Sunday, July 25, 2021

Trent Horn's Failed Defense Of The Apocrypha Against Charges Of Historical And Theological Errors

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to rebut a handful of claims made by Roman Catholic apologist Trent Horn in defense of the apocrypha against charges of it being historically and theologically unsound. Following are excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "Protestant apologist James McCarthy says the claim that these books are inspired must be rejected because “the author of 2 Maccabees says that his work is the abridgement of another man’s work (2 Macc. 2:23). He concludes the book by saying, ‘If it is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do’ (2 Macc. 15:38, NAB).”- But by McCarthy’s standard the Gospel of Luke would not be inspired, because it admits to being an adaptation of earlier sources (Lk 1:1-3). First Corinthians would likewise be uninspired, because Paul says he can’t remember whom he baptized (1:15). These passages only demonstrate the humility of the Bible’s human authors—not any lack of divine inspiration in their writings."

          Nowhere do the authors of the biblical books write concerning the quality of their writing, "I have done my best in writing this and hope you do not find it to be lacking." That language is not the product of somebody being moved by the Holy Spirit and cannot simply be explained away as "human characteristics" of Scripture. Furthermore, the words in the Book of Maccabees can readily be contrasted with passages of Scripture that pertain to divine inspiration of revelation (Matthew 10:19-20; 1 Corinthians 2:1; 12-13; 14:37).

          "Moreover, the alleged errors in the deuterocanonical books, such as Judith identifying Nebuchadnezzar as the king of Assyria instead of as the king of Babylon (Jud 1:1), Tobit being described as having lived for more than 150 years (Tob 14:11), can be explained. Specifically, these statements are only errors if the author was asserting a literal description of history, but even Protestant scholars agree that the authors of Judith and Tobit were not writing in the genre of literal history."

          The problem with this argument is that the church fathers considered these kind of writings to not be mythical but historical.

          "Claims that the deuterocanonical books contradict theological truths in the protocanonical books also fall flat. One example is the claim that the teaching that honoring one’s father and almsgiving can atone for sin (Sir 3:3; Tob 4:11) contradicts the New Testament’s teaching that only Christ can atone for our sins. But the book of Proverbs teaches that “by loyalty and faithfulness [or what many Protestants would call ‘works’] iniquity is atoned for” (16:6). First Peter says that “love covers a multitude of sin” (4:8), and Acts records an angel saying to the Gentile Cornelius, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (10:4)."

          The text from Proverbs speaks of us being merciful to others and faithfully serving God. The text from Acts speaks of God not passing over Cornelius because of his charity and prayer. He was searching for God with an earnest heart. The text from 1 Peter speaks of love covering sins in the sense of not holding wrongdoings against other people. We ought to forgive because we have been forgiven by God. These passages of Scripture have nothing to do with people performing good deeds in order that atonement be made for their own sins.

          "Other claims of theological contradiction are circular, such as the claim that Second Maccabees is not inspired because it records the “unbiblical practice” of praying for the dead. But Protestants only say the practice is “unbiblical” because they do not regard Second Maccabees as part of the Bible. If Second Maccabees is inspired, however, then praying for the dead is a biblical practice even if it is only described in one book of the Bible. To make a comparison, the Gospel of Matthew is the only book in the Bible that records a Trinitarian baptismal command (28:19), but that doesn’t make such a command unbiblical."

           The accusation is not circular reasoning if it can be shown that the practice of praying to the dead is inconsistent with biblical witness on the matter. One cannot help but wonder whether the primary reason that the Roman Catholic Church clings to 2 Maccabees is to justify its tradition. 2 Esdras 7:105 is an apocryphal text that expressly contradicts the idea of prayers for the dead. Why did that reference not end up being included in the Roman Catholic Bible?

           "Finally, some Protestant apologists say the deuterocanonical books are not inspired because they are inferior in style to the protocanonical books of Scripture. Raymond Surburg writes, “When a comparison is instituted of the style of the Apocrypha with the style of the Biblical Hebrew Old Testament writings, there is a considerable inferiority, shown by the stiffness, lack of originality and artificiality of expression characterizing the apocryphal books.”— But this is a wholly subjective criterion that, if taken seriously, would put Shakespeare in the Bible and take books like Numbers or Philemon out of it."

           How can a man come to conclusions about anything without subjectively using his powers of reason to weigh evidence in ruling out various possibilities? Do we need some infallible earthly organization in order to recognize that the Quran, publications of the Watchtower Society, and Book of Mormon are not inspired by God? The protocanonical books have a literary quality far exceeding that of other ancient works from that time. An author like Shakespeare can be eliminated as a candidate for inclusion into the canon by virtue of his content and the timing of composition.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Commentary On 2 Timothy 4:13

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

King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 1658

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Are Christians To Be Giving Tithes?

        Many pastors, one of which is Charles Stanley, believe that Christians are supposed to be giving weekly tithes to their churches. Some, including the aforementioned individual, go as far as to claim that believers ought to give ten percent of their income and that God will bless people who obey. However, there is rationale against Christians tithing, namely, that it was an aspect of the Mosaic Law which does not have pertinence under the New Covenant. It does not apply to us for the same reason that Sabbath observance does not apply to us. Such things have been rendered obsolete at the Cross and so will fade away (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:13).

        Why did the Jewish people provide tithes? It was dedicated to the care of Levitical priests as they performed animal sacrifices in the presence of God (Numbers 18:21-26). They were used for feasts and also given to assist the poor. People made pilgrimages to Jerusalem every couple of years to honor those tithes. The Jews gave crops and livestock for tithes (Leviticus 27:30; 2 Chronicles 31:5). It is ironic that we do not really see pastors imposing these kinds of requirements on their audiences. If these people are going to be consistent, then they might as well throw away the New Testament and convert to Judaism.

        What are Christians supposed to give? The Apostle Paul answered that question in terms of "according to the desire of their hearts" and "not under compulsion" (2 Corinthians 9:7). He makes no mention of a fixed amount of a person's income. There is no mention of a tithe for poor members of the church in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. The rest of the New Testament epistles is silent concerning tithing. God loves a cheerful giver because he or she is giving from the heart. That kind of giving finds its root in love. 

         One must act in a manner that is financially responsible when it comes to making these kinds of sacrifices. For example, a man may have a family that he is obligated to provide for. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." It would be arrogant of us to presume that God would "catch" us every time we make foolish choices. If a pastor says to tithe, then do not listen. He is guided, not by Scripture itself, but by church tradition which distorts the meaning of Scripture. The tithe is specifically tied in with the land of Israel.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

A Commentary On The Messianic Prophecy Of Isaiah 9:6

The Gift-Child in this passage is certainly to be understood as the same person as the Immanuel who appeared earlier. The Child is certainly none other than the virgin's son. Contrasted with the Syrian-Ephraimitic coalition, this Child brings deliverance to the people of God. Again, using the prophetic perfect, the prophet speaks of Him as though He were already born! Even the text of the Targum supports a messianic interpretation of this passage. The concept of a Messiah who is both the Son of David and the Son of God is also stated in Psalm 2:7. Notice also the play-on-words between child is born (Heb yalad, to be delivered, as in birth) and a son is given (Heb natan). Some have suggested that there is a distinction between the human birth of the Child and the divine gift of the Son. While the usage of the verbs is not conclusive, it is interesting to note that the same idea appears in Isaiah 42:1 where God gives His Spirit to His Servant. The real significance of this unique Child comes in His foretold name. Wonderful, Counselor (pele' yo'ets) is actually one title in the Hebrew (based upon the Masoretic accentuation). "Wonder," from pele', is indicative of that which is miraculously accomplished by God Himself (see Harris, Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, II, p. 723). The two words of this title are actually an appositional genitive and may be rendered "a wonder of a counselor," or "a wonderful counselor." The term "counselor" is often used in parallel with king (e.g., Mic 4:9), so that the emphasis here implies that of God-like counsel of a God-like King. The mighty God (Heb 'el gibbor), This is the strongest of titles in reference to deity. In the book of Isaiah 'el is always used of God and never used of man (e.g., 10:21). Gibbor means "hero." Whether it is used as an appositional genitive or adjectivally, in either case it is an epithet that indicates deity. There is, therefore, every indication that the Child is The mighty God Himself. Obviously, such a revelation explains how the Child in 7:14 could be born miraculously of a virgin and how He could symbolically be Immaneul (God with Us). The everlasting Father (Heb 'abiy 'ad) is a peculiar expression literally meaning Father of Eternity. He is the Lord of eternity, as well as the author of eternal life. He is, "of old, from everlasting," (Mic 5:2). Here we clearly see how the throne of David, which is to be forever, is to be preserved. It will seat a ruler Himself who is Eternal! The Prince of Peace (Heb shar-shalom). Rather than a warring monarch, He who is the Mighty God will be a benevolent Father, bringing a peace that will be eternally established in His kingdom. His reign shall be characterized by a reign of peace on earth because He is the very embodiment of peace itself. Thus, the obscure figure of Immanuel in 7:14 is now brought to clear light. We know of His kingdom, throne, world rule, peaceful reign, and eternal kingdom, as well as His virgin birth. More than this, we know who He is-God Himself incarnate!

King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 784

A Commentary On The Messianic Prophecy Of Isaiah 7:14

Isa 7:14. Therefore (Heb laken) is a connective word often used by the prophets to introduce a divine declaration. In this context it is a transitory word used to unify verse Isa 7:14 with the preceding statements. The Lord here is Adonai. It was common to interchange this term Lord for the tetragrammaton (four-consonant spelling of Yahweh). (See the references in E. Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, p. 146.) Since Jehovah (Yahweh) was the personal name of God as revealed to His covenant people, it is likely here that the reference to Him as Adonai was to emphasize that He was, in fact, not the personal God of the unbelieving Ahaz. Behold (hineh) is always used to arrest the attention. When used with a participle, it is an interjection, introducing either a present or future action. Delitzsch (p. 216) argues that it always introduces a future occurrence, whereas Young (Studies, p. 161) argues that it should be taken as a verbal adjective expressing present conditions. The real significance of the term is in its calling attention to an important birth (see similar forms of announcements in Gen 16:11; Jude 13:5). Thus, we are to look with anticipation to the virgin and her son who are announced as the central figures of this prophecy. The real questions in this passage are, "Who is the virgin, and who is Immanuel?" A virgin should better be read "the virgin." The use of the Hebrew definite article ha in connection with the woman in the passage indicates that a definite woman is in view to the mind of the prophet (see Lindbolm, A Survey of the Immanuel Section of Isaiah, p. 19). Hengstenberg (Christology, II, p. 44) emphasizes that the relationship o hineh to the article in ha'almah is best explained by the present tense of the context, so that the girl is present to the inward perception of the prophet. That she is definitely a specific girl is obvious. When he refers to her specifically as "the" virgin, it is highly unlikely that he meant to refer to any woman who might bear a child in the next few months. The word virgin is the unique and uncommon Hebrew word 'almah. The more commonly used word for virgin is bethulah; but in spite of its frequent usage to denote a virgin, it is in at least two passages (Deut 22:19; Joel 1:8) used to refer to a married woman. Therefore, Isaiah's choice of the rare word 'almah better signifies virginity than the more common term bethulah. While it is true that 'almah can be translated "young woman," it is never intended in the Hebrew language to deny the legitimacy of that young woman's virginity! Even the prominent Jewish scholar, Cyrus Gordon, notes that the LXX translates 'almah by the Greek word parthenos, which always means "virgin." It should be remembered that the LXX is a Jewish translation made in pre-Christian Alexandria, Egypt. It represents a Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 7:14 that is much earlier than Matthew's use of the same word parthenos when referring back to the Isaiah 7:14 passage (Mt 1:23). Had Isaiah chosen to use the word bethulah instead of 'almah, the liberals, who seem determined to deny the messianic predictive element of this verse, could just have easily argued that Isaiah did not intend to predict the virgin birth of the coming Messiah, or else he would have used the more scarce, yet technically correct, term —alah! No one has done a better job of evaluating the meaning of this word than Young, Studies, pp. 143-198; he should be consulted for further information. Shall conceive (Heb harah) should actually be translated is pregnant." It is neither a verb nor a participle, but a feminine adjective connected with an active participle (bearing); and it denotes that the scene is present to the prophet's view. Alexander (p. 121) discusses this point at length with conclusive evidence to show that the virgin is already pregnant and bearing a son. Thus, we can not escape the conclusion that this is a picture of the virgin birth of Christ Himself. The context makes it clear that the virgin is pregnant and is still a virgin! Immanuel is the symbolic name of the child, meaning “God with us." Smith (1, p. 131) argues that it is impossible to disassociate the Immanuel of this passage from that who is mentioned in connection with the land in chapter Isa 8 and the Prince of four names in chapter Isa 9. It is obvious that Matthew regarded this Immanuel to be none other than Jesus Christ Himself. He thus quotes this prophecy as being fulfilled in the virgin birth of Christ (Mt 1:23). He considers it to be of divine origin, stating that it was "spoken of the Lord by the prophet" (Mt 1:22). He therefore recognized that the sign given in Isaiah 7:14 was authored by God and delivered to Ahaz through the prophet. Even if one attempts to argue that Matthew merely followed the LXX in using parthenos, he followed the source that represented the oldest available interpretation of Isaiah 7:14. His contextual usage of hina plarotha is certainly indicative of his understanding the passage to contain a definitely predictive element. There can be no doubt that until the rise of so-called "modern" scholarship, those closest historically to the actual statement by the prophet Isaiah have always taken it to be a prediction of the miraculous virgin birth of the coming Messiah. (For a thorough study of this entire prophecy see E. Hindson, Isaiah's Immanuel.)

King James Version Bible Commentary, p. 780-781

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Answering Proof Texts Cited In Defense Of Baptismal Regeneration

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to rebut a number of proof texts cited for baptismal regeneration, which is the belief that baptism is necessary for salvation. Following are a handful of excerpts from a source alongside a critique:

          "Mark 16:16 – Jesus said “He who believes AND is baptized will be saved.” Jesus says believing is not enough. Baptism is also required. This is because baptism is salvific, not just symbolic. The Greek text also does not mandate any specific order for belief and baptism, so the verse proves nothing about a “believer’s baptism.”

          The act of baptism is associated with justification before God, but does not constitute that instance itself. Consider this reasoning from analogy: people can have experience driving a vehicle, but it does not follow that they acquire knowledge regarding its assembly. In the same vein, Mark 16:16 nowhere indicates that unbaptized Christians will be condemned by God. Baptism cannot be a condition for salvation because it is a work (Ephesians 2:8-9). As to the order of faith and baptism in Scripture, the latter always follows the former. For example, Matthew 28:19 says, "teach...and baptize..." Acts 2:38 says, "repent...and be baptized..."

          "John 3:3,5 – unless we are “born again” of water and Spirit in baptism, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God. The Greek word for the phrase “born again” is “anothen” which literally means “begotten from above.” See, for example, John 3:31 where “anothen” is so used. Baptism brings about salvation, not just a symbolism of our salvation."

          Andreas J. Kostenberger, in the book titled Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, page 435, notes that the phrase "born again" is rooted in deep symbolism:

          "...Most likely this passage constitutes an allusion to Ezek. 36:25-27, which presages God's cleansing of human hearts with water and their inner transformation by his Spirit (cf. also Isa. 44:3-5; Jub. 1:23-25; see Schlatter 1948: 89; Carson 1991: 191-96, esp. 194-95; McCabe 1999; Cotterell 1985: 241; Kynes 1992, esp. 575). The notion of a new beginning and a decisive inner transformation of a person's life is found in other OT prophetic passages (e.g., Jer. 31:33-34; Ezek. 11:19-20). It is this spiritual reality of which Nicodemus, Israel's teacher, ought to have been aware but which he and, one may assume, his fellow Sanhedrin members-the personal pronouns in Jesus' statements "You must be born again" (3:7] and "You (people) do not accept our testimony" (3:11] are plural in the Greek) personally lacked."

          The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says the following in regards to the meaning of being born of water and spirit:

          "A twofold explanation of the "new birth," so startling to Nicodemus. To a Jewish ecclesiastic, so familiar with the symbolical application of water, in every variety of way and form of expression, this language was fitted to show that the thing intended was no other than a thorough spiritual purification by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Indeed, element of water and operation of the Spirit are brought together in a glorious evangelical prediction of Ezekiel (Eze 36:25-27), which Nicodemus might have been reminded of had such spiritualities not been almost lost in the reigning formalism. Already had the symbol of water been embodied in an initiatory ordinance, in the baptism of the Jewish expectants of Messiah by the Baptist, not to speak of the baptism of Gentile proselytes before that; and in the Christian Church it was soon to become the great visible door of entrance into "the kingdom of God," the reality being the sole work of the Holy Ghost (Tts 3:5)."

          The idea of being washed spiritually was something known to the Qumran Community. Consider the following excerpt which was origianlly cited by Alex Deasley, The Shape of Qumran Theology, p. 232:

          "By the spirit of holiness which links him with his truth he is cleansed of all his sins. And by the spirit of uprightness and humility his sin is atoned. And by the compliance of his soul with all the laws of God his flesh is cleansed by being sprinkled with cleansing waters and being made holy with the waters of repentance. May he, then, steady his steps in order to walk with perfection on all the paths of God." (IQS III 7b-10a)

          Craig S. Keener, in the IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, notes in regard to John 3:3-5:

          "3:3-4. Jesus speaks literally of being born “from above,” which means “from God” (“above,” like “heaven,” was a Jewish circumlocution, or roundabout expression, for God). One could also construe the phrase as meaning “reborn,” which Nicodemus takes literally. (Ancient writers, including those of the *Old Testament—as in the Hebrew text of Jer 1:11-12; Mic 1:10-15—often used plays on words, and John includes quite a few other puns; they also sometimes used other characters as less intelligent foils for a narrative’s main spokesperson.) Most evidence for Greek traditions about individual rebirth come from a later period, possibly formulated in light of Christianity, but some Jewish analogies probably lack direct Christian influence. Because Jewish teachers spoke of *Gentile converts to Judaism as starting life anew like “newborn children” (just as adopted sons under Roman law relinquished all legal status in their former family when they became part of a new one), Nicodemus should have understood that Jesus meant conversion; but it never occurs to him that someone Jewish would need to convert to the true faith of Israel. The idea of a transforming conversion reflects texts such as Ezekiel 36:26 (evoked in this passage of John), although such ideas may appear elsewhere (e.g., 1 Sam 10:6; Wisdom of Solomon 7:27; 8:17). 3:5. Converts to Judaism were said to become “as newborn children”; their conversion included immersion in water to remove Gentile impurity. “Born of water” thus could clarify for Nicodemus that “born from above” means conversion, not a second physical birth. The Greek wording of 3:5 can mean either “water and the Spirit” or “water, that is, the Spirit.” Ezekiel 36:24-27 used water symbolically for the cleansing of the Spirit (cf. especially the *Dead Sea Scrolls), so here Jesus could mean “converted by the Spirit” (cf. 7:37-39)—a spiritual *proselyte *baptism. Whereas Jewish teachers generally spoke of converts to Judaism as “newborn” only in the sense that they were legally severed from old relationships, an actual rebirth by the Spirit would produce a new heart (Ezek 36:26)."

          "Acts 2:38 – Peter commands them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in order to be actually forgiven of sin, not just to partake of a symbolic ritual."

          In Acts 2:38, the Apostle Peter was calling upon his audience to identify themselves with Jesus Christ. In getting baptized, they identified themselves as being recipients of the grace and mercy of God. They aligned themselves with the cause of Christ. Baptism signifies His death and resurrection. It is a picture of an inner transformation of our hearts through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Another passage that has the same kind of imagery regarding baptism is 1 Corinthians 10:2. The Apostle Paul stated that the Israelites were baptized into Moses, meaning that they identified themselves with his mission and purpose. Baptism is not a condition for salvation, but an expression that one has been forgiven by God and granted citizenship into His kingdom. 

          "1 Cor. 6:11 – Paul says they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, in reference to baptism. The “washing” of baptism gives birth to sanctification and justification, which proves baptism is not just symbolic."

          The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:11 does not refer to the ritual act of baptism, but to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:26 is another text that uses visually descriptive and figurative language regarding washing. Following is an excerpt from the Wycliffe Bible Commentary that provides further insight as to the meaning of being washed, sanctified, and justified:

          "The positive appeal is here. And such were some of you points to the depths from which the grace of God in Christ had rescued them. Ye are washed. Literally, ye allowed yourselves to be washed (a permissive middle voice), or, ye washed yourselves (a direct middle, stressing the active side of faith; cf. Acts 22:16; Gal 5:24). Washed, sanctified, and justified reflect the new position of the Corinthians. The mention of sanctification before justification is no problem, since Paul has in mind positional truth (see I Cor 1:2, 30). The verbs refer to the same thing with differing emphases, the one stressing the believer’s cleansing, the next the believer’s new calling, and the final one the believer’s new standing. Justified stands last, as a fitting climax to the argument about seeking justice before the unjust (vv. 1-8)."

          If Paul believed in baptismal regeneration, then it would have been illogical for him to have spoken the way he had in the beginning of his letter (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). He clearly separated the events of baptism and justification. One author expounds on this text as follows:

          "...Granted, in this passage Paul is arguing against the divisions that plagued the Corinthian church. However, how could Paul possibly say, “I am thankful that I did not baptize…” or “For Christ did not send me to baptize…” if baptism were necessary for salvation? If baptism is necessary for salvation, Paul would literally be saying, “I am thankful that you were not saved…” and “For Christ did not send me to save…” That would be an unbelievably ridiculous statement for Paul to make. Further, when Paul gives a detailed outline of what he considers the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), why does he neglect to mention baptism? If baptism is a requirement for salvation, how could any presentation of the gospel lack a mention of baptism?"

          "1 Peter 3:21 – Peter expressly writes that “baptism, corresponding to Noah’s ark, now saves you; not as a removal of dirt from the body, but for a clear conscience. “ Hence, the verse demonstrates that baptism is salvific (it saves us), and deals with the interior life of the person (purifying the conscience, like Heb. 10:22), and not the external life (removing dirt from the body)."

          The key to answering this argument lies in the phrase "...which corresponds to this" (or "The like figure...," Authorized Version). Just as Noah and his family had entered the ark to escape judgement from God on this world through floodwater, those who place their trust in Jesus Christ will be saved from eternal condemnation at the Final Judgement. 1 Peter 3:21 says that it is not the ritual which purifies our consciences ("not as a removal of dirt from the body..."), but that which baptism represents, namely, our new identity and union with Christ.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Titus 3:5 And Justification By Faith Alone

Not by--Greek, "Out of"; "not as a result springing from works," &c. of righteousness--Greek, "in righteousness," that is, wrought "in a state of righteousness": as "deeds. . . wrought in God." There was an utter absence in us of the element ("righteousness") in which alone righteous works could be done, and so necessarily an absence of the works. "We neither did works of righteousness, nor were saved in consequence of them; but His goodness did the whole" [THEOPHYLACT].
we--emphatically opposed to "His."

mercy--the prompting cause of our salvation individually: "In pursuance of His mercy." His kindness and love to man were manifested in redemption once for all wrought by Him for mankind generally; His mercy is the prompting cause for our individual realization of it. Faith is presupposed as the instrument of our being "saved"; our being so, then, is spoken of as an accomplished fact. Faith is not mentioned, but only God's part. as Paul's object here is not to describe man's new state, but the saving agency of God in bringing about that state, independent of all merit on the man's part.

Excerpts taken from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Professor Charles Anthon's Letter To Eber D. Howe Discrediting Joseph Smith's Golden Plates

New York, Feb. 17, 1834

Dear Sir –

I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant, and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be "reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics" is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain, and apparently simple-hearted farmer, called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to decypher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax. When I asked the person, who brought it, how he obtained the writing, he gave me, as far as I can now recollect, the following account: A "gold book," consisting of a number of plates of gold, fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and along with the book an enormous pair of "gold spectacles"! These spectacles were so large, that, if a person attempted to look through them, his two eyes would have to be turned towards one of the glasses merely, the spectacles in question being altogether too large for the breadth of the human face. Whoever examined the plates through the spectacles, was enabled not only to read them, but fully to understand their meaning. All this knowledge, however, was confined at that time to a young man, who had the trunk containing the book and spectacles in his sole possession. This young man was placed behind a curtain, in the garret of a farm house, and, being thus concealed from view, put on the spectacles occasionally, or rather, looked through one of the glasses, decyphered the characters in the book, and, having committed some of them to paper, handed copies from behind the curtain, to those who stood on the outside. Not a word, however, was said about the plates having been decyphered "by the gift of God." Every thing, in this way, was effected by the large pair of spectacles. The farmer added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the "golden book," the contents of which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned, I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him. This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calender given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember that the paper contained any thing else but "Egyptian Hieroglyphics." Some time after, the same farmer paid me a second visit. He brought with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale. I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery which had been in my opinion practised upon him, and asked him what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go to a magistrate and have the trunk examined. He said the "curse of God" would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he told me that he would open the trunk, if I would take the "curse of God" upon myself. I replied that I would do so with the greatest willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature, provided I could only extricate him from the grasp of rogues. He then left me.

I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics.

Yours respectfully, CHAS. ANTHON.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

A Silly Statement From The Book Of Mormon

          "And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz. And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised upon his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died." (Ether 15:30-31)

          This text from the Book Of Ether states that a character named "Shiz" died of suffocation while beheaded. It also says that he rose upon his hands after being beheaded.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Early Church Evidence Against Transubstantiation

"Now let us speak briefly concerning sacrifice itself. “Ivory,” says Plato, “is not a pure offering to God.” What then? Are embroidered and costly textures? Nay, rather nothing is a pure offering to God which can be corrupted or taken away secretly. But as he saw this, that nothing which was taken from a dead body ought to be offered to a living being, why did he not see that a corporeal offering ought not to be presented to an incorporeal being?...There are two things which ought to be offered, the gift and the sacrifice; the gift as a perpetual offering, the sacrifice for a time. But with those who by no means understand the nature of the Divine Being, a gift is anything which is wrought of gold or silver; likewise anything which is woven of purple and silk: a sacrifice is a victim, and as many things as are burnt upon the altar. But God does not make use either of the one or the other, because He is free from corruption, and that is altogether corruptible. Therefore, in each case, that which is incorporeal must be offered to God, for He accepts this. His offering is innocency of soul; His sacrifice praise and a hymn. For if God is not seen, He ought therefore to be worshipped with things which are not seen."

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Book VI, Chap. XXV

Monday, May 3, 2021

Answering Karlo Broussard's Typological Arguments For The Roman Catholic Eucharist

  • Discussion:
          -Karlo Broussard wrote an article listing two reasons as to why he believes that we should accept the Roman Catholic view of the Lord's Supper as true. Following are a handful of excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "If the Eucharist were just ordinary bread and wine with no miraculous element to it, then the new manna would be inferior to the old. But that’s a no-go when it comes to Biblical typology. The New Testament fulfillment must always be greater than the Old Testament type."

          Jesus Christ, the new manna, is superior to the manna given in the desert because the nourishment that He provides is life everlasting. The manna given to the Israelites was designated to satisfy physical hunger and was thus temporal. Christ is to be spiritually consumed by faith and not by literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

          "...If real blood was used for the ratifying ceremony of the Old Covenant, then how much more need there be real blood for the ratifying ceremony of the New Covenant, which is the Last Supper?"

          The "real" and "substantial" blood of the New Covenant was shed on the cross. The wine at the Last Supper simply pointed to that reality.

          The language of eating and drinking in a metaphorical sense would not have been unknown to Jews who were alive during the first century. For example, Ben Sira spoke of being fed with the bread of understanding and given the water of wisdom (Sirach 15:3). The Book of Proverbs employs similar imagery in the context of receiving instruction (Proverbs 9:5).

          The words of Jesus Christ regarding eating His flesh and drinking His blood can indeed be understood in a non-literal fashion. He Himself set forth precedent for understanding His words spoken during the Bread of Life Discourse figuratively, since He elsewhere spoke of receiving salvation in terms of food and drink (Matthew 5:6; John 7:37-38).

Friday, April 30, 2021

An Argument For The Trustworthiness Of The New Testament

        One factor that supports the integrity of the New Testament is that its authors distinguished between the words of Christ and their own words. Examples to illustrate this point would include Acts 20:35, 1 Corinthians 7:10-12, and 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. It can reasonably be inferred that the earliest disciples of Jesus Christ reported history honestly and did not simply invent details to support their own agendas.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A Commentary On John 8:56-59

[1.] Christ asserts Abraham's prospect of him, and respect to him: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad, v. 56. And by this he proves that he was not at all out of the way when he made himself greater than Abraham. Two things he here speaks of as instances of that patriarch's respect to the promised Messiah:—

First, The ambition he had to see his day: He rejoiced, eµgalliasto—he leaped at it. The word, though it commonly signifies rejoicing, must here signify a transport of desire rather than of joy, for otherwise the latter part of the verse would be a tautology; he saw it, and was glad. He reached out, or stretched himself forth, that he might see my day; as Zaccheus, that ran before, and climbed the tree, to see Jesus. The notices he had received of the Messiah to come had raised in him an expectation of something great, which he earnestly longed to know more of. The dark intimation of that which is considerable puts men upon enquiry, and makes them earnestly ask Who? and What? and Where? and When? and How? And thus the prophets of the Old Testament, having a general idea of a grace that should come, searched diligently (1 Pt. 1:10), and Abraham was as industrious herein as any of them. God told him of a land that he would give his posterity, and of the wealth and honour he designed them (Gen. 15:14); but he never leaped thus to see that day, as he did to see the day of the Son of man. He could not look with so much indifferency upon the promised seed as he did upon the promised land; in that he was, but to the other he could not be, contentedly a stranger. Note, Those who rightly know any thing of Christ cannot but be earnestly desirous to know more of him. Those who discern the dawning of the light of the Sun of righteousness cannot but wish to see his rising. The mystery of redemption is that which angels desire to look into, much more should we, who are more immediately concerned in it. Abraham desired to see Christ's day, though it was at a great distance; but this degenerate seed of his discerned not his day, nor bade it welcome when it came. The appearing of Christ, which gracious souls love and long for, carnal hearts dread and loathe.

Secondly, The satisfaction he had in what he did see of it: He saw it, and was glad. Observe here,

a. How God gratified the pious desire of Abraham; he longed to see Christ's day, and he saw it. Though he saw it not so plainly, and fully, and distinctly as we now see it under the gospel, yet he saw something of it, more afterwards than he did at first. Note, To him that has, and to him that asks, shall be given; to him that uses and improves what he has, and that desires and prays for more of the knowledge of Christ, God will give more. But how did Abraham see Christ's day? (a.) Some understand it of the sight he had of it in the other world. The separate soul of Abraham, when the veil of flesh was rent, saw the mysteries of the kingdom of God in heaven. Calvin mentions this sense of it, and does not much disallow it. Note, The longings of gracious souls after Jesus Christ will be fully satisfied when they come to heaven, and not till then. But, (b.) It is more commonly understood of some sight he had of Christ's day in this world. They that received not the promises, yet saw them afar off, Heb. 11:13. Balaam saw Christ, but not now, not nigh. There is room to conjecture that Abraham had some vision of Christ and his day, for his own private satisfaction, which is not, nor must be, recorded in his story, like that of Daniel's, which must be shut up, and sealed unto the time of the end, Dan. 12:4. Christ knew what Abraham saw better than Moses did. But there are divers things recorded in which Abraham saw more of that which he longed to see than he did when the promise was first made to him. He saw in Melchizedek one made like unto the Son of God, and a priest for ever; he saw an appearance of Jehovah, attended with two angels, in the plains of Mamre. In the prevalency of his intercession for Sodom he saw a specimen of Christ's intercession; in the casting out of Ishmael, and the establishment of the covenant with Isaac, he saw a figure of the gospel day, which is Christ's day; for these things were an allegory. In offering Isaac, and the ram instead of Isaac, he saw a double type of the great sacrifice; and his calling the place Jehovah-jireh—It shall be seen, intimates that he saw something more in it than others did, which time would produce; and in making his servant put his hand under his thigh, when he swore, he had a regard to the Messiah.

b. How Abraham entertained these discoveries of Christ's day, and bade them welcome: He saw, and was glad. He was glad of what he saw of God's favour to himself, and glad of what he foresaw of the mercy God had in store for the world. Perhaps this refers to Abraham's laughing when God assured him of a son by Sarah (Gen. 17:16, 17), for that was not a laughter of distrust as Sarah's but of joy; in that promise he saw Christ's day, and it filled him with joy unspeakable. Thus he embraced the promises. Note, A believing sight of Christ and his day will put gladness into the heart. No joy like the joy of faith; we are never acquainted with true pleasure till we are acquainted with Christ.

[2.] The Jews cavil at this, and reproach him for it (v. 57): Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Here, First, They suppose that if Abraham saw him and his day he also had seen Abraham, which yet was not a necessary innuendo, but this turn of his words would best serve to expose him; yet it was true that Christ had seen Abraham, and had talked with him as a man talks with his friend. Secondly, They suppose it a very absurd thing for him to pretend to have seen Abraham, who was dead so many ages before he was born. The state of the dead is an invisible state; but here they ran upon the old mistake, understanding that corporally which Christ spoke spiritually. Now this gave them occasion to despise his youth, and to upbraid him with it, as if he were but of yesterday, and knew nothing: Thou art not yet fifty years old. They might as well have said, Thou art not forty; for he was now but thirty-two or thirty-three years old. As to this, Irenaeus, one of the first fathers, with this passage supports the tradition which he says he had from some that had conversed with St. John, that our Saviour lived to be fifty years old, which he contends for, Advers. Haeres. lib. 2, cap. 39, 40. See what little credit is to be given to tradition; and, as to this here, the Jews spoke at random; some year they would mention, and therefore pitched upon one that they thought he was far enough short of; he did not look to be forty, but they were sure he could not be fifty, much less contemporary with Abraham. Old age is reckoned to begin at fifty (Num. 4:47), so that they meant no more than this, "Thou art not to be reckoned an old man; many of us are much thy seniors, and yet pretend not to have seen Abraham." Some think that his countenance was so altered, with grief and watching, that, together with the gravity of his aspect, it made him look like a man of fifty years old: his visage was so marred, Isa. 52:14.

[3.] Our Saviour gives an effectual answer to this cavil, by a solemn assertion of his own seniority even to Abraham himself (v. 58): "Verily, verily, I say unto you; I do not only say it in private to my own disciples, who will be sure to say as I say, but to you my enemies and persecutors; I say it to your faces, take it how you will: Before Abraham was, I am;" prin Abraam genesthai, egoµ eimi, Before Abraham was made or born, I am. The change of the word is observable, and bespeaks Abraham a creature, and himself the Creator; well therefore might he make himself greater than Abraham. Before Abraham he was, First, As God. I am, is the name of God (Ex. 3:14); it denotes his self-existence; he does not say, I was, but I am, for he is the first and the last, immutably the same (Rev. 1:8); thus he was not only before Abraham, but before all worlds, ch. 1:1; Prov. 8:23. Secondly, As Mediator. He was the appointed Messiah, long before Abraham; the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), the channel of conveyance of light, life, and love from God to man. This supposes his divine nature, that he is the same in himself from eternity (Heb. 13:8), and that he is the same to man ever since the fall; he was made of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, to Adam, and Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Shem, and all the patriarchs that lived and died by faith in him before Abraham was born. Abraham was the root of the Jewish nation, the rock out of which they were hewn. If Christ was before Abraham, his doctrine and religion were no novelty, but were, in the substance of them, prior to Judaism, and ought to take place of it.

[4.] This great word ended the dispute abruptly, and put a period to it: they could bear to hear no more from him, and he needed to say no more to them, having witnessed this good confession, which was sufficient to support all his claims. One would think that Christ's discourse, in which shone so much both of grace and glory, should have captivated them all; but their inveterate prejudice against the holy spiritual doctrine and law of Christ, which were so contrary to their pride and worldliness, baffled all the methods of conviction. Now was fulfilled that prophecy (Mal. 3:1, 2), that when the messenger of the covenant should come to his temple they would not abide the day of his coming, because he would be like a refiner's fire. Observe here,

First, How they were enraged at Christ for what he said: They took up stones to cast at him, v. 59. Perhaps they looked upon him as a blasphemer, and such were indeed to be stoned (Lev. 24:16); but they must be first legally tried and convicted. Farewell justice and order if every man pretend to execute a law at his pleasure. Besides, they had said but just now that he was a distracted crack-brained man, and if so it was against all reason and equity to punish him as a malefactor for what he said. They took up stones. Dr. Lightfoot will tell you how they came to have stones so ready in the temple; they had workmen at this time repairing the temple, or making some additions, and the pieces of stone which they hewed off served for this purpose. See here the desperate power of sin and Satan in and over the children of disobedience. Who would think that ever there should be such wickedness as this in men, such an open and daring rebellion against one that undeniably proved himself to be the Son of God? Thus every one has a stone to throw at his holy religion, Acts 28:22.

Secondly, How he made his escape out of their hands. 1. He absconded; Jesus hid himself; ekrybeµ—he was hid, either by the crowd of those that wished well to him, to shelter him (he that ought to have been upon a throne, high and lifted up, is content to be lost in a crowd); or perhaps he concealed himself behind some of the walls or pillars of the temple (in the secret of his tabernacle he shall hide me, Ps. 27:5); or by a divine power, casting a mist before their eyes, he made himself invisible to them. When the wicked rise a man is hidden, a wise and good man, Prov. 28:12, 28. Not that Christ was afraid or ashamed to stand by what he had said, but his hour was not yet come, and he would countenance the flight of his ministers and people in times of persecution, when they are called to it. The Lord hid Jeremiah and Baruch, Jer. 36:26. 2. He departed, he went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, undiscovered, and so passed by. This was not a cowardly inglorious flight, nor such as argued either guilt or fear. It was foretold concerning him that he should not fail nor be discouraged, Isa. 42:4. But, (1.) It was an instance of his power over his enemies, and that they could do no more against him than he gave them leave to do; by which it appears that when afterwards he was taken in their pits he offered himself, ch. 10:18. They now thought they had made sure of him and yet he passed through the midst of them, either their eyes being blinded or their hands tied, and thus he left them to fume, like a lion disappointed of his prey. (2.) It was an instance of his prudent provision for his own safety, when he knew that his work was not done, nor his testimony finished; thus he gave an example to his own rule, When they persecute you in one city flee to another; nay, if occasion be, to a wilderness, for so Elijah did (1 Ki. 19:3, 4), and the woman, the church, Rev. 12:6. When they took up loose stones to throw at Christ, he could have commanded the fixed stones, which did cry out of the wall against them, to avenge his cause, or the earth to open and swallow them up; but he chose to accommodate himself to the state he was in, to make the example imitable by the prudence of his followers, without a miracle. (3.) It was a righteous deserting of those who (worse than the Gadarenes, who prayed him to depart) stoned him from among them. Christ will not long stay with those who bid him be gone. Christ did again visit the temple after this; as one loth to depart, he bade oft farewell; but at last he abandoned it for ever, and left it desolate. Christ now went through the midst of the Jews, and none of them courted his stay, nor stirred up himself to take hold of him, but were even content to let him go. Note, God never forsakes any till they have first provoked him to withdraw, and will have none of him. Calvin observes that these chief priests, when they had driven Christ out of the temple, valued themselves on the possession they kept of it: "But," says he, "those deceive themselves who are proud of a church or temple which Christ has forsaken." Longe falluntur, cum templum se habere putant Deo vacuum. When Christ left them it is said that he passed by silently and unobserved; pareµgen houtoµs, so that they were not aware of him. Note, Christ's departures from a church, or a particular soul, are often secret, and not soon taken notice of. As the kingdom of God comes not, so it goes not, with observation. See Jdg. 16:20. Samson wist not that the Lord was departed from him. Thus it was with these forsaken Jews, God left them, and they never missed him.

Excerpts taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Noting The Contrast Between Faith And Works Throughout The Pauline Epistles

  • Paul's Epistle To The Romans:
          -A freely received gift and an earned wage are mutually exclusive concepts (Romans 4:4).
          -Justification in the sight of God is not earned as a result of what one has done, but is received with the empty hand of faith (Romans 4:5).
          -Abraham was declared righteous on the basis of his faith rather than his circumcision (Romans 4:9-12). Faith is contrasted with circumcision, which is a type of good work.
          -The promise of God to Abraham and his descendants comes not through the Law but by faith (Romans 4:13).
          -The promises of God to those who have faith would be made of no effect if righteousness came through the Law (Romans 4:14).
          -Faith is consistent with grace in order that the promises of God to Abraham and his descendants be brought to fulfillment (Romans 4:16). The Law brings forth condemnation (Romans 4:15).
  • Paul's Epistle To The Galatians:
          -The Holy Spirit is received by faith and not by "works of the Law" or "the flesh" (Galatians 3:2-3).
          -Those who rely on faith, not the works of the Law, are regarded as children of Abraham in the sight of God (Galatians 3:6-9).
          -Dependence on works of the Law for salvation brings about a curse (Galatians 3:10-14).
          -The inheritance that we receive through the promises of God depends on His grace and not Law (Galatians 3:15-18).
  • Paul's Epistle To The Ephesians:
          -We have been saved by grace through faith and not as a result of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • Paul's Epistle To The Philippians:
          -We receive righteousness from God on the basis of faith and not by deeds performed in the flesh (Philippians 3:7-9).
  • Paul's Second Epistle To Timothy:
          -We are saved and called to glorify God by His grace through our faith in Him and not because of our works (2 Timothy 1:9).
  • Paul's Epistle To Titus:
          -We are saved by the grace and mercy of God, not on the basis of our works (Titus 3:5).
          -We become heirs having the hope of eternal life on the basis of grace (Titus 3:7).

Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Commentary On Shekinah Glory

Shechinah. This term is not found in the Bible. It was used by the later Jews, and borrowed by Christians from them, to express the visible majesty of the Divine Presence especially when resting or dwelling between cherubim on the mercy-seat in the Tabernacle and in the temple of Solomon; but not in Zerubbabel's temple, for it was one of the five particulars which the Jews reckon to have been wanting in the second Temple. The use of the term is first found in the Targums, where it a frequent periphrasis for God, considered as dwelling amongst the children of Israel, and is thus used, especially by Onkelos, to avoid ascribing corporeity to God Himself. In Ex. xxv. 8, where the Hebrew has "Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them," Onkelos has, "I will make my Shechinah to among them." In xxix. 45, 46, for the Hebrew "I will dwell among the children of Israel," Onkelos has, "I will make my Shechinah to dwell," &c. In Ps. lxxiv. 2, "for this Mount Zion wherein thou hast dwelt," the Targum has "wherein thy Shechinah hath dwelt." In the description of the dedication of  Solomon's Temple (1 K. viii. 12, 13), the Targum of Jonathan runs thus: "The Lord is to make His Shechinah dwell in Jerusalem. I have built the house of the sanctuary for the house of thy Shechinah forever." And in 1 K. vi. 13, for the Heb. "I will dwell among the children of Israel," Jonathan has "I will make my Shechinah dwell." In Is. vi. 5, he has the combination, "the glory of the Shechinah of the King of ages the Lord of Hosts;" and in the next verse he paraphrases "from off the altar" by "from before His Shechinah on the throne of glory in the lofty heavens that are above the altar." Compare also Num. v. 3, xxxv. 34; Ps. lxviii. 17, 18, cxxxv. 21; Is. xxxiii. 5, lvii. 15; Joel iii. 17, 21, and numerous other passages. On the other hand, it should be noticed that the Targums never render "the cloud" or "the glory" by Shechinah. Hence, as regards the use of the word Shechinah in the Targums, it may be defined as a periphrasis for God whenever He is said to dwell on, Zion amongst Israel, or between the cherubims, and so on, in order as before said, to avoid the slightest approach to materialism. Our view of the Targumistic of the Shechinah would not be complete if we did not add, that though, as we have seen, the Jews reckoned the Shechinah among the marks of the divine favor which were wanting to the second Temple, they manifestly expected the return of the Shechinah in the days of the Messiah. Thus Hagg. i. 8, "Build the house, and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord," is paraphrased by Jonathan, "I will cause my Shechinah to dwell in it in glory." Compare also Ez. xliii. 7, 9; Zech. ii. 10, viii. 3. As regards the visible manifestation of the Divine Presence dwelling amongst the Israelites, to which the term Shechinah has attached itself, the idea which the different accounts in Scripture convey is that of a most brilliant and glorious light, enveloped in a cloud, and usually concealed by the cloud, so that the cloud itself was for the most part alone visible; but on particular occasions, the glory appeared. The allusions in the NT to the Shechinah are not unfrequent. Thus in the account of the Nativity, the words, "Lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them and, the glory of the Lord shone round about them" (Luke ii. 9), followed by the apparition of "the multitude of the heavenly host," recall the appearance of the divine glory on Sinai, when "He shined forth from Paran, and came with ten thousands of saints" (Deut. xxxiii. 2; comp. Ps. lxviii. 17; Ezek. xliii. 2; Acts vii. 53; Heb ii. 2). The "God of glory" (Acts vii. 2, 55), the "cherubims of glory" (Heb ix. 5), "the glory" (Rom. ix. 4), and other like passages, are distinct references to the manifestations of the glory in the O.T. When we read in John i. 14, that "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory" or in 2 Cor. xii. 9, "that the power of Christ may rest upon me;" or in Rev. xxi. 3, "Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them,"-we have not only references to the Shechinah, but are distinctly taught to connect it with the incarnation and future coming of Messiah, as type with antitype. It should also be specially noticed that the attendance of angels is usually associated with the Shechinah. These are most frequently called (Ez. x., xi.) cherubim; but sometimes, as in Is. vi., seraphim (comp. Rev. iv. 7, 8). The predominant association, however, is with the cherubim, of which the golden cherubim on the mercy-seat were the representation.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 878-879

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Hebrews 1:3 And The Deity Of Christ

        "And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:3)

        This text is a very strong affirmation of the deity of Christ and is packed with meaning. The phrase "exact representation" can be illustrated using an ideal cut diamond as an analogy. The glory of Christ transcends the effulgence of even the most precious gems.

        God the Son possesses the same divine nature as God the Father. He has the same divine glory as God the Father. He is the wisdom of God. He is wisdom incarnate (1 Corinthians 1:24; 30; Colossians 2:3).

        The English Standard Version renders "exact representation" as "the exact imprint." The New Living Translation renders "exact representation" as "represents God exactly." The New Century Version renders "exact representation" as "shows exactly what God is like." No man or angel can rightfully have this kind of description applied to themselves.

        How can Hebrews 1:3 not be a supporting text for the deity of Christ when we know from the Old Testament that God will not give His glory to another (Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 42:8; 48:11)?

        Some commentators believe that the author of Hebrews drew from the Wisdom of Solomon in asserting the divinity of Christ:

        "She is a breath of God's power—a pure and radiant stream of glory from the Almighty. Nothing that is defiled can ever steal its way into Wisdom. She is a reflection of eternal light, a perfect mirror of God's activity and goodness. " (Wisdom 7:25-26) 

        Wisdom is personified in the above excerpt. Wisdom is a prominent exhibition of the divine glory of God. This wisdom and glory shines forth in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Is Mary The Mother Of The Church?

        One of the Marian dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church is that Mary is our spiritual mother:

        "Everyone has a mother. Yes, the mother who gave them birth in the physical order of life. But Christian believers have another mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the spiritual order of grace. Jesus willed to give Mary as a mother to the early Church, when, from the cross, he looked at his mother and said, “Woman, behold, your son” (John 19:26). And to the beloved disciple, “Behold, your mother” (John 19:27)." (http://www.catholicdigest.com/faith/spirituality/mother-of-the-church/)

        The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 4:26 that the heavenly Jerusalem is the mother of the church:

        "But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother."

        In that same context, the virgin birth is alluded to and Mary is only described as a woman: 

        "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law." (Galatians 4:4)

        In his epistle to the Romans, Paul mentioned Rufus' mother and said that she had been a motherly figure to him: 

        "Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine." (Romans 16:13)

        If Mary is the mother of the church, then it would seem ironic and even disrespectful for him to say nothing in regards to her.

        The Apostle John says nothing about Mary in his letters to the churches and mentions her only twice in his gospel (the wedding at Cana and the crucifixion of Jesus). This is significant because he took Mary into his home after Jesus was crucified.

        John was the disciple who Jesus loved (John 21:20). He was present at His crucifixion. Because John believed Christ to be the Son of God, he was considered a part of the true family of God (Luke 8:21). Christ's blood brothers did not believe at that point in time and hence were not a part of His true family (John 7:5). That is why Christ handing His mother Mary to John for care rather than one of His blood brothers can be viewed as appropriate. In so doing, He was being faithful to both the letter and spirit of the Law.

        "The Fathers of the Church and early Christian writers did not so interpret the words of the dying Christ [John 19:25-27]. Development of the idea of Mary's spiritual motherhood was slow and did not enter the consciousnesses of the Church until medieval times. During those early centuries, the sacred text did not immediately convey the notion. Lengthy reflection was needed to reach it." (Michael O'Carroll, cited in Cult of the Virgin: Catholic Mariology and the Apparitions of Mary, Elliot Miller and Kenneth R. Samples, p. 44)

Monday, February 22, 2021

Early Church Evidence For Sola Fide

"Victorinus separates them [justification and sanctification] when he writes, "A man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith and the faith of Jesus Christ...It is faith alone that gives justification and sanctification."

Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 82

Early Church Evidence For Sola Fide

"In his treatise entitled "Concerning Those Who Think to Be Justified through Works," Marcus Eremita (fifth century, also known as Marcus the Ascetic) explains that "the kingdom of heaven is not a reward for works, but a gift of grace prepared by the Master for his faithful servants."

Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 135

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Fruitless Efforts By Roman Catholic Apologists To Explain Away Romans 3:28

  • Discussion:
          -The purpose of this article is to interact with a number of Roman Catholic claims regarding Romans 3:28 and justification by faith alone. Following are a few excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "Romans 3:28 is a key verse in the differences between traditional Protestants and Catholics. You will notice that Paul says a man is justified by faith (pistei in Greek). When Martin Luther translated the letter to the Romans into German in the sixteenth century, he added the word alone —but alone is not in the original Greek text. The phrase “faith alone” does occur in the New Testament: one time, in James 2:24. There the inspired apostle denies that justification is from faith alone. Let me quote it: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

          Romans 3:28 is part of a context contrasting faith and works. The latter is excluded by the Apostle Paul as being an available avenue of justification before God. The Good News Translation, which is approved by the Roman Catholic Church for adherents to use in study, renders Romans 3:28 as follows:

          "For we conclude that a person is put right with God only through faith, and not by doing what the Law commands."

          James 2:24 is part of a context about the demonstration of a saving faith. That text addresses justification from an evidential perspective.

          "Paul categorically excludes works from our salvation. But what kind of works is Paul talking about? If we believe the entire Bible, we need to see how Paul’s words fit together with James’s words, because James clearly says that “a man is justified by works.” If Paul and James mean the same thing by works, then they contradict one another. Since you and I both believe that the Bible cannot contradict itself, we must agree that Paul and James mean two different things by the word works."

          Notice how a distinction between works in James and works in Paul has to be invented in order to circumvent the implications that Romans 3:28 has on Roman Catholic theology concerning salvation. The Apostle Paul undoubtedly had the Mosaic Law in mind when he wrote Romans. However, there is much more to it than customs such as circumcision. The Mosaic Law also had commandments to love God and love neighbor. Paul brings up the prohibition against coveting, which is a part of the Ten Commandments (Romans 7:7). James would indeed have these kinds of works in view. Moreover, Roman Catholicism regards these aspects of the Law as being necessary for justification while rejecting other aspects such as circumcision and Sabbath observance. 

          "A careful reading of Galatians will show that Paul is using works of the law to refer especially to the law of circumcision. He is so strong about this that he says in Galatians 5:2, “Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.” Paul’s opponents in Galatia wanted to bring the Gentile Christians back into the Old Testament law. These are the works of the law that Paul is fighting against, and they have no place in our justification. Paul is saying in essence that Gentile Christians do not have to be circumcised and live like Jewish Christians in order to be saved."

          No reason has been given as to why we should limit Paul's focus to ceremonial and dietary laws when he speaks of "works of the law." His only point of emphasis when discussing the instance of justification before God in Romans and Galatians is faith. Hence, we see the reason for such passages being appealed to as evidence of justification by faith alone. Assume for the sake of argument that the Apostle Paul had the narrow focus of the Mosaic Law (not including good works in general) in mind when he mentions "works of the law." The Roman Catholic Church would still stand condemned according to his teaching.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Dissection Of 1 Corinthians 3:15 As A Catholic Prooftext

  • Discussion:
          -Karlo Broussard wrote an article for Catholic Answers titled Purgatory's Purifying Fire, which contains responses to various Protestant arguments against the citation of 1 Corinthians 3:15 as a proof-text for that dogma. This article aims to refute Roman Catholic claims of the text being a reference to a person receiving purification in purgatory after death. Following are a few excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "The idea of purification connotes the separation of good from bad...The good building materials (gold, precious stones, and silver) are separated from the bad building materials (wood, hay, and straw)."

          While it is true that a contrast in the kinds of materials used as metaphors describe the quality of various deeds performed in our lives, the problem with this argument is that the concept of Purgatory has been read into this passage. The context has nothing to do with a person making amends for his or her sins. It is not about believers undergoing punishment after death for venial sins. The text is about the reception of heavenly rewards (1 Corinthians 3:8; 14). God will evaluate the quality of each believer's work so as to bestow praise appropriately (1 Corinthians 4:5). 1 Corinthians 3:15 states, "saved through fire," not "saved by fire."

          "Furthermore, the imagery of fire conjures up the motif of purification. Peter uses it in 1 Peter 1:7 with reference to testing gold, and says that our sufferings test the genuineness of our faith."

          Just as men use fire for the purpose of refining precious metals such as gold and silver, God can use trials in testing faith and building up character (Job 23:10; Romans 5:3-5). That factor distinguishes trust in God from the type of faith even demons possess. The imagery of fire has nothing whatsoever to do with purgatory.

          "A third piece of evidence for the purification motif is the idea of judgment. Recall that the prophet Malachi describes God’s judgment as a “refiner’s fire,” and notes that God will “sit as a refiner” purifying the sons of Levi and refining them like gold and silver (Mal. 3:2-3)."

          Here is an excerpt from the Life-Application Study Bible on Malachi 3:2-3:

          "In the process of refining metals, the raw material is heated with fire until it melts. The impurities separate from it and rise to the surface. They are skimmed off, leaving the pure metal. Without this heating and melting, there could be no purifying. As the impurities are skimmed off the top, the reflection of the worker appears in the smooth, pure surface. As we are purified by God, his reflection in our lives will become more and more clear to those around us. God says that leaders (here the Levites) should be especially open to his purification process in their lives. Launderer's soap was alkali used to whiten cloth. It is also used here as a symbol of the purifying process."

         The Lord Jesus Christ is our propitiation before God. He satisfied the wrath of God and ensured the forgiveness of our sins. When He forgives our trespasses, He no longer "remembers" or counts them against us (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12-13). God does not count sin against those whom He has reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus Christ has already made perfect atonement for our sins (Hebrews 10:18; 1 John 2:1-2).

          Consider the following Roman Catholic excerpts on Purgatory being an unbiblical concept:

         "In the final analysis, the Catholic doctrine on purgatory is based on tradition, not Sacred Scripture." (Vol. XI, pg. 1034, Copyright 1967, Catholic University of America)

         “There is, for all practical purposes, no biblical basis for the doctrine of purgatory.” (Richard McBrien, Catholicism: New Edition, p. 1166)

         The Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition has this footnote on the text of 1 Corinthians 3:15:

         “The text of v. 15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.”

         The New Oxford Annotated Bible has this footnote on 1 Corinthians 3:15:

         "The expression as through fire is a common Greek idiom describing a narrow escape from danger: as the fire ignites, the workers escape from the legal penalty to be imposed upon their shoddy construction by running through the walls of the burning building."

         The context of 1 Corinthians 3:15 is about stewardship, not how one gets right with God. The fire reveals the quality of each person's works on the Day of Judgement. The phrase "he shall suffer loss" in verse fifteen refers to the loss of heavenly rewards. The Good News Translation renders 1 Corinthians 3:15 as follows:

         "But if your work is burnt up, then you will lose it; but you yourself will be saved, as if you had escaped through the fire." (1 Corinthians 3:15)

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Additions To Daniel Found In Roman Catholic Bibles Are Not Canonical Scripture

 Daniel, Apocryphal Additions to the Greek translation of Daniel, like that of Esther, contain several pieces which are not found in the original text. The most important of these additions are contained in the Apocrypha of the English Bible under the titles of The Song of the Tree Holy Children, The History of Susanna, and The History of...Bel and the Dragon -1. a. The first of these pieces is incorporate into the narrative of Daniel After who three confessors were thrown into the furnace (Dan. iii. 23), Azarias is represented praying to God for deliverance (Song of Three Children, 3-22); and in answer the angel of the Lord shields them from the fire which consumes their enemies (23-27), whereupon "the three, as out of one mouth," raise a triumphant song (29-68), of which a chief part (35-66) has been used as a hymn in the Christian Church since the 4th century. b. The two other pieces appear more distinctly as appendices, and offer no semblance of forming part of the original text. The History of Susanna (or The Judgement of Daniel) is generally found at the beginning of the book (Gk. MSS. Vet. Lal); though it also occurs after the 12th chapter ( Vulg. ed. Compl.). The History of Bel and the Dragon is placed at the end of the book; and in the LXX. version it bears a special heading as "part of the prophecy of Habakkuk." 2. The additions are found in both the Greek texts, the LXX. and Theodotion, in the Old Latin and Vulgate, and in the existing Syriac and Arabic versions. On the other hand there is no evidence that they ever formed part of the Hebrew text, and they were originally wanting in the Syriac.3. Various conjectures have been made as to the origin of the additions. It has been supposed that they were derived from Aramaic originals, but the character of the additions themselves indicates rather the hand of an Alexandrine writer; and it is not unlikely that the translator of Daniel wrought up traditions which were already current, and appended them to his work.

William Smith, A Dictionary Of the Bible Comprising Its Antiquities, Biography, Geography, and Natural History, p. 188

Friday, January 22, 2021

Why The Roman Catholic Church's Concept Of "Grace Alone" Is Not Really "Grace Alone" At All

        "Grace is primary in the whole process, so in that very real sense we can describe our system as “saved by grace alone” -- whereas we can never say “saved by faith alone” (i.e., with works playing no part at all in salvation) or “saved by works alone.” The true Catholic position will always include the works alongside grace and faith." (https://www.ncregister.com/blog/is-grace-alone-sola-gratia-also-catholic-teaching)

        "If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema." (Council of Trent, canon 1)

        The grace of God does not come about as a result of the doings of man (Romans 11:6). Simply put, to speak of grace being infused at the moment of water baptism and being maintained through good works is a contradiction of terms.

        Rome requires one to do good works in order to attain and maintain justification. It teaches that one must attain an inherent righteousness in order to be accepted by God. That line of thinking runs contrary to texts such as Psalm 14:2-3, 49:7-9, 130:3, Isaiah 64:6, Luke 18:9-14, Romans 3:10-12, 23, Galatians 3:10, and Philippians 3:3-9.

        The point of contention is not whether our walk with God is to be characterized with a desire to serve Him. Our good works are a display of His grace in our lives. However, they are not to be viewed as meritorious in His sight. Our grounds for justification before God is the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone (Romans 5:19).

        If justification is "not of ourselves" and "not as a result of works" (Ephesians 2:8-9), then that means faith alone is the instrumental cause of justification before God. There are no good deeds that can save us from eternal condemnation.

        Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul says, "not by works of righteousness which we have done" (Titus 3:5). The New Revised Standard Version renders that phrase as, "not by any works of righteousness that we have done." He continues on that thought with a stark contrast, "but according to his mercy he saved us." This dichotomy is prevalent throughout the writings of Paul. He would most definitely have condemned the sacramental system of justification taught by the Church of Rome.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

John 12:41 And The Deity Of Christ

 "tn Grk “his”; the referent (Christ) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The referent supplied here is “Christ” rather than “Jesus” because it involves what Isaiah saw. It is clear that the author presents Isaiah as having seen the preincarnate glory of Christ, which was the very revelation of the Father (see John 1:18; John 14:9). sn Because he saw Christ’s glory. The glory which Isaiah saw in Isa 6:3 was the glory of Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT). Here John speaks of the prophet seeing the glory of Christ since in the next clause and spoke about him, “him” can hardly refer to Yahweh, but must refer to Christ. On the basis of statements like 1:14 in the prologue, the author probably put no great distinction between the two. Since the author presents Jesus as fully God (cf. John 1:1), it presents no problem to him to take words originally spoken by Isaiah of Yahweh himself and apply them to Jesus."

Excerpt taken from the New English Translation

Sunday, January 3, 2021

An Exposition Of Isaiah 9:6

 For - the ground of these great expectations.

Unto us - for the benefit of the Jews first (Israel is here the speaker), and then the Gentiles (cf. "unto you," Luke 2:11).

A child is born (the Immanuel, child of the Virgin), unto us a son is given (Psalms 2:7) - God's gratuitous gift, on which man had no claim (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

And the government shall be upon his shoulder. The ensign of office used to be worn on the shoulder, in token of sustaining the government (Isaiah 22:22). Here the government on Messiah's shoulder is in marked antithesis to the 'yoke and staff' of the oppressor on Israel's "shoulder" (Isaiah 9:4). He shall receive the kingdom of the earth from the Father, to vindicate it from the misrule of those to whom it was entrusted to hold it for and under the Most High, but who sought to hold it in defiance of His right. The Father asserts his right by the Son, the "Heir of all things," who will hold it for Him (Daniel 7:13-14).

And his name shall be called - His essential characteristics shall be.

Wonderful - (note, Isaiah 8:18; Judges 13:18, margin; 1 Timothy 3:16.) His whole manifestation is a wonder or miracle: and great as have been the past wonders which He performed for His people in Egypt at the Red Sea and the Jordan, He shall work still greater wonders for their deliverance hereafter (Isaiah 43:18-19; Exodus 15:11; Psalms 77:11; Psalms 77:14; Psalms 78:12; Daniel 12:6). Counsellor - (Isaiah 11:2; Micah 4:9; Psalms 16:7; Romans 11:33-34; 1 Corinthians 1:24; Colossians 2:3.)

The mighty God - (Isaiah 10:21; Psalms 24:8; Titus 2:13.) Horsley translates, 'God the mighty Hero,' or 'Warrior,' 'Eel (Hebrew #410) gibowr (Hebrew #1368): the character in which He will manifest Himself against the anti-Christian enemy (Revelation 19:11-15). "Unto us ... God" is equivalent to "Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).

The everlasting Father. This marks Him as "Wonderful," that He is "a child," yet the "everlasting Father" (John 10:30; John 14:9) - literally, 'The Father of eternity' [ `ad (Hebrew #5704)]. The Septuagint ( pateer (Greek #3962) tou (Greek #5120) mellontos (Greek #3195) aioonos (Greek #165), 'Father of the age to come' (Hebrews 2:5) - the Messianic age-the kingdom which shall have "no end" (Isaiah 9:7): the Author of eternal life to all that believe. Earthly kings leave their people after a short reign; He will reign over and bless them forever.

The Prince of Peace - (note, Isaiah 9:5; Genesis 49:10 : Shiloh, 'The Tranquillizer.') Finally, Hosea 2:18. Even already He is "our peace" (Luke 2:14; Ephesians 2:14). The antitype to King Solomon (the Peaceful, as the name means). The earlier Rabbins, the Chaldaic Targum, Beresheth Rabba, and Ben Sira, etc., all took the Messianic view of this prophecy.

Excerpts taken from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary