If This Is Such A Grievous Sin, Jesus Would Have Mentioned It

16 06 2015
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A post at Stand Up For The Truth describes the efforts of “progressive Christians” to “use the Bible to promote abortion”. It describes the effort among pro-choice “Christians” to establish the beginning of life at the point when the baby takes his or her first breath (rather than at the point of conception). The post cites an article on The Christian Left Blog (entitled, “The Bible Tells Us When A Fetus Becomes A Living Being”) making a case for life starting when a baby takes its first breath. I’ve already discussed the problems with such a view in a prior post, but I was struck by the final line in the Christian Left blog post:

“In the end, if abortion was such a grievous sin Jesus would have mentioned it.  He said nothing.”

I’ve heard this kind of argument many times over the past few years, applied to any number of behaviors that people are trying to justify or reconcile with the Christian Scriptures. I bet you’ve heard this kind of statement as well. “Jesus said nothing about homosexuality in all of his sermons to his disciples and the masses. If it’s such a big deal, Jesus would have preached on it.” There are many variations of this kind of argument, but all of them seem to miss the point. Jesus’ apparent “silence” on abortion or homosexuality do not result in God’s approval or affirmation of such behavior for the following reasons:

Jesus Agreed:
Jesus already acknowledged the fact that he was in complete agreement with the teaching of the Old Testament unless he specifically delineated a new line of instruction. He did not “come to abolish the Law or the Prophets… but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17)

Jesus Observed:
Jesus was a dedicated, devout and observant Jew. You want to know what he thought about homosexuality or abortion? Simple; just look at what other devout, observant Jews would have said. They most certainly would have affirmed the Old Testament teaching (like the teaching on homosexuality found in Leviticus 18:20 and 20:13)

Jesus Said More:
We also know that the gospel writers didn’t capture all of Jesus’ teaching on any of these topics. John said that “there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Don’t be so sure that Jesus didn’t actually teach against these behaviors.

Jesus Said Less:
But none of this really matters if you stop and think about it. Are we truly going to take the position that any behavior that Jesus did not specifically condemn is therefore allowable and approved by God? Really? How about bestiality? How about pedophilia? Jesus never said anything about these behaviors; you might say that Jesus said a lot less than he could have! Does this mean these behaviors are morally virtuous? Few would agree with that idea.

There are many things that Jesus “said nothing” about. This means very little, however, when you really stop and think about it. As Christians, we need to consider the entire counsel of God before we determine whether or not God’s Word approves or condemns a particular behavior.





The Line

9 06 2015

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Lines are everywhere! There are lines in parking lots to designate the parking spaces. There are lines drawn at intersections so that pedestrians know where to cross the street. There are little, but important, lines drawn on rulers to show units of measure. There are lines drawn on baseball diamonds, basketball courts, and football fields to help the players and referees know if the balls, and players, are in or out.
Lines can be very important. They help us know where we stand. We are either on one side of the line or the other.
Exodus 32 tells us that Moses drew a line. Here’s why: God’s people had participated in a drunken party and had worshiped a golden calf. Drunken idolaters! Moses knew that God demands that people love, obey and worship only Him. In a very courageous move, Moses stepped in front of all those people and drew a line by saying, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come to me. . . .” (Ex. 32:26). That day, many crossed the line by standing with Moses and the Lord.
Jesus, too, drew a line when He called those from the multitude to follow Him. Jesus’ words make a very clear line: either you are for Christ or you are against Him. That same line exists today. We must decide on which side of that line we will stand.
Many choose to stand on both sides of the line. And for those individuals Jesus replies, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15, 16). There is no middle ground with the Lord. In fact, for those who try, it makes Him sick to His stomach. Take a stand on God’s side.

 A Treasury of Bible Illustrations





What does the Sign on the Cross Really Say?

7 06 2015
I found an interesting website called, “Defending Inerrancy”. More than ever, we need to know how to respond to the ones who attack the Bible for the sake of those who may be listening.  Pastor Dave
 
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 1 Peter 3:15
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Problem: The wording of the accusation above Christ’s head on the cross is rendered differently in each Gospel account.

Matthew: “This is Jesus the king of the Jews” (27:37).

Mark: “The king of the Jews” (15:26).

Luke: “This is the king of the Jews” (23:38).

John: “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews” (19:19).

Solution: While there is a difference in what is omitted, the important phrase, “the king of the Jews,” is identical in all four Gospels. The differences can be accounted for in different ways.

First, John 19:20 says, “Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.” So then, there are at least three different languages in which the sign above Christ’s head was written. Some of the differences may come from it being rendered in different languages.

Further, it is possible that each Gospel only gives part of the complete statement as follows:

Matthew: “This is Jesus [of Nazareth] the king of the Jews.”

Mark: “[This is Jesus of Nazareth] the king of the Jews.”

Luke: “This is [Jesus of Nazareth] the king of the Jews.”

John: “[This is] Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews.”

Thus, the whole statement may have read “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.” In this case, each Gospel is giving the essential part (“the king of the Jews”), but no Gospel is giving the whole inscription. But neither is any Gospel contradicting what the other Gospels say. The accounts are divergent and mutually complementary, not contradictory.


This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click he





Just Sayin’

30 05 2015

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Hope itself is like a star—not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.

God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians.

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy.

Anything is better than the dead calm of indifference.

Oh, to love the Savior with a passion that can never cool

Charles Spurgeon

Take up the cross, and follow Me.
Mark 10:21

He is precious
1 Peter 2:7

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall
1 Corinthians 10:12

“Fear of God” is another way of saying that we take God seriously!

It’s not what we are, but what we are becoming, that communicates Christ.

Love without discipline encourages a self-indulgent life. But discipline without love encourages bitterness and rebellion.

365-Day Devotional Commentary

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Are Modern Bibles Accurate?

6 05 2015
Sometimes the issue of Bible translations must be plowed before the seed of the gospel is planted. Sometimes we need to give an answer to someone who asks us an honest question about the authenticity of Scripture. Sometimes it is good to be established in our own beliefs. Give this article by Dave DeSonier  a good read, I think it will answer a very foundational question. -Pastor Dave
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Dave DeSonier

The January 2, 2015 issue of Newsweek magazine featured on its cover an article in which the author states that we can’t possibly know, today, what the authors actually said in the original bible documents.  To quote from the article:

At best, we’ve all read a bad translation — a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.

The premise is that the bible we have today is not an accurate representation of what the original authors wrote. But is this claim true?

Translations

Has today’s bible really come to us via a long series of language translations, say from Greek to Latin to Armenian to Russian to German to Spanish to English? Or something similar to that? Absolutely NOT.

Our modern English translations of the bible come directly from Greek, the original language in which the New Testament was written. Whether you’re using NIV, NASB, NLT, etc., the English text was translated by a team of scholars directly from the Greek. Many bibles will include an explanation of the translation process used.

So on this point the Newsweek author is clearly wrong. Either he is woefully misinformed, or he is purposely trying to mislead readers regarding the process by which modern bibles were translated..

Copies

On the other hand, he is correct that our bible came from copies; we don’t have the original of any document from antiquity. However, he exaggerates significantly; many New Testament copies are dated quite close in time to the originals, and cannot simply be dismissed as “copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”

Not just bible documents are copies, but so are all other ancient documents you’ve ever read. For none of them do we have the original that was penned by the author. The materials used in ancient times simply don’t last for 2,000 years. They decay over time, and thus make it necessary for scribes to copy documents in order to perpetuate the author’s work. The copies available to us are called manuscripts, where ‘manuscript’ can mean a copy of the entire book, or of only a chapter of the book, or perhaps of just a fragment of one page.

Even though it was from a copy, my high school English teacher still made me read Homer’s Iliad, so apparently she thought the manuscripts we have are good enough. (In fairness though, no one is basing their worldview or religion on the Iliad.)

Analogy

How do we know that copies we use today accurately reflect the originals? Well, here’s an analogy.

Let’s say you write (not electronically, but by plain old handwriting) a history of your family. You then convince 100 people to each make one hand-written copy of your original. Then you mail the copies to 100 family members.

Twenty years later you cannot find your original. So you write family members and ask them to let your borrow their copies so that you can carefully reconstruct the original. If you have enough copies, you will be able to detect what the original actually said to a high degree of accuracy. Two copies would clearly not be enough — if you found a discrepancy you wouldn’t know which version was correct and which was wrong.  But if you had 10, or 20, or 50 copies, you could determine quite precisely what the original said.

Detective Work

With sufficient copies, scholars can compare manuscripts to eliminate errors and determine what the original actually said. If we have, say 20 copies, and all but one have a punctuation mark in the same spot, but one does not, we can safely conclude that an omission was made by that one scribe. Or if the spelling of a word in one manuscript differs with the spelling in all the others, we conclude that an error was made by that one scribe. Or if an entire line of text is missing in just one manuscript, but present in the others. we know the scribe simply (mistakenly) skipped a line.

So scholars take on the role of detective. To accurately reconstruct the originals what scholars desire is two things:  1) a large number of manuscripts, and 2) manuscripts produced close in time to the date of the original document. In short, we want LOTS of OLD copies. The more copies, and the older the copies, the higher the chance that we can accurately reproduce the original document.

How Many Exist?

So how many manuscripts exist for various works of antiquity? Below is a short table (compiled by Dr Clay Jones) of some well-known works. The “Time Gap” is the number of years that elapsed between the date of authorship, and the date of the earliest manuscript we have. For example, the Iliad was written around 800 BC, but our earliest manuscript is dated about 400 years after Homer wrote, i.e. 400 BC. The time gap is 400 years.

For most of these ancient works, only 30 to 250 manuscripts exist. The Iliad stands out by having over 1,700. And for most of these works, the earliest manuscript we have is dated between 400 and 1,300 years after the original work was penned. In contrast, for the New Testament there are nearly 5,800 Greek manuscripts, and the earliest one dates to within 40 years of the author’s original work.

Author – Work           Time Gap –  # Manuscripts
Homer – Iliad –                400 yrs –  1,757 mss
Herodotus – History –    1,350 yrs –    109 mss
Sophocles – Plays –        ~150 yrs –    193 mss
Plato – Tetralogies –       1,300 yrs –    210 mss
Caesar – Gallic Wars –     950 yrs –    251 mss
Livy – History of Rome –  400 yrs –    150 mss
Tacitus – Annals –            750 yrs –      33 mss
Pliny – Natural History –  400 yrs –    200 mss

New Testament –         40 yrs – 5,795 mss

We have manuscripts of entire New Testament books that date to within about 125 years of the original documents. We have individual manuscripts containing most of the New Testament books (and all the gospels) that date to within about 175 years of the originals. The bottom line is this:  the New Testament has many more manuscripts, much nearer in time to the originals, than for any other work of antiquity. If we are going to say that the New Testament is unreliable, then we’ve got to also toss out every other ancient work.

Other Evidence

Besides almost 5,800 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, there are more than 10,000 Latin manuscripts, and 5,000 in other languages (such as Armenian, Syriac, Coptic). Altogether, scholars are working with over 30,000 manuscripts.

In addition, the early church fathers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Tertullian and others quoted the New Testament exhaustively. In fact, even if we had zero manuscripts of the New Testament, we would be able to reconstruct all but 11 verses of the New Testament from works of the church fathers.

As a result, scholars can reproduce the original books of the New Testament to an extremely high degree of accuracy. Of the 20,000 lines of text in the New Testament, only about 40 lines contain wording that is still being debated. And none of these disputed lines brings into question any significant doctrine of Christianity. (For comparison, about 10%, or 1,500 lines of the Iliad are debated.)

In summary, our modern New Testament is a direct, Greek to English, translation of an extremely accurate reconstruction of the original Greek text. The New Testament is by far the best attested of any document from antiquity, with many times more manuscripts, and manuscripts much closer in time to the originals.





The Satisfaction of Calvary

2 05 2015

Isaiah 53:1-12

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Isaiah 53 is the John 3:16 of the Old Testament, one of the clearest pictures of Calvary in all the Bible that describes what went on there physically and spiritually. It is the most quoted OT chapter in the NT, being quoted or referred to 85x.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 

Isaiah 53:11

“What does it take to satisfy you anyway?” It is question you may have asked at one time or other. Maybe it is aquestion reserved for someone in whom you are frustrated. Of Course, some people can never be satisfied…

• Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations of the known world. He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer, almost made it to India. At age of 32 in Bagdad, Iraq- many believe was alcohol poisoning.
• Napoleon, French General in the early 1800’s and product of the French Revolution, spread fear and havoc over all of Europe. He could never be satisfied. But 200 years ago on June 18th, He was bested in the country of Belgium at a place called Waterloo.
• Hitler could not be satisfied and it took the combined armies of the world to stop him.
• In Bible, Pharaoh could never be satisfied no matter how much the 10 plagues hindered, kept on demanding more and more from the Jews, even their lives.
• Proverbs 30:15-16: The horse leech hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.

But what about God? Is He ever satisfied? Is it up to us to do our best so that God would be satisfied enough with us to let us into heaven? How much is enough? What does it take to satisfy God? The answer is shocking, I’m not sure I understand it all. Isaiah 53:10a, tells us, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him”. This is the same one who said at the  baptism of His only begotten Son: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. Here, it pleased the Lord to bruise Him! It does not mean the Father is some kind of sadist who derives pleasure through the physical or mental pain of others? No, it means it was a part of His plan and He was pleased that all was going according to plan. It is part of God’s plan of redemption and it “pleased the Lord to bruise Him”. To “bruise” means to to beat or crush; but God was not satisfied until He saw the travail of His soul (v.11). The word “travail”means to wear away.

God saw the kiss of betrayal, was not satisfied. He saw the mockery of a trail and the travesty of justice against His Son, but was not satisfied. He saw the crown of thorns, scourging, jeering crowd, spittle, nails, and the pain. He heard the words “My God ,My God, why hast thou forsaken Me”,  but was still not satisfied. He saw the 6 torturous hours of agony and knew His Son would reject the pain relief that was offered, but was not satisfied. Now he was pleased with all of that (not happy about it). He was pleased because the prophecies of Isaiah 53 and many others are going according to plan. God was satisfied only when the soul of Jesus was wearing away, moments before departing from this life when Jesus cried out, ”It is finished”. THEN- God was satisfied

The finished work of Calvary is what satisfies God!

What an act of pride or rebellion when we say that there is something we can do to satisfy a holy God enough to make it to heaven! No, 10,000x no! It is only the finished work of Calvary that satisfies!





Shine on Me

30 04 2015

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More Americans died in the Civil War than in all the other wars in which the United States has been involved, combined. Families lost husbands, fathers, and sons. Some 26 percent of the men in the South perished in the struggle, and by the end of the war many women and children there were literally starving. Those years, 1861-1865, were marked by intense suffering all over the United States.
Yet during the war the South, and particularly its army, was swept by revival, as many thousands came to know Christ. Against the background of suffering and spiritual renewal, a letter found on the body of a Confederate soldier shows how, in the darkest times, the light of God shines on us.

I asked for strength that I might achieve.
He made me weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given grace that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I received nothing that I asked for.
All that I hoped for.
My prayer was answered.

365-Day Devotional Commentary