Saturday, June 29, 2019

A Helpful Tip In Reaching Out To Jehovah's Witnesses

        The Jehovah's Witness New World Translation renders the text of Isaiah 9:6 in the following manner:

        "For a child has been born to us, a son has been given to us; and the rulership [the footnote for this word says "government; princely rule"] will rest on his shoulder. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

        Notice how this text is supportive of the full deity of Jesus Christ. That is something which is denied by the Jehovah's Witnesses. He is fully God and fully man.

         A passage which says that Jesus is God can be found in a translation of the Bible that was designed to remove references to His divinity. Even the New World Translation contradicts the doctrine of the Watchtower Society.

        If this is presented to a Jehovah's Witness, then he or she may very well be stunned or feel the need to explain away the meaning of Isaiah 9:6.

Friday, June 28, 2019

On Pope John Paul II Kissing An Islamic Koran

          Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) once kissed an Islamic Koran during a meeting with the Patriarch of Chaldean. This action no doubt resulted in controversy, as one has to wonder precisely what this man was thinking. After all, the Islamic religion rejects the gospel. It denies the crucifixion and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. So it is quite evident that Islam and biblical Christianity are incompatible with each other.

          Whatever the case, there is no wisdom in Christians (especially the supposed earthly head of the Christian church) bowing their heads and kissing the sacred texts of different religions. There is literally no excuse for such conduct, as such communicates endorsement. Christ made an exclusive truth claim (John 14:6). If other belief systems are acceptable to God, then Christ would be a liar and false messiah. That charge would be blasphemous to the utmost.

           If the pope is truly the Vicar of Christ on earth, then why would he display so much reverence for a religion that fundamentally contradicts his own? His action so clearly resembles that of an apostate (Galatians 1:8-9; 2 John 9-11). He also could have mislead those who are unlearned by his irresponsible act. Why then do Roman Catholics try so hard to defend this sort of behavior? The rightful thing to do would be to simply admit that the pope erred. Moreover, it is not as though we will ever see an imam kissing the Holy Bible.

          It seems that the pope these days will do anything to gain political influence. That appears to be the motivating factor behind the Vatican associating with Islam. The Roman Bishop definitely seems to be a figure who has charisma. Even today, millions flock to Rome just to behold him as he lectures. Faithful Roman Catholics bow before him and kiss the hand which wields the ring molded for his coronation. All of this is idolatry, pure idolatry.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Identifying The "Perfect" In 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 As It Relates To The Charismatic Movement


This passage has been used by charismatic Christians to demonstrate that the miraculous gifts of prophecy and tongues will remain in the church until the Second Coming of Christ. Non-charismatics have used this verse to argue that tongues and prophecy ceased upon the completion of the canon of Scripture or the maturing of the early church. These interpretations turn on the meaning of "the perfect" (to teleion).

What both charismatics and non-charismatics can agree upon is that the gifts mentioned in this verse will be "done away with" (in the case of prophecy and knowledge) and will "cease" (in the case of tongues). They would also agree that the reason these gifts will not continue forever is that they are inadequate - imperfect in relation to the "perfect" that is coming. Finally, they would agree that the gifts were operative in Paul's time and that the time of their cessation was a future event for him. The difference in interpretation lies in whether the gifts mentioned have ceased prior to our time, or whether they are still operative for us, as they were for Paul, and their cessation lies yet in the future.

A careful reading of the text demonstrates that Paul may be drawing a distinction between tongues on the one hand and prophecy and knowledge on the other. The latter two gifts will be "done away" with (katargeo). Tongues are said to "cease" (pauo). The "perfect" will actively "do away" with the "partial." Katargeo is in the passive voice, indicating that the coming of the "perfect" is the cause of the "partial" passing away. Tongues, however, will cease of themselves. Pauo is in the Greek middle voice, which is defined as "an action taken by the subject upon him, her, or itself" (Friberg). Thus, tongues will "cease" of themselves - not as a direct result of "the perfect" coming. If this is the case, Paul is not speaking definitively about when tongues will cease - only that when "the perfect" comes, tongues will no longer be operative in the church. "The perfect" will do away with prophecy and knowledge; but tongues will have ceased at some point prior to that event.

Thus, even if we take "the perfect" to be the Second Coming, this verse does not teach that tongues will be active in the church at Christ's return.

As mentioned, "the perfect" is often taken by non-charismatics as being the completion of the canon This interpretation is possible, based on one of the meanings of teleion ("perfect, perfection, completion"). However, this interpretation seems foreign to the immediate context. As the Expositor's Bible Commentary notes:

It is difficult to prove the cessation of these gifts at the end of the first century A.D. by taking teleion to refer to a completion of the canon at that time, since that idea is completely extraneous to the context. While teleion can and does refer to something completed at some time in the future, the time of that future completion is not suggested in v. 10 as being close (EBC).

Other non-charismatics take teleion to be the maturity of the church, which more or less coincides with the completion of the canon. This interpretation is contextually more plausible (1 Corinthians 12 - 14 centers on church conduct), and thematically appealing:

There is much to commend this view, including the natural accord it enjoys with the illustration of growth and maturity which Paul used in the following verses (BKC).

However, I find this view somewhat strained lexically. While teleion can mean "a state of maturity" when speaking of a person, there are no other NT examples of it carrying this meaning when used of a collective group or abstract noun (which must be inferred as "church" in this interpretation). An additional problem with this interpretation is the fact that Paul says in verse 12 that "at that time" (i.e., when "the perfect" comes), he will "know fully." It does not seem reasonable to understand Paul to be saying that he expected to live to see the maturity of the church and then to "know fully." Rather, it seems more likely that Paul here is referring to a time of spiritual completion - either when he dies and goes to be with Christ, or at the resurrection following Christ's Second Coming.

Indeed, many evangelical commentators understand "the perfect" to mean either the Second Coming or the perfection of the human soul that occurs when the Christian is united with Christ in death:

On the other hand, in a number of contexts the related words telos ("end," "termination;" "last part") and teleo ("bring to an end") are used in relation to the second coming of Christ. This is true in both non-Pauline writing (cf. James 5:11; Rev 20:5, 7; 21:6; 22:13) and 1 Corinthians 1:8; 15:24. Since in the contexts of the Second Coming these related words are used and since Paul himself used telos in talking about the Second Coming elsewhere in 1 Corinthians, it seems more normal to understand teleion in v. 10 to mean that "perfection" is to come about at the Second Coming, or, if before, when the Christian dies and is taken to be with the Lord (2Cor 5:1-10) (EBC).

"But it seems that the perfect thing Paul has in mind must be the eternal state - "face to face" in verse 12 can best be explained as being with God in the new heavens and new earth. It is only in glory that we will know as we are known (John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, p. 389).

But in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual sight, and hope in enjoyment. There is no room to believe and hope, when we see and enjoy. But there, love will be made perfect. There we shall perfectly love God. And there we shall perfectly love one another. Blessed state! how much surpassing the best below! (Henry).

On the whole, it is probably best to take to teleion to mean the Second Coming (though the maturity of the church is possible as well). The gift of tongues will cease at some point prior to Christ's return, while this sublime event will do away with knowledge and prophecy. These two gifts need not be taken to be miraculous manifestations, but rather the gift of knowledge that allows the believers to grasp and retain the meaning of God's revelation and the gift of prophecy that allows teachers and pastors to powerfully and truthfully proclaim God's Word. Indeed, the view that knowledge and prophecy would lead to new revelations would contradict the counsel of Scripture in countless other places. Spiritual gifts - whether spectacular or mundane - are always focused on God's revelation, now complete in the pages of our Bibles.

Grammatical Analysis:

  • mid[dle voice] stop (oneself), cease (BAGD)
  • to cease, leave off (Thayer)
  • They shall cease (pausontai). Future middle indicative of pauô, to make
  • cease. They shall make themselves cease or automatically cease of themselves (RWP).
  • having attained the end or purpose, complete, perfect; subst[tantive] to teleion what is perfect Ro 12:2; perh[aps] 1 Cor 13:10 (BAGD)
  • brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness; perfect ... to teleion, substantively, that which is perfect... the perfect state of all things, to be ushered in by the return of Christ from heaven 1 Cor xiii. 10 (Thayer).
Other Views Considered (Charismatics):

Objection: In order to understand this statement we need to examine its context. Paul said that prophecies will cease, tongues will be stilled, knowledge will pass away, and perfection will come (verses 8-10). Paul was speaking of a time yet future both to his original readers and to us. When the kingdom of our Lord is ushered in, perfection will come and there will be no further need of Spirit-given knowledge, prophecy, and tongues. They will disappear because they will be longer needed. But these operations of the Spirit are still needed today.

There is no indication in Scripture that tongues would cease at the end of the first century. Tongues are to be a part of the life of the church in every generation until Christ returns to set up His perfect kingdom. Paul's perception was that spiritual gifts would be operational until that day (1 Corinthians 1:7, 8) (from The Assemblies of God website).

Response: It must be admitted that this view is possible; however, it requires that we understand Paul's distinction between tongues "ceasing" of their own accord (middle voice) and prophecy/knowledge to be "done away" with directly by the coming of "the perfect" (passive voice) to be mere stylist variations and not related to the overall meaning of the text. Given Paul's careful use of language throughout this epistle, as well as in his other letters, a stylistic nuance seems unlikely.

If, as seems probable, Paul is teaching that tongues will cease of their own accord before the Second Coming, this interpretation must be rejected - at least with regard to tongues.

While there is no direct statement in the Bible that tongues will cease following the Apostolic age, there is substantial evidence that tongues did, in fact, cease. We may note that tongues are only mentioned in the earliest NT books. Paul wrote at least 12 epistles after 1 Corinthians and never mentioned tongues again. Peter, James, Jude, and John do not mention tongues. There is no evidence from the sub-Apostolic fathers that tongues existed in the church after the first century (see Cleon Rogers, "The Gift of Tongues in the Post-Apostolic Church," Bibliotheca Sacra, 122, p. 134). An interesting sect known as the Montanists seem to have practiced something like speaking in tongues in the second century, but this group was considered heretical by other Christians because of its insistence that its leaders were receiving direct revelation from the Holy Spirit which added to - and even supplanted - the recorded teachings of Christ and the Apostles.

The Montanist movement was defeated almost incidentally as a result of measures the church took against Gnosticism and Marcionism, especially by the definition of the canon of Scripture, which closed the door to Montanus' new revelations (Heresies, p. 68).

While isolated groups on the fringes of mainstream Christianity have, from time to time, practiced something akin to speaking in tongues, this spiritual gift has not been normative for Christians since the Apostolic age - at least, not prior to the modern Pentecostal movement in late 1800's. Thus, the burden of proof rests on those who would argue that tongues have not ceased, a burden that would seem heavy indeed, based on the historical record.

Copyright © 2001-2005 by Robert Hommel. For an Answer Ministries ( All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Biblical Illiteracy Within The Roman Catholic Church

"There was a far more extensive and continuous use of Scripture in the public services of the early Church than there is among us. Usually speaking, our people only hear the Gospel and Epistle read in the Mass, with the psalms and the little chapter (scarcely more than a verse or two), usually from the Epistle, at vespers and compline on Sundays or great feasts. In the primitive Church it was very different."

Tom Arnold and William Edward Addis, A Catholic Dictionary: Containing Some Account of the Doctrine, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies, Councils, and Religious Orders of the Catholic Church, p. 509

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Analyzing The Spiritual But Not Religious Movement

          There is a trend within Christianity where a distinction is made between religion and spirituality. In other words, adherents of this growing movement have pitted the two words against each other. Organized religion altogether has been condemned as being legalism, which gets in the way of people growing in their relationship with the living God. The phrase spiritual but not religious, albeit of uncertain origin, has been used as a label for this contemporary movement relating to self-identity.

          While it is true that Jesus Christ vehemently denounced the outward ceremonial righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, it is a huge mistake to oppose being religious due to having a facile understanding on the nature of faith. True faith involves obeying God on His own terms. He joyfully communes with members of His church through the sharing and living out the gospel. Additionally, the offices of elder and deacon are structurally set up for regulating the moral principles and worship habits of God's people.

          Therefore, Christianity is, in a very real sense, religious according to the purpose and design which God has mandated to maintain His church's spiritual vitality. James, the brother of Jesus, firmly acknowledges the contrast between the dead religion rooted in hypocrisy and the worship that pleases our Creator (James 1:21-27). How we view religion should be determined by the context in which that particular word is used. Religion and spirituality are actually synonymous. If God had a problem with "religion" in and of itself, then why did He give the Jews the Mosaic Law?

          Us placing our trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ alone in no way nullifies our calling to serve God in the manner that He wants us to. God does not only enjoy fellowship with us on an individualized basis, but also with us as a collective body. Spirituality cannot be found within ourselves, as is proposed in Eastern religions. We are fallen creatures. We are not deities. God Himself is the ultimate solution to our problems.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

How Christ’s Incarnation Differs From The Hindu Idea Of Avatar

Jesus Christ’s life, death, and miraculous resurrection are events rooted in history. Whereas the lives of the Hindu holy men are enveloped in mythology.

As an Eastern mystical religion, Hinduism does not emphasize chronology. And modern-day Hindus show little interest in the “historical” Krishna the way contemporary Christians inquire about the historicity of Jesus.

Scholar and Krishna devotee Mataji Devi Vanamali explains:

“Hinduism is not a historical religion. If somebody were to prove conclusively that Krishna, Rama, and the various gods of the Hindu pantheon never existed, most Hindus would not mind in the least, and the religion would continue to flourish as it has done for so many centuries. However, to the devotees of Krishna, he is as real as any of their friends or relatives or children, depending on how they regard him—as friend, relation, child, or lover. This being so, most Indians have not bothered to verify his existence.”1

Thus a major difference between Jesus Christ and the Hindu holy men (including Krishna) relates to history and the question of historical verification.

1. Vanamali, The Complete Life of Krishna: Based on the Earliest Oral Traditions and Sacred Scriptures (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2012), xiii-xiv.

Kenneth Samples, cited by Ken Temple

Friday, June 7, 2019

Eastern Orthodox Commentary On Papal Supremacy

"...astonishingly enough, in their [Roman Catholic theologians] efforts to make the doctrine of Papal supremacy more palatable to Orthodox and Protestants, they have tended, of late, to emphasize the Popes alleged "sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum," as the Latin Vulgate renders the original Greek of II Corinthians 11:28, "he merimna pason ton ekklesion" or "the care of all the Churches." That this statement is from the mouth of St. Paul, describing his own duties, and not a statement by St. Peter, hardly reinforces the notion of Petrine primacy on which the doctrine of Papal supremacy rests. Indeed, if one were to take it as literally as the Papists take Christs statement to St. Peter with regard to his Apostolic prerogatives in the Church, he would of necessity have to attribute to St. Paul the primacy which Roman Catholics give to the former.

In his homily on this Epistle, St. John Chrysostomos expounds on the nature of St. Paul's care for the Churches. He says that this was the heaviest of the burdens with which St. Paul wrestled in his Apostolic ministry: "...His soul too was distracted, and his thoughts divided. For even if nothing from without had assailed him; yet the war within was enough, those waves on waves, that sleet of cares, that war of thoughts." St. John adds that, though it is difficult enough for one to look after a single house, St. Paul had "the care not of a single house, but of cities and peoples and nations and of the whole world" (Homily 12, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. XII [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1978], p. 395). Several Roman Catholic exegetes, in keeping with their misunderstanding of Christs words about the ministry of St. Peter, have misunderstood this all-embracing pastoral care with which St. Paul, as the Apostle to the Nations, was naturally entrusted as an institutional prerogative. In so doing, however, they once more compromise their own arguments. For, if St. Paul was given such care of all the Churches, then primacy in the Church would logically belong, again, not to St. Peter, but to St. Paul and, by implication, to his successors. Clearly, however, St. Paul was not speaking, in the passage under consideration, of an institutional prerogative, as St. John Chrysostomos points out, but of a burden imposed on him by the nature of his ministry.

With regard to the other verse which you cite, St. Theophylact of Ochrid points out that the words, "I will give unto thee,""...were spoken to Peter alone, yet they were given to all the apostles," since Christ also said, Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted." (The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew [House Springs, MO: Chrysostom Press, 1994], p. 141.) The second verse to which St. Theophylact refers is St. John 20:23. As the translator rightly observes, the verb "remit" is in the second person plural, and thus refers not to St. Peter alone, but to all of the Apostles. As for the "controversial verse" (St. Matthew 16:18), St. Theophylact, following St. John Chrysostomos and the overwhelming consensus of both Greek and Latin Fathers, interprets the words "this rock" to denote St. Peters confession of faith in the Divinity of Christ, and not the Apostles person. Any other interpretation would, of course, violate the Christocentric nature of the Church and the rather clear Scriptural affirmation that "Christ is the head of the Church" (Ephesians 5:23) and the "head of the Body" (Colossians 1:18)."

Monday, June 3, 2019

How Were Gentiles Saved In The Old Testament?

           The Mosaic Covenant was instituted for the Jewish people to serve as a code to guide behavior and a system of forgiveness. It foreshadowed the greater atonement of Jesus Christ that actually perfects those who believe on Him for salvation. The fact that the New Covenant is superior to the Old is manifested by the latter requiring repeated animal sacrifices. While the Old Testament is mainly centered upon Israel, it does speak of the Gentile cultures which surrounded that nation. We are told that God held non Jewish people accountable for sins such as idolatry and sexual immorality (2 Kings 22:17; Romans 1:18-32), with the reason being that they violated the law written on their hearts by God. This leaves us with an interesting question. How could the Gentiles be reconciled to a holy God before Christ came to die for our sins?

           The Law that was given to Israel by God through the Prophet Moses exemplified its uniqueness as a nation before the pagan cultures (Deuteronomy 4:5-9; Isaiah 42:5-7). The Law even contained clauses regarding the proper treatment of outsiders, thereby demonstrating God's care for those who were not Jewish. He provides equally for both the Jew and Gentile (Deuteronomy 10:16-21). The nations are in view through the seed of Abraham (Genesis 22:18). The Apostle Paul further elaborated on this truth as he was given new revelation from God (Ephesians 3:1-13). Non Jewish believers were considered as members of His kingdom in the same manner as a believing Jew.

           Gentiles were saved in the Old Testament by converting to Judaism. They were saved by placing their trust in the God of Israel and identifying themselves with His people. False gods were forsaken for the worship of Yahweh. One noteworthy example of conversion is that of Rahab (Joshua 2). Another example of conversion is Ruth, which is described in detail in the first chapter of the book named after her. She exhibited faith in God and entered into His covenant, which consisted of trusting in the assurance of a future redeemer as foretold by the Holy Scriptures. The coming of a Messiah was believed by the patriarchs and of all the Jews. Converts partook in the Passover (Exodus 12:46-50). God has never been beyond the reach of individuals who truthfully seek after Him (Acts 17:26-27).