Monday, October 21, 2019

Religious Titles Of Honor

  • Discussion:
           -Roman Catholic priests are addressed by the name "Father" as a formal religious title of honor. In addition, the pope wields the title "Holy Father". However, these titles of exaltation become problematic in light of Jesus Christ's teaching on this matter:

           "But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23:8-12)

           The context of this passage focuses on religious elitism and hypocrisy. The Scribes and Pharisees of the Law loved being the center of attention. They did good works with the intention of receiving praise from other people. These men were outwardly righteous, but were actually depraved to the very core of their being.

           There certainly are figures of authority in the church. We can refer to people as being a spiritual father, a spiritual leader or teacher, bishop, elder, overseer, pastor, or a deacon. We can recognize doctorate degrees. But there is no biblical warrant for emphasizing titles to the point of self-exaltation. We never see people in the New Testament called "Father David", "Reverend Peter", "Bishop Timothy", etc.

           We are all "brethren" in Jesus Christ (Matthew 23:8), which means that no one in the church has intrinsic superiority over another. We are all servants of Christ who is our Master. We are not to use titles to call attention to our own accomplishments. God already knows our hearts and whether or not we are faithful to Him. Titles are not to be used to bring about unquestioning submission to oneself. There is nothing scriptural about pastors requiring members of God's church to address them by special titles of honor.

           Matthew 23:5-13 specifically forbids the love of flattering religious titles or believers striving to be placed on a pedestal. Only God is worthy of our undivided allegiance. The underlying problem with insisting that we be addressed by formal titles of honor in the church is that we have a tendency to become puffed-up. That is exactly what has happened with the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Nothing could be more haughty than the pope taking on the title "Holy Father" when that title in Scripture is applied to God (John 17:11). Nobody is pure but God alone (Mark 10:18).

Isaiah 44:3--A Text That Sheds Light On The Meaning Of The Spiritual Birth Spoken Of In John 3

  • Discussion:
           -"For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants." (Isaiah 44:3)

           This text is certainly helpful in us properly understanding what Jesus Christ intended to convey when He said to Nicodemus that he must be born of water and the spirit in John 3:5. The corresponding phrases "born water and spirit" and "born again" is an example of parallelism, which means that two terms are considered equivalent to each other. The parallel construction is one and the same.

           The water spoken of in the text from Isaiah is a figurative reference to the Holy Spirit. He is described as flowing like a riveret. It points to what happened at the event of Pentecost. Other Old Testament passages that portray the Spirit of God as being poured out in the manner of water would include Proverbs 1:23 and Zechariah 12:10.

           Thus, we are to understand the words of Christ in regard to being born from above as bringing into mind the outpouring of God's Spirit. To be born again is a reference to the human soul being regenerated through the supernatural indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our hearts and minds must be purified before we can enter the kingdom of God.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Commentary On Leviticus 10:17

"[Leviticus] 10:17 eaten the sin offering. The purification (“sin”) offering absorbs the impurities that it was presented to remedy. When a great deal is absorbed, the offering is burnt (see 4:12), but on most occasions the priest’s eating of the offering is part of the purification process. Aaron’s reluctance to eat the offering may be caused by the presence of the corpses of his sons (v. 2), which add dangerous levels of impurity."

Excerpt taken from the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture

Friday, October 18, 2019

Commentary On 2 Timothy 4:16

"16. Answer (Gr apologia). From this we get our word apology or defense. He is referring to his trial. Stood with me (Gr paraginomai). This is a technical word and would refer to a defense lawyer or advocate. All men forsook me. The same word used of Demas in verse 10, but he did not let it make him bitter. No matter how it hurts, no root of bitterness can be allowed let many others be hurt (Heb 12:15)."

The King James Version Bible Commentary, 2 Timothy 4:16, p. 1658

Commentary On 2 Timothy 4:13

"[2 Timothy 4:13] The cloak. This was a long heavy cape with a hole in the middle to slip over one's head. It hung down to the knees. It was now needed in this cold damp dungeon. The books or scrolls were made from papyrus and the parchments were much better quality made from sheep or goat skins. These parchments may well have been copies of the Old Testament Scriptures. To the very end Paul kept his mind sharp and his heart full by reading. What an example to this young preacher and us today."

The King James Version Bible Commentary, 2 Timothy 4:13, p. 1658

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Glory Of The Son Of God In Hebrews 1:3

                                                        By Edward Dalcour

Excerpt from the book of Hebrews (1:8-9) from P46, which is the earliest Greek manuscript of Hebrews (c. A.D. 200)

The prologue of Hebrews is one of the most Christologically significant prologues in the NT. The context of the prologue is crystal clear: The author presents a marked well-defined contrast between all created things (viz., angels and the heavens and the earth) and the eternality of the divine Son (cf. vv. 3, 6, 8), the unchangeable Creator (cf. vv. 2, 8-10-12), who was worshiped as God (v. 6). The author initiates his context by stating first that God’s final revelation is found in His Son alone (i.e., the NT), who is the Creator of all things.

Specifically, in verses 1-2, a contrast is drawn between the particular way God the Father spoke to His people in the OT—“in the prophets in many portions and in many ways”—and how God subsequently speaks to His people today—namely, through His Son: “through whom also He made the world”—God’s final revelation. Thus, it is the apostolic “writings,” concerning the Son, by which God speaks to us today (cf. Eph. 2:20). Verses 3-4 clearly present the Son’s person, nature (as God-man), sacrificial cross-work (“purification of sins”), and exaltation “at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” After affirming that the Son is the Creator of the world in verse 2, the author then exalts the distinct person of the Son as fully God—in the same sense (i.e., the very nature) as that of God the Father.

The entire prologue of Hebrews presents a clear distinction of persons, Jesus, the Son who provided “purification of sins” (vv. 3-4) and the Father, who commands His angels to worship someone other than Himself, the eternal Son. In verses 8-12, the Father directly addresses the Son as a distinct person from Himself: “But of the Son He [the Father] says.”

Let us now note the fine points of the exegesis of Hebrews 1, which provide a fantastic refutation to unitarian groups such as the Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and especially Oneness Pentecostals who deny the deity and unipersonality of the Son, thus rejecting the biblical revelation of the triune God:

1. “He is the radiance of His glory” (hos ōn apaugasma tēs doxēs, [ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης]). As we have noted elsewhere regarding John 1:18 and Romans 9:5, the present tense active participle ōn (ὢν, “is/being”) is a very significant feature in exegesis.[2] The present participle ōn can indicate a continuing state of being. Here the author says that the Son is always, that is, in a continuing state (ōn) as the radiance of God’s glory, and “exact representation of His nature.” The present tense participle ōn (“is”/being) in this passage is set in contrast with the aorist epoiēsen (“He made”) in verse 2 and in contrast with the aorist genomenos (“having become”—referring to the incarnation) in verse 4.This is similar to the use of the imperfect ēn (“was”) in John 1:1, which is set in contrast with aorist egeneto (“came to be”) in 1:14, and similar to the use of the present participle huparchōn (“existing/always subsisting”) in Philippians 2:6, which is set in contrast with the aorist genomenos (“having become”) in verse 7.

In each case, there is an outstanding contrast between the eternal preincarnate Son and all things created.

2. “and exact representation of His nature” (kai charaktēr tēs hupostaseōs autou [καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ). The present active participle ōn (“is”) at the beginning of the phrase governs the phrase—thus, “He is [ōn, “always is/being”] the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature.” As we commented on Philippians 2:6, Paul expresses the same idea by using the present tense participle huparchōn (“being” NIV) to denote that the Son is always subsisting/existing in the very nature or essence (morphē) of God.The Greek term charaktēr (appearing only here in the NT) refers to the exact reproduction or representation expressing the reality or essence of the very image it is representing.

The LXX usage of charaktēr signifies the exact character or nature of the thing to which it is applied (cf. Lev. 13:28; 2 Mac.24:10; 4 Mac 15:4). The term denoted the exact imprint left by a signet ring such as a king, for example, after having been placed into wax—it is his exact non-replicable imprint[3].It also referred to the “engraving” stamp of a Caesar on a coin that exactly represented his honor, authority, and power. Louw and Nida define charaktēr as “a representation as an exact reproduction of a particular form or structure—‘exact representation of his being’ He 1.3.” One of the most recognized and cited Greek lexicons, BDAG, defines the meaning of charaktēr, as applied to the Son in Hebrews, as something “produced as a representation, reproduction . . . Christ is [charaktēr] an exact representation of (God’s) real being, Heb. 1:3.”

In the clearest sense, then, the Son is the “exact representation” of the God’s nature. The Greek term translated “nature” (NASB; “person” in the KJV) is from the Greek term, hupostaseōs (from hupostasis). According to the lexical support, the term carries the meaning of substantial nature, essence, actual being, reality (cf. BDAG). The term indicates “the substantial quality, nature, of any person or thing: Heb. 1:3” (Thayer).

Note below how hupostaseōs is rendered in this passage by major translations:

“The exact imprint of his nature” (ESV)

“The exact representation of His nature” (NASB).

“The exact representation of his being” (NIV).

“Flawless expression of the nature of God” (Phillips).

“The express image of His person” (KJV, NKJV).

“The very image of His substance” (ASV).

“[The] exact expression of His essence” (ALT).

“The true image of his substance” (BBE).

“He is an exact copy of God’s nature” (ICB).

“The exact reproduction of His essence” (Wuest).

“All that God’s Son is and does marks him as God” (TLB)

“The very imprint of his being” (NAB).

“The exact imprint of God’s very being” (NRSV)

“Everything about Him represents God exactly” (NLT).

No creature can make this claim.

Even the biblical translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the NWT reflects an accurate meaning of charaktēr: “He is the reflection of [his] glory and the exact representation of his very being”—although they still deny Jesus as God.” Of course, Michael, the created archangel (who they be Jesus to be), cannot be the “exact representation” of the nature of God. The term here has an ontological reference to the hupostasis (nature) of the Father, which is consistent to the context of the prologue of Hebrews in which the author makes a sharp contrast between all things created (viz. angels, heavens, and earth), and the eternality of the person of the divine Son, the unchangeable Creator of all things, who is worshiped by “all the angels” (1:6).

Hebrews 1:3 unambiguously teaches that the Son possesses the “exact nature” of God. Neither king, prophet, mighty man, nor created angel such as Michael the archangel is said to be, or has ever made the claim of being, the charaktēr, that is, the “exact representation” or “express image” of the hupostaseōs—namely, the essence or very nature of God’s Being. Only God can rightfully be the “exact representation” of the nature of God.

3. “And when He [the Father] again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him.’” Then in Hebrews 1:6, we read that God the Father commands “all the angels” to worship the Son (pantes aggeloi thou [πάντες ἄγγελοι Θεοῦ,], lit., “all [the] angels of God”; see also Dan. 7:14; Matt. 14:33; Rev. 5:13-14, where the person of the Son is worshiped in a religious context). In light of Exodus 20:5 (“You shall not worship them or serve them”), divine worship is restricted to God alone. Thus, only from within a Trinitarian context can the Son be justifiably worshiped.

4. “But of the Son He [the Father] says, “Your throne, O God [ho theos] is forever and ever. . . .” Further, the Father’s attestation as to His Son’s coequality is plainly stated in verse 8 where we read of God the Father’s direct address to the Son as ho theos (“the God”), whose throne is forever and ever. That the Father addresses “another” person as “God” (the Son) is precisely what the doctrine of the Trinity teaches. In the gospels, the Son addresses His Father as “God,” but here, the Father addresses the Son as “God.”

5. In verses 10-12, God the Father directly addresses the person of the Son as the YHWH (“Lord”) of Psalm 102:25-17, the unchangeable Creator of all things. Note, in verse 10, the Father says to the Son: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands. . . .” Two important points should be considered here, 1) the term “Lord” in the Greek, kurie (Κύριε) is in the vocative case (i.e., the case of direct address) signifying linguistically that the Father is actually addressing the Son and 2) verses 10-12 are citations from Psalm 102:25-27, which speak of YHWH as the unchangeable Creator. Therefore, the Father actually identifies the Son and hence addresses Him as the YHWH of Psalm 102—the unchangeable Creator.

The prologue of Hebrews presents in the most intelligent way that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is fully God and fully man, and a distinct person from God the Father. In light of the striking contrast presented in the prologue of Hebrews (things created vs. the eternal Son, Creator of all things), the author affirms straightforwardly in verse 3 that the Son is the eternal God. In a most literal sense, verse 3 says that the Son is (ōn—“always being”) the brightness, the eternal radiance (apaugasma) of the glory of God and the exact representation or impress (charaktēr) of the very nature (hupostaseōs) of God Himself.

Again, only within the context of Trinitarianism can the Son be worshiped by all of the angels and be identified and directly addressed (by God the Father) as both “God” and the “Lord,” that is, the YHWH of Psalm 102:25, the immutable Creator.Hence, along with the prologue of John and Colossians, the Trinity is expressed vividly in the prologue of Hebrews. It has been used historically by Christians to present both a positive affirmation of the deity of the Son and a clear and pointed refutation to the many non-Christian cults who “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4),—God the Son.


[1] The Amplified version reads: “He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature. . . .”

[2] John 1:18: “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is [ho ōn, i.e., “the One who is/being always”] in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (emphasis added). Romans 9:5: “Whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh,who is [ho ōn] over all, God blessed forever. Amen” (emphasis added).

[3] The “instrument used in engraving or carving” (Thayer).

[4] BDAG is the abbreviation for Walter Bauer, A Greek English Lexicon.

A Damning Mormon Quotable

"I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. I could tell most of the secretaries in the church office building that they are ugly and fat. That would be the truth, but it would hurt and destroy them. Historians should tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting."

Elder Boyd K. Packer, Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History, p. 103, fn 22

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

On The Discrepancy Between The Bible And Book Of Mormon On Where Christ Was Born

  • Discussion:
          -The Scripture states that our Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem:

          "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel,whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days." (Micah 5:2)

          "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem" (Matthew 2:1)

          In contrast, the Book of Mormon claims that Christ was born in Jerusalem:

          "But behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God bcometh upon the face of the earth. And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at berusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God." (Alma 7:9-10)

           Both Bethlehem and Jerusalem were cities in Judea. But how could there be a contradiction in divine revelation as to something as important as the birthplace of the Messiah? Certainly, dismissing the text of the Bible as corrupt in favor of the Book of Mormon is both a nonanswer and a cop out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Simple Way To Refute The Mormon Narrative Of Joseph Smith Receiving Revelation From God

  • Discussion:
           -Joseph Smith at the age of fourteen claimed that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared personally to him with the intent of restoring the lost truth of Christianity. However, one point found in the New Testament that counters this thesis is the teaching of Christ sitting (in the present tense) at the right hand of the Father in heaven:

           "Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2 Corinthians 5:16)

           "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." (Colossians 3:1)

           If Scripture is correct when it states that Jesus Christ is currently sitting at the right hand of God (which we would maintain that it is), then Joseph Smith's claim of receiving divine revelation must be false. God did not appear to him and give him any new teaching. The author of Hebrews provides us with even more forceful statements:

           "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet." (Hebrews 10:10-13)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Addressing The Mormon Dogma Of Celestial Marriage

  • Discussion:
           -A doctrine of Mormonism is that of celestial marriage. It is believed by Mormons that husbands will reign as gods in their own universes with their families and procreate for eternity. One biblical text that is problematic for this idea, however, is the teachings of Jesus Christ relating to the status of marriage in the resurrection of the dead:

           "Some Sadducees (who say that there is no resurrection) came to Jesus, and began questioning Him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves behind a wife and leaves no child, his brother should marry the wife and raise up children to his brother. “There were seven brothers; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no children. “The second one married her, and died leaving behind no children; and the third likewise; and so all seven left no children. Last of all the woman died also. “In the resurrection, when they rise again, which one’s wife will she be? For all seven had married her.” Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven." (Mark 12:18-25)

           The question posed by the Sadducees reflected the Jewish custom of passing childless married women whose husbands were deceased on to younger brothers in the same family. Christ answered their faulty premise, pointing out that there will be no marriages taking place in heaven. Humans will become immortal like the angels. There will be no need to produce offspring. See also the parallel text of Luke 20:34-36.

           What takes place in the heavenly realm is quite unlike our experiences on earth. Jesus Christ continues His reprimanding of the Sadducees with the following remarks:

           "But regarding the fact that the dead rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; you are greatly mistaken.” (Mark 12:26-27)

           God will give us much more fulfilling things in heaven than any temporary pleasures available to us in this life. He does value the institution of marriage, but it will not exist in heaven. The same is true of family units. We are all included into the family of God by faith. We are united through the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

           The Mormon concept of celestial marriage expressly contradicts the teaching of Christ. In addition, wives who lost their husbands in this life and chose to remarry would be guilty of committing adultery because according to Latter Day Saint theology they would be forever bound to their first spouse.

Luke 1:1-4 And The Reliability Of New Testament Texts

  • Discussion:
          -"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:1-4)

          If Luke was able to select from a wide variety of sources in putting together an accurate account of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, then it stands to reason that he also had access to the narratives of Matthew and Mark. He also would have had contact with direct eyewitnesses to the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6). One commentator put matters in this manner:

          "1:1 draw up an account. In the Mediterranean world, disciples of teachers often committed the teacher’s lectures to writing; otherwise, others often did so (especially if the disciples were not very literate). Most scholars agree that at least one of the written works by Luke’s day was Mark; one of the many other sources might be a collection of material shared by Matthew and Luke (perhaps a collection of mostly sayings reported by Matthew). Sometimes students published their teacher’s sayings in ways that even reflected the teacher’s distinctive style. things that have been fulfilled among us. Reflects the kind of subject noted by ancient historians (rather than by other kinds of writers) in their prefaces."

          Moreover, Luke's work demonstrates that the four gospel accounts are rooted in history. They are based on reality rather than fiction.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Philosophical Argument For The Immateriality Of The Soul

" metaphysics, he held the view that ordinary objects (tables, chairs, etc.) are ‘logical fictions’, and that what exists “in the strict and philosophical sense” are parcels of matter. Parcels of matter cannot lose parts and continue to exist as the same things, according to Chisholm. But what we think of as ordinary objects are gaining and losing parts all the time, he noted. Some molecules that once composed the table in front of me no longer do so. They have been chipped off, and the table worn away with time. The same holds for human bodies. They gain and lose parts all the time, and thus for Chisholm, human bodies don’t persist through time “in the strict and philosophical sense.” But persons – whatever they are – do persist through changes in the matter that composes a body. Therefore, he concluded, persons are not identical with their bodies, nor with any part of the body that can undergo change."

Argument articulated by Roderick Chisholm

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Discourse On Sexual Purity

  • General Points Of Consideration:
          -The historical, traditional view of reserving sexual intercourse between man and women for marriage has always been an integral product of divine creation (Genesis 2:20-24; Matthew 19:4-5). It is a part of God's plan for the good of mankind. 
          -Though every human being has been assigned sexuality by bodily design, the intimate act itself is to be restricted to the confines of matrimony. This is where procreation is supposed to take place. Thus, acts of fornication, adultery, lust, and masturbation are condemned in a biblical worldview. Sexual sins are sins against our very bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
          -It is only from the biblical framework that the act of sex can be rightly understood. From it the act can be enjoyed to the fullest extent. Women are not viewed as objects of pleasure or used merely as baby making machines. Abstinence before marriage is proper and sensible even from a secular standpoint, as it prevents unwanted pregnancies which can be financially burdensome and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. 
          -Abstinence before marriage results in faithful spouses and thus the proper development of families. The proper family structure maintains a healthy society overall.
  • Presenting Jesus Christ's Teaching On Lust And Adultery:
          -“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matthew 5:27-30)
  • Comments On The Teachings Of Christ In The New Testament:
          -Jesus was not deepening what the Law says, but bringing out the true meaning of the Law in contrast with the false teachings of the Jewish leaders. This is evident in Matthew 5 when Jesus contrasts his own teaching with "you have heard that it was said." 
          -The Law already taught obedience from the heart. The Old Testament forbids hatred as well as murder; lust as well as outward adultery. See texts such as 2 Kings 9:30, 2 Samuel 11:2-5, Job 31:1, and Proverbs 6:25-26.
          -"Many ancient Jewish moralists condemned lust; some later rabbis even compared extreme lust to adultery. Jesus’ warning here develops the context of the prohibition against adultery in the law: the seventh commandment prohibited adultery, but the tenth commandment warned that one should not even covet one’s neighbor’s wife (Ex 20:17; Dt 5:21). Jesus uses here the same verb as in the standard Greek translation of the tenth commandment. He refers, then, to wanting to have one’s neighbor’s wife. The principle, of course, extends beyond Jesus’ illustration, applying to both genders and to single people, coveting one who might be someone else’s spouse someday." (

Comments On Pauline Authorship Of 1 Timothy And Other Pastoral Epistles

"According to the salutations of the letters, the author of the three Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus) was the apostle Paul. The tradition of the early church is in agreement. Nevertheless, some NT scholars have questioned the Pauline authorship of these letters, citing alleged differences in vocabulary, style, and theology, as well as what are believed to be inconsistencies between Paul’s travels in the Pastoral Epistles and his travels recorded in the book of Acts. Such arguments are unconvincing, as noted below, and there is no persuasive reason to deny that Paul wrote these letters..."

"One significant literary feature of this epistle (as well as of 2 Timothy and Titus) is the recurrence of the phrase “the saying is trustworthy” (1:15; 3:1; 4:9; cf. 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8). The purpose of this phrase is to call attention to the importance of the truth that Paul references. These phrases often serve as crisp summaries of the gospel and its implications for the life of the Christian. In this way, Paul helps Timothy grasp the central or core truths of the message that he is called to proclaim (cf. 4:13, 16).

Another significant literary feature is 3:16. Some scholars think Paul is quoting a creed that was circulating in the early church. Or, it could be that Paul is giving the church a creed. Paul introduces the successive and rhythmic phrases with the expression “we confess.” The phrases then offer a summary of the earthly life of Christ from the incarnation to the ascension.

Finally with respect to literary style, a brief word must be said about the vocabulary and syntax of the Pastoral Epistles. Those who deny that Paul wrote 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus frequently point out that there are significant differences between the vocabulary of these three letters and the vocabulary of the rest of the Pauline corpus. The most basic form of the vocabulary-based argument against Pauline authorship of the Pastorals says that since these three letters contain many words not found in the other letters attributed to Paul, the Pastoral Epistles must be from a different author. This argument is flawed for several reasons. First, it assumes that a well-educated individual such as Paul had a limited vocabulary and was bound to use only a select set of words every time he wrote. This is not tenable. It would be quite easy to point to several modern books that are known to be written by the same author and find differences in vocabulary between them, but we would not then deny the common authorship of those books. The vocabulary Paul does use in the Pastoral Epistles was common in his era, so there is no reason to think he would not have known it. Furthermore, the vocabulary-based argument against Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles is quite circular. Critical scholars who hold this position first assume—without really proving—that only a handful of letters are authentically Pauline and then attempt to disprove the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals based on that. Effectively, what happens is that critical scholars presuppose that Paul did not write the Pastorals and then conclude, based almost exclusively on that presupposition, that Paul did not write the Pastoral Epistles.

The vocabulary-based argument against Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles is overstated and circular. Any differences between the Pastorals and the rest of Paul’s epistles are more easily explained by the fact that the addressees and circumstances of the Pastoral Epistles are different than the addressees and circumstances of Paul’s other epistles. The same applies in the case of syntactical differences between the Pastoral Epistles and Paul’s other letters. Moreover, Paul also likely used an amanuensis (secretary) to help him write the Pastorals who was not the same amanuensis that helped him write his other epistles. This would also explain some of the differences between the Pastoral Epistles and the rest of the Pauline letters."

The Reformation Study Bible (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2015), 2149, 2151-2152

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Insect With Its Own Gearbox – More Proof Of Intelligent Design?

"Stunning imagery and video has been released of a tiny insect that uses a gearbox, complete with interlocking gears, to move.

“A species of plant-hopping insect, Issus coleoptratus, is the first living creature known to possess functional gears, a new study finds. The two interlocking gears on the insect’s hind legs help synchronize the legs when the animal jumps,” reported Live Science.

“To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first demonstration of functioning gears in any animal,” lead researcher Malcolm Burrows, an emeritus professor of neurobiology at Britain’s University of Cambridge, told journalists.

The imagery of the bug is certain to further fuel the scientific debate about intelligent design versus random evolutionary development, because it shows complex machinery was not developed first by humans, but in nature itself.

The discovery of the gearbox follows the discovery of an internal motor, similar to an outboard on a boat, used by certain bacteria to propel themselves.

Scientists investigating the ‘design inference’ have noted on the bacterial motors that these molecular machines are appearing at sub-cellular levels as a product of DNA coding rather than sexual reproduction and natural selection. They also argue that the biological machines are “irreducibly” complex, meaning they give no advantage to the organism unless they are working from day one.

The odds against such complex machinery assembling itself on day one are said to be so huge that it gives rise to the question of whether they are evidence of intelligent design in nature.

In the present case, the gears are assembled on the legs."

Monday, October 7, 2019

Contending Earnestly For The Faith

        "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (Jude 3-4)

        The inspired author's mention of "our common salvation" is a reference to the body of apostolic preaching and doctrine delivered to the churches during the first century.

        Jude was writing to warn against professing Christians who perverted the doctrine of grace and rejected the Lordship of Jesus Christ. These men are characterized as vile and godless. It is from these men that we must disassociate.

        Consequently, the doctrine that was originally laid out by the apostles is to be pitted against those who preach contradictory doctrine. We have been called to steadfastly maintain the purity of the gospel. In so doing, we must also keep a clean conscience.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Understanding John 3:5 In Light Of The Prophet Ezekiel's Comments On Getting A New Heart

"Ezekiel 36:22–38 is the likeliest background for Jesus’ teaching on the need to be born of water and the Spirit. In this text, Ezekiel refers to the cleansing that Israel would receive after going through the Babylonian exile. The people would be purified and receive new hearts that would obey the Lord. In fact, the exile from the Promised Land proved that such a renewal would be necessary. In like manner, our exile from paradise in Adam proves our need for purification and renewal. Water is an image that represents this cleansing."

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Rebuttal To Catholic Nick On The Meaning Of Justify

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger who goes by the name of Catholic Nick published an article where he explains his understanding of what it means for God to justify sinners and how that supposedly undermines the doctrine of Sola Fide. Following are his remarks alongside with a critique:

          "To begin, the Greek word "justify" appears in about 36 verses in the New Testament. Of all these occurrences, the only time it is used in an explicitly forensic (legal, courtroom) context is in four verses: Mt 12:37; Rom 3:4; 8:33; 1 Cor 4:4. So how do Protestants come to the conclusion that it must mean "declare legally righteous by a judge"? Certainly not from the New Testament evidence, especially since 'forensic terms' don't really appear in places like Romans 3-4 and Galatians 2-3. Turning to the 40 verses of the Old Testament that use the term "justify," there were more occurrences in a legal context than in the New Testament, but still not enough to form any concrete conclusion: Ex 23:7; Deut 25:1; 2 Sam 15:4; 1 Kings 8:32 (same as 2 Chron 6:23); Ps 19:9; 51:4 (quoted in Rom 4:3); Ps 143:2; Prov 17:15."

          First of all, the meaning of the word justify is to be determined by the context in which that word is used. It can have more than one usage. This source says the following:

          "When we turn to the New Testament we must be clear that the righteousness and justification terminology is to be understood in the light of its Hebrew background, not in terms of contemporary Greek ideas. We see this, for example, in the words of Jesus who speaks of people giving account on the day of judgment: "by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt 12:37; the word NIV translates "acquitted" is the one Paul normally uses for"justified"). Those acquitted on the day of judgment are spoken of as "the righteous" (Matt 25:37; they go into "eternal life," v. 46).

          The verb translated "to justify" clearly means "to declare righteous." Any theological word dictionary such as Kittel's Theological Dictionary for example clearly demonstrates this. It is used of God in a quotation, which the New International Version renders "So that you may be proved right when you speak" (Rom 3:4; the NRSV has more exactly, "So that you may be justified in your words"). Now God cannot be "made righteous"; the expression obviously means "shown to be righteous" and this helps us see that when the word is applied to believers it does not mean "made righteous"; it signifies "declared righteous," "shown to be in the right," or the like."

          "So for a Protestant to say that "justify," especially as Paul uses it in Romans 3-4 and Galatians 2-3, means "declared to be a perfect law keeper by a judge" is by no means an established fact at all."

          When the term "justify" is used in Galatians, Paul is juxtaposing faith to the works of the Law in chapters two and three. The apostle speaks of both Jews and Gentiles being justified by faith. He refers to God's covenant with Israel and its nature as a relation of promise. But in the process, Paul pits an attempt to be justified by the Law against hearing with faith. Both sides of the contrast have life versus death as the two potential ends of that relationship. Paul discusses these themes also in chapters three and four of Galatians.

          Moreover, the Law convicting humanity is the whole theme in Romans 1-3 that builds to his use of justification in the subsequent chapters. See especially Romans 1:18, 1:24-26; 28; 2:1-3; 5-8; 12; 16; 3:9-13. This context clearly has forensic or judicial overtones. The "Law" is everything that God commands us. This places all mankind under it in everything we do (Romans 3:19-20).

          "Matthew 12:37, 1 Corinthians 4:4, and (arguably) Romans 8:33, are speaking of the final judgement, not something that takes place at the moment of conversion.Romans 3:4 (Psalm 51:4) and (arguably) Psalm 19:9 are speaking of God being justified, thus it cannot mean "declare righteous by a judge," for no judge is above God. So despite being in a forensic context, "justify" here can really only mean vindicate. (I wrote about this earlier this year.)."

          Justify can mean to vindicate, but that does nothing to weaken or undermine the traditional meaning of that word. To be vindicated means to be shown as right, innocent, or without sin in a set of circumstances. Vindication is related to a courtroom scene and the question of innocence and just actions. Romans 8:33 is a clear case of forensic categories because it comes alongside with the idea of "charge", accusation, and advocating.

          "Ex 23:7, Deut 25:1, Rom 8:33, 1 Cor 4:4, (and likely) Prov 17:5; Mt 12:37 are not speaking of "declaring righteous" - as in declaring that someone has done his duty like keeping the commandments perfectly - but rather of "acquittal," meaning being found not guilty, i.e. innocent. For example, if I'm on trial for speeding, the Judge can either find me guilty (condemn), or he can acquit me (find innocent), but he cannot declare me to be a perfect driver and worthy of a reward."

          We agree that justification means acquittal, the verdict of "not guilty." Nonetheless, it is difficult to see how the Roman Catholic Church could even affirm that (given concepts like purgatory and the treasury of merit). The imputation of Jesus Christ's righteousness takes place through us being united with Him (1 Corinthians 1:30). That would be the "perfect driver" part.

          "I made a distinction between vindicating and acquitting because it seems acquitting fits best in situations where a person is being found 'innocent' of a charge, where as vindicating means more to show someone is in the right. But that said, I would argue that acquitting is a form or subset of vindicating, so the terms are conceptually not that different. With that in mind, all vindication/acquittal framework, meaning this is how we should most probably view it as well, especially in the key texts of Romans and Galatians. This approach to rendering the term term "justify" as vindicate/acquit has the devastating effect of rendering the Protestant definition not only dubious, but completely without precedent."

          This seems to be quite a leap of logic, as Nick makes hairsplitting distinctions and fails to explain how his points are "devastating" to the "Protestant" argument. The author actually seems to contradict himself, since he says that the term "justify" as meaning "declare righteous" is "completely without precedence" while earlier acknowledging and citing certain passages of Scripture that definitely are to be understood in that same forensic sense.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Genesis 3:21 And Imputed Righteousness

"Adam and Eve had fallen into sin and under God's subsequent curse. God had said that disobedience to his command would receive the penalty of death (Gen. 2:17). Adam and eve would die, being barred from the tree of life and thus kept from living forever (Gen. 3:22). But at the same time God announced his gracious purpose to achieve their salvation, and to each of the players in the drama of the fall, God spoke of a Savior who would achieve that salvation. In Genesis 3:15 he warned the serpent of a seed from the woman who would crush his head. But in Genesis 3:21, God proclaimed Christ to Adam and Eve in a different and wholly wonderful way: "The LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them." We remember that sin had contaminated the first couple's nakedness with shame, so God covered their sin and guilt with the skins of an innocent substitute. Here was a spotless creature who had not participated in our first parents' sin but who nonetheless paid sin's penalty of death. Adam and Eve, not participating in the sacrifice's righteousness, nonetheless are clothed by it so as to stand justified before God."

By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Richard D. Phillips, p. 91-92

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Romans 4:7-8 And Imputed Righteousness

"In citing Psalm 32:1-2, Paul further makes clear that these are people who have "lawless deeds" and "sins" (Rom. 4:7-8). Altogether, the apostle teaches that "ungodly" people characterized by "lawless deeds" and "sins" are "justified" in that God "credits righteousness" to them "apart from works." Carson thus concludes,  "We perceive that justification of the ungodly means the imputation of righteousness."20

By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Richard D. Phillips, p. 82

Romans 4:4-5 And Imputed Righteousness

"...note that in Romans 4:5 Paul adds the statement that faith "trusts him who justifies the ungodly." This can only be a reference to God justifying Abraham. If Abraham was ungodly when he was credited with righteousness, it cannot be because he did something that God considered righteous. If Abraham was faithful at the time he was justified, then this could not be an instance of God "justifying the ungodly." Carson argues, "In Paul's understanding, then, God's imputation of Abraham's faith to Abraham as righteous cannot be grounded in the assumption that faith itself is intrinsically righteous."18 If Abraham was "ungodly" at the time of his justification, his must have been what Reformed theology has termed an alien righteousness-a righteousness that is not based on Abraham's actual condition of faith. "Thus God credits us with a righteousness we do not have."19

By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Richard D. Phillips, p. 82

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Romans 4:4-5 And Justification By Faith Alone

"Paul is contrasting two approaches to righteousness. The one is secured by works and the other by faith. The one is based on merit ("his due") and the other on grace ("as a gift")...Most significant is Paul's contrast between something that is earned, so that it is credited to the person "as his due," verses something that is received by faith, which is received "as a gift." In other words, Paul says that Abraham received righteousness not as something he did but because of God's gracious gift. Carson explains: "Romans 4:4 establishes that there is a crediting, an imputing, that means something is credited to your account that you do not deserve." This means that "when faith is imputed to Abraham as righteousness, it is unmerited, it is all of grace, because it is nothing more than believing God and his gracious promise."17 Paul's whole argument here is that while Abraham's believing is correlated to his being credited with righteousness, this is not because he did something to ear it."

By Faith Alone: Answering the Challenges to the Doctrine of Justification, contributor Richard D. Phillips, p. 81

Monday, September 30, 2019

A Rational Argument For The Existence Of The Human Soul

"In this discussion, many modern scientific thinkers have taken position that consciousness is an illusory faculty created by our neuronal activity. According to this position, our subjective self-awareness is wholly imagined fantasy that has no objective existence:

“Despite our every instinct to the contrary, there is one thing that consciousness is not; some deep entity inside the brain that corresponds to the “self”, some kernel of awareness that runs the show ... after more than a century of looking for it brain researchers have long since concluded that there is no conceivable place for such a self to be located in the physical brain, and that it simply doesn’t exist.” (Journalist Michael Leminick, Time Magazine)

“We feel, most of the time, like we are riding around inside our bodies, as though we are an inner subject that can utilize the body as a kind of object. This last representation is an illusion ... “ (Atheist author Sam Harris)

“The intuitive feeling that we have that there’s an executive “I” that sits in the control room of our brain ... is an illusion.” (Dr. Steven Pinker)

These thinkers all readily acknowledge that our actual experience of reality seems to fly in the face of their description of it — hence Professor Dennett’s “problem of consciousness.” One would think that in order to draw conclusions about the true nature of this problem they would rely on carefully researched evidence and hard facts before informing us that every experience that we have (or will ever have) — from love and morality to the appreciation of beauty and free will — are fictitious. Here are some examples of what the world of science does actually offer on this topic:

“Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious.” (Dr. Jerry Fodor, Professor of philosophy and cognitive science)

“The problem of consciousness tends to embarrass biologists. Taking it to be an aspect of living things, they feel they should know about it and be able to tell physicists about it, whereas they have nothing relevant to say.” (Dr. George Wald, Nobel Prize winning biologist)

“Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all.” (Dr. Nick Herbert, Physicist)

Based on these honest assessments of the state of scientific knowledge on this topic one might think that these thinkers — who have a priori drawn conclusions on a subject for which they seem to have little to no evidence — would speak in far more humble and guarded tones. No one seriously suggests that protons, quarks or chemical compounds possess innate awareness. Why then do they suggest that the products of these foundational materials will suddenly leap into self-cognizance? Is this a truly rational position to hold? Exactly how many electrons does it take for them to become “aware” of themselves? Cells do not wonder about themselves, molecules have no identity and a machine — no matter how sophisticated — is imbecilic (without its programmer).

If our decision-making faculty was indeed an illusion of the brain it should be impossible to physically affect the brain through our own willful decisions and yet research has demonstrated that the “I” can and does alter brain activity through the agency of free will as described by Canadian neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard:

“Jeffrey Schwartz ... a UCLA neuropsychiatrist, treats obsessive-compulsive disorder — by getting patients to reprogram their brains. Evidence of the mind’s control over the brain is actually captured in these studies. There is such a thing as mind over matter. We do have will power, consciousness, and emotions, and combined with a sense of purpose and meaning, we can effect change.”

Why then should we not consider the possibility — the one that satisfies our deepest, most powerful and intuitive sense — that the “I” that we all experience is the human soul? And that the reason that science has not discovered its whereabouts is not that it doesn’t exist, but rather that it is not part of physical reality as we know it and as such is undetectable and unmeasurable by material means. It is certainly understandable that for those who believe that material reality is the only reality this would be an unwelcome notion. Nonetheless, I submit that in absence of any compelling alternative and with the obviousness of the reality of our self-awareness so manifestly apparent — it is the rational conclusion to draw."

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Granville Sharp Rule And Evidence For Jesus Christ's Deity In Titus 2:13

  • Titus 2:13 Is An Example Of Where The Granville Sharp Rule Is Applied:
          -"In the original Greek, the words for “God” and “Savior” are joined by kai, and the definite article ho is only used once, preceding “God”; according to the Granville Sharp Rule, both God and Savior must refer to the same person, namely, Jesus Christ. The NASB 1977 renders the verse more literally: “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”...The grammatical construction of the Greek makes it plain: definite article + singular noun + copulative conjunction + singular noun = the same person." (Got Questions, "What is the Granville Sharp Rule?")
  • The Granville Sharp Rule Does Not Apply To Things, Plurals, Or Proper Names. Daniel B. Wallace Gives These Pertinent Remarks Here:
          -"In native Greek constructions (i.e., not translation Greek), when a single article modifies two substantives connected by kai (thus, article-substantive- kai-substantive), when both substantives are (1) singular (both grammatically and semantically), (2) personal, (3) and common nouns (not proper names or ordinals), they have the same referent."
  • The Following Excerpt Has Been Taken From The Same Source As The Previous One:
          -"...solid linguistic reasons and plenty of phenomenological data were found to support the requirements that Sharp laid down. When substantives meet the requirements of Sharp’s canon, apposition is the result, and inviolably so in the NT. The canon even works outside the twenty-seven books and, hence, ought to be resurrected as a sound principle which has overwhelming validity in all of Greek literature. Consequently, in Titus 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1 we are compelled to recognize that, on a grammatical level, a heavy burden of proof rests with the one who wishes to deny that “God and Savior” refers to one person, Jesus Christ."
  • Consider Further Information From Daniel B. Wallace:
          -"It has frequently been alleged that θεός is a proper name and, hence, that Sharp’s rule cannot apply to constructions in which it is employed. We have already argued that θεός is not a proper name in Greek.56 We simply wish to point out here that in the TSKS construction θεός is used over a dozen times in the NT (e.g., Luke 20:37; John 20:27; Rom 15:6; 2 Cor 1:3; Gal 1:4; Jas 1:27) and always (if we exclude the christologically significant texts) in reference to one person. This phenomenon is not true of any other proper name in said construction (every instance involving true proper names always points to two individuals). Since that argument carries no weight, there is no good reason to reject Titus 2:13 as an explicit affirmation of the deity of Christ. (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 277 in the Digital version)
  • Dr. James R. White Provides Similar Clarifications Of The Granville Sharp Rule As Follows:
          -"Basically, Granville Sharp's rule states that when you have two nouns, which are not proper names (such as Cephas, or Paul, or Timothy), which are describing a person, and the two nouns are connected by the word 'and,' and the first noun has the article ('the') while the second does not, both nouns are referring to the same person."
  • Examples Of Granville Sharp Construction Found In The New Testament (Excerpt Taken From James White Of Alpha and Omega Ministries):
          -"Kenneth Wuest in his Expanded Translation brings out the Sharp constructions in a number of other instances. For example, 2 Thessalonians 1:12 reads, “in accordance with the grace of our God, even the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Timothy 5:21: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of our God, even Jesus Christ,…” and 2 Timothy 4:1: “I solemnly charge you as one who is living in the presence of our God, even Christ Jesus,…” All these demonstrate further examples of Sharp’s rule. Not all examples, of course, deal with the fact of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 3:2 reads, τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν καὶ συνεργὸν, “our brother and fellow-worker,” in reference to Timothy. Philemon 1 contains a similar reference, and Hebrews 3:1 is yet another example. One of the most often repeated examples has to do with the idiom, “God and Father.” Pure Sharp constructions occur at 2 Corinthians 1:3, Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 5:20, Philippians 4:20, and 1 Thessalonians 3:11. Finally, other examples of Sharp constructions occur at 1 Corinthians 5:10, 7:8, 7:34, Ephesians 5:5, Philippians 2:25, and Colossians 4:7."
  • The NET Bible has this footnote:
          -"Sharp pointed out that in the construction article-noun-καί-noun (where καί [kai] = “and”), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as “the friend and brother,” “the God and Father,” etc. abound in the NT to prove Sharp’s point. The only issue is whether terms such as “God” and “Savior” could be considered common nouns as opposed to proper names. Sharp and others who followed (such as T. F. Middleton in his masterful The Doctrine of the Greek Article) demonstrated that a proper name in Greek was one that could not be pluralized. Since both “God” (θεός, qeos) and “savior” (σωτήρ, swthr) were occasionally found in the plural, they did not constitute proper names, and hence, do fit Sharp’s rule."
  • We Know That The Terms "God" And "Savior" Are Both Applied To Jesus Christ In Titus 2:13 Because The Next Verse Says The Following:
          -"who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds."
          -Christ is the One who gave Himself up on our behalf as a sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. There is no contextual evidence for the "who" reference in Titus 2:14 being plural.
  • Dr. James White Gives This Commentary On Titus 2:13 (Following Excerpt Taken From The Same Article As White's Other Quotes Above):
          -"It might also be mentioned that verse 14, while directly referring to Christ, is a paraphrase of some Old Testament passages that refer to Yahweh God. (Psalm 130:8, Deuteronomy 7:6, etc). One can hardly object to the identification of Christ as God when the Apostle goes on to describe His works as the works of God!"
  • This Excerpt From The Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary On Titus 2:13 Is Also Relevant Here:
          -"There is but one Greek article to “God” and “Savior,” which shows that both are predicated of one and the same Being. “Of Him who is at once the great God and our Savior.” Also (2) “appearing” ({epiphaneia}) is never by Paul predicated of God the Father (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16), or even of “His glory” (as Alford explains it): it is invariably applied to Christ‘s coming, to which) (at His first advent, compare 2 Timothy 1:10) the kindred verb “appeared” ({epephanee}), Titus 2:)11, refers (1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:8). Also (3) in the context (Titus 2:14) there is no reference to the Father, but to Christ alone; and here there is no occasion for reference to the Father in the exigencies of the context. Also (4) the expression “great God,” as applied to Christ, is in accordance with the context, which refers to the glory of His appearing; just as “the true God” is predicated of Christ, 1 John 5:20. The phrase occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but often in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 7:21; Deuteronomy 10:17, predicated of Jehovah, who, as their manifested Lord, led the Israelites through the wilderness, doubtless the Second Person in the Trinity. Believers now look for the manifestation of His glory, inasmuch as they shall share in it. Even the Socinian explanation, making “the great God” to be the Father, “our Savior,” the Son, places God and Christ on an equal relation to “the glory” of the future appearing: a fact incompatible with the notion that Christ is not divine; indeed it would be blasphemy so to couple any mere created being with God."

Friday, September 27, 2019

Guidelines For Establishing A Solid Worldview

1. A good worldview will have a strong foundation in correspondence; it will have factual support. Conversely, it will refuse that which is known to be false. It must harness all areas of reality and not retain a selective sovereignty. To refuse to include facts that challenge the thesis or to arbitrarily make some subservient to others because they better fit a predetermined conclusion betrays a prejudice that distorts the worldview.

2. A good worldview should have a high degree of coherence or internal consistency. A logically contradictory system cannot be true. To be internally consistent it cannot have contradicting deductions, regardless of what “experiential needs” are met in the process. [...]

3. A good worldview has explanatory power. The collation of facts leads to initial postulations, by which we devise our theories, our hypotheses, and then finally delineate our “laws.” United facts and integrated deductions lead to systems. Facts ultimately do not just speak for themselves; they help build a theory, or provide the prescriptive elements, the eyeglasses, through which we view the world.

4. A good worldview will avoid two extremes. This means, said Hoover,that a good worldview will be neither too simple nor too complex. He uses the famous “Occam’s razor test.” William of Occam (1300–1349) supposedly said, "Do not multiply entities without necessity,” which basically means that we are to resist the temptation to make our explanations too complex. If an explanation becomes too complex, Occam's razor will cut it off. On the other hand, an explanation should not become so simplistic that it commits the reductive fallacy. To make man an incomprehensible entity is to go to one extreme. To consider a man a mere brute is to reduce him to the other extreme. A good worldview, therefore, is neither too simple nor too complex in its explanatory power.

5. A good worldview has more than one line of evidence, not just one knockout argument. Cumulative evidence converges from several sources of data. Hoover’s illustration of the metaphysician being like a good stage manager is excellent. One by one the manager clicks on a series of lights,placed at different angles around the stage. The full illumination from all the lights falls on the center of the stage. When all the lights are on, you should be able to see the manager's assertion in the center of the stage.

6. A worldview is not complete in itself until it is able to refute, implicitly or explicitly, contrary worldviews....The law of non contradiction (that a statement and its opposite cannot both be true) applies not only within a worldview but also between worldviews. Thus, it is more reasonable to say that all religions we know of are wrong than to assert that all are right. Any system that opens its arms wide enough to incorporate everything will end up strangling itself when the arms close in.

Ravi Zacharias, The Real Face of Atheism, p. 174-175

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Saul Talking With (Dead) Samuel Is Problematic For Soul Sleep Theology

"Seventh day Adventism does not believe anything of a person survives death except in the memory of God. They believe the essence of a person is “soul”, the thing they say comes into existence when a person breathes. When they cease to breathe, that “life force” goes away, and the soul dies. Life ceases, and the body decays. God remembers the person, but nothing immaterial or material remains.

First Samuel, however, challenges the Adventist out-of-context defense of the non-biblical doctrine of “soul sleep”. In fact, 1 Samuel 15:34-35 compared with 1 Samual 28 shockingly contradicts the Adventist worldview.

In 1 Samual 15:34-35 we are told Samuel would not see Saul again until the day of his death. These words proved to be prophetic: “Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel” (1 Sam. 15:34–35).

The grammar above is important. In the second sentence we read, “Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death.” Grammar dictates that a pronoun (his) must refer to the last noun named—Saul. This is a consistent rule of grammar; the word “his” cannot refer to the name Samuel, because the name Saul is the noun that immediately precedes the pronoun. In technical terms, “Saul” is the antecedent of “his”. In other words, we could accurately read this sentence, “And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of Saul’s death.”

As we read 1 Samuel 28, we learn that on the night of the very day Saul died (Jewish days began at sundown and lasted until the next sundown), he went to the medium of Endor and asked her to “bring up” Samuel who had already died. The context suggests that Saul believed that if the medium of Endor really did call up Samuel, it would actually be the prophet speaking from the grave.

The chapter tells the story of Samuel appearing, to the witch’s shock and fear, and delivering the prophecy to Saul that he would die “tomorrow”. Samuel said, “Moreover, the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines” (1 Sam. 28:19).

Saul did die during the battle with the Philistines before the next sundown, fulfilling 1 Samuel 15:34-35. Samuel, who had already died, nevertheless saw Saul on the day of Saul’s death. In fact, he not only saw him, but he prophesied to him and let him know that he would die in a battle with the Philistines that Israel would lose.

Adventists say that Saul saw an evil spirit impersonating Samuel. This interpretation, though, denies the words of Scripture. Furthermore, only God could have known the day of Saul’s coming death. An evil spirit would not have given an accurate prophecy; it had to be God’s prophet Samuel speaking from the grave the infallible words of God.

Furthermore, when one studies the whole of 1 Samuel 28, the passage never suggests that Samuel had any personal, direct knowledge of what was currently troubling Saul. Samuel simply told Saul the message God gave him to say."

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A Commentary On So-Called "Deliverance Ministries"

"I know of no polite way to respond to this kind of teaching. It is unmitigated nonsense. Nowhere in sacred Scripture is there to be found the slightest hint of this kind of demonic diagnosis. These teachings cross the line into the sphere of magic and result in serious harm to believers who are duped by them. Sadly, too much concern with Satan and demons means that we focus less of our attention on Christ. That must please Satan, and it is certainly not pleasing to God.

The Scriptures indicate that Satan can oppress us, assault us, tempt us, slander us, and accuse us. But a Christian who is indwelled by the Holy Spirit cannot be possessed by a demon. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). If a person indwelled by the Holy Spirit can at the same time be sovereignly controlled by an evil spirit, then our redemption is meaningless.

All this emphasis on Satan and demons tends to distract us from another very real menace, our own sin. Yes, there is a Devil. There are real demons. But there is also the reality of sin. Satan may be our accomplice in our ongoing sin, but we cannot pass the blame and responsibility for our sin to a controlling demon. We do not have to be possessed by a demon to get drunk. There is enough abiding wickedness in us to do it all by ourselves. We can never say, “The Devil made me do it.” We can say that we are tempted, incited, or seduced by Satan, but not that we are controlled or coerced by him.

There are two serious problems with the view that our sins are the result of controlling demons. The first is that we yield to the temptation to take no personal responsibility for our sin. How can we be responsible if in fact we are not able to resist? Second, we are lured into thinking that we are powerless without the aid of the deliverance minister. We are encouraged to think that we are not really guilty and that we are actually helpless without a minister with special powers of deliverance. This negates the entire biblical concept of sanctification. It is surely unbiblical to teach that we cannot lead lives pleasing to God unless some so-called expert on deliverance comes to our side. Therefore, I say with all urgency that believers must turn away from those who teach such things. Indeed, we should run for our spiritual lives."

Monday, September 23, 2019

1 Corinthians 10:3-4 Is A Problematic Passage For Roman Catholic Transubstantiation

        "They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:3-4)

        This passage of Scripture is relevant to Roman Catholic transubstantiation because it affirms that Jesus Christ is our source of spiritual nourishment. He is our spiritual food. He, the substance, is the same substance that is made mentally present by faith at the meal of the New Covenant.

        Transubstantiation does not involve the eating and drinking of Christ in a "spiritual" manner. That language is distinct from Roman Catholic dogma. Transubstantiation takes place when the priest pronounces the bread and wine to be Jesus Christ's actual body and blood (the change is not in the accidents, but substance).

        What matters in Roman Catholic theology is the participation in that physical substance. But this is directly contrary to the way that the Scriptures speak concerning the participation of those ancient people in the meal, and water (in that case).

         The Israelites "ate" and "drank" Christ, which must be spiritual and not physical because no transubstantiation took place during the Old Testament. We partake of Christ in the same spiritual way that the Old Testament Jews did.

Does Matthew 25:31-46 (Parable Of The Sheep And Goats) Teach Works Salvation?

        First of all, it should be noted that the context of Matthew 25:31-46 is about the quality of being faithful. It is not about justification or how one gets right with God.

        Secondly, works are not being prescribed as criteria for salvation in this passage. Rather, they provide descriptions of who belongs in either one of two categories: sheep or goats.

        The former group experienced genuine conversion of heart which results in the performance of good works, whereas those in the latter group simply did not care for the things of God.

         Jesus Christ was addressing matters from a general standpoint, not giving specific ordinances or rituals that we must observe in order to earn God's favor. The Lord points to our works in judgement because they serve as convictable evidence of our obedience to Him.

         There is an element of grace alone present in this context ("...blessed by My Father...", Matthew 25:34). The kingdom of heaven was prepared by God as a result of His kindness and mercy. This inheritance was prepared for us long before we were even born ("before the foundation of the world"). This is clearly not a matter of earning our way into heaven by good works. The concept of faith alone ties in with grace (Romans 4:16).

         God will certainly reward believers for their good deeds. On the other hand, the reception of eternal life is a free gift that He gives. The works that we do perform are a result of His divine grace. Justification is not by works of righteousness which we have done (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are to place our trust in Christ's work alone for salvation.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Dispelling The Myth Of Secret Bible Codes

        There is a notion that the Old Testament contains encrypted messages that are arrived at through mathematical calculation or attributing numerical value to Hebrew letters. Much has been put forth into the discussion of whether the Hebrew Bible has any hidden or mysterious messages that need to be deciphered. A major proponent of Bible codes is the mathematician Eliyahu Rips. It has even been asserted that these codes were forewarnings of tragic events such as World War II and the Holocaust. Thus, we see that some people sensationally point to these so-called secret messages as proof of the divine authorship of Scripture. The desire to unravel Bible codes is ancient, as this source explains:

        "Generally, the mystical use of numbers is traced to the Greek mathematician, Pythagoras (c. 569-500 B.C.), who founded a cult based upon the idea than numbers were basic to nature, and that any phenomenon could be explained in terms of numbers (see John J. Davis, Biblical Numerology, Baker, 1968, pp. 125ff).

        There may be a reflection of this ideology in the Jewish apocryphal book, The Wisdom of Solomon, written by an unknown Alexandrian Jew in the late 2nd century B.C. (or later). A passage in that work states that God “by measure and number and weight” ordered all things (11:20). Certain ancient Jewish writers attempted “exegetical wizardry” by the mystical use of numbers."

        The Bible does not speak of codes by which one can obtain previously hidden knowledge. Figures such as Jesus Christ, Peter, and Paul never spoke of hidden meanings to their teaching. The inspired authors of Scripture never appeal to or make an application of any alleged Bible codes. As a matter of fact, doing such very closely resembles the pagan practice of divination (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).

        Never once has there been a supposed Bible code that is seemingly prophetic in nature. In other words, none of these so-called revelatory discoveries have given us historical information that was not already known or available. They are not falsifiable. Thus, Bible codes are pointless and unreliable. The straightforward reading of Scripture provides us with everything that we need to know in regard to salvation and godliness.

        Another factor that merits consideration here is that anybody can subjectively apply some mathematical processes for discovering hidden codes in any text of every language. A person can even come up with an alleged Bible code that flatly contradicts the overall teaching of Scripture. While the Old Testament has been preserved remarkably well, textual transmission issues deliver a fatal blow to the Bible code theory:

         "...we will find that it is impossible to recover the original text letter-for-letter. This can be clearly demonstrated. Because it is not possible to recover the original text, it is not possible to discover a Bible code that gives trustworthy messages."

         Of course, the Bible is a book that requires a considerable amount of studying. The inspired volume consists of a number of separate and intimately related parts. It is also true that numbers can be used as symbols. On the contrary, these supposed Bible codes are strange at face value and do not qualify at all to be categorized as eschatology. This excerpt serves as a perfect conclusion here:

         "The real test to predict the future is to make it plain to everyone, not have secret knowledge that is left up mostly to the interpreter. Statistics can be extremely subtle, and those fooled best are those who desperately want to see something in the shadows without considering the true light. This is no different or even accurate than trying to understand the future and find the Gospel by the stars."

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Examples Of Medieval Expositors Who Used "Faith Alone" In Their Commentaries On Romans

"...a number of Latin commentators echoed the Pauline language of faith alone (sola fide) when commenting on justification in the book of Romans. Examples include Cassiodorus (ca. 485-583),26 Lanfranc of Bec (ca. 1003-1089),27 Bruno of Cologne (1032-1101),28 and Robert of Melun (ca. 1100-1167).29 A survey of these medieval commentators suggests that they limited their understanding of justification primarily to the remission of past sins only.30 Nonetheless, it is significant to note that the Reformers were not the first to use the phrase sola fide in their interpretation of Romans."31

Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 138

Early Church Evidence For Sola Fide

"The fourth-century writer Marius Victorinus (who converted to Christianity around 355), says of Paul's teaching in Galatians: "Therefore righteousness is not from the law; that is, justification and salvation come not from the law but from faith, as is promised."13 Commenting on the book of Ephesians, he says of God's grace, "He did not give back to us what was merited, since we did not receive this by merits but by the grace and goodness of God."14 Later he adds, "The fact that you Ephesians are saved is not something that comes from yourselves. It is the gift of God. It is not from your works, but it is God's grace and God's gift, not from anything you have deserved."15 And again, "Only faith [sola fides] in Christ is salvation for us."16 

Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 66

7th Century BC Stamp Bearing Name Of King David's Son Unearthed In Jerusalem

"The less than half-an-inch sealing was uncovered by an Israeli teen volunteer at City of David excavation site.

A minute stamp seal from 2,600 years ago bearing the name of King David’s son was recently found in an excavation site in Jerusalem, the City of David Foundation announced Sunday in a press release.

The seal, believed to be used by the highest ranking ministers in ancient Jerusalem to sign documents, bears the Hebrew name and title, “Adoniyahu by appointment of the house,” (“Asher Al Habayit”) and appears numerous times in the Bible under different kings in each of the ancient kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

The phrase appears for the first time on the list of ministers of King Solomon, the Foundation said.

“This tiny stamp seal has immense meaning to billions of people worldwide,” said Doron Spielman, Vice-President of the City of David Foundation.

The personal signet dates back to the era of Solomon's Temple in the 7th century BCE and “is another link in the long chain of Jewish history in Jerusalem that is being uncovered and preserved at the City of David on a daily basis,” Speilman added.

The name Adoniyahu was given to one of King David's sons as mentioned in the Book of Kings. It is also mentioned as one of the Levites in the days of Jehoshaphat, and finally in the days of Nehemiah as one of the “Heads of, the people…” (Nehemiah 9:16).

Eliyahu Yanai, City of DavidThis unearthed bulla is approximately one-centimeter-wide (less than half an inch), and according to the type of writing that appears on it, dates to the 7th century BC in ancient Jerusalem.

The unearthed seal is approximately one-centimeter-wide (less than half-an-inch), and based on its calligraphy, dates as far back as the Kingdom of Judah during the 7th century BCE. These types of stamps were small pieces of tin used in ancient times to sign documents, and were meant to keep the letters closed en route to their destination, the City of David Foundation said.

The item was discovered as part of excavations that began in 2013 underneath Robinson's Arch at the foundations of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It was uncovered last month by teenage volunteer Batya Offen."

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Why Bible Translation Is So Important

The Bible is one of the oldest and most popular books of all time. But is it just a book, or is it much more?

We believe that the Bible is God’s Word to us — something that everyone should be able to understand in a language and form that clearly speaks to their hearts. But approximately 2,000 languages* around the world are still waiting for a translation project to begin.

When people finally get Scripture in their own language, lives often change in amazing ways. People are transformed as they discover Jesus Christ and enter into a right relationship with God.

That’s why [groups such as] Wycliffe Bible Translators exists — to help speakers of these remaining languages get the Bible for themselves. And we won’t stop until all people have God’s Word in a language they understand.

The Worldwide Status of Bible Translation:

More than 1,500 languages have access to the New Testament and some portions of Scripture in their language.

More than 650 languages have the complete translated Bible.

At least 7,000 spoken or signed languages* are known to be in use today.

At least 1.5 billion people do not have the full Bible in their language — that’s more people than the entire continent of Africa!

More than 2,500 languages across 170 countries have active translation and linguistic development work happening right now.

Approximately 2,000 languages still need a Bible translation project to begin.