"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" Two Invitations (9:1-18) INTRODUCTION 1. In his discourses on the value of seeking after wisdom, Solomon has varied his approach... a. He makes his own appeal as a father to his son and children - cf. Pr 1:8; 4:1 b. He personifies wisdom as a lady who invites people to pay heed - cf. Pr 1:20; 8:1 2. His final discourse presents a picture of two women, both extending invitations... a. One woman personifies wisdom - Pr 9:1-12 b. The other personifies folly - Pr 9:13-18 [Whose invitation will we accept? That of Lady Wisdom, or that of Woman Folly? Consider first...] I. THE INVITATION OF LADY WISDOM (9:1-12) A. HER PREPARATION... 1. Her beautiful home: a large house with seven pillars - Pr 9:1 a. The number seven suggests to many the idea of completeness b. Compare the seven-fold qualities of wisdom described by James - Jm 3:17 2. Her sumptuous feast: meat and wine, a furnished table - Pro 9:2 a. Carefully prepared b. Beautifully presented -- Lady Wisdom has made great effort in making provisions B. HER PLEA... 1. She wants to be heard - Pr 9:3 a. She has sent out her maidens (reminding us of Jesus, sending His apostles) b. She cries out from the highest places of the city 2. She invites the simple and those who lack understanding - Pro 9:4-6 a. To eat and drink of her prepared feast b. To forsake foolishness and live, to go in the way of understanding 3. Why She won't invite scoffers - Pr 9:7-9 a. Correcting a scoffer only shames and harms the one doing the correcting b. The wise and just, however, appreciate and will learn from correction -- Lady Wisdom makes great effort to reach those who will listen C. HER PROMISE... 1. Wisdom and understanding - Pr 9:10 a. To those who fear the Lord b. To those who know the Lord 2. Long life - Pr 9:11; cf. 3:2,16 a. Days will be multiplied b. Years will be added 3. To benefit one's self - Pr 9:12 a. Wisdom will bless one's self (for you will have God's aid) b. Scorn, on the other hand, will hurt one's self (for you will bear things alone) -- Lady Wisdom wants you to have the best life possible! [The invitation of Lady Wisdom is really quite tempting (in a good way). Especially when we carefully consider the alternative...] II. THE INVITATION OF WOMAN FOLLY (9:13-18) A. HER PREPARATION... 1. She really makes no preparation 2. Instead, she is "loud; she is seductive and knows nothing" (ESV) - Pr 9:13 3. The Believers' Bible Commentary describes her as "loudmouthed, empty-headed, and brazenfaced" -- Compare her lack of preparation with that of Lady Wisdom B. HER PLEA... 1. She sits at the door of her house - Pr 9:14a a. Unlike Lady Wisdom b. Who sent out Her maidens to be heard 2. She sits on a high seat by the highest places of the city - Pro 9:14b a. Where Lady Wisdom also cries out - cf. Pr 9:3 b. Note that Woman Folly cries out from a seated position (lazy?) 3. She calls to those who pass by - Pr 9:15-16 a. Especially the simple b. And those who lack understanding -- Woman Folly competes with Lady Wisdom for the souls of men C. HER PROMISE... 1. That stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant - Pr 9:17 a. An allusion to illicit intercourse - cf. Pr 5:15 b. But it is a false promise - cf. Pr 20:17; 5:3-5 2. The true promise is unknown to the simple lacking understanding - Pr 9:18 a. Her home is the house of the dead - cf. Pr 2:18-19 b. Her house is the way to hell - cf. Pr 5:5; 7:27 -- Woman Folly, known best for her adulterous ways, promises much but delivers the worst life possible! CONCLUSION 1. Whose invitation shall we accept...? a. That of Lady Wisdom, who has prepared much and delivers what she promises? b. Or that of Woman Folly, who promises much and delivers the opposite? c. The choice should be obvious, even to the simple and those lacking understanding! 2. Thus ends the discourses of Solomon... a. Designed to encourage the acquisition of wisdom b. Illustrating the superiority of wisdom over folly In our next study, we will continue our survey of Proverbs using a topical approach...
"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" Wisdom's Plea To Be Heard (8:1-36) INTRODUCTION 1. In our previous study, we found warnings against the immoral woman... a. Who seduces with her beauty and flattery - Pr 6:24-25 b. Who in the open square lurks at every corner - Pr 7:12 2. In the eighth chapter, we once again find wisdom personified as a woman... a. Similar to what we read earlier in these discourses - Pr 1:20-23 b. Who cries out to be heard by the sons of men - Pr 8:3-4 [What does she have to say? Why should we listen to her? Let's study the eighth chapter of Proverbs to found out, beginning with...] I. THE PLEA OF WISDOM (8:1-11) A. SHE DESIRES TO BE HEARD... 1. By crying out, lifting up her voice - Pr 8:1 2. Not lurking in the corner (cf. Pr 7:12), but openly: a. On the top of the hill, beside the way, where paths meet - Pr 8:2 b. By the gates, at the entry of the city - Pr 8:3 B. SHE DESIRES TO BE HEARD BY ALL... 1. By the sons of men - Pr 8:4 2. By the simple ones and fools - Pr 8:5 C. SHE DESIRES TO IMPART GREAT THINGS... 1. Excellent things, right things - Pr 8:6 2. Words of truth and righteousness - Pr 8:7-8 3. Things that are plain and right - Pr 8:9 4. That which is better than silver, gold, rubies, and all that can be desired - Pr 8:10-11 [So wisdom is crying out to be heard by everyone, to share things of great value. Will we listen to her? To encourage us to do so, read further what she says about...] II. THE VALUE OF WISDOM (8:12-21) A. SEEN IN WHAT SHE POSSESSES... 1. Prudence, knowledge and discretion - Pr 8:12 2. The fear of the Lord, prompting her to hate pride, evil, and the perverse mouth - Pr 8:13 3. Counsel and sound wisdom, understanding and strength - Pr 8:14 B. SEEN IN WHAT SHE GIVES... 1. To kings, princes, nobles, and justices, the ability to rule with justice - Pr 8:15-16 2. To all who love her, riches, honor, righteousness, justice, and wealth - Pr 8:17-21 [Doesn't the value of wisdom make us want to hear her? To help us appreciate the value of wisdom even more, we next read of...] III. THE POSSESSION OF WISDOM (8:22-31) A. BY THE LORD BEFORE THE CREATION... 1. At the beginning of His way, before His works - Pr 8:22 2. From everlasting, before there was an earth - Pr 8:23 3. Before there were depths of water, or mountains and hills - Pro 8:24-25 4. Before the earth was created, before the primal dust of the world - Pr 8:26 B. BY THE LORD IN HIS ACTS OF CREATION... 1. When He prepared the heavens - Pr 8:27a 2. When He created the world - Pr 8:27b-29 3. She was beside Him as a master craftsman, rejoicing in His creation - Pr 8:30-31 [The wisdom utilized by God in the creation of the heavens and earth is the voice crying out for us to hear! If we have ears to hear, shall we not hear? Finally, we hear wisdom speak of...] IV. THE BLESSEDNESS OF WISDOM (8:32-36) A. FOR THOSE WILLING TO KEEP HER WAYS... 1. They are blessed - Pr 8:32 2. So hear her instruction and be wise, do not disdain it - Pro 8:33 B. FOR THOSE WILLING TO LISTEN INTENTLY... 1. They are blessed - Pr 8:34a 2. As they watch daily and wait - Pr 8:34b 3. They find life and obtain favor from the Lord - Pr 8:35 4. Unlike one who sins against her (he wrongs his own soul - Pro 8:36a 5. Unlike those who hate her (they love death) - Pr 8:36b CONCLUSION 1. So wisdom cries out to be heard... a. To share understanding and knowledge, truth and righteousness b. To bless our lives with riches and honor, especially that offered by the Lord 2. To whom shall we hearken...? a. To the woman lurking in the corners, whose house is the way to hell? - Pr 7:27 b. Or the woman standing on the top of the high hill, and by the open gates? - Pr 8:1-3 The answer should be obvious... "Blessed is the man who listens to me (wisdom), Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the LORD;"
Did Jude Treat Noncanonical Writings as if They Were Inspired?
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
There are sixty-six books commonly accepted as Scripture—the divinely inspired Word of God. Origen (c. 185-254), a prolific early Christian writer, noted a commonly accepted list of 27 New Testament books, indicating that by the second or third century, the New Testament canon was established (McGarvey, 1974, 1:66). There are many other books, beside the New Testament canon, that are considered inspired by some scholars, but not all (A.P. Staff, 2003, p. 1). The Bible is complete as it is, sufficient for the spiritual needs of Christians (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Luke 21:33; John 12:48).
Critics of the Bible would like nothing better than to show that God’s Word is a tangled web of contradictions, inconsistencies, and untruths. To that end, many critics have attempted to chip away at the credibility of Scripture by showing that it simply is impossible to determine what material is Scripture and what material is not. They have alleged that the biblical writers themselves accepted extrabiblical sources as inspired Scripture. One instance of a biblical writer allegedly treating noncanonical material as authoritative is in Jude 9. “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ”
Aside from Jude 9, there is no biblical record of any “contention” or meeting between the devil and Michael the archangel. Many scholars, based on the writings of Clement, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin, and Didymus (Guthrie, 1962, p. 918; Earle, Blaney, and Hanson, 1955, p. 411), assume that Jude 9 is a reference to an apocryphal book called The Assumption of Moses, a work that is extant only in fragmental form (in Latin and in a translation from Greek). The fragment now known as The Assumption of Moses presents the account of Moses’ appointing of Joshua as his successor, and a description of the future of Israel during the conquest of the Promised Land. According to Richard Lenksi, scholars believe that the missing portion of The Assumption included “an elaboration” of Deuteronomy 34:5, the biblical account of Moses’ death, showing how God used angels to bury Moses (1966, pp. 601-602). It is thought that The Assumption of Moses, at this point, used Zechariah 3:1-2 as its basis for the use of the phrase “The Lord rebuke you!” It has not been proven, however, that Jude intended to quote from The Assumption of Moses.
If Jude intended to reference it, it cannot be determined that Jude actually quoted the apocryphal book, because the material Jude allegedly quoted does not exist. If The Assumption of Moses did indeed contain material about Moses’ burial, then Jude independently wrote the same thing that the writer of The Assumption wrote. Thus, Jude confirmed that this particular portion of The Assumption is historical. That is very different from stating that any portion of The Assumption was inspired. It may be that Jude simply intended to reference an oral tradition (which was true) that became the basis for The Assumption (Guthrie, 1962, p. 918).
Jude is the only New Testament book that seems to include a direct citation of a Jewish apocryphal work, which is, in this case, The Book of Enoch (Guthrie, p. 917). The apparent reference to Enoch’s prophecy is in Jude 14-15. An example of the kind of criticism that comes against Jude 14-15 is that of Carroll D. Osburn, a distinguished professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University. Dr. Osborn argued in his book Peaceable Kingdom (1993, p. 94) that Jude should not be included in the New Testament canon because, among other reasons, Jude 14-15 discusses an event that also is recorded in The Book of Enoch. Enoch’s book apparently has more than one author, but scholars differ on which author wrote which portions, and it is uncertain when each portion was written. According to Sir Frederic Kenyon, former director and principal librarian of the British Museum, The Book of Enoch is pre-Christian, and parts of it are probably pre-Maccabean (1949, p. 246). However, there is no positive proof that The Book of Enoch existed as early as the time of Jude (Barnes, 1949, p. 400), or that it can even be traced back as far as the third century (Woods, 1962, p. 399). It is thought to have been written in Palestine. David Childress gave an overview of the history of The Book of Enoch:
The apocryphal Book of Enoch the Prophet was first discovered in Abyssinia in the year 1773 by a Scottish explorer named James Bruce. Bruce, a sort of 18th Century Indiana Jones, may have seen the Ark of the Covenant at Axum (or its copy, as we surmise), and was able to obtain the ancient Coptic Christian text, approximately 2,000 years old. In 1821 The Book of Enoch was translated by Richard Laurence and published in a number of successive editions, culminating in the 1883 edition (2000, p. 328).James C. VanderKam, in his book, Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition, claimed that Jude (in verses 14-15) quoted 1 Enoch 1:9 (1984, p. 110), and at first glance, that appears to be a correct assessment. First, consider Jude 14-15:
Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”Now notice the wording of 1 Enoch 1:9:
And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly: and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.Several points should be considered about Jude’s citation of Enoch’s prophecy. Because it is so difficult to date the origin of The Book of Enoch, and because numerous portions of the book suggest that the writer was influenced heavily by the New Testament, Guy N. Woods, commentating on Jude, wrote:
There are sharp variations between the statement allegedly cited by Jude and the actual statement as it appears in Jude. There is more reason for supposing that the book of Jude is older than this so-called “Book of Enoch” and that the author quoted from Jude rather than Jude from him! In the same fashion that Peter knew that Noah was a preacher, that Lot was vexed in Sodom, and that Paul knew the names of the Egyptian magicians; Jude learned of Enoch’s prophecy—by inspiration (1962, p. 399).Let us assume, for the sake of our study, that The Book of Enoch existed at the time that Jude wrote, and that Jude really was referencing it. Simply because Jude knew of Enoch’s prophecy and approved it, does not necessarily imply that Jude certified the entire collection of Enoch’s writings as inspired of God. The Greek word translated “prophesied” in Jude 14 is propheteuo, a word that is used on only one occasion in the New Testament (Matthew 15:7) for a citation of an Old Testament passage (Isaiah 29). The cognate Greek noun prophetes, which relates to the verb propheteuo, was used by Paul to refer to a heathen poet (Titus 1:12). There is no evidence, then, that Jude referred to Enoch’s prophecy as an inspired work. Why, then, did Jude mention The Book of Enoch? He recognized that the prophecy of Enoch had turned out to be a true prophecy. Jude never gave indication of what he thought of the remainder of The Book of Enoch.
Many times in Scripture, inspired writers use other sources of information; sometimes these sources are inspired, and sometimes they are not. For an example, one occasion when an inspired writer used an uninspired source is in 1 Corinthians 10:4, where Paul apparently made a reference to Jewish legend to support his own inspired interpretation of Israel’s wilderness wanderings (Lenski, 1937, pp. 392-393). On other occasions (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12-13), Paul quoted from pagan poets to support his own assertions, and even told his audiences that the specific portions of the pagan writings he referenced were accurate. Did Paul claim that these extrabiblical materials were inspired? Certainly not. Paul used supporting materials that would have been meaningful to his audiences. The noncanonical works that were cited by New Testament authors were highly respected. The fact that Paul used noncanonical sources to add an extra dimension to his message should not motivate us to regard any of Paul’s writings as inferior, or to totally disregard them. The same is true in the case of Jude’s epistle.
Further, Jude did not necessarily imply that Enoch saw into the future to predict attitudes or actions of the sinners under consideration in the epistle. All that is necessarily implied in Jude 14-15 is that Enoch’s prediction happened to be descriptive of the men about whom Jude wrote (Barnes, 1949, p. 399).
We probably will never be sure when (or if) Jude received information from earthly sources about Enoch’s writing or The Assumption of Moses. Perhaps Jude heard about it from traditional sources or from the books themselves, but this does not alter the fact that Jude was inspired of God. It is possible that the Holy Spirit, as He inspired Jude, certified that one particular portion of The Book of Enoch is correct, though not inspired. It is altogether certain, however, that despite critics’ allegations, the Bible continues to stand firm as the sole message from the Creator—always accurate and dependable.
REFERENCESBarnes, Albert (1949), Barnes’ Notes—James, Peter, John, and Jude (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1978 reprint).
Childress, David Hatcher (2000), Technology of the Gods: The Incredible Sciences of the Ancients (Kempton, IL: Adventures Unlimited).
Earle, Ralph, Harvey J.S. Blaney, and Carl Hanson (1955), Exploring the New Testament, ed. Ralph Earle (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press).
Guthrie, Donald (1962), Introduction to the New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1970 reprint), third revised edition.
Kenyon, Frederic (1949), The Bible and Archaeology (Britain: Harper and Brothers).
Lenski, Richard C. H. (1937), The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Lenski, Richard C. H. (1966), The Interpretation of I and II Peter, the Three Epistles of John, and the Epistle of Jude (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
McGarvey, J.W. (1974), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Osburn, Caroll D. (1993), The Peaceable Kingdom (Abilene, TX: Restoration Perspectives).
A.P. Staff (2003), “The Canon and Extra-Canonical Writings,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1972.
VanderKam, James C. (1984), Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (Washington, The Catholic Biblical Association of America).
Woods, Guy N. (1962), A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
A common misconception among atheists, humanists, and evolutionists is that those who reject evolution in order to hold to a fundamental, literal understanding of the biblical documents are guided by “blind faith.” Robinson articulated this position quite emphatically when he accused Christians of abandoning rationality and evidence in exchange for intellectual dishonesty and ignorance of the truth (1976, pp. 115-124). Many within the scientific community labor under the delusion that their “facts” and “evidence” are supportive of evolution and opposed to a normal, face-value understanding of the biblical text. They scoff at those who disagree with them, as if they alone have a corner on truth.
The fact of the matter is that while most of the religious world deserves the epithets hurled by the “informed” academicians, those who espouse pure, New Testament Christianity do not. New Testament Christians embrace the biblical definition of faith, in contrast to the commonly conceived understanding of faith that is promulgated by the vast majority of people in the denominational world.
The faith spoken of in the Bible is a faith that is preceded by knowledge. One cannot possess biblical faith in God until he or she comes to the knowledge of God. Thus, faith is not accepting what one cannot prove. Faith cannot outrun knowledge—for it is dependent upon knowledge (Romans 10:17). Abraham was said to have had faith only after he came to the knowledge of God’s promises and was fully persuaded (Romans 4:20-21). His faith, therefore, was seen in his trust and submission to what he knew to be the will of God. Biblical faith is attained only after an examination of the evidence, coupled with correct reasoning about the evidence.
The God of the Bible is a God of truth. Throughout biblical history, He has stressed the need for the acceptance of truth—in contrast with error and falsehood. Those who, in fact, fail to seek the truth are considered by God to be wicked (Jeremiah 5:1). The wise man urged: “Buy the truth, and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23). Paul, himself an accomplished logician, exhorted people to love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). He stated the necessity of giving diligence to the task of dealing with the truth properly (2 Timothy 2:15). Jesus declared that only by knowing the truth is one made free (John 8:32). Luke ascribed nobility to those who were willing to search for and examine the evidence, rather than being content to simply take someone’s word for the truth (Acts 17:11). Peter admonished Christians to be prepared to give a defense (1 Peter 3:15), which stands in stark contrast to those who, when questioned about proof of God, or the credibility and comprehensibility of the Bible, triumphantly reply, “I don’t know—I accept it by faith!”
Thus, the notion of “blind faith” is completely foreign to the Bible. People are called upon to have faith only after they receive adequate knowledge. In fact, the Bible demands that the thinker be rational in gathering information, examining the evidence, and reasoning properly about the evidence, thereby drawing only warranted conclusions. That, in fact, is the essentiality of what is known in philosophical circles as the basic law of rationality: one should draw only such conclusions as are justified by the evidence. Paul articulated exactly this concept when he wrote: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). John echoed the same thought when he said to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1). These passages show that the New Testament Christian is one who stands ready to examine the issues. God expects every individual to put to the test various doctrines and beliefs, and then to reach only such conclusions as are warranted by adequate evidence. Man must not rely upon papal authorities, church traditions, or the claims of science. Rather, all people are obligated to rely upon the properly studied written directives of God (2 Timothy 2:15; John 12:48; 2 Peter 3:16). Biblical religion and modern science clash only because the majority of those within the scientific community have abandoned sound biblical hermeneutics and insist upon drawing unwarranted, erroneous conclusions from the relevant scientific evidence.
The Bible insists that evidence is abundantly available for those who will engage in unprejudiced, rational inquiry. The resurrection claim, for example, was substantiated by “many infallible proofs,” including verification through the observation of more than five hundred persons at once (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Many proofs were made available in order to pave the way for faith (John 20:30-31). Peter offered at least four lines of evidence to those gathered in Jerusalem before he concluded his argument with “therefore…” (Acts 2:14-36). The acquisition of knowledge through empirical evidence was undeniable, for Peter concluded, “as you yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22, emp. added). John referred to the auditory, visual, and tactile evidences that provided further empirical verification (1 John 1:1-2). Christ offered “works” to corroborate His claims, so that even His enemies did not have to rely merely on His words—if they would but honestly reason to the only logical conclusion (John 10:24-25,38). The proof was of such magnitude that one Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, even admitted: “[W]e know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).
Nevertheless, there are always those who, for one reason or another, refuse to accept the law of rationality, and who avoid the warranted conclusions—just like those who side-stepped the proof that Christ presented, and attributed it to Satan (Matthew 12:24). Christ countered such an erroneous conclusion by pointing out their faulty reasoning and the false implications of their argument (Matthew 12:25-27). The proof that the apostles presented was equally conclusive, though unacceptable to many (Acts 4:16).
The proof in our day is no less conclusive, nor is it any less compelling. While it is not within the purview of this brief article to prove such (see Warren and Flew, 1977; Warren and Matson, 1978), the following tenets are provable: (1) we can know (not merely think, hope, or wish) that God exists (Romans 1:19-20); (2) we can know that the Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God, and intended to be comprehended in much the same way that any written human communication is to be understood; (3) we can know that one day we will stand before God in judgment and give account for whether we have studied the Bible, learned what to do to be saved, and obeyed those instructions; and (4) we can know that we know (1 John 2:3).
By abandoning the Bible as a literal, inerrant, infallible standard by which all human behavior is to be measured, the scientist has effectively rendered biblical religion, biblical faith, and New Testament Christianity sterile—at least as far as his or her own life is concerned. Once the Bible is dismissed as “figurative,” “confusing,” or “incomprehensible,” one has opened wide the doors of subjectivity, in which every man’s view is just as good as another’s. The more sophisticated viewpoint may be more appealing, but it remains just as subjective and self-stylized.
REFERENCESRobinson, Richard (1976), “Religion and Reason,” Critiques of God, ed. Peter A. Angeles (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus).
Warren, Thomas B. and Antony G.N. Flew (1977), The Warren-Flew Debate (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Warren, Thomas B. and Wallace I. Matson (1978), The Warren-Matson Debate (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Can a Person Live in Adultery?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Confusion exists in the mind of some concerning the status of those who commit the sin of adultery. It is generally recognized that a couple becomes guilty of adultery when they form a sexual relationship in violation of Christ’s teaching in Matthew 19:9. But what is a church to do when one or both of those marriage partners present themselves for church membership, expressing their regret for their sin, but their intention to continue their relationship? Some argue that the couple can be forgiven, if they say they are sorry, on the grounds that people cannot live in adultery. They were guilty of committing adultery when they first came together, but they cannot be guilty of living (in an ongoing state) in adultery, and so may continue their marriage without being guilty of further sin.
Meanwhile, the church tends to shy away from dealing with the matter, permitting the couple fellowship but, amid vague feelings of uncertainty, keeping them at arm’s length. In the midst of this inconsistency, the church unwittingly brings itself under the same indictment leveled at the churches in Pergamum (Revelation 2:14) and Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-22) for their unholy “tolerance.” We must permit God’s words to give us guidance rather than be influenced by our human inclinations, sympathies, or emotions. God’s Word speaks very clearly to this matter.
It is true that sin may be viewed as the practice of isolated acts that are contrary to God’s will. But it does not follow that individuals cannot live in sin. A “liar” is one who is involved in separate acts of lying. What makes him a liar, and therefore guilty of living a life of lying, is his refusal to cease telling lies. A person is a “murderer” if he has killed one or more persons and continues to entertain the possibility of repeating such behavior. A person is an “adulterer” because he has formed a sexual relationship which violates God’s law and refuses to cease that illicit relationship. Simply saying he is sorry for the existence of this adulterous union will not and cannot alter what, in God’s sight, is “not lawful” (Matthew 14:4). As long as that marriage is continued, the parties involved are adulterers (Romans 7:3). Only by terminating that relationship can the parties involved put an end to their adultery. Otherwise, they “continue to commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9—the present tense continuous action), “live in fornication” (Colossians 3:5-7), and “live in [sin]” (Romans 6:2). When Paul reminded Christians at Corinth of their conversion day, he noted that some had previously been fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Who could possibly doubt the fact that their salvation would have been impossible unless these sexual unions were terminated? Indeed, how could they “that are dead to sin, live any longer therein” (Romans 6:2)?
Much More than an Empty Tomb!
|by||Brad Bromling, D.Min.|
As dawn broke on the third day after Christ’ crucifixion, several pious women made their way to the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had donated for Jesus’ burial. When they arrived, they found it open and empty. Instead of seeing their Lord, they saw men (angels) dressed in dazzling clothes who announced that Jesus had been raised from the dead. The women returned to the community of Jesus’ followers and gave a full report. No one believed them. Peter and (apparently) John ran to the tomb to see for themselves. They found it as the women had said. The tomb was empty. But surprisingly, rather than spreading the exciting news that Jesus had been raised from the dead, Peter went away perplexed!
Later that day, two other disciples left Jerusalem and headed toward Emmaus, their hometown about seven miles away. As they walked, they shared their thoughts of disappointment over the death of Jesus. A stranger joined them and asked what they were talking about (they didn’t know the stranger was Jesus). They explained how that Jesus, the mighty prophet from Nazareth, had been crucified. They said, “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel,” indicating that their hopes had been dashed (Luke 24:21). They continued: “Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.” Apparently they expected Jesus to be raised; but even after hearing testimony from the women and the two men, the disciples from Emmaus were not convinced that a resurrection had taken place.
A few hours later they were back in Jerusalem enthusiastically telling others that Jesus was raised from the dead. What moved them from hopelessness to confident proclamation? The answer is plain: they had seen the Lord! By that time, so had Peter. In fact, from that point forward, Jesus appeared repeatedly to His followers for the next forty days before He finally ascended into heaven (Acts 1:3).
The central message of the Church is not simply that Jesus’ tomb was empty—that fact alone was not enough for the original followers of the Nazarene, nor would it be enough two thousand years later. A skeptical mind can imagine many ways to explain how Jesus’ body left the tomb (all of which have been sufficiently answered; see Geisler and Brooks, 1990, pp. 123-128; Bromling, 1993, pp. 33-38; et al.); but for a believer, only one way matters—resurrection. Faith in that is based upon the reliable testimony of people who, after having seen the risen Lord, devoted the rest of their lives to telling the Good News. Jesus left more than an empty tomb; He left credible flesh-and-blood witnesses who said of Jesus, “we have heard” Him, “we have seen [Him] with our eyes,” and “our hands have handled” Him (1 John 1:1).
Maybe an empty tomb should have been enough; after all, Jesus rebuked the disciples from Emmaus for being “foolish” and “slow of heart to believe the prophets” (Luke 24:25). But the fact is, we have much more than that. We have the Good News that Jesus appeared to: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Peter, Cleopas and his fellow disciple from Emmaus, the rest of the apostles, Stephen, James, Paul, and an additional five hundred unnamed people, many of whom Paul indicated would have testified if given a chance (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:9-20; Luke 24:1-50; John 20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; et al.).
Christianity is not faith in an empty cave; it is faith in a Savior Who ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). It is faith in the One Who by His resurrection has the ability to promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Geisler, Norman L. and Ron Brooks (1990), When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor).
A Soul’s Salvation Could Hinge On the Earth’s Age
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
For over three decades, Apologetics Press has contended that the Earth’s age is a topic of great importance. A straightforward reading of Genesis leads the reader to the conclusion that God created the entire Universe in six, literal 24-hour days only a few thousand years ago (Butt, 2002; DeYoung, 2005). We have contended that a compromise of this biblical truth opens the door of acceptance to false beliefs, such as evolution and the mythologizing of the Bible’s historic narrative (Lyons, 2008).
In the course of our work, we have been accosted by many who do not appreciate our young Earth position. Many people, including a host of well-meaning Christians, think that the age of the Earth is not an issue that should be taught, since it “causes such division.” They believe that we should simply talk about creation, the Bible, Jesus, and His church, and leave “peripheral” issues like the Earth’s age alone. Why would we choose, they contend, to spend our time teaching about something that is irrelevant to a person’s salvation, when there are so many other topics that we could address?
The idea that the Earth’s age should be left alone struck us full force when we were invited to speak at a large elementary school several years ago. My colleague, Eric Lyons, and I were scheduled to speak to the kids about creation. We were told that the school’s position on the age of the Earth was divided, some teachers and administrators believing the evolutionary-based billions-of-years idea, while others accepting the biblical time frame. I informed them that the young Earth concept was central to our teaching, and that we simply would not be able to avoid the topic. They assured us that we could address the Earth’s age during our presentations. Once we arrived, however, the age of the Earth again became an issue. Due to some pressure from parents who had been informed of our position, the principal pulled Eric aside only minutes before he was scheduled to address the entire assembly. She informed him that he should not address the topic during his presentation. He was shocked, and reminded her that we had discussed this, and had been given approval to teach about the Earth’s age. Needless to say, Eric did not adjust his presentation. He continued with his message that an all-powerful God created the Earth thousands, not billions, of years ago.
A recent article posted on ScienceDaily underscores one primary reason why it is important for Christians to teach the truth about a young Earth. Sehoya Cotner and Randy Moore, biology professors at the University of Minnesota, teamed up with Christopher Banks of the school’s Office of Information and Technology. They presented to 400 students a survey that contained questions about creation and evolution. The result of the survey indicated that those students who accept the billions-of-years time frame for the Earth more readily accept concepts such as human evolution. The article reporting the research stated: “High school and college students who understand the geological age of the Earth (4.5 billion years) are much more likely to understand and accept human evolution” (“Students’ Perceptions...,” 2010, emp. added). Researcher Sehoya Cotner stated: “The role of the Earth’s age is a key variable that we can use to improve education about evolution, which is important because it is the unifying principle of biology” (as quoted in “Students’ Perceptions...,” 2010).
While Cotner is wrong that the false concept of evolution is the unifying principle of biology, she is exactly right about one thing: if students can be taught that the Earth is billions of years old, then they will more readily adopt evolution. At Apologetics Press, we have known this fact for years. The age of the Earth is the “gateway” concept that makes evolution palatable. The mental process at work in a person who compromises the biblical idea of a young Earth is the same process that must be in place to accept the erroneous concept of human evolution. Cotner’s research verifies the fact that the Earth’s age is not a peripheral issue that can be left untaught. Instead, the Earth’s age could literally be the point at which the battle to win the hearts and minds of our young people to the truth about Creation is won or lost. In a very real sense, what a person believes about the Earth’s age has the potential to greatly impact his or her eternal destiny. Cotner and her fellow evolutionists know the importance of the battle over the Earth’s age. That is why they are urging their fellow evolutionists to recognize it, and use the alleged billions of years to “improve education about evolution.”
Cotner’s enthusiastic rally around the age of the Earth should be a wake up call to Christians as well. If evolutionists understand the importance of teaching about the Earth’s age, creationists should recognize the battlefront and be willing to stand for the truth. It may well be the case that if you can keep one young person from believing in an old Earth, that young person will be insulated against other erroneous concept’s such as human evolution, and equipped to defend the basic truths of Christianity—that there is a God, the Bible is His inspired Word, and Jesus Christ is His son.
DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Lyons, Eric (2008), “Why Address the Age of the Earth?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3729.
“Students’ Perceptions of Earth’s Age Influence Acceptance of Human Evolution” (2010), [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310162833.htm.
Are You a Patriot?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
A rather incongruous situation exists among America’s politicians, judges, academicians, and even many of the rank and file Americans. On the one hand, they claim to be true Americans—genuine patriots. On the other hand, they disdain Christianity and live contrary to the moral principles contained within the Christian religion. They literally labor to subvert the influence of Christianity on the nation. Politicians reject Christianity by making laws that contradict the Bible. Judges “legislate from the bench” by insisting that Christianity must not be countenanced in their rulings. Educators have banned Christianity from the classroom, avoiding any mention of Christian morality to students. In short, a sizable segment of American society has bought into the ludicrous notion of “separation of church and state,” consequently excluding anything that smacks of the Christian religion or Christian morality in the execution of their societal responsibilities.
In stark contrast stands the “Father of our country”—George Washington. Not only did he lead the Continental Army to victory over the British, thus enabling the launching of the Republic, he also served as our first President (twice). He was unquestionably a quintessential Founder, a critical cog in the overall scheme of things. Before retiring to private life after a distinguished career of public service, Washington delivered his “Farewell Address” to the nation. In that impressive pronouncement, he articulated the foundational keys to the success of the Republic:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them (1796, emp. added).The Father of our country insisted that the two fundamental pillars on which the Republic is poised are the Christian religion, and the moral principles that are derived there from. These, he said, are the great pillars of human happiness and the firmest props incumbent on citizens. Anyone who does anything to undermine Christianity is no friend of the Republic! He or she is certainly no patriot!
If George Washington were alive today to witness the widespread assault on the Christian religion in government, schools, and public life, he would undoubtedly be aghast, and incredulous that so many would pretend to be good citizens and loyal Americans—while actively pursuing a course that will surely hasten the demise of the Republic.
Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).
Addition Does Not a Contradiction Makeby Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Suppose a man is telling a story about the time he and his wife went shopping at the mall. The man mentions all the great places in the mall to buy hunting supplies and cinnamon rolls. The wife tells about the same shopping trip, yet mentions only the places to buy clothes. Is there a contradiction between the stories just because the wife mentions clothing stores but the husband mentions only cinnamon rolls and hunting supplies? No. They are simple adding to (or supplementing) each other’s story to make it more complete. That happens quite often in the resurrection accounts in the Gospels.
For example, the Gospel of Matthew names “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” as women who visited the tomb early on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1). Mark cites Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome as the callers (Mark 16:1). Luke mentions Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and “the other women” (Luke 24:10). Yet John talks only about Mary Magdalene visiting the tomb early on Sunday (John 20:1). Do these different lists contradict one another? No, not in any way. They are supplementary, adding names to make the list more complete. But they are not contradictory. If John had said “only Mary Magdalene visited the tomb,” or if Matthew stated, “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the only women to visit the tomb,” then there would be a contradiction. As it stands, no contradiction occurs. To further illustrate this point, suppose that you have 10 one-dollar bills in your pocket. Suppose further that someone comes up to you and asks, “Do you have a dollar bill in your pocket?” Naturally, you respond in the affirmative. Suppose another person asks, “Do you have five dollars in your pocket?,” and again you say yes. Finally, another person asks, “Do you have ten dollars in your pocket?” and you say yes for the third time. Did you tell the truth every time? Yes. Were any of your answers contradictory? No. Were all three statements about the contents of your pockets different? Yes—supplementation not contradiction.
Under this heading falls many an alleged discrepancy. Take, for instance, the situation between 1 Corinthians 10:8 and Numbers 25:9.
“Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand” (1 Corinthians 10:8).
“And those that died by the plague were twenty and four thousand” (Numbers 25:9).
We must remember that we are not asking whether these two verses say different things. We are asking whether the different things that they say can be reconciled without violating any logical boundaries. The answer is a resounding “yes.” If 24,000 died, is it not the case that 23,000 died as well? Once again, applying the principle of supplementation dissolves the problem immediately.
The supposed contradiction between these two verses is further repudiated when it is realized that 1 Corinthians 10:8 mentions a specific time—“one day”—while in Numbers 25:9 the time is not limited to a single day. The fact is, 23,000 could have died in one day and 1,000 could have died the day after. Once again, after looking closely at the verses under discussion, it becomes evident that no discrepancy exists.
The Biblical Doctrine of the GodheadSince the late second century
A.D., controversy has existed concerning the nature of the Godhead. Is God a solitary person—simply manifested in three forms? Or do three separate personalities exist, each of whom possesses the nature of deity? Is the popular doctrine of the Trinity true or false?
Though the word “Trinity” is not explicitly found in the Bible, the teaching that there are three individual personalities of divine nature (known in the New Testament as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is thoroughly scriptural, and has been generally acknowledged by the writers of “Christendom” since the apostolic age.
A.D.190, Theodotus of Byzantium advocated the absolute personality of God. Asserting that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were one person, he sought to propagate his views in the church at Rome. He is said to be “the first representative of Dynamistic Monarchianism whose views have been recorded” (Newman 1931, 198).
Later, however, the “oneness” heresy found its fullest expression in Sabellius of Libya, who commenced the publication of his errors about
A.D.260. Sabellius denied the doctrine of the Trinity, maintaining that God is uni-personal, and that the names Father, Son, and Holy Ghost merely designate the same person in different capacities. As the Father, God created the world; as the Son, he redeemed it; as the Holy Ghost, he sanctifies the elect. These three, he said, are no more different persons than the body, soul, and spirit of man are three persons (Sanford 1910, 827).
In modern times, this doctrine has been taught by the United Pentecostal Church and other religious groups. It is, however, false. This survey will show: (a) The Scriptures do teach the concept of monotheism, i.e., there is one God—one unified divine nature. (b) However, the divine nature, i.e., the nature or quality which identifies one as deity (as opposed, for example, to the angelic or human natures) is shared by three distinct personalities, and that these personalities are characterized in the New Testament as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of the three personalities of the Godhead is eternal and equal in essence, though they may assume individual roles in their respective work (which may involve subordination).
Biblical MonotheismMonotheism is the belief in one God, in contrast to polytheism, the notion that numerous gods exist. Unquestionably, the Bible affirms the concept of monotheism. In the first commandment of the Decalogue, Jehovah charges, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Again, “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Or, “Jehovah, he is God; there is none else besides him” (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 1 Kings 8:60; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Isaiah 43:11; Zechariah 14:9).
In the New Testament, Paul says that “God is one” (Galatians 3:20), while James notes: “You believe that God is one; you do well: the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19). Clearly, therefore, the oneness of God, in some sense, is a biblical truth. The question is: what does Scripture mean by one God?
In the Old Testament, the words
elohim, from related roots, are generic designations of God. The New Testament term is
theos. These appellations, when used of the true God, simply suggest the nature or quality of being divine — deity. The word “God” is not the name of a personality; it is the name of a nature, a quality of being. When it is said, therefore, that there is but one God, the meaning is: there is but one divine nature. There is a unified set of traits or characteristics that distinguish a personality as God.
The Divine ThreeIt is also clear that the Scriptures teach that there is a personal distinction between those individuals identified in the New Testament as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these persons are in some sense three. Study very carefully the following passages in which the persons of the divine Godhead are distinguished: Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; Luke 1:35; John 14:26; 15:26; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 2:18; 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2; Jude 20-21; Revelation 1:4-5.
It is obvious that these inspired verses reveal three separate persons. Furthermore, additional biblical data reveal that each of these three persons is God — i.e., each possesses the quality or nature of deity. The Father is deity (Ephesians 1:3), as is the Son (Hebrews 1:8), and so also the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). Any elementary student of logic knows perfectly well that the Godhead cannot be both one and three without a logical contradiction being involved — if the adjectives “one” and “three” are employed in the identical sense. But the fact of the matter is, they are not used in the same sense. There is but one divine nature, but there are three distinct personalities possessing that unified set of infinite qualities. Thus, there is no contradiction at all.
Without a recognition of the above principle, some Bible passages would be difficult to harmonize. For example, in Isaiah 44:24 Jehovah affirms that he “stretches forth the heavens alone; that spreads abroad the earth (who is with me?).” So, God was alone. Yet in John 8:29 Christ said, “And he [the Father] that sent me is with me; he has not left me alone.” And so, Jesus was not alone, for the Father was with him; correspondingly, the Father was not alone. The question is: how can God be both alone and not alone?
In Isaiah’s passage, God (the one divine nature) was being contrasted with the false gods of paganism; the personalities of the Godhead were not a consideration there. In John 8:29, the relationship of two divine personalities (Father and Son) was in view. Different subjects, but no discrepancy. Similarly, when a certain scribe affirmed that “he [God] is one; and there is none other but he” (Mark 12:32), he was correct. He was declaring monotheism, as suggested above. In another setting though, Christ, revealing a distinction between himself and the Father, said: “It is another that bears witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesses of me is true” (John 5:32).
Old Testament Evidence of Divine PluralityThe biblical doctrine of the Godhead is progressive. By that we mean that the concept unfolds, being gradually illuminated from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Nevertheless, the multiple personalities of the holy Godhead clearly are distinguished in the Old Testament.
(1) “In the beginning God [
elohim— plural] created [
bara— singular]” (Genesis 1:1). In the plural form
elohim, many scholars see a “foreshadowing of the plurality of persons in the Divine Trinity” (Smith 1959, 11). Adam Clarke declared that the term “has long been supposed, by the most eminently learned and pious men, to imply a plurality of Persons in the Divine nature” (n.d., 28). Richard Watson wrote that
elohim“seems to be the general appellation by which the Triune Godhead is collectively distinguished in Scripture” (1881, 1024).
Though some scholars call this plural form a “plural of majesty” (i.e., a suggestion of multiple majestic traits), Nathan Stone observed that the plural of majesty “was not known then” (1944, 12). Professor Harold Stigers noted: “A multiplicity of personalities in the Godhead, implied in the creative process in the use of the titles ‘God’ (1:1) and ‘Spirit of God’ (1:2), is involved in the creative and redemptive work of God” (1976, 47).
(2) Multiple divine personalities are alluded to in such passages as follows:
- “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). (Note: this cannot refer to angels, as is often claimed, for angels are themselves created (Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 148:2, 5), not creators; and the context limits the creating to God [v. 27].)
- “The man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Genesis 3:22).
- “Come, let us go down, and there confound their language” (Genesis 11:7). (Incidentally, “come” in the Hebrew text is plural, so that the divine spokesman must be addressing and acting in union with at least two others [Thiessen 1949, 126].)
- “And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8).
- “Remember also thy Creator [Hebrew plural] in the days of thy youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
- In Genesis 18:21, Jehovah, temporarily assuming the form of a man, visits Sodom. Surveying the evil of that area, this “Jehovah” then “rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven” (19:24). Two persons are clearly denominated “Jehovah.”
- “Thus says Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6). (Note: the language of this verse is applied to Christ in Revelation 1:17.)
- In Zechariah 11:12, 13, Christ prophetically says: “And I said unto them, if ye think good, give me my hire; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver. And Jehovah said unto me ...”
- “Jehovah [the first person] said unto my Lord [the second person], Sit thou at my right hand” (Psalm 110:1).
- “Jehovah [the Father] laid on him [Christ] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
- “The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against Jehovah, [the Father] and against his anointed [the Son] saying, Let us break their bonds asunder, And cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2, 3).
New Testament Evidence of Divine PluralityThere are many obvious indications of distinction between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in the New Testament. For instance, there is the clear case of the baptismal scene of Christ, where Jesus is in the water, the Father is speaking from heaven, and the Spirit is descending as a dove (Matthew 3:16-17).
Then there is Matthew’s record of the “great commission” where baptism is “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The term “name” (Greek
onoma) stands for becoming the possession of, and under the protection of, the one into whose name an individual is immersed (Arndt and Gingrich 1967, 575), and its singular form here likely stresses the unity of the holy Three. The multiple use of the article “the” before the words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, however, according to a well-known rule of Greek grammar (Dana and Mantey 1955, 147), plainly demonstrates that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are separate persons, and not merely three manifestations of one person (Warfield 1952, 42).
There are other New Testament evidences revealing a distinction between the divine persons of the holy Godhead:
(1) Christ is said to be a “mediator” between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). The word “mediator” translates the Greek
mesos, “middle,” and
eimi, “to go”), and so literally, a go-between. Arndt and Gingrich note that the term is used of “one who mediates between two parties to remove a disagreement or reach a common goal. Of Christ with the genitive of persons between whom he mediates ...” (508). Clearly, Christ cannot be a mediator between God and man if he is the totality of the holy Godhead.
(2) In John 8:16-17, the Lord cited the Old Testament principle of multiple witnesses for legal documentation. He is countering the Pharisaic allegation that his witness is not true (v. 13). He reasons, therefore, that just as the law requires at least two witnesses to establish credibility, so the Lord is “not alone”; he bears witness of himself, and the Father bears witness of him. If Jesus is the same person as the Father, his argument makes no sense!
(3) Christ once taught: “I am the vine, and my Father is the husbandman” (John 15:1). In the same allegory he identified the disciples as “branches.” The narrative thus has three principal features: husbandman (the Father), vine (the Son), and branches (disciples). It is not difficult to see that there is as much distinction between the husbandman and the vine as there is between the vine and the branches.
(4) “But of that day nor that hour knows no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). While Jesus was upon the earth, he knew not the time of the judgment day. The Father, however, did know! Thus, clearly the Father and the Son were not the same person. Similarly, “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him” (Matthew 12:32). The contrast here between the Son and the Holy Spirit plainly shows that they are not identical in personality. These two arguments make it certain that Christ was neither the Father nor the Spirit.
(5) In speaking of Christ’s subordination to God, Paul says: “[T]he head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Edward Robinson noted the use of “head” (Greek
kephale): “Trop. of persons, i.e., the head, the chief, one to whom others are subordinate” (1855, 398). Would it make any sense to speak of one being head of himself?
(6) Jesus is said to be “the very image” of the Father’s substance (Hebrews 1:3). Of the word “image” (Greek
charakter), W. E. Vine observed:
In the New Testament it is used metaphorically in Heb. 1:3, of the Son of God as ‘the very image (marg. – the impress) of His substance,’ RV. The phrase expresses the fact that the Son is both personally distinct from, and yet literally equal to Him of whose essence He is the adequate imprint (1940, 247).(7) The following passages contain contrasts which reveal a distinction between the Father and the Son:
- Christ did not seek his own will, but the will of his Father (John 5:30).
- His teaching was not his, but the Father’s (John 7:16).
- He came not of himself, but was sent of the Father (John 7:28; 8:42).
- He glorified him (John 8:54).
- The Father does not judge, but has given judgment unto the Son (John 5:22).
(9) There are many grammatical forms which show the distinction between the persons of the Godhead. In addition to plural pronouns (e.g., “our,” “we,” “us” [John 14:23; 17:11, 21]), prepositions frequently function in this capacity. The Spirit is sent from the Father (John 15:26). In the beginning Christ was with (Greek
pros) God (John 1:1). He spoke the things which he had seen with (Greek
para) him (John 8:38), and he came forth from the Father (John 16:27). All created things are of the Father, and through Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6). Through Christ we have access in the Spirit unto the Father (Ephesians 2:18).
Conjunctions can also indicate a distinction. He that abides in the teaching of Christ has both the Father and the Son (2 John 9). Jesus rebuked the Jews: “Ye know neither me, nor my Father: if ye knew me, ye would know my Father also [Greek
kai—as an adverb]” (John 8:19). Comparative terms reveal distinction. Though Christ did not hold onto his equality with God (Philippians 2:6)—in terms of the independent exercise of divine privileges—nonetheless, in essence he was equal with God (John 5:18). In Christ’s subordinate position, though, the Father was greater than he (John 14:28).
(10) Many verbal forms indicate that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separate in personality. The Father sent the Son (John 7:29), and the Son sent the Spirit (John 15:26). The Father loves the Son (John 3:35) and abides in him (John 14:10). The Father gave the Son (John 3:16), exalted him (Philippians 2:9), and delivered all things unto him (Matthew 11:27). Jesus commended his spirit into the Father’s hands (Luke 23:46) and ascended unto him (John 20:17). The Bible contains many such expressions which are meaningless if the Father, Son, and Spirit are the same person.
If we were so disposed, not only could we introduce a number of additional biblical arguments, but we could also show that the writers of the first several centuries of the post-apostolic age were virtually one in affirming that the Godhead consists of three separate, divine persons. Concerning the matter of their being three persons in the Trinity, A. C. Cox wrote: “Evidences, therefore, are abundant and archaic indeed, to prove that the Ante-Nicean Fathers, with those of the Nicean and the Post-Nicean periods, were of one mind, and virtually of one voice” (1855, 49).
Baptism in the Name of Jesus OnlyBefore concluding, we need to address the Oneness Pentecostal idea that only certain words may be spoken during a baptismal ceremony (e.g., “I baptize you in the name of Jesus Christ”). Oneness clergymen contend that should the statement be made, “I baptize you into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” it would be a violation of Scripture, and thus negate the validity of the immersion. This exhibits a lack of biblical information on this theme.
First, let us note the illogical consequences of such a doctrine. If a specific set of words is to be pronounced at the time of a baptism, exactly what are those words? A brief look at the New Testament will reveal that a variety of expressions are employed when the terms “baptize” and “name” are connected. Observe the following:
- “... baptizing them into (
eis) the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
- “... be baptized ... in (
epi) the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38).
- “... baptized into (
eis) the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16).
- “... baptized in (
en) the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:48).
- “... baptized into (
eis) the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5).
Second, the language is designed to express certain truths, not prescribe a ritualistic set of words. If the phrase “in the name of Christ” implies the saying of those words in connection with the act to which they are enjoined, what would Colossians 3:17 require?—“And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Accordingly, one would have to preface every word and act with the phrase “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Such highlights the absurdity of the Oneness position.
- Arndt, W. F. and F. W. Gingrich. 1967. Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
- Clarke, Adam. n.d. Clarke’s Commentary. Vol. 1. Nashville, TN: Abingdon.
- Cox, A. Cleveland, ed. 1885. Ante-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 6. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
- Dana, H. E. and J. R. Mantey. 1955. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. New York, NY: Macmillan.
- Newman, A. H. 1931. Manual of Church History. Vol. 1. Chicago, IL: American Baptist Publication Society.
- Robinson, Edward. 1855. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. New York, NY: Harper and Brothers.
- Sanford, E. B., ed. 1910. A Concise Cyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Hartford, CT: S. S. Scranton.
- Smith, R. Payne. 1959. Genesis. Ellicottâ€™s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
- Stigers, Harold. 1976. A Commentary on Genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
- Stone, Nathan. 1944. Names of God. Chicago, IL: Moody.
- Thiessen, H. C. 1949. Lectures in Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
- Vine, W.E. (1940), Expository Dictionary of the New Testament (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell).
- Warfield, Benjamin. 1952. Biblical and Theological Studies. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed.
- Watson, Richard. 1881. A Biblical and Theological Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Southern Methodist Publishing House.
Copyright © 2013 Christian Courier. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
Bible Reading September 27 (WEB)
Psa 109:1 God of my praise, don't remain silent,
Psa 109:2 for they have opened the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of deceit against me. They have spoken to me with a lying tongue.
Psa 109:3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without a cause.
Psa 109:4 In return for my love, they are my adversaries; but I am in prayer.
Psa 109:5 They have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
Psa 109:6 Set a wicked man over him. Let an adversary stand at his right hand.
Psa 109:7 When he is judged, let him come forth guilty. Let his prayer be turned into sin.
Psa 109:8 Let his days be few. Let another take his office.
Psa 109:9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Psa 109:10 Let his children be wandering beggars. Let them be sought from their ruins.
Psa 109:11 Let the creditor seize all that he has. Let strangers plunder the fruit of his labor.
Psa 109:12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him, neither let there be any to have pity on his fatherless children.
Psa 109:13 Let his posterity be cut off. In the generation following let their name be blotted out.
Psa 109:14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered by Yahweh. Don't let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
Psa 109:15 Let them be before Yahweh continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth;
Psa 109:16 because he didn't remember to show kindness, but persecuted the poor and needy man, the broken in heart, to kill them.
Psa 109:17 Yes, he loved cursing, and it came to him. He didn't delight in blessing, and it was far from him.
Psa 109:18 He clothed himself also with cursing as with his garment. It came into his inward parts like water, like oil into his bones.
Psa 109:19 Let it be to him as the clothing with which he covers himself, for the belt that is always around him.
Psa 109:20 This is the reward of my adversaries from Yahweh, of those who speak evil against my soul.
Psa 109:21 But deal with me, Yahweh the Lord, for your name's sake, because your loving kindness is good, deliver me;
Psa 109:22 for I am poor and needy. My heart is wounded within me.
Psa 109:23 I fade away like an evening shadow. I am shaken off like a locust.
Psa 109:24 My knees are weak through fasting. My body is thin and lacks fat.
Psa 109:25 I have also become a reproach to them. When they see me, they shake their head.
Psa 109:26 Help me, Yahweh, my God. Save me according to your loving kindness;
Psa 109:27 that they may know that this is your hand; that you, Yahweh, have done it.
Psa 109:28 They may curse, but you bless. When they arise, they will be shamed, but your servant shall rejoice.
Psa 109:29 Let my adversaries be clothed with dishonor. Let them cover themselves with their own shame as with a robe.
Psa 109:30 I will give great thanks to Yahweh with my mouth. Yes, I will praise him among the multitude.
Psa 109:31 For he will stand at the right hand of the needy, to save him from those who judge his soul.
Psa 110:1 Yahweh says to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool for your feet."
Psa 110:2 Yahweh will send forth the rod of your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies.
Psa 110:3 Your people offer themselves willingly in the day of your power, in holy array. Out of the womb of the morning, you have the dew of your youth.
Psa 110:4 Yahweh has sworn, and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek."
Psa 110:5 The Lord is at your right hand. He will crush kings in the day of his wrath.
Psa 110:6 He will judge among the nations. He will heap up dead bodies. He will crush the ruler of the whole earth.
Psa 110:7 He will drink of the brook in the way; therefore he will lift up his head.
Psa 111:1 Praise Yah! I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart, in the council of the upright, and in the congregation.
Psa 111:2 Yahweh's works are great, pondered by all those who delight in them.
Psa 111:3 His work is honor and majesty. His righteousness endures forever.
Psa 111:4 He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered. Yahweh is gracious and merciful.
Psa 111:5 He has given food to those who fear him. He always remembers his covenant.
Psa 111:6 He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
Psa 111:7 The works of his hands are truth and justice. All his precepts are sure.
Psa 111:8 They are established forever and ever. They are done in truth and uprightness.
Psa 111:9 He has sent redemption to his people. He has ordained his covenant forever. His name is holy and awesome!
Psa 111:10 The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. All those who do his work have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!
2 Corinthians 7
2Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2Co 7:2 Open your hearts to us. We wronged no one. We corrupted no one. We took advantage of no one.
2Co 7:3 I say this not to condemn you, for I have said before, that you are in our hearts to die together and live together.
2Co 7:4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you. Great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I overflow with joy in all our affliction.
2Co 7:5 For even when we had come into Macedonia, our flesh had no relief, but we were afflicted on every side. Fightings were outside. Fear was inside.
2Co 7:6 Nevertheless, he who comforts the lowly, God, comforted us by the coming of Titus;
2Co 7:7 and not by his coming only, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, while he told us of your longing, your mourning, and your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced still more.
2Co 7:8 For though I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it, though I did regret it. For I see that my letter made you sorry, though just for a while.
2Co 7:9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you were made sorry to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly way, that you might suffer loss by us in nothing.
2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world works death.
2Co 7:11 For behold, this same thing, that you were made sorry in a godly way, what earnest care it worked in you. Yes, what defense, indignation, fear, longing, zeal, and vengeance! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be pure in the matter.
2Co 7:12 So although I wrote to you, I wrote not for his cause that did the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered the wrong, but that your earnest care for us might be revealed in you in the sight of God.
2Co 7:13 Therefore we have been comforted. In our comfort we rejoiced the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.
2Co 7:14 For if in anything I have boasted to him on your behalf, I was not disappointed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, so our glorying also which I made before Titus was found to be truth.
2Co 7:15 His affection is more abundantly toward you, while he remembers all of your obedience, how with fear and trembling you received him.
2Co 7:16 I rejoice that in everything I am of good courage concerning you.