Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A FEW ANNOUNCEMENTS

WORD OF TRUTH CONFERENCE
October 21-24, 2007
Bethel Baptist Church, El Sobrante, CA
Theme: The Purity of the Church---The Doctrine of Ecclesiastical Separation

This is the first year of this conference in honor of the 20th anniversary of our church. The conference will include seven speakers, two of them Pastor David Sutton and myself from Bethel Baptist Church. Five other pastors will preach. Between the seven of us, we will cover this doctrine in fourteen sessions, each 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours long. The conference will last from Sunday to Wednesday. Available will be a notebook with fill-in notes for every session. We will record in CD and DVD. Out of the conference a book will be published on The Doctrine of Ecclesiastical Separation. I will let you know more about the conference the closer we get.

The goal is to preserve and propagate the truth. Many of the sessions will be expositional messages on the ecclesiastical separation passages, explaining the text and making the appropriate application. Through all of this, we will get a Biblical Theology of Separation. Separation is a local church issue. The book that will culminate from the preparation for the preaching sessions will flesh out what the Bible says about keeping a church pure. Our goal is to understand, teach, and spread the message of Scripture on this doctrine.

Starting Monday evening, our church will supply meals for registered conference attendees. We will have supper that night and then breakfast, lunch, and supper Tuesday and Wednesday. The afternoons will be free for rest and some sightseeing. Registration for the conference will be free, but there will be a charge for the notebook, the CDs, and DVDs. We will be sending out materials for the conference some time in the near future, but if you are interested in receiving some, email us at betbapt@flash.net.

MY SON WINS CONCERTO COMPETITION

I have four children. Each of the children plays an instrument. Kirk (just turned 16) plays trombone and piano. Julia (12) plays violin and piano. Natalie (9) plays violin and piano. Gabi (6) so far plays just piano. My two oldest play in Berkeley Youth Orchestra, which is a hundred piece full symphonic orchestra. Natalie plays in Young People's Chamber Orchestra, a 30 piece string orchestra. Each year BYO holds a concerto competition. These are very good players, in several cases young people who go to full-time music schools, such as Crowden. Thirty four competed for three to play solo concerto with the full orchestra. One violin, one viola, and then my son, Kirk, won, he the first trombone player to ever win the concerto in the history of the orchestra. That concert will be on May 20 in the afternoon at Laney College in Oakland. He will play Concertino for Trombone, Op. 45 No. 7: I. Preludium: Allegro pomposo by Lars-Erik Larsson.

Yes, I'm happy about this. :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What Does This Verse Mean and How Does It Apply? You Tell Me

This verse:
Deuteronomy 22:5, "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God."

********************************

********************************


Here's how we will do this. You answer the question in the title. I will comment. Let's not make the same point twice. I won't post repeats. I am only going to show the first comment before I comment. Then I'll show another one, and comment. And we will keep going until we think we have finished. You begin.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

When Would You Receive Your Good Things?

An important choice confronts all of us in our lifetimes and it is depicted by the question of this title: When Would You Receive Your Good Things? This ultimate choice fleshes itself out of a true story that the Lord Jesus Christ tells in Luke 16. The story begins in verse nineteen with the two characters introduced by the Lord, the rich man and Lazarus.

Lazarus is a poor beggar who sits every day by the gate of the rich man's mansion, begging for a living. The nameless rich man lives in opulence in time while Lazarus survives this life in destitute poverty. However, at death the tables are turned. The rich man opens his eyes in Hell while Lazarus upon dying is swept by angels into Paradise. Jesus tells us that while the body of the rich man was buried, that wasn't it for him. Upon the moment of his death, he was in immediate torment without one drop of water. I'm not going to go into any more details; you can read about it all in Luke 16:19-31, but I do want to draw your attention to a few points.

First, Jesus is the theologian of Hell. This might be the major Hell passage in Scripture and it is revealed by Jesus Christ. As much as people talk about the gore of the Old Testament and the utter peacefulness communicated by Jesus in the New Testament, nothing in the entire Bible comes close to as bad as Hell is. Hell is infinitely worse than the worst possible human experience recorded anywhere else in the Bible, and Jesus was the one who taught about it more than anyone. Preaching on Hell is a loving activity, because we don't want people to go there.

Second, and my major thought, is found in Luke 16:25:

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

When the rich man asks Abraham for water to cool his tongue, this is what Abraham tells him. Just today I noticed a truth here. Everyone must choose when he will receive his best things. Do you want your best in heaven or are you most interested in your best while on earth? The rich man, you can see here, wanted his good things in his physical lifetime on earth. Lazarus was content to receive the best of his life and eternity during the second half of his history of existence. Everyone must make this decision.

Most people will choose the best for themselves materially right now. They don't want to wait. This is the nature of fallen humanity, the corruption of human flesh, and the tendency toward impulsiveness, spontaneity, and an unwillingness to defer gratification. It really does not seem like it should be much of a choice. Here it is:


You can have the best of what this world has to offer for 70-100 years and then an eternity in Hell,

OR

You can have a lifetime of surrender and service to God for 70-100 years, accompanied by persecution and hatred, and then an eternity of the best Heaven can offer.

This is the choice that every single person has to make. A huge majority choose the first option. It's a bad decision. They justify their poor judgment by attacking the basis for the choice, the Bible. They don't see how that option two can really be an option since it is only written in a book and that we can't see it like we can see the things on earth.

Let me give you some other considerations. The Bible has been settled over centuries as the truth. It is the only book in existence with fulfilled prophecy, and not just a little; 30% of the Bible makes predictions that come true 100% of the time. On the other hand, we all know that everyone dies. And not one of those people takes anything with him.

So let's go back to the question. Maybe you've already answered it and have said, "Not now, but then, in eternity." Good for you, but is that how you've been living---like you've made that choice? I hope so, but maybe not. And what about you others? When would you receive your good things? If you want to have it now and live for yourself, doing what you want to do, then expect Hell in your plans for eternity. That's what you get in the end when you choose that direction. However, if you choose the Lord, you'll go through some tough times living for Him. People won't like your preaching. They won't probably like most of your standards. They won't like your intolerance for doctrinal and practical error. But that is but a brief moment compared to the eternal weight of glory. Wait on those good things. Get them for eternity.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Where is the Bible? Part Two: Answering the Questions

Canonicity is a good test case for MVO or Critical Text people. In a very transparent way, it shows the double standard they have for the doctrine of preservation. We have a far more developed doctrine of preservation in Scripture than a doctrine of canonicity. Most defense of canonicity comes from the patristics and their councils. They are quite unwilling to add or take away one book from the 27 when there is compatible “evidence” and “history” to add or take away one or more books. No passage says there are 27, so they practice fideism regarding their very limited doctrine of canoncity, a “leap in the dark.” When the dust settles, they use the exact same argument for the preservation of books as we do for words, when there is actually nothing in Scripture to defend their preservation of books. Scripture only teaches preservation of words.

Is there any passage in Scripture that lists the twenty-seven books of the New Testament?

NO. There is no passage that says that the TR is what God would preserve. That’s a big argument on the MVO side. That get’s a big ouch here. Sheer fideism on their part. Or is it? Aren’t we to get Biblical presuppositions and then look for their fulfillment? That’s what we do in the matter of preservation. That’s what we both do in the matter of canonization. This should shut down this argument.

How can anyone be sure that the original New Testament did have twenty-seven books?

They can be sure by faith. They can be sure that it is exactly, perfectly, accurately 27 by faith. Is it just that God gets to do an easier miracle that we believe in 66 books of the Bible? But we can’t believe in a miracle that we have every Word for us in one edition of the Hebrew and Greek OT and NT? And this is even though the Bible actually says something about preserving Words and nothing about Books. Our faith is in the Holy Spirit through the pillar and ground of the truth. Jesus said He would be with His church.

Does the Bible even teach canonicity of books?

Not once. So why do we believe it? The clear teaching is canonicity of Words. God keeps preserving, that’s the nature of preservation. Inspiration is a one time event. Preservation is an ongoing process. God guides into all truth through His Spirit. Can we trust the Holy Spirit? Or is our latest trust “guidelines of textual criticism?” I think it is interesting that anyone would place strong trust in Irenaeus, who was obviously a baptismal regenerationist. They gladly do, bowing at the altar of scholarship. His reasoning behind four gospels would be considered a joke if it was brought up today by a KJV supporter.

Why did canonization take so long?

God’s ways are not my ways. We wait on Him, not He on us. We also are depending on “history” and “evidence” to say it took long. We don’t know that it may have been much shorter, like 50-100 years, or the number of years that it took for the Holy Spirit to guide the church into the exact Words of Scripture from those copies and editions.

Do you believe that God used these three discoveries of texts recounted above in order to restore the New Testament back to a condition closer to the original manuscripts?

No way. I think they are all three Satanic. They are a trap for those who do not “receive Scripture.” Tischendorf was determined to restore Scripture, not receive it. He thought too highly of himself. If we are going to accept an old minority manuscript that is missing the first verses of John 8, but has the Epistle of Barnabas, then why not accept the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Thomas. It’s old and minority. There are those that put it on par with John’s Gospel. When we start depending on extra-Scriptural methodology and not Divinely established principles from Scripture, we are open to anything and everything and are left with nothing perfect. And sadly, it doesn’t even matter.

How could we possibly have a perfect Bible when no two hand-written ancient copies are alike?

I will answer this in a later entry on one of my Wednesdays.

How does anyone know what the Word of God actually is?

By faith with Scriptural presuppositions.

Is canonization a natural process?

No. It is a miracle. Oops. Providence is a miracle? That’s what Henry Morris said in his book on miracles. He had a whole chapter on it. The foreword was written by John MacArthur, endorsing it. Of course, I believed that already, but now maybe others will because their man MacArthur liked it.

Is having errors in the Bible a suitable position for you?

No way. If there is anything that the Bible teaches about itself is that it is perfect.

Do you believe God preserved Words or the Content of Scripture?

The Bible teaches preserved letters and Words, not content. Those who believe “content” are espousing a neo-orthodox position.

I wasn’t really laying a trap, but just recognized the trap because of the double standard, two faced Bibliology. I would hate being in their position; it isn’t exegetical. It is evidentiary, historical-rationale apologetics. It isn’t pleasing to God; it isn’t faith. And then it leaves them adding and taking away from the Words of God.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Where Is the Bible?

In a New Testament manuscript dating from the fourth century, Codex Vaticanus (so named because it was found in the Vatican library), a scribe copied in Hebrews 1:3, “Christ manifests [Gk: phaneron] all things by the word of his power.” That is a different reading than the one found in most manuscripts available, which say, “Christ bears [Gk: pheron] all things by the word of his power.” Some centuries later, another scribe read Vaticanus and decided to change the unusual word “manifests” to the more common reading “bears”—erasing the one word and writing in the other. A few centuries later a third scribe read the same manuscript, noticed the alteration his predecessor had made, and he erased the word “bears” and rewrote “manifests.” This third scribe wrote this derisive comment in the margin concerning the second scribe: “Fool and knave! Leave the old reading, don’t change it!”

That one difference does alter the interpretation of the text. Saying that Christ reveals all things is different than saying that He bears or keeps all things.

Copyists of the text of the Old and New Testament through the years have changed the words found in the original, so that almost every copy is different. We also don’t have one scrap of the original parchment of one book of the Bible, so we are dependent on copies for our readings of the Scripture. Most Christians agree that there is one perfect copy in heaven (Ps. 119:89). That heavenly edition does not do us much good down here, so if based upon Scriptural promises we believe that God has both perfectly preserved and also made accessible every one of His Words for us on earth, how did that happen?

SOME STORIES

Story #1

In the late 1830s one young and particularly ardent scholar became convinced that it was his mission to restore the Bible as close as possible to its original condition. He wrote his fiancee, “I am confronted with the . . . struggle to regain the original form of the New Testament.” This young man was named Lobegott (German for “Praise God”) because before he was born, his mother had seen a blind man and surrendered to the superstition that this would cause her child to be born blind. When he was born healthy, she dedicated him to God by calling him Lobegott Friedrich Constantine von Tischendorf. He first made his reputation concerning a fifth-century Greek manuscript, Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, which was erased in the twelfth century so its vellum pages could be reused to record some Syriac sermons. The pages had not been thoroughly erased, so Tischendorf used newly discovered chemical reagents to help bring out the handwriting so producing the first successful transcription of this early text. The accomplishment induced people to provide financial support for journeys that led him to the foot of Mt. Sinai and the Convent of St. Catherine in May of 1844.

Visiting that monastery he saw in the middle of the great hall a large and wide basket full of old parchments. He was told by the librarian that two heaps of papers just like these had already been committed to the flames. Amid the remaining pile were many sheets of a copy of the Old Testament in Greek, and the monastery allowed him to take only a third or forty three pages, since his excitement aroused their suspicions as to the value of the parchment. He could take no more.

Nine years later he returned and could find no trace of it. In 1859 under the patronage of Czar Alexander II of Russia, he set out again but with repeated failure until the very last day. Then he was invited to the room of the convent’s steward and discussed with him the Greek Old Testament. The steward told him, “I too have read a Septuagint,” and he pulled from the corner of his room a copy wrapped in red cloth. Tischendorf recounts:
I unrolled the cover, and discovered, to my great surprise, not only those very fragments which, fifteen years before, I had taken out of the basket, but also other parts of the Old Testament, the New Testament complete, and in addition, the Epistle of Barnabas and a part of the Pastor of Hermas.
Today Codex Sinaiticus rests in the British Library as a part of its permanent collection, prominently displayed in its manuscript room.

Story #2

In December, 1945, Egyptian fellahin rode their camels out to the Jabal al-Tarif, a huge cliff near the Nile River honeycombed with caves. They came in search of sabakh, a natural fertilizer they used to nourish their crops. Hobbling their camels at the foot of the cliff, the men began to dig in the soft soil around a massive boulder resting against the cliff face. Striking something hard, they swiftly uncovered a red earthenware jar nearly a meter high. Fearing that the jar might contain an angry jinn, or spirit, the men hesitated. Quickly the legends of treasure buried in the caves of the Jabal al-Tarif overcame their fear. Muhammad Ali al-Samman raised his mattock and smashed the jar with a single blow. Golden dust, he swore afterwards, flew out of the jar and vanished into the air. However, among the shards of pottery the men found no gold, only some old books bound in cracked leather. Disappointed, Muhammad Ali carried the books and loose papers home and dumped them on the floor near the oven. For several nights, his mother fed the fire with sheets of the papyrus.

The remaining texts, after a torturous journey through the black market, were eventually identified by scholars as Christian gospels missing for nearly two thousand years. Bound in tooled gazelle leather, the 52 manuscripts were turned over to the Coptic Museum in Cairo, and teams of scholars from Canada, Germany, Scandinavia and the United States have worked together to decipher the poems, prayers and sayings that were translated from the original Greek into Coptic, an African language that transposes hieroglyphics into an alphabetical mode.

Story #3

When Napoleon seized the Vatican in 1809 he exiled the Pope to Avignon, transported the Vatican library to France in 50 wagons, and carried off a prize to Paris—a fourth century Greek manuscript of the Bible. There it remained until 1815 when it was finally returned to Rome along with its owner. The manuscript was known by scholars to exist in 1475 when it was listed in a catalogue of manuscripts in the Vatican Library. Vatican authorities kept it under lock and key desperately hoping this recently rediscovered treasure would be soon forgotten. The Catholic Church considers the manuscript dangerous because it shows so clearly how corrupt their Vulgate is. But in 1845, a young English scholar, Samuel Tregelles—self taught—applied for permission to investigate this find in the Vatican library. Unable to avoid granting permission, the Vatican put every obstacle in his path. He was not allowed to take pen or paper with him, he was searched going in and coming out, and two clerics stood by him to turn the pages so he could not look too long at any one passage. Before he left, he was only allowed six hours to examine the text.

In 1866 Lobegott Tischendorf was granted permission to once more examine this manuscript. He was also given many restrictions; only 14 days and three hours each day. However, with his photographic memory he was able to publish the most perfect edition of the manuscript which had yet appeared in 1867. This forced the Vatican to finally publish a copy, Codex Vaticanus, in 1881.

SOME HISTORY

The New Testament was completed when John finished Revelation in A.D. 90. We know they were making copies and circulating them. Colossians 4:16 reads, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the from Laodicea.” Early Christianity spread like wildfire across the Roman Empire, so rapidly that by the end of the second century Christian groups were proliferating everywhere there despite efforts to stop them. Tertullian, living in the port city of Carthage in North Africa 100 years after John’s Revelation was written, boasted to outsiders that “the more we are mown down by you, the more we multiply; the blood of Christians is seed!” Assemblies of them were popping up everywhere; some were taking off, but going the wrong direction, orthodox doctrine eroding. This widespread movement was becoming enormously diverse, so that the leadership faced the problem of how to unify Christianity so that it could survive its enemies. From the breadth of the materials preserved from that period, we know that many other books were written besides the twenty-seven in the New Testament. Several of those books were mentioned and refuted by Irenaeus in his five book treatise, Against Heresies. Irenaeus also made these statements in those writings:

In like manner he also . . . . retains unchangeable in his heart the rule of the truth which he received by means of baptism. . . . [T]his class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole [Christian] faith. . . . For the baptism instituted by the visible Jesus was for the remission of sins.
Those statements manifest no true conversion for Irenaeus. He, however, was the man who most scholars see as responsible for the canonization of the New Testament text, also despite the fact that he himself never listed the twenty-seven New Testament books. He is most often given credit for nailing down the four Gospels by writing in Against Heresies:
It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the Church is scattered throughout the world, and the pillar and ground of the Church is the Gospel . . . it is fitting that she should have four pillars.
Does that sound like good evidence for the four Gospels to you? The final decisions among all of these varied groups about which books should finally be considered canonical were not automatic or problem free. We are able to pinpoint the first time that any professing Christian of record listed the twenty-seven books of our New Testament as the books of the New Testament. The first surviving instance of anyone affirming our set of books as the New Testament was Athanasius, the powerful bishop of Alexandria, in A.D. 367. Even that did not settle the issue historically—debates continued for decades, even centuries.

SOME QUESTIONS

Is there any passage in Scripture that lists the twenty-seven books of the New Testament? How can anyone be sure that the original New Testament did have twenty-seven books? Does the Bible even teach canonicity of books? Why did canonization take so long? Do you believe that God used these three discoveries of texts recounted above in order to restore the New Testament back to a condition closer to the original manuscripts? How could we possibly have a perfect Bible when no two hand-written ancient copies are alike? How does anyone know what the Word of God actually is? Is canonization a natural process? Is having errors in the Bible a suitable position for you? Do you believe God preserved Words or the Content of Scripture?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Religious or Biblical Blogs That I Read Even Though We Don't Agree

I felt like I needed to do it this way, that is, talk about the blogs that I read and use, but don't agree with by giving a mini-review of these places in blogdom. I thought some might enjoy knowing and that this would make this site more helpful. This will be a permanent link on my sidebar. Talk to me if you have questions on my sidebar. I will consider what you have to say. For instance, there are other churches that I love and with whom I would fellowship, but the ones listed are churches very close to like us, including in size and in most other ways. I am ready to add some others.

Well, let me move on to my point---the religious or Biblical blogs that I read or use, and in alphabetical order.

Bible Bulletin Board---This is mainly a huge pile of John MacArthur material, easily attained, along with people much like him. I have to tell you what I think is wrong with him. He isn't a Biblical separatist either personally or ecclesiasticlly. He's a Calvinist. He's universal church. He often will not make the correct, strong application of Scripture, especially on cultural issues. However, he consistently has worked hard on coming to a correct interpretation of Scripture. I think he essentially gets a bad rap on the blood, even though I don't think he represents a Scriptural position with his "metonym for death." He is getting stronger in personal and ecclesiastical separation as he gets older---I think we should rejoice in that.
Blog and Mablog---Doug Wilson writes here. He is Mr. Classical Education. Mr. Idaho of Cultural Issues (Courting, Fidelity, Education, Husband/Wife). Mr. Satire. He even supports the KJV with some great arguments. He's an interesting writer. His organization there, Canon Press, puts out a lot of good material; I have taught through their Logic. Use the good, discard the bad. Something like that. The bad would be the ecclesiology, the eschatology, some of the soteriology, among a few other doctrines and issues.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library---I have downloaded from here to read several classics without leaving my leather swivel office chair. I have nodded and drooled as well. A huge library at your finger tips. What can I say?
Clement of Rome---Did you know that this first century contemporary of the Apostle John was local only in his ecclesiology? Check it out yourself.
Corporal Punishment of Children---This is the one click resource for obedience to Proverbs 23:13, 14.
Current Christian---This is the new blog from former chief moderator at Sharper Iron, Greg Linscott. He is not one normally to assume the worst. Pastor Linscott supports the KJV, uses God-honoring music, preaches expositionally, and represents a true Gospel He doesn't stand the same on the church and on many separation issues. However, this new blog is a useful resource on keeping up with what is going on, well, currently in the world regarding those who call themselves Christians, hence, Current Christian.
Dissidens on Remonstrans---Here is a guy that is more disliked by Jason Janz and Sharper Iron than I am. He has many good things to say on the subject of worship, worship music, and culture in general, written in a very interesting way. He is very well read, which means that you will probably learn something. I'm quite sure that we would see several theological differences, but I would guess that we are very similar on the nature of God and what salvation is.
Don Johnson---Don is a pastor of a Baptist church on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. He is not the same as me on the nature of the church, on preservation of Scripture, and on certain cultural standards. However, we have a very similar militancy and view of the world that makes it enjoyable for me to read him. He also preaches expositionally, which you will see when you read his blog. Don treats separatists with civility.
FBC Radio---The music here is of an unusually high standard for listening and downloading.
Fidelis---This site will keep you updated on first amendment, freedom of religion news and issues.
Fire and Ice---OK, I like reading the Puritans even though they'd kill me if they were alive. No, I don't like the Massachusetts Bay Colony. I'm more of a Providence, Rhode Island fan. I like the Virginia Baptists even better. Why the Puritans? They are so thorough and so reverent. They write great stuff on salvation and sanctification, minus the Calvinism. So there.
Free Religious Books Online---I thought the word "free" might get your attention.
Jason Janz Is Da Man---This is a site called Sharper Iron, but it is actually the self-proclaimed privately owned business of Jason Janz, who speaks for a theological subculture called the "young fundamentalist." Sharper Iron truly will have some good articles and is a good place to get the scoop on some important issues, religious news in general, and especially news applying to the fundamentalist Christian movement in America. If you interact here, you will meet some nice people, but be prepared for some obnoxious arrogance and Christianized feminism.
Precept Austin---Evangelicals of a different mind-set than me operate this site, but you get a great deal of good material to get ready for a study or sermon here.
Pyromaniacs---Let's be honest, this is the Phil Johnson site. And Phil Johnson gets his chops from being the editor of most of John MacArthur's books. You won't need to ask him. Just nod appreciatively. I guess I can't help checking out what this branch of "evangelicalism" is saying. They sure are an inconsistent group, for a whole lot of reasons. They are a worldly group that goes after worldliness. They say they love Spurgeon, but Spurgeon would absolutely cuff them around if he were alive. I guess that makes them Spurgeon wannabees. They will go on and on with dialogue with leftists and Charismatics, but if you are to the right of them, don't plan on a conversation; just get prepared for ridicule.
The Reformed Reader---I'm not a Calvinist, but minus that, here is a site with some very good historical material, writings, confessions, creeds, and more. I have to admit that I like to read John Owen, Stephen Charnock, Richard Baxter, among others. You'll notice here online Baptist history material and even local church ecclesiology from some.
Religious Affections---Because of our view of God, Scott Aniol and I see things closely on the matter of worship. I guess that means I'm much like Mike Harding on this too. They both may want to change their position now that I have made this statement. If they could only give a hearing to the Scriptural and historical view of the preservation of Scripture.
World Magazine Blog---They're even too politically correct for me, but they are worth checking out now and then to get what news is of interest to people called Christians.