"GIVE ME THE BIBLE" The Problem Of Biblical Illiteracy INTRODUCTION 1. A growing problem is one of biblical illiteracy... a. Not just by those in the world b. Also in the church -- "Americans revere the Bible - but, by and large, they don't read it. And because they don't read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates." - George Gallup and Jim Castelli 2. How bad is it? Consider these results from various surveys... a. Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels b. Many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples c. 60 percent of Americans can't name even five of the Ten Commandments d. 82 percent of Americans believe "God helps those who help themselves" is a Bible verse e. 12 percent of adults believe that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife f. A survey of graduating high school seniors revealed that over 50 percent thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife g. A considerable number of respondents to one poll indicated that the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham -- "Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate." - George Barna [Biblical illiteracy is like a poison, wreaking havoc in the lives of individuals, in our churches, and in our communities. To understand how, consider...] I. THE POISON OF BIBLICAL ILLITERACY A. ITS EFFECT ON INDIVIDUALS... 1. God's people have always been destroyed by lack of knowledge - Hos 4:1,6 2. Where there is lack of God's Word, the people faint - cf. Am 8:11-13 a. In ignorance they make the wrong choices b. When they stumble, they do not know where to turn 3. Without a knowledge of God's Word, a person has... a. No real direction or guidance in life - Psa 119:105 b. No true joy or peace in life - Psa 119:111,165 -- How many lives are being destroyed, how many people are stumbling through life, because they do not have the light of God's Word guiding them? B. ITS EFFECT ON CHURCHES... 1. Churches languish for lack of teachers; teachers are few for lack of knowledge - He 5:12 2. Churches are led astray by false teachers and false doctrine, for how can the ignorant know what is false? - cf. 2Pe 2:1-3 -- How many churches are "dying on the vine", or into wholesale apostasy because their members cannot discern between truth and error? C. ITS EFFECT ON COMMUNITIES... 1. Our standards of morality are skewed, where good is evil and evil is good - cf. Isa 5:20 a. We slaughter the innocent (abortion), sparing the guilty (no capital punishment) b. We reward the wicked (movie stars, entertainers), depriving the good (teachers, etc.) c. Divorce is made easy, adultery looked upon lightly, fornication "an affair, a relationship", homosexuality an alternative lifestyle 2. The effect of such things destroy our families and communities a. Evil (pornography, promiscuity) is allowed to spread in the name of "freedom", ripping families apart b. Children are deprived the kind of parenting that is their God-given right c. Leading to juvenile delinquency and greater evils -- Consider how the moral fabric of our nation and others in the world is becoming unraveled when "everyone does what is right in his own eyes" - cf. Judg 21:25 [The poison of Biblical illiteracy has infected and sickened our people, our churches, and our communities. Is there an antidote to this poison? Indeed there is...] II. THE ANTIDOTE TO BIBLICAL ILLITERACY A. DAILY DEVOTIONAL BIBLE READING IN PRIVATE... 1. The truly blessed person feeds upon the Word of God daily - Psa1:1-3; 119:97-98 2. A systematic practice of prayerful Bible reading as part of a daily devotional... a. Will bring a person closer to God b. Will gradually increase one's understanding of the Word of God c. Will offer strength, comfort and hope that only the Scriptures provide -- Are you willing to do your part, everyday, in stamping out Biblical illiteracy? B. FREQUENT IN-DEPTH BIBLE STUDY WITH OTHERS... 1. The faithful Christian realizes the value of mutual edification - He 3:12-14; 10:24-25 2. Churches often provide the opportunity for Christians to study together a. In their Bible classes on the Lord's day, during the week, and in their homes b. Where they can benefit from the knowledge of other Bible students -- Are you willing to participate in such activities to stamp out Biblical illiteracy? C. PARENTS ACCEPTING THEIR GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY... 1. God gave the responsibility of spiritual training to the parents - cf. Deu 6:6-7; Ep 6:4 2. Church may provide assistance with their children's classes, and yet... a. Parents should not abdicate their responsibility to the church b. Parents should be very much involved in the teaching programs of any church -- Are you willing to accept your parental duties to stamp out Biblical illiteracy? D. PREACHERS FULFILLING THEIR DUTY TO THE WORD... 1. Preachers are to give heed to the Word, and to preach the Word - 1Ti 4:16; 2Ti 4:1-5 2. We should expect preachers to be "men of the Book" a. Preaching and teaching the Word of God, providing exposition of the Scriptures b. Not entertaining us with "pop theology" and "pop psychology" -- Are you willing to require that preachers proclaim the Word to stamp out Biblical Illiteracy? CONCLUSION 1. I was encouraged to prepare this study reading an article by Albert Mohler (The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It's Our Problem) 2. I thought his concluding paragraphs to be especially on the mark... a. "Churches must recover the centrality and urgency of biblical teaching and preaching, and refuse to sideline the teaching ministry of the preacher. Pastors and churches too busy--or too distracted--to make biblical knowledge a central aim of ministry will produce believers who simply do not know enough to be faithful disciples." b. "We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs. The many fronts of Christian compromise in this generation can be directly traced to biblical illiteracy in the pews and the absence of biblical preaching and teaching in our homes and churches." c. "This generation must get deadly serious about the problem of biblical illiteracy, or a frighteningly large number of Americans --Christians included--will go on thinking that Sodom and Gomorrah lived happily ever after." Are we willing to get "deadly serious about the problem of biblical illiteracy"? I hope the rest of the lessons in this series ("Give Me The Bible") will encourage us to do so...
Noah’s Flood and The Epic of Gilgamesh
|by||Kyle Butt, M.A.
One of the most remarkable and memorable stories in the Bible is that of Noah’s Flood. One man’s righteousness and courage separated him and his family from a vile world of sin. God’s disgust at the world’s wickedness brought about the worldwide Flood in which Noah and the other seven members of his family were the only humans saved, along with representatives of each kind of land-living animal that was alive at the time. This story is so well-known that virtually every children’s Bible story book features a rendition of it, and there are numerous references to it in the New Testament.
As could be expected, some who have read the story in Genesis 6-9 have questioned its validity. How could so many animals fit in the Ark? What would a global Flood even look like? How could the Ark float while being loaded down with so much cargo? Etc. When each of these questions is considered, sufficient answers are available to show that the biblical narrative is both scientifically accurate and historically correct (see Miller, 2014). One challenge that has been repeatedly brought against the biblical account of the Flood is that the author copied the story from previously written material. The most common claim is that the biblical Flood story is a rewrite of an ancient tale from Babylon titled The Epic of Gilgamesh.
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a 2,900-line poem, written on 12 tablets, describing the life of King Gilgamesh and his reign over an area near the perennial powerhouse of Babylon. The tablets date back to about 650 B.C.; and scholars suggest that the material they contain comes from legend and myth that dates back to between 1800-1600 B.C. (Kovacs, 1989, p. xxvi). The 11th tablet of this work contains an account of a massive flood. Supposedly since it predates the biblical account, and is so similar to the story found in the Bible, then the author of Genesis must have copied material from Gilgamesh or its source material. Does this challenge to the biblical record hold up under a thorough investigation? Not at all.
Does the Fact that One Account is First Prove the Later Account is a Copy?In discussions of this nature, it is often helpful to ask the simple question of what would the situation look like if there really was a global flood that destroyed all but a few people. If those people survived such a flood, what would they have told their descendants? What would have happened in the retelling of the events when their children and grandchildren moved farther away from each other? After such an event, and so many retellings of the story over hundreds of years, would we expect to find differing tales that trace their origins back to the actual event? A brief moment of thought about these questions reveals that if a universal flood occurred, we would expect to find differing stories with (certain similarities) that date hundreds or thousands of years apart, and that arise from various geographical locations and ethnic groups across the globe.
Interestingly, that is exactly what we find. There are over 200 flood legends in different cultures all over the world. For instance, the Aztecs tell of a worldwide flood in which only two people, Coxcox and his wife, survived. Immediately following the flood, giants constructed a pyramid in an attempt to touch the clouds. In China, the legend is told of God sending a messenger to Earth to warn three sons that a flood was coming. The oldest was the only one to heed the warning, and he built a boat. As a result of his hard work he survived the flood. After the flood, the boat landed on a mountain, and the son had three sons that repopulated the earth. These are just two of the numerous flood legends from around the world (see Lyons and Butt, 2003 for more information).
The fact that one of these stories (such as Gilgamesh or various others) was preserved or written down first cannot be used to argue that it is (a) the correct and accurate description of what happened, or (b) the basis for the text of any narrative that was recorded at a later date. To illustrate, suppose that a certain battle occurred in the American Civil War. One soldier who was not there, but heard about it, told his friend. His friend embellished the story as he retold it to many others. One of those to whom he told the story decided to write it down just a few years after the battle occurred. Decades later, however, a young officer who took part in the battle decided to write a history of it. His memory was exceptional and he related the events much more accurately than the story that was being passed around by the soldier who was not even at the battle. If such events are possible, even probable, then we can show that simply because one telling of a historical event predates another does not make it more accurate, and does not mean the later story copied from it in anyway.
How Similar is Gilgamesh to the Genesis Account?Even though the two accounts of the global Flood have similarities, it is actually quite striking to see the differences that exist between the stories. For instance, Gilgamesh tells of a man named Utnapishtim who, as a result of various gods wanting to destroy all people, was warned to build a boat 120 cubits on four sides by 120 cubits high, making the vessel a giant cube. The boat was finished apparently in five-six days, having six decks, and was loaded with gold, silver, ale, beer, butchered meat, “wine as if it were river water,” and a host of living animals. Just before the boat launched, the god Shamash rained down loaves of bread and wheat from heaven. Utnapishtim and all his family got in the boat, and a massive flood broke apart the Earth and drenched the ground for seven days. When it stopped and Utanapishtim looked out, “all the human beings had turned to clay.” The survivor then waited seven days and sent forth a dove, a swallow, and a raven. The dove and swallow returned, but the raven did not. The survivors then exited the boat and sacrificed to the gods. When the god Enlil saw that humans had survived, he was furious because “no man was to survive the annihilation.” The god Enlil then blessed Utanapishtim and his wife with the ability to be like gods and live an extended life (these details are taken from Kovacs’ translation of the poem, 1989, pp. 99-103).
While the similarities between Gilgamesh and the account of the Flood in Genesis are striking, there are vast differences that the Genesis-copied-Gilgamesh theory does not adequately explain. Why are the number of decks and the dimensions of the Ark different? How does Utnapishtim finish such a massive boat in so brief a time? Why such a large difference in the two accounts between how long the flood lasted (in the Bible Noah and his family don’t exit the Ark for a year, while Utnapishtim seems to spend only two weeks or a little more on the cubical boat). Why doesn’t the Genesis account include the swallow? Why does Gilgamesh say that one of the gods is unaware of the survivors?
The skeptic who insists that Genesis plagiarized Gilgamesh is then obligated to account for the various and serious differences. Once it is admitted, and it must be, that the Genesis account had some other source than Gilgamesh for those differences (i.e. God), then it must be conceded that the Genesis account could also have gotten all the details from that source, including the ones that are similar to the Babylonian poem.
What Would We Expect?A closer look at The Epic of Gilgamesh presents Gilgamesh as a pagan, idolatrous king who tyrannically imposed his will on the land. One of his laws was to participate in sexual intercourse with every girl in his territory before they were married. This literature is just what one would expect from a society that had departed from the worship of the true God and distorted His Laws as well as an accurate account of the past. When we evaluate the biblical record, we can know that it was penned by Moses (Lyons, et. al., 2003) and is the most historically reliable collection of writings from the ancient world (Butt, 2004). The discovery of The Epic of Gilgamesh and other ancient writings that contain Flood stories does not call the Genesis account into question. On the contrary, it provides evidence that verifies the fact of a global Flood, and is exactly what any person who has given the idea much thought would expect to happen if the Flood were a historic reality.
ReferencesButt, Kyle (2004), “Archaeology and the Old Testament,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=1347.
Kovacs, Maureen Gallery (1989), The Epic of Gilgamesh (Standford, CA: Stanford University Press).
Lyons, Eric and A.P. Staff (2003), “Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch: Tried and True,” Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=36.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2003), “Legends of the Flood,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=64.
Miller, Jeff (2014), “Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate Review: Tying Up Really Loose Ends, Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4801.
God’s Wood or Man’s Plastic?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Evolutionists are confident in their conviction that their explanations demonstrate their independent, autonomous existence to the exclusion of God. They literally “jump through hoops” and engage in scientific “ventriloquism” in their quest to achieve legitimacy for their atheistic bent. However, when all relevant evidence eventually comes to light, it fits “hand in glove” with the presence of the God of the Bible.
Prior to the invention of modern plastics, what would the Creator have humans to do for suitable containers? Wood, stone, or clay, and eventually metal, pretty much exhausted the possibilities. Yet, government agencies, like the USDA and the FDA, generally have advocated the use of plastic for cutting boards and other surfaces that sustain food contact, on the grounds that the micropores and knife cuts in wood provide hidden havens for deadly bacterial organisms. As one Extension Specialist from the Department of Human Nutrition stated: “for cleanability and control of microorganisms, plastic is the better choice.”
However, the best research available on the subject suggests otherwise. Dr. Dean Cliver, a microbiologist with the Food Safety Laboratory and World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Food Virology at the University of California-Davis, disputes the oft’-repeated claim regarding the superiority of plastic over wood. His research findings, conducted over a period of several years, have consistently demonstrated the remarkable antibacterial properties of wood.
Dr. Cliver and his research associates have tested five life-threatening bacteria (Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus) on four plastic polymers and more than ten species of hardwood, including hard maple, birch, beech, black cherry, basswood, butternut, and American black walnut. Within 3 minutes of inoculating wooden boards with cultures of the food-poisoning agents, 99.9 percent of the bacteria were unrecoverable. On the other hand, none of the bacteria tested under similar conditions on plastic died. In fact, leaving microbe populations on the two surfaces overnight resulted in microbial growth on the plastic boards, while no live bacteria were recovered from wood the next morning. Interestingly, bacteria are absorbed into the wood, but evidently do not multiply, and rarely if ever come back alive. In contrast, bacteria in knife scars in plastic boards remain viable (even after a hot-water-and-soap wash) and maintain their ability to surface later and contaminate foods. Treating wood cutting boards with oils and other finishes to make them more impermeable actually retards wood’s bactericidal activity. Microbiologists remain mystified by their inability to isolate a mechanism or agent responsible for wood’s antibacterial properties.
Do these research findings bear any resemblance to Mosaic injunctions 3,500 years ago which required the destruction of pottery that had become contaminated—while wood was simply to be rinsed (Leviticus 6:28; 11:32-33; 15:12)? Dr. Cliver concluded: “I have no idea where the image of plastic’s superiority came from; but I have spent 40 years promoting food safety, and I would go with plastic if the science supported it. I don’t necessarily trust ‘nature,’ but I do trust laboratory research.” Kudos to Dr. Cliver’s honesty. What about trusting nature’s God?
Cliver, Dean O. (2002), personal letter.
Penner, Karen (1994), “Plastic vs. Wood Cutting Boards,” Timely Topics, Department of Human Nutrition, K-State Research and Extension.
Raloff, Janet (1993), “Wood Wins, Plastic Trashed for Cutting Meat,” Science News, 143:84-85, February 6.
Raloff, Janet (1997), “Cutting Through the Cutting Board Brouhaha,” Science News Online, Food For Thought, July 11.
Complex Jellies Jump 200 Million Years
|by||Kyle Butt, M.A.|
New finds surface every day in the scientific community that remind us of the inadequacy of evolutionary explanations about the natural world. A recent discovery of fossilized jellyfish is just such a find. Until a few months ago, the oldest fossilized jellyfish were supposed to be about 300 million years old [NOTE: The millions-of-years scenario is false, cannot be verified, and is based on faulty assumptions. I am referring to it, not to suggest that it is valid, but to show how dramatically evolutionists themselves must adjust it.]
In October, 2007, Paulyn Cartwright and her team of researchers reported finding and studying several fossilized jellyfish, which they dated to be about 505 million years old (2007). In a news release discussing the research, Jen Humphrey stated: “Cartwright said the jellyfish described in the article are also unique because they push the known occurrence of definitive jellyfish back from 300 million to 505 million years, a huge jump, and show more detail than anything previously described that is younger” (2007).
Notice that with a single fossil discovery, the alleged age of jellyfish jumps a gargantuan 200 million years. Does it not throw serious doubt on geological time that the time can be adjusted so quickly, with such little evidence? And where are all the jellyfish fossils from the alleged period of 300-500 millions years ago? Obviously, they were alive and thriving, but a record of their existence in the rocks is absent.
What is more, Cartwright and her team mentioned the detail that was preserved in the “old” jellies. What does the detail show? The detail shows that the jellyfish that are supposedly 500 million years old look like jellyfish that are five years old. They have hardly changed at all in “500 million years.” Cartwright and colleagues stated: “Further, some of these fossils share commonalities with modern cnidarian orders and families...” (2007, emp. added). Jen Humphrey, breaking Cartwright’s research down to a popular level of understanding, wrote:
[T]he researchers said that there is enough detail to assert that the types can be related to the modern orders and families of jellyfish. The specimens show the same complexity. That means that either the complexity of modern jellyfish developed rapidly roughly 500 million years ago, or that the group is even older and existed long before then (2007, emp. added).Isn’t evolutionary theory grand? On the one hand, it purports to explain how things evolve so quickly that they leave no fossils. On the other hand, it alleges that jelly fish were so well adapted that they did not change for 500 million years. In truth, that which explains too much, explains nothing.
Do evolutionists really expect us to believe that humans evolved from an ape-like creature to our present state of complexity in about 10 million years, but that jelly fish remained virtually unchanged for 500 million years? Why do evolutionists suggest that the fossilized jellies are millions of years old if they look just like modern jellies? The only reason is that the jellies were found in falsely dated rock. It is time that we demand that reason be applied to evolutionary dating methods and allegations about animal antiquity. If evolution really does what evolutionists claim, jellies would have evolved to such a level of complexity in 500 million years that they could build submarines and launch torpedoes at their prey. But, alas, they are still just jelly fish.
“Old” jellyfish look like “modern” jellyfish for a very simple reason that has nothing to do with evolution. When God spoke the world into existence, He instructed plants and animals to multiply “after their kind” (Genesis 1:21,24). Jellyfish have been faithfully doing just that since the beginning of Creation.
Humphrey, Jen (2007), “Fossil Record Reveals Elusive Jellyfish More Than 500 Million Years Old,” [On-line], URL: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-10/plos-frr103007.php.
Founders En Masse Advocated Christianity
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Popular propaganda spouted for half a century or more claims that the Founders and Framers of America were deists and largely irreligious men who sought to establish a secular society that celebrates all ideologies, religions, and philosophies as equally valid. This sinister “diversity” myth has inflicted untold damage on American society, bringing the nation literally to the brink of disaster.
The failure of the average citizen to examine the facts and assess the gravity of the situation is inexcusable. In reality, the religious orientation of the architects of American civilization, and their view regarding its importance to the establishment and perpetuation of the Republic, is easily ascertainable. Rather than wade through the myriad pages and books that purport to depict American history accurately, all one need do is simply reread the organic utterances issued by the Founders as they orchestrated the founding.
Though not including all those who rightly wear the appellation “Founder,” nevertheless, the Continental Congress comprised a substantial portion of those men, and they may clearly be designated quintessential Founders (see Miller, 2009, p. 3). They certainly constitute a representative cross section of the men who brought the Republic into existence. Consider one sample among many in which the Continental Congress en masse issued a proclamation to the entire population of the country on March 19, 1782:
The United States in Congress assembled...think it their indispensable duty to call upon the several states, to set apart the last Thursday in April next, as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer...that He would incline the hearts of all men to peace, and fill them with universal charity and benevolence, and that the religion of our Divine Redeemer, with all its benign influences, may cover the earth as the waters cover the seas (Journals of..., 22:137-138, emp. added).The “Divine Redeemer” is Jesus Christ. Calling for Christ’s religion to “cover the earth as the waters cover the seas” is a direct allusion to two Old Testament passages—Isaiah 11:9 and Habakkuk 2:14.
The Founders insisted that the stability of the Republic depends on the Christian religion, with its moral principles and spiritual framework. They felt that though other religions may certainly be tolerated in America, the peculiar doctrines and practices of those religions must not be allowed to alter the laws and institutions of the nation. Nor must those doctrines and practices do any physical harm to Americans or violate Christian morality (e.g., polygamy, homosexuality, and abortion). The Founders would be horrified at the notion of “political correctness” and its corrosive, destructive influence. They would have difficulty believing that Americans would ever even consider allowing Sharia law to be included in our courts, schools, or government. The Founders never asked that Hinduism cover the Earth, nor Islam, Buddhism, or Atheism. Rather, they begged God to cover the Earth with the religion of Christ as thoroughly and completely as the waters cover the oceans of the world.
REFERENCESJournals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1904-1937), ed. Worthington C. Ford, et al. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.html.
Miller, Dave (2009), Christ and the Continental Congress (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Was God once a legalist? (1)
“You shall therefore keep my statutes and my ordinances, by doing which a man shall live: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 18:5)
Though the word righteousness doesn’t occur in the text Paul quotes it twice (Romans 10:5 and Galatians 3:12) and says it speaks of righteousness that is “of the Torah (law)” and he contrasts it with the righteousness he proclaims in Jesus Christ.
He certainly contrasts the two but precisely in what way does he contrast them?
Typical evangelical thought says that Leviticus 18:5 gives the essential nature of "legalistic righteousness". By this, they tell us, it means righteousness and life that is gained by the moral worth/obedience of the person who stands before God.
By contrast the righteousness proclaimed by Paul in Jesus Christ is completely independent of the moral worth or obedience of the person who stands before God.
It would seem the choice is clear, Leviticus 18:5 which is legalism and Paul’s righteousness by faith which is grace.
But since Leviticus 18:5 is God’s command and promise, if there’s legalism in it then God is the legalist. Was God a legalist before Christ came at which time he became a gracious God? No one believes that, but if Leviticus 18:5 is legalism God and Moses are implicated in it.
Did Paul think God was promising life on a legalistic basis? Hardly!
Douglas Moo sees the difficulty, denies that Moses is a legalist (though he doesn’t give us reasons for letting Moses off the hook) and he reminds us that “life” in the Old Testament doesn’t (necessarily) mean eternal life or salvation. He implies that the “life” in Leviticus 18:5 is merely “covenant privilege”. So an Israelite could enjoy covenant privilege and the blessings that go with that without being “saved” and so having “eternal life”. Moo wants to say that Leviticus is a legalistic passage but doesn't want it related to salvation and that's why he draws the distinction.
It’s correct to draw such distinctions but it doesn’t really ease Moo’s problem because if he’s right it would still be true that covenant privilege was gained by moral worth and obedience (that is, on a legalistic basis). He offers covenant privilege as a non-grace reward. But Leviticus can’t offer covenant privilege as a non-grace reward because there are too many texts and sections that explicitly forbid Israel to believe such a thing. They were debtors to grace from beginning to end. They were debtors to grace for covenant privilege and anything else they enjoyed.
Additionally, Paul uses the Leviticus passage twice [Romans 10 and Galatians 3] and uses it to constrast "righteousness" which of the law and righteousness grounded in a relationship to Christ by faith. Paul doesn't do with it what Moo wants to do with it.
The difficulty seems clear: if Leviticus 18:5 advocates legalism then God and Moses are responsible for it. Paul says God offers "righteousness" in Leviticus 18:5 and not simply "covenant life".
Furthermore, it isn’t just that Israel turned it into a legalistic system; on this view God himself established the system and laid it on those who were already sinners. And while he was doing it, in other places he was saying their relationship with him was sheer grace. Everyone knows that won’t work.
But if Leviticus 18:5 is not the essence of legalism we need to re-examine Paul’s use of the text. We can’t have Paul saying Leviticus 18:5 is legalism if it isn’t.
The point he makes doesn’t hinge on “doing” but on the identity of the “doer”.
Leviticus 18:5 isn’t laying down a general theology about how one gets “saved”.
It isn’t speaking to humanity in general. The “you” of the text is Israel. The phrase, “I am the Lord” locks the call of the text into a whole narrative of grace. And the grace that undergirds the text is the grace shown to Israel in particular.
Verses 1-4 spell out the distinctiveness of Israel’s relationship with this Yahweh when it forbids them to behave as Egyptians or Canaanites.
Leviticus 18:5 is an Israelite text from beginning to end. It deals with their relationship with God and no one else’s. And it is “their” national righteousness, their relationship and life with God that they sought to establish (Romans 10:3).
We couldn’t have applied Leviticus 18:5 to Gentiles. Jews would have reminded us that the text, the statutes and ordinances and the promise of the text were from the Lord who gave them exclusively to Israel.
Paul’s point is not that one brand of righteousness and life can be earned (and using Leviticus 18:5 to prove it) and that true righteousness and life is of grace. He never believed such a thing and he certainly didn’t think Moses advocated it. Israel missed the full picture of God’s righteousness that aimed at humanity because they sought to establish their own national (Israelite) righteousness that was tied to the covenantal Torah.
Paul’s point of contrast between what he proclaimed and what Leviticus promised was the magnitude and range of it. Leviticus offered life and righteousness (by grace) to the doer of the Torah (Israel) and God in Jesus Christ offers life and righteousness to the whole wide world, Israel included, independent of the Torah. Israel thought the righteousness of God found an end in them and Paul shows a righteousness of God (witnessed by the Torah and the prophets) that was through Jesus Christ and for all nations (Romans 3:21-31 and 10:4 and elsewhere).
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
The World English Bible
Job 17:1 "My spirit is consumed. My days are extinct, And the grave is ready for me.
Job 17:2 Surely there are mockers with me. My eye dwells on their provocation.
Job 17:3 "Now give a pledge, be collateral for me with yourself. Who is there who will strike hands with me?
Job 17:4 For you have hidden their heart from understanding, Therefore you shall not exalt them.
Job 17:5 He who denounces his friends for a prey, Even the eyes of his children shall fail.
Job 17:6 "But he has made me a byword of the people. They spit in my face.
Job 17:7 My eye also is dim by reason of sorrow. All my members are as a shadow.
Job 17:8 Upright men shall be astonished at this. The innocent shall stir up himself against the godless.
Job 17:9 Yet shall the righteous hold on his way. He who has clean hands shall grow stronger and stronger.
Job 17:10 But as for you all, come on now again; I shall not find a wise man among you.
Job 17:11 My days are past, my plans are broken off, as are the thoughts of my heart.
Job 17:12 They change the night into day, saying 'The light is near' in the presence of darkness.
Job 17:13 If I look for Sheol as my house, if I have spread my couch in the darkness,
Job 17:14 If I have said to corruption, 'You are my father;' to the worm, 'My mother,' and 'my sister;'
Job 17:15 where then is my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?
Job 17:16 Shall it go down with me to the gates of Sheol, or descend together into the dust?"
Job 18:1 Then Bildad the Shuhite answered,
Job 18:2 "How long will you hunt for words? Consider, and afterwards we will speak.
Job 18:3 Why are we counted as animals, which have become unclean in your sight?
Job 18:4 You who tear yourself in your anger, shall the earth be forsaken for you? Or shall the rock be removed out of its place?
Job 18:5 "Yes, the light of the wicked shall be put out, The spark of his fire shall not shine.
Job 18:6 The light shall be dark in his tent. His lamp above him shall be put out.
Job 18:7 The steps of his strength shall be shortened. His own counsel shall cast him down.
Job 18:8 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he wanders into its mesh.
Job 18:9 A snare will take him by the heel. A trap will catch him.
Job 18:10 A noose is hidden for him in the ground, a trap for him in the way.
Job 18:11 Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall chase him at his heels.
Job 18:12 His strength shall be famished. Calamity shall be ready at his side.
Job 18:13 The members of his body shall be devoured. The firstborn of death shall devour his members.
Job 18:14 He shall be rooted out of his tent where he trusts. He shall be brought to the king of terrors.
Job 18:15 There shall dwell in his tent that which is none of his. Sulfur shall be scattered on his habitation.
Job 18:16 His roots shall be dried up beneath. Above shall his branch be cut off.
Job 18:17 His memory shall perish from the earth. He shall have no name in the street.
Job 18:18 He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.
Job 18:19 He shall have neither son nor grandson among his people, nor any remaining where he sojourned.
Job 18:20 Those who come after shall be astonished at his day, as those who went before were frightened.
Job 18:21 Surely such are the dwellings of the unrighteous. This is the place of him who doesn't know God."
Job 19:1 Then Job answered,
Job 19:2 "How long will you torment me, and crush me with words?
Job 19:3 You have reproached me ten times. You aren't ashamed that you attack me.
Job 19:4 If it is true that I have erred, my error remains with myself.
Job 19:5 If indeed you will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach;
Job 19:6 know now that God has subverted me, and has surrounded me with his net.
Job 19:7 "Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard. I cry for help, but there is no justice.
Job 19:8 He has walled up my way so that I can't pass, and has set darkness in my paths.
Job 19:9 He has stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.
Job 19:10 He has broken me down on every side, and I am gone. My hope he has plucked up like a tree.
Job 19:11 He has also kindled his wrath against me. He counts me among his adversaries.
Job 19:12 His troops come on together, build a siege ramp against me, and encamp around my tent.
Job 19:13 "He has put my brothers far from me. My acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.
Job 19:14 My relatives have gone away. My familiar friends have forgotten me.
Job 19:15 Those who dwell in my house, and my maids, count me for a stranger. I am an alien in their sight.
Job 19:16 I call to my servant, and he gives me no answer. I beg him with my mouth.
Job 19:17 My breath is offensive to my wife. I am loathsome to the children of my own mother.
Job 19:18 Even young children despise me. If I arise, they speak against me.
Job 19:19 All my familiar friends abhor me. They whom I loved have turned against me.
Job 19:20 My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh. I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Job 19:21 "Have pity on me, have pity on me, you my friends; for the hand of God has touched me.
Job 19:22 Why do you persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
Job 19:23 "Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Job 19:24 That with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!
Job 19:25 But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives. In the end, he will stand upon the earth.
Job 19:26 After my skin is destroyed, then in my flesh shall I see God,
Job 19:27 Whom I, even I, shall see on my side. My eyes shall see, and not as a stranger. "My heart is consumed within me.
Job 19:28 If you say, 'How we will persecute him!' because the root of the matter is found in me,
Job 19:29 be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishments of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment."
Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Good News of God,
Rom 1:2 which he promised before through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
Rom 1:3 concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,
Rom 1:4 who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
Rom 1:5 through whom we received grace and apostleship, for obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name's sake;
Rom 1:6 among whom you are also called to belong to Jesus Christ;
Rom 1:7 to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, that your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
Rom 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the Good News of his Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers,
Rom 1:10 requesting, if by any means now at last I may be prospered by the will of God to come to you.
Rom 1:11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, to the end that you may be established;
Rom 1:12 that is, that I with you may be encouraged in you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.
Rom 1:13 Now I don't desire to have you unaware, brothers, that I often planned to come to you, and was hindered so far, that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.
Rom 1:14 I am debtor both to Greeks and to foreigners, both to the wise and to the foolish.
Rom 1:15 So, as much as is in me, I am eager to preach the Good News to you also who are in Rome.
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the Good News of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes; for the Jew first, and also for the Greek.
Rom 1:17 For in it is revealed God's righteousness from faith to faith. As it is written, "But the righteous shall live by faith."
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Rom 1:19 because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse.
Rom 1:21 Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened.
Rom 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
Rom 1:23 and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things.
Rom 1:24 Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves,
Rom 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Rom 1:26 For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature.
Rom 1:27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error.
Rom 1:28 Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
Rom 1:29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers,
Rom 1:30 backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Rom 1:31 without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful;
Rom 1:32 who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.