Friday, April 28, 2006

An Apology for Anger

I'd like to apologize for my anger. Well, I mean that in the way of an apology for anger, a defense of Scriptural anger. A few years ago, William Bennett, former Secretary of Education and National Drug Czar, authored his book, The Death of Outrage. He wrote it mainly in response to the Clinton shenannigans. Do you think he had a point? Did we, do we, need more outrage? James 1:20 says: "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." There we go. Now it's settled, the wrath of man is always wrong. Have a good day.

Wait a second, may as well look at the context of James 1:20. First, vv. 18, 19: "18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." When someone speaks or preaches the Word of God, saved people are commanded to listen, and not to argue or get angry with what is spoken or preached. Man's anger towards preaching will not work the righteousness of God. Instead of getting angry, what should he do? See v. 21: "Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls." Rather than get angry, he should get right.

If anger doesn't ever work the righteousness of God, it would seem strange that Paul would write: "Be ye angry, and sin not" (Ephesians 4:26). What do you think of this verse? "And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly" (1 Samuel 11:6). Obviously, God wants us to get angry at times. God Himself gets angry rather frequently. Our anger should reflect God's, a kind of directed anger, which serves a particular purpose. It shouldn't be an out-of-control, selfish anger, but one that declares our displeasure with a sinful activity, either our own or someone else's. I'm done apologizing.

Note to Readers

Dear Readers,

You are important to a blog. I'm sorry I was gone and didn't write or post or touch a computer for five days. I will be writing again soon. I don't have any excuse except for a sudden change in the gravitational force of the earth, followed by my shipwreck and marooning on a deserted island. I was gone, preached, judged a contest at Fairhaven Baptist Church, Chesterton, IN. Be well.


Friday, April 21, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

We had a family night and after the playground, we ventured to Borders to use some of our Discover card payback. To the left of the entrance upon walking inside was the huge display of best-selling books. Not that the DaVinci Code needs hype, but the paperback version is out about the time the motion picture is opening. Crowded around the top ten are combinations of DaVinci copycats, spin-offs, critiques, segues, and explanations. I did consider this a moment, asking myself why. One answer and only one answer filled my mind immediately---people are looking for a reason to disregard Jesus. I read just this week that some schools are attempting to take BC and AD off the calendar and to give it a different, more innocuous designation.

About every time I have one of these nights, Bart Ehrman makes another appearance. If you read me regularly, you remember that last time it was his book, Misquoting Jesus. He comes back to us again with the Gospel of Judas. Two books about the Gospel of Judas sat in the most prominent bookstore display. For one of them, Bart Ehrman wrote the introduction. In the other, the one containing the English translation of the Gospel of Judas, Bart Ehrman writes a 30-40 page chapter, explaining his interpretation of its importance relative to the history of early Christianity. Bart Ehrman is the very liberal professor at UNC, Chapel Hill, Moody-Wheaton-Princeton graduate, apostate, and prize student of Bruce Metzger. While incarcerated an hour at Borders I read his intro of the one book and then his chapter of the actual Judas translation, while I drank a Grande Hazelnut Mocharoon Javakula Decaf. Yes, all those are one beverage. It was good; how good would require a separate blog. I didn't buy the Gospel of Judas, one Ehrman book should be anyone's lifetime quota. So what you will read here is off-the-top-of-my-head. It also might keep you from having to read anything else about this, which could possibly greatly benefit your life.

What is the Gospel of Judas? Iraeneus was an ante-Nicean patristic writing in the late 2nd century, among his writings are five anti-heresy books. He explained, negated, argued against, and warned about every heresy existent at that time. One heretical book he mentions is the Gospel of Judas. Iraeneus ridicules it in his writings. It's pretty much the only mention you find of it. No one had seen the book in over 1500 years. Only rumors had floated. One day in the last year or two Bart Ehrman gets a phone call from a female archaeologist friend. She asked him if he knew about this book. He vaguely remembered it. When she calls him back a short period of time later, she asks if he will be a part of a team to deal with this copy they found unearthed in Egypt. It's written in Coptic. Ehrman suggests getting someone expert in the field of ancient Coptic manuscripts. He must have forgotten about me. Well, no, I don't know Coptic. Ehrman, of course, loves the Gospel of Judas. He says its the top archaelogical find in the last 60 years, the best since the Nag Hammadi texts found in 1945. Um, how about the Dead Sea Scrolls? Well, Ehrman gets carried away on projects with his name attached.

The Gospel of Judas (GJ) is a gnostic gospel. Ehrman says there are hundreds of gospels, but the ones we have just happen to have passed through the grid of popularity for inclusion in the canon. In GJ, Judas is not a villain, but a hero. Judas was a hero to the gnostics. Why? Well, they believed that true salvation came from throwing off the evil, vile material body in which we inhabit to allow the spark of divinity which some of us possess to go back to the rest of god. GJ presents Judas as the only true enlightened one of the twelve. Gnosticism is about having secret knowledge, the knowledge spiritually that is exclusive and very secret.

What we find out from the gnostics is that the God of the OT was really not the most powerful, nor was he really that important as a deity. He was several emanations away from the very powerful deity, and the God of the OT, according to the other deities, did something very bad when He created the physical universe. The gnostic "christians" believed that Jesus was more divine than other human beings, had a much larger spark, perhaps a flame of divinity, and he also really understood the secret of salvation was throwing off the material flesh. Jesus himself was the fewest emanations removed from the most powerful spiritual deities. According to gnostics, people either have no or varying degrees of divinity. The ones with none, like ants and worms and birds and dogs, just turn back to dirt upon dying. The people with divinity release theirs into the ultimate deity in pure spiritual existence, unshackled by human flesh. The non-canonical gnostic gospels, pagan and secular writings, taught these doctrines in the first and second centuries.

Anyway, back to Judas. According to his gospel, Judas, a gnostic himself, unlike the other disciples, understood these secrets Jesus was telling. For this reason, Jesus worked the most closely with Judas, told Judas that he was going to be hated by the other disciples, but he was going to have to endure that in order to work with Christ in furthering this important gnostic agenda. His betrayal of Jesus was not actually a betrayal, but actually an elaborate plan to deliver Jesus from his bondage within human flesh, hence providing a model of salvation for others with a similar spark of divinity as He.

Men who interpret GJ like Ehrman say that gnosticism is just another branch of religion like Judaism, Christianity, and others. They say that if the gnostic ideas had won out in the first and second century competition, that gnosticism would have gone on as a legitimate version of Christianity. They say that gnosticism didn't gain a foothold among the most powerful Christian leaders, so these gospels, including GJ, were held back from legitimate propagation. This, of course is a bunch of garbage. Ehrman himself provides a modern portrait of Judas Iscariot, rejecting the truth of Christ and the Gospel because of his own faithlessness, he now extracts as much cash as possible from modern-day doubters and scoffers to compensate for the lost years he fooled himself into thinking he had the real thing. If he isn't going to have peace, he at least will get his thirty pieces. Doesn't that sound like Judas himself?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Oh My, Mr. Hafley

I just received my DVDs from the COC debate. I not only got the whole debate. I'm thankful that we can receive them free from the COC. I also got the three sessions that Mr. Hafley and his assistant spent debriefing his crowd in Texas about the debate. I have watched about 20 minutes of it. Let me tell you Mr. Hafley's Tall Tales. I was wondering what he might do, and I have my answer, and I hope a whole lot of people will read this blog to get this information. Let me give you a few.

Mr. Hafley said that I said that the people of Galatians weren't Christians. When you go back to look at the debate, you'll see that wasn't true. I said it was a mixed crowd, some having been deceived by a false gospel. He again leaves out Galatians 1:6-9 in presenting that some of these in the audience were not saved. He said that I said that God did the restoring in Galatians 6:1. Wrong again. I said that if it was salvation in Galatians 6:1, then God would do the restoring. Since it isn't salvation then it is us that does the restoring. Do you see how Mr. Hafley is just reinventing what I said? But you'll see that in the debate tapes that fortunately haven't been tampered with, except for leaving out Thomas Ross, our moderator, and his speech at the beginning. They didn't want the debate tape to include mention of our church.

When Mr. Hafley got to Hebrews 10:28, 29, one of the texts he used to spin one could lose his salvation, he told several tall ones. He said that I said that the blood in v. 29 was animal blood. To be fair, with limited time, the first time I dealt with this at the end of a 20 minute time allotment, I said it was referring to the the sprinkling Moses did of the blood. I also said that "sanctified" does not always speak of salvation, which it doesn't in Hebrews 10:28, 29. I came back and clearly explained what I meant later, which he just skips over. I said that it was Christ's blood, but I said that Christ's blood sanctified Christ like the animal blood sanctified the nation Israel, Moses, and the Aaronic priesthood. I said that "he" in v. 28 was Christ. You'll see that in the debate DVD. I said that the nearest antecedent, proximity, rules "he," and that the person is not saved in Hebrews 10 who has rejected Christ and His blood. I said that Hebrews was written to Hebrews. I said that because he said that Hebrews was written to Christians. I said that it was a mixed audience in Hebrews and that the warning passages in 2, 3, 4, 6, and 10 were written to unbelievers. He basically either totally left out or slaughtered what I said, but you will see that in the debate tape. He called me a dishonest man who had thought of my answer in five minutes. I have preached through Hebrews 4 times in my life. I know the book well. Look at Friday, the last day in the debate tape to find out what I said. It's probably 7 or 8 if you received it. He never dealt with my rebuttal.

Along the same lines, he said that I said that Hebrews 3:1 was talking about unbelievers. I never said that. I said that "brethren" were Jews. I said that the text differentiates between "holy brethren," saved Jews, in v. 1 and only "brethren" in v. 12, potentially unsaved Jews. All of these misrepresentations were either just blatant lies or some form of delusion or mental distortion. I'll choose the latter to be kind.

Another big lie is the one he said I made about implications. On Revelation 3:5, he said that I said that God doesn't speak through implications. I never said that at all. You'll see in the debate that I said, even had a chart for it, that we don't make our doctrine from implications. We get our doctrine from statements. Revelation 3:5 is a promise to overcomers that their names will not be blotted out of the book. He made Revelation 3:5 teach, through implication, that we can have our names blotted out. The Bible never says we can have our names blotted out. So that was another lie. When he read Rev. 22:18,19, he kept interchanging the word "part" with the word "name." It says the persons part will be blotted out. We showed with a study of "part" how that this was a prospective. He misrepresented us totally and then didn't state the real argument and our question remains unanswered: Who will be taken out of the holy city who is already there? He doesn't want his people to see this. He instead talked about some illustration his assistant gave him about a part taken out of a will, so we get authority by means of crummy illustration. We look at Scripture to make our points, not an illustration.

Anyway, after 20 minutes I got 6 Hafley lies or mental distortions. Just make a note of that if you are someone watching the debate. He goes back to his people and outright lies or tells them what is a figment of his distorted imagination as a means of defending his point. I would like to take this exact debate to him in front of his own people in Texas. Maybe that will happen.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Revisionist History on the Perfect Preservation of Scripture

Recently, Mike Sproul, pastor of the Tri-City Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ, wrote a book entitled: God's Word Preserved: A Defense of Historic Separatist Definitions and Beliefs. On the church website is this synopsis: "Definitions are important in any discussion. Dr. Sproul wishes to restate the historical Separatist beliefs concerning God's communication of His Word to man. How have the "Separatist Fathers" understood this communication to His creatures? Are we removing their "ancient landmarks" concerning inspiration and preservation and replacing them with a man-made system of logic?" Notice the last question in this part of the summary of his book. Are we removing "ancient landmarks" concerning preservation and replacing them with a man-made system of logic? The answer is "yes." That is what Sproul and his adherents do. They replace a Scriptural and historical doctrine of preservation with an unbiblical and revisionist one, which is based on human reasoning. In the addendum of his book, a professor in their college uses a chapter to attack the doctrine of perfect preservation, essentially by attempting to discredit what was written and those who wrote it, without actually refuting the solid exegesis of the book. Sproul tries to paint a different picture of historical orthodox bibliology. This is a common way to attack the text, to make the doctrine of verbal, plenary preservation look like something new. In the book, Sproul smears the authors of Thou Shalt Keep Them with having "similarities" to "cults." This would be to say that the doctrine we teach did not originate from Scripture, but some private interpretation not fitting with what Christians have believed since the first century. What is ironic is that Sproul's contention is the absolute opposite of the truth on this matter.

The historic position is perfect preservation. First, it is the Scriptural doctrine, which we showed in Thou Shalt Keep Them. Second, it is the belief that can be traced back earliest or furthest historically. Sproul attempts to form our trajectory back to a mid-20th century Seventh-Day Adventist. This horribly misrepresents the authors of Thou Shalt Keep Them, but also perverts history itself. A second book will follow Thou Shalt Keep Them to show the complete error of his way, but will also unmask the revisionism that has lead to the newer position, the Sproul and Benjamin Warfield position.

Just a taste of the evidence you will be receiving and should understand is in a paper written by Thomas Ross, a member of our church, Bethel Baptist Church in El Sobrante, CA. You can download it for free at . It will be one of the chapters in the new book. We welcome your comments on the excellent scholarship in this paper by Ross. His paper alone devastates the Sproul revisionism on the perfect preservation of Scripture.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

How Faithful Is Faithful to Church

What constitutes "faithful to church?" What says Scripture? Hebrews 10:25 clearly states: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." This verse says that we should never miss. Never? Never. Let's look at the verse carefully to understand even better how airtight this teaching is in the Bible.

First, the context. Hebrews 10 continues arguing before Jews (Hebrews) the superiority of the new covenant to the old, that is, the system of Christ since His death, burial, and resurrection versus the Old Testament priesthood and sacrificial system. Of course, for anyone who cared, Christ is not only far better, but He also fulfilled the old. Old Testament Israel had a very involved, prescribed manner of worship. That regular practice had engrained itself in the Jewish culture. That was tough for any Jew to give up. What would a Hebrew do with that all gone? With Jesus as our high priest, we replace the old worship with the new worship, the assembling of our selves together. This makes the New Testament worship at least equal, but even greater than the Old Testament system of rituals, sacrifices, ceremonies, festivals, sabbaths, and sabbaticals. Would the Old Testament Jew ever be excused from any prescribed worship of the Old Testament? No. Was there any room for a Jew under the old covenant missing a congregation of the nation Israel? Of course not. So the context itself is a powerful argument for faithfulness to every meeting of God's institution in which we live, the church.

Second, the verse itself. The verse itself has several arguments internally that are devastating to someone who thinks it's OK to miss church. Let me enumerate them.
1) Not forsaking. Some might argue that "forsake" means abandonment. I remember a guy that once attended our church who was unfaithful to services. I encouraged his faithfulness by teaching him what this verse meant. He had never even heard the abandonment argument, but once I told him people had used that point, it became his as well. That is a perfect example of fitting the interpretation to the lifestyle instead of vice versa. In Matthew 27:46, the Lord uses this exact term on the cross, when He cried out: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Had the Father abandoned the Son? No way. Certainly in other usages of the "word," the understanding of abandonment could be made, but we also see that the word can be used as a practice of missing something as well. The context helps us see that "abandonment" is not the meaning here.
2) The assembling. The nature of this noun, "assembling," guides our interpretation of this verse. It is the assembling itself that we are not to forsake, that is, the actual act of gathering with the rest of the congregation.
3) As the manner of some is. "Manner" is a habit or practice. Abandonment cannot be characterized as a habit or practice, but a one-time act. This speaks of a regular performance of a particular deed. Some were in the habit of missing the assembling of the church.
4) Exhorting one another. In order to exhort one another, one must be in attendance. To participate in exhortation of another brother or sister, one must see the person, know what the problem or crisis or deficiency is, so that one might say the appropriate words of strength, admonishment, warning, or support.
5) So much the more, as ye see the day approaching. The "day" is the day of the return of Christ, which was imminent, any moment. The NT teaching on the timing of Christ's return was imminence. 2 Peter 3:12, "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" Titus 2:13, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Luke 12:37, "Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching." If the Lord could return at any moment, then He could return while you were not assembling with God's congregation. The person who thought Christ could come at any moment would want to be in the place that he knew Christ wanted him to be if the Lord were to return. Any time we aren't assembling could be the time when Christ returns.

Many other reasons could serve in addition to these from this one verse: not being a stumbling block, in order to be a good testimony to unbelievers, because we love God, because we love the Word of God, because we love God's people, because the church is a body and the body doesn't function as well with a missing body part, and many, many more. With all of these reasons combined, don't you think that you should never miss church?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Funeral

We had a wonderful homegoing celebration for Carlos Lalisan today. About 150 attended. Quite a few former Bethel members attended and it was good to see them all. Special music was fantastic: Bethel Christian Academy school choir, my son on the trombone, Renee Prophet solo, church choir sings Psalm 23 from our psalter, and Zion's Hill solo from Bob Knight (not the coach). We had five testimonies from two sons, one son-in-law, a young man friend of the family, and a fellow Sunday School member (Ed Schlimmer). I preached a message around Philippians 1:21. We sang two great congregational songs: When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder and Saved by Grace. We went to a very beautiful cemetery plot from which was an incredible view of the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a sunny day with speckled clouds, slight fresh breeze. I read 1 Corinthians 15:50-57. We sang Victory in Jesus and then prayed. Everyone there dropped a flower on the casket and went back to their cars. At the church building we ate a wonderful potluck lunch and people sat and talked and fellowshiped.

The night before, the visitation was unlike anything I had ever seen. People streamed in paying their respects to the family, but most of them stood around talking either in the funeral home or all around it. Last night and today, people freely cried and laughed and enjoyed thinking about their friend who had died. The whole thing went very, very well.

Paul sat in a Roman prison outside of which men were preaching the gospel out of contention and strife. Most people didn't survive Roman prisons. People that went in usually didn't come out alive. Whatever happened, Paul knew things would work out well. If he survived, his prison ministry was thriving, the gospel was being preached with or without the right motive. If he died, he would go to a better place to see Christ face-to-face. Really, death for Paul was a win-win situation. His preference: it was tough, but he desired to depart. For him to live was Christ, but to die was gain. Death is gain for the believer. Why? Better body, better home, better inheritance, better fellowship, and better destiny. To die is gain.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tax Break for Rich

A few days a year are Planet Taxes for me. My world is perforated IRS forms torn out of an exciting page turner. I really don't want to say much more about that for fear that agents scan blogs for future audit targets. Actually, I'm not afraid of an audit; I've been audited. It's an interesting visit, a field trip of sorts. I got to talk to a man that knew less about tax law as it applied to clergy than I did. I think that helped reassure both him and me. I also found out what I had already suspected. They just want you to pay your taxes, the ones you actually owe. They don't care if you find loopholes.

Well, with that kinder, gentler introduction let me talk about "tax breaks for the rich." This lie gets told every two years in this country as election time nears. To start, I don't need to recuse myself on this, because I'm not rich. Well, my Father is rich in houses and lands and holdeth the wealth of the world in his hands. Someone should put that in a song. And then my father-in-law is Rich. Rich Kirby. But I help pad the statistics on poverty. Of course, I'm not poor. I would hover over several third world countries, but here I'm in that bottom tier, the serfs, the proletariat. As a matter of fact, I'm a beneficiary of our country's robbery of rich people, so that makes me even more qualified to talk about this. While listening to our area classical station about a week ago, I heard that the President's new investment tax package benefits the rich. That was in the news segment, worthy of a few seconds to express that fathomless stupidity. I'll get to the rich and investments, but first to the favorite lie of the left, the rich get the biggest tax breaks. You probably knew that the top 10% in wealth pay 90% of all the taxes. Many, many do not pay income taxes at all. Me, for instance. I haven't paid income taxes since I became a pastor 18 years ago. After parsonage allowance and lots of other deductions, I have worked my way into the sweet spot of earned income credit. Yes, the American people pay me for having kids. They want to give me credit for having so many and not allowing them to starve or go homeless. Nice of everyone. Let me say thank you readers for your benevolence. That alone makes me feel as though I'm earning money for doing taxes every year. If a rich man makes a million dollars in a year, let's say he pays 380,000 of that in taxes. If a middle class man makes 100,000 dollars a year (that's middle to upper middle class in California), let's say he pays 25,000 of his hard-earned money to the government. The poor man who makes 20,000 bucks a year, doesn't pay any taxes, but receives 2,000 dollars in EIC from his country.

First, you can't give the poor a tax cut. Have you noticed how impossible it is to pay any less than zero? Instead they raise his EIC $500. He's already being paid for probably being less productive than others, and it's the rich who are giving it to him. Let's say that the middle class guy gets a 20% tax break, which means he is giving $5,000 less to Uncle Sam than he was before. Now let's say that the rich person gets a 5% tax break, so that he is now paying $50,000 less in taxes. Can you believe this? The rich guy gets $50,000 from George W. Bush, the middle class guy gets only $5,000 despite the fact that the union leaders fought hard for him, and then the poor, well, they only get a $500 "break." Do you see what this is all about? It's padding the pockets of rich people. You all know this is a lie, but this kind of class warfare continues because at least 20% of Americans are willing to drink the kool-aid. What I hate about this is the immorality of it all. It directly violates "Thou shalt not steal."

You say, "What's the solution?" At least a flat tax.

But what about investments? Who makes them? Well, the rich have more money to invest. If they do invest it, instead of hoarding it in some offshore account, that means they are putting it back into our economy. They are creating jobs for people. They are essentially keeping families in work, who in turn pay the mortgage or rent and feed the kids. The liberals want to take away incentive for rich people to invest. Why? No good reason, except that it sounds good to a bunch of greedy poor who think they will benefit from the rich getting less. The truth is that while they jump up and down for their guy, in a few weeks or months, they will be in an unemployment line. Don't worry, that will be blamed on conservatives too. Why? Not enough government jobs.

You know I could go on. You know I could. I'll stop here, and hope that you will please tell everyone you know about what an awful lie this is.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Wrath of God

Our church practices a non-age-segregated Sunday School. We start at 9:45am with a song. By the way, I recommend The Trinity Hymnal, Baptist Edition, as the closest hymnal to Scriptural worship as there is. I'll blog separately again on that sometime. We sing out of that. Then we meet for fifteen minutes in small groups and go over a lesson the spiritual head of household was to go over with his or her family during the week. Included with that is an accompanying personal devotion sheet in line with the family lesson. We come back together from 10:05-10:45am for teaching with Pastor Sutton. He just started Romans. Before that we had about two years on the family. A book will be coming out of that series from Pastor Sutton.

OK, this blog title, what say I? For many, many weeks we have read through Puritan Thomas Watsons book/series through the ten commandments. We did skip the fourth commandment. Then we went two weeks on The Law in general. This week we end it all with his sermon, The Wrath of God. The whole series is very, very good. You will have to pick out a very small portion to edit out some baptism and Calvinism, but very, very little. Normally, I gave out four pages every week. I read one page a night to my family on Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri nights. I have interaction, asking age appropriate questions as I read to encourage comprehension. They do the seven day daily digging on the sermon, reading passages on it and commenting. The goal, by the way, with this stratergy (Bushism) is to encourage leadership spiritually in the home instead of creating a caste of dependents on the church leadership. In our Sunday School members reports, we have accountability with the heads of household on their family study during the week. Do you see that we are perfecting the saints for the work of the ministry? Interesting, but I haven't really commented on the topic much yet. All context so far. Well here goes.

Watson exposes the wrath of God magnificently. Just some points without having the sermon in front of me. He justifies God's wrath by making an observation about sinning against gratitude. God has been loving and benevolent, so that when we sin, we do sin against His goodness. I remembered a family years back we had to discipline out of the church who we had given incredible care, highlighting their rebellion. Part of this exposition by Watson is warning about the wrath of God. How could a just God punish someone eternally for a momentary sin? The recipient has sinned against an infinite God, bringing infinite punishment. How long is infinite? I wondered if it was Watson who originated the whole illustration of an angel swooping down to pick up one grain of sand every year, so that by the end of his having collected all of it, eternity will have only begun. Have you thought about the kind of love and grace that will absorb that wrath? I can't help but think of eternal security at this juncture. Yes, our sin abounds, but His grace much more abounds!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Further Debate Fodder: Revelation 22:18, 19, the Book of Life, and the Holy City

A major argument against eternal security is Revelation 22:18, 19 and Mr. Hafley used this during the debate. It didn't turn out well for him because the passage doesn't teach that someone can lose his salvation. Revelation 22:18, 19 reads: "18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Mr. Hafley used "God shall take away his part out of the book of life" to make his point. Is that teaching that we can lose our salvation, that our name can be taken out of the book of life? One of the great aspects of preparing for a debate is getting the best answers for these kinds of passages, which results in Christian growth. So what is happening in Revelation 22:18, 19?

First, the text does not say that God will take someone's name out of the book of life. It says He will take someone's "part" out of it. This verse is prospective. It is talking about the potential of someone being in the book of life, not speaking of an actual inclusion in the book of life. They could be in the book of life, but they will not be in it. Their part is taken away. You ask, how do I know it is prospective? Verse 19 goes on to say that someone's part shall also be taken out of the holy city. Is it possible that someone already in the New Jerusalem will be removed from the holy city? Of course not. Again, their part is being removed, only speaking of the prospects of their being in the holy city being taken away. A question I asked Mr. Hafley that he would not answer because it would totally expose him was: "Will people be removed out of the holy city once they are already there?" You see, if they can be removed out of the book of life, then it follows that they also will be removed out of the holy city. Neither of them is true. I asked Mr. Hafley this question at least three times and he never would answer it.

Second, whose part is removed from the book of life? It is the person who is taking away from the words of the book of this prophecy. The Greek verb behind "take away" is present tense. It is not someone who periodically takes away, but someone who does this as a lifestyle. Believers do not behave this way. We know from many places in the NT that believers will keep all of the Lord's Words, Sayings, and Commandments. A believer will behave as a believer, and an unbeliever as an unbeliever. Just as a side note---this is a serious warning about taking away from the Words of Revelation. Did you know that the book of Revelation is the book of the Bible with the most textual variants? This book has been attacked textually more than any other book, and like most who participate in textual criticism, they take away from the words. Their theory is that scribes added words through centuries in their copying, and so to restore the text to something closer to its original condition, men need to take away some of the Words. Of course, their criteria are very subjective and they make their decisions based on rationalistic, Darwinistic principle, namely that the Scriptural texts evolve, so it is man's job to make and keep making corrections to the text mainly by means of cutting out Words. They say that the shorter text is better. Interestingly enough, one of the verses that has been changed in the critical text of Revelation is this one. "Take away" in the textus receptus (the text behind the KJV) is in the present tense and in the critical text, it is in the aorist tense. Their text is more strict about taking away, making a one time take away to deserve having someone's part taken out of the book. Ironic that we who believe in the perfect preservation of Scripture believe that "taking away" as a practice is what is forbidden here.

So ask the question. Can anyone be taken out of the holy city once he is there? Well, if no one can be taken out of the holy city, then no one can be taken out of the book of life. They won't have a part there, but they can't be removed from the book or the city once they are actually in the book and in the city. Did you know that Revelation 3:5 had already guaranteed that? "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." The kings of Johns day in 90AD would, as despots, unilaterally remove people's names from the registry of citizenship. They did this to punish their enemies and one often would have this done to him during that day. Well, unlike these cruel rulers, the Lord Jesus Christ guarantees that he will not remove one of His children from the registry that is the book of life. Someone might ask: "But don't they have to keep overcoming for their names not to be removed?" The believer will overcome. 1 John 5:4, 5 teaches us that when it says, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" The person born of God, who cannot be unborn, will overcome the world. All believers will overcome the world. 1 John 4:4 explains why: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." God is greater than any person or force that could attempt to keep someone from overcoming. Therefore, no believer can have his name taken from the book of life.

It's great, isn't it?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More on the Debate: The Big If

One COC man wrote me to say that Mr. Hafley had good arguments that I avoided by using "original language arguments." That made me smile. The Bible was witten in Hebrew and Greek. When I made an argument using the original languages, I wasn't making anything other than a Bible argument. What it says in the Hebrew and Greek is what it says. I was simply showing the audience what the passages were saying. His criticism showed a tremendous amount of ignorance further confirmed by his false COC teachers.

One blooper saw me in my 20 minutes at one point present the first class conditional sentence. There are four conditions of sentences in the New Testament Greek. The first class condition is considered the 'Simple Condition' and assumes that the premise (protasis) is true for the sake of argument. The protasis is formed with the helping word ei ('if') with the main verb in the indicative mood, in any tense; with any mood and tense in the apodosis (The protasis is the "if" clause and the apodosis is the "then" clause). I showed the audience and Mr. Hafley that some of the conditional sentences that he used to teach we could lose our salvation were not stating a possibility but a reality. I used two examples. One was Colossians 1:21-23: "21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister." The "if" clause in v. 23 is a first class conditional, and here it has the understanding of "since." They would continue in the faith---that was a guarantee. There was no possibility they would not continue. This is not giving a condition of possibility but one of reality.

Mr. Hafley came right back and used Colossians 1:21-23 anyways, as if we said nothing. He said that the "if" meant there was a possibility that someone might not continue in the faith. The language of the verse does not and cannot mean that at all. He simply acted like we said nothing. In this first class condition, we must assume that those God preserved blameless would certainly remain grounded and settled. To make a possibility to lose salvation is not only putting in something that is not in there, but aboslutely condtradicting what is already there. These were really important arguments for the COC that had no Scriptural foundation at all.

Friday, April 07, 2006


In the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon illustrates vanity with the rising and setting of the sun. In Lamentations, Jeremiah sees the same event and writes, "Great is thy faithfulness." They both saw the same scene with two contradictory reactions. One has the horizontal view and the other vertical.

When I looked down at Carlos on Thursday night, I saw a peace in his face and I had a peace in my heart about him. I was sad for the family, for the people he left behind, but I was happy for him. His struggle was over. Did he take anything with him? Nothing. I looked at him and thought, "This is the bottom line. Nothing counts if you aren't ready for this." Looking at someone who has just died can give important perspective. Absent from the body, present with the Lord. Only one life, twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Church Member, Friend, Dies

One of our men died tonight. I was with him, his wife, and son and Jun and Sonia Balatbat in the emergency room. Carlos Lalisan. Carlos and his family came to our church 16 years ago and have been faithful members, all three of his children graduating from Bethel Christian Academy. This last summer, his daughter Emily was married in Virginia, and Carlos attended, though with a very, very weak heart. This last week his pacemaker had to kick start his heart five times. He went into the hospital and he just could not ever get better. Today he prayed that God would take him home and He did. He leaves his beloved wife Helen, sons Ben and Jeremiah, and his daughter Emily. For many years Carlos was the janitor at Bethel Christian Academy, so quite a few kids know him. Carlos was in church last Sunday. He was frail, but in good spirits. I know that in light of his poor health, he had gotten much closer to the Lord, doing what someone should do who knows the Lord when he senses time is short, that is, submit completely to God. For church members, let's rally around Helen and the family. For those reading my blog, pray for them and our church at this time. We are truly happy He is at home with the Lord and we sorrow not as others which have no hope.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

What Was I Supposed to Do?

It gets to be a little much. You know what a humble Baptist is to a COC member? On his back with a COC shoe on his neck. Humility isn't timidly admitting that the false prophet is right. I've been getting these letters from COC people telling me that it was a different debate than I've described and I'm an arrogant outright liar. Two words: Sanballat and Tobiah. Read Nehemiah and find the criticism Nehemiah got when he rebuilt the wall. Larry Hafley is one of the most arrogant guys you'll ever see. His rhetoric tactics require some like kind speech. A fool must be answered lest he be wise in his own conceit. Let me give you just a few more bloopers. I should say at the outset that I'm not making any of this up. The COC hears things through the Larry Hafley grid. Larry Hafley makes things up out of thin air at least once for every 20 minutes of debating. When you point them out, he makes some excuse or spins it into something else. I have so many of these bloopers going through my mind, it is just a matter of choosing.

Hebrews 10:10, 14 are great eternal security verses. They read, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." If they had one verse like these two on their side of this issue, they might be worth considering. "Sanctified" does not always refer to salvation in Scripture. It means "set apart." In these two verses it is salvation. In v. 10, the word "sanctified" is perfect tense, so that a person who is sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, is sanctified at one point in time in the past, that action of sanctification completed with the results ongoing. In v. 14, "hath perfected" is perfect tense. He completed our perfection at one point in the past with the results ongoing, and how long is that perfection ongoing? For ever. The point of Hebrews 10:1-18 is that Jesus completed what needed to be done for us to be saved for ever, so that we don't need to keep coming and coming, working and working, or believing and believing.

How do they answer that? They say that all of Hebrews was written to the saved alone, so that every text that is a warning to unbelievers is actually a warning to believers so that they won't lose their salvation. Larry Hafley went to Hebrews 10:28, 29, which say, "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" Their key is the word "sanctified." They say that the word "sanctified" in v. 29 refers back to the one who despised Moses' law at the beginning of v. 28. "Sanctified actually refers back to "the Son of God." Jesus own blood sanctified his priestly ministry, just like the OT sacrificial animal blood sanctified Aaron and the priests. The "he" in "he was sanctified" is Jesus. The unbelieving Jew counts the blood of the covenant by which Jesus was sanctified to be an unholy thing. Son of God is the nearest antecedent and proximity is the number one criteria to identify the correct antecedent to a pronoun.

Mr. Hafley ignores all this grammar, does a kind "awww shucks" routine, tells the people how smart they are, and that the person here was "sanctified," so he must have been saved and then lost it when he did an unholy thing and did despite unto the Spirit of grace. If sanctified here can lose it, Hafley posits that the people in Hebrews 10:10, 14 can also lose it, even though they are said explicity not to be able do so. This is called interpreting the clear in the light of the completely muddled. I don't have to go to some other passage to show his passage doesn't work. "Sanctified" refers to Jesus because the nearest antecedent. It also fits the picture of priesthood that we would expect. After I made this argument in the debate, he presented no contrary evidence, but he did keep throwing up the chart with Hebrews 10:28, 29 and acting like I said nothing, never debunking anything that I said in Hebrews 10:28, 29 or Hebrews 10:14, 15. Who do you think I'm going to say is going the wrong way?

Monday, April 03, 2006

How the Arguments Hashed Out

Here is a chart with the texts of his arguments and then mine. His passages are on the left and mine on the right after the dashes. These are just the arguments and whether they were answered. This does not deal with how poor his arguments were, so poor that they shouldn't really even be called arguments. You can see that I answered all of his arguments and he didn't answer 22 of mine. (a=answered)
Hafley Arg—Brand. Answ-------------Brandenburg Arg—Haf Answ
Galatians 5:19-21 a-----------------------John 6:37 a
1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 a --------------------John 10:27-29 a
Revelation 22:14,15 a ---------------------John 6:39 a
Revelation 22:19 a ------------------------John 6:35
2 Peter 2:20-23 a -------------------------John 4:12, 13 a
1 Peter 1:10, 11 a -------------------------John 3:6
Hebrews 10:28, 29 a ----------------------John 3:8
Galatians 5:1-4 a --------------------------1 John 1:5-2:2
John 15:5, 6 a -----------------------------John 6:37 a
Luke 12:42-46 a --------------------------1 John 5:1 a
1 John 2:29/4:7/5:1 a ---------------------1 John 5:4 a
Revelation 3:5 a ---------------------------1 John 4:4 a
Galatians 6:7,8 a --------------------------1 John 3:14
Hebrews 3:1-14 a -------------------------1 John 3:6 a
Romans 8:12, 13 a -------------------------1 John 2:19 a
Ezekiel 33 a -------------------------------1 John 2:29
John 17:12 a ------------------------------1 John 4:12, 13 a
John 2:23-25 a ----------------------------John 17:11 a
John 6:66 a -------------------------------John 17:2 a
1 John 5:1 a ---------------------------------John 17:24 a
Jude 1:5 a ---------------------------------John 17:12 a
Revelation 3:5 a ---------------------------2 Timothy 1:12 a
Isaiah 24:5 a -------------------------------Philippians 1:6 a
Psalm 105:10, 11 a -------------------------Galatians 2:20 a
Joshua 23:11-13 a --------------------------Ephesians 2:8, 9
1 John 3:15 a -------------------------------Ephesians 2:10
2 Timothy 2:12 a ---------------------------2 Corinthians 5:17
Galatians 6:1 a ------------------------------1 Peter 1:4 a
0 Unanswered ------------------------------Philippians 2:12, 13 a
-------------------------------------------------Romans 8:29, 30 a
-------------------------------------------------Matthew 9:22
-------------------------------------------------John 18:9
-------------------------------------------------Matthew 7:21-23
-------------------------------------------------Jude 1:1 a
-------------------------------------------------Colossians 2:10 a
-------------------------------------------------Colossians 3:3
-------------------------------------------------Romans 8:35-39 a
-------------------------------------------------Romans 5:2 a
-------------------------------------------------Revelation 22:19
-------------------------------------------------Revelation 3:5
-------------------------------------------------John 5:24
-------------------------------------------------Hebrews 10:10 a
-------------------------------------------------Hebrews 10:14 a
-------------------------------------------------Hebrews 7:25
-------------------------------------------------Romans 8:27
-------------------------------------------------1 Corinthians 1:2
-------------------------------------------------2 Peter 1:3, 4 a
-------------------------------------------------Hebrews 12:7-11 a
-------------------------------------------------1 Corinthians 3:10-15 a
-------------------------------------------------Romans 6:14
-------------------------------------------------1 Corinthians 6:11
-------------------------------------------------Romans 16:13 a
-------------------------------------------------Romans 5:5
-------------------------------------------------22 unanswered

The Story of the Debate 2: Winners and Losers

I want everyone here to know that I received two comments from a COC "evangelist" from Alameda, who actually did the video taping of the debate. He hosted last year's Ross/Hafley debate. I rejected his comments, but I'm considering allowing them from him in the future. I didn't want to argue with him about his comments and I didn't think either of them were true. The first comment was during the debate, and it dealt with my comments about their home court advantage. I said only that it was a home crowd, which encourages certain behavior from Hafley. I didn't say I was offended. His second comment was on Saturday, and he said that he differed in his opinion about the outcome of the debate. The more I think about what Hafley said in the debate, the more I believe what I wrote.

Let me give you some examples. I brought the argument that "born of God" in 1 John 5:1, 4 are perfect tense, so that a person could not be unborn. A person is born of God, so that birth is complete with the results ongoing. Spiritual birth is by nature permanent. This is indisputable. However, Mr. Hafley argued against it by saying that a person "born of the devil" can become "born of God," so being "unborn" is actually possible. If the actual tense of the verb says permanence, then it is permanent, unless somehwere else says someone can be unborn, and then those verses would contradict. The Bible doesn't contradict. I pointed out to Mr. Hafley that the Bible nowhere says that someone is "born of the devil." That didn't matter to Mr. Hafley. I also said that even if someone could show a verse that said that, it would still not prove that a person born of God can become unborn of God.

His other argument against this was that 1 John says that the person born of God is the one whoe believes (1 John 5:1), the one who loves (1 John 4:7) and the one who obeys (1 John 2:29). He kept saying that we are born of God because we believe, love, and obey. The text says that the one who believes, loves, and obeys IS born of God. They are already born of God. That they love, believe, and obey is how they KNOW they are born of God. I showed carefully that in grammar "is" doesn't mean "results in." I went to a seventh grade grammar book to show him that "is" means "equals," that the subject and the predicate are interchangeable. He didn't care. He had a point of view to protect and was willing to alter grammar and the meaning of words to do it. This is typical of everything that Mr. Hafley argued. Some of his arguments were much worse than this one.

So I'll let you decide. What do you think of the Hafley arguments there concerning 1 John 5:1, 4?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Story of the Debate 1: An Empty Cup

I want to be gracious. I'm saying that because I want you to know. I am happy, yes, but I want people to know that I want to be gracious. Mr. Hafley does the best he can for someone who believes someone can lose his salvation. At the end, I honestly felt sorry for him and empathized with his situation. It's like being given the guilty criminal to defend, when you have a dozen eye witnesses, finger prints, blood everywhere, and confession at the scene of the crime. He couldn't win because he was starting with an empty cup. He really is good with the rhetoric, if one counts that to be good. He knows how to embarrass an opponent. He has techniques to ridicule, make the other side look bad. For instance, after making a contradictory point, he will say sarcastically, "Thank you, Mr. Brandenburg." At one point on the third night he warned in a oily way, "Romans is not your friend, Mr. Brandenburg." Often he instructed the crowd with this, "You are way too intelligent an audience to believe what he says." See what I mean? He's good at that. He knows how to use his voice to make what he preaches to sound absolutely authoritative and believable. I could do the same thing and tell you something like---"Everyone wants the ebola virus"---say it with a totally straight face and if you were gullible enough, you might believe it.

After his last 20 minutes of the third night, I didn't feel very good. I didn't answer him on the third night. I did, however, cremate his material in the first 20 minutes on the last night, and it was over really right there. I systematically with charts full of Scripture and exegetical points, dismantled everything that Mr. Hafley said on Thursday night. He was left spinning in his first 20 minutes, scrambling and treading water, trying to keep his head above water with all his rhetorical might. Nothing was in his cup. I came up the second 20 minutes and after finishing off all of his arguments in a devastating way, I started into about 15-20 examples of the perfect tense on salvation in Scripture. I'll talk about some of those in this blog in the near future. He flailed away attempting to produce something out of thin air for another 20 minutes. Then I stood up for my last speech and hit about 10 more minutes of evidence before I went into about 7 minutes preaching the gospel. I then spent about 1 1/2 minutes showing several of the questions he did not/could not answer and arguments I made that he did not reply. I had about 1 1/2 minutes left, so I gave one last argument for eternal security and sat down. His last twenty minutes, you could see that some of his energy was gone, and he tried anyway, but he had an empty cup. The best thing they did to rehabilitate their unScriptural position was to thank many of the people at the end for coming and participating and acting like they really liked what happened.

I made at least 10 arguments that he didn't even answer, probably closer to 20, and the ones he did answer were amazing answers that I will share with you in this space at some time in the near future. I thank the Lord for doing what He did in this debate. I hope people will change. I know it comes down to the Lord working, the Holy Spirit convicting, humility, and surrender to the Lord's will. I also thank you for praying. Thank you, thank you. The Lord truly has filled our cup.


Well, the fat lady sang, but I'm going to have to give you the big scoop tomorrow, Lord-willing. What I can say is---Yes! It went very well. Very, very well. I'll tell you what and why tomorrow. Thanks for praying, because the message did get out. You can rest assured that the Bible does teach eternal security and that doctrine was up for the challenge. I'm also happy that this means I can start talking about eternal security in length on here, now that it's over. Again, Yes!