Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Purpose And Scope of 1 John

"In the writings of Paul the doctrine of justification is prominent; in those of John, the doctrine of regeneration. Paul conceives of the natural man as out of favor with God; John, as outside the family of God. But though there is this difference of emphasis in the two Apostles, neither of them limits himself to the one doctrine: Paul also believes in the doctrine of regeneration and John, in that of justification. Ironside says: "The writings of the Apostle John have always had a peculiar charm or the people of the Lord, and I suppose, if for no other reason, for this, that they are particularly addressed to the family of God as such." Although the First Epistle is chiefly didactic and controversial, the personal note is not entirely absent. Yet there are no proper names (except that of our Lord), nor historical or geographical allusions in it. The writer deals with the errors which he combats from the high standpoint of a personal relationship and fellowship with God, and not from that of a theoretical polemicist."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 306

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Does Christ Offer Himself As A Sacrifice For Our Sins Every Day?

        “Christ daily offers himself upon our altars for our redemption...[and] wishes that there should be a continuation of the sacrifice.” (Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 73 & 79)

        The Scriptures are emphatic that Jesus Christ does not offer Himself daily. His sacrifice is not continuing:

        "who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself." (Hebrews 7:27)

        "nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Hebrews 9:25-26)

        The work of Christ accomplished on the cross at Calvary is sufficient to satisfy our debt of sin:

        "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7)

        Roman Catholic apologists are adamant that Christ does not get put to death at each Mass. But how can there be no death of a victim who is offered up in a sacrifice? This no doubt constitutes a dilemma for the Roman Catholic position:

        "and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." (Revelation 1:18)

        It is an insult for us to present on a continual basis Christ who has forever conquered death as being in that same state.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Examining Catholic Redemptive Suffering In Light Of Scripture

        This source explains the Roman Catholic idea of redemptive suffering as follows:

        "The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in paragraph 1502 teaches that all pain, toil and sorrow united to Christ's passion "can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others." In paragraph 1505 the CCC explains, "Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: ... By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion." Paragraph 1521 likewise states that suffering in "union with the passion of Christ ... acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus."

        Scripture, on the other hand, affirms that it is Jesus Christ Himself who atones for sin and not our suffering in addition to what He has done on our behalf. His work on the cross has ensured that we obtain redemption and the forgiveness of sin:

        "he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." (Hebrews 9:12)

        Scripture does not bring together our pain and suffering with the shed blood of Christ in the manner of making atonement:

        "So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood." (Hebrews 13:12)

        "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)

        Christ's one offering put away sin and thus any other atoning work is rendered unnecessary:

        "for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:26-28)

        Roman Catholic apologists sometimes appeal to texts such as 2 Corinthians 1:5-7, Colossians 1:24, and Galatians 2:20 in order to substantiate the idea that our suffering can cancel out punishment for sins committed by ourselves and for other people when offered together with the sacrifice of Christ.

        Regarding the text from 2 Corinthians, hardship for preaching the gospel resulted in it being shared and exemplified to the Christians dwelling at Corinth. Suffering can produce comfort and hope in God which can be shared with other people. In addition, the term "salvation" encompasses both the instance of "justification" and the ongoing process of "sanctification."

        Regarding the text from Colossians, one commentator explains, "That which is behind of the sufferings of Christ — That which remains to be suffered by his members. These are termed the sufferings of Christ, 1. Because the suffering of any member is the suffering of the whole; and of the head especially, which supplies strength, spirits, sense, and motion to all 2. Because they are for his sake, for the testimony of his truth. And these also are necessary for the church; not to reconcile it to God, or satisfy for sin, (for that Christ did perfectly,) but for example to others, perfecting of the saints, and increasing their reward."

        Regarding the text from Galatians, Thomas Constable says, "When a person trusts Christ, God identifies him or her with Christ not only in the present and future but also in the past. The believer did what Christ did. When Christ died, I died. When Christ arose from the grave, I arose to newness of life. My old self-centered life died when I died with Christ. His Spirit-directed life began in me when I arose with Christ. Therefore in this sense the Christian’s life is really the life of Christ. We can also live by faith daily just as we became Christians by faith (v. 16). Faith in both cases means trust in Christ. We can trust Him because He loved us and gave Himself up as a sacrifice for us. In this verse Paul’s use of “crucified” instead of “put to death” or “died” stresses our sinfulness. Only the worst criminals suffered crucifixion in Paul’s day. His reference to “the flesh” here is literal. It means our physical bodies. We can see Paul’s great appreciation of God’s love for him. He said Christ loved “me” and gave Himself for “me.” “The whole of Christian life is a response to the love exhibited in the death of the Son of God for men.”

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Are We Physically Healed By Jesus' Stripes?

So what does Isaiah 53:5 promise Christians if it’s not an offer of immediate, unblemished health for all Christians? John MacArthur sheds clear light on the matter in his commentary on 1 Peter 2:24 (which, noted earlier, quotes from Isaiah 53:5):

Christ died for believers to separate them from sin’s penalty, so it can never condemn them. The record of their sins, the indictment of guilt that had them headed for hell, was “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:12–14). Jesus paid their debt to God in full. In that sense, all Christians are freed from sin’s penalty. They are also delivered from its dominating power and made able to live to righteousness (cf. Romans 6:16–22).

Peter describes this death to sin and becoming alive to righteousness as a healing: by His wounds you were healed. This too is borrowed from the Old Testament prophet when he wrote “by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Wounds is a better usage than “scourging” since the latter may give the impression that the beating of Jesus produced salvation. Both Isaiah and Peter meant the wounds of Jesus that were part of the execution process. Wounds is a general reference—a synonym for all the suffering that brought Him to death. And the healing here is spiritual, not physical. Neither Isaiah nor Peter intended physical healing as the result in these references to Christ’s sufferings. Physical healing for all who believe does result from Christ’s atoning work, but such healing awaits a future realization in the perfections of heaven. In resurrection glory, believers will experience no sickness, pain, suffering, or death (Revelation 21:1–4; 22:1–3). [4]

To be fair, Matthew’s gospel does seem to make a connection between Isaiah 53:5 and physical healings that occurred during Christ’s earthly ministry:

They brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16–17)

But was Christ’s healing ministry His end game, or did it point to an eternal cure? After all, the people he healed still died. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he still eventually died again. People were healed but the curse wasn’t reversed. Jesus died for the sins of men, but men still continued to sin. He defeated death but His followers continued to die. There is an ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s atoning work that will not be realized this side of eternity (Romans 8:22–25). That’s why John MacArthur rightly observes:

Those who claim that Christians should never be sick because there is healing in the atonement should also claim that Christians should never die, because Jesus also conquered death in the atonement. The central message of the gospel is deliverance from sin. It is the good news about forgiveness, not health. Christ was made sin, not disease, and He died on the cross for our sin, not our sickness. As Peter makes clear, Christ’s wounds heal us from sin, not from disease. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). [5]

There is healing in Christ’s atonement but it’s obviously not fully realized in the present. Christians and non-Christians alike still feel the effects of the curse, and will ultimately die. Our ultimate perfect healing is certain, but it awaits us in the same way that we still await our resurrection bodies. And that shouldn’t bring disappointment to this present life. Rather, it is a glorious future reality for us to anticipate with great joy.

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B160817

Thursday, August 6, 2020

2 Thessalonians 2:2 And The Reliability Of New Testament Texts

        "that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come." (2 Thessalonians 2:2)

       The above reference shows us that even the earliest Christians were aware of the possibility of pseudonymous letters, which bolsters our confidence in having the full New Testament canon.

        It is also worth noting that Paul wrote his signature at the end of each epistle circulated by him (1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Colossians 4:18; Galatians 6:11; Philemon 19).

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Story Of The Woman Caught In Adultery

"The section about the adulterous (7:53-8-11) 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!"

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 176

Monday, August 3, 2020

Debunking Trent Horn's Claims About The Existence Of The Papacy In The Early Church

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as a rebuttal to the claims of Trent Horn at Catholic Answers in regards to the question of whether the office of pope is historical. Following are a few excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

           "But didn’t Peter refer to himself as a “fellow elder” and not as “pope” in 1 Peter 5:1? Yes, but in this passage Peter is demonstrating humility that he is encouraging other priests to practice. He wrote, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another” (5:5), so exalting his status would have contradicted his message. Besides, St. Paul often referred to himself as a mere deacon (see 1 Cor. 3:5, 2 Cor. 11:23) and even said he was “the very least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8)—but that did not take away from his authority as an apostle. Likewise, Peter’s description of himself as an elder does not take away from his authority as being “first” among the apostles (Matt 10:2)."

          Many assumptions have been projected into the text of Scripture. The most obvious of these is that he does not refer to himself as pope to induce humility and not because he knew nothing of the office of pope. It is not a sound practice to build an argument entirely on what has not been said. The text of 1 Peter weakens the Roman Catholic case for Peter being first pope because it indicates that he put himself on par with other elders. He never claimed any papal identity or authority.

          "In regard to the authority of the Bishop of Rome as Peter’s successor, in the first century Clement of Rome (the fourth pope) intervened in a dispute in the Church of Corinth. He warned those who disobeyed him that they would “involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger,” thus demonstrating his authority over non-Roman Christians."

          Consider this excerpt from the New World Encyclopedia on the nature of the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians:

           "The First Epistle of Clement does not claim internally to be written by Clement, but by an anonymous person acting on behalf of the Roman church to the church at Corinth. Its purpose is to object to the removal of certain presbyters (elders) of Corinth, an action it considers unjustified. Whether there was only a single bishop at Rome at this time is debated. It may be that the writer is himself a presbyter or one of several bishops (overseers) who also acted as the church's secretary. If he were the reigning bishop, it seems likely that he would refer to himself as such or signed the letter by name."

          "St. Ignatius of Antioch referred to the Roman Church as the one that teaches other churches and “presides in love” over them. In fact, the writings of Pope Clement (A.D. 92-99) and Pope Soter (A.D. 167-174) were so popular that they were read in the Church alongside Scripture (Eusebius, Church History 4:23:9)."

           The above presented information shows us, not that Rome held a position of primacy, but it was honored amongst other churches. Eastern Orthodox commentator Andrew Stephen Damick notes the following regarding the use of Ignatius to support papal authority:

           "…the modern Roman Catholic vision of Church unity being defined by subjection to a worldwide bishop in Rome is not found in Ignatius’s writings. We saw how he described his friend Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna as “one who has God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as his bishop” (To Polycarp, Salutation). He does not say that Polycarp has the bishop of Rome for his bishop nor even a regional Asian primate (i.e., a senior bishop in his area). Being a bishop, Polycarp’s bishop is God. With all that Ignatius has to say about the episcopacy and especially about unity, he had the perfect opportunity to insist on a worldwide pontificate for Rome’s bishop. Rome was certainly on his mind, since he was traveling there to be martyred as Peter and Paul had been before him. Yet in his six letters addressed to churches, it is only his letter to Rome in which he does not even mention their bishop (who was probably either St. Evaristus or St. Alexander I). In the other five letters to churches, the bishop is mentioned, and in three of them, the bishop is mentioned by name. When writing to the Roman Christians, he does mention Peter, but equally with Paul as both are apostles who could give them “orders,” while Ignatius himself would never presume to do that (Romans 4:3). In Ignatius’s writings, there is never any special role given to the Roman bishop or the Roman church, nor even to the Apostle Peter. And when he writes to Rome, he does not ask the Roman bishop to send a bishop to Antioch to replace him. Rather, he makes that request of Polycarp and his church in Smyrna (To Polycarp 7:2)."

           If one wants to cite Eusebius in defending the Papacy, then he or she will have to account for his non-Papal interpretation of Matthew 16:18:

           "Yet you will not in any way err from the scope of the truth if you suppose that the 'world' is actually the Church of God, and that its 'foundation' is in the first place, that unspeakably solid rock on which it is founded, as Scripture says: 'Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it' and elsewhere: 'The rock, moreover, was Christ. For as the Apostle indicates with these words: 'No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus." (Eusebius, Commentary on the Psalms, M.P.G., Vol. 23, Col. 173,176)

           "In A.D. 190, Pope St. Victor I excommunicated an entire region of churches for refusing to celebrate Easter on its proper date. While St. Irenaeus thought this was not prudent, neither he nor anyone else denied that Victor had the authority to do this. Indeed, Irenaeus said, “it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [Rome] on account of its preeminent authority” (Against Heresies, 3.3.2)."

           The West and certain Eastern churches claimed to have the correct date of Easter that was delivered from the apostles. This episode of contradictory church tradition only proves it to be unreliable as a source of dogma. What we are left with is Scripture as our guide.

           Irenaeus did not say that churches should submit to the church at Rome due to being higher in authority but come together as that church was located in the capital of the Roman Empire and also reputed for being doctrinally orthodox.

           Consider this introductory excerpt from Philip Schaaf on the translation of Irenaeus's Against Heresies:

           "After the text has been settled, according to the best judgment which can be formed, the work of translation remains; and that is, in this case, a matter of no small difficulty. Irenæus, even in the original Greek, is often a very obscure writer. At times he expresses himself with remarkable clearness and terseness; but, upon the whole, his style is very involved and prolix. And the Latin version adds to these difficulties of the original, by being itself of the most barbarous character. In fact, it is often necessary to make a conjectural re-translation of it into Greek, in order to obtain some inkling of what the author wrote. Dodwell supposes this Latin version to have been made about the end of the fourth century; but as Tertullian seems to have used it, we must rather place it in the beginning of the third. Its author is unknown, but he was certainly little qualified for his task. We have endeavoured to give as close and accurate a translation of the work as possible, but there are not a few passages in which a guess can only be made as to the probable meaning."

           Consider translator footnote 3313 from that same version of Irenaeus's Against Heresies:

           "The Latin text of this difficult but important clause is, “Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam.” Both the text and meaning have here given rise to much discussion. It is impossible to say with certainty of what words in the Greek original “potiorem principalitatem” may be the translation. We are far from sure that the rendering given above is correct, but we have been unable to think of anything better. [A most extraordinary confession. It would be hard to find a worse; but take the following from a candid Roman Catholic, which is better and more literal: “For to this Church, on account of more potent principality, it is necessary that every Church (that is, those who are on every side faithful) resort; in which Church ever, by those who are on every side, has been preserved that tradition which is from the apostles.” (Berington and Kirk, vol. i. p. 252.) Here it is obvious that the faith was kept at Rome, by those who resort there from all quarters. She was a mirror of the Catholic World, owing here orthodoxy to them; not the Sun, dispensing her own light to others, but the glass bringing their rays into a focus. See note at end of book iii.] A discussion of the subject may be in chap. xii. of Dr. Wordsworth’s St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome."

           Consider footnote 3796 from “a more potent principle” on Against Heresies 3:3:2:

           "Bishop Wordsworth inclines to the idea that the original Greek was ἱκανωτέραν ἀρχαιότητα, thus conceding that Irenæus was speaking of the greater antiquity of Rome as compared with other (Western) Churches. Even so, he shows that the argument of Irenæus is fatal to Roman pretensions, which admit of no such ideas as he advances, and no such freedom as that of his dealings with Rome."

           "Some people object that if Peter and his successors had special authority, why didn’t Christ say so when the apostles argued about “who was the greatest” (Luke 22:24)? The reason is that Christ did not want to contribute to their misunderstanding that one of them would be a privileged king. Jesus did say, however, that among the apostles there would be a “greatest” who would rule as a humble servant (Luke 22:26). That’s why since the sixth century popes have called themselves servus servorum Dei, or “servant of the servants of God.”

           The key to answering this argument lies in the phrase "in the sixth century." The Papacy did not exist in the first century but was instead a gradual development. It would be perfectly reasonable to expect Christ to point to the Apostle Peter if he did indeed have a position of primacy over the other apostles. The pope with his kingly attire and large crowds who bow down before him in adoration definitely seems to be a recipient of worship.

           "Pope Gregory I used the title in his dispute with the Patriarch of Constantinople John the Faster, who called himself the “Universal Bishop.” Gregory didn’t deny that one bishop had primacy over all the others, since in his twelfth epistle Gregory explcitly says Constaninople was subject to the authority of the pope. Instead, he denied that the pope was the bishop of every individual territory, since this would rob his brother bishops of their legitimate authority, even though they were still subject to him as Peter’s successor."

           In responding to the above claims, one could say, "Nice try buddy, but Gregory emphatically denounced the title of universal bishop and thought that such should be reserved for no one." The following excerpt has been taken from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

           "a proud and profane title ... I have however taken care to admonish earnestly the same my brother and fellow-bishop that, if he desires to have peace and concord with all, he must refrain from the appellation of a foolish title. ... the appellation of a frivolous name. But I beseech your imperial Piety to consider that some frivolous things are very harmless, and others exceedingly harmful. Is it not the case that, when Antichrist comes and calls himself God, it will be very frivolous, and yet exceedingly pernicious? If we regard the quantity of the language used, there are but a few syllables; but if the weight of the wrong, there is universal disaster. Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others." (Gregory the Great, Book VII, Epistle XXXIII)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Does The Bible Support The Institution Of Slavery?

        "As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you." (Leviticus 25:44)

        It should be pointed out that the fact the Old Testament records historical atrocities, does not mean those events are endorsed by the God who inspired the prophets to write them. The biblical text simply describes how culture was.

        In the Old Testament, people could voluntarily become servants to pay off debts. Others made reparations for stolen items (Exodus 22:3). Slaves were set free after six years of servitude (Exodus 21:2). These people were not to be mistreated.

        God forbade the Jews from kidnapping people and selling them into slavery (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). The Apostle Paul also condemned the idea of capturing people with the intent of selling them as he described people who do such as ungodly and sinful (1 Timothy 1:9-11).

        This picture of slavery is far removed from what took place in America or the African slave trade. People were not abused and treated as property. It was not a matter of skin color. God uses all things in this world to bring about His glory.

        Paul exhorted slaves to obey their masters, not because he approved the institution of slavery, but that it was a means of serving God. Christianity is not a political movement designated to defeat government, but addresses the sinful condition of the human heart.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Church Councils And The New Testament Canon

"It is a remarkable fact no early Church Council selected the books that should constitute the New Testament Canon. The books that we now have crushed out all rivals, not by any adventitious authority, but by their own weight and worth. This is in itself a strong proof of the genuineness and authenticity of the books that have survived. It is not until the close of fourth that any Council even discussed the subject."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 25

Thursday, July 30, 2020

2 Timothy 3:16 And Inerrancy

"...The translation, "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable," etc., is open to several criticisms: its rendering of pasa graphe and of kai, and its disposition of the verbal adjective theopneustos. Robertson says, with abstract substantives, proper names, and single objects pasa is tantamount to "all"; and "since graphe is sometimes regarded as definite pasa graphe (2 Tim. 3:16) can be "all Scripture" or "every Scripture'." Lock so translates it. Other considerations make this the preferable reading. There is no copula in the Greek text, but we have to insert one in the translation. The rendering we are criticizing treats theopneustos as an attributive and so inserts the copula after "God." This requires that the particle kai be rendered as "also," an adjunctive participle. Now "also" implies that we are adding one co-ordinate idea to another; but the words "is also profitable" are not an addition to anything that goes before, It is better, therefore, to treat theopneustos as a predicate and to insert the copula after "Scripture." The statement will then read as it is in the Authorized Version: "All Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable," etc. In other words, the correct rendering of this verse makes Paul teach the full inspiration of the entire Old Testament."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 87-88