Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Archive for the ‘Christian Worldview’ Category

Law and Gospel

Having come face to face with my own sinfulness, my own lack of keeping the law of God, I have spent the last several months looking at the law and the gospel.  While this is not new to Christianity, it is fairly new to me.  I grew up in a church environment that was heavy on the law.  You keep the law and God was happy.  Break the law (which was often), God is now angry with you.  The gospel was not the end but only a step to helping me keep myself clean.  It was not Jesus period.  It was Jesus who now enables me to keep the law and when I fail, back to the beginning.

We all sin.  None of us are perfect.  We read passages such as Romans 3:23 and acknowledge the universal sinfulness of mankind.  But we miss the point that we are sinners ourselves.  I am not arguing that we wake up each day thinking “what can I do today to violate the law of God” but we do sin.  Whether we make sins into categories such as “sins of omission” and “sins of commission,” either way we do sin.  Apart from grace, none of us can stand before a holy God.  It is only through Christ that we can stand before a holy and totally pure God.  The reason Christ died for my sins is not simply to enable me to be holy on my own power but He died because I am a sinner in need of forgiveness because I do sin (1 John 2:1-2).

Consider the command of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40:

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Stop and consider how you are doing with that one?  I’m not even good at it.  I would love to say that I love God perfectly as Jesus taught.  I would love to tell you that my love for God flows into loving my neighbor as myself.  But the reality is that I fall way short of these two commands and Jesus said that law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.  Do these and you’ll be perfect!  But I don’t!

And thus the gospel comes into play.  The law condemns me as a sinner (Romans 3:19) and the law teaches me that I need a Savior (Galatians 3:24).  The law condemns me.  The gospel saves me.  The law shows me that I am a sinner (Romans 7:7).  There is nothing wrong with the law of God (Romans 7:12) but the problem is me.  I can’t keep the law.  No matter how hard I try, I fail.

The gospel preaches peace to me.  The law tells me to love God perfectly and my neighbor perfectly (Matthew 5:48).  The gospel tells me Christ died for my sins and the sins of not loving God perfectly nor my neighbor as myself.  The law tells me to love my wife as Christ loves His Church (Ephesians 5:25).  The gospel tells me that Christ died for the sin of not loving my wife as Christ loves His Church (I am far from a perfect husband).  The law tells me to pray, to worship, to evangelize, to give my money to the poor and to helping the kingdom of God, to do good to my neighbor especially of those of the household of faith, etc. but the gospel tells me that Christ died for my sins even the sins of not keeping the law perfectly.

Martin Luther taught two (and I would add a third) uses of the law.  Lutherans debate the third use of the law.  The three uses of the law are:

  • For society, to curb man’s sinfulness.
  • To condemn us a sinners and show us our need for salvation.
  • To help the Christian in sanctification.

These three uses of the law are seen not just in the Bible but in life.  Antinomians accept the first two uses of the law but not the third.  I believe in preaching all three.  Christians need to hear the law so that the Holy Spirit can help us in the process of sanctification.  So for example a believer hears that we should pray (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).  Prayer itself doesn’t justify us before God.  We are justified only through Christ Jesus alone by grace alone though faith alone.  Yet none would say that prayer is bad.  Yet prayer can become a law.  It was that way for me.  I once held that a person should pray for 2 hours a day or God was not pleased.  Prayer became a law and gospel for me.  But prayer is not the gospel.  The gospel is the death of Jesus for our sins and His resurrection for our justification (Romans 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  Thus Jesus died for my sin of prayerlessness.  Does this mean that I should not pray since Jesus died for my sin of prayerlessness?  By no means! The key is to see prayer as flowing from my forgiveness and not from the law.  I pray because Christ shed His blood for me (Hebrews 4:14-16).

This holds true of any law.  The law if holy and good (1 Timothy 1:8-11).  The law shows me how far I am far from the perfection of God.  But the gospel shouts to me that I am accepted in the Beloved.  I am holy before God because of Christ (Hebrews 10:10, 14) and not by my works.  The law tells me to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and this is good.  The gospel tells me that I am accepted in Christ Jesus who bled and died for my sins (Romans 5:6).

This understanding of the law and the gospel has blessed me.  It has brought some joy to my soul where joy has been lacking.  For so long I have been full of pride, my own self-righteousness.  I thought God was honored by my prayer life, my evangelism, my passion for God.  Like Voddie Bauchman preaches, my works-righteousness muscle likes to flex.  I would have, in the past, gladly acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and would have gladly told you that I was saved by His grace alone but in reality I was full of pride, thinking more highly of myself than I ought (Philippians 2:3).  I would have preached Christ but my focus was not on pleasing Christ per se but on men seeing how much I “loved” Jesus.  Oh how much pride was in my heart!  Oh wretched sinner that I was!

But Christ died for me.  Christ bled and suffered for my sins.  Jesus gave His life for my sins and now I am forgiven not because I keep the law but because I can’t keep the law (Galatians 3:10).  Christ suffered in my place, for my sins (Galatians 3:13-14).  I am saved now not because I keep the law but because of faith in Jesus Christ who gave His life for my sins.  What a blessing!  What a Savior!

I have no problem with the law.  The law is good.  The law comes from our holy God.  Yet too many Christians try to live the law.  You will always be falling short.  Always.  You will never obtain holiness by the law.  Even if you think (as I did) that I had obtained a level of holiness by my striving, inside (like me) you’ll know that you stand condemned because you can’t keep the whole law (James 2:10).  I have no problem preaching the law and calling Christians to repent of not keeping the law.  But the balance of this is the gospel.  The answer to not keeping the law is not more law.  The answer is the gospel.  The law condemns us as sinners.  The gospel comforts us by pointing to Christ who died for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

Perhaps I am wrong on this.  I don’t think so.  I believe it’s biblically based.  I know that this teaching has pushed me closer to Christ and not away.  I still hate sin.  I really do hate sin.  I acknowledge that I do sin but I hate my sins.  I am so grateful to God for giving me His Son for my sins (John 1:29).  I stand condemned but Christ preaches to me no condemnation (Romans 8:1).  Satan accuses me of sin and he is right to do so.  But I trust in Christ alone for my salvation (Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus has promised not only to save me from my sins (Matthew 1:21; Romans 6:1-4) but He has promised to keep me (Jude 24-25).  I trust in Christ alone and not my works-righteousness before a holy God.

Positions I Don’t Think Are Necessarily Heretical (Maybe Though)

“He is a heretic” is a common phrase thrown around by many who love theology.  I have seen people named a heretic for simple disagreements over end times views.  I myself have been called a heretic because I reject the teaching of the rapture of the Church.  I have been called a heretic for rejecting Calvinism.  I have been called a heretic once by a charismatic because I reject the “laughter movement” of the 1990’s.  The term “heretic” is thrown around too much in my opinion.

And no doubt this has been true at times in Church history.  The Anabaptists were severely persecuted by Martin Luther and the Reformers.  Luther stands before the Diet of Worms and gives his famous stand for the Word of God only to turn around four years later and condemned the Anabaptists to death for their views on baptism.  The Anabaptists were largely hated by the Reformers though the Reformers preached that we should test all things by the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  What was the main “heresy” of the Anabaptists?  Baptism of believers by immersion.  The term “Anabaptist” was applied to them because the term means “two baptisms” because the Reformers stood with Roman Catholicism in agreeing with infant baptism and thus condemned the Anabaptists for re- baptizing adults whom the Reformers saw as already baptized because of their infant baptism.

In our day baptism is not so much the issue.  Most Reformed who hold to infant baptism (and even some Arminians as Arminius held to infant baptism) reject that we should kill those who baptize by immersion.  They also reject that those who hold to believer’s baptism would be heretics and vise versa.  There is peace there in this debate.

Yet there are positions that some hold to be heretical that I don’t consider necessarily heretical.  I might not agree but I don’t think that there are heretics nonetheless.  I once did in some cases.  Years ago I use to view myself as the orthodox believer and all others had to fall in line.  Not so now.  After dealing with my own sins, I see my need for God’s forgiveness and grace and I see that I fall terribly short in many ways.  I need reforming myself and I praise God for His grace towards me (1 Timothy 1:15).  I rejoice that perfect theology is not the standard for salvation.  Who could be saved?  The standard is you must know you’re a sinner and see your need for a Savior.  That is me (Luke 19:10).  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17 KJV).

So what positions do I know see as non-heretical though I might not agree with them.

Calvinism – A few hold that Calvinism is heretical.  I don’t.  I see them as my brothers and sisters in the Lord and greatly love my Calvinists friends and family.  Some of my favorite preachers and teachers and theologians are reformed.

Open Theism – Though I am not an open theist, I don’t believe that all open theists are heretics.  They are wresting with the mystery of divine omniscience and how this works in a free world.  By the way, Calvinism wrestles with the same issue though they go the opposite of the open theist.

Conditional Immortality – This is the position that rejects eternal conscience torment in hell.  I know a few brothers who condemn brothers who reject eternal conscience torment in eternal hell as heretics but this should not be the case.  Men such as Edward Fudge have wrestled with the texts and reject eternal conscience torment while maintaining salvation as a gracious gift from our eternal God.

Original Sin – I know brothers who reject the doctrine of original sin.  Most Arminians reject the Calvinist teaching on original sin yet I know some who reject the teaching altogether and believe that babies are born sinless while born into a sinful world.  While I can see how this teaching could lead to perfectionism teachings, I don’t believe these brothers are rejecting original sin because they have not searched the Scriptures.  I am somewhere in-between on this teaching and aligned more with inheriting a sinful nature from Adam while not inheriting Adam’s sin.

Infant Baptism – I hold to believer’s (or better Christian) baptism by immersion but I don’t reject those who disagree with me as heretics.  I know of godly Arminians who hold to infant baptism and love them as brothers.  We all agree that salvation is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ and not in our works (Titus 3:5-7).

KJV Only – While I completely disagree with the KJV only camp, I know some godly men who preach the gospel while holding firmly to the KJV.  By the way, I even know a Reformed brother who would qualify as a KJV only follower but he is not extreme and loves the Lord Jesus.  The truth is that Jesus saves us by His grace (Ephesians 2:1-9) and not by our Bible translations.  I was saved using the NIV.  Others have been saved using the KJV.  God saves us by the gospel (Romans 1:16-17) and not by our Bible translation though I do believe a good Bible translation is vital (for example the erroneous New World Translation of the JW’s though I read a testimony of a brother who was saved even by the NWT).

Soul Sleep – I know some brothers who hold to soul sleep.  These are not Seventh-Day Adventists but actually Reformed brothers who hold to this view.  While I am not sure on the doctrine, I don’t believe a person is a heretic for this view.

Perfectionism – I know a few brothers who hold that they don’t sin anymore.  One guy boasted on Facebook that he had not sinned in like 22 years.  While I think that this view is really stupid (yes just stupid), I praise God that He saves us from ourselves by His grace.  I once held mildly to this view.  I completely reject it now.  That said, I don’t think that a person is completely a heretic because they teach this.  I think the teaching leads to bondage and not freedom and puts too much emphasis on us and not on the work of Christ for our sins (Ephesians 1:7) but I don’t necessarily think these people are complete heretics who know nothing of God’s love.

Various End Times Views – These too many to tell.  All seem to want to label the others are heretics.  I am not there.  I am a partial preterist but I don’t reject those who disagree.  I reject dispensational theology but believe dispensationalists to be saved.  I reject premillennialism but hold them to be brethren in Christ.  Again, the standard for salvation is not our end times views but our confession of Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10).

Charismatics – Again, like the above, too many to label.  While I do think some charismatic teaching is very bad (see the Prosperity Gospel for example) and there are many bad teachers in this bunch, I know many godly Pentecostals and charismatics who truly love Jesus and desire to glorify Him.  Some of my heroes of the faith are Pentecostals who taught me how to pray and how to love and study the Bible.  I have such great memories of godly Pentecostals teaching me how to witness, how to pray, how to worship, how to love God, how to think of Christ in all we do, etc.  While some want to label many in this group heretics, be careful as there are many godly saints here.

Seeker Driven – I am not a seeker driven church guy.  Never have been.  Never will be.  I have attended some seeker churches in the past and I think its a joke.  That said, I don’t think that all seeker pastors are heretics and I’m sure that many of them do love souls and long to see people saved.  I praise God for that.  While I reject their model and often their tactics and will continue to preach against them, I don’t think they should just be labeled heretics.  I think many of them are probably orthodox in their theology while holding to church practices I disagree with.  I’m okay with that.  Of course, I pray that many of these leaders will come out of this movement and preach the whole gospel but that beyond the point here.  Again, Jesus saves sinners and not theology perfectionists.

Conclusion

I closing I pray that you extend me grace here.  If you hold to these people above being heretics, perhaps you’ll throw me in there too.  I pray not.  I am nothing.  I am a sinner who needs Jesus.  I confess that need.  Don’t follow me or you’ll end up in hell.  Follow Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/13/2017 at 3:02 PM

Defining the Gospel

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

– 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NASB)

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  But what is the gospel?  I have attended many churches over the years but few ever spent much time actually breaking down what the gospel is or is not.  Some say they preach the gospel each and every week but all they mean by this is that they offer “the sinner’s prayer” for salvation at the end of their sermons.  Few really grasp the gospel.

Asking people what is the gospel is also difficult.  People just don’t know.  Depending on their church, they might define the gospel as Jesus dying for our sins, good works for people, or a host of other statements.  The gospel, biblically defined, is often not taught in many churches.

Over the past few years we have seen an influx of “gospel centered” ministries.  We now view everything as “a gospel issue.”  Whether it be work, sex, marriage, sports, entertainment, etc. everything is now said to be a “gospel issue.”  We have groups such as “The Gospel Coalition” or “Together For The Gospel” but is the gospel the main focus?  Are we really together for the gospel?  How many people even grasp what the gospel is?

In 1 Corinthians 15 we have Paul the Apostle defining the gospel.  He states in verse 1 that he wants to remind the Corinthians of the gospel which he preached to them and which they received.  He states in verse 2  that this gospel is what saved them.  In verse 3 Paul states that this gospel is of first importance meaning that this message takes preeminence above everything else that could be taught.  This gospel came not from men but from God (Galatians 1:11-12).

What then is the essence of the gospel?  Paul tells us in verses 3-5:

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Notice Paul’s movements here.  First, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.  This is important.  Paul is not moving beyond what has been written beforehand in the Old Testament.  The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would die.  Jesus Himself taught His disciples from the Old Testament about Himself after His resurrection (Luke 24:44-48).  The Apostles were eye-witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and they took not just His resurrection but the Old Testament texts and began to preach the gospel.  The Book of Acts records the Apostles preaching of the work of the Lord Jesus and it is clear that they took the Master’s teaching from the Old Testament and taught about Him to the lost.

All of this, the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is based on the Old Testament.  The foundation for solid gospel preaching is not rooted in experience but in the Scriptures.  This was the apostolic authority and is ours as well (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  Peter the Apostle states we have a more sure word (2 Peter 1:16-21) because of the Scriptures.

So our preaching should be based on the apostolic authority of the Bible.  The gospel flows from Scripture and is focused on the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The gospel focuses on the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  He was buried and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).

Sadly this gospel is often lacking in many churches.  I download a local seeker sensitive church to hear what they are preaching these days.  Each week my iPhone downloads their Sunday service.  What do I get to hear?  The gospel?  Sadly no.  I hear positive twists on texts and I hear a lot of talk about how God wants to bless us, use us, and work through us to touch our neighbors but I don’t hear the gospel.  Sometimes sin is mentioned or repentance but little is said about the gospel.  Sometimes the “sinner’s prayer” is offered and I assume they think that is the gospel but I don’t hear anything of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.

We must see how the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and all through the Bible impacts our lives.  I could write for days on this one issue but on a surface level, the gospel daily reveals to me that it was my sins that Christ died for.  This is clear in verse 3.  My sins.  I see my sins all the time.  My sins scream at me like demons hiding in the shadows.  My sins torment me in my dreams.  My sins are easy to find and easy to see.  But the gospel shouts to me that Christ died for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  My sins are not erased by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).   My sins are not washed away by penance.  My sins are not taken away by my own self-reformation.  My sins are only washed away through the blood of Jesus that He shed on the cross for my salvation (Matthew 26:28; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:24-25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 10:4; 1 John 1:7).  The death of Jesus on the cross speaks to my sins and while my sins condemn me, the Lord Jesus saves me not because of what I have done but because of His grace alone (Titus 3:5-7).

The gospel is not just Jesus’ death for my sins.  Without the resurrection, we are still dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:16-17).  Paul wrote in Romans 4:24-25:

24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Without the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, there is no forgiveness of our sins.  That Christ died would prove nothing.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead then He died just like we will die.  But the Bible says that Jesus is risen from the dead.  A cursory reading of the Book of Acts shows not just the fact that Jesus died on the cross but that He was raised from the dead.  All four Gospels record the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  This is the main focus of the Christian message:  Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

How does this impact me?  Why is this part of the gospel?  Well again if Jesus is not risen, we are still dead in our sins.  But if Jesus is alive (and He is!) then we can be saved through faith in Him just as He said (John 5:24-25).  The focal point of John 20:31 is true:  Jesus is worthy of worship and praise as the One who shed His blood for our salvation and was raised for our justification.  Because of Christ, my sins are forgiven and I have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1).  I have One who sits at God’s mighty right hand for my salvation (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus is now my faithful high priest who prays for me before the Father as my intercessor, my advocate (Hebrews 4:14; 1 John 2:1-2).  1 Timothy 2:5 states that Jesus is our mediator before our holy God.

This is the gospel.  The gospel is not self-reformation.  The gospel is not about trying harder.  The gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus all according to the Scriptures.  Jesus is the One who was prophesied about in Isaiah 53:

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

Insights from the KJV Translators Themselves

Most KJV Bibles sold today no longer have the longer introduction to the translation originally penned by the KJV translators.  Most English Bibles today have an introduction to the translation that comes from the KJV itself.  The KJV translators penned their introduction to explain and defend their translation.

One must bear in mind the time period of the 1611 translation.  Imagine if President Obama told the church here in the United States that he wanted one Bible “to rule them all” (to quote from Lord of the Rings)?  How would Christians react to Obama?  Even if Obama had the top scholars appointed to translate the Bible, most would view the translation with intrepidation.  I would.  I would figure that Obama would want the translate to be one sided, to avoid truth, to delete core doctrines and to make it as far from teaching the truth as possible while still sounding like the Bible.  What is true today was true of the Christians living under King James.  They viewed the “Authorized Version” with much fear.  In fact, the KJV would not become the preferred English Bible for about 50 years after its publication.  The Geneva Bible and not the King James Bible was brought over to the new world by the first English settlers to America.

The KJV scholars added the long introduction then to both promote their translation and defend it against those who questioned it.  After all, when the KJV was published in 1611 there were already good English Bibles on the market.  The KJV was not the first nor the last (and the KJV translators recognized that fact).  Though the KJV Bible would become the greatest of the English translations for many years to come, in 1611 it was just another Bible translation being offered now by the King himself of the British Empire.

I recently read the longer introduction that you can find in modern English on Amazon.  I learned much from it.  I only want to highlight a few of the KJV translators words.  Their words are good to read in our day of KJV onlyism.  After reading the KJV introduction, I have no doubt in my mind that these Anglican men would not be KJV only if they were alive today.  In fact, they would laugh at the arguments used by KJV only “scholars” who claim that the KJV is the final Word of God, that (as some radical KJV only men teach) the KJV was inspired just as the Apostle’s were inspired, that the KJV is a perfect Bible translation without any errors, that the Anglicans involved were fundamentalist in secret who believed in the Received Text (the Greek text of the KJV) as the perfect Word of God, etc.

First, the KJV translators believed the originals were inspired but recognized variants in the copies.  They stated:

because the original thereof is from heaven, not from earth, the author is God, not man; the composer is the Holy Spirit, not the wit of the Apostles or Prophets; the penmen were such as were sanctified from the womb, and endued with a principle portion of God’s Spirit; the content is truth, piety, purity, and uprightness; the form is God’s word, God’s testimony, God’s oracles, the word of truth, the word of salvation, and so forth.

The translators did not teach anywhere in their writings that the Received Text is the “inerrant and infallible Word of God” (inerrant would not have been used for people simply said the Bible was true in those days and people understood what they meant without qualification).  In fact, they believed the originals alone to be the ones inspired by God Himself.  The copies are copies of the originals but we no longer have the originals (praise be to God lest someone would have worshiped them as the children of Israel worshiped the golden calf in Exodus 32).  The KJV translators could not have visioned that someday their own translation would become a golden calf to many.

They went on to write:

For nothing perfect has proceeded from the hands of men except what came from the hands of the Apostles or Apostolic men, that is, from men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s Spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility.

So what about the errors in the copies?  KJV onlyism teaches that no errors exist but what did the KJV translators write about this:

The Septuagint dissents from the Original in many places, and does not come near it in terms of clarity, gravity, and majesty.  Yet did any of the Apostles condemn it?  Condemn it?  Nay, they used it.

Notice that the KJV translators approved of the Septuagint as a translation while understanding that it was not the original.  The Apostles quoted extensively from the Septuagint in the Greek New Testament despite the fact that the Septuagint is just a translation from the Hebrew text.

Secondly, the KJV translators saw the value of having Bibles in our tongues.  They wrote:

Truly, without translation into the common language, the unlearned are like children at Jacob’s well, which was deep, without a bucket.  Or they are like the person mentioned by Isaiah who, when a sealed book was presented to him with the command, “Read this, I ask you,” he had to reply, “I cannot, for it is sealed.”

And yet the KJV translators acknowledged that even the lowest English translations were still good!  Modern KJV onlyism tells us that only the KJV is the truth of God and hates all other English Bibles but they would not be joined by the KJV translators.  They wrote:

Now we answer our adversaries.  We do not deny – nay, we affirm and avow – that the very lowest translation of the Bible into English, set forth by men of our profession, (for we have not yet seen any of their translations of the entire Bible) contains the word of God, nay, is the word of God.  The King’s speech, which he utters in Parliament, when translated into French, German, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with identical grace, nor altogether so appropriately phrased, nor so exactly expressing  the sense at every point.

And what of their own translation work?  They wrote yet again:

For nothing perfect has proceeded from the hands of men except what came from the hands of the Apostles or Apostolic men.

The intent of the KJV translator was such:

Our intent was to make a better translation out of a good one, or to make , from many good ones, one especially good one, not to be justly objected against.

And yes the KJV translators did do biblical criticism (lower criticism) contrary to the KJV onlyism view that textual criticism is evil altogether.  They wrote:

These languages therefore – that is, the Scriptures in those languages – we set before us to translate, being the languages in which God was pleased to speak to his Church by the Prophets and Apostles.

Without a second thought, we consulted the translators or commentators in Chaldean, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek and Latin, and the Spanish, French, Italian, and German.  We revised what we had done, and brought back to the anvil that which we had hammered.

Lastly, the KJV translators spoke about the variants in the biblical texts.  In fact, the first published 1611 Authorized Bible had marginal notes to show differences in the text as well as alternate translations of the text.  How can this be if the KJV is the inspired Word of God as KJV onlyism teaches?  Nearly all KJV Bibles today exclude the marginal notes so KJV only “scholars” often will attack modern Bibles such as the NKJV or the ESV for either including marginal notes, “deleting” verses such as Acts 8:37 or 1 John 5:7-8, or adding textual notes about the translation or variant readings.

The KJV translators wrote:

Some individuals, perhaps, would prefer to have no margin notes about alternative meanings, lest the authority of the Scriptures for deciding controversies might be somewhat shaken by that show of uncertainty.  But we consider their judgment unsound in this point.

The translators go on to speak of how difficult the work of translating is.  They speak of how there are often many words that can be used in English for one Hebrew or Greek word or the opposite where a Hebrew or Greek word only appears once in the text and is how to translate into English.  A case in point would be the KJV use of “Godhead” in Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9.  This is a poor translation here.  Another place would in the KJV where they erred would be Acts 19:2 or Titus 2:13 or 2 Peter 1:1.  The inclusion of 1 John 5:7-8 in the KJV is also a variant reading that should not be there.  Modern English Bibles (excluding the NKJV for tradition only) have changed 1 John 5:7-8 back to its original.

Conclusion

My point here is to show that the KJV translators were not infallible men.  They were godly Anglican men who loved the Word of God.  I am blessed by that fact.  I pray the Lord would move again on the Anglican Church to produce such godly men.  That said, the KJV translators recognized their work as the work of men.  A very good work but a translation nonetheless.  The KJV ranks as a work of art.  It truly is the Word of God.  But it is not perfect.  No Bible translation is.  The KJV served the Church in the English speaking world for many years.  It was published in 1611 and revised just two years later in 1613.  The final revision of the KJV was in 1769.  This is the KJV used today and not the 1611.  Of course, the men who did the work in 1604-11 were now dead.  Their work though stands as a testimony to their faithfulness to God.

Today we have probably too many English translations and they exist sadly for one reason: money.  Crossway doesn’t want to pay Zondervan for usage of the NIV so they translate the ESV.  All English translations today but the KJV are owned by a publishing house.  For example, Crossway owns the ESV.  Lockman owns the NASB.  Zondervan owns the NIV.  Thomas Nelson owns the NKJV.  Tyndale House owns the NLT.  Holman owns the HCSB.  This doesn’t prove that these English Bibles are corrupt but only that they are produced by publishers for avoiding royalties to other publishers.

I prefer the ESV but I am not ESV only by any means.  I recognize that no English Bible is perfect.  I also am grateful that God is sovereign in salvation and He often uses even the worst translations to draw sinners to salvation.  I read of a Jehovah’s Witness coming to faith in Christ through reading Philippians 3:9 in the New World Translation which is not good at all.  I was saved reading from the NIV and it was the first Bible I owned and read after coming to faith in Christ at age 17.  I honestly thought, when I came to faith in Christ, that there were two English Bibles in the world: the KJV and the NIV and I understood the NIV so I went with it.

God is able to save sinners through the gospel (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:21).  People hear the gospel in many ways (Romans 10:17) but the gospel must flow from Scripture.  Some preachers use the KJV and others use the NLT but the Lord is the one who saves sinners (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).  Our job is to plant the seed of the gospel (Mark 4:14).  The Spirit of God brings the fruit.  The Spirit draws sinners to salvation by the grace of God (John 6:44; Acts 16:14-15).

So my advice is to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  Perhaps this comes through a KJV or an NIV or a ESV but preach the Word of God!  Be faithful to study the Word and to live the Word (James 2:14-26).  The Word is able to save our souls (James 1:21).

May God be glorified through His holy Word.  Amen.

 

Sermon Worth Hearing on Racism

I’m not always the biggest Jordan Hall fan but this sermon he preached on racism is worth hearing.  I subscribe to his podcast and enjoyed this sermon very much.  I agree with him.  The answer to our national troubles (and world for that matter) is simple: the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nothing else can transform like the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:17).

My prayer is that the Church will preach the gospel.  The answer is not found in summits, endless articles on race, giving in to socialists like #blacklivesmatter but rather the answer for the Christian is simple: preach the gospel.  Preach the gospel to all men (Matthew 28:19-20) and make disciples of all men.  Jesus died so that all colors of people can come and be one in Christ Jesus.  Just as the Lord divided the people because of their sins in Genesis 11 so the Lord reunited His people in Acts 2.  That is the power of the gospel.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/17/2016 at 12:43 PM

We Must See People First

This will be another short post on race before I move on.  Many others are weighing in on race here in the United States and my voice is just one among many.

I want to add that if we see race first in a person before we see them as made in the image of God as a human being, we must repent.  Certainly I agree that God made us with color.  All of us.  But that does not define us as people.  If you strip away my color, I am no different from my Japanese neighbors or my black neighbors or any other color.  We are all human beings.  We are all made in the image of God.  This is the Christian truth.  Secular humanists tell us that we are nothing more than pond scum but we are not.  We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and we know it.  We must see each other as people before we see race or culture.  God does not favor the Jew above the Gentile.  He loves both and sent His Son to redeem us all who are children of Adam (Romans 5:12-21; Galatians 4:1-6).

I love how Paul the Apostle was willing to lay down his race for Christ.  In Philippians 3:2-11 we read:

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Notice that this Jewish man laid down his Jewish identity for the sake of Christ.  He was willing to trade in his culture, his religion, his everything for Christ Jesus.  That should be our call as well.

You see I am not first a white man.  I am not first an American.  I am first and foremost a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I am a Christian.  I happen to be white.  I happen to live in the United States.  I speak English.  That is not what defines me.  What defines me is the gospel.  I am a sinner redeemed by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I was dead in my sins and my color would not change that.  I was dead in my sins and my nationality would not change that.  I was dead in my sins and my parents could not change that.  What changed me was the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).

If we see that people are in need of Jesus because they are human beings, that is the heart of God (Matthew 28:19-20).  People need Jesus.  All people.  All colors.  All creeds.  All religions.  There is no other way to God but through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:3-6).  Jesus alone shed His blood for our salvation (Matthew 26:28; Galatians 2:15-16).

Let me close this by pointing out that Paul loved his race.  Paul prayed for his race to be saved (Romans 10:1).  There is nothing wrong with loving your people.  But don’t let that define you.  Don’t allow your race to define who you are.  Let the gospel inform you.  Notice that while Paul loved his race, he prayed for their salvation earnestly and he also preached to those outside of his race (Acts 13:44-48).  Paul even rebuked Peter for being a hypocrite with the Jews from Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11-14) because it hindered the gospel to the Gentiles.

My prayer is that the Church would rise up and lead the way of preaching the gospel of peace to a sinful, hateful world.  Jesus came to die for all sinners (John 1:29) and He alone can bring peace to this storm.  The hope for the races is not found in government or wars.  It is found in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The gospel will bring true peace.  The gospel can unite sinners like nothing else.  May the Lord have mercy on the United States and send us a revival of truth.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/11/2016 at 1:56 AM

It’s Easy to Be Racist When You See Men As Animals

Racism is always a hot topic.  I grew up in the South of the United States.  As most people know (who know history), the South was mainly where many of the Africans came when the US brought slaves over in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.  The North and South fought the Civil War (not primarily) over the issues of slavery.  The US Civil War brought a new history of racism to the South.  After the Civil War, Northern leaders forced Southern plantation owners to give up of their land to the new freed slaves.  The idea was to help former slaves become independent but what it brought was hatred from the Southern whites toward their former slaves.  After the era of Reconstruction ended just a few years after the Civil War, the South created “Jim Crow” laws which ensured segregation and when the US Supreme Court upheld “separate but equal” rulings, the South created law after law to keep former slaves down.

I grew up long after the Civil War was fought of course and I grew up in a integrated society.  In the 1960’s, the Civil Rights movement begin in the South and brought down the Jim Crow laws.  This was a good thing in my estimation.  For the life of me, I can’t understand how Christians could hate people based on the color of the skin.  How in the world do you read John 13:34-35 or 1 John 4:20-21 and still approve of racism?

When I was in elementary school, my school was mainly white.  The black friends I had were great and we got along well.  When I got to middle school, they forced three schools to combine because of race (two of the schools were about 80% black or higher and the middle school I was suppose to attend was probably 80% white).  The whites who could went to private schools.  The school went from 500 students to over 1200 students (in middle school) with over 70% black.  It was here that I begin to see racism like never before.  This racism was aimed at me for my skin color.

Over the next 7 years of school (my high school today is 100% black but at the time was about 90% black), I was taught that I was guilty of many sins against the black man for it was my ancestors who had owned slaves.  I was taught that whites should be ashamed, forced to pay money to blacks for the sins of our fathers.  I was taught that the problems with the black community could be laid at the feet of whites.  I was hated for just being white.  And in turn, I begin to hate back.

Now to be fair, I played baseball in school and had black team mates and we got along great.  I also had black friends outside of sports who were dear to me.  Keep in mind also I was not saved.

At 17 I was saved.  This opened my eyes to my own racism and to my need to repent.  Our Bible study group was mainly white but we reached out to black pastors and black students to try to bring healing and show the power of the gospel to bring down divisions.  The church I attended had several black families in it and I loved them dearly.

My point here is that I saw where racism was (in our wicked hearts).  I saw how it was fed.  We were taught in school that we were products of naturalistic evolution.  We were just glorified animals.  We were not created in the image of God.  I could see how racism could grow in that environment.  We are nothing but animals.  You kill an animal, it just ceases to exist.  No right or wrong.  Only animals.  The whites use to point at the blacks and call them “monkeys” while I am sure black people called us names as well.  Racism was alive and well and why should it not be in such a wicked environment.

Look at our world today.  For the last 50 years we have been teaching nothing but secular humanism.  We have taught that people are animals, that evolution is true, that morality is based on individual liberty.  We have taught people to look to the Government for help, to fight your battles, to solve your problems, to take from your neighbor and give to you.  We have rejected the gospel as a foundation.  We have turned our back on our Christian heritage.  We have been taught to kill just for the sake of killing and there is no God so nothing will happen anyway.  And we wonder why racism still exists?  We wonder why wicked sinners kill?

When I begin to see that my black neighbors are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27 ) and that Christ died for them, that changed my views.  I would  be lying if I said that all racism is gone from my heart.  I have to fight it but I fight it with the gospel.  Jesus didn’t die for Jews only or for Gentiles only but He died for all sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:3-6).  The gospel goes out to all people (Matthew 28:19-20).  In Revelation 5:9-10 we read that God has His people from every tribe, tongue and nation.  God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:10).  The Bible is clear that whosoever can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved (Romans 10:13).  Thus the gospel is not for Jews only but for all (Romans 11:32).

What our society needs is the gospel.  The gospel tears down the sins of our hearts.  The gospel brings people together in unity like nothing else (Ephesians 2:14).  The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7) and Jesus shed His blood for all races.  When we see that people are created in the image of God, we see that they are truly loved by God (John 3:16).  The Chinese person.  The Japanese person.  The white person.  The black person.  The Hispanic person.  They all are made in the image of God.  They are not animals.  They are loved by God and He desires to save them by His grace.

My prayer is that the gospel will go forth and save every racist.  The truth is that Jesus died for all sinners (Romans 3:23) and all sinners need salvation which comes not by skin color or by language but by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  The gospel is color blind.  The gospel is the cure for our society because the gospel transform a man into seeing that another man is created in the image of God.  The gospel shows us that despite our culture or our color, Jesus shed His blood for our salvation.  The gospel shows us that heaven will be full of all kinds of people (I rejoice to see that day!).  When we see people thorough the gospel, this transforms how we see people for we don’t see a person by their skin color or their creed or their language but we see them as people made in the image of Almighty God.

%d bloggers like this: