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Moral Relativism Post Modernism Tolerance

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on March 5, 2010 at 5:34 am

So what is Moral Relativism and why all the discussion on truth? How can we distinguish between relativism and the absolute truth? Haven’t we been told we can’t know truth and since we can’t know truth why do we even bother trying to identify it? As long as we live a good life, don’t hurt others and take care of the poor isn’t that enough for God? After all we work such long hours, and then the family takes all the rest of our time: who has time for such trivial issues as truth and relativism. These matters are best left to the intellectual crowd, the professors and preachers they deal with this stuff. Does this sound like the answers we hear and use when confronted by the seeming decay of our society? More than once has somebody commented “things are getting worse and I don’t know why”. Hopefully we can shed a little light into that vast dark world of reality.

C. S. Lewis said, “We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

Origin- Morality- Purpose- Destiny

These four pillars form the foundation for a world view. On top of the pillars we deal in three “ologies”: Ontology- What is. Epistemology – How you know it is true. Axiology- How it impels you to live.

Before we can discuss morals and its mortal enemy relativism we need to review several fundamental ideas that establish our ability to think about truth and non truth. Beginning with a definition of a world view: A set of beliefs that underlie and shape all human thought and action, it’s not whether you have a worldview. But whether the world view you are living by is a good one. How do we know and how can we tell? By applying some truth standards we can determine if our thinking, actions and speaking are truthful. We begin with correspondence and coherence as the rational starting point for truth. Correspondence and coherence are incontrovertible methods of establishing truth in a court of law. To support this view of truth we use the four laws of logic.

  1. The Law of Identity: An object is identical to itself.
  2. The Law of Non-contradiction: Two contradictory statements cannot be true in the same sense at the same time.
  3. The Law of Excluded Middle: Just because two things have one thing in common does not mean they have everything in common.
  4. The Law of Rational Inference: Inferences can be made from what is known to what is unknown.

The largest factor in making our day to day decisions is assumptions and presuppositions. Based on this foundation we live out our day to day existence with people who violate these basic premises for truth and logical behavior. We hear it in everyday conversations with statements like “that’s true for you but not for me” “personally I disagree with abortion but I support a woman’s right to choose” “I’m really glad you found something that works for you”. Nonsensical statements that on the surface tend to sound intelligent or morally neutral but at their heart destroy the very fabric of morality. The claim that truth is relative might be understood in two ways. Either truth is relative to time and space (it was true then, but not now), or it is relative to persons (true for me, but not for you). On the other hand, absolute truth implies two things: (1) that whatever is true at one time and in one place is true at all times and I all places, and (2) that whatever is true for one person is true for all persons. Absolute truth doesn’t change. (From When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences Ronald Brooks and Norman L. Geisler)

Moral Relativism – Has many different meanings since the idea itself is relative (who knew).

In 1947, on the occasion of the United Nations debate about universal human rights, the American Anthropological Association issued a statement declaring that moral values are relative to cultures and that there is no way of showing that the values of one culture are better than those of another.

Moral relativism is a widely held position in the modern world, though it is very selectively applied. As with other forms of relativism, it is only mentioned in a purely defensive way. The principles of moral relativism can only be used to excuse or allow certain actions; they can never be used to condemn them. Moral relativism takes several different forms, from utilitarianism, evolutionism and existentialism to emotivism and situationism. All of these, for the most part, share a single unifying theme: that absolute morals do not exist, and what is “right” or “wrong” is entirely a product of human preference.

And in these United States we say we firmly believe that truth and morality are relative while simultaneously decrying the absence of virtue and the rise of incivility. We take pride in our tolerance, yet tolerate no one who doesn’t share our moral open-mindedness. (Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl)

This brings me to the primary doctrine of relativism “tolerance”. First the definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary- showing a willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not agree with. I would add with respect and dignity to that individual as well. How does the definition compare to the reality of its use in the present culture. If we disagree with the current politically correct (cultural Marxism) understanding of an issue we are considered “intolerant” yet if we practiced the true truth of tolerance we would have thoughtful, rational discussion regarding the many views of a particular issue. For example thinking people from many cultures see racism as a devastating social behavior when based on skin color yet will practice that same behavior when on social outings will stand in a line to gain entrance to event that only allows certain “styles and types” of people based on subjective criteria. The most oblivious example the club crowd, it seems everyone wants to be part of the “beautiful people”. How can we decry racism on one hand and yet practice it with glee on the other. I think it was best said: Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue. “Francois de La Rochefoucauld”. The battle for our culture is waged on the forefront of tolerance being redefined so as to be meaningless. This comes from a morally relative understanding of right and wrong as its foundation. In his best-selling book The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom writes: “The relativity of truth for college students in American culture! Is not a theoretical insight but a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it…. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all. The students, of course, cannot defend their opinion.   It is something with which they have been indoctrinated….”‘

PC (cultural Marxism) assumes moral relativism in most of its manifestations.’  Indeed, much of PC (cultural Marxism) thinking has been influenced by another form of relativism, epistemological relativism. The word epistemology refers to one’s view or theory of knowledge-one’s explanation of how human beings come to know things. Epistemological relativism sees knowledge as relative, and objective truth as nonexistent. To believe in objective truth, in contrast, is to affirm that some claims about the world are true or false regardless of what others perceive to be true.

To underscore the destruction this kind of thinking is having we only need to look inside our places of worship and see the devastation that is taking place in our congregations. Francis Shaffer and others in the sixties were prophetic in their writings concerning this generation. If we start with his line of despair example and trace its impact we arrive precisely where we are today. We believe the truth to be objective or “out there,” not subjective or “in here.”

Subjective truths are based on internal preferences and change according to our whims. Objective truths, in contrast, are realities in the external world that we discover and cannot be changed by our internal feelings. External facts are what they are, regardless of how we feel about them. “It’s true for me [the subject] if I believe it.” Living lower story lives we attempt to convince ourselves its upper story living to loosely paraphrase Shaffer. Moral relativism teaches that when it comes to morals, that which is ethically right or wrong, people do their own thing. Ethical truths depend on the individuals and groups who hold them. Minimally, moral absolutism holds that a moral rule is true regardless of whether anyone believes it. “It can’t be created by personal conviction; nor does it disappear when an individual or culture rejects it”. This quote from (Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl) states an almost creedal epitaph regarding truth and morality.  We don’t invent morality; we discover it like we discover multiplication tables. Classically, moral systems have had at least three characteristics.’

  • First, morality has been viewed as a supremely authoritative guide to action,
  • Second, morality includes a prescriptive code of conduct
  • Third, morality is universal. Moral rules are not arbitrary and personal   but are public

Relativism, however, rejects all universal moral rules and abandons the idea of oughtness.

Thus the first reason relativism does not qualify as an ethical viewpoint   is that the “morality” of relativism is no different than having no morality at all. In this post modern culture we think with our eyes and reason with our emotions. It seems we determine right and wrong based on our mood at the moment. If we stopped here and left the information as we have stated it our next action ought to be “where is the Kool Aid”.

Did we mention we have a reason for hope? Has it been presented there is reason to believe the Bible based on the evidence we have available to us? How in the world can we posit an objective moral way of thinking, living and acting? How do we as Christians who believe in most absolute of moral values defend our faith, stand on our convictions and engage our culture. Where do we start and what is the contact point. We start where GK Chesterton suggested in this story. The London paper had a story line that decried the all the ills in society at that time and wanted to know who was to blame. He is reported to have written a letter to the editor as follows: Dear Editor, I AM yours truly GK Chesterton. The moral of the story we start with ourselves and work outward. Not in a morbid narcissistic egotistical and self centered view, there is enough of that in the world already. How does your view align with the Scriptures? We can’t communicate a view we don’t hold or support. Have we drifted from the very safe harbor of truth to the tempest of post modernism? Did we somehow create the fantasy of moral neutrality that has never existed?

Let’s start with worldview

Your worldview is not what you see; your worldview is what you see with.

Four common elements in the structure of belief systems:

1. A background theory about the world;

2. A basic diagnosis of the nature of human beings;

3. A diagnosis of what is wrong with us;

4. An answer for putting it right.

Stephen Covey: “We see the world not as it is but as we are.”

James Sire on worldview:

“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

A worldview is a total explanatory system —A worldview is a description of reality

(Col 3:5-10 ESV)  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

C. S. Lewis: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see.”

This begins the foundation of our world view and how we are to conduct ourselves and test our views against the demands of truth. When we begin to live in obedience to the truth we run into those in our lives placed there by God to engage, challenge, encourage and disciple. People are looking for community and a sense of belonging. The community that the personal God who is there designed for us through His Son Jesus the Christ is the church. We have the truth, the life and the way. Overcoming the obstacles  the enemy sets in front of us involves our willingness to confront  the half truths, misunderstandings and lies with a coherent strategy that reveals the “wrong headed and heartedness” we encounter. From Greg Koukl tactics for addressing moral relativism with someone you are engaging:

Three Tactics for Addressing Relativism

A. Show How Relativism Commits Suicide

1. Example: Someone say, you shouldn’t force your morality upon me.

2. Reply: “Why not?” They will in turn push their morality upon you.

B. Press the Person’s Hot Button (“Taking the Roof Off’)

1. Push the relativist’s particular moral concern by relativizing it.

2. This forces the relativist to see that s/he really holds to an objective standard.

C. Force the Tolerance Issue

1. If tolerance is a virtue, then it makes sense only in a world in which objective morals exist.

Extension: Using This Approach to Shift the Conversation to God

A. Relativism fails, and objective morals exist.

B. Then, what is a moral law? It is not, e.g., something testable by science.

C. Further, why do moral laws exist?

D. Why ought we to obey them?

E. Best answer: There is an objective moral lawgiver. This lends itself to the use of important Bible verses.

Seven fatal flaws of Subjectivism, this is the most deeply entrenched kind of relativism.

a. We should use an appeal to moral intuitions to show these flaws.

(1) These moral truths are known directly and immediately.

(2) Once you understand the concepts, you simply see that the position is wrong.

(3) Examples: murder is wrong; torturing babies for fun is wrong, etc.

(4) These are clear-cut examples of moral truths, and the burden of proof should be on the person who denies them.

b. Flaw # 1: If morality is relative, then relativists can never say something is wrong (i.e., in itself). That is to say, they cannot claim something is intrinsically or objectively wrong for all people.

c. Flaw # 2: Relativists cannot complain about the problem of evil.

(1) When raised as a problem for belief in Christianity, people intend this to mean that evil really exists in the world.

(2) But, to be consistent, evil must be relative to individuals.

(3) Yet, examples like Columbine High School in Littleton, Co., are clear cases of real evil.

d. Flaw # 3: Relativists cannot place blame or accept praise.

(1) We praise people like Mother Theresa for doing truly good things, not simply if she did what we happen to like.

(2) But on relativism, there is no objective goodness or badness.

(3) Praising or blaming another is to make a moral judgment.

(4) But, on this view, there is nothing for which to praise or blame another.

e. Flaw # 4: Relativists cannot claim anything as unfair or unjust.

(1) These concepts are normative, too, and presuppose a universal standard.

(2) But they make no sense if morality is relative to individuals.

f. Flaw # 5: Relativists cannot improve their own morality.

(1) Example of bowling: you can improve your bowling score when you have a standard against which you can measure your performance. 300 is a perfect game the standard.

(2) But here, there is no such standard, if relativism is true.

(3) Individuals can change their morality, but that does not solve this problem.

g. Flaw # 6: Relativists cannot have meaningful moral discussions. (1) If there is no such thing as a common good, then such discussions (e.g., in politics) are meaningless.

h. Flaw # 7: Relativists cannot promote the obligation to be tolerant. (1) Tolerance makes sense only if it is an objective moral truth.

(Rom 1:18-20 ESV)  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Finally sharing the Gospel that leads to repentance and salvation: In closing I want introduce the Jesus of the Bible. He claimed to be God in the flesh living on this earth as one of His creatures. God gave us His law to live by and we disobeyed it. Let’s examine just a few quickly:

Do not lie- have you ever told a lie even a white lie or a small deception? The law says we have broken it and we are liars. The judgment for lying:  (Rev 21:8 HCSB)  But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars–their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Do not covet- have you ever wanted something so bad you have and would put yourself at finical risk to have it at any means? The law says we have broken it and we are coveters. (Jas 4:2-4 HCSB)  You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure. Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.

Do not steal- have you ever taken anything that wasn’t yours no matter how small? The law says we have broken it and we are thieves. (1Co 6:9-10 HCSB)  Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

We’ve only covered 3 of the 10 commandments and the pattern is already in place break the commands of God no matter how small and the judgment of God is in place to penalize you. Hell is a real place that real sinners go to when they die.

Mat 10:28 AMP) And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).

(Mat 13:41-43 HCSB)  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

(Mar 8:36-38 HCSB)  For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?

What can a man give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

(Act 3:19 HCSB)  Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Truth provides a foundation to deal with tragedy!

I would rather be identified as a Christian than called one. In the life of the early church “Christian” was supposed to be a pejorative term used to describe the behavior of early believers. Now it’s a title that is used to justify a way of behaving or misbehaving some sort of social mantle that identifies us as morally superior. I hope to live the former and escape the latter.

Dan Neal

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Biblical Myths

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on February 28, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Dear doubter,

In your most recent letter the editor, you made much about the lack of any historical basis for the truths of the Bible. You implied the world would be better off if we “Christians” would not take the Bible so literal and that it can’t be the Word of God I quote “hard truth.”

My response to your criticism begins with the veracity of the scripture. We have excellent reason to believe the Bible is the Word of God. Just how accurate is the Bible when it comes to history? To begin the Bible is a collection of 66 books written over 1500 years by some 40 authors, spanning 3 continents, written in 3 languages, which addresses hundreds of controversial subjects and presents a single unfolding story. God’s redemption of man! It is by far the most challenged writing of antiquity, surviving grueling standards of testing and yet it has proven its reliability again and again. To stay brief I will review a few myths that archeology and history uncovered that sustained the reliability of the Bible. 

  1. If we compare the Gospels with other ancient manuscripts, how does it stand up in comparison?
Work When

Written

Earliest

Copy

Time Span No. of Copies
Homer 900 BC 400 BC 500 years 643
Caesar’s Gallic War 100-44 BC 800 AD 900 years 10
Plato’s Tetralogies 427-347 BC 900 AD 1200 years 7
Gospel’s 40-100 AD 125 AD 25 years 24000

 

“To be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament is to allow all of classical antiquities to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.”

John Warwick Montgomery -is a scholarly maverick who has 11 earned degrees in multiple disciplines: philosophylibrarianshiptheology, and law. His degrees include: the A.B. with distinction in Philosophy (Cornell UniversityPhi Beta Kappa), B.L.S. and M.A. (University of California, Berkeley), B.D. and S.T.M. (Wittenberg UniversitySpringfield, Ohio), LL.B. (La Salle Extension University), M. Phil. in Law (University of Essex, England), Ph.D. (University of Chicago), Th.D Doctorat d’Universite (University of Strasbourg), LLM and LLD in canon law (Cardiff University).

There are many others at this level of education and creditability who will attest to the same statement or similar statements of authenticity.

  1. The Great Isaiah text versus the Masoretic Isaiah text: We have here two identical books from the Old Testament that are separated by 1000 years in publication. The first question that has to be answered “How different are they?” The great Isaiah text was found in 1947 as part of the Dead Sea scrolls and other major writings from 68 AD. The Masoretic test was relied upon by Jewish and Christian scholars for centuries and date from the 9th century AD. So how do they match up? The accuracy is astonishing for an ancient manuscript and is word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in 95% of the text. The 5% of variation consists in minor variations of spelling.

 

  1. Let’s visit one miracle from the New Testament the darkness described in the Gospels at the time of Jesus crucifixion. We refer to a statement from Julius Africanus writing in 221 AD who gives a skeptical explanation of the darkness that happened at Jesus’ death, denying the theological significance of the darkness at Jesus’ crucifixion but giving external corroboration that the darkness was a historical fact.

 

For the lack of space I will refer to these basic examples of the “hard truth” of the scriptures. I have several questions for “Dear doubter”. Are you absolutely sure miracles did not occur as described in the Bible? The answer would have you claiming absolute knowledge for all time eternity. Have you read the reactions of those who witnessed the miracles? Their reactions to the supernatural were uniquely human they were frightened. Who witnessed the miracles what type of people are they? As we read the scriptures we see they were ordinary fisherman down to earth types. The miracles are presented in context as realistic. How would you describe 911 from your perspective?

The real point seems to be “truth” and how can we know it? May I suggest you examine Christianity first? Of all the major world religions it has a basis that can be tested. To quote Craig Hazen “one can bring evidence to bear on it to determine if it’s likely true or false.”

The evidence supports the truth of the Bible as far the world being a better place if it were not taken seriously has a major flaw as proved by recent history. When we look at the 20th century and how philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, John Paul Sartre claimed God is Dead while attacking the Bible.  How the world was made better with their thinking is seen in the actions of Hitler, Stalin, and others like them who have killed more people than all the previous 19 centuries put together! I would have to disagree the world would be better off without the Bible. A wise man said never judge a theology based on its abuse but on its truth claims.

In closing I want to take  just a minute to introduce the Jesus of the Bible. He claimed to be God in the flesh living on this earth as one of His creatures. God gave us His law to live by and we disobeyed it. Let’s examine just a few quickly:

Do not lie- have you ever told a lie even a white lie or a small deception? The law says we have broken it and we are liars. The judgment for lying:  (Rev 21:8 HCSB)  But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars–their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Do not covet- have you ever wanted something so bad you have and would put yourself at finical risk to have it at any means? The law says we have broken it and we are coveters. (Jas 4:2-4 HCSB)  You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure. Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.

Do not steal- have you ever taken anything that wasn’t yours no matter how small? The law says we have broken it and we are thieves. (1Co 6:9-10 HCSB)  Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

We’ve only covered 3 of the 10 commandments and the pattern is already in place break the commands of God no matter how small and the judgment of God is in place to penalize you. Hell is a real place that real sinners go to when they die.

Mat 10:28 AMP) And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).

(Mat 13:41-43 HCSB)  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

Food for thought and consideration:

(Mar 8:36-38 HCSB)  For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?

What can a man give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

(Act 3:19 HCSB)  Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

You see the only way we can “Do unto to others as we want them to do unto us” is to know the author of love.

Christian.

Unexpected Answers To Prayer!

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on February 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Daniel 9Unexpected Answers To Prayer!

This chapter contains a prayer of Daniel, and the answer to it.

The time, occasion, and manner of his prayer, or circumstances of it, are observed, Dan_9:1, the parts of it, an address unto God, under various suitable epithets and characters, Dan_9:4 confession of sin, of his own, of the inhabitants of the land, kings, princes, and people, which are largely dwelt upon and exaggerated, Dan_9:5

and petitions for mercy,Dan_9:16,

then the answer follows; the time when it was ordered and given, and the person by whom it was sent, are expressed, Dan_9:20

who delivered to him the vision of the seventy weeks to be considered by him; in which both the work of the Messiah, and the time of his coming, are clearly pointed out, Dan_9:24.

1st– Understanding from scriptures and believing God’s word has our answers.

2nd Spiritual maturity reveals itself in our ability to discern between the urgent and the important.

3rd A season of prayer a two way conversation talking is not a problem hearing is!

4th Don’t limit God to the same old same old, His answer sometimes comes before the action.

5th God does what He says, His answer guarantees His action.

1st– Understanding from scriptures and believing God’s word has our answers.

Studying the Bible involves several disciplines.

Inductive Bible Study

• What does it say?

• What does it mean?

• How does it apply to me?

  1. 1.   How can I find out for myself what the Bible says? Read it and re-read the Bible passage. Read silently some times and read aloud other times. Don’t start by reading what others have concluded about the Bible. Inductive reasoning moves from specific examples to general conclusions. Deductive reasoning moves from general examples to specific conclusions.
  2. 2.   How can I know what the Bible means?

After reading the facts, you can summarize them. Don’t jump to conclusions too fast. Read the passage several times and pray for wisdom. You will learn more and remember more if you discover what the Scriptures say yourself. Look at cross references (other verses in Scripture that relate to the verses you read).

  1. 3.   How can I apply what the Bible says to myself? The goal of Bible study is a transformed life and a deep relationship with God. Sometimes in Scripture, you will see a command to obey, an example to follow, a lesson to learn, or a sin to confess. Apply that to your life.

Other times, you will want to claim a promise, pray a prayer, forgive someone, or ask forgiveness. Listen to the “still small voice” of God. God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” As you listen and respond to God, you will be amazed at the results in your life as your relationship with him deepens. (1 Kings 19:12, Psalm 46:10)

Going Deeper in the Word!

Look for God’s Over-All Plan

The Old Testament reveals God’s loving plan of salvation, from Creation to prophecies of the future Messiah (the Savior).

The New Testament reveals God’s salvation of sinful man by the suffering, death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and reveals the everlasting Kingdom of God.

God inspired 40 people over a period of 1600 years to write the 66 books of the Bible.

Find the Background of the Books (Five W’s and One H)

Find out who wrote the books and the reason for, or theme of, the books. Ask “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?” Usually this information is in the first chapter or in the introduction to the book.

GENESIS

Who: Moses

What: The Beginnings

Where: Egypt and Canaan

When: c. 1450 Bc-1 400 BC

Why: To demonstrate that God is sovereign and loves his creation.

Outline (Chapter)

• Creation, Fall, and Flood (1-11) • Abraham (11-25)

• Isaac and Jacob (25-36)

• Joseph (37-50)

Key Verse: I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7)

JOHN

Who: John (The Beloved Disciple) What: Gospel

Where: Asia Minor

When: C. AD 85-AD 95

Why: To show Jesus as the Son of God, the Word made flesh, who provides eternal life for all who believe in him.

Outline (Chapter)

• Introduction (1)

• Ministry of Christ (2-12)

• Private Ministry (13-17)

• Death and Resurrection (18-21)

Key Verse: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

   Read Verses in Context

Read the surrounding chapters and the verses before and after the verse you are studying. Get the whole picture. Don’t study verses out of context. Look at the outline of the book.

Whole Message of God’s Word

Take the whole Bible as God’s Word. Don’t just concentrate on one verse or one idea. See if the teaching is explained more fully in other parts of the Bible. Look at the small cross references in your Bible to help you find other verses on the same subject. For example, look at the cross references and the verses around John 3:16.

Discover the Intended Meaning

As you read the Bible, look for the author’s intended meaning. What did the author want to say? What did it mean in that culture? What does it mean now? What are the main ideas? If you have questions, write them down, pray for insight, and discuss your ideas with others.

Learn the History and Geography

Use a time line to learn about the history of the Bible. Use maps to learn about the geography of where the events took place.

Figurative Language

Figures of speech are word pictures that help us understand a truth.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” is a metaphor that helps us picture the Bible enlightening our minds and actions and giving us direction.

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you, 0 God” is a simile that compares ideas with the words “like” or “as.” Similes occur over 175 times in the Psalms.

Jesus used personification when he said if the people did not declare the mighty works they had seen God do, the stones would cry out in praise. Hyperbole (exaggeration) is found in Matthew 5:29-30.

Forms of Literature

The Bible contains various forms of literature: History, Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom, Prophecy, Parables and Letters. Recognizing each form will help you interpret the meaning. For example, parables explain a spiritual truth by means of a story or analogy. The parable of the Prodigal Son does not refer to a specific historical person but teaches that God is a loving father who joyfully welcomes back prodigal or rebellious children who later repent and return to him.

2nd Spiritual maturity reveals itself in our ability to discern between the urgent and the important.

 (Mat 24:12 ESV)  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

(2Pe 3:11 ESV)  Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,

(2Ti 3:1-5 ESV)  But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

As the world moves closer to the terrible tribulation and the glorious return of Christ hastens we need to ask ourselves:

 “Should I be doing anything differently?”

When was the last time you felt God telling you to get a grip and see what is really important?

As you consider our times, what is the desire of your own heart?

Have we been contaminated by the virus of self gratification and self centeredness?

Serious times are upon us, but we may not be paying attention. We are challenged to fortify ourselves against corruptions of our Babylon –like culture. Spiritual maturity is rarely more obvious than in our ability to discern the urgent from the important. We are so culturally indoctrinated to be fast-paced, high-energy, self -reliant, take-charge, get it done people, we tend to think of prayer as a passive nearly do nothing reaction. We tend to pray when we don’t know what else to do. Nothing moves the heart of God like prayer. Prayer is deliberate open communication with God. We can learn how to pray from others like Daniel in chapter 9: 1-19. God seems too especially honor intercessory prayer of a fellowman. He favors those who humble themselves as fellow transgressors, not those who piously place themselves above those in pitiful need of prayer.

(Luk 18:11-12 ESV)  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

3rd A season of prayer a two way conversation talking is not a problem hearing is!

 

Praying the Word back to God honors Him and expresses your desire in His perfect language. It also shows diligence in studying His Word where most often He will reveal Himself and His will in the Word. If we continue in prayer daily we include the Word, our confession, adoration, our supplication and the practice of our faith.

(Pro 3:5 ESV)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

(Pro 1:23 ESV)  If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.

4th Don’t limit God to the same old same old, His answer sometimes comes before the action.

 

We see in Chapter 9 verse 20 through 23 we see that His prayer was interrupted and Gabriel was in swift flight to answer Daniel. WOW for how many years had Daniel prayed and lifted up his petitions with the same response for over 60 or 70 years!  Usually at the time of sacrifice before the destruction of the Temple was one of the times of the day Daniel prayed. “Then suddenly God”…a phrase worth remembering when we are seeking God’s answer to our prayers and petitions. While we are still in our prayers He hears.

(Isa 65:24 ESV)  Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.

(Psa 141:1-2 ESV)  A Psalm of David. O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

We see in both David and Daniel they are seeking God with all their might and interceding to God for His intervention in the affairs of men. God is anxious for us to ask and seek Him. He waits because of relationship not out of some arbitrary need but to the very core God is relational and He choose to love a contrary creature.

(Psa 31:19 ESV)  Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

(Rom 8:24-25 ESV)  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

5th God does what He says, His answer guarantees His action.

 

Abraham comes to mind immediately as one who was promised an answer and it was years in the resulting action. Daniel was given information that would unfold thousands of years later. Some of the answer has yet to be unfolded in our time yet we see God answering Daniel immediately. Sometimes I think we tend to get our answer but because we can’t see the action immediately we think God has not answered us and worse we take matters into our own hands. We sometimes mistake our own desires and wishes for what we often call a “word from the Lord”.

(Heb 11:1-2 ESV)  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.

(1Co 6:17 ESV)  But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

(Rom 8:9 AMP)  But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God]. [Rom. 8:14.]

We can anticipate the question “How do I know the difference?” Under the New Covenant (as New Testament believers) we have access to complete revelation through the Word of God. Since God has given us His written Word we see less of the supernatural communication like Daniel and the supernatural comes to us through His inspired text. We now have something the ancients could only dream of and prophecy of. God the Holy Spirit indwelling us instructing us through His written word and maintaining an intimate relationship now and forever. In our efforts to distinguish desires from an authentic word from God He reveals Himself inside us, stronger than emotions deeper than feelings and as gentile as a whisper that never counters His written word. The confidence we have is God will never contradict Himself.

Holy Vessels/ Unholy Use

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sunday School, Trinity on January 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Holy Vessels/ Unholy Use

 Daniel 5: 1-6 is basis for study:

(Dan 5:1-12 ESV)  King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand. Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Immediately the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king saw the hand as it wrote. Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together. The king called loudly to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers. The king declared to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation. King Belshazzar was greatly alarmed, and his color changed, and his lords were perplexed. The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared, “O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm you or your color change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father–your father the king–made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”

(Dan 5:26-30 ESV)  This is the interpretation of the matter:

 MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end;

TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting;

PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.

 The point of the study we are going to look at closely is as follows:

Vessels that have been treated as unholy can be treated as Holy again.

1. Unholy use.

Do you feel like Satan has used you in any way to any degree to bring dishonor to the name of Christ?

All manner of abuses to the physical body apply, but think even more broadly.

Have we, the people of God who are called to be builders of home and church, ever been used by the enemy to tear them down?

  • Have we been used by the enemy to cause others to stumble or to have less faith?
  • Were we once cynics and scoffers in regard to spiritual things that are now dear to us?
  • Do we fear that we may have influenced others adversely before we changed and don’t know how to make up for it?
  • Have we treated someone dishonorably even though we were Christians, and now it’s too late to fix it?

If you are wiling however generally describe a way Satan has tried to use you, a holy vessel, for an unholy cause…

(Mat 5:18-20 ESV)  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

9. Do not lie- have you ever told a lie even a white lie or a small deception? The law says we have broken it and we are liars. The judgment for lying:  (Rev 21:8 HCSB)  But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars–their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

10. Do not covet- have you ever wanted something so bad you have and would put yourself at finical risk to have it at any means? The law says we have broken it and we are coveters. (Jas 4:2-4 HCSB)  You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure. Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.

8. Do not steal- have you ever taken anything that wasn’t yours no matter how small? The law says we have broken it and we are thieves. (1Co 6:9-10 HCSB)  Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

 We’ve only covered 3 of the 10 commandments and the pattern is already in place break the commands of God no matter how small and the judgment of God is in place to penalize you. Hell is a real place that real sinners go to when they die.

 (Mat 10:28 AMP)  And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).

(Mat 13:41-43 HCSB)  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

The first inappropriate response to the awareness that we have treated holy things as unholy is a lack of repentance. The other extreme is debilitating guilt and an unwillingness to let go of the past failure long after repentance.

2. Regret-Repentance returning to Holiness

REGRET’, n.

  1. Grief; sorrow; pain of mind. We feel regret at the loss of friends, regret for our own misfortunes, or for the misfortunes of others

 

REPENT’ANCE, n.

2. In theology, the pain, regret or affliction which a person feels on account of his past conduct, because it exposes him to punishment. This sorrow proceeding merely from the fear of punishment is called legal repentance, as being excited by the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life.

Repentance of sin is one of the most wonderful privileges Christ has given us through His cross. Let’s examine the difference in regret and repentance.

(2Co 7:10 AMP)  For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death].

Regret would be defined as worldly grief, repentance leads to salvation. We see in the story from Daniel that the king was scared but not because of his action of defaming Holy vessels but because God confronted him for his wicked behavior. Had he had any regard for God’s holy vessels this incident would have never occurred.

(2Sa 12:13 ESV)  David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

(Act 11:18 ESV)  When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

(Pro 17:22 ESV)  A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Have you ever felt “hopeless sorrow”? If so what kind of future did you picture for yourself?

Hopeless sorrow totally misses the meaning of the biblical redemption; God redeems something by buying it back through the payment of a ransom. He gave the life of His Son as the ransom to buy us back from the debt of sin.

(Psa 130:7 ESV)  O (insert your name for Israel) Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.

Praying for forgiveness, some examples of Biblical prayers:

(Psa 69:5-6 ESV)  O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.

(Psa 130:2-5 ESV)  O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

(Luk 18:13 ESV)  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

3. Redemption

Redemption requires we bow our will and break our pride.

Do we refuse to repent because we are afraid of?

Worldly individuals who might think you’ve lost your mind?

Mediocre Christians who might think you’ve gone too far?

(2Ch 16:9 ESV)  For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.”

(Dan 5:23 ESV)  but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

 The Law is to be used lawfully, not to make us more religious that others or more pious.

It is designed to help us see our need for repentance to help us flee from the wrath to come. The law cannot save us but it will point us to Calvary and the cross. It is also our school master and teacher when we have accepted Jesus and His offer to pay the penalty that the law demands and make Jesus Lord and master of our lives. God is not looking for perfection He is looking for purity of heart, our authentic desire to do His will and give Him glory. He sees us reading His word and it pleases Him when we attempt to apply it to our lives.

Gal 3:24 KJV)  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

 (Jas 4:17 HCSB)  So, for the person who knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it is a sin.

Food for thought and consideration:

(Mar 8:36-38 HCSB)  For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?What can a man give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

 (Act 3:19 HCSB)  Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

(1Jn 1:8 ESV)  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Does the Son exist as a Divine Person before all eternity?

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on January 2, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Some basic premises are needed before going into detail on this subject. We do not worship what we do not know. I believe the Bible makes the existence of the Son as a divine person before all eternity is expressed from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible speaks as one voice beginning with Genesis 1 to Revelation 22:21 through 66 books and over 40 authors spanning some 1500 years to reveal God’s purpose, plan, and person to us His creature’s. To put into perspective the basis for authority on doctrine we must turn to the 5 solas:

SOLA SCRIPTURA: 
This slogan means “Scripture Alone.” 
This truth declares that the Bible alone is our only authority for faith (what we believe) and conduct (how we live).  The Bible alone is God’s Word written.  It is without error, it is authoritative, it is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness.  It must be preached and taught and lived out. 
All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness: so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 
(2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

SOLA GRATIA: 
This slogan means “Grace Alone.” 
It answers the question of who does what in salvation.  Many think that salvation is a “grace and…” project.  If this is true, then “grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6).  The Bible is clear, salvation is all of grace and grace alone because “salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). 
(He) who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 
(2 Timothy 1:9) 

SOLA FIDE: 
This slogan means “Faith Alone.” 
Faith alone is the instrument of our salvation.  Salvation is not by works; it is by faith, that is, trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Even saving faith is a gift of God’s grace. 
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 
(Ephesians 2:8-9) 

SOLUS CHRISTUS: 
This slogan means “Through Christ Alone.” 
It is in Christ alone that we have salvation.  In His perfect life and substitutionary death, alone we have salvation.  Through Him and Him alone, we have the forgiveness of our sins and are declared righteous before God. 
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 
(Titus 3:5-7) 

SOLI DEO GLORIA: 
This slogan means “To God alone be the Glory.” 
It is the great goal of all of God’s purposes in Jesus Christ.  All that God does, He does for His own glory.  He created all things for His glory.  He sustains and rules over the world and our lives for His glory.  Our salvation is all of grace through Christ for all His glory.  One important thing to notice, the word alone.  God and God alone is worthy of all glory and praise! 

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. 
(Romans 11:36)

With this foundation let’s look at the meaning of the words we so quickly use to this very vital subject:

God- n.

theos (G2316), (I) in the polytheism of the Greeks, denoted “a god or deity,” e.g., Act_14:11; Act_19:26; Act_28:6; 1Co_8:5; Gal_4:8.

(II) (a) Hence the word was appropriated by Jews and retained by Christians to denote “the one true God.” In the Sept. Theos translates (with few exceptions) the Hebrew words Elohim and Jehovah, the former indicating His power and preeminence, the latter His unoriginated, immutable, eternal and self-sustained existence.

 el-o-heem’ Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: – angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

1. The Supreme Being; Jehovah; the eternal and infinite spirit, the creator, and the sovereign of the universe.

God is a spirit; and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4.

Jesus the Christ-Jesus

iesous (G2424) is a transliteration of the Heb. “Joshua,” meaning “Jehovah is salvation,” i.e., “is the Savior,” “a common name among the Jews, e.g., Exo_17:9; Luk_3:29 (RV); Col_4:11. It was given to the Son of God in Incarnation as His personal name, in obedience to the command of an angel to Joseph, the husband of His Mother, Mary, shortly before He was born, Mat_1:21. By it He is spoken of throughout the Gospel narratives generally, but not without exception, as in Mar_16:19, Mar_16:20; Luk_7:13, and a dozen other places in that Gospel, and a few in John.

“‘Jesus Christ’ occurs only in Mat_1:1, Mat_1:18; Mat_16:21, marg.; Mar_1:1; Joh_1:17; Joh_17:3. In Acts the name ‘Jesus’ is found frequently. ‘Lord Jesus’ is the normal usage, as in Act_8:16; Act_19:5, Act_19:17; see also the reports of the words of Stephen, Act_7:59, of Ananias, Act_9:17, and of Paul, Act_16:31; though both Peter, Act_10:36, and Paul, Act_16:18, also used ‘Jesus Christ.’

“In the Epistles of James, Peter, John and Jude, the personal name is not once found alone, but in Rev. eight times (RV), Rev_1:9; Rev_12:17; Rev_14:12; Rev_17:6; Rev_19:10 (twice); Rev_20:4; Rev_22:16.

“In the Epistles of Paul ‘Jesus’ appears alone just thirteen times, and in the Hebrews eight times; in the latter the title ‘Lord’ is added once only, at Heb_13:20. In the Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude, men who had companied with the Lord in the days of His flesh, ‘Jesus Christ’ is the invariable order (in the RV) of the Name and Title, for this was the order of their experience; as ‘Jesus’ they knew Him first, that He was Messiah they learnt finally in His resurrection. But Paul came to know Him first in the glory of heaven, Act_9:1-6, and his experience being thus the reverse of theirs, the reverse order, ‘Christ Jesus,’ is of frequent occurrence in his letters, but, with the exception of Act_24:24, does not occur elsewhere in the RV.

“In Paul’s letters the order is always in harmony with the context. Thus ‘Christ Jesus’ describes the Exalted One who emptied Himself, Phi_2:5, and testifies to His pre-existence; ‘Jesus Christ’ describes the despised and rejected One Who was afterwards glorified, Phi_2:11, and testifies to His resurrection. ‘Christ Jesus’ suggests His grace, ‘Jesus Christ’ suggests His glory.”*

* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 16, 29.

Holy Spirit-pneuma (G4151) primarily denotes “the wind” (akin to pneo, “to breathe, blow”); also “breath”; then, especially “the spirit,” which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful. The subject of the “Holy Spirit” in the NT may be considered as to His divine attributes; His distinct Personality in the Godhead; His operation in connection with the Lord Jesus in His birth, His life, His baptism, His death; His operations in the world; in the church; His having been sent at Pentecost by the Father and by Christ; His operations in the individual believer; in local churches; His operations in the production of Holy Scripture; His work in the world, etc.

In the Old Testament we see a progressive revelation from the beginning of man to the revealed mystery of Jesus the Christ. We see the personal God who is there demanding from His people an absolute allegiance to Him alone in the poly-theistic rebellion of the Gentiles. This is expressed in the Shema:

(Deu 6:4 ESV)  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

Shema Yisrael, Yehowah, Elohainoo, Yehowah aichod.

 This verse is called the Shema from the Hebrew word for “Hear.” The Lord our God, the Lord is one. The Lord alone is Israel’s God, “the only one.” It is a statement of exclusivity, not of the internal unity of God. This point arises from the argument of ch. 4 and the first commandment. While Deuteronomy does not argue theoretically for monotheism, it requires Israel to observe a practical monotheism (cf. 4:35). This stands in sharp contrast to the polytheistic Canaanites.

(Deu 6:4)  Hear,H8085 O Israel:H3478 The LORDH3068 our GodH430 is oneH259 LORD:H3068

H3068- יהוה

yehôvâh – yeh-ho-vaw’ From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God: – Jehovah, the Lord. Compare H3050, H3069.

H430 – אלהים

‘ĕlôhîym – el-o-heem’ –Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: – angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

“Hear, Israel, Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah.” On this passage the Jews lay great stress; and it is one of the four passages which they write on their phylacteries. On the word Elohim, Simeon ben Joachi says: “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim. There are three degrees, and each degree is by itself alone, and yet they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other.”

the Lord: Deu_4:35-36; Deu_5:6; 1Ki_18:21; 2Ki_19:5; 1Ch_29:10, Isa_42:8; Isa_44:6, Isa_44:8; Isa_45:5-6; Jer_10:10-11; Mar_12:29-32; Joh_17:8; 1Co_8:4-6; 1Ti_2:5

It is not our intention to delve into Hebrew grammar, but some points need to be made for the purpose of further discussion. The word El as stated above is in the singular form. The word Elohiym (pronounced Eloheem) is in the plural form. Hebrew words are unique because they can show number, gender, and direction depending upon the prefixes and suffixes that are attached to the root word. For the sake of this discussion, we will only consider the gender and number of the words. Again, we must start with the root of the word, which in this case is(El) and defined as “God.” If we wanted to make the word El dual (that is, plural showing more than one but less than three), we could simply add the ending making the word (font not available) (Eloheyim). This would make the word plural (dual), two in number. Since the word ends with the dual ending of and the final mem or mem sophit, this word is also masculine. In order to make the word plural with reference to “three” as well as masculine, we would write it (font not available) . The ending makes the word masculine and plural, three or more. This is a very important fact in the opening verse of the Shema and would almost make the Shema obscure without this understanding. Understanding this plurality in the Godhead is a very different concept than polytheism. To believe in the plurality in one God does not make one a believer in polytheism. With this understanding, we can see that the first part of the Shema could read, “Hear, understand, and act on the fact, O Israel, the Lord, the God of us [three in number, masculine], the Lord is echad.”

H259 – אחד

‘echâd – ekh-awd’ –A numeral from H258; properly united, that is, one; or (as an ordinal) first: – a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any (-thing), apiece, a certain [dai-] ly, each (one), + eleven, every, few, first, + highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together.

According to Gesenius Hebrew/Chaldee Lexicon To The Old Testament,  (echad) means, “to unite, to join together, to be in unity.”2 Echad also conveys the idea of being “bound together” like the cords of a rope. The tighter the cords are bound, the greater the strength produced. Echad does indeed mean “one” but it is a oneness that is produced by unity. We see this idea of echad in Genesis 2:23-24 when Adam said, “This is now bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one ( echad) flesh.” Here we see two distinct individuals declared as “one” flesh. This is not talking about one in number but one in unity, harmony, peace, and the sharing of common goals. Adam and Eve were joined together, twisted, bound, and wrapped together in singleness of purpose.

In Matthew 19:3-6 Jesus says that when a man and woman are married, the two of them become one flesh. They are united, joined, and wrapped together like the cords of a rope. They have singleness of purpose in marriage, and no man should try to destroy that unity. This unity does not destroy the diversity nor the individuality of the people in the relationship.

This is the very idea presented in the Shema. We have seen that Eloheem  is both plural and masculine. What is being said in this statement, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”? Israel: hear, understand, and act on the fact that our God is a God of unity, and that this plurality and unity of the Godhead is tightly bound together like the cords of a rope. They have singleness of purpose, and you should partake of this unity by sharing the same goals with God.

So as we can see from the correct understanding of the language and the context of the Scripture there is none like Him He is alone God. In absolute terms He is “one” the personal God who is there.

Anyone who calls themselves Christian should believe in the incarnation of Christ, The Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary and Jesus the Christ coming as the Son of Man. Jesus the Christ is eternal God and he is very God of very God and very man of very man.

The fact that the personal God who is there exists as one God in not the real issue, but is He Unitarian or Trinitarian in existence becomes the substance of disagreement. Does He exist as the unlimited infinite being as a divine Person in the Godhead as Son in Eternity? The word clearly speaks to this issue beginning in the Old Testament we just examined the shema  and its foreshadowing of the revelation of God’s triune existence in the New Testament. The Scripture always builds its foundation before building on it. As in prophecies we see through a lens darkly or from a distance till God is ready to reveal the detail in His time. It has been likened to traveling in the distance you see the mountains but they are not distinct till we have clear skies and we are close enough to make out the detail. So it is with the trinity going from Old to New Testament.

(Joh 17:5 ESV)  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

In John 17 we see that Jesus the Christ was not a plan, not a concept, not a thought in the mind of God, but has fellowship with the Father before the world existed in glory.

(Php 2:6 HCSB)  who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.

(Php 2:6 AMP)  Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,

(Php 2:7 HCSB)  Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form,

(Php 2:7 AMP)  But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.

We see in Phil Jesus the Christ emptying His whole life this has a grammatical relationship to what is happening. Being made in likeness of man the means He emptied into that which He created. 

(Joh 14:28 ESV)  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

We see in John 14 the Father is greater than the He is-where He was before. The Son through whom all things are made and nothing that exists did He not create.

(Col 1:15-17 ESV)  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

We see Jesus the Christ and God the Father sharing the divine title Jehovah. The use of firstborn does not indicate birth order but relationship. The Hebrews understood that concept of firstborn represented a position in their society. The word for first born was used with the Israelites, David etc.

A basic definition of the Trinity is in order. Within the One Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. You could express it several ways To the Father through the Son by the Spirit. We can also see the trinity at work by that which is called a gift of the Spirit is made known through the Son and is operated by God the Father. The Father gives existence to all things, the Son grants a rational nature to His creatures, and by partaking of the Spirit we are made Holy and cleansed from pollution and ignorance. We see three persons that share One Devine being.

  1. Being-Existing in a certain state. It is what makes something what it is.
  2. Person-A person is a thinking intelligent being. It is what makes someone who they are.

 

To put is simply 1-What  3-Who’s

Now we address the most common errors in understanding the disagreement over the Trinity. Everyone believes there is one God. Saying that God is one in the category of being does not prove that He is one in the category of person. The real question is does the Bible reveal that this oneness is a oneness of being alone, or a oneness of both being and person?

Biblical data must prove this out and the Bible speaks foundationally of the Trinity:

Foundation One- Monotheism

Foundation Two- Three divine persons

Foundation Three- Co equal and Coeternal

We see in Isa 9:6, and John 10:30 The Bible clearly and consistently demonstrates differentiae’s between the persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Never does the Bible identify the Father as the Son, the Son as the Spirit, or the Spirit as the Father.

If we let the Bible speak for itself we take truths from the Scripture and let the Holy Spirit illumine our hearts and minds. We can see 3 foundational truths presenting themselves. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father has eternally existed as a divine person. That the Son eternally existed as a divine person and that the Spirit has existed eternally as a divine person.

To review does the Bible teach that there are 3 distinct persons? Is there scriptural support that the Son existed as a divine person in eternity past? I believe the Bible speaks to these issues quite clearly and shows the Son to have existed from eternity past. While there are many such references in Scriptures I’ll focus on three that teach the eternal pre-existing, personhood and deity of the Son.

John1:1-3, 18

John 17:3-5

Philippians 2:5-7 (The Carmon Christi)

(John 1:1-3 ESV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Every major translation has Jesus the Christ in the beginning with the personal God who is there.

John 1:2

(AMP)  He was present originally with God.

(ASV)  The same was in the beginning with God.

(BBE)  This Word was from the first in relation with God.

(Bishops)  The same was in the begynnyng with God.

(CEV)  From the very beginning the Word was with God.

(DRB)  The same was in the beginning with God.

(ESV)  He was in the beginning with God.

(Geneva)  This same was in the beginning with God.

(HCSB)  He was with God in the beginning.

(KJV)  The same was in the beginning with God.

(KJV-1611)  The same was in the beginning with God.

(LITV)  He was in the beginning with God.

(MKJV)  He was in the beginning with God.

In the beginning was the Word (Logos), Logos was eternal it has existed from eternity past. Was equals timeless existence, the Greek the original language of the New Testament expresses this concept as timeless existence. No point of origination and the New Testament writers were careful to point out what “was” is what came into existence! The Word was with God, face to face having communion, Logos and Theos had relationship. We see in the Greek:

with= pros

A strengthened form of G4253; a preposition of direction; forward to, that is, toward (with the genitive case the side of, that is, pertaining to; with the dative case by the side of, that is, near to; usually with the accusative case the place, time, occasion, or respect, which is the destination of the relation, that is, whither or for which it is predicated).

Next we deal with the Word was God! As a side notes the Jehovah Witness teach the Word was (A) God. In reality in the construct we see the Word was Deity, the nature of the Logos.

log’-os

From G3004; something said (including the thought); by implication a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension a computation; specifically (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (that is, Christ): – account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say (-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work.

The use of this meaning of the Logos is used over 173 times in the New Testament pertaining to the Divine nature of the Logos. The Word was with God, who is the God the word was with?

(Joh 1:18 ESV)  No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

(Joh 1:18 AMP)  No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known]. [Prov. 8:30.]

The God who has not been seen is the Father, but it is “God the only Son” Jesus the Christ, who is close to the Fathers bosom (heart) who makes known the Father. The God with whom the Word eternally existed is, likewise the Father.

John 1:18 can only be understood in light of the Trinity, men have seen God!

IN John 1:1 we see the Word eternally existed. John tells us by using the phrase “ God the only Son” in John 1:18 clearly indicated that the Son is (and was) deity, and the Son was with the Father from eternity just as we see it in John 1:1. The Son has existed eternally as a divine Person.

(John 17:3-5 ESV)  And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

“Now Father” Jesus the Christ is addressing someone else in His prayer He addresses Himself (I) had (with you) before the world was. Given the personal pronouns, there is no question that these are of one person speaking to another person. The Son is speaking of sharing glory before or in eternity past, “together with yourself” a truly divine glory. (Jesus the Christ uses the imperative mode!). To see it from the view of the Amplified Bible translation:

(Joh 17:3 AMP)  And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent.

(Joh 17:4 AMP)  I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do.

(Joh 17:5 AMP)  And now, Father, glorify Me along with Yourself and restore Me to such majesty and honor in Your presence as I had with You before the world existed.

The Greek word para

Thayer Definition:

1) from, of at, by, besides, near

Part of Speech: preposition

Dr. AT Robertson (1863-1934) recognized as the greatest Greek scholar America has ever produced wrote-“with Thine own self” “By the Side of thyself” Jesus the Christ prays for the pre-incarnate glory and fellowship enjoyed before the incarnation. This is not just an ideal preexistence or thought in God’s mind, but actual and conscience existence at the Father’s side.

In this part of John 17 Jesus is first praying for Himself verses 1-5, then for His disciples verses 6-19 then finally for later believers verses 20-26. Jesus the Christ is praying His final prayer and giving an account of His early mission to the Father who sent Him.

All of the prayers of the Lord Jesus demonstrate the distinct personhood of the Son, while at the same time proving the deity of the Son as well. Not just examples of the “human side” praying to the “divine side” but of a divine yet incarnate Person the Son communicating with a divine eternal Father. To quote an early church Father Athanasius: This generation is unlike human generation. We must not conceive of things of God in a human way, or we will fall into error. We understand the terms in different senses for God and men, for humans are incapable of self-existence and are enclosed in place, whereas God is self-existent and encloses all things. So the Son’s generation is inseparable from the nature of the Father, He and the Father are ever one – the Word (logos) ever in the Father, and the Father in the Word, as radiance is to the light. Again, God does not, like man, beget a son by division of himself. The Father is not himself from a father as a human father is, nor is the Son a part of the Father. Nor does the Son beget as he has been begotten, but is the” whole image and radiance of the whole” (holos holou). The Father is eternally Father and the Son is eternally Son. The Father can never be a son, nor can the Son ever be a father. The Son is Son of the Father. How can we understand in any other way?

Last of the three basic versus we began with “the Carmen Christi” the hymn to Jesus the Christ as God.

(Php 2:5-7 ESV)  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Let’s look at the amplified version of this as well for a more comprehensive translation.

(Php 2:5-7 AMP)  Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.

This is thought to be a possible fragment of a hymn from the ancients of the anti-Nicene church. Let’s dive right in and examine the verse. What time frame are we discussing? Christian exegetes (one who practices exegesis Exposition; explanation; interpretation.) down through the centuries have understood the passage to refer to the period prior to the incarnation, when the Son had equality with the Father in Heaven itself. There are those who advocate this passage refers to the time of Jesus the Christ’s human ministry. This would reduce Jesus the Christ to a being less than God more than man a sort of Aeon, or avatar or the demiurge. We know from the Scriptures that Jesus the Christ is 100% man and had to 100% God to be the propitiation for our sins. If this passage refers to the period before the incarnation of Jesus the Christ then it is plain that the Son existed as a Person and was active, and divine. The trinitarian position is established.

To borrow from a well respected Apologist Dr. James White: “The Verbs determine the Truth” essentially one, in the form, stripped Himself, taking the form, being born are actions that only a person can do. The actions of existing and considering equality go together this is important since “to consider” is the action of a person. One of the key verbs to consider is “emptied” the Son (Jesus the Christ) had possession of equality prior to the incarnation, and the emptying which took place after possessing the equality with the Father. Jesus was made in the likeness of man at the incarnation! A person grasps:

  1. The deity of Christ
  2. The person of Christ

 

The Son as the Son is eternal eternally!

  1. The Logos existed as God and was in fellowship with the Father – John 1:1
  2. The Son shared glory with the Father before the world existed – John 17:5
  3. Prior to the incarnation the Son was divine and active – Phil 2: 5-7

 

We see the meaning of the oneness of God from the passages in the Old Testament. They refer to a oneness of being not a oneness of person, since we have now seen conclusively the existence of the Father and the Son as distinct, yet eternal, divine persons.  Unless the combined testimony of these 3 inspired scriptural witnesses can be overthrown the denial of the trinity is proven unscriptural and without basis. To do so one must do so on the basis of the text itself “not other considerations” We cannot read into scripture what we want it to say. This would be eisegesis ((from the Greek root εις, meaning into, in, among) is the process of misinterpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one’s own ideas, reading into the text. This is best understood when contrasted with exegesis. The discipline of Bible study demands we export only not import into the scriptures. Philosophy is not the issue the word forces us to.

Some commonly misunderstood texts:

(Joh 10:30 ESV)  I and the Father are one.”  

Some claim that Jesus is identifying Himself as the Father. However at if we look at the original languages and we see the intended use of the word “are” we see the full revelation.

es-men’ Frist person plural indicative of G1510; we are: – are, be, have our being, X have hope, + [the gospel] was [preached unto] us.

Some try to fit the singular “I am” into this verse to imply the Father and Son are singular one. If we use the proper translation of this word it reads. “I and the Father, We are one”. They are one in bringing the about the salvation of man.

(Joh 14:9-10 ESV)  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.

Philip apparently asks for some sort of appearance by God. In the OT, Moses asked for and was given a limited vision of God’s glory (Ex. 33:18; cf. Ex. 24:10). Isaiah, too, received a vision of God (Isa. 6:1; see note on John 12:41). Jesus is the greater fulfillment of these limited OT events (see also Ezek. 1:26–28). In keeping with OT teaching, Jesus denied the possibility of a direct vision of God (John 5:37; 6:46; cf. 1:18), yet he makes the stunning assertion that those who have seen him have seen the Father—a clear claim to deity. Philip’s request shows that he has not yet understood the point of Jesus’ coming, namely, to reveal the Father (1:14, 18).

Though there is a complete mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son, the Father and the Son remain distinct persons within the Trinity, as does the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14), and the three of them still constitute only one Being in three persons.

This is the Son speaking the same Son who in just a matter of a few sentences says (John 14:28) I go to the Father. A clear difference from here and returning to His former place! Next we have to ask who is speaking here. If Jesus the Christ is identifying Himself as Father in verses 9-10, then who is speaking here in verse 28?

(Isa 9:6 ESV)  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

A gift of divine grace to sinners. a child . . . a son. This is the invincible figure striding across the world stage, taking gracious command, according to vv. 4–5 (cf. Ps. 2:7–9; Luke 1:32). Isaiah presents the events as if it were the time of the child’s arrival, with an expectation of what he will achieve (Isa. 9:7). Wonderful Counselor. A “counselor” is one who is able to make wise plans (cf. 11:2). He is a ruler whose wisdom is beyond merely human capabilities, unlike intelligent but foolish Ahaz (cf. 28:29). Mighty God. A title of the Lord himself (10:20–21; Deut. 10:17; Neh. 9:32; Jer. 32:18). Everlasting Father. A “father” here is a benevolent protector (cf. Isa. 22:21; Job 29:16), which is the task of the ideal king and is also the way God himself cares for his people (cf. Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Ps. 103:13). (That is, this is not using the Trinitarian title “Father” for the Messiah; rather, it is portraying him as a king.) Prince of Peace. He is the ruler whose reign will bring about peace because the nations will rely on his just decisions in their disputes (cf. Isa. 2:4; 11:6–9; 42:4; 49:7; 52:15). This kind of king contrasts with even the best of the Davidic line that Judah has experienced so far, because these titles show that this king will be divine. Thus this cannot refer to, say, Hezekiah (whose father Ahaz was king at the time), who for all his piety was nevertheless flawed (cf. 39:5–8) and only human.

We also know that the title Father in the Old Testament refers to creator. In Mal 2:10 Father is the same as God, Isa 64:8 Our Father translates creator.

 (Col 1:15 ESV)  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Firstborn was understood as a title not a birth order as we use it today. It bestows all the rights and privileges of the first born male in Hebrew society.

(Joh 1:3 ESV)  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

He is the creator meaning Jesus the Christ.

(Heb 1:2-3 ESV)  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Here we see the right and privileges of the title of firstborn of creation. He is the radiance as the Father is the light, you can’t separate light form radiance. Light and radiance represent the same expression as 1 being 3 persons. From Athanasius we learn more of this idea. As the Father is light and the Son his radiance, we see in the Son the Spirit by whom we are enlightened. In turn, when the Spirit enlightens us, Christ in him enlightens us. As the Father is in the fountain and Son is called a river, we are said to drink the Spirit. When we drink the Spirit, we drink of Christ. Since Christ is the true Son, when we receive the Spirit we are made sons. When the Spirit is given to us, God is in us. When God is in us, the Son is in us. When we quickened by the Spirit, Christ lives in us. The Trinity is indivisible, and so just as it is true that wherever the Father is mentioned, the Son is also understood, so also it is true that wherever the Son is, the Holy Spirit is also, in him.

(Joh 5:22-23 ESV)  The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

In John 5:23 Jesus the Christ identifies Himself, for the cross to satisfy the penalty nothing less than an eternal preexistent divine Son would be sufficient  pay the price. Jesus the Christ is to be honored as the Father is honored. The language used here speaks of 2 persons in distinction.

(1Jn 2:23 ESV)  No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.

Who is the Son of God? A human nature indwelt by God or is He the eternal Logos in relation to the Father from eternity past? The one and only Father is the Father of a Son who is one and only. The Spirit cannot change, fills all things and I the word is present in all things. In closing, let’s look at one of the most fruitful biblical accounts for an understanding of the relationship between the Son and Spirit, that of the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan. There Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit, and in turn supplied the Spirit to his church. Since he sanctified himself for our sake, the decent of the Spirit at the Jordan was a decent upon us because Jesus bore our body. When he was washed in the Jordan, we were washed in him and by him. When he received the Spirit, we received it through him. The flesh that he assumed was anointed and this for us. Only the Son could unite us to the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit is his. (Athanasius)

The glorious Son is the only one who can pay our terrible debt and is the only acceptable sacrifice for sin.

Recap and Closing for Defenders

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on December 5, 2009 at 9:37 am

Recap and Closing

 (1Jn 2:1 HCSB)  My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ the righteous One.

 (1Jn 2:2 HCSB)  He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.

 (1Jn 2:2 AMP)  And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

 (1Jn 2:3 HCSB)  This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands.

 (1Jn 2:3 AMP)  And this is how we may discern [daily, by experience] that we are coming to know Him [to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him]: if we keep (bear in mind, observe, practice) His teachings (precepts, commandments).

 (1Jn 2:4 HCSB)  The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

 (1Jn 2:5 HCSB)  But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him:

 (1Jn 2:5 AMP)  But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity). By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him:

 (1Jn 2:6 HCSB)  the one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.

 (1Jn 2:7 HCSB)  Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command, but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the message you have heard.

 (Joh 13:34 HCSB)  “I give you a new commandment: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.

 (1Jn 2:8 HCSB)  Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.

 (Joh 14:21 HCSB)  The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”

 (1Jn 2:15-16 HCSB)  Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle–is not from the Father, but is from the world.

 (1Jn 2:16 AMP)  For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]–these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].

 (Mat 28:18 AMP)  Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.

 (Mat 28:19 AMP)  Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

 (Mat 28:20 AMP)  Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).

 We are to go about in our life making disciples and being disciples. God Bless and Keep You till we meet again!

We the Elect and followers of the way

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on November 30, 2009 at 2:41 pm

We the Elect and followers of the way, have a unique and clever opponent that uses the very word of God to accuse us of failure. While at the same time the Devil sets us up by our own shortcomings so that we will be enticed to fail and abuse the grace so freely given to us by Jesus through His suffering on Calvary. When we fail to obey God and his law we are judged, but before we are judged we are accused the very name of the Devil is the accuser. When we sin (disobey God’s law) we allow the accuser to go before the God and not only accuse us but slander us as well. All sin is sin some sins are more odious because we rebelliously choose to disobey God thereby giving credence to our accuser. Some would call those sins of commission, or intentional sin. There are some sins that are by omission or unintentional sin. That we through negligence or ignorance commit. We see examples of this in the sacrificial system of the Old Testament for atonement. We also see in the Law that some breeches of the law required restoration or penitence while others required the life of the offender. God never compromises with sin. The concept we are examining here is the Devil and his schemes not devaluing the sinfulness of sin.

Lev 4:26  He must burn all its fat on the altar, like the fat of the fellowship sacrifice. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf for that person’s sin, and he will be forgiven.

Lev 7:37  This is the law for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the restitution offering, the ordination offering, and the fellowship sacrifice,

Lev 9:7  Then Moses said to Aaron, “Approach the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering; make atonement for yourself and the people. Sacrifice the people’s offering and make atonement for them, as the LORD commanded.”

Num 15:25  The priest must then make atonement for the entire Israelite community so that they may be forgiven, for the sin was unintentional. They are to bring their offering, one made by fire to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD for their unintentional sin.

1Sa 15:22  Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice; to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.

Psa 19:12-14  Who perceives his unintentional sins? Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Moreover, keep Your servant from willful sins; do not let them rule over me. Then I will be innocent, and cleansed from blatant rebellion. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

 

Devil, Devilish

diabolos (G1228), “an accuser, a slanderer” (from diaballo, “to accuse, to malign”), is one of the names of Satan. From it the English word “Devil” is derived, and should be applied only to Satan, as a proper name. Daimon, “a demon,” is frequently, but wrongly, translated “devil”; it should always be translated “demon,” as in the RV margin. There is one “Devil,” there are many demons. Being the malignant enemy of God and man, he accuses man to God, Job_1:6-11; Job_2:1-5; Rev_12:9, Rev_12:10, and God to man, Genesis 3. He afflicts men with physical sufferings, Act_10:38. Being himself sinful, 1Jo_3:8, he instigated man to sin, Genesis 3, and tempts man to do evil, Eph_4:27; Eph_6:11, encouraging him thereto by deception, Eph_2:2. Death having been brought into the world by sin, the “Devil” had the power of death, but Christ through His own death, has triumphed over him, and will bring him to nought, Heb_2:14; his power over death is intimated in his struggle with Michael over the body of Moses, Jud_1:9. Judas, who gave himself over to the “Devil,” was so identified with him, that the Lord described him as such, Joh_6:70 (see Joh_13:2). As the “Devil” raised himself in pride against God and fell under condemnation, so believers are warned against similar sin, 1Ti_3:6; for them he lays snares, 1Ti_3:7, seeking to devour them as a roaring lion, 1Pe_5:8; those who fall into his snare may be recovered therefrom unto the will of God, 2Ti_2:26, “having been taken captive by him (i.e., by the ‘Devil’)”; “by the Lord’s servant” is an alternative, which some regard as confirmed by the use of zogreo (“to catch alive”) in Luk_5:10; but the general use is that of taking captive in the usual way. If believers resist he will flee from them, Jam_4:7. His fury and malignity will be especially exercised at the end of the present age, Rev_12:12. His doom is the lake of fire, Mat_25:41; Rev_20:10. The noun is applied to slanderers, false accusers, 1Ti_3:11; 2Ti_3:3; Tit_2:3.

   

We see all through the scriptures examples of people who started with good intentions and ended up being disobedient to God. There is a famous quote “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. More to the point we give the accuser creditability when we choose to sin and rebel against God and his law. This also has the effect of bolstering his pride so we are accused when we unintentionally sin and we slandered all the more. That is why we have an advocate with the Father, a High Priest that continually answers the accuser with the covering of His blood. The Father in turn addresses the accuser the Law has been fulfilled and the penalty has been paid, our names are written in the Book of Life. When Jesus uttered those last words on the cross “it is finished” He wasn’t just giving his life for us but He had born all God the Father’s wrath and the penalty for sin was paid.

(Heb 4:13-16 HCSB)  No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens–Jesus the Son of God–let us hold fast to the confession.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.

 (Heb 5:6-9 HCSB)  also said in another passage, You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals, with loud cries and tears, to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.

Though a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. After He was perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

 (Heb 8:1-2 HCSB)  Now the main point of what is being said is this: we have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle, which the Lord set up, and not man.

 As a result we the elect and receivers of God’s grace have the law as a school teacher while those judged by the law face the wrath to come.

(Rom 7:5-25 ESV)  For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

What are to make of the preceding scriptures concerning the Law (the 10 commandments) and its place in our lives?

9. Do not lie- have you ever told a lie even a white lie or a small deception? The law says we have broken it and we are liars. The judgment for lying:  (Rev 21:8 HCSB)  But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars–their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

 10. Do not covet- have you ever wanted something so bad you have and would put yourself at finical risk to have it at any means? The law says we have broken it and we are coveters. (Jas 4:2-4 HCSB)  You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure. Adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy.

 8. Do not steal- have you ever taken anything that wasn’t yours no matter how small? The law says we have broken it and we are thieves. (1Co 6:9-10 HCSB)  Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

 We’ve only covered 3 of the 10 commandments and the pattern is already in place break the commands of God no matter how small and the judgment of God is in place to penalize you. Hell is a real place that real sinners go to when they die.

 (Mat 10:28 AMP)  And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).

(Mat 13:41-43 HCSB)  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather from His kingdom everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!

 The Law is to be used lawfully, not to make us more religious that others or more pious.

It is designed to help us see our need for repentance to help us flee from the wrath to come. The law cannot save us but it will point us to Calvary and the cross. It is also our school master and teacher when we have accepted Jesus and His offer to pay the penalty that the law demands and make Jesus Lord and master of our lives.

Gal 3:24 KJV)  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

 (Jas 4:17 HCSB)  So, for the person who knows to do good and doesn’t do it, it is a sin.

Food for thought and consideration:

(Mar 8:36-38 HCSB)  For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life?

What can a man give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

 (Act 3:19 HCSB)  Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Naturalistic macroevolution

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on November 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm

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 TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE—MOM

Sixteen-year-old Johnny came down from his bedroom and stumbled into the kitchen to get a bowl of his favorite cereal—Alpha-Bits. When he got to the table, he was surprised to see that the cereal box was knocked over, and the Alpha-Bit letters spelled “TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE—MOM” on the placemat. Recalling a recent high school biology lesson, Johnny didn’t attribute the message to his mom. After all, he’d just been taught that life itself is merely a product of mindless, natural laws. If that’s the case, Johnny thought, why couldn’t a simple message like “Take out the garbage—Mom” be the product of mindless natural laws as well? Maybe the cat knocked the box over, or an earthquake shook the house. No sense jumping to conclusions. Johnny didn’t want to take out the garbage anyway. He didn’t have time for house chores. This was summer vacation, and he wanted to get to the beach. Mary would he there. Since Mary was the girl Scott liked too, Johnny wanted to get to the beach early to heat Scott there. But when Johnny arrived, he saw Mary and Scott walking hand-in-hand along the shore. As he followed them at a distance, he looked down and saw a heart drawn in the sand with the words “Mary loves Scott” scrawled inside. For a moment, Johnny felt his heart sink. But thoughts of his biology class rescued him from deep despair. “Maybe this is just another case of natural laws at work!” he thought. “Perhaps sand crabs or an unusual wave pattern just hap­pened to produce this love note naturally.” No sense accepting a con­clusion he didn’t like! Johnny would just have to ignore the corroborating evidence of the hand-holding. Comforted by the fact that principles learned in his biology class could help him avoid conclusions he didn’t like, Johnny decided to lie down for a few minutes to get a little sun. As he put his head back on his towel he noticed a message in the clouds: “Drink Coke,” the white puffy letters revealed on the sky-blue background. “Unusual cloud for­mation?” Johnny thought. “Swirling winds, perhaps?” No, Johnny couldn’t play the game of denial any longer. “Drink Coke” was the real thing. A message like that was a sure sign of intelli­gence It couldn’t be the result of natural forces because natural forces have never been observed to create messages. Even though he never saw a plane, Johnny knew there must have been a skywriter up there recently. Besides, he wanted to believe this message—the hot sun had left him parched, thirsting for a Coke.

One needs to be playing with only half a deck or be willfully blind to suggest that messages like “Take out the garbage—Mom” and “Mary loves Scott” are the work of natural laws. Yet these conclusions are perfectly consistent with principles taught in most high school and col­lege biology classes today. That’s where naturalistic biologists dog­matically assert that messages far more complicated are the mindless products of natural laws. They make this claim in trying to explain the origin of life. Naturalistic biologists assert that life generated spontaneously from nonliving chemicals by natural laws without any intelligent inter­vention. Such a theory might have seemed plausible to a nineteenth-century scientist who didn’t have the technology to investigate the cell and discover it’s amazing complexity. But today this naturalistic theory flies in the face of everything we know about natural laws and biolog­ical systems.  

The supreme problem for Darwinists is not that man came from apes or birds evolving from reptiles; it’s the origin of first life. For naturalistic macroevolution to be true the first life must have generated from nonliving chemicals, since 1950 DNA has provided more information concerning life in general. There is enough information in an ameba’s DNA helix a single cell organism to fill over 1000 encyclopedias no one can explain the presence of that information.

Where did the precise DNA sequence come from that told the single cell ameba it’s supposed to be an ameba? This is called specified complexity. 

Now, we must emphasize that these 1000 encyclopedias do not consist of random letters but of letters in a very specific order —just like reading real encyclopedias . So here’s the key question for Darwinists simple messages such as “Take out the garbage Mom,” “Mary loves Scott,” and “Drink Coke” require an intelligent being, then why doesn’t a message 1000 encyclopedias require one?

 

Response concerning Constantine recommissioning the Bible

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School, Trinity on October 23, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Copied from Daniel B Wallace Phd. an authority in Koinme Greek and the New Testament.

Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then?

Daniel B. Wallace

The following is an excerpt from Reinventing Jesus: What The Da Vinci Code and Other Novel Speculations Don’t Tell You (Kregel), co-authored by J. Ed Komoszewski, M. James Sawyer, and Daniel B. Wallace. Published in May, 2006, the book is widely available. You can find out more about this book at www.reinventingjesus.info.

 

When Constantine commissioned new versions of these documents, it enabled the custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit, and rewrite their material as they saw fit, in accordance with their tenets. It was at this point that most of the crucial alterations in the New Testament were probably made and Jesus assumed the unique status he has enjoyed ever since. The importance of Constantine’s commission must not be underestimated. Of the five thousand extant early manuscript versions of the New Testament, not one predates the fourth century. The New Testament as it exists today is essentially a product of fourth-century editors and writers—custodians of orthodoxy, “adherents of the message,” with vested interests to protect.
                                                                                          Holy Blood, Holy Grail, 368-69 

Introduction

Pop culture has a way of promoting strange and bizarre myths about the Bible. The urban legends are then fueled by self-proclaimed authorities on the Internet or novels that make it onto New York’s Bestseller list. Meanwhile, biblical scholars tend to ignore these childish antics, since they know that there is no substance to them. Unfortunately, this leaves the layperson without a clue as to what’s really going on.

As an illustration of the sort of unfounded myth we’re talking about, Sir Leigh Teabing’s comments in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code readily come to mind. He pontificates, “The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”[1] There is of course a grain of truth in all this. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. And the Bible had human authors. But to say that it has evolved through translations, additions, and revisions, with the implication that the original is no longer detectable is just plain silly. We discussed these issues in our first chapter on textual criticism, noting that this kind of myth involves unwarranted assumptions that are easily disproved by the manuscripts themselves. It plays on the experiences of everyone who has passed on information without recourse to the earlier sources (such as in the telephone game). But in the case of the NT, this is not valid: as time goes on, we are getting closer and closer to the wording of the original text because of the vast amounts of manuscripts—many of which are quite early—scholars continue to uncover.

But what about Teabing’s claim that Jesus’ divinity was not to be found in the NT manuscripts—that Constantine essentially invented this doctrine? We will address that specific issue toward the end of this chapter with concrete evidence that again shows how this kind of language is patently false and misleading.

What is really at stake when it comes to the text of the NT—when it comes to how accurately the copies were made? We have already noted four kinds of textual problems related to this issue, but it would be helpful to briefly list them again here.

  1. The largest amount of textual variants (well over half) involve spelling differences and nonsense readings that are easily detectable. These affect nothing of meaning in the text.
  2. The next largest group are those that do not affect translation or, if they do, involve synonyms. Variants such as “Christ Jesus” vs. “Jesus Christ” may entail a slightly different emphasis, but nothing of great consequence is involved.
  3. Then there are the meaningful variants that are not viable. That is, they simply have no plausibility of reflecting the wording of the original because the manuscripts in which they are found have a poor pedigree. This issue involves careful historical investigation and requires the scholar to take the transmission of the text seriously. We saw that Robert Price’s attempt to excise Luke 1:34 from the Bible belonged to the category of “meaningful but not viable.” In his case, there was absolutely no manuscript evidence on his side, only wishful thinking.
  4. Finally, the smallest category, comprising about 1% of all textual problems, involves those variants that are both meaningful and viable. Most NT scholars would say that these textual problems constitute much less than 1% of the total. But even assuming the more generous amount (by expanding on the scope of both “meaningful” and “viable”), even then not much theologically is affected.

Our objective in this chapter is to discuss this fourth kind of variant in more detail, to see whether the deity of Christ (as well as other cardinal beliefs) is impacted by these variants. We will first look at the possibility of “conjectural emendation”—variants that have no manuscripts in support of them. How many are there and how do scholars deal with them? Then, we will discuss which doctrines are affected by the variants. Finally, we will examine some of the early manuscripts to see what they have to say about the deity of Jesus Christ.

Conjectural Emendation

We have noted several times throughout this section that NT textual criticism suffers from an embarrassment of riches unparalleled by another other piece of ancient literature. The manuscript copies are far, far more plentiful and earlier than any other Greek or Latin texts. In terms of manuscript data, any skepticism about the Jesus of the Gospels should be multiplied many times over for any other historical figure. Or, to put this positively, we have more and earlier manuscript evidence about the person of Jesus Christ than we do anyone in the ancient world—Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, anyone. But let’s quantify that more specifically. How many places are there in the NT where there are gaps that need to be filled in, places where the manuscripts don’t exist and scholars simply have to guess at what was originally written?

Before we look at the NT, it might be good to get a frame of reference. Is there a need for conjectural emendation for other ancient literature and, if so, how great is this need? For many important authors we only have partial works. Thus, of the ancient historian Livy’s 142-volume work on the history of Rome, only copies of 35 volumes survive today. Of Tacitus’ Histories, fewer than five of the original fourteen books can be found in any copies.[2] Hundreds of books from antiquity are known to us only by name; no manuscripts remain. And even of some of the better-preserved writings, there are gaps galore. For example, in his Patristic Textual Criticism, Miroslav Marcovich complains that the surviving copies of some of the early patristic writers are “lacunose [filled with gaps], corrupt, dislocated and interpolated…”[3] He then proceeds to lay out principles of conjectural emendation that he must follow in order to reconstruct the original wording.[4]

The situation with NT textual criticism is entirely different: there is no place for conjectural emendation for the NT because of the great wealth, diversity, and age of the materials that we have to work with. The vast majority of NT scholars would say that there are absolutely no places where conjecture is necessary. Again, this is because the manuscripts are so plentiful and so early that in every instance the original NT can be reconstructed from the available evidence.

For example, Kurt and Barbara Aland, the first two directors of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, Germany (Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung or INTF) co-authored one of the standard textbooks on NT textual criticism. At the INTF, over 90% of all Greek NT manuscripts are on microfilm. For the past forty-five years, the Institute has been more influential than any individual, school, or group of scholars anywhere else in the world for determining the exact wording of the original NT. In short, they know their stuff. Hear the Alands: “…every reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition is stubbornly preserved, even if the result is nonsense… any reading ever occurring in the New Testament textual tradition, from the original reading onward, has been preserved in the tradition and needs only to be identified.” [5]

The Alands go so far as to say that if a reading is found in one manuscript it is almost surely not authentic: “The principle that the original reading may be found in any single manuscript or version when it stands alone or nearly alone is only a theoretical possibility.”[6] Further, “Textual difficulties should not be solved by conjecture, or by positing glosses or interpolations, etc., where the textual tradition itself shows no break; such attempts amount to capitulation before the difficulties and are themselves violations of the text.”[7] Their opinions in these matters should be considered as that of expert witnesses. Further, it is shared by most others in the discipline.[8]

What are the implications of the non-need to guess about the wording of the original? Only that in virtually every instance the original reading is to be found somewhere in the manuscripts. That ‘somewhere’ can be narrowed down by the methods we discussed in the last chapter. Further, since the original reading is not something to be merely guessed at, we have an actual database—the pool of variants found in the manuscripts—that can be tested for any theological deviations.

An illustration is in order here. Suppose conjectural emendation were needed for the Gettysburg Address. In the opening sentence, a comparison of the manuscripts might show something like this[9]:

Manuscript A: Four score and seven ______ ago our _________ brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in _____dom, and dedicated to the proposition that “all ______ are created equal.”

Manuscript B: Four score and _____ ______ ago our ________s brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, ________ in lib________, and dedicated to the proposition that “all ______ are created _____.”

Comparing these two manuscripts, we notice that there are gaps. Perhaps there is a worm hole in one manuscript, water damage in the other. Fortunately, some of the gaps are filled in by the other manuscript, but not all. Putting the data together from both manuscripts, we can get the following:

Four score and seven ______ ago our ________s brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in {lib______/_____dom?}, and dedicated to the proposition that “all ______ are created equal.”

In such an instance, would Lincoln scholars have the right to put anything in the gaps? Of course not. There is a finite number of options. For example, since we know the date of the Gettysburg Address, the “four score and seven” cannot refer to days or months. It must refer to years. Also, since one variant has “lib____” while the other has “____dom,” scholars may guess that something like either “liberty” or “freedom” belonged here. Perhaps they could not decide between these two, but they would not have the right to think that “libations” or “Christendom” was the appropriate word! Common sense has to prevail when doing conjectural emendation. As to who brought forth the new nation, scholars might suppose that something like “fathers,” “forefathers,” or “leaders” would be appropriate. Nothing of substance is at stake here, of course, except for the exact wording. But again, only a finite number of options are really possible. Finally, the last statement—that “all _____ are created equal”—might require something like “people” or “men.” But “people” would hardly do in 1863, since “men” was the generic term used at that time when all people were in view.

Finally, to make their argument, Lincoln scholars would have to find other speeches by the president as well as his writings to get a sense as to what he would have said. Manners and customs of the day would be examined. And the conjectures would have to make sense. All in all, even in a text such as this, there would be a finite number of options. And no reasonable person would consider all conceivable options as equally possible.

The situation for the NT is hardly as bleak as this! Of the one hundred thirty-eight thousand words of the original text, only one or two might have no manuscript support. There is virtually no need for conjecture, as we already have pointed out. And even if there were, this would not mean that we would have no idea what the original text said. Instead, precisely because almost all the possible variants are already to be found in the manuscripts, there is a rather limited number of options that scholars have to contend with. Now, suppose that textual critics simply pick readings at random, without any genuine scholarly method. Indeed, imagine that determining the wording of the NT was as randomly accomplished as a chimp taking a multiple-choice exam. But in this case, virtually all of the answers make sense, and most of them are very close to the wording of the others. Further, never is there the option, “None of the above.” Of course, as we saw in the previous chapter, NT textual criticism is a very exacting discipline, with several checks and balances. It is not a bunch of chimps randomly pecking at a list of options! Frankly, when skeptics try to make the claim that we simply have no clue what the original NT text said, one has to wonder what drives their dogmatic skepticism, because it certainly isn’t the evidence.[10]

 


[1] Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code: A Novel (New York: Doubleday, 2003) 231. Other equally irresponsible statements can be easily found. For example, Frank Zindler wrote in the American Atheists magazine in 1986 the following: “Concerning the preferred text of the Greek Bible, readers may wonder just who decides—and how—what the preferred readings should be? Space does not permit a discussion of the scientific (and sometimes very un-scientific) principles involved. We can only observe that it is both laughable and sad to see the more intelligent fundamentalists diligently learning Greek in order to ‘read God’s word in the original tongue.’ Little do they suspect, while staring at the nearly footnote-free pages of their Westcott-Hort Greek testaments, the thousands of scientific and not-so-scientific decisions underlying what they see—or don’t see—on each page” (“The Real Bible: Who’s Got It?”, accessed on-line at http://www.atheists.org/christianity/realbible.html in October 2005).

There is so much wrong-headedness in this statement that one barely knows where to begin. For one thing, it is by no means only fundamentalists who are studying the Greek New Testament. The Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster, Germany is anything but a fundamentalist institute! Yet it is the epicenter of NT textual criticism, and is responsible for the highly-touted Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (a Greek NT which has well over a century of scholarship behind it; it is now in its 27th edition). Of the four doctoral courses on NT textual criticism taught in the United States, not one of them is taught at a fundamentalist school. Now it is true that textual criticism is both a science and an art. There are times when scholars need to make decisions by creative thinking regarding what the internal evidence suggests. This is not in any sense, however, devoid of good historical research principles. But the appellation science is sometimes applied to historical studies only with disdain (especially by those who think of science as what takes place only in a pristine lab). Historians cannot verify their views in a test tube, with the same results coming out each time. With history, we are dealing with partial data and human activity. The determinations of good historical research may not be as certain as those of some of the hard sciences, but this does not mean that everything is up for grabs. Further, to suggest that the “footnote-free” Westcott-Hort text is still being used today is misleading. That text was printed in 1881 and has been out of print for decades. It is occasionally reprinted, but hard to find. We know of no school that uses the Westcott-Hort “footnote-free” text today. Rather, most seminaries use one of two Greek NTs, both of which contain thousands of textual problems in the apparatus. Whatever Zindler is critiquing, it is not part of the real world as we know it today. Finally, as we saw earlier, this kind of wholesale skepticism is a part of the postmodern mindset. But when one looks at the actual details of the textual problems, the vast majority are so trivial as to not even be translatable, while the meaningful and viable variants constitute only about 1% of the text. And even for this category, most scholars would say that 1% is being awfully generous as to our uncertainties! (The majority of NT scholars would say that what is uncertain is a small fraction of 1% of the text.) As we have said many times throughout this section, the dogma of absolute skepticism is unjustified in the field of textual criticism (just as the dogma of absolute certainty is), even though it is an oft-repeated mantra of postmodern skeptics.

[2] F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, 6th ed (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1981) 11.

[3] Miroslav Marcovich, Patristic Textual Criticism, Part 1 (Atlanta: Scholars, 1994) ix.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989) 296 (italics added).

[6] Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, The Text of the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989) 281.

[7] Ibid., 280.

[8] See G. D. Kilpatrick, “Conjectural Emendation in the New Testament,” New Testament Textual Criticism, edited by E. J. Epp and G. D. Fee (Oxford: Clarendon, 1981) 349-60. For a specific treatment on conjecture, in which the author rejects it outright, see D. A. Black, “Conjectural Emendations in the Gospel of Matthew,” NovT 31 (1989) 1-15. On the other hand, on rare occasions a NT scholar will put forth a conjecture. But such are not only few and far between, they are also a self-consciously uphill battle. See, for example, J. Strugnell, “A Plea for Conjectural Emendation in the New Testament,” CBQ 36 (1974) 543-558.

[9] There are five known early copies of the Gettysburg Address. The two main copies were from Lincoln’s private secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay. They do not agree completely with each other. But there is no need for conjecture. This example is used for illustration purposes only.

[10] See Earl Doherty, Challenging the Verdict (Ottawa: Age of Reason, 2001) 39. He argues:

During formative periods, changes in theology as well as traditions about events which lay at the inception of the movement may be very significant. We have nothing in the Gospels which casts a clear light on that early evolution or provides us with a guarantee that the surviving texts are a reliable picture of the beginnings of the faith.

In fact, the one indicator we do have points precisely in the opposite direction. The later Gospels dependent on the earlier Mark show many instances of change, alteration and evolution of ideas.

There are at least two fallacies with this reasoning: First, neither Matthew nor Luke intended to duplicate Mark exactly, so why should we expect them to be a model for what the scribes did? They felt free to shape the material as they saw fit. (This is not the same thing as saying that they invented stories about Jesus, but that they edited their sources for their own audiences. And yet, if anything, they would be charged with plagiarism (something that was not an ethical issue in the ancient world, since everyone did it) more than with significantly changing the text. Second, let’s assume for sake of argument that Luke and Matthew intended to radically depart from Mark. Again, this is not the assumption that anyone makes about the scribal habits. If so, then to argue that we can know nothing about what any of these Gospel writers originally wrote is also fallacious. Why? Because if the scribal tendency was to harmonize the Gospel accounts (which it was, as we can see especially from the later manuscripts), then why should there be so many differences between the Synoptic Gospels in the earliest manuscripts? In the least, this reflects that they copied them with relative accuracy.

Worldview your narrative and why you believe it.

In Apologetics, Chrisitian, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Prayer, Satan, Saved, Sin, Sunday School on October 10, 2009 at 4:38 pm

threecrosses1 ESTABLISHING  A WORLDVIEW

Ravi Zacharias

 
 

VOLUME ANSWER GUIDE LAYING THE GROUNDWORK I video session

INTRODUCTION
+ Assumptions and presuppositions are the guiding factors in decision making.
+ Alvin loftier: Every person carries in his head a mental model of the world.
. Correspondence
• Coherence
— People will try to deny this until they are on the receiving
end of a non-corresponding truth or an incoherent worldview! — Correspondence and coherence are incontrovertible methods of
establishing truth in a court of law
+ This view of truth is supported by four laws of logic:
• The Law of Identity ; An object is identical to itself.
• The Law of Non-contradiction ; Two contradictory statements cannot be true in the same sense at the same time.
• The Law of the Excluded Nicole ; Just because two things have one thing in common does not mean they have everything in common.
• The Law of Rational Inference
Inferences can be made from what is known to what is unknown.
HOW DO WE UNPACK A WORLDVIEW AND CONNECT IT WITH REALITY?
+ Logical Consistency
Empirical Adequacy
• The Bible is a book of Geography and history .
• God is a God of empirical value.
• Jesus told Thomas reach and feel his side. (John 20)
• God has etched his reality in stories and history.
+ Experiential Relevance
• Norman Geisler gives two additional tests:
1. Unaffirrnability as a test for falsehood
2. Undeniability as a test for truth
— Pantheism is an unaffirmable world view because it forces you to deny your own existence.

WHAT ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT FORM A WORLDVIEW?
^ Where did I come from ? (Origin)
^ How do I separate Good from bbua ? (Morality) ^ What is my life’s r neaninca ? (Purpose)
+ What’s going to happen to me when I die ? (Destiny)
HOW DOES THE TEST FOR CREDIBILITY COME?
^ Five Areas of Credibility 
• The Pragmatic Basis—Does it really work?
• The Experiential Basis—Can I sense it in my
experience internally? 
• The Cosmic or Metaphysical Basis—Does
it fit the big cicture? 
• The Historical Basis—Did what it says really happen?
• The Community Basis—Does it provide relational support?

WHAT MUST A WORLDVIEW HAVE IN ORDER TO BE PERSUASIVE?
* A strong foundation in correspondence (factual support)
^ A high degree of coherence (internal consistency)
^ Lxplanater z power (the integration of facts and deductions}
^ Avoid two extremes (neither too corn elicatec nor too sir 11IDlistic
+ More than one line of evidence
^ Able to refute contrcrr worldviews
CONCLUSION
+ Four Steps in Communication
• identification
• Translation
their idiom?
—How can you identify with your listener? —How can you translate your message into
^ Immanuel Kant: First to use the German term “Weltanschauung,” which means “a way ci looKnu at the world.”
^ James Olthuis
“A worldview… is a framework or set of fundamental
beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it. This vision need not be fully articulated: it may be so
 internalized that it goes largely unquestioned; it may not be explicitly developed into a systematic conception of life; it may not even be theoretically deepened into a philosophy; it may not even tbs codified into croodal form. It may be greatly refined through cultural, historical development. Nevertheless, this vision is a channel for the
ultimate beliefs which give direction and meaning to life. It is the integrative and interpretive framework by which order and disorder are judged. It is the standard by which reality is managed and pusued. It is the set of hinges on which all our everyday thinking and doing turns.”
^ A worldview is a set of beliefs that underlie and shape all human
thor u~ fa f and action .
^ The question is not whether you have a worldview or not, but whether the
worldview you are living by is a good one.
WHAT IS THE GOAL OF APOLOGETICS?
+ The goal of understanding worldviews and communicating your worldview is to get the one to whom you are communicating to God
HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE THE TRUTH?
+ TWO Theories of Truth/Methods of Truth Testing

Persuasion —What about your story is persuasive?
Justification —Why do you believe what you believe?
+ The dilemma in all of this:
• The human problem is not finiteness or smallness but fallenness and sinfulness
• You can expect a sinner to insist on his own View of things.
• Sin involves an evasion of the truth.
• Sin has ultimately contributed to Intellectual confusion and moral evil.
Conversion is not your prerogative; evangelism is.

Conversion is God’s prerogative.
+ Three “ologies”:
• Ontology—\Nhat is
• Epistemology—How you know it is tru
• Axiology—How it impels you to live
^ Revelation 3:14-18
To the church in Laodicea:
“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You sal. `I am rich; / have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. ‘ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
^ If you understand the worldview of the people you are speaking to, you will have an effect.

TESTING THE FOOTING

Comprehension
These questions are meant to confirm that all participants have understood the concepts presented in the lecture and are able to articulate them. They can also
be used as a review.

^ Ravi imagines a little boy who, when asked if it is true that he has eaten a cookie, replies, “What is truth?” Why does the boy ask this question? What is his motive?
He is trying to distract the one asking the question from his own guilt. He does not want to face the truth, so he questions whether it exists at all.
^ Which law of logic does the following statement violate: It only snows when it is cold; it is cold, therefore, it must be snowing”?
This statement violates the Law of the Excluded Middle. It assumes that just because cold and snow go together that they always go together.
^ Which law of logic does the following statement violate: “This statement is false”?
This statement violates the Law of Non-contradiction, It is making the assertion that something this statement) is true, while at the same time asserting that it is false.
^ What does it mean to say that the Christian worldview has “empirical adequacy”?
It makes sense of the world that we can see and touch. It is based on real events that happened in real places in real time. It fits the facts.
^ What does it mean to say that the Christian worldview has “experiential relevance”?
it aswers the questions that flow out of our experiences and the felt issues we face in every area of our lives, It make sense of our experience and gives guidance for how to live,
^ What two extremes does Ravi say that the Christian worldview needs to avoid if it is going to be persuasive?
We need to avoid the extremes of making our worldview too complicated or too simplistic.
+ What was Ravi’s point in bringing up the parable of the sower and the seeds?
Sometimes our words and arguments will bring forth the fruit of conversion. Other times they will not. We cannot always tell when someone is going to be changed by our words. It is our job to be faithful and let God use our efforts how He will,
+ Can you think of an example of a worldview that does not meet the pragmatic test for credibility?
Answers will vary. One example would be a communist woridview Communism failed the pragmatic test because it didn’t work over the long term; it failed to account for human selfishness as a motivator towards productivity.
+ What does it mean to say that the Christian worldview rests on more than one line of evidence?
The Christian worldview is supported by historical evidence, philosophical arguments, experiential validation, and internal coherence. It does not rest on one argument alone or one sole piece of evidence,
^ Even it you could flawlessly prove the Christian worldview, what dilemma would you encounter?
The human heart is sinful and evades the truth. Just because you show someone the truth does not mean they will necessarily choose to see it if they don’t want to see it.

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