12/10/18

"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS" Profitable And Unprofitable (3:8-11)


"THE EPISTLE TO TITUS"

Profitable And Unprofitable (3:8-11)

INTRODUCTION

1. Toward the end of his epistle to Titus, Paul gives him several
   exhortations...
   a. Things for Titus to affirm - Tit 3:8
   b. Things for Titus to avoid - Tit 3:9-11

2. In doing so, Paul describes things that are...
   a. Profitable and good - cf. Tit 3:8
   b. Unprofitable and useless - cf. Tit 3:9

[In this lesson, we shall examine what Paul describes as profitable and
unprofitable, beginning with...]

I. WHAT IS PROFITABLE

   A. CAREFUL TO MAINTAIN GOOD WORKS...
      1. Something Paul wanted Titus to affirm constantly - Tit 3:8
      2. Something which Paul himself did, while writing Titus 
          - Ti 2:7,14; 3:1,14
      -- Are we careful to maintain good works?

   B. THE ROLE OF GOOD WORKS...
      1. We should not misunderstand the purpose of good works
         a. They are not done to buy or earn our way into heaven
         b. God saves us by His grace, not by our works - Ep 2:8-9; Ti 3:4-7
         c. Yet we have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works!
            - Ep 2:10; Tit 2:14
      2. Why then are we to do good works?
         a. They bring glory to God! - Mt 5:16; 1Pe 2:11-12
         b. They can prepare unbelievers to be more receptive to the
            gospel - 1Pe 2:12; 3:1-2
         c. They demonstrate the living nature of our faith - Jm 2:14-17
         d. They are necessary if we are to be like Jesus - cf. Lk 6:46
            with Ac 10:38
         e. They are good and profitable to men - Tit 3:8
      -- Do we understand the role of good works in our lives?

   C. GOOD WORKS WE CAN DO...
      1. Good works that are spiritual in nature
         a. Telling others of God's grace - 1Pe 2:9-10
         b. Encouraging other Christians - He 3:12-13
         c. Restoring weak brethren - Ga 6:1-2; Jm 5:19-20
      2. Good works that are physical in nature
         a. Jesus did not limit His good works to things spiritual - Lk 7:22
         b. Nor did He expect His disciples to so limit their good works
            - cf. Mt 10:7-8; 25:34-40
         c. Just as some may be gifted in talent and opportunities to
            teach, so others are gifted to in areas of physical service
            - cf. Ro 12:3-8
         d. Women can be especially fruitful in this area - e.g., Ac 9: 36-39
      -- What kind of good works are we doing?

[Good works are certainly profitable, and should be a major focus in our
service to God as disciples of Christ.  On the other hand, there are
things we should diligently avoid.  So let us now consider...]

II. WHAT IS UNPROFITABLE

   A. ENGAGING IN FOOLISH DISPUTES...
      1. Involving genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law - Tit 3:9a
      2. Such are described as unprofitable and useless - Tit 3:9b
      -- Could we be guilty of engaging in such foolish disputes?

   B. THE HARM OF FOOLISH DISPUTES...
      1. They leads to divisiveness, and those who refuse to repent of
         such are to be rejected after the first and second admonition - Tit 3:10
      2. For such become warped, sinful, and self-condemned - Tit 3:11
      3. Paul warned Timothy repeatedly against such "word battles"
         a. They cause disputes rather than godly edification - 1Ti 1: 3-4
         b. They create envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions - 1 Ti 6:3-5
         c. They have caused some to stray from the faith - 1Ti 6:20-21
         d. They lead to the ruin of the hearers - 2Ti 2:14
         e. They increase to more ungodliness - 2Ti 2:16
         f. Their effect spreads like cancer, and overthrow the faith of
            some - 2Ti 2:17-18
         g. They generate strife - 2Ti 2:23
      -- Can we not see the grave danger of foolish disputes?

   C. ALTERNATIVES TO FOOLISH DISPUTES...
      1. Godly edification that produces love from a pure heart, a good
         conscience, and a sincere faith - cf. 1Ti 1:4-6
      2. Wholesome words, such as the words of our Lord, and doctrine
         which accords to godliness - cf. 1Ti 6:3
      3. Correcting those in opposition with gentleness, patience, and
         humility - cf. 2Ti 2:24-26
         a. Disagreeing without being disagreeable
         b. Contending for the faith without being contentious
      -- Will we engage in godly edification with godly character
         instead of foolish disputes?

CONCLUSION

1. Paul's words in our text relate especially to Titus' role as an evangelist...
   a. Charged with setting in order the things that are lacking - Tit 1:5
   b. Charged with speaking things that are proper for sound doctrine - Tit 2:1
   -- Preachers do well to take Paul's words to heart as they carry out
      their ministry

2. But Paul's words should not be heeded only by evangelists...
   a. All Christians should see the value of good works, and be diligent in them
   b. All Christians should see the harm of foolish disputes, and seek
      to avoid them
   -- Every disciple of Christ does well to take Paul's words to heart
      as they follow Jesus

May we all be careful to maintain good works, and to avoid foolish
disputes...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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The Reality of Eternal Hell by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=819


The Reality of Eternal Hell

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Hell has been depicted as a lake of fire, eternal torment, and everlasting punishment. Because of the heinous nature of hell, many have decided that it is impossible for a loving God to conceive such a place, much less send His wayward creatures there. For this reason, they have rejected the idea of an eternal hell. And this trend to reject the concept of hell does not reside solely in the camp of the skeptic and unbeliever. Many Bible “believers” have fallen prey to this idea. In a March 1991 U.S. News & World Report article titled “Revisiting the Abyss,” this quotation appears: “In many churches, one finds little talk these days about a literal, punitive hell as a real possibility after death. ‘My congregation would be stunned to hear a sermon on hell,’ says the Rev. [sic] Mary Kraus, pastor of the Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Her parishioners, she says, are ‘upper-middle-class, well-educated critical thinkers’ who view God as ‘compassionate and loving, not someone who's going to push them into eternal damnation’ ” (1991, 110[11]:60).
According to Miss Kraus, the idea of a literal place of torment reserved for the wicked does not sit well with her “upper-middle-class, well-educated critical thinkers.” The basic argument against hell can be stated like this: It is unjust to punish someone eternally for sins they committed in their few years on Earth; the biblical concept of hell entails such punishment; therefore the biblical concept of hell is unjust (which would mean, of course, that the God of the Bible is unjust as well).

HELL IS ETERNAL

Although the argument against the biblical concept of hell is erroneous in several of its points, it is accurate when it states that the Bible depicts an eternal hell. On numerous occasions Jesus underlined the fact that hell is eternal. In Matthew 18:8, for example, He described an “everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41,46 renders the same idea, but adds “everlasting punishment”). In our modern day and age, it is popular to posit the idea that hell will last only a short time, and then the souls of the wicked will be annihilated. Clark H. Pinnock, theology professor at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario, was quoted in the January 31, 2000 issue of U.S. News & World Report, as saying: “How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness” as to inflict “everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been?” (as quoted in Sheler, 2000, 128[4]:44). Pinnock went on to argue that a God Who would do such a thing is “more nearly like Satan than like God.”
However, for Pinnock and his ever-increasing pack of “annihilationists,” their house is built on shifting sand—both biblically and philosophically. Biblically, our Lord repeatedly stressed the idea that the souls of the wicked will have to endure “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). To contend that the wicked soul is annihilated would be to negate the words of Christ, since “everlasting punishment” cannot be inflicted upon an annihilated being.
Philosophically, the view is equally flawed, because it fails to take into account what every person understands about justice: the punishment always lasts longer than the actual crime. When a man walks into a bank, shoots two tellers, robs the bank, and is apprehended, tried, and found guilty, his punishment always is of a much longer duration than his crime. The actual shooting and looting might have taken only 3 minutes to accomplish, but he most likely will pay for those three minutes with the remainder of his life in prison. Those who contend that hell will not be eternal say that forever is “too long.” But once a person concedes that punishment can (and generally does) last longer than the crime, his argument against an eternal hell becomes self-defeating.
Furthermore, the idea that eternity is “too long” only appeals to the human emotions when dealing with punishment, never with reward. Who would argue that heaven cannot be eternal because God would be unjust to reward us for “so long.” On the contrary, the eternality of heaven and hell stand and fall together. And both find their place in the justice and mercy of God. When Christ spoke to the people of His day about the ultimate fate of humanity in eternity, He stated that the wicked would “go away into everlasting (aionios) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (aionios) life” (Matthew 25:46). The Greek word aionios, rendered “eternal” in the English, is the same Greek word (aionios) rendered earlier as “everlasting,” Precisely the same word is applied to the punishment of the wicked as to the reward of the righteous. Those who are willing to accept Christ’s teaching on heaven should have no trouble accepting His teaching on hell.

REFERENCES

“Revisiting the Abyss,” (1991), U.S. News & World Report, 110[11]:60, March 25.
Sheler, Jeffery L. (2000), “Hell Hath No Fury,” U.S. News & World Report, 128[4]:44, January 31.

The Problematic Concept of a Sinful Human Nature by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=3749

The Problematic Concept of a Sinful Human Nature

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


It is fashionable in some religious circles to teach that human nature is sinful, i.e., we all have a “sinful nature.” If this is supposed to mean merely that all accountable persons at some point sin, and need forgiveness, then the doctrine of a sinful nature is biblical (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). However, the very words “sinful nature,” and much of the discussion surrounding it, often denote the doctrine of hereditary depravity. This is the idea that all humans inherit the sin of Adam in some way—we suffer due to this original sin, and therefore we all are inescapably sinful by nature. The biblical evidence militates against this idea, as we have shown previously (see Pinedo, 2009; Colley, 2004; Butt, 2004). The very concept of a sinful human nature is also philosophically problematic. Indeed, the concept of a sinful nature is plagued with difficulties even before the Bible is consulted.

Consider a preliminary remark concerning what it means to speak of a sinful human nature. To speak of human “nature” at all is to refer to qualities that are essential to all humans. Such characteristics cannot be accidental, or things that might become characteristic of a human as he develops, but might also not. Rather, aspects of human nature are inseparable from whatever it is that makes us human (with the possible exceptions of young children and the mentally ill). For example, we might admit that human nature is essentially rational (this is part of what differentiates us from animals), but not essentially football-loving, because there are plenty of humans who seem not (however mysteriously!) to appreciate football. Someone who thinks that we become sinful when we transgress God’s law does not believe in the essentially sinful human nature.

To ascribe a sinful nature to humanity, therefore, is to say that there is something sinful about being a human being. What part of our being might be accused of inherent sinfulness? If we think that a human being consists of a body and a soul, there are three possibilities: (1) The body could introduce guilt; (2) The soul could introduce guilt; (3) The union of body and soul could itself produce guilt.

First, someone could allege that sin comes as a result of our embodiment. Indeed, the idea that the body unavoidably mars the perfection of the soul has been popular at times. For example, the Gnostics taught that matter is intrinsically evil and is the source of all evil (see Renwick, 1982, 2:490). How may moral blame attach to human nature as it arises from our bodies? We are typically unprepared to blame purely material objects such as tables and chairs. Genes and brain matter are different from tables and chairs, but it is nonsensical to look for a difference that would give rise to moral guilt. As yet, there is no good explanation to convince us that evil arises simply from matter. (Yet, we might use our bodies to do wrong. Indeed, all sins are committed while we are “in the body” [2 Corinthians 5:10]).

On the other hand, someone who believes in sinful human nature might be (and probably is) referring to the status of the soul rather than the body. Before assessing the possibility of the essential blameworthiness of the human soul, consider that for someone to think of the soul as essentially sinful, there are some concepts of soul which he must reject. For example, the Aristotelian view of the soul as being the animating force of the body, or that which activates the body’s potential, does not allow for the human to “start out” as blameworthy. Guilt, on this view, cannot arise from outside of the human order, because Aristotle does not posit a supernatural being to ascribe the guilt. Furthermore, humans could not possibly claim to know that a newborn baby was already guilty if they did not think that God had ascribed guilt to the baby from outside the human order.

Likewise, the Stoic idea of a Universe-Soul is problematic for the idea of an essentially sinful soul. If we all share in the same soul, which also gives life to everything else in the Universe, then to ascribe guilt to that soul would be to say that everything is altogether evil. If everything is evil, how would we know what good is? And what is the point of discussing sinful human nature if we think there is no rescue from it?

There are other conceptions of soul that would a priori disallow a sinful nature. If we presuppose, however, that the soul is distinct from the body (i.e., it is its own, separable substance) and comes to the body from elsewhere (from heaven or wherever), then we have at least a format that might allow for the essential guilt of the soul. In this format, we are free to suppose that the soul acquires guilt prior to entering the body, at which time human nature is indeed guilty. There are two problems with this, however: (1) We could not know about such an arrangement unless it were revealed to us. Plato’s theory of reincarnation is beautiful and interesting, but like other theories of reincarnation, is not readily amenable to proof (Socrates’ “proofs” in the Meno [Plato, 1997, pp. 870-897] and the Phaedo [pp. 49-100] are notoriously problematic). A person has just as much reason to deny the existence of souls prior to their embodiment as he does to assert such existence, because the spiritual realm does not appear to us. (2) Most people who want to establish sinful human nature presumably would not be interested in the guilt of a soul prior to embodiment, because sin is supposed to be passed along from one embodied soul to another embodied soul. If we suppose that a new soul acquires guilt while it waits in heaven to be born into the world, we would need an additional story about where this guilt comes from. Such a story does not seem to be forthcoming. Because reincarnation is not evident (and seldom proposed by supporters of the sinful human nature), then there is no obvious way to ascribe the sin of a previous human to a soul not yet embodied.

The only remaining option is that the soul becomes sinful at the time when it is embodied, at the occasion of the union of soul and body. If the soul is innocent prior to embodiment—and as we have seen, there is no obvious reason to think it guilty—then the body is the substance that is responsible for the guilt in the union. We have already shown the difficulty of associating blame with matter. Furthermore, recall that the common view of sinful nature is that we have inherited the sins of an ancestor. His soul was guilty, not because of contact with matter, but because of his own sinful volition. This was the “original” sin. Guilt was introduced on this occasion, but did not exist prior. This ancestor did not inherit guilt, so matter, at least in his case, did not bring sin. Why should we think matter brings sin in our case?
 

CONCLUSION


One response in favor of sinful nature might be that it is a spiritual, theological matter, and thus a philosopher will not find it if he searches for it (e.g., Hodge, 2010). This is an appeal to the limits of philosophy, and would be a well-taken point if God had revealed a logically coherent doctrine of original sin that was not obvious apart from revelation. However, He has not done this. In fact, He has revealed information to the opposite effect. Glory be to God, Who does not blame us for the sins of our ancestors (Ezekiel 18:20).
 

REFERENCES


Butt, Kyle (2004), “Do Children Inherit the Sins of Their Parents?,” http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2543.

Colley, (2004), “Did David Authorize Infant Baptism?,” http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2626.

Hodge, Bodie, “Is Original Sin (Sin Nature) Passed through the Father’s Genetic Line?,” http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/02/23/satan-the-fall-good-evil-how-is-original-sin-passed.

Pinedo, Moisés (2009), “Are Children Born With Sin?,” http://apologeticspress.org/articles/240109.

Plato, Complete Works, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett).

Renwick, A. M. (1982), “Gnosticism,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

The Principle of Authority at Jericho by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=684


The Principle of Authority at Jericho

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The principle of authority is a well-established doctrine of the Bible. Stated briefly, the Bible teaches that no human being has the right to do anything without prior permission from God (see Miller, 2003). This principle applies to human conduct in every area of life—from the foods we eat to the clothes we wear (e.g., 1 Timothy 2:9; 4:3-5). We are to be governed by God’s will in every aspect of life. For example, no human has the right to engage in illegal drug trafficking—since God’s Word gives no such permission. No human being has the right to set himself up as the head of Christ’s church—since God’s Word gives no such permission. No human being has the right to worship God incorporating humanly devised means (e.g., mechanical musical instruments, choirs, “praise teams”)—since God’s Word gives no such permission.
Among the myriad of passages that expound this principle is Joshua chapter six, in which God instructed Joshua to have the people march around the city of Jericho once a day for six days, seven times on the seventh day, and then to shout when the priests blew their trumpets. When Joshua conveyed these instructions to the population, he added this clarification: “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout” (Joshua 6:10, NKJV). Though God did not specifically tell the people not to shout on days one through six, Joshua drew that very inference and correctly clarified the point for the people. In doing so, he was simply articulating the familiar biblical principle of authority: “that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, ‘Do not go beyond what is written’” (1 Corinthians 4:6, NIV).
However, some critics have objected to the biblical principle of authority as illustrated in Joshua chapter six. They allege that because the priests blew on the rams’ horns on days other than the seventh day (vss. 8,13), the priests were not required to have divine authority to do so. Critics insist that God’s silence on blowing trumpets on days other than the seventh day meant that the priests were free to exercise their own discretion and blow their trumpets on those days. They then draw the conclusion that, in like manner, since God has not spoken one way or the other on such matters as instrumental music in worship, handclapping, baby dedications, and praise teams, then worshippers are free to include or omit such actions as they choose.
Consider the following refutation of this line of thinking. In the first place, the objection fails to come to grips with Joshua’s own logic on the matter. It was Joshua who understood God’s instructions to forbid shouting on days one through six, though God did not explicitly forbid it. So to discount the biblical principle of authority, one would have to demonstrate that Joshua was mistaken in the conclusion that he, himself, drew regarding the lack of authority to shout on days one through six.
In the second place, the text gives several contextual indicators to show that the authority principle applies consistently to both the matter of blowing the trumpets and the matter of shouting. Notice the English grammar of the text in verse four: “And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets” (NKJV). Observe the “And” (a waw in Hebrew) that begins the sentence and the period after “ark” followed by “But” (also a waw). The “And” links back up with verse three, indicating that the trumpets accompanied the priests for the first six days. The period places closure on that point, and the “But” shows that the thought regarding blowing the trumpets on the seventh day is in addition to the use of the trumpets prior to that time. These observations are borne out by the way various translators have handled the Hebrew text of Joshua 6:3-4:
  • “March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets” (NIV).
  • “And you shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets” (NASB).
  • “You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; and on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets” (RSV).
Though the translators vary in their handling of the punctuation, the language allows for the authorized use of the trumpets prior to the seventh day. The language certainly does not require the conclusion that God confined the trumpet blowing to the seventh day. The language leaves room for the priests to utilize their trumpets each of the seven days—not merely on the seventh.
Further, one must not assume that every detail that God communicated to Joshua is divulged in verses two through five. The Bible often reveals incomplete information in various parts of a context, or even elsewhere in the Bible, that must be gathered together to grasp the entirety of the circumstances surrounding an incident. Even though only the single long blast on the trumpets is explicitly mentioned in the initial instructions given to Joshua regarding day seven (vss. 4b-5), it is evident from the rest of the account that blowing was also to be done during the six days. Joshua confirmed this very point when he repeated the instructions he had received from God to the people. He mentioned the carrying of the trumpets as occurring with the initial taking up of the ark (vs. 6)—which would seem to suggest that they would be used, not merely carried. The reason the long blast on the seventh day was emphasized was not to imply that no blowing was required, specified, or authorized prior to the seventh day, but simply to signal at which point the shouting was to occur (vs. 20)—which was limited to day seven. Observe carefully the structural layout of the events as the Holy Spirit chose to give them to us:
  • Verses 2-5: God gives instructions to Joshua
  • Verses 6-7: Joshua relays the instructions to the people (though recorded by the Holy Spirit for us in abbreviated form)
  • Verses 8-9: The first day of the carrying out of the instructions by the people commences
  • Verse 10: Narrator parenthetically interrupts to clarify Joshua’s explanation to the people regarding shouting
  • Verse 11: Summary of the first day of marching
  • Verses 12-14: Summary of the first six days of marching
  • Verses 15-16: Account of the seventh day
  • Verses 17-19: Reminders regarding Rahab and refraining from taking booty
  • Verses 20ff.: Rest of the details regarding seventh day
It is evident from the Holy Spirit’s sequential reporting of the events that the blowing of the trumpets on days one to six was included in the instructions that God had given. This fact is especially apparent in verse 8, which follows immediately on the heels of Joshua’s relaying of God’s instructions to the people in verses 6-7. Though verses 6-7 do not explicitly mention the blowing of the trumpets, notice how verse 8 is worded in such a way that it is evident that the priests blowing the trumpets in verse 8 was the direct result of Joshua’s instructions in verses 6-7: “So it was, when Joshua had spoken to the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord advanced and blew the trumpets....”
Additionally, observe that in giving God’s instructions regarding shouting (vs. 10), Joshua flagged the fact that the only noise being limited/forbidden until day seven was shouting made “with your voice” and “out of your mouth.” That specification would need to be clarified if, in fact, it was understood that trumpet blowing would be occurring on days one to six.
Taking all of these factors into account, a simple reading of the chapter demonstrates that (1) God authorized the trumpets to be blown by the priests on days one to six; (2) the priests were to blow one long single blast at the specified time after the seventh trip around the city on the seventh day in order to signal the population that the time had come for them to shout with one accord; (3) the people were authorized to shout only on the seventh day and any shouting on days 1-6 would have been unauthorized by God—even as Joshua, himself, concluded.
God often gave more information to Bible characters that is recorded in Scripture. We have no right to assume an action is right unless God says so or an approved Bible character provides further explanation that verifies God’s approval. The biblical principle of authority is not brought into question by the matter of trumpet blowing in Joshua chapter six. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

REFERENCE

Miller, Dave (2003), “The Principle of Authority,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1215.

The Pope, the Papacy, and the Bible by Moisés Pinedo


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=626

The Pope, the Papacy, and the Bible

by Moisés Pinedo


George Bush said of him: “When you are in his presence you say to yourself: ‘Here is a great man, a great leader.’ He is a man of liberty, of faith, who suffers every time the Church, or man, is oppressed. He will occupy, with all authority, a privileged position in the history of our time. I am not Catholic, but towards him I feel a deeply profound respect and a sincere affection” (as quoted in Mirás, n.d.).
Of whom was the former president of the United States speaking? His commentary was in reference to the late Karol Wojtyla, more commonly recognized as Pope John Paul II. Having been considered for 26 years as the “successor of the apostle Peter,” and having been the heir of an endless hierarchical legacy, John Paul II was a man who influenced the hearts of many Catholics, as well as many other religious people. At his death, thousands of followers gathered in or near St. Peter’s Plaza in Rome to pay tribute to the pope, while the bells of the Catholic Church buildings rang throughout the city (see BBC News, 2005). Since April 2, 2005, the eulogies of many close associates and supporters have been heard, and it is certain that this situation will continue for some time after his burial. Even the current president of the United States has raised his voice to declare:
[T]he world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home. Pope John Paul II left the throne of St. Peter in the same way he ascended to it—as a witness to the dignity of human life (Bush, 2005, emp. added).
John Paul II was, for more than a quarter of a century, a representative of the monopolized throne of the Catholic Church—the papacy. But, what is the papacy? Is there a scriptural basis for this Catholic institution? Did God designate a legacy of “ecclesiastical leaders” on Earth?
Apart from what people may think concerning this institution or its members, and apart from any eulogies, blessings, insults, or condemnations that religious people may offer concerning this ecclesiastical order, it is my desire to open the pages of the Bible, as well as the pages of history, to analyze whether the papacy (with its large list of members) is a divine institution, or whether it simply should be classified as a human invention that is unworthy of the type of honor bestowed upon it.

THE ALLEGED BIBLICAL BASIS FOR THE PAPACY

And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
This is the biblical verse to which the Catholic apologist inevitably turns in order to defend the establishment of the papacy. Through an arbitrary interpretation of this verse—an interpretation which suggests that God constituted Peter (and ultimately his successors) as the “rock” of the church—the Catholic Church has built a grand structure with only one man as the head.
But in order to be consistent with biblical truth, we must understand the difference between the two words used in Matthew 16:18. In reference to Peter, the Holy Spirit recorded the Greek word petros—a proper noun which denotes a stone that can be easily moved. In contrast, in reference to the “rock,” the Holy Spirit recorded the Greek word petra, which denotes a solid mass of rock (see Vine, 1999, p. 663). While the word used for Peter corresponds to the Aramaic name that Jesus had given him (Kepha, John 1:42), the word used for “rock” refers to the foundation of the church—i.e., Peter’s confession that pointed to Christ as God and the Messiah (cf. Matthew 16:16).
The biblical truth that the word “rock” was used in reference to Christ Himself is derived not only from the etymology and context of Matthew 16:16-19, but this is also a truth taught and recognized throughout the entire Bible. Peter, who received the words of Jesus first hand, used the same Greek word petra in reference to Christ (1 Peter 2:8; cf. Acts 4:11). Without a doubt, Peter, more than any religious person of our modern time, would convey the true meaning of the word used by our Lord.
The inspired apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “…and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them:and the rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4, emp. added). The truth is that, ever since the Old Testament, the rock was always Christ, not Peter. In Ephesians 2:20, Paul exhorted: “…being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone” (emp. added). In Luke 20:17-18 Jesus remarked: “What, then, is this that is written, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner? Everyone that falleth on that stone shall be broken to pieces, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust’ ” (cf. Matthew 21:42,44 and Mark 12:10). In effect, Jesus used the rejection of the rock by the builders to show the rejection of the religious leaders of His time concerning His person. Without a doubt, the One Who could tell us with total veracity what the word “rock” refers to is Jesus Himself—Who used it and applied it to Himself.
Another aspect to consider is the fulfillment of the prophecies given by Jesus. He said that “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). If the “rock” is referring to the confession made by Peter (Matthew 16:16)—which revealed the truth that Jesus was God and the anticipated Messiah—it would be upon this truth that the church would be established. In effect, this prophecy realizes fulfillment when we learn that in Acts 2:36, the truth that Jesus was God and the Messiah is presented once again as a prologue to the birth of Christianity, and ultimately, of the church. The truth of the matter is that nothing exists in this biblical text to authorize the establishment of the papacy.
Finally, it is important to emphasize that the idea (borne of tradition) that Peter was exalted over the other apostles—and thereby was transformed into the pioneer for the papal throne—is biblically unsustainable. Jesus imbued each of His apostles with the same authority (Matthew 28:19-20). When the apostles disputed among themselves over who was the greatest, Jesus sent them a clear message: “The kings of the Gentiles have lordship over them… But ye shall not be so” (Luke 22:24-26, emp. added; cf. Matthew 18:1-5; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48). On another occasion, Jesus told them: “Ye know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them… Not so shall it be among you” (Matthew 20:25-26, emp. added). Unfortunately there are those today who place themselves in opposition to this biblical sentiment so that an existing hierarchy should be evident among the first-century apostles, even when Jesus said it should not be!
The truth is that Peter was an apostle just like the other apostles (2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11), and was a man just like other men (with the word “man” bearing many serious implications). As a man, Peter never demanded special treatment or demanded displays of adoration for himself. When Cornelius lay prostrate before Peter (cf. Acts 10:25), he told him: “Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:26, emp. added). With this statement Peter set forth three very important points: (a) that he was also a man—that is to say, a man just like Cornelius; (b) that he was a man—that is to say, just like all men; and (c) that he was a man—that is to say that he was not God, and ultimately was not worthy of worship. [Note the position of the emphasis in the three points just made.]
Peter understood with all humility the implications of being only a man. But popes, being only menlike Peter, allow multitudes to bow their knees before them, kiss their feet, and reverence them—thereby receiving worship that does not rightfully belong to them. What a tremendous difference between Peter and his supposed successors! Not even an angel of God would permit John to show him adoration by kneeling before him (Revelation 22:8-9). One can only be astonished when considering what tremendous audacity it takes to try to usurp the place where God belongs!

THE ORIGIN OF THE PAPACY

If Peter was not a pope, and the Bible does not record a papal hierarchy, the question arises: When and how did the papacy originate?
When Christ established His church, “he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors [i.e., bishops—MP] and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). Jesus neverestablished a single bishop over a multiplicity of others; rather, He established an impartial order of service. However, men departed from the original pattern of the Bible in search of power, honor, and deification. The first indication of this desertion was when the distinction between the words, bishops, elders, and pastors was made—titles that are used interchangeably in the Bible (e.g., Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7; 1 Peter 5:1-2; etc.)—thereby giving preeminence to the position of bishop. Quickly, the “bishop” came to take prominence over not only a congregation, but over a “diocese”—congregations of a district or a complete city (see Miller, 1976, par. 42).
One of the characters that clung to a hierarchy of the church by only one man (i.e., “the bishop”) was Ignatius of Antioch. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote:
For if I in a short time had such converse with your bishop, which was not after the manner of men but in the Spirit, how much more do I congratulate you who are closely joined with him as the Church is with Jesus Christ and as Jesus Christ is with the Father, that all things may be harmonious in unity.… Let us therefore be careful not to resist the bishop, that by our submission we may give ourselves to God (Ignatius to the Ephesians, 5:1,3, n.d.).
Later, when Emperor Constantine made Christianity a religion of “power,” the bishops strengthened and increased their prerogatives. Many new bishops (e.g., Damasus, Siricio) fought to affirm their hierarchical position in the church at Rome, appealing to their inherent “authority” in their cathedra (see Encuentra, 2000-2004). In A.D. 440, the pontificate of Leo I arrived. He became an ardent defender of the supremacy of the Roman bishop over all of the other bishops of the West. In his declaration to the Bishop of Constantinople, he wrote:
Constantinople has its own glory and by the mercy of God has become the seat of the empire. But secular matters are based on one thing, and ecclesiastical matters on another. Nothing will stand which is not built on the Rock which the Lord laid in the foundation…your city is royal but you cannot make it Apostolic (Mattox, 1961, pp. 139-140).
In mid-September of 590, Gregory the Great was designated as the bishop of Rome. He proclaimed himself as pope, and head of the “universal church.” He did his best to uphold the so-called Petrine Tradition; and towards the end of his pontificate, “the theory of the primacy of Peter and the Roman bishop as his successor and the universal head of the church was definitively established” (Mattox, p. 140). Finally, with the ascension of Boniface III to the papal throne on February 19, 607, it was established (by his own declaration!) that the only “universal bishop” would be that of Rome—ultimately, the one and only pope. Boniface III, who lived less than a year after his election, left the world of Catholic religion with many other bishops who energetically competed in the “endless race for supremacy” known as the papacy.

THE ALLEGED INFALLIBILITY OF THE PAPACY

One of the most treasured doctrines of the Roman papacy is that of infallibility. Catholicism argues that when the pope speaks as the head of the universal church, and thereby exercises his “supreme” authority, he cannot make a mistake. Pope Pio IX established the doctrine of papal infallibility in 1870. In light of this relatively recent doctrine, the question begs to be asked: What about the other popes who exercised their power before 1870? The answer can be presented as follows:
…a dogma is an eternal truth that the Church did not invent but rather “discovered,” which, however, all of the other popes have been subject to it without knowing it (Infaliblidad, n.d., emp. added).
Nevertheless, history speaks strongly against this doctrine. For example, Pope Honorius I (625) bore (after his death) the title of “heretic” for having stood in agreement with the doctrine of monotheletism (the doctrine that acknowledged two distinct natures within Christ, but only one divine will). He was censured by the sixth ecumenical council, and later even by the seventh and the eighth (Constantinople III, 680; Nicea II, 787; and Constantinople IV, 869). Pope Leo II recognized the doctrinal error of Honorius, and for many centuries, the popes, in their enthronement, were required to swear that “they rejected the heresy whose ferment was introduced by Honorius” (see Hermosillo, n.d.). Another pope, Eugenius IV (1431), condemned Joan of Arc to be burned at the stake for considering her to be a participant of witchcraft, though Benedict XV canonized her as a “saint” on May 16, 1920 (see Infalibilidad Papal, n.d.). Other popes, like Paul III, Paul IV, Sixtus IV, Pio IX, et al., authorized, promoted, incited, and reinforced the “Holy” Inquisition for which the late Pope John Paul II had to apologize worldwide.
The same John Paul II (1978-2005) gave a fatal blow to the doctrine of infallibility. In opposition to the declarations of other popes and of Catholic doctrine itself, this pope declared:
  • The Spirit of Christ uses other churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation (1979, 4.32).
  • People outside the Catholic Church and the Gospel can attain salvation by grace of Christ (1990, 1.10).
  • People can be saved by living a moral life, without knowing anything about Christ and the Catholic Church (1993, 3).
  • There is sanctification outside the boundaries of the Catholic Church (1995, 1.12).
  • The martyrs of any religious community can find the extraordinary grace of the Holy Spirit (1995, 3.84).
Furthermore, concerning the erroneous concept of organic evolution, on October 22, 1996, Pope John Paul II declared that “new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis” (see “John Paul II,” 1996). But if evolution is to be considered more than merely a hypothesis, Adam disappears! Ultimately, then, how can it be, as Catholics allege, that humanity carries the sin of the first man? Should we not say, instead, that humanity carries the “sin” of the last primate from which we “descended” (as if primates could sin!)? Many other examples could be given, but surely the few points mentioned in this brief study provide sufficient evidence to warrant us discarding Roman Catholic doctrine. Certainly the doctrine of papal infallibility has caused, and continues to cause, many people to accept false doctrines such as original sin, the assumption of Mary, the canonization of saints, the “factuality” of evolution, and even papal infallibility itself—doctrines that are completely lacking in any biblical foundation.
What is certain is that when Pio IX declared that the pope was infallible, with the same “infallibility” that he pretended to have, he gave his final “infallible” stamp of approval for his declaration of the infallibility. Though this seems to be a jumble of words, this is exactly what happened. However, while Pio IX declared that the Pope was infallible, Adriano VI (another presumably infallible pope), declared in 1523:
It remains above all doubt that a Pope can err even in subjects touching the faith. He does this when he teaches heresy by his own judgment and decree. In truth, many roman pontiffs were heretics (as quoted in Sapia, 2000, emp. added).
So, then, Catholicism arrives at a problem in that two popes, allegedly both possessors of the same “infallibility,” affirm self-contradictory positions. How could one pope, who is supposedly infallible, condemn his own infallibility and that of others? If Pio IX was correct, Adriano VI made a mistake; and if one makes a mistake, then none of the popes can be infallible since the doctrine of infallibility supposedly involves all of the popes. Therefore, the only conclusion at which we can arrive from the history of the popes and their evident contradictions is that the doctrine of papal infallibility is unmistakably false.

CONCLUSION

The pages of the life of another member of the papacy have been written, finished, and closed. His faithful followers may weep, but soon a new pope will arise. A group of “select cardinals” who lack “infallibility” will convene in a room (conclave) and cast their secret votes (see Conclave, 1908). If all happens as planned, a new, “infallible” pope will be the result of the vote of fallible men. “Who will be the new Pope?,” many will ask. Sadly, in this moment of media racket, Catholic grief, and international suspense, many people will never hear the intense scream of the Bible to abandon the human hierarchy that apostasy has established.
The truth is that there is only one Head of the church—Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). Also, there is only one rock that serves as the foundation of the church (i.e. Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:11). To adopt another rock (i.e., another foundation) instead of that which was already laid, is to build on an unstable foundation. To place another rock instead of that which is already placed is to build upon a foundation of men. To place another rock instead of that which is already placed is to usurp the revered place of Christ.
We have no choice but to say that there is no biblical foundation or authorization for the existence of the papacy. The rock—Christ—should not be rejected in order to place human foundations in His position. Those who do so build upon an unstable foundation that one day will collapse. With Paul, faithful Christians can confidently declare: “For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11, emp. added).

REFERENCES

BBC News (2005), Pope John Paul II Dies in Vatican, [On-line], URL: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4399715.stm
Bush, George (2005), President's Statement on the Death of Pope John Paul II, [On-line], URL: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/04/20050402-4.html
Conclave (1908), The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IV, [On-line], URL: http//www.newadvent.org/cathen/04192a.htm.
Encuentra (2000-2004), El Primado Absoluto de Roma, [On-line], URL: http://www.encuentra.com/includes/documento.php?IdDoc=1026&IdSec=224
Epistles of Ignatius (no date), Ignatius to the Ephesians, [On-line], URL: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/ignatius-ephesians-lightfoot.html
Hermosillo, Legión de María (no date), Honorio (625-638 d.C.), [On-line], URL: http://www.legionhermosillo.com.mx/honoriopapa.html
Infalibilidad (no date), Infalibilidad Papal: Otro becerro de Oro, [On-line], URL: http://www.angelfire.com/ego/pdf/sp/lp/infalibilidad-papal.html
Infalibilidad Papal (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.fbinstitute.com/Espanol/various/ infalibilidad.htm
John Paul II (1979), “Catechesi Tradendae,” [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ jp-ii_exh_16101979_catechesi-tradendae_en.html.
John Paul II (1990), “Redemptoris Missio,” [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_ jp-ii_enc_07121990_redemptoris-missio_en.html.
John Paul II (1993), “Veritatis Splendor,” [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii _enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor_en.html.
John Paul II (1995), “Ut Unum Sint,” [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_ jp-ii_enc_25051995_ut-unum-sint_en.html.
John Paul II (1996), “Truth Cannot Contradict Truth,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_jp02tc.htm.
Mattox, F.W. (1961), The Eternal Kingdom, (Gospel Light: Delight, AR).
Miller, Jule L. (1976), Historia de la Iglesia del Señor, (Gospel Services, Inc., Houston, TX).
Mirás, Eduardo V. (no date), ¿Qué Dicen de Juan Pablo II?, George Bush, [On-line], URL: http://www.aciprensa.com/juanpabloii/dicenjp.htm
Sapia, Daniel (2000), Infalibilidad Papal. Quien, Cuando y Por qué se Promulgó, [On-line], URL: http://www.conocereislaverdad.org/infalibilidadpapal.htm
Vine, W.E. (1999), Diccionario Expositivo de Palabras del Antiguo y Nuevo Testamento Exhaustivo, (Colombia, Editorial Caribe, Inc.).

Flower of Love by EE Healy

http://www.eehealy.com/commentary/a-flower.jpg



Judgment Day by Trevor Bowen


http://insearchoftruth.org/articles/judgement.html


Judgment Day

 

Introduction

Judgment Day marks the end of time.  What will occur on that day?  Do we know when it will transpire?  Will there be any warning?  Many people may have opinions and speculations, but only the Bible is the authority that can answer these questions for us.  Therefore, let us examine a few passages to see what the Bible has to say.

All Saints from All Time will be Carried to Heaven

During the New Testament times, the Christians at Thessalonica became worried that the Christians who died would miss out on Jesus’ return.  They were afraid those who died ceased to exists.  Let's examine the apostle Paul's explanation about the dead and Judgment Day:
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
"Therefore, comfort one another with these words" I Thessalonians 4:13-18
We learn the following points from this passage:
  1. Judgment day will be signaled by a shout and trumpet
  2. Christ will descend
  3. The dead will arise first
  4. Then, those alive will join them and Christ in the air
This passage describes a little about Judgment Day from our perspective on earth.  Later, we will look at another passage that tells a little about what Judgment Day will look like from heaven's perspective.

The Annihilation of the Earth

"But what about the earth?  "Will anything be left of, or on the earth?"  The apostle Peter, in his letter, warns of the final destruction of the earth on the last day:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" II Peter 3:10-13
From this passage, we learn that the earth and the heavens will totally be destroyed.  The heavens will alsso be destroyed, which encompass the entire universe, all that is above our atmosphere.  Some wonder, if God will preserve the earth, restore it for his faithful, and turn it into a paradise.  However, this passage explains that it will be a total destruction.  Even the "elements" of both the heavens and earth, the things that comprise this world, will be destroyed.  Nothing will be left of the universe and reality that we now live in.

A New Body

"So what happens to our bodies and all of the dead people's bodies?"   The Bible teaches that all will receive new bodies - all people both good and evil.  In New Testament times, the Christians in the city of Corinth were faced with a false doctrine that denied that there would be resurrection.  One supporting argument that was proposed was that our bodies will decay in the grave.  So, how could there be a resurrection, since our bodies will be destroyed?  The apostle Paul responded to this false doctrine by explaining that we will receive new bodies:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.  Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." I Corinthians 15:50-53
In addition to confirming what we have learned, we also discover that we will all be given new bodies when the trumpet is sounded.  So, before we even leave this earth, the resurrected dead and all those still alive will be given a new, immortal body.  It is in this body that we will stand before God and live out the remainder of eternity.

God’s Throne and the Final Judgment

"So what happens once we leave this earth and it is destroyed?  "Where do we go?"  It is difficult to understand the answer because it involves a plane that transcends all that we know and understand.  We already know that we have immortal bodies and this plane of existence is destoyed, but even that is not explained further.  However, in the book of Revelation, a day of judgment is described.  This day of judgment is symbolic of what will transpire that day:
"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.  And there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.  And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 
"The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.  And they were judged, each one according to his works.  Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And anyone not found written in the Book of LIfe was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:11-15
From this symbolic representation, we learn how Judgment Day will appear from heaven's viewpoint.  Once we are assembled before God’s throne, then we will each be judged and sent to either heaven or hell. 
A beautiful vision of heaven is painted through a symbol found following the above passage in Revelation 21:1-22:5.  Please, read it to learn more about how wonderful heaven will be, but please keep in mind that this is symbol.  The reality of heaven will be more beautiful than our mortal minds can now comprehend, but hell will equally be even more terrible than the symbol of a lake that burns with fire and is not quenched.
While on earth, Jesus alos told many parables about Judgment day, teaching about the final judgement and separation between the good and evil (Matthew 13:24-3025:31-46).

"When ?"

Besides wondering if we will be ready for Judgement Day, the second most important questions that we should, or could ask is, "When will Judgment Day come?  "Will there be a sign?"  Many people have speculated and even affirmed specific days as the last day.  However, the failure of these prophecies alone teach us at the very least to be wary and skeptic of such predictions.  But, does the Bible say anything about the end of the world?  In one of the passages that we looked at earlier, the apostle Peter addressed when the last day would occur:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night ..." (II Peter 3:10)
When does a thief rob your house?  The answer - you don't know!  It happens suddenly and unpredictably.  Jesus was also asked this question by his apostles (Matthew 24:3).  Please listen to the similar answer:
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 
"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" ...
"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming, But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 
"Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." Matthew 24:36-44
Jesus clearly speaks about the last day being similar to a thief breaking into our house.  The analogy is again the same - we do not know when a thief will break into our house.  In view of such passages, it becomes difficult, even impossible to believe that someone can predict the occurrence of Judgment Day.  We do not know when it will occur, so we must be ready at all times.

Conclusion

Judgment Day will be both a glorious and fearful day.  It will be the end of all time and a day of reckoning for all people before their Creator.  Jesus said that no man knows what day it will occur, so let us always be wary of those who prophesy that the end of the world is near, but we must always live like it is tomorrow.
 Trevor Bowen