"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" The Fruit Of The Spirit - III (5:22-23) INTRODUCTION 1. This is our third and final study on "The Fruit Of The Spirit"... a. Fruit born by those who walk in the Spirit, who are led by the Spirit b. As opposed to those who succumb to their carnal lusts, producing the works of the flesh 2. Our first study on the fruit of the Spirit focused on the first triad of graces... a. Love - active good will, toward God and man, that passes knowledge b. Joy - gladness, delight, which is inexpressible and full of glory c. Peace - harmony, concord, that surpasses understanding 3. Our second study examined the second triad of graces... a. Longsuffering - patience, self-restraint in the face of provocation b. Kindness - sweetness of temper that places others at ease, born of mercy c. Goodness - benevolence, kindness in action [The third triad of graces include faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, KJV), and self-control. Thus we note that...] VII. THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS FAITHFULNESS A. THE FAITHFULNESS THE SPIRIT PRODUCES... 1. Grk., pistis - often used in the NT of a conviction or belief in respect to God and Christ 2. But it also is used to describe the quality of "fidelity, faithfulness" a. "the character of one who can be relied on..." - Thayer b. "faithful, to be trusted, reliable..." - Vine c. William Barclay calls it "the virtue of reliability" 3. This virtue, unfortunately, is not too common... a. While many may claim it, the wise man declared it hard to find - Pr 20:6 b. The Psalmist decried the lack of "faithfulness" in his day, describing a condition that sounds much like our situation today - Ps 12:1-2 -- Those "led by the Spirit" will produce the fruit of FAITHFULNESS in their lives B. FAITHFULNESS IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN... 1. Faithfulness is essential for those who would receive the crown of life - Re 2:10 2. Some areas in which we need faithfulness: a. The use of our 'talents' (i.e., abilities, opportunities) - Mt 25:21,24-26 b. Our duties to the church (e.g., its assemblies) - He 10: 24-25 c. Our duties as parents, spouses, children - Ep 6:4; Tit 2:3-5; Ep 5:22-23; 6:1-3 3. Those who are faithful will be blessed by the Lord - Ps 31:23; Pr 28:20 -- Do we manifest that we "walk by the Spirit" in regards to FAITHFULNESS? [Next we observe that...] VIII. THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS GENTLENESS A. THE GENTLENESS (MEEKNESS, KJV) THE SPIRIT PRODUCES... 1. Grk., prautes - gentleness; by implication humility: - meekness - Strong 2. "the ability to bear reproaches and slights with moderation, and not to embark on revenge quickly, and not to be easily provoked to anger, but to be free from bitterness and contentiousness, having tranquillity and stability in the spirit." - Aristotle, On Virtues And Vices 3. Gentleness (or meekness), then, is that virtuous quality by which "we treat all men with perfect courtesy, that we can rebuke without rancor, that we can argue without intolerance, that we can face the truth without resentment, that we can be angry and sin not, that we can be gentle and yet not weak." - Barclay 4. A virtue displayed by both Moses and Jesus - Num 12:3; Mt 11: 28-30 -- Those "led by the Spirit" will produce the fruit of GENTLENESS in their lives B. GENTLENESS IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN... 1. We are to receive the Word of God with meekness (prautes) - Ja 1:21 2. We must approach brethren in error with a spirit of gentleness (prautes) - Ga 6:1 3. We must correct those in opposition with humility (prautes) - 2Ti 2:24-25 4. We are to answer inquiries concerning our hope with meekness (prautes) - 1Pe 3:15 5. Meekness (prautes) is necessary for the Christian man who would be wise - cf. Jm 3:13-18 6. Meekness (prautes) is necessary for the Christian woman who would be precious in the sight of God - 1Pe 3:1-6 -- Do we manifest that we "walk by the Spirit" in regards to GENTLENESS? [Finally, we consider that virtue which is most needed in dealing with fleshly lusts...] IX. THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS SELF-CONTROL A. THE SELF-CONTROL THE SPIRIT PRODUCES... 1. Gr., egkrateia - it comes from the word "kratos" (strength), and means "one holding himself in" - Robertson 2. Thayer defines it as: "the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites" 3. MacKnight adds the thought: "Where this virtue subsists, temptation can have little influence." -- Those "led by the Spirit" will produce the fruit of SELF-CONTROL in their lives B. SELF-CONTROL IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN... 1. This virtue is necessary to overcoming the "works of the flesh" (such as fornication and outbursts of wrath) - cf. Ga 5:19-20 2. The indwelling Spirit is given to the Christian to aid us in this regard - cf. Ro 8:11-14 3. The Spirit's aid comes in response to asking for it in prayer - cf. Ep 3:16,20 4. We must be willing to stand strong in the power of God's might - cf. Ep 6:12-18 -- Do we manifest that we "walk by the Spirit" in regards to SELF-CONTROL? CONCLUSION 1. In brief, the third triad of graces produced by the Spirit in the life of the Christian are... a. Faithfulness - the virtue of reliability, the character of one who can be depended upon b. Gentleness - kind treatment of others, born of humility c. Self-control - the ability to hold oneself in, mastering desires and passions 2. Previously we noted the following contrasts between the Spirit and the flesh... a. Those who walk by the Spirit experience love, joy, and peace b. Those who indulge lusts of the flesh experience hatred, jealousies, and outbursts of wrath c. Those who walk by the Spirit experience longsuffering, kindness, and goodness d. Those who indulge fleshly lusts experience contentions, envy, and selfish ambitions 3. Once more we note the contrast between the Spirit and the flesh... a. Those who walk by the Spirit experience faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control b. Those who indulge fleshly lusts experience jealousies, contentions, and immorality 4. Previously we asked: Which would you rather have...? a. A life infused with love, joy, and peace, by the Spirit of Almighty God? b. A life inflicted by hatred, jealousies, and outbursts of wrath, due to fleshly lusts? c. A life developing longsuffering, kindness, and goodness, with the help of the Holy Spirit? d. A life devastated by contentions, envy, and selfish ambitions, due to your own fleshly lusts? 5. So again we ask: Which would you rather have...? a. A life exuding faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, with the aid of the Spirit? b. A life exhausted by jealousies, contentions, and immorality, due to your own fleshly lusts? Jesus gives us a choice. Through His blood He can cleanse us of sin; through the Spirit He can empower us to live holy and righteous lives. Are we willing to accept His gracious choice...? "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." - Ga 5:16
Did the Patriarchs Know Jehovah by Name?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Can you imagine if a friend whom you have known for years told someone else that you did not know him? Or, what if this friend, whose family name your family has known for generations, and whose first name you personally have known for at least two decades, indicated that you were not aware of his name? Such would likely make you wonder whether this “friend” was a liar or a lunatic. Similarly, some Bible students (and skeptics) have questioned why the Bible says that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know God by His name Jehovah when the book of Genesis indicates that they did.
After Moses first visited Pharaoh regarding the release of the Israelites from bondage, God assured Moses that the Israelites would be liberated. He then added: “I am Jehovah: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah I was not known to them” (Exodus 6:2-3, emp. added; NOTE: All Scripture citations in this article are taken from the American Standard Version). The difficulty that Bible students have with this statement is that the name “Jehovah” (Hebrew Yahweh; translated LORD in most modern versions) appears approximately 160 times in the book of Genesis. Furthermore, “Jehovah” is used between Genesis chapters 12-50 (which deal mainly with the families of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) more than 100 times.
After God provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice (instead of his son, Isaac) on Mount Moriah, Genesis 22:14 says, “Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh. As it is said to this day, in the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided” (emp. added). Years later, Isaac asked his son Jacob (who was deceiving his father in hopes of receiving a blessing), “How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, because Jehovah thy God sent me good speed” (Genesis 27:20, emp. added). How could God tell Moses that “by my name Jehovah I was not known to them” (Exodus 6:3), if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were well aware of the name Jehovah, and even used it in their conversations? Is God a liar? Does the Bible contradict itself on this point? What reasonable answer can be given?
There is no denying the fact that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were aware of God’s name, Jehovah (Yahweh) [cf. Genesis 15:7; 22:14; 24:35,40,42,48,50,51,56; 26:22; 27:20; 49:18; etc.]. As John J. Davis wrote: “[I]n the book of Genesis...the name of Yahweh is introduced in a way which utterly precludes the supposition that it is used proleptically, or that it is anything but a correct account of the incident and the actual term employed” (Davis, 1963, 4:34). Based upon the number of times the word (Yahweh) appears before Exodus 6:3, and the various ways in which it was used, including being a part of compound names that have specific meanings (e.g., Jehovah-jireh, meaning “Jehovah will provide”), it is unwise to argue that the patriarchs in Genesis were unaware of the name Jehovah. So what is the answer to this alleged problem?
Although Bible critics and unbelievers may scoff at any attempt to explain this difficult passage, which they believe is irresolvable, the fact is, a logical explanation exists. The expressions “to know the name of Jehovah” or simply “to know Jehovah” frequently mean more than a mere awareness of His name and existence. Rather, “to know” (from the Hebrew word yada) often means to learn by experience. When Samuel was a boy, the Bible reveals that he “ministered before/unto Jehovah” (1 Samuel 2:18; 3:1), and “increased in favor both with Jehovah, and also with men” (2:26). Later, however, we learn that “Samuel did not yet know Jehovah, neither was the word of Jehovah yet revealed unto him” (1 Samuel 3:7, emp. added). In one sense, Samuel “knew” Jehovah early on, but beginning in 1 Samuel 3:7 his relationship with God changed. From this point forward he began receiving direct revelations from God (cf. 1 Samuel 3:11-14; 8:7-10,22; 9:15-17; 16:1-3; etc.). Comparing this new relationship with God to his previous relationship and knowledge of Him, the author of 1 Samuel could reasonably say that beforehand “Samuel did not yet know Jehovah” (3:7).
According to Gleason Archer, the phrase “to know that I am Jehovah” (or “to know the name of Jehovah”) appears in the Old Testament at least 26 times, and “in every instance it signifies to learn by actual experience that God is Yahweh...” (1982, pp. 66-67). In the book of Exodus alone, the expression “to know” (yada) appears five times in relation to Jehovah, and “[i]n every case it suggests an experiential knowledge of both the person and power of Yahweh. In every case the knowledge of Yahweh is connected with some deed or act of Yahweh which in some way reveals both His person and power” (Davis, 4:39). For example, in the very passage that has drawn so much criticism, God stated: “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God, who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7, emp. added). Later, after God already had sent ten plagues upon the Egyptians (Exodus 7:14-12:30), parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14), and miraculously made bitter water sweet (Exodus 15:22-25), He said to Moses, “I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God”(Exodus 16:11-12, emp. added). After several more weeks, God said to Moses on Mount Sinai: “And they shall know that I am Jehovah their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I might dwell among them: I am Jehovah their God” (Exodus 29:46, emp. added). Did the Israelites not know Who Jehovah was by this time? Without question, they did. “They had already learned of Him as deliverer; now they would know Him as their provider” (Davis, 4:39).
Notice also what Isaiah prophesied centuries after the time of Moses.
Now therefore, what do I here, saith Jehovah, seeing that my people is taken away for nought? They that rule over them do howl, saith Jehovah, and my name continually all the day is blasphemed. Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore (they shall know) in that day that I am he that doth speak; behold, it is I (Isaiah 52:5-6, emp. added).
More than 100 years later, following Judah’s entrance into Babylonian captivity, God foretold of their return to Judea and spoke to them through the prophet Jeremiah. He said: “Therefore, behold, I will cause them to know, this once will I cause them to know my hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is Jehovah” (Jeremiah 16:21, emp. added). Are we to gather from these statements that Israel and Judah were not aware of God’s name (Jehovah) before this time in their history? Certainly not. Obviously, something else is meant by the expression “to know (or not know) the name of Jehovah.” In truth, it is a Hebrew idiom that “generally signifies knowledge of some particular act or attribute of Yahweh as it is revealed in His dealing with men” (Davis, 4:40).
Even in modern times it is possible for someone to know a person’s name or office without really“knowing” the person (or understanding his/her office). Imagine a group of foreigners who had never heard of Michael “Air” Jordan before meeting him at a particular convention a few years after his retirement from the NBA. They might come to know his name in one sense, but it could also be said that by his name “Air Jordan,” they really did not know him. Only after going to a gym and watching him dunk a basketball by jumping (or “flying” in the air) from the free throw line, and seeing him in his original “Air Jordan” shoes, would the group begin to understand the name “Air Jordan.”
Admittedly, at first glance Exodus 6:3 may seem to contradict what the book of Genesis teaches about the patriarchs’ knowledge of Jehovah. However, when one realizes that the Hebrew idiom “to know” (and specifically “to know” a name) frequently means more than a mere awareness of a person, then the difficulty disappears. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew God as Creator and sovereign Ruler of the Universe. But it would not be until centuries later, when God fulfilled the promises made to these patriarchs by delivering the nation of Israel from Egyptian bondage, that the full import of the name Jehovah would become known.
Archer, Gleason L. (1982), An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Davis, John J. (1963), “The Patriarchs’ Knowledge of Jehovah: A Critical Monograph on Exodus 6:3,” Grace Theological Journal, 4:29-43, Winter.
God Put Wits In Godwits
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
At one time, Michael Johnson was the fastest man alive. He once covered the last 100 meters of a 200-meter race in 9.6 seconds (“The Fastest Man...,” 2007). A human running at a speed of 28 mph is quite impressive, but neither Michael Johnson nor any other human can maintain such a speed for more than a few seconds. Marathon runners may be able to run 26.2 miles without stopping, but no one averages more than 13 mph while running great distances. Although the human body is a meticulously designed “machine” (see Jackson, 2000), which functions perfectly for its intended purpose on Earth, there are limits to what a person can do. When these limits are compared to the speed and distance a particular bird recently flew, one gains a greater appreciation for God’s wondrous creation.
In February 2007, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey fitted 16 shorebirds, known as bar-tailed godwits, with satellite transmitters. One of the godwits, dubbed E7, made its way from New Zealand to Alaska over the next three months, flying 9,340 miles with one five-week-long layover near the North Korea-China border (Hansford, 2007). After nearly four months, the godwit began its uninterrupted flight back to New Zealand. Amazingly, this little bird, which normally weighs less than one pound, flew 7,145 miles in nine days without stopping, averaging 34.8 mph. Without taking a break to eat, drink, or rest, the godwit flew “the equivalent of making a roundtrip flight between New York and San Francisco, and then flying back again to San Francisco without ever touching down” (“Bird Completes...,” 2007). Equally impressive, the godwit’s approximately 16,500-mile, roundtrip journey ended where it began. Without a map, a compass, or even a parent, godwits can fly tens of thousands of miles without getting lost.
Scientists have studied the migration of birds for decades and still cannot adequately explain this “age-old riddle” (Peterson, 1968, p. 108). Their stamina and sense of direction is mind-boggling. In his book Unsolved Mysteries of Science, evolutionist John Malone reported how much progressman has made over the last few centuries in understanding how birds are able to journey thousands of miles with pinpoint accuracy (2001, pp. 114-122). Yet, he concluded his chapter on bird migration, saying:
Partial explanations abound, but every book or scientific article on bird migration is full of conditional words and phrases: “It may be...but it also might not be.” We know more about how birds might achieve their epic flights around the world, but there are still far more mysteries than there are explanations. The tiny songbird that reappeared to build its nest in the apple tree outside your window—and we know from banding that it can indeed be exactly the same bird—has been to South America and back since you saw it last. How can that be? This is one case where it may be nicer not to know—simply allow yourself to be swept up by awe and wonder (p. 122, emp. added).
Try as they might, evolutionists attempting to explain the complexities of bird migration can only offer woeful (and often contradictory) theories, at best (Peterson, p. 108). How can a person reasonably conclude that non-intelligence, plus time, plus chance equals a one-pound, bar-tailed godwit flying 7,145 miles in nine days without stopping for food, water, or rest? The “awe and wonder” to which John Malone alluded should be directed toward neither mindless evolution nor the birds themselves, but to the “great and awesome God” (Daniel 9:4) Who has done “wondrous works” and “awesome things” (Psalm 106:22), including endowing birds with the amazing trait we call “instinct.” Truly, it is not by evolution or man’s wisdom that a bird “soars, stretching his wings toward the south” (Job 39:26). Rather, “the stork in the sky knows her seasons; and the turtledove and the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration” (Jeremiah 8:7, NASB), because all-knowing, all-powerful Jehovah is the Creator of them all.
“Bird Completes Epic Flight Across the Pacific” (2007), ScienceDaily, September 17, [On-line], URL: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070915131205.htm.
“The Fastest Man on Earth?” (2007), [On-line], URL: http://www.eis2win.co.uk/gen/news_sprintrecords020805.aspx.
Hansford, Dave (2007), “Alaska Bird Makes Longest Nonstop Flight Ever Measured,” National Geographic News, September 14, [On-line], URL: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070913-longest- flight.html.
Jackson, Wayne (2000), The Human Body—Accident or Design? (Stockton, CA: Courier Publications).
Malone, John (2001), Unsolved Mysteries of Science (New York: John Wiley & Sons).
Peterson, Roger (1968), The Birds (New York: Time-Life Books).
What Is a Pastor?
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
When most religious people think of the word “pastor” they have in mind the primary leader of a congregation, or of a certain section of a congregation. They may think about the “youth pastor” who organizes trips, devotionals, and encourages involvement among the teenage youth group. Or they may bring to mind the “senior pastor” who is responsible for most of the preaching that is done at the congregation, or the associate pastor who does much of the hospital visiting. Whatever your idea of a pastor is, there is an excellent question to ask yourself: “Is the Bible’s description of a pastor the same as my idea of what a pastor is?” Let’s explore what the Bible has to say about pastors.
The term “pastor” is found in Ephesians 4:11: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” It is translated from the Greek word poimen, which means “a shepherd” or a person who herds sheep (Danker, et. al., 2000 p. 684). It is used to describe actual shepherds in the birth story of Jesus in Luke 2:8. But it has an expanded meaning that includes the idea of spiritual shepherds who oversee a flock of “sheep” or Christians, as it is used in Ephesians 4:11. The apostle Peter elaborated on this idea of spiritual shepherding when he wrote: “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder…. Shepherd the flock of God which is among you serving as overseers...and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” In Acts 20, we read that Paul “sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church” (20:17). While giving them instructions, he said, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (20:28). From these references we understand that the term shepherd is used to describe a spiritual overseer of the Lord’s Church. The word “pastor” is simply the Latin translation of the word “shepherd.” Thus, we can see that the term “pastor” originated from the biblical discussion of spiritual leaders in the early Christian church.
It is interesting to note, however, that there is a specific group of leaders that are instructed to “shepherd” or “pastor” the flock of God. From 1 Peter 5 and Acts 20, we learn that the “elders” of the church were the ones instructed to “shepherd” or “oversee” the flock. If that is the case, what does the Bible say about elders? Thankfully, we have been given some very clear references to the spiritual office of “elders.” In Titus 1:5, the apostle Paul explained to Titus, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you.” The word translated “elders” comes from the Greek word presbuteros. While it is true that this word sometimes is used simply to describe those who are older as compared to those who are younger, it is also the case that it is often used to describe a spiritual office held by those who shepherded the church. This is established by the fact that Titus was instructed to “appoint elders in every city,” and Paul provided a detailed list of qualifications for those “elders” that included much more than one’s age. Thus we can know that a pastor (shepherd) was the same as an “elder” and this office was that of a spiritual overseer of a local church (in every city).
What might come as a surprise to some is that the term “bishop” is also linked to the terms “elder” and “shepherd” (or pastor). In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul gives a list of qualifications similar to the one found in Titus, but he begins the list by stating, “A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife…” (3:2). The term “bishop” comes from the Greek word episkopos which means “overseer” (Danker, et. al., p. 299). Recall that in Acts 20:28, Paul called the elders from the church in Ephesus and explained that they were to take heed “to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” The term translated “overseers” is from the Greek word episkopos. When we refer back to Titus, we see that Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders, and then after giving some of the qualifications, stated, “For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God” (Titus 1:7). Here again the Bible uses the terms to speak of the same office. Thus, the elders, or shepherds (or pastors) were the bishops (or overseers) of the church. We do not find that these are separate offices in the church, but words that all describe the same leaders, simply giving subtle descriptions of what they do as the spiritual leaders, such as shepherd or oversee the flock.
If it is the case that the New Testament uses the terms “elders,” “shepherds,” “pastors,” “overseers,” and “bishops” to speak of the same spiritual office, what does that mean for the Lord’s church today? First, it would indicate that anyone who is a “pastor” or “bishop” should have the qualifications for those offices that are listed in Titus and 1 Timothy. Those lists present straightforward personality traits and life situations that all who “qualify” as pastors or bishops must maintain in order to spiritually oversee the church of the Lord. Without going into an extended discussion of each item on the lists, we can see why an “elder” or “bishop” must not be “greedy for money” if he is to lead the Lord’s church. Furthermore, we can understand why an overseer must not be addicted to alcohol or be violent.
It is true that people can appoint anyone they want as their “spiritual leaders” and call them whatever they like. By that I mean, could a religious group appoint teenage alcoholics who love to fight and are greedy and covetous to be their spiritual overseers, and use the terms “elders” or “pastors” to describe them? Certainly they could. But that would not make them pastors in the way the New Testament describes a pastor. Notice that in Acts 20:28, Paul told the Ephesian elders that the Holy Spirit had made those men elders. How does that happen today? Since we know that all Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and the Bible writers such as Peter and Paul were inspired when they penned the books of the New Testament (2 Peter 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13), then we can conclude that in order for pastors to be appointed today “by the Holy Spirit” they must meet the qualifications found in the New Testament. Just because a group of people refers to someone as a bishop or pastor does not mean that person actually meets the qualifications of a bishop or pastor as found in the New Testament.
A close look at the qualifications for pastors (bishops, elders, overseers, shepherds) reveals that many people who are called pastors or bishops would not qualify as such under the New Testament. For instance, Paul told Timothy that “a bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2). He instructed Titus that a man could be appointed as an elder (or bishop) if he was “blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children” (1:6). Notice that one of the first qualifications mentioned in order for a person to be a spiritual overseer of the Lord’s church is that he is married to one woman. Would this apply to many who are called pastors or bishops today?
When it becomes clear that many who are called pastors, elders, or bishops in certain religious groups do not meet the qualifications that are inspired by the Holy Spirit, an attempt is often made to “bend” the qualifications. For instance, we are often told that it is not necessary for a pastor to be the husband of one wife; it would be fine if he were not married. We are told that “the qualifications” are not so strict as to exclude unmarried men or even women from the office. There is an obvious problem with such reasoning. Which of the qualifications can be omitted? Would those religious groups argue that it would be acceptable to have a greedy bishop, or an alcoholic elder, or a violent pastor? You see, once humans begin to amend the list of qualifications to their own liking, it is no longer the Holy Spirit’s qualification list being used to appoint bishops and elders, but an uninspired, humanly devised (or revised) list.
A study of the term pastor as it is used in the New Testament helps us arrive at another interesting biblical concept. In each of the references to the office of pastors (bishops, overseers, elders, shepherds) we see that the New Testament consistently refers to a plurality of these spiritual leaders in each church. In Titus 1, Paul told the young preacher to “appoint elders (plural) in every city.” Peter wrote, “The elders (plural) who are among you I exhort” (1 Peter 5:1). In Acts 20 we see that Paul “sent to Ephesus and called for the elders (plural) of the church” (20:17). Acts 14:23 explains that Paul and Barnabas “appointed elders (plural) in every church.” The idea of a single spiritual leader overseeing a church or congregation of the Lord’s people is found nowhere in the New Testament. As J.W. McGarvey noted: “There is no proposition in reference to the organization of the primitive churches upon which scholars and critics are more perfectly agreed than that every fully organized church had a plurality of Elders” (1950, p. 66).
If we compare the biblical idea of a pastor to that found in many religious groups today we discover that the Bible and those groups present opposing ideas. The biblical picture of a pastor is that of a spiritual leader who meets specific qualifications and who works in conjunction with other pastors who meet the same qualifications to shepherd the church of God of which they jointly have been appointed as overseers. Does your view of a pastor correspond with the view found in the Bible? Does the religious group that you associate with have a biblical arrangement for its spiritual leadership? If it does not, wouldn’t it be wise to begin your search today for a congregation of the Lord’s church that does have pastors who have been appointed by the Holy Spirit to overseer the flock?
Danker, Frederick William, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, (2000), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
McGarvey, J.W. (1950), The Eldership (Murfreesboro, TN: Dehoff Publications).
“The Church of God” and the Deity of Christ
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
The church of which all Christians are to be a part is God’s church. Although many so-called Christians claim to be members of the church that God established nearly 2,000 years ago, they often wear names that indicate ownership by, or allegiance to, men (or offices of men). Some call themselves the “Lutheran Church” (after Martin Luther). Others call themselves after the designated local leaders of the church, e.g., Episcopalians (from the Greek word for bishop) and Presbyterians (from the Greek word for elder). The Scriptures, however, make clear that the church to which all of God’s children are to belong is not a church begun by man, owned by man, or called after man (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Christians must accept the fact that the church of the New Testament is God’s church, not man’s.
Several times in the New Testament, the term “church” (Greek ekklesia) is linked together with the Greek term theos (God), and thus one easily can ascertain the fact that the church to which obedient believers belong is the church begun and owned by God. Paul wrote “to the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1, emp. added), and later commanded the Corinthians to “[g]ive no offense...to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32-33, emp. added). He confessed to the churches of Galatia that he had “persecuted the church of God” before becoming a Christian (Galatians 1:13, emp. added). Paul also wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica, reminding them how they “became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea” (1 Thessalonians 2:14, emp. added), and even boasted of them “among the churches of God” for their endurance through persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, emp. added). One must not miss the point that the church of the New Testament is God’s church. It is of divine origin and established according to Deity’s “eternal purpose” (Ephesians 3:11).
Interestingly, Bible writers often refer to the “church of God” as the body or church of Christ. Near the end of his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul wrote: “All the churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16, NASB, emp. added). He taught the Corinthian Christians how they were “members individually” of “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27, emp. added). Since Paul informed the churches at Ephesus and Colosse that “the church” is Christ’s “body” (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18,24), the body of Christ is equivalent to the church of Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12). Simply put, it is Jesus’ church. He promised to build it (saying, “I will build My church”—Matthew 16:18, emp. added), and later purchased it “with His own blood” (Acts 20:28; cf. Ephesians 1:7,14; Hebrews 9:14).
These verses not only inform Christians of the names by which they should identify themselves, they also indicate something significant about the nature of Christ. Although some alleged Bible believers (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses) claim that Jesus is not divine, the very fact that Bible writers equated “the church of God” with “the body/church of Christ” is one of the many proofs that Jesus is Divine. Paul consistently used these phrases interchangeably throughout his epistles. Thus, to say the church is Christ’s is to say the church is God’s, because Christ is God (John 1:1-3; 20:28). He is the head, Savior, redeemer, and owner of the church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). May we thus put ourselves under the subjection of Christ as God (Ephesians 5:24), and wear only scriptural names such as “church of God” or “church of Christ.” In the words of the apostle Paul to the Ephesian elders: “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of Godwhich He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28, emp. added).
Big Bang Collides with Scientific Evidence
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Popular media outlets delight in talking about the Big Bang as if it is a scientifically proven event that can be documented and studied. In fact, it is discussed in such matter-of-fact terms that few who read the “latest news” about the Big Bang would ever realize that not only has science never verified that it happened, but legitimate science has shown that it could not have happened (see Lyons, 2007; Thompson, et al., 2003).
A recent article posted on Yahoo! provides an excellent example of the kind of scientific misrepresentation that runs rampant in the popular media. In the article, the author Maggie Fox bases the entire thrust of the report on the assumption that the Big Bang occurred, with no scientific evidence to validate that assumption. Then she writes as if scientists know exactly what happened during the Big Bang, an event that only happened in the imaginations of the scientists. For instance, Fox noted that scientists have “created the hottest temperature ever in the lab—4 trillion degrees Celsius—hot enough to break matter down into the kind of soup that existed microseconds after the birth of the universe” (2010, emp. added).
The scientific fact here is simply that matter was heated to four trillion degrees Celsius, assuming we are able to measure heat that high. The erroneous interpretation of that fact is that this heated material can tell us something about what happened “microseconds after the birth of the Universe.” Modern science cannot tell us how the Universe came into existence, unless it assumes the Big Bang took place (even though said explosion is a scientific impossibility). It is ironic that for many years, Bishop Ussher’s biblical chronology was ridiculed because he stated that the world started precisely on Sunday, October 23rd, 4004 B.C. (“Bishop Ussher...,” n.d.), and yet Big Bang proponents insist that they know exactly what happened microseconds after the birth of the Universe. [NOTE: Ussher’s chronology is used only to show the inconsistency of Big Bang advocates, not because it is believed that his chronology is correct.]
Artist’s concept of crucial periods in the development of the Universe according to Big Bang inflationary cosmology
This latest “Big Bang” research stems from experiments done by using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York to force gold ions together. What was the multimillion-dollar RHIC designed to do? According to Steven Vigdor of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, the collider was built “to create matter at temperatures first encountered in the early universe” (as quoted in Fox, 2010). Notice again the backwards nature of this research. The collider was not designed to manifest evidence that the Big Bang occurred, but instead was designed based on the false assumption that it did, and all the “evidence” is then interpreted in a Big Bang framework.
This bias in favor of the Big Bang is clearly evident throughout Fox’s article (and most modern cosmological research). In fact, Fox matter-of-factly wrote: “Something happened in the milliseconds after the Big Bang to create an imbalance in favor of matter over anti-matter. If there had not been this disparity, matter and anti-matter would have simply reacted to create a universe of pure energy” (2010, emp. added). Fox is referring to the fact that any time lab scientists have been able to change energy into matter, that matter always appears paired with its anti-matter particle. As Williams and Hartnett explain:
Just as energy can produce matter by this quantum pair production method, so when the matter and antimatter particles come together again they annihilate one another and revert back to energy. This has profound and unwelcome implications for big-bang theory, because our universe is made of ordinary matter, not equal amounts of matter and antimatter.... Since our universe consists only of matter (as far as we can tell—though there are probably small amounts of matter/antimatter pairs associated with localized high-energy events), it is a reasonable conclusion that our universe could not have been produced by quantum pair production. This is one of those situations where the evidence refutes the paradigm but supporters of the paradigm see it only as an unsolved problem (2005, p. 126, emp. added).
When Fox says “something happened,” and “if there had not been this disparity,” what she means is that the Big Bang theory is not a scientific possibility without some unknown force or situation that would favor matter over antimatter. And since she and her fellow Big Bang enthusiasts begin by assuming that the Big Bang actually happened, the scientific evidence that precludes it as a possibility is brushed aside, and a mysterious “something” is conjured out of the cosmological magic hat to provide the Big Bang with supernatural powers that can circumvent all known natural laws.
With the creation of more and more particle colliders around the world, rest assured that Fox’s article will not be the last praising the Big Bang as the point of origin of our Universe. It is equally true that, due to the false assumption that the Big Bang actually occurred, those articles will be plagued with similar scientific misrepresentations, overstatements, and misinterpretations of data. What is really colliding in much of this type of research is not sub-atomic particles, but prejudiced Big Bang bias with honest scientific inquiry. The light generated from such collisions is enough to illuminate the words of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” if the modern scientific community would simply open its eyes to the truth.
“Bishop Ussher Dates the World at 4004 BC” (no date), [On-line], URL:http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/ussher.htm.
Fox, Maggie (2010), “Hottest Temperature Ever Heads Science to Big Bang,” [On-line], URL:http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100215/sc_nm/us_physics_temperature;_ylt= Ai_Sl2CSFy5ElWLiiswfVH.s0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTFpaHY1YmNuBHBvcwMzOARzZWMD YWNjb3JkaW9uX21vc3RfcG9wdWxhcgRzbGsDaG90dGVzdHRlbXBl.
Lyons, Eric (2007), “The Big Fizzle: Admissions from an Astrophysicist,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3393.
Thompson, Bert, Brad Harrub and B. May (2003), “The Big Bang Theory—A Scientific Critique,” Reason & Revelation, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2635.
Williams, Alex and John Hartnett (2005), Dismantling the Big Bang: God’s Universe Rediscovered(Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Does This Sound Like America?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
For those who are willing to learn from God, His Word provides insight on the ebb and flow of human civilization throughout world history. It records an uncanny pattern of the rise and fall of nations. Consider two passages of Holy Writ that sound eerily like America’s current condition. Both spoken to another nation, the first was written over three millennia ago:
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you (Deuteronomy 8:7-10).
Here is an excellent overview of the history of America and the circumstances enjoyed by Americans—from the Pilgrims in the 1600s, to the Founders in the 1700s, to the American populace for the first two centuries. But with the social ferment since the 1960s, the rest of the passage is now ominously apropos:
Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest—when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God...—then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.... Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them... (Deuteronomy 8:11-19a, emp. added).
This section also describes America’s current physical, moral, and spiritual direction. Large numbers of Americans are forgetting God, neglecting His commands and laws, even rejecting Him with a prideful attitude. This rejection is occurring even as the nation has enjoyed unparalleled financial prosperity—comfortable homes, clothes, cars, and an unbelievable variety of foods. How many Americans recognize the nation’s abundance as the gift of God? And what’s more, as the nation jettisons the moral and spiritual principles of the Bible, they are embracing other philosophies, ideologies, and religions. Consequently, the passage forthrightly declares what must come next:
I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 8:19b-20, emp. added).
A second passage from God’s inspired Word, written to Israel some 2,500 years ago, also images America’s condition:
You also multiplied their children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to go in and possess. So the people went in and possessed the land; You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gave them into their hands, with their kings and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they wished. And they took strong cities and a rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness (Nehemiah 9:23-25, emp. added).
What better description of the history of America, beginning with the Pilgrims, who came to these shores largely to evade religious persecution that challenged their right to practice the Christian religion in accordance with their own interpretation of the Scriptures? For 200 years, America prospered and “grew fat” from prosperity and progress. Not all has been perfect (e.g., slavery, mistreatment of native Americans, etc.), but many Americans, until the 1960s, in general terms “delighted themselves in [God’s] great goodness.” But now what is happening?
Nevertheless they were disobedient and rebelled against You, cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets, who testified against them to turn them to Yourself; And they worked great provocations (Nehemiah 9:26, emp. added).
Observe: in the 1960s, the baby-boomer generation not only rebelled against the Christian teaching and Christian morality embodied in their World War II-generation parents, they commenced a relentless, intense assault on all who oppose them. Evolutionists, atheists, and humanists, who work feverishly to expel God from the country, vilify as ignoramuses and dimwits the Christians who resist them; those who work to enact sexual anarchy in the land by promoting same-sex marriage, denounce as homophobic hatemongers the Christians who resist them. The growing number of welfare recipients, who embrace the unchristian belief that their fellow citizens owe them a living, label their gainsayers as unloving, selfish, and lacking compassion. And the list goes on.... So what will be the end result? The passage continues:
Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their enemies, who oppressed them (Nehemiah 9:27, emp. added).
It is obvious that America is following the same road to destruction that other nations in the past have followed. The question is: “Will Americans wake up and see their digression before it is too late?” The only hope of America is for a sizeable percentage of its citizenry to turn to God with a contrite heart and restore the Christian orientation that once characterized American civilization. As the passage points out: “And in the time of their trouble, when they cried to You, You heard from heaven; And according to Your abundant mercies You gave them deliverers who saved them from the hand of their enemies” (Nehemiah 9:27). In the words of the psalmist: “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit’” (Isaiah 57:15).
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).
Sadly, “they shrugged their shoulders, stiffened their necks, and would not hear” (Nehemiah 9:29). What will Americans do?
"Calling on the Name of the Lord"by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Considering how many people within “Christendom” teach that an individual can be saved merely by professing a belief in Christ, it is not surprising that skeptics claim that the Bible contradicts itself in this regard. Although Peter and Paul declared, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13; cf. Joel 2:32), skeptics quickly remind their readers that Jesus once stated: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21; cf. Luke 6:46). Allegedly, Matthew 7:21 clashes with such passages as Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 (see Morgan, 2003; Wells, 2001). Since many professed Christians seem to equate “calling on the name of the Lord” with the idea of saying to Jesus, “Lord, save me,” Bible critics feel even more justified in their pronouncement of “conflicting testimonies.” How can certain professed followers of Christ claim that they were saved by simply “calling out to Christ,” when Christ Himself proclaimed that a mere calling upon Him would not save a person?
The key to correctly understanding the phrase “calling on the name of the Lord” is to recognize that more is involved in this action than a mere verbal petition directed toward God. The “call” mentioned in Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13, and Acts 22:16 (where Paul was “calling on the name of the Lord”), is not equated with the “call” (“Lord, Lord”) Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:21).
First, it is appropriate to mention that even in modern times, to “call on” someone frequently means more than simply making a request for something. When a doctor goes to the hospital to “call on” some of his patients, he does not merely walk into the room and say, “I just wanted to come by and say, ‘Hello.’ I wish you the best. Now pay me.” On the contrary, he involves himself in a service. He examines the patient, listens to the patient’s concerns, gives further instructions regarding the patient’s hopeful recovery, and then oftentimes prescribes medication. All of these elements may be involved in a doctor “calling upon” a patient. In the mid-twentieth century, it was common for young men to “call on” young ladies. Again, this expression meant something different than just “making a request” (Brown, 1976, p. 5).
Second, when an individual takes the time to study how the expression “calling on God” is used throughout Scripture, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that, just as similar phrases sometimes have a deeper meaning in modern America, the expression “calling on God” often had a deeper meaning in Bible times. Take, for instance, Paul’s statement recorded in Acts 25:11: “I appeal unto Caesar.” The word “appeal” (epikaloumai) is the same word translated “call” (or “calling”) in Acts 2:21, 22:16, and Romans 10:13. But, Paul was not simply saying, “I’m calling on Caesar to save me.” As James Bales noted:
Paul, in appealing to Caesar, was claiming the right of a Roman citizen to have his case judged by Caesar. He was asking that his case be transferred to Caesar’s court and that Caesar hear and pass judgment on his case. In so doing, he indicated that he was resting his case on Caesar’s judgment. In order for this to be done Paul had to submit to whatever was necessary in order for his case to be brought before Caesar. He had to submit to the Roman soldiers who conveyed him to Rome. He had to submit to whatever formalities or procedure Caesar demanded of those who came before him. All of this was involved in his appeal to Caesar (1960, pp. 81-82, emp. added).
Paul’s “calling” to Caesar involved his submission to him. “That, in a nutshell,” wrote T. Pierce Brown, “is what ‘calling on the Lord’ involves”—obedience (1976, p. 5). It is not a mere verbal recognition of God, or a verbal petition to Him. Those whom Paul (before his conversion to Christ) sought to bind in Damascus—Christians who were described as people “who call on Your [Jehovah’s] name”—were not people who only prayed to God, but those who were serving the Lord, and who, by their obedience, were submitting themselves to His authority (cf. Matthew 28:18). Interestingly, Zephaniah 3:9 links one’s “calling” with his “service”: “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord” (emp. added). When a person submits to the will of God, he accurately can be described as “calling on the Lord.” Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 (among other passages) do not contradict Matthew 7:21, because to “call on the Lord” entails more than just pleading for salvation; it involves submitting to God’s will. According to Colossians 3:17, every single act a Christian performs (in word or deed) should be carried out by Christ’s authority. For a non-Christian receiving salvation, this is no different. In order to obtain salvation, a person must submit to the Lord’s authority. This is what the passages in Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 are teaching; it is up to us to go elsewhere in the New Testament to learn how to call upon the name of the Lord.
After Peter quoted the prophecy of Joel and told those in Jerusalem on Pentecost that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21), he told them how to go about “calling on the name of the Lord.” The people in the audience in Acts 2 did not understand Peter’s quotation of Joel to mean that an alien sinner must pray to God for salvation. [Their question in Acts 2:37 (“Men and brethren, what shall we do?”) indicates such.] Furthermore, when Peter responded to their question and told them what to do to be saved, he did not say, “I’ve already told you what to do. You can be saved by petitioning God for salvation through prayer. Just call on His name.” On the contrary, Peter had to explain to them what it meant to “call on the name of the Lord.” Instead of repeating this statement when the crowd sought further guidance from the apostles, Peter commanded them, saying, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (2:38). Notice the parallel between Acts 2:21 and 2:38:
|Acts 2:21||Whoever||Calls||On the name of the Lord||Shall be saved|
|Acts 2:38||Everyone of you||Repent and be baptized||In the name of Jesus Christ||For the remission of sins|
Peter’s non-Christian listeners learned that “calling on the name of the Lord for salvation” was equal to obeying the Gospel, which approximately 3,000 did that very day by repenting of their sins and being baptized into Christ (2:38,41).
But what about Romans 10:13? What is the “call” mentioned in this verse? Notice Romans 10:11-15:
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” (emp. added).
Although this passage does not define precisely what is meant by one “calling on the name of the Lord,” it does indicate that an alien sinner cannot “call” until after he has heard the Word of God and believed it. Such was meant by Paul’s rhetorical questions: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” Paul’s statements in this passage are consistent with Peter’s proclamations in Acts 2. It was only after the crowd on Pentecost believed in the resurrected Christ Whom Peter preached (as is evident by their being “cut to the heart” and their subsequent question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”) that Peter told them how to call on the name of the Lord and be saved (2:38).
Perhaps the clearest description of what it means for an alien sinner to “call on the name of the Lord” is found in Acts 22. As the apostle Paul addressed the mob in Jerusalem, he spoke of his encounter with the Lord, Whom he asked, “What shall I do?” (22:10; cf. 9:6). The answer Jesus gave Him at that time was not “call on the name of the Lord.” Instead, Jesus instructed him to “arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do” (22:10). Paul (or Saul—Acts 13:9) demonstrated his belief in Jesus as he went into the city and waited for further instructions. In Acts 9, we learn that during the next three days, while waiting to meet with Ananias, Paul fasted and prayed (vss. 9,11). Although some today might consider what Paul was doing at this point as “calling on the name of the Lord,” Ananias, God’s chosen messenger to Paul, did not think so. He did not tell Paul, “I see you have already called on God. Your sins are forgiven.” After three days of fasting and praying, Paul still was lost in his sins. Even though he obviously believedat this point, and had prayed to God, he had yet to “call on the name of the Lord” for salvation. When Ananias finally came to Paul, he told him: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (22:16). Ananias knew that Paul had not yet “called on the name of the Lord,” just as Peter knew that those on Pentecost had not done so before his command to “repent and be baptized.” Thus, Ananias instructed Paul to “be baptized, and wash away your sins.” The participle phrase, “calling on the name of the Lord,” describes what Paul was doing when he was baptized for the remission of his sins. Every non-Christian who desires to “call on the name of the Lord” to be saved, does so, not simply by saying, “Lord, Lord” (cf. Matthew 7:21), or just by wording a prayer to God (e.g., Paul—Acts 9; 22; cf. Romans 10:13-14), but by obeying God’s instructions to “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38).
This is not to say that repentance and baptism have always been (or are always today) synonymous with “calling on the name of the Lord.” Abraham was not baptized when he “called upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 12:8; cf. 4:26), because baptism was not demanded of God before New Testament times. And, as I mentioned earlier, when the New Testament describes people who are already Christians as “calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 9:14,21; 1 Corinthians 1:2), it certainly does not mean that Christians continually were being baptized for the remission of their sins after having been baptized to become a Christian (cf. 1 John 1:5-10). Depending on when and where the phrase is used, “calling on the name of the Lord” includes: (1) obedience to the gospel plan of salvation; (2) worshiping God; and (3) faithful service to the Lord (Bates, 1979, p. 5). However, it never is used in the sense that all the alien sinner must do in order to be saved is to cry out and say, “Lord, Lord, save me.”
Thus, the skeptic’s allegation that Matthew 7:21 contradicts Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 is unsubstantiated. And, the professed Christian who teaches that all one must do to be saved is just say the sinner’s prayer, is in error.
Bales, James (1960), The Hub of the Bible—Or—Acts Two Analyzed (Shreveport, LA: Lambert Book House).
Bates, Bobby (1979), “Whosoever Shall Call Upon the Name of the Lord Shall be Saved,” Firm Foundation, 96:5, March 20.
Brown, T. Pierce (1976), “Calling on His Name,” Firm Foundation, 93:5, July 20.
Morgan, Donald (2003), “Biblical Inconsistencies,” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.shtml.
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com.