Saturday, May 18, 2019

Thoughts on Acts, Part 6

In today's study from Acts 3:18-26, we again talk about who Peter was addressing, Israel's failed national repentance, and discussed what would have happened had they repented.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

Times of Refreshing
vv.18-19 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, The times of refreshing is referring to the Kingdom. 

Times of Restoration of All Things
vv.20-21 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. The "times of restoration of all things" will take place during the Tribulation. cf. the Title Deed of Revelation 5. This also clearly indicates that Peter understood that even though they did repent (v.19), it would have been followed by the Tribulation before the  Second Coming. He knew Daniel 9 and the 70th week would take place next.

A Prophet of Deliverance
vv.22-23 For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'THE LORD YOUR GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN. HIM YOU SHALL HEAR IN ALL THINGS, WHATEVER HE SAYS TO YOU. AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERY SOUL WHO WILL NOT HEAR THAT PROPHET SHALL BE UTTERLY DESTROYED FROM AMONG THE PEOPLE.' Just as Moses delivered the nation from bondage then, Jesus will do the same for them if they would accept it. 

These Days
v.24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. Notice that Peter says that the prophecies were for "these days".

v.25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.' Again, Peter is not addressing Gentiles at all! "Our fathers" is referring to Israel! The bottom line is that God's plan was to use the nation of Israel to reach the nations (Deu 32:8; Isa 42:1; Isa 49:5-7; Isa 59:20-21; Isa 60:1-3 (Mat 5:14); Zec 8:23).

The Abrahamic Covenant was threefold:
1. Nation - Israel
2. Land - Promised Land
3. King - Messiah and Savior

From that point, God would use them to reach the nations. 

National Repentance
v.26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities." It is very clear that Christ came to the Jews first. Notice that the call was that "every one of you from his iniquities". God was asking for national repentance, not necessarily individual. Had they done it, the Tribulation would have taken place, they would have preached to the Gentiles, and the Second Coming. Of course, they did not, Rome came in forty years later and destroyed the city and the temple and scattered them throughout the nations and the Times of the Gentiles came in. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Thoughts on Acts, Part 5

In today's study from Acts:2:42-3:17, we continue to see the characteristics of the Kingdom Church and mystery that was still to be revealed about the Body of Christ today.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

v.42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. How many times have I head this quoted as the key to a healthy church. Well, no doubt, it can be, but this is not referring to the church we are in today, but instead to the Kingdom Church.

It is also noteworthy that those who use Acts 2:42 as the basis for the purpose of the church seem to ignore verses 43-45. No doubt, this is a fellowship of believers who had aligned themselves with the teaching of the apostles. They had been baptized and had received the gift of the Holy Ghost (v. 38).

Again, while this may be similar to the church as we know it today, a careful study of this group will display too many differences with the church of today to call this Acts 2 group the first church, or the day of Pentecost the birth of the church.

vv.43-46 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, The wonders and signs were done by the apostles. Nowhere in the book of Acts will we see the miraculous performed by anyone other than the Apostles or their emissaries.

v.47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. This verse is referring to the Kingdom Church and not the Body of Christ. 

Chapter 3
v.1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. Notice that even after Pentecost, they returned to the Temple. Why? There is no NT Church in view here. The church has no prescribed hour of prayer! Again, Peter is addressing Jews!

vv.2-5 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Chapter 4:22 tells us that this man was forty years old. Because of his age, he had probably been there for quite some time. Why didn't Jesus heal him? Maybe, it was for this moment? cf. Joh_11:1-4 and the death of Lazurus. 

vv.6-11 Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed. Understand, that at this point, Peter had no idea about the gentile church because it was still hidden from him (Deu 29:29; Luk 18:31-34). We must understand that they had no idea that Christ was going to rise again from the dead. He had hidden it from them (Joh 13:6-7; Eph 3:1-9; Col 1:24-26). 

vv.12-15 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 

Notice who Peter is addressing! Jews! Martin Luther was antisemitic because of this verse. The Nazi's referred to the writings of Luther as justification for what they did to the Jews. 

v.16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. Notice that Peter makes no reference to the death, burial, and resurrection. Peter is still preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom! 

v.17 "Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. Peter is still addressing Jews! Some believe that Peter might be referring back to the law of unintentionally killing someone and the cities of refuge as compared to murder which required the death penalty. This was an important distinction because it left the door open for God to continue dealing with them rather than destroying them for murder, i.e., offering the Kingdom.

Paul obviously agreed with this assessment because he said in 1Co 2:7-8  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 

On another note, we cannot assume that the apostles had any idea that Christ was to be crucified in advance and that he would turn to the Gentiles. The scriptures clearly indicate that they did not. Their statement of faith was simply that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God, period (Mat 16:16; Act 8:26-37). 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Signs and Leaven

In today's study from Matthew 16:1-12, we take a look at why the Jews still demanded a sign after all that he had already done and the tag-teaming that was going on between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

Still Seeking Signs
vv.1-4 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.

It's interesting to see how well these guys are working together: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They disagreed on many things, but not in their disdain for Jesus. It is the old expression that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Common enemies create uncommon alliances, e.g., the Russians and the Americans in WW2

Back to the text, the religious leaders were, in essence, saying that they wanted to see a sign from heaven. Why? - They apparently were not convinced by all of the earthly signs he had already did.
Why? - Tradition held that signs done on earth could actually be from Satan, but signs in the Heaven's (from the sky) had to be from God.

I know, that sounds strange, but part of their reasoning was that the Devil was the God of this world, and as such, any miracles done could be attributed to him. Remember that back in chapter 10 and 12, they had already accused him of using Satin to perform is miracles (Mat 12:24; Mat 12:27).

Jesus' Response
Hypocrites! They were willing to accept signs from the fallen world around them (the sky) and yet they were blind to the fact that he was their long_awaited Messiah as foretold in the Scriptures. All of the Old Testament pointed to this moment...and yet, here it is, and they can't see it.

Notice, a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. I believe that he called them this for two reasons: First, they should have known who He was from the Old Testament. Second, because they didn't know the Scriptures, they were instead placing their faith in signs.

Don't get me wrong, nothing wrong with signs, but he had already given them enough signs. They were now walking in unbelief. Remember that the two generations in Jewish history who received the most signs where those of the Exodus and those here at the First Advent, and they both rejected him. The bottom line is that signs do not bring people to the faith, and it is not because the signs are insufficient; instead, it is because the darkness of man's heart is even more insufficient.

Jesus Warns His Disciples
vv.5-12 Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." And they reasoned among themselves, saying, "It is because we have taken no bread." But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, "O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

Now Jesus warns his disciples about the false teaching of the religious leaders. It's amazing that the disciples were still thinking of physical bread when the Lord mentioned leaven. They surely knew that Jesus didn't need bread to feed people by now. He had just proven that in the previous two great feedings.

On another note, I think that we are too quick to judge the disciples in their short-sightedness in that we can be the same way. I believe that God's hand can be seen all around us, and we too, don't see it routinely. Why? - We are too focused on ourselves and the world around us. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Feeding of the 4000

In today's study from Matthew 15:21-39, we review the healing of the Canaanite women, the issue of faith, and the lesson learned from the feeding of the four thousand.

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

A Gentile’s Request
vv.21-22 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.  (22)  And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

Lest we overlook it in the text, our Lord walked some fifty miles from Galilee to the area of Tyre and Sidon to encounter this woman. It was not an accident. These were Gentile cities. It was a divine appointment. No such thing as coincidences, my friend.

On another note, it is interesting that at the same time this woman is proclaiming exactly who Jesus is, his own countrymen are plotting his demise.

Jesus Healed Her Daughter
vv.23-28 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.  (24)  But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  (25)  Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.  (26)  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.  (27)  And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.  (28)  Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

Jesus is not being cold or rude toward this woman.  He is merely stating his purpose. The term “dog” in v.26, while it was a slur towards the Gentiles; Jesus used it as a term of endearment by saying, “little dogs” (NKJV).

The Point
However, bear in mind, that Jesus did walk fifty miles to heal this woman’s daughter. I believe he purposely used this to show that the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” were in the process of rejecting him while the “dogs” were not. We read no other reason than this as to why Jesus went to this area. It can be said that he simply had a divine appointment with this woman and used it to make a point.

More Healings
vv.29-31 And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there.  (30)  And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them:  (31)  Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.

It’s interesting that while faith was mentioned in the healing of the Gentile women in the previous verses, it is not in these healings. As a matter of fact, the faith appears to be more on the part of those who brought them. Point being, Jesus can do anything that he wants to without any preconceived “formula”. But like all healings should be, they glorified God as a result. I believe that all that God does ultimately is to bring glory to himself and not the recipients. Pastor Chuck Smith used to say that when we began taking bows, God removes Himself from the situation.

The Feeding of the 4000
vv.32-39 Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.  (33)  And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude?  (34)  And Jesus saith unto them,  How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes.  (35)  And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.  (36)  And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.  (37)  And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full.  (38)  And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children.  (39)  And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala.

This miracle, though separate, is essentially the same as the feeding of the 5000 in the previous chapter. John Bonner was the first to point out to me that the disciples not only gave but also received. Cf. 14:20 and 15:37 The point is that God wants to minister as much to us as He does to them that we minister to. Another point to be made is that we cannot out give God!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Thoughts on Acts, Part 4

Some more challenging thoughts on what was happening on the Day of Pentecost from Acts 2:20-41. Again, who was Peter addressing in these verses? Was it the church that you and I are in today? What was he wanting Israel to do and why? What if they had repented? What would have happened next?

You may hear the audio study on SoundCloud or see the video study on YouTube.

v.19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 

Peter fully expected these things to happen next or he would not have said it. Peter was there when Jesus taught Matthew 24! As a matter of fact, Peter is still talking about it in 1 Peter.

v.21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

This verse confuses many because they connect it to the Gospel of Grace. 

v.22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 

This begins the final offer of the Kingdom.

v.23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 

This is prophesied by many Old Testament prophecies. The crucifixion had to happen before any legitimate Kingdom offer could be made.

vv.25-37 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 

Peter uses the Hebrew Scripture from Psa 16:8-11 to show that the crucifixion and resurrection are proof that Jesus was their true Messiah (v.32). He and the other apostles had missed this small detail as well back in  Luk_18:31-34. It is not a good news sermon but is one that is attempting to lead them to repentance. 

vv.38-41 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.   

Many use this as a proof text for the necessity of baptism. However, this is not true in that Peter was not addressing the Church, but Israel, e.g., Act 2:14, Act 2:22, and Act 2:36.

Paul never teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation, e.g., 1Co 12:13. He makes it obvious that it is a baptism of the Spirit and not water. The last mention of baptism is the Bible is found in Eph 4:3-6. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Creation Account, Part 4

We wrap up our topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two today. We have thus far looked at some of the various views of the creation accounts to point out their weaknesses and strengths. Today, we are going to look at the Biblical View and discuss why it must be true above all else and that anything else we believe must fall in line with that view without contradiction. So far, we have looked at the following views: Mythology, Pictoral Day, Old Earth Creation, Young Earth Creation, Gap Theory, and Naturalistic Evolution.

The final view that needs to be considered is the Biblical View. In other words, what does the Bible say in regards to the creation account? These issues include, but certainly are not limited to, what it says about the uniqueness of man above the rest of God's creation, the origin of sin that requires a Savior, and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul which point to the fact that they clearly believed the creation account as found in Genesis 1-2. 

In regards to the uniqueness of man, the New Testament teaches that man is the pinnacle of God’s creation in that he was created in the image of God unlike any of the other creatures before him. Millard Erickson says of this, “There is something that gives humanity value from above. The value of humans is not that they are the highest products of the evolutionary process thus far but that the supreme eternal being has made them in his own image. It is not our estimation of ourselves, but the judgment of the holy God that gives us value.”
  
In regards to the origins of sin, the Bible also teaches that man rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden when they chose disobedience rather than obedience in regards to the Tree of Knowledge as recorded in Genesis 3. That single act of rebellion brought sin into God’s creation for the first time. As a result of that sin, death came upon all mankind both spiritually and physically. That is why Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And because of the wages of man’s sin that was introduced into the world by Adam and Eve, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Also, the teachings of both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul are predicated on the historicity of the creation account. For example, Jesus’ response to the religious leaders in regards to divorce, Jesus referenced the creation account when he said in Mark 10:6-8, “But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. "FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Jesus clearly believed in a historical Adam and Eve. Also, the Apostle Paul referred to Adam and Eve on several occasions. When speaking to the Romans he said that “death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come (Rom. 5:14). Also, when speaking to the Corinthians, Paul said that “in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22), and that "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). Also, when speaking to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:13-14 he said, “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” It is also clear that the Apostle Paul believed in the creation account as well. 

In conclusion, after looking at several alternative views of the creation account, the question is now which ones agree with or contradict the writings of the Bible? Most conservatives hold to the view of Old Earth Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, or the Gap Theory. On the other hand, most conservatives categorically reject the Mythological, Pictorial Day, and Naturalistic Evolutionary views.

The reason for these views by conservatives is because Old Earth Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, and the Gap Theory all require an intelligent creator. Of course, they strongly disagree on particulars such as whether the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 should be taken literally, or that something happened between verses 1 and 2, but they all concur that an intelligent creator (God) was involved.

On the other hand, their rejection of the Mythological, Pictorial Day, and Naturalistic Evolutionary views is because those views reject the account in Genesis 1 and 2 as factual, deny the involvement of an intelligent creator, and they embrace Naturalistic Evolution and its view of random mutation and natural selection which contradicts the teachings of the Bible and thus “impugns the authority of Christ and His apostolic witnesses”. 

Just so that you know, I believe that the Young Earth Creation view best aligns with the teachings of Scripture.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Creation Account, Part 3

We continue our topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two. Just to recap, this is based on a paper that I wrote in 2014 for a class called Old Testament Background Studies in Genesis. In it, I briefly looked at some of the various views of the creation accounts to point out their weaknesses and strengths, at least as far as I could discern, and which ones we as Bible-believing Christians should reject and embrace. Again, this study is not meant to be exhaustive, but to serve as a good starting point for the reader to pursue on their own. Last time, we looked at what is called the Pictoral Day, Old Earth Creationism, and Young Earth Creationism. Today, we will look at the Gap Theory and Naturalistic Evolution. 

The Gap Theory first made its way into the mainstream as a result of the printing of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Yes, that beloved reference Bible. This theory assumes a gap of time between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1. It is during this time that they postulate that a pre-Adamic world once existed and was subsequently destroyed in the rebellion of Lucifer and the fallen angels that are referred to in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. 

The reason for this view is found in Genesis 1:2 which says that “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”. At issue is the word “was” which they believe should be translated as “became”. In other words, the earth became formless and void as a result of some act of judgment in time past. It is in this “gap” of time that they conclude that “all the ages that are demanded by geologists occurred and ended with the glacial age”.   The theory also explains why there is the apparent contradiction in how old science says the earth is and the biblical account.

The theory goes on to surmise that in Genesis 1:3, God starts the process of reparation as described in the six days of creation. The rationale for this view comes from a “desire to reconcile the voluminous scientific evidence for Earth’s antiquity” and still concedes the six literal days of creation.   In the end though, too much of the theory rests on the translation of the word “was” and the questionable use of the phrase “formless and void.”   

Next is the view that is referred to as Naturalistic Evolution. Before 1900, the issue of evolution was a non-controversial subject. Everyone, for the most part, embraced the biblical view of creation either by conviction or conformity. However, the issue of evolution was brought to the forefront by the Progressive Movement in the early 20th Century in a series of court cases that eventually came to be known as the Scopes Monkey Trial.
  
In essence, Naturalistic Evolution teaches that all creation is purely accidental and that no supreme power was involved at all. It presupposes that everything came into existence in a randomly generated sequence through mutation and natural selection. Of course, this view by necessity requires millions, if not billions of years, for these mutations to take place. Charles Ryrie puts it this way, “If one were to reduce the process to a formula it would look like this: M(utations) + N(atural) S(election) x T(ime) = Evolution.”
   
It is interesting that in regards to the necessity of time for the evolutionary process to take place, Tremper Longman points out in his book How to Read Genesis, "Many modern readers stumble over the six days of creation. They ask how it could have happened so quickly. It is interesting to note that before the nineteenth century and the work of Charles Darwin the question was just the opposite. For instance, in the sixteenth century John Calvin encountered skepticism concerning the biblical account because it took God so long to create. The biblical account seemed ridiculous to many readers in the sixteenth century because they knew that God could create instantaneously if he so willed.”
  
Of course, Naturalistic Evolution does have its weaknesses as well. Some of these include issues with mutations that tend to be overwhelmingly useless or even detrimental, natural selection which rarely brings about improvements, time for probability and chance, and the second law of thermodynamics which says that all things move from orderliness to chaos, and yet, it supposes the exact opposite.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Creation Account, Part 2

Today, we continue our topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two. Just to recap, this is based on a paper that I wrote in 2014 for a class called Old Testament Background Studies in Genesis. In it, I briefly looked at some of the various views of the creation accounts to point out their weaknesses and strengths, at least as far as I could discern, and which ones we as Bible-believing Christians should reject and embrace. Again, this study is not meant to be exhaustive, but to serve as a good starting point for the reader to pursue on their own. Last time, we looked at the Mythological view. Today, we are going to take a look at what is called the Pictoral Day, Old Earth Creationism, and Young Earth Creationism.  

The second view to consider is called the Pictorial Day. It is often times also referred to as the Revelation Theory. In essence, it says that the days in Genesis 1 are indeed “literal days of twenty-four hours each, but they are days only in the life of Moses. The basic view is that during those six literal days, God revealed to Moses exactly how creation occurred, and as God spoke, Moses recorded what was said to him in a six-day format.

Of course, this view clearly has accommodationism in mind as that it still maintains the literal twenty-four hour days and yet also allows the scientific community to have the long periods of time that they demand for the formation of the earth through the means of evolution. However, just like the Mythological view, it again discounts the clear intent of the author in that he clearly intended the book to be a historical account. This is again seen in its narrative style, attention to genealogies, dates. Why would the writer go through the trouble of giving these details if he knew the twenty-four hour periods were only in his life and not the actual account? Wouldn't make sense. Again, it is merely an attempt at accommodationism which we Christians are far too prone to.  

A third view of the creation account is called Old Earth Creation or Progressive Creation.   Like their Young Earth counterparts, they do believe that the emergence of different life forms was due to the actions of an intelligent creator. The difference between the two is that this group does not accept the historical account of creation as found in Genesis 1 and 2 to be literally true. Instead, they choose to view creation through the lens of science and insist that one can be a Christian and believe in Old Earth Creation as long as “one accepts the central doctrine of salvation through a profession of faith.”   

The most glaring problem that Old Earth Creationists face is that their theory does not fit the scientific evidence. In order to resolve the discrepancies between the Bible and Science, they insist on what is called the Day-Age and Gap Creation ideas. The Day-Age idea says that creation was by God, but he did it in “God-length days that may have lasted thousands, if not millions, of years.” They accompany the Day-Age idea with Gap Creation which says that “all life emerged in cycles of creation followed by long periods of stasis” that was repeated continually until humans were created." 

The fourth view of creation is that of Young Earth Creation. By most conservative scholars, this group is considered to be the most faithful to the Scriptures. Those who hold this view take the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 literally. This is to say that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal twenty-four hour periods. This means that God created everything by fiat. That is to say that God merely spoke, and it was created just as Hebrews 11:3 implies, “By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Young Earth Creationists also insist that earth cannot be more than 10,000 years old. And, they conclude that the fossil record bears out that a cataclysmic event did take place in time past, and that event is the worldwide flood that is recorded in Genesis 6.

Naturally, this view does have its challenges, especially from the scientific community who consider the idea of a divine being calling things out of nothing to be absurd. One of their contentions is that modern dating methods do place the age of the earth much older than 10,000 years. These methods used by geologists today include carbon-13 and carbon-12 ratios which actually place the oldest fossils as far back as 3.86 billion years. Of course, both of these methods of dating have not proven to be the most reliable at times. 

Bear in mind, that for the moment, I am just listing the various views with their own strengths and weakness. We still have the Gap Theory, Naturalistic Theory, and what I will call the Biblical View.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Creation Account, Part 1

Today, I want to start a new topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two. This is based on a paper that I wrote in 2014 for a class called Old Testament Background Studies in Genesis. In it, I briefly looked at some of the various views of the creation account to point out their weaknesses and strengths, at least as far as I could discern, and which ones we as Bible-believing Christians should reject and embrace. These views consist of Mythology, Pictorial Day, Old Earth Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, Gap Theory, Naturalistic Evolution, and would I refer to as the Biblical View, which is how Bible itself speaks to the issue. 

For centuries the interpretation of the creation account in the book of Genesis was pretty static in that the commonly held teaching that the narrative was to be interpreted literally was accepted by the majority of the church leadership and those in attendance. However, with the advent of the enlightenment and the introduction of rationalism (a belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response) and empiricism (the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience, i.e., experimental science) the historicity of the book has been called into question. 

Specifically, it is the first two chapters of the book that draws the most ire from those who find its account to be on par with such writings as the Epic of Gilgamesh or the stories of Zeus. Others will concede while that upper-story religious truth can certainly be found in the text, but will deny its historical value and the actual validity of the text where it seems to contradict the findings of modern science. However, if indeed the creation account is not a literal account, but simply an upper-story narrative that is only meant to present moral or religious truth, how does that impact the teachings of the Bible? 

The first view to consider is the mythological view. According to John Walton, author of the NIV Application Commentary on Genesis, the mythical approach of interpreting this book is the “most troubling category for those who take the Bible seriously.” The reason for this is because in our modern society the term almost automatically implies a “judgment that the story is not true or at least unhistorical.” However, that is not necessarily the way those in the ancient world saw mythology. Instead, they saw myths as a means of explaining the world around them in the form of a story which usually had religious and moral purposes. Actually, mythology to the ancient world was like science in our own in that both were and are mere attempts to understand cause and effect. C. John Collins, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary insists that with that in mind, it is wise to shy away from triumphalism by arrogantly implying that our modern world is more sophisticated than theirs.   

On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that the very word “myth” does by its very nature imply that not every aspect of the story is to be taken as absolute truth even though it is told as such. Millard Erickson, the author of Christian Theology, also points out that myth is a literary device that is used to convey a “supernatural or transcendent truth in earthly form." Those who hold this view will contend that the Bible was never meant to have any authority in regards to empirical issues such as history or science. Instead, the authority of the Bible only rests in issues of religion and therefore serves to only bring men into a “proper relationship with God”  

Ultimately, those who hold this view usually embrace Naturalistic Evolution (the view that new species of life came into being as a result of natural causes) instead of Biblical Creation. However, they do so by ignoring the clear intent of the author. One example is that the writer clearly intended the book to be an actual historical account due to its narrative style, attention to genealogies (e.g., descendants of Adam and Noah), and dates (e.g., the exact date in relation to Noah’s life that the rain began to fall). 

Therefore, I reject the mythological approach to the interpretation of the account and so should you. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Scripture: Inspiration and Preservation, Part 5

This will be the final posting in a series on the issue of the inspiration and preservation of the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15). We have so far defined revelation as a disclosure of information that could not have been known otherwise. Also, the two types of revelation which include general and special, and inspiration. Last time, we looked at proofs of its inspiration and preservation such as what the Bible says of itself, its indestructibility, its transmission, fulfilled prophecy, scientific accuracy, history, and the lives that have been transformed because of it. 

Today, we are going to look at inerrancy and canonization. The word inerrant means “without error.” Packer and Oden say that it means that the “Scripture in it’s entirely is free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit. However, that can mean different things to different people.  Some hold to absolute inerrancy, which means that the Bible is absolutely true in all areas that it addresses in the areas of science and history. Others hold to full inerrancy, which means that the Bible is completely true, but it is not “given primarily to scientific and historical data.” Another view is referred to as limited inerrancy, which means that the Bible is only inerrant in issues of salvation and not necessarily facts in any other area. And still others view that the Bible is only inerrant in purpose.

Why is this issue so important? Does the whole of Christianity rest on how many “stalls for horses” King Solomon really had (I Kings 4:26 and 2 Chronicles 9:25)? “The argument is simply: (1) the Bible is the Word of God; (2) God cannot err; (3) therefore the Bible (which is the Word of God) cannot err. That means that the Bible is factually accurate and correct in what it affirms.” 

However, does that only apply to the original autographs that we no longer have? Or does it also extend down to the copies of those autographs? Well, there is no doubt that there are indeed grammatical errors in the manuscripts we have today. It is believed that these variations occurred as the “result of handwritten scribal errors in the course of making copies and were not part of the originally inspired autographs themselves.”  Furthermore, of the nearly 5,700 New Testament manuscripts that we have today, they can be reconstructed with over a 99 percent accuracy.  Therefore, it must be concluded that the issue of inerrancy applies only to the originals and not the copies. 

Finally, we come to canonization. A canon is a measuring rod, rule or standard. In reference to the Bible, the Canon refers to those books that have been measured and found worthy to be a part of the Bible. It is essentially viewed in two stages: what has been determined by God and what has been recognized by Man. In regards to canonization, it was God who decided what would be in the Canon of Scripture. Harold Willmington puts it this way, “The Bible is not an authorized collection of books, but rather a collection of authorized books.

A few things to consider are that the Old Testament as we know it today was compiled by the Jewish people under the providential oversight of God. It was firmly established well before Christ. Of course, no doubt God was involved in this process. However, our Lord further confirmed it by quoting from or alluding to every book in the Old Testament Canon with the possible exception of 

Some have looked at Luke 11:51 as verification of this when Jesus said, “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.' To understand this statement more clearly, one must understand that the Hebrew Bible starts with Genesis and ends with 2 Chronicles.  In Genesis 4:8 we see the blood of Abel when it says, “And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” And in 2 Chronicles 24:21 we see the blood of Zechariah when it says, “So they conspired against him (Zechariah) and at the command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the LORD.” This served to affirm that Jesus believed everything in between.

In regards to our New Testament, it was essentially decided by several factors. These included: authorship, local church acceptance, church father’s recognition, subject matter, and personal edification. However, James Sawyer warns evangelicals to not simply rely on “unexamined theological assumptions and historical inaccuracies” when it comes to their acceptance of the canonization of the New Testament.  His challenge is for evangelicals to not downplay the “witness of the Spirit” for assurance instead of relying so heavily only on historical arguments. In other words, the Holy Spirit played a large role in the accumulation of the inspired manuscripts and He is fully responsible for them and not the schemes of man. In regards to the finalization of the Canon, most will agree that the Old Testament Canon was closed by the year 300 B.C. and the New Testament was closed at the Third Council of Carthage in 397 A.D.

In conclusion, we have seen how God has throughout the centuries preserved His Word in such a way that we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we do indeed hold the very Words of God in our hands. Henry H. Halley once wrote, “Apart from any theory of inspiration; or any theory of how the Bible books came to their present form; or how much the text may have suffered in transmission at the hands of editors and copyists…it bears on its face the stamp of its Author; that it is in a unique and distinctive sense THE WORD OF GOD.