Tuesday, February 17, 2015

God's Chosen People

Had a student ask me the other day why I reject Covenant Theology (i.e., supersessionism, replacement or fulfillment theology). I told him that I can answer that question in one word, "Israel". God has not turned his back on his people. There are still promises yet to be fulfilled that are exclusively for them that have no relation to the Gentile Bride.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bible Doctrine – Bibliology and the Men God Used

Well, now that we have established that we believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of the Bible, let’s take a quick look at the men that God used to write the Bible. The Bible says of itself that it was written by holy men of God as they were moved by the Spirit of God.

2 Peter 1:21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

These men wrote of things that they could not have possibly known or understood. Of course, I’ve graded a few research papers over the years that were clearly written by students who did not adequately know or understand their subject matter. Of course, I still see examples every day on social media of people who don’t have a clue as to what they are writing about as well.

It reminds me of a time when I had a plumber tell me after he had found that I had tried to fix something before I called him say, “Everybody wants to be a plumber.” Well, I might add to that that everybody seems to think they are a theologian as well. I digress.

For example, Moses wrote about something he clearly was not there to see and certainly did not fully understand when he penned Genesis. Of course, I am fully aware of the critical views of skeptics like Wellhausen and the Documentary Hypothesis, but to even imply that is to dismiss the Apostle Paul and Jesus himself of being confused on the issue as well.

Daniel wrote of things that he clearly did not understand.

Daniel 12:8-9 Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, "My lord, what shall be the end of these things?" And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”

On the other hand, they also wrote of things that they were obviously eyewitnesses to.

1 John 1:1-3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Another thing that they wrote about is things that human nature would normally ignore or minimize. For example, the Bible does not ignore things like Moses’ anger issues, David’s adultery, or Peter’s denial. Let’s face it; none of us normally tend toward posting our failures on Facebook, let alone in Scripture.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bible Doctrine – Bibliology and Verbal Plenary Inspiration

Conservatives believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. That implies not only inspiration, but also that it was verbal and plenary. What does that mean?

Verbal inspiration means that not only was the message of the Bible inspired, but the very words that are contained in that message. Actually, the word verbal means “by means of words” or “word for word.” Now you know why I shy away from thought-for-thought translations in favor of word-for-word translations.

Matthew 5:18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” The NKJV translates it “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

A “jot” is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and a “tittle” is a small appendage that differentiates two similar letters.

The best way that I could compare it to our English language would be the equivalent of a dotting of the “i ” and the crossing of a “t”. The dot and the crossing make a big difference.

As such, verbal inspiration requires dictation which is the “act or manner of transcribing words uttered by another.” In other words, God gave the words, and the writers wrote what they heard.

Finally, the word plenary means “full” or “all”.

So, we believe, or at least I believe, in plenary verbal inspiration which means “All Words God-Breathed”.

Pretty simple in my opinion, but a very divisive issue in the church today.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Bible Doctrine – Bibliology and Inspiration

Conservative Christians believe in what is called the plenary verbal inspiration of the Bible. I know that is a mouthful, but in order to understand it, we must break down what each of those words mean. We are going to look at the words and their meanings in this order: inspiration, verbal, and then plenary.

The word inspiration means “God-breathed”.

Understand that the inspiration that we are talking about is not the same thing as a musician or artist being inspired to create something. The inspiration of the Bible was a unique event in which God spoke His words to man who then wrote them down.

2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;"

The Apostle Peter said something very interesting in this regard in 2 Peter. He refers to the time when he, James, and John were with and years earlier on the Mount of Transfiguration as recorded in Matthew.

Matthew 17:1-5 "Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"

Here is what is said in 2 Peter:

2 Peter 1:16-21 "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"-- and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

The point that I believe that Peter is making in 2 Peter is that while there is no doubt that he knows what he saw up on that mountain with James and John, his eyewitness is still secondary to the inspired Word of God. The Bible has the final say in all matters whether he saw it or not. The application is that even if we see it and hear it just like he did that day on the mountain, the Bible is still the final say and not what we see or think. That is a powerful statement with strong implications and should not be glossed over.

That is exactly what the problem is in much of the church today, we have become convinced that our experiences trump the Word of God. No, my dear friend, your experiences are secondary to the Word of God. Why? – Because we are sinful creatures and can’t trust our experiences to be fact. Our senses often lie to us and lead us astray. They simply can not and should not be trusted above the inspired Word of God.

Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”

James speaks of a wisdom that is "earthly, sensual, devilish” (KJV) that should not be relied upon (James 3:15). The Bible actually has strong words to say in regards to our tendency to lean toward sensuality or to lean on our senses. Our senses include look, touch, taste, hearing, and smell. We are not to be driven by these, but instead the more sure Word of God.


Monday, February 9, 2015

The Spider in a Cornfield

There was once a spider who lived in a cornfield. He was a big spider and he had spun a beautiful web between the corn stalks. He got fat eating all the bugs that would get caught in his web. He liked his home and planned to stay there for the rest of his life.

One day the spider caught a little bug in his web, and just as the spider was about to eat him, the bug said,

"If you let me go I will tell you something important that will save your life."

The spider paused for a moment and listened because he was amused.

"You better get out of this cornfield," the little bug said, "The harvest is coming!"

The spider smiled and said, "What is this harvest you are talking about? I think you are just telling me a story."

But the little bug said, "Oh no, it is true. The owner of this field is coming to harvest it soon. All the stalks will be knocked down and the corn will be gathered up. You will be killed by the giant machines if you stay here."

The spider said, "I don't believe in harvests and giant machines that knock down corn stalks. How can you prove this?"

The little bug continued, "Just look at the corn. See how it is planted in rows? It proves this field was created by an intelligent designer."

The spider laughed and mockingly said, "This field has evolved and has nothing to do with a creator. Corn always grows that way."

The bug went on to explain, "Oh no. This field belongs to the owner who planted it, and the harvest is coming soon."

The spider grinned and said to the little bug, "I don't believe you," and then the spider ate the little bug for lunch.

A few days later, the spider was laughing about the story the little bug had told him. He thought to himself, "A harvest! What a silly idea. I have lived here all of my life and nothing has ever disturbed me. I have been here since these stalks were just a foot off the ground, and I'll be here for the rest of my life, because nothing is ever going to change in this field. Life is good, and I have it made."

The next day was a beautiful sunny day in the cornfield. The sky above was clear and there was no wind at all. That afternoon as the spider was about to take a nap, he noticed some thick dusty clouds moving toward him.

He could hear the roar of a great engine and he said to himself, "I wonder what that could be?"

2 Peter 3:3-4 "In the last days mockers will come, following their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'"

2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness, but He is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish, but for all to come to repentance."

Bible Doctrine – Introduction

The word doctrine simply means teaching. The ones that we are mainly concerned with are the ones in the Bible. The study of Bible Doctrines is an attempt to organize the Bible in component parts. For example, what the Bible says about God, Christ, Man, Church, End Times, etc. Are they important to know? Yes, indeed. As a matter of fact, the average Christian knows very little about either. Oh, they know what they have been told to believe, but they are not able to go to the Scriptures for themselves to prove it. That is the purpose of this writing.

Bible Doctrines are important for several reasons. The first of which is the most important, God wrote them. The Bible is the only book on earth that was written by God.

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”
Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

Here are some facts about the Bible. It is divided into two prominent sections called the Old Testament and the New Testament. There are 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. It was written over a period of 1400 years by 40 authors. Its primary subject is God himself.

Philippians 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;”

2 Peter 3:18 “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

The only way one can know God is through His Word. (We will discuss General and Special revelation a bit later.) It has been said that, “All we know about the Living Word is found in the Written Word.”

The study of the Bible is not optional for a Christian.

1 Timothy 4:15-16 “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.”

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”

Following that same thought, the Bible says that a Christian shows his love for God by keeping the commandments of God. It is not possible to keep commandments that one does not know.

John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

John 14:23-24 “Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me.”

John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.”

John 15:14 "You are My friends if you do what I command you.”

As Christians, we need to know not only what we believe, but why. The world in which we live today demands it.

1 Peter 3:15 “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”

Sometimes the best way to know what you believe is to determine what you do not.

1 John 4:1-6 “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

In pursuing what we believe, we must also learn how to let the Bible speak for itself without pressing what we want it to say on its pages.

Isaiah 55:11 “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

There are nine principle doctrines in the Bible that we will be studying one at a time.

1. Bibliology – The study of the Bible                          
2. Theology – The study of God                                    
3. Christology – The study of Christ                                             
4. Pneumatology – The study of the Holy Spirit        
5. Anthropology – The study of Man
6. Soteriology – The study of Salvation
7. Ecclesiology – The study of the Church
8. Angeology – The study of Angels
9. Eschatology – The study of Last Things


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Statement of Faith

I believe that for one to arrive at a personal statement of faith, it takes years of study and experience. No one has all of the answers, and if we're all honest with each other we would have to admit that sometimes we all waffle a bit on where we stand on some issues from time to time. What seemed like black and white then may be shades of grey now or vice versa. We all grow from "grace to grace." Paul wrote to the Ephesians that one day we'll all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). Until that time comes, we press into His Word and allow it to conform us to His image day by day.


In regards to the essentials, I often refer to the below as the Five Fundamentals of the Faith.

1. I believe in the Virgin Birth. If Christ was not born of a virgin, he would have been conceived in sin and Mary was an adulteress. Therefore, we would need to be looking for another savior.  

2. I believe in the Blood Atonement. That means that Christ’s blood was sufficient to cover all of our sins and it cannot, nor indeed need be improved upon by any works of righteousness on our part. Anyone who believes he can lose or gain his salvation by works does not clearly understand this doctrine.

3. I believe in the Return of Christ. He will return someday for his Church in what is called the Rapture and again seven years later in what is called the Second Coming.

4. I believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture. That means that there are no mistakes in the Bible. I believe in the plenary (all) verbal (words) inspiration of the Scriptures. With that said, I don't think that it's possible to embrace the inerrancy of Scripture without addressing the preservation of Scripture.

5. I believe in the Deity of Christ. Jesus was and is God, the Second Person of the God-head.


In regards to the non-essentials, below are listed my personal convictions. These are not litmus tests for salvation or necessarily fellowship, just my personal convictions and I can still be your friend if you disagree.

1. I am Dispensational in that I maintain a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture and make a distinction between Israel and the Church.

2. I am Premillennial in that I believe Jesus will return after a seven year period called the Tribulation to set up his literal Millennial Reign upon earth.

3. I am Pretribulational in that I believe that the Church will be raptured out of this earth before the Tribulation and the revealing of the man of sin who is called the Antichrist.

4. Based on 2-4, I categorically reject Reformed Theology.

5. I am slowly becoming a Cessationist. Historically, I have found all arguments for the cessation of the sign gifts (tongues, knowledge, prophecy) to be weak, and there is no doubt in my mind that there is an unscriptural emphasis on them that has led to undermining of Scripture in favor of emotion. However, I am beginning to realize that those gifts were retracted once the Kingdom offer was rejected by the nation of Israel.  

6. I believe in Biblical Separation. Christians should look and act like such and only “yoke” themselves with those who do the same.