Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

About Me

I am a young man who is following God's call into pastoral ministry. I have been so blessed with the privileges which the Lord has granted me. I am blessed to serve the Mt. Joy congregation in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I am constantly humbled and amazed at what the Lord is doing in my life.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Preparing For Advent

As we prepare for the Advent season, the time when we celebrate the coming of the Messiah, I thought it might be helpful to take a moment to look at how those who were present at His birth viewed the event. I fear that if we are not careful, we can easily get so caught up with all of the commercialism of the holidays that we lose sight of the real reason that we as Christians celebrate.

With the shepherds we notice that Christ served as the reason for their rejoicing. After the angel appeared to them to tell them the wonderful news of the Savior who had been born that day (Luke 2:8-14) and when they had found the baby lying in the manger as the angels stated, we read that The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them (v. 20). The arrival of the Messiah led them to worship God. They responded in praise and adoration.

For the magi, Christ served as the object of their search. They followed the star that indicated that His birth had come (Matthew 2:2). Perhaps they were thinking of the prophecy uttered through Balaam recorded in Numbers 24:17. A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel. They “traversed afar” (as we often sing) to finally reach the promised Christ child. And we witness further rejoicing by them and their worshiping of Christ Himself. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him (Matthew 2:10-11).

Luke highlights two individuals that come in contact with Jesus in the Temple. Their names are Simeon and Anna and Christ served as their hope. The Messiah was what Simeon had been waiting for. We are told that he was looking for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25). He was hoping for this One to come to comfort and deliver his people and God revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen Him (v. 26). He even points out that the Messiah would be the hope for all the nations, both the Gentiles and the Jews (v. 32). Anna also was in the Temple and upon seeing the Messiah, was giving thanks to God (v. 38).

There are a few things we notice with all of those who first witnessed this monumental event in the course of history (really His-story). They all were centered on Christ. The shepherds rejoiced on account of Him, the magi sought after Him, and Simeon placed his hope in Him. It was all about Him. Also, they worshiped God on account of Him. This worship also can be seen with several others who had the special privilege of coming in contact with the Messiah such as Zacharias, Mary, and Joseph. And I think that it is very important to note that their celebration was not merely over the fact that God came to earth in the person of Christ but in what that Messiah would accomplish. It was not about the manger that cradled the baby as it was the cross that He would grow up to hang upon. The shepherds were rejoicing over the truth that the angel conveyed that this Messiah is the Savior (Luke 2:11). Simeon exclaimed that my eyes have seen Your salvation (Luke 2:30). Anna continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:38). Mary exclaimed, My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior (Luke 1:46-47). Zacharias likewise praised God for the salvation that this Messiah would bring. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of David His servant (Luke 1:68-69).

So let’s not lose our focus this Christmas season. While the “most wonderful time of the year” often becomes the “most stressful,” may we keep Christ at the center of our celebrations, worship and praise God for Him, and look past the “away in a manger” that we sing about to the purpose of His birth, salvation through His death in the place of repentant sinners and His resurrection three days later. In fact, it is because of Christ’s death on the cross that gives us the reason to sing of His birth. As one song properly puts it, “The beginning of the story is wonderful and great, But it's the ending that can save you and that's why we celebrate.” And this focus and celebration should not be limited of course to this time of Advent but one that we should have year round for the glory of God.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Reformation Day!

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. ~Romans 3:28

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the work of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~Ephesians 2:8-9

This doctrine [Justification by Faith] is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour. ~Martin Luther

Wherever the knowledge of it [the doctrine of "Justification by Faith"] is taken away, the glory of Christ is extinguished, religion abolished, the Church destroyed, and the hope of salvation utterly overthrown. ~John Calvin

Tonight many will spend their evening "trick or treating," celebrating a so-called holiday called Halloween and not realize an event that transpired 496 years ago on this day that marked a major turning point in the history of the church. October 31, 1517 marks the day the German monk named Martin Luther posted his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, an event most scholars identify as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. These "theses" called the authority of the Pope in matters of salvation into question and sought to expose how the "treats" of the indulgences that were sold were actually "tricks" with no real significance except for making the pope and those who sold them very wealthy. An indulgence was a letter the Catholic church sold that promised forgiveness of sin and an early release from purgatory (a place the Catholic church conceived of where one would stay after death but before heaven which length of stay was based on the number of sins one committed in their earthly life). Luther's posting of his theses on "All Hallow's Eve" was instrumental. The next day the church would celebrate "All Saints Day" so they would see these as they walked in. Luther's students actually took the list and made copies with the aid of the new printing press creating quite a stir. The first ripple of Reformation fervor had been struck and would gain in momentum as God enlisted others such as Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin to join the cause. Several current protestant denominations are products of God's work through them.

Many may question why such an event is a big deal. Why would a man complaining about certain teachings in the church be something to celebrate? People do this all the time. However, I think the celebration really is about God and how He used this man with his many, many, many flaws (he clearly had an anger problem and appeared to promote some wayward morals) to call His Church back to the truth. The Catholic church had repudiated the Bible's teachings on salvation by creating a synergistic economy of grace where man cooperated with God for his salvation. The selling of indulgences was a form of works-righteousness where the church taught that one could earn their salvation by paying a certain price for an indulgence. The sacraments became viewed as works that one must do in order to receive God's grace. In the Pope claiming the authority to grant the remission of sins based on a sale of an indulgence, he placed himself above both God's Word and Christ Himself. Many were blinded by such teaching (and some still are today) thinking that they could earn their own salvation.

The Reformers combated such views and practices. They claimed sola scriptura, that Scripture alone was the only authority for the believer. This led Luther to translate the Bible into German so people at the time could have a personal Bible and be able to study it on their own instead of relying on the false teachings of the priests who were the only ones who could own and read one. The Reformers called the people back to the truth taught in Scripture that one was justified (declared righteous in God's sight by God Himself) through their faith in Christ and not by any works that they could do. They rightly stated that salvation was by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (sola Christa) for the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria) as Scripture taught. Paul explicitly states For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is a gracious gift given by God and received through the means of placing one's faith in Christ. The Lord used Luther as well as the other Reformers to call the church back to this truth, a truth foundational to the gospel.

Let's celebrate God using such men with their numerous flaws (much like we each have) to call the church back to the truth of His Word, especially with the central doctrine of "Justification by Faith," as well as pray that God would continue to raise people up with a passion for His Word and boldness for His truth to continue to reform His Church as to where He would have it to be.

Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

What Does It Mean to Address God As Father

Following Jesus’ teaching on how to pray, we rightfully address God as our Father (Matthew 6:9). But have we taken the time to reflect on what it actually means to call God our Father? What are the implications of Him relating to us as our Father?

God serving as the Father of believers means that He will take care of His children. The reason why Jesus tells us that we are not to be worried about our life is because the same God who feeds the birds and clothes the flowers will take care of our needs as well. for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things (Matthew 6:32). The remedy to our constant worrying is to remind ourselves that we have a Father who cares for us and will provide for our needs. To worry is in all actuality to distrust our heavenly Father. It indicates that we doubt His care and provision and think that we need to rely on ourselves or something or someone else. We can confidently ask God to give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11) since He is our Father. Because He has promised to meet our needs (not our wants mind you). True rest for the weary can only be found in recognizing God as our Father.

The same is true in regard to our trials. When the most awful affliction or the most turbulent tribulation comes upon us, we have strength to bear it, understanding that our heavenly Father has ordained and arranged it. He does nothing intended for our ill but only for our good. As the author of Hebrews points out in relation to our earthly fathers, For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but [God] disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:10-12). The discipline of our trials are for our good, serving to grant us the privilege to become holy. So know that while you may not understand the pain of the trial you currently experience, you have a Father who knows what is best and intends it for your good. He loves us so much that He is willing to make us experience some of the most difficult seasons in order to teach us to trust Him more (2 Corinthians 1:8-9) and for us to have a greater understanding of Him (Job 42:5). What a great comfort to have such a Father in control!

It is because God serves as our Father that we can move forward with great confidence when our plans fail, when the “yes” we were hoping for turns into a “no,” or when our dreams may shatter. There is no such thing as coincidence and ultimately we do not chart our own course in life (Proverbs 16:9, 33; 21:1; Daniel 4:34-35; Ephesians 1:11). When a door closes, knowing that God is our Father softens the blow because we then realize that He knows what is best and promises to give us what is best. That those who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing (Proverbs 34:10). The closed door signifies that whatever it was, was not good or the best for us at the moment. Oh, how often we fret when things don’t go our way when really we should rejoice that our Father is looking out for us and seeking only to give us what is best for us. Since we don’t know what is best for us (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25), it is such a blessing that we have a Father Who does and gives what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 6:11). These are things that God knows is good, not necessarily what we may falsely think is good for us.

Let’s not take for granted the privilege we have to call God our Father nor forget what that actually means. Thomas Watson was right when he said, “There is more sweetness in this word ‘Father,’ than if we had ten thousand worlds!” And this is not a privilege that everyone in the world shares but only those who have been born again by God’s Spirit and placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12-13). Do you have this privilege to address God as your Father? And if you do, are you resting in it?

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

Friday, September 27, 2013

Figuring Out Foreknowledge

If you want to start a quick and fiery theological debate, just mention the words "election" or "predestination." Two sides will clearly be drawn; those who hold to the view that man's salvation hinges completely upon the work of God alone ("monergism") and those who see salvation resulting from a cooperation of both God and man's work together ("synergism"). The former view holds that man has no power in and of himself, as a result of the fall, to come to faith in Christ and the faith that he exercises to do so must have been given from God Himself and results entirely from the work of His Spirit while the latter sees man as containing the ability to believe, often due to a work of God's grace equally done to all men that allows them to freely come to Christ or reject Him (often referred to as "prevenient grace"). This debate often centers on the word foreknowledge which is connected with the Bible's description of election (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 1:1-2). The question is what does foreknowledge actually mean. Is it that God looks forward into time, seeing who will believe in Him, and then in turn choosing those ones to be saved? Or does it indicate something else? I would argue that a closer look at the word and how it is used in Scripture indicates something different which might aid in solving this current argument over the role that God and man plays in man's salvation.

Object of Persons
The term foreknowledge basically means to know beforehand. It is having knowledge of a fact or event that has not yet occurred. This is not the same as the word foresight which communicates the idea of seeing something beforehand. The three Greek words used for foresight in Scripture are never used in reference to God but either persons or the authors of Scripture concerning OT prophecies of Christ (Acts 2:31; 21:29; 24:2; Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:8). The word foreknowledge on the other hand is used a total of seven times in the Bible (Acts 2:23; 26:5; Romans 8:29; 11:2; 1 Peter 1:2, 20; 2 Peter 3:17) and all but one occurrence describes an action of God. (Acts 26:5 serves as the exception.) One thing that we notice about the word is that it almost always has select persons as the object of what is known beforehand. For instance, in Acts 26:5, Paul states that the Jews knew him beforehand and thus could testify of his former life as a Pharisee. Paul states that God knew the people of Israel beforehand (Romans 11:2), not anything specific about them regarding their faith or faithlessness. And Peter points out that God knew His people beforehand (1 Peter 1:2) and Jesus Himself (1 Peter 1:20). We must be careful to note that in one of the classic passages that this debate centers on, Romans 8:29, the apostle states explicitly that it is those whom He foreknew that God predetermined to be made into the image of His Son. It is the persons that He knew in advance and not anything specific about them such as whether or not they would be receptive to Him or place their faith in Him. The people themselves. Nothing else about them and their will is even mentioned. We must be careful not to read anything into the text that is not explicitly stated or clearly implied. The focus is on God's work in the lives of His people with the all things that occur in their lives (Romans 8:28). His people who are called according to His purpose are those He knew in advance.

Close Connection With God's Plan and Purpose
Another thing we notice about this word foreknowledge is that it has a close connection to God's plan and purpose. In Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost, he states that this man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death (Acts 2:23). It was not only according to God's foreknowledge that Christ was handed over to be crucified but also a part of His predetermined plan. It would not make sense here to say that God knew in advance the actions of Judas and the high priests which would result in Jesus being nailed to the cross and therefore described it as His predetermined plan. That would be God taking credit for the work of man instead of showing Him as ordaining all things that occur which would be consistent with the rest of the teaching of Scripture. Logically, God would certainly know all that occurs if it is part of His predetermined plan. Also, the fact that the phrase predetermined plan precedes the term foreknowledge in this verse may indicate that God's plan preceded His knowledge. In fact, through the pen of the prophet Isaiah, God argues that the very reason that He knows the future with complete certainty stems from the fact that He serves as the cause of all events in the future. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure (Isaiah 46:10). According to this verse, why does God say that He can declare the end from the beginning? Because His purpose will be established and He will accomplish all His good pleasure. Because He is in control of all that occurs in the future. This point is communicated even more powerfully when one realizes the context of Isaiah 40-48; a sermon making the case why God is supreme over man-made idols. A wooden statue is powerless to predict the future because it has no control over the future unlike God who orchestrates all things and that is demonstrated to the people at the present time with His prophecies of what is to come, particularly concerning this bird of prey from the east, Cyrus, whom God intends to use to free the Jews from their coming Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 46:11). God's foreknowledge cannot be separated from His predetermined plan. God knows all that He plans to do and since He works all things according to His will (Ephesians 1:11), He thus knows all things. He knows those who are His people because He planned to make them His people.

Significance of the Term "Know"
Something that is often forgotten about in an examination of the term foreknowledge concerns the use of the word know that serves as part of this compound word. In several places in the Bible, know often conveys the idea of an intimate relationship. When we read that the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain (Genesis 4:1), we certainly have to understand that Adam must have known a lot more about Eve than just her existence for this conception to happen. He had an intimate relationship with his wife. Jesus uses the word know similarly in His Sermon on the Mount to describe those on the last day who did not trust in Him. He states that He will say to such I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:23). Jesus, being fully God, knows every single person whom God brings into existence, so this cannot be referring to cognitive knowledge of the people. Again, the idea is that Jesus did not have an intimate relationship through faith with this group. Perhaps the key in properly understanding Paul and Peter's use of the word foreknowledge can be found in Amos 3:2 referring to Israel. You only have I known among all the families of the earth. Now God certainly knows the existence of every single nation or people among all the families of the earth as He is the one who forms and gives each individual their life (Psalm 139:14-16; Jeremiah 1:5). The point here is that out of all the families of the earth, God has chosen to have an intimate relationship with the people of Israel and not those of any other nation at the time. According to Deuteronomy 7:6-8, God chose the nation of Israel to be His people solely because He chose to love them. Not because of anything about them at all. When Peter refers to the scattered saints that he wrote to as God's chosen people according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, he uses the language of the Old Testament to describe God's people of Israel. They were consistently referred to as being chosen to be God's people. Peter begins his letter as acknowledging that these Christians are also part of God's chosen people. In fact, later, Peter will use several titles that originally belonged to Israel and that now also apply to the church (1 Peter 2:9-10). In light of these connections, it appears that Peter very well may be indicating that God chose these people who trust in His Son according to His intimate relationship He determined to have with them beforehand, His love He chose to bestow upon them beforehand in eternity past (Ephesians 1:4), by the work of His Holy Spirit in the new birth that He causes within their heart and through the shedding of Christ's blood in the place of these for the inauguration of the new covenant they become part of. Paul's use of foreknowledge in Romans 11:2 confirms this understanding. God's foreknowledge of His people Israel would resemble Amos' reference to the type of intimate relational loving knowledge of that people earlier. God loved His people whom He chose beforehand. More likely, Paul would best be understood to use the term the same way a few chapters earlier in Romans 8:29. It is those that He has chosen to bestow His love upon beforehand that He has predetermined to be made into the image of Christ and whom He ultimately will glorify (v. 30).

Know (without any pun intended!) that my main goal is to seek to understand what God's Word says about this matter. The preceding is the result of a few years of in depth study of Scripture concerning this topic. I encourage you to evaluate this argument and most importantly what the Bible itself says to help you come to your conclusion of where you may fall on this much important debate concerning God's and our role in our salvation. We want to make sure that we give God the full credit for His salvation that His deserves and appropriately be humbled at His full grace and mercy in doing the full work of redemption in our lives. And if you have not trusted in Christ to save you from God's wrath through His death on the cross and following resurrection, I encourage you to consider the claims of Scripture pertaining to Who He is and what He has done. I call you to repent and to look to Him alone as your only hope; not in who you are or anything that you may do. If, by God's grace, you respond to this call, then you can rejoice and praise Him for saving you, recognizing that you have been chosen according to the love He has had for you before the very foundation of the world. To God ALONE be the glory!

In Christ,

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

One issue that many Christians struggle with concerns how God can be described as sovereign over all things and yet man be held responsible for his actions and decisions. Many mistakenly view these two truths as being contradictory. If God is absolutely sovereign, then they reason that man could not be faulted for his sins or since man makes choices and is held accountable to those choices, then God could not be properly described as sovereign and in control of those choices. However, Scripture clearly teaches both points without any hint of them being in opposition. One cannot deny either truth. Often they are displayed side by side. The following are several examples in Scripture where both God is shown to be fully sovereign and determining that everything occurs according to His divine plan while man is identified as being guilty of specific sins that he committed under God's sovereign reign. My hope is that these examples and my explanations that follow will aid those who struggle with this issue.

The Treachery of Joseph's Brothers and the Triumph of God's Promise

After the death of Jacob, Joseph's brothers feared that Joseph would get them back for their treachery against him when he was a kid (Genesis 50:15). They had sold him to the Ishmaelites due to their jealousy over their father's greater affection for the young man (Genesis 37:25-28). Instead of retaliating, Joseph says to them: As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today (Genesis 50:19). Notice here that there is one event and two intentions. Joseph's brothers meant evil in their action of selling him to the Ishmaelites but God, in permitting the brothers to do it (He could have easily stopped it in some way), meant it for good. God had a greater purpose in His sovereignty. His purpose was to preserve many people alive and keep His promise to Abraham. Think about it. Had Joseph not wound up in Egypt through the means of his brothers' sin, Jacob and his children would have all died in Canaan. Thus God would not have been faithful to His promise to make a great nation with many descendants from Abraham (Genesis 12:2) and to bring about the promised Redeemer from him (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). It was due to Joseph being in Egypt and having been given the ability to interpret the Pharaoh's dream that predicted seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, that he found himself placed into the position of being the second highest rank in Egypt and able to save and distribute food to those who would be hurting in the time of the famine. This would include his father and his brothers. Without God's provision in this manner, Jacob and his sons would have perished without the twelve tribes of Israel developing and then Abraham left without any descendants. This means of provision through the brothers' sin was exactly how God planned for it to happen as seen with the dreams given to Joseph when he was a young boy (Genesis 37:5-10). While the brothers were held responsible for their treacherous action, God is shown to triumph through His sovereignty over them. In no way is God accused of evil in His intentions or actions in His allowance of the brothers' deeds.

The Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart

Ten times Scripture describes God as hardening Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8,17) and ten times it refers to the king hardening his own heart (7:13,14,22; 8:15,19,32; 9:7,34,35; 13:15). I think that the best way to understand this is to view God as withholding His grace from Pharaoh which would result in him hardening his own heart. God certainly cannot cause someone directly to sin because it goes against His holy character (James 1:13). God in His sovereignty could have sent His Spirit to soften Pharaoh's heart and move him to release the Israelites sooner. However, God desired to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth (Exodus 9:16). Pharaoh is held responsible for the hardening of his heart and God is shown to have planned for it to occur. In fact, the first mentioning of this hardening refers to God determining that I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go (Exodus 4:21).

The Planned Rejection of God

In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel sin by demanding that the prophet Samuel appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations (v. 5). This would be a sin because they in essence rejected God as their king (v. 7). They were indicating that they thought that God was not sufficient to lead them and that they would rather be like all the nations instead of being the set apart nation devoted solely to Him that God had called them to be. However, a kingship for Israel, although a sin due to it indicating their rejection of God, was planned from early on. In fact, it was part of the promise that God gave to Abraham. He told the patriarch that I will make you into nations and kings shall come from you (Genesis 17:6). Furthermore, through Jacob, God determined that The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff between his feet, until tribute comes to him, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples (Genesis 49:10). Thus, God planned for man's rejection of him through their demanding of a king. As was with the case of Joseph and his brothers, God permitted this disobedience to serve as the means of accomplishing His plan.

Another planned rejection of God can be seen with the Jews in their rejection of their Messiah. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him (John 1:11). Although Jesus was the "king of the Jews," the Jews rejected Him and had Him crucified on the cross. They failed to recognize the time of your visitation (Luke 19:44). However, Paul tells us that this rejection had been planned by God from the beginning. Speaking of God's righteous dealings with His chosen nation of Israel, he quotes two Old Testament passages that demonstrate that God planned for their hardening (Romans 11:8-10). This hardening was clearly God's doing as Isaiah 29:10 states that God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day (emphasis added). The truth of Who Jesus was and His importance was hidden from their eyes (Luke 19:42) Yet, the Jews are held responsible for their rejection. God's purpose in their rejection was to provide salvation to the Gentiles (literally in Greek the nations) and in turn the extending of salvation to the other nations will result in bringing a large remnant of Israel to obedience (Romans 11:11-12, 25-27). God once again used human actions, which man was held fully responsible for, to accomplish His divine plan for His glory.

The Punishers and Their Punishment

Through the prophet Isaiah, God declares the nation of Assyria as the rod of My anger; the staff in their hands is my fury (Isaiah 10:5). To punish His people, the nation of Israel, God plans to send the Assyrians to capture them. Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of My wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets (v. 6). While God intends to use the Assyrians to attack the people of Israel and take them into captivity, they have a different intention. But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few (v. 7). Instead, they desire to make themselves look great through the conquering of the nation of Israel. Just as God used the wicked motives of Joseph's brothers for a greater intention that He had, here He uses the wicked intentions of the nation of Assyria. However, the Assyrians were still held responsible for their sinful intentions and punished. When the Lord has finished all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes (v. 12). It may be important to note that this states that God punished them for their attitude and intentions and not necessarily the act of capturing Israel. They are faulted for exalting themselves over God and not recognizing Him using them for His work (v. 15). God used wickedness to punish wickedness and made sure that none of the wicked went unpunished.

Judgment Through A Judge in Marrying The Unmarriable

The strong judge Samson has a strong desire to marry this daughter of the Philistines. (Of course his life can mostly be characterized by a desire for some woman!) Even though his parents attempted to try to talk him out of it, he was determined to take this one to be his wife because she looks good to me (Judges 14:3). This marriage would be a sin since God clearly commanded the people not to marry the ungodly outside of the nation of Israel(Deuteronomy 7:1-3). However, the author provides for us a very interesting insight in the following verse: However, his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD, for He was seeking an occasion against the Philistines (Judges 14:4). Did you notice that? This desire to marry one that Samson had no business marrying was ultimately of the LORD. While Samson was concerned about his own happiness, God has a greater concern with His holiness and glory and thus uses Samson's sinful desire to defeat the Philistines who currently were oppressing His people.

Saving the Shipwreck

While caught in a storm sailing towards Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, Paul tells everyone on the ship that an angel had appeared to him, promising that God has granted you all those who sail with you (Acts 27:24). Due to God's word on this matter, Paul could boldly state that there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship (v. 22). However, when some of the sailors were attempting to leave the ship in fear that it would hit the rocks, Paul tells them Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved (v.31). Paul certainly did not forget God's promise that He would preserve everyone's life of those who were on the ship. The next day he reminded them of that promise. for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you (v. 34). Instead, he recognized that God not only ordains the end of His plan but also the means to that specific end. Had the sailors left the ship in their small boats, no one would have been left on the ship who were skilled in directing the ship to its intended destination and who would have been able to handle the shipwreck they would experience. God used the means of the sailors serving on the ship to ensure that they all made it safely to the land. In fact, God also used the means of the centurion to ensure that the prisoners would not lose their lives when the soldiers desired to kill them in case they tried to escape during the shipwreck (vv. 42-43). Through the means of the sailors staying on the ship and the centurion convincing the soldiers to spare the lives of the prisoners, all were brought safely to land (v. 44). God kept His promise through the means of these men's actions. Had the sailors left or the centurion remained quiet, lives would have been lost.

Our and God's Work in Our Sanctification

Paul commands believers to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). This is clearly a command as the Greek verb is in the imperative mood, which indicates a command being given. However, Paul goes on to explain that God also is at work within them both to will and to work for His good pleasure (v. 13). The implication here is that, although Paul commands us to work and live out our salvation, we cannot obey that command without God's work in us. We can work only because God is working in us to enable us to do so. Augustine understood this when he stated "Give what you command and command what you will." In other words, "command me to do whatever you wish, but give me the ability to obey that command." Thus, man is responsible for this "working" and God is sovereign over it.

The Predetermined Sin to Take Away All Sin

As part of his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter refers to Christ's death as a product of both God's sovereign plan and man's sin. He describes Jesus as being delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23). Thus, Jesus' death occurred as planned and ordained by God. This plan was definite, meaning that God intended for it to occur and would ensure that it would occur. It was predetermined as indicated by it transpiring according to God's foreknowledge. He formulated this plan before hand. Yet, man is held responsible for the sin that was done according to the divine plan. Peter states that this Jesus . . . you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God ordained the sin of the murder of His Son to serve as the means to take away the sins of those who would trust in Christ. Basically, God conquered sin with sin!

The One Written Beforehand Who Would Have Been Better Not to Have Been Born

In the upper room with His disciples, Jesus warned the Twelve that one of them at the table would betray Him. He then states that this betrayal serves as part of God's divine plan written down previously. For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him (Mark 14:21). The Old Testament contained many prophecies which spoke of the coming Messiah's death; Isaiah 53 arguably one of the greatest of such passages. However, the one who served as the means of this betrayal does not have his responsibility in the crime neglected. Jesus goes on to say that, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born. Though part of God's plan to send Jesus to the cross to die for the sins of the ones who would trust in Him, the consequences for such a grave sin Judas would commit that very night were so dire that Jesus could say that he would wish that he had never been born. Of course, God intended him to be born and to use him as a means to bring Jesus to the cross. We read that Satan entered the disciple's heart and persuaded him to turn Jesus over (Luke 22:3). From Job 1:12; 2:6; and Luke 22:31, we learn that God serves as sovereign over Satan and must grant him permission for him to do anything. Thus, this means that God had to allow Satan to enter into Judas' heart. God did not directly cause this but permitted it so that He could bring redemption to the world. Though He did not deny acknowledging Judas' sin that resulted from his following of the devil's enticements.

Some Final Reflections

In all of these passages, we see God presented as sovereign over every person and event, yet people still being held accountable for their actions. In each case we have one action, two actors, and two intentions. Often the human actor's intentions differ from God's who serves as the other and really ultimate actor. One action results from the two actors and their two intentions. God uses the human actor with his intentions, though often sinful, to accomplish the action of His intention. He thus can be described as the "primary" cause of the action with the human actor deemed as the "secondary" cause. The human actor only does what God allows or enables the human actor to do based on the human actor's desires and situations. This human actor is still held accountable for his sinful intentions and desires. God does not place those sinful desires in man but they inherit that from their father Adam. However, God uses the actions that result from such sinful desires to accomplish His plan and to bring Him glory. The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes this point well: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

As students of Scripture, we must affirm both that God is sovereign and man held responsible for his actions and decisions, exercised under God's sovereign hand. We may not fully understand how these two fit together but we cannot deny either. One of my fears is that too many people bring God down by limiting His sovereignty or elevate man by placing him in a position where he can mess up God's plan which is an idea completely foreign to Scripture (Job 42:2; Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11). Let's always remain true to the text of Scripture, especially in regards to the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.

In Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lessons From September 11

Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?  I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
~Luke 13:1-5

Today thousands in the nation take time out of their busy schedules to commemorate and remember those who lost their lives in the horrible tragedy which occurred the morning of this day twelve years ago.  Many of us remember how that day changed the way we thought about the country, our loved ones, and even our lives.  Many still are struggling with what they have seen, or with those they have lost in the tragedy.  Some lives may never be the same again.  While not belittling the victims of the tragedy, I want to look at what those who are still living can learn from this event.

The days following the 9/11 attacks brought several questions.  Several of these questions concerned God and His role in the event.  People struggled with trying to grasp any reasons God may have allowed or permitted this to happen.  Some wondered if the people who went for what they thought would have been a normal day at work deserved to play the victims of such a horrible scenario.

Clearly God was in control of that day and is still in control of our world today.  Scripture tells us that God works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).  Through Amos God communicates, If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it? (Amos 3:6) and Jesus says that a sparrow does not fall to the ground apart from your Father (Matthew 10:29).  Even Satan himself is under the sovereignty of God.  Jesus acknowledged to Peter that Satan could not test the disciples' faith without God's allowance.  Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat (Luke 22:31).  Likewise, Satan could not tamper with Job without God's permission and He set clear boundaries where Satan would not be able to trend.  In the first meeting with Satan, God agreed to let him test Job but would not allow him to put forth your hand on him (Job 1:12) and the second time God gave Job into his control but would not permit him to kill His righteous servant.  Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life (Job 2:6).  This is a very comforting truth.  Our lives may seem like they are spirling out of control, but the truth is that we are still in God's hands and He is working to bring things to His ultimate purpose.  You may be down at your lowest, but we have hope that God IS in control and causing all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  Even in the worst of times, we have comfort knowing there is a loving and good God in control who has a purpose in the suffering.  God was there that day on 9/11 and, even amist the sorrow, several testimonies to His goodness have been proclaimed.  His sovereign hand never left the situation!

The second major question the World Trade Center attacks spawned is one which is a common response to every huge natural disaster or catastrophe:  "What did this group do to deserve this?"  This was seen after the tsunami in India as well as New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina.  In fact, Jesus was asked a similar question about 2000 years ago.  While speaking to a large crowd, a group informs Jesus about an atrocity which Pilate had committed.  The exact situation is unknown to us today but we can infer that it had something to do with a slaughter of Jews during their sacrifices.  Not only was this a terrible occurrence, but it took place during worship which made it even more horrendous.  Jesus realized right away the question that they had concerning this issue.  They thought that this plight was the result of them being greater sinners than all others.  However, Jesus sought to turn their perspective completely around.

Instead of agreeing with their assumption, Jesus took the focus off the victims and placed it on the questioners.  The reason this group was slaughtered was not because they were greater sinners.  The ones who were killed were no more sinners than the ones commenting concerning them.  (Note: This does not necessarily mean that the events God permits to occur are punishment for specific sins.  John 9 makes it clear that, while a result of the curse of sin, not all infirmities and incidents are due to specific sins.)  Those who died in the tsunami, in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and with Hurricane Katrina were no more sinners than those of you reading this note as well as the one writing it.  We deserved the same!  I will never forget a powerful sermon my pastor preached right after the tsunami a few years ago.  He told us that the question is not "why them?" but should be "why not us?"  We didn't deserve God's mercy to not have the tsunami happen in America, or to not have been in the Pentagon or World Trade Center on that day, as well as having the hurricane wreck havoc on the NorthEast or MidWest.  As Scripture tells us, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  We get so used to God's mercy we have problems when He shows us His wrath.

Jesus actually warns the crowd of an even greater fate, much worse than what happened with Pilate and the later example of the falling of the tower of Siloam.  Unless they repent of their sins, they will perish (Luke 13:3,5).  This is Jesus' urgent plea to those who are lost in sin.  Repentance means a turning from sin.  It is the flip side of faith.  One turns from sin in repentance and then turns toward Christ by placing their faith in Him.  The likewise may refer to the sudden and unexpected death of those in the Temple and at Siloam.  Those who went to the Temple that day to offer their sacrifices did not realize that they would not be returning home.  The possibility of the tower falling on the group in Siloam probably never occurred to them.  Likewise, if the crowd does not turn from their sins and turn to Christ they will suddenly and unexpectedly (to them) experience the punishment for their sins.  The author of Hebrews tells us that it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

No one is guaranteed of their next heartbeat or breath.  If we should learn something from modern headlines, it is that death is no respecter of age.  If you have not turned from your sins and placed your faith in the Lord Jesus, then Jesus' plea for repentance is for you.  Like those in the Temple and at Siloam, you do not know when the day will come and it will be too late.   Many who left for work that morning of 9/11 did not know that they would not leave the building.  Several wives did not know that they would not see their husbands again.  I am not attempting to scare anyone, I just want to point out reality.   For us who are Christians, this is a reminder that life is too short to waste!  Let us give out Jesus' plea to those who need to hear it in our families, schools, and at our places of employment!

Praying for those involved with the attacks in any way as well as us who can learn from God's mercy,
Lee Smith
Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is God A Gentleman? Why A Proper View of God and Man Matters

John Calvin begins his signature work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, with "Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves." Proper wisdom comes from the right understanding of Who God is and who we are as humans. In fact, getting these two topics wrong results in living our lives incorrectly. A.W. Tozer was right in stating, "I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God." As a pastor I am constantly reminded of the importance of teaching the truth of Scripture concerning Who God is and the nature of man. It becomes more and more evident to me the need for this as I converse with people and hear their common faulty views of God and man. Just this weekend I was listening to a popular "Christian" radio station where a man called in and mentioned how "God is a gentleman" in regards to our salvation. The idea is that God waits for us to come to Him and does not impose Himself upon us. Unfortunately, far too many people hold to such a teaching, not realizing that it misportrays God and misunderstands the nature of man after the Fall. So what is the proper view of God and man according to Scripture in regards to man's salvation? Can we rightfully say that He is a gentleman according to what His Word says about Him?

The Proper View of God
The idea that "God is a gentleman" conveys the picture that God paces back and forth in heaven, hoping, waiting, and longing for sinners to come to Him. He knocks on the door of man's heart, standing outside and wanting to hear the knob turn. However, such a view does not match the description that God gives of Himself in His own Word. Contrary to popular belief, the Bible is not the story of man's search for God but rather God's search for rebellious man. He is not a God who waits for sinners to come to their senses and turn to Him but One who relentlessly pursues sinners, turning their hearts to Him. Consider the following examples we find in Scripture:

-God did not wait for Adam to come to Him after the Fall but approached him first (Genesis 3:8-9). Had He waited, Adam may never have went to Him but continued to attempt to hide from Him in shame. To this day, all of Adam's offspring are born running and hiding from God in similar shame.

-For Noah to have found favor in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8) and to be described as a righteous man, blameless in his generation (v. 9), God first must have approached Him and done a work in his life for him to place his faith in the coming redemptive seed promised after the Fall (Genesis 3:15). We know this because Noah would have been included in God's statement on the universality of the wickedness of man in Genesis 6:5. Noah, after all, was a [hu]man. And God imposes on Noah's life to build an ark in order to save him and his family (v. 13).

-God did not wait for Abram to "come to his senses" and leave the gods of his fathers (Joshua 24:2) to go to Him but instead He went to the Patriarch, commanded him to obey Him, and then told him of His plan for him (Genesis 12:1-4; Joshua 24:3). The same is true for Abraham's children. God chose Isaac over Ishmael and approached him (Genesis 26:1-5; Romans 9:7-9). He chose Jacob over Esau and came to him to share His promise and plan for him (Genesis 25:23; 28:10-17; 32:22-32; 35:9-15; Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:10-13). There is no indication anywhere in Scripture that these men would have turned to God apart from His first coming to them and directing them to Him.

-Jesus handpicked those who would follow Him (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 5:1-11; John 1:35-51). Even the one who was intended to betray Him (Mark 3:19). These men were busy minding their own business and tending to their own affairs when Jesus imposed on them to leave their comfortable lives and forsake everything to follow Him.

-Even when the wee little man, Zacchaeus, climbs up the sycamore tree to seek out the Lord, he finds out that the Lord was already looking for Him first. Jesus states at the end of that encounter that For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:1-10). He is the ultimate seeker and it is only due to His seeking of us that we would ever seek Him.

-Jesus certainly was no gentleman when He stopped Paul in his tracks on the way to Damascus, blinding him and changing not only the literal direction he was heading but also the direction of his heart (Acts 9:1-9).

-Notice that God is described as piercing the heart of those who heard Peter's sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:37). The Greek form of the word for pierce indicates something that happened to the listeners from outside of them, not something that they did to themselves. (The verb is in the passive voice.) They received this piercing of their hearts. They did not do it themselves.

-And Luke is careful to specify that God added to the number of converts to the church and not that people added themselves as God sat back observing in the shadows with His fingers crossed (Acts 2:41, 47; 5:14; 11:24).

-Perhaps one of the clearest examples of this can be found with the conversion of Lydia. Luke tells us specifically that the Lord opened Lydia's heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14). Not that Lydia invited Jesus into her heart by the specific words of some prayer. The certain implication here is that had God not opened her heart, she never would have responded to Paul's presentation of the gospel message. In fact, with just these examples alone (and much more could be given), we see that God always takes the initiative. He is not a gentleman in the case of waiting for sinners that He saves by grace. His action determined their response. It is understanding the proper view of man that it makes sense why God cannot be a gentleman concerning our salvation. Why He has to relentlessly pursue sinners in order for them to forsake themselves and throw themselves upon the mercy of the Lord Jesus and rest upon Him alone to save them.

The Proper View of Man
The very reason that God has to take the initiative with man is due to man not being able to come to God on his own as a result of the curse of the Fall. As Jesus puts it plainly, No one is able to come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:44). Without God's drawing of a person, he or she is not able to come to Christ. So if God would wait on man, none would ever come to Him. And man cannot come to God because he is unwilling to do so (John 5:40). He will not come because he does not desire to. Man is unwilling to come to God in Christ because he loves his sin and therefore hates God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil (John 3:19). Why does man not come to the light? Because he loves the darkness instead. If you placed before me a bowl of strawberry ice cream and a bowl of chocolate ice cream and asked me to choose between the two, I will always choose strawberry ice cream. The reason for this is that I love the taste of strawberry ice cream and I absolutely despise chocolate ice cream. The only way to get me to choose chocolate ice cream over strawberry would be to change my tastes and desires. Chocolate ice cream would have to taste a whole lot better to me and strawberry ice cream would have to become repulsive. Likewise, the only way a sinner can view God as wonderful and sin as repulsive which goes against their very nature would be for God to change their desires. This is what Scripture describes to occur in the new birth which is a work of the Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 1:12-13; 3:1-8). As Paul Washer puts it, the issue with man is not their "free will" but their "ill will." A "will" heading in the wrong direction towards sin instead of God. If God does not do the work of the new birth in one's heart, their will does not change and thus they continue to defy God instead of glorify God with their sinful and morally bent wills.

Why This Matters
Should you still be reading this you may be wondering why this matters. What is the big deal about referring to God as a gentleman in regards to our salvation? Why stay up so late to address this issue? It bothers me for two primary reasons. First, it robs God of His glory. If God deserves the credit for 100% of our salvation and we only recognize 90% or 95% of it being His work, then we rob Him of 10% or 5% of His glory. We take some of the "amazing" out of grace if any part of our salvation is up to us. Since Salvation belongs to the LORD as Jonah pointed out (Jonah 3:9), then seeing God as waiting for us to actively come to Him instead of seeing Him as relentlessly pursuing us and turning out hearts towards Him minimizes the glory He deserves for His work and provides for us something to boast in. William Temple said it well, "The only thing of our very own which we contribute to our salvation is the sin which makes it necessary." Everything else we contribute regarding our salvation stems from God. It is His gracious work in our lives. I want to make sure that we seriously mean soli Deo gloria, Latin for to the glory of God alone. Second, viewing God as a gentleman in relation to the salvation of men can lead to some faulty evangelistic practices. Charles Finney is a clear example of this. If you think that man has the ability in and of himself to come to a God who sits back and waits on him, you will try everything possible to manipulate a person's will and move them to come to Christ. You will try every method imaginable to motivate them, whether that would be dimming the lights or playing "Just As I Am" for the eighteenth time. However, if you recognize that man cannot come to God but God must come to man to change their heart and desires, and that He has chosen to do this through the preaching of the gospel message, your focus will not be on the person you are evangelizing to as much as it will be on the message itself. You will seek to communicate the message clearly and as accurately as possible, seeing it to be the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). You will spend more time handling the message and praying for the Lord not to be a gentleman but to pierce the person's heart and draw them to Christ. Your evangelism thus would be more effective.

I'm personally thankful that God is not a gentleman. Otherwise I never would have been saved. Let's make sure to study God's Word to understand both Him and ourselves rightly.

In Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Finding Contentment

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction ~Philippians 4:10-13

Many people today struggle to find contentment in their lives. They are not content with their job, their marriage, or their singleness. We often think that if things were different for us, that then we would be fulfilled. If we had a bigger house or a better car, life would be more worth living. Or if we just had more money to get by with. However, this certainly cannot be the case as we notice that those who do have a lot never appear to be content with what they have. They continue to desire more and more. Just look at the popular actors and actresses in Hollywood who have the fame and fortune and still lack contentment. Our problem with not being able to find contentment comes from us looking for it in the wrong place. We are looking to be fulfilled in "what" instead of "Who."

At the close of his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul expresses his appreciation for the church in supporting his ministry financially. But he quickly points out that he does not speak from want or lack. This is because he has learned to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself in. The Greek word used here means content, self-sufficient, or satisfied. Basically, Paul makes due with whatever circumstance that the Lord may have for him to be in. Whether he has little or much, is full or hungry, he has learned to be satisfied and live within such means. Not to complain or wish for different situations. But to glorify God where He has placed him. Commenting on this text, Jeremiah Burroughs defines Christian contentment as “that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” This is the attitude that Paul exhibits here. It is the attitude that all believers should have regardless of what God has ordained for them in their lives. Irrespectively concerning the situations they may face. A look at what we know about Paul's life certainly indicates his rejoicing in the Lord in any and every circumstance that he may have been in. Now, how could someone have such an attitude? Obviously, it must be due to him finding his contentment in something other than his circumstances. In fact, Paul shows us the secret to such a content attitude in v. 13.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. The reason that Paul could be so content when full or hungry and having more than enough or being in need, was due to him finding his contentment in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Him who enabled Paul to keep going in whatever circumstance he might have been in. He was the one who provided him with the strength that he needed to persevere in the most bleak of situations. He is sufficient and He is enough! While circumstances may change, He does not. As the author of Hebrews reminds us, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (13:8). Paul says that he does not speak from want because he has all that he desires in Christ. He really does not lack anything. If one finds their contentment in Christ, then their circumstances do not matter. They will be able to say with Paul that regardless of what they have or don't have, Jesus is all that they need. That they really lack nothing because they have Him. As John Piper states in his poetic paraphrase of the book of Job, "He is not poor nor much enticed / Who loses everything but Christ.” Jesus fulfills all of our deepest longings and so no matter what you may face in life, you can always be content in Him.

So what should you do if you find yourself longing for better circumstances or lamenting something that you currently don't have in your life? Read about Christ in God's Word. Spend time meditating on Who He is. On how great He is. Remind yourself of His precious love for you. That regardless of what you may think that you might be lacking on this earth, that you have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). That you have a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). One who will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5; Notice too that this is given as the reason to be content instead of being greedy.) You will find that you will have the contentment that you lack as you redirect your focus from the things that you think will bring fulfillment to the only One who truly does bring contentment. Run to Him now to find the satisfaction which you long and the strength to plod through whatever situation you may be in.

In Christ,
Solus Christus!
Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, July 22, 2013

It Is Not About The Scream: The Actual Point of Deuteronomy 22:23-27

3 “If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

25 “But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27 When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.
~Deuteronomy 22:23-27

In my studies of Scripture and my discussions with others concerning the Bible, I have encountered several ways that people attempt to discredit God and His Word. All of these of course usually stem from a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually says or a complete disregard of a passage's context. A popular argument that I hear used most often pertains to a set of laws found in the book of Deuteronomy. I have lost count of the number of times I have had someone quote Deuteronomy 22:23-27 to me and then proceed to explain how God must be unfair to punish a woman for not screaming when raped. How God could judicially punish a victim of a crime. However, if one actually takes the time to study this passage, they should be able to see that the issue is not the screaming or crying out of the woman at all. Rather, it is whether the woman consented to sexual intercourse with the man.

Verses 23-24 and verses 25-27 give instructions concerning judicially what should be done in the case of two different scenarios. Both scenarios deal with a man having sexual intercourse with a woman pledged to be another man's wife. Pay close attention to the differences between the two. In the first instance, a man finds a woman pledged to another in the city and has sexual intercourse with her (lies with her). Then the man and the woman who had sex together are to be taken out and stoned to death. Both are identified as guilty. the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he violated his neighbor's wife (v. 24). Now the other scenario is described differently. In this case the man forces and lies with the woman pledged to be another man's wife and only he is the one to be killed (v. 25). The first scenario doesn't say anything about the man in that case forcing the woman to lie with him. Just that he lies with her and that she does not cry out in the city. Would this not indicate that in the first scenario the woman served as a willing participant in lying with the man? He did not force her to lie with him. The reason she didn't cry out in the city is due to the fact that this act of sexual intercourse was consensual. Hence why she is punished by the death penalty along with the man she slept with. They both are found guilty of the act of adultery since she was pledged to be another man's wife and she willingly sleeps with someone else. The woman crying out in the city would indicate her being forced into the sexual act. She did not consent to it. That is why she is described as being a victim in that case, just as one who has been murdered by their neighbor (v. 26) and thus she bears no guilt for the adulterous action. When the man met her in the field to have sex, she cries out in protest to his action, thus not consenting to it (v. 27).

You see, the issue here is not simply whether the woman cried out in the city or not. That would miss the entire point of these laws. The issue really is whether the woman consented to the sexual act with this man or if he forced her into it against her will. The crying out in the city is the author's way of communicating to us the idea of consent or protest. If she doesn't protest (ie. cry out in the city), she willingly slept with the man and is just as guilty of the act of adultery as he is. However, if she does protest, then she is merely a victim that does not deserve to be punished.

So, this passage certainly does not call God's justice into question. Instead, it reveals it in action. Only the woman who consents to have sex with a man who is not the one she has been pledged to be married to is punished by stoning. Not the victim but the criminal. Once again we find that a closer look shows both the integrity of our God and His Word. Those who call either into question do so from their lack of a careful study of the text or deliberately to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

In Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy Birthday John Calvin!

I will bow down toward your holy temple
and I will praise your name
for your love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.

~Psalm 138:2

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
~2 Timothy 2:15

Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the word of God. . . . Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to and to obey the divine majesty of this word. Let them enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest. Let them edify the body of Christ. Let them devastate Satan's reign. Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious. Let them bind and loose thunder and lightning, if necessary, but let them do all according to the word of God
~John Calvin

Today marks the 504th birthday of John Calvin, one of the instruments God used to spread the Reformation throughout Europe. One could easily argue that he is one of the most influential theologians in history next to the apostle Paul and possibly Augustine. Personally, he is one of the "Johns" whom God has used to greatly impact my life and aid in teaching me His Word. (The other two being John MacArthur and John Piper). Regardless of whether you agree with him theologically or not (while through my study of Scripture I wholeheartedly affirm, embrace, and cherish the doctrines of grace he purported, I differ with him on his understanding of infant baptism and amillennialism), there are things we all can learn from his life and ministry which had at its heart the glory of God. A fresh look at Calvin teaches us several things:

1) The Importance of the Word of God
The backbone of Calvin's ministry was the Word of God. This was central to his work in Geneva. In fact, upon seeing the many problems which existed in the church at Geneva, Calvin concluded that the only remedy to the problem would be to preach God's Word and let God straighten the people out through it. Calvin labored at teaching the flock that God had entrusted to him what God had communicated to them through His written Word. He preached ten sermons every two weeks at the same time writing several commentaries which he has blessed the church with today. His belief on the centrality of God's Word led him to preach through the Scriptures verse by verse. Such a commitment is shown in his return to Geneva after his banishment to start preaching from the exact verse he left off at his last sermon three years prior. He is known as the "prince of expositors." Every minister would do well in making the Word of God the foundation of his ministry. Every born again believer would do well in making the Word of God the foundation of their life and work; whatever God has called them to do.

2) The Importance of Embracing, Proclaiming, and Sharing the Glory of God
Calvin had one thing which drove his actions. This was his zeal for the glory of God to be made manifest and shared. The impetus for the strong commitment of teaching God's Word just discussed came from Calvin's perspective that to honor the Word of God would be to honor the God of the Word. He felt that the best way to display God's glory to the people was to preach God's Word which revealed His glorious work of redemption throughout history. He even stated at the end of his life that "I have written nothing out of hatred to any one, but I have always faithfully propounded what I esteemed to be for the glory of God."1 Such a commitment to living for the glory of God should be one which envelopes our lives as well. Paul tells us that Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Nothing should be a higher priority for the Christian than seeking to bring glory to God in everything that he or she does.

3) The Importance of Scholarship
Calvin was a pastor-theologian; something many claim today can't exist. In one moment he could write a treatise explaining what Scripture actually says about "free will" and then in another minister to one who was grieving the loss of a loved one. In fact, Calvin at first could not see how the two went together. He desired to be a scholar and write books concerning the faith. His whole purpose in writing The Institutes of the Christian Religion, his "magnum opus" respectfully, was to teach the pastors who were suffering persecution in France the faith that they were dying for. However, God continued to direct the Reformer to the pastorate where he used his scholarship in his teaching. He was not only a pastor shepherding his flock but a scholar seeking to teach God's Word as thoroughly and clearly as possible. It is interesting that for many decades historical scholars were perplexed with what translation of the Bible Calvin used in his teaching. It was not until recently they realized the reason for their mystery. Calvin did not use a translation but translated the original Hebrew and Greek on the spot from the pulpit without ever mentioning a Hebrew or Greek word! Such scholarship is usually laughed at today with ministers who desire to accurately handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and pine over what God originally spoke in the original languages with them being accused of wasting their time on frivolous matters. I actually think the church would benefit more from scholarly pastors such as Calvin as well as Jonathon Edwards and John Piper which have followed him.

4)The Importance of Dedication
Calvin's hard work in ministry is enough to make the busiest pastor today in 21st century America appear lazy. Not only did he keep up with his extensive preaching schedule and strive relentlessly to write his commentaries, he also visited people in their homes and managed his administrative responsibilities at his church. He also had a wife and kids to minister to, some kids which I believe he took in. He never would have had time to waste hours in front of a TV or playing video games (not saying that these are wrong but we do need to be careful how we spend our time-Ephesians 5:15-16). These would have slowed him down from the work of ministry. Upon his latter years in poor health, people begged him to take a break. He was even preaching in his bedroom when bedfast. The Reformer's answer was "What? Would you have the Lord find me idle when he comes?"2 Unfortunately, and not admirable, he occupied himself so much with the work of the church that he did not take care of his health. (Something the current commentator as well as others would be wise to take heed about.) Calvin's dedication to what God called him to do reminds me that no matter how overwhelmed I feel with what God has on my plate, I can accomplish what He would have me to do if I rely on His strength through His grace.

5) How God Uses Men Despite Their Many Flaws
Calvin is another reminder of how God uses the most flawed men to do His perfect work. The Bible is full of those who had several weaknesses which would have hindered their effectiveness if it had not been for God's supernatural work both in and through them. Abraham had wavering faith, Jacob was a trickster, Moses couldn't speak, Jeremiah was too young, Gideon was unsure, David committed adultery and murder, Samson was a womanizer, and Peter denied his Lord. Yet, inspite of all of these and possible because of them, God chose to use such weak vessels so that He might get the glory. Calvin is no different. He had his flaws. Just the mention of the name "Michael Servetus" brings the sober reminder of Calvin's role in his execution and no discussion of the church's role with the state is complete without a reference to Calvin's Geneva and how the merging of the two entities was disastrous. This birthday is not a celebration of Calvin. He was a mere man who was nothing. Instead it's a celebration of a great God who sovereignly chose to work through such a weak vessel to bring reform to His church for His glory as He had purposed. Calvin was just an ordinary man who was used by an extraordinary God. Just as we also are. Praise God for John Calvin and the work that He accomplished with his life and ministry. May God use us, as insignificant as we are, to further His Kingdom for His glory as He sees fit.

In Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!!!

1 John Dillenberger, John Calvin, Selections from His Writings (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1975) 110.
2Preface to John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009) xiv.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Doctrine of Inerrancy-Part 2

In my last post, I provided a defense of the doctrine of inerrancy from the testimony of Scripture itself. What the Bible says on the matter really should settle any debate over this issue. However, due to the blindness of man towards the truth, many still deny the fact that God has communicated to us a message without any errors or misstatements. (Keep in mind that when we speak of inerrancy we are referring to the original autographs, the words directly written by the authors themselves, not necessarily the copies or translations of them.)In fact, some go so far to actually claim that the idea of the inerrancy of Scripture is a relatively new doctrine that arose out of the Fundamentalist-Liberal controversy of the early 19th century. A man recently made such a claim to me in response to something I had written in my denomination's magazine calling for the denomination to return to its roots of holding to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. But such a view actually must ignore the witness of history to stand. The following is a selective compilation of the church's position throughout the centuries in regard to the inerrancy of Scripture. (I refer to the list as "selective" because many more quotes could be added. These are just some of the strongest ones that I have found.) You will notice that this view cannot be said to be a "new" one in any way, shape, or form but has been taught throughout the ages. The church has been in agreement with the very book that serves at its authority. (Who would have guessed that?) Instead of giving a detailed argumentation of this, I will just let the voices of history speak for themselves. Without any further ado, here they are:

The Church Fathers
"You have searched the Scriptures, which are true, which were given by the Holy Spirit; you know that nothing unrighteous or counterfeit is written in them." ~Clement of Rome

"the Scriptures are indeed perfect" ~Irenaeus

"The statements of Holy Scripture will never be discordant with truth" ~Tertullian

"all the prophets spoke harmoniously and in agreement with one another" ~Theophilus

"The Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and his Spirit" ~Irenaeus

"The sacred volumes are fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, and there is no passage either in the Law or the Gospel, or the writings of an Apostle, which does not proceed from the inspired source of Divine Truth." ~Origen

"It is the opinion of some that the Scriptures do not agree or that God who gave them is false. But there is no disagreement at all. Far from it! Neither can the Father, who is truth, lie; 'for it is impossible that God should lie' [Heb. 6:18]" ~Athanasius

"I have learned to yield this respect and honor only to the canonical books of Scripture. Of these alone do I most firmly believe that their authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to the truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it . . . Concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error." ~Augustine

"The Faith will totter if the authority of the Holy Scriptures loses its hold on men. We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled." ~Augustine

"Lord, surely your scripture is true, for you, being truthful and Truth itself, have produced it." ~Augustine

"When you are really instructed in the Divine Scriptures, and have realized that its laws and testimonies are the bonds of truth, then you can contend with adversaries; then you will fetter them and lead them bound into captivity; then of the foes you have made captive you will make freemen of God." ~Jerome

The Middle Ages
"For I am sure that if I say anything which is undoubtedly contradictory to holy Scripture, it is wrong; and if I become aware of such a contradiction, I do not wish to hold to that opinion." ~Anselm

"It is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Scripture." ~Thomas Aquinas

Peter Abelard who did question inerrancy, was a rare exception during this period.

The Reformers
"It is established by God's Word that God does not lie, nor does His Word lie." ~Martin Luther

"Natural reason produces heresy and error. Faith teaches and adheres to the pure truth. He who adheres to the Scriptures will find that they do not lie or deceive." ~Martin Luther

"The Scriptures have never erred." ~Martin Luther

The following are descriptions that John Calvin used for Scripture: "The sure and infallible record," "The inerring standard," "The pure Word of God," "The infallible rule of His Holy Truth," "Free from every stain or defect," "The inerring certainty," The certain and unerring rule," "Unerring light," "Infallible Word of God," "Has nothing belonging to man mixed with it," "Inviolable," and "Infallible oracles."

The Post-Reformers
"The canonical Holy Scriptures in the original text are the infallible truth and are free from every error; in other words, in the canonical sacred Scriptures there is found no lie, no falsity, no error, not even the least, whether in subject matter or expressions, but in all things and all the details that are handed down in them, they are most certainly true, whether they pertain to doctrines or morals, to history or chronology, to topography or nomenclature. No ignorance, no thoughtlessness, no forgetfulness, no lapse of memory can dare be ascribed to the amanuenses of the Holy Ghost in their penning of the Sacred Writings." ~John Andrew Quenstedt

"The sacred writers were so acted upon and inspired by the Holy Spirit (as to the things themselves and as to the words) as to be kept free from all error and . . . their writings are truly authentic and divine . . . The prophets did not fall into mistakes in those things which they wrote as inspired men (theopneustos [Greek for God breathed]) and as prophets, not even in the smallest particulars; otherwise faith in the whole of Scripture would be rendered doubtful." ~Francis Turretin

"Whereas, therefore, no one may say that any infirmity could befall the Holy Spirit, it follows that the sacred writers could not be deceived, or err, in any respect. Here, then, it becomes us to be so scrupulous as not to allow that any such slip can be found in scripture ... it is the special prerogative of scripture, that it never errs" ~William Whitaker

"The purity of Scripture lies in the fact that it stands complete in itself, without either deceit or error." ~William Perkins

"The Scriptures are evidence of their own divine authority as a human being is evident by the motions, behaviour and speech of a body of a human form and contexture, or that the body is animated by a rational mind. For we know no otherwise than by the consistency, harmony and concurrence of the train of actions and sounds, and their agreement to all that we can suppose to be a rational mind . . . So there is that wonderous universal harmony and consent and concurrence in the aim and drift, such as universal appearance of a wonderful, florious design, such stamps everywhere of exalted and divine wisdom, majesty, and holiness in matter, manner, contexture and aim, that the evidence is the same that the Scriptures are the word and work of a divine mind; to one that is thoroughly acquainted with them, as 'tis that the words and actions of an understanding man are from a rational mind, to one that is of a long time been his familiar acquaintance." ~Jonathan Edwards

Modern Period
It is here that things started to change and the doctrine of inerrancy began to be questioned and denied. Some historians have pointed out this to occur in the early seventeenth century. Up until this point, the church had almost universally been in agreement over the view that the Bible contained no errors in its original writings. Even the Roman Catholic and Protestant divide during the Reformation held common ground pertaining to this. Their disagreements stemmed more so over the authority of the Scriptures, the canonicity of the Apocrypha, and the sufficiency of Scripture. Since we can trace the departure from inerrancy during the 1600s into the modern era, it actually would be more accurate to say that the novel view is not that the Bible is inerrant but that it isn't. And the reason that so much more literature had been produced during the Fundamentalist-Liberal controversy would not have been because it was a new doctrine developing but since inerrancy had not been questioned as strongly as it had been then, thus providing the reason for issuing such a strong apologetic (a defense) for it.

Churches and groups today which deny the biblical doctrine of inerrancy should take note. In so doing they ignore the clear teachings of Scripture and find themselves outside the norm of a position that the church has consistently held since its start on the day of Pentecost. In fact, those who deny the doctrine of inerrancy actually agree with the devil over and against God. He serves as the first one to question the inerrancy of God's Word. His very first words recorded to us are: Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1). He questioned God's Word. Did God really say that? The question for you is whether or not you will say pertaining to Scripture "Thus said the Lord" or "Did God really say that?" There really is no other alternative. The Bible claims to be ALL God's Word. You either believe that claim as the church has or you question it as the devil does.

In Christ,
Sola Scriptura
Soli Deo Gloria

-Allison, Gregg R. Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.
-Covenant Protestant Reformed Church. "The Inerrancy of Scripture." URL:
-Gerstner, John H. "The View of the Bible Held By the Church: Calvin and the Westminster Divines." Inerrancy. Ed. Norman L. Geisler. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1980.
-Lindsell, Harold. The Battle For the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1977.
-Preus, Robert D. "The View of the Bible Held By the Church: The Early Church Through Luther." Inerrancy. Ed. Norman L. Geisler. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1980.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Doctrine of Inerrancy-Part 1

One of my greatest concerns today is the departure of many churches (of course I am speaking of visible churches because such could never be a problem of those who are a part of the true invisible church who submits to her head, the Lord Jesus Christ) and so-called Christian organizations from holding to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture. In 1976, Harold Lindsell wrote a book entitled "The Battle For The Bible" where he documented the sad denial of inerrancy by several groups at the time. Over 30 years later such a "battle for the Bible" still is needed. Many denominations are in decline today and have plunged towards liberalism; all because they have quit viewing the Bible to be inerrant and have played fast and loose with its teachings. Such churches who deny the inerrancy of the text of Scripture properly can no longer be called a true church and have no firm foundation to stand upon. Personally, in tears I witness this occurring in the denomination that I serve. My goal in the next two blog posts is to argue for the validity of the doctrine of inerrancy and the dangers of denying it. First, we will look at the evidence for the Bible's inerrancy and then, in a separate post, I will post voices throughout church history who agree with the Bible's teaching concerning its own trustworthiness.

Defining the Doctrine
The first issue we need to discuss concerning the doctrine of inerrancy is just what is meant by the term. Granted it is not a word we normally throw around at the dinner table. (However, if you do, please let me know because I would love to join you then! If the terms propitiation or superlapsarianism often come up, then I am there!) Inerrant basically means without error. It comes from the Latin word errare, to wander. Therefore, to describe something as inerrant is to state that it does not stray from the truth. In relation to the Bible, it communicates the idea that the original autographs of Scripture contain no falsehood pertaining to anything that they claim. “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” defines inerrancy as the “quality of being free from all falsehood or mistake and so safeguards the truth that Holy Scripture is entirely true and trustworthy in all its assertions." Everything the Bible says is true and can be trusted. Whether historical, sociological, scientific, biological, or psychological, the Bible can be found to be accurate. It makes no mistakes in anything it asserts. The Bible may not communicate every fact in existence but in what it does share, it can be described as accurate in those facts. So to say that the Bible is inerrant means that it does not contain any errors of any kind in whatever it may say. Please note that this only refers to the first writings of the Scripture that came from the dripping of the pens of the original authors and copies and translations today only as they accurate represent them.

Deduction From the Doctrine of Inspiration
We know that the Bible is without error because its author is One who cannot err. The fact that the Bible is the inspired Word of God leads to the conclusion that is it inerrant. At least 3,808 times the Old Testament authors refer to a statement as being Thus said the LORD or something equivalent to it. The prophets are described as having the word of the LORD coming down upon them before they spoke His words (Jeremiah 1:1-2; Ezekiel 1:2-3; Joel 1:1; Hosea 1:1). The clear implication is that the prophets spoke what God had told them to speak and thus were delivering His message.

The New Testament authors also viewed the Old Testament writings as being God's very word. Peter tells us that But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20-21). Though written down by the instrument of man, the ultimate author of Scripture is God whose Holy Spirit moved men to write down His very words. Paul refers to all Scripture as inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Literally, the Greek reads that all Scripture is God-breathed. The all Scripture that Paul refers to is the Old Testament as that would have been Scripture for both the apostle and Timothy. The author of Hebrews even states that the author of Psalm 95 is ultimately the Holy Spirit and not David. Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, . . . (Hebrews 3:7). A similar case may be found in Peter's discussion of the necessity to choose Judas' successor based on Scripture in Acts 1:16. He states that the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David (Acts 1:16) indicating the Holy Spirit as the author and David as the means. The New Testament writers are unwavering in their testimony to God's inspiration of the Old Testament writings.

Although the New Testament as we have it today had yet to be completed at the time, there is evidence that the New Testament authors considered their own writings as Scripture, God's very word, as well. For instance, Paul quotes a statement of Jesus recorded by the author Luke and calls it Scripture in I Timothy 5:18. The quote is alongside one from Deuteronomy. Luke's writing is deemed authoritative by Paul in teaching that elders should be paid for their service. Also, Peter explicitly labels Paul's letters as Scripture. He states that the untaught and unstable distort his writings as they do the rest of the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:16). So, according to Peter, Paul's letters are a part of Scripture. Furthermore, these letters were intended to be read aloud to the congregations and admonish them (Colossians 4:16).

So the Bible itself claims to be more than just any words but God's very words. If the Bible is God's Word as it claims, then it must be inerrant. Otherwise it cannot be described as God's Word. As R. C. Sproul explains, “If [the Bible] is the Word of God, it does not err. If it errs, it is not the Word of God. Surely we can have a word about God that errs, but we cannot have a word from God that errs.” To deny the inerrancy of Scripture is to deny the inspiration of the Scripture. The two doctrines rise and fall together.

Declaration of Scripture Concerning It's Own Inerrancy
Though we don't have to just deduce the doctrine of inerrancy from the claims of Scripture that they are God's actual words. The Bible explicitly refers to itself as inerrant throughout its pages. In Psalm 19:7 we read, The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The Hebrew word for perfect literally means complete or sound. Something that is in accordance with the truth. Likewise, several verses in Psalm 119 point out the inerrancy of Scripture (vv.42,96,140,142,151,160,172). Jesus Himself acknowledged the fact that Scripture contains no errors and thus can be completely trusted. He says in Matthew 5:18: For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. He mentions in John 10:35 that the Scripture cannot be broken and states in John 17:17, Sanctify then in the truth; Your word is truth. James refers to Scripture as the perfect law (James 1:25). All of this attests to Scripture being without error.

Drawing a Circle?
Now I know that someone reading this right now is crying "foul" and will accuse me of using circular logic in coming to my conclusion that Scripture is inerrant. That I say that Scripture is inerrant because it says it is inerrant and it says that it is inerrant because it is inerrant. However, this is not simply the case with my argument. Logically, the Bible, like anything written or spoken, makes assertions. Those assertions can either be valid or invalid (to use some of the technical logical terms for "right" or "wrong"). The Bible claims that it is the Word of God that does not err. That is either a correct assertion or an incorrect one. As one who has dedicated my life to studying the Bible, I can testify that I have found the Bible's claim to be true. Examining several so-called "apparent contradictions" within Scripture, I have discovered them to be just that, "apparent." I find that most people are too quick to jump to conclusions before actually studying in depth what the text is saying to realize that the passages in discussion do not conflict at all. Also, the greatest validation of Scripture's claim to be God's Word that does not err is the witness of the Holy Spirit within me. He has wrought a conviction in my heart that the Bible is just what it claims. John Calvin puts it well when he points out: "For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit." I pray that God would open up any eyes who are currently closed to these facts and not only would He give them a conviction that the Bible is indeed His Word that does not err in anything that it asserts but also give a desire to read, study, mediate, and live out this Word. And if you have been given eyes to see that the Bible is true, you must deal with the ramifications of what God's Word says about God's holiness and your sin. You cannot deny its truth. May we not only honor the Word of God but in so doing also honor the God of the Word.

In Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!!!