Clarity of Scripture

Bible, Clarity of Scripture, Truth No Comments

The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture, also called the perspicuity of Scripture, teaches that the meaning of a biblical text can be clear to the ordinary student of God’s Word.  God uses the text of the Bible to communicate His nature and His will to man.  The mind of God is revealed to the mind and heart of man through the inspired Word of God.  The human mind is fully capable of knowing and understanding God’s Word.  In John 8:32, Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”  In Eph. 5:17, the apostle Paul wrote, “Be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
While some passages of Scripture are more difficult to understand than others, these more difficult passages are also capable of being understood (II Pet. 3:16).  Peter recognizes that Paul wrote some things that are difficult to understand.  However, he did not say that they were impossible to understand.
Satan used various means to obscure the truth.  For instance, he is the father of lies (John 8:44).  He uses false doctrines and false ideologies to deceive men (Matt. 7:15; II Tim. 4:1-5; II Pet. 2). Knowledge of the truth is the only way to distinguish the lies of Satan from the truths of God’s Word.  We must study God’s word and interpret it correctly in order to understand it properly.
Consider the following passages that affirm the clarity of the Scriptures.  Moses states, “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deut. 30:11-14).  “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psa. 119:18).  “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:17-18).  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is 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” (II Tim. 3:16).  Other passages for your consideration are: II Cor. 4:6; Phil. 3:15-16; and II Pet. 1:3-4; 16-21).
The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture is a safeguard against the Roman Catholic Church which asserts that Scripture is unclear apart from the interpretive framework of the Catholic Church and its traditions.  It also safeguards against Postmodernism which asserts that subjective experience should be preferred over knowing the originally intended meaning of Scripture.  We do not create our own reality as postmodernists affirm.  God defines reality both by His creative work and His special revelation given in the Bible.

Points of Similarity Between Nobie Stone and John Lennox

age of the earth, creation, evolution No Comments

There are several points of similarity between Nobie Stone’s book, Genesis One and Lessons From Space (c. 2014) and John Lennox’s book, Seven Days That Divide The World (c. 2011).  Stone does not mention Lennox or reference his book in his own work.  However, many of the concepts and even vocabulary words that Stone uses come from Lennox.
1.  Both men argue for a new look at Genesis 1.
2.  Both men speak of creation as a sequence involving a process.
3.  Both believe that the Big Bang Theory is an explanation of Gen. 1:1.
4.  Both accept the Gap Theory.
5.  Both accept the Cosmic Microwave Background theory.
6.  Both believe that the days of Genesis may be 24 hour periods separated by long periods of time.
7.  Both call for humility on the part of Christians that most certainly would disagree with their interpretations.
8.  Both argue that it doesn’t make any difference if you interpret Gen. 1 as 24-hour periods or long periods of time.
9.  Both argue that the geocentric view was a false view and that the mistake was made by theologians.
10.  Both argue that the interpretation of Genesis 1 is sophisticated.
I have uploaded a pdf under the page Biblical Articles for readers to explore the comparisons in detail with quotes.  Please read my book reviews of each of these authors.  You will find the reviews under the Book Review page on this website.

Seven Days That Divide The World

age of the earth, creation, evolution No Comments

I have just posted a new book review of John Lennox’s work titled, Seven Days That Divide The World. Lennox may be referred to as a progressive creationist.  He believes in an ancient universe and ancient earth.  He reinterprets Genesis 1 to fit this viewpoint.  In doing so, he has to deal rather creatively with the grammatical and lexical features of the creation account in Genesis.  I have reviewed and in many instances challenged his conclusions.
This book, in my opinion, was used by Nobie Stone to produce his own work, Genesis 1 and Lessons From Space that was published by the Warren Christian Apologetics Center.  The Warren Christian Apologetics Center just published Nobie Stone’s mostly favorable review of Lennox’s work in Sufficient Evidence, vol. 6 (Fall, 2016).  Reader’s may want to consult a review of Lennox’s work that was printed in Answers Research Journal 5 (2012): 89-97.  That review was written by Simon Turpin and titled, Review of John Lennox’s Book Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science.  Turpin shows that Answers in Genesis publications have answered most of Lennox’s arguments.

Personal Offenses vs. Public Error

false doctrine, rebuke error, Truth No Comments

Matthew 18:15-17 is a passage of Scripture that is often misunderstood and abused.  I would like to provide some excellent quotes from respected men who give a good analysis of this passage.  The first is by Wendell Winkler, A Study of Jesus, the King, As Developed in Matthew 18 in the Book of Matthew, edited by Garland Elkins and Thomas Warren, pp. 470-486. “(7) A special note: an abuse of this test.  Some use this text, when public ungodliness is rebuked (I Tim. 5:20), and written and spoken false doctrine is taught, by asking, “Have you been to see the brother?”  Such is not required, since this text is dealing with personal offenses, not public ungodly living and public proclamation of false doctrine.  Based on this reasoning Catholicism could not be rebuked unless one first went to see the pope, nor Baptist doctrine as taught in his column, “My Answer,” without first going to see Billy Graham!”
Consider this quotation from Terry Hightower, Jesus’ Teaching on Offenders, Offenses, Forgiveness, Divorce, and Riches (Studies in Matthew, edited by Dub McClish, The Fourteenth Annual Denton Lectures, November 12-16, 1995, pp. 224-254).  “The foolish notion that the Lord’s first step goes beyond personal offenses to apply to those publicly teaching error is patently absurd in the light of Christ’s controversial dealings with His own disciples (e. g. a “Get thee behind me Satan” Peter or a “cumbered about much serving: Martha), the temple moneychangers, Pharisees, Sadducees, entire cities (e. g., Matt. 11:20-24; imagine His having to go to every resident first before He could publicly rebuke them!).  He felt no compulsion to seek a totally private audience with a Herod or a Pilate (Luke 13:32; John 18:33-38).  John did not feel compelled to refrain from calling Diotrephes’ name in 3 John 9-10.  Paul did not misapply Matthew 18:15 in dealing with Peter’s sin in Galatians 2:14, nor in operating upon what some today would call “hearsay” or “rumor” in I Corinthians 1:11 and 5:1-13.  Is it not the case that those most prone to “eisegete” verse 15 are the very ones who will ignore it and criticize the criticizers without first going to them? (pp. 233-234).
Those who publicly declare false doctrine (either verbally or in writing) are rightly subject to public rebuke and exposure.  This solemn charge is given by the apostle Paul in II Tim. 4:1-4, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Seeking Jesus!

birth of Christ, Virgin Birth, wise men No Comments

The visit of the wise men to Bethlehem to see the Messiah (Jesus) serves to announce to the political and religious leaders in Jerusalem that the Messiah was born.  Their quest helps us in our own as we explore who Jesus is and His work of redemption.
Background
The birth of Jesus (the Messiah) is a significant historical event that fulfills many Old Testament prophecies (there are a total of 333 Messianic prophecies).  The place where the Messiah would be born is given in prophecy by Micah (Micah 5:2).  Micah pinpoints Bethlehem of Judea as the place.  Judah was the tribe from which Shiloh would come (Gen. 49:9-10).  Judah was also the tribe from which king David came.  The Messiah would be a descendant of king David (II Sam. 7:11-13).  Bethlehem was the city of David (Luke 2:4).
At the time of the birth of the Messiah, Herod the Great was king. Herod ruled from B.C. 37 to B. C. 4.  The birth of the Messiah was in B.C. 4.  However, we are not told the month nor the day.
Herod was crafty, of an uncontrollable rage, superstitious, ruthless and bloody.  His character is on full display in the order to kill all of the children of Bethlehem that were two years old or younger (Matt. 2:16).
The wise men from the east were on a quest to locate the Messiah and to worship Him and bring Him gifts.  They were from the east–a reference to the Mesopotamian Valley and indicating a Persian or Babylonian wise man or a priest. These wise men were experts in astrology, philosophy, medicine, and natural science. Some wise men were associated with evil (sorcery or magic) such as Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8) and Elymus the Sorcerer (Acts 13).  Others were good, like Daniel (Daniel 2:10,17, 48; 4:6-9).
These men (we are not told how many) came to Jerusalem seeking more information about the location of the birth of the Messiah.  They had seen his star.  They were evidently led by divine revelation and guidance, but we are not told all of the details of the information that they were privately given.  God uses angels, dreams, and His word to lead men at this time and it is not surprising that a star is also used.  This star is not a natural occurrence.  It is a supernatural one and it directs the wise men to the location of the Messiah in Bethlehem.
The inquiry of the wise men in Jerusalem was met with ignorance.  The people that they asked did not know where the Messiah was to be born.  When Herod learns of their inquiry, he takes interest and asks the chief priest and scribes where the Messiah was to be born.  They replied by citing the prophecy given in Micah 5:2.  Herod is troubled by the news.  He had secured the throne by ruthless means and he intends to continue to possess it by any means necessary.  He trembles to hear of another king in Judea.  Herod called the wise men to him and asked them what time the star had appeared.  Based upon his actions, related in v. 16, the time period is at most two years.
Herod sends the wise men to Bethlehem to search for the Messiah.  They search for a young child not a babe.  The wise men never attended the baby Jesus at the time of His birth.  The child has grown and Mary and the family now live in a house in Bethlehem.
Herod’s quest is not for the same reason as the wise men pursued.  Herod is an unbeliever who seeks to destroy Christ.  He pretends to have the desire to worship Him.  But, his actions after the rebuff of the wise men clearly shows that he was determined to eliminate all rivals to the throne (Matt. 2:16).
The wise men were guided by the star to the house where Jesus lived with his family and Mary is named as His mother.  The first time the wise men see Jesus, they now know that He is the Messiah.  They worship Him.  They present gifts to Him befitting a king–gold, frankincense and myrrh.  The miraculous intervention by God not only pinpoints the location in Bethlehem, but it also identifies Jesus as the Messiah.
The wise men brought the very best gifts to the Messiah.  What a contrast to those who bring Jesus only their leftovers.  Jesus deserves the best that we can give Him.
These events seem to occur at night.  There is the star.  There is also a dream in which God warns the wise men not to return to Herod.  Consequently, they returned home another way.  At the conclusion of this narrative, they do not appear again on the pages of the New Testament.  Their mission was accomplished.  Matthew gives us the account of their quest of the Messiah and visit to Him in order to help us find Christ.
Jesus is the Christ!  He is divinely revealed in prophecy.  He was miraculously brought forth of a virgin (Mary).  He was born in Bethlehem of Judea.  He descended from king David and was of royal descent (proven by the genealogical records (Matt. 1 and Luke 3).  He was born to be King of kings– a universal ruler–whose rule would never end (Micah 5:1-4).  He fulfills the divine purpose for which He came and through His death, He became the savior of the world (John 4:42, I John 4:14).  All of this happened in the “fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4) manifesting God’s power to fulfill God’s purposes.

No Greater Love

cross, love No Comments

Bill O’Reilly in his book, Killing the Rising Sun, relates many short stories to give the brief history of World War II and the use of the first atomic bomb.  He relates the story of Desmond Doss, a recipient of the medal of honor.  Doss is one of 3,500 individuals that have been decorated with America’s highest award for valor.  O’Reilly relates, “It is Saturday on Okinawa, the Sabbath for PFC Desmond Doss.  It is to be a day of rest and prayer (Doss is a Seventh Day Adventist-DS), even amid the ongoing battle for the Maeda Escarpment.  His leg is bruised and bleeding from falling over the side of the cliff last night, and he can barely stand.  As the sun rises, Doss leans back against a rock, thinking of is girlfriend back home and reading his Bible.
A week has passed since Doss’s squad launched their attack.  The seesaw battle for the escarpment continues; the Japanese are utilizing a “reverse slope” defense, in which the Americans are allowed to occupy the forward portions of the summit but the crest and the reverse side of the mountain remain in Japanese hands.  In the process, the Americans have been pushed off the summit many times, only to fight back and regain the high ground. Each day, PFC Doss has climbed the great rope ladders (about 60′-DS) to treat the American wounded (Doss is a medic–DS). His uniform has turned the color of dried blood from all the men he has treated, frantically performing first aid amid grenades and small-arms fire.  Doss refuses to seek cover as he applies tourniquets, stanches blood flow, injects morphine, and dragged men from the line of fire. B Company has been reduced from 200 to 155 men, and it is Doss who has tended to each of the fallen, alive or dead, he has lowered their bodies off the escarpment to safety.
…Doss’s wounded leg throbs, but he remains on the summit.  The company has no other medic.  An American attack on the well-fortified pillbox fails, and more men fall.  The dead and dying are spread out across the escarpment as the order to fall back is issued.  Every able soldier retreats to safety, scrambling back down the cargo net.  Left atop the cliff are Doss, a hundred wounded Americans, and the Imperial Japanese Army.
Doss refuses to leave.  “I knew these men; they were my buddies, some had wives and children.  If they were hurt, I wanted to be there to take care of them,” Doss would later write.
Working tirelessly, exposed to thick gunfire and exploding shells, the private treats every one of the fallen.  The wounded who can shoot provide covering fire as they await their turn to be rescued. Ignoring the searing pain in his leg, Doss grabs each of them under the shoulders or by the heels and drags them to the edge of the cliff.
As a child, Desmond Doss once helped rescue victims of a flood.  It was then that he was taught a special knot with which he could fashion a sling using a short section of rope.  The memory of that knot, something that he had not thought of for twenty years, suddenly comes back to him.  Using this impromptu technique, Doss lowers man after man over the side, then rushes back across the escarpment to get another. “Just get one more,” he says to himself over and over. “Just one more.”
Japanese soldiers take aim at Doss, but they miss.  When they advance with bayonets, sometimes coming within just a few feet of the medic, wounded Americans summon the strength to shoot the Japanese soldiers dead.
By nightfall, PFC Desmond Doss has single-handedly saved the lives of seventy-five men.
“I can state without reservation that the actions of this man were the most outstanding display of bravery I have ever seen,” First Lieutenant Cecil Gornto will marvel.
“I wasn’t trying to be a hero,” Doss will tell a newspaper reporter much later in his life. “I was thinking about it from this standpoint–in a house on fire, and a mother has a child in that house, what prompts her to go in and get that child? “Love,” he will respond, answering his own question, “I loved my men and they loved me…I just couldn’t give them up, just like a mother couldn’t give up the child.”” (pp. 110-112).
“No greater love” is the love that we have for another when we would be willing to lay down our life for him/her.  It is the supreme act of devotion.
Jesus accomplishes the supreme act of love on the cross. His death for us and in our behalf represents a selfless love that is powerful to conquer sin, death and the human heart.  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Jesus instructs His disciples to possess and display this same love for one another. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).  All of the elements of love are on display at the cross.  There is forgiveness, inner strength, a higher, nobler purpose, salvation of others, compassion, suffering, sacrifice, and resolution to face death.
Love is transformational!  Love can change a family, a military unit, a football team, a community, a congregation of God’s people, and, yes, it can change the world! What’s the proof? Jesus’ love has already changed the world.

Is This The End?

Bible versions, Premillennialism, Second Coming of Christ No Comments

“John Brown’s Bible sets the return of Jesus Christ for 2016.  That’s right.  John Brown’s famous Self-Interpreting Bible set the Return of Christ and the beginning of the Millennium for 2016.  His prediction is found in his commentary footnote located at Revelation 11:2.  John Brown (1722-1787) was a Scottish weaver who became a Presbyterian minister.  Although self-educated, he prepared an annotated King James Bible, Bible dictionary, and concordance, as well as a metrical version of the Psalms. His Self-Interpreting Bible appeared first in 1778 in Edinburgh and was reprinted many times in Scotland, England, and America, beginning in 1792.  Brown’s Bible was the first one ever printed in New York, printed by subscription in forty parts over a period of two years.  The first subscriber was George Washington.  He was President at the time and living in New York, then the capital.  Brown’s popular Bible went through 25 editions from 1778-1897.  Like many churchmen of his era, Brown followed the historicist understanding of the Book of Revelation. This viewpoint suggested that the 1260 days of Revelation equaled 1260 years, and that when it expired, the end was here.  Many historicists added the 1260 days (“years”) to AD 606 when Phocas became universal bishop of the Catholic Church. This meant the end was in 1866.  Brown offered another starting date of AD 756, when the pope
became a temporal prince.  This pushed the end to the far off (for him) future.  But, the future is now–2016″(Bible Review Journal, Fall, 2016, p. 90).  Matthew 24:36 answers the question, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

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