Saturday, July 29, 2017

Commentary On Philippians 4:4-5

"The second thing we talked about, the second principle, if we are to be firm in the Lord, is not only to cultivate peace in the fellowship of love but secondly to maintain a spirit of joy. Verse 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” This, too, is directly related to spiritual stability, cultivating an attitude of joy, maintaining a spirit of joy, incessant joy, independent joy in the sense that it doesn’t depend upon circumstances. Please notice “rejoice in the Lord,” not in your circumstances. You can’t always rejoice in your circumstances, but you can always rejoice in the Lord, in your privileged union with Him, that’s the idea. That’s a joy no circumstance can touch. So to be spiritually stable requires maintaining the habit of constantly expressing joyful wonder when contemplating an eternal, unchanging, enriching relationship with God through the living Lord Jesus Christ. Great truth. As long as I contemplate the Lord and what He’s done for me and is doing for me and has planned to do for me, I find my joy there.

By the way, that is a command. It is no less a sin not to rejoice then not to repent or not to do anything else God commands you to do. We rejoice in the Lord. You remember in Luke 24 the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus met with them, talked with them out of the Scriptures, describing the things about Himself. Finally they came into the house and in the breaking of bread, He revealed Himself to them, and it says their hearts burned within them. What is that? That’s the burning heart that is the result of a relationship with the living Lord. It was in the joy of His presence that they experienced the burning heart. Stable people are people who bring peace to situations, who create in the fellowship of love a unity, who are a stabilizing influence in discord, and the spiritually stable are those who in the ebb and flow and rise and fall of circumstances in life always maintain joy. Joy is at the heart of stability.

Let’s go to the third principle. Spiritual stability also requires learning to accept less than you might think you’re due. Learning to accept less than you might think you are due. Verse 5: “Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.” Now, that’s a very, very important statement and a very important element in this matter of spiritual stability. It is really speaking about contentment. It could read, “Let your contentment be known to all men.” In fact, I suppose that for every translation of this text, there is probably a different word used here because this is one of those almost untranslatable Greek terms – epieiks. It’s practically untranslatable if you’re talking about translating it one word for one word. It means more than any one English word can capture.

If you’ve studied it long enough, you get the feeling of what this word means. For example, it has the sense of sweet reasonableness, that you are responsive to an appeal, that there’s a gentleness about you when someone asks you something, you’re sweetly reasonable about it. It also could be translated big-heartedness. Not only are you sweetly reasonable but it goes beyond that, you are very generous. It could be translated good will. Since you only wish good or will good on others, you tend to almost bend beyond what would be expected to grant them good.

Some have suggested it could be translated friendliness. That seems a little bit thin when compared to the others. Some have chosen the word “magnanimity,” let your magnanimity be known to all men. In other words, your over-generosity. Some have suggested it means charity toward faults of others. Some have said mercy toward failures of others. Some have said the best word is leniency. Some have said it should be indulgence. Let your indulgence be known to all men, not your personal indulgence in sin but your ability to indulge all of the failures of others and not be personally offended or unkind or bitter, retaliatory, or vengeful. It is a kind of patience which is able to submit to injustice, disgrace, mistreatment without hatred, without malice, without retaliation, without bitterness, without vengeance.

Now, if you add all that up – at the risk of standing against a lot of better Bible scholars than myself in the translation process – I would suggest the best word I can think of is graciousness. Graciousness. Let your graciousness be known to all men. Certainly in sweet reasonableness, there is grace. Certainly in big-heartedness, there is grace. Certainly in good will, there is grace. Certainly in forbearing, there is grace. Certainly in friendliness, magnanimity, charity, mercy, leniency, indulgence, you’re demonstrating graciousness, and that word probably in a Christian sense embodies it.

But there’s another element to it that we have to go into to understand it. It is the graciousness of humility, which basically says you may have offended me, you may have mistreated me, you may have misjudged me, worse than that you may have misrepresented me, you may have maltreated me, you may have not given me what I deserve, you may have given me what I do not deserve, you may have ruined my reputation with some, you may have acted in hostility against me unjustly, I may be the recipient of your inequity, injustice, and mistreatment, but I humbly and graciously accept it. That’s what it means, and again, isn’t that exactly what the grace of God is like? You may have hated Me. You may have been My enemies, God could say. You may have shaken your fist in My face. You may have blasphemed Me. You may have mistreated Me, misjudged Me, you may have done all of that, and I still reach out to you in love. Boy, when you have that kind of an attitude, you’re a stable person. Spiritual stability belongs to the humbly gracious – let’s use that phrase. Let your humble graciousness be known to all men.

You don’t demand your rights. You get into that kind of mentality, and you will become an unstable person. The philosophical mindset of our day behind, say, the contemporary psychology that’s infiltrated not only our country but the church, the philosophical mindset is primarily the mindset of existentialism, and existentialism basically says, bottom line, every man has a right to do whatever feels good. That’s existentialism. By the way, existentialism is a reaction to humanism. Humanism made man a machine. Humanism says we’re nothing but biological machines and we really don’t have choice and we really don’t have solutions to problems, we just function like an animal and really a reaction to the humanistic, that’s a materialistic humanism. Materialism says man is a machine. In reaction to materialistic humanism came existentialism, which says I don’t buy that, man, I’ve got dignity, I’m somebody, and so existentialism says you are somebody and you ought to feel good about who you are and you ought to do whatever feels good.

And so we talk about human dignity as a reaction to materialistic humanism, and we talk about the fact that man ought to be whatever he wants to be and do whatever he wants to do, and whatever feels good, you ought to do it. And therefore, what you get is massive self-centered pride and ego. With everyone wanting to react to materialistic humanism philosophically, even if they don’t see it as that, and be someone and be who they are and that’s who I am and I have a right to what feels good to me, that’s what existentialism says, that’s the only value in existentialism is do what feels good, and the only rule is if what feels good to you hurts me, you can’t do it. But if it doesn’t hurt me, what’s the difference?

That’s why you have homosexuals saying, “Why is homosexuality against the law? It doesn’t hurt anybody.” See, that’s existentialism. That’s philosophical existentialism. If it doesn’t hurt anybody, what’s the difference? If it feels good to me and doesn’t hurt you, then forget it. Well, AIDS has shot that argument down. Could end up destroying a whole generation of people. Sin always eventually hurts somebody else.

But when you have a world of basically pragmatic existentialists like we do, and that’s the kind of world we live in, absolutely the kind of world we live in, what does Burger King say? Have it your way. I’ll tell you what, I’ve been to Burger King a lot of times. I have never yet had it my way. You know what my way is? I get the hamburger, I don’t pay, that’s my way. They’re not giving it to me my way, I pay every time, that’s their way, not my way. The bottom line: existentialism doesn’t work. It doesn’t even work at Burger King, let alone in philosophy. But that’s what’s the mindset of our day. You’ve got to feel good about yourself, elevate yourself, love yourself, develop yourself, and that kind of thinking is in the church to an incredible degree.

I was listening to a tape today of a friend, Dr. Paul Brownback, and in this tape he was saying – I hate to say this, but he said, “I believe this is true, that if you and I went into a Christian bookstore” – Christian bookstore – “and we pulled off the Christian books that are being written today and took highlight pens and I highlighted everything that came out of Carl Rogers’ self-love theory and you highlighted everything in those books that came out of the teaching of Paul, I would run out of highlighters before you would.” That’s how insidious this is and how far into the church it’s come, the cult of self-love, which means whatever feels good to me, whatever satisfies me, whatever builds me up, whatever gets me over my inferiority complex, whatever gives me a better self-image, whatever gives me better self-esteem, that’s what I do. On the other hand, what Paul says is be humble, gracious, don’t demand anything, give charity to those who are committing crimes against you, give mercy toward the failures of others, you’ll be a stable person. You see, you cultivate all that self stuff and you don’t create stability; you give them a never-ending trail to greater and greater instability and unfulfillment. Tragic. We are to be characterized by the right virtues.

Spiritual stability comes when I have no demands for myself. Then if I get something, fine. If I don’t, fine. If I’m treated a certain way, fine. If I’m treated this way, fine. Doesn’t really matter to me – I’m not concerned about me. That’s what makes Paul say – and he’s the living illustration of all of this as we shall see in the next session – “In whatsoever state I am, therewith to be” – what? – “absolutely content.” Why? Because Paul’s not the issue. I’m not an issue so I can have a forbearing spirit. I can have a gracious, big-hearted, magnanimous, humble, charitable spirit. That’s stability. Boy, you can’t get knocked off your pins. Some people live and die in that revolving door of listening to what everybody says about him and taking in personally every single thing that ever happens in their life and filtering it through their little ego process, and if its wounded them in any way, they’re in immediate instability, anxiety.

You can’t be knocked off balance by inequity, injustice, unfair treatment, lies, humiliation if you’re not the issue – if you’re not the issue. That’s humility, humble graciousness. So spiritual stability belongs to those who cultivate peace in the fellowship of love, those who maintain joy, and those who do not demand what they might be due but are graciously humble."

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/50-39/spiritual-stability-part-3-humility-and-faith

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Uncompromisable Nature Of Truth

"We must not so seek peace with others as to wrong truth. Peace must not be bought with the sale of truth. Truth is the ground of faith, and the rule of life. Truth is the most orient gem of the churches’ crown. Truth is a deposit, or charge that God has entrusted with us. We trust God with our souls. He trusts us with His truths. We must not let any of God’s truths to fall to the ground. Luther says, “It is better that the heavens fall—than one crumb of truth perish.” The least filings of this gold are precious. We must not seek the flower of peace as to lose the diamond of truth."

Thomas Watson, Puritan preacher (1620-1686)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Luke 22:32 Does Not Support Papal Supremacy

  • Introduction:
          -The Roman Catholic Church interprets Luke 22:32, where the Lord Jesus Christ prayed that the Apostle Peter's faith failed not and for him to strengthen the faith of the other disciples, to be a promise that Peter would be preserved from error in doctrinal matters. In other words, the Church of Rome uses this Bible verse to support the doctrine of papal infallibility.
  • Refutation Of Papal Argument From Luke 22:32:
          1.) It is true that the devil wishes to destroy the church of God. And yes, our Lord Jesus Christ prayed that the Apostle Peter would not cease to remain faithful and to be a source of strength for the other disciples. But this was only done because Christ knew that Peter was going to deny him three times (v. 33-34). Consequently, the Lord wanted him to be restored and forgiven for his miserable failure to stand up for the truth of the gospel (v. 31-32). Now this, of course, would certainly be a very encouraging message for the other apostles to learn. Luke 22:32 is speaking of the time when the Apostle Peter repents of his errors. Quite simply, this text is about Peter's faults, not about receiving praise, rewards, or being promoted to a position of supremacy. This passage of Scripture is about the unfathomable love, kindness, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Roman Catholic apologists are altogether missing the point of Luke 22:32 when they cite it as a papal proof-text. They totally distort the meaning of this Bible verse by emphasizing a meaning that is contrary to what it is actually saying.
          2.) To make an argument for the authority of the Roman Catholic Church on the basis of Luke 22:32 is unwarranted, for the previous context of the passage being addressed contains events that are injurious to modern-day claims of Peter being appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ as the prince of the apostles. Most notably, the disciples had a dispute among themselves as to who would be regarded as the greatest (Luke 22:24-27). In fact, Christ said that all twelve apostles were going to be seated on twelve thrones (Luke 22:29-30). There is nothing in the context of Luke 22 even hinting that the Apostle Peter would be singled out for the reason of being a recipient of special honor. If the fact that Jesus Christ isolated the Apostle Peter for this important exhortation has any logical significance for the establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, then how would it explain the incident where the same apostle was individually rebuked by Christ and called "Satan" (Matthew 16:23)? All church leaders have been called to "strengthen the brethren." One does not need to be bestowed some gift of infallibility in order to fulfill that duty.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

John 21:15-17 Does Not Support Papal Supremacy

  • Introduction:
          -The Roman Catholic Church interprets the words of our Lord Jesus Christ ("feed my sheep") which were directed specifically to the Apostle Peter, as recorded in John 21:15-17, to mean that he was given an exclusive position of primacy to care for the household of God, which is the church. In other words, the Papacy maintains that Christ conferred to Peter a distinctive, greater position of episcopal authority which he allegedly passed on to the Roman bishops of future generations. The text of John 21:15-17 has been used by Roman Catholic apologists to corroborate the notion that the pope has been appointed by Christ to serve in the office of "Chief Shepherd".
  • Refutation Of Papal Argument From John 21:15-17:
          -All leaders of the church have been commissioned by the apostles to care for the church of God (Acts 20:28). The Apostle Peter was not the only one who was obligated to nourish the "flock". Thus, the text of John 21:15-17 does not guarantee a unique position of supremacy to Peter.
          -In addition, the Apostle Peter himself forbade people from becoming lords over God's heritage (1 Peter 5:1-5). In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ identified Himself as being the "Chief Shepherd" (John 10:10-16). The Apostle Peter himself called Christ the "Shepherd and Bishop of our souls" (1 Peter 2:25). According to Hebrews, Jesus is the "Great Shepherd" (Hebrews 13:20), which excludes the Bishop of Rome. There is only one Chief Shepherd over the household of God. Scripture also never records Christ reserving His title for Peter or him being addressed by that title. Thus, this title cannot rightfully be applied to anybody who claims to be a representative of Jesus Christ here on earth or descendant of the Apostle Peter.
          -This passage from the Gospel of John is not about inheriting a position of special primacy. John 21:15-17 was simply a threefold confession of faith articulated by Peter for the three times that he denied knowing our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:33-34). This passage shows us an utter failure on Peter's part. It therefore makes no sense to view this text as one that exalts him in any fashion. Although we know from the pages of the New Testament that the Apostle Peter played a significant role in preaching the gospel, we have no biblical evidence suggesting that he was given a position of supremacy over the church. To call the pope the "Good Shepherd" is outright blasphemy against our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for the occupation of such a title by a mere man robs Him of the honor that only He deserves.

The Early Church Fathers On "Upon This Rock" (Matthew 16:18)

  • Defining The Issues:
          -The Church of Rome parades Matthew 16:18-19 as a proof text for the validity of its claims to ruling over Christendom. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church maintains that it is built on the Apostle Peter as its foundation and any spiritual gifts that Jesus Christ may have bestowed on him was passed on to succeeding popes of future generations. Thus, we see the reason that Rome's adherents fight so vigorously to protect their understanding of the meaning of the "rock" as recorded in Matthew 16:18-19. However, the church fathers were far from unanimous on accepting the "rock" metaphor found in Matthew 16:18 as being the Apostle Peter himself. The following source explains:

          “It may jolt them to hear that the great Fathers of the church saw no connection between it and the pope. Not one of them applies ‘Thou art Peter’ to anyone but Peter. One after another they analyse it: Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine. They are not exactly Protestants. Not one of them calls the Bishop of Rome a Rock or applies to him specifically the promise of the Keys. This is staggering to Catholics...The surprises do not stop there. For the Fathers, it is Peter’s faith — or the Lord in whom Peter has faith —which is called the Rock, not Peter.” (“Vicars of Christ, The Dark Side of the Papacy”, p. 24)

          Following are actual excerpts from various church fathers, which were originally taken from this article.
  • The Roman Catholic Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick Once Stated:
          -“If we are bound to follow the majority of the fathers in this thing, then we are bound to hold for certain that by the rock should be understood the faith professed by Peter, not Peter professing the faith.” (Speech of archbishop Kenkick, p. 109; An inside view of the Vatican council, edited by Leonard Woolsey Bacon)
  • Basil of Seleucia, Oratio 25:
          -"You are Christ, Son of the living God.'...Now Christ called this confession a rock, and he named the one who confessed it 'Peter,' perceiving the appellation which was suitable to the author of this confession. For this is the solemn rock of religion, this the basis of salvation, this the wall of faith and the foundation of truth: 'For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.' To whom be glory and power forever." (Oratio XXV.4, M.P.G., Vol. 85, Col. 296-297)
  • Cyril of Alexandria:
          -"When [Peter] wisely and blamelessly confessed his faith to Jesus saying, 'You are Christ, Son of the living God,' Jesus said to divine Peter: 'You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.' Now by the word 'rock', Jesus indicated, I think, the immovable faith of the disciple.” (Cyril Commentary on Isaiah 4.2)
  • Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XII):
          -“For all bear the surname ‘rock’ who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters.” (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Book XII), sect. 10,11)
  • Augustine, sermon:
          -"Christ, you see, built his Church not on a man but on Peter's confession. What is Peter's confession? 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' There's the rock for you, there's the foundation, there's where the Church has been built, which the gates of the underworld cannot conquer." (John Rotelle, O.S.A., Ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, © 1993 New City Press, Sermons, Vol III/6, Sermon 229P.1, p. 327)
  • Bede:
          -"You are Peter and on this rock from which you have taken your name, that is, on myself, I will build my Church, upon that perfection of faith which you confessed I will build my Church by whose society of confession should anyone deviate although in himself he seems to do great things he does not belong to the building of my Church...Metaphorically it is said to him on this rock, that is, the Saviour which you confessed, the Church is to be built, who granted participation to the faithful confessor of his name." (Homily 23, M.P.L., Vol. 94, Col. 260. Cited by Karlfried Froehlich, Formen, Footnote #204, p. 156.)
  • Cassiodorus:
          -"It will not be moved is said about the Church to which alone that promise has been given: 'You are Peter and upon this rock I shall build my Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.' For the Church cannot be moved because it is known to have been founded on that most solid rock, namely, Christ the Lord." (Expositions in the Psalms, Psalm 45.5, M.P.L., Vol. 70, Col. 330)
  • Even The Roman Catholic Catechism Leaves Room For The Interpretation Of The Rock Found In Matthew 16 To Be A Reference To The Apostle Peter's Confession Of Faith:
          -"Moved by the grace of the Holy Spirit and drawn by the Father, we believe in Jesus and confess: 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God.' On the rock of this faith confessed by St. Peter, Christ built His Church (cf. Mt 16:18; St. Leo the Great, Sermons, 4, 3: PL 54, 151; 51, 1: PL 54, 309B; 62 , 2: PL 54, 350C-351A; 83, 3: PL 54, 432A)." (CCC# 424)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A History Of Old Testament Interpretation

We shall here endeavor to present a brief but comprehensive sketch of the treatment which the scriptures of the O.T. have in different ages received. At the period of the rise of Christianity, two opposite tendencies had manifested themselves in the interpretation of them among the Jews; the one to an extreme literalism, the other to an arbitrary allegorism. The former of these was mainly developed in Palestine, where the Law of Moses was, from the nature ' of things, most completely observed. The Jewish teachers, acknowledging the obligation of that law in its minutest precepts, but over looking the moral principles on which those precepts were founded and which they should nave unfolded from them, there endeavored to supply by other means the imperfections inherent in every law in its mere literal acceptation. On the other hand, at Alexandria the allegorizing tendency prevailed. Germs of it had appeared in the apocryphal writings, as where in the Book of Wisdom (xviii. 24) the priestly vestments of Aaron had been treated as symbolical of the universe. It had been fostered by Aristobulus, and at length, two centuries later, it culminated in Philo, from whose works we best gather the form which it assumed. For in the general principles of interpretation which Philo adopted, he was but fol- owing, as he himself assures us, in the track which had been previously marked out by those, probably the Therapeuts, under whom he hod studied. His expositions have chiefly reference to the writings of Moses, whom he regarded as the arch-prophet, the man initiated above all others into divine mysteries ; and in the persons and things mentioned in these writings he traces, without denying the outward reality of the narrative, the mystical designations of different abstract qualities and aspects of the in visible. The Alexandrian interpreters were striving to vindicate for the Hebrew Scriptures a new dignity in the eyes of the Gentile world, by showing that Moses had anticipated all the doctrines of the philosophers of Greece. It must not be supposed that the Palestinian literalism and the Alexandrian allegorism ever remained entirely distinct. In fact the two extremes of literalism and arbitrary allegorism, in their neglect of the direct moral teaching and prophetical import of Scripture, had too much in common not to mingle readily the one with the other. And thus we may trace the development of the two distinct yet co-existent spheres of Halachah and Hagadah, in which the Jewish interpretation of Scripture, as shown by the later Jewish writings, ranged. The former ("repetition," " following ") embraced the traditional legal determinations for practical observance: the latter ("discourse") the unrestrained interpretation, of no authentic force or immediate practical interest. The earliest Christian non-apostolic treatment of the O.T. was necessarily much de pendent on that which it had received from the Jews. The Alexandrian allegorism re-appears the most fully in the fanciful epistle of Barnabas ; but it influenced also the other writings of the sub-apostolic Fathers. Even the Jewish cabalism passed to some extent into the Christian Church, and is said to have been largely employed by the Gnostics. But this was not to last. Irenaeus, himself not altogether free from it, raised his voice against it; and Tertullian well laid it down as a canon that the words of Scripture were to be interpreted only in their logical connection, and with reference to the occasion on which they were uttered. In another respect, all was changed. The Christian interpreters by their belief in Christ stood on a vantage-ground for the comprehension of the O.T. to which the Jews had never reached; and thus, however they may have erred in the details of their interpretations, they were generally conducted by them to the right conclusions in regard of Christian doctrine. The view held by the Christian Fathers that the whole doctrine of the N.T. had been virtually contained and fore shadowed in the Old, generally induced the search in the O.T. for such Christian doctrine rather than for the old philosophical dogmas. Their general convictions were doubtless here more correct than the details which they advanced ; and it would be easy to multiply from the writings of either Justin, Tertullian, or Irenaeus, typical interpretations that could no longer be defended. It was at Alexandria, which through her previous learning had already exerted the deep est influence on the interpretation of the O.T., that definite principles of interpretation were by a new order of men, the most illustrious and influential teachers in the Christian Church, first laid down. Clement here led the way. He held that in the Jewish law a fourfold import was to be traced, — literal, symbolical, moral, prophetical. Of these the second was the relic of the philosophical element that others had previously engrafted on the Hebrew Scriptures. Clement was succeeded by his scholar Origen. With him biblical interpretation showed itself more decidedly Christian; and while the wisdom of the Egyptians, moulded anew, became the per manent inheritance of the Church, the distinctive symbolical meaning which philosophy had placed upon the O. T. disappeared. Origen recognizes in Scripture, as it were, a body, soul, and spirit, answering to the body, soul, and spirit of man: the first serves for the edification of the simple, the second for that of the more advanced, the third for that of the perfect. The reality and the utility of the first, the letter of Scripture, he proves by the number of those whose faith is nurtured by it. The second,' which is in fact the moral sense of Scripture, he illustrates by the interpretation of Dent. xxv. 4 in 1 Cor. ix. 9. The third, however, is that on which he principally dwells, showing how the Jewish Law, spiritually understood, contained a shadow of good things to come. Both the spiritual and (to use his own term J the psychical meaning he held to be always present in Scripture, the bodily not always. Origen's own expositions of Scripture were, no doubt, less successful than his investigations of the principles on which it ought to be expounded. Yet as the appliances which he Drought to the study of Scripture made him the father of biblical criticism, so of all detailed Christian scriptural commentaries his were the first ; a fact not to be forgotten by those who would estimate aright their several merits and defects. The value of Origen's researches was best appreciated, a century later, by Jerome. He adopted and repeated most of Origen's principles; but he exhibited more judgment in the practical application of them: he devoted more attention to the literal interpretation, the basis of the rest, and he brought also larger stores of learning to bear upon it. With Origen, he held that Scripture was to be understood in a threefold manner, literally, tropologically, mystically: the first meaning was the lowest, the last the highest. But elsewhere he gave a new threefold division of scriptural interpretation, identifying the ethical with the literal or first meaning, making the allegorical or spiritual meaning the second, and maintaining that, thirdly, Scripture was to be understood "secundum futurorum bcatitudinem." The influence of Origen's writings was supreme in the Greek Church for a hundred years after his death. Towards the end of the 4th century, Diodore, bishop of Tarsus, previously a presbyter at Antioch, wrote an exposition of the whole of the O. T., attending only to the letter of Scripture. Of the disciples of Diodore, Theodore of Mopsuestia pursued an exclusively grammatical interpretation into a decided rationalism, rejecting the greater part of the prophetical ref erence of the O.T., and maintaining it to be only applied to our Saviour by way of accommodation. Chrysostom, another disciple of Diodore, followed a sounder course, rejecting neither the literal nor the spiritual interpretation, but bringing out with much force from Scripture its moral lessons. He was followed by Theodoret, who interpreted both literally and historically, and also allegorically and prophetically. In the Western Church, the influence of Origen, if not so unqualified at the first, was yet permanently greater than in the Eastern. Hilary of Poitiers is said by Jerome to hare drawn largely from Origen in his Commentary on the Psalms. But in truth, as a practical interpreter, he greatly excelled Origen; carefully seeking out, not what meaning the Scripture might bear, but what it really intended, and drawing forth the evangelical sense from the literal with cogency, terseness, and elegance Here, too, Augustine stood somewhat in advance of Origen ; carefully preserving in its integrity the literal sense of the historical narrative of Scripture as the substructure of the mystical, lest otherwise the latter should prove to be but a building in the air. But whatever ad vances had been made in the treatment of O.T. scripture by the Latins since the days of Origen were unhappily not perpetuated. We may see this in the Morals of Gregory on the Book of Job ; the last great independent work of a Latin Father. Three senses of the sacred text are here recognized and pursued in sepa rate threads; the historical and literal, the allegorical, and the moral. But the three have hardly any mutual connection : the very idea of such a connection is ignored. Such was the general character of the interpretation which prevailed through the middle ages, during which Gregory's work stood in high repute. The mystical sense of Scripture was entirely divorced from the literal. The first impulse to the new investigation of the literal meaning of the text of the O. T. came from the great Jewish commentators, mostly of Spanish origin, of the 11 th and following centuries; Rashi (t 1105), Abcn Ezra (t 1167), Kimchi (t 1240), and others. Following in the wake of these, the converted Jew, Nicolaus of Lyre near Evreux, in Normandy, (t 1341), produced his Postillss Perpetuae on the Bible, in which, without denying the deeper meanings of Scripture, he justly con tended for the literal as that on which they all must rest. Exception was taken to these a century later by Paul of Burgos, also a converted Jew (t 1435), who upheld, by the side of the literal, the traditional interpretations, to which he was probably at heart exclusively attached. But the very arguments by which be sought to vindicate them showed that the recognition of the value of the literal interpretation had taken firm root. 2. Principles of Interpretation. — From the foregoing sketch it will have appeared that it has been very generally recognized that the interpretation of the O.T. embraces the discovery of its literal, moral, and spiritual meaning. It has given occasion to misrepresentation to speak of the existence in Scripture of more than a single sense; rather, then, let it be said that there are in it three elements, co-existing and coalescing with each other, and generally requiring each other's presence in order that they may be severally manifested. Correspondingly, too, there are three portions of the O.T. in which the respective elements, each in its turn, shine out with peculiar lustre. The literal (and historical) element is most obviously displayed in the historical narrative: the moral is specially honored in the Law, and in the hortatory addresses of the prophets: the predictions of the prophets bear emphatic witness to the prophetical or spiritual. Still, generally, in every portion of the O. T., the presence of all three elements may by the student of Scripture be traced. In perusing the story of the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness, he has the historical element in the actual occurrence of the facts narrated; the moral, in the warnings which God's dealings with the people and their own several disobediences convey; and the spiritual in the prefiguration by that journey, in its several features, of the Christian pilgrimage through the wilderness of life. If the question be asked, are the three several elements in the O. T. mutually co-extensive? We reply, They are certainly co-extensive in the O.T., taken as a whole, and in the several portions of it, largely viewed; yet not so as that they are all to be traced in each several section. The historical clement may occasion ally exist alone. On the other hand, there are passages of direct and simple moral exhortation, e.g. a considerable part of the Book of Proverbs, into which the historical element hardly enters. Occasionally also, as in Psalm ii., the prophetical element, though not altogether divorced from the historical and the moral, yet completely overshadows them. That we should use the New Testament as the key to the true meaning of the Old, and should seek to interpret the latter as it was interpreted by our Lord and His apostles, is in accordance both with the spirit of what the earlier Fathers asserted respecting the value of the tradition received from them, and with the appeals to the N. T. by which Origen defended and fortified the threefold method of interpretation. But here it is the analogy of the N. T. interpretation that we must follow; for it were unreasonable to suppose that the whole of the Old Testament would be found completely interpreted in the New. With these preliminary observations, we may glance at the several branches of the interpreter's task. First, then, Scripture has its outward form or body, all the several details of which he will have to explore and to analyze. He must ascertain the thing outwardly asserted, commanded, foretold, prayed for, or the like; and this with reference, so far as is possible, to the historical occasion and circumstances, the time, the place, the political and social position, the manner of life, the surrounding influences, the distinctive character, and the object in view, alike of the writers, the persons addressed, and the persons who appear upon the scene. Taken in its wide sense, the outward form of Scripture will itself, no doubt, include much that is figurative. To the outward form of Scripture thus belong all metonymies, in which one name is substituted for another ; and metaphors, in which a word is transformed from its proper to a cognate signification; so also all prosopopoeias, or personifications; and even all anthropomorphic and anthropopathic descriptions of God, which could never have been understood in a purely literal sense, at least by any of the right-minded among God's people. It is not to be denied that it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to draw the exact line where the province of spiritual interpretation begins, and that of historical ends. On the one hand, the spiritual significance of a passage may occasionally, perhaps often, throw light on the historical element involved in it : on the other hand, the very large use of figurative language in the O.T., and more especially in the prophecies, prepares us for the recognition of the yet more deeply figurative and essentially allegorical import which runs through the whole. Yet no unhallowed or unworthy task can it ever be to study, even for its own sake, the historical form in which the O.T. comes to us clothed. Even by itself, it proclaims to us the historical workings of God, and reveals the care wherewith He has ever watched over the interests of His Church. Above all, the history of the O.T. is the indispensable preface to the historical advent of the Son of God in the flesh. We need hardly labor to prove that the N.T. recognizes the general historical character of what the O.T. records. Of course, in reference to that which is not related as plain matter of history, there will always remain the question, how far the descriptions are to be viewed as definitely historical ; how far as drawn, for a specific purpose, from the imagination. Such a question presents itself, for example, in the Book of Job. It is one which must plainly be in each case decided according to the particular circumstances. In examining the extent of the historical element in the prophecies, both of the prophets and the psalmists, we must distinguish between those which we either definitely know or may reasonably assume to have been fulfilled at a period not entirely distant from that at which they were uttered, and those which reached far beyond in their prospective reference. The former, once fulfilled, were thenceforth annexed to the domain of history (Is. xvii.; Ps. cvii. 33). With the prophecies of more distant scope the case stood thus. A picture was presented to the prophet's gaze, embodying an outward representation of certain future spiritual struggles, judgments, triumphs, or blessings; a picture suggested in general by the historical circumstances of the present (Zech. vi. 9-15; Ps. v., lxxii.), or of the past (Ez. xx. 35, 36 ; Is. xi. 15, xlviii. 21 ; Ps. xcix. 6, seqq.), or of the near future, already anticipated and viewed as present (Is. xlix. 7-26; Ps. lvii. 6-11), or of all these variously combined, altered, and heightened by the imagination. But it does not follow that that picture was ever outwardly brought to pass : the local had been exchanged for the spiritual, the outward type had merged in the inward reality before the fulfillment of the prophecy took effect. Respecting the rudiments of interpretation, let the following here suffice : — The knowledge of the meanings of Hebrew words is gathered (a) from the context, (6) from parallel passages, (c) from the traditional interpretations preserved in Jewish commentaries and dictionaries, (rf) from the ancient versions, (e) from the cognate languages, — Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic. The syntax must be almost wholly gathered from the O.T. itself; and for the special syntax of the poetical books, while the importance of a study of the Hebrew parallelism is now generally recognized, more attention needs to be bestowed than has been bestowed hitherto on the centralism and inversion by which the poetical structure and language is often marked. From the outward form of the O.T., we proceed to its moral element or soul. It was with reference to this that St. Paul declared that all Scripture was given by inspiration of God, and was profitable for doctrine, for re proof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. iii. 16); and it is in the implicit recognition of the essentially moral character of the whole that our Lord and His apostles not only appeal to its direct precepts (e.g. Matt xv. 4, xix. 17-19), and set forth the fullness of their bearing (e.g. Matt ix. 13), but also lay bare moral lessons in O. T. pas sages which lie rather beneath the surface than upon it (Matt. xix. 5, 6, xxii. 32 ; John x. 34, 35 ; Acts vii. 48, 49 ; 1 Cor. ix. 9, 10 ; 2 Cor. viii. 13-15). With regard more particularly to the Law, our Lord shows in His Sermon on the Mount how deep is the moral teaching implied in its letter ; and, in His denunciation of the Pharisees, upbraids them for their omission of its weightier matters — judgment, mercy, and faith. The history, too, of the O.T. finds frequent reference made in the N. T. to its moral teaching (Luke vi. 3 ; Rom. iv., ix. 17 ; I Cor. x. 6-11; Heb. iii. 7-11, xi. ; 2 Pet. ii. 15, 16; 1 John iii. 12). The interpreter of the O.T. will have, among his other tasks, to analyze in the lives set before him the various yet generally mingled workings of the spirit of holiness and of the spirit of sin. The moral errors by which the lives of even the greatest saints were disfigured related, and that for our instruction, but not generally criticized. The O.T. sets before us just those lives — the lives generally of religious men — which will best repay our study, and will most strongly suggest the moral lessons that God would have us learn; and herein it is, that, in regard of the moral aspects of the O.T. history, we may most surely trace the overruling influence of the Holy Spirit by which the sacred historians wrote. But the O.T. has further its spiritual and therefore prophetical element. Our attention is here first attracted to the avowedly predictive parts of the O.T., of the prospective reference of which, at the time that they were uttered, no question can exist, and the majority of which still awaited their fulfillment when the Redeemer of the world was born. With Christ the new era of the fulfillment of prophecy commenced. A marvelous amount there was in His person of the verification of the very letter of prophecy — partly that it might be seen how definitely all had pointed to Him ; partly because His outward mission, up to the time of His death, was but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and the letter had not yet been finally superseded by the spirit. Yet it would plainly be impossible to suppose that the significance of such prophecies as Zech. ix. 9 was exhausted by the mere outward verification. Hence the entire absence from the N.T. of any recognition, by either Christ or His apostles, of such prospective outward glories as the prophecies, literally interpreted, would still have implied. The language of the ancient prophecies is everywhere applied to the gathering together, the privileges, and the triumphs of the universal body of Christ (John x. 16, xi. 52; Acts ii. 39, xv. 1 5-1  ; Rom. ix. 25, 26, 32, 33, x. 1 1 13, xi. 25, 26, 27, &c.). Even apart, however, from the authoritative interpretation thus placed upon them, the prophecies contain within themselves, in sufficient measure, the evidence of their spiritual import. The substance of these prophecies is the glory of the Redeemer's spiritual kingdom: it is but the form that is derived from the out ward circumstances of the career of God's ancient people, which had passed, or all but passed, away before the fulfillment of the promised blessings commenced. Nor was even the form in which the announcement of the new blessings had been clothed to be rudely cast aside : the imagery of the prophets is on every account justly dear to us, and from love, no less than from habit, we still speak the language of Canaan. But then arises the question, Must not this language have been divinely designed from the first as the language of God's Church? The typical import of the Israelitish tabernacle and natural worship is implied in Heb. ix. ("the Holy Ghost this signifying"), and is almost universally allowed; and it is not easy to tear asunder the events of Israel's history from the ceremonies of Israel's worship; nor yet, again, the events of the preceding historv of the patriarchs from those of the history of Israel. The N.T. itself implies, the typical import of a large part of the O. T. narrative. In the O. T. itself we have, and this even in the latest times, events and persons expressly treated as typical (Ps. exviii. 22; Zech. iii., vi. 9, &c.). A further testimony to the typical character of the history of the Old Testament is furnished by the typical character of the events related even in the New. All our Lord's miracles were essentially typical. So too the outward fulfillment of prophecy in the Redeemer's life were types of the deeper though less immediately striking fulfillment which it was to continue to receive ideally. It is not unlikely that there is an unwillingness to recognize the spiritual element in the historical parts of the O.T., arising from the fear that the recognition of it may endanger that of the historical truth of the events recorded. Nor is such danger altogether visionary ; for one-sided and prejudiced contemplation will be ever so abusing one element of Scripture as thereby to cast a slight upon the rest. But this does not affect its existence. Of another danger besetting the path of the spiritual interpreter of the O.T., we have a warning in the unedifying puerilities into which some have fallen. Against such he will guard by foregoing too curious a search for mere external resemblances between the Old Testament and the New, though withal thankfully recognizing them wherever they present themselves. The spiritual interpretation must rest upon both the literal and the moral; and there can be no spiritual analogy between things which have nought morally in common. One consequence of this principle will of course be, that we must never be content to rest in any mere outward fulfillment of prophecy. However remarkable the outward fulfillment be, it must always guide us to some deeper analogy, in which a moral element is involved. Another consequence of the foregoing principle of interpretation will be, that that which was forbidden or sinful can, so far as it was sinful, not be regarded as typical of that which is free from sin. So again, that which was tolerated rather than approved may contain within itself the type of something imperfect, in contrast to that which is more perfect. C. Quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament. — The New Testament quotations from the Old form one of the outward bonds of connection between the two parts of the Bible. They are manifold in kind. Some of the passages quoted contain prophecies or involve types of which the N.T. writers designed to indicate the fulfillment. Others are introduced as direct logical supports to the doctrines which they were enforcing. It may not be easy to distribute all the quotations into their distinctive classes ; but among those in which a prophetical or typical force is ascribed in the N.T. to the passage quoted may fairly be reckoned all that are introduced with an intimation that the Scripture was "fulfilled;" and it may be observed that the word "fulfill," as applied to the accomplishment of what had been predicted or foreshadowed, is in the N. T. only used by our Lord Himself and His companion apostles. In the quotations of all kinds from the Old Testament in the New, we find a continual variation from the letter of the older Scriptures. To this variation three causes may be specified as having contributed: — First, all the N.T. writers quoted from the Septuagint; correcting it indeed more or less by the Hebrew, especially when it was needful for their purpose; occasionally deserting it altogether; still abiding by it to so large an extent as to show that it was the primary source whence their quotations were drawn. Secondly, the N.T. writers must have frequently quoted from memory. Thirdly, combined with this, there was an alteration of conscious or unconscious design. Sometimes the object of this was to obtain increased force. Sometimes an O. T. passage is abridged, and in the abridgment so adjusted, by a little alteration, as to present an aspect of completeness, and yet omit what is foreign to the immediate purpose (Acts i. 20; 1 Cor. i. 31). At other times a passage is enlarged by the incorporation of a passage from another source: thus in Luke iv. 18, 19, although the contents are professedly those read by our Lord from Is. lxi., we have the words "to set at liberty them that are bruised," introduced from Is. lviii. 6 (Sept.): similarly, in Rom. xi. 8, Deut. xxix. 4 is combined with Is. xxix. 10. In some cases, still greater liberty of alteration is assumed. In some places again, the actual words of the original are taken up, but employed with a new meaning. Almost more remarkable than any alteration in the quotation itself is the circumstance, that, in Matt, xxvii. 9, Jeremiah should lie named as the author of a prophecy really delivered by Zechariah; the reason being, that the prophecy is based upon that in Jer. xviii., xix., and that, without a reference to this original source, the most essential features of the fulfillment of Zechariah's prophecy would be misunderstood. The above examples will sufficiently illustrate the freedom with which the apostles and evangelists interwove the older Scriptures into their writings. It could only result in failure, were we to attempt any merely mechanical account of variations from the O.T. text which are essentially not mechanical.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 655-659

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Ultimate Object Of Our Trust

       Anxiety, which can negatively impact us physically and psychologically, can occur during the times that we feel burdened, pressured, and secluded. In other words, we suffer these troubling, worrisome feelings when we encounter predicaments that develop by reason of mental or external environmental sources. These difficult circumstances commonly happen as a result of poor decision making, materialism, and trauma. Anxiety can have a serious toll on our jobs, education, health, and relationships. Not only can anxiety make the individual involved feel altogether hopeless about life, but it can also impair the ability to think rationally. Though stress is indeed a normal reaction of the human mind, there are different degrees of stress and personal responses may vary. Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to prevent stressors and cope with them as they arise.

       Before discussing how to deal with stress, it is important to note that there exists two different stress reactions. The first type of reaction is called a "processive stressor," which can either trigger our minds to attack or flea from a source of stress. The second type of reaction is called a "systematic stressor," which constitutes the body's genetically programmed responses to stress. However, there are two decisions that we can make when we are confronted by anxiety. We can either allow stress to dominate every facet of our lives or we can choose to deal with the issues prompting that reaction. We should make our top priority seeking after God's kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). A person who places his or her trust in circumstances will never find true and lasting peace because they are always subject to change. God can neither change nor deceive.

       A crucial step to avoiding and dealing with stressors is to become organized, for having everything set into place allows a person to perceive things more clearly. In other words, a person who has all things correctly put in order has better judgment and thus has a better ability to resolve and even circumvent stressors. But how does a person establish a basis for being organized? First of all, the foundational move to all problem solving is to admit the existence of a problem. The next important step would be to learn how or when to emphatically say no. Not only is this resistance vital for developing will power, but it also hinders one from becoming over-committed. Then, it would be highly advisable to make lists, learn how to prioritize, learn how to manage time, and consult people who have the knowledge and resources necessary for dealing with issues that provoke stress. But the ultimate step in dealing with anxiety is to always trust in God.

       Many people in this world end up enduring excessive fretfulness due to not placing their trust in the Lord to give them what they need. People suffer from unnecessary concern simply because they are concerned about fulfilling an endless list of worldly requirements or focused on popularity. We tend to feel over-burdened because we attempt to use our finite abilities and rely on our finite understanding of the world to fulfill duties that require an infinite source of ability and understanding, which can only be found in God. He will give us the strength that we need to make it through the things that trouble us in our daily lives (Psalm 34:4; John 14:27). We need to place our trust in Him, even when we do not understand why things may be rough. We need to continually seek Him daily through prayer and supplication in gratitude for His great kindness and mercy (Philippians 4:6-7). We should choose to live by faith rather than fear.

       Of course, nothing about submitting to God guarantees a simple or a care-free life. Having faith in God does not preclude moments of suffering. We should find peace and comfort in the fact that we have been reconciled to a holy God through Jesus Christ. That point should permeate every aspect of our lives. Also, our suffering in this life is only temporary. Those who have faith will spend eternity with God. He is our strength and all in all. While it is true that we are merely imperfect human beings who can capitulate to the struggles of our earthly lives, God will sustain us by His grace. He can impart to us the strength and wisdom to cope with whatever is facing us. If God is for us, then who can stand against us? Who are we trusting in?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Answering Common Objections To The Trinity

  • Discussion:
          -A major characteristic of many, if not most, heretical sects is that they tend to oppose the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. He is usually reputed to be a "lesser god" or simply a good moral teacher. But these beliefs terribly distort the true "version" of Jesus Christ. He shared the same divine nature and essence as God the Father (John 1:1-3; 10:30-33). Thus, this article strives to briefly examine a few of the basic objections to the historic Christian position regarding the Person of Jesus Christ:
             1.) Many people reject the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ 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 (Luke 5:4-6). He needed to take on human flesh so that He could make atonement for our sin.
             2.) Others object to the deity of Christ on the basis that He prayed to God the Father. But this argument is fallacious because it fails to recognize the two separate natures of Jesus Christ: human and divine (Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:17). He prayed to the Creator in the state of His humanity, which is something that we humans should be doing. 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).
             3.) Some believe that Jesus Christ is lesser than God the Father in terms of authority because the Scripture calls Him 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 (John 5:18; 10:35-36; 19:7). In other words, both are equal in the sense that they possess the same divine authority. They are equal in essence. The Lord Jesus Christ became a servant by taking on the form of a man, and is positionally lower than God the Father.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Depths Of Value

"During the Iraq war, a woman soldier lost her hand when it was blown off by an explosive device that landed near her. As she was being rushed to the hospital, she kept crying out, not for the hand she had lost but for the ring that was on that hand—her wedding ring. One of her fighting mates returned to the place, found the hand, and brought back the ring.

What an amazing transposition of values. The ring was the band that symbolized her love and union with her husband. In a dramatic realization of what really mattered, she could live without the hand but wept for the loss of the symbol of the spiritual bond of love.

In some of life’s most defining moments, we find depths of value that shallow moments never reveal. Squandering our existence in the shallow end of life, we miss all that is found in the deep end of discovery and beauty."

Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Secular Gods, p. 173

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Case For The Deity Of The Holy Spirit

        * He is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-9)
        * He is all-knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10-11)
        * He is all-powerful (Romans 15:19)
        * He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14)
        * The Holy Spirit was involved in the process of creation (Job 33:4).
        * The Holy Spirit is a source of life (John 6:63; 2 Corinthians 3:6)
        * The Holy Spirit inspires revelation (2 Peter 1:19-21)

Commentary From The NET Bible On Romans 9:5

tn Or “the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever,” or “the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever!” or “the Messiah who is over all. God be blessed forever!” The translational difficulty here is not text-critical in nature, but is a problem of punctuation. Since the genre of these opening verses of Romans 9 is a lament, it is probably best to take this as an affirmation of Christ’s deity (as the text renders it). Although the other renderings are possible, to see a note of praise to God at the end of this section seems strangely out of place. But for Paul to bring his lament to a crescendo (that is to say, his kinsmen had rejected Godcome in the flesh), thereby deepening his anguish, is wholly appropriate. This is also supported grammatically and stylistically: The phrase ὁ ὢν (ho ōn, “the one who is”) is most naturally taken as a phrase which modifies something in the preceding context, and Paul’s doxologies are always closely tied to the preceding context. For a detailed examination of this verse, see B. M. Metzger, “The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5,” Christ and the Spirit in the New Testament, 95-112; and M. J. Harris, Jesus as God, 144-72.

https://netbible.org/bible/Romans+9

Commentary On The Genesis Firmament

Genesis 1:7

And God made the firmament. How the present atmosphere was evolved from the chaotic mass of waters the Mosaic narrative does not reveal. The primary intention of that record being not to teach science, but to discover religious truth, the thing of paramount importance to be communicated was that the firmament was of God's construction. This, of course, does not prevent us from believing that the elimination of those gases (twenty-one parts of oxygen and seventy-nine of nitrogen, with a small proportion of carbonic acid gas and aqueous vapor) which compose our atmosphere was not effected by natural means; and how far it may have been assisted by the action of the light upon the condensing mass of the globe is a problem in the solution of which science may legitimately take an interest. And divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. The upper waters are not the material of the stars (Delitzsch, Wordsworth), although Jupiter is of the same density as water, and Saturn only half its density; but the waters floating about in the higher spaces of the air. The under waters are not the lower atmospheric vapors, but the oceanic and terrestrial waters. How the waters are collected in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, Scripture, no less than science, explains to be by means of evaporation (Genesis 2:6; Job 36:27; Job 37:16). These latter passages suggest that the clouds are balanced, suspended, upheld by the buoyancy of the air in exact accordance with scientific principles. And it was so. Six times these words occur in the creation record. Sublimely suggestive of the resistless energy of the Divine word, which speaks, and it is done, commands, and it standeth fast, they likewise remind us of the sweet submissiveness of the creature to the all-wise Creator's will, and, perhaps, are designed as well to intimate the fixed and permanent character of those arrangements to which they are attached.

Genesis 1:8

And God called the firmament heaven. Literally, the heights, shamayim, as in Genesis 1:1. "This," says Principal Dawson, "may be regarded as an intimation that no definite barrier separates our film of atmosphere from the boundless abyss of heaven without;" and how appropriate the designation "heights" is, as applied to the atmosphere, we are reminded by science, which informs us that, after rising to the height of forty-five miles above the earth, it becomes imperceptible, and loses itself in the universal ether with which it is surrounded. And the evening and the morning were the second day. For the literal rendering of this clause see on Genesis 1:5, It is observable that in connection with the second day's work the usual formula, "And God saw that it was good," is omitted. The "και Ì εἰ δεν ὁ θεος ὁ ì τι καλο ì ν" of the Septuagint is unsupported by any ancient version. The conceit of the Rabbis, that an expression of the Divine approbation was omitted because on this day the angels fell, requires no refutation. Aben Ezra accounts for its omission by making the second day's work terminate with verse 10. Lange asks, "Had the prophetic author some anticipation that the blue vault was merely an appearance, whilst the sarans of the Septuagint had no such anticipation, and therefore proceeded to doctor the passage?" The explanation of Calvin, Delitzsch, Macdonald, and Alford, though declared by Kalisch to be of no weight, is probably the correct one, that the work begun on the second day was not properly terminated till the middle of the third, at which place, accordingly, the expression of Divine approbation is introduced (see verse 10).

Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 1:4". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/genesis-1.html. 1897.
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Monday, July 17, 2017

What To Remember When Confronted By Hardships

        "but He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' I will rather boast more gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

        This passage of Scripture tells us that His divine grace manifests itself and covers us more abundantly during our trials. His strength compliments our inherent weakness. His sufficiency fulfills what is lacking in us. The power of Christ sustains us during our trials.

        In the surrounding context of 2 Corinthians 12:9, the Apostle Paul was telling the Church of Corinth how God did not accept his petition to remove his distress, but rather assisted him when he was grieving about Satan irritating him after he had received personal revelation that he was not allowed to communicate to other men (v. 7).

        Thus, we see that the Lord permits us to undergo temptations for the sake of building us up. We can build up our spiritual strength for times of infirmity through the persistent resistance of temptation and continued obedience to God.

        We need to trust in God and His sufficient grace. We, in the same manner as the inspired writer Paul, can confidently proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord because He is faithful and trustworthy. He is with us, even during times of hardship (v. 10).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Absolute Uniqueness Of Christian Morality

"In their attempt to argue that effective and binding codes can be developed without a deity, atheists often mistake inferior codes of “common decency” for absolute moral systems. The Golden Rule, or doing as you would be done by , is such a code. But the fact that people can arrive at the Golden Rule without religion does not mean that they can arrive at the Christian moral code without religion. Christianity requires much more and, above all, does not expect to see charity returned. To “love they neighbor as thyself” is a far greater and more complicated obligation, requiring a positive effort to seek the good of others, often in secret, sometimes at great cost, and always without reward."

Peter Hitchens, The Rage Against God, p.142-143

Monday, July 10, 2017

Isaiah 22:20-22 And Papal Supremacy

  • Introduction:
          -Roman Catholics argue in defense of Papal authority by paralleling Matthew 16:19 with Isaiah 22:20-22. First of all, the foundation to this argument is based on the fact that there is a "key" involved in both these passages. Secondly, Catholics point out that the text of Isaiah has a prime minister figure. And thirdly, it is important to note the similar wording of the actions of "opening and shutting" and "binding and loosing" found in both the paralleled texts. Roman Catholics thus argue that this scenario prefigures the Lord Jesus Christ giving the Apostle Peter supremacy over His entire church. The logic of this Catholic typology is based on a comparison of Peter to Eliakim, who was given the key to the house of David (Isaiah 20:22).
  • Serious Flaws In The Typology For Papal Authority:
          1.) The Bible mentions many different sets of "keys." In fact, there is nothing in the context of Isaiah 22 demanding that it be paralleled with Matthew 16.
          2.) The context of this passage is about a male figure named Shebna (Isaiah 22:15). His position of authority was being revoked from him as a result of his pride. Shebna's position, which was only secondary to King Hezekiah, was being given to another individual named Eliakim. However, the Apostle Peter never replaced anybody.
          3.) If Isaiah 22:20-22 was a prophecy about the Apostle Peter being appointed as the first pope, then how would Roman Catholics explain Isaiah 22:25? The Apostle Peter was never removed or cut down. The interpretation of this prophetic passage from the Book of Isaiah is not applicable to the Roman Catholic Church because it would only prophecy the fall of the Papacy. This is totally inconsistent with the claims of modern-day Roman Catholic dogma, for it teaches the infallible preservation of Roman tradition.
          4.) The name of "Eliakim" literally means "God will raise up." It is a typology of our Lord Jesus Christ, not the Apostle Peter. Jesus is the One who will inherit the glorious, everlasting throne of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 22:23; Isaiah 9:6-7). He possesses the key of David (Revelation 3:7), which pertains to the promises of King David's throne. It is about the establishment and fulfillment of his kingdom. The phrase "house of David" is used within the context of his ancestral lineage. While the singular key of the household of David is pertinent to Israel (Isaiah 22:21-22), the plural keys of the kingdom of heaven are pertinent to the work of the church (Matthew 16:13-20).

Friday, July 7, 2017

Addressing The Roman Catholic Misinterpretation Of Matthew 16:18-19

  • Defining The Issues:
          -The meaning of the "rock" found in Matthew 16:18-19 has been disputed among Roman Catholic and non-Catholic scholars alike. Literally volumes of books have been written to defend various interpretations of this symbol. In fact, the three most prominent views on the identity of the rock are that it is representative of Jesus Christ Himself, the Apostle Peter's bold confession of faith, and Peter himself. However, the Church of Rome has made significant claims regarding the meaning of the rock in Matthew 16:18-19 in relation to its inflated views of its own authority. In short, the purpose of this article is to interact with the Romanist interpretation of the rock found in Matthew 16:18-19. 
  • How The Roman Catholic Church Interprets The Rock Of Matthew 16:18-19:
          -Roman Catholics argue that because the Apostle Peter is allegedly the rock, their church is built on him and is therefore the true, original church of our Lord Jesus Christ. Roman Catholicism maintains that 1.) Christ granted Peter special primacy over His entire church and 2.) that this apostle passed his unique position of spiritual authority to the Roman bishops who would succeed him in later generations (CCC #881-882). Consequently, it is claimed that the doctrines of the Church of Rome have been infallibly preserved throughout the centuries.
  • The Greek "Petros" And "Petra" Distinction:
          -The words "petros" and "petra" are used in the original Greek grammatical construction of Matthew 16:18. In other words, the passage reads, "You are Peter ("petros") and upon this rock ("petra") I will build my church." While "petros" means a piece of rock (masculine), "petra" means a mass of rock (feminine). Thus, there exists a distinction between both words occupied in Matthew 16:18. Peter is not the rock on which the church is built. But if the Apostle Peter was meant to serve as the foundation upon which the Christian church stands, then we should not be seeing two different Greek words with two different meanings in this passage. Consider how the Good News Bible renders Matthew 16:18, "And so I tell you, Peter; you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it."
  • The Rock Of Matthew 16:18-19 Is Not The Apostle Peter Himself, But Rather Is His Solid Confession Of Faith (Matthew 16:16):
          -The church is built on all of the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Corinthians 3:11)). The "rock" mentioned in Matthew 16:18 is Peter's confession of faith (Matthew 16:16). This interpretation of the passage fits the context, which is about the spread of the gospel and the identity of the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-18). The establishment of some sort of authoritative office with successors is nowhere present. It is upon our confession of faith that the church stands. Thus, every doctrine and practice of the church should be in accordance to the will of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 16:16-18, the words "it" and "this" are referring to the Apostle Peter's statement identifying the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is built on the revelation that Christ is the promised Jewish Messiah.
          -"He gave him a new name: Cephas. [1.] His giving him a name intimates Christ's favour to him. A new name denotes some great dignity, Rev. 2:17; Isa. 62:2. By this Christ not only wiped off the reproach of his mean and obscure parentage, but adopted him into his family as one of his own. [2.] The name which he gave him bespeaks his fidelity to Christ: Thou shalt be called Cephas (that is Hebrew for a stone), which is by interpretation Peter; so it should be rendered, as Acts 9:36. Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas; the former Hebrew, the latter Greek, for a young roe. Peter's natural temper was stiff, and hardy, and resolute, which I take to be the principal reason why Christ called him Cephas—a stone. When Christ afterwards prayed for him, that his faith might not fail, that so he might be firm to Christ himself, and at the same time bade him strengthen his brethren, and lay out himself for the support of others, then he made him what he here called him, Cephas—a stone. Those that come to Christ must come with a fixed resolution to be firm and constant to him, like a stone, solid and stedfast; and it is by his grace that they are so. His saying, Be thou steady, makes them so. Now this does no more prove that Peter was the singular or only rock upon which the church is built than the calling of James and John Boanerges proves them the only sons of thunder, or the calling of Joses Barnabas proves him the only son of consolation." (Excerpt taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Bible)
  • The Meaning Of The Keys, Binding, And Loosing:
          -The "keys" represent the authority to proclaim the salvation of converts and the condemnation of sinners (i.e. Luke 10:16). The keys are knowledge of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 23:13; Luke 11:52). The door of salvation is opened to those who accept the message of the gospel (Acts 14:27; Romans 1:16), whereas the door of eternal condemnation is opened for those who reject the salvific message of the gospel. The mission of the entire church is to preach the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:45-49). In the Book of Acts, converts such as Paul and Cornelius received the gift of the Holy Spirit. They rejoiced as a result of hearing the proclamation of eternal salvation. But notice how the Lord Jesus Christ instructed His original disciples to shake the dust off their feet when they encountered cities who rejected them for preaching the gospel message (Matthew 10:14-15; Mark 6:11; Acts 13:51). This is a perfect way of applying the principle of "loosing," or announcing the condemnation of sinners. Today, we serve as ambassadors for Christ by performing the ministry of reconciliation through the preaching of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Christians have been authorized to declare the terms of forgiveness as provided by the gospel: holding fast by faith in Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). This power of the keys was not possessed by the Apostle Peter alone, nor does the Scripture passage in question point to that interpretation. Rather, it was given to all the apostles (Matthew 18:18).
          -"What is the power of binding and loosing? These disciples immediately recognized the background of its meaning. If you were a Jew, living at the time of Christ, and you had done something that you thought could be a violation of the Mosaic Law, you would have to take your problem to the ruling elders. They would have debated your case; then they would have come to one of two conclusions. They would have either bound or loosed you. If they had bound you, this meant that you had violated the Mosaic Law and that you were obligated to pay the penalty-sacrifice and/or restitution. If they had loosed you, this meant that you had not violated the Mosaic Law. No sacrifice was necessary. These ruling elders were simply declaring what had already been legislated by Moses" (Was the Church Established by Peter?, Robert Gromacki, cited by Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 109-110)
  • The Apostle Peter Was Not The First Pope:
          -The structure of the Roman Catholic hierarchy cannot be substantiated at all by the New Testament. In other words, Scripture mentions nothing about the one-head bishop structure that is found in the modern Church of Rome. In fact, the Bible never even records the Apostle Peter as passing on his apostolic authority to a designated successor or a discussion on who would occupy his seat of authority after his departure from the world. In Scripture, the Apostle Peter does not act in the authoritarian manner that popes do. Although he can rightly be accredited as playing an important role in preaching the gospel, we never see him acting as the "prince of the apostles."
  • Even If The Apostle Peter Was The Rock Of Matthew 16:18, That Fact Would Still Not Grant The Pope Universal Jurisdiction Over Christendom:
          -The context of Matthew 16 is absolutely silent about the establishment of an extremely wealthy church hierarchy that claims infallibility with a continual chain of leading successors. The Scripture text addressed in this article says nothing about a "Vicar of Christ" or a teaching Magisterium. It says nothing about the unbiblical offices and societies contained in the Church of Rome. Neither does Matthew 16:18 command us to adhere to a mysterious body of extra-biblical revelation, as Roman Catholicism does. In fact, this passage says nothing about submission to an earthly institution that is headquartered in Rome, Italy! So appealing to Matthew 16:18-19 as a biblical proof-text for the Papacy is completely unwarranted. Roman Catholics are placing too much weight on this particular Bible verse. They are merely reading their church hierarchy into a passage where such notions are absent.

Consequences Of The Homosexual Lifestyle

"Youngsters who are even now prematurely assaulted with sexual references will have this issue thrown in to further damage their psychological health. We should expect a rise in the rate of teenage suicides as youngsters are forced to “decide” early as to their sexual orientation. We should expect a rise in AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as an increase in sexual abuse by men preying on vulnerable youth. We can anticipate that those who speak out against homosexuality will be increasingly reviled and repressed, while gay and lesbian activists will become increasingly vocal and persuasive in pushing their agendas in the media, in courts, in all branches of government. Already today, when science and homosexuality clash, science has been nudged aside. In the political campaign to normalize homosexuality, psychiatrists who claim to be able to help those who voluntarily wish to leave the homosexual lifestyle are ignored and even spat upon. Any facts that counter the dogma that homosexuality is as much a part of a person as skin color are rejected."

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, "America's Real War," p. 205-206 (1999)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Heavenly Union With Jesus Christ

          "In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:2-3)

          In this text, Jesus Christ emphatically tells His audience that there is plenty of room in heaven to fit all people who have trusted in Him for salvation. Thus, there is no such thing as a person with a heart regenerated by the Holy Spirit being excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven. The heavenly sanctuary was prepared before time began for all who know, love, and serve God. Jesus Christ clearly assured those of us who trust in Him that we shall indeed be united with Him forever. Christ was also testifying to the fact that nothing is impossible for God. We who believe in the gospel can indeed have assurance of eternal life after physical death.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Why Judaism's Oral Torah Is A Myth

First, if the Oral Tradition truly came from Sinai then it would have been completely supernatural that it was passed down for over one thousand years unchanged. If my wife sends me to the store to buy five things, unless I write them down, not only will I forget to buy what she asked me to, but I will return home with things that she didn’t ask me to buy! So if it was supernatural, then there would have been no need to write out the Oral Torah as Rabbi Judah Hanasi did in 200 CE. If God had watched over it since Moses, surely He could continue.

Secondly, there couldn’t have been an Oral Law because in the time of King Josiah, they had lost the Book of the Law and it appears that they didn’t even know what Passover was or certainly how to celebrate it! The Temple was in ruins and the King ordered its restoration. In the midst of this great undertaking the Torah was recovered.

Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” (1 Kings 22:8)

The king called all the people together and they read the Book of the Covenant. Together, they renewed the covenant with the Lord. King Josiah ordered that the Passover be celebrated.

The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 22:21-23)

To summarize, the Torah had been lost as the Temple was in ruins. The king of Israel and the priests did not even know what Passover was—or at least, the details of proper Passover observance. Since the Mishna (the Oral Law in writing, as part of the Talmud) speaks of the Passover at length—in fact it has an entire tractate (major section) called Pesachim (Passovers) that teaches in incredible detail how to correctly celebrate Passover—it had to have been created after the time of Josiah.

In addition, had there been an Oral Law passed down from Moses it was certainly forgotten. And unlike like a Written Torah, that could be found in the ruins of the Temple, it would be impossible to recover an Oral Torah.

Third, we find an interesting passage in the Torah that refutes the idea of a non-written Torah.

When Moses went and told the people all the LORD’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. (Exodus 24:3-4a)

Could it be any clearer? God shared all His laws with Moses and then Moses wrote down everything. In the Hebrew it says Kol Div’re Adonia—all the words of the Lord. There was no secret Oral Tradition; all was written. (Here are a few more passages you can reference: Deuteronomy 30:10, 31:9, 24, 26, and Joshua 1:8).

And fourth, one primary reason the Word of God needed to be put down in words was to protect Israel from deception. An Oral Torah would have led to all kinds of duplicity and many would have changed it for their own purposes. Keep in mind, the Children of Israel, my ancestors, went through many periods where they forsook the Lord. Not only would an Oral Law have been abused by leaders during such a time—it would have been eventually ignored and utterly forgotten.

Ron Cantor, Four Proofs there was no Oral Torah

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Notes On The Peshitta Manuscript

"The Peshitta is a collection of Aramaic manuscripts of the Bible. Aramaic was the most common “shared language” among people of the Near East and Middle East for many centuries. This includes the years immediately before and after the earthly ministry of Jesus. For this reason, the Peshitta was an important early translation of the Bible, widely distributed and widely used. The earliest available manuscripts date to the AD 400s.

The Peshitta is the primary text used in Syriac churches, which use the Aramaic language during religious services. These churches are often accused of holding to Nestorianism, though that description is often disputed.

Based on manuscript and language evidence, scholars are overwhelmingly convinced that the Peshitta dates from well after the time period of Jesus and the apostles. The Peshitta’s language obscures certain types of metaphor or wordplay. This is common in translated texts but is abnormal in an original manuscript. The particular dialect of Aramaic used in the Peshitta is from an era later than that of Jesus. For these reasons among others, it is certain that the New Testament was not originally written in Aramaic, but in Greek."

https://www.gotquestions.org/Peshitta.html

Habakkuk: A Book Of Faith

Although often neglected, Habakkuk's prophecy is one of the most influential in the Bible. Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted three times in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38), more than almost any other verse....Habakkuk is a book of faith.

The prophet requested that God answer his cry about violence and corruption in the land (vv. 1-4). God replied that He would bring in the Chaldeans to chastise Judah (vv. 5-11). But the prophet remonstrated that God was holy and he could not understand how God could use a nation more evil than Judah as His instrument of judgement.

"I will take my stand to watch...and look forth to see what he [God] will say to me," wrote Habakkuk (2:1). So the waiting prophet (v.1) was met by a willing Lord (vv. 2-5) who told him that while "the righteous live by faith," "he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail." Therefore, Habakkuk lamented the sins of his woeful nation (vv. 6-20), particularly the sins of those who rob the poor and spread violence throughout the land.

Habakkuk's faith was both tested and taught; his faith then gave triumphant expression first to the person of God who taught him (vv. 1-5): "His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of praise"; then to the power of God (vv. 6-12): "Thou didst bestride the earth in furry, thou didst trample the nations in anger"; and finally to the purpose of God (vv. 13-19): "Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people.

Norman Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, p. 260-261

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Glorious Light Of The Gospel

        "Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things; not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God, but by the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even though our gospel is veiled, it is veiled for those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2-4)

        The gospel is not unintelligible nonsense, but rather is lucid and powerful. It transforms the hearts and minds of people. The gospel points lost people in the direction of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. The proclamation of the gospel contains no falsehood or deception. This divine revelation from God is the way of holiness.

        However, there are many people in this world who vehemently deny Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Those who do not repent will perish. Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the minds of unbelievers. People are lost, not because the truth of the gospel is inaccessible, but that they have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

        In order to inherit the kingdom of God, we must be born again. That means our hearts must be renewed through the supernatural indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We must repent of our sins and place our trust in the work of Jesus Christ. The gospel of His glory is a light which shines on those who have faith.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Roman Catholic Mary Worship

        Following are a few excerpts from a Roman Catholic devotional prayer book titled "Devotions in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help" (pages 38-39), which contains extremely idolatrous prayers to Mary from Alphonsus Liguori:

        "Come then to my help, dearest Mother, for I recommend myself to thee. In my hands I place my eternal salvation and to thee do I entrust my soul. Count me among thy most devoted servants, take me under thy protection and it is enough for me. For, if thou protect me, dear Mother, I fear nothing not from my sins because thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them nor from the devils because thou art more powerful than all Hell together nor even Jesus my Judge Himself, because by one prayer from thee He will be appeased. But one thing I fear that in the hour of temptation I may neglect to call on thee and thus perish miserably. Obtain for me then the pardon of my sins, love for Jesus, final perseverance and grace always to have recourse to thee O Mother of Perpetual Help."

        "Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin and My Mother Mary, to thee, who are the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the World, the Advocate, the Hope and the Refuge of Sinners I have recourse today, I who am the most miserable of all. I render thee my most humble homage O Great Queen and I thank thee for the graces thou hast obtained for me until now and in particular for having saved me from Hell which I have so often deserved. I love thee, o most amiable Lady; and for the love which I bear thee, I promise to serve thee always and to do all in my power to make others also love thee. I place in thee all my opes and I confide my salvation to thy care."

        "Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin! O my Mother! Thou who art the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the advocate, hope, and refuge of sinners! I, the most wretched among them, now come to thee. I worship thee, great Queen, and give thee thanks for the many favors thou hast bestowed on my in the past; most of all do I thank thee for having saved me from hell, which I had so often deserved. I love thee, Lady most worthy of all love, and, by the love which I bear thee, I promise ever in the future to serve thee, and to do what in me lies to win others to thy love. In thee I put all my trust, all my hope of salvation. Receive me as thy servant, and cover me with the mantle of thy protection, thou who art the Mother of mercy! And since thou hast so much power with God, deliver me from all temptations, or at least obtain for me the grace ever to overcome them. From thee I ask a true love of Jesus Christ, and the grace of a happy death. O my Mother! By thy love for God I beseech thee to be at all times my helper, but above all at the last moment of my life. Leave me not until thou seest me safe in heaven, there for endless ages to bless thee and sing thy praises. Such is my hope. Amen."