Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Directional Devo - Conviction vs. Guilt

John said in 1 John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

We were told in the first chapter that the first reason why John wrote this letter was, that your joy may be full.  Now here in v.1 we see the second reason that John wrote this letter is that ye sin not.

In Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. God requires perfection. Why? – Because He is perfect. Is it possible for us to be perfect? – Yes, but only through the finished work of Christ and not ourselves. 

We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: That means that the Lord Jesus is our advocate (intercessor) and one day he will present us spotless to the Father (Ephesians 5:25-27).

I’ve found that even though I know this, I still allow Satan to step in and accuse me. I've found that he usually attacks me the strongest after I've sinned. His attacks come in the form of feelings of shame and unworthiness. Why? - So that he can drive a wedge between me and God. He wants me to run away from God just like Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3) did.

I've also found that I can always tell when I am being attacked by Satan or being convicted by the Holy Spirit by my reaction to the situation. When I'm being tempted to run from God, the church, and my brothers and sisters in Christ, I know it's the devil that is behind it because he is trying to drive a wedge between me and God. However, it is the opposite with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, because He uses conviction to draw us to Himself, the church and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Directional Devo - 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. Our said in 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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

An Introduction to Dispensationalism, Part 1

With so much confusion in the church today about Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology, I wanted to just take a moment to define them both briefly and to present the latter as the one that I embrace and why. Yes, I am a dispensationalist. Just for clarification, neither of them are really a theology as much as they are a framework for interpreting the Scriptures. In other words, they are a lens through which the Scripture is viewed.
 
Covenant Theology is favored more so by those of a Reformed or Calvinistic persuasion. However, in the United States, especially among Evangelicals, Dispensationalism is far more popular and has been since the latter half of the 19th century. Please also understand that even among each, there are disagreements, but they are basically the same in their overall approach. I am only scratching the surface in this blog post.

At the risk of oversimplifying both, the difference between the two is that one interprets the Scriptures through the lens of covenants, i.e., Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New Covenant, while the other interprets the Scriptures through the lens of dispensations. A dispensation by this definition is the particular means by which God deals with man and creation during a given period in redemptive history. In the most popular view, there are seven dispensations which which include: Innocence (Genesis 1 -3) - Adam and Eve before they sinned, Conscience (Genesis 3-8) - First sin to the flood, Civil Government (Genesis 9-11) - After the flood, government, Promise (Genesis 12-Ex. 19) - Abraham to Moses, the Law is given, Law (Exodus 20 - Acts 2:4) - Moses to the cross, Grace (Acts 2:4 - Revelation 20:3) - Cross to the millennial kingdom Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6) – The rule of Christ on earth in the millennial kingdom.

As I stated earlier, I am convinced that the dispensational view is the correct one because it requires a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture while the other does not. Covenant Theology uses a lot of allegorization. The earliest proponent was Augustine, the father of amillennialism, who used what is called a "dual hermeneutic" by bouncing between literal interpretation and allegorical interpretation to arrive at such doctrines as amillennialism. This approach must be utilized in order to arrive at many things that are embraced by those on that side of the aisle and is the main reason that I reject it. It is also how they arrive at such teachings as the Church is spiritual Israel (Replacement Theology), therefore, God has no special purpose for the people of Israel. I could go further, but time does not permit. Suffice it to say they do not interpret the Scriptures literally. For straightforward compare and contrast, I would recommend an article by Dr. Richard P. Belcher, Jr., Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary. Click HERE.

In regards to Dispensational Theology, there are basically six things that are essential and this is where I will spend the bulk of my time. In the meantime, I would encourage you to compare and contrast the two on your own to be able to determine where you stand on the issue because the bottom line is that one of them is wrong and the other is right. There is no way for them both to work in harmony with each other. You will lean to the one or to the other in your approach to the interpretation of the Bible or you will be terribly confused. Just make sure that you are informed and not just regurgitating something you heard someplace which is the norm in our society today. It is just laziness. Our faith is worth more than that.

The first essential belief to Dispensationalism is that the primary meaning of any passage in the Bible is found in that passage of the Bible. The New Testament does not reinterpret or transcend the passages in the Old Testament in any way that would override or cancel the original intent of the author. This is called a high view of Scripture and it simply means that the author said what he meant and meant what he said when he said it and who he said it to. That does not mean that other passages can not shed new light on what the author meant, but that they simply can not altar what the author originally meant. This approach is at total odds with Covenant Theology.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Fundamentals of Interpretation, Part 3

Another problem that I see in the church today is that we do not seem to acknowledge that the gospel that Christ and the Apostles taught is not the same gospel that we teach today. As I mentioned in my last blog post, the mystery of the church was not revealed to the Apostle Paul until sometime after Acts 9 and his conversion (Galatians 1:6-12). The bottom line is that those in the Gospels, Christ and the Apostles, and those in the first several chapters of Acts, where teaching a Kingdom Gospel that required repentance and baptism, while the Apostle Paul only taught belief as the sole requirement for salvation.

When I speak to people about this issue, they are pretty quick in acknowledging that there are some differences between the two gospels I just mentioned, but when it comes to the book of Acts, this is where they normally start resisting and digging their heels in because they have been incorrectly taught for so long. That is when I challenge them to show me how the message of the Apostles changed after the death and resurrection of Christ in the first several chapters of the book. It is obvious that it did not. They were still preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is also obvious that there is some type of transition taking place in this book. For example, after Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2, the people asked him, what shall we do? (Acts 2:37), and his response was repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:28). Did you see that? He didn’t say anything about just believing in the death, burial, and resurrection at all. Instead, he said repent and be baptized: still the Kingdom Gospel. Later on in the same book, after the conversion of Paul, he was asked the same question when the keeper of the prison asked, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30), and Paul simply said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). Their responses were totally different. Why? – The Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of Grace are different. You and I do not teach the Gospel of the Kingdom, but it will be preached again during the Tribulation or what is also called Daniels’ Seventieth Week by the 144,000 (Daniel 9:27; Matt 24:14; Revelation 7). There is no way to harmonize the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Gospel of the Grace. One did not just "become" the other.

The book of Acts should be seen for what it is; a book of transition. There is no doctrine for the church in it. You can’t take the things that happened during that period in which the Kingdom offer was still on the table, preceded by signs and wonders according to Joel 2:28-29, and apply it to the church. If you do, and most of the church tries to, it will only lead to confusion at best and heresy at worst.

In conclusion, notice the transition throughout the book. In Acts 2:45 it says that they sold all of their possessions, and in Acts 11:29, a collection has to be taken from the church at Antioch, where they were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), (by the way, the church today has far more to do with Antioch than Jerusalem) for the Jews in Jerusalem’s very survival. In Acts 12:11, we see Peter being delivered by an angel, and in Acts 26:32, we see Paul still under arrest and being sent to Caesar. Obviously, something had changed. In Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:26, 4:24, and 5:12, they were all in accord, and yet when we reach Acts 28:25, they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word. There is no way around it. A transition had taken place.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Fundamentals of Interpretation, Part 2

Another thing in regards to interpreting the Bible to remember is the distinctiveness of Paul’s revelation about the hidden mystery or the Church. As such, his thirteen epistles, Romans through Philemon, are of supreme importance during this dispensation of the Church or grace. Some would include Hebrews in that number assuming that Paul wrote that letter also.

We must understand that Jesus and his apostles ministered to the House of Israel with a message of an offered kingdom if the nation would collectively repent. It was not contingent upon individual repentance, but national. There were at least five thousand Jews, maybe eight thousand, depending how you interpret the response to Peter’s second sermon, that we know of that repented in the book of Acts (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4), but the nation itself never did repent, and thus, rejected their Messiah and his kingdom offer. The kingdom was postponed, not be offered again until the Tribulation Period or what is called Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Daniel 9:27). As such, God raised up the Apostle Paul with a new message to take to the Gentiles.

Another thing that many fail to see is that the New Testament does not start in Matthew, chapter 1, in spite of the fact that all of our Bibles have a page marked New Testament between Malachi and Matthew. As a matter of fact, it could not have started until after the crucifixion, and I would contend, the resurrection of Christ. Hebrews 9:16-17 makes this clear when it says, For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. In other words, there can be no testament without the death of the one making it, i.e., Jesus. (Remember, that our Last Will and Testaments are not enforced until after we die.) That means that all of the Gospels are Old Testament. The New Testament could not have begun until at least Matthew 27:51 when Christ died. To rightly interpret the Bible is to understand this. Do not be tempted to pull the teachings in the Gospels into the Church! If you do, you will end up with confusion as I discussed in the last blog.

With that said, the epistles of Paul are of supreme importance to you and me today. They are where the Church gets its doctrine. Also, they shed tremendous amounts of light on the Old Testament by revealing things that we never would have or could have known without them.

This also means that the gospel that Paul received from God himself was different than the gospel which Jesus and the apostles taught in the Gospels and even well into the book of Acts. Now, before you become a bit unhinged, remember that the apostles had no clue that Jesus was going to be crucified; even when he told them directly because the Bible says that it was hidden from them (Luke 18:31-34). Bear in mind, this was right after he had commissioned them to go out and preach the kingdom of God (we call this the Gospel of the Kingdom) and they had already returned (Luke 9:1-10). The apostles were not preaching the Gospel of Grace that Paul preached.

Paul’s gospel was different in that it included the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It also required only belief as compared to the Kingdom Gospel that required repentance and baptism. (That is another blog for another day). All throughout Paul’s epistles, he refers to this gospel that was exclusively delivered to him. He said in Galatians 1:11-12, But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Also, in Ephesians 3:2-4, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ). Paul even stated in Romans 2:16 that God will judge the secrets of men…according to my gospel. Other verses that speak to this gospel can be found in Galatians 1:15-17; Galatians 2:2; Romans 16:25. The bottom line is that the gospel that Paul preached was different from the gospel that the other apostles taught.

The conclusion is that when interpreting the Bible, we must remember that Paul’s gospel is unique to the Church. Only he received the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25) that had been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints (Colossians 1:26) as revealed to the Apostle Paul.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Fundamentals of Interpretation, Part 1

The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:19-20 that we have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. Notice, that last part of these verses where it says, "no prophecy of scripture is subject to private interpretation."

Many today struggle, especially in a culture that denies absolute truth, that the Bible says what it means and means what it says, period. Not a very popular idea for sure. However, when it comes to biblical interpretation, we can both be wrong, but we can't both be right. I suggest to you today that the main reason for incorrect Bible interpretation, other than just sheer ignorance and a desire to twist the scriptures to mean something they do not agree with, is inconsistency and a failure to adhere to the fundamentals of biblical interpretation.

The Bible must be rightly divided in order for it to make sense and never contradict. Paul told young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. The very fact that Paul said this indicates that there are divisions in the Bible and they must be rightly divided or it will not make sense or there will be apparent contradictions in the text.

One example of many comes to mind: the Law of the Kingdom as given by our Lord in Matthew 5. It was obviously not part of the Mosaic Law, but a kingdom that Christ came to offer to the nation of Israel. Remember that the first words out of both John the Baptist and our Lord's mouths were, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." This is the message that they and the apostles proclaimed throughout their earthly ministries. However, in the end, that kingdom was rejected by the Jewish nation, therefore postponed, and the church that was the hidden mystery was born as revealed through the Apostle Paul. Therein lies the confusion which leads to all kinds of wild interpretations and various heretical doctrines.

You and I are not under the Law of Moses, never have been. Neither was the rejected and postponed kingdom ever offered to the church. At this point at least, we have no part of the kingdom they spoke of. We are not in it and we are not building it, and yet, how many times do we hear things like, "we are a kingdom church, we are building the kingdom, we are enlarging the kingdom, we are bringing in the kingdom, we are doing kingdom work", etc. Why? - A failure to understand that the kingdom was not offered to the church. As a matter of fact, little, if anything, that was spoken in the gospels in their entirety has anything to do with you and me today.

Think about the things that are taught today in regards to losing one's salvation, the need to stay faithful until the end, baptism as a requirement for salvation (baptismal regeneration), the church is now Israel (replacement theology), and amillennialism. Where do these come from? The gospels. See the problem? No, I have not always understood these things so clearly, and many around me may disagree. However, I believe that a failure to understand leads only to misinterpretation and contradiction.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Extent of Our Faith

In today's study from Matthew 17:3-27, we take a longer look at the Transfiguration, the healing of the demon-possessed young man, and the apostles continued inability to see the impending crucifixion.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

Moses and Elijah
v.3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Why Moses and Elijah? Most would contend that they represent those who go to heaven (Jude 1:9; 2Ki 2:11). Some, like Moses, will die to get there; while others, like Elijah, will go without dying, i.e., the rapture in 1Th 4:13-18. Another might be because they represent the fulfillment of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). This is why they are considered to be the two witnesses of Rev 11:3-13.

The Supremacy of Christ
vv.4-5 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. In effect, Peters statement about building three shrines was putting Jesus on the same level as Moses and Elijah, which drew a strong rebuke from the Father. Why did Peter make this suggestion? Apparently, he didn't even know why! Mark tells us in Mark 9:5-6 "Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"-- (6)  because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid."

The Apostles Reaction
vv.6-8 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. The apostles react in abject fear. Getting rebuked by God is not exactly on anyone's list for the day. However, I am sure that the Transfiguration served as a reassurance for the apostles as to Jesus' identity.

The Question about Elijah
vv.9-13 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. Again, he reassures them that Elijah will come before the Second Coming, and he will in Revelation 11 as one of the two witnesses. He again, reiterates that had they accepted John, he could have been Elijah.

Too Tough to Handle
vv.14-16 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. This boy was might have had epilepsy. The symptoms are certainly the same. However, it was apparently demon possessed as well. Of course, that is not to imply that everyone today who has epilepsy is demonized. Notice that the disciples were unable to cast this demon out. 

Jesus Rebuked the Demon
vv.17-21 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Now Jesus does what his disciples could not. He furthermore tells them that their unbelief hindered their ability to cast the demon out. Apparently, in this case, they did not even have the faith of a mustard seed. 

He also says that "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." Most likely the Devil merely knew the extent of their faith and succeeded it. Makes you wonder if the Devil knows the extent of our faith?  I am going to go with, yes, he does. 

Somber Announcement
vv.22-23 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. This is another somber announcement for the disciples.

Notice that the Lord offered them the bad news but with the good news as well. Of course, they still did not totally understand what he was truly saying to them.

Jesus and Taxes
vv.24-26 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. The questioning goes along these lines…of who do the kings of this earth take taxes?  Do they take them from their own children?  No!  They take them from strangers.  Conclusion: if the king does not tax his own family, then the Father would not tax the son since it is His temple.

Lest we Offend
v.27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. However, Jesus saw no reason to offend them (they were already all over him and he apparently saw no reason to provoke them further) and told Peter to go and cast in his hook and look in the mouth of the first fish he catches to find the tribute money for him and Peter. It's just a little curious to me that Jesus would be concerned about offending them now.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Transfiguration

In today's study we look at Matthew 16:21-17:2 and see what it really means to follow Christ and the significance of the Transfiguration.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

Official Rejection
v.21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. The Kingdom is being rejected and now our Lord turns his attention toward Jerusalem and his crucifixion. This must have come as a total shock to the disciples as that they were not looking for a "Suffering Messiah" but a "Reigning Messiah."

Notice, "and be raised again the third day." They probably did not hear this because they had to be reminded later. Luke tells us that even though they did not fully grasp what he was saying here, they ultimately did (Luk 24:6-8).

Peter's Rebuke
vv.22-23 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Here we see Peter's misunderstanding. Understand that Peter's reaction was out of total love for his Lord. However, unbeknownst to him, he was being used by Satan to keep Jesus from the cross. Just goes to show that you do not have to be possessed by demons to be used by Satan.

Notice, "for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." In other words, you're thinking worldly instead of spiritually.

Call to Denial
v.24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. After announcing that he was going to Jerusalem to die, he encouraged his disciples to be willing to do the same. That is totally against our nature. Second only to our desire for air is our desire for survival. And yet, the Christian faith is about death and denial. Both of those fly in the face of our flesh.

The Paradox
vv.25-27 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. This is the great paradox of the Christian faith. John 12:24 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." In other words, the command here is that we look past the present and look to the future.

Shall not Taste Death
v.28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." What did this mean?  The answer is in the next chapter.

The Transfiguration
vv.1-2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. Here we see the transfiguration. It's curious as to why the Lord only took these three apostles.  Why not the rest? Maybe it's because these three would prove to be the pillars of the church? Maybe it's because they needed to see with their own eyes to believe while the other did not?

The word "transfiguration" means that Jesus begins to shine so brightly that it was very difficult to even look at him.  Much like when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai. David Guzik says that this was not the miracle of the transformation. The miracle was that our Lord could keep his glory under wraps for as long as he did. This is the fulfillment of the last first of the last chapter!

However, there was some confusion that came from it later because some felt that some of the apostles would live to see the Second Coming of Christ. Later John 21:22 compounded the issue.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Peter's Confession

In today's study from Matthew 16:13-20, we take a look at Peter's Confession to determine exactly what was being said and which interpretation is the correct one.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

The Great Confession
vv.13-16 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 

Here Peter confesses Jesus as Messiah in response to the Lord's question. Notice that Jesus was not really concerned with what others thought but what they thought.

The Correct Answer
vv.17-20 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. 

In response to Peter's confession, our Lord tells him that that knowledge did not come from flesh and blood, but from God the Father. Of course, this has generated much controversy as to what it actually means.

Notice, "upon this rock, I will build my church." Either the Lord was a. gesturing to himself as the rock, or b. he was referring to Peter's actual confession or, c. he is referring to Peter himself. We do know that Christ is indeed referred to as the rock (Isa 28:16; 1Pe 2:8). Also, Paul said in 1Co 10:4 that they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ.

I think that it would be a little absurd to say that a literal rock followed them in the wilderness. Instead, it means that God provided for them while on their journey. Literally, in Exo 17:6 during their first year and again in Num 20 during their last year. Paul is saying that Christ is the provider of life just as that rock from beginning to end.

Now others will say that Jesus is referring to Peter's actual confession. After all, to be a part of the Kingdom Church and even the church of our day, one must believe that he is indeed the Christ.

Still other's will say, no Jesus was referring to Peter and upon him, Christ would build his church as a reference to Pentecost. We shirk from that interpretation because of how the Roman Catholics have twisted it, but I believe that it has merit for sure.

Notice, "I will build my church." The church belongs to our Lord and not us.

Notice, "and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." This is a promise that no matter how dark it gets, the church will always survive.

Notice, "and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." This is not to say that everyone gets in has to come through Peter but that Peter would be used to open the doors to the kingdom to both the Jews on the Day of Pentecost (Act 2:38-39) and the Gentiles (Cornelius) in Act 10:34-44.

Notice, "and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven." In other words, Jesus was giving Peter and the other apostles the ability to set boundaries authoritatively for the church, e.g., the Jerusalem Council (Act 15:22); Paul when speaking on marriage in 1Co 7:10; 1Co 7:12.

Notice, "Then charged his disciples that they should tell no man." Again, Jesus doesn't want to rush the cross because he has things to do before then.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Thoughts on Acts, Part 6

In today's study from Acts 3:18-26, we again talk about who Peter was addressing, Israel's failed national repentance, and discussed what would have happened had they repented.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

Times of Refreshing
vv.18-19 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, The times of refreshing is referring to the Kingdom. 

Times of Restoration of All Things
vv.20-21 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. The "times of restoration of all things" will take place during the Tribulation. cf. the Title Deed of Revelation 5. This also clearly indicates that Peter understood that even though they did repent (v.19), it would have been followed by the Tribulation before the  Second Coming. He knew Daniel 9 and the 70th week would take place next.

A Prophet of Deliverance
vv.22-23 For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'THE LORD YOUR GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN. HIM YOU SHALL HEAR IN ALL THINGS, WHATEVER HE SAYS TO YOU. AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERY SOUL WHO WILL NOT HEAR THAT PROPHET SHALL BE UTTERLY DESTROYED FROM AMONG THE PEOPLE.' Just as Moses delivered the nation from bondage then, Jesus will do the same for them if they would accept it. 

These Days
v.24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. Notice that Peter says that the prophecies were for "these days".

v.25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.' Again, Peter is not addressing Gentiles at all! "Our fathers" is referring to Israel! The bottom line is that God's plan was to use the nation of Israel to reach the nations (Deu 32:8; Isa 42:1; Isa 49:5-7; Isa 59:20-21; Isa 60:1-3 (Mat 5:14); Zec 8:23).

The Abrahamic Covenant was threefold:
1. Nation - Israel
2. Land - Promised Land
3. King - Messiah and Savior

From that point, God would use them to reach the nations. 

National Repentance
v.26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities." It is very clear that Christ came to the Jews first. Notice that the call was that "every one of you from his iniquities". God was asking for national repentance, not necessarily individual. Had they done it, the Tribulation would have taken place, they would have preached to the Gentiles, and the Second Coming. Of course, they did not, Rome came in forty years later and destroyed the city and the temple and scattered them throughout the nations and the Times of the Gentiles came in. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Thoughts on Acts, Part 5

In today's study from Acts:2:42-3:17, we continue to see the characteristics of the Kingdom Church and mystery that was still to be revealed about the Body of Christ today.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

v.42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. How many times have I head this quoted as the key to a healthy church. Well, no doubt, it can be, but this is not referring to the church we are in today, but instead to the Kingdom Church.

It is also noteworthy that those who use Acts 2:42 as the basis for the purpose of the church seem to ignore verses 43-45. No doubt, this is a fellowship of believers who had aligned themselves with the teaching of the apostles. They had been baptized and had received the gift of the Holy Ghost (v. 38).

Again, while this may be similar to the church as we know it today, a careful study of this group will display too many differences with the church of today to call this Acts 2 group the first church, or the day of Pentecost the birth of the church.

vv.43-46 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, The wonders and signs were done by the apostles. Nowhere in the book of Acts will we see the miraculous performed by anyone other than the Apostles or their emissaries.

v.47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. This verse is referring to the Kingdom Church and not the Body of Christ. 

Chapter 3
v.1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. Notice that even after Pentecost, they returned to the Temple. Why? There is no NT Church in view here. The church has no prescribed hour of prayer! Again, Peter is addressing Jews!

vv.2-5 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Chapter 4:22 tells us that this man was forty years old. Because of his age, he had probably been there for quite some time. Why didn't Jesus heal him? Maybe, it was for this moment? cf. Joh_11:1-4 and the death of Lazurus. 

vv.6-11 Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed. Understand, that at this point, Peter had no idea about the gentile church because it was still hidden from him (Deu 29:29; Luk 18:31-34). We must understand that they had no idea that Christ was going to rise again from the dead. He had hidden it from them (Joh 13:6-7; Eph 3:1-9; Col 1:24-26). 

vv.12-15 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 

Notice who Peter is addressing! Jews! Martin Luther was antisemitic because of this verse. The Nazi's referred to the writings of Luther as justification for what they did to the Jews. 

v.16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. Notice that Peter makes no reference to the death, burial, and resurrection. Peter is still preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom! 

v.17 "Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. Peter is still addressing Jews! Some believe that Peter might be referring back to the law of unintentionally killing someone and the cities of refuge as compared to murder which required the death penalty. This was an important distinction because it left the door open for God to continue dealing with them rather than destroying them for murder, i.e., offering the Kingdom.

Paul obviously agreed with this assessment because he said in 1Co 2:7-8  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 

On another note, we cannot assume that the apostles had any idea that Christ was to be crucified in advance and that he would turn to the Gentiles. The scriptures clearly indicate that they did not. Their statement of faith was simply that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God, period (Mat 16:16; Act 8:26-37). 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Signs and Leaven

In today's study from Matthew 16:1-12, we take a look at why the Jews still demanded a sign after all that he had already done and the tag-teaming that was going on between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

Still Seeking Signs
vv.1-4 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.

It's interesting to see how well these guys are working together: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They disagreed on many things, but not in their disdain for Jesus. It is the old expression that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Common enemies create uncommon alliances, e.g., the Russians and the Americans in WW2

Back to the text, the religious leaders were, in essence, saying that they wanted to see a sign from heaven. Why? - They apparently were not convinced by all of the earthly signs he had already did.
Why? - Tradition held that signs done on earth could actually be from Satan, but signs in the Heaven's (from the sky) had to be from God.

I know, that sounds strange, but part of their reasoning was that the Devil was the God of this world, and as such, any miracles done could be attributed to him. Remember that back in chapter 10 and 12, they had already accused him of using Satin to perform is miracles (Mat 12:24; Mat 12:27).

Jesus' Response
Hypocrites! They were willing to accept signs from the fallen world around them (the sky) and yet they were blind to the fact that he was their long_awaited Messiah as foretold in the Scriptures. All of the Old Testament pointed to this moment...and yet, here it is, and they can't see it.

Notice, a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. I believe that he called them this for two reasons: First, they should have known who He was from the Old Testament. Second, because they didn't know the Scriptures, they were instead placing their faith in signs.

Don't get me wrong, nothing wrong with signs, but he had already given them enough signs. They were now walking in unbelief. Remember that the two generations in Jewish history who received the most signs where those of the Exodus and those here at the First Advent, and they both rejected him. The bottom line is that signs do not bring people to the faith, and it is not because the signs are insufficient; instead, it is because the darkness of man's heart is even more insufficient.

Jesus Warns His Disciples
vv.5-12 Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

Now Jesus warns his disciples about the false teaching of the religious leaders. It's amazing that the disciples were still thinking of physical bread when the Lord mentioned leaven. They surely knew that Jesus didn't need bread to feed people by now. He had just proven that in the previous two great feedings.

On another note, I think that we are too quick to judge the disciples in their short-sightedness in that we can be the same way. I believe that God's hand can be seen all around us, and we too, don't see it routinely. Why? - We are too focused on ourselves and the world around us. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Feeding of the 4000

In today's study from Matthew 15:21-39, we review the healing of the Canaanite women, the issue of faith, and the lesson learned from the feeding of the four thousand.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

A Gentile’s Request
vv.21-22 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.  (22)  And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

Lest we overlook it in the text, our Lord walked some fifty miles from Galilee to the area of Tyre and Sidon to encounter this woman. It was not an accident. These were Gentile cities. It was a divine appointment. No such thing as coincidences, my friend.

On another note, it is interesting that at the same time this woman is proclaiming exactly who Jesus is, his own countrymen are plotting his demise.

Jesus Healed Her Daughter
vv.23-28 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.  (24)  But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  (25)  Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.  (26)  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.  (27)  And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.  (28)  Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Jesus is not being cold or rude toward this woman.  He is merely stating his purpose. The term “dog” in v.26, while it was a slur towards the Gentiles; Jesus used it as a term of endearment by saying, “little dogs” (NKJV).

The Point
However, bear in mind, that Jesus did walk fifty miles to heal this woman’s daughter. I believe he purposely used this to show that the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” were in the process of rejecting him while the “dogs” were not. We read no other reason than this as to why Jesus went to this area. It can be said that he simply had a divine appointment with this woman and used it to make a point.

More Healings
vv.29-31 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.  (30)  And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:  (31)  Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

It’s interesting that while faith was mentioned in the healing of the Gentile women in the previous verses, it is not in these healings. As a matter of fact, the faith appears to be more on the part of those who brought them. Point being, Jesus can do anything that he wants to without any preconceived “formula”. But like all healings should be, they glorified God as a result. I believe that all that God does ultimately is to bring glory to himself and not the recipients. Pastor Chuck Smith used to say that when we began taking bows, God removes Himself from the situation.

The Feeding of the 4000
vv.32-39 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.  (33)  And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?  (34)  And Jesus saith unto them,  How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.  (35)  And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.  (36)  And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.  (37)  And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.  (38)  And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.  (39)  And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

This miracle, though separate, is essentially the same as the feeding of the 5000 in the previous chapter. John Bonner was the first to point out to me that the disciples not only gave but also received. Cf. 14:20 and 15:37 The point is that God wants to minister as much to us as He does to them that we minister to. Another point to be made is that we cannot out give God!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Thoughts on Acts, Part 4

Some more challenging thoughts on what was happening on the Day of Pentecost from Acts 2:20-41. Again, who was Peter addressing in these verses? Was it the church that you and I are in today? What was he wanting Israel to do and why? What if they had repented? What would have happened next?

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

v.19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 

Peter fully expected these things to happen next or he would not have said it. Peter was there when Jesus taught Matthew 24! As a matter of fact, Peter is still talking about it in 1 Peter.

v.21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

This verse confuses many because they connect it to the Gospel of Grace. 

v.22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 

This begins the final offer of the Kingdom.

v.23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 

This is prophesied by many Old Testament prophecies. The crucifixion had to happen before any legitimate Kingdom offer could be made.

vv.25-37 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 

Peter uses the Hebrew Scripture from Psa 16:8-11 to show that the crucifixion and resurrection are proof that Jesus was their true Messiah (v.32). He and the other apostles had missed this small detail as well back in  Luk_18:31-34. It is not a good news sermon but is one that is attempting to lead them to repentance. 

vv.38-41 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.   

Many use this as a proof text for the necessity of baptism. However, this is not true in that Peter was not addressing the Church, but Israel, e.g., Act 2:14, Act 2:22, and Act 2:36.

Paul never teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation, e.g., 1Co 12:13. He makes it obvious that it is a baptism of the Spirit and not water. The last mention of baptism is the Bible is found in Eph 4:3-6. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Creation Account, Part 4

We wrap up our topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two today. We have thus far looked at some of the various views of the creation accounts to point out their weaknesses and strengths. Today, we are going to look at the Biblical View and discuss why it must be true above all else and that anything else we believe must fall in line with that view without contradiction. So far, we have looked at the following views: Mythology, Pictoral Day, Old Earth Creation, Young Earth Creation, Gap Theory, and Naturalistic Evolution.

The final view that needs to be considered is the Biblical View. In other words, what does the Bible say in regards to the creation account? These issues include, but certainly are not limited to, what it says about the uniqueness of man above the rest of God's creation, the origin of sin that requires a Savior, and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul which point to the fact that they clearly believed the creation account as found in Genesis 1-2. 

In regards to the uniqueness of man, the New Testament teaches that man is the pinnacle of God’s creation in that he was created in the image of God unlike any of the other creatures before him. Millard Erickson says of this, “There is something that gives humanity value from above. The value of humans is not that they are the highest products of the evolutionary process thus far but that the supreme eternal being has made them in his own image. It is not our estimation of ourselves, but the judgment of the holy God that gives us value.”
  
In regards to the origins of sin, the Bible also teaches that man rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden when they chose disobedience rather than obedience in regards to the Tree of Knowledge as recorded in Genesis 3. That single act of rebellion brought sin into God’s creation for the first time. As a result of that sin, death came upon all mankind both spiritually and physically. That is why Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And because of the wages of man’s sin that was introduced into the world by Adam and Eve, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Also, the teachings of both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul are predicated on the historicity of the creation account. For example, Jesus’ response to the religious leaders in regards to divorce, Jesus referenced the creation account when he said in Mark 10:6-8, “But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. "FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Jesus clearly believed in a historical Adam and Eve. Also, the Apostle Paul referred to Adam and Eve on several occasions. When speaking to the Romans he said that “death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come (Rom. 5:14). Also, when speaking to the Corinthians, Paul said that “in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22), and that "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). Also, when speaking to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:13-14 he said, “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” It is also clear that the Apostle Paul believed in the creation account as well. 

In conclusion, after looking at several alternative views of the creation account, the question is now which ones agree with or contradict the writings of the Bible? Most conservatives hold to the view of Old Earth Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, or the Gap Theory. On the other hand, most conservatives categorically reject the Mythological, Pictorial Day, and Naturalistic Evolutionary views.

The reason for these views by conservatives is because Old Earth Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, and the Gap Theory all require an intelligent creator. Of course, they strongly disagree on particulars such as whether the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 should be taken literally, or that something happened between verses 1 and 2, but they all concur that an intelligent creator (God) was involved.

On the other hand, their rejection of the Mythological, Pictorial Day, and Naturalistic Evolutionary views is because those views reject the account in Genesis 1 and 2 as factual, deny the involvement of an intelligent creator, and they embrace Naturalistic Evolution and its view of random mutation and natural selection which contradicts the teachings of the Bible and thus “impugns the authority of Christ and His apostolic witnesses”. 

Just so that you know, I believe that the Young Earth Creation view best aligns with the teachings of Scripture.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Creation Account, Part 3

We continue our topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two. Just to recap, this is based on a paper that I wrote in 2014 for a class called Old Testament Background Studies in Genesis. In it, I briefly looked at some of the various views of the creation accounts to point out their weaknesses and strengths, at least as far as I could discern, and which ones we as Bible-believing Christians should reject and embrace. Again, this study is not meant to be exhaustive, but to serve as a good starting point for the reader to pursue on their own. Last time, we looked at what is called the Pictoral Day, Old Earth Creationism, and Young Earth Creationism. Today, we will look at the Gap Theory and Naturalistic Evolution. 

The Gap Theory first made its way into the mainstream as a result of the printing of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Yes, that beloved reference Bible. This theory assumes a gap of time between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1. It is during this time that they postulate that a pre-Adamic world once existed and was subsequently destroyed in the rebellion of Lucifer and the fallen angels that are referred to in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. 

The reason for this view is found in Genesis 1:2 which says that “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”. At issue is the word “was” which they believe should be translated as “became”. In other words, the earth became formless and void as a result of some act of judgment in time past. It is in this “gap” of time that they conclude that “all the ages that are demanded by geologists occurred and ended with the glacial age”.   The theory also explains why there is the apparent contradiction in how old science says the earth is and the biblical account.

The theory goes on to surmise that in Genesis 1:3, God starts the process of reparation as described in the six days of creation. The rationale for this view comes from a “desire to reconcile the voluminous scientific evidence for Earth’s antiquity” and still concedes the six literal days of creation.   In the end though, too much of the theory rests on the translation of the word “was” and the questionable use of the phrase “formless and void.”   

Next is the view that is referred to as Naturalistic Evolution. Before 1900, the issue of evolution was a non-controversial subject. Everyone, for the most part, embraced the biblical view of creation either by conviction or conformity. However, the issue of evolution was brought to the forefront by the Progressive Movement in the early 20th Century in a series of court cases that eventually came to be known as the Scopes Monkey Trial.
  
In essence, Naturalistic Evolution teaches that all creation is purely accidental and that no supreme power was involved at all. It presupposes that everything came into existence in a randomly generated sequence through mutation and natural selection. Of course, this view by necessity requires millions, if not billions of years, for these mutations to take place. Charles Ryrie puts it this way, “If one were to reduce the process to a formula it would look like this: M(utations) + N(atural) S(election) x T(ime) = Evolution.”
   
It is interesting that in regards to the necessity of time for the evolutionary process to take place, Tremper Longman points out in his book How to Read Genesis, "Many modern readers stumble over the six days of creation. They ask how it could have happened so quickly. It is interesting to note that before the nineteenth century and the work of Charles Darwin the question was just the opposite. For instance, in the sixteenth century John Calvin encountered skepticism concerning the biblical account because it took God so long to create. The biblical account seemed ridiculous to many readers in the sixteenth century because they knew that God could create instantaneously if he so willed.”
  
Of course, Naturalistic Evolution does have its weaknesses as well. Some of these include issues with mutations that tend to be overwhelmingly useless or even detrimental, natural selection which rarely brings about improvements, time for probability and chance, and the second law of thermodynamics which says that all things move from orderliness to chaos, and yet, it supposes the exact opposite.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Creation Account, Part 2

Today, we continue our topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two. Just to recap, this is based on a paper that I wrote in 2014 for a class called Old Testament Background Studies in Genesis. In it, I briefly looked at some of the various views of the creation accounts to point out their weaknesses and strengths, at least as far as I could discern, and which ones we as Bible-believing Christians should reject and embrace. Again, this study is not meant to be exhaustive, but to serve as a good starting point for the reader to pursue on their own. Last time, we looked at the Mythological view. Today, we are going to take a look at what is called the Pictoral Day, Old Earth Creationism, and Young Earth Creationism.  

The second view to consider is called the Pictorial Day. It is often times also referred to as the Revelation Theory. In essence, it says that the days in Genesis 1 are indeed “literal days of twenty-four hours each, but they are days only in the life of Moses. The basic view is that during those six literal days, God revealed to Moses exactly how creation occurred, and as God spoke, Moses recorded what was said to him in a six-day format.

Of course, this view clearly has accommodationism in mind as that it still maintains the literal twenty-four hour days and yet also allows the scientific community to have the long periods of time that they demand for the formation of the earth through the means of evolution. However, just like the Mythological view, it again discounts the clear intent of the author in that he clearly intended the book to be a historical account. This is again seen in its narrative style, attention to genealogies, dates. Why would the writer go through the trouble of giving these details if he knew the twenty-four hour periods were only in his life and not the actual account? Wouldn't make sense. Again, it is merely an attempt at accommodationism which we Christians are far too prone to.  

A third view of the creation account is called Old Earth Creation or Progressive Creation.   Like their Young Earth counterparts, they do believe that the emergence of different life forms was due to the actions of an intelligent creator. The difference between the two is that this group does not accept the historical account of creation as found in Genesis 1 and 2 to be literally true. Instead, they choose to view creation through the lens of science and insist that one can be a Christian and believe in Old Earth Creation as long as “one accepts the central doctrine of salvation through a profession of faith.”   

The most glaring problem that Old Earth Creationists face is that their theory does not fit the scientific evidence. In order to resolve the discrepancies between the Bible and Science, they insist on what is called the Day-Age and Gap Creation ideas. The Day-Age idea says that creation was by God, but he did it in “God-length days that may have lasted thousands, if not millions, of years.” They accompany the Day-Age idea with Gap Creation which says that “all life emerged in cycles of creation followed by long periods of stasis” that was repeated continually until humans were created." 

The fourth view of creation is that of Young Earth Creation. By most conservative scholars, this group is considered to be the most faithful to the Scriptures. Those who hold this view take the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 literally. This is to say that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal twenty-four hour periods. This means that God created everything by fiat. That is to say that God merely spoke, and it was created just as Hebrews 11:3 implies, “By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Young Earth Creationists also insist that earth cannot be more than 10,000 years old. And, they conclude that the fossil record bears out that a cataclysmic event did take place in time past, and that event is the worldwide flood that is recorded in Genesis 6.

Naturally, this view does have its challenges, especially from the scientific community who consider the idea of a divine being calling things out of nothing to be absurd. One of their contentions is that modern dating methods do place the age of the earth much older than 10,000 years. These methods used by geologists today include carbon-13 and carbon-12 ratios which actually place the oldest fossils as far back as 3.86 billion years. Of course, both of these methods of dating have not proven to be the most reliable at times. 

Bear in mind, that for the moment, I am just listing the various views with their own strengths and weakness. We still have the Gap Theory, Naturalistic Theory, and what I will call the Biblical View.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Creation Account, Part 1

Today, I want to start a new topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two. This is based on a paper that I wrote in 2014 for a class called Old Testament Background Studies in Genesis. In it, I briefly looked at some of the various views of the creation account to point out their weaknesses and strengths, at least as far as I could discern, and which ones we as Bible-believing Christians should reject and embrace. These views consist of Mythology, Pictorial Day, Old Earth Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, Gap Theory, Naturalistic Evolution, and would I refer to as the Biblical View, which is how Bible itself speaks to the issue. 

For centuries the interpretation of the creation account in the book of Genesis was pretty static in that the commonly held teaching that the narrative was to be interpreted literally was accepted by the majority of the church leadership and those in attendance. However, with the advent of the enlightenment and the introduction of rationalism (a belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response) and empiricism (the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience, i.e., experimental science) the historicity of the book has been called into question. 

Specifically, it is the first two chapters of the book that draws the most ire from those who find its account to be on par with such writings as the Epic of Gilgamesh or the stories of Zeus. Others will concede while that upper-story religious truth can certainly be found in the text, but will deny its historical value and the actual validity of the text where it seems to contradict the findings of modern science. However, if indeed the creation account is not a literal account, but simply an upper-story narrative that is only meant to present moral or religious truth, how does that impact the teachings of the Bible? 

The first view to consider is the mythological view. According to John Walton, author of the NIV Application Commentary on Genesis, the mythical approach of interpreting this book is the “most troubling category for those who take the Bible seriously.” The reason for this is because in our modern society the term almost automatically implies a “judgment that the story is not true or at least unhistorical.” However, that is not necessarily the way those in the ancient world saw mythology. Instead, they saw myths as a means of explaining the world around them in the form of a story which usually had religious and moral purposes. Actually, mythology to the ancient world was like science in our own in that both were and are mere attempts to understand cause and effect. C. John Collins, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary insists that with that in mind, it is wise to shy away from triumphalism by arrogantly implying that our modern world is more sophisticated than theirs.   

On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that the very word “myth” does by its very nature imply that not every aspect of the story is to be taken as absolute truth even though it is told as such. Millard Erickson, the author of Christian Theology, also points out that myth is a literary device that is used to convey a “supernatural or transcendent truth in earthly form." Those who hold this view will contend that the Bible was never meant to have any authority in regards to empirical issues such as history or science. Instead, the authority of the Bible only rests in issues of religion and therefore serves to only bring men into a “proper relationship with God”  

Ultimately, those who hold this view usually embrace Naturalistic Evolution (the view that new species of life came into being as a result of natural causes) instead of Biblical Creation. However, they do so by ignoring the clear intent of the author. One example is that the writer clearly intended the book to be an actual historical account due to its narrative style, attention to genealogies (e.g., descendants of Adam and Noah), and dates (e.g., the exact date in relation to Noah’s life that the rain began to fall). 

Therefore, I reject the mythological approach to the interpretation of the account and so should you.