primero, era el árbol de la vida y el segundo, el árbol del conocimiento del bien y del mal. Dios le dijo a Adán que podía comer del árbol de la vida, pero que no debía comer del árbol del conocimiento del bien y del mal porque el día que comiera de él, moriría. Las instrucciones sobre los árboles y las consecuencias de la desobediencia fueron claramente establecidas. Dios le dio a la humanidad libre albedrío para elegir, pero Él quiere que elijamos hacer lo que Él dice. Los dos árboles fueron utilizados para probar la obediencia de la humanidad a Dios.


  • Recuerde a sus hijos que estos eran árboles reales en un jardín real, aunque simbolizaban elegir el camino que conduce a la vida o el camino que conduce a la muerte.
  • Discuta las implicaciones del camino del “conocimiento del bien y del mal” ¿Cómo vemos que se manejan “el bien y el mal” en nuestra sociedad?
  • Examine la excusa de Eva para desobedecer a Dios. Tenga en cuenta cómo la lujuria de los ojos y el orgullo de la vida jugaron un papel en su decisión.
  • Dios a menudo prueba a su pueblo con situaciones difíciles. Pregunte a sus hijos por qué piensan que Dios hace esto. Asegúrese de enseñarles que la toma de decisiones construye el carácter.
  • Mediten sobre los dos árboles: Que siempre hay dos opciones, el camino de Dios y el camino errado. Note que ambos árboles se veían bien, pero solo uno era bueno.

Memorizar y revisar:

Deuteronomio 30:19–20 “A los cielos y a la tierra llamo por testigos hoy contra vosotros, que os he puesto delante la vida y la muerte, la bendición y la maldición; escoge, pues, la vida, para que vivas tú y tu descendencia; amando al Eterno tu Dios, atendiendo a su voz, y siguiéndole a él; porque él es vida para ti, y prolongación de tus días… “.

Living Education Weekly — October 22, 2020

Every week, we send out an email newsletter highlighting the latest Living Education posts.

Assembly Summary: Living a Life of Creativity

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2020

Est. reading time: 1 min. 17 sec.

“How much have you exercised creativity in your life?” Mr. Jonathan McNair asked in today’s assembly.

We watched a YouTube video of Ben Folds, singer-songwriter and record producer, build an orchestral piece in ten minutes inspired by a random sentence in a brochure. This is the ability of a single individual working with 120 musicians to create unified, harmonious sound out of practically nothing.  

Mr. McNair then took us to Genesis 1. The creativity of God uses elements of design, power, beauty, and sound mechanics. God constructed the systems of our world through His creative genius—from vast environments and specific ecosystems, to different animal species and their complex social behaviors. But as we saw in the Folds’ video, we have inside us this desire to create. 

“Have you asked God to help you develop your creativity? If you haven’t, you need to ask—not just for playing video games or entertainment but for a productive, creative skill God can leverage in your life in service to others and for your own good.” Mr. McNair said emphatically, “It doesn’t happen magically.”

He gave three principles to apply to develop this:  

  1. Use proven patterns 
  2. Get the little things right 
  3. Work in harmony with others.  

If we live a life of creativity, we exercise a quality of God Himself—a quality placed in us for the very purpose of creation. 

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts

Second Thoughts: On Distractions and Responsibility

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education 2020

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In this week’s Forum, Mr. Jonathan Bueno addressed the danger of distractions.

The relevance of this topic is self-evident—especially to students. We are constantly bombarded with competitors for our attention, energy, and time. Every Sabbath, as we sit and listen to the messages, we are inspired to dive into God’s word, proving for ourselves what He reveals. We promise ourselves that, this week, we will study the Bible more. We determine to work harder on our homework, and we commit to going to bed earlier so we can feel like normal human beings at our 8:30 a.m. class. 

And then comes Sunday morning. Our Instagram feed is exploding. We’re continuing our streak on Snapchat, and YouTube just notified us about this movie we’ve wanted to see—one three-minute trailer leads to a downward spiral into popular reactions to that trailer, a random sketch comedy, and irrelevant tutorials. Two hours later, we remember that we scheduled a coffee date with a friend. There are group messages to check, TikToks to watch and share, and social events to attend. Then, every evening, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix call to us from the living room—or any room for that matter, via the apps downloaded on our iPhones.  

These are just some of the distractions competing with our goal to study the Bible, read our textbook, and finish the assignments coming due. So, we get overwhelmed. It seems like we inevitably have to stay up until all hours of the night to study for exams. Some of us manage to pull all-nighters, working on that term paper. Others just give up and give in to the many distractions, all too willing to fill that void.  

The Sickness or the Symptom? 

It may seem reasonable to blame our lack of time on these various distractions. But in reality, distractions are not the cause of avoiding the important things in life. More often than not, they’re the result. 

Christ tells us of a man who heard the truth—perhaps he was sitting in church, completely inspired, promising himself that he would do better this week—but the thorns that are the distractions of our world caused him to stop moving forward. In Matthew 13:22-23, we read, “the cares of this world and deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” This man understands what he is hearing; he gets it—that is, until he turns away. Those distractions only choke us after we avoid the important things. The cares of this world follow us. It is only when we turn toward them that they lead us. 

Matthew 7:13-14 exhorts, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” 

When we avoid the hard things, the things we know we need to do, we turn from the narrow gate and allow distractions to lead us through the wide. We cannot walk through the narrow gate by accident—it takes strategizing and commitment. This was the thrust of Mr. Bueno’s message: we must combat our distractions. But perhaps we must also contend with our distractibility. 

“Hard choices, easy life.” 

The wide gate is the easy way—yet it doesn’t lead to an easy life. Jerzy Gregorek, former Olympic champion and winner of four World Weightlifting Competitions, lives by the mantra “Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life.” If we choose to make small, difficult decisions on a daily basis, if we choose to not avoid important tasks, and if we choose to handle conflict when it arises, we take responsibility for our proclivity for distraction—and our lives, while by no means easy, will be easier.  

Distractions can lead us away from our opportunity to learn and become established in God’s truth. But they only lead us away after we turn toward them. The responsibility is on us to make time for the important things of life, so that distractions cannot lead us away from the narrow gate. 

Assembly Summary: “You Don’t Know”

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, LivingEd-Charlotte 2020

Mr. Gaylyn Bonjour opened his session with a piece of advice: “You don’t know what people need, what they require, and how to help them…You don’t know…” On our own, we struggle to perceive other people’s needs and are often blind to our responsibilities toward them. We have little control over the events that will occur in our lives—we can’t even control how they shape us. Yet, Mr. Bonjour explained, there is purpose in this reality of life: to learn and gain understanding. For young people, striving to live up to God’s standards—in times of our lives when we just don’t know—Mr. Bonjour gave several solid principles to apply. 

The first is, find an older person at your work, and take care of them—do the heavy-lifting.

While Mr. Bonjour was specifically referring to a job he had in the past, the principle carries over for young people in the church. If we can learn from the experiences of older men and women, be it in a practical working capacity or regarding spiritual issues, we save time. We fast-track ourselves in our development, and we learn the lessons without the pain that may have accompanied our teacher.  

A second principle is be a multi-purpose tool.

The speaker compared a 3 mm Allen wrench to a pocket-knife that contained several different tools. Both tools have different utility—but the Allen wrench’s usefulness is extremely narrow. It can accomplish one thing. Mr. Bonjour encouraged us to be the pocket-knife. Pick up skills, however small they are, to become valuable to employers, to our family, and to the church.  

Mr. Bonjour read Proverbs 3:5-6, “Lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Not knowing what’s going to happen or how to fulfill each other’s needs is just the way life works. God uses this reality to teach us, to challenge us, and to bring us to change. 

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts

Digging Deeper: In Awe of Thy Word

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty of Theology, Living Education

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes, 34 seconds

Did you know that when you read the Bible with due respect and attention you will experience a sense of awe about this supernatural book?

We ended the last Digging Deeper with a verse admonishing us to love God’s word. Along with love will come a sense of awe. Many today treat the Bible like any other book. Some critics consider it merely a work of men framed by the evolution of religion. Some do not even treat their printed copy with due respect, instead, using it in a stack of books to raise something on one’s desk, or as a doorstop. Others cast it about recklessly, even laying it on the floor.

By contrast, others would not even think of doing such a thing due to their awe for the word of God. The verse we will study in this Digging Deeper may be part of the reason for such devout respect. This will be the last article of our recent trilogy including “The Book Unlike Any Other” and “Every Word of God is Pure.”

The heart that stands in awe

Our focus will be on this verse: “Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word”  (Psalm 119:161 KJV). 

In the history of Bible printing through the centuries, humorous mistakes have occurred that were later recognized and corrected. This is one of them. “Princes” was mistakenly printed as “Printers” giving us the “Printers Bible.”

Mark Cambron, in his Mastering the Bible, lists others that have raised an eyebrow through the years: “We have the ‘Adulterous Bible’, where in the seventh commandment, the word ‘not’ is omitted…The word ‘murderers’ was printed for ‘murmurers’, causing us to have the ‘Murderers Bible’…In Luke 14:26 we have the word ‘wife’ used instead of ‘life’, thus we have the ‘Wife-Hater Bible’…There are these mistakes in printing. No one can blame God for that. God says what He means, and means what He says” (Bible Analyzer 

Our focus text records a bold statement from a true worshiper who has been persecuted for no good reason. Perhaps his tormentors attempted to pressure him to go contrary to God’s word. Instead, he stood firm because of his awe for what God has said. He could have given in to political pressure and threats to submit to the princes instead of to the word of the Almighty.

Long before the New Testament was composed, this person understood the principle of Acts 5:29: “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible elaborates this verse: “We ought to obey God rather than men, and to make sure of God’s favour, though we throw ourselves under the frowns of all the world, Luke 12:4, Luke 12:5. The heart that stands in awe of God’s word is armed against the temptations that arise from persecution” (e-Sword 12.1). 

This verse from the Book of Psalms was quoted by Jesus to explain the vitriol He experienced from some of the Jewish rulers during His trials. Notice John 15:25 (KJV) “But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” This verse was one of scores of Old Testament Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming. Many were fulfilled during His last week before His death and resurrection including several on the day of His death. Many others await fulfillment at His Second Coming. 

The meaning of “awe”

To stand in awe is defined by Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 as “to fear greatly; to reverence profoundly” (Bible Analyzer It also defines it as “reverential fear, or solemn wonder; profound reverence.” The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary explains this healthy respect: “Not slavish, but reverential fear. It was accompanied with faith and hope (Psalm 119:120; Psalm 119:147), such as Josiah felt, his ‘heart being tender, so that he humbled himself before the Lord,’ when the words of God’s book of promises and threatenings were read to him (2 Kings 22:10-11; 2 Kings 22:19). He who fears God’s Word need not fear the word of man (Isaiah 8:12-13; Matthew 10:28; 1 Peter 3:14-15; Luke 12:5).” 

The Pulpit Commentary edited by Joseph S. Exell and Henry Donald Maurice Spence-Jones characterizes this awe: 

Here we have THE TRUE DREAD [AWE]. (Ver. 161) 1. Not the displeasure or the opposition of man; though this may be incurred without cause, and we may feel that the suspicion, or the ill feeling, or the attack is altogether wanton and unprovoked. 2. But the displeasure of God. Undisturbed by human ill will or intrigue, we ‘stand in awe’ of Divine disapproval; we shrink from thinking the thought, cherishing the feeling, taking the course, which Christ would condemn; we are afraid of leaving undone or unattempted that to which he is calling us with his sovereign voice.  (Bible Analyzer

The word awe appears three times in our King James Version of the Bible. The two other references are below. Notice that the entire earth is admonished to stand in awe of God’s word. Doing so will keep us from sinning.

Psalm 4:4 

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 

Psalm 33:8 

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 

A tool to overcome sin

The way to combat and overcome sin is to stand in awe of and meditate upon the word of God. It reveals to us the way of blessing and hope for a better world. Our present world is corrupted by sin. By and large, it does not stand in awe of God’s word. At times, its rulers try to force citizens to yield to their sinful demands. Our key verse reveals one such person who would not buckle. This is a lesson for all of us as we face increasingly dangerous conditions in these very end times. 

The book Handfuls On Purpose, Vol. 7 by James Smith and Robert Lee gives this commentary on our key verse: “Stop, before you go any further in sinful unbelief, and consider where, and what you are. Stand in awe at the thought of disobeying God’s Word (Psalm 119:161). Stand in awe at the thought of the wages of sin (Romans 6:23). Stand in awe at the thought of opportunities lost, the uncertainty of life, and the certainty of judgment. Stand in awe as you think of the infinite love and mercy of God towards sinners, in the sufferings and death of His Son. Stand in awe, lest ye should resist the gracious stirrings of His Holy Spirit and die in your sin” (Bible Analyzer 

Psalm 119 provides us much understanding about the different terms for God’s word and what should be our approach to it. Joseph S. Exell’s Biblical Illustrator explains how our primary verse reveals a rare experience as amplified by nearby verses: 

  1. Reverence for God’s Word. The meaning of this, perhaps, is, I have a greater dread of violating Thy law than I have of all the persecuting powers of princes or potentates. This is right, this is sublimely noble.
  2. Delight in God’s Word (verse 162).
  3. Loyalty to God’s Word (verse 163).
  4. Gratitude for God’s Word (verse 164). (Homilist.) (e-Sword 12.1)

It must be genuine

Reverence for God’s word will naturally produce delight, loyalty, and gratitude that God has preserved His Holy Bible for us – therefore, do we love it (Psalm 119:140). One of the outstanding cross-references for our focus text is “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word”  (Isaiah 66:2KJV). 

Godly awe moves one to tremble at God’s word. How many are so moved by God’s Holy Bible today that they tremble at it? This feeling cannot be contrived but must be a genuine sense of the seriousness of our charge to serve God and Him alone. Standing in awe of His word will guide us to do just that. 

Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Every Word of God is Pure

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated Reading Time: 7 min., 41 sec

Did you know that God says every one of His words is pure?

Some question the Bible today, considering it only another one of many religious books that humans have produced over the millennia. They say it may have some truths in it but it also contains much to be discarded as unscientific, antiquated, or irrelevant. Critics and doubters assert that various myths and inaccuracies have crept into it. What is a Christian to make of all of this? Does the Bible attest to its purity? What internal evidence affirms the accuracy and dependability of God’s word? We tackle this fundamental issue in this edition of Digging Deeper.

Our main text is: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him”  (Proverbs 30:5 KJV). God affirms that every word of His is pure. At this point, we will zoom in on the original word translated here as “pure.” The Hebrew word is tsawraf. This word relates to the smelting of precious metals. It occurs 33 times in the Hebrew Bible and is translated by different words depending on the context. The NET Bible explains its use in this verse: “The text here uses an implied comparison (a figure of speech known as hypocatastasis): It compares the perfection of every word from God with some precious metal that has been refined and purified (e.g., Psalm 12:6). The point is that God’s word is trustworthy; it has no defects and flaws, nothing false or misleading. The second half of the verse explains the significance of this point – it is safe to trust the LORD” (e-Sword 12.1). God’s words have passed through a spiritual furnace to remove all impurities, leaving behind only the purest elements.

The ESV Study Bible elaborates on this verse: “…the implication is that God’s words are a proven foundation for one’s life. The proverb’s emphasis on every ‘word’ (Hb. ’imrah) underscores the truthfulness, trustworthiness, and reliability of the Bible, not just in its overall message but also of every detail. This verse supplies support for the doctrine of the ‘plenary’ (full, complete) inspiration of Scripture, extending even to ‘every word'” (Tecarta Bible App). Ethelbert Bullinger in his Companion Bible informs us that the Hebrew for “word” (imrah) occurs only here in the Book of Proverbs; additionally, the Hebrew word for “God” (Eloah) as a title for God is used only here in Proverbs (e-Sword 12.1). Standing alone in the entire Book of Proverbs, these words stress the importance of this admonition. 

Not only are we assured God’s word is refined and purified, but it also asserts that it has been purified numerous times: “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6 KJV). The number seven symbolizes completion, perfection, and frequency. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains its meaning: “The idea here would seem to be that the process was repeated until the silver became entirely pure. The sense is, that the words of the Lord are ‘perfectly pure.’ There is no admixture of falsehood in his statements; there is no deception in his promises; there is no flattery in what he says. This was the ground of confidence on the part of the psalmist – that while men (even those who professed to be good men) so failed that no reliance could be placed on their statements, the most perfect trust could be reposed on all the statements of God” (e-Sword 12.1). As a result, we can fully rely on them as John Gill explains in his Exposition of the Bible: “The Scriptures are the words of God; and they are pure and holy, free from all human mixtures, and from all fraud and deceit; they are the Scriptures of truth. The promises are the words of God, and they are firm and stable, and always to be depended on, and are ever fulfilled, being yea and amen in Christ Jesus” (Ibid.).

Various explanations have been offered through the years about these seven stages of purification. The Common Man’s Reference Bible has one such explanation: “The earthly purification process of the words of God involved seven languages: Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Old Syriac, Old Latin, Old German, and the King’s English”. Other authors have suggested seven historic stages of the English Bible leading to the King James Version. Whichever it was, we can be sure God has safely guarded His word through the centuries. Let’s notice these cross-references, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him”  (2 Samuel  22:31 KJV). Not only is it tried (tested, proven), it is also settled: “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven”  (Psalm 119:89 KJV). We do not have to be concerned about whether the Bible contains all that God intended us to have. Additionally, notice that “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160 KJV). Some of the greatest attacks today are leveled against the first 11 chapters of Genesis. This verse tells us that everything in it, starting with Genesis, is trustworthy.   

Not only are we assured God has purified his word, but notice this promise: “Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever (Psalm 12:7 KJV). Timothy Morton in his book Which Translation Should You Trust? provides this conclusion: “That God has promised to preserve His word should be obvious to the most casual reader of the Bible. He not only loved man enough to give him His word in the first place, but He also promised to keep it pure, somewhere, for every generation” (Bible Analyzer Not only did God originally inspire the very words of Scripture but then He preserved this word through the millennia so that we have a trustworthy Holy Book today even though we depend on translations. The very Bibles we hold and read are God’s witness to us. We stake our eternal lives on this Book. Do you know where that preserved word is? Have you demonstrated to your satisfaction that the Holy Bible is His word? If you haven’t already done so, you need to do the work to settle this in your mind once and for all.

Bible scholars and commentators through the centuries have realized their limitations in attempting to expound the pure word of God. We can admire their devotion and diligent effort working many years to provide Bible study resources. They share with us many things that the average Bible reader might miss. We learn from them as did the Ethiopian Eunuch from Philip. Nonetheless, those who have studied it over many years recognize that there is so much more they cannot fully fathom. There are limitless levels of understanding of the richness of Scripture. Notice this comment from Joseph Benson in his Commentary on the Old and New Testaments: “You must not expect the full knowledge of divine mysteries from me, nor from any man, but from the word of God, which is a certain rule, both for your faith and practice, because every part of it is holy, and true, and good, and there is not the least mixture of falsehood or folly in it, as there is in all the words and writings of men” (e-Sword 12.1). 

Purifying God’s word seven times has produced a perfect witness. Notice: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple”  (Psalm 19:7 KJV). Lest we should be tempted to think that His word may have disappeared, notice: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8 KJV). Verses like those we have read should assure us that we can depend on this Book and live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4). Notice these words from our Savior: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 KJV). We need to know where these words are. Once we do, we are thus admonished: “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it (Psalm 119:140 KJV)”. 

Ken Frank

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.