Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Freedom And Liberation From The Law

[Romans 7] 7:25 The Law is holy and its commandment is holy and just and good (12). But sin, that diabolic power, manifests itself in its true colors (12) by using just that good Word of God to rouse in man the dormant will of opposition to God which destroys him. Paul illustrates this working of the Law (as misused by the power of sin) from his early life (7-13). Paul also shows us the working of the Law from his own experience with the Law as a Christian (14-25). It was contact with the Law, confronting him as the commandment, that first gave sin its deadly power in his life (9-11). Paul as a Christian, when confronted by the Law, becomes a man rent by an agonizing struggle (14-24) from which only Christ can and does release him from this hard fought struggle (25).

Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, Concordia Self-Study Commentary [commentary on Romans], p. 131

Monday, October 19, 2020

How The Gospel Brings About Unity

"One of the defining characteristics of modern cults is the turning of the convert against his family, and the cutting off of that convert from his parents. The true gospel does not do that. We teach young converts to honor their fathers and mothers, even when those parents oppose the Gospel. Unlike the modern cults, the alienation comes only when unbelieving parents disown, expel, or disenfranchise believing children. In such cases, the family of the local assembly is all the more important. The original family has cast out the new believer."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 98

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pillar And Ground Of The Truth

"The word pillar (στῦλος, stylos) would have special significance to the Ephesians in that their city was the site of the Temple of Diana which had 127 marble pillars upon which announcements were regularly affixed. The local church was a pillar upon which the truth was to be held up that all might see it. By “truth” (ἀληθεία, alētheia) Paul means the full revelation of God in Christ as [1 Timothy] verse 16 makes clear...The church is a household called to manifest the truth in its message and to conform to it in its conduct. Paul adds that the church is the “support” or buttress (ἑδραίωμα, hedraiōma) of the truth. The church, the Apostle implies, exists to maintain the faith and protect it from all danger."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 49

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Non-Christians And Church Attendance

"Nowhere in the New Testament is there any indication that the church met to preach the gospel. Rather the church met to worship, to teach the word, to pray, to have fellowship. The meeting of the church was to edify believers and to glorify God. But it was not to preach the gospel to unbelievers. Rather the saints went out into the world to preach the gospel. … there is no biblical mandate for an “evangelistic service” when the church comes together. There is a mandate to equip the saints to preach the gospel. The work of Christians is not to invite unbelievers to church so that they might hear the gospel. It is to preach the gospel themselves."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 132

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Conversion Entails Spiritual Change

"If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions—if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before—then I think we must suspect that his “conversion” was largely imaginary; and after one’s original conversion, every time one thinks one has made an advance, that is the test to apply. Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in “religion” mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better; just as in illness “feeling better” is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up."

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 207

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Examining The Catholic Doctrine Of The Real Presence In Light Of Scripture

        "Christ becomes present in the Sacrament of the Altar by the transformation of the whole substance of the bread into His Body and of the whole substance of the wine into His blood...This transformation is called Transubstantiation.” (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 379)

        The Apostle Paul's language of "proclaim His death" and "until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26) logically suggests that the body of Jesus Christ is physically absent from the world at this point in time. He will return again to establish everlasting peace. If transubstantiation is true, then this passage of Scripture has been devoid of substance because Christ would be coming down from heaven on a daily basis by the command of ordained ministerial priests.

        The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that they would not see Him in the flesh after His ascension into heaven (John 7:33; 16:10; Acts 1:8-9). If He comes down from His throne at the command of a priest, then He would be contradicting Himself because He would be descending on a daily basis for believers to behold under the appearance of bread and wine.

        Paul stated that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Colossians 3:1). If he believed in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the real presence, then it would have been perfectly reasonable for him to provide an exception to that idea. But he does not. Paul said elsewhere, "...even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2 Corinthians 5:16).

        What can be inferred from the text of Scripture is Christ being present amongst believers in a spiritual sense (Matthew 18:20; 28:20). He is made present in our minds as we bring into remembrance the significance of His atoning work. Christ does not need to physically come down from heaven to be orally consumed in order to impart grace and nourish our faith.

Friday, September 25, 2020

A Patristic Witness Against Baptismal Regeneration

          Following are a few excerpts from an Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.) which seem to convey early opposition to baptismal regeneration or the idea that baptism is necessary for salvation. The first objection concerns people who heard the gospel and never had a chance to get baptized upon becoming a Christian:

          "And what wilt thou determine against the person of him who hears the word, and haply taken up in the name of Christ, has at once confessed, and has been punished before it has been granted him to be baptized with water? Wilt thou declare him to have perished because he has not been baptized with water? Or, indeed, wilt thou think that there may be something from without that helps him to salvation, although he is not baptized with water? They thinking him to have perished will be opposed by the sentence of the Lord, who says “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven;” because it is no matter whether he who confesses for the Lord is a hearer of the word or a believer, so long as he confesses that same Christ whom he ought to confess...therefore nobody can confess Christ without His name, nor can the name of Christ avail any one for confession without Christ Himself."

          The author of this treatise also uses the example of the apostles and their betrayal of Christ as an argument against baptismal regeneration:

          "...but all the disciples, to whom, though already baptized, the Lord afterwards says, that “all ye shall be offended in me,” all of whom, as we observe, having amended their faith, were baptized after the Lord’s resurrection with the Holy Spirit…the baptism of water, which is of less account provided that afterwards a sincere faith in the truth is evident in the baptism of the Spirit, which undoubtedly is of greater account."

         He even goes to distinguish between the baptism of water and the baptism of the Holy Spirit:

          "Which Spirit also filled John the Baptist even from his mother’s womb; and it fell upon those who were with Cornelius the centurion before they were baptized with water. Thus, cleaving to the baptism of men, the Holy Spirit either goes before or follows it; or failing the baptism of water, it falls upon those who believe."

          Thus, it can be said that this individual believed one could be saved apart from water baptism. Consider this excerpt from his treatise:

          "And there will be no doubt that men may be baptized with the Holy Ghost without water, as thou observest that these were baptized before they were baptized with water; that the announcements of both John and of our Lord Himself were satisfied, forasmuch as they received the grace of the promise both without the imposition of the apostle’s hands and without the laver [baptismal font], which they attained afterwards. And their hearts being purified, God bestowed upon them at the same time, in virtue of their faith, remission of sins; so that the subsequent baptism conferred upon them this benefit alone, that they received also the invocation of the name of Jesus Christ, that nothing might appear to be wanting to the integrity of their service and faith."

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Why People Need Not Be Baptized Twice

"And so there was this same presumption concerning Christ in the mind of the disciples, even as Peter himself, the leader and chief of the apostles, broke forth into that expression of his own incredulity. For when he, together with the others, had been asked by the Lord what he thought about Him, that is, whom he thought Him to be, and had first of all confessed the truth, saying that He was the Christ the Son of the living God, and therefore was judged blessed by Him because he had arrived at this truth, not after the flesh, but by the revelation of the heavenly Father; yet this same Peter, when Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders, and priests, and scribes and be killed, and after the third day rise again from the dead; nevertheless that true confessor of Christ, after a few days, taking Him aside, began to rebuke Him, saying, “Be propitious to thyself: this shall not be;” so that on that account he deserved to hear from the Lord, “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me, because he savoured not the things which are of God, but those things which are of men.” Which rebuke against Peter became more and more apparent when the Lord was apprehended, and, frightened by the damsel, he said, “I know not what thou sayest, neither know I thee;” and again, when using an oath, he said this same thing; and for the third time, cursing and swearing, he affirmed that he knew not the man, and not once, but frequently denied Him. And this disposition, because it was to continue to him even to the Lord’s passion, was long before made manifest by the Lord, that we also might not be ignorant of it. Again, after the Lord’s resurrection, one of His disciples, Cleopas, when he was, according to the error of all his fellow-disciples, sorrowfully telling what had happened to the Lord Himself, as if to some unknown person, spoke thus, saying of Jesus the Nazarene, “who was a prophet mighty in deed and in word before God and all the people; how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and fastened Him to the cross. But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” And in addition to these things, all the disciples also judged the declaration of the women who had seen the Lord after the resurrection to be idle tales; and some of them, when they had seen Him, believed not, but doubted; and they who were not then present believed not at all until they had been subsequently by the Lord Himself in all ways rebuked and reproached; because His death had so offended them that they thought that He had not risen again, who they had believed ought not to have died, because contrary to their belief He had died once. And thus, as far as concerns the disciples themselves, they are found to have had a faith neither sound nor perfect in such matters as we have referred to; and what is much more serious, they moreover baptized others, as it is written in the Gospel according to John."

Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Forgiveness Of God For Lapses In Faith

And now blush if thou canst, Novation; cease to deceive the unwary with thy impious arguments; cease to frighten them with the subtlety of one particular. We read, and adore, and do not pass over the heavenly judgment of the Lord, where he says that He will deny him who denies Him. But does this mean the penitent? And why should I be taking pains so long to prove individual cases of mercies? Since the mercy of God is not indeed denied to the Ninevites, although strangers, and placed apart from the law of the Lord, when they beseech it on account of the overthrow announced to their city. Nor to Pharoah himself, resisting with sacrilegious boldness, when formerly he was stricken with plagues from heaven, and turning to Moses and to his brother, said, “Pray to the Lord for me, for I have sinned.” At once the anger of God was suspended from him. And yet thou, O Novation, judgest and declarest that the lapsed have no hope of peace and mercy.

A Treatise Against the Heretic Novatian by an Anonymous Bishop

Monday, September 21, 2020

Atheism And The Origin Of Life

  • The Big Bang Theory:
         -States that the universe began as a very hot, small, and dense ball of cosmological matter, called a singularity, which expanded and transformed into what we call the universe. The universe is continuing to cool down as it continues to spread out further.
          *Why did this happen?
          *Where did the particles of matter which helped to cause the explosion of matter come from? How did everything originate? Something cannot come from nothing.
          *What caused the big bang to go into motion? Something cannot put itself into motion.
          *It would be more reasonable to believe in an uncreated first cause, God.
  • Oscillating Universe Theory:
         -States that the universe expands from a singularity, collapses back again, and repeats the same cycle for all eternity.
          *The universe is not closed and consequently continues to expand outward. In fact, the accelerating force has kept on increasing. We have no evidence for a decreasing speed.
          *The concept of an eternal universe is irrational at face value. It would mean that we could never have reached a point in time when this paper could be written.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Does Acts 17:11-12 Support Sola Scriputra?

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin wrote an article on the text of Acts 17:11-12 as it relates to Sola Scriptura and why he thinks that text should not be cited to support the doctrine. Following are his remarks along with a critique:

          "...the contrast isn’t between the skeptical Bereans, who insisted on Scriptural proof of what Paul was saying, and the credulous Thessalonians, who accepted it without question. Instead, the contrast is between the open-minded Bereans, who were willing and eager to examine the Scriptures and see if what Paul was saying was true, versus the hostile Thessalonians, who started a riot and got Paul in trouble with the authorities, even though he had proved from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ."

          Acts 17:11-12 does indeed support Sola Scriptura in that the Bereans had tested the validity of the Apostle Paul's message by comparing it to the Old Testament Scriptures. If this method of discernment is not allowable, then it would make no sense at all for Luke to give these people a good reputation by calling them noble. Contrasting the response of certain people from Thessalonica does not change the argument. In fact, the context records Paul himself as appealing to those same Scriptures as the final court of authority in debating Jews (Acts 17:1-3).

          "There is also another reason why this passage isn’t a good proof text for sola scriptura, which is this: The Christian faith contains doctrines that aren’t found in the Old Testament. What’s why even those who favor doing theology “by Scripture alone” don’t favor doing it “by the Old Testament alone.” While the Old Testament does contain prophecies that point forward to Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, it doesn’t contain the whole of the Christian faith."

          Saying that Paul and Silas did not have a compiled New Testament in their hands is nothing but a red herring. The fact that Jesus Christ was proven from the Old Testament to be the promised Jewish Messiah does not refute Sola Scriptura. The original intent of an author does not rule out a present application to broader conditions. It is therefore not out of bounds to cite Acts 17:11-12 as a supporting text for Sola Scriptura. The question regarding the extent of the canon, while related, is a separate issue.

          The Bereans had used the Old Testament Scriptures to discern the message delivered by Paul and Silas. They had a love for God and His Word in their hearts. The Scriptures were read and searched out by these people in humility and eagerness. However, in Roman Catholicism it is maintained that scriptural proof is not necessary in order for a dogma to be true. The "laypeople" are not allowed to interpret Scripture for themselves:

          "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him." (CCC # 100)

          This kind of thinking is not in line with what we see taking place during the encounter with the Bereans and them accepting the gospel message. Paul did not direct these people to an infallible teaching office in order for them to test the validity of his message. The Old Testament Scriptures were sufficient for the purposes of Paul as he witnessed to the people as they verified the message that he delivered.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Why God Cannot Tolerate The Presence Of Sin

        There are countless idols in our society, from celebrities to personal lifestyle habits. Anything that is worshiped in the pagan world besides God Himself is a false god. It makes no difference whether Baal is worshiped or oneself is worshiped. One idol prevalent throughout the world of evangelicalism is a god who cannot render judgement on unbelievers because of his love. The end result of that is believing in a god who condones sin. Many who claim to follow Christ in Western culture struggle to accept God for who He is. Is such a deity even worthy of paying homage to?

        If God is unable to judge unrepentant sinners as a result of being overwhelmed by sentiment, then He must be a weak God. He must be a feeble and miserable God. That would be the case because He cannot bear to enforce His own moral Law. God would be slave to His emotions. Consequently, He could no longer rightly be said to be ruler over the universe. It would be governed by empty tenderness and any existing moral order would cease to be. 

        If God were to accept the sinful ways of mankind, then He would no longer be righteous and just. He would no longer be God, which is logically impossible. He would be exactly like us. God would no longer be judge but a coward and hypocrite. Such a portrayal of God does not come about as a result of thinking critically about His character. It is based on a redefinition of love. The love of God is made evident in Him providing for both the just and the unjust:

        "...for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45)

         The above cited text from the Sermon on the Mount mentions common graces of God which we take for granted. These are things wicked people do not deserve. He has the power and authority to both give and take them from us. All things that are good and enjoyable are gifts from God. If, however, we fail to take into account the character of God in its entirety, then we will inevitably reach a wrong conclusion as to who He is. A false god will be worshiped. It is a truth that God judges the wicked (Revelation 20). He is holy by His very nature.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Christ Our Wisdom And Righteousness

        "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)

        Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of salvation and all graces that follow from therein. He is the outward manifestation of God's love and mercy. It is worth noting in this text that the Apostle Paul distinguishes between "righteousness" and "sanctification." He imparts to us wisdom regarding salvation, which is demonstrated through His work on the cross. We receive a righteous standing before God on the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness. Sanctification is progressive. Redemption refers to our future glorification in which we will be made perfect as Christ Himself is perfect. In the Old Testament, the Law is called wisdom and righteousness (Deuteronomy 4:6; 6:25). Christ is our wisdom and righteousness.

Monday, September 7, 2020

A Biblical Presentation On The Doctrine Of Adoption

        Adoption is the act of God by which He considers us to be members of His eternal family. We are deemed His children by faith. Adoption is a legal term. It is a figure of speech used to describe a change in our standing before Him. Like the instance of justification, it is an undeserved, unmerited favor of God.

        The doctrine of adoption tacitly assumes that man in his natural state of being is lost by virtue of his sin. Thus, not everyone is a child of God by birth. People need a redeemer who can free them from the curse of sin. It takes a supernatural act of God to make us members of His family. It is not a status that we are naturally endowed with.

        It is not by physical descent or by human efforts that one becomes a child of God, but by faith (John 1:12-13). He took action to save us by sending God the Son into this world to atone for our sins. It is the greatest privilege that one can have. We obtain an inheritance in heaven that cannot perish or fade away.

        The Apostle Paul used adoption as a metaphor to communicate that we as believers partake of the inheritance that belongs to Jesus Christ:

        "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him." (Romans 8:17)

        "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5)

        Christ has possession over everything. We shall partake in His glory and riches as we have been included as members of the kingdom of heaven (John 17:22; 2 Corinthians 8:9). We are adopted as children of God in Christ:

        "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will." (Ephesians 1:5)

        His shed blood brings about both our justification and adoption by God the Father. We belong to Him and He belongs to us.

        Forensic justification causes things which are not forensic in nature to happen. We obtain peace with God by faith, which includes assurance of salvation and the freedom to pursue holiness in gratitude for what God has done for us. These blessings have a consequential relationship to justification by faith alone. The relationship of God to the unbelieving world is that of a judge to a convict, whereas our relationship to Him is that of a father to a son.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Editors Should Pay Attention When King David Bursts Into News 3,000 Years Later

Merriam-Webster’s definition 2(b) of the term “peg,” as a noun states: “something (such as a fact or issue) used as a support, pretext, or reason,” for example “a news peg for the story.”

When it comes to media peg-manship and the Bible, it certainly appears that any old pretext will do.

Yet news pegs of any kind are remarkably absent with the most recent example of the genre, in The New Yorker dated June 29. The 8,500-worder by Israeli freelance Ruth Margalit consumes 10 pages of this elite journalistic real estate.

The cute headline announces the pitch: “Built On Sand.” Subhed: “King David’s story has been told for millennia. Archeologists are still fighting over whether it’s true.”

Was David the grand though flawed monarch the Bible depicts, or merely some boondocks bandit or sheik?

The debate affects current Israeli-vs.-Palestinian settlement politics, but in archaeology the last major news peg on David occurred 15 years ago while this pretext-free article appears in most news-crazed year imaginable.

That should tell media strategists something. Margalit’s reputation as a writer and skill at story pitches presumably helped, but the magazine’s editors knew that multitudes gobble up this stuff. The New Yorker’s long-form journalism is well suited to exploring such matters.

Pegs from the past? Any claims that David never even existed were all but eradicated by the 1993 discovery of the “House of David” inscription within a century of the king’s reign. A 1996 paper by Margalit’s central personality, Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, contended that though there was a David the Bible’s account of him is mostly exaggerated fiction. (Finkelstein later co-authored a 2006 book on this for popular audiences.)

Then in 2005, Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University made a dramatic announcement about unearthing what she believes is the foundation of David’s Jerusalem palace, indicating the grand scope of the Phoenecian building project the Bible describes. Finkelstein dissents.

Margalit is a sure-footed guide through these and other disputes among top archaeologists over the decades. She does not cite any Orthodox thinkers who accept the entirety of the Bible narrative as factual. The best scholarly book from that viewpoint is the readable “On The Reliability of the Old Testament” by British Egyptologist K. A. Kitchen of the University of Liverpool, a conservative evangelical.

Kitchen argues for the plausibility of David’s story in the context of broader Mideast history, surveys the scant material evidence, and explains why that’s so. An archaeologist’s maxim tells us “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” and Jerusalem’s many rounds of destruction reinforce the importance of the point.

Mazar depicted her find in 2006 for Biblical Archaeology Review, which followed with updates and coverage of archaeologists who doubt the claim.

Religion writers should be subscribers or at least familiar with this magazine, which is written for lay readers and blessedly free of technical jargon. It’s a prime source for keeping on top of new developments and story ideas in this field.

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2020/6/30/editors-should-pay-attention-when-king-david-bursts-into-mainstream-press-3000-years-laternbsp

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Proclaiming The Lord's Death And Resurrection

And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled! He who hung the earth in place is hanged. He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place. He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree. The Sovereign is insulted. God is murdered. The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand. This is the One who made the heavens and the earth, and formed mankind in the beginning, The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets, the One enfleshed in a virgin, the One hanged on a tree, the One buried in the earth, the One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven, the One sitting at the right hand of the Father, the One having all authority to judge and save, through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time. This One is "the Alpha and the Omega," this One is "the beginning and the end." The beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible. This One is the Christ. This One is the King. This One is Jesus. This One is the Leader. This One is the Lord. This One is the One who rose from the dead. This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father. "To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

Melito of Sardis, On the Passover

Sunday, August 23, 2020

On The Completion Of The Old Testament Canon And Apocrypha

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to a number of claims set forth by Trent Horn of Catholic Answers regarding whether the apocryphal books belong in the Old Testament canon. Following are excerpts from the author along with a critique:

          "The authors of the deuterocanonical books did not believe the Hebrew canon was closed or that there was a set of books called “the Writings,” to which no more could be added. The prologue to Sirach only references “the law and the prophets and the others that followed them” and “the law itself, the prophecies, and the rest of the books.” Second Maccabees describes Judas the Maccabee encouraging his troops only with words “from the law and the prophets” (15:9)."

          This attempt at refutation by Trent Horn is ridiculous and manufactured. The translator of Ecclesiasticus in no uncertain terms distinguishes "these things" (meaning the work that he is translating) from "the law and the prophets and the others that followed them." Thus, he believed that there was a threefold structured collection of sacred books that were accorded a unique status. Even the last of the three divisions of the Hebrew canon is spoken of in this passage as being "of our ancestors." Thus, this process was not going on in the days of the person translating this work or even his grandfather. This description suggests a closed canon.

          Another text relating to the completion of the Hebrew canon is 2 Esdras 14:45-46. It makes reference to a collection of twenty-four books which are intended to be read by all people. That number is equivalent to the number of books comprising the Jewish canon. These twenty-four writings are distinguished from a different set of seventy in that the later are meant only to be read by those who have wisdom. The seventy books are described as having been "written last" or after the writing of the first set.

          "According to Old Testament scholar Otto Kaiser, the deuterocanonical books “presuppose the validity of the Law and the Prophets and also utilize the Ketubim, or ‘Writings’ collection, which was, at the time, still in the process of formation and not yet closed.” In fact, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain Jewish writings from the years 400 B.C. to A.D. 100, include copies of deuterocanonical books like Sirach, Tobit, and Baruch, which shows they were considered to be part of the Writings."

          Hundreds of manuscripts of non-biblical material have been discovered in the Qumran caves. It was comparable to a library which contains several different genres of literature. So one cannot simply appeal to the Dead Sea Scrolls as grounds for including the apocrypha in the Old Testament canon. These people were educated in the literature of their time and would have known books such as Sirach and Tobit. 

          "Hebrews 11:35 describes people in the Old Testament who “were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they may rise again to a better life.” These people are only described in 2 Maccabees 7, which describes brothers who accept torture instead of eating pork and violating Jewish law. Since the context of Hebrews 11 includes “the men of old [who] received divine approval” (v. 2), this means the books describing the Maccabean martyrs were part of the Old Testament that was used by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews."

          The author of Hebrews could have referenced the Maccabeean Revolt for the reason this rebellion took place in more recent history and not that he ascribed canonical status to 2 Maccabees. It would make sense for one to consult that work for historical purposes due to that event having a particular significance to an audience with a Jewish background. Furthermore, there could have been multiple sources or family traditions from which the author of Hebrews gathered his information.

          "The idea that the early Church viewed the deuterocanonical books as Scripture is even more evident in the writings of early Church fathers like Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Methodius, Cyprian, and Origen. Moreover, these fathers cited these books as “Scripture” or “holy Scripture,” and none of the pre-Nicene Church fathers ever declares the deuterocanonical books to be uninspired or non-canonical. St. Jerome even tells us that at the Council of Nicaea the deuterocanonical work of Judith was considered to be a part of the canon of Scriptures."

          There were church fathers who were not familiar with the Hebrew canon and so mistakenly thought the deuterocanonicals to be inspired Scripture. A distinction was made between the canonical books of the Old Testament and the deuterocanonicals as early as the second century which lasted until the timing of the Protestant Reformation. Bruce M. Metzger writers:

          "The prevailing custom among the Jews was the production of separate volumes for each part of the Hebrew canon…When the codex or leaf-form of book production was adopted, however, it became possible for the first time to include a great number of separate books within the same two covers…For whatever reason the change was instituted, it now became possible for canonical and Apocryphal books to be brought into close physical juxtaposition. Books which heretofore had never been regarded by the Jews as having any more than a certain edifying significance were now placed by Christian scribes in one codex side by side with the acknowledged books of the Hebrew canon. Thus it would happen that what was first a matter of convenience in making such books of secondary status available among Christians became a factor in giving the impression that all of the books within such a codex were to be regarded as authoritative. Furthermore, as the number of Gentile Christians grew, almost none of whom had exact knowledge of the extent of the original Hebrew canon, it became more and more natural for quotations to be made indiscriminately from all the books included with the one Greek codex.”  (An Introduction to the Apocrypha, 177-178)

Did God Abandon Jesus Christ At The Cross?

"The words of Jesus at Matthew 27:46 have come in for many kinds of interpretation. Unfortunately, many of the theories have compromised the Bible's teachings on the nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son. The Father was never separated from or abandoned the Son. This truth is clear from many sources. Jesus uses the second person when speaking to the Father-"why have You forsaken Me?" rather than "why did He forsake Me?" as if the Father is no longer present. Immediately on the heels of this statement Jesus speaks to the Father ("Father, into your hands. . "), showing no sense of separation. Whatever else Jesus was saying, He was not saying that, at the very time of His ultimate obedience to the Father, the Father abandoned Him. Rather, it seems much more logical to see this as a quotation of Psalm 22 that is meant to call to mind all of that Psalm, which would include the victory of v. 19ff, as well as verse 24, which states, "For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard."

James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 215, note 1 for chapter 11

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Using The Exodus To Illustrate Imputed Righteousness

        The purpose of the Passover meal was to bring into the hearts and minds of the Jews their deliverance by God from captivity in Egypt. He was moved with compassion to redeem His people as they cried out to Him as a result of brutal enslavement by Pharaoh (Exodus 3:9).

        Being the final part of a series of plagues, God required that the Jewish people sacrifice lambs and apply blood to their doorposts in order that He pass by those houses and leave the firstborn children unharmed (Exodus 12:7; 12-13; 21-24; 27). The Pharaoh lost his firstborn son as the Lord cast judgement on Egypt.

         This incident is illustrative of the imputation of Jesus Christ's righteousness to those who have placed their trust in Him. We have a righteous status credited to our account before God because we have been covered by the shed blood of His Son.

        We are not under divine judgement, but forgiven of our sins. Just as the blood of the lambs was applied to the doors of the houses to spare the oppressed people of judgement, so the blood of Christ is applied to us by faith to enable access to God.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Examining Catholic Redemptive Suffering In Light Of Scripture

        This Roman Catholic source expounds on the idea of redemptive suffering as follows:

        "The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in paragraph 1502 teaches that all pain, toil and sorrow united to Christ's passion "can also have a redemptive meaning for the sins of others." In paragraph 1505 the CCC explains, "Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: ... By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion." Paragraph 1521 likewise states that suffering in "union with the passion of Christ ... acquires a new meaning; it becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus."

        Scripture, on the other hand, affirms that it is Jesus Christ Himself who atones for sin. Atonement for sin does not involve our suffering in addition to what He has done on our behalf. Christ's work on the cross has ensured that we obtain redemption and the forgiveness of sin. It was done "by His own blood" (Hebrews 9:12). Suffering can result in one being conformed to Christ, but does not have value in the sense of making amends for wrongdoing.

        Scripture does not bring together our pain and suffering with the shed blood of Christ in the manner of making atonement. It only speaks of His blood in the context of His suffering for our sins (Hebrews 9:26-28; 13:12; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 5:9). He alone took that burden from us. Any other atoning work is thus rendered unnecessary. There is nothing we can offer that has redemptive significant for ourselves, let alone other people. Psalm 49:7 tells us that, "No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them."

        Roman Catholic apologists sometimes appeal to texts such as 2 Corinthians 1:5-7, Colossians 1:24, and Galatians 2:20 in order to substantiate the idea that our suffering can cancel out punishment for sins committed by ourselves and for other people when offered together with the sacrifice of Christ. These verses have been taken out of context, however.

        Regarding the text from 2 Corinthians, hardship for preaching the gospel resulted in it being shared and exemplified to the Christians dwelling at Corinth. Suffering can produce comfort and hope in God which can be shared with other people. 

        Regarding the text from Colossians, one commentator explains, "That which is behind of the sufferings of Christ — That which remains to be suffered by his members. These are termed the sufferings of Christ, 1. Because the suffering of any member is the suffering of the whole; and of the head especially, which supplies strength, spirits, sense, and motion to all 2. Because they are for his sake, for the testimony of his truth. And these also are necessary for the church; not to reconcile it to God, or satisfy for sin, (for that Christ did perfectly,) but for example to others, perfecting of the saints, and increasing their reward."

        Regarding the text from Galatians, we are identified with Christ but that does not mean our sufferings have any merit in regard to our justification before God. Paul speaks of his own life as if it were the life of Christ itself. He speaks on a personal level about Christ loving him and dying for him. He shows appreciation and lives out his life in view of that reality.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

2 Thessalonians 2:2 And The Reliability Of The New Testament Canon

        "that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come." (2 Thessalonians 2:2)

       The above reference shows us that even the earliest Christians were aware of the possibility of pseudonymous letters. That bolsters our confidence in having the full New Testament canon because they did not simply accept any writing which claimed to have been written by an apostle. The early Christians were aware that forgeries existed.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Answering Alleged Evidences For The Existence Of A Papacy In The Early Church

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as a rebuttal to the claims of Trent Horn at Catholic Answers in regards to the question of whether the office of pope is historical. Following are a few excerpts from the author along with a critique:

           "But didn’t Peter refer to himself as a “fellow elder” and not as “pope” in 1 Peter 5:1? Yes, but in this passage Peter is demonstrating humility that he is encouraging other priests to practice. He wrote, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another” (5:5), so exalting his status would have contradicted his message. Besides, St. Paul often referred to himself as a mere deacon (see 1 Cor. 3:5, 2 Cor. 11:23) and even said he was “the very least of all the saints” (Eph. 3:8)—but that did not take away from his authority as an apostle. Likewise, Peter’s description of himself as an elder does not take away from his authority as being “first” among the apostles (Matt 10:2)."

           The above argument rests on a few questionable presuppositions: 1.) Peter described himself in the humblest of terms in order that he set a good moral example and not that he knew nothing in regards to having been bestowed papal authority, and 2.) Peter was addressing members of an ordained ministerial priesthood. There is no evidence for either claim. Even granting that the apostle is setting forth a model for other pastors to emulate, 1 Peter 5:1 weakens the Roman Catholic case for Peter being first pope because it indicates that he put himself on par with other elders in the church. He never indicates being in a superior position of authority. He never distinguished himself from other elders in the church.

          "In regard to the authority of the Bishop of Rome as Peter’s successor, in the first century Clement of Rome (the fourth pope) intervened in a dispute in the Church of Corinth. He warned those who disobeyed him that they would “involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger,” thus demonstrating his authority over non-Roman Christians."

           Churches established by Peter and Paul were led by pluralities of elders called bishops (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Every man in that position wielded that title without exception. There were originally two classes of leadership: bishops and deacons. Clement used the terms elder and bishop synonymously. The New World Encyclopedia has this excerpt which says:

           "The First Epistle of Clement does not claim internally to be written by Clement, but by an anonymous person acting on behalf of the Roman church to the church at Corinth...It may be that the writer is himself a presbyter or one of several bishops (overseers) who also acted as the church's secretary. If he were the reigning bishop, it seems likely that he would refer to himself as such or signed the letter by name."

          "St. Ignatius of Antioch referred to the Roman Church as the one that teaches other churches and “presides in love” over them. In fact, the writings of Pope Clement (A.D. 92-99) and Pope Soter (A.D. 167-174) were so popular that they were read in the Church alongside Scripture (Eusebius, Church History 4:23:9)."

           The above presented information shows us, not that Rome held a position of primacy, but it was honored amongst other churches. Eastern Orthodox commentator Andrew Stephen Damick notes the following regarding the use of Ignatius to support papal authority:

           "…the modern Roman Catholic vision of Church unity being defined by subjection to a worldwide bishop in Rome is not found in Ignatius’s writings. We saw how he described his friend Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna as “one who has God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ as his bishop” (To Polycarp, Salutation). He does not say that Polycarp has the bishop of Rome for his bishop nor even a regional Asian primate (i.e., a senior bishop in his area). Being a bishop, Polycarp’s bishop is God. With all that Ignatius has to say about the episcopacy and especially about unity, he had the perfect opportunity to insist on a worldwide pontificate for Rome’s bishop. Rome was certainly on his mind, since he was traveling there to be martyred as Peter and Paul had been before him. Yet in his six letters addressed to churches, it is only his letter to Rome in which he does not even mention their bishop (who was probably either St. Evaristus or St. Alexander I). In the other five letters to churches, the bishop is mentioned, and in three of them, the bishop is mentioned by name. When writing to the Roman Christians, he does mention Peter, but equally with Paul as both are apostles who could give them “orders,” while Ignatius himself would never presume to do that (Romans 4:3). In Ignatius’s writings, there is never any special role given to the Roman bishop or the Roman church, nor even to the Apostle Peter. And when he writes to Rome, he does not ask the Roman bishop to send a bishop to Antioch to replace him. Rather, he makes that request of Polycarp and his church in Smyrna (To Polycarp 7:2)."

           "In A.D. 190, Pope St. Victor I excommunicated an entire region of churches for refusing to celebrate Easter on its proper date. While St. Irenaeus thought this was not prudent, neither he nor anyone else denied that Victor had the authority to do this. Indeed, Irenaeus said, “it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [Rome] on account of its preeminent authority” (Against Heresies, 3.3.2)."

           The West and certain Eastern churches claimed to have the correct date of Easter that was delivered from the apostles. If this episode of contradictory church tradition proves anything at all, it would only be that it is unreliable as a source of dogma. What we are left with is Scripture as our guide in building our theology. Irenaeus did not say that churches should submit to Rome due to it being higher in authority, but come together as that church was reputed for being doctrinally orthodox. Consider this introductory excerpt from Philip Schaaf on the translation of Irenaeus's Against Heresies:

           "After the text has been settled, according to the best judgment which can be formed, the work of translation remains; and that is, in this case, a matter of no small difficulty. Irenæus, even in the original Greek, is often a very obscure writer. At times he expresses himself with remarkable clearness and terseness; but, upon the whole, his style is very involved and prolix. And the Latin version adds to these difficulties of the original, by being itself of the most barbarous character. In fact, it is often necessary to make a conjectural re-translation of it into Greek, in order to obtain some inkling of what the author wrote. Dodwell supposes this Latin version to have been made about the end of the fourth century; but as Tertullian seems to have used it, we must rather place it in the beginning of the third. Its author is unknown, but he was certainly little qualified for his task. We have endeavoured to give as close and accurate a translation of the work as possible, but there are not a few passages in which a guess can only be made as to the probable meaning."

           Consider translator footnote 3313 from that same version of Irenaeus's Against Heresies:

           "The Latin text of this difficult but important clause is, “Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam.” Both the text and meaning have here given rise to much discussion. It is impossible to say with certainty of what words in the Greek original “potiorem principalitatem” may be the translation. We are far from sure that the rendering given above is correct, but we have been unable to think of anything better. [A most extraordinary confession. It would be hard to find a worse; but take the following from a candid Roman Catholic, which is better and more literal: “For to this Church, on account of more potent principality, it is necessary that every Church (that is, those who are on every side faithful) resort; in which Church ever, by those who are on every side, has been preserved that tradition which is from the apostles.” (Berington and Kirk, vol. i. p. 252.) Here it is obvious that the faith was kept at Rome, by those who resort there from all quarters. She was a mirror of the Catholic World, owing here orthodoxy to them; not the Sun, dispensing her own light to others, but the glass bringing their rays into a focus. See note at end of book iii.] A discussion of the subject may be in chap. xii. of Dr. Wordsworth’s St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome."

           "Some people object that if Peter and his successors had special authority, why didn’t Christ say so when the apostles argued about “who was the greatest” (Luke 22:24)? The reason is that Christ did not want to contribute to their misunderstanding that one of them would be a privileged king. Jesus did say, however, that among the apostles there would be a “greatest” who would rule as a humble servant (Luke 22:26). That’s why since the sixth century popes have called themselves servus servorum Dei, or “servant of the servants of God.”

            If Peter had an exalted position over the other apostles, then why did Jesus Christ not clear up confusion on this matter by pointing to him? He could have put that matter to rest easily. Trent Horn offers us nothing but smoke and mirrors. The pope with his kingly attire and multitudes who bow down before him in adoration is not in the slightest a "humble servant." Jesus was not referring to any specific individual in Luke 22:26 but offering a general description of anyone who does service for the Kingdom of God.

           "Pope Gregory I used the title in his dispute with the Patriarch of Constantinople John the Faster, who called himself the “Universal Bishop.” Gregory didn’t deny that one bishop had primacy over all the others, since in his twelfth epistle Gregory explcitly says Constaninople was subject to the authority of the pope. Instead, he denied that the pope was the bishop of every individual territory, since this would rob his brother bishops of their legitimate authority, even though they were still subject to him as Peter’s successor."

            That is absolutely untrue. Gregory emphatically denounced the title of universal bishop. He thought that such should be reserved for no one. The following excerpt has been taken from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia as an example:

           "a proud and profane title ... I have however taken care to admonish earnestly the same my brother and fellow-bishop that, if he desires to have peace and concord with all, he must refrain from the appellation of a foolish title. ... the appellation of a frivolous name. But I beseech your imperial Piety to consider that some frivolous things are very harmless, and others exceedingly harmful. Is it not the case that, when Antichrist comes and calls himself God, it will be very frivolous, and yet exceedingly pernicious? If we regard the quantity of the language used, there are but a few syllables; but if the weight of the wrong, there is universal disaster. Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others." (Gregory the Great, Book VII, Epistle XXXIII)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Does The Bible Support The Institution Of Slavery?

        "As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you." (Leviticus 25:44)

         The fact that the Old Testament records historical atrocities, does not in and of itself suggest those events are endorsed by the God who inspired people to write them down. The biblical text simply describes how culture was rather than goes into a treatise on the morality of slavery.

         The inability to pay debts and provide for one's own needs was a common cause of going into slavery in the ancient world (Genesis 47:13-19). Others made reparations for stolen items (Exodus 22:3). Slaves were set free after six years of servitude (Exodus 21:2). These people were not to be abused or mistreated.

        God forbade the Jews from kidnapping people and selling them into slavery (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). That was treated as a capital offence. The Apostle Paul also expressed condemnation of capturing people with the intent of selling them as he described people who do such as ungodly and sinful (1 Timothy 1:9-11).

        This type of slavery is distinguished from what took place in America or the African slave trade. It was not a matter of skin color. Slavery is a terrible thing, regardless. Moses did not express approval of slavery but regulated how it was to be done.

         The Apostle Paul exhorted slaves to obey their masters, not because he approved the institution of slavery, but that it was a means of serving God. Christianity is not a political movement designated to defeat government, but addresses the sinful condition of the human heart. We change the culture by converting souls to Christ.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Uniqueness Of The Bible As Literature

"The Bible is primarily a religious book and as such it is unique in the world of literature. How could uninspired man write a book that commands all duty, forbids all sin, including the sin of hypocrisy and lying, denounces all human merit as insufficient for salvation, holds out as man's only hope faith in in the atoning death, physical resurrection, and present intercession of Christ, and condemns to hell for all eternity all who reject this one way of salvation and persist in sin?"

Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 85

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Made In The Image And Likeness Of God

        "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27)

        God made man to be a reflection of His glory. He made us to be morally upright. He gave us reason and the ability to make our own choices. God created us to have communion with Him. Man was created with knowledge of his Creator. Animals have no such awareness and do not seek to worship a higher power.

        Mankind is the greatest of His creations. He has been given by God a conscience. With that comes the ability to make moral deliberations. Animals are not self-conscious like man. What follows from being made in the image and likeness of God is the responsibility to serve Him. Adam's fall was devastating due to him being designed to mirror the divine glory.

        The terms "image" and "likeness" are virtually synonymous. Both relate to the concept of resemblance. The idea of human life having indelible value finds its basis in having been fashioned in the image and likeness of God. It is this factor which distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. Men and women are different, but are equally created in His image. Adam Clarke once noted:

        "Gregory Nyssen has very properly observed that the superiority of man to all other parts of creation is seen in this, that all other creatures are represented as the effect of God's word, but man is represented as the work of God, according to plan and consideration: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. See his Works, vol. i., p. 52, c. 3."

        God made man to represent Him on earth and to take care of creation. The earth was meant to be the domain of man (Psalm 115:16). This is comparable in certain respects to the ancient Near Eastern idea of statues of kings or deity representing their presence. The object of emphasis was not so much physical appearance as more so one's special rights or privileges. It is in that sense we are made in the image of God.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Application Of Biblical Principles

"...we read in 1 Thessalonians 4:7, "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." A principle that may be drawn from this statement, as well as Philippians 4:8, is that viewing pornographic literature or films is wrong. Obviously such media is not explicitly condemned in Scripture, but sexual purity in thought and action is a principle clearly seen in these and other passages. A personal application of this principle would be, I will not view pornographic literature or films."

Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, p. 288

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Living A God Honoring Life

"It is one thing to read 2 Timothy 1:9, noting that God has "called us to a holy life," and to understand that holiness is a life of purity and godliness, made possible by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. But it is another thing to deal with sin in our lives so that we are in fact leading holy lives. It is one thing to study what the Scriptures say about the return of Christ in passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-56. But it is another thing to build on and move beyond those facts to the point of loving His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8), that is, longing for and anticipating His coming, and continuing steadfast in serving the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58)."

Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, p. 14

Correctly Handling The Word Of Truth

Observing what we see in the biblical text, we then should correctly handle it (2 Tim. 2:15). The participle “correctly handling” (incorrectly translated in the King James Version “rightly dividing”) translates the Greek word orthotomounta. This combines two words that meant “straight” (ortho) and “cut” (tomeo). One writer explains the meaning of this as follows:

Because Paul was a tentmaker, he may have been using an expression that tied in with his trade. When Paul made tents, he used certain patterns. In those days tents were made from the skins of animals in a patchwork sort of design. Every piece would have to be cut and fit together properly. Paul was simply saying, “If one doesn’t cut the pieces right, the whole won’t fit together properly.” It’s the same thing with Scripture. If one doesn’t interpret correctly the different parts, the whole message won’t come through correctly In Bible study and interpretation the Christian should cut it straight. He should be precise…and accurate.

Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, p. 12-13

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Examining Indulgences In Light Of Scripture

        "The Church invites all its children to think over and weigh up in their minds as well as they can how the use of indulgences benefits their lives and all Christian society.... Supported by these truths, holy Mother Church again recommends the practice of indulgences to the faithful. It has been very dear to Christian people for many centuries as well as in our own day. Experience proves this." (Indulgentarium Doctrina, 9, 11)

        "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin. Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead." (CCC # 1471)

        Reconciliation with God takes place through the atonement of Jesus Christ alone. The remission of any and all punishments for sin cannot occur as a result of any good works done on our part. Our confidence in God having provided a way to restore our relationship with Him comes not from indulgences but solely through His redemptive work. It makes no sense to say that the merits of Mary and the saints are applied to Christians when Scripture describes them as already having been fully reconciled to God through the work of Christ:

        "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5:1-2)

        "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." (Romans 5:8-11)

        We cannot receive remission of temporal punishments for sin before God "under certain prescribed conditions" because Jesus Christ Himself has turned away the wrath of God at the cross. In fact, the atonement of Christ was the way in which God could pardon sin while satisfying the requirements of divine justice:

        "whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins." (Romans 3:25)

       The idea of a relationship in which punishments for sin have yet to be dealt out does not match how Scripture portrays our position before God in Christ. He stands in our place before God to avert His righteous anger:

        "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:17)

        There can be no expiation for sins done on our part because Jesus Christ Himself saves us to the uttermost. We are not left to ourselves to deal with any aspect of sin or its penalty because Christ Himself brings about our salvation to its entirety:

        "...he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)

        The idea of indulgences is rendered superfluous at best, since the author of Hebrews describes the work of Christ as making perfect forever those who have been sanctified:

        "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14)

Mormon Contradiction: Is There Salvation After Death Or Not?

        The Book of Mormon says that there are no chances for salvation after death:

        "Therefore, if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and epain, and fanguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment." (Mosiah 2:38-39)

        The Doctrine and Covenants, on the other hand, affirms the idea of postmortem salvation:

        "And after this another angel shall sound, which is the second trump; and then cometh the redemption of those who are Christ’s at his coming; who have received their part in that prison which is prepared for them, that they might receive the gospel, and be judged according to men in the flesh." (section 88:99)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Mormon Contradiction: Is The Nature Of God Changeable Or Unchangeable?

        The Book of Mormon contains passages describing God as having an unchangeable nature:

        "For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity." (Moroni 8:18)

        "Now, the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved." (Alma 41:8)

        "For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?" (Mormon 9:9)

        Official Mormon doctrine, in contrast, affirms that God is increasing in knowledge. Consider this excerpt from Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, volume 6:

        "The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth....There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal with our Father in heaven."

        What we have here, in plain English, is an example of theological inconsistency in Mormon revelation.

         If God is able to increase in knowledge, then it follows that He can make mistakes. His commandments are liable to error. The Mormon conception of god is not a god in any meaningful sense of the term.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Mormon Contradiction: Is The Trinity One God In Three Persons Or Three Separate Gods?

        The Book of Mormon contains passages describing the Trinity as one God:

         "Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil." (Alma 11:44)

         "And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen." (2 Nephi 31:21)

         Mormon theology, in contrast, teaches that the three members of the Trinity are three separate gods:

         "Latter-day Saints believe in God the Father; his Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost (A of F 1). These three Gods form the Godhead, which holds the keys of power over the universe. Each member of the Godhead is an independent personage, separate and distinct from the other two, the three being in perfect unity and harmony with each other (AF, chap. 2)." (https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Godhead)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Refutation Of The Roman Catholic Dogma Of Papal Infallibility

  • Defining Papal Infallibility:
          -The Church of Rome teaches that the Pope cannot pronounce doctrinal error when making official declarations from his chair in matters pertinent to faith and morals ("ex-cathedra"). In other words, Roman Catholicism maintains that the head Roman bishop cannot error when speaking in his fullest capacity, and not as a mere private theologian. Also, it is believed that the entire body of legitimate Roman Catholic bishops, who constitute the teaching office commonly known as the "Magisterium," cannot error when they unanimously agree on a doctrine formally defined by the their leader. In short, this is what knowledgeable Roman Catholics mean when they speak of their church hierarchy as being infallible.
  • Roman Catholic Scholars Frank K. Flinn And J. Gordon Melton Say That Many In The Church Of Rome Stood In Opposition To The Notion Of Papal Infallibility In 1870:
          -"In protest, 55 council members left Rome the day before the final vote. Amid widespread disagreement and protest over the council, those now known as old Catholics separated from communion with Rome." (Encyclopedia of Catholicism, p. 621)
  • Papal Infallibility Is A False Doctrine Of Roman Catholicism Because History Has Shown Us That Popes Can Officially Teach Heresy:
          -If the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility is historical, then how could the Sixth Ecumenical Council officially anathematize Pope Honorius I (A.D. 625-638) for enforcing the heresy of Monotheletism (Christ had no human will) on the entire Christian church (his heretical proclamation began with, "We confess one will of our Lord Jesus Christ...”)?
          -"In late 357 Liberius went to Sirmium (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia). Supposedly dejected, he agreed to sign certain unorthodox formulas that served to emasculate the Nicene Creed (the Creed had implicitly disavowed Arianism). Liberius also agreed to sever relations with Athanasius and submitted to the authority of the emperor." (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Liberius)
          -"Also known as Zozimus, he succeeded Innocent I, and was followed by Boniface I. Although his reign was brief, it was turbulent and left a powerful impact on the papacy. Zosimus is best known for his role in the Pelagian controversy. He at first pronounced the Pelagian teacher Caelestius to be orthodox and later declared him and Pelagius both to be heretical." (https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pope_Zosimus)
  • Roman Catholic Tradition Cannot Simply Be Deemed Infallible Because It Continually Evolves:
          -Although Roman Catholics would consider this argument to be a straw man, it is a proven fact of history that the Church of Rome has placed into effect contradictory church traditions. Examples would include, but are not limited to, Pope Gelasius denying the validity of the Mary's bodily assumption and upholding the notion that no one can be saved outside the Roman Catholic Church. In modern times, however, Rome has affirmed the exact opposite of the previously listed viewpoints. In fact, Rome has referred to Protestants as "Separated Brethren." Recently decreed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church would include the immaculate conception of Mary (1854) and the assumption of Mary (1950).

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Does John 3:16 Support Justification By Faith Alone?

  • Discussion:
           -This article serves as interaction with a few claims made by Roman Catholic Apologist Steve Ray on John 3:16 as it relates to Sola Fide. Following are a few excerpts from the author followed by critiques:

           "The present tense, “that whosoever believeth in him,” or in other words, “that whosoever is believing in Him” sheds a different light on the entire verse. One would expect, according to Protestant tradition, the word “believe” to be aorist, showing that it is a “one-point-in-time” event. I used to say, “I believed in Christ on such and such a date, so I know I am saved.” It could be asked why Jesus switched to the present tense in a verse full of aorists. The answer is that Jesus makes it utterly clear what he is really trying to say; that this belief is an acting, continual belief, and not just a past act of faith."

           The Apostle John's usage of the continuous tense does not refute the doctrine of justification by faith alone or even John 3:16 as a supporting text for that doctrine. The language employed simply indicates a person who ceases to have faith will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is not a denial of faith being ongoing. Biblical faith involves trust in God.

           "...consider whether the word translated “believe” means a mere mental assent. The word in biblical times carried with it the concept of obedience and reliance. Kittel [Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NewTestament Eerdmans, 1968] states, “pisteuo means ‘to trust’ (also ‘to obey’).” Vines [W. E. Vines, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984)] says, “[R]eliance upon, not mere credence.” This is confirmed further by John the Baptist’s statement in John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not (apeitheo) the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The word “apeitheo” is understood by all good translators and commentators to mean obedience. The opposite (antonym) of believe is disobey."

           Consider the purpose and creation of the bronze serpent in the Old Testament:

           "And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." (Numbers 21:6-9, emphasis added)

            The unfaithful Israelites were dying from getting bitten by poisonous snakes. As a result, the Jewish people needed an antidote to ensure their survival after envenomation by these creatures. They were God's curse to punish His chosen people for sin and rebellion. In response to the people's plea for clemency, God instructed the Israelites to simply look at the bronze serpent, which was created by Moses. Those who placed their trust in the Lord by looking at it miraculously got rescued from the sentence of death. We can infer from this historical event the spiritually bankrupt nature of man. Jesus Christ Himself is the typological fulfillment of the bronze serpent:

           "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:14-18, emphasis added)

           Everybody has been spiritually poisoned by sin. This Old Testament incident of people getting spared from physical death is a typological illustration of Jesus Christ's power to save us from spiritual death. Those who turn to Christ by trusting in His redemptive work are saved from eternal condemnation. Sinners are cured of their spiritual illness by the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. The Jews were not saved by good works, but by simply placing their faith in God. The atonement of Christ is applied to all who come to Him by grace through faith in Christ.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Agape And Phileo

[John] 21:15 - This passage (vers. 15-17) illustrates the force of two Greek words for 'to love,' phileo and agapao. The former signifies the love of friendship, and is more intimate and intense. It is here translated 'I am attached to,' and in ch. 16.27 'have affection for.' Agapao, more often used in the New Testament, is more general, and signifies love as the settled disposition of a person rather than as an emotion. It is used for God's love to man (except in Titus 3.4, where a compound word is used which embodies the word phileo) and for the love of men to God. Both words are used for the love of the Father for the Son, phileo once only, John 5.20, and agapao in John 3.35, &c.: and for the love of Christ for his own, phileo in John 11.3 and agapao in John 11.5 and elsewhere. Phileo is used in John 16.27, of the love of the Father for the disciples, and of the love of the disciples for Christ.

J.N. Darby's Translation footnote on John 21:15

Friday, June 12, 2020

Worship In The Spirit Of God

[Philippians] 3:3 - T.R. reads 'God in spirit.' The reading was in question as early as Ambrose and Augustine. Augustine reads both. Ambrose, till the Benedictine edition, was given as reading Theo(i), 'serving God the Spirit:' but they give Theou, 'serving the Spirit of God.' The diplomatic evidence is in favour of Theou, 'who worship by the Spirit of God:' but I do not feel assured of its correctness. {aleph} has Theou; but after all {aleph} is only an Alexandrian witness of the completest kind. But it is anything but a correct manuscript. In Revelation it is very incorrect indeed. D and P (in Tisch. M.S.I.) read Theo-(i), and so Am Syrr.

J.N. Darby's Translation footnote on Philippians 3:3

Monday, June 8, 2020

Answering Trent Horn On Justification By Faith Alone

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to the claims of Trent Horn at Catholic Answers in regards to the question of whether Jesus Christ taught justification by faith alone. Following are a few excerpts from the author along with a critique:

          "Protestants usually claim that Jesus means our words are indicative of the content of our hearts, and so it is our hearts (and the faith they contain) that will be judged rather than our words or actions. But in Revelation 2:23, Jesus says, “I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.” Jesus does not render a judgment based solely on what our hearts deserve but also on what our works deserve."

          Good works are an integral part of the Christian life. However, they are not the cause but the result of having been justified before God. The heavenly rewards which He bestows upon us are dependent on our good works. The author seems to conflate the terms gift and reward. Justification before God is not something we can earn on the basis of good works that we perform, even in part. It is an unmerited grace of God.

          "But this parable doesn’t teach the sufficiency of faith for justification; it teaches the necessity of repentance...When Jesus explains this parable, he does not say the tax collector was justified rather than the Pharisee because the former did not rely on works for his justification. Instead, the Pharisee was not justified because he was guilty of the sin of pride, whereas the tax collector was humble and recognized his need to repent. Jesus even explains why the tax collector rather than the Pharisee was justified: “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14)—indicating it is the tax collector’s humble, repentant attitude that is the distinguishing factor."

          Why cannot the parable of the Rich Man and Tax Collector address both faith as being the instrument of justification and the necessity of repentance from sin? If faith is not enough to bring about our justification in the sight of God, then it would not make any sense for Jesus Christ to have said that the humble tax collector went home justified. The only thing that he had was faith. Moreover, the text informs us that the rich man trusted in his good works to get right with God. He pointed to his deeds as the basis of his righteousness. The rich man went to his house condemned. Thus, Christ plainly taught that no one should rely on his own good works in order to be justified before God. The Pharisee is an illustration of the ultimate failure of a system of works righteousness. Such efforts get to one's own heads and thereby insult God in His glory.

          "In fact, in the next chapter an actual tax collector, Zacchaeus, repents of his wrongdoings and seeks forgiveness from Jesus. It is only after Zacchaeus declares he will pay back everyone he defrauded that Jesus tells him, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9)."

          The desire of Zacchaeus to make restitution to the people that he previously stole from serves as evidence of him having truly repented of his sins. Good works are a consequence or product of a saving faith.

          "Finally, MacArthur cites John 5:24, because Jesus said, “He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” But just four verses later Jesus says that, at the final judgment, “All who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”

          John 5:24 speaks of having eternal life in the present tense or being immediately in one's own possession at the moment of conversion. John 5:28-29 contrasts the lives of people who placed their trust in Jesus Christ and those who rejected Him. Those who fit into the later category will undoubtedly stand eternally condemned at the Last Judgement. They never repented of their sins in this life.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Notes On The Authorship Of Romans

Romans, Epistle to the. 1. The date of this Epistle is fixed with more absolute certainty and within narrower limits, than that of any other of St. Paul's Epistles. The following considerations determine the time of writing. First. Certain names in the salutations point to Corinth, at the place from which the letter was sent. (1.) Phoebe, a deaconess [a servant or helper of sorts] of Cenchreae, one of the port towns of Corinth, is commended to the Romans (xvi. 1, 2) (2.) Gaius, in whose house St. Paul was lodged at the time (xvi. 23), is probably the person mentioned as one of the chief members of the Corinthian Church in 1 Cor. i. 14, though the name was very common. (3.) Erastus, here designated "the treasurer of the city" (xvi. 23, E. V. "chamberlain") is elsewhere mentioned in connection with Corinth (2 Tim. iv. 20; see also Acts xix. 22). Secondly. Having thus determined the place of writing to be Corinth, we have no hesitation in fixing upon the visit recorded in Acts xx. 3, during the winter and spring following the Apostle's long residence it Ephesus, as the occasion on which the Epistle was written. For St. Paul, when he wrote the letter, was on the point of carrying the contributions of Macedonia and Achaia to Jerusalem (xv. 25-27), and a comparison with Acts xx. 22, xxiv. 17, and also 1 Cor. xvi. 4; 2 Cor. viii. 1, 2, ix. 1 if., shows that he was so engaged at this period of his life. The Epistle then was written from Corinth during St. Paul's third missionary journey, on the occasion of the second of the two visits recorded in the Acts. On this occasion he remained three months in Greece (Acts xx. 3). It was in the winter or early spring of the year that the Epistle to the Romans was written. According to the most probable system of chronology, this would be the year a.d. 58. 2. The Epistle to the Romans is thus placed in chronological connection with the Epistle to the Galatians and Corinthians, which appear to have been written within the twelve months preceding. They present a remarkable resemblance to each other in style and matter — a much greater resemblance than can be traced to any other of St. Paul's Epistles. 3. The occasion which prompted this Epistle, and the circumstances attending its writing, were as follows. St. Paul had long purposed visiting Rome, and still retained this purpose, wishing also to extend his journey to Spain (i. 9-13, xv. 22-29). For the time, however, he was prevented from carrying out his design, as he was bound for Jerusalem with the alms of the Gentile Christians, and meanwhile he addressed this letter to the Romans, to supply the lack of his personal teaching. Phoebe, a deaconess of the neighborhood; Church of Cenchreae, was on the point of starting for Rome (xvi. 1, 2), and probably conveyed the letter. The body of the Epistle was written at the Apostle's dictation by Tertius (xvi. 22); but perhaps we may infer from the abruptness of the final doxology, that it was added by the Apostle himself. 4. The Origin of the Roman Church is involved in obscurity. If it had been founded by St. Peter, according to a later tradition, the absence of any allusion to him both in this Epistle and in the letters written by St. Paul from Rome would admit of no explanation. It is equally clear that no other Apostle was the Founder. The statement in the Clementines that the first tidings of the Gospel reached Rome during the lifetime of our Lord, is evidently a fiction for the purposes of the romance. On the other hand, it is clear that the foundations this Church dates very far back. It may be that some of those Romans, "both Jews and proselytes," present on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii. 10), carried back the earliest tidings of the new doctrine, or the Gospel may have first reached the imperial city through those who were scattered abroad to escape the persecution which followed on the death of Stephen (Acts viii. 4, xi. 19). At first we may suppose that the Gospel was preached there in a confused and imperfect form, scarcely more than a phase of Judaism, as in the case of Apollos at Corinth (Acts xviii. 25), or the disciples at Ephesus (Acts xix. 1-3). As time advanced and better instructed teachers arrived, the clouds would gradually clear away, till at length the presence of the great Apostle himself at Rome, dispersed the mists of Judaism which still hung about the Roman Church. 5. A question next arises as to the composition of the Roman Church, at the time when St. Paul wrote. Did the Apostle address a Jewish or a Gentile community, or, if the two elements were combined, was one or other predominant so as to give a character to the whole Church? It is more probable that St. Paul addressed a muted Church of Jews and Gentiles, the latter perhaps being the more numerous. There are certainly passages which imply the presence of a large number of Jewish converts to Christianity. If we analyse the list of names in the 16th chapter, and assume that this list approximately represents the proportion of Jew and Gentile in the Roman Church (an assumption at least not improbable), we arrive at the same result. Altogether it appears that a very large fraction of the Christian believers mentioned in these salutations were Jews, even supposing that the others, bearing Greek and Latin names, of whom we know nothing, were heathens. Nor does the existence of a large Jewish element in the Roman Church present any difficulty. The captives earned to Rome by Pompeius formed the nucleus of the Jewish population in the metropolis. Since that time they had largely increased. On the other hand, situated in the metropolis of the great empire of heathendom, the Roman Church must necessarily have been in great measure a Gentile Church; and the language of the Epistle bears out this supposition. These Gentile converts, however, were not for the most part native Romans. Strange as the paradox appears, nothing is more certain than that the Church of Rome was at this time a Greek and not a Latin Church. All the literature of the early Roman Church was written in the Greek tongue. The names of the bishops of Rome during the first two centuries are with but few exceptions Greek. And we find that a very large proportion of the names in the salutations of this Epistle are Greek names. When we inquire into the probable rank and station of the Roman believers, an analysis of the names in the list of salutations again gives an approximate answer. These names belong for the most part to the middle and lower grades of society. Many of them are found in the columbaria of the freedmen and slaves of the early Roman emperors. Among the less wealthy merchants and tradesmen, among the petty officers of the army, among the slaves and freedmen of the imperial palace — whether Jews or Greeks — the Gospel would first find a firm footing. To this last class allusion is made in Phil. iv, 22, "they that are of Caesar's household." 6. The heterogeneous composition of this Church explains the general character of the Epistle to the Romans. In an assemblage so various, we should expect to find not the exclusive predominance of a single form of error, but the coincidence of different and opposing forms. It was therefore the business of the Christian Teacher to reconcile the opposing difficulties and to hold out a meeting point in the Gospel. This is exactly what St. Paul does in the Epistle to the Romans. Again, it does not appear that the letter was specially written to answer any doubts or settle any controversies then rife in the Roman Church. There were therefore no disturbing influences, such as arise out of personal relations, or peculiar circumstances, to derange a general and systematic exposition of the nature and working of the Gospel. Thus the Epistle to the Romans is more of a treatise than of a letter. In this respect it differs widely from the Epistles to the Corinthians and Galatians, which are full of personal and direct allusions. In one instance alone (xiii. 1) we seem to trace a special reference to the Church of the metropolis. 7. This explanation is in fact to be sought in its relation to the contemporaneous Epistles. The letter to the Romans closes the group of Epistles written during the second missionary journey. This group contains besides, as already mentioned, the letters to the Corinthians and Galatians, written probably within the few months preceding. In the Epistles to these two Churches we study the attitude of the Gospel towards the Gentile and Jewish world respectively. These letters are direct and special. The Epistle to the Romans is the summary of what St. Paul had written before, the result of his dealing with the two antagonistic forms of error, the gathering together of the fragmentary teaching in the Corinthian and Galatian letters. 8. Viewing this Epistle then rather in the light of a treatise than of a letter, we are enabled to explain certain phenomena in the text. In the received text a doxology stands at the close of the Epistle (xvi. 25-27). The preponderance of evidence is in favor of this position, but there is respectable authority for placing it at the end of ch. xiv. In some texts, again it is found in both places, while others omit it entirely. The phenomena of the MSS. seem best explained by supposing that the letter was circulated at an early date (whether during the Apostle's lifetime or not it is idle to inquire) in two forms, both with and without the two last chapters. 9. In describing the purport of this Epistle we may start from St. Paul's own words, which, standing at the beginning of the doctrinal portion, may be taken as giving a summary of the contents (i. 16, 17). Accordingly the Epistle has been described as comprising "the religious philosophy of the world's history." The atonement of Christ is the centre of religious history. The Epistle, from its general character, lends itself more readily to an analysis than is often the case with St. Paul's Epistles. The following is a table of its contents : — Salutation (i. 1-7). The Apostle at the outset strikes the keynote of the Epistle in the expressions "called as an apostle," " called as saints." Divine grace is everything, human merit nothing. — I. Personal explanations. Purposed visit to Rome (i. 8-15).— II. Doctrinal (i. 16-xi. 36). The general proposition. The Gospel is the salvation of Jew and Gentile alike. This salvation comes by faith (i. 16, 17). (a) All alike were under condemnation before the Gospel. The heathen (i. 18-32). The Jew (ii. 1-29). Objections to this statement answered (iii. 1-8). And the position itself established from Scripture (iii. 9-20). (6) A righteousness (justification) is revealed under the Gospel, which being of faith, not of law, is also universal (iii. 21-26). And boasting is thereby excluded (iii. 27-31). Of this justification by faith Abraham is an example (iv. 1-25). Thus then we are justified in Christ, in whom alone we glory (v. 1-11). And this acceptance in Christ is as universal as was the condemnation in Adam (v. 12-19). (c) The moral consequences of our deliverance. The law was given to multiply sin (v. 20, 21). When we died to the law we died to sin (vi. 1-14). The abolition of the law, however, is not a signal for moral license (vi. 15-23). On the contrary, as the law has passed away, so must sin, for sin and the law are correlative ; at the same time this is no disparagement of the law, but rather a proof of human weakness (vii. 1-25). So henceforth in Christ we are free from sin, we have the Spirit, and look forward in hope, triumphing over our present afflictions (viii. 1-39). (t) The rejection of the Jews is a matter of deep sorrow (ix. 1-5). Yet we must remember — (i.) That the promise was not to the whole people, but only to a select seed (ix. 6-13). And the absolute purpose of God in so ordaining is not to be canvassed by man (ix. 14-19). (ii.) That the Jews did not seek justification aright, and so missed it. This justification was promised by faith, and is offered to all alike, the preaching to the Gentiles being implied therein. The character and results of the Gospel dispensation are foreshadowed in Scripture (x. 1-21). (iii.) That the rejection of the Jews is not final. This rejection has been the means of gathering in the Gentiles, and through the Gentiles they themselves will ultimately be brought to Christ (xi. 1-36). — III. Practical exhortations (iii. 1-xv. 13). (a) To holiness of life and to charity in general, the duty (iii.) That the rejection of the Jews is not final. This rejection has been the means of gathering in the Gentiles, and through the Gentiles they themselves will ultimately be brought to Christ (xi. 1-36). — III. Practical exhortations (iii. 1-xv. 13). (a) To holiness of life and to charity in general, the duty of obedience to rulers being inculcated by the way (xii. 1-xiii. 14). (6) And more particularly against giving offence to weaker brethren (xiv. 1-xv. 13). — IV. Personal matters, (a) The Apostle's motive in writing the letter, and his intention of visiting the Romans (xv. 14-33). (4) Greetings (xvi. 1- 23). The letter ends with a benediction and doxology (xvi. 24-27). While this Epistle contains the fullest and most systematic exposition of the Apostle's teaching, it is at the same time a very striking expression of his character. Nowhere do his earnest and affectionate nature, and his tact and delicacy in handling unwelcome topics appear more strongly than when he is dealing with the rejection of his fellow-countrymen the Jews. 10. Internal evidence is so strongly in favor of the genuineness of the Epistle to the Romans that it has never been seriously questioned. But while the Epistle bears in itself the strongest proofs of its Pauline author ship, the external testimony in its favor is not inconsiderable. It is not the practice of the Apostolic fathers to cite the N. T. writers by name, but marked passages from the Romans are found em bedded in the Epistles of Clement and Polycarp. It seems also to have been directly cited by the elder quoted in Irenaeus, and is alluded to by the writer of the Epistle to Diognetus, and by Justin Martyr. It has a place moreover in the Muratorian Canon and in the Syriac and Old Latin Versions. Nor have we the testimony of orthodox writers alone. The Epistle was commonly quoted as an authority by the heretics of the subapostolic age, by the Ophites, by Basilides, by Valentinus, by the Valentinians, Heracleon and Ptolemaeus, and perhaps also by Tatian, besides being included in Marcion's Canon. In the latter part of the second century the evidence in its favor is still fuller.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 796-798