Faith Only And Luther’s Mistranslation

faith No Comments

The Reformation Movement produced five main ideas:  Sola Scriptura (The Scriptures only–in refutation of the supremacy of the Roman Catholic Church (ex-cathedra); Sola Fide (Faith only in refutation of the Catholic doctrine of works); Sola Gratia (Grace only in reaction to the Catholic Church’s doctrine of merits); Sola Christa (Christ alone-salvation is through Jesus Christ); and Sola Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone).  The problem lies with the doctrine of faith alone.  This doctrine omits love and love for God is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36-39).  There cannot be love for neighbor without love for God.  Love for God is the most important commandment.  “Faith worketh by love,” Paul states in Gal. 5:6.
Martin Luther mistranslated Romans 1:17 using a phrase borrowed from Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples.  Ben Witherington III makes the following statement, “Erasmus was prepared, however, for criticism when he prepared his Greek NT, and he got it, though there was a bit of a delayed response.  The first edition of 1516 produced few ripples, but when the second edition was published in 1519 this set off the fire alarm bell.  Erasmus would argue that correcting errors in a translation or copy of an original biblical text did not in any way count to disputing the inspiration of the divinely inspired text.  If someone argued it was impious to change anything in Holy Writ, he retorted that it must be worse then to allow scribal errors to stand uncorrected as they obscured the original meaning of Scripture!  Erasmus, in fact, when he publishes this own annotations, not only borrowed the title of Valla, but simply reran various of Valla’s notes.  Note that Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples also followed Valla’s lead, and mentions him in his 1512 commentary on Paul’s Epistles.  This is important for our purposes because Lefevre’s is the work which Martin Luther based his game-changing Wittenburg lectures in 1515-1519.  And here is where I note that it was Lefevre’s commentary on Romans that produced the phrase “by faith alone” which seems to have been noticed by no one–except Luther, who then mistranslated Rom. 1:17 as “for the righteousness of God was revealed by faith alone,” though it actually reads dikaiosune gar theou en auto apokaluptetai ek pisteos eis pistin. That last phrase can be rendered “from faith to faith” or “from the faithful (one) unto faith,” but it cannot be rendered “by faith alone.” So much for the Lutheran stress on sole fide.  (Sola Scriptura And The Reformation: But Which Scripture, and What Translation? JETS, 60/4 (2017): 817-828, p. 822).
Actually, the only place where “faith only” occurs in the NT is James 2:24.  “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”  Notice that the phrase is negated, “not by faith only.”  Luther did not like this statement in James and consequently desired to remove the book of James from the canon of the NT.  James argues that works (works of obedience) are required for justification.  Obedience to the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ is precisely what love for God demands.  “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.  He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:23-24).  Love and obedience go together.  Faith and obedience do too!  James illustrates justification by works using the example of Abraham.  Abraham was justified by works when he offered Isaac (his son) to God as God commanded him to do.  Whenever the word “works” is understood properly as acts of obedience to God and not as self-righteousness, then faith and works are not mutually exclusive.  Faith without works is dead (James 2:26).  No one will be saved by a dead faith.  A living faith is an obedient faith (Heb. 11:17-19; 11:8).  Faith worketh by love (Gal. 5:6) and so both faith and love lead to obedience to God’s commands.  Obedience to the Lord’s commandments is the way that disciples of Jesus are made.  “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe also things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:18-20–The Great Commission).

Spiritual Malpractice

age of the earth, apologetics, Apostasy No Comments

Medical malpractice occurs whenever a doctor fails to provide a patient with proper medical care.  This could involve, among other things, failing to give the proper information and treatment to a patient causing physical or psychological harm or even death.  Spiritual malpractice occurs whenever a person in a spiritual leadership position gives false or misleading information in the guidance of a human soul that leads to the destruction of that soul in eternity.  With that in mind, we can confidently affirm that all false teachers are guilty of spiritual malpractice.  False doctrine cannot save.  Only the truth saves.  “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim 3:15).  “Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4).  “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
There are many warnings in the Scriptures of false teachers and false doctrine.  Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15).  Paul warned the elders at Ephesus, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).  While Timothy was at Ephesus, Paul warned him in the following words, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising, Perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (I Tim. 6:3-6).  Paul actually did what he told Timothy to do, namely, withdrew from those who spoke against God, “Holding faith, and a good conscience: which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (I Tim. 1:19-20).  Peter also predicted, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves  swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (II Pet. 2:1-2).
The Warren Christian Apologetics Center is guilty of publishing and promoting false doctrine in the book by Nobie Stone, Genesis 1 and Lessons From Space (both the 2014 and the 2017-revised edition).  This book affirms, Theistic Evolution, mitigated skepticism (a form of agnosticism) and promotes false science (the inflation theory (now falsified) used in support of the Big Bang theory).  The book violates the law of rationality by affirming self-contradictory statements such as: “…because it is rarely, if ever, possible to hold any truth with absolute certainty” (p. 18).  This statement affirms an absolute.  If Stone believes it absolutely then he contradicts himself. It amounts to saying, “I know absolutely that you cannot know anything absolutely.”   The statement is irrational.  The false teaching in this book qualifies it as another act of spiritual malpractice.  A full review of the book by Nobie Stone is posted as a PDF under the book reviews page on this blog.

Help, I’m Drowning!

idolatry, materialism No Comments

If you were drowning, would you want someone to help you?  If you were drowning in the lusts of the flesh, would you want someone to rescue you?  In many ways, we place greater value on our physical lives than we do our souls.  In I Tim. 6:9-10, Paul writes, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
The Peril
Paul identifies a group of people who are marked by their desire for riches.  Three nouns indicate what they fall into:  temptation (enticement to sin); snare (trap of the devil who desires to bring us to condemnation before God); and lusts (many foolish and hurtful lusts (strong desire for what God forbids).  There are two words modifying lusts:  foolish (morally unwise) and hurtful (injurious and so unprofitable).  Peter states that fleshly lusts war against the soul (I Pet. 2:11).
The Penalty
Paul affirms that these lusts “drown men in destruction and perdition.”  The word destruction comes from the Greek word, olethros, which is always translated destruction and indicates the ruin of the whole being both physical and spiritual.  The word indicates the scope of the ruin:  present and eternal.  The word perdition comes from the Greek word apoleia, which means brought to ruin, loss of well-being, final and irrevocable ruin or condemnation by God.  The design of the temptation by Satan is realized–a person is condemned eternally by God.  The word drown literally means to plunge to one’s death in water or some other liquid.  Here, it is used figuratively of lusts which overwhelm and overcome the soul causing spiritual death.
The Proverb
In I Tim. 6:10, Paul states, “For the love of money is the root of all evil….”  This is a proverb which states a most emphatic truth.  The phrase, love of money, is from the Greek word philarguria which indicates a person who places his/her heart on possessing money.  Synonyms would be:  covetous, greed, and avarice.  This misplaced love would supplant love for God which must be supreme (Matt. 22:36-39).  Jesus said that no man can serve two masters (Matt. 6:24).  The god of mammon is a false god.  The love of money becomes a radical source of all types of evil.  What would people do for money?  Some would kill, steal, defraud, lie, cheat, prostitute themselves, destroy others, commit injustice (bribery), start wars, rob God, corrupt their own hearts with stinginess, and many other sins.  The root is the means of supply and support for a tree.  The love of money is the essential element involved in many types of sin.  To err is to transgress the faith (the Word of God, the gospel).  Those who love money pierce themselves through with many sorrows.  These are impaled by idolatry.  The heartache is self-inflicted.  The results are:  mental distress, grief, sorrow, guilt, and estrangement from God.  Judas Iscariot is a good example.  Judas was a thief (John 12:6).  He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  In doing so, he sold his soul to the devil.  Self-destruction followed the indulgence of this lust of the flesh.
True Prosperity
Paul provides the remedy in I Tim. 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”  Godliness is piety towards God involving both a love for God and a desire to please God in all things.  Contentment involves being satisfied with God’s sufficiency for our lives.  It involves being satisfied with God’s grace.  Contentment provides the contrast to covetousness and establishes a better way to live.  The result is great gain.  The true riches of life are spiritual not material (Matt. 6:19-20).

A Response to Matthew Sokoloski’s Review

apologetics, Big Bang Theory, creation No Comments

I have uploaded a response to Matthew Sokoloski’s review of Nobie Stone’s book, Genesis 1 and Lessons From Space.  Sokoloski teaches in the Humanities department of Faulkner University.  He wrote a book review of Nobie Stone’s book for Sufficient Evidence, a journal published by the Warren Christian Apologetics Center.  The review appeared in the Fall, 2017 issue.  Sokoloski’s review exposes one of the major weaknesses of Nobie Stone’s book (also published by the Warren Christian Apologetics Center) which is its skepticism (agnosticism).  However, Sokoloski fails to point out some of the other errors contained in the book.  You will find my response to Sokoloski’s review under my Book Reviews page on this blog.  Please take the time to read it.  Then, for more background information, please read my book reviews of both the first edition and revised edition of Nobie Stone’s book.  The publishing of Stone’s book utterly destroys the integrity of the Warren Christian Apologetics Center and brings shame and reproach on the name of Thomas B. Warren.

The Design Argument For God’s Existence

creation, evolution, theistic evolution No Comments

In Ruth 2:3, the Bible says, “And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.”  The word hap means “an accidental set of circumstances.”  For accidental causes to accomplish something that would normally require insight is a coincidence (Theistic Evolution, p. 97).  Ruth gleaned in the field of Boaz by coincidence.
Probability is the math of coincidence–  the math by which we rigorously rank coincidences.  For instance, you bump into an old classmate at a restaurant a thousand miles from your home and understand that it was a coincidence.  However, if your entire graduating class was at the restaurant, then, you know that it could not be by accident or coincidence, but would have to be by design.
Common Science
Whether or not we know how to calculate probabilities, we all seem to know from everyday experience–common science–that the number of opportunities cannot be large enough for anything but minor coincidences to occur.  Douglas Axe introduces us to the concept of common science in a chapter that he wrote for the book, Theistic Evolution.  Axe confidently affirms that inventions never occur by accident.  An invention is illustrated by a pizza, a power point presentation, or a paragraph in a book.  In invention (and we are all inventors) a large number of small things must be done sensibly (intelligently) in order for the big thing to come together.  Projects like making a pizza are easy to accomplish because we have mastered all of the elementary skills they require, but the fact that these skills had to be acquired assures us that accidents will never take the place of inventions.  If an invention such as a pizza will never be made by accident, then, for mind blowingly spectacular inventions like hummingbirds or dolphins to happen by accident is completely out of the question.  The rule then is: accidental invention is impossible.
Application of the Rule to Evolution
If accidental invention is impossible, then macroevolution is false.  The theory of evolution does not escape the rule of accidental invention.  Yet, evolutionists insist that, given enough time, the natural world and the universe that we live in including all life forms happened by accident!  They affirm this even though the probability is so high that it violates common science. 
Application of the Rule to Theistic Evolution
The concept of theistic evolution attempts to compromise the theory of evolution and the Biblical account of creation.  However, evolution and design are contradictory as noted above.  Theistic evolution is false because it attempts to assert that both evolution (chance development of all things) and design (intelligent design) are true.  This violates the law of non-contradiction.  The law of non-contradiction states that a proposition cannot both be true and not true at the same time.  Every precisely stated proposition is either true or false.  Evolutionists like Charles Darwin and his followers explicitly claim that chance variation (mutations) and the law of natural selection have produced all species of living organisms from a common ancestor including human beings. If true, then, design is ruled out.  In contrast, if design is the cause of creation of species as the Bible affirms, then chance and the law of natural selection are ruled out.  Theistic evolutionists attempt to have it both ways and violate the law of non-contradiction. This simply means that you have to be irrational in order to be either an evolutionist or a theistic evolutionist.
Evolution is a story without a mechanism.  It is not possible for chance to produce the design (invention) that we see every day in our universe.  This means that there is only one explanation for the design we observe all around us–an intelligent being–God–created it (Gen. 1:1)!  (reference:  Theistic Evolution, edited by J. P. Moreland, Stephen C. Meyer, Christopher Shaw, Ann K. Gauger, and Wayne Grudem).

Irrefutable Proof of the Day of Christ’s Resurrection

Sabbath, Sunday No Comments

Roderick C. Meredith in Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? affirms that Jesus was resurrected on the Sabbath day. He also affirms that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday and buried Wednesday afternoon.  He states, “But the Bible is very clear that Christ was not resurrected on Sunday morning” (p. 22).
In the interest of trying the spirits whether they be of God (I John 4:1), let us put Mr. Meredith to the test of truth.
First, Jesus predicted His resurrection on the third day. Matt. 16:21, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”  “Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9:22).  Many other passages teach the same thing (Mark 9:31; 10:34; Matt. 17:23; 20:19; Luke 18:33; 24:46).
Second, Luke gives us irrefutable evidence that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week or the third day.
Luke 24:1, “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”  This passage indicates the day when the women came to the tomb of Jesus to prepare His body with spices. They discovered that His body was no longer in the tomb.
Luke 24:13, “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.”  The phrase, “that same day” refers to the first day of the week.
Luke 24:21, “But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.”  These words were spoken by Cleopas and another disciple (unnamed) as they spoke to Jesus while on the road to Emmaus.  They spoke of Jesus’ crucifixion (Luke 24:20). This day was, in fact, the third day from the time of Jesus’ crucifixion which was the first day of the week (Luke 24:1).
Luke 24:46, “And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.”  In Luke 24, the third day was the first day of the week. Jesus was resurrected on Sunday, the first day of the week.  We affirm this confidently because Luke, an inspired writer, recorded it and not because of any tradition of men.

Love and Knowing God

Christian living, love No Comments

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:8).
The beginning of a New Year is a time for new challenges.  The apostle Paul gives us a challenge in the context of a prayer in Phil. 1:9-11, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in judgment.  That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”  Paul challenges us to grow in love.  In order to do this, we must be partakers of the divine nature.
The Divine Nature-Love
John affirms that God is love.  Love is not all that God is, but it is an aspect that characterizes God in the fullness of His Being.  Love permeates all that God is and does.  First, the love of God is His benevolent goodness.  God is good ((Mark 10:18). God created all things good (Gen. 1:31).  He is the benefactor of good things (Matt. 7:11).  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).  Second, God’s love is His selfless, sacrificial giving manifested in the unspeakable gift of His Son (II Cor. 9:15; I John 4:9-10).  Third, God always seeks our highest good (II Tim. 1:4; II Pet. 3:9) and this means He wants us to come to repentance and be saved.  A basic meaning of love is to seek the highest good of another.  God actively does this on our behalf.
Becoming Partakers of the Divine Nature
Human nature is unregenerated.  This refers to the spiritual state of man without Christ and the Holy Spirit while he is yet in his sins (Eph. 2:1).    Man’s redemption and salvation was promised through Jesus Christ when he (or she)  is born again (John 3:3-5; Gal. 3:26-17; Rom. 6:3-4).  Those who have been baptized into Christ have undergone a new birth.  They walk in newness of life.  They are new creatures created in Christ Jesus unto good works.  Paul states that the new man, “is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10).  At conversion, the new man created in Christ Jesus becomes a partaker of the divine nature, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Pet. 1:3).  As Christians, we bear the image of Christ to the world (II Cor. 3:18).  Love is a part of the holy character of God.  Christians have been called to holiness (I Thess. 4:7) and are partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12:10).  Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  Our love must imitate God’s love (Eph. 5:1-2).  Our love must be:  undefeatable, benevolent, goodwill.  It must be selfless and sacrificial.  It involves seeking the highest good of others.
Love and Knowing God
Knowing God involves much more than being intellectually aware of some facts about God.  Knowing God involves intimacy with God through the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus Christ.  It is a personal, spiritual, relationship, communion, and fellowship with deity.  It is experiential in that we have tasted of the heavenly gift (Heb. 6:4-5).  In this way, we become partakers of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 6:4).  Whenever a person becomes a Christian, he/she must deny self (Matt. 16:24), sacrifice self to God (Rom. 12:1-2) and commit to a life of service to God (Rom. 12:1-2).  In short, the conversion process involves love for God which is manifested in each of these acts.  The alternative to love is selfishness and rebellion against God.  Unbelief and disobedience are the hallmarks of lovelessness.  Failure to love is failure to know God.  John goes on to show that when we hate our brother we prove our failure to love God.  If a man says he loves God and hates his brother, he is a liar.  This incongruity can only be reconciled by repudiating human nature and being a partaker of the divine nature.  If we truly love God, we will love one another.  Love for God is the greatest commandment and must take priority in our lives or we will fail to keep all of the other commandments God has given us.  Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments (John 14:15; 14:23-24).  You can obey God without loving Him, but you cannot love God and disobey Him!
The Nature of Love
In I John 4:8-10, John indicates that love is a virtue (God is love); a motive (love prompted God to send Christ into this world) and an action (God sent, God gave-John 3:16).  Whenever we become partakers of the divine nature, we will manifest love as a virtue, a motive and an action.  Unleash the power of love in your own life.  Love will bind you to the heart of God, change your heart, become the underlying motive for all that you do and impact the lives of others for good. Love, properly understood, is the greatest thing in the world (I Cor. 13:13)!

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