Doubtful Disputations

Doubtful Disputations
Vol: 94 Issue: 31 Friday, July 31, 2009

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” (Romans 14:1)

From time to time, somebody will email me or log a forum post to question why I use the King James Version of the Bible when there are so many “more readable” versions out there.

Some will point out helpfully that other more well-known and presumably better Bible teachers than me use other versions — and that is entirely true.

The list I received today included a Dr. Bailey, Dr Hendricks, Stanley Tousaint, Chuck Swindoll and “a host of others.” Fair enough. To that list one can also add the man who discipled me for twenty years.

Hal Lindsey presided over my ordination as a minister of the Gospel. Hal Lindsey remains my teacher, mentor, best friend (and employer) to this day.

There are lots more names that I could add to the list of Famous Guys that prefer other translations over the KJV, but if Hal Lindsey hasn’t persuaded me, I see no point in naming the others that haven’t either.

First, let me say I am not a “King-James Only” guy in the sense I believe all other translations are Satanically inspired or that everybody should emulate me. I have an interlinear Bible with NIV on one side and KJV on the other. I’ve a copy of pretty much every major Bible translation.

But over the course of the past thirty-odd years I’ve found that the KJV to be the most doctrinally consistent — so that is the version that I use. I can’t make sense out of the others — for me, it is like having somebody tell me what the Bible says. I prefer to read it for myself.

But I am not one to limit God. And as we’ve already seen, there are many, many respected and famous expositors of the Bible that use other versions of Scripture as their primary text. So my preference is MY preference — I don’t insist that it be yours.

The fact is, I simply cannot teach from any other version. I’ve tried. First off, I can’t find what I am looking for. Secondly, when I find it, it doesn’t say what I expected it to. I find that when something doesn’t sound right, I instinctively refer back to the KJV to see what it is supposed to say.

Historically, the battle over the translations has been raging since roughly the midpoint of the 19th century, when a Coptic monk at an Egyptian monastery was building a fire for a guest.

The guest was Friedrich Constantine Tischendorff, who was traveling under the patronage of Fredrick, King of Saxony, in search of old manuscripts. While staying at the Convent of St Catharine, he noticed some old-looking documents in a basketful of papers for lighting the stove.

On closer examination, he recognized it to be an ancient piece of the Bible. Ultimately, the convent yielded a complete New Testament manuscript dating to about 400 AD.Tischendorf stunned the world when he unveiled his ‘Codex Sinaiticanus’ the oldest known complete ‘autograph’ [hand-copied manuscript] of the Bible in existence.

“Not so fast,” said the Vatican. “We just happened to have discovered an old manuscript in one of our vaults. Interestingly enough, ours dates to about 400 AD, as well.”

The Vatican’s manuscript was dubbed “Codex Vaticanus” for obvious reasons. The year was 1845.

Until then, the English-speaking world had relied primarily on the 1611 King James Version of the Bible.But the Age of Enlightenment was sweeping Europe, and the discovery of the two previously unknown codexes (a ‘codex’ is really just a scroll) coincided with the wave of New Thinking.

The discovery of significant differences between the two older manuscripts and the Textus Receptus (Received Text) manuscript relied on by the KJV translators 250 years earlier created an intellectual Perfect Storm.

The oldest existing copy of the Textus Receptus dates to around the tenth century, and was recopied in secret as each old manuscript wore out from the 1st century forward.

King James rejected the Vatican’s Latin Version (translated from the Codex Vaticanus), and ordered a new English Common Bible be translated from the Codex Textus Receptus.

That set the stage for the battle (that continues to rage to this day) within the Church between the KJV purists and users of other translations.

Many of the combatants aren’t even sure what the battle is about, defending their chosen version primarily on the grounds that it is easier to read. It is actually more complicated than that. God didn’t cause the Bible to be written in English — not in 15th century English and not in 21st century English.

The controversy behind the battle revolves around those differences between the original manuscripts used for the translations into English. Some of them are very suspicious.

For example, a fundamental doctrine of Roman Catholicism that separates it from most other branches of Christianity is the doctrine of infant baptism. Wars were fought over it during the Reformation.

But it seems so clear from the Scriptures. . . or does it?

In Acts Chapter 8, the Ethiopian eunuch is reading Isaiah 53 when Philip happens by. The eunuch asks Philip about the passage, and the Scripture says,

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.”

Clearly, Philip’s preaching bore fruit, for the Scripture continues, saying, “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:35:36)

Okay, checklist time. Philip shared the Gospel with the Ethiopian. The next thing he asked was, in essence, ‘what are the requirements for baptism?’ There’s no other way to interpret the question:

“I heard the Gospel. There’s the water. What’s stopping me from being baptized?”

According to the Textus Receptus, “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37)

See? I told you the whole infant baptism thing seems so clear from Scripture. If an infant can say that he believes with all his heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then the infant is eligible, by the authority of Scripture, to be baptized.

So where is the controversy?

Well, it kinda depends on what translation you are using to support your argument. If you are using the New International Version — that was translated from the Codex Vaticanus — you will discover that your Bible doesn’t have an Acts 8:37!

Acts 8:36 is there, and Acts 8:38 is there, but either you don’t have an Acts 8:37 or there’s an asterisk to the notation, “this verse isn’t found in the best (meaning Vaticanus/Sinaiticus) translations.”

If you are reaching for your NIV to support your argument against infant baptism, the problem becomes immediately apparent.

Assessment:

I said earlier that I don’t insist that everybody agree with me on Bible versions. I personally prefer the KJV. And I honestly believe the other versions are flawed. But I don’t read Greek, Latin and Coptic Egyptian.

The reason I believe there are flaws in the other translations is because guys who CAN read Greek, Latin and Coptic Egyptian compared all three and THEY said there were differences.

Things that are different are not the same, so, if there are differences, it is clear that there are flaws somewhere. But since I can’t read Greek, Latin and Coptic, never translated the TR or the CV/CS, in the end, I am choosing the KJV as the superior text primarily on faith, am I not?

Where have I placed my faith? In God? Or is my faith in what one set of translators say, rather than those of another set of translators? Or faith in what one group of writers and thinkers say, rather than that of another group of writers and thinkers? And so on.

After all, if I am to charge out there and defend the King James Version of the Bible, I should be sure I am defending God’s Word, and not that I am defending what a group of 15th century translators said was God’s Word.

I have my reasons for being suspicious of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts, but when you get right down to it, I don’t know, without first looking it up, even which modern translations are from CV/CS and which are not.

I don’t know what the motives of the translators were, don’t know where they went to school, don’t know their names, actually, I don’t know much about them at all. But I doubt they are all demoniacs united in some shared conspiracy.

Actually, I don’t know the names of the KJV translators, where they went to school, or what their motivations were, either. About all I know for sure is that they translated the KJV before Tischendorff found the Codex Sinaiticus.

As to which is the superior translation, well, by faith in the translators whom I’ve never met, the intellectuals and scholars whom I’ve never met, and tradition passed down through the generations, I could confidently pronounce the KJV the superior version.

But based on what my ‘superior’ translation says, my faith is supposed to be in the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word to me, to make it real, to lead me and guide me, and to be confident that He will not steer me wrong.

Here’s what I know. I know the Holy Spirit speaks to me through my KJV. I can study and learn from the other versions, but He speaks to me through the KJV.

But I also know some intellectually honest and spiritually sincere Christians who cannot understand a word of it. It isn’t because they are too thick. It’s because they can hear Him speak to them through another translation.

Logically, if the only valid translation is the KJV, does that mean that anybody who uses a different version is a bad Christian? Or more susceptible to deception? I don’t think so.

Is the Holy Spirit limited in what He can impart spiritually to a sincere believer by the physical arrangements of English words on paper? Is that all it takes to shut God down?

Debating about the superiority of the various Bible versions is as much an exercise in intellectual pride as it is in theology.

I recall, shortly after being saved, attending a fire-and-brimstone, King James only, ye must be born again, long skirts for ladies, short hair for men, door-knockin’, throw out your TV, old time Bible Baptist Church down in Texas.

I thought the preacher was the most Spirit-filled, inspired and God-centered man I had ever met. With him at my side, I would have charged Hell with a bucket of ice water. Until he turned out to have feet of clay.

I’ll spare you the details, but those details threw me into a spiritual spiral. I almost lost my faith. Why?

Because I got confused about where I was putting it. I put my faith in the man of God, rather than in the God of man.

Later, for a time, I put my faith in my interpretation of the timing of the Rapture of the Church. I would argue with anyone who was willing (and there was never a shortage of volunteers) about when the Rapture would occur and why it must occur before the Tribulation begins.

I am as certain today as I ever was that the Rapture precedes the Tribulation Period. But some of those with whom I jousted were equally certain of their interpretative understanding.

Since we were both arguing based on our faith in our own ability to discern the Scriptures, our faith was misplaced. If I were successful in my argument, my opponent’s faith would be shattered. Some ‘victory.’

No matter which position you take on the Bible translations issue, what happens if you prevail in the debate? Assuming your opponent is already saved, he can’t get more saved by agreeing with you. But if you’ve won the debate, then he’s lost it.

What was the debate about again? Oh, yeah — whether or not you can trust your Bible.

Well, he can’t trust his anymore. Congratulations.

Suppose you took the KJV position. NOW your guy can’t trust his own Bible and he can’t really understand yours. If he goes back to his preferred version, he’ll be too guilt-ridden and suspicious to get much out of it.

More congratulations to you. Nice work. You’ve won the debate. The KJV wins the day. Your opponent, on the other hand, has had his faith in his Bible shattered. Let’s sit down and take another look at what you have won.

Now, stand back up –God may want His Throne back — and consider what the KJV has to say about your victory.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12)

I can only teach what I believe to be true. But it is not my intention — ever — to persuade you to believe what I believe. My intention is to instruct you in what the Scriptures say and to share what insights the Lord has given me on the topic at hand.

The Scriptures command me to teach — that is why the Lord called me to the ministry. Other, mature Christians confirmed to me that the Lord has gifted me with the gift of teaching. I take my gifts and calling seriously.

But I try not to take me too seriously. I’m not the Message. I’m only the donkey that carries the Message.

Teaching is not the same as persuading. I teach what I believe to be true. But my Bible tells me to leave persuasion up to the Holy Spirit.

“One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1st Thessalonians 5:21)

“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth. . . ” (John 16:13a)

We don’t worship a Book — or a version of a Book. We reverence it, but we don’t worship it. We worship the Author of the Book. HE is worthy.

I’m just a donkey that can read.

The Minority Report

The Minority Report
Vol: 94 Issue: 30 Thursday, July 30, 2009

Political correctness is rightly called the ‘tyranny of the minority’ because it is virtually impossible for a member of a majority group to claim discrimination.

And it is virtually impossible for a member of that same majority group to mount an effective defense when a discrimination charge is lodged against him.

A good case in point is the Harvard Professor of Racism, Dr. Henry Lewis Gates, who evidently believes that being an oppressed “Black Man in America” justifies oppressing white people.

Henry Lewis Gates is a tenured professor at Harvard University. By his own admission, Gates was raised by his mother to hate white people. He has expressed his admiration for Malcom X and the Nation of Islam. He teaches Afrocentrism — the secular equivalent to Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s Black Liberation Theology.

In short, Gates is openly racist, makes no apology for his racism, and makes his living teaching others why black racism is justified because white racism once ruled America.

I’m not going to rehash the entire incident — you should already know all the details. But I want to look at some of the nuances the incident brings bubbling back to the surface.

First off, there is the whole ‘post-racial America’ thing Barack Obama. Obama was supposed to put a period on America’s racial history. Barack Obama was above race — heck he was even above American partisan politics.

He is part black, part white, part Arab, born in either Hawaii or Kenya, raised in Indonesia, educated at both Columbia and Harvard . . . here was a racial healer. Or he could have been.

Frankly, I had thought we were already beyond race before Obama got here. The previous administration had so many blacks and Latinos in key political positions that we’d stopped noticing by the time Condi Rice became the first black woman Secretary of State in US history.

The only racial stuff I can recall in recent memory were all the Uncle Tom cartoons about Rice and Colin Powell — but they were all done by liberal Democrat cartoonists like Tom Oliphant and Garry Trudeau.

By the time Barack Obama got elected, there was a sense of ‘been there, done that’ about the whole ‘glass ceiling concept. Even after a campaign that was entirely focused on the candidate’s race.

We really, really wanted to put race behind us. So, why is it that we can’t stop talking about it?

Because guys like Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright, Henry Gates, ad nauseum can’t let us. An end to racial conflict is the last thing in the world they want to see.

Not so much because they are black. Not even because they are racists, although they most certainly are.

Because they are Marxists.

Assessment:

Karl Marx believed that social change is what was needed for a better society, and to get social change there must be class conflict. Marx’s major concern of social change was economic change.

Marxist theory has been at the heart of every totalitarian system of government of the 20th century except islamofascism.

Marx’s most well known work dealt with class conflict, the opposition between the capitalists and the working class. Here is how Marx chose up sides for his class warfare strategy:

The capitalists are also known as the bourgeoisie. They are the ones that are responsible for controlling the land, factories, etc.

The working class, which is also known as the proletariat, are the workers that are being exploited by the bourgeoisie.

That is why Obama believes taxing the rich to pay for his health care plan is ‘social justice’. Because Marx told him so.

But justice is, by definition, ‘just’ which means, ‘fair’. Marxist social justice is therefore somewhat easy to identify, since it always goes in only one direction.

That’s why Obama wanted to ram it all through before the summer recess and before anybody has time to look at it too closely. Marxist social justice rarely stands up under close scrutiny.

For example, of the “46 million uninsured” that we keep hearing about, at least one-third are illegal aliens. They are NOT ‘uninsured American workers.’ They are not even ‘undocumented immigrants’ — insured or otherwise.

An ‘immigrant’ is one who HAS documents. There is no such thing as an ‘illegal immigrant’ — it is a nonsense phrase.

Texas A&M holds an annual contest for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term. A couple of years back the term up for definition was ‘Political Correctness’.

The winner defined Political Correctness as follows: “Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up [poop] by the clean end.”

(I substituted ‘poop’ — it has even more impact when read in the original — but that’s what the phrase, ‘illegal immigrant’ exemplifies. An effort to pick it up by the ‘clean’ end.)

That leaves roughly 30 million. Of that number, most are younger workers who can afford health insurance but would rather have the premiums, or those who self-insure through health insurance savings account.

This number does NOT include the indigent who cannot afford health care. They are already covered by Medicare/Medicaid/welfare, etc.

Those who actually have no insurance and can’t get it probably account for about one third of the total 40-odd million uninsured. That accounts for roughly five percent of the US population.

The remedy proposed by the Marxists is to revamp the entire system to address that five percent — over the objections of the 85% who are satisfied with the health care they currently have.

Then there is the whole ACORN and union bosses connection. When the government took over the auto industry, the capitalist investors that got nothing. The industry management got fired and their contracts revoked.

The workers (and the unions) got everything — Chrysler now belongs to the union that forced it out of business.

ACORN openly subverted the general election in favor of Barack Obama and is being rewarded with billions of dollars in stimulus money.

Remember when the Black Panthers sent uniformed thugs carrying nightsticks to stand outside of polling places? The charges were all quietly dropped.

I don’t need to rehash all the details — Glenn Beck is doing a great job on his afternoon television program on Fox. He’s doing such a good job of exposing it all that sometimes, even I wonder if the guy’s a crackpot — until I backtrack his research.

Beck is explaining how it works, and even doing a pretty good job of explaining why it works. But he admits he can’t understand why nobody else is noticing.

I think this is where Bible prophecy comes in. Paul’s letter to Timothy warning of ‘perilous times’ reads like an outline of the agenda and moral scruples of the Democrat party in America, and of the secular world in general.

Even today as Obama’s poll numbers are falling at home, the rest of the world’s secular governments just love the guy. Despite his policies hammering their own economies, as their unemployment numbers soar and their GDPs’ wane, they love their Obama as much as any US liberal Democrat.

Of course they do. They share his morals and his Marxist worldview.

Once one accepts the moral worldview that ‘all politicians lie’ — then politicians can lie all they want without fear of repercussion. Thirty years ago, being caught in a lie could end a political career. Today, it is business as usual.

Politicians lie all the time. And they get exposed all the time. The public only objects when they don’t like the lie.

No wonder Beck is mystified — it is a mystery — one might even call it a ‘mystery of iniquity‘ — it has all the elements. Why would people prefer the lie?

“And for THIS cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:11-12)

The mystery of iniquity is already well-established — “only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:7)

And the Church with Him. Maranatha!

“Rightly Dividing the Word: What About Lot?”

“Rightly Dividing the Word: What About Lot?”
Vol: 94 Issue: 29 Wednesday, July 29, 2009

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:15)

Understanding the different Dispensations of God is critical to understanding the Word of God. If the Word is not divided by the different Dispensations, then what does that verse mean? How does one ‘rightly divide’ the Word if it isn’t divided already?

It should come as no surprise that those who dispute the Dispensations are also somewhat confused about other doctrines, such as grace and eternal security. They pay lip service to ‘grace’ but deny that faith stands independent of works.

To make that work, one has to tear out almost as much of the Bible as one does to argue the validity of replacement theology. The entire ‘faith’ chapter of Hebrews, for example.

Let’s list some of the great heroes of faith named there: Samson, the oath-breaker, Moses the murderer, Noah the Drunk, David the adulterer and murderer, Jacob the liar and cheat, Jonah the Disobedient Prophet . . . what about Lot?

The Apostle James is often quoted by those who prefer salvation plus works over salvation by grace through faith. “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

“And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” (2nd Peter 2:7-8)

Here, the Holy Spirit calls Lot both “just” and “righteous.” Was God unaware that, given the choice, Lot chose the world over Him?

The Bible says Lot disobeyed God when set up his tent towards Sodom. Eventually, he moved his family INTO the city of sin.

He refused to leave until God sent two angels to drag the reluctant sinner and his family from the place of judgment before He would allow judgment to fall.

Later, Lot got drunk and had sex with his two daughters. If Lot had works to commend his righteousness, they are not recorded in Scripture. The profile given by Scripture shows Lot was unjust, unrighteous, ungodly and should have been lost for all eternity.

But while man looks on the outward appearance, what God sees what is in the heart. What man cannot see God sees, and whether we see it or not, God sees Lot as just and righteous.

David’s sin was probably greater than the worst thing you ever did. (Unless you murdered a man to steal his wife.) But the Bible calls David a man after his own heart. God saw David as righteous and just.

But based on their works, none of these men would be in heaven today. They believed God, and God counted it unto them as righteousness. It doesn’t say that their works counted — they weren’t saved because of their works, but in spite of them.

Just as we are today.

If salvation were a product of faith plus works, then it would mean God owed them their salvation — because they had earned it. There is no Scripture obligating God to be anything except a Righteous Judge.

They believed God, and put their faith in the revelation that God gave to them in that particular dispensation. That was all they were responsible for, and that simple faith placed in whatever God revealed to them was counted unto them for righteousness.

There are those that will argue that they believe in salvation by grace through faith, but still claim that eternal security is a false doctrine that grants a ‘license to sin.’

The simple fact is this. To deny eternal security is to claim we must maintain our own salvation by our own good works and efforts.

To claim that we must obey God’s Word or live a godly life to maintain our salvation is saying that Jesus’ death was not sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. One can argue to the contrary until they turn blue in the face, but things that are different cannot be the same.

God says, “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

Opponents of Dispensationalism do greatly err when they attempt to substitute their ways for God’s.

Assessment:

In the beginning, God created man in His Image. God is an eternal Spirit, and we have an eternal spiritual component.

God created the angels in the same way, although they had a created beginning, they were designed to last eternally. So, we have the two eternal creations of God — the angels, and man.

The angels rebelled and were cast out of heaven (Jude 1:6, Job 2:2 Isaiah 14:12). Then Adam and Eve rebelled, and they were cast out of Eden. (Genesis 3:23)

After the Flood, God sought out Abraham, with whom He made a covenant. Through Moses, God established the Law, which in essence, subdivided spiritual mankind and created a new spiritual entity in the Jew.

All mankind was now subdivided into either Jew or Gentile. Are you still with me? To this point, there are three distinct eternal entities; angels and mankind, with mankind subdivided into Jews and Gentiles.

Spiritually, they are distinctly different with the only common characteristic being that they are created with an eternal spiritual existence.

Don’t let me lose you now. Here’s the good part.

The Bible teaches that, at the Cross, a fourth spiritual creation came into existence. It is distinct from either Jew or Gentile, but is related to both.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Notice this is a unconditional “IF-THEN” statement. IF a man is in Christ, THEN he is a new creature. He can’t be the first without becoming the second.

Think of the caterpillar and the butterfly. Or, better yet, a pickle and a cucumber. Your choice.

You start life spiritually, as a caterpillar (or a cucumber). Should you get squashed (or eaten) before the transformation takes place, then that is how you remain.

On the other hand, once the caterpillar BECOMES a butterfly (or the cucumber becomes a pickle), that is what it is. It isn’t what it WILL be, it IS what it IS. It isn’t what it WAS.

And no matter what you do, you can’t turn a butterfly back into a caterpillar (or a pickle back into a cucumber). That is why it is called TRANSFORMATION. It is permanent and irrevocable.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)

Becoming a ‘new creature’ in Christ is NOT a future event — it CANNOT be, since it takes place at the moment of salvation.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18 )

We already HAVE that power of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit as a birthright procured on our behalf by the Savior.

Let’s pull it all together now. Among the most divisive doctrines in the Body of Christ is the doctrine of eternal security.

At various times, we’ve examined it from the perspective of ‘this is what the context of this verse is’ and, ‘the original Greek says’ and so on, but the fact remains that when a Jew or a Gentile is saved by the Blood of Christ, he becomes a new creature, no longer a spiritual caterpillar, (or a pickle), but something else.

The transformation is complete at that moment. The rest is up to Jesus.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” ( Philippians 1:6 )

Whether ‘once saved, always saved’ is a slogan or a doctrine is debated endlessly.

But the simple truth of God is that the truth of God is simple.

You can’t turn a butterfly into a caterpillar. And you can’t turn a pickle into a cucumber.

I believe God’s promise that, “whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29)

“For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: ” (Romans 4:14)

God called Lot a “hero of the faith” although from my perspective, Lot was pretty much a sell-out to the world. But Lot believed God, and God counted unto him for righteousness.

If Lot was a ‘hero of the faith,’ then what does that make you?

Rightly Dividing the Word: The MacDonald Doctrine

Rightly Dividing the Word: The MacDonald Doctrine
Vol: 94 Issue: 28 Tuesday, July 28, 2009

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1st Corinthians 10:11-12)

One of the most maligned and least understood of all Christian doctrines is the study of the dispensations of God. There are huge segments of Christianity who believe it is a false doctrine. This, despite the clear teaching of the Scripture.

First, let’s clearly define what Dispensationalism means; “the act of dispensing or something dispensed; a specific arrangement or system by which something is dispensed.”

Moses dispensed the Law. The word ‘dispensation’ does not mean a period of time. It means the dispensing of a particular message or ministry. For example, the Church Age began at Pentecost and will end at the Rapture.

“. . .Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)

The Apostle Paul addressed the Church Age Dispensation no fewer that four times;

“For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.” (1st Corinthians 9:17)

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.” (Ephesians 1:10)

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” (Ephesians 3:2)

“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the Word of God;” (Colossians 1:25)

All of these are descriptive names for this present Dispensation. The Church Age is the Dispensation of the Gospel. It is the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, the Dispensation of Grace and the Dispensation of God.

We alluded briefly yesterday to those who claim that Dispensationalism and even the Rapture are relatively new doctrines ‘invented’ by John Darby after meeting with Margaret MacDonald.

As they tell it, in 1830, she had a vision about the end of the world and when she came out from under her trance, she wrote it down.

This account attracted the attention of Edward Irving and his church later claimed Margaret as one of their own prophetesses. Irving also had an interest in prophecy and held prophetic conferences. The historian of Irving’s church claimed that Margaret was the first person to teach a two stage second coming of Christ.

John Darby traveled to Scotland to visit the MacDonald home. Darby was a lawyer until a year after his conversion when he was ordained a deacon in the Church of England. Soon after entering the ministry he became disillusioned with the institutional church and started the Brethren movement in Plymouth, England.

Darby became known as the ‘father’ of Dispensationalism, the first eschatology to incorporate the ‘prophecy’ of Margaret MacDonald.Darby continued to develop this new view by becoming the first to make a radical distinction between Israel and the Church.

Darby taught that God has two special groups of people (or two Brides) and a separate plan for each of them. This meant Christ would have to return twice. Covenant theologians sneer that, “this secret rapture was so secret that no one had ever heard of it for 1800 years!”

The Margaret MacDonald story has been told and retold so many times that most Covenant theologians can recite it in their sleep. There is something about Dispensationalism that makes them see red.

It seems odd, really.

Assessment:

Most Dispensationalists couldn’t care less whether or not a segment of the Church believes it will go through the Tribulation. I am among that group.

If somebody trusts Christ for his salvation, but disagrees with the timing, (or even the doctrine) of a secret Rapture, they are still saved.

But I’ve yet to discuss Dispensationalism with Covenant (or replacement) theologians without being called names like ‘false teacher’ and ‘liar’.

The Margaret MacDonald story is included in every missive, so that ‘ignorant’ can be included on the list. Why is there so much opposition to Dispensationsalism? Dispensationalism drives a stake through the heart of replacement theology.

When the Emperor Constantine declared Christianity the state Church of Rome, he set into motion a codification process in which ultimately resulted in the Bible being restricted to members of the clergy. This period is known to history as the ‘Dark Ages’.

It wasn’t until the Bible was made available to the common man that the Protestant Reformation began to take place in the 15th century.

The Protestant Church was born out of the Roman Catholic Church. While it rejected Catholicism’s teaching of salvation by works, it carried with it much of its doctrine, including that of replacement theology.

For almost three hundred years, the Protestant Church continued to accept the Catholic doctrine of replacement theology without challenge. Until Dr. C. I. Schofield reviewed and advanced the teachings of the early Church, publishing his findings in the Schofield Reference Bible.

The Scofield Reference Bible attempted to set in order the right divisions of God’s purpose as Scofield understood it. And it is important to note that there is very little similarity between the writings of Scofield and the writings of Darby, despite being assigned joint credit for ‘inventing’ the doctrine by its critics.

As Christians, we are obligated to search the Scriptures and see if the Bible teaches different dispensations, and if it does, we are obligated to embrace its teaching. If it does not, we are bound to reject it.

There are three things to keep in mind about dispensational teaching. First, it maintains a distinction between Israel and the Church, recognizing God has an eternal, unchanging, Plan for Israel and a different Plan for the Church during the Church Age.

The second is that Dispensationalists hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible, instead of spiritualizing a text or making everything a ‘type’.

Thirdly, Dispensationalists believe God’s purpose is much bigger than the salvation of mankind. God’s purpose centers in His glory.

The Bible is all about God’s kingdom and His Son ruling over it. This is the part where the replacement theologians start turning red. Dispensationalists believe that there is a place for the Jew, the Gentile and the Church of God in this eternal purpose. Those saved in this age are in the church, the body of Christ.

Replacement theology cuts the Jew out of God’s Plan, blurs the line between Christian and Gentile, and assumes unto the Church the Promises of God to Israel.

Therefore, according to the modern interpretation of replacement theology, modern-day Israel isn’t really the Israel of the Bible. It has no special spiritual connection to the Land. This theological worldview is behind most mainstream Protestant churches sharing the Vatican’s unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.

Replacement theology is also the root cause of modern anti-Semitism. This is why those who hold to it get so nasty when attacking Dispensationalism. It is easier to hate Israel if you think that God hates it, too.

But you have to already be predisposed to hating Jews, or it doesn’t make sense.

Tomorrow, Part Two: “Rightly Dividing the Word: What About Lot?”

The Gospel According to Job

The Gospel According to Job
Vol: 94 Issue: 27 Monday, July 27, 2009

The Book of Job opens with the “sons of God” (angels) presenting themselves before God. The fallen angel Satan (literally, “the accuser”) was apparently also compelled to attend this gathering of angels, since he also was there.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.”

There is much to be learned from this verse, and also from the one following:

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6-7)

The general outline of the story is well-known. God gives Satan permission to test Job and Job is afflicted. He loses everything: his sons, his crops, his livestock, all his wealth and finally his health.

In all this, Job never curses God and is restored in the end. Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar accuse Job of sin and point to his many afflictions as proof.

Job defends himself by claiming something close to perfection and demanding an explanation from God for his suffering.

The fourth, Elihu, jumps Job for mistaking righteousness with perfection and reminds Job that righteousness comes from God.

“I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.” (Job 36:3)

Nobody knows for sure who Job was, or even if Job was the author of the book that bears his name.

Nothing is known of Job apart from Scripture, including when the book was written, but from its literary style and use of language, it is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible, chronologically speaking.

The majority of Orthodox Jewish scholars believe Job was an actual historical figure. The construction of the Book of Job suggests the book was penned by an Israelite who was telling the story of a non-Israelite, which also suggests a very early date, probably before Moses.

There is a tradition among some Torah scholars that suggest Job was one of three advisors to Pharaoh during the 400 years in Egypt. That same tradition names Moses as the author of Job.

That seems unlikely. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. He had a distinctive style not evident in Job. And Job’s lifespan puts him much closer to the time of the Flood.

Job lived some 240 years, longer than Terah, (205) longer than Abraham, (175) longer than Jacob (147) and longer than Esau (147).

By the time Moses came along almost a thousand years after Abraham, 120 years was the outside limit of a human lifespan.

Moses lived to be 120, Joshua 110. After that, the Bible indicates that the maximum lifespan dropped to roughly where it is now, at; “threescore and ten, and if by reason of strength, fourscore.” (Psalms 90:10)

Assessment:

Why is the chronology of Job important? Because he in all probability predates Abraham. Certainly, Job was not a Jew, but there is no reference to him in the Hebrew Bible as being a Gentile.

Before Abraham, there were only Gentiles. The Masoretic text places Abram’s birth only 292 years after the Flood.

Abraham was the eponymous father of both the Arabs and the Jews. Before Abraham, there would be no such distinction of ‘Gentile’. Before Abraham, everybody was a Gentile, making such a distinction unnecessary.

Job was from the ‘land of Uz’. Uz was named for the son of Shem, grandson of Noah. (Genesis 10:23)

The Book of Job asks and answers three questions that have puzzled mankind since the the days before the Flood.

The answer to the first question; “Where can we find God?” automatically invokes the second, “How can one be righteous before Him?” but neither has much meaning without the answer to the third: “If a man die, shall he live again?”

We have come all this way with Job, his friends, the chronology of his life and times, and his relationship to organized religion, just to address Job’s reply to that very question.

Again, let’s keep in mind that Job lived just after the Flood, and before Abraham. There was no Bible. Moses wouldn’t write Genesis for at least a thousand years.

Matthew 1:17 tells us there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David. There were fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian Captivity. And there were fourteen generations from the Captivity to Christ.

“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. “

The appointed time. Until my change come.

Forty-two generations before Christ, Job spoke of his ‘change’ at the ‘appointed time.’

Forty-two generations later, the Apostle Paul explains: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,.

Forty-two generations AFTER Christ, we eagerly await the trumpet’s call — for this IS the ‘appointed time’.

Paul called it a ‘mystery’ because it was a doctrine not previously revealed — except to Job. Paul said; “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:51-52)

Job not only knew about the change, he knew about the trumpet:

Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.” (Job 14:14-15)

There are those who argue that the Rapture is a recent doctrine, invented by J. N. Darby or by a Scottish epileptic named Margaret MacDonald. The Rapture isn’t a recent invention, it predates both Christianity and Judaism.

Genesis and Jude confirm that Enoch, seventh from Adam, was also raptured. Job expects to hear God call him at the appointed time. The Apostle Paul addressed the same doctrine two thousand years later.

“For the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds . . ” (1st Thessalonians 4:16)

And now we’re talking about it two thousand years after that — as if it were some unproven doctrinal supposition subject to interpretation.

It wasn’t merely supposition to Job — to whom the Flood was still a recent memory. “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” (Job 19:25)

That is a pretty amazing statement of faith, dated as it is to a thousand years before Moses and two thousand years before Christ.

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26 )

The Sadducees were still debating the resurrection of the dead with Jesus two thousand years after Job stated it as fact. That Job was referring to the resurrection of his own physical body, and not referring to some spiritual equivalent is made plain.

“Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:27)

So will mine. I’ll be there, too. And I’m sorta looking forward to meeting Job.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2nd Peter 1:19)

Israel Assumes US Betrayal Forthcoming

Israel Assumes US Betrayal Forthcoming
Vol: 94 Issue: 25 Saturday, July 25, 2009

Israel is preparing for a compromise agreement by Western powers that would approve Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

Officials and analysts believe the European Union and United States were moving toward an offer that would enable Tehran to continue to enrich uranium. They said the proposal was expected to be submitted to Iran over the next few months.

“I heard, unenthusiastically, the Americans’ statement that they will defend their allies in the event that Iran arms itself with an atomic bomb, as if they have already reconciled with this possibility, and this is a mistake,” said Dan Meridor, an Israeli Cabinet minister responsible for the intelligence community.

“We don’t need to deal now with the assumption that Iran will attain nuclear weapons, rather we need to prevent this from happening.”

On July 21, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would offer defense guarantees to its allies should Teheran assemble nuclear weapons.

“We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to develop the military capacity of those [allies] in the Gulf, it is unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Israeli officials and analysts viewed Mrs. Clinton’s statement as a signal that the United States would tolerate an Iranian nuclear weapons arsenal. They said the Obama administration was resigned to the likelihood that Iran has already completed the nuclear fuel cycle, developed a nuclear warhead and could assemble an atomic bomb within weeks.

Leading Israeli analysts agreed that Obama has virtually eliminated a U.S. military option against Iran. Instead, the White House was preparing to offer a compromise that would grant approval to Iran’s uranium enrichment program, banned by the United Nations Security Council.

“Both the United States and the European Union are coming to the conclusion that Iran will turn nuclear in any case, so there is a need for a compromise,” Ephraim Kam, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, said.

Officials said the prospect of a Western compromise offer to Iran would mark a leading subject in discussions with a visiting U.S. defense delegation.

On July 29, a U.S. delegation, including National Security Advisor James Jones, presidential adviser Dennis Ross as well as senior members of the U.S. intelligence community, is scheduled to arrive in Israel in an effort to resume a strategic dialogue regarding Iran.

“Understand that a nuclear-armed Iran could provide a nuclear umbrella to terrorists, and it could possibly provide nuclear weapons to terrorists,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told American Jewish leaders in a conference call on July 21.

“I think for the sake of the peace of the world and the security of my own country and that of the United States, this must not be allowed to happen.”

Allowed or not, it will happen. The handwriting is on the wall — and it is in Arabic, not Hebrew.

Assessment:

Barack Obama held the first meeting of his presidency with American Jewish leaders last week. The White House cherry-picked those in attendance, including those who supported Obama while blackballing those who did not.

The second largest Jewish organization in America, the Zionist Organization of America was not invited.

Noted one Jewish writer, “This leaves the president willing to engage Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but not ZOA President Mort Klein.”

The growing alarm in the Jewish community was also something the White House was bent on covering up. They refused to put the meeting on the President’s public schedule — until it was outed. The White House demanded strict confidentiality and issued a terse couple of lines acknowledging it occurred — but not until it was all over.

But there is no papering over the distressing reality that emerged. The president told his listeners that he preferred “putting daylight between the United States and Israel”. His reported justification: “there was no light between the US and Israeli positions for the last eight years, and no progress was made.”

It is already painfully obvious that the president is a racist. If there is a conflict between a black man and a white man, his default position is that it is racially-motivated and that the black is the victim.

That same worldview extends to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is just as obvious that the president has prejudged the Israelis as the ones responsible for the conflict.

One need only listen to some of the anti-semitic rants of his former pastor and mentor, Jeremiah Wright and then examine the past six months of the Obama presidency. His first major interview was with Al-Arabiya.

His first foreign policy speech was delivered from Turkey and was addressed to the Islamic world. His second was from Cairo and addressed to the Arab world.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration pledged just under one BILLION dollars in aid to the Palestinians, who so far have refused every Israeli offer to return to the peace table.

Secretary of State Clinton went to Ramallah to deliver the first two hundred million US tax dollars to a government jointly led by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah party and Hamas.

What is the US government expecting to get for its two hundred million dollars? Clinton was vague about prospects for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, saying only that she believes the Obama administration is making progress in creating the “right environment” for such negotiations in the near future.

The Olmert government offered Mahmoud Abbas everything that the Palestinians had asked for and was turned down flat. The Palestinians have yet to meet to first two obligations imposed on them by the Quartet; recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and disarm the Palestinian terror groups.

For all of modern Israel’s history, the Jews of Israel knew they could count on the United States for support. There are two main reason(s); one political, the other religious.

In 1948, when Harry Truman first recognized Israel, it wasn’t because of his love for the Jews. Truman’s anti-semitism was the stuff of legend. When he recognized Israel, he did so out of fear of a backlash from the US Christian community if he did not.

American politicians in 2009 are not quite so afraid of the Christian community as they were sixty-one years ago. Christianity as a political force in America has been largely marginalized over the years. And while the Jews and the Christians may be loud, the world’s second largest religion is louder. And a lot more dangerous.

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:3)

That isn’t just a prophecy of what will come in the last days. It is a warning of the judgment to befall those nations who find themselves on the wrong side of the Jerusalem equation.

President Clinton put America on the wrong side of the Jerusalem equation at the Rose Garden in September, 1993 when the division of Jerusalem was made one of the central issues of the Oslo Accords.

That was the same year that Ramsi Yousef and Abdul Rahman conspired to blow up the World Trade Center. The more America leaned toward the division of Jerusalem, the more dangerous the world became for Americans.

It isn’t a coincidence. And things aren’t getting any better.

Because the Bible is true. These are the last days. Everything the Lord said would happen is happening according to schedule. We’re living in the final hours of human history — and we know it.

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Romans 13:11-12)

Maranatha!

Racist is as Racist Does

Racist is as Racist Does
Vol: 94 Issue: 24 Friday, July 24, 2009

Yesterday, I intended to discuss some of the details surrounding the plan to take over the national health care system by putting it under government control.

But I got sidetracked (as did almost everyone else) by the president’s comment that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting Obama pal Henry Louis Gates for disorderly conduct.

Obama admitted he didn’t know the details, but his immediate assumption was that the white cops were picking on Gates because he was black:

“What I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately,” Obama said. “That’s just a fact.”

As a general rule, racists don’t know they are racist. They think they are justified in believing the worst about a particular race. We saw that with Barbara Boxer, who was absolutely floored by Henry Alford’s observation that she was race-baiting him.

Indeed, one could watch the color drain from her face as she realized that he was right. I’ll give her this much. She really didn’t know she’s a racist.

If Obama didn’t really realize what a racist remark he was making, it was because he doesn’t realize that he is as racist as any white cracker named “Bubba” who has a Stars and Bars silkscreen in the rear window of his pickup truck.

To Obama, racism is a white man’s affliction, so in his eyes, he can play the race card with impunity. One thing is certain. The racism inherent in Obama’s comment is not an aberration.

During the campaign, he prejudged predominantly white Middle America as “bitter” folks “who cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

His twenty-year relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright was a warning that nobody heeded. Who could believe, (paraphrasing Joe Biden) that a “clean, articulate black guy” like Barack Obama could be deliberately associated with such a dyed-in-the-wool black power racist nutbar?

Against all logic, the electorate bought Obama’s explanation that Reverend Wright only preached racial division and black power on the Sundays he and his family were absent.

Not because anybody really believed it. Of that I grow increasingly convinced. It was more because everyone wanted to believe it.

Americans (especially white Americans) are desperate to put racial division behind them. That’s why they elected Obama in the first place. Obama wasn’t elected based on his extensive experience as an executive. He had never held an executive job in his life before becoming president.

The closest Obama ever came to executive experience was as president of the Harvard Law Review. His professional resume includes community organizer, civil rights attorney and three unremarkable terms as a state senator.

Obama won his state senate seat after Obama operatives were able to disqualify the three other candidates on a filing technicality.

Obama wasn’t elected president based on his extensive experience as a federal lawmaker, either. Obama accidentally got himself elected to the US Senate in 2005 and his opponent’s campaign collapsed when his divorce papers somehow got ‘leaked’ to the press. He started running for president almost immediately.

How did he get elected? By running as America’s first African-American president. He did it very cleverly — he kept repeating that he wasn’t going to make race part of the election — just before making some comment calling attention to the fact that he was black.

He ran on his race, not his experience.

In terms of qualifications, Barack Hussein Obama established another first. He is not only the nation’s first African-American president, he is the least experienced person to hold that office in at least a century.

In a strange twist of reverse-racism, Obama won the Oval Office BECAUSE of his race, not in spite of it.

Assessment:

We live in a world of competing deceptions. The most elusive thing on earth is the truth. You look for it in the media and come away deceived. You look for it in art, films or photography, but it is all deception.

You look for it in politics well, if you look for truth in politics, you aren t only deceived, but you re na ve.

The dictionary defines ‘propaganda’ as “the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.”

The Bible says that when the antichrist comes on the scene, his most effective tool will be his control of a global propaganda machine. Barack Obama’s career demonstrates just how potent and effective a tool that can be — in the right hands, that is.

The prophet Daniel describes the antichrist as having “a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.” (Daniel 7:20)

Paul reveals that, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:11)

“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” (Revelation 13:4-5)

And, when asked, “What will be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the age,” the very FIRST thing that Jesus said was, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matthew 24:3-4)

Until only a few years ago, merely suggesting that something was ‘propaganda’ discredited it, regardless of which side of the political spectrum it was emanating from.

But Bill Clinton legitimized propaganda as ‘spin’ and Barack Obama has made it part of his standard political playbook.

The race question was obviously a plant that may or may not have backfired. Not one question about Iraq. Not one question about Afghanistan, where American troops have had the worst month of fatalities in eight years.

Instead, the question about Professor Gates arrest was the eleventh and final question following his prime-time speech about health care. The question had nothing to do with health care reform, but that was plan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had told the president just before his speech urging passage of the health care reform package before the summer recess wasn’t going to happen.

But the president already had his speech written and the prime time booked. To take some of the sting out of his impending legislative defeat, Obama used the final question to redirect the debate at the last minute.

I don’t think he expected the ‘racist’ tag to come back on him, however. As observed earlier, racists seldom realize that they are racists.

Obama no doubt intended to milk public sympathy for Professor Gates instead of the focus being on his failure to move the Congress to a vote by his deadline.

Did it work? Maybe not exactly the way he intended it to, but I think so. This is my second effort at taking on the lack of specifics in his health care reform package and, like everybody else, I’m discussing the Gates Affair instead.

He’s a clever one, that Obama.