Sunday, October 31, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Teaching and Application
Sadly, many Christians give into this "temptation" and waste time interacting with heretics, unbelievers, and pseudo-Christians. With that being the case, I encourage you to consider a few things:
1. Consider the following passages regarding wasting time when interacting with unbelievers: Prov. 14:6-7; 18:2; Matt. 7:6; Eph. 5:15-16; 1 Tim. 4:7; 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:14, 16-17; 2 Tim. 2:23-26; Titus 3:9-11
A scoffer seeks wisdom and finds none, But knowledge is easy to one who has understanding. 7 Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge. (Prov. 14:6-7 NAU)Take for example the issue of supposed Bible contradictions. I've had unbeliever after unbeliever ask me about these and when I provide an answer, its almost always unacceptable to them. This isn't because it wasn't logically resolved, but because "knowledge is easy to one who has understanding". Because they are scoffers, they don't have Biblical "understanding"; i.e., they don't want to submit to Scripture, and thus, the type of "knowledge" they are asking about isn't available to them since they are devoid of the Spirit. This isn't an intellectual problem, its a spiritual one.
I've pointed out time after time in personal evangelistic encounters with unbelievers how their worldview contains blatant contradictions, yet they don't care. Some have told me bluntly that they would rather hold to an irrational view and go to Hell than repent and believe on Christ, regardless of how good an answer I could provide to their questions. Such behavior reveals their true motive and agenda. Thus, "leave the presence of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge."
A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind. (Pro 18:2 NAU)Some unbelievers (and professing "Christians") just want to run off at the mouth and reveal their own corrupt thoughts instead of having their thoughts corrected by Scripture. They could care less about what God says; and so they end up spouting off to the point that you have to kindly cut them off either by way of a delete button or by way of quickly exiting their monologue.
"Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matt. 7:6 NAU)Some unbelievers are spiritual "dogs" and "swine". They don't care about your logical argumentation; they just want to "tear you to pieces" by making you look stupid and then by mocking Jesus. I have found that many unbelievers really don't want an answer to their question; they simply want to corner you so that they can proclaim victory over you and then mock your Christ.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:15-16 NAU)Be mindful of how you use your time. Don't waste it interacting with people that don't listen. When you have answered a question clearly two times and provided quality follow-up information, that is enough for them to "take up and read" for a while and then come back later for clarifying questions. Very few unbelievers take the time to think through your well-reasoned answers only to come back later for profitable discussion. For those that do, we ought to spend time graciously and patiently interacting with them as long as possible. However, if an unbeliever's questions/assertions start becoming increasingly nonsensical, condescending, and mocking; they aren't taking your answers seriously and you need to move on. Such behavior is a sure mark that they are looking to be wise in their own eyes.
But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; (1 Tim. 4:7 NAU)In evangelistic encounters, don't answer stupid questions (i.e., "Are you God?"). If you do, you are being foolish too. After all, Solomon said, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him." (Proverbs 26:4).
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, (1 Tim. 6:3-4 NAU)MacArthur explains verse 4 well in his MacArthur Study Bible, "'Questions' refers to idle speculation; 'disputes about words' lit. means 'word battles.' Because proud, ignorant false teachers do not understand divine truth (2 Co 2:14), they obsess over terminology and attack the reliability and authority of Scripture." [p. 1840]. Jehovah's Witnesses are well known for wasting time by arguing that because your Bible doesn't contain the name "Jehovah" (which is a butchering of the transliteration of the tetragrammaton YHWH), the entirety of your religious views are false. Avoid such nonsense, try to redirect to the main issues, and if they refuse, then politely end the conversation.
Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. . . . 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2 Tim. 2:14, 16-17a NAU)"[W]rangle" [Gk. logomachein] in 2 Tim. 2:14 means to argue about words or split hairs. Doing so can lead to the ruin of the hearers. Once, I was attempting to argue with a JW in front of another unbeliever (who wasn't a JW) about the deity of Christ. The JW took the conversation in another direction by splitting hairs over an inconsequential word I used, and instead of cutting off the conversation with her and continuing with the other unbeliever who did understand the deity of Christ and believed that the Bible taught it, I continued wrangling with the JW, and it confused the other unbeliever. It led to the ruin of a hearer. So, discern when these things are taking place and avoid them.
But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:23-26 NAU)Recognize foolish and ignorant speculation and avoid it. I was preaching open-air one time and a guy came right up to me and tried to hand me a book about terrorism. I calmly said, "Sir, I'm preaching right now, and I'll be glad to talk to you when I'm finished." He persisted by sticking the book into my side, so since the crowd was light, I stepped down off my stool to talk to him. After stepping down, he started speaking all manner of nonsense, and I quickly realized that this guy was a Satanic distraction. However, at that point, it was difficult to exit the conversation because several people quickly gathered around to listen to it; so I had to try to salvage it as best as I could for the gospel. However, it really was a waste of time since it led to his wanting to quarrel with me and other people quarreling with him and his constant quarreling over irrelevant speculation distracted others away from the gospel. Many people didn't get to hear the gospel because of this man, so, try to avoid this type of thing.
But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:9-11 NAU)If you encounter a factious, nasty person; reject them after a first and second warning. Use the delete key on your blog comment function as necessary. If in a face-to-face encounter, kindly exit the conversation if they will not reason with you from the Scriptures. People that are known for this type of wrangling are usually part of a pseudo-Christian cult, are atheists/skeptics that hold to Christ-myther nonsense, or are unregenerate false converts that are in your congregation.
2. Regularly remind yourself of the doctrine of Total Inability/Total Depravity.
- The Bible clearly teaches that the unbeliever is unable and unwilling to respond to the gospel unless He is first regenerated by the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit (John 6:44, 65; Romans 3:10-12; 8:7-8; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Eph. 2:1-5; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; 1 John 5:1 ESV). Apart from regeneration, preaching the gospel to lost people only drives them further away from it since it is foolishness to them (1 Cor. 1:18).
- I'll never forget when an atheist said to me one time, "Look guy, you could drag Noah's ark down middle of Main Street and I still won't believe!" He was right (Matt. 28:17; Luke 16:31).
- Most people are going to Hell not because they want to go to Heaven and can't, but because their natural disposition is against God and His truth. Unless the Lord Jesus Christ sets them free, they will remain as willing, voluntary, slaves of their own sinful desires (Matt. 7:13-14; John 8:32-47). If you don't understand this, you are going to be frustrated over and over again in evangelistic encounters.
- The person asks you a question, then when you attempt to answer they cut you off mid-sentence. After this has happened twice, I usually say, "Excuse me friend, but you asked me a question, and two times now I've tried to answer it, but you have not let me respond because you've interrupted me mid-sentence Are you asking the question because you really want an answer, or do you just want to quarrel?" If this person has any sense, they will be shamed by their rude behavior and let you respond and it might lead to a productive dialogue. If they don't care, then it's time to say, "Pardon me, but it appears that you are not interested in hearing answers to your questions since you continue to interrupt me. Therefore, I think its best that we finish our conversation now and I'll and move on to find someone who is willing to listen to answers to their questions."
- The person asks stupid questions that are obviously designed to mock you or distract you away from gospel work. Skeptics and atheists are known to do this in open-air preaching and I always ignore them. If you are in a face-to-face conversation and they start to do this, then calmly ask them this question, "I am talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ and you just asked me about X which has nothing to do with the gospel. Are you interested in knowing how you can be reconciled to God?" When they say, "No", thank them for their time and move on to find someone else who will listen.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Question of the Day: How do I get to heaven?
It's a simple enough question, but I've found after asking thousands of people for the answer to that question, they always end up depending upon their own good works to reconcile themselves to God. That is a characteristic mark of every false religion on the planet (Gal. 1:6-9; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
I Know Who Jesus is, But Who is Repentance?
I find that more and more people I talk to, they simply don't understand what it means to have repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). I have to start at ground zero with most people, patiently explaining why they need to repent and why God's justice demands an eternal Hell: sinners don't stop sinning when they get to Hell, God's infinite Holiness demands an infinite punishment, and God's display of His attributes on the day of judgment demands a means by which He can show forth the entire panoply of His attributes; such includes His mercy as well as His justice (cf. Romans 9:19-23). Nevertheless, Scripture says that people will get what they deserve forever (cf. Rev. 14:9-11).
A Jehovah's Witness without Ears to Hear
I have found that in general, Jehovah's Witnesses (hereafter JWs) are some of the most difficult people to have a productive conversation with about religion, the Bible, etc. I think this is not only a spiritual problem, but a theological-sociological one as well. JWs are not only dead in their trespasses and sins as evidenced by their worship of a false god and their embracing a false gospel (Eph. 2:2ff; Gal. 1:6-9), but they are regularly, systematically, and dogmatically programmed at their "Book Studies" with canned answers to your objections, especially when it comes to the subject of the deity of Christ. Not only that, but they tend to always view all doctrine as essential whether it's about the nature of God or the details of the second coming. Today was no exception. I'll summarize my 30 minute conversation with this JW for sake of time.
The conversation started after I approached two young ladies, handed them our church card with Scripture on it (John 7:37 on the front, John 17:3 on the back). As I began to explain the gospel and focus on sin, righteousness, and judgment, one young lady started objecting to an eternal Hell. I then opened up my little NASB pocket Bible and read the following,
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:9-11 NAU)That verse just bounced right off her like I threw a 25 cent bouncy-ball against a brick wall. I then read it again, and she started trying to persuade her friend that I was speaking lies to her because "just like Adam and Eve", when people die they go to the ground and that there are no literal fires, no burning, no eternal torments, only annihilation for the wicked at Judgment Day and Heaven on Earth for the righteous.
It was at this point that I asked, "Ma'am, are you a Jehovah's Witness?" She affirmed as much, and I immediately attempted to shift our subject to the deity of Christ. This is important because while a denial of Hell will not necessarily send one there, an outright denial of the Biblical view of Jesus will (cf. John 8:24). I tried to discuss John 20:28 with her (Thomas' confession of Jesus as God) and she didn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. I tried to discuss Revelation 1:8; 1:17, & 22:13 with her where Jesus is demonstrated to be God by referring to Himself as the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, and the beginning and the end, and she talked over me almost the entire time. I kindly interrupted her, and said, "Ma'am, you have asked me several questions and then when I try to answer them you continually interrupt me. Do you really want an answer to your questions, or do you just want to argue?" At this point she said, "You can read verse-after-verse and you'll never convince me that Jesus is God." At this point I said, "Well then, this conversation is over since you are unwilling to hear from Scripture." She then responded with something like this, "The Trinity is a false doctrine with no basis in Scripture . . . I bet you believe in the personality of the Holy Spirit too don't you?" I said, "Of course; the Spirit is grieved (Eph. 4:30), lied to and called 'God' (Acts 5:4) and called 'the Lord' (2 Cor 3:17). How do you 'grieve' or 'lie to' a mere force? How do you call an entity a force when the Scriptural writers referred to Him as 'Lord' and 'God'?" She then quieted down a bit when I said those things. Our conversation was pretty much over at that point and I went on to look for someone else to talk to.
Do You Love Jesus or Your Sin?
The next person I spoke to was a young man I had witnessed to before. He said that he didn't remember much about our conversation from last semester, but recognized me and remembered that I had spoken to him about the things of God. I asked him if he could tell me how to get to heaven and he mentioned something about "believing in Him" but that's as far as it went. I then explained the gospel to him and he said, "Man, I hear what you're saying, and I know it's true, but I've got my life to live things I gotta do . . . I also don't live out what I know to be true." I then asked, "You love your sin don't ya?" and he said, "I wouldn't say I love it . . . I don't love it, but I'm just not living for the Lord right now." I then explained to him that he was enslaved to his master, which is his sin. I explained to him that he had to repent and believe on Christ lest he face his eternal reward in Hell. I explained all of this with much patience, grace, and compassion. He shook my hand, took my card, and was off.
My heart breaks for the people I spoke to today. They are truly like sheep without a shepherd. Worse yet, I think about how many of them are on the broad path, and it moves me to pray, study, minister to, and evangelize my own family and church even more.
May God cause us to be willing to do more for the truth than what the cults will do for a lie.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Nothing seems more harmless than grumbling about the weather. But, it is a terrible sin of unbelief. What is at stake when we complain about the weather? We are questioning the wisdom of our God. We are questioning the sovereignty of our God. We are questioning the love of our God.
The current weather that we are now experiencing is the only weather that could possibly be within the all-wise plan of God. It is not possible for our God to do anything that is not in compliance with his perfect wisdom.
to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:27 NIV)
Our God is absolutely sovereign and is in complete control of all things. There is nothing that takes place, and that includes the weather, that is not determined by our God.
It is easy to come to the conclusion that we are at the mercy of the elements, but that is not the case. Our Father in heaven choreographs the weather for us each and every day.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
(Ephesians 1:11 NIV)
Finally, we come to issue of the love of the Father for his children. According to Romans 8:28 everything that happens to us as believers has been ultimately caused by the love of our Father in heaven.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)To question the weather is to question his love for his children. That is why grumbling about the weather is so serious. It questions his wisdom, his sovereignty, and his love. Takes some time to ponder this so that you might better glorify him in your thoughts and comments about the weather.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Summary: We do NOT Dance to our DNA*
"The one decisive lesson I think we can draw from the work in molecular genetics over the past couple of decades is that life does not progressively contract into a code or any kind of reduced “building block” as we probe its more minute dimensions."
Says Steve Talbott in the beginning article named: "Getting Over the Code Delusion"
Mr. Talbott goes on,..
"Trying to define the chromatin complex, according to geneticists Shiv Grewal and Sarah Elgin, “is like trying to define life itself.” Having plunged headlong toward the micro and molecular in their drive to reduce the living to the inanimate, biologists now find unapologetic life staring back at them from every chromatogram, every electron micrograph, every gene expression profile. Things do not become simpler, less organic, less animate. The explanatory task at the bottom is essentially the same as the one higher up. It’s rather our understanding that all too easily becomes constricted as we move downward, because the contextual scope and qualitative richness of our survey is so extremely narrowed."
* When you attend "the Dance";
1 Peter 4:1-5
You will either have repented of your sin and placed your faith in Jesus Christ by the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit, or you will Glorify God in His righteous Judgment.
Therefore: Repent! Place your trust in Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins.
*The religious position which holds that there is no god, and by doing so, establishes the "self" as god, . . . or worships Richard Dawkins and secular humanist materialism.
Thanks to Dr. James White for his blog post and podcast exposing this article series!
Thursday, October 21, 2010
The Scripture commands us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15 NAU) We must handle the Scriptures with care and accuracy because it is “. . . able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:15-17 - my translation)
If the correct teaching of Scripture is able to lead men to salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit, it follows that poorly taught Scripture confuses people at best and condemns them at worst. Improperly taught Scripture shuts up God’s truth from people (i.e., Roman Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, etc.). Ultimately, the errors that we see in our modern church culture are a direct result of anti-biblical philosophies undermining proper Biblical interpretation and application. Thus, good Bible interpretation is important so that we can understand, teach, and properly apply the Bible to our lives and the lives of others.
Hermeneutics: The art and science of interpreting any written text. It is an art because it requires skill and practice and a science because it follows a method. “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained [Gk., dihermeneuo] to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Lk. 24:27 NAU)
Exegesis: Determining the meaning of a text based upon grammar, syntax, and historical and literary contexts. Grammar is the study of the classes of words, their inflections, and their functions and relations in the sentence. I.e., knowing the difference between a noun, verb, adjective, preposition, etc., and how all of that works in a sentence. Syntax is the way in which words are put together to form meaningful phrases or clauses. "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." (John 1:18 ESV) John 1:18 in the ESV translates exegeomai as “has made him known”. The word literally means “to show the way”. This is the where we get the English word “exegesis” from.
Eisegesis: Reading a meaning into a text that isn’t really there. Exposition: The communication of the meaning of the text along with its relevance to present-day hearers.
Pedagogy: The art and science of effectively communicating and applying the text in a teaching situation.
Basic Study and Teaching Method: Observation, Interpretation, and Application
I. Observation – What does it say?
- Read the text in its entire context (from bolded verse number to bolded verse number or paragraph to paragraph).
- Pay attention to the type of literature it is (i.e., poetry, prophetic, didactic, historical narrative, etc.) • Pay attention to nouns, verbs, subject, object, adjectives, prepositions, the definite and indefinite article (i.e., John hit ball, John hit the ball, John hit the red ball, John hit the red ball over a house).
- People can make the Bible say anything they wish so long as they disregard normal approaches for understanding written documents. We can justify everything from polygamy, polytheism, and jihad using the Bible alone as our “justifying” document.
1. Determine the Context: Context is extremely important. Seek to determine the near and far context of any written text. We must ask questions like:
- Who is the author?
- When was it written?
- Where was it written?
- Who is the intended audience/recipients?
- What is his background?
- What are some phrases and language that are particular to this author?
- What is the overall argument of the book you are studying?
- Is this same type of argument found elsewhere in other writings done by the same author?
- What is the outline of the book you are studying?
- How does this particular book fit into the context of the rest of the overall message of Scripture?
A. Primary Tools
- Reference Bible - This is a Bible that contains cross-references. Most Study Bibles have them.
- Concordance - This is a listing of every word that occurs in an English translation of the Bible. Be sure to get one that is coded to Strong’s numbering system.
- Greek/English & Hebrew/English Lexicon - This tool is solely for studying New Testament and Old Testament books. It lists every word that occurs in the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament and gives its dictionary definition. This tool is invaluable for word studies. You can use it effectively even if you do not know Greek or Hebrew. Be certain to get one that is coded to Strong’s numbering system. I recommend William D. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2006. It’s like an updated version of Vine’s.
- Bible Dictionary - This tool provides information about persons, places and things found in (or related to) the Bible. If can be used to study the background or situation of a book of the Bible, which in turn aids in interpreting that book.
- Commentary(s) (on the book being studied) - You will need access to at least one good commentary on the book you have decided to study. The commentary should give you extensive background information, particularly regarding the circumstance (or “occasion”) of the writing.
- Greek-English/Hebrew-English Interlinear - It is tempting to include this tool in the list of primary tools because of its overall value in ascertaining the meaning of the biblical text. A Greek-English interlinear contains the entire New Testament in Greek and places a literal English translation directly under the Greek words. A Hebrew- English interlinear does the same thing for the Old Testament. Can also be used as a Bible translation.
- New Testament/Old Testament Introduction - This is a book that is devoted to the background of each book of the Bible. It gives extensive details regarding the purpose, theme(s), characters, customs, and historical situations of each book of the Bible.
- Bible Atlas - This contains detailed maps of the locations mentioned in the Old and New Testaments.
- Englishman’s Greek Concordance - This goes a step beyond a regular concordance. It lists all occurrences of every Greek word found in the New Testament, and places them in an expanded English list in the order they appear in the Bible. This allows you to see how a Greek word is used throughout the New Testament.
- Manners and Customs - This reference tool provides background into various customs of the first century. Somewhat helpful, but it is certainly expendable.
- Church History Manual - This can shed light on heresies that the early church had to deal with, providing insight into some of what the New Testament authors wrote.
- Bible Translations - The more translations you can get your hands on, the better. You will be reading repetitiously through the book you choose to study, and you’ll want as many different perspectives on the meanings of words and phrase as possible. Translations can be divided into literal translations, dynamic equivalents, and paraphrases. A literal translation attempts to translate word for word from the original language into English. A dynamic equivalent seeks to translate the intended thought of the writer (rather than the literal words). A paraphrase translates an existing translation into modern language. As a rule of thumb, a literal translation is to be preferred over the others for this kind of study. The following list is not exhaustive, but represents some common translations that may be helpful: NASB, ESV, HCSB, NET, NIV, NKJV, KJV.
- If the interpreter cannot read and translate from the original languages, then he must compare multiple sound, committee produced English translations such as the NASB, ESV, HCSB, NET, NIV, NKJV, KJV. I recommend Biblegateway.com (online comparison), E-sword (free download), Libronix (cheap to expensive), BibleWorks, Accordance (Mac only).
- If you are using a formal translation such as the NASB or ESV, you normally don’t need to refer to the original languages unless a theologically important term is used (i.e., sin, atonement, propitiation, impute, justification, etc.).
- If you don’t know the exact meaning of a theological term use Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
- Be aware of the different translation philosophies and consider how that may affect the meaning of the text you are interpreting (dynamic equivalency versus formal equivalency). Read the translator’s introduction to determine which translation philosophy they used.
- Stay away from English paraphrases in your exegetical work (i.e., The Message, The Living Bible, etc.). These are okay for devotional reading, but not for study.
A. Split the clauses of the verse/passage up and look for the same themes in other places in the same author’s writings (i.e., Paul)
CSB Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
NAU Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
ESV Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
KJV Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
NET Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
NKJ Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
B. Outline the NAU translation of this verse and then compare it with cross-references in your reference Bible,
i. “For all have sinned” (cf. Rom. 3:9). Then look up the word “sin” in Paul’s writings in a concordance. Notice that it is used a verb here to modify the “all”. What are the two basic types of sin? (original and volitional). Summary: Paul is saying that all people everywhere have sinned against God whether by virtue of being in Adam (Rom. 5:12, 18-19) or willfully (Rom. 6:1ff).
ii. “. . . and fall short” (Gk. hustereo - 2. pass. lack, be lacking, go without Lk. 15:14; Rom. 3:23; 1 Cor. 1:7; 8:8; 3
12:24; 2 Cor. 11:9; Phil. 4:12; Hb. 11:37). Summary: All people everywhere fall short of God’s standards and more importantly, his glory (c.).
iii. “. . . of the glory of God” (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31 – definition of “glory” in Mounce, “glory, honor, splendor”). Since this statement was made to an honor/shame culture, what is the opposite of having “honor”? (see Manners and Customs). Summary: All people everywhere have sinned against God, have not kept his standards, and since such people are without honor, they are shameful to God (Rom. 10:11 – lit. “whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame”).
4. Check your work against sound commentators. Free Online:
- John Gill’s commentaries: http://www.freegrace.net/gill/
- Calvin’s commentaries: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/commentaries.i.html
- Matthew Henry’s Commentaries: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc.i.html
- Expositor’s Bible Commentary on the Whole Bible
- MacArthur’s NT Commentaries
- Kistemaker and Hendricksen NT Commentaries
III. Application – How does it apply to me?
Most churches today are too quick to jump to application and don’t spend enough time on observation and interpretation. Take our summary of Romans 3:23: All people everywhere have sinned against God, have not kept his standards, and since such people are without honor, they are shameful to God (Rom. 10:11 – lit. “whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame”). Think of how this would apply to a 21st century context:
- Lost people (Romans 1-3)
- Saved people (Romans 4-6, 7:14-8:39)
- Family relationships (Ephesians 5:22-6:4)
- Work ethic (Ephesians 6:5ff)
Summary: Observe, Interpret, and Apply. Even shorter, read, explain, apply. Your ability to teach the text effectively is directly proportional to the time you prayerfully spend on it, picking it apart, digesting it, and then thinking about how to communicate it to your hearers.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
14. @ 32:35 - "What sort of book would we expect if it were not divinely inspired?" Our atheist opponent went on to list the following things he thought served as evidence that the Bible isn't inspired:
- A pre-scientific understanding of the universe - "We'd expect brilliant into the mechanics of creation."
Thus, not only is this a bare-naked assertion, it is also a question begging epithet since it assumes the Bible should provide such information based upon an already presupposed anti-supernaturalism that denies the dual-authorship of Scripture and anachronistically assumes that God should have described the creation of the universe to ancient Hebrews using post-enlightenment, 21st century, mathematically precise scientific language.
- "If not divinely inspired, we'd expect to see myths borrowed and evolved from contemporary culture, which we find in the Bible."
- "We'd expect to find a morality in the Bible that corresponds to the values and morality of the times and cultures in which the Bible was produced."
Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. 5 "It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deut. 9:4-5 NAU)So, according to God, these nations were to be driven out for their wickedness and so that the Abrahamic covenant would be fulfilled (Gen. 12:17; 13:15; 15:7; 17:8; 26:4; 28:13). Also, there was severe consequences for not driving out the Canaanites:
Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; 53 and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. 54 'You shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the larger you shall give more inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give less inheritance. Wherever the lot falls to anyone, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. 55 'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. 56 "And as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you." Numbers 33:51-56 NAUTo not drive out the Canaanites would have been to invite the curse of God since (1) God reserved that land for the Israelites and (2) to allow them to intermingle with pagans would have invited religious syncretism and endangered the Abrahamic covenant and violated the Mosaic Covenant. The Israelites eventually did succumb to syncretism via idolatry, and the covenant curses of Deuteronomy came down upon them and they eventually succumbed to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities (Deut. 28:15-68 cf. 2 Kings 6:28-29; Jer. 19:9; Lam. 2:20; 4:10). Nevertheless, God kept for Himself an elect remnant that did not bow the knee to false gods (1 Kings 19:18; Isaiah 6:13; Romans 11:4-5).
However, I assume our opponent is referring more to things like slavery, the taking of war brides, and the destruction of the Canaanite nations. The hotlinks I have provided in the previous sentence do a great job of answering these objections Biblically and in sufficient detail for the regenerate believer. However, a few things need to be considered:
- The virgins taken in Hebrew war were war-brides. The Jewish men married them. There’s a standard provision in the Mosaic law for dealing with this type of situation (Deut. 21:10-14). Jewish wives enjoyed civil rights under the Mosaic law. And this was a great improvement over the life they would have endured had they remained in a pagan culture.
a. Suppose the Israelites never conquered the Midianites. Would women living in a heathen, ancient Near Eastern culture, have led a better life? Would they have been at liberty to marry anyone they wanted? Love at first sight?
b. Having killed the Midianite soldiers, should the Israelites have left the virgins to fend for themselves?
c. The Mosaic law is sometimes harsh by modern standards. Why is that? Because the ANE was a harsh place to live, and the Mosaic law is adapted to the socioeconomic conditions of the time. Why was the ANE such a harsh place to live? Because it was dominated by pagan cultures–like the Midianites. To the extent that you and I are better off, that’s because we live in a culture which has been influenced by Biblical ethics. If our atheistic opponents had their way, our society would eventually revert to the brutal conditions of the ANE not because they want it, but because a society without Biblical ethics eventually caves in on itself.
d. Indeed, modern secular cultures are cruel. They practice abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. And that’s even before we get around to Stalinism, Maoism, &c.
a. Due to their impiety and immorality, the Canaanites forfeited the right to inhabit the land (e.g. Deut. 9:5).
b. If allowed to cohabit with the Israelites, they would corrupt the Israelites (e.g. Deut. 4:3-4; 9:7-24).
c. Holy war was a preemptive war of national defense. In the wilderness, on their march to the Promised Land, Israel had already been subject to attacks by Amalek, the king of Arad, Sihon and the Amorites, as well as the king of Og. Likewise, the faithful were persecuted under the regimes of Jezebel and Athaliah. So peaceful coexistence was not a live option.
d. Apropos (c), how do you deal with a hostile warrior culture? You can’t simply treat them as discrete individuals, for they have a national character, and they behave accordingly. For instance, little boys will grow up to be warriors.
e. At the same time, let’s not forget the paradigm case of Rahab (Joshua 2).
Since God isn’t human, I don’t think he expects us to feel the same way he does about certain events involving our fellow man. That’s like expecting a cat to feel the same way about a dog that it feels about another cat.
a. Different people can feel differently about the same event, yet all those feelings may be appropriate in their place. Suppose my son commits murder. I will feel differently about my son than the judge and jury, much less the family of the victim. All the interested parties will have different feelings about my son, and all those different feelings will be appropriate. I have a different relationship to the assailant than they do, and vice versa. They have a different relationship to the victim than I do, and vice versa.
b. It is also important to distinguish between appropriate feelings and appropriate evaluations. At a purely emotional level, it’s appropriate for me to feel ambivalent about my murderous son. On the one hand, I should feel profound disapproval. On the other hand, I’m emotionally invested in him.
But at an intellectual level, I should also acknowledge that his punishment is just. He deserves to be executed for his heinous crime.
Obviously, too, we ought to make allowance for the reaction of individuals who are sick or grieving. Job is a classic example. People in that condition may make intemperate statements. Grief and illness clouds their judgment. But that’s part of being human.
You and I may wince at some of these injunctions, but suppose we were reading this text through the eyes of a warrior culture like the Assyrians, Aztecs, Cossacks, Huns, jihadis, Iroquois, Kshatriyas, Mongols, Plains Indians, Samurai, Vikings, or Zulus (to name a few). Would they feel revulsion?
Likewise, many readers who find these Biblical injunctions offensive also defend the right of parents to kill their children (abortion, infanticide) and euthanize their elderly parents. Some of them also support antinatalism, which is global genocide. We also have street gangs who shoot rival members without batting an eyelash. Not to mention textbooks atrocities like the Holocaust, the Killing Fields, Bataan Death March, Cultural Revolution, Nanking Massacre, Stalinist purges, Rwandan Genocide, etc.
So what makes you and me different from them? Do you and I have different innate moral intuitions than they do? Does it owe something to different social conditioning? As well as the Christian subculture to which we both belong?
15. @ 34:22ff - "Diseases and mental illnesses caused by demons, a talking snake, a talking donkey, humans living for hundreds of years, a woman being turned into a pillar of salt, the sun standing still in the sky, axeheads floating on water, a star shining down on one tiny building, the acquisition of foreign languages, storms being caused by sin, long hair as the source of an individual's super-human strength, etc. These stories would be received skeptically by my opponents tonight if one claimed they happened today, regardless of their worldview."
Aside from the fact that the Bible never states that sin causes storms (God causes storms) and that Samson's strength came directly from his long hair (God gave him supernatural physical strength based on his obedience to a part of the Nazarite vow he was committed to from his birth - cf. Judges 13:5; 6:17, 20), all of this begs the question by assuming that miracles can't happen.
After all, I could just as easily reject naturalism because naturalists teach that intelligent people came from pondscum, big lizards turned into birds, and that morality comes from amorality, and that all of that is ridiculous on the face of it. But that wouldn't do anything to forward the discussion now would it?
Finally, while I do test all claims of the miraculous via the word of God (1 Thess. 5:21), I am not skeptical of all miracle claims since the word of God also teaches that sometimes miracles occur. I have personally experienced miracles as part of specific answers to prayer in my own pastoral ministry. As Dr. Dan Wallace says, an ounce of evidence is worth more than a pound of presumption. I've seen more than an "ounce of evidence" of the miraculous through answered prayer and this is clear evidence of the existence of the God of the Bible (Matt. 7:7-8).
16. @ 35:00ff - "Why didn't God do His magic before the printing press, photography, internet, video, etc.? It's strange that God would demonstrate His power and authority to an ancient, superstitious, and largely illiterate people, but leave subsequent generations without a means to verify their testimony."
Aside from the fact that God's miracles are not "magic", He did leave an infallible way to verify it historically; it's called the Bible. There is no higher authority than God's word to verify God's word (Heb. 6:13). Thus, you must start with God's word as your ultimate standard of revelational authority if you want to know whether or not the miraculous is legitimate and historical.
Also, you ought to read books like "The Autobiography of George Muller". Muller was a mid to late 19th century Calvinistic Baptist pastor that ministered to, fed, clothed, and provided shelter for 25,000 orphans during his career without ever asking any mortal man for a penny. Instead, he took Jesus Christ at His word in Matthew 7:7-8 and prayed that God would provide the financial means for him to do his work. Muller documented over 50,000 specific answers to prayer throughout his ministry. In his autobiography, he recounts how many of his prayers were answered in miraculous, supernatural ways; thus refuting our opponent's claim that miracle claims are things that are relegated to the pre-modern era.
By the way, the atheist objector faces the same problem. He has no "printing press, photography, internet, video" of the Big Bang, millions of years, evolution of life, etc. Therefore, given his own logic, those things must have never happened either!
17. @ 35:25ff - "No evidence of the Exodus . . . would've decimated Egyptian society . . . no evidence of drowning in the Red Sea . . . no evidence for the conquest of Canaan."
1. All of this is wrong as it contradicts Scripture which is the highest revelational authority for mankind (Heb. 6:13).
2. Since God can never lie (Titus 1:2) and the Bible is God's word (2 Tim. 3:16-17), God tells the truth about history and His word is to be the corrective lens through which we make sense out of ancient historical records.
3. There is archaeological evidence for the Exodus and the Canaan conquest. This web page is good place to start. Biblical archaeologist Dr. Bryant Wood summarizes it quite well,
The date of the Biblical exodus-conquest is clear. 1 Kgs 6:1 and 1 Chr 6:33–37 converge on a date of 1446 BC for the exodus and the Jubilees data and Judg 11:26 independently converge on a date of 1406 BC for the beginning of the conquest. The 1406 BC date is further confirmed by archaeological data from Jericho, Ai (Kh. el-Maqatir) and Hazor. [http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/03/30/The-Biblical-Date-for-the-Exodus-is-1446-BC-A-Response-to-James-Hoffmeier.aspx]18. @ 36:00ff - "What about the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem? No author, Christian or otherwise gives us any account of this?
Here's one reliable Christian account that you forgot about: Matthew 2:16-18. Besides, such behavior was completely consistent with King Herod's maniacal rule. Also, it is ridiculous to expect Josephus to exhaustively document every evil action that Herod took against the Jews since it would have made Josephus' works significantly larger and unbalanced as a historical document. Also, given the many atrocities that Herod committed, no one is really going to remember the killing of a few babies in a backwater town like Bethlehem @ 5 B.C.
19. @ 37:00ff - Biblical morality is irrelevant today. God commanded the death penalty for Sabbath violation, violation of the 5th commandment, and worshiping other gods. . . . This is Taliban morality. . . . Deuteronomy 22:23-24 has a situation where a woman pledged to be married is raped [by someone other than the man whom she's betrothed to] and the woman is stoned.
1. I agree that the Mosaic law as a unit is irrelevant today. The Mosaic law was a covenant document that was specifically made with the nation of Israel alone and it served to govern that theocratic nation until the time of Messiah and the New Covenant. When Messiah Jesus died on the cross, the New Covenant was ratified in His blood and the Law of Moses was rendered null and void (Matt. 5:17-18; Eph. 2:14-15; Col. 2:16-17; Hebrews 7:12; 18-19; 8:13; 9:16-17).
2. The man who was caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath day was immediately stoned to death because he knowingly and defiantly violated the Sabbath command (Num. 15:30-36). The Old Covenant Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant (Ex. 31:13-18) and so to violate the sabbath was to imply disobedience to the entire covenant signifying a fist-shaking disobedience to God. Also, the Old Covenant Sabbath was a physical picture of the spiritual rest that we have in Christ in the New Covenant. To physically work on the Sabbath under the Old Covenant destroyed the meaning of what the day was pointing to, which was the spiritual rest that would come in Messiah Jesus (Hebrews 4:1-11).
3. It is simply a lie to state that Deuteronomy 22:23-24 is saying that a raped woman is stoned to death for being raped. Had you read the entirety of the passage to the audience it would have been clear what the original meaning was,
If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor's wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. 25 "But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26 "But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27 "When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her. Deut. 22:23-27 NAUIn v. 24 the engaged woman is stoned because she didn't cry out, i.e., she was complicit in the sexual act; thus indicating that she was an adulteress. However, in vv. 25-27, we see that if a man rapes an engaged woman, he will be stoned to death and the woman goes free because she was not complicit in the act. Thus, our opponents clearly misrepresented this text on purpose, or they borrowed this faulty argument from someone else without first checking to see if it had any merit.
4. The penalty for idolatry indeed was severe and was a picturesque example of what theologians call an "eschatological intrusion of the Kingdom of God"; i.e., what is coming to all idolaters at the end of the age (Rev. 21:8). Idolatry under the Old Covenant endangered the covenant community as it enticed them after other gods and potentially brought the covenant curses down upon them (Deut. 28:15-68). Thus, it was punished quickly and severely so as to protect the nation of Israel so as to prepare the way for Messiah.
5. The death penalty for disobedience to parents was required when a rebellious young man was continually rejecting the God-ordained authority of one's parents and engaging in drunkenness and gluttony, thereby rejecting the authority of God (cf. Deut 21:18-21). Such high-handed sin warranted the death penalty because, like the command against idolatry, it endangered the covenant community and brought down the covenant curses upon the nation. Ezekiel 22:7, 15 shows that one of the reasons the Jews were sent into the Babylonian captivity was because of a failure to honor their parents, thus fulfilling Deuteronomy 28:15-68.
20. @ 38:20ff - Problem of Evil/Eutyphro's Dilemma/Why doesn't God heal children with cancer or people with mental disabilities since it seems that he regularly intervenes in history to execute His purposes? (i.e., regular miracles), killed all firstborn in Egypt was did nothing to stop African slavery, Indonesian Tsunamis in 2004 killed 1/4 million yet God easily parted the Red Sea for the Hebrews, manna in wilderness vs. starvation of hungry children. Fish and loves made by Jesus to feed the five thousand yet hungry people. God added another 15 years to Hezekiah's life yet children with cancer get no healing. Nebuchadnezzar's insanity was removed yet mental patients continue to struggle with their affliction. Apostles and Christ healed with a touch or even with being in Peter's shadow yet we have a continued AIDS pandemic.
1. This contradicts the claim addressed earlier (# 16 above) that there is no modern evidence for miracles yet it conveniently assumes miracles in order to argue against a miracle working God. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
2. As documented in # 16 above, miracles do happen, but by definition they are non-normative. That's why we call them miracles. If they happened all the time, we'd call them natural laws.
3. Christ and the Apostles didn't go around healing everybody. There were thousands of people that saw Christ, walked by Him, and heard Him teach yet neither He nor any of the Apostles ever healed them nor did they feel as if they were obligated to heal everyone. Jesus even commanded the twelve not to heal everyone when they were sent out on a short missionary journey, but only to go to the Jews (cf. Matt. 10:5-8; John 5:3ff).
4. This supposes that God both is obligated to perform miracles now to whomever the skeptic wants. People don't demand anything of God, for God does as He pleases and that includes healing some and killing others (1 Sam. 2:6).
5. Answer to Eutyphro's Dilemma.
6. Why Won't God Heal Amputees answers why God doesn't always heal.
Evil exists because we live in a cursed and fallen world. Because our first parents told God to shove off, a separation now exists between God and all of Adam's descendants (Genesis 3:1-19). That spiritual separation is only restored in Christ, who through His death on the cross purchased salvation for all who will come to Him in repentance and faith. All who are burdened with a feeling of guilt over their sins can have peace with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). The peace and spiritual reconciliation that one has now will eventually give way to full physical and emotional healing in the resurrection and New Heaven and New Earth (Rev. 21-22). All else is sinking sand (Matthew 7:26-27).
In conclusion, it is my prayer that this series answering the supposed Biblical contradictions offered by our debate opponents will be helpful to Christians who are interested in better understanding their Bibles and how to live their Christian lives with a greater degree of confidence that their faith is firmly placed on the firm foundation of Christ's rock-word (Matt. 7:24-25).
Thursday, October 14, 2010
13. "If you read the gospel of Matthew and the gospel of Luke, they give two different times for Jesus' birth. One is in 4 B.C.E. and the other is in 6 C.E. based on events that happened during the time."
This is a nonsense claim. Had our atheist friends carefully studied their Bibles and a few scholarly commentaries, they would have known as much. Lucan scholar Dr. Darrell L. Bock notes,
In Luke 1:5 the time of John the Baptist's birth is placed in the period of "King Herod of Judea". Moreover, the Lucan account indicates that Jesus was conceived soon after John, before the Baptist was born. Matthew 2:1 agrees with this reckoning by noting that the visit of the wise men to see the baby Jesus took place "in the time of King Herod." [Bock, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 69.Thus, the accounts in Matthew 2 and Luke 2 are not contradictory but complimentary. In God's providence and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they both supply some information that the other writer didn't mention because each author's purpose for writing had a different focus and a different initial audience.
However, the common skeptical rub originates with Luke 2:1, "Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria."
Skeptics like to point out that while there is extant historical evidence that Quirinius was a "governor" of Syria @ 6-7 A.D. and oversaw an empire-wide census then, there is no such extant record that (1) Quirinius was a "governor" of Syria sometime @ 4-6 B.C. and (2) it is questionable that an Empire-wide census was taken around this time. Thus, they assume that the meticulous, detailed historian-physician Luke goofed and got his facts wrong by confusing the time of Jesus' birth with a census and rulership that occurred 10 years later.
They are wrong for some of the following reasons:
1. Luke wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Since God cannot err, Luke did not err (2 Peter 1:19-21). To say otherwise is to call God a liar (Romans 3:4).
2. The word translated "governor" used to describe for Quirinius' "governorship" is a very general Greek term hegemon, which in extra-biblical Greek was applied to prefects, provincial governors, and even Caesar himself. In the New Testament, it is used in a very broad way, applying to procurators (Pilate, Festus, Felix) and to "rulers" in general (cf. Matt. 2:6). The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (ed. Brown) gives as the range of meaning: "leader, commander, chief" (vol 1.270). Thus, this term would have applied to Quirinius at many times in his political career, and as a general term, Syria would have had several individuals that could be properly so addressed at the same time. The second century Christian apologist Justin Martyr called Quirinius a "procurator" in Apology 1:34, which is also covered by the Greek term hegemon. Thus, nothing is out of order here; for it is known that Quirinius was doing military expeditions in the eastern provinces of the Roman empire (Tacitus , Annals 3:48; Florus, Roman History 2:31), with some evidence indicating that he either was a co-regent with the governor of Syria (the somewhat inept Quintilius Varus) or at least placed in charge of the 14-year census in Palestine.
3. Luke mentions the A.D. 6 census in Acts 5:37 and the one he speaks of in Luke 2:1 refers to one before it. This coincides perfectly with Josephus' secular account regarding the A.D. 6 census in Antiquities 17.13.5 ; 18.1.1  and 18.2.1. But more accurately, Luke was probably not referring to a taxation census at all--simply a "registration". Registrations were usually associated with (1) taxation, (2) military service (Jews were exempt) and (3) special government "ballots".
4. That Augustus issued a world-wide census decree (a record of which is only preserved in Luke's gospel) is reasonable since the data about Augustus' propensity to count and tax is well known. For example, he documents, in his own records, how he counted the Roman nation some three times (Res Gestae Divi Augusti , 8--from Roman Civilization--SourceBook II: the Empire, eds. Lewis and Reinhold, p 12)., and increasingly levied detailed taxes throughout his reign--with the attendant increase in bribery and vice (see Gibbons' Rise and Fall). As vain as he was, it would not be surprising at all for this to have occurred and Luke records as much.
5. It was also customary for the Roman empire to take a census when there was a change of local government (e.g. when Archelaus was deposed in AD 6, one of Quirinius' first tasks was to liquidate his estate and hold a census to determine the tribute load.) The implication of this pattern for our discussion is that when Varus became governor of Syria in 7 BC, one of his first acts would have been to take a census (the one which would have produced the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem for Joseph/Mary.)
6. We know that Augustus instituted a 14-year census-cycle for Egypt in 10/9 B.C. Not only does this give us more confirmation that Augustus liked numbers, but it may reflect Augustus' propensity to regularly carry out a "worldwide decree".
7. To assert that Augustus did not make such a decree is an affirmative historical statement. And, "the burden of proof, for any historical assertion, always rests upon its author"(Hacket, Historians' Fallacies, Harper: 1970, 63.).
8. To argue that Luke was wrong because there was no worldwide decree (because we don't have a secular record of the specific decree) is to make a common mistake in historical method: the argument from silence. Hacket says again:
- "evidence must always be affirmative. Negative evidence is a contradiction in terms--it is no evidence at all. The nonexistence of an object [read: "worldwide decree"-DSS] is established not by nonexistent evidence [read: "we can't find the decree so far"-DSS] but by affirmative evidence of the fact that it did not, or could not exist [e.g. a document that says it did not happen--DSS]" (above, p62)
To summarize this section on the "the missing census of 7/5 BC": I sum up my affirmative arguments for such a census:
- The God-breathed Scripture says so (Luke 2:2). This is sufficient for the regenerate believer.
- Augustus was the type of person who carried out these types of actions repeatedly.
- These kinds of events occurred at major changes in ruling personnel; which is a situation that was true in Palestine at the time Luke indicates.
- Parallel events occurred in other Roman-controlled areas at roughly the same time (i.e., Egypt 10/9 BC).
- There is not a bit of contrary data.
- Quirinius' participation in such an event (along with Quintilius Varus) is indeed the case given the God-breathed information in Luke 2:2.
- We have positive evidence of an empire-wide decree of Augustus within a year or two of the required date.
- None of the earliest skeptics raised this issue. Those closest to the events in question never questioned Luke's historical accuracy in Luke 2:2. Even the Roman Emperor Julian, who hated Christianity, had full and complete access to all the historical records and had every reason to use every weapon against the Christian proclamation. Yet, he did not bring up this issue! Early anti-Christian skeptics were very fond of finding every little supposed error and pointing it out, but no skeptic from the early church era mentions this supposed "historical blunder". This is probably because they had sufficient historical documentation then to substantiate Luke's statements in 2:2, but such documentation is no longer extant now.
These options and the fragmentary nature of our [ancient] sources also reveal the care with which we should reconstruct history from the sources. The Biblical materials are often prematurely judged to be erroneous, when we really cannot be sure because of the fragmentary nature of the evidence we possess. . . . Where the evidence [from secular sources] is not complete, we should be circumspect about declaring there is an error in the biblical source, even if the exact solution to the problem surrounding the text is not entirely clear. [Bock, Ibid., 70]I'll go further than Bock and state it plainly: Skeptics dismiss the Bible not because they have shown it to be in error outright; they dismiss Scripture out of hand a priori and then go on to look for errors where none exist then substantiate their claims on the basis of arguments from silence. If that doesn't expose their anti-supernatural agenda, I don't know what does.
Re: grammatical issues associated with Luke 2:2, see Daniel B. Wallace's article here: The Problem of Luke 2:2 "This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria"
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Pray that Lord of the harvest will raise up laborers for the harvest!
Brethren,I pray God will give people a burden to go help this brother!
Please use me as a missionary resource. I know of many open doors and
opportunities that I cannot exploit because there is simply not the workers to run through the open doors.
I am right now at a meeting with World Team Asia focused on mobilization and training new workers for the field. The situation in America came up. Many Americans my age are in delayed adolesence, have a sense of entitlement, lack perseverance, lack biblical literacy, and are eyeball deep in debt, i.e., unfit for missionary service.
Many youth in our grace churches are solidly biblically fed and are just good solid youth.
My desire is that we intentionally engage and mobilize these young men and women!
This is not only my open invitation but also my plea for you pastors to approach these most promising youth and challenge them to consider missions. Please take the initiative and ask some to pray and seriously consider missions.
If you want practical info on logistics or training for the field, please give them my email: oct31st1517@.... I am willing to correspond with anyone who is interested.
It is my pleasure to reflect that God not only saved me, not only called me into missions, but also allows me to bless others who may also be called into missions. Please bless me by connecting me and linking me up with those desiring info on missionary work.
Use me as a resource person.
We need pastors, bible teachers, school teachers, literacy workers, nurses,
development workers, english teachers. Single women are also useful in engaging tribal and muslim women, two groups often closed off to men. There are enough potential scenerios that we can find a fit for God-called servants.
Thank you for your time.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
The Lord’s Supper finds its historical roots in the holiest of Jewish feasts, the Passover meal. God instituted the Passover when He delivered his people from their 400 years of physical bondage in Egypt. The meal celebrated the death angel’s passing over their homes because the doorposts and lintels of their houses were smeared with the blood of an unblemished male lamb. The lamb itself was roasted and eaten, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (Exodus 12:1-14). While the Jews celebrated their physical deliverance from Egypt in the Passover, the Lord Jesus purposefully used the occasion of the Passover to transform it into a celebration of a greater deliverance, one from the tyranny of reigning sin.
The Passover was only a foreshadowing of what the Lamb of God would do (John 1:29). When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we remember the spiritual and eternal redemption that He bought with the sacrifice of that body and the offering of that blood. The Passover celebrated the temporary, physical deliverance that God accomplished for the people of the Old Covenant. The Lord’s Supper celebrates the permanent and spiritual deliverance that God the Son accomplished for the people of the New. “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:30) The Lord’s Supper reminds us of what Jesus did for us on that bloody cross.
There were four things that the early Christians regularly practiced: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42) “[B]reaking of bread” probably indicates not only sharing a meal together, but also celebrating the Lord’s Death by eating the bread and drinking the cup. Many scholars think that some families in the early church celebrated communion at every meal. The first century church had special congregational meals every Lord’s Day called “love feasts” (Jude 12). This was a banquet meal held in honor of Jesus and they always included the bread and cup, which was reserved only for believers. These congregational meals focused on fellowship, love, and mutual care for one-another. The emphasis on oneness and unity led to a celebration of what Jesus did on the cross for his people. However, in Corinth, what was supposed to be a beautiful celebration of Christ’s love degenerated into a desecration of that holy ordinance.
TEACHING & APPLICATION
I. Coming Together as a Church: For Better or for Worse (v. 17).
“But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.”
- What is the purpose of a church meeting? - 1 Corinthians 14:26; Hebrews 10:24-25
- Paul doesn’t praise them like he did in verse 1 re: head coverings because when they come together as a church, they do so for the worse. What an indictment!
- The phrase “in giving this instruction” comes from a word (Gk. parangello) which means “to command, to give orders, to instruct, direct.” [Gingrich, Bibleworks, 8.0] MacArthur notes, “It was used especially for the order given by a military commander and passed along the line by his subordinates. Paul made it clear that what he was about to say was not merely personal advice. It was apostolic instruction that his readers were commanded to accept and follow.”
- It would have been better if they had not even had a love feast to begin with since they were making such a mockery of the Lord’s Supper since what they were doing was “for the worse”. Instead of the love feast being a time of loving celebration and communion, they had degenerated into selfish indulgence, shaming of the poorer brethren, mocking the Lord’s sacrificial death, and making a mockery of the church before the unbelieving world.
- In what ways do some professing Christians now make a scandal of their meetings and the Lord’s Supper in particular?
II. Dealing with Division in the body (v. 18).
“For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.”
· The word “church” (Gk. ekklesia) always has to do with an assembly of people in the NT; and it almost always refers to a Christian assembly. The church is not a brick and mortar building; it’s the people of God!
· Paul says that when they come together (lit. translation) “in church” on the Lord’s Day, “divisions existed” among them. The word “divisions” (schismata) is the word that we get schism from. Paul notes, as he did in 1:10-17 that he had heard about these divisions and that even though some of what he had heard was difficult to believe, he “in part” believed it since they were getting drunk on the communion wine and treating their poorer brethren with contempt. In 1:10-17; 3:1-3, Paul noted that their party spirit had resulted in “quarrels” (1:11) and this division not only manifested itself in following men instead of God but also reared its ugly head in the creation of social castes wherein the rich were favored over the poor. Those who were well off brought their food and drink to the meal early and gorged themselves on it before the poorer members arrived; most of which were probably slaves who had to finish their daily work before coming to the evening meeting.
· Instead of “having all things in common” and “sharing . . . with all, as anyone might have need,” as did the first Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 2:44), this crowd wouldn’t even share their food with the poorer Christians.
· What should have been a display of ultimate unity, love, sharing, and fellowship became a display of selfish indulgence, arguing, and dissension. They needed a fresh reminder of what he said earlier in his letter, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1:10) He is saying, “Look, as Christians, you ought to have the same outlook on life, the same attitudes and not be worldly, selfish, divisive, and carnal.” This is why he said, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.” (1Cor. 3:1) They were following their own childish desires rather than following Jesus.
· Oftentimes, long before there are any blatant symptoms of worldliness or backsliding, dissension is the first sign of spiritual decay. This is because divisive attitudes that lead to worldliness and selfishness come from divisive, double-minded, hard-hearted people.
III. Factions: The Fruit of Unbelief (v. 19).
“For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.”
- The phrase “there must be” translates dei, which gives the idea of necessity. It indicates any kind of necessity or compulsion. When Peter and the other apostles were told to stop preaching the gospel by the Sanhedrin, they replied “We must [dei] obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) The word is often used in the New Testament to represent divine necessity; for Jesus used this word to indicate certain predicted and divinely appointed events such as his crucifixion and resurrection (Matt. 24:6; 26:54; John 3:14, etc.).
- Paul knew that there will always be tares among the wheat. That’s why he said “there . . . must be factions among you”. The word “factions” (hairesis) is the same word we get “heresy” from (cf. 2 Peter 2:1). These factions are not merely disruptive, but destructive. Paul knew that there would be disobedient believers too, and sometimes, it’s hard to initially tell which is which, but time always tells you who the true believer is. The true believer always responds to the truth; the false believer always eventually shows their true colors by insisting upon their right to do as they please with an ever-increasing hatred for sound doctrine and sound churches.
- Factions must exist “so that those who are approved may become evident among you.” The worldliness and divisions displayed by the false Christians in a church body are useful in showing you who the real Christians are. Factious people are known for their divisive, faultfinding behavior. They are always griping, complaining, and moaning and groaning and they will absolutely rob you of your joy. They are always looking for problems in the body and if they don’t find any obvious issues they start looking for every little imperfection in people that they can find in order to make themselves feel better about their own sin. If this describes you, you need to be very afraid. People like you don’t display any true peace and happiness because you don’t have any real peace. Oh, you may deceive yourself into thinking that you really are at peace with God when the rest of the congregation knows that you are nothing more than a grumbler, finding fault (Jude 12). You don’t have any real peace because you don’t know the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Don’t try to justify your sin of factiousness; please repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ! (Rom. 5:1)
- This word “approved” (dokimos) carries with it the idea of those who have passed a test. It was a term used of testing precious metal to prove that it was the genuine article. Church divisions, as sinful as they are, are used by God to prove the faithfulness of his true saints. In the midst of the bickering and divisive attitudes, the true believer is separated out from the false just as true gold is separated from the dross in the testing process (1 Pet. 1:7). Good is often known against the backdrop of evil. Problems in the church create opportunities for true spiritual strength, wisdom, and leadership can be manifested.
- Paul spoke of those in Thessalonica who “have been approved [dokimos] by God to be entrusted with the gospel” (1 Thess. 2:4). These approved ones are especially made known through adversity and hardship, and it’s only through such tried and tested saints that a church should entrust its leadership. This is why 1 Timothy 3:6 says that an elder must not be a “new convert”. One major cause for pastors, missionaries, and other church workers leaving the ministry or being unproductive is because they weren’t the genuine article. They weren’t “approved”; in other words, they weren’t qualified for the work of the ministry in the first place (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). CSB 2 Corinthians 10:18 “For it is not the one commending himself who is approved [dokimos], but the one the Lord commends” and James says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved [dokimos], he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
- Initially, factious people will cause the true leaders to rise to the surface. But if they are not dealt with speedily, a factious person can destroy the peace and harmony of any congregation. This is why Paul said in Titus 3:10-11, “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”
- Thus, it is necessary that factions appear, but it is also necessary that factious people be dealt with in a timely manner so as to avoid disrupting the unity, harmony, and peace in the church. This nasty behavior was manifesting itself in the Lord’s Supper, and to that Paul especially focuses his attention in vv. 20-22.
IV. Eating but Not Eating (v. 20-22).
“Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.”
- In verse 20, Paul says that when they came together, it wasn’t really to eat the Supper. Again, what a terrible indictment! How would you like for godly pastor that’s doctrinally sound to come in here and watch what’s going on and then say to us, “You know what guys, when you get together for church, it’s not really church.” What a horrible thought! What a terrible assessment that would be! You see, the phrase “the Lord’s Supper” can literally be translated “the supper belonging to the Lord”. Paul said what he said because the supper really wasn’t Jesus’ supper, it was their supper. They had the ceremony, but not the reality. They had the form, but lacked the substance. They had something that they called the “Supper of the Lord” but they lacked the “Lord of the supper”!
- Verse 21 – The poorer believers came to the meal hungry, both physically and spiritually, and they left that way too. The rich gorged themselves on the food and became drunk on the communion wine; the communion wine! They were mocking the very purpose and intent of the Lord’s Supper, which was to express the love, harmony, and unity among Christ’s body because he died to make them one church. “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16-17)
- Verse 22 – With righteous indignation, the apostle shames the Corinthians for shaming the poor and the weak. Paul says, “look, if you are going to shamefully indulge yourself, can’t you at least do it in the privacy of your own home without making a public mockery of Jesus and hurting his people? You not only despise God’s church with your behavior, but worse, you shame the poor, those who have nothing.” These people were shaming, despising, and mocking the work of our Lord Jesus and those precious poor and weak souls that he died for. This is truly despicable behavior; behavior that gets no praise from Paul, but only righteous indignation and condemnation.
Because of abuses like these in the Lord’s Supper, the love feast was eventually separated from the partaking of the bread and the wine to protect the sanctity of communion and then the love feast completely disappeared soon thereafter. The attitudes, behaviors, and motives of believers should be pure at all times. Their lives will be characterized by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23) and not “immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these . . .” (Gal. 5:19-21). “When brothers and sisters come to the table of the Lord, it is absolutely essential that they leave behind all bitterness, prejudice, and any feeling of superiority. Of all places and occasions, those attitudes are most out of place at the Lord’s Supper. They grievously profane that holy, beautiful, and unifying ordinance of God.” We need to be careful today too. Though you may not show it outwardly, how much bitterness do you harbor in your heart towards other believers in this church? Do you seek to reconcile quickly, or do you bring your weekly spiritual offering while bearing grudges? Dear brothers and sisters, seek to live in unity and harmony with one another at all costs. Don’t let your pride destroy the love, unity, and peace that God desires for his people.
 I’m not speaking of a business meeting here, but the weekly, corporate, Lord’s Day meeting of believers.
 John MacArthur, New Testament Commentary on 1st Corinthians, (Chicago, Ill: Moody, 1984), 267.
 Slaves in the Roman Empire worked 7 days per week; thus there was no “day off” for them.
 MacArthur, 270.