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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Quick Note on the Malefactor's Request of the Lord on Calvary

I hope to cover the numerous traditions connected to this time of year which depart from scripture (we've already looked at Lent), but I wanted to note something quickly about Luke 23:42 and the plea by the malefactor on the cross near our Lord.

We will address the content and context of the conversation in a future post, but here I wanted to look at the difference in English translations. We've noted elsewhere that Gentiles during the Lord's earthly ministry needed to recognize him as eternal Creator God and not as the promised Messiah of Israel. But when we look at the English translations, we see one enormous omission in some:

And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (KJV)

Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” (NKJV)

he said to Jesus, `Remember me, lord, when thou mayest come in thy reign. (YLT)

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” (NLT)

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (NIV)

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (ESV)

Note that in most of the newer translations the word "Lord" is omitted. This is because the word (Gk: κύριος or kýrios) does not appear in he "critical" texts. This is a major change. We will see in another study on this exchange that the malefactor (not the thief) is only promised "Paradise," not necessarily a place in Israel's earthly Kingdom (the only kingdom in view here). Our point here is that the omission of "Lord" borders on blasphemy. "Jesus" should be accompanied by Lord, especially when used by Gentiles. 

I have noted in another post that sometimes the more modern versions give a better sense of a verse (so I am not condemning them altogether), but we must understand the shortcomings of some of the manuscript evidence used for those translations. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Catholicism And Contradictions

The majority of mankind think that they think; they acquiesce, and suppose that they argue; they flatter themselves that they are holding their own, when they have actually grown up to manhood, with scarcely a conviction that they can call their own. So it was, and so it ever shall be.
-E.W. Bullinger
 In my 27 years in Christendom, I have discovered the above to be too often true. I can see where I have been guilty of adopting certain views or interpretations before doing the necessary work. But I believe this dangerous problem is no more true anywhere than it is in the Catholic Church.

This past Friday, according her wishes, a funeral mass was held for my mother. As the child who is in the city with the church, I was tasked with working with the church on the arrangements. I didn't have a lot of say, but I was asked to choose the scripture readings. I was given a list of choices for each reading (Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel). My choices:

  • Job 19
  • Romans 5
  • John 11

I chose scriptures that speak of the hope and truth of resurrection because of the finished work of the Savior. Those familiar with my posts know that I hold that resurrection is the great hope of believers. This is how believers in scripture are comforted.

When it came time for the homily, we were pleasantly surprised. The priest gave a wonderful message on the great hope of resurrection for all who believe. I had chosen John 3:16 as the response verse and he referred to it as the great promise of life to those who believe. He cast a large net to all present who believe. Give the man his due, he spoke great truth! It was a message on the hope of resurrection rarely heard in Evangelical pulpits.

He spoke of what Christ did for all of us on the cross. He spoke of Christ's one act undoing Adam's one act. It was pretty spot on.

But then the man turned to the "Liturgy of the Eucharist" wherein we were offering a sacrifice for my mother's soul? The whole thing, and every prayer, turned from the Savior to our offerings for my mom's soul. (I won't quote the mass here, you can search Catholic prayers for those in Purgatory.) It was a complete denial of the work of Christ we were just celebrating. They also make clear that when they say "church" they mean the Roman Catholic Church alone. And, of course, only Catholics in good standing were invited to participate in communion (which is fine with me, I reject transubstantiation and I don't participate in the "Lord's Supper" in this age anywhere).

That brings me to my mother's friends. From the priest to every Catholic who visited the family receiving line, they all said things along two lines: her suffering is over, she is now in bliss with my deceased father. No. That is not what you teach! That is not what the Catholic Church believes at all! They teach and believe she is suffering beyond anything we can imagine. She is suffering for her sins in flames (the "flames of love" as one Catholic "saint" put it).

The even greater irony is that several of these people gave us cards informing us mass will be offered for her by some Catholic order or another. But you told me her suffering is over and she is rejoicing with my father?

I briefly covered Purgatory in a recent post. You can read that if you want more information. The point here is that they don't even follow their own doctrines. If I had said to these devout Catholics when they said her suffering was over that they were wrong and that she is suffering for hers sins in flames with pain we cannot imagine, I'd most likely be labeled a "Catholic-basher" or worse (I know because that has been true for the last 27 years). Or they might simply think I'm a cruel monster.

I am not even touching the hem of the garment on Papal teaching in regard to non-Catholics and ex-Catholics. As the priest spoke to all us as believers who will find life in resurrection, he was denying Pope, Council, and Catechism which teach salvation only for Catholics and the certainty of fiery torment forever for those of us who have left the CC.

People are free to believe what they want. But if you're going to claim the Catholic Church is keeper of all spiritual truth, then contradict it, don't trouble me when I contradict it. I'm glad these Catholics don't just parrot Catholic dogma, but when a clear contradiction is presented, they don't seem to care or question it either. As I noted in a another post:

On that day, no denomination, no church, no board, no council, no catechism, no creed, no pastor, no teacher, no seminary... no one will stand in your stead. There are 7 billion theologies in the world and you are responsible for ONE... your own.... and you will answer for it.

My mother is dead. My father is dead. Our hope is that the professions they made in Christ's perfect sacrifice and resurrection means we will see them in the flesh in an age to come. This is the hope the priest spoke of... I just don't think he really believes it. Of course, he could have purposely been speaking in double-speak. I attended a seminar as a Catholic Religious Education teacher wherein we were taught this technique when speaking with Evangelicals.

Since I have no way to read a man's heart, I hope he truly believes what he spoke in that homily and that he will experience resurrection. God is calling Catholics (as I was when he found me) into the light of the truth of the finished work of the Savior, unfortunately some choose to stay in the Catholic Church (more on that in another post).

All praise and glory and honor to our Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Is the Masoretic Text Corrupted? (Quick Take)

Quick Take!

Another guy I like, Doug Woodward, has the following chart in his book which is intended to show that the Jews corrupted the Hebrew text to hide the truth that the Gentiles would trust in the Messiah. The evidence for this particular charge is based on Isaiah 42:4.

The man who posted the page on Doug's Facebook page noted that the ESV is taken 90% from the Septuagint (LXX) and is thus a superior version as the KJV is taken from the "corrupt" Masoretic text.

The chart suposedly reveals the "corruption" in Isaiah 42:4, noting that the passage in Matthew lines up better with the Septuagint. What is missing from the chart is the ESV translation which looks amazingly similar to the KJV.

He will not grow faint or be discouraged
    till he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his law. (ESV)
He shall not fail nor be discouraged,
till he have set judgment in the earth:
and the isles shall wait for his law. (KJV)

Just a cursory look at the use of "isles" and it's clear this is a reference to the nations/Gentiles as Matthew clarifies.

And the ESV regularly uses "coastlands."

Isaiah 51:5b "the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust." (KJV), 
Isaiah 51:5b "the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait" (ESV)

That's better? The KJV here, at least, uses "shall trust" instead of "wait." Isn't that the original "problem"? Well, that addresses the ESV issue (it's essentially the same as the KJV), but what about the "corrupt" Masoretic text and the "inspired" Septuagint?

Gen 10:5 introduces us to the "isles" of the nations (Gentiles). Greek "nēsos" (LXX). Read what the "waters" in Revelation 17 represent. 

"The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages." (17:15). 
Waters = Nations = Gentiles.

(I leave a caveat here only because I have never broken down that verse, but in any case "waters" is used figuratively of people.)

νῆσοι (isles) used in Gen 10:5 is also used in LXX Ps 97:1 and is both times translated in the ESV as "coastlands."

Another Psalm of the Messiah's reign is Ps 72 wherein we see the "isles" ("coastlands" ESV) representing the nations/gentiles. God obviously inspired figurative language as we see "isles" and "waters" used in both OT and NT for "nations" (gentiles). The ESV consistently uses "coastlands."

May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts!
May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him! (ESV)

I'm not seeing where the ESV or the LXX is somehow better (and I'm not a huge fan of the KJV)?

Granted, I have not seen the whole chart or book, but the chart in the picture is somewhat misleading. The poster boasts of the ESV, but it uses the same language as the KJV (and in the case of Isaiah 51 it's worse).

Be Careful with the Septuagint 

I realize the KJV has its issues (and many translations use "isles" or "coastlands"), but the Septuagint contains the Apocrypha (and its heresies). The Hebrew Canon excludes those books. The Septuagint is useful for helping us understand some Greek words as they may be used in the NT, but it's not superior to the Hebrew texts, in my opinion.

"Isles" is a reference to the Gentiles, clarified in the Greek NT. Isaiah 11, the great chapter on Israel's kingdom, gives us the same word and its sense in the Hebrew. Here it is in the NKJV (vs. 11-12):

It shall come to pass in that day
That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time
To recover the remnant of His people who are left,
From Assyria and Egypt,
From Pathros and Cush,
From Elam and Shinar,
From Hamath and the ISLANDS of the SEA.
He will set up a banner for the NATIONS,
And will assemble the outcasts of Israel,
And gather together the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.

The blessings of Gentiles through Israel was known since Abraham. "And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (NKJV). This truth goes far beyond Is 42. If they wanted to hide it, they did a terrible job.

To sum: I don't think Isaiah 42:4 is corrupted in the Hebrew. The sea (coast-lands, nations just beyond Israel) is often a picture of the nations (gentiles) in both OT and NT. The Lord's ministry as given in Matthew is to Israel alone and he uses the sea to refer to the nations. I don't believe you will find any gentile from Gen 12 - Acts 28 who is blessed apart from some connection to Israel or an Israelite. The "nations" often listed are those around Israel. When Paul references Gentile blessings in that Romans 15 passage, it is in light of the "grafting in" to Israel that was going on in that age. The scriptures quoted from 2 Sam, Psalms, Deuteronomy there all refer to "Goy" in the Hebrew texts.

The future blessing of the nations (gentiles) is right in the same chapter:

"I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles [Hebrew, TR: Goy]" -Isaiah 42:6. 

It is not fully hidden nor fully obscured. What Paul does say was obscured was the understanding of Gentile blessing (see Romans 16:24-26). Do we charge God as a deceiver? Of course not. "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter." -Prov 25:2

The exalting of the Septuagint over the Hebrew texts gives credence to the Apocrypha and the arguments of the Christ-denying churches in "Christendom" who take the position that it is correct and the Hebrew Canon is in error.

When the Lord lays out the breadth of the Canon, he refers to the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias (Mt 23). Genesis to 2 Chronicles and the captivity. The Septuagint (and the KJV from 1611-1884) include the questionable books of the Apocrypha. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Lent Comes of Age

The original post was written in 2009

“You make the Word of God of none effect by your tradition.”

Christianity Today (repeated in The Alabama Baptist) notes that Lent is “one of the oldest Christian Traditions.” TAB laments that the season is not practiced in many Southern Baptist churches. I have a similar lament: that it is practiced at all in Southern Baptist churches (or by Evangelicals anywhere).

Let’s take a look at this “old Christian tradition.”

We can all agree that it certainly is not a practice given to us in the pages of scripture. So what does that mean? Well, it means that some guy made it up. Whether he made it up in AD 100 or in AD 2000 makes no difference; he still made it up. Now, if you are one who has no problem with stuff people make up that isn’t in the Bible, then this post isn’t necessarily directed at you.

I just can’t understand why groups which claim Sola Scriptura (authority comes from the scriptures alone) would fawn over such a glaringly unbiblical and historically deadly practice. It’s not terribly surprising, though, as more and more Evangelicals fawn over the “beautiful” and unbiblical practices that go on all around us (practices that were denied by the faithful for centuries - at the risk of their very lives).

How we got here…

OK, so we have some guy who created this “holy season." He likes it so much he starts telling his friends about it. They can’t seem to find it in their Bibles either so some of them don’t care to follow the “new Christian tradition.” This upsets the originator of Lent so he gets his like-minded buddies to form a council and they vote that Christians MUST practice Lent.

Lent was formalized at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. The earliest evidence of any kind of Lenten practice dates to the 3rd Century. gives us a picture of the original restrictions:

For example, Pope St. Gregory (d. 604), writing to St. Augustine of Canterbury, issued the following rule: "We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs." Second, the general rule was for a person to have one meal a day, in the evening or at 3 p.m.

But those rules were eventually abandoned (or as CE puts it "evolved").

These Lenten fasting rules also evolved. Eventually, a smaller repast was allowed during the day to keep up one's strength from manual labor. Eating fish was allowed, and later eating meat was also allowed through the week except on Ash Wednesday and Friday. Dispensations were given for eating dairy products if a pious work was performed, and eventually this rule was relaxed totally.
Remember as you read these directives, violating them is deemed "sin," in some cases very serious, soul-destroying sin. The season puts true Christians in bondage to fear and succors unbelievers in their delusion that they are pleasing God. It hides the fact that these practices are a mockery of the finished work of the Savior.

The Bible is Sufficient

Heresy and false shepherds were alive in Paul’s day… and more were expected. Shall we look at their “traditions” and say to Paul, “Well, Paul, that stuff may have been wrong in your day, but nearly 2000 years have passed! Surely, doctrines that old must have become truer over time”?

No, that would be silly (I’m trying to be nice).

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. - Acts 20

God’s dealings with man have changed at different times for different purposes, but those changes originated with God and are confirmed by his Holy Word. Now, we may debate the content of that Word, but we surely should be able to rule out anything contradictory to it.

The Evangelical site notes:

The rule that Catholics cannot eat meat on Fridays during Lent is actually more lenient than what most Catholics in history have had to observe. Centuries ago, the Catholic Church had a law that forbade consuming meat on all Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Later, this rule was relaxed to remove meat from the diet on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays. In 1966, Catholic bishops in America, with the blessing of Pope Paul VI, further relaxed the rule. Nowadays meat is only prohibited on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Fridays of the Lenten season. Catholics are obligated to observe this fast as a minimum..
The "threat" accompanying all these rules is standard in Catholcism: knowingly eating meat on a Friday in Lent, with the full consent of your will, may result in being tortured by fire by God for eternity if not confessed and absolution received from a priest via your assigned act of penance.

Just one of the countless Christ-denying doctrines of the RCC. The only reason the RCC exists (according to her) is to be the sole channel of God's specific grace which can get you to heaven (eventually). If the work of salvation is complete, there is no need for the RCC. This is why (a) they cannot accept the finished work and (b) why we should stop pretending the RCC is just another expression of true Christianity.

Ancient Doesn't Make It True

Yes, Lent is old, but just because something is “old” doesn’t make it any better than if I invented it yesterday. Next time you hear about some “lovely” tradition, do as the “noble” Bereans did with Paul’s doctrines in Acts 17:11 “search the scriptures whether these things are so.”

The progression:
  • Doesn’t Exist 
  • Some Guy Makes it Up 
  • It Gets a Little Older 
  • It Gets Even Older and Changes 
  • It Becomes “Ancient” 
  • Nobody Remembers that Somebody Made it Up
  • It's Ancient, so people assume it's true 

Time is not the arbiter of truth. The passage of time doesn’t make anything more “true” nor does it make the statements of men any more authoritative.

I’m trying to reconcile the words in Christianity Today… they used the adjective “Christian” for a practice they know well is not biblical (a doctrine connected to promises and condemnations that are antithetical to Evangelical Christianity). It makes me wonder… if I made up an unbiblical practice today and declared that failure to honor it as I dictate would amount to one risking his eternal fate… how quickly would Christianity Today and the Southern Baptist Convention swoon over my lovely “Christian tradition”?

You know what I'm giving up for Lent? The unscriptural traditions of men.

"Let no man judge you in regard to a holy day..." (Col 2:16)

I am free of the rudiments of this world (Col), biblical (practices given for other dispensations) and unbiblical. It would be sin for me subject myself to those rudiments. For these reasons (among others) I neither practice nor acknowledge the practice of observing man's Lent. The Alabama Baptist, Christianity Today, and the Southern Baptist Churches which endorse it should be ashamed.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Confusing Doctrine of Purgatory

Thomas Aquinas is called a "Doctor of the Church" and a "Saint" by the Catholic Church. Noted Calvinist, RC Sproul, said of him:

I, for one, am persuaded that the Protestant Church owes a profound debt to Saint Thomas and the benefit of a second glance at his contributions.... We need an Aquinas. We need a titanic thinker who will not abandon truth for safety. We need men and women who are willing to compete with secularists in defense of Christ and of his truth.
In this regard, the dumb ox of Aquino was heroic.

-R.C. Sproul on Thomas Aquinas – Was He The Most Brilliant of All the Theologians? (Excerpt)

This is an enormous topic for one blog post, but just let me note what this "doctor," "saint," and "most brilliant of all the theologians" had to say about the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory:

In Purgatory there will be a twofold pain; one will be the pain of loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely punishment by corporeal fire.... thus all sins, however grave they be, are expiated by the fire of Purgatory [Not by the sacrifice of Christ], as regards the debt of punishment. Therefore venial sins are cleansed by the fire of Purgatory as to their guilt... It is therefore clear that this opinion is utterly unreasonable: and consequently we must say with others that venial sin in one who dies in a state of grace, is remitted after this life by the fire of Purgatory: because this punishment so far as it is voluntary, will have the power, by virtue of grace, to expiate all such guilt as is compatible with grace... -Summa Theologica, by Thomas Aquinas (excerpt)

"This fire of Purgatory will be more severe than any pain that can be felt, seen or conceived in this world." -Augustine (xli De Sanctis, as quoted by Aquinas)

Just among Catholics you will find varying views on whether the fire is real or figurative. The confusion is great. Let me just point to the words of "Saint" Robert Bellarmine:

NOW on the time, in which Purgatory will remain, there are two extreme errors. The first error is that of Origen, who extended the times of Purgatory beyond the day of the resurrection...

We note that he says "Church Father" Origen* taught "error." Again, we will be here for days if we try to nail down some consistency, so I will turn to the Catholic site divinemercy dot org:

We are not certain about the nature of the punishment of purgatory. The Church does not teach dogmatically [that is, definitively] that it is a "physical fire," even though many preachers and some catechisms speak of "the fires of purgatory." The official declarations of the Councils speak only of purifying punishments, not purifying fire. Whatever it is, it is painful. -Volume three of Fundamentals of Catholicism (pp. 375-376)

So, it may be real fire, it may not be (can't even trust the Saints on this one, Aquinas teaches Purgatory is near the fires of "hell" itself)... but one thing we do know, it is "painful." .

So, when a Catholic relative passes and another Catholic says to you "he's in arms of Jesus now," or "she's no longer suffering," turn to that one and say, "according to your own church, he isn't in the arms of Jesus, he is suffering great pain for his sins."

Note I have not tried to debate the issue of Purgatory itself. The vast majority of what you will find online about this issue is a defense of the doctrine. Readers of this blog know I believe two things very strongly: (a) resurrection life is a free gift for which Christ's sacrifice is sufficient for all sin and (b) the dead, all the dead, are in the grave (apart from the risen Christ) until the resurrection of those who have life through his name (in their order).

My point is that arguing with a doctrine whose proponents cannot agree as to the details (even among their own doctors, church fathers, saints, and current adherents) is most likely a waste of your time. I imagine it would amount to mostly endless babbling.

The foundation scripture of this ministry is 2 Tim 2:15, but the verse that follows is of the utmost importance if the worker wants to focus on the work of rightly dividing the word of truth:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

The "profane and vain babbling" Paul uses as his example is the teaching that resurrection had passed. So, the most profane things are those which concern scriptural truth (resurrection in this case), but a perversion of that truth. Thus it is with Purgatory and the teaching of Paul in 1 Cor 3 and Peter in 1 Pet 1. There is a fire to test our works as Christians to come, but it is neither punishment nor physically painful. As we have been reviewing in our series on walking in the spirit, do not find yourself disapproved.


*Origen taught horrific error about the nature of God and Christ; his doctrines on the soul were called "monstrous" and some of his teachings were declared heretical by the Catholic Church itself (Fifth Ecumenical Council, Second Council of Constantinople). But Pope Benedict XVI said of him "a figure crucial to the whole development of Christian thought", "a true 'maestro'", and "not only a brilliant theologian but also an exemplary witness of the doctrine he passed on..." To be fair, there seems to be some confusion among Catholic authorities about what exactly took place at the Second and Third Councils of Constantinople in regard to Origen, but that confusion (and the contradictions between Pope and Council) only add to the unstable house of cards that is "Sacred Tradition."

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Israel in the Present Age

We will get back to our series on Walking in the Spirit in due course, but I wanted to speak to the issue of Israel in the present age. I have addressed issues surrounding Israel in previous posts, but two remarks I heard today drive me to try to bring some clarity to the issue.

Here are just a few related posts (I recommend the entire series on the parables of Matthew):

The two remarks come from (a) Tom Hughes of End Times TV, and (b)  a post by a friend on Facebook in regard to AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) lobbying and US Aid to Israel. For the sake of this post, I am not going to address AIPAC's lobbying or US Aid to Israel, rather I want to focus on Israel itself.

(a) In regard to Tom Hughes' remark, it concerns the "rapture" doctrine. We looked at this in our 3-part study on 1 & 2 Thessalonians and the Rapture. After proclaiming his belief in the rapture, he quickly quoted 1 Thessalonians 4, as I expected. We always want to "rightly divide [cut straight] the word of truth." And as we do with all scriptures, we take care to note the context and audience of the verse, passage, and book. We have done that elsewhere, so I will not repeat here. Below I will bring in another verse claimed by the rapture faithful

To be sure, I have great sympathy for many of the views of those who hold to the eschatology held by Tom Hughes. But I think it is important to "mark the things which differ" in scripture and to draw clear lines when possible.

(b) In regard to the comment on AIPAC and support for Israel, my sense is that it comes from a knee-jerk, negative view of Israel and/or those noted as Jews. I say the latter as there are some in Christendom (even those who understand the plan of God as I do) who would charge the Jews in Israel as not being true "Jews."

This is what led me to want to say some quick words about the current State of Israel.

I'll start with some of my basic personal beliefs.

  • Israel has promises that are hers alone which cannot be claimed by any gentile apart from Israel
  • Israel will be restored to the [whole promised] land
  • Israel will face great tribulation
  • Christ will rescue Israel
  • Israel will fulfill her role as God's channel to bless the nations (a kingdom of priests)
  • Both the Old Covenant and New Covenant are Israel's

The verse referenced to show Israel will be born in a day is Isaiah 66:8

Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
This is said have been fulfilled on May 14, 1948. This is very problematic for some very obvious reasons. Firstly, the context of Isaiah 66 is the full restoration of Israel and her Kingdom. Secondly, Israel will be in the land in belief. Currently, Israel is not in the land in belief. Even as a "Jewish State" she tolerates sins similar to the sins we tolerate in the Europe and the USA. 

The dry bones of Ezekiel are coming together, but they still do not have life in them. 

“Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.  I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”
The passage goes on to speak of the Lord placing his Spirit in them. This is not the current condition in Israel. We are seeing only a partial fulfillment.

Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

When the day truly come when God miraculously calls all Israelites to the land, they will come in belief in the Messiah. It will obviously be the hand of God. They will be cleansed to be used as God intended for that nation.

Abraham had two sons, but only one was the son of promise. Isaac had two sons, but only one was the son of promise. Without faith it is impossible to please God and not all Israel is Israel. When Israel comes into the land, true Israel will be believing Israel. So, we have to mark two distinctions of true Israel: they are the children of Abraham by blood and by faith.

There is a parallel question today as to whether the Jews in Israel are "true Jews" (the seed of Abraham). There is a teaching that those there are mostly Europeans descended from the Ashkenazi nation which adopted Judaism (this is the "Khazar myth"). In terms of genetic testing, we are at the mercy of how validity is drawn from such tests. But we do know that Ashkenazi Jews share the same DNA traits as other peoples of middle eastern origin. I am inclined to believe that the vast majority of those calling themselves Jews are, indeed, descended from the disapora of all 12 tribes.

Bringing this full circle, how do I process modern-day Israel?

I believe she is the forerunner of the final fulfillment of prophecy. She is not "true Israel" as in this age, there are no nations. God is dealing with individuals in the present age. Nations only matter as they are in contact with Israel (for or against).

I do believe that the Genesis 12:3 doctrine is true for individuals and will one day be true of the world's nations. I believe we are to honor the children of Abraham, but the "nation" holds no place in the current, silent age.
I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
The nation of Israel this hour is, again, a precursor. Our support of the nation should be two-fold:

  • Blessing the children of Abraham
  • Supporting her as an ally of the USA with similar strategic goals

This is not to say we must support 100% of Israel's policies. As noted, she is in the land in unbelief and God is currently not using her as a channel for his blessings (as he has in previous dispensations and will do again in coming dispensations). As we make allegiance with a nation like Poland or South Korea, we may similarly make allegiance with Israel. Antisemitism is a wicked curse on the earth (and one of the products of Replacement Theology in Christendom). Much of the rejection of our alliance with Israel has to do with hatred of Jews rather than with any strategic and cultural goal.

To sum, we cannot claim Isaiah 66 or Ezekiel 37 have been fulfilled. We must recognize that God is dealing with individuals, not nations directly, in this age. We cannot discount that the people of Israel are the descendants of Abraham. We should not be looking for promises to Israel (including the New Covenant or the "rapture") to be experienced by the church of this age.

That is a very brief overview of a much larger issue.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Danger of Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth

[NOTE: I linked the churches referenced in the text below so you can visit and get the full breadth of their respective ministries. These are grace-preaching, bible-believing local churches and I don't mean to disparage all the good they do. That does not, however, diminish the dangers in how they have handled the word of truth on their recent broadcasts.]

Part 1

As I was driving around yesterday, I decided it would be profitable to hear some teaching and preaching, so I put on 97.7 FM here in Greensboro. It's an affiliate of The Truth Network.

I found myself in the middle of a message from Jon White, pastor of Freedom Baptist Church. As he talked about trying to live a selfless life (something I believe in wholeheartedly), he took us to Matthew 25 and the Parable of the Sheep and Goats. In doing so, he has opened up his listeners to a false gospel and bondage to fear.

Mr. White quoted two sections from the passage, yet he left out some very important details. Below is what he quoted in black, and what he left out in red.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world... Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. -Matt 25:34, 37-40

But the more egregious omission came when he warned his congregation about the implications of their selfishness. By leaving out the red verse, he left himself open to a false gospel. He is teaching his congregation that Matthew 25 is given to them (wrong division). He also is teaching that ALL mankind is the Lord's "brethren." This is false on both accounts. It is grave error. As he is trying to expose their selfishness with this passage, and tells them they are failing to love the Lord by failing his "brethren," his is implying they may be cast into punishment. And what of the good works? Is that where they will find life eternal?  Failure to rightly divide is where cults and false religions are born.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels... Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. -Matt 25:41, 44-46

What happens when they read those verses, pastor? You have taught them the Lord was speaking directly to them. This could lead to a false gospel of gaining life via works. (We explain this in greater detail in our studies on this parable.) You might use this passage to help list some good works we could emulate, but we must be abundantly clear as to the context.

Part 2

I went into the grocery store and came out to find we were now hearing Jerry Falwell, Jr., from Thomas Road Baptist Church (if the schedule listed at the website is correct). He was telling us that Acts 2:41-47 is the model for the church of this age. Well, good luck with that. Is this how they live at Thomas Road Baptist Church?

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. -Acts 2:41-47

He added that if his church would follow this model, the Lord would then "add to the church." He noted the "addings" of the Acts Age (3000+ noted above and 5000+ in Acts 4). Well, I doubt that happens much in local churches. Some churches have gone decades without seeing a single soul receive life.

By his reasoning, the answer as to why we don't see this is because perhaps churches aren't obeying the outline in Acts 2. Let's pull out some highlights from our passage.

  • many wonders and signs were done by the apostles
  • sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all as every man had need
  • Daily: met in the temple, broke bread house to house

What apostles today? And even if we had apostles, are they performing the wonders and signs as recorded in the Acts? As for the temple, no, your "church sanctuary" is not the temple. And, no, the "temple of the Holy Spirit" is not meant here. This is the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, in which they met, because they were Jews still under the law. Do your members do these things "daily?"

Pulling the lens back, have they "sold their possessions?" Have they distributed all assets among the church as members have need? Nope. Over history, in the few places this has been tried, it has ended in failure. The reason? It is not a model for today.

If these pastors took just a few minutes to ponder the implications of what they are preaching, they would discover they are walking on dangerous ground. In both cases, they risk destroying the faith of their congregations. Why do they fail to do this? Why do they not think about the implications? Because they make the error of thinking everything from Matthew through the Revelation is spoken to the church of this age. Once you do that, you end up having to explain (or explain away) many many passages. 

This is why we must rightly divide (cut straight) the Word of Truth. If we don't we may end up building an ark God didn't tell us to build for a flood that isn't coming.

Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. -Gen 6:14

But it's a Bible command! Yes, a bible command we must rightly divide. If we can easily understand how important it is to read this "command" in context, why can't we see the need to read all of the Word of God in context? Again, the problem is assuming everything from Matthew through the Revelation (unfortunately called "The New Testament") is for today. But it doesn't end there. Churches readily grab from the prophets and the Law and apply those to Christians in this age as well.

We must remember the 6 things we need to consider in our scripture interpretation.

  • The PERSON who wrote it 
  • The PEOPLE to whom it is written 
  • The PLACE it involves 
  • The PERIOD (or age) in which it was written 
  • The PURPOSE for which it is written 
  • The PLAN around which it is written

In 2017, I posted THIS ENTRY on the context of Matthew and The Acts. It's a very brief overview, but it may help with the context of the passages quoted by Jon White and Jerry Falwell, Jr.

ALL scripture is FOR us and is profitable, but not all scripture is TO us.