Monday, November 28, 2022

A Textual Critical Analysis Of John 7:53-8:11

          Most modern English translations of the Bible place into brackets or footnotes the story of the woman caught in adultery, which can be found in John chapter seven verse fifty-three through the eleventh verse of the next chapter.

          The story of the woman caught in adultery has value because it sets in stone the superiority of Jesus Christ over the Law and portrays the cross as being the fountain of mercy that washes away iniquity. It powerfully emphasizes grace over law; justification rather than condemnation before God. The scribes and Pharisees tried to set up a trap for Christ. If He answered them by saying outright that justice should not be administered to this woman, then that would violate the Law of Moses and cause a negative reaction amongst the Jews against Him. If He were to take the administration of justice into His own hands, then that could have been viewed as a challenge to Caesar's authority. Rather than dong either, Jesus pointed out that all people fail to obey the Law.

          The text of John 7:53-8:11 strongly conveys to us the message that God has been gracious to us. Hence, it is no wonder that Christians would want to preserve this tradition in writing. Furthermore, there exists no credible reason to deem this event in the life of Jesus Christ as being a forgery. However, the oldest manuscripts available do not incorporate the text in question into John's gospel narrative. Henry Clarence Thiessen, in his Introduction to the New Testament, p. 176, writes in regard to John 7:53-8:11:

          "The section about the adulterous is, no doubt, a true story from the life of Jesus; but it is poorly supported by documentary evidence. It is not found in Aleph A B C L T W X Delta and at least seventy cursives and numerous Evangelistaria (Gospel Lectionaries). It is also wanting in the Old Syriac, the Peshitta, the Harkloan, in some copies of the Old Latin, and in several of the minor versions. Really, it appears in no Greek manuscript earlier than the eighth century, save in Codex Beza (5"cent.), which has many textual peculiarities. It is not quoted as by John until late in the fourth century, at which time Augustine says that some have removed it from their copies, fearing, he supposes, that its presence might give their wives undue license Jerome says that in his day it was contained in many Greek and Latin MSS." Plummer reminds us, however, that most of the worst corruptions of the text were already in existence in Jerome's time." Practically all scholars today accept it as a true incident in the life of Jesus, but not as a genuine part of John's Gospel. This includes conservative scholars as Warfield and A. T. Robertson. Yet there we have the statements of Jerome and Augustine!"

          J.B. Phillips, in his New Testament in Modern English, writes:

          "This passage [John 7:53-8:11] has no place in the oldest manuscripts of John, and is considered by most scholars to be an interpolation from some other source. Almost all scholars would agree that, although the story is out of place here, it is part of a genuine apostolic tradition."

          In fact, some manuscripts that do contain this passage have it located after John 21:24. There is one manuscript that has John 7:53-8:11 inserted after John 7:36. Others have the story of the woman caught in adultery placed after Luke 21:38, or at the very end of Luke's gospel.

          There is nothing inherently wrong with accepting this text as canonical Scripture, since it contains no doctrinal error and accurately reflects the tender side of Jesus Christ. This story is actually something that we would have more expected to be recorded in Luke's gospel, since he focused more on women than did the other three writers. The story of the woman caught in adultery does not in any way contradict historical details of the four gospels.

Monday, October 31, 2022

How Come God Does Not Stop Evil Right Now?

"While nearly everyone asks why God doesn’t stop evil, few people ask why God doesn’t stop pleasure. Stopping pleasure would be an effective way of stopping evil while maintaining human freedom. That’s because no one does evil for evil’s sake. We do evil to get good things, such as money, sex, and power. Take away pleasure and the incentive to do evil would vanish. But if God were to stop evil by ending pleasure, would the human race continue? If it did, would anyone like the pleasureless world that remains?"

Frank Turek, Stealing From God, p. 142

Sunday, October 9, 2022

An Interesting Look at the Life of Jonah

Father Mapple rose, and in a mild voice of unassuming authority ordered the scattered people to condense. "Star board gangway, there! side away to larboard- larboard gangway to starboard! Midships! midships!"

There was a low rumbling of heavy sea-boots among the benches, and a still slighter shuffling of women's shoes, and all was quiet again, and every eye on the preacher.

He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit's bows, folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea.

This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog- in such tones he commenced reading the following hymn; but changing his manner towards the concluding stanzas, burst forth with a pealing exultation and joy-

The ribs and terrors in the whale, Arched over me a dismal gloom, While all God's sun-lit waves rolled by, And lift me deepening down to doom.

I saw the opening maw of hell, With endless pains and sorrows there; Which none but they that feel can tell- Oh, I was plunging to despair.

In black distress, I called my God, When I could scarce believe him mine, He bowed his ear to my complaints- No more the whale did me confine.

With speed he flew to my relief, As on a radiant dolphin borne; Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone The face of my Deliverer God.

My song for ever shall record That terrible, that joyful hour; I give the glory to my God, His all the mercy and the power.

Nearly all joined in singing this hymn, which swelled high above the howling of the storm. A brief pause ensued; the preacher slowly turned over the leaves of the Bible, and at last, folding his hand down upon the proper page, said: "Beloved shipmates, clinch the last verse of the first chapter of Jonah- 'And God had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.'"

"Shipmates, this book, containing only four chapters- four yarns- is one of the smallest strands in the mighty cable of the Scriptures. Yet what depths of the soul Jonah's deep sealine sound! what a pregnant lesson to us is this prophet! What a noble thing is that canticle in the fish's belly! How billow-like and boisterously grand! We feel the floods surging over us, we sound with him to the kelpy bottom of the waters; sea-weed and all the slime of the sea is about us! But what is this lesson that the book of Jonah teaches? Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a lesson to me as a pilot of the living God. As sinful men, it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard-heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers, and finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah. As with all sinners among men, the sin of this son of Amittai was in his wilful disobedience of the command of God- never mind now what that command was, or how conveyed- which he found a hard command. But all the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do- remember that- and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade. And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists.

"With this sin of disobedience in him, Jonah still further flouts at God, by seeking to flee from Him. He thinks that a ship made by men, will carry him into countries where God does not reign but only the Captains of this earth. He skulks about the wharves of Joppa, and seeks a ship that's bound for Tarshish. There lurks, perhaps, a hitherto unheeded meaning here. By all accounts Tarshish could have been no other city than the modern Cadiz. That's the opinion of learned men. And where is Cadiz, shipmates? Cadiz is in Spain; as far by water, from Joppa, as Jonah could possibly have sailed in those ancient days, when the Atlantic was an almost unknown sea. Because Joppa, the modern Jaffa, shipmates, is on the most easterly coast of the Mediterranean, the Syrian; and Tarshish or Cadiz more than two thousand miles to the westward from that, just outside the Straits of Gibraltar. See ye not then, shipmates, that Jonah sought to flee worldwide from God? Miserable man! Oh! most contemptible and worthy of all scorn; with slouched hat and guilty eye, skulking from his God; prowling among the shipping like a vile burglar hastening to cross the seas. So disordered, self-condemning in his look, that had there been policemen in those days, Jonah, on the mere suspicion of something wrong, had been arrested ere he touched a deck. How plainly he's a fugitive! no baggage, not a hat-box, valise, or carpet-bag,- no friends accompany him to the wharf with their adieux. At last, after much dodging search, he finds the Tarshish ship receiving the last items of her cargo; and as he steps on board to see its Captain in the cabin, all the sailors for the moment desist from hoisting in the goods, to mark the stranger's evil eye. Jonah sees this; but in vain he tries to look all ease and confidence; in vain essays his wretched smile. Strong intuitions of the man assure the mariners he can be no innocent. In their gamesome but still serious way, one whispers to the other- "Jack, he's robbed a widow;" or, "Joe, do you mark him; he's a bigamist;" or, "Harry lad, I guess he's the adulterer that broke jail in old Gomorrah, or belike, one of the missing murderers from Sodom." Another runs to read the bill that's stuck against the spile upon the wharf to which the ship is moored, offering five hundred gold coins for the apprenhension of a parricide, and containing a description of his person. He reads, and looks from Jonah to the bill; while all his sympathetic shipmates now crowd round Jonah, prepared to lay their hands upon him. Frightened Jonah trembles. and summoning all his boldness to his face, only looks so much the more a coward. He will not confess himself suspected; but that itself is strong suspicion. So he makes the best of it; and when the sailors find him not to be the man that is advertised, they let him pass, and he descends into the cabin.

"'Who's there?' cries the Captain at his busy desk, hurriedly making out his papers for the Customs- 'Who's there?' Oh! how that harmless question mangles Jonah! For the instant he almost turns to flee again. But he rallies. 'I seek a passage in this ship to Tarshish; how soon sail ye, sir?' Thus far the busy Captain had not looked up to Jonah, though the man now stands before him; but no sooner does he hear that hollow voice, than he darts a scrutinizing glance. 'We sail with the next coming tide,' at last he slowly answered, still intently eyeing him. 'No sooner, sir?'- 'Soon enough for any honest man that goes a passenger.' Ha! Jonah, that's another stab. But he swiftly calls away the Captain from that scent. 'I'll sail with ye,'- he says,- 'the passage money how much is that?- I'll pay now.' For it is particularly written, shipmates, as if it were a thing not to be overlooked in this history, 'that he paid the fare thereof' ere the craft did sail. And taken with the context, this is full of meaning.

"Now Jonah's Captain, shipmates, was one whose discernment detects crime in any, but whose cupidity exposes it only in the penniless. In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers. So Jonah's Captain prepares to test the length of Jonah's purse, ere he judge him openly. He charges him thrice the usual sum; and it's assented to. Then the Captain knows that Jonah is a fugitive; but at the same time resolves to help a flight that paves its rear with gold. Yet when Jonah fairly takes out his purse, prudent suspicions still molest the Captain. He rings every coin to find a counterfeit. Not a forger, any way, he mutters; and Jonah is put down for his passage. 'Point out my state-room, Sir,' says Jonah now, 'I'm travel-weary; I need sleep.' 'Thou lookest like it,' says the Captain, 'there's thy room.' Jonah enters, and would lock the door, but the lock contains no key. Hearing him foolishly fumbling there, the Captain laughs lowly to himself, and mutters something about the doors of convicts' cells being never allowed to be locked within. All dressed and dusty as he is, Jonah throws himself into his berth, and finds the little state-room ceiling almost resting on his forehead. The air is close, and Jonah gasps. Then, in that contracted hole, sunk, too, beneath the ship's water-line, Jonah feels the heralding presentiment of that stifling hour, when the whale shall hold him in the smallest of his bowels' wards.

"Screwed at its axis against the side, a swinging lamp slightly oscillates in Jonah's room; and the ship, heeling over towards the wharf with the weight of the last bales received, the lamp, flame and all, though in slight motion, still maintains a permanent obliquity with reference to the room; though, in truth, infallibly straight itself, it but made obvious the false, lying levels among which it hung. The lamp alarms and frightens Jonah; as lying in his berth his tormented eyes roll round the place, and this thus far successful fugitive finds no refuge for his restless glance. But that contradiction in the lamp more and more appals him. The floor, the ceiling, and the side, are all awry. 'Oh! so my conscience hangs in me!' he groans, 'straight upwards, so it burns; but the chambers of my soul are all in crookedness!'

"Like one who after a night of drunken revelry hies to his bed, still reeling, but with conscience yet pricking him, as the plungings of the Roman race-horse but so much the more strike his steel tags into him; as one who in that miserable plight still turns and turns in giddy anguish, praying God for annihilation until the fit be passed; and at last amid the whirl of woe he feels, a deep stupor steals over him, as over the man who bleeds to death, for conscience is the wound, and there's naught to staunch it; so, after sore wrestling in his berth, Jonah's prodigy of ponderous misery drags him drowning down to sleep.

"And now the time of tide has come; the ship casts off her cables; and from the deserted wharf the uncheered ship for Tarshish, all careening, glides to sea. That ship, my friends, was the first of recorded smugglers! the contraband was Jonah. But the sea rebels; he will not bare the wicked burden. A dreadful storm comes on, the ship is like to break. But now when the boatswain calls all hands to lighten her; when boxes, bales, and jars are clattering overboard; when the wind is shrieking, and the men are yelling, and every plank thunders with trampling feet right over Jonah's head; in all this raging tumult, Jonah sleeps his hideous sleep. He sees no black sky and raging sea, feels not the reeling timbers, and little hears he or heeds he the far rush of the mighty whale, which even now with open mouth is cleaving the seas after him. Aye, shipmates, Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship- a berth in the cabin as I have taken it, and was fast asleep. But the frightened master comes to him, and shrieks in his dead ear, 'What meanest thou, O, sleeper! arise!' Startled from his lethargy by that direful cry, Jonah staggers to his feet, and stumbling to the deck, grasps a shroud, to look out upon the sea. But at that moment he is sprung upon by a panther billow leaping over the bulwarks. Wave after wave thus leaps into the ship, and finding no speedy vent runs roaring fore and aft, till the mariners come nigh to drowning while yet afloat. And ever, as the white moon shows her affrighted face from the steep gullies in the blackness overhead, aghast Jonah sees the rearing bowsprit pointing high upward, but soon beat downward again towards the tormented deep.

"Terrors upon terrors run shouting through his soul. In all his cringing attitudes, the God-fugitive is now too plainly known. The sailors mark him; more and more certain grow their suspicions of him, and at last, fully to test the truth, by referring the whole matter to high Heaven, they all-outward to casting lots, to see for whose cause this great tempest was upon them. The lot is Jonah's; that discovered, then how furiously they mob him with their questions. 'What is thine occupation? Whence comest thou? Thy country? What people? But mark now, my shipmates, the behavior of poor Jonah. The eager mariners but ask him who he is, and where from; whereas, they not only receive an answer to those questions, but likewise another answer to a question not put by them, but the unsolicited answer is forced from Jonah by the hard hand of God that is upon him.

"'I am a Hebrew,' he cries- and then- 'I fear the Lord the God of Heaven who hath made the sea and the dry land!' Fear him, O Jonah? Aye, well mightest thou fear the Lord God then! Straightway, he now goes on to make a full confession; whereupon the mariners became more and more appalled, but still are pitiful. For when Jonah, not yet supplicating God for mercy, since he but too well knew the darkness of his deserts,- when wretched Jonah cries out to them to take him and cast him forth into the sea, for he knew that for his sake this great tempest was upon them; they mercifully turn from him, and seek by other means to save the ship. But all in vain; the indignant gale howls louder; then, with one hand raised invokingly to God, with the other they not unreluctantly lay hold of Jonah.

"And now behold Jonah taken up as an anchor and dropped into the sea; when instantly an oily calmness floats out from the east, and the sea is as Jonah carries down the gale with him, leaving smooth water behind. He goes down in the whirling heart of such a masterless commotion that he scarce heeds the moment when he drops seething into the yawning jaws awaiting him; and the whale shoots-to all his ivory teeth, like so many white bolts, upon his prison. Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord out of the fish's belly. But observe his prayer, and learn a weighty lesson. For sinful as he is, Jonah does not weep and wail for direct deliverance. He feels that his dreadful punishment is just. He leaves all his deliverance to God, contenting himself with this, that spite of all his pains and pangs, he will still look towards His holy temple. And here, shipmates, is true and faithful repentance; not clamorous for pardon, but grateful for punishment. And how pleasing to God was this conduct in Jonah, is shown in the eventual deliverance of him from the sea and the whale. Shipmates, I do not place Jonah before you to be copied for his sin but I do place him before you as a model for repentance. Sin not; but if you do, take heed to repent of it like Jonah."

While he was speaking these words, the howling of the shrieking, slanting storm without seemed to add new power to the preacher, who, when describing Jonah's sea-storm, seemed tossed by a storm himself. His deep chest heaved as with a ground-swell; his tossed arms seemed the warring elements at work; and the thunders that rolled away from off his swarthy brow, and the light leaping from his eye, made all his simple hearers look on him with a quick fear that was strange to them.

There now came a lull in his look, as he silently turned over the leaves of the Book once more; and, at last, standing motionless, with closed eyes, for the moment, seemed communing with God and himself.

But again he leaned over towards the people, and bowing his head lowly, with an aspect of the deepest yet manliest humility, he spake these words:

"Shipmates, God has laid but one hand upon you; both his hands press upon me. I have read ye by what murky light may be mine the lesson that Jonah teaches to all sinners; and therefore to ye, and still more to me, for I am a greater sinner than ye. And now how gladly would I come down from this mast-head and sit on the hatches there where you sit, and listen as you listen, while some one of you reads me that other and more awful lesson which Jonah teaches to me, as a pilot of the living God. How being an anointed pilot-prophet, or speaker of true things and bidden by the Lord to sound those unwelcome truths in the ears of a wicked Nineveh, Jonah, appalled at the hostility he should raise, fled from his mission, and sought to escape his duty and his God by taking ship at Joppa. But God is everywhere; Tarshish he never reached. As we have seen, God came upon him in the whale, and swallowed him down to living gulfs of doom, and with swift slantings tore him along 'into the midst of the seas,' where the eddying depths sucked him ten thousand fathoms down, and 'the weeds were wrapped about his head,' and all the watery world of woe bowled over him. Yet even then beyond the reach of any plummet- 'out of the belly of hell'- when the whale grounded upon the ocean's utmost bones, even then, God heard the engulphed, repenting prophet when he cried. Then God spake unto the fish; and from the shuddering cold and blackness of the sea, the whale came breeching up towards the warm and pleasant sun, and all the delights of air and earth; and 'vomited out Jonah upon the dry land;' when the word of the Lord came a second time; and Jonah, bruised and beaten- his ears, like two sea-shells, still multitudinously murmuring of the ocean- Jonah did the Almighty's bidding. And what was that, shipmates? To preach the Truth to the face of Falsehood! That was it!

"This, shipmates, this is that other lesson; and woe to that pilot of the living God who slights it. Woe to him whom this world charms from Gospel duty! Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a gale! Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appal! Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness! Woe to him who, in this world, courts not dishonor! Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were salvation! Yea, woe to him who as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway!

He drooped and fell away from himself for a moment; then lifting his face to them again, showed a deep joy in his eyes, as he cried out with a heavenly enthusiasm,- "But oh! shipmates! on the starboard hand of every woe, there is a sure delight; and higher the top of that delight, than the bottom of the woe is deep. Is not the main-truck higher than the kelson is low? Delight is to him- a far, far upward, and inward delight- who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own inexorable self. Delight is to him whose strong arms yet support him, when the ship of this base treacherous world has gone down beneath him. Delight is to him, who gives no quarter in the truth, and kills, burns, and destroys all sin though he pluck it out from under the robes of Senators and Judges. Delight,- top-gallant delight is to him, who acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is only a patriot to heaven. Delight is to him, whom all the waves of the billows of the seas of the boisterous mob can never shake from this sure Keel of the Ages. And eternal delight and deliciousness will be his, who coming to lay him down, can say with his final breath- O Father!- chiefly known to me by Thy rod- mortal or immortal, here I die. I have striven to be Thine, more than to be this world's, or mine own. Yet this is nothing: I leave eternity to Thee; for what is man that he should live out the lifetime of his God?"

He said no more, but slowly waving a benediction, covered his face with his hands, and so remained kneeling, till all the people had departed, and he was left alone in the place.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick, chapter 9: The Sermon

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

An Exegetical Study Of Habakkuk 2:4 As It Relates To Justification By Faith Alone

  • Discussion:
          -The Book of Habakkuk is a classic example of what we would call a theodicy. It serves as a defense of the goodness of God in the midst of evil. A theodicy aims to solve the paradox of His general providence in a world of pain and misery. How could an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God allow people to go through bad things? Why do evil people seem to prosper while the righteous suffer, being continually trampled on? Why is perfect justice not always inflicted on evildoers in this world? Questions of this nature plagued Habakkuk's mind in the situation of his day and countless other people throughout the course of human history.

          Habakkuk was troubled deeply by the corrupt society in which he lived. The laws of the prophet's own nation were not being enforced. Justice was not a thing to be found in that land. Faithlessness toward God abounded. Habakkuk wondered how a righteous God could be silent and allow these things to come to pass. Why does He stand by and do nothing? The prophet raised such questions not in a state of doubt, but faith. While God did not specifically answer the why behind that man's questions, the response given aroused a greater sense of perplexity than he originally had. How could a righteous God use Babylon, a nation more wicked than Judah itself, as an instrument of divine judgement?

          The underlying theme of the Book of Habakkuk is that we can place our trust in God because of His sovereignty. He is working things out for the good of those who love Him. Whether things seem impossible to us is irrelevant to God. He will right the wrongs of evildoers in His own perfect timing. His plan will prove satisfactory to us in the grand scheme or complete picture of all events when they are brought to a close. The Book of Habakkuk contains a passage that is quoted twice by the Apostle Paul in the context of our justification before God, particularly in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11. The text being discussed is cited in its entirety as follows:

          "Behold, as for the impudent one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous one will live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4)

          Paul sees in this passage the foundation of the message of the gospel in which man is declared righteous by God apart from the merit of good deeds. The prophet's words are certainly broad enough to fit with Paul's application of them. The apostle's message could be paraphrased in this manner: "the one justified by faith shall live." Habakkuk 2:4 is the only text besides Genesis 15:6 that brings together faith and righteousness in the Old Testament. Thus, we see the reason for Paul appealing to them in his argumentation against Law observance for justification in Romans and Galatians. A righteousness that comes by faith is antithetical to a Law righteousness.

          The Apostle Paul's point of emphasis in Romans 1:17 is that the person who has been justified by faith is to live a life of faith. We receive a righteousness from God that does not belong to us and is based on Christ's propitiatory work on the Cross. Paul interpreted the Prophet Habakkuk's words which were originally delivered to a faithful remnant that appeared to be on the brink of utter destruction as being words of hope for lost humanity. The condition for Jews to receive blessings and protection from God under the Old Covenant is the same for Christians under the New Covenant: faith. A man cannot obtain a just standing before Him without faith. Faith, righteousness, and life are things that are intimately connected to each other. God is our source of comfort and security, whether we live or die.

          Paul in Galatians 3:11 gives weight to Habakkuk 2:4 with the intent of making the point that one is justified in the sight of God on the basis of faith and that alone. He uses something other than the Law to make us right with Him, faith. It is this kind of a life that glorifies God. It is that kind of a life that brings honor to Him. The statements made about Paul's citation of Habakkuk in Galatians are equally true about the similar instance found in Romans. The Apostle Paul's teaching of living by faith is to be contrasted with the Law's requirement of "doing" in order to have life (Deuteronomy 27:26; Leviticus 18:5). The latter way brings about death and is therefore of no avail to us in getting a righteous standing before God.

          Some translations of the Bible use the word "faith" in Habakkuk 2:4 (New King James Version, English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible, etc.), while others have "faithfulness" (New International Version, New English Translation, etc.). Either choice of wording is acceptable. The LXX Septuagint translation says, "the just shall live by my faith," as if God's faithfulness is in view. However, that reading of the text is not adopted here. A man who has faith is one who trusts in God. Such a man's character is honorable and reliable. His ways are morally upright. Those who have faith in God will also believe His promises. They are loyal to His covenant. The Apostle Paul would have derived his understanding of faith from the Old Testament Scriptures. It would prove beneficial to us if we did the same. David W. Kerr, in the Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 876, writes:

          "...In most places in the OT where it [faith] is used it has the second meaning [faithfulness rather than faith], for example, in II Kgs 12:15; Jer 5:1. It is, however, worth noticing that the root of this word [Hebrew emunah] has already been used in Hab 1:5 in the sense of giving credence to God's word or promise. Moreover, faithfulness, even as an aspect of a man's character, does not occur in the void. Faithfulness must be exercised in relation to someone or something. In this case the individual is to be faithful to God, to God's word and covenant. He must rely firmly upon, or have a deep-rooted trust in God himself. The NT use is in complete agreement with this."

          The same author cited before comments further on the text of Habakkuk 2:4, p. 877:

          "...Paul, in comparison with Habakkuk, enlarges infinitely the scope of the word "live," for he applies it to life to come, to the sphere of salvation or eternal well-being in distinction from merely temporal well-being. That the apostle is justified in doing so will readily be granted by Christians, since the NT writers employ many forms and figures of the OT with a fullness of meaning far transcending that which they had for believers under the older dispensation. Finally, the antithesis between the principle of active faith and that of meritorious law-works as a means of salvation is, of course, a part of the apostle's own argument. It is a logical development from the nature of faith itself."

          The Concordia Self-Study Commentary, by Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, p. 639, has the following note on the meaning of the word faith in Habakkuk 2:4:

          "The word faith occurs only once in Habakkuk (2:4); but his whole prophecy is a word of faith, faith agonized, questioning, seeking, finding repose in God, and jubilant, finally, in assurance of God's love, and all this in the face of the obstacle to faith posed by God's scandalously mysterious governance of history. When Paul quotes 2:4 in his thematic statement of justification by faith in Ro 1:17, it is only fair to assume that he is quoting with a consciousness of this original context of faith in Habakkuk. For Paul, as for Habakkuk, faith is confronted by an action of God which is offensively enigmatic, namely, the weakness and foolishness of the Cross; for both Paul and Habakkuk faith is faith without works, for both it is "quietly waiting" for God to do His saving work. For both, faith is not one aspect of man's existence before God but the whole of his relationship to Him."

          Elmer A. Martens, in the New International Version Zondervan Study Bible, p. 1834-1835, writes:

          "2:4 the enemy. Babylon (either collectively or its king) or anyone who is arrogant and follows evil desires (elaborated in vv. 6-19). puffed up. A person who is haughty, arrogant, self-sufficient, and presumptuous (Num 14:44). desires are not upright. Examples are listed in v. 5 (see note). the righteous person. The one whose faithfulness (see NIV text note) is anchored in the God who triumphs over evil (3:3–15, especially v. 13; cf. Gen 15:6; Isa 26, especially vv. 1-8; Ezek 18:9). The righteous person trusts God in the darkest of times, holding fast to the conviction that God's promises will be fulfilled (2 Cor 1:20). The teaching that people are saved by grace through faith (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Eph 2:8) includes the call to live by faith (Heb 10:38–39; 11:17; Jas 2:22-23)."

          The New King James Version Study Bible, edited by Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, and H. Wayne House, has this footnote on Habakkuk 2:4:

           "2:4 The proud refers to the Babylonians, who exalted themselves and boasted of their conquests and power. His soul is not upright in him: The Babylonians had no regard for God, His commandments, or His people. the just shall live by his faith: True righteousness before God is linked to genuine faith in God. A proud person relies on self, power, position, and accomplishment; a righteous person relies on the Lord."

Thursday, August 4, 2022

A Discussion On Using The Bible To Legitimize Homosexuality

  • Discussion:
          -Following are a series of excerpts with responses to them from a debate that veered far from the original topic of the article in which they were published. A number of points may prove to be useful in discussing the issue of whether the Bible endorses homosexuality:

          "What if some christians think that oppressing gay people is a great evil and others do not even see their harsh treatment of homosexuals as oppression?"

          That would be a matter of semantics in this culture. If by "oppressing gay people" you are referring to something genocidal in nature, then that would be a heinous crime. If by that phrase you are speaking of disagreement with their lifestyle, then that is not by any means oppressive.

          "What if, in these cases, all concerned are genuinely striving to follow God and they've just reached different conclusions?"

          If God has delineated something to be good or evil, then there is no other conclusion to reach than that which He told us.

          "Are those in sincere confusion and mistake going to be damned for their lack of understanding?"

          I suspect the problem is more willful than accidental for a lot of people.

          "As to 1 Cor 6, as I'm sure you know, Paul was writing to a specific place with some specific circumstances and throughout Corinthians, he is addressing some specific concerns they had, offering his advice."

          Paul also gave moral imperatives for us to adhere to at all places and at all times. Morality pertains to that which is timeless and transcendent.

          "God has not delineated gay folks getting married as good or bad. Literally, that never has happened. Not in the Bible and not to you or me."

          Go read of the Apostle Paul's condemnation of homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. He says outright that people who practice such a lifestyle will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Paul would have drawn this teaching from the Book of Leviticus which is in the Old Testament.

          "But the word that is sometimes translated as "homosexual" (and the word translated as "soft" or "effeminate" sometimes) are not at all clear in the text or context. But in context, sometimes in that day and time, men would have young male prostitutes - boys who were forced to be the "soft" ones and abused by the men who were prostituting them. That's the reality of Greco-Roman life at the time."

          The text of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 refers to both the active and passive partners of a homosexual relationship. The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, edited by Spiros Zodhiates, contains Strong's Greek Dictionary of the New Testament which has this entry on the phrase "abusers of themselves with mankind": 

           "733 arsenokoites ar-sen-ok-oy'-tace from 730 and 2845; a sodomite:--abuser of (that defile) self with mankind."

           The section of this Study Bible titled Lexical Aids to the Old Testament has this entry on the meaning of the term sodomite:

          "6945 Qadesh; this adj. is derived from 6942. It means a consecrated one, a devoted one, a sacred person; a devotee to licentious idolatry, a cultic prostitute or priest of Astarte (1 Kgs. 22:46). It is ironic that such a "holy" word could be applied to abominable practices of male homosexuals dedicating themselves to the honor of a false god (Deut. 23:17; 1 Kgs. 14:24; 15:12; 2 Kgs. 23:7; Job 36:14)!"

          Consider also this excerpt from a Dictionary of the Bible: Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, by William Smith:

          "Sodomites. This word does not denote the inhabitants of Sodom (except only in 2 Esd. vii. 36) or their descendants; but it is employed in the A.V. of the Old Testament for those who practised as a religious rite the abominable and unnatural vice from which the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah have derived their lasting infamy. It occurs in Deut. xxiii. 17; 1 K. xiv. 24; xv. 12; xxii. 46; 2 K. xxiii. 46; 2 K. xxiii. 7; and Job xxxvi. 14 (margin). The Hebrew word kadesh is said to be derived from a root kadash, which (strange as it may appear) means "pure," and thence "holy." "This dreadful 'consecration,' or rather desecration, was spread in different forms over Phoenicia, Syria, Phrygia, Assyria, Babylonia."

           Consider this excerpt from the Archaeological Study Bible, Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and Duane Garrett general editors:

           "Evidence exists that even the Greeks may have been aware that this behavior was deviant. Aristophanes, the Greek comic poet, mocked homosexual behavior (even as he employed it as a comic device). For example, in Women at the Thesmophoria he ruthlessly ridiculed the notorious homosexuality of the poet Agathon. It would be an overstatement to claim that Aristophanes opposed homosexual practice, but his comedy betrayed an uneasy conscience about such behavior within the culture he inhabited. Plato, on the other hand, in his earlier dialogues spoke approvingly of homosexual behavior. Yet near the end of his career he observed in his Laws that homosexual intercourse was widely recognized to be unnatural." (p. 1836)

           It should be clear to anyone that the Apostle Paul condemned homosexual relationships as such. He would have expressed disdain toward the idea of a same-sex wedding. That would have been totally repulsive to him. Paul would have viewed homosexuality as sinful and something practiced only by people who are heathenish. 

          "Why do those religious traditions get to speak for God what God hasn't said? Isn't that blasphemous? Why not?"

          Are you serious in taking up this kind of a sweeping skepticism toward the moral dimension of the Mosaic Law? What sort of textual critical evidence do you have to support this branding of moral imperatives from God as being nothing other than man-made oral tradition?

          "So, if there SEEMS to be some disagreement with Jesus and the OT or Jesus and Paul, we look FIRST to what Jesus said to help us understand the other, not the other way around."

          This reasoning would be utterly inexcusable given that both Jesus and Paul held to Old Testament ethics. Jesus Christ upheld traditional marriage as defined by God since the timing of creation: "And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at 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’?" (Matthew 19:4-5)

          "We have Saved by God's Grace gay and lesbian and transgender members, beloved by God. The Bible does not say otherwise. Anywhere. It's just not there."

          The consistent pattern of marriage in the Bible from beginning to end is between a man and a woman. It presupposes that kind of a relationship. Never once are two partners of the same gender even hinted at. Never once are more than two genders spoken of.

          "But those all appear, on the face of them, to not be any kind of universal condemnation of gay guys getting married..."

          But God describes homosexual behavior in Leviticus 18:22 as being an "abomination" and "worthy of death" in Leviticus 20:13. That is indeed a universal condemnation of the practice. Consider this excerpt from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, on the Hebrew term toeba:

          "...the abomination may be of a physical, ritual or ethical nature and may be abhorred by God or man. Sharing a meal with a Hebrew was ritually offensive to an Egyptian (Gen 43:32), as was offering certain kinds of sacrifices (Ex 8:22). homosexuality and other perversions are repugnant to God and fall under his judgment (Lev 18:22–30; 20:13). Idolatry (Deut 7:25), human sacrifice (Deut 12:31), eating ritually unclean animals (Deut 14:3–8), sacrificing defective animals (Deut 17:1), conducting one’s business dishonestly (Deut 25:13–16), practicing ritual prostitution (I Kgs 14:23f.), and similar acts of disobedience (for seven more abominations, see the list in Prov 6:16–19) were sure to bring God’s wrath on those who perpetrated them. Twelve times the book of Proverbs uses the phrase, “is an abomination to the Lord.” In Ps 88, a prayer for help written by a man close to death, the physically repulsive appearance of a tôʿēbâ is stressed; the man’s former friends avoid him because they consider him to be a thing of horror (Ps 88:8 [H 9])."

          The Jewish Study Bible has this excerpt on Leviticus 18:22:

          "Biblical and ancient Near Eastern culture was not familiar with homosexuality in the sense of a defined sexual orientation of lifestyle (the Bible gives no indication that David and Jonathon had a sexual relationship). It acknowledges only the occasional act of male anal intercourse, usually as an act of force associated with humiliation, revenge, or subjugation (for the biblical examples see Gen. 19.4-5; Judg. 19.22). Of the biblical collections only H mentions it (here and in 20.13), declaring it to be an abominable act and a capital offense. One possible explanation might be that H views certain sexual acts that are not potentially procreative as aberrant."

          "(heck, lesbians aren't mentioned at all in the OT, so presumably, it's okay for THEM to get married, right?)"

          You take liberties by attempting to follow the strict letter of the text in a manner that is favorable toward your own theology. Your efforts to manipulate what it says is disingenuous and proves that you do not really care what Scripture says. How could you possibly be a Christian?

          The original audience to whom the Law was given would have understood Leviticus 18:22 to apply to lesbianism in principle. Furthermore, Paul expressly casts such relationships in a negative light in Romans 1:26-27. There is something especially unnatural about two women being together given that they have a motherly instinct. 

          "I know there are a handful of passages that SEEM to touch on perhaps gay issues, but they are nothing like clear or definitive condemnations of gay folks getting married."

          Even if there was only one passage in the entire Bible that implicitly showed God's disapproval of homosexual marriage, that would be enough for a real Christian. That would still count as evidence, but there are multiple lines of evidence showing that homosexuality is incompatible with a biblical theology of marriage.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

An Discussion On Culture And "Gay Rights"

  • Discussion:
          -Following are a series of excerpts with responses to them from a debate that veered far from the original topic of the article in which they were published. Some points may prove to be useful in discussing the normalization of homosexual behaviors with other people:

          "Ah, but WHO is it that is plotting even now to deny the right to marry and other basic rights to LGBTQ people?"

          That is not happening anywhere except in the Middle East. No reasonable person has any plans whatsoever to deprive the group of people that you mention of any basic human rights. They are being treated just like everybody else.

          "It's conservatives and the religious right. LGBTQ folks are NOT trying to tell straight people who they can and can't marry."

          We do not really see heterosexual people parading around the streets of cities in ridiculous and ugly attire exclaiming what they do behind closed doors. We do not see heterosexual people putting symbols of their sexuality on children's cereal boxes during a specific month of each year. Have a sense of decency and honor.

          "Who is it who's telling transgender folks which bathrooms they must use? It's conservatives. LGBTQ folks aren't telling conservatives which bathrooms to use."

          There are only two genders which are determined by genetics. That people want to be called by something other than what they really are, is no one else's problem but their own. There is no obligation on my part to affirm a man to be a woman or visa versa when all of human history up to this point did not do so.

          If this matter is really all that important, then businesses should create unisex, single person restrooms. Problem solved.

          "Who is it who's telling gay or lesbian couples that they can't adopt children? It's conservatives. LGBTQ people aren't trying to say that "Southern Baptists can't adopt children!"

          Adoption is not a gay rights issue. It is a children's issue.

          "LGBTQ people HAVE been oppressed for centuries/throughout history in nations around the world and in the US."

          Even if that is true, they are not being persecuted in the West right now. This leads up to a bigger point, namely, the utter futility of trying to negotiate with people who have a victim mentality. They are never happy no matter what you do for them, always demanding more.

          "They just want to live their lives in peace and without oppression."

          Dissidents only wish to be left alone and be able to live out normal lives without fear of their children being sexualized by predators.

          "Would you return to the days of criminalized homosexuality if you could?"

          This question is a meaningless hypothetical. I could not return to the days of criminalized homosexuality even if I wanted to.

          "Would you deny the right of gay guys/lesbian women to marry who they want?"

          Let those people be with whoever they want in secret, but I would deny that homosexual "marriage" is a natural human right from the very beginning.

          "The Supreme Court conservatives may do so."

          The only thing that a Supreme Court with the kind of composition that it currently has would do is to relegate the matter to the states. If an overwhelming majority of people in one state wants abortion to be illegal, then they should be able to have it that way. That is the way in which our particular system of government works. It is not perfect, but still works better than any other. If you do not like how a particular state is ran, then you can move to a different state in the country that better fits your standards of living. You could also run for office to change laws and publicly debate people to change minds.

          "Look, you are free to think what you want about LGBTQ people, but conservative Christians (and extremist Muslims) have lost this argument, at least in the free world."

          If "conservative" ideas have really been defeated, then why are they the only ones that have withstood the test of time? Bad ideas do not become better just because more people embrace them. Wrong is still wrong even if everyone believes it.

          "That's illegal discrimination and rightfully so. So, too, for gay customers. You don't have to like it, but discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation is illegal in our nation."

          You are making an invalid comparison. Skin color and gender is not changeable like sexual orientation. They are not behavioral characteristics as is homosexuality and lesbianism. They have nothing to do with each other. Gay customers should be served on the condition that employees are not required to compromise their faith. It is ironic that these people demand acceptance and toleration while at the same time not extending that same attitude toward those who do disagree with them.

          "And for many of us, we thank God that these human rights have been accomplished because we're fighting for justice and morality, as best we understand it."

          Homosexuality is a sin against God. Such "marriages" are not recognized as valid before Him. However, LGBTQ people should not be shut out of society. They should not be denied access to basic needs. These people should not be demonized and dehumanized. We live in a fallen world which cannot possibly live up to God's perfect holiness.

          "That's one way that's one way that bigots use to demonize the other, make them monstrous, people who target children! It is an unsupported false claim."

          It is not an unsupported false claim when children's libraries contain books with essentially pornographic content and there are parents who are outraged about it. It is not an unsupported false claim when there are reports of teachers telling students not to disclose the subject-matter of their classes to parents.

          "Are you saying that people who take the time to teach children are "targeting them" for propaganda?"

          Not exactly. It depends on the content of the instruction.

          "Or, when conservatives do it, they're just being helpful, but when liberals do it they're targeting and grooming children?? You see the problem with that, don't you?"

          The problem is that children are basically being taught how to have sex. They should be being taught things like math, grammar, and science. Children should not be being sexualized. They have no real understanding of how the world works. Moreover, people have grown up to have sex for thousands of years without any instruction as to how it is done. They just procreated.

          "And if you find my positions weird And tomorrow, perhaps you can understand how I also find your positions weird and immoral. As well as unbiblical, ungodly and irrational."

          That you are okay with the destruction and corruption of innocence proves you are a radical. Why would you defend exposing children to drag queen story hour? Even their attire is a symbol of sexuality. Why cannot people be dressed in modest clothing and read stories to children?

          "After all I'm not trying to be objective, I'm saying that gay folks committing to one another in a loving respectful marriage is obviously, on the face of it, a good thing. How's that bad?"

          That is not how God designed things to be. There does not have to be some other reason than that He has given us a moral standard to abide by.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

An Exegetical Study On The Sin Lists Of Paul's Epistles

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
          -The Apostle Paul says twice in the same passage that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God. He also specifies who these kinds of people are. Compare with 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. The repeated emphasis demands consideration on our behalf. Paul does not want readers of his epistle to misunderstand or minimize the seriousness of his message.
          -Homosexuality is mentioned in this passage as being one of many damnable sins. Paul elsewhere says that lesbianism is condemned by God as such behavior on a widespread scale is an indicator of divine judgement (Romans 1:26-27).
          -Paul echoes the teaching of Jesus Christ to Nicodemus about the necessity of being born again in order to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). The expression "Kingdom of God" refers to His reign existing in a state having been brought to full fruition. Evil has no presence there. His kingdom is designed specifically for people who are morally upright.
  • Ephesians 5:4-7:
          -Paul again expects his audience to live lives that correspond with their profession of faith. His message to those who have a newfound identity in Christ is this: "Be what you are." Morally impure behaviors are "not fitting" (Ephesians 5:4) in the Christian life. By that, it is meant they are not worthy to be practiced among those who have been set apart for a holy life.
          -This "inheritance" is spoken of as a future possession that cannot be enjoyed by those who are not in Christ. They do not know Him. They have not been forgiven by God. Compare with Ephesians 1:14 and Colossians 1:14.
          -Greed is isolated from a broader list of sins and called a form of idolatry. Compare with Colossians 3:5. Covetousness corrupts how a person conducts business.
          -The kingdom of heaven belongs to both Christ and God, since the latter has put everything under the dominion of the former (1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22).
  • Galatians 5:19-21:
          -The first three sins mentioned in this list are of sexual nature. They are spoken of in all-encompassing terms. Sexual sins were common in Greco-Roman society.
          -The next two terms relate to worship. Idolatry is giving anything reverence that belongs to God alone. It is a more common problem than we realize. It is easier to get caught up in than we think. Asia Minor had problems with witchcraft (Acts 19:18-19).
          -The rest of the sins mentioned in this text relate to human temperament; the overall ugliness of sinful man's reactions to things and the rate at which he does so. 
          -Unbelievers are excluded from the Kingdom of God because that is the place in which His will is done. Selfish people are not qualified to partake in the eternal blessings that God bestows on those who love Him. Their perspective is utterly incompatible with His. 
  • The Source Of Holiness In The Writings Of The Apostle Paul:
          -"The source of Paul's emphasis on holiness was his Jewish religion, yet this tradition too was revalued in light of his messianism. Like the Pharisaism he was partial to, the Diaspora Judaism that nurtured him in his youth, and the apocalyptic Judaism that marked him for life, Paul viewed God as the source of holiness (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2). Now present in Spirit, this God was the author of the consecration (áyiáoat) of believers and their advocate in the final judgment, keeping their souls, spirits, and bodies "blameless" (åpéutw) at Jesus' parousia (1 Thess. 5:23). God's eschatological presence and power were Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19; 3:17; 12:3; 2 Cor. 13:13; Rom. 5:5; 8:27; 9:1; 14:17; 15:13, 16, 19; 1 Thess. 1:5; 4:8), making believers holy at baptism (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11), inspiring believers (1 Cor. 6:19), interceding with their spirit "with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26), and bearing fruit in them (e.g., Gal. 5:22) for holiness." (Calvin Roetzel, Paul: The Man and the Myth, p. 34)

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Faith And Endurance

III. The apostle tells us what these believers endured by faith. 1. They were tortured, not accepting deliverance, [Hebrews 11] v. 35. They were put upon the rack, to make them renounce their God, their Saviour, and their religion. They bore the torture, and would not accept of deliverance upon such vile terms; and that which animated them thus to suffer was the hope they had of obtaining a better resurrection, and deliverance upon more honourable terms. This is thought to refer to that memorable story, 2 Macc. ch. vii., etc. 2. They endured trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, and bonds and imprisonment, v. 36. They were persecuted in their reputation by mockings, which are cruel to an ingenuous mind; in their persons by scourging, the punishment of slaves; in their liberty by bonds and imprisonment. Observe how inveterate is the malice that wicked men have towards the righteous, how far it will go, and what a variety of cruelties it will invent and exercise upon those against whom they have no cause of quarrel, except in the matters of their God. 3. They were put to death in the most cruel manner; some were stoned, as Zechariah (2 Chron 24 21), sawn asunder, as Isaiah by Manasseh. They were tempted; some read it, burnt, 2 Macc 7 5. They were slain with the sword. All sorts of deaths were prepared for them; their enemies clothed death in all the array of cruelty and terror, and yet they boldly met it and endured it. 4. Those who escaped death were used so ill that death might seem more eligible than such a life. Their enemies spared them, only to prolong their misery, and wear out all their patience; for they were forced to wander about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, and tormented; they wandered about in deserts, and on mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, v. 37, 38. They were stripped of the conveniences of life, and turned out of house and harbour. They had not raiment to put on, but were forced to cover themselves with the skins of slain beasts. They were driven out of all human society, and forced to converse with the beasts of the field, to hide themselves in dens and caves, and make their complaint to rocks and rivers, not more obdurate than their enemies. Such sufferings as these they endured then for their faith; and such they endured through the power of the grace of faith: and which shall we most admire, the wickedness of human nature, that is capable of perpetrating such cruelties on fellow creatures, or the excellency of divine grace, that is able to bear up the faithful under such cruelties, and to carry them safely through all?

IV. What they obtained by their faith. 1. A most honourable character and commendation from God, the true Judge and fountain of honour—that the world was not worthy of such men; the world did not deserve such blessings; they did not know how to value them, nor how to use them. Wicked men! The righteous are not worthy to live in the world, and God declares the world is not worthy of them; and, though they widely differ in their judgment, they agree in this, that it is not fit that good men should have their rest in this world; and therefore God receives them out of it, to that world that is suitable to them, and yet far beyond the merit of all their services and sufferings. 2. They obtained a good report (v. 39) of all good men, and of the truth itself, and have the honour to be enrolled in this sacred calendar of the Old-Testament worthies, God's witnesses; yea, they had a witness for them in the consciences of their enemies, who, while they thus abused them, were condemned by their own consciences, as persecuting those who were more righteous than themselves. 3. They obtained an interest in the promises, though not the full possession of them. They had a title to the promises, though they received not the great things promised. This is not meant of the felicity of the heavenly state, for this they did receive, when they died, in the measure of a part, in one constituent part of their persons, and the much better part; but it is meant of the felicity of the gospel-state: they had types, but not the antitype; they had shadows, but had not seen the substance; and yet, under this imperfect dispensation, they discovered this precious faith. This the apostle insists upon to render the faith more illustrious, and to provoke Christians to a holy jealousy and emulation; that they should not suffer themselves to be outdone in the exercise of faith by those who came so short of them in all the helps and advantages for believing. He tells the Hebrews that God had provided some better things for them (v. 40), and therefore they might be assured that he expected at least as good things from them; and that since the gospel is the end and perfection of the Old Testament, which had no excellency but in its reference to Christ and the gospel, it was expected that their faith should be as much more perfect than the faith of the Old-Testament saints; for their state and dispensation were more perfect than the former, and were indeed the perfection and completion of the former, for without the gospel-church the Jewish church must have remained in an incomplete and imperfect state. This reasoning is strong, and should be effectually prevalent with us all.

Excerpts taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The World Has Always Been Insane

Some people today think that it is ignorant to believe in Satan. Well, if you feel like that, I just ask you to look at the world and at yourself and try to explain some of the things that happen, both within you and in the world, apart from the biblical teaching about Satan and the hosts and powers of evil, these malevolent influences that are unseen in the spiritual realm.

The next step in the argument is that the world, as it is in sin and under the control of Satan, cannot be improved. Indeed, I defy anyone to show that Scripture teaches that it can. The Bible teaches, quite categorically, that sin is such a radical problem that the world cannot now and never will improve itself; there is no hope for it in that way. So we begin to see why the man or woman who is truly Christian, who bases all opinions on scriptural teaching, is not a bit surprised at what is happening in the world today.

Our Lord and Savior himself said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. . . . Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot. . . ." (Luke 17:26, 28). He spans the centuries; he lays down the proposition that because of sin and the Fall, mankind as mankind is going to be no different at the end of history than what it was at the beginning. Therefore, nothing is such an utter travesty of the Christian gospel as the suggestion that because it is preached, each generation will be better than the previous one, and the world will reform and improve, until everything that is evil and wrong will have been banished and ultimately all will be perfect.

The gospel never teaches that; it asserts the exact opposite. I do not apologize for saying that the Bible's view of history is profoundly pessimistic. Of course, that is why the Bible is not popular and has not been so during the last hundred years. Evolutionary theories and hypotheses are very optimistic; they all tell us that the world is going to be better and better and that mankind is evolving and advancing. Philosophers always want to be optimistic if they can be, and thus they paint this picture of improvement. And, of course, if you believe them, you cannot like the Bible because its realism contrasts sharply with these optimistic ideas.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled, p. 95-96

Friday, May 20, 2022

A Commentary On Psalm 73:25-26

IV. He was hereby quickened to cleave the more closely to God, and very much confirmed and comforted in the choice he had made of him, v. 25, 26. His thoughts here dwell with delight upon his own happiness in God, as much greater then the happiness of the ungodly that prospered in the world. He saw little reason to envy them what they had in the creature when he found how much more and better, surer and sweeter, comforts he had in the Creator, and what cause he had to congratulate himself on this account. He had complained of his afflictions (v. 14); but this makes them very light and easy, All is well if God be mine. We have here the breathings of a sanctified soul towards God, and its repose in him, as that to a godly man really which the prosperity of a worldly man is to him in conceit and imagination: Whom have I in heaven but thee? There is scarcely a verse in all the psalms more expressive than this of the pious and devout affections of a soul to God; here it soars up towards him, follows hard after him, and yet, at the same time, has an entire satisfaction and complacency in him.

1. It is here supposed that God alone is the felicity and chief good of man. He, and he only, that made the soul, can make it happy; there is none in heaven, none in earth, that can pretend to do it besides.

2. Here are expressed the workings and breathings of a soul towards God accordingly. If God be our felicity,

(1.) Then we must have him (Whom have I but thee?), we must choose him, and make sure to ourselves an interest in him. What will it avail us that he is the felicity of souls if he be not the felicity of our souls, and if we do not by a lively faith make him ours, by joining ourselves to him in an everlasting covenant?

(2.) Then our desire must be towards him and our delight in him (the word signifies both); we must delight in what we have of God and desire what we yet further hope for. Our desires must not only be offered up to God, but they must all terminate in him, desiring nothing more than God, but still more and more of him. This includes all our prayers, Lord, give us thyself; as that includes all the promises, I will be to them a God. The desire of our souls is to thy name.

(3.) We must prefer him in our choice and desire before any other. [1.] "There is none in heaven but thee, none to seek to or trust in, none to court or covet acquaintance with, but thee." God is in himself more glorious than any celestial being (Ps 89 6), and must be, in our eyes, infinitely more desirable. Excellent beings there are in heaven, but God alone can make us happy. His favour is infinitely more to us than the refreshment of the dews of heaven or the benign influence of the stars of heaven, more than the friendship of the saints in heaven or the good offices of the angels there. [2.] I desire none on earth besides thee; not only none in heaven, a place at a distance, which we have but little acquaintance with, but none on earth neither, where we have many friends and where much of our present interest and concern lie. "Earth carries away the desires of most men, and yet I have none on earth, no persons, no things, no possessions, no delights, that I desire besides thee or with thee, in comparison or competition with thee." We must desire nothing besides God but what we desire for him (nil præter te nisi propter te—nothing besides thee except for thy sake), nothing but what we desire from him, and can be content without so that it be made up in him. We must desire nothing besides God as needful to be a partner with him in making us happy.

(4.) Then we must repose ourselves in God with an entire satisfaction, v. 26. Observe here, [1.] Great distress and trouble supposed: My flesh and my heart fail. Note, Others have experienced and we must expect, the failing both of flesh and heart. The body will fail by sickness, age, and death; and that which touches the bone and the flesh touches us in a tender part, that part of ourselves which we have been but too fond of; when the flesh fails the heart is ready to fail too; the conduct, courage, and comfort fail. [2.] Sovereign relief provided in this distress: But God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. Note, Gracious souls, in their greatest distresses, rest upon God as their spiritual strength and their eternal portion. First, "He is the strength of my heart, the rock of my heart, a firm foundation, which will bear my weight and not sink under it. God is the strength of my heart; I have found him so; I do so still, and hope ever to find him so." In the distress supposed, he had put the case of a double failure, both flesh and heart fail; but, in the relief, he fastens on a single support: he leaves out the flesh and the consideration of that, it is enough that God is the strength of his heart. He speaks as one careless of the body (let that fail, there is no remedy), but as one concerned about the soul, to be strengthened in the inner man. Secondly, "He is my portion for ever; he will not only support me while I am here, but make me happy when I go hence." The saints choose God for their portion, they have him for their portion, and it is their happiness that he will be their portion, a portion that will last as long as the immortal soul lasts.

Excerpts taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible