Thursday, March 28, 2019

Why The Ascension Is Important

"Jesus’ ascension refers to His going to a special place for a special purpose. He goes to the Father, to the Father’s right hand. He rises to the seat of cosmic authority.

Jesus goes to heaven for His coronation, His confirmation as the King of Kings. Jesus also ascended to enter the heavenly Holy of Holies to continue His work as our great High Priest. In heaven Jesus reigns as King and intercedes for us as our High Priest. From His position of ascended authority He poured out His Spirit upon the church. John Calvin remarked,

“Being raised to heaven, he withdrew his bodily presence from our sight, not that he might cease to be with his followers, who are still pilgrims on the earth, but that he might rule both heaven and earth more immediately by his power” (Institutes 2.16.14).

When Jesus ascended to heaven for His coronation as King of Kings, He was seated at the right hand of God. The right hand of God is the seat of authority. From this position Jesus rules, administrates His kingdom, and presides as the judge of heaven and earth.

At the right hand of the Father, Jesus is seated as the Head of His body, the church. Yet in this position, Jesus’ authority and governmental jurisdiction and administration extend beyond the sphere of His church to embrace the whole world. Though church and state may be distinguished within Jesus’ domain, they are never separated or divorced. His authority extends over both. All earthly rulers are accountable to Him and will be judged by Him in His office as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Everyone in heaven and on earth is called of God to reverence Jesus’ majesty, to be ruled by His hand, to do Him proper homage, and to submit to His power. Everyone will ultimately stand before Him as He sits in final judgment.

Jesus has the authority to pour out His Holy Spirit upon the church. But Jesus did not pour out the Spirit until He was first seated at the right hand of God. The Spirit ministers in subordination to the Father and the Son, who together sent Him to apply Christ’s work of salvation to believers.

While seated at the right hand of God, Jesus not only exercises His role as King of Kings, He also fulfills the role of cosmic judge. He is judge over all nations and all people. Although Jesus rules as our judge, He has also been appointed by the Father to be our advocate. He is our defense attorney. At the last judgment our court-appointed defense lawyer will be the presiding judge. A foretaste of Jesus’ intercession on behalf of saints can be seen in the martyrdom of Stephen:

“But he [Stephen], full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55–56)."

R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

Monday, March 25, 2019

Is The Old Testament Still Necessary?

  • Discussion:
          -Megachurch Pastor Andy Stanley once made the claim that Christians needed to "unhitch" themselves from the Old Testament. Apparently, He made that statement during a sermon in an effort to shift the attention of believers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and get apostates to consider reversion. But such a suggestion actually does the Christian church a disservice, for the New Testament is based on the Old Testament.

          It is precisely because of the Old Testament that we know the problem of mankind is sin. The Old Testament reveals in great detail the reason for God sending His Son into this world. Hence, it is precisely because of the Old Testament that we are able to have a correct understanding of God's love and forgiveness. Apart from the Old Testament, the gospel and the rest of the New Testament would sound strange and irrational.

          The New Testament was never meant to stand independently of the Old Testament. Both were breathed out by God. The New Testament is rooted in history as is the Old. In fact, both Jesus and Paul accepted the validity of the Old Testament (Mark 10:6; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Paul said that the Old Testament Scriptures were written to encourage and instruct us (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). The Old Testament Scriptures testify of Christ (John 5:46-47; Luke 16:29-31).

           While it is true that Christians are free from the Law, that does not make the history of the Old Testament inapplicable to our lives. It does nothing to relegate its content. The Old Testament contains moral lessons that are very much relevant to us. We absolutely do need to be familiar with it. The Law reflects the righteous character of God. Consequently, the idea that Christians need to "unhitch" themselves from the Old Testament is terrible advice.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Christian Response To Animal Rights Activism

        Animal rights activists are well-known for their radical stances against us treating other creatures as our property, using them in scientific experimentation, and eating their flesh. It is maintained by people who uphold this position that we should not utilize animals for such purposes. Some who campaign for animal rights even believe that the critters they so defend should be granted the same rights as people, thereby eliminating the distinction between man and beast. The reasoning behind this position is that us using animals for our benefit results in their pain and suffering. However, modern-day animal rights activism is removed from a biblical foundation and a house of cards.

        The most basic problem with animal rights activism is that it is simply not workable. It is not a livable philosophy. If people who advocate for animal rights were to achieve their goal of imposing their ideas on the rest of us, then life as we know it would become dysfunctional. Consider the following points. Leather is a made from animal skins. A great deal of our clothing is made up of animal furs. Tires, shampoos, and toothpastes also contain animal ingredients. Thus, taking up an animal rights activist mindset would require us to make numerous modifications to fundamental aspects of our lives.

         If we endorse animal rights activism, then what are we to do with all the carnivorous animals? If we are mere animals, then what objective basis would there be for us to not eat meat? If we were to join the animal rights movement, then why not also establish a plant rights activist movement? If animals are to be treated in the same manner as humans, then they also need to be held to our standards of punishment when caught misbehaving (which would cause them pain and suffering). It is also ironic to note that many animal rights activists are supportive of abortion.

         So, how are we supposed to treat animals? The answer to that question depends on the moral principles we hold. Ethics always begins with an objective standard. Mankind was created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). This is why Scripture prescribes the death penalty for murder. But the eating of plants and animals has been permitted by God. We have been called to exercise good stewardship over His creation, which includes animals. Animals are not to be killed to the point of extinction or for our own enjoyment. Animals are not to be treated cruelly. Animals cannot have rights because they are unable to make free choices and act with moral accountability.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Rejoinder To Dave Armstrong On Sola Scriptura

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as a point-by-point refutation of former Protestant turned Roman Catholic convert and apologist Dave Armstrong's work titled A Quick Ten-Step Refutation of Sola ScripturaWe begin this rebuttal with a citation from the author:

            " biblical passage teaches that Scripture is the formal authority or rule of faith in isolation from the Church and Tradition. Sola scriptura can’t even be deduced from implicit passages."

           The assertion of Sola Scriptura being unbiblical is a standard Roman Catholic objection. It has been dealt with in a succinct fashion here:


            Why do several uniquely Roman Catholic "sacred traditions" seem to contradict Scripture?

           "Word in Holy Scripture often refers to a proclaimed, oral teaching of prophets or apostles. What the prophets spoke was the word of God regardless of whether or not their utterances were recorded later as written Scripture."

            We do not deny that the Word of God was once communicated orally. Scripture alone is the only infallible rule of faith or spiritual standard for Christians to use. Everything else is fallible and to be subjugated to its judgement. We should not endorse somebody's ideas just because he claims to be a prophet of God (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).

           "Protestants often quote the verses in the Bible where corrupt traditions of men are condemned (e.g., Matt. 15:2–6; Mark 7:8–13; Col. 2:8). Of course, Catholics agree with this. But it’s not the whole truth. True, apostolic Tradition also is endorsed positively. This Tradition is in total harmony with and consistent with Scripture."

           Tradition that is in perfect harmony with the teaching of Scripture poses absolutely no problem for the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Some traditions are good while others are bad. What needs to be proven beyond reasonable doubt is that inspired extra-biblical oral traditions exist.

           Next, Dave Armstrong goes on to claim that Jesus and the apostles accepted oral tradition (in the same sense that Rome claims to possess inspired apostolic tradition). He cites four examples of what he considers as proof which are addressed as follows:

           "The reference to “He shall be called a Nazarene” cannot be found in the Old Testament, yet it was “spoken by the prophets” (Matt. 2:23). Therefore, this prophecy, which is considered to be “God’s word,” was passed down orally rather than through Scripture."

           The above claim has been contradicted by the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online: 

           "In the manuscripts of the New Testament, the name occurs in a great orthographical variety, such as Nazaret, Nazareth, Nazara, Nazarat, and the like. In the time of Eusebius and St. Jerome (Onomasticon), its name was Nazara (in modern Arabic, en Nasirah), which therefore, seems to be the correct name; in the New Testament we find its derivatives written Nazarenos, or Nazoraios, but never Nazaretaios. The etymology of Nazara is neser, which means "a shoot". The Vulgate renders this word by flos, "flower", in the Prophecy of Isaias (11:1), which is applied to the Saviour. St. Jerome (Epist., xlvi, "Ad Marcellam") gives the same interpretation to the name of the town."

           The New American Bible Revised Edition has this footnote:

           "Nazareth…he shall be called a Nazorean: the tradition of Jesus’ residence in Nazareth was firmly established, and Matthew sees it as being in accordance with the foreannounced plan of God. The town of Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and no such prophecy can be found there. The vague expression “through the prophets” may be due to Matthew’s seeing a connection between Nazareth and certain texts in which there are words with a remote similarity to the name of that town. Some such Old Testament texts are Is 11:1 where the Davidic king of the future is called “a bud” (nēser) that shall blossom from the roots of Jesse, and Jgs 13:5, 7 where Samson, the future deliverer of Israel from the Philistines, is called one who shall be consecrated (a nāzîr) to God."

           "In Matthew 23:2–3, Jesus teaches that the scribes and Pharisees have a legitimate, binding authority based “on Moses’ seat,” but this phrase or idea cannot be found anywhere in the Old Testament. It is found in the (originally oral) Mishnah, which teaches a sort of “teaching succession” from Moses on down."

            Attempting to prove the Papal office from Matthew 23 is plagued with problems. It was an office that belonged to several people, not to a single person who was taken as supreme over them: "Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated THEMSELVES in the chair of Moses..." Furthermore, scribes and Pharisees could also be laymen. See this article for more details:


            This footnote from the Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition says the following regarding the seat of Moses:

           "[2-3] Have taken their seat . . . Moses: it is uncertain whether this is simply a metaphor for Mosaic teaching authority or refers to an actual chair on which the teacher sat. It has been proved that there was a seat so designated in synagogues of a later period than that of this gospel."

           "In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul refers to a rock that “followed” the Jews through the Sinai wilderness. The Old Testament says nothing about such miraculous movement. But rabbinic tradition does."

           It is certainly true that the apostolic writers appealed to extra-biblical sources. However, all this proves is that extra-biblical sources sometimes contained statements that the Apostles deemed useful in articulating their points.

           "As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses” (2 Tim. 3:8). These two men cannot be found in the related Old Testament passage (Ex. 7:8ff.) or anywhere else in the Old Testament."

           Could it be that the Holy Spirit simply moved Paul to incorporate the two names into his inspired epistle? Sola Scriptura is not a denial that other books or materials are of use in Scripture being written. So none of what Dave Armstrong is saying poses a problem.

           "In the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:6–30), we see Peter and James speaking with authority. This Council makes an authoritative pronouncement (citing the Holy Spirit) that was binding on all Christians."

           The Council of Jerusalem is actually supportive of Sola Scriptura and harmful to Roman Catholic claims of Papal supremacy. See this article for more details:


           "Christianity was derived in many ways from the Pharisaical tradition of Judaism. The Sadducees, on the other hand, rejected the future resurrection of the soul, the afterlife, rewards and retribution, demons and angels, and predestinarianism. The Sadducees also rejected all authoritative oral teaching and essentially believed in sola scriptura. They were the theological liberals of that time."

           The standard which corrects the theological errors of the Pharisees and Sadducees is Scripture itself. That is what Jesus used when confronting the two groups. It is also important to keep in mind that there was no infallible teaching Magisterium for the Jews. Despite the rejection of the resurrection of the dead by the Sadducees, the concept was still clearly attested to in the Old Testament (Job 19:25-26; Psalm 16:10; Daniel 12:2; Isaiah 26:19). Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees upheld corrupt oral traditions as having equal authority with Scripture.

           "Old Testament Jews did not believe in Sola Scriptura. So the people did indeed understand the law (cf. Neh. 8:8, 12), but not without much assistance—not merely upon hearing. Likewise, the Bible is not altogether clear in and of itself but requires the aid of teachers who are more familiar with biblical styles and Hebrew idiom, background, context, exegesis and cross-reference, hermeneutical principles, original languages, etc."

           The reason that the Jews in Babylon had difficulties in interpreting Scripture is that they were unfamiliar with pure Hebrew. After all, they were in captivity for seventy years and learned Aramaic. Nonetheless, some parts of the Bible are harder to understand than others. However, infallibility is not a requirement for accurately interpreting and applying Scripture. The people would have listened to the teaching of the Law because Ezra had judicial authority and not because he was bestowed some gift of infallibility. Should we reject the Papacy, Marian dogmas, and the Eucharist for the reason that such concepts were not believed by the Old Testament Jews?

            "This passage [2 Timothy 3:16-17] doesn’t teach formal sufficiency, which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and Church. Protestants extrapolate onto the text what isn’t there. If we look at the overall context of this passage, we can see that Paul makes reference to oral Tradition three times (cf. 2 Tim. 1:13–14; 2:2; 3:14)."

          None of the Bible verses that the author mentions tell us what or where we can get the specific statements of the Apostle Paul. The claim that extra-biblical oral tradition exists in those passages is assumed rather than proved. It other words, Mr. Armstrong is guilty of circular reasoning. Could it be that what Timothy had learned came from the Old Testament Scriptures themselves?
           "If 2 Timothy 3 proves the sole sufficiency of Scripture, then, by analogy, Ephesians 4 would likewise prove the sufficiency of pastors and teachers for the attainment of Christian perfection. In Ephesians 4, the Christian believer is equipped, built up, brought into unity and mature manhood, and even preserved from doctrinal confusion by means of the teaching function of the Church. This is a far stronger statement of the perfecting of the saints than 2 Timothy 3, yet it does not even mention Scripture.

           So if all non-scriptural elements are excluded in 2 Timothy, then, by analogy, Scripture would logically have to be excluded in Ephesians. It is far more reasonable to recognize that the absence of one or more elements in one passage does not mean that they are nonexistent. The Church and Scripture are both equally necessary and important for teaching."

           The author's claims are fallacious, considering how the context of Ephesians 4 does not match that of 2 Timothy 3. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 specifically points us to a rule of faith. Ephesians 4:11-15 is discussing unity in Christ Jesus and the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit. The text from Ephesians pertains to the administration of the principles found within the guide (Scripture), namely brotherly fellowship and edification in the faith. The context of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 identifies our spiritual standard of discernment. 2 Timothy 3 addresses the means by which edification in the faith is to be done. Scripture equips the faithful man of God for every good work. 2 Timothy mentions no other rule of faith. So this Roman Catholic objection is actually a false analogy.

           "This is similar to people on two sides of a constitutional debate both saying, “Well, we go by what the Constitution says, whereas you guys don’t.” The U.S. Constitution, like the Bible, is not sufficient in and of itself to resolve differing interpretations. Judges and courts are necessary, and their decrees are legally binding. Supreme Court rulings cannot be overturned except by a future ruling or constitutional amendment. In any event, there is always a final appeal that settles the matter."

           This comparison is misleading because the constitution and appointed judges who provide interpretations for lawmakers are fallible (whereas the pope claims to have been bestowed a charisma of infallibility in proclaiming dogmas). Secondly, it is merely assumed by Catholics that the church must be governed by a single earthly head. That idea cannot even be found in the New Testament. What we should be striving for is unity according to Scripture. God given revelation is the final court of appeal that settles doctrinal disputes.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Christian Peacemaking

"In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity."

Rupertus Meldenius

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Pattern For True Worship

"As a pattern for true worship [Nehemiah 9] should be seriously studied and earnestly followed. Several important elements of worship should be noted. First, it springs from the reading and teaching of the Word of God. Second, it is centered in a knowledge of the greatness, holiness, and mercifulness of God. Third, both confession and adoration of God are the natural consequences of reading the Word of God and meditating on His person and precepts."

Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, p. 169

A Darwinist's Poor Attempt To Account For The Human Eye

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as a critique of Darwinist claims regarding the evolution of the human eye. It turns out that proponents of this dogma merely came up with a just-so story with vain imaginations of how this highly sophisticated organ (the eye) could develop. Following are excerpts from the author along with a critique:

           "Through natural selection, different types of eyes have emerged in evolutionary history -- and the human eye isn't even the best one, from some standpoints."        

           It has been asserted without proof what "natural selection" has done. It has been asserted without proof that the human eye is not the best one. By whose standards is this claim made?

           "So, the evolution theorists say, the anti-evolution argument that life was created by an "intelligent designer" doesn't hold water: If God or some other omnipotent force was responsible for the human eye, it was something of a botched design."

           The eye functions properly because all of its parts are in a perfect order. This is also true regarding our photoreceptors. Consider the words of Dr. Sean DeVere Pitman, M.D:

           "To say then that the human eye is definite proof of a lack thoughtful design, is a bit presumptuous I would think. This seems to be especially true when one considers the fact that the best of modern human science and engineering has not produced even a fraction of the computing and imaging capability of the human eye. How can we then, ignorant as we must be concerning such miracles of complex function, hope to accurately judge the relative fitness or logic of something so far beyond our own capabilities? Should someone who cannot even come close to understanding or creating the object that they are observing think to critique not to mention disparage the work that that lies before them? This would be like a six-year-old child trying to tell an engineer how to design a skyscraper or that one of his buildings is "better" than the others."

           "Biologists use the range of less complex light sensitive structures that exist in living species today to hypothesize the various evolutionary stages eyes may have gone through."

           The problem here for the Darwinist is the irreducible complexity of the eye. There is simply no explanatory power for how such structures could become so complex by blind and unguided chance. Also, how does one account for the widespread dissimilarities that exist among living organisms? Similarities among living organisms can equally serve as evidence for a common designer.

           "Here's how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made "vision" a little sharper."

           So, some thinking process called "random changes" (millions of random changes would be needed to get to where Darwinists want it) just fantastically created something so as to improve vision. We cannot have an intelligent designer, but we can certainly have a phantom "random change" create something! Talk about pure desperation. These observations about the human eye exacerbate the problem for promoters of Darwinism:

           "Saccades are important to prevent blindness, so that system has to evolve. But the brain must simultaneously evolve the ability to anticipate saccades, needing a second lucky set of mutations has to be selected. Both systems undoubtedly require multiple lucky mutations, but without them all working in concert, the animal cannot survive."

           "At the same time, the pit's opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera."

           At the same time, the pit decided to just open to let light in. It made this decision all on its own.

           If a supercomputer is obviously a product of human intelligence, then how come divine intelligence cannot be the source of the brain and the eye? Both organs are intricate beyond human comprehension. Both organs contain countless volumes of intelligent information. Both organs have precision and design that transcend any creation of mankind. The aforementioned is true even about the structure of an individual cell. If scientists in laboratories can successfully carry out artificial selection, then there is no reason to believe that God could not have designed our bodies.

           "Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye."

           How could this evolutionary process take place? It has only been asserted thus far that it actually happened. The entire universe literally screams design, yet the atheist foolishly dismisses the wealth of evidence contrary to his views because of naturalistic biases. That is circular reasoning. Darwinism cannot explain how the beautifully complex, mechanical systems of the human anatomy came into existence.

         "In fact, eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species. The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists' hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve. The first animals with anything resembling an eye lived about 550 million years ago. And, according to one scientist's calculations, only 364,000 years would have been needed for a camera-like eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch."

           None of what has been found is part of any sequence of development. Eyes have always been highly complex and well developed. Darwinists just line all the types up into a chosen sequence (chosen by intelligence) which they think would be how it should change from one type of eye to another. It is then claimed that this is what happened. How quickly did this process take place? What mechanism would direct the changes? What steps would be necessary in the completion of the process?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

How Does Darwinism Account For Sleep?

"We all sleep. From jellyfish to frilled-neck lizards to flying squirrels to humans, the need for sleep is universal. But the biological reason why sleeplessness ultimately leads to death has always been a mystery.

Now a paper from Bar-Ilan University published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications presents a groundbreaking theory: that when we sleep, our nerve cells take a break from their usual function, freeing their resources to reduce DNA damage that was accumulated during wakefulness. Sleep makes no evolutionary sense in that it’s an insanely vulnerable time for the slumberer. You’re more likely to get eaten by a predator than when you’re awake. So why would we evolve to need sleep?

It’s well established that loss of sleep affects brain performance such as memory and learning, from fruit flies to humans. This strongly argues that sleep is biochemically essential, and that sleep deprivation causes some kind of gradual systems collapse in the brain."