Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Note On Seemingly Cruel Words Found In The Book Of Psalms

"...some prayers and divine commands express but the purpose of a sovereign God Who frequently uses men to carry out His designs (Ps. 35, 69, 109, 137; Deut. 7:1-5, 16; 20:16-18). Strong says, the imprecatory Psalms are "not the ebullition of personal anger, but the expression of judicial indignation against the enemies of God," and, "an exterminating war was only the benevolent surgery that amputated the putrid limb, and so saved the religious life of the Hebrew nation of the after world."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 96

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

John 1:4 And The Deity Of Jesus Christ

"Take, for instance, the statement in the 4th verse, "In him was life." In the original Greek, this verse actually declares Jesus Christ to be not only the possessor of life, like you and me, but the originator and disposer of life. In John 10:18, Jesus said of His own physical life, "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." No human being in his right mind would dare to make such claims. Either Jesus Christ was God or he was insane. He could not have been a mere human being, as the whole Gospel of John illustrates. But what He said in John 10:18 was declared succinctly in John 1:4."

Spiros Zodhiates, Was Christ God?, p. 1

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Debunking Roman Catholic Apologist Tim Staples On Romans 5:1 And Justification By Faith Alone

  • Discussion:
          -Tim Staples of Catholic Answers wrote an article on how Roman Catholics should respond when objectors cite Romans 5:1 as proof for justification by faith alone. Following are his remarks alongside with a critique:

          "First, as baptized Catholics, we can agree that we have been justified and we have been saved. Thus, in one sense, our justification and salvation is in the past as a completed action. The initial grace of justification and salvation we receive in baptism is a done deal. And Catholics do not believe we were partially justified or partially saved at baptism."

          In attempting to deal with the text of Romans 5:1, the author approaches matters as if they are simpler than what they really are. The Catholic plan of salvation is indeed complicated with the numerous laws and ordinances of the Roman Catholic Church. This intricate process is explained in its entirety through sources such as the Code of Canon Law. Just look at the nature of the seven sacraments, purgatory, indulgences, monastic vows, instances of self-flagellation, etc. What has been described is obviously a legalistic system of works righteousness. In fact, the gospel according to the Roman Catholic Church is so complex that it would be virtually impossible to even accurately describe what it is on a witnessing tract!

          Romans 5:1 says plainly that we are justified before a holy God by faith. Romans 5:2 continues on that thought and states that we have been reconciled to Him. In other words, we can now approach God with confidence because of what Christ has done on our behalf at Calvary. This cannot simply be accomplished through rituals such as baptism. Neither would it be sensible to try reading some complicated works gospel into this passage. It simply does not fit here.

          "This text indicates that after having received the grace of justification we now have access to God’s grace by which we stand in Christ and we can then rejoice in the hope of sharing God’s glory. That word “hope” indicates that what we are hoping for we do not yet possess (see Romans 8:24)."

          Christians presently possess the hope that God will restore all things once for all and completely in the New Creation. The Reformation Study Bible has this footnote:

          "[Romans] 8:22–25 The present condition of creation is not its final one; it is like a mother groaning in labor pains. Creation has a destiny planned by God, and longs to see it fulfilled, much as believers have destiny to which they look forward (vv. 23, 26; cf. Rev. 21:1). Our salvation has begun—we have the Holy Spirit as a down payment (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13, 14)—but it will not be consummated until the resurrection (the full realization of adoption in Christ, v. 23). Inevitably, therefore, the Christian life involves patient waiting in hope."

          "The major part of the puzzle here that our Protestant friends are missing is that there are many biblical texts revealing both justification and salvation to have a future and contingent sense as well as these we have mentioned that show a past sense. In other words, justification and salvation also have a sense in which they are not complete in the lives of believers. Perhaps this is most plainly seen in Galatians 5:1-5."

          A few theological distinctions are necessary here. First of all, justification is a portion of salvation and does not constitute the entirety of the process. Secondly, justification is complete and instantaneous at the moment of conversion. It is perfect in this lifetime. Thirdly, other aspects are salvation are guaranteed but are completed at our glorification. The idea of justification being incomplete should be rejected, unless we are referring to the evidential type spoken of in texts such as James 2:14-26.

          "The Greek word used in verse 6 [actually referring to Galatians 5:5] and here translated as “righteousness” is dikaiosunes, which can be translated either as “righteouness” or as “justification.” In fact, Romans 4:3, which we quoted above, uses a verb form of this same term for justification. Now the fact that St. Paul tells us we “wait for the hope of [justification]” is very significant."

          The claim that "righteousness" in Romans 4:3 is a verb form is false. The Greek word is "dikaiosynēn", which is a noun.

          Moreover, every sense of justification occupies the same Greek word. The type of distinction makes no difference. Consider, for example, Luke 7:29. God does not need to be justified at all. This excerpt from Adam Clarke's commentary helps us to understand the backdrop of the text from Galatians:

          "Stand fast therefore in the liberty - This is intimately connected with the preceding chapter: the apostle having said, just before, So then, brethren, we are not children of the bond woman, but of the free, immediately adds, Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. Hold fast your Christian profession; it brings spiritual liberty: on the contrary, Judaism brings spiritual bondage. Among the Jews, the Messiah's reign was to be a reign of liberty, and hence the Targum, on Lamentations 2:22, says: "Liberty shall be publicly proclaimed to thy people of the house of Israel, משיחא יד על al yad Mashicha, by the hand of the Messiah, such as was granted to them by Moses and Aaron at the time of the Passover." The liberty mentioned by the apostle is freedom from Jewish rites and ceremonies, called properly here the yoke of bondage; and also liberty from the power and guilt of sin, which nothing but the grace of Christ can take away."

           "The truth is: this example of justification being in the future is not an isolated case. There are numerous biblical texts that indicate both justification and salvation to be future and contingent realities, in one sense, as well as past completed realities in another sense [Matthew 10:22; Romans 2:13-16; 6:16; 13:11; 1 Corinthians 5:5]."

           If the New Testament authors make use of the term "justification" in the sense of proving the truthfulness of or vindication, then that is not problematic for a forensic justification framework. There is a difference between justification in a judicial (declaring us to be righteous) and an evidential (evidence of a changed heart) sense. The same Greek word is used in different ways in the New Testament. That factor shapes how we should approach each text.

           "While the Catholic Church agrees that Abraham was justified by faith in Genesis 15:6 as St. Paul said, we also note that Abraham was justified at other times in his life as well indicating justification to have an on-going aspect to it. Again, there is a sense in which justification is a past action in the life of believers, but there is another sense in which justification is revealed to be a process."

           This is an instance of begging the question. Even if we assumed that justification was ongoing, that still does not give us an answer as to whether the term is used in the sense of declaring righteous or evidence of a saving faith. The latter type would of course be ongoing.

            The reasoning behind the belief that a Christian is saved at the moment of conversion is the language used in describing those who are in Christ. Anybody who has been given a new identity in Him is in the present tense a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Believers are described in the present tense as being born of God (1 John 5:1).

            "For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has taken all of Sacred Scripture into the core of her theology harmonizing all of the biblical texts. Thus, we can agree with our Protestant friends and say as Christians we have been (past tense) justified and saved through our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But we also agree with our Lord that there is another sense in which we are being saved and justified by cooperation with God’s grace in our lives, and we hope to finally be saved and justified by our Lord on the last day (Matthew 12:36-37)."

            If the Apostle Peter was the first pope, then why is it that Paul wrote such a theologically rich epistle to the Romans? How come he never bothered to mention such a prominent figure in his greetings (Romans 16)? Where was "Pope Peter" when everybody else had deserted Paul (2 Timothy 1:15; 4:16)?

            Furthermore, it seems that this Roman Catholic apologist has not so much interacted with Romans 5:1 as he makes clever sounding excuses to dance around the text. Dr. Cornelis P. Venema gives this commentary regarding judgement on the last day:

            "Paul regards justification as a thoroughly eschatological blessing...The notion of a final justification on the basis of works inevitably weakens the assertion that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). A final justification on the basis of works also undermines Paul’s bold declaration that no charge can be brought, now or in the future, against those who are Christ’s (Rom. 8:33–34). Rather than treating the final judgment as another chapter in the justification of believers, we should view Paul’s emphasis upon the role of works in this judgment in terms of his understanding of all that salvation through union with Christ entails. Because believers are being renewed by Christ’s Spirit, their acquittal in the final judgment will be a public confirmation of the genuineness of their faith and not a justifying verdict on the basis of works....these good works are the fruits of faith, not the basis for a future justification. For this reason, Paul speaks of a judgment “according to,” not “on the basis of” works."

Details On New Testament Authors Quoting From The Old Testament Scriptures

"In Quoting and Interpreting the Old Testament. In reply to the objections to the inspiration of the Scriptures that have been based on these grounds we offer the following explanations: (1) Sometimes the New Testament writers merely select certain familiar words from an Old Testament passage to describe the righteousness which is by faith, and do not pretend to to expound the Old Testament reference in which the words occur (Rom. 10:6-8; cf. Deut. 30:12-14); (2) sometimes they recognize a typical element in a passage and point out its fulfillment (Matt. 2:15; cf. Hos. 11:1); (3) sometimes they seem to give the credit to an earlier prophecy when in reality they are quoting from a later form of it (Matt. 27:9; cf. Zech. 11:13); (4) sometimes they seem to quote an apparently false translation of the Septuagint on the ground that the mistranslation conveys at least a part of the fullness of meaning found in the original Hebrew text (Eph. 4:26; cf. Ps. 4:4 in the LXX); and (5) sometimes they combine two quotations into one and assign the whole to the more prominent author (Mark 1:2, 3, A.S.V.; the A.V. is incorrect here)."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 94-95

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Details On The Accuracy Of The New Testament

"Archaeological discoveries have done much to confirm the historical accuracy of the Scriptures. Hammurabi, Sargon II, the Hittites, and Belshazzar are no longer problems to the historian. Garstang has now established the date of the Exodus on solid ground,12 which makes it possible to work out a consistent chronology from Abraham to Solomon. The large sums of money of which we sometimes read can be partly explained as required by the recurring changes in the value of money and partly as transcriptional errors. This latter suggestion applies also to the large armies of which we sometimes read. Robt. Dick Wilson shows that forty-some kings of Scripture have been found in archaeological research.13 Geo. L. Robinson, formerly of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Chicago, says: "No explicit contradiction of Scripture of any moment whatever moment has ever been found. More and more, scholars are coming to recognize the substantial verity of the Bible. And less and less do archaeologists endorse the evolutionary hypothesis of Higher Criticism to explain the growth of Law and religion in Israel."14

Similar solutions may be adopted for the problems that are brought forward from the New Testament...The "level place" in Luke 6:17 was probably on the same mountain as is mentioned in Matt. 5:1, and so the "Sermon" in the two gospels is the same sermon. There was an old Jericho and a new Jericho, and the blind man was probably between the two Jerichos (Matt 20:29; Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35).The fact that Matthew speaks of two men and Mark and Luke only of one may be explained on the ground of the particular interest of the writers. This is also true of the account of two (Matt. 8:28) or one (Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27) demon-possessed men in Decapolis. The so-called mistakes of Stephen (Acts 7) have been harmonized satisfactorily.15

Archaeological discoveries also confirm the truthfulness of the New Testament Quirinius (Luke 2:2) was apparently twice governor of Syria (B.C. 16-12 and 6-4), the latter being the time referred to by Luke. "Lysanias the tetrarch" is mentioned in an inscription on the site of Abilene at the time to which Luke refers. An inscription at Lystra, by the native Lycaonians, records the dedication of a statue to Zeus (Jupiter) and Hermes (Mercury), which shows that these gods were classed together in the local cult, as implied in Acts 14:12. Ramsay found that when Paul went from Iconium to Lystra he crossed from Phrygia into Lycaonia (Acts 14:6); but before this discovery every authoritative geographer taught that Acts was wrong.16 Luke calls the officials of Philippi "praetors," which is not technically correct, but Ramsay declares that the inscriptions indicate that the term was "frequently employed as a courtesy title for the superior magistrates of a Roman colony."17 An inscription from Paphos refers to the "proconsul Paulus," who has been identified at the Sergius Paulus of Acts 13:7."

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 92-94

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Does God Infuse Righteousness Into Our Souls Or Declare Us To Be Righteous?

  • Discussion:
           -Karlo Broussard of Catholic Answers wrote an article on how we should understand the word reckoned as translated in Romans 4:3. Are we to understand that term as a legal status that God imputes to believers or is righteousness infused into believers? The purpose of this article is to counter a few of this Roman Catholic apologist's claims on the matter:

           "First, just because the Bible uses the language of God “reckoning” a person as righteous, it doesn’t follow that there is no ontological transformation—a change in what the sinner is. There is no reason why God’s declaration of our righteousness and our transformation by grace must be mutually exclusive. The two can be harmonized."

           God declares sinners to be just and also makes them just. The legal declaration of us being righteous (justification) is to be distinguished with the gradual process by which God makes us righteous (sanctification). God both erases our record of transgressions against Him and transforms us to live in accordance with His will. There is indeed an objective moral change involved in a forensic justification framework.

           "But God’s forgiveness of David’s sins [Romans 4:8, where Paul quotes Psalm 32:2] was not merely a legal declaration without some existential effect on David. To the contrary, David describes God’s forgiveness of his sins as being made “clean” and “whiter than snow” (51:7). And herein lies the key to God no longer reckoning David’s sin: the objective guilt of those sins had been removed. God’s reckoning was an evaluation that correctly corresponded to the objective reality of that which was being reckoned."

           The forgiveness of sins and the objective removal of guilt had an effect on King David. That is what forgiveness does by its very nature whenever it is extended to and received in humility by anyone. In the case of David and everybody else who trusts in God, it amounts to having a clean conscience. Forgiveness results in peace with our Creator. Forgiveness results in the removal of our guilt. Afterwards comes a changed life and a pursuit of holiness in gratitude toward the Lord. Contrariwise, everything that surrounds justification is not to be conflated with justification itself.

           "There are other passages that fit the same pattern. For example, in Romans 8:18 Paul “considers” [logizomai] that our current sufferings are not worth comparing with our glory that is to be revealed in heaven. Paul’s mental evaluation of our present sufferings compared to our glory in heaven matches the objective reality about the two. In Romans 9:8, Paul “reckons” [logizomai] Abraham’s spiritual children as God’s children. Paul’s evaluation about Abraham’s spiritual children corresponds to what they really are: God’s children."

           Notice that in each of the above examples a reckoning according to reality takes place—a mental evaluation that correctly corresponds to reality. Never does the reckoning in these verses suggest a mere declaration that is not intended to match up to the reality. There are some passages in Scripture where people “reckon” something in a way that doesn’t match the true nature of the thing being reckoned (see Mark 15:28; Rom. 2:3). But in these cases the reckoning is seen as flawed."

           The King James Version translates Strong's G3049 (logizomai) in the following manner: think (9x), impute (8x), reckon (6x), count (5x), account (4x), suppose (2x), reason (1x), number (1x), miscellaneous (5x). It has a slightly wide semantic range of meaning (For example: to reckon, count, compute, calculate).

           The term logizomai does indeed have cases where something is accounted, reckoned, or regarded in a way that conforms with reality. The point is that it is an accounting term that does not always have to conform. This is the grounds for the Apostle Paul’s argument in Romans 4. Roman Catholicism has a different definition of logizomai that makes its transformational. But that is not what the word means. It is an accounting term. Following is a commentary by John MacArthur:

           "The word accounted. ( vv. 5, 9, 10, 22). Used in both financial and legal settings, this Gr. word, which occurs 9 times in chap. 4 alone, means to take something that belongs to someone and credit to another’s account. It is a one-sided transaction—Abraham did nothing to accumulate it; God simply credited it to him. God took His own righteousness and credited it to Abraham as if it were actually his. This God did because Abraham believed in Him (see Gen. 15:6). righteousness."

           Interestingly, the form of logizomai that occurs in Romans 2:26 is an instance that can clearly be understood in a judicial or declarative sense. It would be absurd to assert that circumcision is infused into somebody. God treats a righteous man who is uncircumcised as if he is circumcised.

           "So, when we come to Romans 4:3, where God “reckons” Abraham as righteous, it’s reasonable to conclude, in light of the foregoing analysis, that God evaluates Abraham to be righteous because in reality his faith truly has a righteous quality to it, thus making Abraham ontologically righteous. To say that God “reckons” Abraham as righteous even though he’s not, you either have to say that God was wrong in his reckoning or that you’re using the term reckon in a way that Paul does not. No Protestant wants to concede the first horn of the dilemma. And I doubt that many want to concede the second. So, rather than undermining the Catholic view of justification, God’s reckoning of Abraham as righteous in Romans 4:3 supports it."

           Romans 4:6-8 says, "just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Paul emphatically stares that God counts someone righteous apart from works. Following is an excerpt from John Gill's Exposition of the Bible on the text of Romans 4:4:

          "of debt: it must be his due, as wages are to an hireling. Now this was not Abraham's case, which must have been, had he been justified by works; he had a reward reckoned to him, and accounted his, which was God himself, "I am thy shield, and exceeding, great reward", Genesis 15:1; which must be reckoned to him, not of debt, but of grace; wherefore it follows, that he was justified, not by works, but by the grace of God imputed to him; that which his faith believed in for righteousness. The distinction of a reward of grace, and of debt, was known to the Jews; a the one they called פרס, the other שכר: the formerF4 they say is הגמול, "a benefit", which is freely of grace bestowed on an undeserving person, or one he is not obliged to; the other is what is given, בדין, "of debt", in strict justice."

          We are not suggesting that God is wrong or that Paul is using the term incorrectly. The Lord already knows what is in our hearts. Believers are covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. His righteousness belongs to us. This "legal transaction" is not a lie just because it is a gift. This is not a matter of legal fiction. Christ is a real Mediator. Christ is truly our Advocate. He truly obeyed the Law perfectly. He paid the penalty for sin on our behalf. These points are all rooted in fact.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

If The Four Gospels Were Not Written By Eyewitnesses, Then Does That Undermine Their Credibility?

        The four gospel narratives were written either by eyewitnesses themselves or from secondhand accounts of direct eyewitnesses. In regards to the writing timeline, they were all written within thirty years of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is a relatively short period of time in comparison to other ancient texts and means that most of those who were eyewitnesses were still alive, even as the Apostle Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 15:6).

        Even assuming that the four gospel accounts were not written by eyewitnesses, the conclusion that they are rubbish or inaccurate does not follow. A secondhand account (such as Luke) is not unreliable as long as the writer works closely with the original eyewitness. We do not doubt biographies that are carefully written. Eyewitness accounts are trusted on a daily basis in courtrooms. Moreover, the four gospels were written during a time when people committed to memory lengthy speeches upon hearing them. Consequently, it is not reasonable in this scenario to simply dismiss the memory of the eyewitnesses to the resurrection as unreliable.

        Somebody might assert that miraculous explanations are beyond the ability of the historian to verify. Such a premise would be true only if we start with the presupposition that the miraculous is not a part of history. Even the disciples themselves were originally skeptical of Jesus’ resurrection. They were convinced of its truthfulness when they saw, heard, and touched Him in His glorified body (John 20:24-29; 2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1-4).

Monday, October 21, 2019

Religious Titles Of Honor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Commentary On Leviticus 10:17

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

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

Friday, October 18, 2019

Commentary On 2 Timothy 4:16

"[2 Timothy 4:16] Answer (Gr apologia). From this we get our word apology or defense. He is referring to his trial. Stood with me (Gr paraginomai). This is a technical word and would refer to a defense lawyer or advocate. All men forsook me. The same word used of Demas in verse 10, but he did not let it make him bitter. No matter how it hurts, no root of bitterness can be allowed let many others be hurt (Heb 12:15)."

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

Commentary On 2 Timothy 4:13

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

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

Thursday, October 17, 2019

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

                                                        By Edward Dalcour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The exact imprint of his nature” (ESV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No creature can make this claim.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NOTES

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

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

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

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

https://christiandefense.org/general/the-glory-of-the-son-of-god-in-hebrews-13/

A Damning Mormon Quotable

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

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

Addressing The Mormon Dogma Of Celestial Marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Philosophical Argument For The Immateriality Of The Soul

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

Argument articulated by Roderick Chisholm
https://philosophynow.org/issues/75/On_Roderick_Chisholm

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Discourse On Sexual Purity

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

Comments On Pauline Authorship Of 1 Timothy And Other Pastoral Epistles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://investigatemagazine.co.nz/4267/insect-with-its-own-gearbox-more-proof-of-intelligent-design/

Monday, October 7, 2019

Contending Earnestly For The Faith

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 5, 2019

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

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

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/mysterious-regeneration/

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Rebuttal To Catholic Nick On The Meaning Of Justify

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Genesis 3:21 And Imputed Righteousness

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

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Romans 4:7-8 And Imputed Righteousness

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

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

Romans 4:4-5 And Imputed Righteousness

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

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Romans 4:4-5 And Justification By Faith Alone

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

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