Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Can We Be Angry and Not Sin? (Eph 4:26)

Ephesians 4:26 is often quoted to justify anger. But we need to be careful with this verse. Here is one way to look at this verse:

‘Can ye be angry and sin not? (Author’s translation). Let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil’ (Eph. 4:26,27). 
-Charles Welch (Things Most Surely Believed)

Another take:

The anger is to be transitory. The quotation is from Psalms 4:4 (Septuagint), where Hebrew reads, "tremble, and sin not", the meaning of which is shown by the use here, for it is as easy to tremble from anger as from other powerful emotions. 
-E.W. Bullinger (Companion Bible Notes)

Uncontrolled anger is a terrible thing. It often originates from the old nature (flesh). And even if we lean towards Bullinger's commentary, "righteous indignation" is often mixed with carnal hatred. We need to be very careful with anger.

I believe that Judas was a believer and has resurrection life. However, he lost all (perdition) reward and blessings because of his greed and anger. Take note the circumstance of his decision to betray his Lord.

When the Lord was at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany (Matt 26; Mark 14; John 12), he was chastised by the disciples for allowing a woman to anoint him with expensive oils. It was after this upbraiding that Judas sought for an opportunity to betray him.

"For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her." 
"And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them."

In John's account, he singles out Judas' anger:

"But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 'Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?'"

Judas' greed was couched in concern for the poor. His anger then led him to betray his Lord and master.

I'm not saying there are not times where "righteous indignation" may have a place, I am only saying that the emotion of "anger" is a dangerous thing. And how often has "self-righteousness" or "self-aggrandizement" (look at how much I care!) been hidden under the mask of "righteous indignation?"

I think it is good to start with the translation option of "can ye be angry and sin not?" before we chalk up our anger as "righteous indignation." We need to ask ourselves if we have that capacity. Are we truly concerned or are we simply filled with either rage or self-importance?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Literalist Must Recognize Figures of Speech


It is most important to notice these [figures of speeech]. It is absolutely necessary for true interpretation. God's Word is made up of "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth" (1Cor. 2:13. 1Thess. 2:13. 2Tim. 3:16. 2Pet. 1:21, &c.). 
A "Figure of speech" relates to the form in which the words are used. It consists in the fact that a word or words are used out of their ordinary sense, or place, or manner, for the purpose of attracting our attention to what is thus said. A Figure of speech is a deigned and legitimate departure from the laws of language, in order to emphasize what is said. Hence in such Figures we have the Holy Spirit's own marking, so to speak, of His own words. 
This peculiar form or unusual manner may not be true, or so true, to the literal meaning of the words; but it is more true to their real sense, and truer to truth. Figures are never used but for the sake of emphasis. They can never, therefore, be ignored. Ignorance of Figures of speech has led to the grossest errors, which have been caused either from taking literally what is figurative, or from taking figuratively what is literal. 
(E.W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, Excerpt)

I am a literalist. That is, if the Bible states that Adam did this or David did that, I believe Adam did this and David did that. But, as in normal literal life, I understand when the scripture speaks metaphorically. Obviously, I don't hold the parable of the Sewer as referring to an actual person throwing actual seed. The Lord explains this is figurative language.

We must also recognize when someone is relating a vision, he is doing exactly that. Daniel is not prophesying that an actual lion is going to come up out of the sea (Daniel 7). Likewise, John is not saying a literal woman is going to ride a literal beast (Revelation 17).

With this in mind, we note that what the disciples saw on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17 was  a vision. Moses and Elijah were not there. What they saw was a "vision" of them. They represented the Law and the Prophets. Christ is greater than all. This is the lesson. Peter and the others missed it.

Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”

Let's look at one quick example from John's vision on the Isle of Patmos. First, we note that John was (obviously) seeing a vision.

And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. (Rev 9:17)

I have heard discussions in regard to the blood rising to the horses' bridles in Revelation chapter 14. I've heard it proposed that this will be a post-nuclear scenario wherein men again fight on horses. But shouldn't we just accept this as a metaphorical vision? Why would we see beasts coming out of the sea as metaphors while see blood on a horse as literal? We hold the wine-press to be a metaphor, why not the bridles?

And the wine-press was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs [200 miles]. (Rev 14:20)

Is it possible they will fight on horses? Sure. But as this prophecy is not given to us gentiles for this age, we have no idea how this will play out. However, as with the Parables, those who need to know will understand. Even Daniel was puzzled at his own prophecies as were other prophets.

Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. (Dan 12:8-10)

Daniel did not understand his own vision and prophecies, because he did not need to understand. I don't quite understand Daniel or the Revelation in full, but I don't need to understand. At "the time of the end" we are told "the wise shall understand." So, we must be careful not to be too dogmatic when handling prophecies for Israel in regard to the time of the end. Study? Yes. Meditate? Yes. Diligently seek the Lord on these matters? Sure. But always understand that we will not completely understand.

[We pause to say again that the metaphors depict real, literal entities and events. This is not some flowery language. These are not as Aesop's fables. There is a Day of the Lord coming (The Lord's Day in the Revelation) and it will be very real.]

We must apply this understanding to the rest of John's vision in the Revelation, and that includes the final chapters. The prophecies contained in both Daniel's and John's visions (as well as in Ezekiel's, Zechariah's and others) refer to literal events. We do not doubt that. But they are shown visions, not movies.

Will the Lord return on a literal white horse? Possibly. But when we compare scripture with scripture we have the Lord returning in the clouds (Acts 1; 1 Thess 4) and the Lord returning in a flaming fire (Matt 25; 2 Thess 1) and returning on a white horse (Rev 19:11).  All of those conditions could take place, but I'm only certain of the first. As they saw him leave, so shall he return to Israel (Acts 1:11), in the clouds.

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)


Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in ine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. (Rev 19:10-15)

If we hold to a literal horse, do we hold to a literal "robe dipped in blood?" Do we believe he will have a literal sword coming out of his mouth? I don't know. But we clearly read most of John's vision as metaphor, so why must we insist that certain things are literal?


I believe this verse in Rev 22 is where John's vision ends, as the Angel confirms the vision:

Then he said to me [John], “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. (Rev 22:6)

John, an apostle to the circumcision, was shown a vision of how the words of the prophets would play out. The events are very real. The prophecies involve real things. The Jews were well familiar with  those prophecies and would understand the context of John's vision. The Revelation is a thoroughly Jewish book. In the Acts age (when John received his vision), the tribulation was "at-hand." It will again be "at-hand" when the current dispensation ends.

I believe a literal John had a literal vision of things that will literally come to pass. However, he saw only metaphors of those things. We must start there when discussing the Revelation and Israel's future. And this future surely is for Israel.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Iraqi Christian Burned Alive by ISIS Three Times?

Fox News (and many other sites, news and Christian) are recounting the tale of a Yazidi man who claims he was stoned without harm and set on fire three times without harm. In the stories and videos I have seen, I do not see the man's name listed or any account of reliable witnesses. (Video)

More troubling is the fact that I cannot find even one skeptical comment at the sites I've visited (apart from my own). The man's confession of faith consists of Christ Jesus supposedly appearing to him in a dream and telling him a secret. I don't recall Paul giving us that particular path to resurrection life.

I am not limiting the Lord's ability to visit someone in a dream (although I find it unlikely in this age), but even if such a case did occur, God cannot lie. Everything must line up with the revealed Word of God. That is, we must have reliable witnesses and what God is reported to have said must be consistent with scripture.

This scripture was posted by one enthusiastic commenter:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
-Isaiah 43:2

My first question for her is what would she tell the thousands of Christians who were burned and stoned?

This is where the importance of "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth" guides us once again. We have looked at this issue in almost all our studies. It is vitally important that "cut straight" scripture. We can get into a lot of trouble and bring scorn upon the true faith when we fail to properly draw our lines.

Back to Isaiah 43, you can read the entire chapter for yourself, but the first and third verses are clear enough.

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine...

For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

We need to be careful not to rob from Israel nor should we open the Lord to mockery. We cannot just open our bibles and apply everything to ourselves.

Unless there is more in regard to his confession of faith apart from "Jesus appeared to me," I have no way to assess that this man even understands who the true Christ is. We need to be careful when declaring something as fact without establishing it via reliable witnesses. There are many false-Christs, we must be able to establish the true from the false and we do that through scripture.

Rightly divide the Word of Truth.