Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wasting Precious Time

Study the Word? Please! We'd rather be MySpace-in'
Spendin' a thousand hours just fixin' up our pages.
With that same dedication that you give your computer,
Why don't you spend it with the Lion of Judah?
The sad commentary on modern North American Christianity, if it can even be called that, is that professing Christians would rather be spending hours upon hours playing with their ridiculous social websites instead of spending time with God; praying or reading God's Word—let alone even studying it.
"When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the Earth?" Luke 18:8
People are more dedicated to their pathetic social websites, such as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., than they are to the Creator and Saviour of the universe. It shows you with crystal clear clarity as to who their god really is—themselves.

Take Facebook, for example. With all the information from other pages that appears on your "Wall," as well as people's comments on it, and with people's comments on your photos, your videos, and anything else you upload or post, just to read all of that and to respond to any significant amount of it, wastes so many precious hours. These sites are designed to be time wasters. People are addicted to them. They start looking at one thing and that leads them to another thing and to another thing and to another thing, and pretty soon you have waste several hours that you could have been doing better things with. Like reading the Bible, praying, studying the Bible, or even fellowship with other believers.

People lie to themselves and others by telling them that they do not have enough time in the day to read the Bible, pray, or even study the Bible. Here's a thought: Stop wasting countless precious hours at the computer feeding your vanity!

Are you aware that many young women (even several older women) base their self-worth on the validation of others and other people's opinions of the stuff they upload? They will upload photos to their profile and if they do not get a certain number of "Likes," they remove that photo. Their vanity is fed by the validation of others and other people's opinions. There are guys that do the same thing. It is extremely sad. What is even more sad is that most these people are looking for their 15 minutes of fame and think they are the most important thing on the face of this planet.

Years ago, when I had Facebook (for about 6 months to 1 year), I had every option under Privacy Settings turned off. All you could do, if I allowed you to see my content, was "Look, but don't touch!" Then Facebook changed their Privacy Settings so I no longer had control over my content. People were now able to "Like" and comment on stuff I uploaded, and even link people in my photos to existing profiles. All of which I had blocked prior. As soon as Facebook removed my control over what people could or could not do to the content I uploaded, I permanently deleted my account. I was not having other people deface my page, I was not having other people associate my photos with other people's pages that might contain unacceptable content, and I was not interested in other people's opinions on the stuff I uploaded or posted.

Other than this blog, I have nothing to do with any social website. They are useless, worthless, and God-less. If you look at the profiles of many professing Christians on these sites, they reveal the type of person they truly are, both in the content they upload (such as photos) and the things they write. They pretend to be one way in church and when among other Christians, but their profiles reveal them to be hypocrites and frauds.

You are not the best thing since sliced bread. You are not the most important person on the face of this planet. The universe does not revolve around you. Nobody cares what you do every 5 minutes (for you self-centered goofs on Twitter and the like who feel the need to frequently post "Updates" and tell everyone everything you do or everything that happens to you at every given moment). Nobody cares about your vanity because they are busy trying to feed their own vanity, so stop trying to seek validation of your self-worth from other people's opinions. Grow up already and leave childish things behind!

If you are truly a Christian, prove it. Let us see your hunger for the Word of God. Let us see your thirst for righteousness. Let us see you are a Christian by your love and your good works. Spend time in prayer with the One you profess to be your Saviour, communing with Him. Spend time in His Word, saturating your mind with His truths, expanding your knowledge, and getting to know more of Him. Spend more time in fellowship with other believers, encouraging each other and spurring each other on by allowing iron to sharpen iron. Study His Word so that you may be able to give an answer at any moment. If you honestly love Jesus, then prove it. When you spend little time with Him and all your time preening your social profiles, it screams loud and clear that you have no love for Jesus and that He is not that important to you. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matt. 6:21; Luke 12:34).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Genesis 6:1-4

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." There were tyrants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)
Where did the fabulous (something of fables) interpretation of angels co-mingling with women and producing extraordinary offspring come from? Is it another of the grand imaginations of Dispensationalism? Probably not, but they do seem to give the most impetus to it.

The first two verses are pretty straightforward. We may accept them as they stand. לקח אשׁה (to take a wife) is a standing expression through the entire Old Testament for the marriage relationship established by God at creation, and it is never applied to πορνεια or the simple act of physical connection. Any idea of polygamy is also excluded. It merely indicates discriminating selection of beautiful wives, choice from among those who were eligible. The statement of these two verses is sufficient enough in itself to exclude any references to angels. Christ Jesus stated clearly that angels cannot marry (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25; cf. Luke 20:34).

The main thing to clarify and get out of the way is the content of verse 3. Some Christians believe and teach that this verse is saying that the age of man will be capped at 120 years, that he will not age beyond that. Given the context of the chapter, this notion is ridiculous. It is correctly understood as God giving a respite of 120 years to those presently living on the Earth. God's sentence was made known to Noah in his 480th year, to be preached by him as "preacher of righeousness" (2 Pet. 2:5). "Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth" (Gen. 7:6).

So, the first three verses are clear enough to us. There exist no problems with our understanding of these three verses. Where the confusion exists is regarding verse 4, quite frequently ripped from its immediate context and applied with fantastical (something of fantasies) interpretations. So this is where we will focus our examination.
There were tyrants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (v. 4)
In the Septuagint, נפלים is rendered as γιγαντες, which is likely where our idea of "giants" is derived. However, how do we know that ancient English translations used "giants" in the manner our modern minds like to conjure up first? (Our modern minds have the same failure when it comes to the words "unicorn" and "dragon," too.)  The term "mighty men . . . of renown" may explain the word "giants," or it may explain the children born to the sons of God. "Mighty," gibbowr, means "powerful, mighty, strong; by implication: warrior, champion, valiant man, hero." "Renown," shem, means "a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication: honor, authority, character, fame, reputation, renown." There are three ways in which we can approach this verse:
  1. Giants: Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines "giant" as: "n. 1. A man of extraordinary bulk and stature. 2. A person of extraordinary strength or powers, bodily or intellectual. The judge is a giant in his profession." If "mighty men . . . of renown" explains the word "giants," then the second definition seems appropriate, further describing the character and reputation of these men.
  2. Tyrants: Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines the Hebrew word nephilim as "fellers: a bully or tyrant." It comes from the Hebrew word naphal, "to fall, to cast down, to fell, to slay, to smite." (See Joshua 11:7.) If "mighty men . . . of renown" explains the children born to the sons of God, it likely points to outstanding good men. They were possibly champions of impeccable character and reputation who stood against the tyrants that were in the Earth in those days. Keil & Delitzsch, in their Commentary on the Old Testament, write: "'The same were mighty men:' this might point back to the Nephilim; but it is a more natural supposition, that it refers to the children born to the sons of God. 'These,' i.e., the sons sprung from those marriages, 'are the heroes, those renowned heroes of old.'"
  3. Tyrants: The term "mighty men . . . of renown" may explain the word "tyrants," further describing the character and reputation of these men. Martin Luther called them "tyrants," commenting, "Nephilim non dictos a magnitudine corporum, sicut Rabbini putant, sed a tyrannide et oppressione quod vi grassati sint, nulla habita ratione legum aut honestatis, sed simpliciter indulgentes suis voluptatibus et cupiditatibus." That is, "The Nephilim are not named from the size of their bodies, as the Rabbis say, but from tyranny and oppression by violent force, without consideration for laws or honour, but simply indulging in their pleasures and desires." Matthew Poole, in his Commentary on the Whole Bible, writes: "Giants; men so called, partly from their high stature, but principally for their great strength and force, whereby they oppressed and tyrannized over others: for this is mentioned as another sin, and cause of the flood; and therefore they seem to be here noted, not for the height of their stature, which is no crime, but for their violence, which also is expressed beneath, ver 11, 13. ... men of renown, i.e. famous in their generations; when indeed they should have been infamous for the abuse of their stature and strength to tyranny and cruelty."
This verse states clearly that "The [nephilim] were on the Earth in those days, and also after that." So the imaginative notion that the nephilim were the miraculous result of these marriages is outrageous and far fetched. Matthew Poole comments, "After that time there arose a new generation or succession of that sort of men." The verse is likely saying, "In those days, there were tyrants on the Earth, and also after that when the Sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them." Quite possibly the children may have been influenced by the violent, oppressive, wicked men before them and thus rejected the virtue and religion of their ancestors.

There are two substantial problems with the two major views of this verse where "giants" is understood to mean individuals "of extraordinary bulk and stature."
  1. The Fallen Angels View: Jesus made it clear that angels cannot marry (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25; cf. Luke 20:34). Enough said. If that is not sufficient, then answer these: Do angels, by nature, possess a material corporeality adequate to the contraction of a human marriage? Or, by rebellion against their Creator, can they acquire it? Are there some creatures in heaven and on earth which, through sinful degeneracy, or by sinking into an unnatural state, can become possessed of the power, which they have not by nature, of generating and propagating their species? Another point of consideration; if angels are the villains, then why is God's anger directed against humans?
  2. The Sethite View: Scripture says, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:14). A believer (the Sons of God) marrying an unbeliever (the daughters of men) will not result in offspring that is physiologically different from their parents. This is the kind of belief that gives rise to the heresy that children of inter-marriages or "unequally yoked" marriages are demonic, in contradiction to Scripture: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy" (1 Cor. 7:14).
Given the context, what seems to be the more likely interpretation of verse 4? Clearly not the two views above if "men of extraordinary bulk and stature" is understood. Every other place that "giants" appears in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word רפא (rapha) is used. Nephilim only appears in two verses in the Old Testament: Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33. Concerning the passage in Numbers, a footnote in Keil & Delitzsch's Commentary on the Old Testament reads, "the term Nephilim cannot signify giants, since the spies not only mention them especially along with the inhabitants of the land, who are described as people of great statue, but single out only a portion of the Nephilim as 'sons of Anak'."

The union of the Sons of God and the daughters of men is not what provoked God. God's annoyance is not with their nuptial arrangement. The Bible tells believers not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14), but God does not condemn such marriages (1 Cor. 7:12-14). Children are considered holy if even one parent is a believer. Some people point out that God's displeasure comes chronologically before the Nephilim, and therefore He is provoked with their illicit nuptial unions. This concept has its problems as the Law regarding unequally yoked marriages had not yet been instituted. What provoked God was the violence and oppression impressed upon their fellow man by these tyrants. This is verified by the contents of verses 11 and 13: "Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. ... Then God said to Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.'" God was not destroying the Earth because of their marriage partners. He would have said as much to Noah otherwise.

Based on the information we have just looked at, here are two verses that help put things in perspective:
"These four were born to the giant (rapha, רפא) in Gath, and they fell (naphal, נפל—from where Nephilim, נפלים comes from) by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants" (2 Sam. 21:22).
"These were descended from the giants (rapha, רפא) in Gath, and they fell (naphal, נפל—from where Nephilim, נפלים comes from) by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants" (1 Chron. 20:8).
When you eliminate the illogical and nonsensical, whatever remains is likely closer to the truth than the fantastical and fabulous imaginations you had prior. Examine the context, interpret Scripture with Scripture, and consult the whole counsel of the Word of God. Be responsible students of God's Word, having great reverence and respect for it.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What's Wrong With Gender-Inclusive Translations?

Gender-neuter or gender-inclusive language has its root within modern feminism. It is a style of writing adhering to certain rules first proposed by feminist language reformers in universities during the 1970s, which have been accepted as normative in many schools since approximately 1980. These rules prohibit common usages which are deemed to be "sexist." Instead of words like fireman, policeman, chairman, spokesman, they recommend fireperson, policeperson, chairperson, spokesperson. Let us be clear that political "correctness" is really political stupidity, going overboard with their ridiculous nonsense.

So what is the problem with gender-neuter/gender-inclusive language? One word. Heresy! Gender-inclusive translations remove or feminize anything that could possibly be interpreted as having a masculine connotation. However, all feminine forms remain in tact. Having apparently skipped English class all through their schooling, in their ignorance these people fail to realize that man, depending on the context, includes women. Hence the fact humanity is called mankind.

They argue that the Greek word anthropos (ανθρωπος) does not and cannot mean man and that it should be translated as people, person, or human(s) (among others). The NRSV (New Revised Standard Version) is a gender-neuter/gender-inclusive translation, but it is also filled with great heresy because of this. Examine Hebrews 2 and you will see a glaring example of heresy. Verse 6 uses anthropos (ανθρωπος) twice. Since Greek does not have an indefinite article, anthropos (ανθρωπος) can mean either man or men. In this context, that is precisely how it should be translated.
But one has testified somewhere, saying, "WHAT IS MAN (ανθρωπος), THAT THOU REMEMBEREST HIM (αυτου)? OR THE SON OF MAN (ανθρωπου), THAT THOU ART CONCERNED ABOUT HIM (αυτον)? THOU HAST MADE HIM (αυτον) FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; THOU HAST CROWNED HIM (αυτον) WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAST APPOINTED HIM (αυτον) OVER THE WORKS OF THY HANDS; THOU HAST PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS (αυτου) FEET." For in subjecting all things to him (αυτω), He left nothing that is not subject to him (αυτω). But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him (αυτω). (Hebrews 2:6-8 —NASB)
By making this text gender-neuter, all of a sudden a passage clearly speaking of Christ Jesus is now speaking of mankind (humanity). It implies that we have a divine pre-existence and that our lowly predicament is now over. That sounds like something we would find in the Book of Mormon.

Practically every language uses masculine forms when speaking of mixed gender. Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, etc., etc., etc. Even English. In Spanish, a group of men is referred to by using Los, while a group of women is referred to by using Las. When the group is a mixture of men and women, they are referred to by using Los. Much the way mankind includes women.

The gender-neuter/gender-inclusive nonsense does not stop there. Greek language has grammatical gender. These translations change the word son, which is grammatically masculine, into the gender-inclusive child. All because of their foolishness regarding perceived "gender bias." By doing this, their rendering of the text is destructive. The Greek word child is grammatically neuter, taking adjectives with neuter endings. When a word is clearly grammatically masculine, why are these people removing or feminizing it? There is no need for it, and there is certainly no excuse for it!

An example of feminizing the text is changing "Christ the king" to "the reign of Christ." Somehow king is "offensive." King and reign are not synonymous! Reign is a country, king is a person. One refers to the person, Christ Jesus, while the other refers to His kingdom. If modern feminists are "offended" by so-called "sexist" words such as kingdom, why have they not done something about their own designation? In Hebrew, the word for man is ish, while the word for woman is ishah. In English, you have woman and women. Since woman is of man, taken from the rib of Adam (Gen. 2), it makes sense that the two should be related and that, as in most (if not all) languages, the masculine should be applied to a group of mixed gender.
The Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible often use generic masculine nouns (adam and anthropos, both meaning “man”) and generic masculine pronouns in a gender-inclusive sense, in reference to persons of unspecified gender. In the Epistles, believers in general are addressed as adelphoi, “brethren.” Such usages are not merely figments of “sexist” English translations; they are a normal feature of the original languages, just as they are normal in English and many other languages. In most cases the inclusive intent of the writer is obvious from the context, and when the intent is not inclusive, this is also obvious enough from the context. The interpreter must not proceed mechanically with the idea that every occurrence of adam and anthropos is to be understood in a gender-inclusive sense, because the Bible for the most part records the names and actions of men, uses male examples, assumes a male audience, and in general focuses on men and their concerns while leaving women in the background. This feature of the text is obviously related to the cultural situation and expectations of the original authors and recipients, and so any movement to disguise it in translation runs up against the academic qualms already being expressed by Bruce Metzger in 1976: “How far is it feasible to eradicate from an ancient text those features that belong to the patriarchal culture in which its narratives had their origin?”
Context in the English Bible, as well as every other language Bible, determines whether just men are in focus or a combination of men and women. In their foolishness to translate the text post-modernly, these fools ignored the context and gave birth to heresy, such as found in Hebrews 2 of the NRSV.
There are two parties to any written communication: the reader and the writer. Translation is the process of putting the words of the writer into a form that the reader can understand. There’s no point to translation if the reader doesn’t understand, so the translator has to pay careful attention to the meanings, connotations, and usages of words in the target language. There’s also no point to translation if it does not accurately convey the meaning of the writer, so the translator has to pay just as much attention to the meanings, connotations, and usages of words in the source language. Inclusive language translations put too much stress on what the reader does not want to hear, and too little stress on what the writer wants to say. Sometimes the inclusive-language translator is completely off-topic, making the passage about the reader when it is not, such as in the mistreatment of Hebrews 2.
A translation must strive to remain true to the target language while at the same time it must strive to remain true to the source language. It is impossible to translate from one language to another with 100% accuracy. For example, in Spanish, among friends, they will often say "Te quiero," which means "I love you." The literal meaning, however, is "I want you." "Te amo" is literally "I love you," but is used of couples. The English word love fails to grasp the depth and meaning of the four Greek words for love, especially agape, which indicates and conveys a selfless, self-sacrificing, unconditional love.

Gender-neuter/gender-inclusive translations even take issue with the word brother. John Piper wisely remarks:
Most inclusive language versions translate “brothers” at the beginning of the epistles, “brothers and sisters” and explain it like this: “It is clear that these epistles were addressed to all the believers—male and female. Thus, we have usually translated this Greek word [brothers] “brothers and sisters” or “Christian friends” in order to represent the historical situation more accurately” (from the preface to the New Living Translation). The problem with this is that it does not ask why the writers used “brothers” when they could easily have written “brothers and sisters,” since that is clear and simple Greek which was used other times (1 Corinthians 7:15; James 2:15). Something of the writer’s intention is lost in presuming to change his wording so dramatically.
Piper continues:
Another example is the translation of the Hebrew word adam which is both the word for “human” and the proper name for the first man, Adam. This is probably not without significance. Therefore it is helpful to translate adam in a way that reveals this masculine orientation of the original writer in giving the first man (not woman) and the human race the same name, Adam. So we read in Genesis 5:1-2 (NIV [1984]), “This is the written account of Adam’s line. When God created man [Adam], he made him (masculine pronoun) in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man’ [Adam].” The significance of the man’s role in bearing the name of the race is obscured when inclusive language translates as follows: “This is the history of the descendants of Adam. When God created people, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and he blessed them and called them ‘human’” (NLT). The word translated “people” and “human” is, in both cases, adam, as it was used in verse 1, Adam. Something deep and important is being obscured here in the cause of gender inclusiveness.
There are many other issues that could be addressed that corrupt the meaning of the text in these gender-neuter/gender-inclusive translations. For example, their rendering household as family instead. A household did not merely consist of kin. A house was often a place of residence and a place of business. The first floor contained the business while the upper floor was where they slept. A household could consist of other relatives, servants, employees, or even strangers. Take Abraham for example, and the command to circumcise everyone in his household. This was not limited solely to his family, those directly related to him, as the context informs us. The ignorance of rendering it as family instead of the more correct and precise household is without excuse. It destroys the concept and limits the reality. When you refer to my place of residence as my household, it includes anyone under my roof. Government censuses still use this language with this intelligent understanding behind it: "How many people are in your household?"

Some of these gender-neuter/gender-inclusive translations even go so far as to change "God our Father" to "God our Parent." While not being physically masculine, because "God is Spirit" (John 4:24), nevertheless, whether these people like it or not, God is masculine and He is our Father. He is not feminine nor is He our "Mother." People need to stop feminizing the Holy Bible and start approaching it with the utmost reverence and respect. Anyone who tampers with the Word of God and leads the least of His children astray will have to answer to Him and will likely spend an eternity in Hell separated from Him.

Most inclusive-language translations are over-enthusiastic, failing to make important distinctions, generalizing statements that are specific, and obscuring ancient legal institutions. If translators create meaning instead of just conveying it, they are being irresponsible.

I will never recommend a gender-neuter/gender-inclusive translation because it is reckless and irresponsible (both my doing so and the translation itself). I will also not recommend paraphrases because they are not Bibles. They are really poor commentaries at best. If it does not strive to be true to both the target language and the source language, I will not recommend it.

Gender-specific Bible versions
Gender-neuter Bible versions
Wycliffe Bible (1382)
Tyndale NT (1526)
Matthew's Bible (1537)
Great Bible (1539)
Geneva Bible (1560)
Bishop's Bible (1568)
Douay-Rheims (1609) [Roman Catholic]
KJV/AV (1611)
RV (1885)
ASV (1901)
RSV (1946, 1952, 1971)
NASB (1963, 1995)
JB (1968) [Roman Catholic]
NEB (1970)
NIV (1973, 1984)
GNB (1976)
NKJV (1982)
NIrV revised (1998)
ESV (2001)
HCSB (2004)
NJB (1985) [Roman Catholic]
ICB (1986)
NAB (1988) [Roman Catholic]
NCV (1987, 1991)
NRSV (1989)
REB (1989) [partially gender-neuter]
GNB revised (1992) [presently GNT]
CEV (1995)
GW [God's Word] (1995)
NIrV (1995)
NIVI (1995, 1996)
NLT (1996)
NLT revised (1996)
TNIV (2002, 2005)
NIV (2011) [repackaged NIVi/TNIV]
TLB (1971)
TM/MSG [The Message] (1995)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Facts Concerning the Apocrypha

Most Christians know absolutely nothing about the Apocrypha other than what has been told to them by a trusted pastor or teacher. Many of these pastors and teachers also know nothing about the Apocrypha other than what was told to them. The most prevalent opinion regarding the Apocrypha is based on false assumptions and conclusions drawn upon those false assumptions. Here are the facts regarding the Apocrypha:
  1. Practically 99% of all Bibles printed prior to the late 1800s contained the Apocrypha—in addition to the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  2. Protestants have historically embraced 14 of the apocryphal books while Catholics have historically embraced only 12 of them (as Catholics continue to do to this day).
  3. The Apocrypha has been part of the Bible for nearly 2,000 years. Every major English-language Bible in history up until the late 1800s contained the Apocrypha. The Wycliffe Bible contained the Apocrypha. Coverdale's Bible contained the Apocrypha. The Matthew-Tyndale Bible contained the Apocrypha. The Great Bible contained the Apocrypha. The Geneva Bible contained the Apocrypha. The Bishop's Bible contained the Apocrypha. The King James Version contained the Apocrypha, right up until almost 1900 A.D. It was a welcomed and accepted part of the Bible by all the Protestant Reformers of the 1500s and 1600s, the American Colonists of the 1700s, and during most of the 1800s. Every Christian church embraced an 80-book Bible—not a 66-book Bible.
  4. Most Protestants have never considered the Apocrypha to be the inspired Word of God, but rather supplementary historical books worthy of being in the Bible. A concordance is bound into most modern Bibles, yet it is not "inspired," but nobody is offended by its presence because it has a purpose.
  5. There is nothing "Roman Catholic" about the books of the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha were written hundreds of years before Christ, and, by extension, hundreds of years before the Catholic church, the Protestant church, or any kind of Christian church. The Bible of the Protestant Reformation, the Geneva Bible (which was so anti-Catholic that it proclaimed the Pope to be an Antichrist in its commentary notes), contained the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha are ancient Old-Testament-Era Jewish literature. They are not Catholic. They are not Protestant. They are not Anglican. They are not Christian.
  6. King James threatened anyone who printed his Bible without the Apocrypha with a heavy fine and one year in jail.
  7. The Apocrypha were removed from Protestant and Anglican Bibles in the late 1800s due to the influence of textual critics, Westcott and Hort.
Those are the facts regarding the Apocrypha. Nothing more, nothing less. They are verifiable. Many Christians believe the Apocrypha to be Roman Catholic, but that belief is false. The only difference between Catholics and Protestants with regard to the Apocrypha is that during their debate with Martin Luther, in deliberate spite of what he said, they decided to canonize their 12 books of the Apocrypha, attempting to make it equal with the rest of Scripture. Some people's objection to the Apocrypha being included as part of the Bible is based on things that are not biblically acceptable, like praying for the dead. However, the Bible also contains things that are not biblically acceptable, such as incest (Lot's daughters and their father), adultery (David and Bathsheba), and murder (David and Uriah). There is a difference between talking about something (descriptive narrative) and endorsing something (prescriptive narrative). The Bible is merely revealing to us what sinful humanity is like, without attempting to endorse it.

Some people argue that the Apocrypha is quoted in the New Testament, but this is false. For example, they say that Matthew 13:43 ("Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun...") is quoted from Wisdom 3:7 ("And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble."). This is known as "Collapsing Context," claiming the two verses are related because they use a similar word: "shine." They say Luke 2:37 ("a widow . . . She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers") is found in Judith 8:4-6 ("a widow . . . at home . . . She fasted all the days of her widowhood"). Once again, this is "Collapsing Context." Luke is speaking of the prophetess, Anna, who lived hundreds of years after Judith. The fact is, many of the supposed references to the Apocrypha are so vague that the similarity is more than likely coincidental. Catholic apologists will often say that one is "similar to" the other. No doubt he will find many "similar to's" if he compares the Bible to the Sunday newspaper!

Why did godly men of the past choose to include the apocryphal books in the Bible? All of them confessed that the Apocrypha was not inspired holy Scripture, nor was it part of the canon of Scripture. Apart from some of the books being historical (while others are outright silly), why did these godly men include the Apocrypha as part of the Bible? Should it be part of our Bibles today? Some people argue that the Apocrypha should never have been removed, that nobody had the God-given authority to remove it, arguing that no satisfying justification has ever been given for its removal. Well, if some Bibles contain a concordance and other Bibles do not, is it a big deal? As far as I am concerned, no! If some Bibles contain the Apocrypha and others do not, is it a big deal? Again, as far as I am concerned, no!

Yes, the Apocrypha can provide the Christian with some helpful information concerning the 400 silent years, but they are not inspired, infallible, or inerrant, nor are they a part of the canon of Scripture. I would never try to develop any doctrines from them. By removing the Apocrypha, what does it hurt? Does it obscure some doctrine? Does it mar some biblical truth? It would be quite a different thing if someone suddenly wanted to remove Genesis, Isaiah, Malachi, John, Romans, Ephesians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and 1 Peter from the Bible. Or any of the other canonized 66 books. Removing the Apocrypha has no barring whatsoever on the rest of Scripture. I do, however, think that every modern translation should offer a version that includes the Apocrypha for those who want it as part of their Bible.

Is your opinion regarding the Apocrypha based solely on what you have heard, what trusted pastors or teachers have told you to believe? Or is it based on the historical facts surrounding it? It is a fact that the Bible had 80 books up until just over one century ago! Observe:

Matthew's Bible, 1537 Geneva Bible, 1560 Authorized Bible, 1611

If you do not like the Apocrypha, or do not wish it to be part of your Bible, do not base your opinion of it on false assumptions and conclusions drawn upon those false assumptions. Base your opinion on solid facts.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Porneia (πορνεια) vs. Moicheia (μοιχεια)

There is a great difference between fornication (porneia [πορνεια]) and adultery (moicheia [μοιχεια]) and a fornicator (pornos [πορνος]) and an adulterer (moichos [μοιχος]). Unfortunately, many false teachers lie and claim that Jesus provided an "exception clause" for divorce with regard to adultery (marital infidelity). If this were so, why then does Jesus (and Matthew's record of it) use the word porneia in this "exception clause" while every other reference to adultery He uses the word moicheia? Because of this glaring problem, these false teachers lie further and claim that the word porneia includes adultery. If this were so, why are there so many passages that use porneia (πορνεια) and moicheia (μοιχεια) side-by-side (Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21; Gal. 5:19) as well as pornos (πορνος) and moichos (μοιχος) side-by-side (1 Cor. 6:9; Heb. 13:4)? If adultery were included in the word porneia, it would be redundant to add the word moicheia.

With regard to the supposed “exception clause” found in the book of Matthew, further help in discerning what Matthew was saying can be gleaned from the original Greek when we look at the words that he used. This is what John Piper had to say from his study on the subject:
The second thing that began to disturb me was the question, why does Matthew use the Greek word πορνεια (porneia, “sexual immorality”) instead of the word μοιχεια (moicheia) which means adultery? Sexual immorality in marriage would naturally be adultery. But the word Matthew uses to express Jesus’ meaning is one that usually means fornication or sexual immorality without reference to marital unfaithfulness. Almost all commentators seem to make the assumption again that porneia refers to adultery in this context. The question nagged at me why Matthew would not use the word for adultery (moicheia), if that is in fact what he meant.
Then I noticed something very interesting. The only other place besides Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 where Matthew uses the word porneia is in Matthew 15:19 where it is used alongside moicheia. Therefore, the primary contextual evidence for Matthew’s usage is that he conceives of porneia as, in some sense, different than adultery. Could this mean, then, that in Matthew’s record of Jesus’ teaching he is thinking of porneia in its more usual sense of fornication or incest or prostitution that does not denote marital unfaithfulness, that is, adultery?
The next clue in my search for an explanation came when I noticed the use of porneia in John 8:41 where Jewish leaders indirectly accuse Jesus of being born of porneia. In other words, since they don’t accept the virgin birth, they assume that his mother Mary had committed fornication and that Jesus was the result of this act. On the basis of that clue I went back to study Matthew’s record of Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1:18-20.

The word for divorce (απολυσαι) is the same as the word in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. but most important of all, Matthew says that Joseph was “just” in making the decision to divorce Mary, presumably on account of her assumed porneia, fornication. In other words, this “divorce” was permitted according to Matthew.
Only Matthew has told that story of the crisis Joseph faced in whether to marry his betrothed even though she, as far as he knew at first, had committed fornication (πορνεια). In handling this crisis he called Joseph “just” in the plan to “divorce” her. That means that Matthew, as a follower of Jesus, would not consider this kind of “divorce” wrong. It would not have prevented Joseph (or Mary) from marrying another.
Since only Matthew had told this story and raised this question, he was the only Gospel writer who would feel any need to make clear that Jesus’ absolute prohibition of divorce followed by remarriage did not include a situation like Joseph and Mary’s. That is what I think he does with the exception clauses. He records Jesus saying, “Whoever divorces his wife—not including, of course, the case of fornication [πορνεια] between betrothed couples—and marries another, commits adultery.”
A common objection to this interpretation is that both in Matthew 19:9 and in Matthew 5:31-32 the issue Jesus is responding to is marriage, not betrothal. The point is pressed that “except for fornication” is irrelevant to the context of marriage. My answer is that this irrelevancy is precisely the point of the exception clause. Whether it sounds irrelevant in the context depends on how you hear it. I don’t think it sounds pointless if you hear it the way I just suggested or if Matthew 5:32 goes like this: “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife—excluding, of course, the case of fornication [πορνεια] during betrothal—makes her commit adultery.” In this way Jesus makes clear that the action his earthly father almost took—to “divorce” Mary because of πορνεια—would not have been unjust. It would have been right. That is the kind of situation the exception clause is meant to exclude.
This interpretation of the exception clause has several advantages:
  • It does not forces Matthew’s Gospel to disagree with the seemingly plain, absolute meaning of Mark and Luke.
  • It provides an explanation for why the word porneia is used in Matthew’s exception clause instead of moicheia.
  • It squares with Matthew’s own use of porneia (for fornication) in distinction from moicheia (for adultery) in Matthew 15:19.
  • It fits Matthew’s wider context concerning Joseph’s contemplated “divorce” from Mary (Matt. 1:19).
John Piper, What Jesus Demands From the World, pp.313-316.
John Piper is correct. If Jesus (and Matthew’s record of it) meant adultery, then the word for adultery—moicheia—would have been used, just as it appears after the so-called “exception” (5:32; 19:9). But it is not. The word used is porneia, which refers to sexual immorality without reference to marital unfaithfulness. The fact that these words are not synonyms of each other and are not interchangeable is seen within the multiple passages that use them side-by-side: Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21; Galatians 5:19. This fact can also be seen in the use of pornos and moichos side-by-side: 1 Corinthians 6:9; Hebrews 13:4. If porneia includes adultery, then why not simply use that word alone? To use moicheia alongside it is redundant if porneia refers to all sexual sins including adultery.
So let's get our terms accurate:

Adultery = Illicit sexual acts committed by married persons. (Post-marital)
Fornication = Illicit sexual acts committed by unmarried persons. (Pre-marital)

It is imperative to know that the Bible does not combine all sexually immoral behaviours, such as homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, prostitution, harlotry, etc., into the word "fornication." This is a false claim by many Bible teachers. Look up the 7 occurrences of porneuo, the 10 occurrences of pornos, the 12 occurrences of pornee, and the 25 occurrences of porneia in the New Testament and let the Bible define the meaning of these words. Likewise, look up the 4 occurrences of moicheia, the 4 occurrences of moichos, the 6 occurrences of moichaomai, and the 13 occurrences of moichuo in the New Testament and let the Bible define the meaning of these words. Therefore:

Adultery is only applicable to married persons.
Fornication is only applicable to unmarried or single persons.

The use of "sexual immorality" in modern translations of the Bible as opposed to "fornications" in ancient translations of the Bible is deliberately misleading. "Sexual immorality" obscures the meaning and intent of the passage while "fornications" makes it clear and precise. We need to remember that the Gospel According to Matthew was written to and for the Jews. Therefore, we need to understand their customs and practices in order to interpret it correctly. We cannot eisegetically impose our customs and practices upon the text and make it say what we want it to say.

The fact is, divorce is never okay. "For I hate divorce,' says the Lord, the God of Israel" (Mal. 2:16). This is further underscored by Paul when conveying God's words: "To the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not divorce her husband (but if she does divorce, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife" (1 Cor. 7:10-11). The words of Jesus solidify it: "From the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, man cannot separate" (Mark 10:6-9). Marriage is a sacred covenant union instituted by God, entered into with binding vows, and intended for lifelong permanence. The only dissolution to the marriage tie is death (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39).

Any attempts at making other passages contradict the above is entirely disobedience and rebellion. For example, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 that these words come from God Himself. Therefore, Paul's personal words that follow in verses 12-16, 27-28 cannot and will not contradict God's own words. Any false teacher who tries to teach otherwise should be noted and avoided.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Christian's Role In the Community

Not only are Christians to be serving one another, but they are also to be serving the community, "[letting their] light shine before men" (Matthew 5:16) and "[proclaiming] the excellencies of Him who has called [them] out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). "Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14-15).

Will the local church fulfill its purpose and shine like a radiant light against the darkness? In his letter to the Philippians, Paul pleads with the members to nurture their love and maintain unity at all costs: "If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:1-5).
[Paul] asks his people to "carry about in their bodies the dying of Jesus" (2 Cor. 4:10) and to "fill up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" (Col. 1:24). By becoming increasingly "like [Christ] in his death" (Phil. 3:10), by persevering through the same sort of ostracism and rejection that the Lord himself endured (2 Cor. 13:4)—a not unexpected consequence of manifesting a love so antithetical to the egotism of the world that it poses a mortal threat to the world and its ways—members are prepared to "manifest in their bodies the life of Jesus" (2 Cor. 4:10). They are prepared to become conduits of resurrection life to more and more people, causing the "thanksgiving of many to increase to the glory of God" (2 Cor. 4:15). suffering, when authored by the hand of a sovereign God, works paradoxically to engender love and to encourage a radiant witness in the world (1 Pet. 1:6-7).1
The local church is not an island unto itself. "While the local church must guard the unity within, it must also showcase the unity without. ... It is part and parcel of God's cosmic plan to use this family to placard his glory before secular eyes. "Through you I will vindicate my holiness before the nations . . . declares the Lord GOD" (Ezek. 36:23). But even churches endorsing the call to radiate the light outwardly can stumble in their witness. They can seek to impress and draw in outsiders on worldly terms, adjusting styles of worship, manners of dress, and even content of sermons to cater to worldly tastes."2

Two things come to mind when thinking of the Christian's role in the community. The first: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:13-16). The second: "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead. And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.' Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" (Luke 10:27-37). The answer was "The one who showed mercy toward him" (v. 37). This is what the Christian ought to look like and be doing in the community at large.

There are two things the local church needs to do: One, bring the world to Christ by inviting the world into its assemblies so that they can see the better way; Two, bring Christ to the world by bringing God's love to the city (by pursuing corporate ministries within its city, ministering to neighbours and enemies, seeking to improve living conditions for those who have need, etc.). The Christian ought to be loving men and women to Jesus. "To love your neighbor as yourself is not merely to love another as much as you love yourself, but to take up the life of another and make it your own."3

People need to have their spiritual, emotional and physical needs met. Whatever the situation, there is a Bible-based solution and counsel for each and every problem. That does not mean that each and every individual church will have the expertise and know-how to deal with every given situation. However, every church should have access to resources needful to guide an individual in the proper direction along with God’s Word. For example, at times it is hard for single mothers to control their adolescent children without the help of father figures. If these single mothers are churchgoers and there are no programs, seminars, and/or sermons to help them in this area, then the church is not meeting their needs. The church should always strive to meet the needs of men and women as it brings the good news of the salvation message of Christ Jesus.

Jesus gave us the ultimate blueprint for successfully meeting the needs of others. When Jesus fed the 4,000 (Mark 8:1-9), he demonstrated by His deeds the church's purpose and function. Before He preached His sermon, He fed the "churchcomers." After feeding them with physical food, He then fed them with spiritual food for the soul. Both their physical and spiritual needs were met. One of the sad commentaries against Christianity is that this responsibility is being performed by cults such as Mormonism. They are entering people's everyday lives and offering to do things for them that meet their needs, and then they are sharing their doctrines of demons with these people and gaining converts. How much more should Christians be doing this?

When the world looks at us, do they say, "Look how they love one another"? Do they feel the love of Christ emanating from within us toward them? As a song by Joy Williams asks, "Do they see Jesus in me?" If we were being held on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us? That should give us pause to consider our "Christianity" and whether we are truly of the faith or not.

1 Timothy Savage, The Church: God's New People, p.20.
2 Ibid, pp.20-21.
2 Ibid, p.24.

The Christian's Role In the Church

The Greek word allelon (αλληλων) provides us with a helpful introduction as to the ways in which Christians ought to serve one another. How? Because this word means "one another" or "each other." It is frequently used to describe our mutual obligations, those responsibilities that all members of the body of Christ have toward each other.

In Christ, we belong to each other and form one body (Romans 12:5). We are members of one another (Ephesians 4:25). "We have fellowship with one another" (1 John 1:7). Paul prayed that the Roman Christians would have "the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus" (Romans 15:5). To avoid division in the body, Paul desired members to "have the same care for one another" (1 Corinthians 12:25). "Be hospitable to one another" (1 Peter 4:9).

Perhaps the most comprehensive command ever given by Jesus was the well-known "Love one another" (John 13:34). "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (vv. 34-35). Love is the sine qua non (without which there is nothing) of the family of God. This command is of such a fundamental foundation to our Christian duty that it is repeated again in John 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12; and 2 John 5. This is the attitude that Christians ought to have toward each other, and how we ought to interact with one another.

Paul built on this command further: "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor" (Romans 12:10). "Through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF'" (Galatians 5:13). He prayed that the Lord would help the Thessalonians' love to increase not only for each other, but also that their love would increase for everyone else (1 Thessalonians 3:12). "See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men" (1 Thessalonians 5:15). In his second letter to the Thessalonians, he thanked God that their mutual love was indeed increasing (2 Thessalonians 1:3). His exhortation to local churches never varies: "Put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Colossians 3:14).

As noted in the third paragraph above, both the apostle John and apostle Peter echo this command (1 John 3:11; 4:7; 1 Peter 1:22). Examples of how this love works out in practice are numerous: "Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:4-5). "And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation" (Romans 12:15-16). Christ's love is a love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19).

One of the ways in which Christ's love manifests itself within us is through acceptance and forgiveness. "Let us not judge one another anymore" (Romans 14:13). "Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us" (Romans 15:7). "Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you" (Colossians 3:13). "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32). "Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another" (James 5:16).

Through acceptance and forgiveness, you achieve peace. "Be at peace with one another" (Mark 9:50). "Live in peace with one another" (1 Thessalonians 5:13*). "Be of the same mind toward one another" (Romans 12:16a). Paul explains how this can be done: "do not be haughty" (Romans 12:16b). "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love" (Ephesians 4:2). "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself" (Philippians 2:3). "Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another" (1 Peter 5:5).

Another way in which Christ's love manifests itself within is is through service. "Through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13). Peter says something similar: "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another" (1 Peter 4:10*). Jesus had taught the same lesson when He told His disciples to "wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). "Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). "Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2).

Paul desired that the Roman Christians would be mutually encouraged by each other's faith (Romans 1:12). One of the purposes of our gathering together for fellowship on Sundays is to "spur one another to love and good deeds . . . encouraging one another" (Hebrews 10:24-25). "Encourage one another day after day" (Hebrws 3:13*). "Comfort one another . . . encourage one another, and build up one another" (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11). "Building yourselves up on your most holy faith" (Jude 20*).

Paul also desired mutual edification in the "building up of one another" (Romans 14:19). "Teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (Colossians 3:16*; Ephesians 5:19*). Paul was confident that the Roman Christians could "admonish one another" (Romans 15:14).

These are only some of the ways in which Christians can and should minister unto each other for the glory of God. There is much riding on the unity of the local church and it must be preserved with the utmost vigilance.

* The pronoun heautou (εαυτου) is used instead of allelon (αλληλων), but often has the same meaning.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Renewing Your Mind

Brothers and sisters, remember that we are in a war between the thought patterns of this present world and the mind of Jesus. The devil knows that if he can get a foothold on how you think and what you think about, he has gained an invaluable stronghold. Do not yield your mind as a tool for sin and the devil. Renew your mind and become more Christ-like. In the following verses you will find a blueprint on how to obtain the mind of Christ

"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers." Psalm 1:1-3

"I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

"and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind," Ephesians 4:23

"Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation." Romans 12:16

"that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:6

"For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." Romans 12:3

"If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Colossians 3:1-3

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. ... Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalms 23:1-3, 6

"The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart." Luke 6:45

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Luke 12:34

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

"for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light" Ephesians 5:8

"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ockham's Razor

Evolutionists believe there is the possibility that an organized universe spontaneously formed out of nothing, but Ockham's Razor would suggest that an intelligent designer was behind it. Every law that governs our universe is against Evolution (e.g., the Laws of Thermodynamics). Every scientific principle is against Evolution. Even mathematics is against Evolution.

Carbon-14 dating is not very accurate to begin with, but after about 50,000 years, carbon-14 dates are not considered highly reliable due to the fact that too few carbon-14 atoms remain to be reliably detected. Ergo, if dinosaurs (dragons) died off "65 million years ago," there should be no carbon-14 left in their bones. In fact, due to this assumption and conclusion drawn on assumption, many scientists will not even attempt to date dinosaur bones because they blindly believe them to be older than they really are and to be utterly depleted of any carbon-14. This is why they engage in circular reasoning: dating dinosaur bones by the layer of dirt they are found in, and dating the layer of dirt by the dinosaur bones in it. They refuse to do honest science due to their blind faith. Carbon-14 dating applied to dinosaur bones proves the Earth and the universe to be less than 50,000 years old.

Why do Evolutionists lie to themselves and others concerning the facts and evidence? Because the truth means they are answerable to someone other than themselves, which they do not want.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened." Romans 1:18-21

Monday, October 17, 2016

Synthaptō (συνθαπτω)

Immersion has been supported by the equivocal rendering of the verb synthaptō in Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12. In Rom. 6:4 the rendering is "buried by baptism"; in Col. 2:12 "buried in baptism." The English word bury is applicable either to burial in earth or in water; but the Greek word synthaptō is applicable only to burial in earth. No one would render it "to immerse." The English word bury can suggest immersion, but the Greek cannot. Consequently, when a person unacquainted with the original reads in the English version of a "burial in baptism" or "by baptism," a burial in water is the only idea that enters his mind; an idea which the Greek positively excludes. For when a dead body is "buried" in a tomb as our Lord was, it comes into no contact with water and is carefully protected from it. Had synthaptō been translated literally by "entombed" instead of "buried," this text never would have been quoted, as it so frequently has been, to prove that Christian baptism is immersion. Christ's entombment or burial in Joseph's sepulcher has not the slightest connection with his baptism at the Jordan and throws no light upon the mode in which he was baptized; and, consequently, it throws no light upon the mode in which his disciples were.
—William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, pp.823-834.
Here, once again, is evidence against Baptists eisegetically interpreting Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:12 as having anything to do with water baptism, or more specifically, "immersion." Not only does the context have nothing to do with water baptism or the mode thereof, but these verses have to do with identification with Christ Jesus. 

As I have repeatedly said in the past, when you have two opposing views, turning to the Greek grammar will decide the case between them conclusively, which means, providing that both are not wrong, that one of the views is wrong and must be obedient and submit to the text and conform their beliefs, or be disobedient and rebel against the text by stubbornly holding to their false beliefs. While the context reveals that neither water baptism nor mode of baptism are in view in these two verses, the use of the Greek word synthaptō (συνθαπτω) further destroys any platform Baptists attempt to use in connection with these verses and their eisegetical interpretation thereof.

A careful study of the Greek words used, the context, the details provided in Scripture, and the circumstantial evidence all destroy the notion that baptism in Scripture is by "immersion." In classic secular usage, the words often meant "to immerse," but one is hard-pressed to attempt to force that meaning upon the usage in the verses of the Septuagint and the New Testament.
The classical meaning of baptō and baptizō is to dip into water, to sink under water, to dye or tinge in a fluid. The classical meaning favors baptism by immersion, as the classical meaning of sacramentum proves that the Christian sacrament is an oath. But in Hebraistic and New Testament Greek, baptō and baptizō are employed in a secondary ceremonial signification to denote a Jewish and Christian rite. Consequently, their meaning in the Septuagint and New Testament must be determined by their ritual and historical use, not by their classical. The word pagans (pagani), etymologically and classically, denoted persons living in the villagers (pagi) outside of the large towns and cities. Classically, pagans were "villagers." As Christianity spread first among the inhabitants of the cities, the villagers were the unevangelized; and thus "pagan" came to mean "heathen" instead of villager." Similarly, baptō and baptizō, which in heathenism denoted any unceremonial, nonritual immersion into water, when adopted by Judaism and Christianity, came to have the secondary signification of a ceremonial sprinkling or effusion of water. And he who argues that baptism means immersion in the Scriptures because in the classics the primary meaning of baptō and baptizō is "to immerse" commits the same error with him who should argue that a pagan is a villager because this was the original signification of paganus or that the Christian sacramentum is an oath and not a symbol because this is its meaning in Livy and Tacitus.
—William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, pp.821-822.
The four volumes by James W. Dale dealing with the history of baptizō (βαπτιζω), and Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, also destroy the notion that baptism in Scripture is by "immersion." While in classic secular usage, the words often meant "to immerse," that is not what they solely or entirely meant. If they solely and entirely meant "to immerse," then our English Bibles would have rendered each of these words as "immerse" when translated.
In the English Bible baptizō has generally been transliterated to give us the word baptize. When a word is transliterated into English from another language, it is quite often an indication of a multiplicity of meanings. Thus, if the word baptizō had lent itself to easy translation, an obvious English word would have been used to translate it. If baptizō had meant only "immerse," then immerse would be the word used. We would speak of "John the Immerser." Or we would recite, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
—James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, p.598.
We cannot stubbornly hold to traditions we have been taught. Our beliefs must conform to the truths of Scripture. I was raised as an Immersionist, believing that baptism was by immersion alone. For the past two and a half years I have been studying the issue of baptism on and off. The more I studied, the weaker the Baptist position became. Because I am a seeker of the truth, when God reveals it, I conform my beliefs accordingly—the way a good Christian ought to. Stubbornness and pride need to be replaced with humility. There is nothing wrong with being wrong or admitting that you have believed wrongly for so long. Freedom comes when through humility you submit to the truth and conform your beliefs accordingly. The Christian ought to love correction because it draws us closer to Christ and makes us more like Him. Be like the noble Bereans and search the Scriptures daily.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Theological Definitions Must Measure Up To Scripture

In his Systematic Theology, John M. Frame writes, "Even though there are none to few definitions in the Bible, Scripture, not any theological definition, is our ultimate authority. Theological definitions must measure up to Scripture, not the other way around."1 [Emphasis mine.] Mr. Frame is exactly correct. This corresponds well with a favourite quote of mine from Don Fortner:
Our only rule of faith and practice is the Word of God. We have . . .
   no creed to defend,
   no denomination to maintain, and
   no confession to bind our minds.

"What do the Scriptures teach?" That is and must be our only concern. If the plain teachings of Holy Scripture appear to destroy or contradict our understanding of any doctrine, then let us relinquish the doctrine, or acknowledge the fact that our minds are both depraved and minuscule, and bow to the revelation of God.
—Don Fortner
Apply both of those quotes to the doctrine of Sola Fide and then compare what Scripture actually says against the definition and meaning of Sola Fide: "we are justified by faith alone apart from the need for works." The truth is, we are saved by grace alone (Eph. 2:5, 8-9). We are saved by grace alone through faith in the death of Christ Jesus alone.

It is good for brothers in the Lord to wrestle through matters of faith, doctrine, theology, and truth, to learn from each other and to sharpen each other for kingdom use. If you are not stubborn and proud, and if you are open to challenges that examine your faith and encourage you to grow in truth, then here are some blog entries addressing the "Sola Fide" issue:
When our theological definition says "justified by faith alone" and the Bible says "justified not by faith alone," it is a very big thing! Emphasis regarding justification should not be placed on either faith or works. A heavy emphasis on either faith or works is a ditch from the truth. If the works we do are a means of being right with God, then they will damn us straight to hell. If the works we do are a means of being obedient to God through faith, then we are in the same arena with Abraham. Faith and works go hand-in-hand and cannot be separated. Our faith must work itself out (works) and our works must be done in and by faith. Faith alone and works alone will damn us to hell.

1 John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief, p.4.

Baptism and Making Disciples

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
As James Montgomery Boice writes in his Foundations of the Christian Faith, "It is evident from those verses that baptism is an initiatory sacrament belonging to the task of making disciples."1 [Emphasis mine.] What do you suppose the task of Christian parents is with regard to their children? Obviously it is making disciples.

John P. Sartelle wrote:
"It may seem that all you need to do is have your child baptized, and all will be well. That is what many modern church members think. They bring their children and have them baptized as if it were the ultimate fire insurance. But from that moment on you can see no difference between their home and the atheist family next door.
If you and your wife don't love each other as the Bible commands, if you don't teach your children Scripture, if you don't discipline them as God's Word teaches, if you don't pray with and for them daily, if Christ is not the center of your home, then you may baptize your children, but they will grow up just like children from non-Christian homes."2
Bryan Chapell wrote:
"We must confess that some bring their children for this sacrament because of the sweetness of the ceremony, or because of the traditions of family and church, or even with the misguided expectation that somehow 'holy water' will magically protect their child from hell. Yet neither sentiment nor tradition nor superstition is sufficient reason for believers to bring their children to be baptized. And, thankfully, such reasons are not the basis of our church's practice. We baptize infants because we believe that the Bible teaches us to do so."3
God said this about Abraham:
"For I have chosen him in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord." Genesis 18:19
It was Abraham's responsibility to teach his child about God in every facet of his home. Circumcision was not insurance that God would automatically save Isaac. It was the sign of a covenant that he would raise his son in the Lord and that God would have regard for him. It is the same with baptism. Baptism is not insurance that God will automatically save your children. It is the sign of a covenant that you will raise your children in the Lord and that God will have regard for them. Here is just some of what Scripture has to say on the subject of Christian parents making disciples out of their children:
"And you shall teach [these words, which I am commanding you today,] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 6:7

"And you shall teach [these words of mine] to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up." Deuteronomy 11:19

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
Parents who bring their children to be baptized are presented with this vow:
Do you now unreservedly dedicate your children to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavour to set before him/her a godly example, that you will pray with and for him/her, that you will teach him/her the doctrines of our holy faith, and that you will strive, by all the means of God's appointment, to bring him/her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
If these parents are bringing a second, third, fourth, etc., child to be baptized, they should be asked this question in addition to the vow:
Have you so kept the vow you made before God with your previous child that you can take this vow with a sincere and clear conscience?
Mr. Sartelle warns parents against making vows they do not intend to follow through on (much like wedding vows to many couples these days) and that do not mean a thing to them: "Parents, don't make a vow to the Lord just as a social nicety. Imagine, coming before the living God and mouthing words that mean nothing to you just to gain social respectability! If you do that, the blood of your children will be upon your own head. It shall be written of you in eternity that you trifled with the Almighty God."4

1 James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith, p.597.
2 John P. Sartelle, What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism, p.19. 
3 Bryan Chapell, Why Do We Baptize Infants?, p.1.
4 John P. Sartelle, What Christian Parents Should Know About Infant Baptism, p.21.  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

To Him Who Overcomes

"To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God." Rev. 2:7

"He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death." Rev. 2:11

"To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it." Rev. 2:17

"He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels." Rev. 3:5

"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name." Rev. 3:12

"He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Rev. 3:21

"He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son." Rev. 21:7
The pathway to glory is not one of flowery ease. There are . . .
   trials to be endured,
   difficulties to be surmounted,
   temptations to be resisted,
   and enemies to be encountered!

The Christian is called . . .
   to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,
   to put on the whole armor of God,
   and to fight the fight of faith.

To stimulate and cheer him in the conflict, many encouraging assurances are given—especially made to those who press forward through all difficulties, and in the strength of Christ overcome all their spiritual foes:

O Lord, be my strength, give me courage, endurance, and holy fortitude! Increase my faith—that I may overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil, and at last come off more than conqueror through Him who has loved me!
"Every Day!" Author Unknown, 1872