Monday, December 25, 2017

"The Christmas Child"

I had just finished reading Clément's first letter to the Corinthians this morning dated from 80AD to 140AD; I was looking at our Christmas tree as I contemplated what I had just read. What was standing out to me from the reading, was the numerous times Clement stated, "It is written in another place", then he would quote Scripture. He would remind his readers of what Jesus said or what the Apostles had said. He had nothing original to say of himself.

I began to think about the fact Christmas as we call it has no reference in Scripture. In early New England America it was illegal to even celebrate it, it was considered and abomination. Yet today it is almost sacred to our Christian culture.

I see the signet (Keep Christ in Christmas) and (Jesus is the reason for the Season) show up every year. Let me be bold and offend someone at this point, Jesus is not the reason for the season, we are. We have no Command from our Lord to celebrate this event, it is our own creation. Much that we understand about the Christmas story is fabricated as well as the Date. It is thought by some perhaps Christ was born sometime in September, but Scripture did not record this for us, for very good reason no doubt.


 So what is so bad about the Christmas season? For one thing, the truth of the Gospel is hidden and masked in the gift giving and Christmas cheer. We feel good about ourselves and it is said this time of the year brings out the best in us. Leaving us thinking we're not all that bad after all, and all that good just spills out this time of the year.

But the truth of the Gospel is that we are not all that good, and the good we do this time of the year is filled with pride and self exaltation for all our acts of kindness. The truth is this Child was born, this Child was given because of our depravity.

This depravity from time to time manifests itself among us and we are reminded what man is capable of. The last few years here in our own little community the kidnap, rape, and murder of a young girl shocked us into reality. From time to time this depravity shakes our own lives in a much closer venue. We are struck with broken homes, rebellious children, addictions, and so many things we are all too familiar with.

The birth of this Christ Child brought about the slaughter of Children from two years old and under by edict of the king. Soldiers entered into the homes of families and ripped their children from their arms and slaughtered them in the streets. This is a part of the Christmas story that many times gets overlooked. We want to sing peace on earth and good will toward men without understanding why there is a need for peace and good will. This peace and good will came from outside our world, to save us from ourselves and the wrath of God.

I did a search on the internet with the words, "pictures of Christmas". I looked at over 40 pictures, not one referenced anything Christian, with the exception of a Bethlehem star.

So, what is good about Christmas? It is a time most of the world is forced to acknowledge an event in History. This event is at the center of the world. History is dated such as to reference time, before and after this event.

It is reckoned in such manner, there is no doubt that something took place that changed the world. It is a time that affords us opportunity to speak of this Child that was born, this Child that was given. To remind the world of its fallen condition and the immense price that had to be paid for our redemption. It is a time that we as Christians can take great joy in God's love toward us and all mankind. Those who are broken can now be made whole, those who are lost can now be saved.

This Christmas season, let us not hide our eyes from the brokenness around us, the depravity of our human nature clothed in Christmas cheer, but boldly declare the Glorious Redemption that has been offered. Come to Christ! See His Beauty! Love His Words! Cry to God, let me see! Open my heart that I may be healed!

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David

 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

"Words, Mojis, and Critiques"

Due to a series of previous posts I have recently made, and the fact that I can't seem to escape being reminded of them; it seems necessary I visit with words, mojies, and my own critiques.

Written words are wonderful tools of communication, powerful as they are, we recognize they have their limits. Mojies are a creation we have devised to assist our written words. They help us convey the emotion driving the words we write, thus delivering another piece of valuable information.

Most of us are aware of the difficulty of expressing the emotion driving the thoughts being presented in written form. Words have meaning, those meanings are rooted in human emotions. The way we raise our voice, impose emphasis on certain words, raise our brows, move our eyes, all add meaning and clarity to the statements formed with words. When those words are printed in written form much of this is lost. This is especially true in critiques.

Paul understood this in 2Co 2:4  "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you."

Paul inserted an early church moji to reveal the state of his heart in penning his words. The Corinthian Church had many things wrong. They had their view of marriage wrong, their understanding of the gifts wrong, their form of worship was wrong, their practice of the implementing the Lord's supper was wrong. They had mixed their Christian worship with so many pagan practices and human inventions it was barely recognizable as a Christian Church, yet his critique of those errors was made more pliable by the state of heart presented in his writing.

When we critique the actions of our brothers and sisters this should always be the state of our heart. We must be, ourselves, humble at heart and not to set our way of thinking as preeminent. It must always be a call to Biblical thinking and practice. As it is in church discipline, the purpose being not punishment and retribution, but obedience and restoration; so in our critiquing of Christian doctrine the purpose is not to force submission by argument, but a call to truth and understanding through the ministry of His Word.

In a number of previous posts I have ventured into the area of critiquing various doctrinal practices in a number of churches and Christian circles I have in past times been associated with. Choosing to do this always runs a risk of offending precious people, and it also puts the one critiquing at risk of reviving their own pride and arrogance.

This offense is often met with a response expressing the lesser friendly emotions toward the one critiquing, which stirs the lesser beneficial emotions in him. Yes, it does get complicated! It can also escalate into harmful and destructive actions.

I would beseech those who were touched by my critique of those doctrines, especially those who personally know me, to understand my sincere love for you.

Rom 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Rom 15:5  Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
Rom 15:6  That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 15:7  Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.


We must not soften the written text of Scripture. The things we practice in our churches that cannot be supported by Scripture, or is of such that Scriptural terms must be redefined to form these new doctrines must be critiqued at all levels. That means even the leadership in small churches must guard against these inventions. If leadership are the ones promoting such practices, they must be held accountable and one must attempt to reason with them. This must be done with love and patience. Paul gives us a wonderful example in his reasoning with the Corinthian Church. He so expressed his love for them, yet spoke direct and straightforward.

I have left dear friends, separated from certain fellowships, and joined myself to new ones. These things are not easy, but they are necessary if we cannot be reconciled. But all effort must be made to communicate and bring to bear upon those disagreements the authority of Scripture. Our purpose in critiquing erroneous doctrines is not division but unity.

1Co 1:10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.   

Paul gave this command in the same letter that he gave rebuke for their numerous errors. Paul brought his rebuke strongly, yet considered his audience precious in his sight and precious to God. 1Co 1:2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

When we bring rebuke upon certain practices among us, we must do so as speaking to brethren. All the while strongly rebuking the Corinthian Church, Paul acknowledged them as his dear Brothers and Sisters.  1Co 1:4  I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
1Co 1:5  That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;


We must do all we can to maintain an expression of love, but we must understand that most will not receive a critiquing of their doctrines. They simply have too must invested in it, too much pride to consider a careful, honest, and prayerful study bringing the Scripture to bear upon those beliefs. We live in a world with an infatuation with the supernatural and mystical. We are looking for experiences and things that affect us emotionally, that give us a feeling in order to validate its reality. Yet all these things are subjective and are to be brought under the objective rule of Scripture.

If you find yourself the objective of my critique, please understand my heart aches for the truth. I love you, nothing can benefit either of us more than a more accurate knowledge of truth. Let us look beyond ourselves and search the Scripture for clear defined and sound doctrine.

Let us take every thing we believe and weigh it against the weight of Scripture. It matters not what certain Scriptures mean to us, what matters is what the text actually says and how the ones present at the time understood it. When that is discovered we can apply it to our lives today.

Help me to discover these things in our lives so that our differences and divisions may be weakened and our love for one another increased. Let us bring our experiences and emotional feelings into subjection to these understandings. Let us strive to   let the Scripture reign supreme over our lives.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David      

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"God Breathed"

2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Have you ever wondered how sure you can be the Bible in your hand is truly what it says it is? Have you ever been challenged by someone's accusation insisting it is only a book contrived by men? Have you ever wondered about the so called other holy books held by the other religions of the world.

People of other religions are just as sure of their writings and prophets, some more so, as we are the Canons we hold. Many are willing to give their lives before denying their faith, some willing to kill to promote it. Have you ever pondered on these things, questioned the validity of your own faith? If not, I would suggest you do. If we truly take our faith seriously, it is necessary we understand what we believe and why. We need to know it is the truth, to believe a lie is to follow a path to destruction.

We must also consider how this effects others. Those who challenge us, who insist the Scriptures are only the writings of men need answers. To leave them with that assumption and produce no confidence or knowledge on our part to the contrary is a dereliction of our duty to defend the faith.

We must also consider the effects this will have on our children. If we are to lead our children in the Christian faith, must we not know its truth? Our Children must be prepared for persecution and live a life willing to suffer great loss as a result of their faith. Do they not deserve to see this confidence and diffusion of knowledge in our lives?

With these things in mind I want to consider in this post the Scripture above from 2 Timothy 3:16. In the first half Paul gives us its source using the word "theopneustos" which is translated from the Greek into English as "inspiration of God". Some later translations such as the NIV and the ESV have chosen to use "God breathed" as a translation. This is derived from the word "Theos" meaning God and "Pneo" meaning to breath. Thus, "theopneutos" God breathed.

But what does this mean? Which rendering is the most accurate? For centuries the translators chose "inspiration", only in the last 40 years are so have some decided on "God breathed". This has led many to pick up on this language and use it in conversation. It is a difficult word to define as it is used only once in Scripture, that being in the verse before us. And it is very rare in any other Greek literature. So it is hard for us to know why Paul under the influence of the Holy Spirit chose to use this particular word before others he could have chosen. Being one myself who does not accept change quickly, I suspect I will prefer and lean toward to older translations of "inspiration of God".

We understand the Decalogue was written with the finger of God, but what about the rest of Scripture? Did God breath on a sheet of papyrus and the words appear? No, we understand that men received thoughts and with their minds and hands placed the words upon written documents. (2Pe 1:21  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.)

We understand that the Scripture carries with it a noticeable human element as it flows through the writer. We also understand that God so moved upon the writer that the thought and intent was transmitted without error to the text.

This inerrant view is held only upon the original received text. It is understood that through copies and translations this perfection is subject to human errors. Yet there are many ways we are able to verify and confirm the accuracy of the Bible we hold in our hands. In God's Providence He has preserved for us these safe guards. It is interesting the translators did not insert the verb "was" given, or "was" profitable, but "is". They seem to understand from the text Paul was saying even the copies and translations "is" given to us in His Providence. The book in Timothy's hands would have been the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Paul told him it was "theopneutos" and "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" Jesus Himself quoted from this translation of the Scripture affirming it as authoritative.

If you hold a Bible in your hands that is in your native language, there are ways to know the accuracy of the text. So you can come to trust the text as inspired of God. How can we build our own confidence as well as respond to those suggestions that it was just written and contrived by men?

Here is a suggestion that has helped me, I'm not sure how effective it is in answering the critic, but it built my confidence. It also seems if the critic is truly inquisitive and honest about His insertion it should help him as well.

That suggestion is simply to read it and compare it to other writings. As I alluded to before, there is a noticeable human element to the text. One can study it and identify the different styles in the various writers. There is also a noticeable divine element imposed upon the text. After some reading one notices a uniform message and continuity from Genesis to Revelation. These words were pinned by over 40 different authors over thousands of years and yet it flows smooth presenting a wonderful theme of Redemption.

If you then begin to read the writings of the Church Fathers, they were the 2nd century generation of Christians. Some were disciples of the Disciples. Their writings are very helpful and much can be learned by studying them. But you will eventually notice the absence of the Divine element. Their understanding at times seemed to be strained. They have misunderstandings of one another. Their disagreements surface quite often.

You are made aware of a difference, it is not Scripture, it is missing this special level of "theopneustos". Seeing this helped me immensely. I began to understand how the Canon we have now took form. I have read some of the Apocrypha writings, they too are interesting, but I find the same missing element, they are not Scripture.

Why is the book of Barnabas not in the New Testament? One reading and you understand why. Why is the book of Enoch not included in the Old Testament Canon? One reading and you understand. What about the so called lost books of the Bible? There are no lost books of the Bible! There are lost books, some understand that perhaps Paul wrote a 3rd letter to the Corinthians that has been lost. That very well may be possible. I'm sure Paul and the other New Testament writers as well wrote many things beside those we have in the Bible. Everything Paul wrote was not "theopneustos" but when he was moved upon in that special way, every word he pinned was "theopneustos". God is not in the business of losing or misplacing His Divine revelation. Yes, we have the Word of God, His revelation to us. It may be through a translation to us in our language, but it is "theopneustos" and present with all the power necessary to transform our lives and bring us to regeneration. It is sufficient for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David      

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Speaking in Tongues"

Speaking in tongues, why would I write on this subject when it is so controversial and devisive?  Will I not disappoint many of my brothers and sisters who would disagree with me? Doubtless it will at least be thought, "Just another opinion that he should keep to himself, just stirring up strife."

Yet, should we not put as much light as possible upon the subject that we all may see more clearly?

There are many better qualified expositors than myself that have explored this subject, I highly recommend you study their works. I will add some links as we conclude; they will take you to a few such sites that will guide you in a much deeper study than what we will cover here. My object is hopefully to stir you to explore the subject in more detail. I write feeling the weight of this doctrine resting upon my thoughts. I am compelled to write, not to win an argument or present myself wiser in understanding. I am compelled to write because I know first hand how this doctrine can affect one's life. As one who practiced this belief for over 25 years I have much vested in this doctrine. It is from this experience I understand how serious this teaching is, and the affect it can have.

Is it not truth we all seek? Finding truth, is it not greater than our pride and personal beliefs? If truth is revealed, are we not foolish if we close our eyes? When I discover I am wrong, it is of greatest benefit to uncover that jewel and have it enrich my life. I pray you will not draw your sword as to enter battle, but to use it to cut the weeds with me, that more light may be let in. I say these thing because I know we are all fond of our doctrines, we are apt to rise up to defend them. I also understand many have built their ministries upon certain doctrines, to leave them would cost much. Maybe for some, too much.  That should bring some light to the seriousness of these issues.

I used to speak in tongues, I no longer do. In this post I want to begin with why I did, discuss the affect, and conclude with why I do not. As we travel this course the Scripture will be our guide. With my greatest effort I will try to speak of the Scripture, speaking no further than the Scripture themselves speak. May God give us understanding and love for one another.

I was introduced to the Gospel and saved, as we understanding the term, at the age of 13. Over my teenage years and early 20's I was in and out of the Baptist church I was associated with. An inconsistent walk of finding things that appeared more fun than going to church, only over time to find a conviction of heart so strong as to compel me to return. The continuation of this cycle left me immature in my understanding of the Gospel and without a solid grounding for my faith.

In my late 20's I was introduced to the Pentecostal beliefs, which had Word of Faith leaning for those who understand that term. These were wonderful people, who from my perspective had a greater excitement for the Gospel than I had known. They were people I had known most of my life, some had already been very influential in my youth. The preachers I encountered during this time were dynamic and spoke with confidence. I was given a view of Scripture I had not seen before which made me feel I was discovering something new. It was so different I was resistant at first, but was becoming more and more intrigued with this new understanding. Many things were occurring in their services that were strange to me, but in this post we will address only one.

I was introduced to the idea that there was a second work of the Holy Spirit that I yet had not experienced and it was accompanied with speaking in tongues. Being confronted with the idea that one should desire all that God has for oneself, I began to pursue this experience. My passion grew, the intensity of my efforts increased. I was able to look in the Bible and see this experience was indeed there, I came to wonder why all did not seek this experience. I was brought to understand they could if they would only seek it.

I really tried hard to understand what it was I was suppose to understand to be able to experience this. I went to special meetings and conferences and learned more about what I was to expect, what yielding to the Holy Spirit meant, and how I was to interpret that. I read books on it and experiences of others to increase my understanding.

Finally, one day alone at work it happened, I managed to speak in a way that in my sincerity I believed I had spoken in tongues. I had been taught one could be baptized in the Holy Ghost and it be some time before they could learn to yield to the Spirit and speak in tongues. This is not agreed upon in all Pentecostal churches, but this is what I was taught. I believed I had experienced this second benefit, I was now trying to learn to yield and speak in tongues. This time I achieved enough success to convince myself I had done just that. I announced I had and was considered now to be Spirit filled. As I progressed and practiced this new language it became easier and more fluent. I even seemed to enjoy the experience as I felt spiritual while doing it and I could just let my mind go.

As many years passed and I continued to study the Bible, I noticed inconsistencies concerning this gift in the Scriptures. As I inquired about them from time to time I was given an answer that seemed to fit the understanding I had come to believe. But again and again when I would come to those Scriptures, it just seemed something wasn't fitting. At first I could just push it aside, it was just my lack of understanding. But as time progressed it became more and more important to me to understand it from the Scripture. You see, I understood it in the doctrine we were all taught, but I had not really comprehended what was actually being said in the Scripture. As I mentioned earlier there were many such things that occurred from time to time that brought things into question, the tongues was just one of them.

Little by little over the years I began to question what I believed and why. I began to focus my prayers in a desire to know the truth, could it not be known from the Scriptures? I came to the point that I simply wanted to know the truth of the Scripture where ever that would lead me. I will be honest, I struggled for a long time wondering if that was even possible, for it seemed everyone I asked had a different view. It really did seem you could make the Bible say whatever you wanted it to. The result being you could never really know for sure. So if all this seems cloudy to you, I understand. There really are many voices in the world. So now you know why I spoke in tongues.

It is hard to know the full effect of this, for over so many years I spent countless hours practicing this gift. If nothing else, one benefit is that it drove me to examine it in the Scripture and discover what it was and why I should do it. The loss would be of course at the least the countless hours spent to no avail and the worst being, that I had unknowing offered to God a pagan practice of worship. If it was not valid, all the time I witnessed that it was, and the times I testified of my experience would be very humbling to admit my foolishness. The misdirecting of my family and friends in correct form of worship if I was wrong would be a serious offense. So much was weighing upon me knowing the truth concerning this gift and others.

If you will, follow me as we travel through the Scripture and discover why I do not now speak in tongues. One must first understand, which I did not, that the only guide for Christian Worship and practice is the Scripture. There simply is no other source. No one's experience, no one's vision, no voices heard from heaven, nothing but Scripture. (Gal 1:8  But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. NAS) You see, your experience of speaking in tongues may be completely different from mine, but none of our experiences are the measure. Many pagan religions today speak in ecstatic tongues and testify of some kind of experience, many times expressing peace and love. We are all emotional and physiological beings and we have experiences. For Worship and Christian practice it must be the Scripture alone that guides us.

The first place tongues shows up in the New testament is Mark 16:17. (Mar 16:17  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; KJV) Among other things, we are told those that believe will speak with new tongues. We need to come to terms with what this is. How we understand it will determine how we apply it. For now this is all the information we have, but we can learn a few things here. First, tongues among other things will be a sign, second the word translated tongues is glossa. It is used in Scripture to either refer to a language, or the tongue itself. Since we can be assured it's not talking about people receiving new tongues in their mouth and their old ones falling out, we must understand it to mean different languages. But are they human languages or spiritual languages? It would seem from this text human languages, for we have had no discussion of any other kind at this point. One thing I knew from speaking in tongues, I was not speaking in a human language. So this Scripture began to bother me.

The next place we encounter tongues is Acts 2. (Act 2:4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. . . . Act 2:7  And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
Act 2:8  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Act 2:9  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
Act 2:10  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Act 2:11  Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. KJV)


The word tongues here is again glossa as in Mark 16, in Acts 2:8 the Greek word dialektos is also translated tongues, which is where we get our word dialect. This passage gives us much more information, in fact, it explains in such vivid detail it is unmistakable what is happening. As indicated in Mark 16, as a sign, they were speaking in the other languages and dialects they previously did not know, languages of the people present. With Scripture as my guide this gave me much reason to have concern, I concluded one thing for sure. What ever happened here I had not experienced. At this point I didn't exactly know what I was doing, but I knew it was not Acts chapter 2.

Then in (Act 10:46  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Act 10:47  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? KJV).
Here glossa is again used, plus Peter identifies it as the same experience they had, so again they are speaking in other human languages.

Then (Act 19:6  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. KJV) Again glossa is used, no other interpretation has been introduced so we must conclude it is still human languages. Any other interpretation simply is not allowed by the text.  

Now we move to the next mention of the gift which is 1 Corinthians 12. (1Co 12:10  The Spirit gives to one person the power to do miracles, to another the ability to prophesy, and to another the ability to judge what is from the Spirit and what is not. The Spirit gives one person the ability to speak in different kinds of languages, and to another the ability to interpret those languages. ERV) Here it is still clear what is being conveyed. The word is still glossa and the text is clear it is human languages.  In 1 Corinthians 12:28 and 12:30 we are forced by the text to conclude the same thing.

The subject comes up again in Paul's writing in 1 Corinthians 14. Up to this point the Scripture is very clear and comprehensive on the subject. I know what I had been doing is something other than what has been discussed so far. In Chapter 14 things get muddled, statements are made that seem somewhat unclear, even at times appearing to speak of a different kind of experience. It is here we must be ever so careful. For there are men who are excellent scholars and have studied for years on this subject who will find in these verses support for the continuation of this gift and in the form of which I was practicing it. So I speak to you with great humility when I bring myself to bare against the interpretation of men of such profound influence.

As we approach this chapter, let me clarify the doctrine of tongues as I previously understood it. There is (according to most Pentecostal circles) two kinds of tongues, those in Acts 2, 1 Corinthians 12 and those in 1 Corinthians 14. In Chapter 14 we are supposed to discover an ecstatic speech, (glossolalia) not glossa. It is a heavenly language that is non human and must be interpreted to be understood. It is also useful as a prayer language as you can pray for things that only the Spirit knows and you do not understand. It is supposed to be useful as it builds you up in the spirit and is encouraged for your private time  of devotion. It is this practice I engaged in for more than 25 years. So lets take a look at Chapter 14.

(1Co 14:2  I will explain why. Those who have the gift of speaking in a different language are not speaking to people. They are speaking to God. No one understands them—they are speaking secret things through the Spirit. ERV) The Kings James Version uses unknown tongues for language, the word unknown is in italics indicating it is not in the original Greek but was added by translators to help clarify what they thought was the meaning. To be fair, you can see where one could understand this to mean an ecstatic language. For the phase "speaks not to men but unto God", and "no one understands" and "he speaks mysteries or secrets through the Spirit" all give you that impression. So lets say at this point it at least could mean that. That would not be good hermenuetics of Bible interpretation in my view, but we will go with it for now.

(1Co 14:4  Those who speak in a different language are helping only themselves. But those who prophesy are helping the whole church. ERV) This is where the idea that praying in an unknown tongue is encouraged for it is so beneficial to one's spiritual growth. But Paul was not encouraging one to edify oneself, he was correcting the practice to edify the Church.

(1Co 14:5  I would like all of you to have the gift of speaking in different languages. But what I want more is for you to prophesy. Anyone who prophesies is more important than those who can only speak in different languages. However, if they can also interpret those languages, they are as important as the one who prophesies. If they can interpret, then the church can be helped by what they say. ERV)

In the text above it seems we are moving back to the Acts 2 mode. The plurality of the text seems to move from an ecstatic speech to a variety of identifiable languages that could be understood and interpreted. It becomes a little more difficult to see glossolalia in this verse rather than glossa, especially since glossa is always used in these texts.

Paul continues his discourse using examples of sounds that have certain meaning. Music played without order is just noise, alarms that are unknown are useless. All through this discourse he is pointing to distinct sounds with meanings. He states His gift of tongues is greater than their's, but he would rather speak 5 words that can be understood than thousands which cannot be understood in the church.

(1Co 14:18  I thank God that my gift of speaking in different kinds of languages is greater than any of yours.
1Co 14:19  But in the church meetings I would rather speak five words that I understand than thousands of words in a different language. I would rather speak with my understanding, so that I can teach others. ERV)
It is here the idea is conceived for a private prayer language, for if Paul speaks in tongues more than they all, but he does not do it in Church, were is he doing it? In his private time it is concluded. And if we want to be like Paul, we will speak in tongues a lot in our private time. But this is impressed upon the Scripture by conjecture, it is not implied. He could be referring to the use of the gift on his missionary journeys preaching in the languages of the people he encountered.

       
Are you confused yet? If not, you really should be, and that is where most of the Church is today. So what are we to do? Good hermenuetics of Bible interpretation is to understand that the Scripture is literally God breathed. All we need for faith and doctrine are contained in its volumes. In areas were the text seems to be unclear, it is clarified in the other passages that address the same subject more extensively. We should be assured that a doctrine will not be introduced in ambiguity leaving us unsure and in doubt about a matter of practice or application. To find ourselves in such a fashion is a sign we are off center.

Do you realize the only books that address this subject are Acts and Corinthians. We have looked at both. There is nowhere else for us to go, this is what we have been given. The text we have looked at leaves us with no misunderstanding in the least of details concerning what it was and how it was implemented. We become confused in Chapter 14 because we try to impress upon the text some understanding and practice that we have not previously been given. In doing that we invoke much confusion into the body of Christ. Do you realize if we place the understanding upon chapter 14 that we clearly and concisely have gathered from the previous text of Scripture, there is no confusion at all.

I was taught when someone speaks in a tongue, if I were to interpret it I should just speak out what comes into my mind. But we have no such instruction in Scripture, the Scripture instructs that if there is no interpreter (implying one would know) he is not to speak in a language not known. If there is an interpreter, it is implied he will not speak what comes to his mind, but will indeed understand the words themselves, and thereby be able to accurately convey to the people what has been said.

The practice of Speaking in tongues as we know it today in our Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches have no Scriptural support whatsoever. You must first impress upon the Scripture text an interpretation that Scripture does not give, and then completely disregard the instruction given in Chapter 14 concerning the rules of application of the gift if it were in operation.

You may be ready now to draw your sword and defend your doctrine, but your blade is dull. You cannot sharply define your doctrine in Scripture without ambiguity. You will impress upon certain verses a interpretation in which it seems it may be leaning, yet you will have no place to go to enforce it. If you insist to fight to the death, I will leave you with your battle. I no longer speak in an unintelligible speech and define it as tongues. I let the Scripture define what the gift of tongues is, and it defines it as language, the dialects of human languages.

The Scripture is so amazingly powerful and wise. Even if one defines tongues as a prayer language and ecstatic speech, when practiced as Paul instructed in 1 Corinthians 14, most of our confusion in this area would still be removed. (1Co 14:27  When you meet together, if anyone speaks to the group in a different language, it should be only two or no more than three people who do this. And they should speak one after the other. And someone else should interpret what they say.
1Co 14:28  But if there is no interpreter, then anyone who speaks in a different language should be quiet in the church meeting. They should speak only to themselves and to God. . . . 1Co 14:33  God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace. This is the rule for all the meetings of God's people. ERV)


These instructions are not Paul's suggestions, they are commands of our Lord and must be obeyed to the best of our ability. (1Co 14:37  If you think you are a prophet or that you have a spiritual gift, you should understand that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. ERV). Yet, I have never seen these commands seriously applied in a single service where I was in attendance and the gift of tongues was supposedly manifested. These things ought not to be.

It is our own disobedience to Scripture that is causing the division and confusion within the body. It is the insistence of our own interpretation instead of the sufficiency of Scripture that keeps us at odds. We wonder why there are so many different denominations within the Church, and do not see it is our own sin feeding and sustaining them. I do not mean to be divisive, but the reality is, this is causing confusion and the Scriptures hold the answer. I implore you, walk where the Scripture is clear, avoid the ambiguity of private interpretations.

Conclusion: The Scripture defines what tongues are, their purpose, and their proper mode of practice in precise detail. Their function and example are seen in practice by the early church in Scripture.  The practice of ecstatic speech and prayer language are defined only by conjecture upon a few Scriptures and their function and example are seen in practice no where in Scripture. You may have had a real experience of some kind, but we are called to obey the Word and sound Doctrine. We cannot and must not preach our experiences.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David

Speaking in tongues

The truth about tongues Part 1

The truth about tongues Part 2

The truth about tongues Part 3

Truth about tongues Part 4

Monday, October 30, 2017

"Error VII" Sunday School Appendage

In the previous post addressing the addition of new ideas into Church worship, I mentioned the Sunday School Movement. In an effort to avoid as much misunderstanding as possible, it seems necessary to expound upon the subject a bit more.

I understand Church Sunday Schools are just a part of the way we do Church these days. I also understand they are enjoyable to the Children that attend and in many cases Children benefit from their participation.

I also understand the debate that exists in Christian circles concerning Sunday Schools. This article is not an attempt to enter into that debate per se. You can visit the NCFIC website https://ncfic.org/ and gain much helpful information as well as your own web search on the Sunday School Movement. Your first step will be to educate yourself concerning the subject. In effort to explain my statement in the previous post I would like to state a few facts and observations.

For one, Sunday School is a new addition to Christian Worship, and it is controversial. Therefore its existence has raised concerns for many in our churches, more so in its beginning than now that we have been acclimated to it. One would be wise not to throw such concerns to the way side before examining their cause. Logic would dictate that it is not absolutely necessary, that being demonstrated by the fact the Church went so long without it. We also understand there is a certain liberty the church has to adapt to the needs of the community. If it didn't we would all still be meeting in our homes. But even those liberties are governed by the absolute sufficiency of Scripture.

There are certain key and necessary elements that make up Christian Worship that are dictated in Scripture. These elements govern how and what we do in our Worship as well as instruct us in their meaning and our understanding of them. If the Church (Local Congregation) comes together say for an hour before or after what we would now call the regular service ,as long as that time is governed by those elements, it seems to matter little if we call that Sunday School. But when that time begins to add some element not prescribed, changes or weakens one that is, we then have reason for concern.

Here is what can and has happened in such cases. Scripture gives the responsibility of educating our children concerning the things of God to Fathers. Sunday School can be an aid in that effort, but in most cases today it is not an aid but a replacement. Fathers have given that responsibility over to Sunday School teachers and youth ministers. This weakens or even destroys that essential element of Worship.

I have observed situations in youth ministry where when the children arrived at church they were taken to an age appropriate Sunday School class (which is a concept borrowed from the public school system) apart from the adult study and guidance. Then after the Sunday School Class completed they were then removed to a Children's Church where they were given snacks, watched videos, puppet skits, and given some simple Bible lesson. When they were old enough they were advanced from the Sunday School class to the Teen Class (which for a time I taught). When the teen class completed, they were then allowed  to help and work with the Children in the other building being used for the Children's Church.

This was all done with good intentions, attempting to make Church a very pleasurable experience for the Children. But in case you missed what was happening, the children through young age to teen age were seldom involved in adult worship or in service with their parents. They seldom heard the Pastor's sermon nor developed relationships with the elders of the Church. They were never able to observe Christian Worship demonstrated and see the Church function as it instituted the elements of Worship.

The question would be, how will those children grow up and view Christian Worship? They may have had a good time, but they never saw the Church in operation. Given enough time, as these children take the drivers seat in Church leadership, worship as prescribed by Scripture could be lost entirely. Remember the reformation? This is why extreme caution must be taken when exercising liberty in our order of Worship. If you study the Sunday School movement you will discover it was never intended to evolve into what we now have . Now you understand why I mentioned the Sunday School movement in my comments on new ideas.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David




Saturday, October 28, 2017

"Error" Part VII

"The means of finding out the true meaning of scripture are: constant prayer, knowledge of the language, examination of originals, consideration of the argument and purposes of the passage, distinction between literal and figurative passages; understanding of causes, circumstances, and consequences; logical analysis, comparison of obscure passages with clear ones, of like with like, and unlike with unlike; and finally, the analogy of faith" ~ Johannes Wollebius


Christians should not be a people just casually walking down the road of life, not considering their destinations end. We should know what our journey is about and have a clear understanding of how to get there.

Dorothy, to find the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was told to follow the yellow brick road. Sounds simple enough, but she discovered there were distractions and misdirections along the way. It can be the same for us if we are not diligent in our pursuit of sound doctrine. Scripture is the yellow brick road; it is our guide to our destination. I used to associate in Christian circles that suggested finding our destination depended upon our following the Holy Spirit. Being lead of the Spirit was the way to walk in and discover God's purpose for your life and arrive at the your destination's end. I can use my imagination in the picture above and see the well meaning Scare Crow assisting Dorothy in her journey. He could be saying, "Dorothy, I have a word from the Lord for you. I hear the Lord speaking to my spirit, it seems He is saying you should take this road. He has some great blessings waiting for you; He will use you mightily down this road."

Dorothy, truly wanting to follow the will of God and please Him, is now very drawn in that direction. If she expresses some concern, she might be told, "Just go to the Lord in prayer" (which would also involve praying in tongues in her prayer language) and trust Him to reveal this to her as well. She might be told by the Scare Crow that he just feels the Lord has a ministry for her down that road. In her confusion and her desire to please God, she tries to do what the Scare Crow is telling her. This is not uncommon in our churches today, and many people spend and consume their lives following what is nothing less than mysticism. There is no soundness or assurance in this type of instruction. It is not an aid in our Christian walk, but a hindrance.

Paul wrote to Titus 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Sound doctrine is the communication of faithful words, conveying the meaning accurately. It is teaching that is sound and indisputable. The ERV version renders this verse, "An elder must be faithful to the same true message we teach. Then he will be able to encourage others with teaching that is true and right. And he will be able to show those who are against this teaching that they are wrong."

Truly there is a leading of the Spirit, and truly there is a great need of prayer to find our way and our destination's end. But this leading and prayer is not by the means of mysticism, but sound doctrine.

Rom 6:17  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

The thought I want to convey is that there is a faith as Jude declared, that was once delivered to the Saints. (Jud 1:3  Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.)  Understand this faith can be known and understood today through the means of sound doctrine. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, He is presently, actively working in our lives, directing and ordering it according to His will by the means of this doctrine. This doctrine has been expounded and refined by the Church throughout its history. It aids us in our understanding of Scripture and how the Church has understood these doctrines over the centuries. What would this look like as it is applied to our lives? If we were to begin down the yellow brick road, it might look something like this:

Study the Bible, let it be your standard of life and conduct. Keep it ever close and make it your friend. Study it with humble prayer asking help of the Father through the Holy Spirit to reveal His Son to you. Ask Him to let your eyes behold His beauty and Glory, and desire for a heart to long after Him.

As you study and become familiar with this wonderful friend, let the Church help you become grounded and confident. Examine the great creeds and confessions to discover how the Church understood the scriptures over the years. As the Saints lived out and experienced the Christian life, they solidified sound doctrine (teachings) to help us remain faithful to its true meanings. This practice found its beginning in the Apostolic Church and was continued by the early Church fathers, then throughout history and to our day. Here are just a few examples of sound doctrines:

1 Cor. 15:3-7: For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

Phil. 2:6-11: who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1 Tim. 3:16: Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Then in the early Church:

The Apostles Creed (A.D. 140)

Nicene Creed (A.D. 325)

The Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 452)

Athanasian Creed (A.D. 500)

The Canons of Orange (A.D. 529)

This is Christianity as it was understood and defined in the first 500 years.


We then move into the reformation and the reaffirming of these doctrines.


The Augsburg Confession (A.D. 1530)

The Smalcald Aritcles (A.D. 1537)

The Scottish Confession of Faith  (A.D. 1560)

The Heidelberg Catechism (A.D. 1563)

The Book of Concord (A.D. 1580)

The Canons of Dordt (A.D. 1618)

The Belgic Confession (A.D. 1618)

The Westminster Confession (A.D. 1646)

The London Baptist Confession (A.D. 1689)

When you look at the Church today, a first glimpse may give you the idea it does not know what to believe. Hundreds of denominations and divisions of all sorts can be found.

But when you examine it closer, you discover there is a true Church, and it has a sound doctrine that has been delivered down through the ages. It holds to one faith and rests upon a solid foundation. It knows what it believes and in whom it trusts. It is the Church, it is alive and it is well in the 21st Century. You discover all these confessions from the Apostolic traditions down through the early church to our day are all wonderfully consistent and expound upon the sacred Scripture with unity and conformity. It is one Church holding to and living one faith from beginning to end.

These doctrines must not be taken lightly. Things lightly looked upon have a way of disappearing. For those who take their faith seriously, who are concerned about the truth, correct worship, and a correct view of God, these things are of upmost importance.

You might be one who truly loves God and takes your faith very seriously. Yet, you stand looking at the Christian world today and wondering what church to be a part of. The answer is a Biblical Church. How do you find one? Look at their doctrine. If their faith and practice are in agreement with the great creeds and confessions of the past that are consistent with Scripture, then you have a true Church.

If you are going to a Church that has departed from the sound doctrines and understandings of previous generations and have laid aside the doctrines that have been affirmed and understood by the Church throughout history and in their place have instituted pragmatism, inventions, and private interpretations in effort to promote other doctrines, beware. They may call themselves Church, but they are indeed something else.

What about these new ideas? Some ideas seem to make little difference, others catch traction and become movements. Movements then sometimes form denominations. We must be careful how we handle the Word of God. (2Co 4:2  But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.)


Many of our Churches are full of new ideas, some seem rather harmless, others more profound. They don't seem new to us because they have been around all our lives. We don't recognize them because we are not familiar with sound doctrine. Take the Sunday School movement for instance, it began in Britain around 1780. It was very controversial at the time and has evolved into what we now experience as accepted Christian Worship. It began for very different reasons than what it serves today. It is an example of a new idea that developed into a new way of worship. Is it wrong to have a Sunday School? That depends on how close to Scripture you want to live. The church knew of no such form of worship from Apostolic times until 1780. The church survived just fine without it for over 1700 years. Stop for a moment and consider how long a 1000 years is (pause). Now add 700 years to that. That's how long the Church conducted worship without Sunday Schools.

Do we have the liberty to introduce new ways of worship other than what is prescribed in Scripture? If so, how far can we go before it does become an incorrect form of worship? You see how careful we must be, one new idea that causes no harm can open the door for others that do. But aren't new ideas a way to test and improve over the old ideas? Yes, else we would still be riding in horse and buggy. But when we apply that reasoning to Scripture we are reaching into another domain. Scripture is the revealed Word of God, we are to add nothing and to take nothing away. It is truly inerrant; dare we consider some new idea to improve upon God's instruction!

What are some examples of other new ideas of Worship?

1. Being slain in the spirit.

2. A prayer language in an unknowable mystical utterance.

3. Prayer tunnels

4. Fallible prophesying

5. Dancing in the spirit, dancing in worship (sometimes referred to as the bunny hop)

6. Modern practice of alter calls

7. Miracle crusades

8. Today's health, wealth, and prosperity teaching

9. Laughing revivals

10. The impartations of Apostolic gifts

And the list goes on. None of these practices and many others can be soundly supported from Scripture. They are all new ideas of worship being introduced within the last 150 years. They show up in none of the great Church confessions or the ancient Church councils and creeds. They are practices unknown to the Church for over 17 centuries. If you are in a Church that practices any of these forms of worship, I suggest you seriously consider why that might be.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David

Friday, October 6, 2017

"Error" Part VI

"The means of finding out the true meaning of scripture are: constant prayer, knowledge of the language, examination of originals, consideration of the argument and purposes of the passage, distinction between literal and figurative passages; understanding of causes, circumstances, and consequences; logical analysis, comparison of obscure passages with clear ones, of like with like, and unlike with unlike; and finally, the analogy of faith" ~ Johannes Wollebius

Why is sound doctrine so important? Can't we just agree to disagree and love each other? We can when the truth of what God has revealed to us doesn't matter. We can when we put unity over the knowledge of truth. When we do this, it most always deteriorates and eventually separates into factions, then war.

Doctrine does divide, but if it's sound doctrine it separates and unites in truth. There is a dark side to Church History, we may touch on some of it in our journey as we study. These false doctrines that seem so insignificant now, over time have a tendency to reveal just how dangerous they are.

Little by little the Church began to veer of course, this ending in the Roman Catholic Church killing untold numbers of protestants during the reformation. How can a religion of love commit such atrocities in the name of Christ? (John 13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.)  Wrong teaching leads to wrong believing; wrong believing leads to wrong actions and incorrect worship. Some would say that was just the Roman Catholic Church, but during that time the persecuted became the persecutor. Protestants killed untold numbers of Ana-Baptist fellow Protestants over Baptism mixed with other issues. There is no way to escape the fact that there were among these events regenerate Christ loving Christians killing other regenerate Christ loving Christians. I hope this makes my point in the dangers of false teachings, when mixed with our fallen nature is a very dangerous thing even among regenerate Christ loving Christians.

For those who may be following along with us and are new to Christianity, during the time we have been covering, there were no denominations, no Baptist, no Presbyterian, no Methodist, etc. There was just the Church. All these divisions developed later during and after the reformation. That is not to say all in the Church were in agreement on everything, much debate occurred, but the Church remained as one body. Division into the East and West came later, then the fractures of the Protestant Church broke into many divisions.

I think it would be good for us to take a quick look at how these things began to occur. I think you will be able see a difference between what the Church began to do as compared to what it had been doing so far in our study.

In the Eighth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople IV 869-70 AD, the church made this doctrinal statement:

CANON 3
(Summary. The images of our Lord and of His Blessed Mother and those of the Apostles, prophets, martyrs, and saints shall be duly honored and venerated.
Text. The holy images of our Lord Jesus Christ shall be honored in like manner as the Gospel-book. For, as the words of the Gospel lead us to salvation, so also do the pictures through their colors produce the same effect, and all, learned and unlearned, can derive benefit therefrom. The message that comes to us through the written word, the same is brought home to us through the color of the Picture. Since the honor directed toward the picture reverts in intention to the prototype, it follows, in accordance with right reason and ancient tradition, that pictures must be honored in the same manner as the Gospel-book and the picture of the precious cross. If, therefore, anyone does not now honor the picture of Christ, he shall not see His form when He comes to glorify His saints. Likewise do we design pictures and images of His Blessed Mother and of the angels, as also the Sacred Scriptures picture them for us in words; also of the Apostles, prophets, martyrs, and all the saints .)

I kid you not, that was instituted as a Christian article of faith. Remember we are looking for sound doctrine. Where is the soundness found in this doctrinal statement? We don't find it in any of the other Creeds and councils we have studied. Worse yet, we find no New Testament example or instruction concerning such doctrine. It is error and unsound doctrine to suggest that the color of a picture of Christ, Mary, or any Apostle has the effect upon the soul as the Gospel. Yet, in our own time unsound  erroneous doctrines find their way into our Churches.

In the Twelfth Ecumenical Council, Lateran IV 1215 AD 

CANON 21
(SUMMARY Everyone who has attained the age of reason is bound to confess his sins at least once a year to his own parish pastor with his permission to another, and to receive the Eucharist at least at Easter.)
  
Where did that come from?

In 1545 AD to 1563 AD the Council of Trent the Church set itself against the attempts of many to bring reform to the errors which had been induced into its doctrine. In Chapter 5 the Church affirms doctrine in opposition to doctrine already established in the Council of Orange in 529 AD. It states as follows:

Chapter V

On the necessity, in adults, of preparation for Justification, and whence it proceeds.
(The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight. Whence, when it is said in the sacred writings: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you, we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer; Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted, we confess that we are prevented by the grace of God.)


Whereas in 529 AD, the Church understood Justification was by faith alone, unaided by man's actions, for he was dead in his sins. God in His mercy, so acted upon man as to turn his will toward God and bring him to faith in Christ. You may remember our discussing the Sovereign Grace of God against the nature of man to control his own destiny.

Here in Trent, the Church affirms the sovereign will of man against the Sovereign Grace of God. This understanding pervades most Churches to this day. They affirm that Christ die for people he cannot save, because their will supersedes His work of Grace. They are not saved of His Grace alone, but only aided by it. His work of Grace must have our free co-operating work of faith added to it, for his Grace alone is not sufficient to bring us to faith. The Scripture says, (Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:). But Trent states through this assisting grace, man converts himself to his own justification. He does this by an act of his will, choosing to believe. This act of his faith, when added to Grace brings regeneration. But Orange in 529 AD affirms that this faith is a gift of God and not of ourselves.  Therefore, our Salvation is wholly and completely the work of God. The concept of Grace alone is foreign to most Churches today, it is the doctrine introduced at Trent that prevails. Yet, this article of faith affirmed at Trent is not sound Christian doctrine.

In the first post in this series I mentioned I would appeal to your reason. Let us in conclusion approach these doctrines with some logic. First, Sovereign Grace. If God is Sovereign in His act of Grace, then no one for whom He died will perish. All He has chosen will be saved, because He is Sovereign. (John 6:37  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.)

Now prevenient grace. Christ died for all, but only those who cooperate with this grace will be saved. This leaves a multitude of people for whom the price has been paid, but because they do not cooperate with it, don't fully understand it, or at lest enough to be persuaded, or are just not ready at a particular time, must all perish. Worse than that, there will be multitudes that would have been saved, but something happened to them and they died before hearing the Gospel.  They would have believed, but God must still cast them in Hell, for this Grace must be aided with man's personal faith.

Even worse than that, there will be whole nations that will perish, because they do not have the Gospel preached to them. Thousands would believe, God knows they would believe, but he must still cast them to hell because they could not aid this prevenient grace. So not only does their Salvation depend upon themselves, but on us for not getting it to them. So God must also cast them to Hell because of our actions, for they would have believed had the Gospel been preached.

It still gets worse, for all eternity, there will be people in Hell who would have been in heaven glorifying God, but they did not hear for some reason or another. God must condemn them. God will exist for all eternity having not accomplished the full measure of his work. God Himself will for ever be under the mark of perfection in Salvation. He died for all, He could not save all.

People tell me the doctrine of Sovereign Grace is harsh and cold. I say the doctrine of prevenient grace is insufficient for both God and man. I say it presents the most horrid acts of judgment to be imagined. It leaves God insufficient in His means and His provisions. It leaves Him an insufficient God. God forbid. For me, the doctrine of Election is a most comforting doctrine. I fall upon an all sufficient Sovereign God. With all my sin and weaknesses, He is my stay and hope of Salvation. My heart longs to love and serve Him, and that is not of myself, it is a gift of God. Praise His Name!

May the Grace of God be with you all,

David

   





   

Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Error" Part V

2Ti 4:3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
2Ti 4:4  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Tit 1:9  Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Tit 2:1  But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:



In this post we will dig the foundation a little deeper. This will be a more detailed explanation of the Shield of the Trinity pictured here to the left. You saw it in one of the earlier post. In the Eleventh Council of Toledo in 675 AD which was attended by 17 bishops, a most wonderful description is given as how the Church understood the Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

It has a two fold benefit for us, as it not only gives us this wonderful insight, it re-affirms in 675 AD the Apostles Creed of 140 AD,  Nicene Creed of 325 AD, and the Athanasian Creed of 500 AD.

I hope by looking at this Church Council we can obtain a better understanding of the Scriptures that are listed above in these post. In 2 Timothy the Apostle Paul is speaking of sound doctrine, he is doing it again in Titus. The understanding of the Trinity is sound doctrine, you can follow it as the Church moves through history. It is not a new doctrine, but it is part of what Jude speaks of in Jude 1:3 saying, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." There is a faith that was once delivered to the saints, this faith has crossed the expanse of time and reaches to us in its fullness and glory.

This is important for us to examine, for this is the faith, the Christian faith. I have been exposed to teaching during my life that would contradict this understanding of the Trinity. For a time I was believing an incorrect view of God because of error introduced into what was supposed to be the Christian faith. It went so far as to convince me also to be re-baptized in a non-Trinitarian way. These other doctrines are dangerous and should be avoided. I was taken captive by them because I had not been educated in sound doctrine and I was vulnerable to false teaching. There are Churches among us that call themselves Christian, but hold an entirely different view of God. These Churches are not Christian Churches as defined by sound doctrine. I know it is uncomfortable for us to exclude wonderful friends and family who may be a part of such a Church. But we are commanded by Scripture to hold to and proclaim sound doctrine. We cannot just sit quietly by letting damaging doctrines go unchallenged just because we might offend family or friends.

With that being said, let's look at this wonderful statement of faith from the Church in 675 AD. I will not post its entirety, just what is relevant to our topic here. I would recommend doing a search on the Eleventh Council of Toledo and read it in its entirety.

(The oneness in the Trinity)
(311 [528] This is the way of speaking about the Holy Trinity as it has been handed down: one must not call it or believe it to be threefold, but Trinity. Nor can it properly be said that in the one God there is the Trinity, but the one God is the Trinity. In the relative names of the persons the Father is related to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Holy Spirit to both. While they are called three persons in view of their relations, we believe in one nature or substance. Although we profess three persons, we do not profess three substances, but one substance and three persons. For the Father is Father not with respect to Himself but to the Son, and the Son is Son not to Himself but in relation to the Father; and likewise the Holy Spirit is not referred to Himself but is related to the Father and the Son, inasmuch as He is called the Spirit of the Father and the Son. So when we say 'God', this does not express a relationship to another, as of the Father to the Son or of the Son to the Father or of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son, but 'God' refers to Himself only.

312 [529] For, if we are asked about the single persons, we must confess that each is God. Therefore, we say that the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God ' each one distinctly; yet there are not three gods, but one God. Similarly, we say that the Father is almighty, the Son is almighty, the Holy Spirit is almighty, each one distinctly; yet there are not three almighty ones, but one Almighty, as we profess one light and one principle. Hence we confess and believe that each person distinctly is fully God, and the three persons together are one God. Theirs is an undivided and equal Godhead, majesty and power, which is neither diminished in the single persons nor increased in the three. For it is not less when each person is called God separately, nor is it greater when all three persons are called one God.

313 [530] This Holy Trinity, which is the one true God, is not without number; yet it is not comprised by number, because in the relationships of the persons there appears number, but in the substance of the Godhead nothing is comprised that could be counted. Therefore they imply number only in so far as they are mutually related, but they lack number in so far as they are by themselves (ad se). For this Holy Trinity has so much one name referring to its nature that it cannot be used in the plural with relation to the three persons. This then is, in our faith, the meaning of the saying in Holy Scripture: "Great is our Lord, abundant in power, and of His wisdom there is no number" (Ps. 147 (146) 5 Vulg.).

(The Trinity in the oneness)
314 [530] However, though we have said that these three persons are one God, we are not allowed to say that the same one is the Father who is the Son, or that He is the Son who is the Father, or that He who is the Holy Spirit is either the Father or the Son. For He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son He who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit He who is the Father or the Son, even though the Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, the Father and the Son that which the Holy Spirit is, that is one God by nature. For, when we say: He who is the Father is not the Son, we refer to the distinction of persons; but when we say: the Father is that which the Son is, the Son that which the Father is, and the Holy Spirit that which the Father is and the Son is, this clearly refers to the nature or substance, whereby God exists since in substance they are one; for we distinguish the persons, but we do not divide the Godhead.

[531] Hence, we recognise the Trinity in the distinction of persons and we profess the unity on account of the nature or substance. Thus, the three are one by nature, not as person.

(The undivided Trinity)
315 [531] Nevertheless these three persons are not to be considered separable since, according to our belief, none of them ever existed or acted before another, after another, without another. For they are inseparable both in what they are and in what they do, because, according to our faith, between the Father who generates and the Son who is generated or the Holy Spirit who proceeds, there has not been an interval of time in which the one who generates would precede the one who is generated, or there would be no begotten one to Him who begets, or the Holy Spirit in His proceeding would appear later than Father or Son. For this reason we profess and believe that this Trinity is inseparable and distinct (inconfusa). We say, therefore, of these three persons, as our forefathers defined it, that they should be acknowledged, not separated. For if we listen to what Holy Scripture says about Wisdom: "She is a reflection of eternal light" (Wis. 7.26), we see that, as the reflection belongs inseparably to the light, so too, according to our confession, the Son cannot be separated from the Father. Therefore, neither do we confuse these three persons whose nature is one and inseparable, nor do we preach that they are in any way separable.

316 [532] The Holy Trinity itself has indeed deigned clearly to reveal it to us: in these names by which He wanted the single persons to be known, it is impossible to understand one person without the other; one cannot conceive of the Father without the Son, nor can the Son be found without the Father. Indeed, the very relationship expressed in the personal names forbids us to separate the persons, for, though it does not name them together, it implies them. No one can hear any one of these names without necessarily understanding also the other. While then these Three are One and this One Three, each of the persons retains His own characteristics: The Father has eternity without birth; the Son has eternity with birth; the Holy Spirit has procession without birth with eternity.

May the Grace of God be upon each of you,

David