Monday, July 29, 2019

Does 2 Timothy 1:16-18 Offer Support For Praying To Mary And The Saints?

          There is no way of decisively knowing whether or not Onesiphorus was dead when the Apostle Paul wrote this epistle. Inferences can certainly be drawn in debating such a question, but the context of this verse does not conclusively rule in favor of either side. Knowing whether or not Onesiphorus was dead at the time Paul wrote his second epistle to Timothy is not necessary in order for the text to make sense.

          Perhaps Onesiphorus was alive and simply away from home. So Paul had an urge to pray for his companion's family. What the text does indicate is that the two were not together. As this resource explains

          "Knowing that even these good deeds could not save Onesiphorus and his house, the apostle asks the Lord to show mercy to his friend — to keep him in the grace of God that he might persevere until the very end."

          This makes perfect sense because Christianity was persecuted under the Roman Empire. A prayer for perseverance to the end would, by definition, mean that he was still alive. These notes from Dr. Thomas Constable are also pertinent here:

          "Onesiphorus’ household was an exception to the “all” above (v. 15), or perhaps they had felt differently and had later reaffirmed their loyalty to Paul. In any case his family had diligently and unashamedly sought out Paul and had ministered to him during his current imprisonment. For this Paul wished the Lord would show Onesiphorus “mercy” at the judgment seat of Christ (cf. “that day” in v. 12). Because Onesiphorus had “found” Paul, Paul hoped that Onesiphorus would “find” mercy from the Lord. Paul seems to have been envisioning a scene in which all his brethren would stand before the Lord, Onesiphorus among them, namely, Christ’s judgment seat. God would express displeasure with the failure of the others, but Onesiphorus would escape that shame (cf. 1 John 2:28). Paul again used the possibility of shame to motivate Timothy (cf. v. 8). Timothy knew about Onesiphorus’ earlier faithful ministry in Ephesus. Paul referred to this as well to encourage Timothy to throw in his lot with Onesiphorus and his family rather than with those who had turned against the chained apostle."

          Even if Onesiphorus was dead at this point in time, that would only mean the apostle was petitioning God to show mercy to the man and his family on the Day of Judgement. After all, he was very beneficial to Paul during his ministry. He wanted his household to be blessed as a result of his faithfulness and loyalty. This scenario would be similar to King David blessing the household of Jonathon and his descendants (2 Samuel 9:1-7). Paul would essentially be expressing a hope for Onesiphorus to be resting in peace. These comments from English divine and scholar Edward Hayes Plumptre are insightful here:

          "It is, at any rate, clear that such a simple utterance of hope in prayer, like the Shalom (peace) of Jewish, and the Requiescat or Refrigerium of early Christian epitaphs, and the like prayers in early liturgies, though they sanction the natural outpouring of affectionate yearnings, are as far as possible from the full-blown Romish theory of purgatory."

          Onesiphorus received complete forgiveness of sins at the moment of his conversion. If he was dead when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, then his fate was already sealed. No amount of prayers could possibly alter or help his eternal destiny. Paul was neither praying to him nor supporting the idea of anybody else doing such. He was not praying that Onesiphorus would be released from purgatory or anything in those lines.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Illustrating The Absurdity Of The Roman Catholic View Of The Lord's Supper

        This excerpt regarding King David's use of a metaphor by Dr. Joe Mizzi is rather insightful in light of how Roman Catholics adamantly insist that the words uttered by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper ("this is my blood") must be taken literally:

        "In a narrative in the book of Samuel, three brave men put their lives at risk to bring fresh water for their master, David, from a well on the side of the Philistines. But when David found out about this, he would not drink it. He said, “Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this! Is this not the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?” (2 Samuel 23:17). Is not this the blood of the men? He called the water in the vessel “blood,” not because it was transubstantiated, but simply because it represented the danger to the lives of those three men who brought it."

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Debunking Proof Texts That Roman Catholics Use In Defending Saintly Intercession

  • Discussion:
          -This article is a rebuttal to a number of proof texts for the practice of praying to departed saints and angels which are cited at the website called Scripture Catholic:

          "Rom. 8:35-39 – therefore, death does not separate the family of God and the love of Christ. We are still united with each other, even beyond death."

          People enter into the supernatural realm at the moment of physical death. So in that sense, believers on earth certainly are separated temporarily from those present in heaven. It should be pointed out that Romans 8:35-39 says nothing whatsoever about saintly intercession.

          "Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30 – Jesus converses with “deceased” Moses and Elijah. They are more alive than the saints on earth."

          The point of the transfiguration was to show the preeminence of Jesus Christ. He was speaking to Moses and Elijah in His glory. These verses do not say anything in regard to prayer. Are there even any Catholics who offer prayers to Moses and Elijah?

          "Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38 – God is the God of the living not the dead. The living on earth and in heaven are one family."

          Just because a saint is very much alive in the presence of God in the heavenly sanctuary, does not mean that he or she is capable of answering or being a recipient of prayers.

          "Luke 15:7, 10 – if the angels and saints experience joy in heaven over our repentance, then they are still connected to us and are aware of our behavior."

          Angels rejoicing over a conversion cannot simply translate into support for them receiving our prayer requests because they most probably know when a soul is added to the Book of Life.

          Even if saints and angels in heaven were conscious of events on earth, could hear prayers, and had the ability to pray for somebody on earth, these scenarios would still not grant biblical justification for people offering prayer petitions to entities other than God. The prophets and the apostles never once mentioned entrusting prayer requests to saints and angels in heaven. Neither do we see in Scripture God approving of such activity.

          Satan is without a doubt conscious of events taking place in this world, yet no Roman Catholic would ever suggest prayer to him.

          "Heb. 12:1 – the “cloud of witnesses” (nephos marturon) that we are surrounded by is a great amphitheatre of witnesses to the earthly race, and they actively participate and cheer us (the runners) on, in our race to salvation."

          The context of this passage much more relates to viewing the Old Testament saints as good moral examples. We are all united into a spiritual family by faith. There is nothing in that which would even remotely suggest prayer to these witnesses.

          "James 5:16; Proverbs 15:8, 29 – the prayers of the righteous (the saints) have powerful effects. This is why we ask for their prayers. How much more powerful are the saints’ prayers in heaven, in whom righteousness has been perfected."

          The prayer of the righteous man does indeed avail much, but these passages of Scripture say nothing regarding prayers to or for deceased believers.

          "Matt. 26:53 – Jesus says He can call upon the assistance of twelve legions of angels. If Jesus said He could ask for the assistance of angel saints, then so can we, who are called to imitate Jesus in word and in deed. And, in Matt. 22:30, Jesus says we will be “like angels in heaven.” This means human saints (like the angel saints) can be called upon to assist people on earth. God allows and encourages this interaction between his family members."

          This is a huge stretch in logic. It is more sensible to interpret this as referring to armies of angels. It is speaking of heavenly hosts, not deceased believers.

          "Rev. 5:8 – the prayers of the saints (on heaven and earth) are presented to God by the angels and saints in heaven. This shows that the saints intercede on our behalf before God, and it also demonstrates that our prayers on earth are united with their prayers in heaven. (The “24 elders” are said to refer to the people of God – perhaps the 12 tribes and 12 apostles – and the “four living creatures” are said to refer to the angels.)"

          This simply means that God allowed saints in heaven to "handle" the bowls of prayers. The text says nothing about prayers being directed to saints or angels in heaven, nor gives us permission to do so. The text does not indicate how these saints would be aware of our prayers. The prayers were directed to God alone.

          "Rev. 6:9-11 – the martyred saints in heaven cry out in a loud voice to God to avenge their blood “on those who dwell upon the earth.” These are “imprecatory prayers,” which are pleas for God’s judgment (see similar prayers in Psalm 35:1; 59:1-17; 139:19; Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 18:19; Zech.1:12-13). This means that the saints in heaven are praying for those on earth, and God answers their prayers (Rev. 8:1-5). We, therefore, ask for their intercession and protection."

          The passage does not say that we can pray to saints or angels in heaven. The Apostle John was transported to heaven, and the souls under the altar are very much alive and not dead men's bones.

          Some Roman Catholics argue that they do not pray directly to the saints, but only "ask" them to intercede (intervene on behalf of another) for prayers. In other words, it is claimed that Mary and the saints are only "asked" to pray for those who request their spiritual support. However, a person would have to pray to the saints if he or she asks them for something because they are not physically present. Moreover, it would seem redundant to ask somebody in heaven for support when they are in turn going to ask God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Roman Catholics do indeed pray to the saints in heaven (CCC # 2679). The Hail Mary, Hail Holy Queen, and Memorare are examples of prayers to Mary. The language employed in these petitions sound much as if they were directed to some goddess!

          Others may argue that prayer is not a form of worship, but is just asking (in the same sense that a student would request assistance from a teacher). On the contrary, the biblical concept of prayer is always a form of worship. In Scripture, people always worshiped through prayer. And those petitions were always directed to God alone. We never see followers of God praying to other entities for any reason. While it is true that asking is a component of prayer, the biblical concept cannot simply be watered down to "just asking somebody" because it also encompasses other factors such as praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and repentance from sin (Psalm 23; 25; Matthew 6:6-14; Luke 18:9-14).

          "Rev. 8:3-4 – in heaven an angel mingles incense with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne of God, and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. These prayers “rise up” before God and elicit various kinds of earthly activity. God responds to his children’s requests, whether made by his children on earth or in heaven."

          Bowls of wrath are mentioned in Revelation 16. Should we conclude that they were directed to the saints in heaven because they also carried them? The text does not command believers on earth to pray to or through angels. It does not say that prayers were made to angels or saints in heaven. It states that the angel was to add incense to the prayers in the golden censer containing the prayers of the saints.

          "Psalm 103:20-21; 148:1-2 – we praise the angels and ask for their assistance in doing God’s will...Psalm 141:2 – David asks that his prayer be counted as incense before God. The prayers of the saints have powerful effects."

          The Psalmists are simply telling all creations in all places to praise God's name. Creation is a reflection of His glory. These passages do not in any way exhort us to honor or pray to beings other than the Lord. In Psalm 103:22, inanimate objects are told to praise God. In Psalm 148:3, the sun, moon, and the stars are also told to praise God. Should we pray to these things, as well?

A Great Observation Regarding Roman Catholic Mariology And Christ's Intercessory Role

"The church appears to have painted itself into a theological corner. In trying not to detract from Christ, its theologians have so defined the role of Mary as to make it entirely indispensable: everything we need we get from Christ. If that's the case, what is the point or importance of Mary's mediation?

One the other hand, the oft-heard affirmation that Mary can influence her Son to help us necessarily implies that the Son otherwise would be less disposed to do so. In fact, the very concept of a mediator presupposes that there are differences that need to be reconciled between two parties. This leads to the inescapable conclusion that, apart from Mary's mediation, Christ himself would not be perfectly reconciled to us. All this seriously compromises the integrity of his high priesthood.

The church is stuck in a hopeless dilemma wherein either Mary's role is rendered superfluous, or the all-sufficiency of Christ's mediation is diminished. In trying to avoid either of these perceived pitfalls, it has fallen headlong into both."

Elliot Miller and Kenneth R. Samples, The Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary, p. 56

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Is The Book Of Enoch Inspired Scripture?

          A pseudepigraphal text known as the Book of Enoch was gradually written and assembled into one volume, with the oldest section being the Apocalypse of Weeks (dated to the second century BC). This work has caught the attention of numerous people because of its detailed descriptions of heaven and angels. The Book of Enoch has extra-biblical accounts regarding the Nephilim race and fallen angels. In a few words, it is a work of apocalyptical speculation. 

          Some Christians have raised the question as to whether the Book of Enoch is inspired due to it seemingly being quoted in Jude 14-15. A few others have even devised a conspiracy theory that it was removed from the canon of Scripture. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church includes Enoch in its own list of books comprising the Bible. This ancient compilation was even venerated by early Christian authorities such as Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus. Nonetheless, there is no reason for us to accept it as inspired Scripture. The words of Dr. John Oakes are very pertinent here:

          "Why, then, did the church in Alexandria, and therefore eventually the Coptic church, including the Ethiopian and the Egyptian churches, accept this book? This is not clear, but we know from the evidence that the early church began to use the OT apocrypha and other books, such as 1 Enoch, as early as the second century. Why Alexandria in particular used 1 Enoch more than the churches in Antioch, Constantinople and Rome is not clear, but we can speculate that they had more interest in eschatology (the study of end times) and apocalyptic literature in general. We know that Origen was open to fairly speculative theology and that Alexandria was the center of allegorical interpretation."

          Furthermore, the Book of Enoch was never a part of the Hebrew canon. Jesus Christ affirmed the traditional threefold division of the Old Testament books (Luke 24:44). The piece was not actually written by the Enoch mentioned in the Bible. The Essene Jews esteemed this five part compilation highly, but their beliefs were entrenched in mysticism. In fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica tells us that:

          "Its survival is due to the fascination of marginal and heretical Christian groups, such as the Manichaeans, with its syncretic blending of Iranian, Greek, Chaldean, and Egyptian elements."

          The Book of Enoch does not appear in early canon listings provided in authoritative sources such as Codex Sinaiticus. It also contains things that are arguably false. As this source explains:

          "...it says that the giants of Biblical times were 400-450 feet tall. That is over 6 times taller than the largest dinosaur to ever exist, 4 times longer than a blue whale, longer than a football field, and the same height as the Great Pyramid in Egypt. If this is true, why does the Bible only speaks of giants as being 8-15 feet tall, and where are all the other legends in other cultures of giants who were this tall?"

          The Book of Enoch contains a number of absurd ideas. Consider, for example, how Enoch speaks of angels (stars) procreating with oxen to produce elephants, camels, and donkeys (7:12-15; 86:1-5).

          Does not the fact that Jude makes reference to the Book of Enoch give us sufficient reason to incorporate that particular work into the canon of Scripture? Not by any means. The Apostle Paul on a few occasions quoted pagan philosophers, yet those who believe in the divine inspiration of Enoch would not argue for the inclusion of those into the canon. There also remains the possibility that Jude was not actually quoting from the Book of Enoch but to some valid oral tradition. Many truthful statements can be found apart from the Bible. The New Testament author does not call what he alludes to Scripture. Rather, the text reads as "Enoch said." The following article excerpt elaborates perfectly on this point:

          "This would be similar to a modern day preacher citing a line from an atheistic scientist or philosopher. While the atheist’s book is not entirely true, it does contain true statements. Jude’s argument does not hang on these apocryphal passages; instead, we could back up everything that is written elsewhere in the OT [See Isaiah 40:10; 66:15-16; Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 3:13]."

          How are Christians supposed to view the Book of Enoch? We are to approach it as a literary work. Some parts are truthful, others erroneous. Moreover, this composite writing has been altered so many times by both Jews and Christians that there is no grounds to include it in the canon. As this source explains:

          "The full text of 1 Enoch exists in a Ethiopic translation of a Greek translation of an Aramaic original. There are some Greek fragments, as well as some Aramaic fragments. How can the church trust the reliability of a translation of a translation? Moreover, the textual transmission of 1 Enoch is ferociously complex. A related complication is how much of 1 Enoch we're supposed to canonize. 1 Enoch is a composite book. Even within that anthology, the Book of the Watchers is a composite work. 1 Enoch has a very complex editorial history."

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Today Is The Day Of Salvation

6:2 As he begged unbelievers to receive God’s reconciling grace (5:20), Paul now urged his readers to respond quickly and positively to God’s grace to them. Paul quoted Isaiah 49:8 to stress the importance of responding immediately. The “acceptable time” will not last forever. In the context of the Isaiah quotation, God addressed His Servant, whom the nations had despised, promising eventual vindication and urging Him to restore His people. The parallel with Paul and the Corinthians’ ministry is obvious. Rather than squabbling among themselves over Paul, the readers needed to get on with the ambassadorial work that God had given them to do.

Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:2"
https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/2-corinthians-6.html. 2012

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Study: Psychiatric Diagnoses Are ‘Scientifically Meaningless’ In Treating Mental Health

No two people are exactly alike. Therefore, attempting to classify each unique individual’s mental health issues into neat categories just doesn’t work. That’s the claim coming out of the United Kingdom that is sure to ruffle some psychologists’ feathers.

More people are being diagnosed with mental illnesses than ever before. Multiple factors can be attributed to this rise; many people blame the popularity of social media and increased screen time, but it is also worth considering that in today’s day and age more people may be willing to admit they are having mental health issues in the first place. Whatever the reason, it is generally believed that a psychiatric diagnosis is the first step to recovery.

That’s why a new study conducted at the University of Liverpool has raised eyebrows by concluding that psychiatric diagnoses are “scientifically meaningless,” and worthless as tools to accurately identify and address mental distress at an individual level.

Researchers performed a detailed analysis on five of the most important chapters in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Heath Disorders (DSM). The DSM is considered the definitive guide for mental health professionals, and provides descriptions for all mental health problems and their symptoms. The five chapters analyzed were: bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and trauma-related disorders.

Researchers came to a number of troubling conclusions. First, the study’s authors assert that there is a significant amount of overlap in symptoms between disorder diagnoses, despite the fact that each diagnosis utilizes different decision rules. Additionally, these diagnoses completely ignore the role of trauma or other unique adverse events a person may encounter in their life.

Perhaps most concerning of all, researchers say that these diagnoses tell us little to nothing about the individual patient and what type of treatments they will need. The authors ultimately conclude that this diagnostic labeling approach is “a disingenuous categorical system.”

"Although diagnostic labels create the illusion of an explanation they are scientifically meaningless and can create stigma and prejudice. I hope these findings will encourage mental health professionals to think beyond diagnoses and consider other explanations of mental distress, such as trauma and other adverse life experiences.” Lead researcher Dr. Kate Allsopp explains in a release.

According to the study’s authors, the traditional diagnostic system being used today wrongly assumes that any and all mental distress is caused by a disorder, and relies far too heavily on subjective ideas about what is considered “normal.”

“Perhaps it is time we stopped pretending that medical-sounding labels contribute anything to our understanding of the complex causes of human distress or of what kind of help we need when distressed.” Professor John Read comments.

https://www.studyfinds.org/study-psychiatric-diagnoses-are-scientifically-meaningless/

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Trinity And Ancient Paganism

Some cults, such as Oneness Pentecostalism, argue that the doctrine of the Trinity emerged out of paganism. Pagan nations such as the Babylonians and Assyrians, however, believed in triads of gods who headed up a pantheon of gods. This triad-pantheon religious system constituted polytheism, which is utterly different from the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity affirms only one God (monotheism) with three persons within the Godhead.

The pagans taught a concept of a creator. They also taught the concept of a great flood that killed much of humankind, as well as the idea of a messiah-like figure named Tammuz, who was resurrected. If cultists were consistent in their reasoning, they would have to strip from their beliefs the idea of a creator, the flood, and the resurrection because of loose parallels of these doctrines in pagan religions.

Though Oneness Pentecostals argue that the Trinity is pagan, their concept of modalism is as pagan as can be. Hindus view God as Brahman (the absolute and undivided one) who is revealed in three modes: Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), and Shiva (destroyer). This is quite similar to the Oneness Pentecostal view of one God revealed in three modes-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Ron Rhodes, 5-Minute Apologetics for Today, p. 140

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mother Goddess Of The Shack And The AA's "Higher Power"

"Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit" (Jeremiah 2:11),

Why have so many rejected the Christ of the Bible? Why have so many created a “Christ” of their own understanding? What happened?

This was driven home yet again when an allegedly Christian church decided on Mother’s Day to worship the Mother Goddess. How can this happen? And how can a book like The Shack, with its serpentine assault on the biblical God, be accepted by so many Christians?

I would like to suggest cultural and spiritual amenability to God in any shape or image began long before the unclean spirit moved on Paul Young to write The Shack. The now deceased Phyllis Tickle, queen of the emergent movement, knew exactly what has happened to the visible church:

“As Phyllis Tickle has noted, the development of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) probably did as much as other, more celebrated events to undermine our concept of religion. Emerging in the late 1930s, AA made it acceptable to talk about a generic God, a ‘higher power'” [A Heretic’s Guide To Eternity, by Spencer Burke (The Ooze) and Barry Taylor, pg. 34-35, foreword by Brian McLaren.]

Burke and Taylor further note what Alcoholics Anonymous has brought on us. Of course, they see it as a good thing: “Consequently, a generation of people began speaking about God in new ways not previously sanctioned by the consensual illusion and traditional religious perspectives began to change as a result” [Ibid.]

In the ground-breaking article by Jack Alexander, an article which is now official “A.A. General Conference-approved literature,” here is how the “god” of Alcoholics Anonymous can be defined:

“Any concept of the Higher Power is acceptable. [The alcoholic] may choose to think of his Inner Self, the miracle of growth, a tree, man’s wonderment at the physical universe, the structure of the atom, or mere mathematical infinity. Whatever form is visualized, the neophyte is taught he must rely on it and, in his own way, to pray to the power for strength.”(emphasis mine)

The article notes that even a tree can be prayed to. Interestingly, the Bible refers to this: “Who say to a tree, “You are my Father,” And to a stone, “You gave me birth.” For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face” (Jeremiah 2:27).

In The Fall of the Evangelical Nation, secular author Christine Wicker credits Alcoholics Anonymous with “hastening the fall of the evangelical church” [The Fall Of The Evangelical Nation, by Christine Wicker, pg. 134-138.]

Wicker states A.A.’s Twelve Step program “slowly exposed people to the notion that they could get the [higher power] without the dogma, the doctrine, and the outdated rules. Without the church in fact.” This has removed the authority and influence of “the preacher and the Bible and tradition” [Ibid.]

According to the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (the A.A. “bible”): "We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men. When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God” (pg. 55).

The Lord tells us: "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is BROAD that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it" (Matthew 7:13).

Give credit where credit is due. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step groups have influenced the culture and so weakened the church over the last eight decades that it has been relatively easy for many to accept The Shack’s goddess version of the Lord.

It also has to be acknowledged that many well meaning Christians accepted The Shack as a good thing because they were drawn not to the mother goddess concept, but to the emotions the novel evoked.

Yet, The Shack was always an assault on the God of the Bible. Nine years after its publication, after Young charmed scores of Bible believing churches, he finally admitted his heresy. In his 2017 book, The Lies We Believe About God, Young wrote: "Are you suggesting everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation? That is exactly what I am saying" (pg.118).

https://thewordlikefire.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/mother-goddess-of-the-shack-and-aas-higher-power/

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Why Did God Call For The Extermination Of The Canaanite People?

God commanded His people, the Israelites, to exterminate "whole peoples"-the Canaanites in particular. God issued this command not because He is cruel and vindictive, but because the Canaanites were so horribly evil, oppressive, and cancerous to society that-as with a human cancer-the only option was complete removal. To not "excise" the gangrenous Canaanites would amount to dooming Israel and all the righteous of the earth to suffer a slow death (see Deuteronomy 20:16-18). The Canaanites regularly burned their children in worship of false gods, engaged in sex with animals, and practiced all kinds of loathsome vices (see Leviticus 18:21, 23-24; 20:3).

The Canaanites had plenty of time to repent. The biblical pattern-indeed, God's promise-is that when nations repent, God withholds judgement (see Jeremiah 18:7-8). The principle is clearly illustrated for us in the case of Nineveh (Jonah 3).

The Canaanites were not acting blindly. They had heard of the God of the Israelites and knew what was expected of them, but they defied Him and continued in their sinful ways. They were ripe for judgement. God, as the absolutely sovereign Ruler over affairs of life and death, maintains the right to take life when circumstances call for it.

Ron Rhodes, 5-Minute Apologetics for Today, p. 44

A Note On The Book Of 2 Esdras

"The last stage of the complicated history of this book is perhaps the most interesting and dramatic; it involves the discovery of a lengthy section (amounting to no less than seventy verses) which had been lost from chapter 7, and which was thenceforth incorporated into English revisers of the Apocrypha in 1895. For many years the text of the Latin version of II Esdras was based on manuscripts which presented chapter 7 in a form which made it clear that a passage was missing between verses 35 and 36. Though other ancient versions (Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Armenian) contained a long addition at this place, most scholars were hesitant about accepting it as genuine. When, however, in 1874 Robert L. Bensly of Cambridge University discovered a ninth-century manuscript in the public library of Amiens containing the lost Latin text, it was recognized that now the equivalent of a chapter must be added to the Apocrypha. In modern English translations this previously missing section is numbered 7:36-105, while the rest of chapter 7 in the King James Version (7:36-70) is now given that additional enumeration 7:106-140. It is probable that the lost section was deliberately cut out of an ancestor of most extant Latin manuscripts, because of dogmatic reasons, for the passage contains an emphatic denial of the value of prayers for the dead (verse 105)."

Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 22-23

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Trusting In The Wise Council Of God

          What do the Scriptures say concerning anxiety, and how can trusting in God's divine providence be a pillar of strength for us during times of pain and misfortune? These types of questions merit an answer for at least two reasons. First of all, things relating to the spiritual realm or our relationship with God are by their very nature of utmost importance. Secondly, knowing how to firmly rest in the promises of our divine Creator can help us to retain faith during hard times. The Apostle Peter wrote: "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7).

          The Bible contains multiple exhortations for us to constantly depend on God to sustain us as we live day by day. As the Lord Jesus Christ instructed His disciples in praying: "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). God is the source of all life. His self-sufficiency permeates in every area that we fall short. We as humans small are frail creatures, suffering as a result of having a fallen nature. By contrast, His power, goodness, and understanding transcends our faculties in every way. Love, mercy, truth, are aspects of God's character. We must turn to and trust in Him always. We have a proclivity to place an emphasis on what our hearts want rather than what is objectively good for us. Our perception of what is true, good, and right can be mistaken. Hence, we see the need of turning to our Creator. Paul wrote the following to the church at Philippi when he was under house arrest: 

          "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." (Philippians 4:7-9)

          If we trust in the wise council of God, then we will also submit to Him on His own terms. We will seek to glorify Him daily. We will put to death the deeds of the flesh. We will be encouraged and guided by the Holy Spirit in following His precepts. Trusting in the wise council of God involves us being a beacon of light in the midst of the calamities of this world. We must fight the good fight of faith, taking the truth as our sword and faith as our shield. If God is for us, then nothing can be against us. Nothing can snatch us from His grasp (Romans 8:34-39). We may not be delighted with or understand precisely He has in store for us at this moment. What we do know is that He wants to gradually polish and refine our character, just as a blacksmith forges jewelry. But the handiwork of God is that of perfection. We shall be fulgent like precious stones in righteousness with God.

          "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." (Proverbs 3:5-8)

          It is through God that we can discover the meaning of true and lasting peace, joy, and fulfillment. Those who do not confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, however, have every reason to fear. Eternity is too long a time to be wrong. The only way that sinful people can be reconciled to a holy God is through the shed blood of Christ. It is Him that we must entrust all our concerns each passing day. Fear, though an appropriate reaction in certain situations, is sinful if it is caused by an absence of trust in God. Christ affirmed that we are worth more than many sparrows:

          "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?...Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil." (Matthew 6:25-27; 34)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Theoretical Physicist [Sabine Hossenfelder] Has A Hard Time Convincing Peers To Accept Reality

Sometimes I believe in string theory. Then I wake up.

But then I got distracted by a disturbing question: Do we actually have evidence that elegance is a good guide to the laws of nature?

The brief answer is no, we have no evidence. The long answer is in my book and, yes, I will mention the-damned-book until everyone is sick of it. The summary is: Beautiful ideas sometimes work, sometimes they don’t. It’s just that many physicists prefer to recall the beautiful ideas which did work.

And not only is there no historical evidence that beauty and elegance are good guides to find correct theories, there isn’t even a theory for why that should be so. There’s no reason to think that our sense of beauty has any relevance for discovering new fundamental laws of nature.

Sure, if you ask those who believe in string theory and supersymmetry and in grand unification, they will say that of course they know there is no reason to believe a beautiful theory is more likely to be correct. They still work on them anyway. Because what better could they do with their lives? Or with their grants, respectively. And if you work on it, you better believe in it.

...here are the facts: This trust in beauty as a guide, it’s not working. There’s no evidence for grand unification. There’s no evidence for supersymmetry, no evidence for axions, no evidence for moduli, for WIMPs, or for dozens of other particles that were invented to prettify theories which work just fine without them. After decades of search, there’s no evidence for any of these.

http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2018/01/sometimes-i-believe-in-string-theory.html

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Is Mary The Mother of God?

  • Information To Ponder:
          -In 431 AD, the Council of Ephesus declared that Mary was "theotokos," a Greek term which is translated to mean "God-bearer." This was done to affirm the deity of Jesus Christ in response to the Archbishop Nestorius, who believed in separating His human and divine natures (heresy termed "Nestorianism"). In summary, the title theotokos was originally used to defend the full deity of Jesus Christ.
          -Pope John Paul II, in a speech in 1996, encouraged people “not only to invoke the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of Jesus, but also to recognize her as Mother of God” (L'Osservatore Romano, 4, December 1996, p. 11). Today, the Church of Rome uses this title which was initially centered around the nature of Christ as a way to exalt Mary.
          -"...the term God-bearer as it was used in the [Chalcedon] creed and as it was applied to Mary in these controversies said something about the nature of Christ, not the nature Mary. "Mother of God" is a phrase that has proper theological meaning only in reference to Christ. Hence, any use of the term that is not simply saying, "Jesus is fully God, one divine Person with two natures," is using the term anachronistically, and cannot claim the authority of the early church for such usage." (James R. White, Mary--Another Redeemer?, p. 47-48)
  • The Term "Mother Of God" Can Result In Confusion If Not Properly Explained:
          -Is Mary the mother of the Trinity? Is she the creator of God?
          -If Mary is the mother of God, then why not start calling her mother the "Grandmother of God?" How come nobody exalts Mary's mother in the same manner?
  • Using This Title In A Biblically Orthodox Sense:
          -God is eternal (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 90:2). Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh. So Mary could not be His mother in that His divine nature originated in her whom. It is biblical to say that Mary was the mother of Jesus during His incarnation on earth. Mary did indeed carry both of Christ's natures in her womb as His body was still developing. These statements are in accordance with Scripture, and Roman Catholics would readily agree with them. But the problem is that the Roman Catholic Church has added all sorts of bizarre teachings regarding Mary to the biblical concept of her motherhood.
  • Further Commentary On The Mother Of God Title:
          -Roman Catholic apologists have taken advantage of the ambiguity surrounding this title for the purpose of giving credibility to their Marian theology. Mary in the Catholic Church shares several of the same qualities and abilities as the Lord Himself. The many titles ascribed to her perfectly fit the description of a goddess. Nowhere does the Bible justify erecting pillars in the name of Mary, giving her religious titles of honor, and assigning providential roles to her. Kissing and weeping in front of statues of prominent Christian figures is also idolatry (these acts are done by Roman Catholics, unfortunately). The Roman Catholic Church calls Mary the mother of mercy. It has even been said that Mary sits at the right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ! None of this has any foundation in Scripture.
          -It is not necessary for us to resort to titles created by men (much less a Marian title) in drawing inferences relating to the nature of Jesus Christ. Statements about how we come to understand Him can be made firsthand from His Person (God-man, etc). Scripture already has plenty of information on the the Person of Christ. Moreover, the Marian title mother of God has been mishandled to support an aberrant ideology. Church councils are authoritative, provided that they are consistent with the written Word of God. The sayings of men are mere subjective opinions apart from the objective standard of Scripture.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Confidence Of Victory Over Evil

"[Jude] 24-25 The closing doxology repeats and intensifies the note of assurance with which the letter began. The church has good reason to fear (cf. 23); she has no reason to despair. There is One who has the power to bring her safely and triumphantly through all the temptations that beset her into His glorious presence at the Judgement, the Savior God whose eternal glory, majesty, dominion, and authority are all in the service of His mercy, which shall pronounce her blameless on that day. She shall hear Jesus Christ say, "Come unto Me!"

Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, Concordia Self-study Commentary [commentary on Jude], p. 284

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A Theory Of Biological Relativity: No Privileged Level Of Causation

  • Discussion:
          -Following is an excerpt from a paper written in 2011 by Denis Noble, a secular biologist, who criticizes neo-Darwinism:

          "Must higher level biological processes always be derivable from lower level data and mechanisms, as assumed by the idea that an organism is completely defined by its genome? Or are higher level properties necessarily also causes of lower level behaviour, involving actions and interactions both ways? This article uses modelling of the heart, and its experimental basis, to show that downward causation is necessary and that this form of causation can be represented as the influences of initial and boundary conditions on the solutions of the differential equations used to represent the lower level processes. These insights are then generalized. A priori, there is no privileged level of causation. The relations between this form of ‘biological relativity’ and forms of relativity in physics are discussed. Biological relativity can be seen as an extension of the relativity principle by avoiding the assumption that there is a privileged scale at which biological functions are determined."

Does The Bible Say The Earth Is Flat?

Does the Bible say the earth is flat? No. (Do we really have to cover this topic?) Scoffers twist the Bible into saying the earth is flat. Now a growing number of professing Christians are doing it, too.

Flat earthers use 1 Samuel 2:8 and Psalm 75:3 which mention the pillars of the earth, and how God has "set the world upon them." But this is poetic, meaning that God has created all things and established them.

Flat earthers use Job 28:24 and Psalm 48:10 which refer to the ends of the earth. But this is symbolic for a great distance or all people. Acts 13:47 says the Lord has commanded us to "bring [the message of] salvation "to the ends of the earth."

Flat earthers use Isaiah 11:12 and Revelation 7:1 which speak of the four corners of the earth. Still symbolism, referring to something happening in all directions: north, south, east, and west.

The Bible doesn't explicitly say the earth is flat or round, although it does allude to its spherical shape. Job 26:7 says that God hangs the earth on nothing, and Isaiah 40:22 says He sits above the circle of the earth. If you think the Bible says the earth is flat, you put that in the text. You did not pull that from the text. Flat earth cosmology is derived from paganism, not Christianity.

Whatever you believe about the shape of the earth, it doesn't have any bearing on your salvation. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). Nonetheless, the Bible says avoid irreverent, silly myths. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies, when we understand the text.

http://www.wwutt.com/2018/10/does-bible-say-earth-is-flat.html

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Catholic Answers Gets Galatians 2:16 Completely Wrong

  • Discussion:
          -One writer at Catholic Answers wrote an article titled Galatians 2:16 and Sola Fide, where he defends the Roman Catholic view of justification by arguing that the text from Galatians is not so much supportive of faith alone as it actually pertains to salvation no longer being on the basis of the Mosaic Law system. Right from the beginning of the post, a straw man has been erected:

          "On this view, God is not concerned with whether the person obeyed God by living a holy life or whether he was baptized."

          Of course, no true Christian actually believes that God does not care about our obedience to Him. Sola Fide simply means we cannot earn our way into heaven. That is it. Nonetheless, this same misrepresentation is routinely repeated by apologists for the Church of Rome. Belief in Sola Fide is by no means an equivalent to upholding antinomianism. Another key component of the Catholic apologetics argument being critiqued is cited here as follows:

         "Paul emphatically rebuked Peter. Man reaches heaven by the universal action of faith, which is always “working through love” (Gal. 5:6). Both Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith, as one family of God, which automatically dismantles any separation between them.

          Next, Paul draws out the —the Mosaic Law has been fulfilled by the New Law (Matt. 5:17). Jews and Gentiles have been united by Christ—He has torn down the wall separating them, and Paul cannot “build up again those things which I tore down” (Gal. 2:18). His identity is no longer found in the Mosaic Covenant, he has a new one: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)."

          The Apostle Paul spells out that our justification is not by works but by faith. His purpose in distinguishing between faith and works of the Law is to tell us not only the way in which we cannot receive justification, but also how we can be justified in God's sight. Paul very clearly affirms that we are justified by faith. He nowhere states we are saved by keeping some new law. Those who place their trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ will also serve Him, but that service does not constitute the basis for justification.

          "The point of Galatians 2:16, then, is that Gentile Christians do not have to live like Jews. This is because going under the yoke of the Mosaic Law does not lead to salvation. Christians must follow Christ and His way of life (Gal. 6:2). They do what Christ commands, not what Moses commands (John 1:17). Christians need to live by faith, lovingly obeying Christ by loving others, which fulfills the whole Mosaic Law (Rom. 13:8). The Spirit empowers us to love others – and his presence particularly distinguishes the old yoke from the new (Rom. 8:1-4), which has the “circumcision of Christ,” baptism (Col. 2:11-12), and the new Passover, the Eucharist (1 Cor. 5:7, John 6:53).

          Galatians 2:16 has nothing to do with the Catholic belief that good works and receiving the sacraments are necessary, but not sufficient, for salvation. Deciding who spends eternity in heaven remains entirely the prerogative of our loving Creator, who has given ample guidance to the faithful. Our Protestant brothers and sisters have been misled about the meaning of the text, so let us gently show them their error (2 Tim. 2:25)."

          Justification does not depend on obedience to the Mosaic Law, since it is by faith. Justification does not depend on any other law for the same reason. We are justified by faith, apart from the merit of good works. To say that we are required to follow the Law of Love rather than the Law of Moses misses the entire point. The Law of Love was literally embedded into the Mosaic system. So it is not something new by any means. For example, the concept was taught in Leviticus. The Law of Love was summarized in Deuteronomy 6. To say that a person is not justified by the Law encompasses the Law of Love. This excerpt from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible Commentary is pertinent here:

          "for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified; reference seems to be had to (Psalms 143:2) and contains a reason why these believing Jews relinquished Moses in his law, in whom they formerly trusted, and looked to, and depended on for their justification, because that by obedience to the law of works no sinful mortal man can be justified in the sight of God."

          Consider also the following translation of Galatians 2:16:

          "Yet we know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus in order to be put right with God through our faith in Christ, and not by doing what the Law requires. For no one is put right with God by doing what the Law requires." (Galatians 2:16, Good News Translation)

          Interestingly enough, the Good News Translation is approved by the Roman Catholic Church for adherents to use in study. Following is another translation of Galatians 2:16:

          "yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:16, New English Translation)

          If we are justified by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, then that would seem to imply the reception of benefits to believers on basis of His imputed righteousness. Either reading of Galatians 2:16 is supportive of justification by faith alone.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Lessons Of The American Eugenics Movement

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas cited lessons from the history of the American eugenics movement [on May 28] in warning that abortion can be a “tool” to eliminate entire segments of the population.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that eugenic goals are already being realized through abortion,” Thomas wrote.

“With today’s prenatal screening tests and other technologies, abortion can easily be used to eliminate children with unwanted characteristics,” he wrote. “Indeed, the individualized nature of abortion gives it even more eugenic potential than birth control, which simply reduces the chance of conceiving any child.”

Thomas’ 20-page opinion accompanied the court’s refusal to hear a case involving an Indiana law banning sex-, race-, and disability-selective abortions. Thomas agreed with the court’s decision not to take up the case but only because the issue needed more time to percolate in lower courts. The high court often will take up an issue only after it is considered in multiple circuits. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had struck down the Indiana law.

Thomas – who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush – detailed the history of the American eugenics movement.

Former Planned Parenthood president Alan Guttmacher, he said, “endorsed the use of abortion for eugenic reasons.” The U.S. Supreme Court, in the 1927 Buck v. Bell decision, supported the forced sterilization of certain people. Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger called blacks “the great problem of the South” – the “group with ‘the greatest economic, health, and social problems.’” She wanted to promote birth control among the black population, Thomas noted.

Thomas then pivoted to modern-day data.

“The reported nationwide abortion ratio – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births – among black women is nearly 3.5 times the ratio for white women,” he wrote. “And there are areas of New York City in which black children are more likely to be aborted than they are to be born alive – and are up to eight times more likely to be aborted than white children in the same area.”

He added: “Whatever the reasons for these disparities, they suggest that, insofar as abortion is viewed as a method of ‘family planning,’ black people do indeed ‘tak[e] the brunt of the ‘planning.’”

Sex-selective abortion is regularly used in India, where 300,000 to 700,000 female fetuses are “selectively aborted in India each year.” Today, “there are about 50 million more men than women in the country,” he wrote.

Another targeted population, he wrote, includes individuals with Down syndrome.

“In Iceland, the abortion rate for children diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero approaches 100%. … Other European countries have similarly high rates, and the rate in the United States is approximately two-thirds,” he wrote.

Abortion has “proved to be” a “disturbingly effective tool for implementing the discriminatory preferences that undergird eugenics,” he asserted.

“Given the potential for abortion to become a tool of eugenic manipulation, the Court will soon need to confront the constitutionality of laws like Indiana’s,” Thomas wrote."

https://www.christianheadlines.com/contributors/michael-foust/abortion-is-a-disturbingly-effective-tool-for-eugenics-supreme-court-justice-warns.html

A Textbook Example Of Roman Catholic Mariolatry

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira once gave a devotional commentary on a Marian prayer composed by Bernard of Clairvaux, with an excerpt (from Dr. Plinio's writing) being presented as follows:

          "Our Lady, as an omnipotent Mediatrix with God, solves everything. I need help from her for things big and small. For the ordinary, as for the enormous.

          And although the things of apostolate may seem very complicated, very committed, I must trust in Our Lady to resolve; I put my trust in her and do not think of anything else.

          This applies even more to our spiritual life. Our Lady called us to the TFP, and within the [vocation of] the TFP calls us to holiness. If She calls us to holiness, She will not interrupt the work that She began and will lead us there if we can trust.

          Someone will say, "Dr. Plinio, beautiful words ... In reality, they are empty and do not correspond to anything, because if I sin I am creating obstacles to the action of Our Lady. And if I am creating obstacles to the action of Our Lady, I can not suppose that She will sanctify me. I mean, you are saying something that is very beautiful, but that is worthless, has no consistency. It's a chimera. "

          The answer is right here in St. Bernard. Although we have the great pain of having offended Our Lady, even though she has the pain of having seriously offended, we must continue to trust in her. Because if we distrust her, then everything is lost. The door of Heaven is She! And if we, by our lack of confidence, close the door of Heaven, we condemn ourselves."

          The above petitions to Mary sound identical to the pleas of the Old Testament Psalmists toward God. Plinio's reflection on this prayer is also disturbing in that he calls "Our Lady" the "omnipotent Mediatrix with God" and the "door of heaven." This is idolatry at its finest.

          For those interested in what the prayer from Bernard says, here are a few excerpts from the article being discussed:

          "For my sake, O Mother, I will wait only in You, only in You after God. And the whole foundation of my hope will be my trust even in your maternal goodness."

          "My dearest Mother, may I lose my good graces for the poor and the poor." "Dearest Mary, may the evil ones rob me of the reputation and the little good I possess. sin."

          "But my loving trust in your maternal goodness, this I will never lose, I will keep it, this unswerving confidence until my last breath."


          We should be placing this much confidence and trust in God alone. Mary, being an ordinary human being, cannot intercede for sinful man. Roman Catholic apologists, who will go miles to deny the charge of idolatry, are so full of themselves. The language used in "venerating" Mary serves as a witness against them.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Examining A Few Of Catholic Nick's Presuppositions Regarding Romans 4:2-8

  • Discussion:
          -A blogger who goes by the name of Catholic Nick wrote an article titled Another Gold Nugget in Romans 4:6 (Against Faith Alone), where he interacts with comments made by John Piper on the meaning of "counted righteous" as found in Romans 4. This article is not so much a commentary on Mr. Piper's Desiring God ministry, but rather serves as an analysis of Nick's claims (which are quoted as follows) regarding this passage from Romans:

          "First, Piper has not been consistent with the parallelism of the passage: 4:6 Blessing to whom God credits righteousness apart from works, 4:7 Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and 4:8 Blessed is he whom the Lord will not reckon his sin. Notice that the parallel is not of “iniquities” and “sin” corresponding to “apart from works,” as Piper hurriedly assumed, but rather the “crediting of righteousness” corresponds to “iniquities forgiven” and “not crediting sin.” In other words, Paul is saying that to “credit righteousness” is synonymous with “not crediting sin. Thus, there is no actual correspondence between “apart from works” and “sinner” here."

          Romans 4:6 is clearly speaking of those, "to whom God counts righteousness apart from works." There is no way that those things can be separated.

          It is true that the crediting of Christ's righteousness corresponds to our iniquities being forgiven. Our sins are credited to Christ and His righteousness is credited to us. The Reformation Study Bible has this footnote:

          "4:6–8 That Paul’s exegesis of Gen. 15:6 is correct is confirmed by an appeal to David’s words in Ps. 32:1, 2. Blessedness (fellowship with God together with all its accompaniments, and salvation) is not earned, but is the effect of the gift of forgiveness. It is by Christ’s work, not ours, that we are justified. Any merit of our own, even the good that redeemed people do by the tower of the Holy Spirit, is excluded."

          The key to interpreting the passage is verse 2, which says, "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” Paul is making a case that Abraham and others are not justified by works because that would result in boasting. Verse 4 further supports this idea with the simple point that if someone earns wages, then it is not a gift. Verse 5 then says that God justifies the ungodly and counts them as righteous by faith. The text is crystal clear in rebuffing the Roman Catholic view of meritorious works in justification. King David is quoted in here as an example of being justified in spite of his transgressions against God.

          Justification by faith alone includes forgiveness and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. It is an exchange of our sinfulness onto Christ and His righteousness onto us. The lines do parallel one another by emphasizing the different sides of justification. Verse 6 says that King David is credited or counted as righteous apart from works. Verses seven and eight are emphasizing our pardon from sin. The overall point from these parallel phrases is that we are not justified by works. They do not contribute to our justification.

          "Second, consider that Piper shows there is just as much of a parallel between 4:5 and 4:6 as there is between 4:6 and 3:28. Here Piper shows that “justified by faith apart from works of the law” (3:28) is to be understood synonymously with “credits righteousness apart from works” (4:6). Thus, the “ungodly” is one who is “apart from works of the law.” Realizing this, it is even less reasonable to say “apart from works of the law” is a synonym for “sinner” in general (for example, being uncircumcised does not make one a sinner in general)."

          This paragraph does not follow at all. We can agree with the first part of what is being said, “justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (3:28) is to be understood synonymously with “credits righteousness apart from works” (4:6). That part of the argument makes perfect sense. However, Nick follows that with, "Thus, the “ungodly” is one who is “apart from works of the Law.” In light of this, it is even less reasonable to say “apart from works of the Law” is a synonym for “sinner” in general (for example, being uncircumcised does not make one a sinner in general)." It is difficult to see where Catholic Nick gets this conclusion from. It is not connected to nor logically flows from the first part of that paragraph.

          "The only fitting explanation is that “ungodly” is a slang (or even pejorative) way of speaking of a Gentile, who is by definition someone who lacks works of the law. Note this parallel found in Galatians 2:15-16. And not only is this the only consistent way to interpret that parallel, it's the only way to make sense of Paul's earlier statements regarding Abraham."

          It is senseless to draw a wedge between somebody who is ungodly and somebody who is a sinner. Romans 3:9 says that both Jews and Greeks are under sin. Paul in Romans 5:6 says that Christ came to die for the ungodly. Romans 5:8 says that God manifested His love toward us despite being sinners. Romans 5:10 says that God enabled our redemption while we were enemies. The terms sinner and ungodly most naturally read synonymously in this context. The King James Version New Testament Greek Lexicon renders Asebes as ungodly (8x) and ungodly men (1x). Never once is the term rendered as "Gentile."

          The very reason that one might be able to boast before God is precisely because of the absence of sin and the keeping of the Law, as opposed to Gentiles who do not have the Law and sin. Nick's reading of Romans 4 renders the language of sin and the need of it being covered superfluous. In summary, Catholic Nick has turned Romans 4:5-8 right on its head.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Reflection Questions For Professing Christians Who Deny That Jesus Christ is God

        1.) If Jesus Christ is not God, then how could He rightly claim to be Lord over the Sabbath (Matthew 12:6-8)? How could He tell His Jewish audience that He is greater than the temple?

        2.) Why would the Pharisees conspire against Christ, if what He had affirmed about Himself did not imply His divinity (Matthew 12:14)?

        3.) Does not the fact that John the Baptist confessed to being unworthy of even carrying the shoes of the Jewish Messiah not indirectly attest to His deity (John 1:27)?

        4.) The Lord controls storms (Psalm 89:9;107:28-31). Does not the fact Jesus Christ has the same power not prove that He is divine (Luke 8:24-25)? Does not the fact that He could multiply a handful of bread loaves to feed five thousand people not also testify to Him being God in the flesh?

        5.) God alone is said to be truly holy (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 15:4). Does not the fact that Scripture calls Jesus Christ holy prove He also is God (Acts 3:14; 1 John 3:5)?

        6.) God is said to be our strength and our hope (Psalm 46:1; 71:5). Does not the fact that those titles are attributed to Jesus Christ prove that He also is divine (Philippians 4:13; 1 Timothy 1:1)?

        7.) The Old Testament affirms God to be a God of truth (Psalm 31:5). Does not the fact that Jesus Christ also refers to Himself as the Truth point to His divinity (John 14:6)?

         8.) Would Unitarians be willing to call Jesus Christ a sinner, since He was worshiped as a deity on multiple occasions throughout the four gospel narratives? If Jesus is not God, then any professing Christian who rejects the Trinity, yet claims to give Him any amount of worship, must be an idolater.

Micah 5:2 And The Deity Of Christ

        Micah 5:2 is regarded as a prophecy indicating where the Jewish Messiah would be born, a village called Bethlehem. This passage was written for the purpose of consoling a people devoid of hope, as it describes the arrival of a King in a futuristic sense who will bring about the redemption and restoration of Israel alongside with a kingdom that exists throughout the world. First century Jewish leaders during the first century understood Micah 5:1-2 to be a Messianic prophecy (Matthew 2:3-6; Luke 2:4; John 7:41-42). King David was also born in Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:1-13). Jesus Christ is the most prominent figure in his lineage, legally speaking. God raised Christ up to rule eternally in David's royal ancestry through a covenantal promise (2 Samuel 7:12-17).

        Now, there is an issue of word rendering in Micah 5:2 as it relates to the divinity of Christ. Translations such as the English Standard Version render the Hebrew word "olam" in this text as from ancient days, while others such as the New American Standard and King James read as from eternity. The Hebrew can either refer to unending time or to some distant point in the past. It can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the Prophet Micah was conveying the meaning of eternity. The King being described in Micah 5:2 has supernatural qualities. The Aramaic Targum Jonathan translates the verse as follows (originally cited here):

        “. . . out of thee shall proceed in my presence the Messiah to exercise sovereignty over Israel; whose name has been called from eternity, from the days of the everlasting.” (Ankerberg, Weldon, and Kaiser, The Case for Jesus the Messiah: Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists, p. 75-76)

        The Lord Jesus Christ did not exist eternally as a human. He had a "beginning" as a man. God the Son took on human flesh. The phrase "ancient of days" refers to the incomprehensible essence of eternity. This source provides some relevant historical information:

        "Eliezer makes a remarkable observation: though the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, he existed “before the world was created” (Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer 3:1). Micah says his goings forth are מִימֵי עֹולָֽם mimei olam (“from the days of eternity”). In other words, the Messiah has eternally existed. The Messiah is not a created being. The text implies a divine nature. Early Jewish interpreters understood this. The writer of 1 Enoch says, “From the beginning the Son of Man was hidden and the Most High has preserved him” (1 Enoch 62:7). Classical rabbinic texts described a pre-existent Messiah in b. Pesachim 54a, Nedarim 39a, the Revelation of R Joshua b Levi, and Seder Gan Eden." (Jacobs and Buttenweiser, “Messiah,” 511)"

        The text is obviously discussing the pre-existence of the Jewish Messiah. The idea of beginnings is emphasized twice in a row in the same passage (consider also the rendering of Micah 5:2 as found in the New International Version where it says "origins"), meaning that Jesus Christ is eternal. If this text of Scripture is referring to a specific point in time when the Messiah was created by God, then it would simply be meaningless and redundant. It would not make any sense for Him to be brought into existence many times. An excerpt from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary says the following:

        "goings forth . . . from everlasting--The plain antithesis of this clause, to "come forth out of thee" (from Beth-lehem), shows that the eternal generation of the Son is meant. The terms convey the strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable (compare Psalms 90:2, Proverbs 8:22, Proverbs 8:23, John 1:1 )."

         D.A. Carson and Gregory K. Beale provide these comments regarding Matthew paraphrasing the Messianic prophecy given through Micah:

         “A literal translation of Mic. 5:1 MT (5:2 ET) reads, “And you Bethlehem Ephrathah, little [or, ‘insignificant’] among the thousands [or, ‘clans’] of Judah, from you to me will go forth to be a ruler in Israel.…” Micah 5:1 LXX (5:2 ET) translates the Hebrew quite literally, but adds “house of” before “Ephrathah” and changes “thousands” to “rulers of thousands.” Matthew follows the LXX verbatim for “and you Bethlehem,” replaces “(house of) Ephrathah” with “land of Judah,” adds “by no means” before “little,” changes the adjective to the superlative form “least,” replaces “rulers of thousands” with “governors,” omits “to me,” but then reproduces “out of you will go forth” using LXX wording.” (Beale, G. K., Carson, D. A., Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament)

Monday, July 1, 2019

A Study On Colossians 2:9 And The Divinity Of Christ

Commentary

The Apostle Paul has just cautioned the Colossian believers not to be taken captive by the philosophies and traditions of men which are not grounded in Christ (v. 18). There are various views about the so-called "Colossian Heresy" against which Paul was writing. It is possible that there was a specific heresy (so Calvin, Dibelius, Moule, etc.) or Paul may have been writing more generally (so Hooker). What is clear is that Paul is unequivocally asserting Christ's supremacy over whatever teachings might take the Colossians captive - teachings not grounded in Christ.

In verse 9, Paul gives the first of two reasons why Christ is superior to any human philosophy or tradition (verse 10a contains the second): "For" (Greek hoti with a causal sense: "because") in Christ all the fullness of Deity dwells bodily. Christ is superior to the teachings of men and the elemental "powers" of the universe because in His incarnation, every aspect of the nature of the true God - all His attributes and power - found in Christ's body a congenial and permanent home.

This verse - perhaps more than any other verse in Paul's writing - teaches that Christ was God in the flesh. The word translated "Deity" signifies the "essence of being God" - what makes God, God (see Grammatical Analysis, below). And it was not a mere quality or limited sub-set of attributes - for Paul tells us that "all the fullness" of Deity dwelled in Christ. And this fullness did not merely sojourn for a time in Christ's consciousness, but rather "dwelled" there (Greek katoikeo: "to take up permanent residence"). It is a timeless present tense verb (Harris, Colossians, p. 98) - "continues to live." And this dwelling was "bodily," in Christ's physical body. This points to the incarnation, surely, but also to the resurrected Christ as well, who is now our mediator, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). As Robertson puts it: "The fullness of the Godhead ... dwells ‘in the once mortal, now glorified body of Christ'" (RWP).

Grammatical Analysis 

oti en autw katoikei pan to plhrwma thV qeothtoV swmatikwV

hOTI EN AUTÔ KATOIKEI PAN TO PLÊRÔMA TÊS THEOTÊTOS SÔMATIKÔS
For in him dwells all the fullness of the Deity bodily

KATOIKEÔ (2730)
  • Live, dwell, reside, settle (down) (BAGD, Thayer)
  • More technically used, the verb refers to the permanent "residents" of a town or village, as distinguished from those "dwelling as strangers" or "sojourners" (Moulton & Milligan)
  • Verb Indicative Present Active (Friberg) The present indicative indicates an action occurring while the speaker is speaking.
PAS (3956)
  • The whole, all (the) (BAGD, Thayer)
PLÊRÔMA (4138)
  • Sum total, fulness, even (super)abundance (BAGD)
  • Fulness, abundance (Thayer)
  • The plêrôma statements in Colossians present the full unity of the person and work of God and Christ, yet in such as way that neither the distinctness of person nor monotheism is imperiled. The differences between Ephesians and Colossians show that plêrôma is not here a technical term, and the fact that plêrês or plêroômay be used instead supports this conclusion. In part the plêrôma sayings relate to Christ's headship of the church. From him as the bearer of the divine fullness (col. 1:18ff) vital powers flow into the church, so that he may be said to fill it (TDNT).
THEOTES (2320)
  • Deity, divinity, used as an abstract noun for qeoV (BAGD)
  • Deity, i.e., the state of being God, Godhead: Col 2:9...Syn. qeothV, qeiothV: qeot. deity differs from qeiot. divinity as essence differs from quality or attribute (Thayer)
  • Divinity ... The one God, to whom all deity belongs, has given this fullness of deity to the incarnate Christ. (TDNT)
  • Deity, divine nature, divine being...'all the fullness of divine nature' Col 2:9...The expression 'divine nature' may be rendered in a number of languages as 'just what God is like' or 'how God is' or 'what God is' (Louw & Nida). Louw & Nida do not semantically distinguish theotes, theiotes, and theios, treating them each as synonymous with "diving nature" as they define it here.
SÔMATIKÔS (4985)
  • Bodily, corporeally ... Col 2:9 (prob. to be understood fr. 2:17 [cf. swma 4] as=in reality, not symbolically) (BAGD)
  • Bodily, corporeally ... yet denoting his exalted and spiritual body, visible only to the inhabitants of heaven, Col 2:9, where see Meyer [Bp. Lightft.] (Thayer)
  • Bodily-wise, corporeally, in concrete actuality (Moulton & Milligan)
  • The sômatikôs in this statement denotes the corporeality in which God encounters us in our world, i.e., the real humanity of Jesus, not a humanity that is a mere cloak for deity (TDNT).
  • Pertaining to a physical body ... 'In him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily' or 'in physical form' Col 2:9. It is also possible to interpret sômatikôs in Col 2:9 as meaning 'in reality,' that is to say 'not symbolically' (Louw & Nida)