Thursday, March 30, 2006

What Kind of Night

Tonight was a tough night. Have you ever been in a mud pit? That's what tonight was like. I went in so totally prepared. I left thinking I was so totally prepared. The other side doesn't have to follow certain sensible rules of interpretation. Let me give you an example. I have hundreds of passages. One that I have used is John 4:13, 14, "13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." Let me tell you what this passage has in it for eternal security---at least three things. One, the context contrasts lots of drinking (works) with one drink (grace). Jesus was saying that she didn't have to keep drinking, but drink once. Two, the second "drinketh" is aorist in the Greek, which means drink completed at one point in time, punctiliar action. Third, "shall never" is a double negative in the Greek (ou me), which means "no, not ever." So this is emphatic. One drink and she will never thirst, contrasted with the physical water that one must keep drinking and drinking. I showed it to him three times. He finally answered tonight, and he just twisted it to pieces. I had to sit and listen to him. He quoted a "Mr. Shank" and gave page numbers and said the guy was "accredited," implying that I wasn't. He used "Shank" to say that the aorist really was not one drink, but was a lifetime of drinking. He went to a passage that uses the aorist to "show" that the temple was built over a period of 46 years and it "was built," using the aorist. He said that the aorist showed that she didn't have to keep drinking and drinking, and yet she was drinking and drinking. I was angry, very angry. I sat and listened and it was hard to keep composure. I did, but it was hard to take. When I got up, I got rather loud. It seemed that this was the best recourse for his rhetorical devices. I ridiculed Shank. I called him Mr. McGillicuddy who got his degree from a post office or cereal box. I was thinking of a cut of meat when he said Shank. It was off the wall.

John 17 is a wonderful passage on eternal security. At least 6 times eternal security is promised with the use of the perfect verbs. The Lord's prayer must be answered, since it surely was in the Father's will. Essentially, he didn't care. Judas wasn't kept. That was his argument. The counter is: Judas wasn't given to the Son by the Father to be kept. Judas may have done miracles, but Jesus never knew him. It never says that once in the verse, but he goes all over showing that Judas was an apostle, did miracles, etc., and yet Jesus lost him (v. 12). Judas was lost because he was not given, and perfect verbs say that He couldn't be lost, but because it says that no one was lost except Judas, that meant that anyone could be lost and all of John 17 is rendered moot on that point. He used numbers of rhetorical techniques to help the home audience along, essentially telling them that they were smart enough to see what he was telling them, and that I couldn't fool them with the things I was attempting to say.

I'm on the affirmative. My first speech was great, maybe even spectacular, but then he gets up and the mud slinging begins. His goal, I'm sure, is to win ugly, but just win, baby. I want the people to get what the Bible teaches on the issue from Scripture statements. He pieces together inferences and implications, extracting from thin air his doctrine. He makes OT Israel saved when they crossed the Red Sea and then lose it in the wilderness. And, yes, so much more. I'll tell you how it goes folks, but tonight, it wasn't pretty. He uglies it down so that when you're done, the whole forest is burned down in an attempt to get one tree. I'll debrief you pieces at a time, but I sat amazed tonight listening to this guy wax, not eloquent, but itchy ear wax.

OK, I'm done. I've got to go get the slime off.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

You Just Like to Argue

Yes, in a way, but it isn't the arguing itself, it is the importance of what I'm arguing. I wouldn't argue with you about sports or sports teams, who the greatest all time NFL quarterback or whether Barry Bonds deserves to be considered the home run king if he breaks the record. I don't care that much whether you argue the North or the South were right for the Civil War. I like having my beliefs challenged in a way that makes me think. My beliefs. My convictions. If I can't prove my point, then I should lose the argument and take the other person's position. It's probably the truth.

I'm assuming Mr. Hafley is reading based on things he's said. Last night after the debate, we talked for the first time. Well, we talked during the debate too, if you want to call it that. He's much different in one-on-one conversation. I do wonder what's the difference. The audience. No audience when we're just talking. I asked him if I believed differently than he originally thought. He said 'yes.' I told him that Charles Stanley has a book on eternal security and that we would be different than Stanley; our position isn't represented by his book. I told him that I could see how that the conditional sentences in Scripture seemed to be a key area where we differed. It is. They mainly take their position from implications of conditional clauses (the "if" clauses). He sort of agreed and we didn't talk about that.

Then I asked him what caused someone to lose his salvation. He referred to a chart he had shown, one that had Adam and Eve, one sin--out of the garden, Ananias and Sapphira, one sin--dead, and then one other example that I can't recall. His point was: one sin. See, his group believes that salvation (basically baptism in his group) washes away past sin. When you sin after that, well, you've got to, I think, confess it, and you get saved again. I asked him if any sin would cause someone to lose it. He said something like, "It must be a sin related to salvation." OK. I wondered what would one of those be. We couldn't finish that. I asked basically, "So what about a man lusting after a woman in his heart or 1 Peter 2 where it says 'fleshly lusts which war against the soul'?" He paused, halted, and it seemed like a hard question. That's about how the conversation ended. They don't think the death and shed blood of Christ covers future sin. They don't see salvation as past, present, future, that is, ongoing. The Bible teaches that, but they don't believe it.

I'll keep you updated. In the meantime, it's not that I just like to argue. I'm not even going to argue with you about it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Seventh Inning Stretch

We're half over. You want some juicy stuff. You'll get tidbits. I think I need to wait because Mr. Hafley will use whatever I say here with or without the Miranda warning. Not many people debate, they will say. Do I know why? Sure. It's a mud pit, the way they debate. Yes. But Paul debated and we must contend for the faith, and it is an opportunity to preach to a lot of baptismal regenerationists. It is a lot of preparation and the book afterwards will make the extra time seem more worthwhile. Eternal security is a very practical subject. I'm certainly on top of it right now in a way that I don't think can ever leave me. I'm on the affirmative on Thursday night. I look forward to this. Where's my popcorn?

Verbal Pong

I'd like to start by saying hello to Mr. Hafley, who I am guessing is looking on here for information to use. So a big "HI." He's probably curious as to what I think happened last night. Did you hear about the guy who went to a fight and a hockey match broke out? I'm not interested in fighting Mr. Hafley, so I didn't. I have concluded that you want to reveal the truth, but to do the best you can, you have to try to win the debate too. Their moderator announces at the beginning that there isn't a winner or loser, and then they proceed to attempt to win. I think we should give in on points when we can. I know there is a fear that it will be used against us, probably because it will be used against us.

Mr. Hafley was in the affirmative. I was the rebuttal. Strangely enough, he acted like I was in the affirmative. His first affirmation was an attack on my position. That ought to be tell-tale. He quoted a Sam Morris and said that was the position he was debating. I read the quote and thought, "Hmmmmm, that isn't exactly my position, oooops." When someone debating you is actually debating someone else, that someone else is called a straw man. You know, like Wizard of Oz. If you remember too, the strawman didn't have a brain. He's much easier to debate.

I have to say, I enjoyed preaching the truth. I was able to get out some great exposition of Scripture that is actually impossible to defeat by itself. The Word of God stands. Some great passages---John 4:13, 14. Jesus said that the water that He offered was not something to drink and drink and drink, but just to drink one time and she would never thirst, the water would spring up to everlasting life. Pretty good, huh? "Drink" is aorist, so it has nothing to do with works, so that if you stop drinking, you stop getting everlasting life. No pun intended, but I thought I'd give you a little taste of what we did last night. Perhaps I'll give a little more tomorrow night. I don't want to give Mr. Hafley too much to read. Oh, the verbal pong. Remember the first video game. I have never been a video game player, but debating is like watching pong. Think about it. Not too long though.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Hey Kids

Tomorrow sometime I'll be giving you the debrief, well, tomorrow Pacific Standard time. The lights are out on night one. Stay tuned.

Debriefing on Debating

In this space for the next few days, I will give my observations about the nightly proceedings in my debate with Mr. Hafley. I'll be brutally honest about how I did, and tell you what I thought were the strengths and weaknesses while they are fresh in my mind. I'll do this until the fat lady sings.

The first two nights he will affirm and I will rebut. You may wonder why the negative point gets to start with affirmation. Good question. It's their debate. They hold it there, provide the room, almost everything, because this is a big tradition with them. I'm coming into their house, so I follow their rules, so to speak. I've seen this guy debate someone else, and believe me, he will be a challenge rhetorically. Doctrinally, no, but rhetorically yes. We'll see you after the first round.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Special Announcement

Who is this man to the left? He is Larry Hafley from Texas. I will be debating him in Pinole, CA on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week, March 27, 28, 30, 31, those nights from 7:00 to 9:30pm, on the subject of eternal security. Mr. Hafley is considered to be one of the master debaters in the country for the Church of Christ. Brandenburg affirmed: The Scriptures teach that a child of God, once saved by the blood of Christ, cannot so sin as to be lost in hell. Mr. Hafley is an evangelist for the COC, speaking of the religious group founded in the early 1800s by Alexander Campbell. The COC believes one can lose his salvation. Of course, the COC believes that one must believe, repent, confess, be baptized, and keep doing good works to be saved. Mr. Hafley will affirm the first two nights and I will affirm on the second two. Each night will go: affirmation (20 min), rebuttal (20 min), affirmation (20 min), rebuttal (20 min), affirmation (20 min), and rebuttal (20 min).

You can pray that the Lord will work through the debate, that God will open eyes to the wondrous things of His Word. I am looking forward to a clear presentation of God's Word and a plain refutation of any false doctrine. If you are nearby, you are welcome to come. When the debate is complete, it will be available on CD and likely on DVD. I will also probably have a book in the near future on eternal security that will come out of this effort.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Robbing God: The Best Tithe Argument

The secular make fun of those who tithe like they are just throwing away their money. Of course, if you look at the way people spend money, you could probably find clear ways that people waste dollars. Statistics show that churches on the whole save society loads of cash. But I digress before I ever begin. I mean to give the best argument for tithing. Does God expect us to tithe? Tithing for certain is Old Testament: Abraham tithed pre-Mosaic law (Gen. 14:20), the Mosaic law required it (Lev. 27:32; Num. 18:24; Dt. 12:6; etc.), and God said the one who did not tithe was robbing Him (Malachi 3:8-10). Some argue it is only Old Testament. Not so. First, Christ said He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Grace is not antinomian (lawless). The law is good (Rom. 7:12). It has its purpose of pointing out transgression. As such, it is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ by faith (Gal. 3:24, 25).

Anways, the argument. I'm not going to make you turn to 1 Corinthians 9, but that's where it is. Consider these verses there (that means read them):

6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Paul argues that he has the right to be materially compensated for his ministry. He gives a number of different arguments for this, including going back into the OT law to make it (vv. 8-10). Obviously Paul thought that the law still applied. In v. 13 he contends that the Levites ("they which minister about holy things") lived "of the things of the temple." The "things of the temple" were the tithes of the congregation of Israel. Now look at v. 14 to get the brunt of this in the words "even so." You should understand "even so" as "just like." The Lord has ordained that the people that preach the gospel should live of the gospel, just like the Levites lived of their particular ministry. The Levites were supported by tithes and so today churches should support their ministers with their tithes.

Many more verses tie into, accentuate, and support this argument. However, this is the best explanation for why tithing is New Testament and ought to be done today. To not do so is essentially then to violate all the New Testament principles and commands on giving. The priority of worship will show up in the pocket book, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Baptism of the Spirit Deux

Have you received the baptism of or with the Spirit? Why or why not? It might be nice to know what it is. Essentially there are four views of the baptism of the Spirit. One, I call the Protestant view. The Protestant view says that a believer is baptized with the Spirit at the moment of salvation and placed into the invisible body of Christ. We debunked that teaching a few days ago by looking at the model of baptism of the Spirit in the Gospels and then its fulfillment in Acts 2. These same people believe in the universal, invisible church. The Protestant view of Spirit baptism is espoused by Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, Master's College, Dallas Theological Seminary, Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Wesminster Seminary, and Central Baptist Theological Seminary. The position comes through the reformers through Roman Catholicism. The second view is the Charismatic view. The Charismatic believes that baptism of the Spirit is the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which occurs today subsequent to salvation and is accompanied by signs and wonder, that is, tongues, healings, and miracles. The Charismatics and Pentecostals take this position. The third view of baptism of the Spirit I have titled the Revivalist view. The Revivalist believes Spirit baptism is for today, subsequent to salvation, endues with power for evangelism, and is only accompanied by signs and wonders when necessary for evangelism. This is a position that was taken by Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, John R. Rice, and most recently Jack Hyles. The last position, I call the Baptist view, even as it represents a grammatical, historical interpretation of Scripture. This view says that baptism with the Spirit is strictly historical in the book of Acts, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on already saved people in Acts 2 on the Jews, Acts 8 on the Samaritans, Acts 10 on the Roman Gentiles, and in Acts 19 on the Grecian Gentiles. The Baptist view also says that baptism of the Spirit was completed in Acts and was accompanied by signs and wonders.

The Baptist view represents the plain teaching of Scripture. The other views force their position on the Bible, putting in what they want to take out. In Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19, one will see that Spirit baptism is clearly subsequent to salvation (not simultaneous) and is accompanied by signs and wonders in all but one case. The signs and wonders served to authenticate the coming of the Holy Spirit and a new age of God's work (Acts 14:3; 2 Cor. 12:12; etc.) through the church to Jews (1 Cor. 1:22) to initiate, aid, and accentuate their belief in this plan of God (1 Cor. 14:22). The Spirit will not be outpoured again until the future tribulation period (read Joel 2:28-32). If the modern Charismatic movement represented some modern day signs and wonders, it would fit those descibed in Joel 2:30, 31 with the sun turned into darkness and the moon into the color of blood. We haven't seen those signs, so we also haven't seen another outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Spirit baptism is not an ongoing present-day event. The Protestant view doesn't fit the model of the Gospels and the fulfillment of Acts, and both the Charismatic and Revivalist views do not conform to the cessation of signs and wonders (1 Corinthians 13:8) after their purpose had been fulfilled (Heb. 2:3; Rom. 15:19; etc.) as well as the prophecy of the next outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Joel 2. Tongues, healings, and miracles essentially disappeared after the first century and didn't reappear until the turn of the 20th Century in the modern day Charismatic movement. The "signs and wonders" of the Charismatics do not parallel the example of tongues, healings, and miracles in Acts.

The Revivalists seek for experiences after salvation that will validate a special enduement with power from the Spirit after salvation. This is also called Second Blessing Theology. Sometimes people refer to it as "praying through." No example of this experience exists in Scripture. The advocates most often go to history as a defense, especially the Second Great Awakening and the Welsh Revival. They also often point to Acts 2 as a normative experience for the Christian life. The Holy Spirit already indwells all believers (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20), so every believer already has all the power of the universe at His disposal (2 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 1:3). The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Seeking these types of experiences is an offense to God (Matthew 12:39). God wants us to trust His plan and put it into action. Scripture is sufficient for the work of God (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Luke 16:31).

Snack number two. Over.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

When I Would Do Good

The Christian life is a struggle against the flesh. I'm going to ramble a little bit and weave that in as the theme. Romans 7:21 says, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." A believer can do good and want to do good, but right when he wants to do good, evil is present. Some would say that people really haven't changed since 'Leave It to Beaver' days. People are still sinners, true, but it's more tough to keep from sinning. Many more Eddie Haskels, perhaps we could say.

One that is really tough for me, and I guess this illustrates the truth of James 3, is how to handle insulting people. I usually have a hundred excellent and well-worded zingers to return, but I bite my tongue. I really do. Some might not think so, but it is really true. Sometimes I simply defend myself and that only gets further attack with people saying, "You're being so defensive." They don't know what I felt like saying, that I held in. Many of them don't. They just say it, and get away with it, because they are saying something everyone else agrees with. I've recently been debating on the preservation of the Bible, and some of the comments and strategies of the other side repulse me. Sometimes it's just the person talking. I know he's an arrogant fool and know a whole lot about him that would say that he is essentially a punk in disguise. He's also an almost total coward pushover, but he takes the position that the Bible isn't preserved, that we don't know the Words, that we ought to be satisfied with most of them and "all of the doctrines." They constantly bring the same arguments over and over, talk to you like you haven't heard them, and also talk to you like you have said something that you never said. They strut and preen like a mating peacock in front of unanimous support. They really are scoffers walking after their own lusts. Sometimes the best thing to do is avoid them totally. What I want to do is fight in the back alley and physically knock sense into them. I recognize that this wouldn't help anybody including me. It is just carnal weaponry. I still want to do it. The absolute total arrogance. One guy kept saying the same thing over and over as I kept telling him again and again that he is arguing with the wrong man; that I didn't believe what he was saying that I did, and had never said so. It didn't matter. He just continues ignoring me, spouting out pages of material for no apparent reason. Of course, I could speculate, but if I even briefly judged the guys motive, I would be hung out to dry. Another guy talks all about me and everything I said without saying a word to me, I guess by arguing with me and yet ignoring me, that this was some Scriptural model of ministry. No one tops the guy that basically ejected from responsibility in the middle of the year from our school with a serious sin problem. Lots of bad things happen before and after that. To end, he skips out of town and then sends us his wife's dentist bill three months later, a day before that benefit, paid by our non-profit school, runs out. Himself disloyal to everyone but himself. The world revolves around him. Despite all his problems, he was totally arrogant while here. I admit it, I think of him as a (I took this out as part of my struggle), that thinks he is Einstein. Now he is writing me in this debate like a man that everyone should take seriously. If they only knew. No doubt arguments are arguments, but hearing them from him makes my stomach turn. What's worse is that the room he is talking in is supposed to have many, many problems with many prominent beliefs of his, but they could care less because on one issue, that most of them say isn't important, he agrees. I guess I at least want a few minutes in the cage, no holds barred, but that isn't going to happen. It's best it didn't. It's a struggle though. No pure spiritual air exists in the Christian life. Everyone has to struggle, including me, not that you would be surprised.

This isn't Freudian by the way. I'm not ventilating to relieve my superego. I'm struggling out loud. I think defending the Bible, answering questions Scripturally, is good. I'm not calling myself an eagle, but it is difficult flying with turkeys, eagle or not. OK, I'm going to stop thinking about it and move on. Thanks for your time. What do I owe you? Yes, I'm about over it. I just have to refuse to think about it. I have so many things to do, I think I can do it. When is our next appointment?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Jesus Is Jehovah

Here's something apologetic to taste and eat. Most of you know about the Jehovah's Witnesses, the religious group that does a lot of door-to-door work, passing out their Watchtower Magazine. The JWs teach that Jesus is not God. What they don't often slip in until later is that He is actually the angel Michael. They "witness" for Jehovah, teaching that Jehovah is God. What Jehovah's Witnesses should know is that Jesus is Jehovah. You ask, "How can you say that?" Let me just show you how. You're going to need to read a few verses here, so get yourself ready. Let's read John 12:37-41: "37--But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38--That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39--Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40--He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41--These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him." Can you see in v. 37 that they believed not on "him?" "Him" is Jesus. The next verse, v. 38, is a quotation from Isaiah, and then another quotation from Isaiah begins in v. 40. See what v. 41 says. Isaiah said these things when he saw "his" glory, and spake of "him." V. 41 says that Isaiah saw Jesus. Jesus is "His" and "Him."

Now we will look at the Isaiah 6 passage. The quote of Isaiah 6 in v. 40 is Isaiah 6:10. Three times in Isaiah 6, the One on the throne is called the Hebrew word for Jehovah---vv. 3, 5, 12. So this is one of those locations from which we know explicitly that Jesus is Jehovah. For the JWs to deny that Jesus is Jehovah is simply to deny this passage, and this is just one of dozens of places in the NT where the OT is quoted and we see from the context that the Lord Jesus Christ is Jehovah. How would you use the passage with a JW? Ask them if you can read them a passage from the Bible. Read John 12:37-41. Ask them if they believe "His" and "Him" in v. 40 is Jesus. If you show them the context of John 12, they will say yes. Then tell them that the Him that Isaiah saw was in Isaiah 6. Go to Isaiah 6 and read that chapter, pausing at the times when the Person on the throne is called Jehovah. It's fairly devastating.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Does Your Music Check?

Music is a controversial issue, and I could get into why, but for now, let's look at one of the two major texts in the NT on the issue and glean some points about it. Go to Ephesians 5:19, which says, "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."

First, "Speaking." "Speaking" is not the normal word for talking, the Greek word laleo here, and this word could include more generally the sound made with the human voice or musical instruments. The Greek word itself has a sound that someone would make when singing a tune without words. Next, "to yourselves." "To yourselves" does not represent someone who talks to himself. Not that talking to one's self is bad, but this should be understood as "among yourselves." This is talking about singing or playing in the church, congregational or special, which would be understood only by fellow believers. Unbelievers should not merit consideration with church music. The word "new" is used to characterize our song more than any other feature of our salvation--new as in "different." When someone receives Christ and his life changes, His song changes. Only other believers can really understand it. Churches should not alter their music to fit the taste of the world. I want to say only one thing about "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs." Why don't churches sing psalms today? "Singing and making melody" divides "speaking" into two categories: vocal and instrumental. The Greek word for "singing" means "to sing with the voice." The word translated "making melody" means "to pluck on a stringed instrument." Both the words and the tune come into consideration with these two words. God wants instrumental music too (read Psalm 150).

I believe the most important qualification for music is it's direction: "to the Lord." Worship is recognizing Who God is and giving Him what He wants. When we understand Who God is by studying His Word, we will give Him what He wants. The direction of vocal and instrumental music in Scripture is always "to the Lord." The greatest consideration for worship music is what is the kind of music that God wants. Music should not be a matter of our taste or our feelings, but for God's pleasure. Some might think or say that we cannot know what God wants to hear. We determine what He wants by Scriptural principles. This is how we worship Him "in truth" (John 4:23, 24). We allow Scripture to regulate the kind of music we use in church. That eliminates most kinds of music that were invented for self-gratification--fleshly, lustful, unresolved, angry, rhythm dominated music. We are interested in music for God that will represent Who He is, not what we like to hear. Certainly, a kind of music that might be permissible between a man and a woman in the bedroom is not what we offer God in the church. This little presentation in no way covers everything, but it will get you on the right path to determining whether your music checks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Baptism of the Spirit

John the Baptist prophesied in Matthew 3:11, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost." This is consistent with the parallel passages in Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. Let's look at the Acts passage, for instance: "For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1:5). Alright, so the baptism of the Spirit is being prophesied in the Gospels. To know what fulfillment we are to look for, we should consider those predictions. They provide the model for Spirit baptism. Who is the Administrator of this baptism? It is Jesus, the one whose shoes John was not worthy to bear. Jesus is the Administrator of Spirit Baptism. What is the element of the baptism? It is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Medium of Spirit Baptism. Who are the recipients of the baptism? They are already saved people. "You" is plural in Matthew 3, something you can't specifically see in the English. The plural "you" are people already saved and in certain cases, already baptized, saved people. So Spirit baptism according to the model is subsequent to, not simultaneous with salvation. That's what we should look for.

When we look at the fulfillment in Acts 2, that's what we see. Consider Acts 2:1-4a: "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." Who are these "they" mentioned? We must go back to the previous chapter, and we see that these were already saved people, already born again individuals, essentially the church at Jerusalem, even already baptized, who were then baptized with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The element of the baptism was the Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit, outpoured or sent Him on or to believers there in Jerusalem (John 15:26; 16:7). So, by looking at the prediction and the fulfillment, we get the model of Spirit baptism, and we are sure that Jesus is the Administrator, already saved people are the recipients, and the Holy Spirit is the Element or Medium.

Many, many professing believers and all "reformed" Christians believe that 1 Corinthians 12:13 teaches Spirit baptism. Let's find out if 1 Corinthians 12:13 fits the model predicted and fulfilled in the Gospels and Acts. This passage buttresses their belief in the universal, invisible church or the invisible body of Christ. Here's what it says: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." If this is Spirit baptism and not water baptism, it ought to fit the model. OK, first, Who is the Administrator of baptism here? The Holy Spirit. Well, zero for one, so far. Well, let's try a second, Who is the Medium of the baptism here? Hmmmmm, the body of Christ, so Jesus is the Medium or Element. Well, now we're zero for two. What about the recipients? We surely must get that right, especially with so much scholarship represented that takes this view. The reformed say that Spirit baptism is simultaneous with salvation, not subsequent, and the Spirit places us in the body of Christ. Hmmmm. So simultaneous with salvation, not already saved people, but people at the moment they are getting saved. Zero for three. Nothing in 1 Corinthians 12:13 says that this is Spirit baptism. What the passage does teach is that already saved people are water baptized into the body of Christ. Their baptism pictures their unity within the body. The body is a local church (see v. 27). Much more evidence exists contextually to say this is water baptism, immersion in deep, wet water.

Just a little theological snack to chomp on for now.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Where Are the Words?

I wrote this as a post on SharperIron, and it was so much work, I thought I’d double up and put it here too.

I think the original questions were (cut and pasted): "The thing that still plauges my understanding of all this is...did God promise to preserve EVERY word or not? If so, then where are they?"

I did not read the replies super carefully, so you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't actually read an answer or answers to his questions. I'm not counting "read so and so's book" as an answer. That would mean we've gone four pages of text, including some very, very long posts without giving him an answer. Perhaps we forgot the questions or we just don't like them. They are good basic questions, and obvious ones too. On every single doctrine, I start with: "What does the Bible teach?" I never start with: "What do famous 'fundamentalists' say?" Or, "What does history tell me?" When someone starts with the latter questions, they reveal a historico-rationale apologetic.

Answer to first question. Yes, he did promise to preserve every word. The Bible teaches this clearly, at least as plainly as it teaches inspiration. I guess I should assume that you want to know where the Bible teaches that. You will find a Biblical theology for the perfect preservation of Scripture cumulatively from Matthew 5:17-19 (especially v. 18), 4:4; 24:35; Isaiah 59:21; Psalm 12:6,7; and 1 Peter 1:23-25, among other places. This bibliology is also taught through the perfect passive of grapho (it is written). As well, inspiration implies preservation. Someone who agrees wrote in 1984: "Inspiration ensures the preservation of God's words regardless of the destruction of individual texts by wicked men." He was none other than Dr. Mark Minnick, and wrote this in the 1984 Biblical Viewpoint, Focus on Jeremiah. The renouned liberal, Bart Erhman, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, once a conservative theologian and confessing born again, writing in his most recent book on textual criticism and giving testimony to his watershed moment, said, "I kept reverting to my basic question: how does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don't have the words that God inerrantly inspired, but only the words copied by scribes---sometimes correctly but sometimes (many times!) incorrectly? What good is it to say that the autographs (i.e., the originals) were inspired? We don't have the originals!" Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Answer to the Second Question. Another doctrine within the framework of preservation of every Word of God is availability. God also promised availability of every Word. That is a doctrine I have assumed as I read Scripture, because it smacks of the plain reading of the Bible. Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Matthew 4:4; John 12:48; 2 Peter 3:2; Jude 1:17, and Isaiah 59:21, among others, cumulatively express this teaching. If God says they will be available, then we would assume that we would know which ones they are. How do we determine that? Scripture teaches us, for one, in the doctrine of canonicity. The Bible teaches a canonicity of Words, not books. The church (generic singular), that is, churches have agreed on the words, like they agreed on the books. God uses the church as His pillar and ground for the truth, and since the Holy Spirit works through churches, we look to see what He did. People have believed they had a perfect Bible. The London Baptist Confession has an identical wording as this in the Westminster Confession of Faith: "The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages." That is what churches had believed, believed, and still believe. That statement in the confessions was chiefly revised hundreds of years later by Benjamin Warfield, a Presbyterian at Princeton Seminary. He understood that the modern view of textual criticism didn't fit with the Biblical doctrine of preservation, so he spun the confession into textual criticism. Many have just taken Warfield's position as historical. I think is one good reason why to put quotes around the word history. I have taught history for 15 years and I will often say "history."

What words did the churches agree upon? They agreed on the King James Version. Someone says, "But that's English!" Sure, but there are Greek words behind the King James Version, and today that is published in Scrivener's 1894 and Trinitarian's TR. They are essentially found in Beza's 1598. The Bible doesn't say they'll be available in one Greek edition. It says they will be available. Some might not like that answer, but the alternative is rejecting the doctrine of preservation and availability, and please don't tell me either the "preserved in heaven" view or what I call the "buried text" view. The book mentioned, God's Word in Our Hands, says that God preserved His Word and that the Words are in all of the manuscripts. Of course, first, all of those words aren't available, and, second, that book doesn't even agree by the admission of the authors, at least privately, that they don't believe that their thesis is even true. They believe certain parts of the Old Testament Hebrew are still not found or don't even exist in a preserved form. They use the "Greek Septuagint" to back translate into the Hebrew to correct the Masoretic text. These are the same people who have a problem with preservation in a translation. Doesn't sound consistent, does it? The KJV and the text behind it was received by the churches for at least 350 years. To say those were not the words is to say that the Bible wasn't preserved and wasn't available. I reject that view based on the teaching of Scripture, just like I reject evolution based on the teaching of Scripture. I've never seen a worldwide flood or the ark, but I accept the Genesis account of the flood. I accept that I have every word, and I believe there was a miracle of preservation that matched a miracle of inspiration. Quoting Ehrman again in his trek toward liberalism, he wrote: "The fact that we don't have the words surely must show, I reasoned, that he did not preserve them for us. And if he didn't perform that miracle, there seemed to be no reason to think that he performed the earlier miracle of inspiring those words." Too bad, isn't it?

One more thing, Dr. Sproul's book has a "review" of our book, Thou Shalt Keep Them, in the addendum. That chapter is actually a total hatchet job written by the same Dr. Gephart. Dr. Gephart, incidentally, uses Bruce Metzger to provide almost half his chapter in God's Word in Our Hands (an ironic title). Bart Ehrman calls Metzger his "father-professor" in his book. It isn't coincidental that Metzger taught at Princeton Seminary, where Ehrman attended, and also the school of Benjamin Warfield. Connect the dots: Warfield...Metzger...Ehrman and Gephart. Actually, it's all very sad. He really doesn't argue away the points, just takes pot shots, and very poor ones. He wants to discredit the exegesis enough to cause reasonable doubt, like a defense lawyer attacking the prosecution. I wish I could say differently, but that's what he does. It doesn't read like someone who wants the truth of those passages. What else I have noticed is that they offer no alternative. What do we get when they're done? Doubt in the Word of God.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The "As Long As It Doesn't Hurt Somebody Else" Argument

John Donne, 17th Century English poet, wrote: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." He, yes, originated the "no man is an island" quotation, so that is not in the Bible, but I think the jist of it was already in Romans 14:7, which says, "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself." What spurred this train of thought was a conversation I had with a lady in our church this morning. She takes care of her fifty-four year old son and right now he's in the hospital. I asked her how the hospital care was going because I knew she had trouble before. She chronicled the lack of attention, missed medications, and then even an attemped double dosage. I mentioned that these types of things occur more and will only get worse because people's morality really does impact other people.

"As long as it doesn't hurt somebody else" has become the creed in a new morality. When the Supreme Court recently ruled against a Texas sodomy law and for that very reason, they validated this new paradigm of justice. A common abortion argument is: "A woman should have the right to her own body, so as long as she doesn't hurt anybody else, the state should allow her an abortion of her fetus." For this to work, of course, the "mass of tissue" must be a fetus. If it is a person, then I guess someone else really is getting hurt. Setting that argument aside, however, I ask if we do have a basis for arguing on behalf of laws of morality because each of these immoral acts does impact somebody else. What do I mean? The immoral acts strike at the value of life itself. The more people devalue life, the worse the private and public service we will have. Life erodes away under the disrespect it receives.

I believe that a lack of reverence for the 8th commandment, thou shalt not steal, results in the eminent domain thievery of people's private property. The estimated financial gain of a city is more important than one person's right to his own property. You see, immorality ultimately does come back to get us. It's not so bad shopping at the new downtown redevelopment as long as it doesn't mean making grandma move from her childhood home. Can you say nostalgic value? I know you can't measure that on Wall Street. And grandma only votes one time.

Speaking of islands, the Tasmanian devil, named after its island home doesn't live or die to itself. At least the wallabie doesn't think so, as the devil devours it bones, fur, and all with very powerful jaws. Devilish really. Every creature in the God-ordained food chain affects one another with its "personal decisions." Every egg you crack certainly impacts the poulty farmer. We can't hardly move without making a ripple somewhere with what we do, so that all the things we do really do impact someone else and then even who knows who all else. What they did in Florida to Terry Schiavo when they unhooked her feeding tubes could become you and no one will even care. Allowing that kind of disrespect of life could very easily affect your hospital care next time you go in for kidney stones. Better be sure they don't take the appendix. Devilish really.

Friday, March 10, 2006


The temple takes a prominent place in history. We have the tabernacle in the wilderness, replaced by Solomon's temple (957BC), destroyed in 587BC, Zerubbabel's temple (520BC), destroyed in 19BC, and then Herod's temple (19BC), destroyed in AD70. In the future, the Antichrist will build a temple in the tribulation period, which will be desecrated by him (Revelation 11:1, 2) and destroyed along with almost everything else, and finally the Lord Jesus Christ Himself will superintend the building of the Millennial Kingdom temple (Ezekiel 40-47). When you think about all this, you see this big chunk of time where the temple essentially existed 957BC to AD70. We have to see the continuity between the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple, making this an even longer period of time (c. 1440BC to AD70). And then in the future, two temples will measure over another one thousand years of history.

What is the temple exactly? Let's think of two points: (1) The place of the presence of God, and (2) the place of the worship of God. The temple is a place where God comes to dwell on earth with His people. God prescribed congregational worship with the temple as the center. He regulated the worship with specific prescriptions in His Law. We can see that a large gap appears in the temple history after AD70 and before the tribulation period. Is there a temple in this period?

The temple today is the church, local and visible, just like Old Testament Israel. This temple replaced the one in Jerusalem. God ended OT temple worship when He rent the veil of Herod's temple in Jerusalem at the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ prophesied (Matthew 24:1, 2) the end of that temple with the destruction by Titus in AD70. Paul tells the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 3:16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" In that text we point blank find that the church, local, is the temple of God. It makes sense when you consider John 1:14. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." "Dwelt" here is literally, "tabernacled." The place of the presence of Christ is the new tabernacle or temple. The Lord Jesus Christ gathered an assembly of men around Him, dwelling among them. The church (local only) is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). He dwelt in His temple with His physical presence and He gave His Spirit to that small congregation around Him in John 20:22. When He ascended to heaven, that small group was still indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Himself God, until the Holy Spirit was outpoured on all those who believed on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).

Worship in the day in which we live is where both the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 3:16) and where Christ Himself dwells (Rev. 1:19-2:1). That is only the local church. Of course, every believer is also the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20), but corporately, that place is the church. God has prescribed the place of God's presence and the place of worship, His Temple, and it is the church, the one where God's people congregate.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Dialectic Three-Step

The German philosopher Hegel introduced dialectic thinking in the early 19th Century. In his philosophy, one idea, the thesis, works against a contradictory one, the antithesis, to create something brand new, the synthesis. The synthesis becomes a new thesis and the process starts all over again. The process trashes objective truth and welcomes subjectivity. Hegel's little three-step encouraged revolutionary nationalism throughout Europe, justifying conflict as a means to an end. The end was fascist or communist dictatorship, the Nazis and the Soviets, and over a hundred million killed.

Does Hegel still impact today? Sure. This is how the three-step typically looks now: "Our diversity brings together people from different religions and philosophies and points of view, finding the best from everyone of them to borrow and share and form a beautiful and strong mosaic." Somehow this sounds good and appeals to fallen flesh and human pride, but it is less than a dream, certainly not true. The United States originated with the idea that diverse people from varied backgrounds and locales could live together, but with only one culture. Their way of life was founded upon a Judeo-Christian ethic anchored in the absolute truths of Scripture. Without certain and steadfast beliefs, life becomes a grand Hegelian experiment, never truly knowing what will work or what is best. Of course, this fundamentally dismisses God as some figment of imagination no better than a character in a Homerian tragedy. Without the sufficient guidance of the Word of God, man wanders aimlessly toward ruin. God created us, gave us His authentic guidelines, confirmed and corroborated them with evidence, and called on us to do what He says. Success requires rejecting any antithesis.

Interestingly enough, dialecticism stops in several very suspecting places, including in the science classroom. The evolutionist doesn't welcome the antithesis of creationism. Suddenly purity of belief makes sense to a professor whose livelihood depends on the continuation of a hoax. Stalin had no dreams of any antithesis to his own meglomanic world, like so many other politicians who begin enjoying power. A grammatical and historical interpretation of the Bible can't be added to a public school system and a strict view of the constitution doesn't mix with a living, progressing document. For Satan, it never was an enjoyment of diversity, just a conspiracy against God and Truth, leaving man forever damned with him in eternal oblivion.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

More About How to Pray

We left off the model for prayer provided by Jesus Himself with "Our Father." You know what's next: "which art in heaven." This isn't to differentiate Him from any earthly Father or to detail His location. This implies His nature, power, height, and domain. He sees everything, can do anything, and knows all things. The words show respect to Him, not approaching Him flippantly. "Dear Heavenly Father" works the same as long as we aren't saying the words mindlessly.

Next: "Hallowed be thy name." Remember that we are asking God for things. Here was ask Him to be praised. We hallow His name by separating Him unto His most basic character. He is hallowed in contrast with profaned. Hallowing separates Him to His rightful place of majesty---sovereignty, power, honor, holiness, greatness, and more. His name associates with His nature or essential character. We praise God in His attributes, both transient and intransient. The transient are those which we can possess---love, mercy, longsuffering, gentleness, etc. The intransient do not transfer to men---omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immutability, etc. Praise differs from thanks in that praise focuses on God's nature rather than things He has done for us. If you don't know what to say in praise to Him, then look at the psalms. They are full of great praise phrases to direct towards the Father in Heaven.

Nowhere in the model does it tell us to give thanks. This is the point in the prayer where I do that. I like to place it at the front, right after praise, mainly because of Psalm 100:4: "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. " We thank Him by counting our blessings, naming them one by one. When you do that, it becomes difficult to see God as anything but a good God. I have long thought that the Lord does more things for us at any one time that we cannot keep up with thanks. That gives us plenty to thank Him for. I usually divide my thanks into two categories: spiritual and physical. Spiritual: Jesus' substitutionary death and sacrificially shed blood, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the church, our own salvation, discernment, and more. Physical: air, food, water, our house, our family. Just visualize His creation and thank Him for the sun, heat, light, grass, oceans, rivers, and just keep on naming them. Again I ask, and it sounds something like this: "I ask that You would receive thanks for the great blessings You have provided, for....."

When we open the prayer with this praise and thanks, it gives us the right perspective for prayer, focusing on Him rather than what we want. We are more likely to pray in His will when we consider everything in the light of Who He is and what He has done for us. Our faith is also strengthened to believe in some answers by means of the concentration on how Great He really is.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What About Singing Psalms?

Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 both mention a direct result of Spirit-filling and letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly: Singing Psalms. Before the late 19th century, most New Testament churches sang psalms, some exclusively. Were they doing something that we are missing?

In worship, we direct our music to God. What does He want to hear from us? He gave us 150 psalms, so obviously psalms. Then in the NT, in the rare texts on music, He first asks for psalms. It isn't an alphabetical order---psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. At the least, it is a prioritization. He most wants psalms. So why have psalms been almost eliminated from churches today? Could it be that we have stopped evaluating our worship from a God-centered perspective? People got tired of singing psalms, too difficult for them to consider and often accompanied by music unappealing to human flesh. Is that a suitable criterium for stopping something God expressly told us He desired from us?

How do people sing from psalms? A few good psalters still exist. They contain all 150 psalms with tunes befitting their inspiration and grandeur. The old Metropolitan Tabernacle hymnbook of Spurgeon in London contained its own psalter. That church still sings those same psalms. The Trinity Hymnbook, Baptist Edition contains its own psalter. You can purchase other psalters which are excellent renditions, versifying (putting into rhyme) every word of the Hebrew Masoretic Old Testament text into English. Often accompanying the psalms are majestic compositions of music that conform to their lofty message.

So if you or your church aren't singing the psalms, then why not?

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Way to Pray

I'm guessing you've heard of parents who washed their kids' mouths out with soap. Still in the military the enlisted approach officers with saluting respect. Children ought to talk to their mom and dad a certain way. But more than anything, we ought to talk to God like He has told us. Personally, I have often felt in need of guidance in going to God in prayer. What could we say to Him that He would want to hear, that would even respect and love Him enough? Not one of us need to guess on this. The Lord told us exactly how we are to pray in answer to a point blank request from His disciples in Luke 11: "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples" (Lk. 11:1). If you care about talking to God, and you should, then you also are interested in how God wants us to pray to Him. As clear as the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ is, I still hear very few people who follow His model. Who could know more about what the Father wants to hear, than His Son. Who could be better on this subject? Obviously, no one. Let's think about this text together.

In v. 1, He starts: "When ye pray." Prayer technically is asking. His model is one of asking. When He says, "When ye pray," that means, "When ye ask." We don't go to God demanding, but requesting. For that reason, when I pray, I begin everything with a request. This is a way that we respect God and His sovereignty. Some might think this is a little picky, but shouldn't we be about prayer? We require a certain manner of speaking to communicate respect. As we go to God, going with requests gives Him that respect. So even when I begin praise, I ask God to be praised. We leave it up to God whether to accept our prayers. He has promised He would, but that doesn't mean we should try to tell Him what to do. Here's an example of the verbiage: "Dear Father, I ask that You would be praised, glorified, lifted up to Your rightful place of power and might and wisdom and honor."

Do you ever hear people start their prayers like this: "Dear Jesus" or even "Dear Lord"? Jesus tells His disciples, "When ye pray, say, Our Father." The Lord Jesus tells us to direct our prayers to the Father. The Scriptural model is not talking to the Son or the Holy Spirit. Several songs published in hymnbooks contain prayers directed to the Holy Spirit. That doesn't even please the Holy Spirit, let alone God the Father. All Scripture came from the Holy Spirit, so He told us to pray to the Father in Luke 11 as well. I couldn't guarantee you that God hears prayers of those who direct them at the wrong Person in the Godhead. Why not regulate your personal worship of the Lord through prayer by what He said, instead of by your feelings or opinions? Direct your prayers to the Father.