Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Watchtower Society's Corrupt New World Translation

                                       By Ben Rast of Contender Ministries

Dr. Walter Martin once said that the average Jehovah’s Witness can make a “doctrinal pretzel” out of the average Christian in about 30 seconds. This does not mean Jehovah’s Witnesses are doctrinally correct. There are a couple of reasons this is so. First, the average JW gets exponentially more training in their doctrine than the average Christian gets in orthodox biblical doctrine. This disparity must be corrected by pastors, teachers, and even the individual parishioners, who must take responsibility to educate themselves on sound, biblical doctrine (as well as attacks on that doctrine). One other smaller (but still vitally important) reason is the reliance of Jehovah’s Witnesses on a biased and erroneous translation of the Bible – the New World Translation. If you allow a JW to recite from the NWT without checking the verse in a more accurate translation – such as the NIV, NASB, or KJV – you may be relying on an erroneous translation of a verse. While there are scores of examples of errors in the NWT, this article will focus on some of the primary mistranslations that affect doctrine. We will discuss some issues of Greek and Hebrew grammar, but in a simplified manner.

First, it’s important to look at the issue of translation in the greater context, and the background of the translation of the NWT. The Bible manuscripts exist in three main languages. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, though portions of Daniel are in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek – the Greek language widely spoken 2000 years ago. This differs from Classical Greek and Modern Greek. Even before the birth of Christ (by two or three hundred years), the Old Testament was translated into Koine Greek. This translation became known as the Septuagint, and is represented by the Roman numerals LXX (seventy). These Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts were copied and distributed widely, with the copying and distribution accelerating in later centuries as new forms of script developed which made copying a faster process. At various times, the manuscripts were compiled into full biblical texts. It is from these manuscripts and compilations that the Bibles we read today were translated (for more information on this process, please see “A Primer on Bible Transmission”). Because of this, it stands to reason that advanced training and knowledge in one or more of these languages would be a prerequisite for those who wished to perform translation work on a Bible translation committee. However, this logic and reason was seemingly unimportant to the Watchtower Society and their translation committee for the NWT.

The Watchtower Society first published the New World Translation of the New Testament in 1950. Their complete Bible was published first in 1961, with subsequent revisions published in 1970 and 1984. The Watchtower was always quite secretive about the composition of their translation committee, claiming that credit should be given to God and the truth, rather than the translators. In the October 22, 1989 issue of Awake!, the Watchtower Society’s magazine publication, the society recited the words of their founder Charles T. Russell, “It is the truth rather than its servant that should be honored…” However, former members of the Society revealed the identities of the translation committee members as Frederick W. Franz, Nathan H. Knorr, George D. Gangas, Albert D. Schroeder, Milton G. Henschel, and Karl Klein. A review of their qualifications is disturbing:

 Translator
Qualifications
Franz, Frederick
Probably the only person to actually translate. Franz was a liberal arts student at the University of Cincinnati:
21 semester hours of classical Greek, some Latin.
Partially completed a two-hour survey course in Biblical Greek in junior year.

Self-taught in Spanish, biblical Hebrew and Aramaic
Gangas, George 
No training in biblical languages. Gangas was a Turkish national who knew Modern Greek. Translated Watchtower publications into Modern Greek.
Henschel, Milton
No training in biblical languages.
    Klein, Karl 
No training in biblical languages.
Knorr, Nathan 
No training in biblical languages.
Schroeder, Albert 
No training in biblical languages. Schroeder majored in mechanical engineering for three years before dropping out.

I don’t want to seem derogatory to Mr. Franz, but his primary training was in Classical Greek, not biblical Greek. He dropped out of a survey course on that topic. He was self-taught in biblical Hebrew and Aramaic, which is commendable, but does it qualify him as a Bible translator? I have a very limited knowledge of New Testament Greek attained through private study (no formal training). Any person can take classes on New Testament Greek or do self-study in this area with the help of books and language dictionaries. However, I would not presume to be qualified to serve on a Bible translation committee. Mr. Franz seemed to lack the fluidity he claimed. In a court of law in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1954, Mr. Franz failed a simple test on his Hebrew language skills. On cross-examination, Franz was asked to translate a particular verse from Genesis into Hebrew. He was unable to do so. The person most capable among his peers to translate the Bible failed a simple test. This calls into question the use of the word “translation” in the New World Translation. As we will see, this “translation” is more likely a paraphrase that was heavily edited to introduce Watchtower bias.

Before we continue, let me make one important note. Some legitimate translations (such as the King James Version) make use of brackets or italics to indicate words inserted for proper flow, but which are not found in the original language manuscripts. In legitimate translations, this tool is only used for proper flow in English, or to indicate words that are found in some ancient manuscripts but not in others. However, you will find the NWT goes further. Not only do the NWT brackets show words included for flow, but also words not found in the manuscripts which, when included, result in a material change of meaning in the verse. You’ll see examples of this below. I will sometimes underline the disputed words or phrases, and a discussion will follow.

Genesis 1:1-2

NWT: In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth proved to be formless and waste and there was darkness upon the surface of [the] watery deep; and God's active force was moving to and fro over the surface of the waters.

NIV: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

NASB: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

KJV: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

DISCUSSION: The Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the doctrine of the Trinity. They believe in a non-triune God named Jehovah, they believe Jesus is “a god” subordinate to Jehovah, and they reject the notion that the Holy Spirit is a person of the Trinity. They believe that the Holy Spirit is an extension of Jehovah – an “active force” He sends out. The Hebrew words here are ruwach elohim, which are accurately translated as “Spirit of God.” Ruwach can be translated as “wind” also, but when joined in context with God, it is a reference to the Spirit of God (as Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon states, “Spirit of God, the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son”). This is the first example of the NWT forcing its doctrinal bias into the text of Scripture.

Zechariah 12:10

NWT: And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of favor and entreaties, and they will certainly look to the Onewhom they pierced through, and they will certainly wail over Him as in the wailing over an only [son]; and there will be a bitter lamentation over him as when there is bitter lamentation over the firstborn [son].

NIV: And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

NASB: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.

KJV: And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

DISCUSSION: This passage is one of the most phenomenal Messianic prophecies, because God (Yahweh/Jehovah) is speaking in the first person about Him being the one who will be pierced through. Obviously, Jesus fulfilled this prophecy, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize this as well. The implications are clear. Since this was God’s prophecy about what would happen to Him, and Jesus fulfilled this prophecy, then Jesus MUST be God. In fact, in the NWT Zechariah 12:1 indicates these are the “words of Jehovah.”[1] The NWT translators apparently missed the inclusion in this verse of the Hebrew ayth, which Strong’s indicates it is a contraction of a word that gives the meaning of “self.”

Mathew 14:33 (among others)

NWT: Then those in the boat did obeisance to him, saying: “You are really God’s Son.”

NIV: Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

NASB: And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, "You are certainly God's Son!"

KJV: Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

DISCUSSION: Throughout the New Testament we find people who worshiped Jesus. Since worship is an action that should be reserved for God, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Jesus Christ, the NWT had to rectify these verses. The Greek word here is proskuneo. While this word can be translated as doing obeisance (which is defined as giving reverence or homage), the giveaway is the Watchtower’s inconsistency in translating this word. In every instance in the New Testament were proskuneo is given to Jesus Christ, it is translated as doing “obeisance.” Where proskuneo is directed to the Father (“Jehovah” in the NWT), they rightly translate it as “worship” (as in John 4:20).

John 1:1

NWT: In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

NIV: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

NASB: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
KJV: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Here, every legitimate translation of the Bible reads the same – the Word (logos) was God (theos). The NWT stands alone in its contention that the Word was a god. This is to reinforce the JW doctrine that Jesus is not Jehovah, but is simply a subordinate god. The last Greek phrase in its entirety is theos en ho logos, where ho is a definite article (the). The Watchtower says that when theos is preceded by the definite article ho, it implies identity or personality. Since the first use of theos in this verse is preceded by ho, it refers to God. The second use of theos is not preceded by ho, making it an indefinite description or quality. This is simply wrong thinking. It’s an important point to make that theos without the definite article ho is used elsewhere in the New Testament in reference to Jehovah God, and is translated appropriately in the NWT (such as in Luke 20:38). They are inconsistent with this argument, positing the “indefinite quality” assertion only in reference to Jesus.

John 8:58

NWT: Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to YOU, Before Abraham came into existence, I have been.”

NIV: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

NASB: Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."

KJV: Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

DISCUSSION: There are deep doctrinal implications in the words of Jesus here. “I am” speaks to his eternality. It is also a name of God that He divulged to Moses. Exodus 3:14 says, God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' " The Greek in John 8:58 is ego eimi, where ego means “I” and eimi is a first person singular present indicative, to “exist”. The Septuagint provides ego eimi as the Greek words in Exodus 3:14. The Hebrew word is hayah, which is derived from the same root as Yahweh. The NWT seeks to distance Jesus’ claims to eternality or deity. Thus, it stands alone in its gross mistranslation of this verse.

Acts 20:28

NWT: Pay attention to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has appointed YOU overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God, which he purchased with the blood of his own [Son].

NIV: Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

NASB: Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

KJV: Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

DISCUSSION: Some more grammatical games and bracket inclusions combine to once again pervert Holy Scripture in order to deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Going through my collection of legitimate Bible translations (and some not-so good translations), I find the NWT stands alone in their mistranslation of this verse. The verse speaks of God purchasing the church “with His own blood”. This is obviously a reference to God the Son, Jesus Christ. What a powerful biblical testimony to the deity of Christ, and what an anathema to the neo-Arian doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses! In order to overcome this, a little mistranslation is made to completely change the meaning and deceive their followers. Not a single extant Greek manuscript contains the word “son”.

Colossians 1:16-17

NWT: because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him. Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist,

NIV: For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

NASB: For by Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

KJV: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

DISCUSSION: This is one of those passages that speak clearly toward the deity of Jesus Christ and His role as the Creator of all things. It’s also one of those passages where the Watchtower Society is powerless to form an argument from the Greek, so they play the brackets game. In order to deny the deity of Jesus Christ and to buttress their argument that Jesus was simply the first of God’s creations, they insert the word “other”. The NWT reads that Jesus, as the first created being, created all “other” things. Since the Greek word for “other” is not found in the Greek manuscripts, they bracket the word to indicate that they’re inserting a word that does not belong. This additional word does not help the flow or clarity of the text, but is instead designed to attack the explicit biblical teaching of Christ’s deity and role as Creator. Greek scholar and theologian Robert Reymond referred to the addition of “other” as “sheer theological perversity…”[2] As an example of the deceptive practices of the Watchtower Society, the 1950 version of the NWT did not bracket the word “other,” making it appear that it was part of the Greek Text. Only since 1961, when pressured to do so by Bible scholars, did they add the brackets.

Titus 2:13

NWT: while we wait for the happy hope and glorious manifestation of the great God and of [the] Savior of us, Christ Jesus

NIV: while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ

NASB: looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus

KJV: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

DISCUSSION: This verse identifies our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ as being one and the same. While an argument can be made that the KJV separates the two much like the NWT (by placing the Greek pronoun hemon, meaning “our,” in an improper location), the wording of the NWT and the additional bracketed definite article go beyond a disputed positioning of the Greek, and presents an inferior and erroneous translation that once again separates Jesus Christ from His deity.

Legitimate scholars in the Biblical languages and manuscripts don’t think much of the NWT. Dr. Bruce Metzger is a well-known scholar whose works are seminary standards. He used the following adjectives when describing the NWT: “a frightful mistranslation,” “erroneous,” “pernicious,” and “reprehensible.”[3] British Bible scholar H.H. Rowley stated that the NWT is “a shining example of how the Bible should not be translated.”[4] He also referred to the NWT as “an insult to the Word of God.”[5] While this list could go on, let me conclude with the words of Dr. William Barclay who stated, “It is abundantly clear that a sect which can translate the New Testament like that is intellectually dishonest.”[6]

It is clear that many are unaware of the dangerous differences found in the New World Translation. We’ve received several emails from people who were confused by a verse shown to them by a Jehovah’s Witness. Often the confusion results from the fact that the verse was like one of those in this article, and when we directed the person to a legitimate translation of that verse, their confusion lifted. When conversing with a Jehovah’s Witness, never let them read a verse from the NWT without verifying the wording in a legitimate translation. As Christians, our faith is supported by the God-breathed Scriptures. We must be on guard against translations that attack our faith through corruption of God’s Word.

NOTES:

1. The Hebrew name for God is YHWH – four consonants only. Because of a nearly superstitious fear of taking the Lord’s name in vain, the Jews avoided using this name, and often used the name Adonai. Eventually, the vowels from Adonai were included in YHWH to form Yahowah. Today, this name is often spelled in English, Yahweh. As a human contrivance, Yahowah mutated to Jehovah in some manuscripts. Yahweh and Jehovah are considered synonymous, and mean “The LORD.” Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain that Jehovah is the correct name for God, and He must be referred to as such.

2. Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New Testament Witness (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1990), p. 248.

3. Bruce Metzger; cited in Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1993), p. 97.

4. H.H. Rowley, “How Not to Translate the Bible,” The Expository Times, No. 1953, pp.41-42.

5. Ibid.

6. William Barclay; cited in Rhodes, p. 97.

Is Sola Scriptura Based On Circular Reasoning?

  • Introduction:
          -Opponents of Sola Scriptura, which is simply the Latin abbreviation for the Protestant doctrine of the ultimate authority of the Bible, sometimes charge that this teaching is constructed on circular logic. But this objection would hold water only if we who uphold this position based our belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture solely on the basis that Scripture makes such claims.
  • Sola Scriptura is not circular reasoning because outside sources attest to the inspiration of Scripture. It has also "proven itself" to be true:
          -Historical or archaeological evidence backing up the existence of various cities, countries, prominent individuals, customs or traditions, and even major events mentioned in the Bible.
          -Geological accuracy
          -Excellent moral teaching
          -Great internal consistency in the biblical texts
          -Incredible manuscript evidence for the authenticity of New Testament Scriptures
          -Consistency with world history/archaeological discoveries
          -Scripture's fulfillment of prophecy points to its supernatural origin
          -The life transforming power of Scripture
  • A Brief Note On The Above Evidences For Biblical Inspiration:
         -Although none of the above evidences are considered infallible, we can still have more than sufficient certainty that the Bible is the written Word of God. It is therefore the greatest proof for His existence.
  • Circular Reasoning To A Degree Is Somewhat Inevitable In Our Lives:
         -Some degree of circularity will always exist in the operational processes of any system that functions on a final stopping point or ultimate source of authority, whether it be Catholic, Protestant, or Secular. Infinite regress is logically impossible.
  • Accepting The Inspiration Of Scripture:
         -If we can prove the infallibility of an authoritative source (i.e. the Bible), then it follows from the premise of that statement that everything set forth by that particular guide (i.e. the Bible) must also be true. This objection to Sola Scriptura would be valid if, and only if, we asserted that the Bible was true because it told us so. But that is not the case at all. Scripture has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be the Word of God.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Rebuttal To Catholic Nick On Bearing Sin

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger who goes by the name of Catholic Nick published an article where he explains his understanding of the phrase "bearing sin" in sacrificial contexts (as opposed to a penal substitutionary atonement reading). Following are his comments alongside with a critique:

          "The first thing to understand is the role of the priesthood in the Old Testament. Whenever an Israelite sinned and had to make atonement they didn't make atonement themseves, but instead had to give their offering (e.g. sacrificial goat) to the priest, and "the priest would make atonement for them" (see Lev 4:20; 4:26; 4:31; 4:35; 5:6; 5:10; 5:13; 5:16; 5:18; 6:7). In other word, God uses holy mediators between Himself and sinners, in this case priests. Some might mistakenly think that the person's guilt was transferred to the sacrificial animal during this process, but that's simply not in the text, and it's erroneous because it would negate the whole purpose of the Priesthood. The lamb was not taking the punishment of the individual because it was only after the Priest had gone through the rituals of the sacrifice after the animal was dead that atonement was made. See Leviticus 4:22-35, where the duties of the sinner (bringing and killing the animal) and the duties of the priest (making atonement) are distinct."

          The fact that there is a process here does not negate the fact that there was a transfer of guilt on to the animal that is killed. See Leviticus 16:21. The work of the priest is continued on behalf of the person who is substituted. Christ is both our unblemished Lamb and High Priest.

          "These texts [Exodus 28:36; Leviticus 10:17; Numbers 18:1] are fascinating because it directly links the priest's act of "making atonement for them" with that of "bearing their iniquity." In other words, when a priest is said to "bear iniquity" of a sinner, it means the priest takes on the responsibility to "make atonement" for the sinner. It does not mean the guilt is imputed to the priest so that now the priest himself becomes guilty."

          This reasoning is biblically sound, but the Old Testament sacrificial system is multi-faceted. Matters cannot be simplified to the point where we begin to miss details regarding the nature of the atonement. The Book of Hebrews explains that Jesus Christ is both our priest and sacrifice. THis excerpt from Barnes' Notes on the Bible:

          "The iniquity of the sanctuary - i. e. the guilt of the offences which an erring people would be continually committing against the majesty of God, when brought into contact, through the ordinances, with the manifestations of His presence. Compare the marginal reference. The iniquity of your priesthood - As the priests themselves were but men, they were strengthened to bear the iniquity of their own unintentional offences, by being entrusted with the ceremonial means of taking it away (compare Leviticus 16). The word "bear" has, in the Old Testament, this double sense of "enduring" and "removing;" but in the person of Christ, who atoned by His own endurance, the two axe in effect one."

          "Once one realizes the role of the priest in "bearing the iniquity of the people," carrying this over to the New Testament we see Jesus' role as High Priest in a more mature light. Clearly, when texts like Isaiah 53:11 and 1 Peter 2:24 speak of Jesus "bearing our iniquity," it refers to His role as High Priest taking on the burden of making atonement for other people. Thus, in "bearing sin" Jesus was not "guilty" in our place. This can be seen even in the contexts of Isaiah 53 and 1 Peter 2:24, which I'll briefly turn to.In Isaiah 53:6, it says "the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." It turns out, this same Hebrew word for "laid" is used a few verses down, in verse 12, "he makes intercession for the transgressors." That same Hebrew word is translated to mean "make intercession," showing clearly that "make intercession," and "make atonement for" are synonymous with "bearing sin,"

           The laying of sins on Christ does pertain to Him making intercession on our behalf. Him bearing our sin refers to making atonement. Making atonement is being guilty in another person’s place. Nick seems to make a leap of logic in his argument here. Whenever people bore their own sins, that means they were punished for them (Numbers 14:33; Ezekiel 18:20). Jesus was guilty because our guilt was imputed to Him, in the same sense that sins were placed on the innocent scapegoat in Old Testament sacrifices.

           "When Peter says Jesus "bore our sins" (1 Peter 2:24), the Greek word used here does not so much mean "carrying" something as it means to "go upward." Interestingly, of the 9 times that this word is used in the New Testament, it is never used to mean "carry" something, but rather to "go up a mountain" (Mt 17:1; Mk 9:2), or "ascended up into heaven" (Lk 24:51), or even "offer up a sacrifice" (Heb 7:27; 9:28; 13:15; James 2:21; 1 Pet 2:5). Given that it's used to mean "offer up" a sacrifice most of the time, especially in the context of 1 Peter 2:5, then it can easily be said that's what it refers to in 1 Peter 2:24. (One cool detail I found in the Greek Old Testament was that of over 150 occurrences of this Greek word for "offer up," it referred to a sacrifice about 70% of the time it was used, e.g. Gen 8:20; 22:2; 22:3; Ex 24:5; 29:18; 29:25; Lev 4:31, so this detail would not be lost on the original audience reading Peter's First Epistle.)"

           Bore = ἀνήνεγκεν (which in Greek means to carry in most places as 1 Peter 2:24). It can rarely be translated "to lead up". (anēnenken). The word means the exact sense that Nick denies in this case. He is wrong, and fails to employ proper hermeneutics.

"Infallibe Church Hierarchy" Is Circular Reasoning

  • Introduction:
          -Professing Christians who believe that we need an infallible interpreter of Scripture, and the members who belong to their particular group constitutes "the one true church" build their arguments off unverifiable assumptions (as will be discussed in the article). Groups who embrace this idea would include the Roman Catholic Church, Mormons, and the Jehovah's Witnesses. Of course, there are many other so-called denominations who believe that the Christian church should be governed by some sort of a "teaching Magisterium" (of their own choice). But we who deny such (i.e. Sola Scriptura) know that they cannot be infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit because they all contradict each other. 
  • Illustrating Circularity Through A Series Of Questions:
          -If the Bible is insufficient in itself, a corrupted body of revelation, or if we do not have the necessary "authority" to investigate doctrinal claims for ourselves, then how can we possibly know whether all these "teaching authorities" are right or wrong? What is the difference between interpreting the inspired words of Scripture and the allegedly inspired words of cult leaders? On what basis can they claim that their words are any easier to understand than the words of the Bible? Who gives the infallible interpretations of the infallible interpreter, if people still do not understand the proclaimed messages of that inspired teacher? Who are we supposed to turn to if divisions arise? Who's interpretations of that allegedly infallible interpreter's words are correct? Who or what are we supposed to submit to, if we do not have a universal standard of doctrine set in stone (i.e. Scripture)? What a circular system of deception that these church hierarchies have created for themselves!
  • "We absolutely must have an infallible interpreter of Scripture...":
          -Consider, for example, that the Roman Catholic Church claims that only it can correctly interpret the Bible. In other words, the Church's interpretations of Scripture are correct because it declares them to be such. How inconsistent is that, especially when we are supposedly forbidden from examining the truthfulness of that particular religious organization's claims!
          -People who believe in the concept of a church hierarchy basically argue that we who reject such cannot interpret Scripture because their church is always correct. Not only is this assertion unproven, but it also is makes obvious the condemnation of independent thinking. Pseudo-Christian denominations will always argue by appealing to themselves and to their own sources. This mindset prevents those entrapped from discovering truth.
  • "Only true church...":
          -A hierarchical church system tends to argue in favor of itself being the absolute source of authority in a religious person's life by claiming that its interpretation of Scripture is correct because it comprises the only true body of believers. Once again, we are morally obligated to ask on what basis such claims can be established? Not only is this logical framework based on a fanciful whim, but it also is a paragon of grandiloquence. It is erroneous to the highest degree. Christianity is comprised of all people who agree with all essential biblical teachings, and is located throughout the world.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Gospel Test For The Jehovah's Witnesses

Image result for gospel test for jehovah's witnesses

Biblical Refutation Of Purgatory

  • Introduction:
          -Purgatory: the place of punishment where the souls of Christians suffer a temporary period of punishment in flames if they die in an imperfect state of grace (spiritually impure).
          -Indulgences: the "key" used to help people shorten their "sentence" to time in Purgatory.
          -Roman Catholics believe that they can pray certain prayers and get mass ceremonies done for loved ones so as to shorten the duration of the punishment.
  • Not A Scriptural Concept:
          -Scripture passages discussing the eternal destiny of believers and non-believers mention heaven and hell without any implication of Purgatory (i.e. Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15). Furthermore, the concept of a sin purifying fire is utterly foreign to the Holy Scriptures. Our hearts are purified by faith in Christ, not Purgatory (Acts 15:7-11; Hebrews 9:13-14). 
  • Purgatory Denies The Sufficiency Of Christ's Sacrifice (And Works-Based Implications):
          -Jesus' death is sufficient to pay for all sins (Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 10:10-18; 1 John 1:7-9). In other words, Christ paid the infinite price for our sins by dying for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). He made the once-for-all atonement sacrifice (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). Thus, we do not need anymore purification. If we must in any way pay for, suffer, or atone for our own sins, then Jesus Christ did not make the perfect and complete sacrifice necessary for the redemption of mankind. We do not need to offer any atonement sacrifice for sins by suffering in purgatory or by offering indulgences.
          -The idea that we are able to atone for our sins undermines the message of the gospel. If we can make amends for our own sin, then the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ becomes unnecessary and redundant. He made a sacrifice to save those who are unable to redeem themselves, for the Scripture has concluded that all are under sin (Romans 3:23; Galatians 3:22).
          -Finally, we will conclude this portion of the discussion by addressing the works-based nature of Purgatory. The Scriptures are abundantly clear that justification is by faith apart from the merit of works (Luke 18:9-14; John 5:24; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:20-28; Galatians 2:16-21; etc.). Since all have fallen short of God's perfect standard of morality, He sent His Son into the world to remedy our problem. He died to pay our sin debt. Atonement for sin requires a perfect substitute (Hebrews 7:25-28; 10:14-18). According to Scripture, there are no punishments for genuine Christians in the afterlife (Luke 23:39-43; Romans 4:2-8; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:21-23). The only after death punishment (which is for the unrepentant and unbelieving) that the Bible mentions is hell, and ultimately, the lake of fire. Christ is our propitiation (1 John 2:2). But if we are forgiven for a sin and there is still some sort of punishment for us to endure, then we are not really forgiven. We cannot pay a debt (i.e. sin) that has already been paid by somebody else (Christ on the cross). In essence, the idea of Purgatory is contrary to everything that the Bible says about salvation.
  • Alleged "Proofs-Texts" For Purgatory:
          1.) 1 Corinthians 3:15:
          -This text is not about punishment for sins. It talks about eternal rewards (or lack thereof). In other words, the context is about testing the quality of each believer's work which determines his or her heavenly rewards (v. 10-14). It is not about any kind of punishment. Just because a Scripture passage mentions the word "fire" does not mean that it is about Purgatory. 
          -1 Corinthians refers to the believer "escaping through the flames", not "being cleansed by the flames".

          2.) Matthew 12:31-32:
          -The parallel passage makes this one crystal clear (Mark 3:28-29). It simply means that a person who commits the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will NEVER receive forgiveness from God.

          3.) Matthew 5:25-26:
          -The context is about anger and settling disputes in relationships (v. 21-24).
          -Nobody can deny that this passage is speaking about hell because it is mentioned in the context (v. 22). A person in hell would be there "until he had paid the last cent", meaning that his or her stay there would be permanent, as he or she could never give a ransom for it.

          4.) Job 1:5:
          -Job's sons were alive during this time. Moreover, this sacrifice is completely different than praying for souls in Purgatory. All biblical sacrifices (that is, in Protestant Bibles) were offered for the living, without any mention of Purgatory whatsoever. So, Job 1:5 fails the test to prove the concept to be in Scripture.

          5.) 2 Maccabees 12:39-46:
          -These dead soldiers were struck down by God because of their idolatry (v. 40). According to the Catholic Church, idolatry is a mortal sin (CCC 1857; 1858). Mortal sins send someone to hell (not Purgatory). Purgatory is for "venial" (lesser) sins. Thus, we have no evidence for Purgatory in 2 Maccabees.

A Study On Imputation

IMPUTATION

im-pu-ta'-shun:

I. MEANING AND USE OF THE TERM

II. THE THREEFOLD USE OF THE TERM IN THEOLOGY

Original Sin, Atonement, Justification

III. THE SCRIPTURAL BASIS OF THESE DOCTRINES

1. Imputation of Adam's Sin to His Posterity

2. Imputation of the Sins of His People to Christ

3. Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ to His People

LITERATURE

I. Meaning and Use of the Term.

The word "imputation," according to the Scriptural usage, denotes an attributing of something to a person, or a charging of one with anything, or a setting of something to one's account. This takes place sometimes in a judicial manner, so that the thing imputed becomes a ground of reward or punishment. The word is used in the King James Version a number of times to translate the Hebrew verb chashabh and the Greek verb logizomai. These words, both of which occur frequently in Scripture, and which in a number of instances mean simply "to think," express the above idea. That this is the case is clear also from the other English words used in the King James Version to translate these Hebrew and Greek words, as, for example, "to count," "to reckon," "to esteem." Thus chashabh is translated in the King James Version by the verb "to impute" (Leviticus 7:18; 17:4; 2 Samuel 19:19); by the verb "to reckon" (2 Samuel 4:2); by "to count" as something (Leviticus 25:31 English versions). The verb in 1 Samuel 22:15 is sim. Similarly, logizomai is translated by the verb "to impute" (Romans 4:6,8,11,22,23,24; 2 Corinthians 5:19; James 2:23); by the verb "to count" (Romans 2:26; 4:3,5); "to account" (Galatians 3:6); and by the verb "to reckon" (Romans 4:4,9,10). In the Revised Version (British and American) the word used to render logizomai is the verb "to reckon."

These synonyms of the verb "to impute" bring out the idea of reckoning or charging to one's account. It makes no difference, so far as the meaning of imputation is concerned, who it is that imputes, whether man (1 Samuel 22:15) or God (Psalms 32:2); it makes no difference what is imputed, whether a good deed for reward (Psalms 106:30) or a bad deed for punishment (Leviticus 17:4); and it makes no difference whether that which is imputed is something which is personally one's own prior to the imputation, as in the case above cited, where his own good deed was imputed to Phinehas (Psalms 106:30), or something which is not personally one's own prior to the imputation, as where Paul asks that a debt not personally his own be charged to him (Philemon 1:18). In all these cases the act of imputation is simply the charging of one with something. It denotes just what we mean by our ordinary use of the term. It does not change the inward state or character of the person to whom something is imputed. When, for example, we say that we impute bad motives to anyone, we do not mean that we make such a one bad; and just so in the Scripture the phrase "to impute iniquity" does not mean to make one personally bad, but simply to lay iniquity to his charge. Hence, when God is said "to impute sin" to anyone, the meaning is that God accounts such a one to be a sinner, and consequently guilty and liable to punishment. Similarly, the non-imputation of sin means simply not to lay it to one's charge as a ground of punishment (Psalms 32:2). In the same manner, when God is said "to impute righteousness" to a person, the meaning is that He judicially accounts such a one to be righteous and entitled to all the rewards of a righteous person (Romans 4:6,11).

II. The Threefold Use of the Term in Theology.

Original Sin, Atonement, Justification:

Three acts of imputation are given special prominence in the Scripture, and are implicated in the Scriptural doctrines of Original Sin, Atonement and Justification, though not usually expressed by the words chashabh and logizomai. Because, however, of its "forensic" or "judicial" meaning, and possibly through its use in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) to translate logizomai in Romans 4:8, the term "imputation" has been used in theology in a threefold sense to denote the judicial acts of God by which the guilt of Adam's sin is imputed to his posterity; by which the sins of Christ's people are imputed to Him; and by which the righteousness of Christ is imputed to His people. The act of imputation is precisely the same in each case. It is not meant that Adam's sin was personally the sin of his descendants, but that it was set to their account, so that they share its guilt and penalty. It is not meant that Christ shares personally in the sins of men, but that the guilt of his people's sin was set to his account, so that He bore its penalty. It is not meant that Christ's people are made personally holy or inwardly righteous by the imputation of His righteousness to them, but that His righteousness is set to their account, so that they are entitled to all the rewards of that perfect righteousness.

These doctrines have had a place in theology of the Christian church from the earliest Christian centuries, though the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ was first fully and clearly stated at the time of and following the Reformation. The first two of these doctrines have been the possession of the entire Christian church, while the third one of them is affirmed by both the Reformed and Lutheran branches of Protestantism.

III. The Scriptural Basis of These Doctrines.

These three doctrines have a basis in the Scripture, and underlie the Scripture doctrines of Original Sin, Atonement, and Justification.

1. Imputation of Adam's Sin to His Posterity:

The doctrine of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity is implied in the account of the Fall in Genesis 2 and 3, taken in connection with the subsequent history of the human race as recorded in Ge and in the rest of the Old Testament. Many ancient and modern interpreters regard this narrative as an allegorical, mythical or symbolical representation in historical form, either of a psychological fact, i.e. of something which takes place in every individual, or of certain general truths concerning sin. By some exegetes, following Kant, it has been held to depict an advance of the race in culture or ethical knowledge (Reuss; against which view compare Budde, Clemen); by others it has been regarded as a symbolical representation of certain truths concerning sin (Oehler, Schultz); by others it has been regarded as historical (Delitzsch). This latter view is the one which accords with the narrative itself. It is evidently intended as historical by its author, and is so regarded by the New Testament writers. It is, moreover, introduced to explain, not an advance of the race, but the entrance of sin into the world, and the connection of certain penal evils with sin. It does this by showing how these evils came upon Adam as a punishment for his disobedience, and the subsequent history shows that his posterity were subjected to the same evils. It is true that the threat of punishment to Adam in case of disobedience was made to him alone, and that the penalties threatened are said to have come only upon him and Eve (Genesis 3:16-19). Nevertheless, it is clear from the account of the subsequent history of the race that it actually shared in the punishments inflicted upon Adam, and that this was in consequence of his sin. This implies that in Genesis 2:16 f are contained the terms of a covenant in which Adam acted as the representative of the race. If, therefore, the race shares in the penalty of Adam's sin, it must also share in his guilt or the judicial obligation to suffer punishment. And this is precisely what theology of the entire Christian church has meant by saying that the guilt of Adam's sin was imputed to his posterity. This is in accordance with God's method of dealing with men in other recorded instances (Genesis 19:15; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 1:37; 3:26); and the assertion of the principle of personal responsibility by Ezekiel and Jeremiah against an abuse of the principle of representative responsibility implies a recognition of the latter (Ezekiel 18:2,4; 33:12; Jeremiah 31:29).

The universality of sin and death is not brought into connection with the Fall of Adam by the other Old Testament writers. This is done, however, by Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15:21, Paul says that the death of all men has its cause in the man Adam in the same way in which the resurrection from the dead has its cause in the man Christ. The death of all men, accordingly, is not brought about by their personal sins, but has come upon all through the disobedience of Adam. Upon what ground this takes place, Paul states in the passage Romans 5:12-21. He introduces the subject of Adam's relation to the race to illustrate his doctrine of the justification of sinners on the ground of a righteousness which is not personally their own. In order to do this he takes the truth, well known to his readers, that all men are under condemnation on account of Adam's sin. The comparison is between Adam and Christ, and the specific point of the comparison is imputed sin and imputed righteousness. Hence, in 5:12 Paul does not mean simply to affirm that as Adam sinned and consequently died, so men sin and die. Nor can he mean to say that just as God established a precedent in Adam's case that death should follow sin, so He acts upon this precedent in the case of all men because all sin, the real ground of the reign of death being the fact that all sin, and the formal ground being this precedent (B. Weiss); nor that the real ground is this precedent and the subordinate ground the fact that all sin (Hunefeld). Neither can Paul intend to say that all men are subject to death because they derive a corrupt nature from Adam (Fritzsche); nor that men are condemned to die because all have sinned (Pfleiderer). Paul's purpose is to illustrate his doctrine of the way in which men are delivered from sin and death by the way in which they are brought into condemnation. The main thought of the passage is that, just as men are condemned on account of the imputation to them of the guilt of Adam's sin, so they are justified on account of the imputation to them of the righteousness of Christ. Paul says that it was by one man that sin and death entered into the world, and it was by one man that death passed to all men, because all were implicated in the guilt of that one man's Sin (5:12). In proof of this the apostle cites the fact that death as a punishment was reigning during a period in which the only possible judicial ground of this fact must have been the imputation of the guilt of that one man's sin (5:13,14). Hence, there is a precise parallel between Adam and Christ. Just as men are condemned on account of Adam's disobedience, so they are justified on account of the obedience of Christ (5:18,19). The thought of the passage is imputed sin and imputed righteousness as the ground of condemnation and of justification respectively.

2. Imputation of the Sins of His People to Christ:

That our sins are imputed to Christ is not expressly stated in the Scripture, but is implied in those passages which affirm that Christ "bore our sins," and that our iniquities were "laid upon him" by Yahweh. To bear inquity or sin, though it may sometimes mean to bear it away or remove it, is an expression often applied in Scripture to persons charged with guilt and subjected to the punishment of their own sin (Leviticus 5:17; 7:18; 19:8; 22:9). That the Hebrew verb nasa' has this meaning is also indicated by its being interchanged with the verb cabhal, which means "to bear as a burden" and is used to denote the bearing of the punishment of sin (Isaiah 53:11). In the Old Testament sacrificial system, which according to the New Testament is typical of the sacrifice of Christ, the imposition of hands on the head of the victim signified the substitution of it for the offender and the transfer of his guilt to it. This idea is brought out clearly in the case of the two goats on the great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). When, therefore, the Servant of Yahweh in Isaiah 53 is said "to bear iniquity" (53:11), or that "the chastisement of our peace was upon him" (53:5), or that "Yahweh hath laid (literally, "caused to fall") on him the iniquity of us all" (53:6), the idea expressed is that Christ bore the punishment of our sin vicariously, its guilt having been imputed to Him. The thought of the prophecy is, as Delitzsch says, that of vicarious punishment, which implies the idea of the imputation of the guilt of our sins to Christ.

The same idea underlies these expressions when they occur in the New Testament. When Peter wishes to hold up Christ as an example of patience in suffering, he takes up the thought of Isa, and adduces the fact that Christ "his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree". (1 Peter 2:24). The context indicates that Peter had the prophecy of Isaiah 53 in mind, so that his meaning is, not that Christ carried our sins even up to the cross, but that in His death on the cross Christ bore the punishment of our sin, its guilt having been imputed to Him. The same thought is expressed by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the contrast between the first and second advents of Christ is made to hinge upon the fact that in the first He came to be sacrificed as a sin-bearer, burdened with the guilt of the sin of others, whereas in His second coming He will appear without this burden of imputed or vicarious guilt (Hebrews 9:28). Paul also gives expression to the same thought when he says that Christ was "made. to be sin on our behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:21), and that He became "a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13). In the former passage the idea of substitution, although not expressed by the preposition huper which indicates that Christ's work was for our benefit, is nevertheless clearly implied in the thought that Christ, whose sinlessness is emphasized in the ver, is made sin, and that we sinners become righteous in Him. Paul means that Christ was made to bear the penalty of our sin and that its guilt was imputed to Him in precisely the same way in which we sinners become the righteousness of God in Him, i.e. by the imputation of His righteousness to us. The same thought is expressed in Galatians 3:13, where the statement that Christ was made a curse for us means that He was made to endure the curse or penalty of the broken law. In all these passages the underlying thought is that the guilt of our sin was imputed to Christ.

3. Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ to His People:

The righteousness upon the ground of which God justifies the ungodly is, according to Paul, witnessed to in the Old Testament (Romans 3:21). In order to obtain the blessedness which comes from a right relation to God, the pardon or non-imputation of sin is necessary, and this takes place through the "covering" of sin (Psalms 32:1,2). The nature of this covering by the vicarious bearing of the penalty of sin is made clear in Isaiah 53. It is, moreover, the teaching of the Old Testament that the righteousness which God demands is not to be found among men (Psalms 130:3; 143:2; Isaiah 64:6). Accordingly, the prophets speak of a righteousness which is not from man's works, but which is said to be in Yahweh or to come from Him to His people (Isaiah 32:16; 45:23; 54:17; 58:8; 61:3; Jeremiah 51:10; Hosea 10:12). This idea finds its clearest expression in connection with the work of the Messiah in Jeremiah 33:16, where Jerusalem is called "Yahweh our righteousness" because of the coming of the Messianic king, and in Jeremiah 23:6 where the same name is given to the Messiah to express His significance for Israel. Although the idea of the imputation of righteousness is not explicitly asserted in these passages, the idea is not merely that the righteousness spoken of is recognized by Yahweh (Cremer), but that it comes from Him, so that Yahweh, through the work of the Messiah, is the source of His people's righteousness.

This idea is taken up by Paul, who makes explicit the way in which this righteousness comes to sinners, and who puts the idea of imputed righteousness at the basis of his doctrine of Justification. By the righteousness of Christ Paul means Christ's legal status, or the merit acquired by all that He did in satisfying the demands of God's law, including what has been called His active and passive obedience. Notwithstanding the fact that most of the modern expositors of Paul's doctrine have denied that he teaches the imputation of Christ's obedience, this doctrine has a basis in the apostle's teaching. Justification leads to life and final glorification (Romans 5:18; 8:30); and Paul always conceives the obtaining of life as dependent on the fulfillment of the law. If, therefore, Christ secures life for us, it can only be in accordance with this principle. Accordingly, the apostle emphasizes the element of obedience in the death of Christ, and places this act of obedience at the basis of the sinner's justification (Romans 5:18). He also represents the obedience of the cross as the culminating point of a life of obedience on Christ's part (Philippians 2:8). Moreover, Paul affirms that our redemption from all the demands of the law is secured by the fact that Christ was born under law (Galatians 4:4). This cannot be restricted to the fact that Christ was under the curse of the law, for He was born under law and the result of this is that we are free from all of its demands. This doctrine is also implied in the apostle's teaching that Justification is absolutely gracious, taken in connection with the fact that it leads to a complete salvation.

The importance in Paul's thought of the doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the believer can be seen from the fact that the question how righteousness was to be obtained occupied a central place in his religious consciousness, both before and after his conversion. The apostle's conversion by the appearance of the risen Christ determined his conception of the true way of obtaining righteousness, since the resurrection of Christ meant for Paul the condemnation of his entire past search for righteousness by works of the law.

That the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the believer does lie at the basis of Paul's doctrine of Justification can be further seen from the fact that Justification is absolutely free and unmerited so far as the sinner is concerned (Romans 3:24; 5:15; Galatians 5:4; Titus 3:7); its object being one who is ungodly (Romans 4:5); so that it is not by works (Romans 3:20,28; Galatians 2:16; 3:11; 5:4; Philippians 3:9); and yet that it is not a mere pardon of sin, but is a strictly "forensic" or judicial judgment, freeing the sinner from all the claims of the law, and granting him the right to eternal life. This last truth is plain because God's retributive righteousness lies at the basis of Paul's doctrine of Justification (Romans 2); is manifested in it (Romans 3:25); because Christ's expiatory work is its ground (Romans 3:25); and because our redemption from the curse of the law rests upon Christ's having borne it for us, and our redemption from all the demands of the law depends upon their fulfillment by Christ (Galatians 3:13; 4:4). Hence, the gracious character of Justification, according to Paul, does not consist in its being merely a gracious pardon without any judicial basis (Ritschl); or in God's acceptance of a subjective righteousness produced by Him in the sinner (Tobac); or in the acceptance of faith instead of a perfect righteousness (Cremer). The gracious character of Justification consists for Paul in the fact that the righteousness on the ground of which God justifies the ungodly is a righteousness which is graciously provided by God, and which Paul contrasts with his own righteousness which comes from law works (Philippians 3:9). The sinner, therefore, is pardoned and accepted as a righteous person, not on account of anything in himself, but only on account of what Christ has done for him, which means that the merits of Christ's suffering and obedience are imputed to the sinner as the ground of his justification.

This truth is explicitly affirmed by Paul, who speaks of God's imputing righteousness without works, and of righteousness being imputed (Romans 4:6,11). The idea of the imputation of righteousness here is made clear by the context. The one who is declared righteous is said to be "ungodly" (Romans 4:5). Hence, he is righteous only by God's imputation of righteousness to him. This is also clear from the contrast between imputation according to grace and according to debt (Romans 4:4). He who seeks righteousness by works would be justified as a reward for his works, in antithesis to which, imputation according to grace would be the charging one with a righteousness which he does not possess. Accordingly, at the basis of Justification there is a reckoning to the sinner of an objective righteousness. This same idea is also implied and asserted by Paul in the parallel which he draws between Adam and Christ (Romans 5:18). The apostle says that just as men are condemned on account of a sin not their own, so they are justified on account of a righteousness which is not their own. The idea of imputed sin and imputed righteousness, as was said, is the precise point of the parallelism between condemnation in Adam and justification in Christ. This is also the idea which underlies the apostle's contrast of the Old and New Covenants (2 Corinthians 3:9). The New Covenant is described as a "ministry of righteousness," and contrasted with the Old Covenant which is described as a "ministry of condemnation." If, therefore, this last expression does not denote a subjective condition of men under the old dispensation, but their relation to God as objects of His condemnation, righteousness must denote the opposite of this relation to the law, and must depend on God's judicial acquittal. The same truth is expressed by Paul more concretely by saying that Christ has been "made unto us righteousness from God" (1 Corinthians 1:30). Here the concrete mode of expression is chosen because Paul speaks also of Christ being our sanctification and redemption, so that an expression had to be chosen which would cover all of these ideas. One of the clearest statements concerning this objective righteousness is Philippians 3:9. The apostle here affirms that the righteousness which the believer in Christ obtains is directly opposite to his own righteousness. This latter comes from works of the law, whereas the former comes from God and through faith in Christ. It is, therefore, objective to man, comes to him from God, is connected with the work of Christ, and is mediated by faith in Christ.

The idea clearly stated in this last passage of a righteousness which is objective to the sinner and which comes to him from God, i.e. the idea of a new legal standing given to the believer by God, explains the meaning, in most cases, of the Pauline phrase "righteousness of God." This phrase is used by Paul 9 t:

Romans 1:17; 3:5,21,25; 10:3 (twice); 2 Corinthians 5:21. It denotes the Divine attribute of righteousness in Romans 3:5,25 f. The customary exegesis was to regard the other instances as denoting the righteousness of a sinner which comes to him from God, in accordance with Philippians 3:9. More recently Haering, following Kolbing in general, has interpreted all these instances as denoting God's justifying action. But this interpretation is most strained in 2 Corinthians 5:21, where we are said to "become the righteousness of God," and in Romans 10:3-6, where the righteousness of God is identified with the righteousness which comes from faith, this latter being contrasted with man's own inward righteousness. That a righteousness of man which he receives from God is here referred to, is confirmed by the fact that the reason given for the error of the Jews in seeking a righteousness from law works is the fact that the work of Christ has made an end of this method of obtaining righteousness (Romans 10:4). This righteousness, therefore, is one of which man is the possessor. The phrase, however, cannot mean a righteousness which is valid in God's sight (Luther), although this thought is elsewhere expressed by Paul (Romans 3:20; Galatians 3:11). It means a righteousness which comes from God and of which He is the author. This is not, however, by making man inwardly righteous, since all the above passages show the purely objective character of this righteousness. It is the righteousness of Philippians 3:9; the righteousness which God imputes to the believer in Christ. Thus we "become the righteousness of God" in precisely the same sense in which Christ was "made to be sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Since Christ was made sin by having the guilt. of our sin imputed to Him so that He bore its penalty, Paul must mean that we "become the righteousness of God" in this same objective sense through the imputation to us of the righteousness of Christ. In the same way, in Romans 10:3, the contrast between God's righteousness and the Jew's righteousness by works of the law shows that in each case righteousness denotes a legal status which comes from God by imputation. It is this same imputed righteousness which makes the gospel the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:17), which has been revealed by the law and the prophets, which is received by faith in Christ by whose expiatory death God's retributive righteousness has been made manifest (Romans 3:21,22,25,26), and which is represented by Peter as the object of Christian faith (2 Peter 1:1).

In two passages Paul affirms that Abraham believed God and "it was imputed to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3 the King James Version; Galatians 3:6). The old Arminian theologians, and some modern exegetes (H. Cremer) assert that Paul means that Abraham's faith was accepted by God instead of a perfect righteousness as the meritorious ground of his justification. This, however, cannot be the apostle's meaning. It is diametrically opposed to the context where Paul introduces the case of Abraham for the very purpose of proving that he was justified without any merit on his part; it is opposed to Paul's idea of the nature of faith which involves the renunciation of all claim to merit, and is a simple resting on Christ from whom all its saving efficacy is derived; and this interpretation is also opposed to Paul's doctrine of the absolutely gracious character of Justification. The apostle in these passages wishes to illustrate from the case of Abraham the gracious character of Justification, and quotes the untechnical language of Genesis 15:6. His meaning is simply that Abraham was justified as a believer in God, and not as one who sought righteousness by works.

See SIN; ATONEMENT; JUSTIFICATION.

LITERATURE.

Besides the Comm., see works on Old Testament Theology by Dillmann, Davidson, Oehler, Schultz; and on New Testament Theology by H. Holtzmann, B. Weiss, Schmidt; also Chemnitz, De Vocabulo Imputationis, Loc. Theol., 1594, II, 326; J. Martin, The Imputation of Adam's Sin, 1834, 20-46; Clemen, Die Christliche Lehre yon der Sande, I, 1897, 151-79; Dietzsch, Adam und Christus, 1871; Hunefeld, Romans 5:12-21, 1895; Crawford, The Doctrine of the Holy Scripture Respecting the Atonements, 1876, 33-45, 188-90. Compare also the appropriate sections in the Works on the Scripture doctrine of Justification, and especially on Paul's doctrine of Justification, e.g. Owen, Justification, 1st American edition, 185-310; Ritschl, Die Christliche Lehre yon der Rechtfertigung und VersShnung, II2, 1882, 303-31; Bohl, Von der Rechtfertigung durch den Glauben, 1890, 115-23; Nosgen, Schriftbeweis fur die evangel. Rechfertigungslehre, 1901, 147-96; Pfleiderer, Die Paulinische Rechtfertigung, ZWT (Hilgenfeld herausg.), 1872, 161-200; Paulinism, English translation, I, 171-86; with which compare Pfleiderer's later view of Paul's teachings, 2nd edition, 1890, 178-89; G. Schwarz, Justitia Imputata? 1891; H. Cremer, Paulinische Rechtfertigungslehre, 1900, 329-49; Tobac, Le problame de la justification dans Saint Paul, 1908, 206-25. On Paul's doctrine of the righteousness of God, of the many monographs the following may be mentioned:

Fricke, Der Paulinische Grundbegriff der erortert auf Grund v. Rom. III, 21-26, 1888; Kolbing, Studien zur Paulinische Theologie, TSK, 1895, 7-51; Haring bei Paulus, 1896.

Caspar Wistar Hodge
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'IMPUTATION'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Woe To Joel Olsteen And People Like Himself

"...there was an event here at Dodger Stadium with Joel Osteen, thirty-five thousand people at Dodger Stadium, something like that. He is now the largest, quote/unquote church...I’m using the word loosely...in America down in Houston. You need to understand that he is a pagan religionist in every sense.He’s a quasi-pantheist. Jesus is a footnote that satisfies his critics and deceives his followers. The idea of this whole thing is that men have the power in themselves to change their lives. In his definitive book, Your Best Life Now, he says...and that ought to be a dead giveaway since the only way this could be your best life is if you’re going to hell. He says that anyone can create by faith and words the dreams he desires...health, wealth, happiness, success...the list is always the same.

Here’s some quotes from his book Your Best Life Now. “If you develop an image of success, health, abundance, joy, peace, happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you,” end quote. See, that’s....that’s the law of attraction that’s a part of this kind of system.

Here’s another quote, “All of us are born for earthly greatness. You were born to win.” Win what? “God wants you to live in abundance, you were born to be a champion. He wants to give you the desires of your heart.” “Before we were formed, He prepared us to live abundant lives, to be happy, healthy and whole. But when our thinking becomes contaminated, it’s no longer in line with God’s Word,” end quote. By the way, “God’s Word is not the Bible, God’s Word is that Word that comes to us mystically, spiritually, that tells us what we should want.”

Here’s another quote, “Get your thinking positive and He will bring your desires to pass. He regards you as a strong, courageous, successful person. You’re on your way to a new level of glory.” Hum...how do you get there? “Believe...he says...visualize, and speak out loud.” Same exact approach. Words release your power. Words give life to your dreams.

Here’s another quote. “Friend, there’s a miracle in your mouth.” I think Isaiah might object to that. He said, “I’m a man of unclean lips and I dwell amidst a people of unclean lips.”

Here’s Joel Osteen’s prayer. “I thank You, Father, that I have Your favor.” Wow! Did he meet the Pharisee in Luke 18, or what? “I thank You that I’m not like other people.”

Here’s another quote. “I know these principles are true because they work, for me and my wife.” Oh, so that’s the test of truth. Are you kidding? I know these things are true because they work for me and my wife? Sure, you’re at the top of the Ponzi scheme.

And then he said, “Even finding a perfect parking spot at the mall.” And I ask, “What about the little old lady you cut off to get into that parking? What about her dreams?” Maybe she was born to lose. I mean, it’s so silly, so bizarre.

He says, “God has already done everything He’s going to do, the ball’s in your court.” You have to take that part of God which exists in you and create your own reality.

What is the source of this? Where does this come from? Answer: Satan, this is satanic. This is satanic. This is not just off-centered, this is satanic.

Why do I say that? Because health, wealth, prosperity, the fulfillment of all your dreams and your desires,that’s what Satan always offers. That’s called temptation, based on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,and the pride of life. That’s exactly what corrupt fallen unregenerate people want. That’s why it works so well, right? You can go right into Satan’s system, make everybody feel religious and turn their desires, their temptations into somehow honorable desires. I mean, what did Satan say to Jesus? Grab some satisfaction,why are You hungry? You need to eat. You need to be healthy, whole. Why would You let Yourself be unpopular? Dive off the temple corner, whew, everybody will be wowed. You’ll be the winner, You’ll be the champion. You’ll be the Messiah. They’ll hail You. And by the way, if You just look over the kingdoms of the world, I’ll give those to You, too.

That’s satanic. So the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, 1 John 2:15 to 17, it’s all a part of the world and it’s all passing away. And why are these false teachers so successful at what they do?Because they’re in cahoots with the devil. Why is Satan successful? Because his temptations, although they might appear noble on the outside, are in perfect accord with all the fallen, corrupt, selfish, proud, evil desires of sinners. This is a false kind of Christianity and a false view of God. God is the one who reserves the right to make you well. “Have not I made the blind and the lame and the halt, He says? Or to allow you to be sick? God has the right to make you prosperous or to give you little. God reserves the right to control the circumstances and events and experiences of your life for His own ends and His own purpose.”

False religion is the most heinous of all sins because it’s a violation of the great commandment, “Love the Lord your God, the true one, with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” and false religion that borrows His name but creates a false God and borrows the name of Christ but creates a false Christ is the worst kind of blasphemy.

And by the way, I’ve said these things in a letter to the people at TBN because I know that they would hear this and I put it in a letter. They weren’t too happy about it. But I need to say that. Do you understand that this is a burden for me? And I think preachers like this who preach this stuff, hate the true God. I really believe that. I believe they hate the true God and they’re afraid to death that somebody might find out who He is..."

John F. Macarthur, A True Knowledge of the True God, Part 1

Protestants Are Their Own Popes?

  • Introduction:
          -Roman Catholics tend to ask Protestants who adhere to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura the following question, "By what authority do you guys interpret the Bible?" In other words, Catholics ask non-Catholics for the divinely appointed authority which they use in opposition to the authority of their Church. Conservative Catholics believe that if you deny the authority of the Bishop of Rome and decide to read the Bible for yourself to examine what it says about a particular doctrine, then you automatically establish yourself as being your own infallible guide who determines what God wills for the entire church. But how does one come to the conclusion that the Church of Rome is the one, true church that was indeed established by Jesus Christ in the first century? How do Roman Catholics know that their Church's interpretation of Scripture is correct? How does denying the authority of the Roman Catholic Church constitute creating an infallible "Protestant Pope"?
    • Straw-Man Argument:
              -The "Protestant Pope" objection is a straw-man argument because it misrepresents what Sola Scriptura means regarding biblical interpretation. In other words, it presents an overly-simplified version of how advocates of the "Bible only theory" interpret Scripture, how authoritative they view their interpretations of the Bible when compared to potentially differing views, and the authority of Scripture in general. 
              -We cannot simply interpret Scripture in any way that we desire. In other words, we have been called to act reasonably by interpreting Scripture in its proper context, by comparing our interpretations of an individual passage of the Bible to what others passages say on that same topic, use our common sense or reasoning to the best of our ability, and by obeying the wisdom of the godly church leaders or instructors who give us the necessary tools (concordances, lexicons, commentaries) for properly understanding the written Word of God. There are certainly right and wrong ways to get things done, which includes church function. 
              -It is wrong to assume that Protestants presume themselves to be their own "infallible Popes" when they neither claim infallibility to their interpretations of Scripture nor anathematize other people who have slightly different points of view. Our reasoning abilities are liable to error. Some non-Catholics do act in such a manner, but that is not the fault of Sola Scriptura because that is not what it teaches. However, we can indeed have great certainty behind the meaning of Scripture. There is a significant difference between choosing an ultimate authority and being an ultimate authority.
              -We who believe in the principle of Sola Scriptura do not view ourselves as the ultimate authority in doctrinal matters. Rather, all spiritual standards of the church are subject to the one infallible and supreme authority, Scripture. A correct understanding and application of Scripture is necessary in order for it to operate as the ultimate spiritual standard for the church. This knowledge is enhanced in our minds by the continuous study and mediation of Scripture. A person who reads the Bible simply consumes the inspired message of God's written revelation. This is not a matter of spiritual authority. The precepts of the Lord are embedded into the minds of those who hunger and thirst for His righteousness.
    • The Logical Necessity Of "Private Interpretation":
              -In every aspect of life, we are obligated to use the fallible judgment of our fallible minds to correctly execute decisions. We have to use our fallible reasoning capacities to make any sort of move in our daily lives. Our fallible reason is what we use to make sense of the world around us. Reason is what keeps the world turning, yet God has appointed no "infallible" ruler to preside over each elemental category of our lives. We therefore must be, at least in some sense, our own "decider". Decision making is a mandatory, constant, and inevitable procedure which literally runs through the course of every second in our lifespan. There may be guides to help us make the correct decisions in difficult situations, but we have no evidence proving the existence of or the necessity of these means of occasional support being infallible. Yet, things seem to work in an orderly manner. Are secular governments infallible? Why would the church need to be infallible in order for it to function correctly and thus maintain the purity of the glorious gospel? God is perfectly capable of preserving a faithful remnant. 
    • The "Protestant Pope" Argument Against Sola Scriptura Is A Double Standard:
              -If a Protestant who embraces the concept of Sola Scriptura automatically becomes his or her own pope when he or she decides to interpret Scripture for himself or herself to support a theological position, then it follows from this premise that any Roman Catholic who defends the Church of Rome becomes his or her own pope because he or she also interprets Scripture and official church teaching. Both sides are resorting to private interpretation in defending theological positions which are believed to be true .
    • By Who's Authority?:
              -When Roman Catholics ask us by what authority we interpret the Scriptures, we should retort by asking them by what authority they keep the commandments of God? The point is that we do not do such things because of any alleged authority on our part. Rather, we do these things because God expects us to do them. We have the moral obligation to seek out truth. One does not need any special "authority" to read the Bible. Quite simply, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ we have all been given the "right" to read the Scriptures. We have all been commissioned to preach the Gospel of Salvation to this lost world (Matthew 28:18-20). This includes the moral responsibility of examining our own consciences (2 Corinthians 13:5) and contending earnestly for the faith (2 Corinthians 10:5; Jude 3; 1 Peter 3:15).

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    Refuting The Use Of Objects In Worship

    • Introduction:
             -The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and even some Protestant churches use statues and icons that are part of their worship and services. People who occupy objects for such purposes believe that they help them to remember God, Jesus, Mary, or other important figures in Christianity.
             -Advocates of using images in worship regularly bow down to statues, icons, and images of Christian figures, kissing at the feet of the statues, and praying to them. Some professing Christians will even be rolling in front of them, putting flowers on them, lighting candles before them, carrying the idols in procession, and changing the clothing on the statues daily. In religious institutions, there are several paintings of Jesus, Mary, Peter, and a myriad of canonized "saints". In short, there is an abundance of religious iconography.
    • Why The Above Actions Are Considered Idolatry:
             -Actions such as kneeling before iconography and prayer are defined as worship according to Scripture (Exodus 20:5; Isaiah 44:17; 45:20; Matthew 4:9-10; 6:6-14; Acts 10:25-26; 14:13-15; Philippians 2:10; Revelation 4:10; 19:10; 22:8-9). Thus, directing such honor to beings other than God is idolatry. It also seems rather strange that Roman Catholics sing worship psalms to various saints and wear amulets with pictures of Mary on them.  
    • The Case Against The Use Of Statues, Images, And Relics In Worship:
             -God clearly condemned making figures for the purpose of giving religious devotion or honor to beings other than Him (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 4:15-24; 2 Chronicles 33:6-7). In fact, the Apostle Paul specifically said that God neither dwells in places by hands nor is served with objects (Acts 7:48-49; 17:23-25; 17:29). God said that He would not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). Going against His will will provoke Him to anger. We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
    • The Foolishness Of Making All These Statues:
             -Nobody knows what Jesus, Mary, the apostles, and their closest associates looked like. There is no need for people to construct figures of honorable individuals, especially when we cannot even identify their appearance accurately.
             -How far can "veneration" go before it reaches idolatry? Who is going to set forth specific boundaries so that people can know for certain that they are not giving a saint too much honor? 
    • A Valid Practice In Christianity?:
             -In the New Testament, we are never commanded to use statues in worship and have no examples of such activity being permitted by God. As noted previously, the Apostle Paul clearly affirmed the Old Testament prohibitions on using objects in worship. Idols are a direct threat to our relationship with God and will lead the unrepentant to eternal condemnation in hell (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 21:8). There are also different forms of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5-7). So Beware!
    • Veneration Vs. Worship:
             -When Catholics are accused of worshiping Mary and the saints, they usually respond by saying that they merely "venerate" (honor) them (not "worship"). This claim is elaborated on by dividing the veneration into three distinct categories (in Latin): latria (God alone), hyperdulia (Mary alone), and dulia (saints and angels).
                 +Occupying a separate label does not change the essence of what is being done.
                 +The Bible makes no distinction between "veneration" and "worship". Neither does it provide any justification for three different "classes" of honor for three separate "heavenly ranks". All religious veneration that we find in Scripture is rightfully directed to God alone. Remember also that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24; Nahum 1:2)
    • So What Is Permissible?:
             -It is okay to give honor to whom honor is due (Mark 12:17; Hebrews 13:7). It is also fine to have pieces of art for decoration and pictures of family members. Furthermore, it is even acceptable to honor Christians from the past by acknowledging their faith and following their moral example (Hebrews 11). But actions such as building statues, offering prayers to, and adoring is beyond honor. It is worship (idolatry).
    • "It is just an art form like music...":
             -This argument is simply comparing apples to oranges and is deprived of biblical justification. While we are encouraged to worship God by singing psalms of praise (2 Chronicles 5:13; Psalms 150:1-5; Colossians 3:16; Revelation 14:3-4), using objects as an aid in worship is disobedience to God's will.
    • "Don't we keep the photos of people that we love...":
             -It is true that we tend to keep images of people we love and art for enjoyment or ornamentation. But the comparison of an image to Christ to a picture of a friend or relative is deceptive. The statues/painted pictures of Jesus or the apostles are only the imagination of an artist. They are not accurate representations of the actual people who lived. Moreover, a wife would become very frustrated if her husband decided to keep a picture of another woman, kiss it, and call it his spouse! The above objection is irrelevant and fails to address the issue at hand. We are to obey God's commandments regardless of the consequences or our emotions.
    • "Didn't God permit the creation of some idols in the Old Testament?":
                  +Bronze Serpent (Numbers 21:6-9):
                      -God commanded Moses to make the Bronze Serpent for a one time purpose (John 3:14-16), but the Israelites converted it into an object of worship. It ended up getting destroyed by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:3-4). There is no scriptural evidence that the Bronze Serpent was ever supposed to be used as an aid in worship.
                  +The Two Cherubs (Exodus 25:18):
                      -God commanded the making of two golden cherubs, but the Jews were not called to bow down before them or serve them.
                  +Ark of the Covenant (Joshua 7:6-7):
                      -God ordered the Israelites to make the ark so that He could dwell in their presence and meet with the leaders (Exodus 25:8; 22). But why does the ark have two images of angels (Exodus 25:18-21)? It has them because it is a replica of God's throne in heaven (Isaiah 6:1-2). This is further evidenced by the fact that the ark of the covenant also served as a footstool for the feet of the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:2). Unlike the ark, the images used in Roman Catholic "veneration" supposedly represent saints.