Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Idolatry

Then The Gospel Came…

Imagine a world where few are Christians.  Most of the culture is full of idolatry.  The love of money.  The love of sports.  The love of sex.  The political leaders are corrupt.  Politicians in general are corrupt and not trustworthy.  The leaders of the nation are pagans and they despise the gospel.  At every turn the nation is against the gospel it seems.  They despise biblical authority, despise its truth, attack the truth of the gospel, attack those who follow Christ.  They seek to cast Christians off as strange, aliens, and out of touch with reality.  In fact, they believe Christians just want to destroy their fun!

Sounds just like the wicked nation I live in.  But this nation is the Roman Empire at the time of the book of Acts.  A wicked depraved time.  One biblical commentary stated that the Roman empire was much worse in terms of Christian persecution, rejection of biblical authority, etc. than any time in history.  We might could point to the communists nations that openly hated God but few compare to the Roman Empire.  It heavily persecuted Christians and killed many of them including most of the Apostles for their faith in the Lord Jesus.  While the Romans were busy worshiping idols and the emperor, the Christians were calling for them to repent and turn to Christ (Acts 17:30-31).

What gives me hope is that the gospel transformed the empire.  From its humble beginnings in Acts 2, by the time we finish with the book of Acts we find Paul the Apostle in Rome preaching the kingdom of God (Acts 28:30-31).  The very next book in our Bibles is the book of Romans with a church alive and well in Rome (Romans 1:7).  The book of Revelation (which I know some will take exception with me here because of my preterism) was written to encourage persecuted saints of God (Revelation 1:9) in the Roman Empire.  The book of Revelation promised them victory (Revelation 2:1-7 for example).  They are told that Jesus is “Lord of lords and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14).  Our victory is sure for Jesus is our King!  This was the hope for the saints of God!  It is our hope as well!

We look around at our wicked world.  Here in the United States we see violence, hatred, lack of respect for authority, pride, all types of wicked sins including idolatry and sexual immorality.  We see the wicked sin of abortion where millions of people are being slaughtered all in the name of conveyance and sexual sins.  We see lying politicians and corrupt leaders now openly attacking the gospel and questioning God’s absolute authority in all things.  We see Christians bowing their knees to the false gods of money, power, sex, sports, and all types of wickedness.  We no doubt live in an evil age.

Yet I have hope in the gospel.  The gospel promises the sure victory of Jesus (Psalm 110:1).  Jesus will win (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  The gospel will go forth and we have victory through Christ alone (Matthew 28:18-20).  The nations belong to our King (Psalm 2:8).  While the United States and other nations may be wicked, they will not last forever.  Only the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ will reign forever (Daniel 7:13-14).  I have hope that the gospel will win.  The nations will bow to the Lordship of the King.  Every knee in fact will bow to the glory of the Lord Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11).

I write this  because it is easy to be discouraged.  Islam is growing.  The cults are thriving.  The false gospels are being preached.  Jesus is being attacked at every turn.  The national media hates the gospel.  The President of the United States is a pagan.  The nations reject the Word of God.

Yet Jesus is still Lord and He will reign forever!  I pray that the nations repent.  I pray that our nations turn to faith in Christ.  I pray for the gospel to go forth and sinners turn from their sins and turn in saving faith to the Lord Jesus.  I pray that God Almighty would have mercy and send a revival to the nations.  He can turn the tide.  The Lord turned the tide in ancient Rome and He can turn the tide in our wicked nations.  I pray He does for His glory and for His name.

So Many Idols

There are so many idols that can capture our hearts.  1 John 5:21 warns us against idolatry.  We are not to be idolaters as some of the Israelites were (1 Corinthians 10:7) and we are to flee idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14).  Exodus 20:3-4 warns against the sin of idolatry.  Idolatry is a sin of the flesh and shows our utter corruption (Galatians 5:20).

I look around and I see idolatry all over the place.  Granted I don’t see people outwardly bowing down to pools, to idols made of wood or stone but I do see people bowing down to the false idols of self, of sex, of pride, of lust, of riches (or Mammon as in Matthew 6:24).  I see bowing down to the gods of entertainment, food, music, and drink.

But I see even more idols in the idolatry of worshiping sports teams, the idolatry of parents who adore their children above God.  I see even people idolizing theology and lifting up knowledge above their passion for Christ.  They can sit for hours and discuss deep theological themes but they don’t bow their knees to pray, to worship, to evangelize.  They just talk about theology but never truly worship the God whom they claim they are seeking.

The idol of money is a powerful idol.  I see people chasing after money.  Chasing after things of this world.  I see people chasing after more stuff, more houses, more cars, more boats, more motorcycles, more toys.  Their old adage is “He who dies with the most toys, wins.”  Do we not see that we take nothing with us (Ecclesiastes 2:11)?  We enter the world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing.  Only what is done for Christ will last (Matthew 6:19-21).

John the Apostle tells us in 1 John 2:15-17 that only those who do the will of the Father will abide forever.  We are not to love this world or the things in the world for if we do so, the love of the Father is not in us.  We cannot both love this world and love God at the same time.  The chasing after idolatry is foolish and leads only to death for these gods are false gods and cannot save us.

In the end, God will destroy all idols and all idolaters (Revelation 21:8).  We have broken His command in Exodus 20:3-4 and have served other gods.  It was this sin of idolatry that led to the children of Israel being cast out of the promise land and into the Babylonian captivity (Ezekiel 16:15-22).  God sent the prophets to warn the people of Israel to turn from their idolatry but they did not.  God gave them over to their lusts and they were led into captivity.  God gave the land a sabbath from their wicked ways.  Will He spare us?  Does not Romans 1 promise that God will give people over to their idolatry and their sins?  We become what we worship.

Oh that we might repent and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us into His truth.  Let Him search our hearts to keep us from the wicked sin of idolatry (Psalm 19:13).  I pray that the Holy Spirit will place His hand upon all the idols of our hearts.  The idols of football teams, of our children, of technology such as Facebook or even blogging.  May the Spirit lead us to love Christ more and fear Him alone.  May He lead us toward godliness and being totally devoted to Christ the King.

Oh Lord purge me of idolatry!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/08/2014 at 2:18 PM

Finding Psychiatric Help on Every Page

There was a time when Bible teachers would find theology dripping on every page.  Great truths of the Word of God ranging from theology proper (God) to other forms of biblical theology were the focus.  Sermons (even open air sermons) were focused on theology and how we can learn about God from the text.  After all, the Bible was given to us to reveal the Lord Jesus (John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:16-21).

Yet today I find that modern evangelicalism is finding psychiatric help on every page of the Bible.  Sermon series are now designed around how we can not learn about God or about sound doctrine but about “life lessons” from the text.  In the passion for “real and relevancy” to the masses, the church has abandoned looking for God on every page to looking for psychiatric help on every page.  Churches take stories from the lives of saints such as Moses or Elijah and make them fit into this psychiatric flow so that now we can read the story of Moses or Daniel or Paul and we can learn how God wants us to have an awesome life too.  God just wants to bless our socks off and He wants to teach how to have a great marriage, how to be a better person, five steps to a new me, ten steps to raising godly children.  The entire focus seems to be on making us all better now that we come to realize that our biggest struggle isn’t sin but self-esteem and so God’s Word helps me see myself as God sees me.

The entire focus of the church service seems to flow toward that one goal: to make a new me.  The songs are focused on my dating relationship with God (with no thought if the song is biblical or not).  The prayers are for those who had a tough week and need grace just to make it through.  The sermons are focused on my felt needs and what I need to hear from God to make me a better person.

And tossed out is the gospel.  Tossed out is sound doctrine.  Stop and ponder this for a moment: when was the last time you heard a sound theological sermon at your church?  When was the last time you heard the church teaching on the holiness of God?  On sin?  On justification by faith?  When was the last time you heard a sermon on the Trinity?  What about a sound theology of prayer?  When was the last time you heard someone defending the deity of Christ from the pulpit by looking to the Word of God?

Instead we get sermons focused not on God proper but upon how God can help us.  Even salvation is summed up with “the sinner’s prayer” or altar calls.  Salvation as a doctrine is not examined.

We must get back to glorifying God in our teaching.  I rejoice that not every church is like the above.  Most I know of are.  Theology is vital because what we think about God shows in our actions (Psalm 14).  1 Timothy 4:16 is a key text as is John 8:31-32.  To merely claim to know God but not truly know God is foolishness (Jeremiah 9:23-24).  Wisdom begins in fearing God (Proverbs 1:7) but the user-friendly god we find preached today is not the God of the Bible.  The God of the Bible has a wonderful plan for your life: come and die (Luke 9:23-25).  Lay down yourself (Luke 14:25-35).  The God of the Bible calls you to look to eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) and not to the here and now.  The God of the Bible even demands that you hate all things (including yourself) in your love for Him.  God is to be first and foremost (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3-6).  The God of the Bible calls us to holiness (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

But like those in Romans 1:18-32, we don’t want a God like that.  We want a god we can control.  We want a friendly god.  We want a loving god who does not care what we do or how we act.  We want a god who looks like us, talks like us, walks like us, and is there for us.  We have so removed ourselves from the God of the Bible that we can’t even recognize Him anymore.  He is fading from our memories and has been replaced by this false god who does not save.  I pray that we all lay down our idols (Isaiah 40:18-23).  We need genuine repentance.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/23/2014 at 12:17 PM

Arminius on the Invocation of Saints

DISPUTATION 24

ON THE INVOCATION OF SAINTS

RESPONDENT: JAMES A. PORT

I. From the hypothesis of the papists, we denominate those persons “saints,” whom the Roman pontiff has by his canonization transferred into the book of saints. (Bellarm. de Beat. Sanct. lib. 1, c. 8.) From the truth of the matter, we also call those persons “saints,” who being sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ, (1 Pet. i, 2,) and sealed with the characters of the Holy Spirit, the sacred fountain of all holiness, have been illustrious in this world by the sanctity of their lives, which flows from their spiritual union with Christ; but who, as it regards the body, being now dead, still live in heaven with Christ as it regards the soul. (Rev. xiv, 13.) Of this description were the patriarchs of old, the prophets, the apostles, the martyrs, and others like them. The invocation of saints is that by which men have recourse to their intercessions, interest, patronage and assistance, for the sake of imploring, entreating, and obtaining their aid.

II. But the papists assert, that the saints are invoked for three reasons:

(1.) That they may vouchsafe to intercede by their prayers and their suffrages.

(2.) That, through their merits, and on account of them, they may obtain by their petitions the things which are asked of them.

(3.) That they may themselves bestow the benefits which are required. For the papists have invested departed saints with these three qualities; that, being nearer to God, they have greater freedom of access to him and to Christ, than the faithful who are yet their survivors in the present life; that, by works of supererogation performed in this life, they have obtained by their merits [the privilege] that God shall hear and grant their prayers; and that they have been constituted by God the administrators of those blessings which are asked of them: And thus are they appointed mediators, both by merit and efficacy, between God, nay between Christ and living believers.

III. Yet upon all these things the papists have not had the hardihood to erect, as a superstructure, the necessity of invoking the saints: They only say that “It is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them;” and that “those persons hold an impious opinion who deny that the saints ought to be invoked.” (Can. and Dec. Coun. of Trent, Sess. 25, c. 2.) But perhaps by these last words, which have an ambiguous meaning, they wished to intimate the existence of this necessity. For not only does he deny that saints ought to be invoked, who says that it is not necessary to invoke them, but likewise he who says that it is not lawful: The words, when strictly taken, bear the former signification, that invocation is not necessary; but the latter meaning of its unlawfulness, when they are understood as opposed to the words which preceded. Even Bellarmine, when he had affixed this title, “The saints ought to be invoked,” immediately subjoined the following thesis: “The saints are piously and usefully invoked by the living.” (De Beat. Sanct. lib. 1, c. 19.) But that most subtle and evasive council often trifled with ambiguous expressions, being either compelled into such a course on account of the dissensions among its chief members, or else being perversely ingenious on account of its adversaries, whose blows it would not otherwise have been able, with any degree of speciousness, to avoid. We will, therefore, inquire concerning the invocation of saints, Is it necessary? Is it lawful and useful?

IV. With regard to the First of these questions, we say, (whether the papists assent to our affirmation or dissent from it,) that it is not necessary for believers in the present state of existence to invoke the saints who are engaged with Christ in heaven. And since this necessity is — either according to the duty which surviving believers are bound to perform to the saints who have departed out of this life, and who are living with Christ; or according to the end for the sake of obtaining which, invocation is laid down as a necessary means; we affirm that, by neither of these methods is the invocation of saints necessary.

V.

(1.) It is not necessary in reference to duty; because the invocation of saints has neither been commanded by God, nor is it sanctioned with any promise or threatening, which it would of necessity have been if it had to be performed as a duty by the faithful during their continuance in the world.

(2.) It is not necessary in reference to the means; because neither the merits nor the intervening administration of the saints is necessary to solicit and to obtain the blessings which the faithful in the present life make the subject of their prayers; for otherwise, the mediation and administration of Christ either are not sufficient, or they cannot be obtained except through the intercession of departed saints, both of which are false; and that man who was the first of the saints to enter heaven, neither required nor employed any saint as a previous intercessor.

VI. Since, therefore, it is not necessary, that believers now living upon earth should invoke the saints who reign with Christ, if the papists take any pleasure in the approval of a good conscience, they ought to employ the utmost circumspection in ascertaining, whether it is not the better course to omit this invocation than to perform it, even though it might be made a subject of disputation whether or not it be lawful, about which we shall afterwards inquire. We affirm that it is preferable to omit all such invocation, and we support this assertion by two arguments,

(1.) Since “whatever is not of faith,” that is, whatsoever does not proceed from a conscience which is fully persuaded that the thing performed is pleasing to God, “is sin;” and since that may, therefore, be omitted without sin, about which even the smallest doubt may be entertained respecting its lawfulness, since it is found that it is not necessary; it follows from these premises, that it is better to omit than to perform invocation.

(2.) Since the papists themselves confess, “that the difference between the worship of latria and that of dulia, or between divine and human adoration, is so great, that the man who presents that of latria to any object to which no more than dulia is due, is guilty of idolatry;” and since it is a matter of the greatest difficulty for the common people, who are ignorant and illiterate yet full of devotion to the saints, to observe this difference at all times and without any error; there is much danger lest those who invoke saints should fall into idolatry. This is a reason which also militates against the invocation of saints, even though it were proved that such invocation is lawful.

VII. The next inquiry is, “Is the invocation of saints lawful and useful?” Or, as the Council of Trent has expressed it, “Is it good and useful to invoke the saints?” Or, according to Bellarmine’s phraseology, “Are the saints piously and usefully invoked?” (De Beat. Sanct. lib. 1, cap, 19.) We who hold the negative, say, that it is neither pious nor useful to invoke the saints. We prove this assertion, first, generally; secondly, specially, according to the particular respects in which the papists invoke the saints, and maintain that they may be invoked.

VIII. First. We prove generally, that it is not pious, thus: Since no action can, of itself and properly, come under the appellation of piety or godliness, except that which has been prescribed by God, by whose word and institution alone every action is sanctified, otherwise it will be common; and since it is certain, that the invocation of saints has not been commanded by God, it follows that such an action cannot be called “pious.” Some action may, however, be called “pious” by a metalepsis, because it has been undertaken for the sake of performing a pious action. But such a case as this does not here occur. By the same argument, we demonstrate that it is not useful; because all religious worship, not prescribed by God, is useless, (Lev. x, 1,) according to the express declaration of God, (Isa. xxix, 13,) and of Christ: “But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. xv, 9.) But the papists say, that the invocation of saints is religious worship.

IX. Secondly. We prove the same thing, specially, according to the relations in which the papists invest the saints when they invoke them.

(1.) We say, the saints cannot be piously and usefully invoked as the donors of benefits; because God has not constituted the saints dispensers of blessings either celestial or terrestrial; for this is the office bestowed on Christ, to whom the angels are under subjection as his servants in this ministration. Besides, if even, in imitation of angels, the saints did, in this world, perform their subordinate service to Christ at the command of God; yet they ought not on this account to be invoked; for, before this can be done, a full power of dispensing is required, which may distribute blessings as it pleases; but the angels render in this world only a ministerial and instrumental service to Christ, for which reason neither is it lawful to invoke them as the donors of blessings. But the saints cannot, in imitation of the angels, perform a service to Christ ministerially and instrumentally, unless we assert that they all ascend and descend after the manner of angels. Since, therefore, they possess neither the power nor the capability of bestowing blessings, it follows that they cannot be either piously or usefully invoked as the donors of benefits. 10.

(2.) The saints cannot be piously and usefully invoked as those who by their own merits have obtained the privilege of being heard and answered by God; because the saints have not been able to merit any thing for themselves or for others. For they have accounted it needful to exclaim, with David, “Our goodness extendeth not to thee.” (Psalm xvi, 2.) And “when they had done all those things which were commanded them,” they felt the necessity of confessing, not only with humility but with the greatest truth, “We are unprofitable servants;” (Luke xvii, 10;) and truly to entreat God “to forgive the iniquity of their sins,” and “not to enter into judgment with his servants.” (Psalm xxxii, 5; cxliii, 2.) Therefore, we cannot piously plead, in our own behalf, that which is falsely attributed to the saints; and that cannot be usefully bestowed upon others, of which the saints themselves had not a sufficiency.

XI.

(3.) Lastly, they cannot be piously and usefully invoked in the capacity of those who, as our friends, unite their prayers with ours, or who intercede before God by their prayers in our behalf; because the saints in heaven are ignorant of our particular necessities, and of the prayers of the faithful who are dwellers upon earth. (Isa. lxii, 16; 1 Kings viii, 36; 2 Kings xxii, 20.) For the assertions about the mirror or glass of the trinity, is a very vain fable, and receives its refutation from this very circumstance, that those angels who always behold the face of God the Father, (Matt. xviii, 20,) are said to be ignorant of the day of judgment. (Mark xiii, 32.) Those assertions about a divine revelation [to the saints and angels] have a foolish and ridiculous circle; and those about the explanation which may be given by means of angels, or of the spirits of persons recently deceased, are equally vain; because the Scriptures make no mention of those tokens or indications, even in a single word: without such mention, we feel scrupulous, in matters of such vast importance, about receiving any thing as true, or about undertaking to do any thing as pious and useful.

XII. We add, finally, that by the invocation of saints, the papists are injurious towards Christ, and, therefore, cannot engage in such invocation without sacrilege. They are unjust to Christ in two ways:

(1.) Because they communicate to the saints the office of our Mediator and Advocate, which has been committed by the Father to Christ alone; and the power conferred [on that office]. (1 Tim. ii, 5; Rom. viii, 34; 1 John ii, 1.) Neither are they excused by what they say about the saints being subordinate to Christ; for by the circumstance of their alleging the merits of saints, and of their invoking them as the dispensers of blessings, they destroy this subordination and establish a collaterally.

(2.) Because they detract greatly from that benevolent affection of Christ towards his people, from his most merciful inclination, and from that most prompt and ready desire to commiserate, which he manifests. These properties are proposed to us in the Scriptures in a manner the most lucid and plain, that, not being terrified with the consideration of our own unworthiness, we may approach, with confidence and freedom, to the throne of grace, “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. iv, 16.)

XIII. When we say that the saints must not be invoked, we do not take away all veneration from them, as the papists calumniously assert. For we confess that their memory is to be venerated with a grateful celebration. But we circumscribe our veneration within these bounds: First. We commemorate with thanksgiving the eminent gifts which have been conferred on them, and commend them for having faithfully used those gifts in the exercises of faith, hope and charity. Secondly. As much as in us lies, we imitate their examples, and endeavour to demonstrate, by our works, that the holy conversation which they had in this world is grateful to us who aspire to be like them. Lastly. We congratulate them on the felicity which they enjoy with Christ in the presence of God; and with devotion of soul we earnestly pray for the same felicity for ourselves, while we hope and trust that we shall enjoy it through the all-sufficient intercession of Christ, through which, alone, they also themselves have been made partakers of eternal happiness.

COROLLARY

In the invocation of saints, do the papists commit idolatry? We decide in the affirmative.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/27/2013 at 10:16 AM

And He Wondered At Their Unbelief

One of the most difficult aspects of evangelism is unbelief.  I have learned to have a healthy respect for the sovereignty of God in salvation and the fact that we must depend on the Holy Spirit when it comes to witnessing (John 6:44) but it is still hard for me to understand people’s unbelief.  Like Jesus in Mark 6:6, I wonder at people’s unbelief.  How can they remain in their sins?  How can they read/hear the gospel and ignore the call to repentance?  Why do they continue in their unbelief and their utter disdain for God Almighty?

There is a struggle that takes place within me whenever I engage people who simply refuse the gospel.  So many people have made their gods their intellect or their feelings their gods.  They “know” that there is no God because they have concluded that in their darkened minds (Ephesians 4:18).  While not knowing the vastness of the universe, the wonder of creation, etc. they “know” there is no God.  That is amazing to me.  No wonder Jesus would wonder at the unbelief of the people in Mark 6:6.  It simply is illogical to conclude there is no God.  It is illogical to conclude that our entire purpose here is nothing more than natural selection.  I am convinced that we do know in our heart of hearts that there is a God (Romans 1:18-32) and that we will be judged by Him (Romans 2:5-6).  We can see God all around us in His creation (Psalm 19:1-6) but we choose to walk in unbelief.  We choose to rebel against this God.  We choose our sin as our god instead of bowing to the one true and living God.

Like Jesus in Mark 6:6, I wonder at people’s ignorance and unbelief.  It saddens me to think that people continue in their sins, in their false religions, in their idolatry simply because of their own unbelief.  God doesn’t make them be unbelievers.  They choose to be that way.  May God help us to continue to preach Christ knowing that He will draw sinners to Himself for His own glory and honor (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/19/2012 at 5:24 PM

Posted in Evangelism

Tagged with , ,

Beware of Idols

In 1 John 5:21 John adds this as his final words in the letter, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”  What a way to end a letter.

Idols are false gods.  Yahweh is the only true and living God.  There are no other gods as He states Himself in Exodus 20:3.  Yahweh says in Isaiah 44:6-8:

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts; “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.  Who is like me?  Let him proclaim it.  Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people.  Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.  Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?  And you are my witnesses!  Is there a God besides me?  There is no Rock; I know not any.”

It’s pretty clear from Isaiah 44:6 that Yahweh is the only God.  There are not numerous gods in the universe and we humans only worship this God.  God the Father does not have a god over Him who was His father.  Yahweh is eternal.  Yahweh has always been God.  He will forever be God.

Therefore, any other gods are false gods and they are idols.  Yahweh mentions idolatry in Isaiah 41:12-29.  Here He states in Isaiah 41:22 toward idols and asks them to declare the past (why it happened the way it happened) and the future.  In verse 24 Yahweh states, “Behold, you are nothing, and your work is less than nothing; an abomination is he who chooses you.”  I would say that Yahweh hates false gods.  Yahweh is opposed to any gods whom we humans try to set up above the one true God. Whether it be the gods of religion such as Allah in Islam or the Buddha in Buddhism or the myriad of false gods in Hinduism.  It could be the false gods even of so-called Christianity such as the gods of the cults.  Other gods include the gods of money and materialism (Matthew 6:24 where money is personified as Mammon).  It could be the gods of entertainment and pleasure.  It could be the false gods claimed by people who claim to be Christian but their gods serve them and live to make them happy.

We must beware of idolatry.  People can become idols.  This world can become idols.  Even our own flesh can become idols.  All gods of this age fall under the rule of the god of this world, Satan (see 2 Corinthians 4:4).  Satan lies to humanity and convinces us to serve false gods whether they be the false gods of religion or the gods of our imaginations or the gods of money, power, and so-called wisdom.  We must careful to avoid making anything an idol.  I have seen people make theology into their idol.  I have seen people make experiences their idols.  I have seen people make the Bible an idol.

No wonder then that 1 John 5:21 would close with the words that we must keep ourselves from idols.  Idols will rob us of the joy that comes from being in Christ Jesus.  Since Jesus alone is our salvation (Isaiah 43:3, 11; Matthew 1:21; John 14:6) then we must be careful to stay close to Him.  Hebrews 2:1-4 warns us against turning away from the gospel because there is only wrath apart from the gospel of Christ.  Hebrews 10:29-31 is even tougher saying that if we turn away from Christ, there is no sacrifice for our sins left.  We will face the judgment of God alone (v. 31).

Beware then of idols.  Don’t allow them to take root in your life.  Make sure that Jesus is Lord of your life (Luke 14:25-35) above all others.  As Jesus states in Luke 14:25-35, He must be our love and devotion above all others and all things.  Jesus is to be the only one that we look to for salvation for He alone is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18-31).  If we fail to serve the true and living God, Yahweh gives us over to our flesh (Romans 1:18-32) which only brings the wrath of God that alone can be appeased in Christ (1 John 2:1-2).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/22/2012 at 7:26 PM

The Idolatry of KJV Onlyism

No doubt there are those who are KJV only who truly love the Lord.  I don’t dispute this.  I know of one KJV only brother who is committed to evangelizing the outcast and the poor.  While attending a small KJV-only Bible college, he begin to visit the homeless and feed them.  He also begin to preach to them.  He went from that to starting a bus ministry to homeless people and from there launched a homeless shelter in Augusta, Georgia.  Today he describes himself as an evangelist to the homeless as he and his family travel to various cities preaching to the homeless, working with churches to help the poor, and he sets up ministries designed to provide for the homeless.  I have personally sat with this brother and know that he does hold to KJV-only but he loves God and wants to work with all Christians to help the poor and preach the gospel.  For that, I praise God.

However, I do believe that some KJV-only advocates border on idolatry.  How so?  In Exodus 20:3 God told the Israelites not to have any other gods before Him (or besides Him).  They were to worship Yahweh alone and not the false gods of Canaan or the false gods of the Egyptians.  Israel was set apart by God to declare who He is to the nations.  They were His chosen people to declare that He alone was the one true God.  From the Jews came the Word of God (both the Old and New Testaments were written primarily by Jews) and from the Jewish line came the Apostles and of course, God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 9:1-5).  The Jews were to worship Yahweh alone.  No where did God command them to worship His Word or to worship the temple or to worship Moses but they were to worship Yahweh alone.  The Hebrew Scriptures were given to reveal God but they were not to be worshiped.

This, I believe, is the primary reason we don’t have the original texts today from the Hebrew and Greek.  If we did have them, they would have been worshiped.  First the Jews would have worshiped the original texts that Moses gave and then the Prophets and then the Church would have been corrupted as people would begin to worship the original texts of Paul or Peter.  One can only imagine the Catholic Church, with her idolatry already, how it would have worshiped the original texts.  Remember that Israel had begun to worship the serpent that Moses had made in Numbers 21:8-9 (and Jesus mentions in John 3:14 as a type of Himself) in 2 Kings 18:4.  Israel and others would have worshiped the original texts.

I do believe that God has preserved His Word yet this still calls for textual criticism as not all Hebrew and Greek texts are the same.  Certainly I would agree that we can have confidence that what we have are the originals based upon textual criticism and what is debated are various copyist errors, additions, and subtractions but not in major doctrinal passages.  Even KJV only people must admit that even passages such as 1 John 5:7-8, even if not in most modern translations because they are lacking in older Greek texts, does not diminish the doctrine of the Trinity as it is clearly taught in other places as well such as Matthew 28:19 or 2 Corinthians 13:14.  I firmly believe in the inerrancy of Scripture but not because I blindly accept that doctrine but I base it upon the Word of God itself (John 10:35; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Yet when it comes to KJV-onlyism, I find that some of the people I have met over the years border on idolatry.  They make the issue of fellowship, preaching, doctrine, and even salvation contingent upon the usage of the King James Version.  Even tonight I was listening to preaching while driving in my truck for work and the preacher said, “Reading from the 1611 Authorized Version of the Bible…”  The problem is that he went on to read Psalm 133 from the 1769 edition of the KJV and not the 1611.  I have a 1611 and he did not read from my 1611 nor could he.  The KJV, like other Bible translations, has undergone several revisions.  This is necessary as translators are mere humans and make mistakes.  It is a difficult task to translate from the Hebrew or Greek into English.  You are taking two languages that are thousands of years old and seeking to translate them into modern English.  That is no easy task.  Translators do their best, publish their translation, and then re-read them and notice various errors along the way.  The ESV, for example, was released in 2001 and then revised in 2007.  The NIV has undergone several revisions with the latest this year (2011) but the previous one was 1984.  The New Living Translation was released in 1996 and revised in 2004.  The 2004 edition is much sounder than the 1996 in my view.

Even the original 1611 already had marginal notes throughout the work showing various other ways to translate a passage.  This is important as KJV-onlyism often teaches that the KJV translators were inspired men of God who made no mistakes.  One KJV only guy even told me that the KJV translators who put the words in italics to help the reader know that this was not in the original text actually improved the Bible under the inspiration of the Spirit.  Another KJV only guy told me that God inspired the KJV translators just He did to Paul or Peter.  He said that the Catholic Church had so corrupted the Greek text that the Lord had to raise up the KJV translators to correct the Greek text.  Pensacola Bible College still holds to that viewpoint.  Another Baptist evangelist preached that if you were using any other Bible but the KJV, you were on your way to hell.  Another KJV only street preacher told me once that if I preached from any other Bible but the KJV, I was preaching a false gospel as the KJV alone contains the faithful words of God.

Yet what do these men say about the KJV translators willingness to put marginal notes in the original 1611 edition showing other readings?  Does this not prove that the KJV translators, like all other translators before and after them, acknowledge that there are other ways to translate words?

The bottom line is that some KJV only folks worship the KJV Bible above God.  I once asked a KJV only guy if someone could get saved reading from the NIV and he said, “Yes I suppose they could.”  I then said, “What then is your problem here?”  To put it another way, if I were to go an island in the Pacific and find a group of people living there who had never heard the gospel and I learned their language and begin to preach the gospel to them, would it matter if they didn’t have a Bible translation in their tongue?  I would pray that in time they would receive a Bible translation in their tongue but what matters most is that the gospel goes forth.  Would God save people on that island despite not having a Bible?  Of course He would.  He has said He would in John 6:37.  Where the gospel is preached, God saves souls (Romans 10:14-17).

It is then idolatrous to teach that the gospel is continent upon the usage of the KJV.  You may be blessed by the KJV, saved through hearing the gospel from the KJV but in the end, the Lord God alone saves sinners.  A person could hear the gospel preached from a preacher using the NIV or the ESV (and I have heard of some former Jehovah’s Witnesses getting truly saved after reading the gospel from the corrupt New World Translation) and God would save souls because He saves us by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Salvation is through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6) and not through a Bible translation or a church.  I do believe in using a sound Bible translation but I don’t worship the ESV or the NIV but I worship the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  I would pray that KJV only folks would gladly do the same.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/20/2011 at 4:00 AM

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