Sunday, February 26, 2017

Justification By Faith Alone (Biblical Basis)

  • Introduction:
          -Sola Fide: faith alone saves a person when he or she places his or her trust in the sacrificial work of Christ.
          -The phrase "faith alone" does not mean faith apart from the presence of works (since works are the product of genuine faith in Jesus Christ), but faith apart from the merit of works.If works contribute to our salvation, then Jesus died on the cross in vain:
          -We cannot say,"I need the work of Christ plus XYZ" (since the work of Christ alone is ALREADY perfect). We are either saved by faith or by works.
          -Hebrews 10:14 declares,"We have been forever perfected by one offering..." and Ephesians 2:8 says,"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God...".
             +Thus, believing in the single perfect sacrifice made by our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient to bring Christians to eternal salvation with God in heaven.
  • Bible Verses Demonstrating Salvation By Faith Alone (Sola Fide):
             -"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
             - "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9-13)
        -"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20)
        - "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:24)
        -"Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:27-28)
        - "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." (Romans 4:2-8)
        -"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10:43)
        -"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:1)
        -"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy." (Romans 9:16)
        -"For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (1 Corinthians 1:21)
        -"Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Acts 16:29-31)
        -"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16)
        -"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21)
        - "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
       -"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
       -" Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." (2 Timothy 1:9)
       -"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24)
       -" Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)
        -"Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." (1 Timothy 1:16)
        -"And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15)
        -"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)
        -"And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." (Acts 15:7-11)
        -"O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3)
        -"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:10-14)
       -"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:24-26)
       -"Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." (Galatians 5:4-5)
       -"Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand." (2 Corinthians 1:24)
       -"And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Philippians 3:9)
       - "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." (Romans 5:9-11)
  • The most important and comprehensive place in Scripture to read about justification by faith or "how to get it right with God" is found in Paul's epistle to the Romans chapters three through five.
  • A true, born-again Christian can be assured of his or her salvation (1 John 5:11-13).
  • The Gospel (Jesus dying for sins, rising, and appearing according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-8) is received by faith which leads to justification; not by faith and works:
            -"And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15)
            -"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16) 
            -"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." (Ephesians 1:13)
            -This point is significant because preaching a different gospel is condemned (Galatians 1:8-9).
  • The Classic Example of Sola Fide-The Thief On The Cross: 
            -"And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:42-43)
           +Notice that the man revealed the smallest particle of faith and Jesus Christ saved him from eternal damnation in hell. No sacrament, ritual, or work of any kind was needed for the sinner to inherit eternal salvation in heaven. 

Is Sola Scriptura Based On Circular Reasoning?

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Funny Meme: Circular Reasoning!

Image result for circular reasoning works

"Infallibe Church Hierarchy" Is Circular Reasoning

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Gospel Test For The Jehovah's Witnesses!

Biblical Refutation Of Purgatory

  • Introduction:
          -Purgatory: the place of punishment where the souls of Christians suffer a temporary period of punishment in flames if they die in an imperfect state of grace (spiritually impure).
          -Indulgences: the "key" used to help people shorten their "sentence" to time in Purgatory.
          -These are granted to people who pray certain prayers and get mass ceremonies done in memory of the dead (a relative or friend).
          -Interestingly, the only professing Christian group that embraces this concept is the Roman Catholic Church. But we must ask how long it takes for a person to be thoroughly cleansed from sins in purgatory? How many indulgences does it take to release somebody out of there?
1.) Not A Scriptural Concept:
     -Scripture passages discussing the eternal destiny of believers and non-believers mention heaven and hell without any implication of Purgatory (i.e. Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15). Furthermore, the concept of a sin purifying fire is utterly foreign to the Holy Scriptures. Our hearts are purified by faith in Christ, not Purgatory (Acts 15:7-11; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 9:13-14; 1 John 3:2-3). In fact, we never see sacrifices for or the offering of prayers on behalf of the dead as being prescribed by the Book of the Law. 

2.) Purgatory Denies The Sufficiency Of Christ's Sacrifice:
      -Jesus' death is sufficient to pay for all sins (Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 10:10-18; 1 John 1:7-9). In other words, Christ paid the infinite price for our sins by dying for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). He made the once-for-all atonement sacrifice (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). Thus, we do not need anymore purification. If we must in any way pay for, suffer, or atone for our own sins, then Jesus Christ did not make the perfect and complete sacrifice necessary for the redemption of mankind. We do not need to offer any atonement sacrifice for sins by suffering in purgatory or by offering indulgences.
       -The idea that we are able to atone for our sins undermines the message of the gospel because if we are able to do such, then the work of Jesus Christ is either moot or supererogatory. He made a sacrifice to save those who are unable to redeem themselves, for the Scripture has concluded that all are under sin (Romans 3:23). But if we are capable of atoning for our own iniquity, then what is stopping us from simply atoning for all of our sins?  We would either not need the work of Christ to rescue us from the flames of hell or it must be insufficient to redeem mankind from sin.

3.) Works-Based Implications:
      -Finally, we will conclude this portion of the discussion by addressing the works-based nature of Purgatory. The Scriptures are abundantly clear that justification is by faith apart from the merit of works (i.e. Psalms 78:15-22; Luke 18:9-14; John 5:24; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:20-28; Galatians 2:16-21; 1 Timothy 1:16). Since all have fallen short of God's perfect standard of morality, He sent His Son into the world to remedy the problem. Atonement for sin requires a perfect substitute (Hebrew 7:25-28; Hebrews 10:14). According to Scripture, there are no punishments for genuine Christians in the afterlife (Luke 23:39-43; Romans 4:2-8; 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:21-23). The only after death punishment (for the unrepentant and unbelieving) that the Bible mentions is hell, and ultimately, the lake of fire. But, if we are forgiven for a sin and there is still some sort of punishment for us to endure, then we are not really forgiven. In essence, the idea of Purgatory is contrary to everything that the Bible says about salvation.
  • Alleged "Proofs-Texts" For Purgatory:
1.) 1 Corinthians 3:15:
     -This text is not about punishment for sins. It talks about eternal rewards (or lack thereof). In other words, the context is about testing the quality of each believer's work which determines his or her heavenly rewards (v. 10-14). It is not about any kind of punishment. Just because a Scripture passage mentions the word "fire" does not mean that it is about Purgatory. 
     -1 Corinthians refers to the believer "escaping through the flames", not "being cleansed by the flames".

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

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

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

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

1 Corinthians 4:6 Sola Scriptura

  • Scripture Passage Being Exegeted: 
         -"Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sake, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other." (1 Corinthians 4:6)
  • Why This Epistle Was Written By The Apostle Paul:
          -The Church of Corinth was starting to obey the teachings of men, rather than the teachings of God as revealed through written revelation. As a result, the Corinthian Christians were divided into factions over morals, doctrine, and even who their rightful leader was (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).
A.) "I have figuratively transferred...":
      -In the previous context of the epistle, the Apostle Paul figuratively spoke of the apostles as being servants and custodians of the gospel so that the church would properly understand their designated purpose. While Paul described himself and other Christian fellow laborers of the first century as planting the seeds of spiritual conversion, he gave all credit for success in ministry to God (1 Corinthians 3:5-15). It is only by the power of God that the apostles were able to carry out their mission to preaching the gospel to the nations in the effective manner as they did.

B.) "That you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written...":
         -The Corinthian Christians needed to depend on the wisdom of God, not man. In other words, they needed to learn how to keep their thinking in alignment with the inspired writings, and to only use the Word of God as the standard of judging the apostles or other leaders in the church.
          -Many in the church today evaluate the quality of teachers by using factors such as humor, how they persuade or entertain, how they look, or by their intelligence. These are completely unbiblical standards and thus violate the principle set forth by the Apostle Paul in this text. Furthermore, we have been instructed to formulate every doctrine off the teachings of the Bible. Hence, this is the reason for Paul uttering the phrase "not to think beyond what is written". If people truly stayed within the boundaries of Scripture, then religious corruption would gradually fade away.

C.) "That none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other...":
          -The Church of Corinth was beginning to follow unbiblical standards to judge the apostles. This led to the church being divided over who was the best. But if Christians occupy biblical standards to test the truthfulness of church leaders, then schisms would not develop because nobody could have the arrogance of joining sides behind prominent church leaders. Scripture is what keeps our thinking in accordance with God's will.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

2 Timothy 3:15-17 Sola Scriptura

  • "15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:15-17)
  • This is the main passage that Protestants use to defend Sola Scriptura. I shall do a brief exposition of the text to demonstrate its plain and straightforward nature. 
A.) The Origin Of Scripture:
    -All Scripture is inspired by God. In other words, the Holy Spirit moved through the apostles and prophets as they recorded His teachings (1 Peter 1:16-21). In fact, the Greek word for "inspired", which is "theopneustos", literally means "God-breathed". 

B.) The Purpose Of Scripture:
    -The purpose of Scripture is to convert unbelievers and to rebuke error. Furthermore, notice the surrounding context of this epistle: 1.) The coming of false teaching (3:1-13; 4:2-5), 2.) Paul was about to die (4:6-7), and 3.) This was the Apostle Paul's last epistle (at least to Timothy). Contextual evidence points us to one infallible rule of faith: Scripture. The context mentions no other "rule of faith".

C.) The Results Of Using Scripture:
      -The Bible equips the man of God for EVERY good work (not most or a few works). There is not a deed a moral principle that it fails to discuss. Scripture contains everything necessary for salvation (i.e. John 20:30-31; 1 John 1:1-4; 2 Peter 3:1-2). If this is not true, then can any opponent of Sola Scriptura come up with any good work that is not even hinted at in Scripture? What else does "every good work" mean? 

Protestants Are Their Own "Popes"?

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Refuting The Use Of Objects In Worship

  • Introduction:
         -The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and even some Protestant churches use statues and icons that are part of their worship and services. People who occupy objects for such purposes believe that they help them to remember God, Jesus, Mary, or other important figures in Christianity.
         -Advocates of using images in worship regularly bow down to statues, icons, and images of Christian figures, kissing at the feet of the statues, and praying to them. Some professing Christians will even be rolling in front of them, putting flowers on them, lighting candles before them, carrying the idols in procession, and changing the clothing on the statues daily. In religious institutions, there are several paintings of Jesus, Mary , Peter, and a myriad of canonized "saints". In short, there is an abundance of religious iconography.
  • Why The Above Actions Are Considered Idolatry:
         -Actions such as bowing and prayer are defined as worship according to Scripture (Exodus 20:5; Isaiah 44:17; 45:20; Matthew 4:9-10; 6:6-14; Acts 10:25-26; 14:13-15; Philippians 2:10; Revelation 4:10; 19:10; 22:8-9). Thus, directing such honor to beings other than God is idolatry.
  • The Case Against The Use Of Statues, Images, And Relics In Worship:
         -God clearly condemned making figures for the purpose of giving religious devotion or honor to beings other than Him (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 4:15-24; Leviticus 26:1; 2 Chronicles 33:6-7; Isaiah 40:17-25). In fact, the Apostle Paul specifically said that God neither dwells in places by hands nor is served with objects (Acts 7:48-49; 17:23-25; 17:29). God said that He would not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). Going against His will will provoke Him to anger. We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).
  • The Foolishness Of Making All These Statues:
         -Nobody knows what God, Jesus, Mary, the apostles, and their closest associates looked like. There is no need for people to construct figures of honorable individuals when we cannot even identify their appearance accurately. 
         -According to Scripture, people who worship idols (such as carved images) are just as dumb as the statues themselves (Psalm 115:1-8; 135:15-18). They can clearly see their idolatrous actions and hear the truth, but they just don't get it (just like the unbelieving Jews who openly saw Jesus' miracles and remained in disbelief). People defend such unbiblical practices because they have been deceived by the evil one (1 Corinthians 10:19-20). If you ask a person to remove a statue of Mary or Jesus from their presence, then he or she will literally throw tantrums! The same would be true if a picture of a saint fell and broke. Obviously, folks who are affected by this form of apostasy believe that the person is somehow present in the object. This is indeed worship and thus idolatry!
  • Illogical Logic:
         -Why is it not idolatry to offer the same prayer, adoration, and honor to a bull, Bible, or a soldier, but it is not idolatry when such is offered to Mary and the saints?
  • Are There Any Boundaries To All This "Saintly Honor"?:
         -How far can "veneration" go before it reaches idolatry? Who is going to set forth specific boundaries so that people can know for certain that they are not giving a saint too much honor? Nobody really has. It seems as if the idol worshipers are reshaping the rules and redefining the limits to justify themselves.
  • A Valid Practice In Christianity?:
         -In the New Testament, we are never commanded to use statues in worship and have no examples of such activity. As seen previously, the Apostle Paul clearly affirmed the Old Testament prohibitions on using objects in worship. Idols pose danger to our relationship with God and can therefore lead us to eternal condemnation in flames (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 21:8). There are also different forms of idolatry (Ephesians 5:5-7). So Beware!
  • Veneration Vs. Worship:
         -When Catholics are accused of worshiping Mary and the saints, they usually respond by saying that they merely "venerate" (honor) them (not "worship"). This claim is elaborated on by dividing the veneration into three distinct categories (in Latin): latria (God alone), hyperdulia (Mary alone), and dulia (saints and angels).
             +Occupying a separate label does not change the essence of what is being done.
             +The Bible makes no distinction between "veneration" and "worship". Neither does it provide any justification for three different "classes" of honor for three separate "heavenly ranks".
             +This objection is weak because the words "veneration" and "worship" are oftentimes used synonymously for each other in the same contexts.
             +Veneration gives religious devotion to someone/something other than God and is therefore idolatry. Remember, God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24; Nahum 1:2). 
  • So What Is Permissible?:
         -It is okay to give honor to whom honor is due (Mark 12:17; Hebrews 13:7). It is also fine to have pieces of art (for decoration) and pictures of family members. Furthermore, it is even acceptable to honor Christians from the past by acknowledging their faith and following their moral example (Hebrews 11). But actions such as building statues, offering prayers to, and adoring is beyond honor. It is worship (idolatry).
  • "It is just an art form like music...":
         -This argument is simply comparing apples to oranges and is deprived of biblical justification. While we are encouraged to worship God by singing psalms of praise (2 Chronicles 5:13; Psalms 150:1-5; Colossians 3:16; Revelation 14:3-4), using objects as an aid in worship is disobedience to God's will.
  • "Don't we keep the photos of people that we love...":
         -It is true that we tend to keep images of people we love and art for enjoyment or ornamentation. But the comparison of an image to Christ to a picture of a friend or relative is deceptive. The statues/painted pictures of Jesus or the apostles are only the imagination of an artist. They are not accurate representations of the actual people who lived. Moreover, a wife would become very frustrated if her husband decided to keep a picture of another woman, kiss it, and call it his spouse!
         -The above objection is irrelevant and fails to address the issue at hand. We are to obey God's commandments regardless of the consequences or our emotions.
  • "Didn't God permit the creation of some idols in the Old Testament?":
                +Bronze Serpent (Numbers 21:6-9):
                    -God commanded Moses to make the Bronze Serpent for a one time purpose (John 3:14-16), but the Israelites converted it into an object of worship. It ended up getting destroyed by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:3-4). There is no scriptural evidence that the Bronze Serpent was ever supposed to be used as an aid in worship.
                +The Two Cherubs (Exodus 25:18):
                    -God commanded the making of two golden cherubs, but the Jews were not called to bow down before them or serve them. Do the Catholics have any commands from God to make any statues? If so, then where is the proof or documentation for their claims? 
                +Ark of the Covenant (Joshua 7:6-7):
                    -God ordered the Israelites to make the ark so that He could dwell in their presence and meet with the leaders (Exodus 25:8; 22). But why does the ark have two images of angels (Exodus 25:18-21)? It has them because it is a replica of God's throne in heaven (Isaiah 6:1-2). This is further evidenced by the fact that the ark of the covenant also served as a footstool for the feet of the Lord (1 Chronicles 28:2). Unlike the ark, the images used in Roman Catholic "veneration" supposedly represent saints.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How One Should Pray (Commentary On Matthew 6:6-14)

  • The following listing provides you with the basic composition of prayer, that is, how we should be communicating with God through prayer:
            1.) Find an appropriate location, which could be where you feel most comfortable or a holy place such as a church, and bow before the Father. Pray in a place of privacy. If you focus on Him and believe that He can help you endure your burdens, then He will answer your prayer requests based on the sincerity and faithfulness of your conscience (v. 6).
            2.) We are not to pray in the same manner that the pagans do. The purpose of prayer is not based on factors such as how well it sounds, its length, how many times in a row it is done, or how noisy it is. God will not answer prayer based on such intentions, regardless of what people think or how they feel. It is ultimately about dedication to God (v. 7).
            3.) God knows everything, which includes your prayer requests, even before you go to Him (v. 8).
            4.) We acknowledge that God is the Creator and Lord of all. This also means that we are to give Him as much honor and worship as we can  (v. 9).
            5.) We pray for the sake of God's literal kingdom being established on earth when Jesus Christ returns again. This is especially needed when we are living in a world that overflows with tragedies, which ranges from but is not limited to poverty, wars, slavery, and diseases. Only goodness can exist in the kingdom of God. Since God is the infinite Ruler of all creation, His Will shall be accomplished everywhere. Our wills should be one in the same with God's--functioning in perfect harmony together (v. 10).  
             6.) In prayer, you should be appreciative for the things that God has provided for you and know that He will continue to provide for all who come to Him (v. 11).
             7.) In prayer, we must humbly ask God for the forgiveness of our sins. We have repeatedly violated His perfect standard of morality, the Mosaic Law. We must beg God to reveal clemency on us so that we will not end up in the scorching coals of hell. Without the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, remission for our sins cannot exist. We must follow the example of God forgiving our trespasses against Him because if we do not, then He will not forgive our sins (v. 14). In other words, we must forgive the sins of others because that is what God has done for us (v. 12).
              8.) We pray to God that He places a "protective shield" on us so that the gnats of worldly temptation will not be attracted to us. He through the power of the Holy Ghost will give us the strength needed to overcome the tendency to sin and escape the snares of the devil. God shall eternally prevail over the forces of evil. He is therefore entitled to perpetual glory (v. 13).

Circular Reasoning Used In Survival Of The Fittest

Image result for evolution circular reasoning

Example Of Circular Reasoning in The Evolutionary Theory

Image result for evolution circular reasoning

Image result for evolution circular reasoning