The Apple Of God's Eye

May 30, 2011

Does God’s Word Wash You?

alleducationisreligious.blogspot.com

God desires that Christians make a real change of character after their calling. During baptism, the removal of sins is accomplished as an event, in a moment in time. But even for Christians, sin is an ongoing process. God’s righteousness never ends.

Do we think once we are baptized that we no longer have to be careful about sinning? Is the law of God then no longer applicable in our life? That’s not how it works. We have to keep putting in a big effort towards growing in grace and knowledge and becoming perfect as our Father is perfect.

God does not want divided loyalty, two faced people who are half-hearted. We know this because Jam. 1:8 says a double minded man is unstable, with a doubtful, skeptical mind.

We all have this state of mind in one way or another.  We have to allow the mind of Christ to be in us. Our human nature desires to be a part of this world and we have to battle this on a day to day basis. Even the great apostle Paul fought his human nature (and sin daily), but knowing that nothing less than the power of God could help him overcome – see Rom. 7.

If we are double minded, we can’t be effective for God. It controls our actions and we have to be sickened by this world and its abominations. We can’t truly fight that which we have come to accept. Satan has brainwashed this world into thinking that good is bad. In other words, he has completely deceived the entire world – (Rev. 12:9).

God wants to cleanse our thinking from unrighteousness.

We have to love the Church, not this world (Eph. 5:25). This world is a sin that easily begets us. We have to replace our thoughts with the thoughts of God, look up the thoughts of God in the Bible. Immerse ourselves in the mind of Christ.

The book of James says we have human nature that gets us to lust, but that lust will destroy us spiritually. These words are not inspired in vain. In order to overcome, we have to take the word of God spiritually, not casually. If we don’t use the power of God, Satan will get to us. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. We have to get serious about repentance.

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February 12, 2011

Pope Pius XII Is No Saint: History Reveals A Narrow Spirit And Heart While Millions Died

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“Pope Pius XII (Latin: Pius PP. XII), born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (March 2, 1876 – October 9, 1958), reigned as the 260th pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City, from March 2, 1939 until his death in 1958. Some historians view the record of his long papacy and wartime predicament sympathetically; others view his actions (or inactions) critically, if not harshly. The interpretations of non historians vary even more widely, with some (John Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope) accusing him of pursuing personal power at the expense of the Jews, while others (Ronald Rychlak, Hitler, the War, and the Pope) argue he did everything in his power to help them. (Freelibrary.com)

In We Remember, a 1998 statement on the church’s role in the Holocaust, the Vatican claimed that Pius saved “hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives.” It was an absurd statement.

“Pope Pius XII, prior to his pontificate, successfully negotiated the Reich Concordat with Adolf Hitler in 1933, effectively destroying all political opposition to the fledgling Nazi movement in Germany. According to cabinet meeting minutes from July 14, 1933, Hitler considered the German-Vatican pact a “great achievement”—particularly “in the developing struggle against international Jewry.” (The Unapologetic Pope)

Since the death of Pope Pius XII i on October 9, 1958, there has been a concerted effort by the Vatican and Jesuits to diminish the overwhelming evidence of racial hatred, inaction and evil by this Roman Pontiff, particularly to the Holy Inquisition undertaken during his reign against the Jews.

In the 1960′s, it was the Jesuit sponsored work Three Popes and the Jews (1967), by Panchas. E. Lapide that attempted to portray the grand illusion and claims that Pope Pius XII never met Hitler once, in direct contradiction to the testimony of those closest to Pius for most of his life since Munich and his rise to Pontiff. (more…)

November 24, 2010

Proving The Existence of God’s Law

gpcw.org.au

Consider the all-encompassing magnitude of God’s law. It outlines, in broad detail, our right relationship with the true God to receive needed guidance, help and blessings; and also our right relationship towards human neighbours – including parents, children, husband or wife. This law provides for every human need for our own good in a living, active, continuous relationship with the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God.

When we mediate fully on the ten commandments, we can see that God provides the means for mankind to have pure religion, happy families, a right social life, and wealthy economies. Never did God intent that His law be oppressive or destructive. In fact, the law can be summed up in one powerful word – love.

Our loving God has given us a law only forbids those things that harm us. God will never force us to keep His law because He has made us free moral agents. God wants us to choose to follow Him and His ways. It is all for our good. Yet, many who call themselves Christians teach that Christ did away with the ten commandments under the New Testament. However, that does not square with Christ’s personal example. (more…)

May 10, 2010

Use Your Sin Filter

God has given the true Christian a very effective filter against sin. We wear it continually and are to use it to bear up to the standard of God. One of the ways we do this is through immersing ourselves in the word of God. That way we recognize when sin creeps into our life. Obviously we want this filter to be as tight as possible, allowing no penetration of impure materials.

Looking into scripture, we can find the things that filter out evil:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8)

None of these things dwell on anything that is against the law of God, and therefore all are spiritually pure. (more…)

December 10, 2009

Are God's Promises Sure?

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Many Christians lead a life of wanting to please God, yet are never able to take Him at His word – literally. But there is a lot riding on the words of God and He gives hundreds of sure promises throughout the Bible – from food, shelter, protection (physical) to eternal life (spiritual) promises. He says it is through faith and patience that Christians inherit the promise of eternal life – Heb. 6:12. Those over the centuries who died in the faith have not yet received this promise (Heb. 11:13). That is because they are still in their graves to this day (Acts 2:29) and await the resurrection of I Cor. 15.

God’s  promises (too numerous to mention here) are called exceeding great and precious, “by which we might be partakers of the divine nature….” (II Pet. 1:4). And God emphasizes them by saying he is not slack (slow, tardy, late – JFB Commentary) in delivering what he says He will do (II Pet. 3:9).

Believing God is a matter of faith. This is not blind faith, as some atheists claim, but the faith of Jesus Christ – the same faith He possessed in believing that God would raise Him from the dead again. I have personally claimed promises too numerous to mention from God over the years and he has delivered when I have believed and not doubted.

There is a wonderful set of scriptures in Mat 6:31-33 which encapsulates this thought beautifully:

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?……for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Do you see the connection? God asks us to first seek those things which are spiritual (faith in what He says and obedience to His law) and then he will give us whatever we need. If we lack the faith to believe what God says, we are “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (Jam. 1:6). That would be too bad, because true Christians may claim any promises of God without fail.

September 19, 2009

The Feast Of Trumpets Signals Christ's Return

barrettswanderings.blogspot.com

barrettswanderings.blogspot.com

Well, the annual Feast of Trumpets is upon us again, falling on September 19 on the Roman calendar this year (2009). This is one of God’s appointed Feast days, yet most of Christianity believes that God’s Holy Days were “done away with” — that they have no relevance today. But nothing could be further from the truth!

Is God’s law outdated?

It’s unfortunate, but some who consider themselves Christians are under the impression that God uses “planned obsolescence” when it comes to His law and His plan for mankind! Millions believe that Christ’s crucifixion “did away with” the need to keep God’s commandments, including God’s Holy Days, which outline His plan.

It’s true that God no longer requires certain acts of His people. For example, Christ’s sacrifice eliminated the need for God’s people to perform animal sacrifices (Heb. 10:1-6).

But man has taken it upon himself to declare obsolete other areas of God’s instructions that God definitely has not (Mark 7:6-9). Christ Himself said:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18).

God’s law, including those instructions that concern God’s Holy Days, is in force today.

One of the festivals God commands us to keep is the Feast of Trumpets. Most professing Christians have not even heard of it. They have been blinded to this important Festival of God, though the Feast of Trumpets is designed to have important meaning for us in the 20th century.

Christ’s death did not at all do away with the need for us to keep the Feast of Trumpets today. This Holy Day of God is relevant now, and very much so.

Origin of the Feast of Trumpets

God first introduced the Feast of Trumpets to ancient Israel after the dramatic Exodus from Egypt, commanding them to keep this day as a Sabbath, a holy convocation (Lev. 23:23-25).

Notice that the Israelites were to mark this particular day as a memorial of the meaning trumpets had for their nation, both physically and symbolically.

God instructed them to use silver trumpets to gather the tribes for assemblies and to signal when it was time to move during their migration to the promised land. The Israelites were to blow the trumpets when they were preparing to attack or to defend against an attack. Moreover, trumpets were blown during God’s festivals and at the beginning of each month. Each use of the trumpets gave added meaning to the festivals as the Israelites understood them (Num. 10:1-10).

Since the Israelites, awestruck and trembling, had already experienced God’s tremendous use of a blaring trumpet when God gave them the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19:19), they were familiar with the use of trumpets in correlation with momentous events in their lives!

Meaning of this Feast

This special Holy Day also forecasted the greatest event ever to take place. At the time of the Exodus, it was thousands of years away. But today, it’s just a precious few years ahead.

It will be a day of reckoning for the world. The Feast of Trumpets symbolically refers to a day of great black clouds and gloominess. And finally, the rending of those clouds, signaled by the ear splitting, bone penetrating blast of silver trumpets, and the blinding atomic lightning in the skies, flashing from the eyes of Him that sits astride a great white stallion. It’s the King of kings and Lord of lords, ready with His saints to make war on Satan and those deceived nations he has brought to this very day! This war will finally be the conflict that ends all wars!

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Rev. 19:11-14).

Conversely, it will also be a day of great jubilation for God’s true saints. The saints will be resurrected into the God family. “For since by man [Adam] came death, by man [Christ] came also the resurrection of the dead” (I Cor. 15:21).

Notice verse 23: “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”This great Feast of Trumpets is only 14 days from the Feast of Tabernacles. This Feast day can be, if we are not careful, mentally and spiritually relegated to a lesser status than that of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Trumpets is only one day and seemingly doesn’t have, to some perhaps, the significance of the seven-day festival.  However, we have to eagerly look forward to the Feast of Trumpets, because it tells us of Christ’s very return.

Without instruction on that day, we won’t be able to be “AT-ONE-MENT” with God just nine days after the Feast of Trumpets. Nor will we be able to fully partake of the great eight days of feasting starting five days after Atonement.

The Feast of Trumpets is the KEY that unlocks the millennium. It begins the sequence of events that put us at one with our God and removes the destroyer. It ushers in the government of God and His Spirit-ruling family. “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned” (Rev. 11:15-17).

The Feast of Trumpets is a vital link in the prophetic fulfillment of God’s plan for His bride and for all who will be born into His family. It is the fourth Holy Day out of seven for the year. Four is the number of new beginnings. The Day of Trumpets sounds the beginning of the new age of the rulership of Christ and His wife—the family of God. All of His great saints of the past will be resurrected on that day (I Thes. 4:16). On the day of Christ’s return, all of our beloved teachers of the past who taught the word of God will be there: Moses, David, the prophets, the apostles—and all the loyal saints of God.

The Feast of Trumpets represents the greatest day in the history of this earth; the day of Christ’s return and the resurrection of His saints:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thes. 4:16-18).

Source: Good News, August 1982

July 5, 2009

What Does "Selah" Really Mean?

blog.jstaten.com

blog.jstaten.com

What does the word “selah” (Hebrew: סלה‎) as found in the Psalms and the book of Habakkuk really mean? There have been numerous studies and articles on the meaning of “Selah”–and not a whole lot of agreement.

Selah is found in two books of the Bible, but is most prevalent in the Psalms, where it appears 71 times. It also appears three times in the third chapter of the prophet Habakkuk (3:3, 9,13) .

There is a great deal of confusion about the meaning of “selah,” primarily because the Hebrew root word from which it is translated is uncertain. As such, “selah” may be the most difficult word in the Hebrew Bible to translate concisely.

The Psalms were written as songs and  accompanied by musical instruments and there are references to this in many chapters. Thirty-one of the thirty-nine psalms with the caption “To the choir-master” include “Selah” so the musical context of selah is said to be obvious. Many scholars believe that it was a direction for the musicians to repeat verses, play interludes, tune the instruments, and so on.

Some render “selah” from two Hebrew words: s_lah, to praise; and s_lal, to lift up, or even salah, to pause. From these words comes the belief that “selah” is a musical direction in the Psalms. This would encompass all the meanings—praise, lift up, and pause.

The Septuagint translates Selah into Greek as Äéáøáëìá diapsalma, which may mean interlude. And Strong’s Dictionary gives the meaning under number H5542 as; “suspension (of music), that is pause: Selah.”

However, where it is mentioned again in Habakkuk 3:13, we realize this passage was not written to be sung, though Habakkuk’s prayer could inspire the reader to praise God for His mercy, power, and grace.

Interestingly, Holman’s Bible Dictionary says many of the musical theories proposed  by scholars (the pause either for silence or musical interlude, a signal for the congregation to sing, recite, or fall prostrate on the ground, a cue for the cymbals to crash, a word to be shouted by the congregation, a sign to the choir to sing a higher pitch or louder) are unproveable.

A more plausible meaning?

Another plausible meaning translated “selah” is from the primary Hebrew root word [calah] which literally means “to hang” or “to measure or weigh in the balances.” An example of this word [calah] as it is literally translated ‘valued,’ is in the book of Job, indicating that which is measured.

Job 28:15-16

  • “It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
  • It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.”

These verses use the same Hebrew word [calah], showing the context of “measuring against.” The translation ‘valued’ illustrates the measuring of something for an exchange. In this case, it shows us that wisdom cannot be measured against gold, as it is obviously is beyond monetary value.

In verse nineteen we see this very same illustration again. Referring to wisdom, Job says, “The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.”  Again, the word translated “valued” in this verse is the same Hebrew calah. Job repeats that wisdom is beyond comparing against even jewels, and when weighed in the balance against wisdom, the finest jewels cannot equal its value.

In the French book “The Music of the Bible Revealed,” by Suzanne Haik-Vantoura, we find the same explanation which seems to fit every use of the word in the Bible. The author, who is a Jewish music student, concludes that “selah” was part of the sung text and not an instruction to the players. While she does not define the word itself, her work does suggest that “selah” is similar to the word amen at the end of a prayer, an exclamation of confidence or and certainty of what has been said.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible agrees, stating that it is added “as a mark of attention, something of moment and importance being observed.” The purpose would be to emphasize the truth or seriousness of a passage, and that we should measure and reflect upon what has been said.

And the Adam Clark Commentary says it may come from äìñ salah, meaning to strew or spread out intimating that the subject to which the word is attached should be spreadout, meditated on, and attentively considered by the reader. This may be confirmed by by Psalm 9:16, where the word “higgaion’ (signifying meditation), is put before selah at the end of the verse.” So it is a fit subject for meditation; and shows selah to be really a nota bene; attend to or mind this.”

Vine’s Expository offers another similar explanation: “The word is never used at the beginning of a psalm, nor has it any grammatical connection with the context. Its usual position is either at the end of a strophe or at the end of a psalm. It often connects what precedes with what follows (sometimes by way of contrast, as if to stress both, as if saying, “This being so, give heed to what is now to be said.”

From all facts presented, we can easily see there is a lot of disagreement as to what various experts think is meant by the word and what is conveyed in the use of it. Logically, God knew that the Psalms would be read and not sung over many years of their use, and that there would be confusion about a musical term put into them. He also knew they would be printed in a book to teach His people spiritual concepts of His word of truth in the end time. As such, it seems highly likely that He would put in a word to call special attention to exhort us to ‘weigh’ these things thoughtfully, and to reflect and consider in good sense judgment what is ‘really’ being said, whether we read or sing the psalms.

July 1, 2009

Cosmic Wisdom: The Mind Of God In Action!

There are many people considered wise among men – with academics and chairs of philosophy, a type of sign-board hung out to show the apparent abode of wisdom. That is what impresses other people, but not God.

Yet even for true Christians, there is much more to wisdom than they normally think about. God’s instruction in James 1 state:. If any man lacks wisdom, he is to ask God for it; and, believing, he shall receive it. A lack of wisdom can cause many serious mistakes.

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (Jam. 3:13).

Notice that godly wisdom is entwined with knowledge. Why? The connection may be found in Proverbs 9:10, which tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This we could call “cosmic wisdom”—wisdom that originates from the cosmos. It has to come from God’s own mind to allow our choices and processes to mean anything beyond what affects our immediate physical life. This may be bridged back again to our own behaviour:

“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:14-15).

Devilish wisdom comes from the devil; from this earth. True wisdom is a gift from God. It takes wisdom to know what to do when God denies you something you earnestly desire, or how to navigate our fiery trials, for example.

James has the best definition of wisdom in the Bible, listing seven items that are outgrowths of godly wisdom: “But the wisdom that is from above is first:

  1. pure
  2. peaceable
  3. gentle
  4. easy to be entreated
  5. full of mercy and good fruits
  6. without partiality
  7. without hypocrisy.

“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (verses 17-18).

Here are the meanings of these seven outgrowths of wisdom:

  1. Pure – means it is free from earthly, sensual, diabolical thoughts or motives. It must be free from guile, like Nathanael (John 1:47). We must have a pure motive. When we are being led by God’s Spirit, we are not calculating—trying to take advantage of the other person or to get something from them. We must be pure, and simply give as our heavenly Father gives! If we speak words of wisdom, we bring joy and encouragement. Our tongue produces spiritual honey.
  2. Peaceable – it makes peace with others, especially within the family.
  3. Gentle – meaning forbearing—not demanding, and not looking down on others.
  4. Easy to be entreated –  or persuaded. It is happy to give in if the other person is right.
  5. Full of mercy and good fruits – toward the misery of others—desiring to relieve them.
  6. Without partiality – it is not swayed by self-interest, worldly honor or the fear of man. If Jacob, who favored Joseph over his other sons, had had this quality, the tragic problems wouldn’t have existed between Joseph and his brothers, and it would have changed the course of Israel’s history!
  7. Without hypocrisy — what you see is what you get. It doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. It requires wisdom to present yourself as someone who is trying to grow and improve, yet who never tries to come across as someone you are not.

“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (verse 18). The fruit of this righteousness will produce peace wherever we go. If any of you lack wisdom, go to God, and He will give it to you!

Study and learn what God’s wisdom will do in your life. If you understand it, you will be praying for more of a replenished supply of “the wisdom that is from above.”

April 25, 2009

Redefining "Extreme"

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bumperstickers.cafepress.com/

Writing in the Washington Times today, Oliver North observes how, according to the U.S. government, you are more than likely a “right-wing extremist”:

According to the U.S. government, I am an extremist. I am a Christian—and meet regularly with other Christians to study God’s Word. My faith convinces me the prophecies in the Holy Bible are true.

I believe in the sanctity of human life, oppose abortion and want to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman. I am a veteran with skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat.

I own several firearms, frequently shoot them, buy ammunition and consider efforts to infringe on my Second Amendment rights to be wrong and unconstitutional.

I fervently support the sovereignty of the United States, and I am deeply concerned about our economy, increasingly higher taxes, illegal immigration, soaring unemployment and actions by our government that will bury my children beneath a mountain of debt.

Issued by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, the nine-page report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” is loaded with warnings about how everyday Americans could soon be considered enemies of the state.

“It is one of the most alarming documents produced by our government that I have ever read,” notes North, and one that you and I are not supposed to know about. Apparently, at the bottom of the cover page of the report is a warning that it is “not to be released to the public, the media, or other personnel who do not have a valid need-to-know.”

North concludes with a grim and foreboding scenario:

According to this homeland security assessment, the most dangerous threat we face here at home isn’t from radical imams preaching violence in U.S. mosques and madrassas; Islamists recruiting in our prisons; Somali terrorists enticing young immigrants to become suicide bombers; or Hamas, Hezbollah or al Qaeda operatives plotting mass murder. No, according to the department, the real threat is what our government labels “right-wing extremist ideology.

April 18, 2009

Textual Criticism: The Folly Of Biblical Scholars

God Breathed?  

God Breathed?

The Bible—more than any other religious writings of similar age—has drawn intense examination. Critics write off this text as the uninspired writings of an unlearned people. They claim the Bible is full of contradiction and historical inaccuracies. Some go so far as to say that this book is a carefully contrived sham to keep tight-fisted control over mindless people. Others say the Bible is a work of fiction. What is truly appalling is that many theologians agree. Understand that there is nothing new here. The scriptures have been under violent attack for centuries—by scholars, philosophers, cynics and the religious.

A particularly noteworthy passage is the long ending of Mark 16:9-20, among many others which are attacked. Skeptics and critics alike have found grist for their mill in the assertion that Mark presents an inconsistency, and poses a problem in not properly fitting in after the eighth verse. However, leaving out the last verses poses the significant problemof the book not coming to an orderly conclusion, as does EVERY other book in the Bible. Human writings are filled with error, but the Bible is COMPLETE, INSPIRED and WHOLLY PRESERVED through the power of God. These verses are an INSPIRED PART of the Word of God. 

Proof of legitimacy

The longer ending to Mark’s gospel is quoted extremely early in church history. Mark 16:19 is quoted as part of Mark’s account by Irenaeus in “Against Heresies” (Bk. iii, 10, 6) between A.D. 182 and 188. It says:

“Also, towards the conclusion of his gospel, Mark says, ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven and sits on the right hand of God.”

Not only did Irenaeus accept it as a part of Mark’s gospel when arguing with “heretics,” but, says Hastings: “No writer before Eusebius is known to have rejected them, and their presence in all later MSS [manuscripts] shows that the successors of Eusebius, in spite of his great authority, did not follow his judgment in the matter.” (Eusebius was the court favorite and the church historian in the days of Emperor Constantine.) These facts point plainly to the great antiquity of the longer ending as preserved in the common English versions. 

There are allusions to these disputed  verses in even earlier writings, although not as true quotations. Some have traced various versions of Mark’s ending back to the earliest extant manuscripts. 

The rise of textual criticism

Hostility toward the Bible has a cause. It begins with modern Bible criticism, referred to as biblical scholarship. This sounds harmless enough, because it makes their occupation appear more acceptable.Yet it is noteworthy that the literature of other religions is not subject to scholarly scrutiny. Now why would that be? The answer is simple. The Bible claims to be the express Word of God, a claim no other religion makes. So if one could prove that the Bible is not the Word of God, then there would be no need to read or follow it. Isn’t that the real reason Bible scholars have worked so hard at uncovering any flaw which could be proof that it is not the literal Word of God? Critics will deny this assertion, but it’s the truth. (Philadelphia Trumpet, June 2005)

“The decline of reformed scholarship started with  B. B. Warfield’s adoption of the Westcott and Hort textual critical theory and his redefinition of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy to make it apply only to autographs. Warfield’s concept of Sola Autographa unfortunately caught on, and became the new paradigm in the textual critical exercise of reconstructing (or rather deconstructing) the inspired text. 

A textual critic engaged upon his business is like a dog hunting for fleas. That’s because determining authenticity on the basis of style omits the fact that at least a 10,000 word sample is required to make stylistic determinations. Verses 9-20 of Mark 16 fall about 9900 words short of this, making the argument an exercise in despair.

Still, this does nothing to prevent critics from concluding that textual variations call the Christian traditions of inspiration and inerrancy into serious question. Their expectation is that God would prevent such variations as the scriptures are reproduced. And since variations do, in fact, occur they say, we must be mistaken about the meaning of the scriptures and ultimately the very character of God. 

Such misguided statements should be laughed off. As editors of current critical texts — textual critics are simply modernists who couldn’t make spirit-guided decisions if their life depended on it. They are no better than their texts — carnal men producing a non-spiritual text. They forget the admonition that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). To affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of the original writings while casting doubt on the authority of the Bible is just plain silly”  (fepbc.edu.sg).

A unique book

The Bible is radically different than all other so-called sacred literature. This book of books asserts that it is the divinely inspired writings of a supreme Deity. No other sacred literature makes such a claim. The Bible is a book full of personal quotes from a very active, living God:

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

The God of the Bible declares the supremacy of His own power. There is none like Him. He is capable of initiating and carrying out a purpose on Earth. A real understanding of God’s purpose shows that there are stupendous and wonderful things ahead for all mankind. (Philadelphia Trumpet, June 2005)

Look at the issue in context. “Of the 20,000 lines of Scripture in the New Testament only about 40 lines read differently between the accepted manuscripts. That means that only 0.2% of the New Testament is disputed. None of these affect any major doctrines and most are stylistic or spelling differences. Translation of the Bible also takes into account quotations from early church fathers who were close to the original manuscripts. There are around 86,489 New Testament citations by church fathers in the 2nd and 3rd century. These quotes cover the entire New Testament except for about 11 verses (churchhopping.com).

And given the absurdly small amount of text not quoted, does it seem believable that ALL scripture must be quoted to be counted trustworthy? Is there not enough information in a New Testament which far surpasses any other ancient document when it comes to consistency and accuracy of translation?

Yes the Bible comprises the full, word-for-word, truthful, inspired, inerrant Word of God, which is the supreme and final authority in doctrine and life. It is God-breathed, factual, free from error, pure, uncorrupted, eternal, and powerful. It stands out from all other books as THE preeminent book. It is not simply about God … but is FROM God; it is His message to us. We can trust that message because Jesus prayed:

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17. That is why Jesus spoke of the jot-and-tittle infallibility (or verbal inerrancy) of the Scriptures in Matthew 5:18.

The Apostle Paul also spoke of the divinely inspired Scriptures in saying they were “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:16-17). In other words, they were to be trusted in all things because they are for all true Christians, of all ages.

If we do not have an infallible and an inerrant Scripture, then our supreme and final authority of faith and practice is all a myth. It then also makes God out to be a liar. I for one will trust in the one who makes the grand claim of inerrancy, as both I and the critics face this mighty Being one day at the judgment. We don’t want to find out we’re wrong at that time, do we?

April 17, 2009

Death of Judas Iscariot: Four Apparant Contradictions Solved!

127Is there a contradiction about the death of Judas Iscariot between Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18? Did Judas, after betraying Christ, hang himself or just swell up and burst open? Does it matter that history is completely silent on this issue?

First, to explain to the critics (though it will hardly satisfy), we should understand that God had His Word recorded in such a way that it could be misunderstood. Through one of the prophets we find that the Bible is written “here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:10). Each part is true, but the whole truth about a particular subject may not be found in any one verse or chapter. This is one reason Paul said that the Word of God must be rightly divided (II Tim. 2:15). 

By putting the two accounts of Judas’ death TOGETHER we get a clearer idea of what happened. Both events are true, yet there are some details which give critics a hard time, though we have only to apply some common sense. 

1) The first contradiction: Two separate deaths — Both events did not happen at the same time – simple. Matthew wrote that Judas “hanged himself” (Matt. 27:5), giving the means of death. He never denies that Judas fell and had his entrails gush out. Luke explained what happened later. He does not tell us that this is the means of Judas’ death, and he also does not deny that Judas hanged himself. He merely reports the end result. 

2) Second Contradiction: Why does Acts say the body of Judas burst open after a fall? — “Consider the following. When a person dies, the body begins to decompose. If left to itself (and not acted upon by the attempt to preserve the body), bacteria soon begin to break down various tissues. As a result, gases are released within the body, which in turn cause it to swell. A few years ago, the news media reported how a 50-ton sperm whale had beached itself on the shores of Taiwan and died. While on its way to being transported through a Taiwanese city to a particular research center, the swollen whale literally exploded and soaked pedestrians and motorists in blood and entrails. According to one Taiwanese scientist, “Because of the natural decomposing process, a lot of gases accumulated, and when the pressure build-up was too great, the whale’s belly exploded” (“Whale Explodes…,” 2004). In light of such events, it certainly is not difficult to imagine that a dead human body, which may have been swelling for a number of days, could have fallen a short distance (from wherever it was hanging), and easily burst open when striking the ground.” (Apologeticspress.org)

This idea has promise for several reasons: 

a) Judas hanged himself on Passover and before a Sabbath, and no Jew was going to touch the hanging corpse (touching a dead body caused defilement; it would have been work to take it down on the Sabbath; added to that, death by hanging was especially a disgrace; and hoisting a dead body isn’t an attractive vocation if it isn’t on your property). So it may be assumed that Judas hanged himself, his body was heated by the Palestinian sun, blew up, broke or slid through the knot of the rope, and fell down bursting open because of decomposition.

b) Another point to consider why the rope around Judas’ neck broke. Approximately six to nine hours had elapsed, and it was during this time that Judas hanged himself. The Bible relates that when Jesus died, there was an earthquake so mighty that rocks were broken and graves were opened. One may assuredly presume that an earthquake strong enough to rend a rock might also be powerful enough to break a rope or cord, specifically the rope from which Judas was hanging. Consequently, it follows, that while Judas did in fact hang himself, the cord from which he was suspended broke. 

3) Third ContradictionJudas did not really die? — Those who say the narrative is not literal but figurative need to consider Acts chapter 1.  Peter says that he fell headlong, burst asunder in the middle and his bowles gushed out, making it fairly clear that he is talking about someone who died. Luke, who was part of the early church, had no problem believing that Judas Iscariot died.  Also, if Judas Iscariot had not died, he would not have needed to be replaced.  

4) Fourth ContradictionHow could the body of Judas fall headlong if tied by the neck? — Can a body fall headlong from hanging? Would not he legs crash to the ground first? I’m not sure why this particular issue is such a stumbling block to people. The word here rendered “headlong” – πρηνής  prēnēs means properly “bent forward, head-foremost.” So there is little denial this happened. But how did his body rotate 180 degrees upon the rope breaking?

14First, we don’t know the height of the tree. Judas could have used a high branch to hang himself and his body hit another branch as the rope loosed, causing his body to flip? This is possible, but would it not make more sense for Judas to simply choose the lowest branch that he could find; one that was sufficiently high? Probably, since a branch with a branch underneath it may have only gotten in the way. But then again, the lower branch may have caused doubt and since the state of mind of someone bent on suicide is not the most stable, this scenario cannot be fully discounted.

Another scenario would simply state that Judas chose a branch suitably higher than himself and used a nearby rock to climb up to it – perhaps it was right underneath the branch. Once the rope broke, the body would have crashed down feet first into the rock (which could have been of a suitable size) and as such, the body simply pitched forward and fell headlong the rest of the way. It certainly is not an impossible circumstance!

Conclusion

I hope people stop making a huge deal out of nothing at all. The amount of information on the internet about this subject is tremendous, yet most is erroneous and proves a huge lack of faith. The Bible does not always give every detail, yet this does not mean the incident is fictitional. It simply means we have to look deeper into the matter, use faith and common sense. We also have to under stand that critics approach the Bible from the angle that God is lying, which contradicts what the scriptures say, “that God cannot lie” (Tit 1:2).

April 7, 2009

Does God Condone The Immorality And Violence Of The Bible?

The Bible is the great instruction book that tells man both how to live and how NOT to live. Jesus said that we should live by every word of God (Matt. 4:4). The Bible is a very practical book, and, besides containing direct instructions from God, it also contains examples of real-life situations from which we all can learn. It shows that disobedience to God’s laws always exacts a penalty.

The Bible shows that all people are subject to human passions and that everyone makes mistakes (Rom. 3:23). Human weaknesses and shortcomings are not covered up. In fact, the sins of even the most righteous are revealed in a plain and truthful manner. Why? God wants us to know that His laws are eternal, and that we, living in this modern, sophisticated world, are not somehow immune to or exempt from the laws which govern human behavior.

The recorded examples of the mistakes of others are meant to help keep us from making the same mistakes. The things others have done act as stop signs and traffic signals to help keep us on the straight and narrow way which leads to eternal life. Study I Corinthians 10:6 in this light.

Although the accounts of immorality are a necessary part of teaching us what is right and wrong in God’s sight, the Bible never dwells on such acts. Certainly, it may leave no doubt about the nature of an event, but no account in the Bible could be described as being “dirty” or pornographic.

The essential facts are simply recorded, and then it is left up to us to learn the lessons. Without a doubt, learning by example is far better than learning by personal experience that sin brings dire consequences and, without repentance ultimately leads to eternal death. When final judgment is passed, no one will be able to say to God that He didn’t care or that He didn’t warn us about sin. God is love, His law is perfect, and His written Word is a lamp to guide us to perfection and life everlasting (Ps. 119:105; 19:7; I John 4:8, 16; John 12:48-50; Gal. 6:8).

March 30, 2009

The Lure Of The Dark Side: Occult Powers

 

Many ask about witches, hypnotists, fortune-tellers, mediums, crystalball gazers, supposed miracle workers, clairvoyants, and so on. Others seek clarification on people like Nostradamus, who claims to foretell the future. 

We can know whether anyone who claims to have “supernatural” powers really is a prophet, messenger, or servant of God. In the Bible we find these instructions: “If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 13:1-3, RSV). 

God further warns us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). This is how we should “try” the spirits: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:19-20). 

Here, then, is the test of a true servant of God. He will teach the people to believe and to obey exactly what the Word of God says (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4).

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