Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Discussion On The Morality Of Homosexuality

  • Homosexuality Is Incompatible With Biblical Christianity: 
          -The Levitical Law expressly forbade homosexuality and prescribed the sentence of death to those who partook in such actions (Leviticus 18:22-25; 20:13). In fact, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of sexual immorality, which included homosexuality (Genesis 19:4-13). Interestingly, Jude describes this instance of divine judgment happening as a result of men going after "strange flesh" (Jude 5-8). The Apostle Peter described those same people as "lawless" (2 Peter 2:7-10). Thus, sexual sin is associated with apostasy in the New Testament. Paul warns that any person who practices homosexuality will be excluded from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-11). The Creator leaves those who exchange natural relations for unnatural to their own devices and destruction (Romans 1:25-27). Homosexuality involves the reversal of a creation ordinance. It degrades that which is sacred. In that same context, the Apostle Paul concurs with the Law that sinners are worthy of death (Romans 1:32). However, he also testifies to the graces of God that are so powerfully made known through Christ. Lastly, the consistent pattern of marriage described in Scripture is always a physical union between man and woman.
  • Homosexual Behavior Is Plagued With Problems:
          -Homosexuality is unnatural for us in that all are born heterosexual by bodily design. It is, therefore, not a matter of when we chose to have that kind of orientation. Nor do homosexual unions result in the production of human life. If practiced on a wide enough scale, a populace would be guaranteed to face self-extinction. Homosexuality is destructive in that is carries with it risks of getting HIV, Syphilis, and AIDS. It even results in abnormal personality changes.
  • What About Equal Rights?:
          -If the legalization of same-sex marriage means equal rights for members of the LGBTQ community, then why cannot there be equal rights for people who want more than one partner in marriage? If we redefine the concept of marriage to include two homosexual people, then why would it be wrong for us to also redefine marriage to include more than one person? The move to officially change the definition of marriage as being something other than a male and female union is unprecedented in history. Even societies like ancient Greece did not take matters this far, judging by available historical records.
  • Interaction With The "Born Gay" Argument:
          -Homosexual desire is acted on, just as heterosexual desire is. It is in that way distinguished from our skin color, height, and gender, which are genetic traits. Those things are not behaviors. They exist independently of our thoughts and cannot be acted on.
          -Possible causes of homosexuality are environment, culture, and free will (i.e. genetic identity disorder, women getting abused by men, children getting abused by homosexuals, etc.). It involves a complex combination of factors.
          -Even assuming that genetics can influence homosexual behavior, being born with the potential to act in a certain manner in no way provides justification for any behavioral patterns. There is no genetic excuse for homosexuality, anymore than there is a genetic excuse for theft or lying. Note that the Apostle Paul himself placed all these acts in the category of sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
          -These tendencies, whether they are genetic or not, cannot simply be justified on the grounds of being born with proclivities for them. Human nature is the breeding ground for all sorts of atrocities. The presence of temptation in our hearts is not sin, but acting on such is. God forgives those who repent of their homosexual sin, just as He would forgive repentant thieves, adulterers, murderers, or anyone else (1 Corinthians 6:11). People who struggle with homosexuality are not without hope of redemption, but they may need ongoing counseling assistance.
  • Refuting Attempts To Justify Homosexuality By Appeals To Nature: 
          -Just because animals do irrational things to each other, does not mean that human beings ought to follow suit. We should actually be able to rise above that of the life of beasts. The following behaviors have also been observed among various animal species: 1.) Raping other animals, 2.) Eating their young when threatened, 3.) Eating their sex partner, 4.) Injuring sex partners, and 5.) Having intercourse with their own offspring. If this means anything at all, then it would only be that homosexuality is brutish behavior. It represents the absence of culture.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Demonstrating His Love For Sinners

                                   Christ died on the cross because of His love,

                                   He ascended into heaven above.

                                   We spread His love by the words we preach,

                                   So others know it is not out of reach.

                                   We demonstrate God’s love through our good action,

                                    So more join Love’s magnetic attraction.

                                    We show love though generous deed,

                                     So that putrid sin will therefore impede.

Is Faith Irrational? (A Refutation Of Scientism)

  • Introduction:
          -Atheists commonly portray Christians as establishing their beliefs on an empty shell of faith. It is claimed that they uphold their beliefs on irrational grounds or personal feelings. Religion is viewed as a coping mechanism by atheists. Many of them reject the validity of anything that cannot be tested or proven in a laboratory. People who subscribe to this view, known as scientism, automatically deem the supernatural realm to be nonexistent because it transcends the scope of the natural world. A great deal of atheists are quick to rule out the possibility of truth in anything miraculous because they subscribe to naturalism, which is the philosophy that nothing exists beyond the material world.
  • The Inherent Inconsistency Of Scientism: 
          -It is unreasonable to dismiss any given idea (i.e. the miraculous) as being false when there is no scientific basis for establishing such a denial. Thus, people who subscribe to scientism (including famous proponents such as Richard Dawkins) are being utterly inconsistent with their own ideological framework because they are not making a verdict in accordance with known facts.
  • Proponents Of Scientism Misrepresent Biblical Faith:
          -Biblical faith is not merely a mental conviction that is founded without evidence or equivalent to blind submission. It is not a form of wishful thinking. If biblical faith were these things, then God never would have sent prophets who foretold future events or take on human flesh and perform miracles for people. These are things which can be seen, heard, and felt. Our faith must be tested or proven (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Thus, biblical faith is not at odds with scientific investigation. It is based on what we know to be true and reasonable.
  • Scientism Is A Corrosive Philosophy That Must Be Rejected:
          -It is impossible to examine the truth of everything that we have seen or heard every day. Our lives are simply too short to test the validity of everything that we may have learned, whether we obtained knowledge from experience or education. To doubt the truth behind everything would inevitably result in infinite regression. Such an outcome would undermine the concept of certainty, as well as trust. It would corrode the objectivity of education and court rulings. Human beings must possess a degree of faith in something. Faith is necessary for the establishment of relationships. Do atheists have faith in their own existence?
  • The Limits Of Scientific Investigation Undermine Scientism:
          -Let us consider for a moment some of the essential features of human life. We have free will. We have conscience. We have rationality. We have intellect. We acknowledge the existence of moral truths. We know that human life has intrinsic value. We yearn for an ultimate purpose in life. Mathematics consists of several infallible formulas, proofs, and theorems. Universals, propositions, and possible worlds are examples of abstract realities. There are principles of beauty and artistic innovation, which are known as aesthetics. The universe came into being for a reason. Physical constants have a fine-tuning. Scientific laws themselves are based on foundational (empirically unverifiable) assumptions. If scientism is true, then all of the aforementioned ideas must be rejected as false because they cannot be verified by the scientific method. In fact, science itself would be self-refuting. None of the previously mentioned notions would be true, let alone applicable to our lives. Truths do exist beyond the scope of the scientific laboratory. It does not contain all the answers to the questions of life. What Christians argue against is a "science only" worldview, not science itself.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Wisdom of The Words of God

     The Word of God is the key and foundation for all wisdom in life. The Bible is the infallible compass to all divine truths pertaining to salvation and godliness. It is nourishment for the minds of those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God. The words of the Creator impart wisdom to the simple. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" [Psalm 19:7-8]. If the precepts of the Lord are perfect, then continually studying His words will enrich the mind with valuable lessons about life and morality. Life is like a book; God is the author and we are all the main characters. The Word of God covers moral aspects of life such as honesty and generosity.

      People learn many great lessons about wisdom when Scripture is closely examined. One of its most important teachings is to always be grateful. People should appreciate and remember the magnificent works of the Lord such as the creation of life and the materials that we use each day. "Give thanks to the God of heaven, For His loving kindness (graciousness, mercy, compassion) endures forever" [Psalm 136:26]. We should show much gratitude because of what He has done for us. "You are the God who does wonders; among the peoples you have revealed your might" [Psalm 77:15]. We have in principle been told to view the glass of life as being at least half full, rather than as half empty. Otherwise, human life becomes joyless. We must give the Lord praise for everything that He has provided us.

      We have instruction from the Word of God to continually be cautious of our own words. We must always remain truthful. We must exercise caution as to what we say and how we say things. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends” [Proverbs 16:28]. How would a person feel if his or her reputation was ruined as a result of slander and libel? People who never think before they speak are foolish, failing to take into account the repercussions of their behaviors. A man who has wisdom has control over his words. Unwise speech is like a virus, pass it around and the minds of other people will be infected with the stain of meaningless thoughts. Those who wish to be wise with their mouths will also heed to message of the Proverbs.

      Another moral lesson that we can learn by studying the inspired words of God is the necessity of remaining honest. We can never trust a person who spreads falsehood. Lying can severely damage a person's reputation for a long time, if not forever. "An honest witness does not deceive; but a false witness pours out lies" [Proverbs 14:5]. The only reason that a person spreads lies about others is for selfish motives. People talk behind other's backs because they want to inflict physical or emotional harm. Gossip is like a double-edge sword; when it cuts, it harms the confidence of others and slashes the armor of the perpetrator's conscience. A lie leaves an everlasting slash on the person who tells it. Dishonesty is only the springboard for more dishonesty, whether it is about oneself or other people.

      The Word of God repeatedly reinforces our obligation to love and honor other people. "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one above yourselves" [Romans 12:10]. Care is what keeps the world turning. It is the underlying basis for all relationships. It is necessary for human communication. Love is the foundational virtue for the development of all other virtues. We must choose to help those who are less fortunate than we are. "Love your neighbor as yourself..." [Leviticus 9:18]. All other moral imperatives issued in the Old Testament follow from this single commandment. It is reiterated in the New Testament [Matthew 5:43-48]. This is true wisdom. Hatred is like a raging fire; let it burn and the house of companionship will be incinerated entirely.

      People can learn the virtue of self-control by observing the words of God. We need divine revelation in our lives because conscience alone is not an infallible moral guide. All learning must originate from an outside source, which eventually points to an ultimate standard that governs every aspect of our lives. That final court of authority is God Himself. We must place our trust in God, rather than the vain imaginations of our hearts. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" [Jeremiah 17:9]. Only through Him can we find complete satisfaction in life. The way of sin is finite and therefore will never satisfy the human heart which desires lasting meaning and fulfillment. Wisdom teaches us to reject foolish lusts. We learn self-control by observing the commandments of God.

      The Holy Scriptures are the cornerstone to all wisdom because they are an inspired record of the words of God. They were recorded on scrolls by faithful prophets and apostles. Those who truly hunger and thirst for righteousness will find satisfaction when they enter into His presence. People gain wisdom when they meditate on His statutes. The words of the Lord are pure. The words of the Lord are flawless. There is therefore no valid reason for us to object in imitating His ways. God is our Rock and Salvation. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, " shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord." The sanctifying power of His Word makes it more vital to us than food and drink itself.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Refutation Of Moral Relativism

  • Introduction:
          -Moral Relativism is the philosophical stance that no existing moral standard or belief system is better than ones found in different societies. In other words, relativism is the belief that all points of view are equally correct or valid. According to this philosophical perspective, the acceptance of all aspects pertinent to knowledge, truth, and morality are governed by individual, separate societies, civilizations, and different periods of time. Moral relativism teaches that truth is changeable and is determined by each person. This viewpoint denies the existence of a universal standard of morality that dictates all of our moral thoughts and behaviors. It teaches that truth is relative to the individual.
  • Moral Relativism Is Self-Refuting:
          -If all moral perspectives are of equal validity, then that means that the rejection of moral relativism is also valid. Moral relativists must accept the belief that moral relativism is false.
          -To say that all truths are relative is to either make a relative or absolute proposition. If relative, then one cannot simply deny the existence of absolutes. If the statement is meant to be an absolute, then absolute statements must exist. This would testify to the existence of objective truths! In this case, not all truths would be relative to the individual.
          -Those who claim that no absolute truths exist have subscribed to a completely untenable position, for it is self-contradictory. While denying the existence of absolute truths, moral relativists make an absolute statement: "There are no absolute truths." Can moral relativists be absolutely sure that no absolute standards exist? How do they know that they are not simply deceiving themselves?
          -If two (or more) perceptions of truth contradict each other, then how can we know which view is correct? Which perception of truth is more trustworthy? Can truth be self-contradictory?
          -If moral relativists want to claim that moral relativism cannot be critiqued by any form of logic to search for fallacies within the boundaries of such a mindset, then by what standard or final court of authority can they exclude moral relativism from being critiqued by logic? What criteria was used to exclude moral relativism from being evaluated by logic?
          -If moral relativism is true, then how can we judge the actions of people living in different societies? How could we condemn murder, theft, or rape? Is there anything that is morally wrong? If so, then why? How can we know?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Biblical Refutation Of Antinomianism

        Antinomianism is the belief that Christians are not obligated to obey moral laws established by God. In other words, it is maintained by some that our faith "frees" us from the requirement of living in accordance to the moral laws of God, which can only be done by His grace. The word "antinomianism" is derived from two Greek words, which are "anti" (i.e. against) and "nomos" (i.e. law). Antinomianism argues that since Christians are not saved by the keeping of the Law (which is true), God has no laws that He expects us to obey (which is not true). This doctrine distorts the biblical teaching on grace by formulating an unbiblical conclusion as to its nature.

        We know that God has moral commandments for us to obey because He inspired the Apostle Paul to write that the unrighteous will not inherit His kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5-7). We must get our sins forgiven and removed by Him. True Christians will glorify God for the free gift of salvation that He has given through good works. The New Testament operates on the Law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2), which is a law of unmerited grace. This "law" instructs us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Thus, the law of Christ is simply the moral law of God that the Mosaic Law confirms. It reflects His character and His nature.

        The "Law of Christ" is not a comprehensive list of legal codes, as was the case with the Levitical Law. The Law of the New Covenant stands on love of God and love of neighbor, just as did the Mosaic Law. True Christians desire to keep their thoughts and actions in harmony with His moral precepts. Their hearts are changed by His grace. They are filled with the Holy Spirit. True Christians obey God (John 14:15-24; 1 Corinthians 7:19; 1 John 2:3-4). We do not obey the "Law of Christ" to earn eternal salvation in heaven (nor was that the purpose of the Mosaic Law). Rather, we obey out of gratitude for the sacrificial work of His Son. We seek to glorify God. Our new nature is one is holiness. This is not a matter of doing something in order to earn divine favor. It is what we are, just as the inherent properties of the sun ensure it is bright. The Apostle Paul describes the direction of sanctification as becoming more like Christ (Romans 6:1-2).

        We shall know people by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-23). We will be judged according to our conduct in this life (Romans 2:6-13; 2 Corinthians 5:10). We demonstrate the reality of our faith by our deeds (James 2:14-26). Grace and faith do not nullify but fulfill the Law (Romans 3:31). Grace is not to be treated as a smokescreen against holiness in the Christian life. Believers ought to be good moral examples. Every person needs to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord through faith (Romans 1:5; Jude 4). Salvation, broadly speaking, is a moral transformation.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Intercession Of The Holy Spirit

           "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26-27)

          We do not know what kind of prayer that we should utter before God or how those prayers should be said. The disciples themselves asked Christ to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). The Spirit of God searches the depths of our soul and goes on our behalf before God with needs that we cannot even begin to express with words.

          The searching of the human soul is something that only God Himself can do (1 Samuel 16:7; Proverbs 20:27; Jeremiah 17:10). To affirm that the Holy Spirit can do the same thing indirectly indicates He is God. He knows the limitations of our being. He understands the wide range of human emotions.

          Jesus Christ told the twelve apostles that He needed to depart from the world so that the Advocate can come, who is identified as the Holy Spirit (John 16:6-8). If Jesus never left this earth physically, then the Spirit could not come to fulfill His designated purposes.

           What did the Holy Spirit do for the apostles? He guided the twelve disciples to all truth (John 16:13). The Spirit of God gave first century Christians necessary revelation for learning about God's general will for us (John 14:16; 26).

           Today, the Holy Spirit continues to fulfill the same tasks that He was originally appointed for. He leads searching people to truth. He is a source spiritual nourishment and comfort in our infirmities (i.e. temptations and persecutions).

           The Lord Jesus Christ is eternally present in His divinity along with the Holy Spirit. Both members of the Holy Trinity intercede on our behalf in prayer. The Father and Son come to and dwell with believers in the Holy Spirit. Christ ascended into heaven to pour out the Spirit on the body of the redeemed.

    Monday, April 17, 2017

    The Intercession Of Jesus Christ

            "But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever." (Hebrews 7:24-28)

            Appointed members of the Old Testament Levitical priesthood were finite creations of God. They continually needed to be replaced because of physical death. These men were limited by the confines of their mortality. The High Priests of the Jewish community needed to repeatedly offer the blood of sacrificed lambs and goats to temporarily stay off the wrath of God. The offerings presented by these men were not perfect like Christ's one offering for sin. 

            The customs of the Law were only a shadow of the greater things to come. They prefigured the arrival of a newer and better Covenant, which is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant. The shed blood of animals pointed to the forgiveness provided by God for sin through Christ. That cannot happen apart from the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). J.N. Darby's translation of the Bible has this excerpt on the meaning of the words holy and pure in Hebrews 7:26:

            "There are two Greek words used for 'holy' in the New Testament -- hagios and hosios (hosios is used in this passage). The word most commonly used is hagios (corresponding to the Hebrew word kadosh). This, when applied to God, designates him as holy, knowing good and evil perfectly, and absolutely willing good and no evil. When applied to men, it designates them as separated, set apart to God from evil and from common use. The corresponding verb is commonly translated 'to sanctify;' and the word when used as a substantive is the ordinary word for 'saints.' The word hosios, on the other hand, conveys the thought of pious, that which is not profane. It speaks of God in mercy and grace, and of Christ, in whom all gracious qualities are concentrated, as well as perfect piety. It corresponds to the Hebrew chesed, of which the plural (chasadim) is the word translated 'mercies' or 'sure mercies' in the Old Testament. When applied to men, it is in general the sum of qualities which suit and form the divine character in man, as opposed to the human will. It refers to the exercise of gracious suitable affections in the relationships in which we are to God, and (e.g.) to parents. Hence, as suitable affections to God practically constitute holiness, the word is used in this sense for holy. The two Hebrew words are used side by side in Ps. 89.18,19, 'The Holy One (kadosh) of Israel is our king. ... Then thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One (Chasid).' The beginning of the Psalm speaks of the mercies or gracious ways (chasadim) of the Lord. (See, for hosios, Acts 2.27; 13.34, 35; 1 Tim. 2.8; Tit. 1.8; Rev. 15.4; 16.5)."

              The Greek words and their Hebrew counterparts have related shades of meaning that are determined by the way they are used in context. By that, it is meant that the difference lies in how they are applied or to whom. Christ is the showcase of God's love for sinners. He is the physical expression of God's mercy. Both mercy and truth intersect in Christ. He not only had perfect outward obedience, but did everything without evil thoughts. The Mosaic system was brought to a close in Christ.

             The Old Testament priests were sinners in need of redemption, just like the rest of us. Because of what He has done for us, we are able to approach God with confidence in His promises (Hebrews 4:14-16). Christ can sympathize with us because He took on human flesh. We have constant access to the grace of God because of His work. We can rest secure in Him, since He is perfectly reliable. He does not have any of the weaknesses that Jewish priests had.

            Jesus Christ is both the High Priest who offers a sacrifice before God and the Lamb to be slain for our sins. That paradox undoubtedly perplexes the human mind. It is to be received only by the person of faith. The concept of a sacrifice goes hand in hand with one who offers a sacrifice. Only God could do both things at the same time. The justice of God necessitates the punishment of sin (Genesis 18:25; Exodus 20:5). He despises evil (Deuteronomy 13:17; Romans 1:18). He is as a consuming fire to sinners (Deuteronomy 4:24). Christ offered Himself in our place to satisfy the wrath of God. It was foreordained from the foundation of the world that He would make this atonement sacrifice. 

      Friday, April 14, 2017

      The Biblical Basis For The Trinity

      • Defining The Trinity: 
                1.) God is three persons (The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Each of these persons are fully divine in nature.
                2.) Each person is divine. One person does not equal the entire Godhead. The three persons of the Godhead are related to each other, but distinct at the same time.
                3.) There is only one God. The Bible affirms monotheism (Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-8). The Trinity is three persons in one essence.
      • Biblical Texts Showing Unity Among The Three Divine Persons Of The Trinity:
                -"I and my Father are one." (John 10:30)
                  *Christ shares the same divine nature as God the Father, but are distinct persons ("I" stands as separate from "my Father").
                  *We know that this statement implies the deity of Christ because the Jews wanted to stone Him for making it (John 10:32-33). They accused Him of blasphemy.
                -"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." (2 Corinthians 13:14)
                  *This is Trinitarian logic in that three divine persons are given equal exaltation. Christ bestows divine grace. We are bound in purpose and devotion to God through the Spirit.
                -"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)
                  *Christians experience unity with the three persons of the Godhead through worship and prayer. Three persons share the one divine essence.
      • Biblical Texts Showing That Christ Is Co-Eternal With The Father:
                -"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)
                  *The "Word" is spoken of as having a continued existence, without a beginning. It is described as being God yet distinct from God Himself. Jesus Christ is the divine logos. He is the way that God has spoken to man and reached out to him. 
                  *John was versed in both Greek philosophy and the Old Testament Scriptures. He introduces his gospel narrative with an allusion to creation in Genesis and God speaking everything into existence by the power of His own Word. John communicated in a way that could be understood by both Jew and Gentile.
                -"Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." (John 8:56-58)
                  *Christ spoke of Himself as existing before Abraham. He did not speak of Himself as, "I was." Christ affirmed His own preexistence. God in the Old Testament called Himself the "I am" (Exodus 3:14). Jesus applied that language to Himself. The Jews tried stoning Him for that reason.
                -"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:6-8)
                  *This text speaks of Christ as being both fully human and fully divine. God the Son in His humility took on human flesh. He temporarily suspended His divine prerogatives. Christ did not set aside His deity or any divine attributes.
      • Biblical Texts That Explicitly Call Jesus God:
                -"And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." (John 20:28)
                  *The Greek of John 20:28 literally reads, "The Lord of me and the God of me."
                  *If Thomas was speaking blasphemy, then why did Christ not rebuke him for making such a statement? Instead, Thomas' profession of Jesus' identity as God was accepted (John 20:29).
                -"whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 9:5)
                  *Whenever Paul used the expression "blessed forever," he was making a statement about the subject (Romans 1:25; 2 Corinthians 11:31). Thus, he uses "God blessed forever" to describe Jesus.
                  *The assertion of Christ's deity balances the statement "according to the flesh."
                  *The Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah because of His claims to being God (Mark 2:7; John 5:23; 19:7).
                -"But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." (Hebrews 1:8)
                   *The author of Hebrews interprets Psalm 45:6-7 in a Messianic sense. He understood that passage to mean God the Father anointed God the Son. 
      • Do Statements Concerning Jesus Christ Not Knowing About Certain Things Prove That He Is Not God?:
                -Many reject the deity of Jesus because of His statement regarding His lack of knowledge regarding the day and hour (Mark 13:32). This is used to deny that He is all-knowing. However, this objection does not hold water because He was speaking from the aspect of His human nature. He was thus not speaking concerning His divine nature. Christ in His divine nature knows everything. He took on human flesh so that He could make atonement for our sin.
      • If Jesus Is God, Then Why Did He Pray To God The Father? Would God Pray To Himself?:
                -This argument is fallacious because it fails to recognize the two separate natures of Jesus Christ: human and divine. He prayed to the Creator in the state of His humanity. That is something which we as human beings ought to do. This action was appropriate and thus does not diminish Christ's intrinsic divinity. Him praying to God the Father is a necessary part of His intercession on our behalf (Hebrews 7:24-28).
      • If Jesus Is God, Then How Can He Be Called The Son Of God?:
                -Some believe that Jesus Christ is lesser than God the Father in terms of authority because He is called the "Son of God" (John 3:16). However, this title only lends credence to the divinity of Christ, since it means having the same essence as God. In other words, both are equal in the sense that they possess the same divine power and authority. They are equal in essence. The Lord Jesus Christ became a servant by taking on the form of a man. He is positionally lower than God the Father.
      • The Holy Spirit Is God:
                -"But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things." (Acts 5:3-5)
                   *Lying to the Holy Spirit is said to be lying to God Himself.
      • The Holy Spirit Is All-Knowing:
                -"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10-11)
                   *The Holy Spirit searches even the depths of God, which would be impossible for any created being. The power of omniscience is something only associated with deity.
      • The Personality Of The Holy Spirit And Neuter Gender:
                 -"...the argument that is often heard is that the phrase "Holy Spirit" in Greek is in the neuter gender, and it is. But Greek genders do not necessarily indicate personality. Inanimate things can have masculine genders, and personal things can have the neuter gender. We cannot automatically insert the pronoun "it" when referring to every neuter noun any more than we should always insert the pronoun "she" for "love," since love in Greek is feminine. Instead, we determine whether the Holy Spirit is personal the same way we would demonstrate that the Father or the Son is a person." (James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 141)
                 -Languages such as German assign gender to inanimate objects as well as living things. The Holy Spirit does things that only a personal being would and could do. An inanimate object cannot bear witness as does the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:12-17). An inanimate object cannot intercede for us as does the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). An inanimate object cannot be lied to as can the Holy Spirit. An inanimate object cannot reveal the things of God as does the Holy Spirit. Any claims that such language is "personification" abuses the term and makes excuses to make the theory fit the facts.
      • Titles Shared By God The Father And God the Son: 
                -King of Kings (Deuteronomy 10:17; Daniel 2:47; Revelation 17:14); Lord of Lords (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:3; Revelation 19:16); the only Savior (Isaiah 43:10-11; Acts 4:12; Titus 2:13; 3:4-7); The First and The Last (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 22:13); Rock (Isaiah 8:14; 1 Peter 2:7-8); Shepherd (Psalm 23; Hebrews 13:20-21); Lord (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 4).
      • Identical Functions Of God The Father And God The Son: 
                -Both are worshiped by angels (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:6); both are unchanging (Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8); both created everything (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:10); both answer prayers (Matthew 6:6-14; John 14:13-14; Acts 7:59); both give eternal life (John 10:28; 1 John 5:11); both judge the world (Psalm 96:13; John 5:22).
      • How Could Monotheistic Jews Come To Embrace A Doctrine Such As The Trinity?:
                -"The ancient Israelite knew two Yahwehs—one invisible, a spirit, the other visible, often in human form. The two Yahwehs at times appear together in the text, at times being distinguished, at other times not. Early Judaism understood this portrayal and its rationale. There was no sense of a violation of monotheism since either figure was indeed Yahweh. There was no second distinct god running the affairs of the cosmos. During the Second Temple period, Jewish theologians and writers speculated on an identity for the second Yahweh. Guesses ranged from divinized humans from the stories of the Hebrew Bible to exalted angels. These speculations were not considered unorthodox. That acceptance changed when certain Jews, the early Christians, connected Jesus with this orthodox Jewish idea. This explains why these Jews, the first converts to following Jesus the Christ, could simultaneously worship the God of Israel and Jesus, and yet refuse to acknowledge any other god. Jesus was the incarnate second Yahweh. In response, as Segal’s work demonstrated, Judaism pronounced the two powers teaching a heresy." (

      Monday, April 10, 2017

      An Exposition On The Virgin Birth

      • Introduction:
                -Many of us are familiar with the biblical narrative of the miraculous conception of the Lord Jesus Christ in Mary's womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is prophesied in the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:14). The fulfillment is attested to in the New Testament (Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:27-36).
                -Scripture records events which took place within that same time period such as the Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary, the baby needing to be taken out of Israel due to King Herod wanting to exterminate Him, the visit from shepherds, and the gifts of the Magi (which were gold, frankincense, and myrrh).
      • How Does Matthew's Narrative Of Jesus Being Taken To Egypt Fit With Luke's Account Of Him Being Taken To Nazareth?:
                -This assumes on a priori basis that Matthew and Luke wrote about all the details of Christ's early life, when that is simply not the case. Also, it goes without saying that gaps of time existed between these two events.
                -It is possible that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Nazareth before traveling to Egypt. He could have been born up to two years prior to Herod ordering the killing of infants (Matthew 2:16). His decree included all males under the age of two.
                -One of both gospel narratives may have been consulted by either author or were dependent on separate sources that no longer exist.
      • Acceptance Of The Virgin Birth Is Ultimately A Matter Of Underlying Philosophical Presuppositions:
                -The doctrine of the virgin birth can be deemed absurd if, and only if, an individual rejects the existence of the supernatural realm. A deity who knows how to create the universe can most certainly bring about a pregnancy in a woman without sexual intercourse. He understands how every part of creation works. Just as God created Adam without a father or mother, so He caused Mary to conceive in her womb without a man. The virgin birth should sound more plausible in light of scientific breakthroughs such as embryonic transfer and artificial insemination.
      • Did The Apostle Paul Affirm The Virgin Birth?:
                -It can be argued Paul implicitly believed in the virgin birth on the grounds that he cited Luke 10:7 as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18. If he believed the gospel of Luke to be divinely inspired revelation, then that would mean he upheld the virgin birth because that event is recorded in the narrative from which he quoted.
      • Was The Virgin Birth A Later Invention?:
                -"Some have argued that the Virgin Birth is a later mythical addition since it is mentioned only in two Gospels and is not spoken of by any other New Testament authors. Over a century ago one biblical scholar answered this objection with a very practical observation: If the Virgin Birth was common knowledge among the apostolic community, the New Testament authors "would have abstained from mentioning it for prudential reasons, lest they should expose the mother of our Lord to scandal during her lifetime—such scandals did in fact arise as soon as the virgin birth was declared." Hence the apostles may have kept silent concerning the doctrine until after the death of Mary." (J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, Daniel B. Wallace, Reinventing Jesus: What the Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don't Tell You, p. 245)
                -" would have been very risky to document and claim that He was born of a virgin. In the Middle East there were "honor killings" for women who conceived out of wedlock, so to speak of a virgin birth was extremely dishonorable. In fact, the Bible alludes to some disparaging remarks made by the opponents of Jesus. In addition, if you look at the anti-Christian literature at the time, much of it focused on this aspect of Christianity. This makes one wonder why, if Christians were just making up a religion, they say something that would offend virtually everybody in the Middle East. It makes no sense to make up something offensive, unless it were true." (
      • The Virgin Birth Is Necessary For A Proper Understanding Of Christ's Nature:
                -Jesus Christ is eternal (John 1:1-3). He has no beginning or end. If Joseph, Mary's husband, was Jesus Christ's biological father, then He could not possess any divine attributes that Scripture ascribes to Him. He most certainly could not be God, as He oftentimes asserted. If Christ is not God, then He could not save us from the eternal consequences of sin. If He could not atone four our sins, then we could never receive forgiveness from God. And if we cannot be forgiven for sin, then we are destined for eternal condemnation in hell.
      • The Virgin Birth Provides The Basis For Jesus Christ Being Sinless:
                -If Jesus had a biological father, then He would in reality be just like everybody else. He would not in any way be different than we are. He would have our sinful nature that we inherited from Adam (Romans 5). However, the Scriptures enforce the sinlessness of the Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). If Jesus was the son of Joseph in the sense of being of his earthly seed, then His sinlessness could simply not be true.
      • The Virgin Birth Provides The Basis For The Atonement Of Jesus Christ:
                -If Jesus Christ is not sinless, then it would have been impossible for Him to make the necessary atonement sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. Jesus needed to be sinless for our justification because only a perfect sacrifice for sin will satisfy the wrath of God (Exodus 12:5; Hebrews 10:1-18). Atonement for sin requires a perfect substitute. If He was a sinner like everybody else, then He could not save us from our sins. The purpose of Jesus Christ coming down from heaven to earth was for the redemption of sinners (Galatians 4:4-5). The doctrine of the virgin birth is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity because it directly relates to the salvation of our souls.
      • The Virgin Birth Emphasizes The Uniqueness Of Jesus Christ:
                -Just as nobody is able to resurrect from the dead and depart from this world in the manner that Christ did, nobody other than Him can be born in the same manner, without the need of sexual intercourse. He was conceived into Mary's body through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the earthly life of Jesus Christ is a in itself a miraculous act of God.

      Saturday, April 8, 2017

      Does The Bible Permit Women To Be Pastors?

      • Defining The Issues: 
                 -For decades, churches have been divided over the issue of the functions of women in ministry. In other words, there are varying points of view as to whether Scripture permits women to serve in ordained, authoritative positions of the church. Even if they can, the question remains for what offices or to what extent. Is it appropriate for a woman be a pastor in God's church? For illustrative purposes, note that some congregations have only male deacons while others allow for deaconesses. Although Christians will not be disqualified by God from salvation for attending a church with female pastors, it is not something to be ignored or overlooked. Such may be symptomatic of a church seeking to be politically correct. It may be indicative of being influenced by feminism. 
      • Paul's List Of Qualifications For Those Seeking To Become Elders Or Deacons Makes The Most Sense Within A Framework Of Male Only Leadership: 
                -The New Testament plainly tells us that appointed ministers of the church are to be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:1; Titus 1:5-9). These passages discuss other characteristics of appointed men such as not being alcoholics, greedy, selfish, foul-mouthed, and being responsible in general. Scripture provides a thorough list of stipulations for men who desire to take on the obligations of a bishop or deacon. We are told what morals these individuals must uphold and how they must conduct themselves in order to qualify for a position of leadership. These men are to set the primary example of godliness for others to follow. However, Scripture does not apply this list of qualifications for female pastors or deacons. We know that these passages address men because they say, "the husband of one wife." Scripture affirms heterosexual marriage. These passages are silent about female bishops, elders, or pastors (these terms have a synonymous meaning in biblical usage).
      • On The Interpretation Of 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 And 1 Timothy 2:10-15:
                -The church authority structure pointedly rules out women from exercising spiritual authority over men. This principle does not in any way pertain to the political, social, or economic categories of the secular world, but specifically in the context of church leadership. Male headship in the church is grounded on the order of the creation of human beings and how sin entered the world, as recorded in the Book of Genesis. Adam was created before Eve. He is the federal representative of mankind. Therefore, all humanity falls in Adam (Romans 5). The grounding in creation gives Paul's reasoning a universal application. He affirms that what he is writing is the "Lord's commandment" (1 Corinthians 14:37). When the apostle says that women should remain silent in churches, he means they should not be interruptive but peaceful and orderly. We can infer that Paul did not advocate for the silence of women at all times because he mentioned elsewhere them praying and prophesying in the church (1 Corinthians 11:5). Interestingly, all twelve apostles were men. 
      • Outlining The Function Of Women In Ministry:
                -Generally speaking, women excel in areas pertaining to hospitality, instruction, and support. They are not restricted from occupying gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women are neither forbidden from educating children nor from exhorting other women to remain in the truth (Titus 2:3-4). They, just like men, have been called to demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), contend for the faith (1 Peter 3:15), and to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation to the lost world (Matthew 28:18-20). 
                -Some women were direct witnesses to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even when other disciples went into hiding (Matthew 27:55; John 19:25). Moreover, the Apostle Paul acknowledged individual women for their work in ministry and even addressed some as "co-workers" (Romans 16:1; 6-7; Colossians 4:15; Philippians 4:2-3). Scripture is not in any way sexist, biased in favor of one specific gender over the other. The accomplishments of women ought to be acknowledged accordingly.

      Thursday, April 6, 2017

      A Case For The Resurrection Of Christ

               The crucifixion of Jesus Christ on a cross is not a seriously disputed point. The Jewish authorities and the Roman executioners would have known with certainty if He was plotting to escape or was playing head games to deceive them. This fact provides us with foundational grounds to embrace the story of His resurrection. Robert C. Newman writes:

              "...The Talmud says Jesus was "hanged" and "stoned and hanged." The Gospels speak of crucifixion, along with Paul and all Christian literature. This is supported by Josephus (both versions) and less directly by Tacitus, who has Jesus put to death by a Roman method. Since the term "hanged" is used by the rabbis for crucifixion as well as for the traditional hanging up of the body after stoning to death, it is not unreasonable to suppose the Talmud gives a somewhat garbled account, perhaps based on the facts that Jesus had a religious trial and was "hanged," but supplying other details from traditional practices." (Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question, p. 293-294)

              We have testimony of the resurrection from female disciples recorded in the four gospels. This is significant because the Greco-Roman world viewed woman as having a lower social status. They were thus considered less credible in presenting testimony. This would have made the male disciples of Jesus appear foolish to others. This is not characteristic of a forgery.

              The New Testament tells us that there were several hundred direct eye-witnesses to the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Surely, at least a handful of the people would have been conscious enough to expose the story as being a fraud, if it was one in reality. Eyewitness accounts are trusted on a daily basis in courtrooms. We do not doubt biographies if they are carefully written. In fact, the New Testament itself records people having doubt about the resurrection of Christ.

              1 Corinthians contains an oral creed uttered by the Apostle Paul that even most liberal scholars date to the time frame of Christ's death in the A.D. 30's (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Thus, the basic gospel message has been preserved through the centuries. This counts as a piece of evidence in favor of the gospels being historically reliable. Christ is a historical figure who affirmed the existence of God and claimed to be God Himself. The One Volume Bible Commentary, edited by John R. Dummelow, has this excerpt on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

               "The present passage is the oldest account of the appearances of the risen Lord, written years before any of our Gospels, and only about twenty-five years after the events, while hundreds of witnesses were still living. It is thus a most valuable piece of evidence as to the certainty of our Lord’s Resurrection, which would remain firmly attested even if the authenticity of our Gospels were denied."

               Why are there no accounts from non-believing sources attesting to the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ? This should not really be surprising to us. If any person did report on such an event and said that it had happened, it would mean that he believes that the resurrection actually occurred. Only Christians would say that the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave is a real thing. Robert C. Newman gives perspective on how ancient unbelievers would treat this kind of phenomena:

               "...For a Roman, such as belief would mere be another Christian "superstition" (Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny). A Stoic like Mara would also reject bodily resurrection, and the Talmud has chosen to ignore it. In any case, we know from Justin's debate with Trypho (in the 130s), from the anti-Christian polemic of Celsus (ca. 180) and from the Talmud that the Jews were aware of the Christian Gospels, and from Matthew and Justin that they sought to explain away the Resurrection as a case of body-snatching by the disciples." (ibid.)

              Another support for the resurrection is the incredible life transformation of the disciples of Jesus Christ. The New Testament records the disciples as being cowards who did not want to suffer any persecution to later becoming bold speakers who were even willing to die for the gospel. How does one explain this phenomena? Why would somebody die for something that he or she knows to be a lie? The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary has this excerpt:

              "BISHOP PEARSON proves the divine origination of Christianity from its success being inexplicable on the supposition of its being of human origin. The nature of its doctrine was no way likely to command success: (1) it condemns all other religions, some established for ages; (2) it enjoins precepts ungrateful to flesh and blood, the mortifying of the flesh, the love of enemies, and the bearing of the cross; (3) it enforces these seemingly unreasonable precepts by promises seemingly incredible; not good things such as afford complacency to our senses, but such as cannot be obtained till after this life, and presuppose what then seemed impossible, the resurrection; (4) it predicts to its followers what would seem sure to keep most of the world from embracing it, persecutions."

              The empty tomb of Jesus Christ is a powerful support of His resurrection because the Jewish and Roman authorities failed to produce a corpse, which would have permanently terminated this Christian movement. However, they were incapable of producing the dead body of Jesus because they did not have it. Moreover, the tomb was tightly secured with a huge rock blocking the entrance and was constantly guarded by Roman soldiers, which would have made it virtually impossible for Jesus Christ to escape. New Testament Scholar Gary Habermas published this study in a peer-reviewed Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus:

              "Of these scholars, approximately 75 per cent favor one or more of these arguments for the empty tomb, while approximately 25 per cent think that one or more arguments oppose it. Thus, while far from being unanimously held by critical scholars, it may surprise some that those who embrace the empty tomb as a historical fact still comprise a fairly strong majority."

              Are the four gospels legends or historical narrative? The four gospels were written during a time when most of the eyewitnesses to the miracles of Jesus Christ were still alive. They would have naturally disputed fabricated details. Men such as Peter and John were Jewish. That point is worth consideration because lying was forbidden in Jewish culture (Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 19:5). The Jewish leaders were not recorded as disputing the miracles performed by Jesus (John 11:45-48). The authors of the four gospels intended to convey points rooted in history, reflecting knowledge of geography and recording what took place in Galilee and Judea. The gospels flow in a style similar to Greco-Roman biographies. They are indebted to the Old Testament in regards to what they are composed of.

              The Swoon Theory was originally proposed by opponents of the resurrection during the nineteenth century. It is claimed that Christ never really died on a cross, but came near to facing death due to being crucified. This theory is further elaborated on by the postulate that Jesus was simply removed from the cross and that He reappeared after three days to His disciples by escaping from His tomb. The Swoon Theory claims that such an occurrence was made possible as a result of alleged recuperation in the coolness of a tomb for a period of three days. In summary, this theory states that Jesus Christ only appeared to have died on a cross and thus deceived His disciples into believing in His resurrection. This explanation has many problems:

                *Jesus was beaten on the face and mocked during six trials among Jewish and Roman authorities (Matthew 26-27; Luke 23; John 18). He even suffered from thirty-mine lashes on His back.
                *His scalp was severely torn by the crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29).
                *Jesus' heart stopped pumping due to nails being driven through His wrists onto a wooden crossbeam, which was raised directly into the air. Not only did Jesus asphyxiate from His chest cavity being filled with liquid, but He also became extremely dehydrated while He was suffering on the cross. Jesus' side was pierced with a spear (John 19:34-35).
                *The body of Jesus Christ was tightly encased in thick layers of linen (John 19:38-42).
                *Jesus' body would have gone without any sort of medical attention or be given a source of bodily nourishment during the three days of being buried in the tomb.
                *If He was alive during that period of three days, then He would have had insufficient strength to remove the bulky stone from the cave, to put up a fight with the Roman soldiers, or to even have accomplished both tasks.

              Critics have attempted to dismiss the biblical resurrection narratives of Jesus by laying the charge that the apostles merely had visions of Him rising from the grave. In other words, His earliest followers did not actually see the body of the risen Christ. This explanation too comes with problems of its own:

                *If "hallucinations" could provide a plausible argument for denying the biblical resurrection accounts, then they could only provide a possible justification for rejecting post-resurrection appearances. 
                *If one decides to go with this theory, then how does he offer an explanation for the empty tomb, the removal of the huge bolder, and the mysterious disappearance of the dead body?
                *It would be next to impossible for several hundred people to experience the same hallucination for a period of forty days, especially at the same time and location (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Acts 1:3). In fact, most hallucinations are not repetitive in nature or able to converse with people.
                *How can hallucinations eat or be physically touched (Matthew 28:9; Luke 24:42-43; John 20:27-28)?

      Wednesday, April 5, 2017

      A Biblical Presentation On The Sacrament Of Baptism

      • Defining The Purpose Of Water Baptism:
                -The purpose of baptism is to make a public profession of faith and discipleship. In other words, water baptism is the sign of dedication to serving Christ. It is symbolic for the Lord's burial, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). It signifies the forgiveness of sin and spiritual cleansing that comes to us through faith. In this ritual, we are identifying ourselves with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, which also means that we already had faith in Him. People who got baptized were putting their very livelihood, every cherished thing, at stake in serving Jesus Christ. In getting baptized, one places Him above all else in this life. This is the reason for baptism being so closely associated with salvation in the New Testament. Baptism is not a mere formality. It serves as a reminder of our new identity in Jesus Christ. It is a picture of our salvation. Jesus took the Jewish ritual of immersing converts and imported to it a new meaning. Baptism signifies being a new person in Christ, which is brought about by the regenerating power of the Spirit of God.
      • Infant Baptism:
                -The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and various Protestant churches advocate the practice of baptizing babies. They believe that the ritual itself removes the stain of original sin.
                 *There is no command or example of infant baptism found in the New Testament. The consistent pattern of those who get baptized in biblical history is believing on the gospel and repenting of sins beforehand (Mark 1:15; 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41; 8:12; 36-37; 16:14-15; 30-33; 18:8).
                 *People who were baptized as children may apostatize from the faith when they grow up. In that case, the baptism served no good purpose. It is better reserved for adults.
      • Baptismal Regeneration:
                -Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and various sects within Protestantism maintain that people must get baptized in order to be saved. These people believe that baptism is essential for salvation, with exceptions being infants or those who desired baptism but died before getting a chance to go through that ritual.
                 *The concept of baptism is not mentioned in several passages associating faith with salvation (John 1:12; 5:24; 20:30-31; Romans 1:16-17; 3:20-28; 4:2-8; 5:1; 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 2:16; 21; 3:1-3; 5:4-5; Ephesians 2:4-9; 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:9; 3:15; Titus 3:5). Scripture says that we cannot earn a right standing before God on the basis of good works.
                 *To add baptism (or any other ritual) as an additional stipulation to believing on Jesus Christ for salvation is equivalent to saying that we must be circumcised to get saved. Thus, the "baptismal regeneration" teaching falls into the same category as the Judaizing heresy (Acts 15:1; 23-24). Baptism in certain respects corresponds to (but is not equivalent to) circumcision in the Old Testament (Colossians 2:11-12). However, circumcision did not save anyone (Romans 4:9-12), even though it was commanded by God (Genesis 17:10-14). This indicates that we are not saved by water baptism. We are not saved by these rituals because they are works.
                 *We have biblical examples of people who were saved before they got baptized in water: 1.) the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:35-38); 2.) the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:17-18); 3.) Cornelius (Acts 10:42-48). Having heard the message of the gospel, these people had received the Spirit of God prior to getting baptized. They placed their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. No one in Scripture is said to be filled with the Holy Spirit, yet unsaved.
      • Baptism By Sprinkling Water:
                -The Roman Catholic Church, along with various Protestant churches, baptize by sprinkling a little water on people, rather than fully immersing converts into water.
                 *The Jews at Qumran, as well as others, practiced baptism by immersion.
                 *The New Testament describes the ceremony of baptism as being a "burial" into water (Mark 1:5; 9-10; John 3:23; Romans 6:3-5).
                 *The Greek word for baptism ("baptismo") literally means immersion. There are separate words in the Greek language for sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. But only the Greek word for immersion is used for baptism in the New Testament.
                 *This does not mean that there are no situations in which baptism by sprinkling water is acceptable. Nor is it being suggested that people who were baptized in ways other than immersion in water have to get re-baptized or that their baptism is invalid. 

        Tuesday, April 4, 2017

        The Philosophical Incoherence Of The Islamic God

        “In Islam, there is no fatherhood of God and no purpose of redemption to soften the doctrine of the decrees.” Samuel Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, page 100. (see link to Zwemer’s book)

        * by “decrees”, Zwemer is meaning Allah’s decrees of Sovereignty and Predestination ( قدر – Qadr = power, sovereignty; جبر – Jabr = force, destiny ) in that Allah causes some to be guided to the true path and paradise and the rest to be guided to hell.

        * there is “no purpose of redemption” in Islam – This is why Muslims see no need for the atonement and so in Islam, there is no purpose in God redeeming some from all nations (Rev. 5:9) by His own grace in the incarnation and work on the cross for His own glory. So Muslims don’t see the need for atonement or redemption or the incarnation, because they don’t see that people are sinners by nature and cannot earn their salvation by doing good deeds. They think they can earn paradise by believing in the doctrines of Islam and by doing good deeds.

        ” The attribute of love is absent from Allah.” Zwemer, ibid, p. 100

        Here he means that there is nothing in Islam or the Qur’an like there is in the Bible that God’s nature is love – as in 1 John 4:8-19 – “God is love.”

        The Qur’an says “Allah is loving or friendly” or “congenial”. = wadood ودود (other native Arabic speakers have told me that is the difference between wadood – ودود and Mohabbat محبت / محبه . Wadood is more like “friendly” whereas Mohabbat conveys the Greek word “agape”. One of the 99 names of Allah is “wodood” ودود , but not “Mohabat” محبت / محبه or “hobb” حب in essence. The Qur’an says “Allah does not love sinners”, but only loves those who love Allah first. They don’t have anything like Romans 5:8 – “God demonstrates His love toward us even while we were still sinners, that Christ died for us.” Allah is compassionate ( رحمان = Rahmon) (the one who does actions of compassion) and merciful (رحیم = Rahim ) (the one who does actions of mercy); but the Islamic theologicans have debated for centuries over if one can say “Allah is . . . ” It seems that many Muslims theologians have even said, “We cannot say “Allah is ….. (something)”; ” we cannot say what Allah’s nature/substance ( ذات = dhat / zat ) or essence ( جوهر = johar) is.

        “The mystic love of the Sufis (widespread and weighty though it be in its influence) is not a characteristic of orthodox Islam, but arose in rebellion to it.

        The Fatherhood of God and the repeated declarations of Scripture that God loves the world, loves the sinner, loves mankind – that God is love – all this has had its influence on Christian speculation regarding the problem of God’s decrees. In like manner the character of Allah has been the key to the same problem among Moslems. Islam, as we have seen, reduces God to the category of the will. He is at heart a despot, an Oriental despot. He stands at abysmal heights above humanity. He cares nothing for character, but only for submission. The only affair of men is to obey His decrees.

        2. The Moslem doctrine of hell is in accordance with their coarse beliefs regarding Predestination and Mohammed’s utter want of conception of the spiritual. According to the Koran and Tradition, Hell must be filled, and so God creates infidels.2 Of all religions in the world, Islam is the most severe in its conception of the capacity and the torments of hell. “On that day We will say to hell, Art thou full? and it will say, Are there any more?” (Surah 50:30.) The conception of hell is brutal, cruel and to the last degree barbarous. The whole picture, as given in the Koran and commented on by Tradition, is horribly revolting. “Hell shall be a place of snares, the home of transgressors, to abide therein for ages. No coolness shall they taste nor any drink, save boiling water and liquid pus. Meet recompense!” (Surahs 88:1-7; 2:38; 3:197; 14:20, 43:71-78, etc., etc.) The word Jehannum [ جهنم ] occurs thirty times; fire (nar= نار ) – is still more frequently used; there are six other words used for the place of torment. One cannot read the traditions which give what Mohammed said on this subject without feeling how heartless and loveless is the creed of Islam. Yet it is in connection with such ideas of God that the Moslems believe in Predestination.

        It is not difficult to surmise whence Mohammed got his ideas of a Predestination after the pattern of fatalism.” (Zwemer, The Moslem Doctrine of God, p. 102-103; with my comments in brackets)


        1Theol. Studien, 14 Jahrgang, p. 240.

        2 Surahs 32:13; 97:5; 4:11; 9:69. Cf. Commentaries.

        Muslims as people have great capacities for loving each other and others, and their culture of hospitality is really great, but this is because they are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28) and they retain those good qualities because of that. But the doctrines and the religion itself, with its principles of controlling external society in Sharia, the Khaliphate (historically up until 1924; and the desire for the restoration of the Khalifate), Jihad with Qatal (fighting, killing, slaying) and Harb (war) (struggle against the unbelievers and commands to fight and kill the Christians and Jews (Surah 9:5; 9:29; 8:39), Dhimmitude (subjugation of Christians and Jews and not allowing freedom for evangelism and debate and disagreement); no assurance of salvation, and fatalism, and laws of apostasy (death for Muslims who turn from Islam), result in a harsh life and seem to be the reasons for the lack of freedom and harshness and war and violence in Islamic history, and we are seeing the results of this today in many places all over the world.

        Monday, April 3, 2017

        Is Justification By Faith Alone Consistent With Old Testament Theology?

        • Introduction:
                  -Contrary to what some might believe or expect, the Jews were never saved by keeping the Mosaic Law. The performing of animal sacrifices did not resolve the problem of sin for the Jewish people. In other words, the basis of justification before God has always been by the grace of God through trust in Him, even prior to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 55:1 says, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." That text communicates a theology of grace alone. Spiritual strength and joy are given to us freely in Christ.
                  -It would be inconsistent to believe that justification during the Old Covenant was on the basis of keeping the Law and that, in the New Covenant, it is by the grace of God apart from good works. Both assert the moral depravity of mankind (1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 14; Romans 3:9-23). If we had to earn a right standing before God by performing good deeds even in part, then no one on earth would be going to heaven because God requires perfect obedience to the Law (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10). There is no transition of justification by works to grace through faith recorded in the Scriptures.
        • The Example Of Abraham:
                  -In Genesis chapters 12 and 15, Abraham believed God according to the promises and new revelation pertaining to the message of the gospel. He would be given descendants as numerous as the stars. This man's faith was the instrument of his justification before God (Genesis 15:6). How could Abraham be justified by keeping the Law when he lived approximately 500 years before it was given to the Jews? Moreover, he was in Gentile territory when God spoke to him, which leaves open the door to the gospel message which includes both Jew and Gentile.
        • Abraham And King David In Romans Chapter Four:
                  -In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul uses Abraham and David as examples of people who were saved by faith in God apart from the merit of works (Romans 4:2-8). We are all justified in the same manner: by the grace of God through faith in His work. It is not by works of righteousness that we have done. Furthermore, Paul quoted Psalm 32:1-2, thereby proving that King David experienced the full forgiveness of sins as do believers under the New Covenant upon repentance.
        • Abraham And Galatians Chapter Three:
                  -Paul in Galatians chapter three uses Abraham as an example of justification before God without consideration of good works. In fact, it says that he was given the gospel in embryonic form (Galatians 3:8-9). We become spiritual descendants of Abraham through faith in the promises of God. We receive the blessings that God had promised to him. We are to trust in Him just as Abraham did. The promised seed is Jesus Christ Himself. He fulfilled the demands of the Law in our place so that we did not have to, nor could we.
        • The Purpose Of The Mosaic Law Was Never To Save Anyone:
                  -Although the Law functioned as the blueprint for Israel, its designated purpose was never to save anyone (Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:20). Nor did it have the power to do so. It was to make us conscious of our sinful nature (Galatians 3:22-26; Romans 10:4). The Law points us to Christ. It is a direct reflection of God's divine character. The Law is "weak" because of man's sinful nature (Romans 8:3). The only thing that it can do is condemn us.
        • What About The Animal Sacrifices Performed In The Old Testament?:
                  -The Old Testament sacrificial system never really took away sin. The priests who performed the sacrifices were themselves imperfect beings. The debt of sin could only be paid by Christ (Hebrews 10:10-18). Animal sacrifices were only temporary "coverings" for sin. These multiple sacrifices prefigured the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1). He is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant.
        • The Gospel And The Old Testament:
                  -Right after the fall of Adam and Eve, we see the promise of a coming Savior (Genesis 3:15). In fact, the Old Testament describes this Person in many different ways. Examples would include "Ruler" (Micah 5:2), "Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6), "Suffering Servant" (Isaiah 53), and "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6).
                  -Old Testament saints knew about the coming of a promised Redeemer (Job 19:25). They were saved in the same way as we are today: by grace through faith in God.
        • Progressive Revelation:
                  -This is the teaching that God did not reveal His entire salvation plan to man at one specific point in time. In other words, the clarity concerning God's plan of redemption increased as further divine revelation was penned (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8; Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Ephesians 3:1-6). Examples of progressive revelation would include the Trinity and the acceptance of the Gentiles as being a part of the people of God. Both Testaments are equally inspired and important (Psalm 119:89; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). The requirement for salvation has always been trusting in God. Jesus Christ has always been the object of salvation.

        Sunday, April 2, 2017

        A Study On Salvation And The Atonement

        • Introduction: 
                   -Different theories on the atonement of Jesus Christ have been developed throughout the history of Christianity. Examples of theories on the atoning work of Jesus Christ are the "Ransom Theory," "Moral Influence View," "Governmental Theory," and the "Example Theory." These developments were all attempts to understand how the atonement of Christ works.
                   -The following excerpt was taken from a study by William D. Barrick, Professor of Old Testament: "The Septuagint (LXX) evidences a pre-Christian Jewish understanding of atonement (especially in the use of the Hebrew words for atonement, 19 [kipper) and 19 [koper]) as propitiation since it employs é u dokopci (exilaskonal) 83 times for translating kipper." Summing up a detailed analysis, Morris deduces that the basic meanings of kipper and ĆELA.COkouci involve the thought of the offering of a ransom which turns away the divine wrath from the sinner." In addition to ransom and divine wrath, kipper "denotes a substitutionary process... so plain as to need no comment in the cases where life is substituted for life. Since the OT reveals the reality of divine wrath, it cannot be ignored or explained away as impersonal wrath, mild displeasure, mere irritation, or capricious passion. In nearly 600 OT texts more than 20 different Hebrew words provide a rich wrath vocabulary. Divine righteousness, holiness, and justice require divine retribution. Without divine retribution, divine mercy becomes nothing more than a vestigial appendage without function or purpose."
        • Defining The Biblical Doctrine Of Atonement: 
                   -Vicarious Atonement, which is also known as penal substitutionary atonement, means that Jesus Christ died in our place to pay our debt of sin. He paid the penalty for our sin on the Cross. He bore the punishment that we deserve in our place. In exchange, He gives to us His perfect righteousness. That idea is known as imputed righteousness. The one sacrifice of Christ satisfied God's wrath and righteousness. Justification is a free gift offered by God to those who trust not in their own efforts but in Him (Romans 3:27-28).
                   -To atone for sin involves us being reconciled to God through the sacrificial work of His Son Jesus Christ. We are in need of a redeemer because our hearts and minds have been corrupted by the fall of Adam (Romans 5:12). The Law condemns us because it requires moral perfection. We have fallen short of that standard by violating it. Our sinful nature, not the Law, is the problem. Only Christ can resolve this problem.
                   -In the Old Testament, bloody animal sacrifices were needed to atone for willful sins such as idolatry or errors made out of ignorance (Numbers 15:22-29; 16:47). The high priest offered sacrifices on behalf of himself and Israel. Consider the Day of Atonement, which is known in the Hebrew language as "Yom Hakippurim" (Leviticus 16). All of these bloody animal sacrifices pointed to the final, perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1-4). Everybody, including the high priest, needed a true and perfect sacrifice that only a High Priest with those same characteristics could provide (Hebrews 8:3-6; 9:6-15).
                   -In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is presented as being God's ultimate provisional sacrifice for our redemption. He is described as being our reconciliation to God (2 Corinthians 5:18). His work is described as being propitiatory in nature (1 John 2:1-2), which means that it satisfies the wrath of a holy God towards sin. Christ's life was given as a ransom of the people (Matthew 20:28). His blood was "poured out" for the remission of our sins (Matthew 26:28).
        • The Origin Of The Vicarious Atonement Theory: 
                   -Penal Substitutionary Theory was a further development of Anselm of Canterbury's Satisfaction Theory (also known as the "Commercial Theory of the Atonement") by the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century. It best fits with the language of Scripture and was articulated most explicitly by them.
        • Background Information On The Commercial Theory Of Atonement:
                  -The Atonement Theory of Satisfaction teaches that because sin robs God of His honor, it was necessary for Him restore His honor by either punishing sinners or through atonement work. Since He chose to make atonement for sin by offering His Son Jesus Christ on a cross, He was able to fully recover His lost honor. Any surplus honor remaining from Jesus' sacrifice was given to God in our place, only if we do good works.
                  -"Scholars such as F.W. Dillistone have observed that Anselm's view of the atonement is set within the context of criminal law, where concepts such as honor, debt, and satisfaction feature prominently. The Reformers, by contrast, set the atonement within the context of criminal law, emphasizing guilt, punishment, and substitution. Yet both systems involve forensic interpretations of the atonement." (Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 141)
        • A Patristic Exposition Of The Doctrine Of Penal Substitutionary Atonement:
                  -"And so, when our unrighteousness had come to its full term, and it had become perfectly plain that its recompense of punishment and death had to be expected, then the season arrived in which God had determined to show at last his goodness and power. O the overflowing kindness and love of God toward man! God did not hate us, or drive us away, or bear us ill will. Rather, he was long-suffering and forbearing. In his mercy, he took up the burden of our sins. He himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us—the holy one for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, the righteous one for the unrighteous, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else could cover our sins except his righteousness? In whom could we, lawless and impious as we were, be made righteous except in the Son of God alone? O sweetest exchange! O unfathomable work of God! O blessings beyond all expectation! The sinfulness of many is hidden in the Righteous One, while the righteousness of the One justifies the many that are sinners. In the former time he had proved to us our nature's inability to gain life; now he showed the Saviour's power to save even the powerless, with the intention that on both counts we should have faith in his goodness, and look on him as Nurse, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, Mind, Light, Honor, Glory, Might, Life—and that we should not be anxious about clothing and food." (Mathetes to Diognetus, 9)
        • The Biblical Basis For The Theory Of Vicarious Atonement: 
                   -Isaiah 53 speaks of Christ being "pierced" for our transgressions and "crushed" for our iniquities. Romans 3:25-26 says that the atonement of Christ is the way that God can forgive our sins without compromising His holiness. Texts such as Romans 4:25 and 1 Corinthians 15:3 speak of Christ dying on our behalf for sin. Ephesians 5:2 employs rich sacrificial imagery to communicate the same idea. 1 Peter 2:24 speaks of the wounds of Christ as being the cause of our sins being forgiven.
                  -Consider how Abraham ended up offering a ram as a sacrifice to God instead of his son Isaac (Genesis 22:13). An animal was offered in the place of Abraham's son. This typology reveals the relationship between the application of the work of Christ and the sinner.
                  -Jesus Christ made the propitiatory sacrifice to satisfy God's wrath which occurred as a result of us breaking His Law. He is the propitiation for our sins. His sacrifice is a legal act. It reconciles those who believe to God, who is holy. Christ is our advocate before the Father.
        • What Is Justification?: 
                  -God declares a sinner righteous by his faith (Romans 4:1-11; 5:1). It is done apart from meritorious works. Justification is an undeserved, free gift of God (Galatians 2:16-21).
        • When Is One Justified?: 
                  -A person is justified when he first believes. In other words, Christians are saved from eternal condemnation the moment that they place their trust in God and His work. Thus, justification is not a process, but a one time event (Luke 18:14; 23:39-43; John 5:24; Romans 5:1; Acts 13:38-39; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 3:14). Justification is not something that increases or like an earned wage that can be depleted.
        • What Is Sanctification?: 
                  -This is the process of being set apart for God's work and being confirmed to the image of Christ. We contribute to sanctification through human efforts by the Holy Spirit's power (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 9:13-14).
                  -This process occurs after justification (only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life) and ends at the moment of physical death.
                  -To sanctify means to be set apart for holy use (1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:9-11). We are called for the purpose of sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:7) and are therefore expected to act in a holy manner (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).
                  -Even if we do not live a perfect life, we are still justified. There may be times in life where believers may stumble into sin, but they turn themselves to God in repentance and keep moving forward in their spiritual walk.
                  -So, while we are more holy at the end of our life than the beginning, we will never be perfectly holy until we are in heaven. As long as we are on this earth, we still exist in fallen human nature. In Jesus Christ, God sees us as without blemish because we are covered in His blood.
        • What Is Glorification?: 
                  -This is the end of the sanctification process and takes place when we get to heaven (1 John 3:2; Ephesians 3:15; Philippians 3:20-21). We are then in an eternal state and have been fully perfected in our nature.
        • Confusing Justification With Sanctification: 
                  -Certain professing Christian groups such as the Mormons and International Churches of Christ teach that a person is not justified until the final Day of Judgment when he is rewarded after his works are evaluated. Only then has he been found worthy of his place with God in heaven. The cults blur the meanings of justification and sanctification by equating them to mean the same thing. This kind of theology results in a works-based salvation.
        • Labeling Justification As Being A Process Is Highly Illogical: 
                  -How could justification be a process? How would it work? It would make no sense to claim that a person could be a little justified now, or a little more, or less, justified tomorrow. If we are found guilty in God's eyes, then we have incurred His divine wrath and thus eternal condemnation in hell. We cannot be both justified (and thus going to heaven) and unjustified (and thus going to hell) at the same time. In other words, we are either justified or not justified at all. The false notion that justification is a "process" amounts to a works-based system of righteousness because at the moment of physical death, God would be adding up our works to determine whether we performed enough good deeds to earn our entrance into the pearly gates of heaven. But this does not even constitute a valid theological definition of justification. Such a description only provides us with a process (with an unknown name) leading up to justification.

        Saturday, April 1, 2017

        What Does The Bible Say About Consuming Wine?

        • All Food And Drink Has Been Declared Clean By God:
                  -Issues pertaining to food and drink are of tertiary importance according to New Testament teaching (Romans 14:1-14). These were all given to us by God so as to nourish our physical bodies. They are, therefore, to be received with gladness and thanksgiving.
                  -If we are going to view professing Christians who dogmatically condemn the consumption of certain meats as being legalistic, then the same must also be true of those who dogmatically oppose the consumption of wine under any circumstances. Anything can be misused and abused.
                  -Just as consuming too much of any food is morally wrong, the same is equally true with wine or any other drink. Addictions are sin, which includes alcoholism (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). Becoming an alcoholic can be fatal and ruins good morals.
                  -We should take measures to prevent becoming a stumbling block to fellow brethren in the church (Romans 14:15-21). Moreover, there is nothing wrong with refusing to drink wine for the sake of conscience.
        • Should Churches Use Wine Or Grape Juice In Communion?:
                  -Either wine or grape juice is acceptable for use in communion, since both are derived from the same source: grapes (Matthew 26:26-29). The Mishna's Seder spoke of the "fruit of the vine" as intoxicating wine.
                  -The juice extracted from the grapes is a part of God's creation. So is the fermentation process of that juice. All things created by God are to be received with thanksgiving because they are good (Genesis 1:31; 1 Timothy 4:4).
                  -The ultimate question that needs to be answered is not whether the contents of the communion cup are grape juice or wine. Rather, are we as individuals partaking of that cup in a worthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)?
        • Drinking Wine Is Acceptable By Biblical Standards:
                  -Jesus Christ Himself turned water into wine during the wedding feast at Cana (John 2). If the act of drinking wine in and of itself is sinful, then Jesus would be sinful just like we are and thus disqualified from redeeming us from sin.
                  -The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to drink some wine to help with his frequent stomach illnesses (1 Timothy 5:23). It served for medicinal purposes. The biblical view of wine is that it has been given to us by God as a gift to enjoy (Psalm 104:14-15; Ecclesiastes 9:7).
                  -Wine in biblical times was generally consumed by the wealthier members of society. This accounts for the warnings to kings against being addicted to such beverages in Proverbs.
                  -The only group of people whom God forbade (in the Old Testament) from consuming alcoholic wine were those who took the Nazirite vow (Numbers 6:1-21).
        • Is The Greek "Oinos" To Be Translated As Wine Or Grape Juice?:
                  -It is obvious that this term carries with it connotations of intoxicating drink. This accounts for biblical texts that warn against drunkenness. The Jewish Encyclopedia says the following, "There were different kinds of wine. "Yayin" was the ordinary matured, fermented wine, "tirosh" was a new wine, and "shekar" was an old, powerful wine ("strong drink"). The red wine was the better and stronger (Ps. lxxv. 9 [A. V. 8]; Prov. xxiii. 31). Perhaps the wine of Helbon (Ezek. xxvii. 18) and the wine of Lebanon (Hos. xiv. 7) were white wines. The vines of Hebron were noted for their large clustersof grapes (Num. xiii. 23). Samaria was the center of vineyards (Jer. xxxi. 5; Micah i. 6), and the Ephraimites were heavy wine-drinkers (Isa. xxviii. 1). There were also "yayin ha-reḳaḥ" (spiced wine; Cant. viii. 2), "ashishah" (hardened sirup of grapes), "shemarim (wine-dregs), and "ḥomeẓ yayin" (vinegar). Some wines were mixed with poisonous substances ("yayin tar'elah"; Ps. lx. 5; comp. lxxv.9, "mesek" [mixture]). The "wine of the condemned" ("yen 'anushim") is wine paid as a forfeit (Amos ii. 8), and "wine of violence" (Prov. iv. 17) is wine obtained by illegal means."