"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Paul In Rome (28:17-31) by Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                        Paul In Rome (28:17-31)


1. After his fateful voyage, Paul and his companions arrived at Rome where he...
   a. Was immediately placed under house arrest - Ac 28:16
   b. Waited two years to make his appeal before Caesar - cf. Ac 25:9-12; 28:30

2. Yet Paul was not idle during this time...
   a. He met with the Jewish leaders in Rome
   b. He received many visitors
   c. He likely composed several epistles

[Indeed, it was a fruitful time for the apostle Paul.  Such is evident
as we read the final words of Luke in his account of Acts, beginning with...]


      1. Paul called for the leaders of the Jews in Rome - Ac 28:17
      2. He explained why he was there, and the reason for his appeal- Ac 28:17-20
         a. He had done nothing against the Jews or their customs
         b. Roman officials wanted to let him go, but Jews from Jerusalem
            spoke against it, forcing him to appeal to Caesar
         c. Yet it was for the hope of Israel he was bound in chains
      3. The Jewish leaders desire to learn more - Ac 28:21-22
         a. For they neither received letters or heard anything evil of Paul
         b. But they wanted to hear what he had to say about this "sect"
            spoken against everywhere

      1. On an appointed day, many came to his lodging - Ac 28:23
      2. They heard him explain and solemnly testify from morning until
         evening - Ac 28:23
         a. Of the kingdom of God and concerning Jesus - cf. Ac 8:12
         b. From both the Law of Moses and the Prophets - cf. Lk 24:44-47
      3. Their reaction was mixed; some were persuaded, while others
         disbelieved - Ac 28:24
      4. They departed after Paul gave them solemn warning - Ac 28:25-28
         a. Of being hard of hearing and closing their eyes - cf. Isa 6:9-10
         b. The message of salvation has been sent to Gentiles and they
            will hear it - cf. Isa 42:1,6
      5. They departed and disputed among themselves - Ac 28:29

[The closing verses in Acts indicate that similar meetings were
repeated time and again during the two years of Paul's captivity (Ac
28:30-31).  When we turn to Paul's epistles, we can glean more things about...]


      1. Timothy
         a. The young disciple Paul picked up on his second journey - Ac 16:1-3
         b. Who joined Paul in several epistles written from Rome
             - Phm 1; Col 1:1; Php 1:1
         c. Who was sent to Philippi in behalf of Paul - Php 2:19-23
      2. Epaphras
         a. Whose visit to Paul prompted the writing of Colossians - Col 1:3-8
         b. Who sent his greetings to his beloved brethren at Colossae - Col 4:12-13
         c. Who was described as Paul's "fellow-prisoner" - Phm 1:23
      3. Onesimus and Tychicus
         a. Onesimus, the runaway slave converted to Jesus Christ, who 
            was sent along with the letter to his master Philemon - Phm 1:10-21
         b. Onesimus also accompanied Tychicus who bore the epistle to 
            the Colossians - Col 4:7-9
         c. Tychicus, who was from Asia (Ac 20:4) and the bearer of the 
            epistle to the Ephesians - Ep 6:21-22
      4. Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, Jesus (Justus) - Phm 1:24
         a. Marcus, also known as John Mark, Barnabas' cousin - Col 4:10;
            cf. Ac 12:25; 13:5,13; 15:37-40
         b. Aristarchus, Paul's "fellow-prisoner" - Col 4:10; 
              cf. Ac 19:29; 20:4; 27:2
         c. Demas, who later forsook Paul - Col 4:14; cf. 2Ti 4:10
         d. Luke, the beloved physician who traveled off and on again
            with Paul, and accompanied him on his voyage to Rome - Col
            4:14; cf. Ac 16:10-12; 20:6; 21:1-17; 27:1-28:16
         e. Jesus (also called Justus), a "fellow-worker" with Paul - Col 4:11
      5. Epaphroditus
         a. Who brought a gift to Paul from the Philippians - Php 4:18
         b. Who became the bearer of the epistle to the Philippians - Php 2:25-30
      -- His companions undoubtedly were a great source of comfort for 
         Paul, and enabled him to do much good while imprisoned in Rome

      1. Continued preaching despite his chains - Col 1:23-29; Ep 3:1-9
      2. Requested prayers for wisdom and boldness to continue preaching
         - Col 4:3-4; Ep 6:18-20
      3. Converted Onesimus, the runaway slave - Phm 1:10
      4. Had opportunities among the palace guard, and apparent success
         in Caesar's household - Php 1:12-20; 4:22
      -- Paul's success in preaching reinforce the idea that the gospel
         cannot be bound!

      1. The epistle to Philemon (61 or 62 AD.) - Phm 1:1
         a. Purpose:  To secure forgiveness for Onesimus
         b. Theme:  Restoration Of A Slave Brother
      2. The epistle to the Colossians (61 or 62 A.D.) - Col 1:1-2
         a. Purpose:  To warn against the "Colossian heresy"
         b. Theme:  Christ, The Fullness Of God And Pre-Eminent, All-Sufficient Savior
      3. The epistle to the Ephesians (61 or 62 A.D.) - Ep 1:1
         a. Purpose:  To remind Christians of their spiritual blessings and responsibilities
         b. Theme:  The Believer's Riches In Christ
      4. The epistle to the Philippians (63 A.D.) - Php 1:1
         a. Purpose:  To thank the church for their gift, and encourage faithfulness
         b. Theme:  Rejoice In The Lord!
      -- Through letters Paul's influence spread from Rome throughout the
         world till today!

      1. Evidenced in the epistles he wrote during this time
         a. Such as Colossians, to a church he had not seen - Col 2:1-5
         b. Such as Ephesians, to a church with whom he had spent much 
            time - Ac 20:17-21
         c. Such as Philippians, to a church that was dear to his heart- Php 1:3-5; 4:1
      2. Evidenced in the prayers he offered for them
         a. His prayer for the Colossians - Col 1:9-11
         b. His prayers for the Ephesians - Ep 1:15-21; 3:14-19
         c. His prayer for the Philippians - Php 1:9-11
      -- Paul's love and concern for others despite his own circumstances
         exemplifies the mind of Christ - cf. Php 2:4-8

      1. He rejoiced in his sufferings - Col 1:24; Php 2:16-18
      2. He sought to magnify Christ in his sufferings - Php 1:20
      -- Paul's imprisonment gave him an opportunity to practice what he
         had been preaching (and practicing) all along - cf. Ro 5:3-5


1. Paul fully expected to be released from his imprisonment, as expressed...
   a. By his plans to visit Philemon - Phm 1:22
   b. In his epistle to the Philippians - Php 1:23-27; 2:24

2. That he was released and traveled some more is evidenced...
   a. By references made in such epistles as 1st & 2nd Timothy, Titus
   b. By the testimony of those who came along later:  Chrysostom, 
      Jerome, Eusebius, and even Clement of Rome, who lived in the latter
      part of the first century A.D.

J.W. McGarvey notes in his commentary on Acts:  "No two years of Paul's
life were better filled with earnest labor than these two spent in his
Roman prison."  Indeed, we have seen that such was the case, as Paul himself wrote:

"But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me
have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it
has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that
my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having
become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word
without fear."  (Php 1:12-14)

May we learn from Paul's example of how "good can come out of ill", and
use whatever circumstances in which we find ourselves to be utilized
for the glory of God!
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2013

Are There Lost Books of the Bible? by A.P. Staff


Are There Lost Books of the Bible?

by  A.P. Staff


I have heard that there are certain “lost books” mentioned in the Bible—books to which we no longer have access. Is this true? And if so, what impact does this have on the biblical text itself, or on a Christian’s faith?


In a manner that is somewhat similar to a modern research paper, citations appear in both the Old and New Testaments. The inspired writers sometimes referred to certain works that no longer exist—a fact that has caused some people to question the accuracy and completeness of the Bible. Atheists and skeptics claim that if it was truly God’s Word, then it would not lack any composition cited. Massimo Franceschini, an Italian convert to Mormonism, has suggested that the biblical text is more than sixty-five percent incomplete, due, in part, to the “lost books” cited within the Bible itself (Franceschini, 2002). If the Bible is, at most, thirty-five percent complete, then the Christian faith can be no more complete than that. Duane Christensen, in the October 1998 issue of Bible Review, listed twenty-three referenced books that have been lost in antiquity (14[5]:29), to which we can add seven additional works mentioned in the Bible. Such compositions as the Book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18), the Acts of Gad the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29), and Paul’s previous Corinthian letter (see 1 Corinthians 5:9) are among the thirty cited works—twenty-eight from the Old Testament era, and two from the New Testament era—that are not included in the canon of Scripture, and that are missing from secular history. The contents of these books are known only by the fact that they are cited or quoted. Upon further examination, however, it appears that some of them actually may exist in another form.
Some scholars argue that a large number of these citations probably refer to the same composition. For example, the references found in 1 and 2 Kings to the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, and the Acts of Solomon, possibly denote a single work (Christensen, 14[5]:29). It is a common practice, even in modern society, to refer to one thing by several different names. For example, a person may refer to Josephus’ work, Wars of the Jews, as “Josephus,” “Josephus’ Wars,” “Jewish Wars,” “Wars of the Jews,” “Josephus’ Jewish Wars,” etc.—all of which designate the same composition. In similar fashion, the many works cited throughout Kings and Chronicles very possibly refer to different sections of a single work. If there was a single original (one referred to by several names), it was likely a highly detailed record of the reigns of the kings in Israel and Judah. As a king lived and died, the records of his reign were added to this work by a scribe, prophet, historian, record keeper, or even by the administration of the next king, making it a composite work of many writers. The various names for this single account might have designated certain sections that made up the composite work. The differences between Kings’ and Chronicles’ naming and citing of the sections of the original, can be understood by the differences that exist among modern citation styles. The style of citation, list of works cited, and information provided vary widely, for example, among such modern-day guides as the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, The Chicago Manual of Style, and Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Nevertheless, each one of these provides sufficient information to refer the reader to the original source. Similarly, the writer of Kings’ style of citation, and the writer of Chronicles’ style of citation, both mentioned the original, but did so in a different manner. Nevertheless, both provided the reader with enough information to locate the section referenced in the source.
The idea of a composite source makes sense when applied to Jewish oral tradition. The Talmud—a collection of Hebrew oral law and legal decisions (the Mishna), along with transcribed scholarly discussions and commentary on the Mishna (the Gemara)—holds that Jeremiah wrote Kings, and that Ezra wrote Chronicles (Rodkinson, 1918, V:45). [NOTE: There is no internal evidence for Jeremiah’s authorship of Kings, but 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-4 are almost identical, which supports Talmudic tradition of Ezra’s authorship of Chronicles.] One theory regarding the citation of lost books is that they were source material for the writers of Kings and Chronicles. Jeremiah possibly edited and/or condensed the original source (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) into the book of Kings, sometime before or during the Babylonian exile. This new, inspired book of Kings provided a summary of the histories of Israel and Judah for the captives to carry with them—a much smaller, lighter book than the original detailed work. After returning from the Babylonian exile, Ezra composed another history of the Hebrew nation—Chronicles. According to this theory, he used the same original work as Jeremiah for his primary source, but referred to the sections by different names than the ones used by Jeremiah. To this, he added parts of Samuel, Isaiah, possibly Lamentations, and some non-extant works. Like Jeremiah’s compilation, Ezra did this by inspiration. While the original source no longer exists, a condensed form of it survived through the inspired writings.
However, it also is possible that the original work to which Jeremiah and Ezra referred was not a source for their books, but was an uninspired composition of historical significance to which the reader could look for additional information. Under this theory, Jeremiah and Ezra received everything for the composition of their respective works, but also were inspired to include a reference for “extra information.” God did not require every single detail to be preserved in the biblical accounts of the history of the Jewish people, so He revealed what the authors of Kings and Chronicles needed to know, while guiding them to insert a “for more information, please see...” in the text.
Both of these theories allow for verbal inspiration. The first theory suggests that God inspired Jeremiah and Ezra to look at the single historical work as a source, and then He guided them (via the Holy Spirit) to include exactly what He wanted from that source into Scripture. According to the second theory, God revealed to Jeremiah and Ezra the necessary history, and then guided them to place a citation in the biblical text in order to refer the contemporary reader to a then-extant historical book. Some of the “lost books” are references to sections of this source, and others are different names for books that are not lost, but currently reside within the canon of Scripture.
Work Cited
Cited In
The Book of the Wars of Yahweh
Numbers 21:14
The Book of Jashar
Joshua 10:12-13;
2 Samuel 1:19-27
The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah
1 Kings 14:29; et al.
The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel
1 Kings 14:19; et al.
The Acts of Solomon
1 Kings 11:41
Book of the Kings of Israel
1 Chronicles 9:1-2;
2 Chronicles 20:34
Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel
2 Chronicles 16:11; et al.
Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah
2 Chronicles 27:7; et al.
Acts of the Kings of Israel
2 Chronicles 33:18
Acts of Samuel the Seer
1 Chronicles 29:29
Acts of Gad the Seer
1 Chronicles 29:29
Acts of Nathan the Prophet
1 Chronicles 29:29
History of Nathan the Prophet
2 Chronicles 9:29
Prophesy of Ahijah the Shilonite
2 Chronicles 9:29
Visions of Iddo the Seer
2 Chronicles 9:29
Acts of Shemaiah the Prophet and Iddo the Seer
2 Chronicles 12:15
Acts of Jehu Son of Hanani
2 Chronicles 20:34
Acts of the Seers
2 Chronicles 33:19
Midrash of the Prophet Iddo
2 Chronicles 13:22
Midrash on the Book of Kings
2 Chronicles 24:27
Book by the prophet Isaiah
2 Chronicles 26:22
Vision of Isaiah the prophet
2 Chronicles 32:32
Book of the Chronicles
Nehemiah 12:23
Some additional writings, referenced in the Old Testament
and New Testament, can be added to Christensen’s list:
Book of the Covenant
Exodus 24:7; et al.
The Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia
Esther 10:2
Book by Samuel
1 Samuel 10:25
Laments for Josiah
2 Chronicles 35:25
Chronicles of King David
1 Chronicles 27:24
Paul’s letter to the Laodiceans
Colossians 4:16
Paul’s previous Corinthian letter
1 Corinthians 5:9
List of the “lost books”/“lost writings” of the Bible (per Christensen, 1998, with additions)

Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, and Acts of Solomon (non-extant)

These names probably refer to sections of the original, detailed source either used by Jeremiah (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to compose Kings, or mentioned by Jeremiah as a source for additional information. The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah is cited in 1 Kings 14:29; 15:7; 15:23; 22:45; 2 Kings 8:23; 12:19; 14:18; 15:6; 15:36; 16:19; 20:20; 21:17; 21:25; 23:28; and 24:5. The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel is mentioned in 1 Kings 14:19; 15:31; 16:5; 16:14; 16:20; 16:27; 22:39; 2 Kings 1:18; 10:34; 13:8; 13:12; 14:15; 14:28; 15:11; 15:15; 15:21; 15:26; and 15:31. However, the Acts of Solomon is referred to only in 1 Kings 11:41. This compilation probably contained the records of each king’s reign, official decrees, judgments of the court, census reports, taxation records, etc.

Book of the Kings of Israel, Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel, Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah, Acts of the Kings of Israel, and Chronicles of King David (non-extant)

These five titles possibly were Ezra’s references to sections of the same source from which Jeremiah wrote Kings. According to the two theories, either he used this single historical work (again, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to compose Chronicles, or he referenced it as additional, uninspired information. The Book of the Kings of Israel is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 9:1-2 and 2 Chronicles 20:34. The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel is cited in 2 Chronicles 16:11; 25:26; 28:26; and 32:32. The Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah is referred to in 2 Chronicles 27:2; 35:27; and 36:8. Finally, the Acts of the Kings of Israel, and the Chronicles of King David, are alluded to in 2 Chronicles 33:18 and 1 Chronicles 27:24, respectively.

Acts of Samuel the Seer, Acts of Gad the Seer, and Acts of Nathan the Prophet (1 & 2 Samuel)

The only citation to these works is found in 1 Chronicles 29:29. This probably refers to 1 and 2 Samuel, which Talmudic tradition says was written by Samuel until his death (see 1 Samuel 25:1), and was finished by Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet (Rodkinson, 1918, V:45-46). With this explanation, it stands to reason that Ezra was referring to one work (Samuel) by its composite authors—Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. So these three “lost books” probably cite a single, currently existing work, known to us as 1 and 2 Samuel. [NOTE: In the Hebrew Bible, 1 and 2 Samuel were one book (Samuel), as were 1 and 2 Kings (Kings) and 1 and 2 Chronicles (Chronicles). Also, Nehemiah was added to the end of Ezra in the Hebrew text, and Hosea through Malachi were one book—which resulted in the Hebrew Bible being twenty-four books (Josephus combined two of those, making a total of twenty-two), instead of the thirty-nine in our present-day Old Testament.]

Book by the Prophet Isaiah and Vision of Isaiah the Prophet (Isaiah)

The two “lost books,” cited in 2 Chronicles 26:22 and 2 Chronicles 32:32, respectively, are said to have contained the records of King Uzziah and King Hezekiah. Isaiah lived during the reigns of these men (Isaiah 1:1; 6:1; 7:1; 36:1-39:8), so these citations likely refer to the book of Isaiah that exists in our current canon.

Lament for Josiah (Lamentations 3)

In 2 Chronicles 35:25, it is recorded that Jeremiah composed a lament at the death of Josiah, who was the last unconquered king of Judah, and wrote it “in the Laments.” The book of Lamentations was the work of Jeremiah that mourned the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred not long after the death of Josiah. It is highly likely that the lament mentioned in 2 Chronicles 35:25 is included in Lamentations. It is perhaps in chapter 3, where the tone of the lament changes. There seems to be continuity between 2:22 and 4:1. Chapter 2 talks of God’s anger toward Jerusalem and the result of it, a thought that is continued in chapter 4. Chapter 3 takes on a more personal tone, which could be indicative of the personal grief experienced by Jeremiah at the death of Josiah. It is very possible that, in lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem (Lamentations 1-2), Jeremiah’s grief at the death of Josiah came freshly to his mind, and he digressed in his lament over Jerusalem to include the sorrow of Josiah’s passing (Lamentations 3). Following this digression, his thoughts returned to Jerusalem (Lamentations 4-5).

Book of the Chronicles (1 & 2 Chronicles)

Nehemiah mentioned a record of the Levites, which was kept in the Book of the Chronicles (Nehemiah 12:23). Since Nehemiah and Ezra were contemporaries, it is probable that Nehemiah was referring to the Chronicles written by Ezra—our 1 and 2 Chronicles. It appears that Nehemiah may have been citing 1 Chronicles 9:10-22 specifically, which contains a record like the one mentioned by Nehemiah.

Book of the Covenant (The Pentateuch)

Four places in the Old Testament refer to the Book of the Covenant: Exodus 24:7; 2 Kings 23:2; 23:21; and 2 Chronicles 34:30. This is another name for the Pentateuch, which is sometimes called the Law (see Deuteronomy 30:10; 31:26; 2 Kings 17:13; et al.) or the Law of Moses (see Joshua 8:31; 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3; et al.).

The Book of Jashar (Non-extant)

Recently, certain scholars have written about the Book of Jashar, especially in light of its “rediscovery.” There are only two quotations from the Book of Jashar: Joshua 10:12-13 and 2 Samuel 1:18-27. From these references, it appears that the Book of Jashar was either a book of songs or poems compiled throughout the ages by the Israelite nation, or a record of upright individuals among the Israelites (see McClintock and Strong, 1968, 4:785). The word “Jashar” is commonly translated “just” or “upright,” but some scholars contend that it may be a corruption of the Hebrew word for “song” (Christensen, 1998, 14[5]:27).
Currently, five works claim to be the Book of Jashar, but all are spurious or recent compositions. The most popular of these is a manuscript forged by the Rosicrucians, a secret society dating back to the seventeenth century. The original supposedly was “found” by Alcuin—an Anglo-Saxon from Northumbria—in Gazna, Persia, and translated at some point during the eighth century A.D. The translation, which is the manuscript that is extant today, was “rediscovered” in 1721 and printed in London in 1751. This writing—which continues to be published despite the lack of evidence for its authenticity—is viewed to be a forgery produced no earlier than the eighteenth century (see Christensen, 14[5]:30; McClintock, 4:768-788).
The Book of Jashar was used as source material by Joshua, as well as by Gad and Nathan. It no longer exists in its original form, and the five different recent works are almost universally rejected as forgeries.

The Book of the Wars of Yahweh (Non-extant)

Also called the Book of the Wars of the Lord, this composition is quoted in Numbers 21:14. The quotation is in lyrical form, so it is possibly a book of poetry or a hymnal. Some have suggested that the Book of Jashar and the Book of the Wars of Yahweh are the same work (Christensen, 14[5]:30). Moses quoted it, so the date of its composition must have been prior to the completion of the Pentateuch, perhaps during the wanderings in the wilderness. Nothing else is known about it, and it survives only in Moses’ quotation.

Other Old Testament Works (Non-extant)

Many of the “lost books” actually exist either in a condensed form or under another name. However, some compositions now exist as mere citations in the Old Testament. The History of Nathan the Prophet, Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and Visions of Iddo the Seer are all cited together (2 Chronicles 9:29). If this is a form similar to the 1 Chronicles 29:29 reference to Samuel (using the composite authors for the citation), then it is possible that this was a single compilation cited by mentioning its authors. The same can be said of the Acts of Shemaiah the Prophet and Iddo the Seer (2 Chronicles 12:15). Another possibility is that these, along with the Acts of Jehu Son of Hanani (2 Chronicles 20:34), are all sections in a single work titled Acts of the Seers, which is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 33:19. Since the authors were prophets or seers, their works could have been gathered into a single book of prophetic revelation, similar to the manner in which the works of the twelve minor prophets were gathered into a single book (the Twelve Prophets). It is possible that Ezra used the composite work (if they were placed together), or the individual works, as additional source material in composing Chronicles, or that he cited them in the same manner as the single historical work. So far as we know, these books no longer exist, except in name.
Two other non-extant, but cited, works are commentaries on certain books. The Midrash of the Prophet Iddo (2 Chronicles 13:22) was a commentary on a specific writing that contained the record of King Abijah of Judah. [NOTE: A midrash is a Jewish commentary, sometimes translated as “annals” or “commentary.”] Perhaps the work on which Iddo wrote his commentary was the original source used by Jeremiah and Ezra to compose Kings and Chronicles, respectively. Another possibility is that it was Kings itself. The Midrash on the Book of Kings (2 Chronicles 24:27) was possibly a commentary on either Jeremiah’s Kings or the original source for Kings and Chronicles. These midrashim could have been a single work, with the two citations referring to different parts of it. Ezra used these midrashim either as sources for his inspired composition of Chronicles, or as places to look if the reader wanted more information—but the originals have been lost.
Two remaining Old Testament-era books no longer exist except through citations: the Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia, and a book by Samuel. The Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia is mentioned in Esther 10:2. This is not considered a “lost book” of the Bible, because it was the official record of the Persian Empire, not an inspired source. It seems to be referenced in Esther 2:23 and 6:1, where the King of Persia is shown placing records in the book and reading from it. The Book of Esther mentions this contemporary Gentile source in order to point the early reader to further details about the Persian Empire, similar to Paul’s quotations from the Cretan poet Epimenides and the Cilician poet Aratus to make his point in Acts 17:28 (Bruce, 1977, p. 44). The Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia is a lost secular historical record. It is not a lost biblical record.
Recorded in 1 Samuel 10:25 is Samuel’s writing of a book concerning the “behavior of royalty.” The biblical record said that he had “laid it up before the Lord,” but nowhere do we find anything that bears the markings of this book. The citation possibly could be a reference to the part of Samuel composed by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1-24).
To summarize, eight of the “missing” Old Testament books probably are referring to Samuel, Isaiah, Chronicles, the Pentateuch, and Lamentations. Eight others appear to refer to sections of a single source used by the inspired Old Testament writers, making it only one “lost” historical record. Six others were written by prophets and seers, and might have been sections in a non-extant prophetic work known as the Book of the Seers. Two more were commentaries, which also could have been a single work, and two more were books of hymns or poetry. Therefore, the original number of Old Testament-era “lost books,” twenty-eight, actually numbers only a half-dozen. However, along with the “missing” books of the Old Testament era, there are two epistles referred to in the New Testament that some consider “lost books.”

Paul’s Letter to the Laodiceans

Paul, in Colossians 4:16, mentioned an epistle that he sent to the church at Laodicea. Since an epistle by this name is not found in our New Testament, some have claimed that it is non-extant. While this is one option, there are other possibilities. Some scholars say that it may actually exist in the canon of the Bible, but under a different name. According to this theory, Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians was written as an encyclical letter, meaning that it did not have one single destination. There is internal and external evidence to support this theory. Certain characteristics of the letter (like the omission of the phrase “in Ephesus” from Ephesians 1:1 in certain reliable manuscripts), the fact that some early Christians were not aware of the “in Ephesus” for verse 1, and a heretical reference to Ephesians as Paul’s epistle to the Laodiceans, appear to support this theory (Metzger, 2000, p. 532). Yet, the possibility remains that Paul’s letter to Laodicea was lost somewhere, perhaps in Asia Minor, before it could be copied (or the copies were destroyed or lost as well). [Passing mention should be made of a spurious epistle from the fourth century that claimed to be Paul’s letter to Laodicea (Bruce, 1988, pp. 237-240). ]
However, there is another possibility. The text never stated that the epistle was from Paul to Laodicea. It simply says that the Colossian church was to procure a certain letter in the possession of the Laodicean church. This would mean that the church at Laodicea probably had some canonical writing that Paul wanted the Colossian church to read, which would mean that there is no missing Laodicean letter. Of the three explanations (lost Laodicean letter, encyclical Ephesians, or canonical epistle in the possession of the Laodiceans), the latter appears to make the most sense. Most likely, the “missing” epistle to the Laodiceans was just a canonical epistle in the possession of the church in that city. Apparently, there was a section of it that Paul desired the Colossian brethren to read, and so he gave them directions for its procurement.

Paul’s First Corinthian Letter

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to Paul’s missing previous Corinthian letter. Technically, the epistles of 1 and 2 Corinthians could be called more properly 2 and 3 Corinthians, because Paul actually did write an earlier letter to the church in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul said: “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.” While some would argue that Paul is referring to a previous section of 1 Corinthians (perhaps 5:1-8) rather than referring to a previous epistle, he then continued (in verse 10) to explain exactly what he meant by that statement, which is not what is said in 5:1-8. After explaining what the statement from the previous letter meant, Paul continued in 5:11 by showing the contrasting point, “But now I have written to you...”—explaining the difference between the statement from the previous epistle and the one from our 1 Corinthians.
What are we to say? This truly is a lost writing of the apostle Paul, and nothing is known about it except that it existed, it was sent to the Corinthian church, and it dealt with sexual immorality. With this book, and with the other “lost books,” we now must ask the question...

Do We Really Need These Books?

When mentioning the “lost books” of the Bible, many people wonder, “Why do we no longer have these books?,” and “Do we really need them?” First, some of the so-called “lost books” probably are references to inspired books that still exist, but by another name. Others were historical references used as sources for inspired books, such as Kings and Chronicles, and so the Jews saw no need to treat them with special reverence, nor to strive to preserve them. Some were books of poetry or song that were uninspired, but served as a record of Hebrew culture. Others were non-Hebrew sources, making them non-biblical compositions and therefore not canonical writings. Many of these “lost books” probably are references to sections of the same work, making the actual number of non-extant books cited in the Bible less than a dozen. However, we must face the fact that some compositions cited by the Old and New Testament writers no longer exist.
While under subjugation to the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires, the Jews ultimately were able to preserve only those books that were holy and inspired—everything else was destroyed or lost. While this is unfortunate, it should not affect our faith adversely. The books we have are inspired, and came from inspired men who sometimes mentioned non-inspired sources for recording historical fact, giving places to find additional information, or simply to make a point. These men, like modern researchers, felt compelled to cite their sources, but did not intend these sources to become writings on a par with Scripture. The missing books that are cited in the Old Testament apparently did not bother the Jews, who recorded in the first century A.D. that their writings consisted of only twenty-two to twenty-four works that correspond exactly to our thirty-nine, except for a difference in order and division (Josephus, 1987, Against Apion, 1:38-40; Bruce, 1988, pp. 28-34; Rodkinson, 1918, V:44-45). Obviously, the “lost books” did not present a problem to Jesus and the apostles, who accepted the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) as all they needed. They quoted from none of these books, and the only things they quoted as Scripture were the books of the Old Testament. To accept that God allowed the inspired writers to employ sources in composing historical books of the Bible does not negate inspiration by the Holy Spirit. If these men used sources, God still guided them by the Holy Spirit to correct, compile, and add to the uninspired source material. One of the gospel writers (Luke) apparently consulted various sources in compiling his letter (Luke 1:1-4). As was previously mentioned, Paul quoted Epimenides and Aratus in Acts 17, and quoted Epimenides again in Titus 1:12. It was not uncommon for the authors of the Bible to use or quote, by inspiration, either uninspired works or inspired works that no longer exist.
God obviously did not intend certain works to be preserved, because His hand would have guided their perpetuation, just as He guided the continuation of the canonical books. Like the lost Corinthian letter, it is likely that other inspired books were written that God intended for a particular historical setting, but did not intend to be preserved in the canon of the Bible. God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3), and our knowledge of Him is complete through the revealed Word. None of the books God intended to be in the Bible is lost, and the phrase “lost books” refers only to those books of which no record exists. Whatever these “lost books” contained is irrelevant, because we have the Word of God exactly as He wanted us to have it—nothing more, and certainly nothing less.


Bruce, F.F. (1977), The Defense of the Gospel in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Bruce, F.F. (1988), The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Christensen, Duane (1998), “Lost Books of the Bible,” Bible Review, 14[5]:24-31, October.
Franceschini, Massimo (2002), “Lost Books,” [On-line], URL: http://www.bibleman.net/Lost_Books.htm.
Josephus, Flavius (1987), The Works of Josephus, trans. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
McClintock, John and James Strong (1968 reprint), Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Metzger, Bruce M. (2000), A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft), second edition.
Rodkinson, Michael L. (1918), New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud (Boston, MA: The Talmud Society), [On-line Version], URL: http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/talmud.htm, ed. J.B. Hare.

Why does God Sometimes Repent? by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


Why does God Sometimes Repent?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


Why did God “repent” regarding his decision to create man, and to destroy the city of Nineveh?


On occasion, within Scripture we find the comment made that God “repented” of certain actions (or intended actions) on His part. For example, in Genesis 6 and Jonah 3, we find the following statements:
And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the ground; both man, and beast, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens; for it repenteth me that I have made them (Genesis 6:6-7, emp. added). And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not (Jonah 3:10, emp. added).
Such texts represent God supposedly changing His mind and reversing His course of action (i.e., He “repented” of something). The adverb “supposedly” in the previous sentence, however, was chosen deliberately, since in each of the situations discussing God’s repentance, the change of heart or action actually occurred in man, not in God. Jehovah is just (Psalm 7:11, NKJV), and His laws are invariant. Therefore, when man, acting with free will, behaves in a manner worthy of the teaching he has received, God considers him righteous. The converse applies for transgressions of that law.
For instance, during the Patriarchal Age in which they were living, Noah and his contemporaries had received instructions on how to live righteously (see 1 Peter 3:18-20), and as long as they continued in this manner, God’s presence and blessings would abide with them. But when they became sinful and unrepentant, He no longer could condone their actions. As a consequence of their sinful rebelliousness, God withdrew His spirit (Genesis 6:3), and pledged to send a flood to destroy all mankind except Noah and his immediate family (6:7). God was grieved (6:6), not because He did not know that this series of events would happen, or because He somehow “regretted” having created man in the first place, but because, having given man the choice to serve Him or reject Him, man had chosen the latter with such unanimity. When we hear God described in terms such as “sad,” “joyful,” etc. that frequently are used to describe human emotions, we must remember that such descriptions are not intended to imply that God is emotionally vulnerable in the same way that humans are (cf. Acts 17:25). Rather, such descriptions are intended to show that God is compassionate and loving.
The examples described above (from Genesis 6 and Jonah 3) represent situations in which God’s actions were necessary because of the fact that man, although created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), had morphed into a sinful creature. Thus, God’s decision to judge man via a universal flood, or to destroy the inhabitants of an entire city, was dependent upon man’s (negative) response to the conditions of righteousness that God had imposed at an earlier time via His divine commands. Such conditions might have been stated in explicit terms, or they could have been simply implied. In the case at Nineveh, for example, when Jonah preached that God would destroy the city, the conditions obviously were implied. A promise or threat does not have to be couched in a specific form to have meaning. God did not have to say in explicit terms, “If the people of Nineveh repent, then I will spare them; otherwise, I will destroy them.” The fact that the people did repent after Jonah’s preaching, shows that they understood God’s intended message. To use a more modern example; if a young child is about to touch something that he should not, and a parent firmly says to him, “No, don’t touch that,” the child fully understands that touching violates the wishes of the parent, and that punishment may ensue—even though the implied punishment is not specifically mentioned. Consider the following passage.
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them (Jeremiah 18:7-10).
This passage is an explicit statement of the very principle under consideration here—i.e., God’s plan or rule of conduct in dealing with man. God’s promises and/or threats may be either directly stated, or implied. Whenever God, in reacting to a change of character or intent in certain persons, does not execute the threats, nor fulfill the promises He made to them, the reason is clear. If a wicked man turns from his wickedness, God no longer holds the threat against him. If a righteous man turns from righteousness to wickedness, God withdraws the previously promised blessings. It is precisely because God is immutable that His relationship to men, and/or His treatment of them, varies with the changes in their conduct. When the Scriptures thus speak of “God having repented,” the wording is accommodative (viz., written from a human vantage point). As Samuel Davidson has well said: “When repentance is attributed to God, it implies a change in His mode of dealing with men, such as would indicate on their part a change of purpose” (1843, p. 527). From a human vantage point, we view God’s act(s) as “repentance.” But, in reality, God’s immutable law has not changed one iota; only the response of man to that law has changed. Seen in this light, God cannot be accused of any self-contradictory attributes.
Men sometimes charge Jehovah with being an arbitrary Tyrant. They suggest that He has given capricious and meaningless commands, thereby taunting humanity and frustrating true loyalty. Such a charge cannot be substantiated, however, in light of the following principles.
First, the notion that God does anything whimsically or arbitrarily is not consistent with what we know of His wise and orderly nature. All that we are able to learn about the Lord, both from nature (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20, etc.), and through His verbal revelation (John Psalm 119:160; John 17:17), declares that His activity is characterized by deliberate intelligence. The ancient Greeks even called the Universe “Cosmos” —a term suggesting the arrangement of order that is displayed so marvelously in the material realm. Even the Bible, with its ingenious development and unfolding plan of redemption, pays tribute to the wisdom God.
Second, a multitude of evidences surrounding us, both in the book of nature and in the book of inspiration, argues for the love and benevolence of our Creator. Nowhere is this demonstrated more forcefully than in the gift of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all who come unto Him in humble obedience (Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 1:5; 8:32; 16:26). It therefore is not consistent with the known character of God to suggest that He ever would make demands upon the creature of His own image (Genesis 1:26), simply to taunt or to frustrate him.
Third, we must recognize that God is God, and man is man, and, due to the nature of the difference between them, we cannot always understand why God has acted as He has. As the apostle Paul put it: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!” (Romans 11:33). On the basis of what we do understand, though, we must learn to trust Him Who always does that which is right (Genesis 18:25).
Fourth, for the studious and discerning person, the wisdom in Heaven’s commands usually is apparent. For example, moral obligations, such as “do not murder,” or “do not commit adultery,” obviously are designed to enhance a peaceable social order, which, of course, facilitates the type of environment in which Jehovah’s redemptive plan can flourish. Morality is reasonable, as even the atheist admits. The late evolutionist of Harvard University, George Gaylord Simpson, stated that although “man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind,” nonetheless “good and evil, right and wrong, concepts irrelevant in nature except from the human viewpoint, become real and pressing features of the whole cosmos as viewed morally because morals arise only in man” (1967, p. 346, emp. added). In his book, Ethics Without God, humanist Kai Nielsen admitted that to ask, “Is murder evil?,” is to ask a self-answering question (1973, p. 16). So far as creatures of the Earth are concerned, morality is a uniquely human trait—a fact that even unbelievers concede.
Sometimes, our greatest problem is in failing to see the reason for certain divinely instructed obligations. Let me introduce just one prominent example. Why did God command Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice? Does not this incident “smack” of capriciousness—a sort of cruel hoax upon the patriarch? Not in the least. First, it was intended as a test of Abraham’s obedience. Isaac was the only son of Abraham and Sarah, and the heir to God’s promise of a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3), so how better for God to test Abraham’s loyalty to Him than by asking Abraham to give up what was perhaps his greatest possession—his only son (cf. Hebrews 11:17-19). [God, of course, by preventing Abraham from completing the sacrifice, obviously never intended for Isaac to be killed, but merely wanted to demonstrate Abraham’s obedience—possibly for the sake of Isaac as much as for Abraham; cf. A.P. Staff, 2003.] Abraham’s obedient faith has been a blessing to countless thousands across the centuries.
Second, we must remember that the Canaanites of that region practiced human sacrifice as a way of life. This circumstance afforded an excellent opportunity of showing that an animal sacrifice was an acceptable atonement in exchange for human life. Third, this case provided a remarkable way to prefigure the death and resurrection of Christ, and thus prepare for that coming climax in the divine scheme (cf. Hebrews 11:17-19; John 8:56). It thus was not an arbitrary demand.
The more one carefully studies the nature of the God of the Bible, the more the “mystery” surrounding His actions dissipates. Let us, therefore, trust, and submit to Him Who has demonstrated His concern for us in a myriad of ways.


Davidson, Samuel (1843), Sacred Hermeneutis Developed and Applied; Including a History of Biblical Interpretation from the Earliest of the Fathers to the Reformation (Edinburgh: Thomas Clark).
Nielsen, Kai (1973), Ethics Without God (London: Pemberton).
Simpson, George Gaylord (1967), The Meaning of Evolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), revised edition.
A.P. Staff (2003), “Did God Tempt Abraham?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/589.

Preaching "Jesus" Includes Preaching Baptism by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Preaching "Jesus" Includes Preaching Baptism

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

It is very common today to hear people say something like, “We just need to preach Jesus and not trouble each other with the Bible’s peripheral teachings.” Or, “We mustn’t get caught up in the details, just in Jesus.” Oftentimes, such things are said in an attempt to avert controversy. “Since all professed Christians believe in Jesus, but not all are united upon His doctrine, let’s just talk about Jesus, and leave the secondary issues alone.”
One of these alleged “secondary” or “peripheral” teachings that frequently is avoided in religious discussions is that of baptism. Since so much controversy has been “caused” by this subject through the years (e.g., Are we to immerse or sprinkle? Should we baptize infants? Is baptism really necessary for salvation?), some believe we can, and should, “teach Jesus” to the lost world, and somehow bring them to Christ, without ever introducing the doctrine of baptism. This may sound like a good idea to some, but we must ask, “Is this a biblical idea?” Did the apostles, prophets, preachers, and teachers of the first century have this mindset? Did they distinguish between “preaching Jesus” and “preaching baptism”?
In Acts 8:26-40, we read how the Spirit of God instructed Philip to approach a non-Christian from Ethiopia, a man of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. When Philip came near the Ethiopian eunuch, he sat beside him, and, beginning at Isaiah 53, “preached Jesus to him” (vs. 35). Now, if Philip had the mindset of some twenty-first-century Bible teachers, his preaching would have been limited to only the “central truths” about Jesus (e.g., His death, burial, and resurrection; His deity; etc.). The very next verse, however, indicates that Philip’s preaching of “Jesus” must have included preaching on the importance of baptism, for the Bible indicates that the eunuch asked, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (vs. 36). From this one question, we learn that Philip had to have instructed the eunuch previously concerning the necessity of water baptism. Respected Bible scholar J.W. McGarvey commented on this verse, saying,
He [the Ethiopian—EL] had learned not only that there was such an ordinance, but that it was the duty and the privilege of men to observe it when properly prepared for it. He also desired to be baptized, and his only question was whether he was a suitable candidate. As he had known nothing of Jesus as the Christ up to the moment of Philip’s preaching to him, he had certainly learned nothing definite concerning the baptism which Jesus had ordained; and we are consequently forced to the conclusion that what he now knew he had learned from Philip’s preaching (n.d., pp. 157-158).
Indeed, Philip included baptism in his preaching of Jesus. Unlike some preachers today, there was no hesitation about meshing Jesus and baptism together. Why would there be? After all, Jesus stressed the necessity of baptism before His ascension into heaven (Matthew 28:18-20; cf. Mark 16:15). Peter commanded those who heard him preach on Pentecost to “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). Philip had preached it among the Samaritans (Acts 8:12-13). And it was a part of the lesson Ananias taught Saul (Acts 22:16). As H. Leo Boles once wrote, “No inspired preacher of the gospel then preached Jesus without preaching the baptism that Jesus commanded; no gospel preacher today can preach Jesus without preaching the command to be baptized” (1941, p. 138). Amen.


Boles, H. Leo (1941), Commentary on Acts of the Apostles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
McGarvey, J.W. (no date), New Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Delight, AR: Gospel Light)

The Unbelievers’ Examination of Jesus’ Miracle in John 9 by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Unbelievers’ Examination of Jesus’ Miracle in John 9

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Christians believe that Jesus worked miracles for two primary reasons: (1) a supernatural Creator exists (see Lyons and Butt, 2014), Who is capable of working supernatural miracles in accordance with His will, and (2) the Bible is the inspired Word of God (see Butt and Lyons, 2015), which testifies to the miracles of Christ. Of significance is the fact that the Bible does not record the miracles of Christ in a flippant, feel-good, hocus-pocus type of manner. On the contrary, the accounts of Jesus’ miracles are consistently characterized with reason and restraint. At times, there was great investigation that took place—even by Jesus’ enemies—in hopes of discrediting Him.
Consider, for example, the occasion on which Jesus gave sight to a man born blind (John 9:7). After receiving his sight, neighbors and others examined him, inquiring how he was now able to see. Later he was brought to the Pharisees, and they scrutinized him. They questioned him about the One who caused him to see, and then argued among themselves about the character of Jesus. They called for the parents of the man who was blind, and questioned them about their son’s blindness. Then they called upon the man born blind again, and a second time questioned him about how Jesus opened his eyes. Finally, when they realized the man would not cave in to their intimidating interrogation and say some negative thing about Jesus, “they cast him out” (9:34). They rejected him, and the One Who made him well. Yet, they were unable to deny the miracle that Jesus performed. It was known by countless witnesses that this man was born blind, but, after coming in contact with Jesus, his eyes were opened.
The entire case of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9 was scrutinized thoroughly by Jesus’ enemies, yet even they had to admit that Jesus caused the man to see (John 9:16,17,24,26). It was a fact, accepted, not by credulous youths, but by hardened, veteran enemies of Christ. Considering that positive testimony from hostile witnesses is the weightiest kind of testimony in a court of law, such reactions from Jesus’ enemies are extremely noteworthy in any discussion on the miracles of Christ.


Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1180.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2014), “7 Reasons to Believe in God,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1175&article=2452.

Microcomputers in the Brain Tabulate Design by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Microcomputers in the Brain Tabulate Design

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.

I’m typing this article on a personal computer. You are most likely reading it on some form of one, whether a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet (which are really just small computers). These amazing devices are all around us. Brilliant researchers have spent billions of dollars designing the most functional computers to help people all over the world achieve their goals. You may well know, however, that one computer is more powerful than any that humans have been able to design—the human brain. As LiveScience writer Charles Choi stated, “The most powerful computer known is the brain” (2013).
But a fresh look into the brain has revealed something amazing. This supercomputer is even more “super” than we thought. Inside the brain are short branches of cells called dendrites. These dendrites have long been thought to be simple transporters of nerve signals to brain neurons. Recent discoveries by neuroscientist Spencer Smith and his team of researchers suggest, however, that dendrites do more than passively transfer information (Choi, 2013). It appears that dendrites are actually minicomputers that process information instead of simply transferring it. Because of this discovery, Smith stated: “Suddenly, it's as if the processing power of the brain is much greater than we had originally thought” (as quoted in Choi, 2013).
To what did Smith compare this remarkable discovery? He illustrated the results in this way: “Imagine you’re reverse engineering a piece of alien technology, and what you thought was simple wiring turns out to be transistors that compute information” (as quoted in Choi, 2013).
The implication of Smith’s statement about alien technology could not be clearer—the brain is comparable to (but surpasses) any technology humans have designed. Therefore, if we were to realistically compare it to something, it would have to be technology produced by brilliant aliens whose mental capabilities must be far superior to that of humans. But wait, the technology that we at first recognized to be superior, we discover to be even more advanced than we originally thought. What does that say about the brain? It must have been designed by a Being with incomprehensible intelligence. The idea of mindless evolution simply cannot account for the computer, no, the supercomputer filled with minicomputers, we call the brain. It really is a no-brainer, there must be a God.


Choi, Charles (2013), “‘Minicomputers’ Live Inside the Brain,” LiveScience, http://news.yahoo.com/minicomputers-live-inside-human-brain-113240564.html.

Tolerance, Diversity, and Division by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Tolerance, Diversity, and Division

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One of the “big myths” of society that surely will go down in history as a significant contributor to the moral decline of America is the incessant clamor by liberals for “tolerance” and “diversity.” They insist that those who oppose same-sex marriage are “intolerant” and lack basic human “compassion.” They maintain that “diversity” and “tolerance” (code words for acceptance of homosexuality) are healthy for society, and that those who oppose homosexuality are merely “demonizing people for political advantage” and “perpetuating division” (Obama, 2004).
Satan is slick. He uses “devices,” “wiles,” and “snares” (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:26) to distort people’s thinking. He is a shrewd master of advancing his agenda by disguising the immoral with a righteous veneer. If people give in to emotional impulse, rather than thinking rationally, logically, and biblically, they will swallow the propaganda and embrace Satan’s ploys.
The fallacy of such “reasoning” is made apparent when placed in syllogistic form:
1. Everyone should be compassionate, tolerant, and accepting of diversity;
2. Homosexuality is one form of diversity;
3. Therefore, homosexuality should be accepted/approved; to fail to do so is intolerant and divisive.
Few would disagree with the first premise. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves every person, and He requires Christians to do the same. However, toleration cannot and must not extend to any practice, action, or behavior that is evil, immoral, and sinful, i.e., out of harmony with God’s will.
Using the above line of reasoning, the tolerance/diversity umbrella ought logically to apply to pedophilia, necrophilia, incest, bestiality, and every other aberrant sexual behavior. Similarly, the same principle ought to apply to murder, stealing, drug dealing, and every other illegal action. Are we simply to cancel all laws in the United States that govern human behavior—on the guise that to enforce them is “intolerant”? Are we to open the doors of all the prisons in the country and free the criminals—on the grounds that to fail to do so is to “perpetuate division”? By such foolish thinking, placing anyone in prison constitutes a lack of “compassion.”
The tolerance/diversity viewpoint is completely nonsensical. If applied consistently and thoroughly, it would lead to social anarchy, rampant lawlessness, and the destruction of society. Opposing homosexuality, abortion, and a host of other social and moral evils is not incompatible with compassion and tolerance. One can oppose and punish murder while still maintaining compassion for the murderer. The overarching, governing principle is the recognition of and submission to the absolute standard of morality given to the human race by the God of the Bible—the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Those who reject that standard, thereby elevating their own fleshly appetites above the transcendent Creator, one day will face the consequences: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Those who consider themselves more tolerant and compassionate than God need a healthy dose of humility to alter their skewed perspective:
Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word (Isaiah 66:1-2, emp. added).
May we be among “those that tremble at the commandment of our God” (Ezra 10:3).


Obama, Barack (2004), “Obama on Marriage,” Windy City Times, November 2, [On-line], URL: “http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=4018.

Does God Dwell in Light or Darkness? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Does God Dwell in Light or Darkness?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In the February 12, 2009 Butt/Barker Debate on the existence of the God of the Bible, atheist Dan Barker spent nearly two-thirds of his opening 15-minute speech alleging that the Bible’s portrayal of God is contradictory. Barker alleged several discrepancies (most all of which we have answered elsewhere on our Web site), including that God cannot logically dwell in light and darkness. Twelve minutes and five seconds into his first speech, Dan Barker asserted:
Does God live in light or does God live in darkness? First Timothy 6: “The King of kings, Lord of Lords dwelling in the light which no man can approach.” James 1:17: He’s “the Father of lights” and on and on we see God is light. There’s no darkness in him at all. However, in 1 Kings 8: “Then spake Solomon: “The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.” First Samuel 22: “He made darkness pavilions round about Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the sky.” Psalm 18:11: “He made darkness his secret place.” So, God lives in light. God lives in darkness.
Do these verses paint a contradictory picture of God? Not at all.
First, the Bible uses the terms “light” and “darkness” in several ways and in a variety of contexts. God’s dwelling place in the spiritual realm of the heaven of heavens is filled with “unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16), because His unrestrained glory illuminates it (Revelation 21:23). God made light in the physical Universe during the six-day Creation and “called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night” (Genesis 1:5). He made the Sun, Moon, and stars on day four of Creation, thus making Him the “Father of lights” (James 1:17). Jesus was miraculously transfigured before three of His apostles and “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:2). The psalmist referred to light in the sense of divine instruction: “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (119:130). Conversely, the psalmist referred to those who “do not know, nor...understand,” as those who “walk about in darkness” (82:5). While addressing the subjects of sin and righteousness, the apostle John used the terms light and darkness symbolically: “God is light (i.e., holy) and in Him is no darkness (i.e., sin)” (1 John 1:5). This same apostle referred to Jesus as “the Light” throughout his gospel account (1:4-9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:34-36,46), and Matthew recorded that Jesus spoke of His disciples as “the light of the world” (5:14-16), reflectors of His righteousness.
Notice that Barker never hinted at the different ways in which the word “light” and “darkness” are used in Scripture. He simply positioned a phrase like that found in James 1:17 regarding God being the Creator (“Father”) of lights against the poetic statement found in Psalm 18:11 (“He made darkness his secret place”) and expected his listeners to believe they are contradictory. But the fact is, God being the Father of the Sun, Moon, and stars made on day four, has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether God dwells in darkness or light. What God has created and where God dwells are two different things. One cannot fault Scripture when a critic compares apples and oranges. For there to be a legitimate contradiction, the same thing must be under consideration.
Second, the passage in 1 Kings 8:12 that Barker noted (“The Lord said that he would dwell in thick darkness”—KJV) is not discussing God’s dwelling place in the heaven of heavens. First Kings 8:12-13, along with 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, discuss God’s presence in the physical temple of God in Jerusalem. Just as “the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” in the days of Moses (Exodus 40:34), so “the house of the Lord [the temple], was filled with a cloud” (2 Chronicles 5:13). Similarly, the highly poetic wording in Psalm 18 and 1 Samuel 22 (a quotation of Psalm 18) pictures God, not on His majestic, glorious throne in heaven, but as One Who “came down” from heaven (Psalm 18:9), “flew upon the wings of the wind” (18:10), and delivered his servant David from his enemies while making “darkness His secret place” and “His canopy...dark waters” (18:11). As H.C. Leupold commented:
The picture is that of a violent storm—a figure so frequently used in the Scriptures to furnish the accompaniment of God’s approach, He Himself being as it were housed in the storm. From the time of Sinai onward these figures become standard (cf. Exod. 19:16-18; Judg. 5:4,5; Ps. 68:7;77:16-18; Is. 29:6; 30:27ff.; etc.). As the storm sweeps near, He is in it. The thick storm clouds are the material upon which He rides (1959, pp. 166-167).
Once again, when a person takes the time to carefully inspect Dan Barker’s allegation that the Bible paints a contradictory picture of God, the sincere truth seeker will discover the vacuousness of his charges. Time and again, both in his debate with Kyle Butt on the existence of the God of the Bible and in his writings, Barker has disregarded the fact that for a legitimate contradiction to exist, one must be referring to the same person, place, or thing, at the same time, in the same sense (for more information, see Lyons, 2003 and 2005).
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), The Butt/Barker Debate (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Leupold, H.C. (1959), Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Lyons, Eric (2003), The Anvil Rings: Volume 1 (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Lyons, Eric (2005), The Anvil Rings: Volume 2 (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).



Man's words

Canons of Dordt - Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine
Article 11

But when God accomplishes His good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion. He not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illuminates their minds by His Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God; but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit He pervades the inmost recesses of man; He opens the closed and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised; infuses new qualities into the will, which, though heretofore dead, He quickens; from being evil, disobedient, and refractory, He renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.
Article 12

And this is that regeneration so highly extolled in Scripture, that renewal, new creation, resurrection from the dead, making alive, which God works in us without our aid. But this is in no wise effected merely by the external preaching of the gospel, by moral suasion, or such a mode of operation that, after God has performed His part, it still remains in the power of man to be regenerated or not, to be converted or to continue unconverted; but it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation or the resurrection from the dead, as the Scriptures inspired by the Author of this work declares; so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe. Whereupon the will thus renewed is not only actuated and influenced by God, but in consequence of this influence becomes itself active. Wherefore also man himself is rightly said to believe and repent by virtue of that grace received.
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"We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ with all His merits, appropriates Him, and seeks nothing more besides Him." (The Belgic Confession, Article XXII)
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"But they do not consider, that when the apostle makes hearing the source of faith, he only describes the ordinary economy and dispensation of the Lord, which he generally observes in the calling of his people; but does not prescribe a perpetual rule for him, precluding his employment of any other method; which he has certainly employed in the calling of many, to whom he has given the true knowledge of himself in an internal manner, by the illumination of his Spirit, without the intervention of any preaching." (Calvin's Institutes, the Westminster Press, Vol. II, page 622)
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"The Calvinist, on the other hand, says that in the last instance the difference lies with God and not with man. In the one man the Spirit is not working in a saving way, and because the man is spiritually dead, he cannot believe, even though he hears the external preaching of the Word and perhaps reads it for himself many times. In another man, however, the Holy Spirit works irresistibly, regenerating him so that he understands fully that he is a sinner and needs God, and therefore, wants to be saved and to believe." (The Five Points of Calvinism, Edwin H. Palmer, Th.D., page 48)
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"Thus the once dead sinner is drawn to Christ by the inward supernatural call of the Spirit who through regeneration makes him alive and creates within him faith and repentance.

Although the general outward call of the gospel can be, and often is, rejected, the special inward call of the Spirit never fails to result in the conversion of those to whom it is made. This special call is not made to all sinners but it is issued to the elect only! The Spirit is in no way dependent upon their help or cooperation for success in His work of bringing them to Christ. It is for this reason that Calvinists speak of the Spirit's call and of God's grace in saving sinners as being "efficacious", "invincible", or "irresistible". For the grace which the Holy Spirit extends to the elect cannot be thwarted or refused, it never fails to bring them to true faith in Christ!" (The Five Points of Calvinism, Steele and Thomas, page 49)
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Q. Is Calvinism's "Irresistible Grace" true, OR does GOD'S WORD teach that faith comes only by hearing the Word of God?
"So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Rom. 10:17
"Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name." John 20:30-31
"Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word." John 17:20
"But many of them that heard the word believed." Acts 4:4
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Rom. 1:16
"Send to Joppa, and fetch Simon, whose surname is Peter; who shall speak unto thee words, whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house." Acts 11:13b-14
"And he (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks....and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." Acts 18:4, 8b
"Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures....receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." James 1:18, 21b
"...I (Paul) begat you through the gospel." I Cor. 4:15c
"Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, ... by which also ye are saved" 1 Cor. 15:1-2
The sower went forth to sow his seed....Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God....And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience. Luke 8:5, 11, 15
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Q. Where does GOD'S WORD teach that the Holy Spirit directly, miraculously, and irresistibly opens the hearts of unbelieving, unrepentant sinners, and regenerates them?
Q. According to GOD'S WORD, did God open Lydia's heart by the direct irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit, OR did God open Lydia's heart by the gospel preached by Paul and by Lydia hearing this gospel preached?
"And when he (Paul) had seen the vision, straightway we sought to go forth into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them ... And on the sabbath day we went forth without the gate by a river side, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down, and spake unto the women that were come together. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened to give heed unto the things which were spoken by Paul." Acts 16:10, 13-14
"No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day." John 6:44
Q. Does John 6:44 teach Calvinism's "Irresistible Grace"?
Q. According to GOD'S WORD, in the verse following John 6:44, how does the Father draw men to Christ?
"It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me." John 6:45
"Good and upright is Jehovah: Therefore will he instruct sinners in the way." Psalm 25:8
"...God our Saviour; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." I Tim. 2:3-4
"Jesus answered and said ... Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matt. 11:25, 28-29
"...it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe." I Cor. 1:21
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; ... For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith:" Rom. 1:16-17
"So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Rom. 10:17
Q. Does GOD'S WORD teach that the saints at Ephesus had at one time been dead in trespasses and sins?
"To the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus:" Eph. 1:1
"And you ... when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world,..." Eph. 2:1-2
Q. Does GOD'S WORD teach that these spiritually dead Ephesian sinners, first heard the WORD, then believed and obeyed the WORD, and were then sealed by and given the Holy Spirit?
"...Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise." Eph. 1:12-13 AV
"Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples ... they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus." Acts 19:1, 5
Q. Where does GOD'S WORD teach that the Ephesians or any others, were ever miraculously regenerated by the Holy Spirit before they heard, believed, and obeyed the gospel of Jesus?
Q. Is Calvinism's "Irresistible Grace" true, OR does GOD'S WORD teach that God gives His Holy Spirit only to those who hear, believe, and obey the gospel of His Son?
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you." John 14:16-17
"He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified." John 7:38-39
"And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38
"And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him." Acts 5:32
"And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Gal. 4:6
"To the saints that are at Ephesus ... Christ: in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, -- in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." Eph. 1:1, 12-13
"This only would I learn from you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" Gal. 3:2
"That upon the Gentiles might come the blessing of Abraham in Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Gal. 3:14
Q. Is Calvinism's "Irresistible Grace" true, OR does GOD'S WORD teach that man can resist the truth and in this way can resist, grieve, and quench the Spirit?
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I (Jesus) have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matt. 23:37
"Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth...." II Tim. 3:8 AV
"Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye." Acts 7:51
"Yet many years didst thou bear with them, and testifiedst against them by thy Spirit through thy prophets: yet would they not give ear: therefore gavest thou them into the hand of the peoples of the lands." Neh. 9:30
"But they rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them." Isa. 63:10
"Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" Eph. 4:30
"Quench not the Spirit." I Thess. 5:19

Published in The Old Paths Archive