Saturday, December 1, 2007

Are we sharing enough Truth?

In a given witness encounter that includes an individual who just does not agree, we can explain things until we are blue in the face, but if someone does not want to accept the Truth as Truth, there is not much more we can do. A good example of this is the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31 which says the following:

19 "Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 "And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the {crumbs} which were falling from the rich man's table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 "And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' 25 "But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and {that} none may cross over from there to us.' 27 "And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house-- 28 for I have five brothers--in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' 29 "But Abraham *said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' 30 "But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!' 31 "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.' "

I always considered this to be a great example to those who do not believe the Truth and even have the audacity to say they will believe if only given a sign from God. Scripture tells us that even then they will not believe because they have not believed already the Word of God. What an incredible truth! This is why it is so important to continually pray for the lost. Otherwise, how should we expect them to hear the Truth with hearts of stone unprepared for the Word?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

You might be a false convert if…

You might be a false convert if…
You can’t remember a time when you repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus Christ.
You aren’t reading your Bible regularly.
You aren’t attending church regularly.
You believe baptism, church attendance, communion, or some other sort of works righteousness plays any part in your salvation.
You believe baptism, church attendance, communion, or some other sort of works righteousness are unnecessary as evidence of your salvation.
You don’t enjoy fellowship with other believers.
You don’t share your faith with unbelievers.
You don’t memorize Scripture.
You don’t pray regularly.
You exhibit pride, rather than humility, when confronted with a sin you continue to practice since “conversion.”
While many Christians struggle with any one of these problems, an established pattern or willful continued practice of any of these may indicate a need for further examination of the existence of one's faith. Granted, it may not be a sin if you don't memorize Scripture, but more importantly this list is evident fruit we can see in a true believer. It's not necessarily a list of do's and don'ts, but rather a gauge to see if these examples reflect our lives as new creations in Christ. As Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 13:5, "Test yourselves {to see} if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?" Food for thought.

Fear of Evangelism

Fear of rejection is perhaps one of the greatest killers of evangelism in today's Church. It has been said that evangelism is something that both Christians and unbelievers alike hate. Two verses of Scripture, however, come to mind when dealing with this unhealthy type of fear. The first is Acts 1:8, which tells us, "but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses..." This verse reminds me that as a believer in Christ, I have been given the authority and strength necessary from the Holy Spirit in order to preach the Gospel to unbelievers. The second verse is Luke 12:5 which tells us, "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!" This verse redirects my perspective to what healthy fear is...fearing the One (God) Who judges righteously for salvation or for condemnation. Answering the question, "What is the worst that can happen?", we know that evil men can kill our bodies. As mere men, however, they (to include Satan) cannot kill the soul. If God is sovereign (and He is), my fear should rest in awe of Him alone. If God has given me both the power and authority to witness Christ and His Gospel, my only response can be obedience. As a sidenote, we are blessed to live in America, a country who has yet to prefer methods of physical persecution as many other nations in the world do. If this is the case, it only shows how much more unreasonable an unhealthy fear of rejection can be, both to obedience and to reason.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Was Jesus a "Good" Person?

This came up recently, so I just wanted to comment on whether Jesus was only a good person. Considering the classic trilemma offered by C.S. Lewis, Jesus was either Lord, Liar or Lunatic, but cannot logically be considered only a “good person.” Jesus in the Bible claims to be God. If you don't agree, comment back and I'll give some Biblical examples. First, if Jesus was not God and knew it, then he is only a liar attempting to persuade converts. That would not make him a good person. Second, if Jesus only thought he was God and he didn’t know he was not, that would make him insane, or more specifically, a raving delusional egomaniac. Once again, not a good person. Last, if Jesus both believed and was in fact God, that doesn’t make Him a good person, but the very perfect God Who created us. Sorry, but “good person” is just not an option He left for us to play with.

Interview with an Emergent

Sometimes, people are so confused and corrupted that you just want to vomit. Emergent Leader Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch, recently had a telephone interview with Todd Friel of Way of the Master Radio. In it, he denied that Heaven and Hell are actual places, he declared that God would interact with everyone the same in eternity, he mocked Todd for using systematic theology in taking several similar examples from Scripture to come to an understanding of what God was saying, he thought using the grammatical-historical method to interpret the Word of God was wrong (the idea that interpretation is clearest when we study the grammatical context of the Greek and think in terms of what God was saying to those people at that time in history), he talked about the Bible with disdain when Todd used systematic theology to understand what God was saying (Doug seemed to be disgusted by the possibility of using four different Scripture verses from four different books and possibly four different authors, which expresses his disbelief in infallibility having forgotten that God is the Author), and he began getting into a philosophical debate about mind/body dualism, cosmology, etc, when his language and attitude expressed that he didn't believe we exist in a place. He accused Todd of being platonic in his thinking, but it sounds more like Doug was babbling on in agreement with Plato's Parable of the Cave. Anyway, probably one of the most disgusting interviews I have ever heard. I was seriously getting butterflies in my stomach and wanted to vomit from this man's perversion of Scripture. Just to get a few things straight, it seems this is the norm in the emerging church movement. I agree with what started the movement, possibly the idea that there needs to be a refocus upon Biblical living that matches Scripture and our profession of faith ("refocus" meaning to focus again upon what Scripture says, not to change focus or interpretation of that message). After all, it is true that if we are more focused on whether someone wears a suit and tie to Church rather than sharing the Gospel of Christ, we've got problems. However, with such leaders as Doug Pagitt and Brian McClaren, the movement has essentially thrown out the baby with the bathwater. I don't believe it to be correct orthodoxy or orthopraxy when your values are the following:

Postmodern Worldview - Truth is subjective

Narrative Theology - Not focusing on what was being said to who at what time, but what does this (Scripture) mean to me?

Generous Orthodoxy - Let's not take the Bible literally, let's all get together to make up some new doctrines. Something to do with sex and profanity to attract unbelievers.

Postmodern Hermeneutics - Interpret the Scripture however you want and apply it to yourself; after all, truth is subjective.

Authenticity - Forget exegesis, tell me about your experience.

Conversation - Let's talk. Bring some new ideas about what you think. You might change my mind because, as we all know, truth is subjective.

Missional Living - This actually sounds like a good idea. If only emergents could remember John 17:14.

Unstructured Ecclesiology - This is similar to house churches. As long as they rely on a Biblical model, this seems okay.

Creative Spirituality - Refers to an eclectic worship style, which is evident in Scripture, but again, a Biblical model should always be followed.

"Non-Legalistic" Conduct - Looks good on the surface, but going back to a postmodern mindset, the application is one of "Don't judge me!", and reinforces sinful lifestyles such as homosexuality.

Use of New Technologies - Actually, a good idea if using these tools for an evangelistic/discipleship effort.

Postmodern Terminology - A rose smells just as sweet by any other name. As long as they don't try to redefine traditionally orthodox terminology, like the Mormons have, call it whatever you want.

Justice - More specifically, social justice. Good in practice (feeding the poor, visiting the sick, environmental stewardship, etc.), but not in thought (the same Jewish belief that God's Kingdom was an earthly reign when trying to crown Christ [not referencing the millenial reign of Christ]).

So, before I go off on some other tangent, let me remember to give you the link to Doug and Todd's "Conversation."

The first few minutes are of their "pre-show," after that the interview starts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Visual Tools for Remembering God's Law

If you're like me, you can name most of the 10 Commandments. The following is a trick that I learned to not only remember them ALL, but also list them in order:

The first place ribbon represents that God should always be number one in our lives and is a reminder of the 1st Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

The shape of the man bowing down to an idol is a reminder of the 2nd Commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image.
The lips represents not speaking loosely of God’s name and the shape of the edge of the lips is a reminder of the 3rd Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
The shape of the book end and Bible is a reminder of the 4th Commandment: Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.
The man and woman represent parents and their shape is a reminder of the 5th Commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother.
The bomb represents death and destruction and the shape of the outline of this bomb is a reminder of the 6th Commandment: Thou shalt not commit murder.
The broken heart represents what happens because of adultery and the shape of the void in between the two halves of the heart is a reminder of the 7th Commandment: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
The burglar represents theft and the shape of the burglar’s mask is a reminder of the 8th Commandment: Thou shalt not steal.
The lying-down position of the number 9 is a reminder of the 9th Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness (lie).

The man desiring the jewelry and the shape of the man in the doorway and the diamond ring is a reminder of the 10th Commandment: Thou shalt not covet.

I hope that helps for anyone interested in using this tool for memory. It is also a great idea for young children just learning God's law.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Balancing Work and Witnessing

I don't think that any of us are free from repercussions when we speak on behalf of Christ; however, I don't believe that should stop us, either. In my experience, policies set forth by employers give them legal rights to keep individuals from evangelizing during working hours, but not during breaks, lunch periods, or before and after any given shifts. This has not stopped me, but I have had some problems with supervisors on the issue. As an example, one former employer had attempted to stop me from speaking about religious issues, but had allowed other employees to discuss reincarnation, karma, etc. I brought this information to her attention, but the response was that these are not religious topics. Apparently, she had never heard of hinduism. Anyway, the issue was never pressed, except in circumstances when the conversation did in fact interrupt the workflow. As an example on the issue, take a look at Romans 13:1-5 (NASB), "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake." So, looking at these verses, we see that God has established authorities to govern us. This is true even in employer-employee relationships. The only time I see a deviation from this norm in Scripture is when the authority is in direct opposition to God's Word. We have a responsibility as Christians to share the Gospel, but employers have the authority to ensure that they get what they paid for (your time for their money). Considering most in this world are secular, they don't want you wasting the time they are paying for in preaching the Gospel. If we prioritize continual preaching over completing our work as assigned by an authority given over us by God, we may be hurting the Gospel by looking like a lazy employee. If we prioritize our work assignments over concern for the salvation of our lost coworkers, we may be hurting our witness by not being willing to share the Gospel. All these things in consideration, the key is balance. Share your faith in word and deed at work, but do not allow it to counter fulfilling your obligation to your employer. Understand that interrupting the workflow of yourself and your coworkers may be viewed as stealing from the company (again, their money for your time), but do not let it compromise your sincerely held religious beliefs which are protected by law. These are all questions that put us between a rock and a hard place when having to live a Christian life in a secular world. How important it is to submit to God not only by preaching the Gospel, but also by being obedient to the authorities He has established over us, without compromising our faith.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

How does Jesus stack up in cults and non-Christian religions?

Sometimes it is nice to take a step back and ponder why it is we believe what we do. For example, Christianity teaches that Jesus is God, however, every other religion teaches (if they speak of Him at all) that He is not. Mormonism says that Jesus is the brother of Satan (Lucifer) and that men can become gods; Islam teaches that Jesus (Isa) is a prophet of Allah, not the greatest (that would be Mohammed), and that God (Allah) is one (in both person and nature, so no Trinity); Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus is the Archangel Michael; and Hinduism teaches that Jesus is one of millions of possible gods to worship at your discretion. Can all these religions "lead to the same path" and be indeed true? Obviously not. So, what does the Bible actually say about Christ's divinity? Mark 2:5-12 says, "And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 'Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?' Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, 'Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, 'Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'--He said to the paralytic, 'I say to you , get up, pick up your pallet and go home.' And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, 'We have never seen anything like this.'" So, what's the moral of the story? Yes, Jesus could perform miracles of healing, but more importantly, the scribes recognized only God could forgive sins, so Jesus showed them that by the miraculous healing He was in fact also the forgiver of sins, God incarnate. If we add the often overlooked attestations by Christ's words and actions that show His divinity to the Gospel of John (written to the Gentiles that we may know that Jesus is God), it becomes impossible to deny this fact, that Jesus is the Christ, the one and only Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Anyone want to talk to the Emergent Church?

Scripture is clear, Jesus told His disciples in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me." Do we really need to have a "conversation" about this people? God is sovereign and He is in the business of saving souls. He did it right the first time when He inspired the 1st century authors to pen the New Testament. His message is clear and concise, and the instructions on how to "do" church are right there in His word. We don't need a barbecue pool party instead of a proper baptism. We don't need to be relevent to attract a large crowd. Yes, concern for the lost going to hell is our motivation, but that doesn't mean that getting large numbers means getting large numbers of converts. Jesus told us in Matthew 7:13-14, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Get that? Few who find it. Conforming our standards to those of the world is the exact reason that the Gospel (or it's watered-down variant) is not effecting salvation. Let's have a conversation about how to be true to the Gospel and share it the way it is in plain truth, not muck it up with post-modern mumbo jumbo designed to tickle the ears and stroke the ego. Matthew 7:6 says, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." The Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. It must be so, otherwise it is not the Gospel. If we talk about how to make it better or change it to become more palatable or senseless, we cannot expect victory for God.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Does a Scriptural exemption for divorce indicate an exemption for remarriage?

Many people have noticed that the plague of divorce in our culture is no different inside or outside the Church. Some have even placed divorce amongst Christians at a statistically higher rate because of a Christian mindset of insusceptibility to the matter. Regardless of current trends, does Scripture allow for divorce? If so, does that mean that we are allowed to remarry? Probably one of the more popular Scripture references on the matter is Matthew 19:3-9 ("Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, `FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."). So, it would seem that we shall not divorce except in cases of immorality. Well, what is this immorality exception? The Greek word here for "immorality" is porneia. This word is taken to mean either fornication or incest. We know that married couples cannot be fornicators, but rather adulterers because of their marriage. So what does this mean? A position known as the "betrothal view" may clear up any confusion. During the time of the writing of Scripture, betrothal (the ancient variation of today's engagement) was a very serious commitment, highly valued as betrothed were already considered husband and wife. As an example, Joseph and Mary were betrothed, and when Joseph discovered she was pregnant (not knowing by the Holy Spirit), he desired to divorce her quietly. Just as married couples, betrothed couples, too, had to divorce in order to legally dissolve the relationship. Understanding the original author's intent in the Greek, the use of the word porneia makes more sense as it relates to those who have been betrothed and not married (consummation followed after the betrothal period, about one year later). This position (betrothal view) is also supported by other Scripture as it relates to marriage and divorce. For example, Matthew 5:32 tells us, "but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity (porneia), makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Other examples are 1 Corinthians 7:39, which tells us, "A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.", and Romans 7:2, "For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband." If nothing else, these verses prohibit remarriage in that the covenant of marriage is for the life of one's spouse. This means that none may remarry as long as their spouse is alive or they shall be seen as an adulterer in accordance with Scripture. Immoral sexual acts, such as fornication, incest, and yes, adultery, seem to allow for a divorce in accordance with Scripture, however, allowing for one thing (divorce) does not necessitate an allowance for another (remarriage). Much of these verses can be hard to swallow for those in second marriages or those who have been divorced, however, this should just reemphasize the importance of the bond of marriage in the eyes of the Christian and how we as believers should not enter into it without an enduring commitment to one another. Remember, there is no marriage in Heaven other than the marriage between the Church and the Lamb (see Matthew 22:23-33).

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Sinner’s Prayer: Biblical or Practical?

One of the greatest tools in modern evangelism is referred to as the Sinner's Prayer. This prayer is essentially viewed as the official mark or moment of salvation. So the question I pose is this, "Is the Sinner's Prayer supported by evidence of use in Scripture and is leading another in this prayer necessary for their actual salvation?" One problem with the concern over the Sinner's Prayer is that it causes zealous Christians who mean well to offer salvation to those who are not ready to receive it. The promise for joy and a better life sounds like a good trade just to admit that God exists and to "ask Jesus into your heart." Sadly for these new "converts," Christ tells us that there are two problems with this idea. First, just saying that you believe in God doesn't make you a Christian (Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter."). Second, there are four types of responses to the preaching of the Gospel. In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23), Christ explains seed (the Word of God) being sown (preached) and what happens to that seed. First, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it (the response of those not understanding the Word of the Kingdom of God and the devil coming to snatch away what has been sown into the heart). Second, some seed fell among the rocky places where it immediately sprang up due to lack of depth of soil and when the sun came out scorched the plant causing it to wither away (the response of those who hear the Word and respond with joy, but upon persecution or affliction for the Word's sake they immediately fall away from the faith). Third, some seed fell among thorns and the thorns came up and choked them out (the response of those who hear the Word, but the concerns of the world choke it away to unfruitfulness). Finally, some seed fell on good soil that yielded varying multitudes of crops (the response of those who hear the Word, understand it, and bear fruit in response). All but this final response are inauthentic and do not produce true conversion to Christianity. So, if there are different responses to the preaching of the Gospel, how can we know if we are effectively producing true converts? This issue raises an argument between human responsibility (free will) and the sovereignty of God (divine election). If we can influence people to just say the Sinner's Prayer, they will be saved, right? Romans 8:29-30 tells us, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." So if God's part of the deal is to choose who to save (predestine/elect), justify those whom He saves, and ultimately glorify those whom He saves, what is our job? Matthew 28:18-20 tells us, "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, '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." Our job is to preach the Word of God in order to make new disciples, baptize those new disciples in obedience to Christ, and teach them His commands. So if our responsibility is to preach and teach the Gospel, and God's responsibility is in effecting salvation, where does free will come into play? Romans 3:10-12 gives us some insight: "as it is written, 'There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." Here we see that our free will is to never follow God, but rather our own sinful desires. While the human capacity is freedom of choice, human depravity never chooses God. Because of this, God in His sovereignty chooses some for Himself, adding desire to their hearts that they may follow Him. We freely choose the God who has sovereignly elected us. Although the limits of the human mind find this as well as other Scriptural doctrines (e.g. the Trinity) hard to comprehend, human responsibility and God's sovereignty are both fully true and fully inseparable. So, if we know that we are individually responsible to God for not following Him, yet He has elected unto Himself some for salvation, is it truly necessary to get a person to repeat after you in order for them to be saved? Lastly, is there any Scriptural example where Christ, the Apostles, or other disciples ever instructed the necessity of praying a prayer to be saved? Granted, prayer is our means of communion with God, however, perhaps achieving another completion of the Sinner's Prayer by one to whom we are witnessing is for our comfort in winning a numbers game rather than in their best interest as to not provide a false sense of security to those who have not been converted, thus hardening their hearts against further evangelism? Just some food for thought…is God sovereign or isn't He? Has Christ lost any whom God has appointed unto Him for salvation (see John 6:37-39)? Is the Sinner’s Prayer a Biblical mandate or a mere evangelistic tradition? As an afterthought, the Biblical emphasis upon baptism confuses some into believing that it is a necessary element of salvation. Dismissing this myth, perhaps this emphasis, rather, is related to a public display of faith which has been replaced in purpose and popularity by the Sinner’s Prayer in 21st Century modern evangelism. After all, baptism is Biblically an act of obedience used by the new believer to identify with Christ.

Is Hell Reasonable?

People seem to have a big problem with Hell. The question usually goes like this, "How can a loving God send people to Hell?" There are a few points one must understand in order to tackle this question. First, Hell was not created for man, but for Satan and the demons (Matthew 25:41, "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;). Secondly, God does not actively "send" anyone to Hell (Romans 9:22, "What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?"). The Greek word for "prepared" in this verse, katartizo, is used in a passive word voice. This means that the vessel is being acted upon. For example, passive word voice in a sentence would be used as, "The boy was hit by the ball." We would not blame the ball, but rather understand that the boy is just the receiver of the action. The same is true of those who are destined for Hell. God does not choose them for Hell (2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."), but rather they go willingly as God allows them their own choice in rejecting Him (Romans 1:28, "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper"). Lastly, Heaven is not somewhere that those destined for Hell would want to be anyway. What I mean here is that Heaven will be a place of continual worship of the Lord (Revelation 4:8-11, Revelation 5:11-14, and Revelation 7:9-12 are just some of the examples of angels, elders, beasts, creatures, and multitudes [essentially everything and everyone] continually worshipping God). It's not hard to make sense of the fact that if a man is not willing to worship God for his few years here on earth, there's no way he would ever be willing to worship Him forevermore. Considering these three points: Hell was created for Satan and the demons, God does not actively send people to Hell, and Heaven being an eternal place of worshipping God (a hell to those who are unwilling to even do that here on earth), it is a fair response to assess that Hell is reasonable as it relates to a loving God.

Monday, April 2, 2007

My Personal Statement of Faith

1. Concept of God – God exists eternally in 3 persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet is one God in essence. God the Father is the Head of the Trinity; Jesus Christ is God the Son, the Word of God, and eternally begotten of the Father and accomplishes the will of the Father, also acting as Intercessor, High Priest, Savior, Redeemer and Lord for the body of believers; God the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son, He is the Inspiration of Scripture, gives illumination to the Word, comforts and indwells believers as a sign of salvation (the baptism of fire) in Jesus Christ, reveals Truth to and gives spiritual gifts to all believers.

2. Deity and Lordship of Christ – Jesus Christ is God, the second Person of the Trinity. He is the only Lord and only Way to reconciliation with the Father through His sacrificial death on the cross, taking the punishment of the sin of the world upon Himself for the forgiveness of that sin.

3. Plan of Salvation – All humanity are sinners by nature (from the Fall of Adam) and by choice. The Law of God reveals our sin to us and the need for repentance and a Savior in Jesus Christ. Repenting from that sin, confessing that sin to God and believing (trusting, not acknowledging) by faith in Jesus Christ to save us from that sin by His redemptive work on the cross, we are saved. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The Holy Spirit producing fruit in us is the evidence of salvation and the Guarantor of the true saints persevering to the end (salvation cannot be lost if it is truly received).

4. Bible – The Bible is God’s inspired Word. Being such, not authored by men alone, but by God, it is inerrant in the original manuscripts. This does not mean successive manuscripts are not the Word of God, but that simple scribal errors such as misspellings, punctuation, and alternate forms of names may be present. God, however, being both capable and able, has preserved His Word through the generations and it is in fact infallible. It is the final authority in Christian life and a means by which to be fed spiritually, from the milk of the Word in our spiritual infancy to the meat of the Word as we spiritually mature.

5. Church – The Church is twofold: The Body of Believers and the general place of worship for those believers. As Believers in Jesus Christ, our bodies have become the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The Church, as the focus of Christ’s redemption, is also known as the Bride of Christ, in that believers are made both Children of God and one body in Christ through their faith, presented to Christ as His Bride by the Father at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. We are now the Body of Christ. Secondly, the church is the place of worship, fellowship, preaching, teaching, prayer, edification, discipline, and Christian love for the believer. It is made up of a membership of baptized, born-again, believers in Jesus Christ.

6. Baptism – Baptism is by immersion, for the believer only, and an act of obedience both by following as Christ did and identifying ourselves with Christ. The going down symbolizes our identification with Christ in His death and burial as well as death to the old self, the sinful flesh. The coming up symbolizes identification with Christ in His resurrection and new life in the Spirit. Baptism is the first of two ordinances observed by the Church today and while symbolically and obediently important, is not necessary for salvation.

7. Lord’s Supper – The Lord’s Supper is the second ordinance observed by the Church. It is taken as a proclamation of the Lord’s death until He comes again and done in remembrance of Him. The bread represents His body which was broken for us, and the fruit of the vine represents His blood which was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. One must examine themselves so as to not take of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy fashion. The practice does not cause one to cannabalistically eat and drink the blood of Christ by transubstantiation, nor to eat and drink Christ’s actual body and blood along with the bread and cup. Once again, this is an ordinance for the believer only.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Points of Contention with King James Version Onlyism

1. While the New Testament of the King James Version was translated from the Textus Receptus, being the most extant transcripts available at the time, the translation was still originally commissioned approximately 34 decades prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which now are the most extant transcripts available.

The translation has a number of editions including 1611, 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. So which of these years did the KJV become the ­­only Word of God in English? Let's not forget that the KJV originally included the Apocrypha as well.

While it is true that no original manuscripts are still in existence, this most reasonably leaves the practice of textual criticism rather than historical criticism to be preferred.

The Textus Receptus came from Erasmus, a Roman Catholic (some sources say to his dying day), who did not have a complete copy of the book of Revelation. He reverse translated verses in the book from the Latin Vulgate back into Greek, as well as adjusted texts in many places to mirror the Latin Vulgate. Additionally, he hastily rushed the composition to please his publisher which created a plethora of typographical errors.

While the Latin Vulgate is not a good resource to use for translation, as it is not an original Biblical language (and would thus produce a translation of a translation), the principle of translation used by Jerome, that is to bring the Scriptures into the common language of the people (Latin of the Roman Empire), is a commendable one. This principal of translation was shared by Jerome (Latin), Luther (German), Tyndale (English) and contemporary Bible translators. It is that very principal that the Roman Catholic Church corrupted in removing the availability of the Scriptures from the laiety in order to pervert them to their own means.

While the KJV is a viable formal equivalence of its day, it is not the best available formal equivalence with the exacting nature of such translations as the NASB. While the studious Bible reader can gain an understanding of the King’s English, it was a short-lived dialect and has not been the modern English language for hundreds of years.

These 6 points are not a dismissal of the KJV Bible translation, rather, they are a dismissal of the notion that the KJV is the only acceptable translation in English. While tradition and aged authority may predispose one to the preference of the KJV, to claim that it alone stands as the Word of God isn't just an example of poor scholarship, but borderline cultic. It is not the translation that is important, but the transmission of the message of the original manuscripts.