Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Yes and Then No, the Bible with Mark Ward (part two)

Earlier this week, I wrote part one concerning two separate videos posted by Mark Ward.  The second one I saw first, and since my name was mentioned, I answered.  He cherry-picks quotes without context.  Ward made what he thought was a good argument against the Textus Receptus.

In part one, I said "yes" to his assessment of IFB preaching.  I didn't agree, as he concluded, that a correction to preaching was the biggest step for IFB.  A distorted gospel, I believe, is of greater import, something unmentioned by Ward.


Bob Jones Seminary (BJU) invited Ward to teach on problems with the Textus Receptus (received text, TR), the Greek text behind the New Testament (NT) of the King James Version (KJV) and all the other Reformation Era English versions. It was also the basis for all the other language versions of the Bible.  There is only one Bible, and subsequent to the invention of the printing press, we know the TR was the Bible of true believers for four centuries.  Unless the Bible can change, it's still the Bible.

Ward accepted the invitation from BJU, despite his own commitment against arguing textual criticism with anyone who disagrees with him.   For him to debate, his opposition must agree with his innovative, non-historical or exegetical application of 1 Corinthians 14:9.  It's the only presupposition that I have heard Ward claim from scripture on this issue.

Critical text supporters, a new and totally different approach to the Bible in all of history, oppose scriptural presuppositions.  They require sola scientia to determine the Bible.  Modern textual criticism, what is all of textual criticism even though men like Ward attempt to reconstruct what believing men did from 1500 to 1800, arose with modernism.  Everything must subject itself to human reason.

In his lecture, Ward used F. H. A. Scrivener to argue against Scrivener's New Testament, giving the former an alias Henry Ambrose, his two middle names, to argue against Scrivener himself.  It is an obvious sort of mockery of those who use the NT, assuming they don't know history.  The idea behind it is that Scrivener didn't even like his Greek NT.

What did Scrivener do?  He collated the Greek text behind the KJV NT from TR editions, and then printed the text underlying the NT of the KJV.   It was an academic exercise for him, not one out of love for the TR.  Scrivener was on the committee to produce the Revised Version.

The Greek Words of the New Testament

Did the words of that New Testament exist before Scrivener's NT?  Yes.  Very often (and you can google it with my name to find out) I'll say, "Men translated from something."  For centuries, they did.

The words of Scrivener were available in print before Scrivener.  Scrivener knew this too, as the differences between the various TR editions are listed in the Scrivener's Annotated New Testament, a leather bound one of which I own.  Ward says there are massive numbers of differences between the TR editions.  That's not true.

Like Ward's pitting Scrivener on Scrivener and the KJV translators against the KJV translation, claiming massive variants between TR editions is but a rhetorical device to propagandize listeners.  The device entertains supporters, but I can't see it persuading anyone new.  It's insulting.

When you compare Sinaiticus with Vaticanus, there you see massive differences, enough that Dean Burgon wrote, "It is in fact easier to find two consecutive verses in which these two MSS differ the one from the other, than two consecutive verses in which they entirely agree."  There are over 3,000 variations between the two main critical manuscripts in the gospels alone.  That is a massive amount.  Moslem Koran apologists enjoy these critical text materials to attack the authority of the Bible.  It is their favorite apologetic device, what I heard from every Moslem I confront at a door in evangelism.

There are 190 differences between Beza 1598 and Scrivener's.  Scrivener's is essentially Beza 1598.  Many of those variations are spelling, accents, and breathing marks.  As a preemptive shot, I know that all those fit into an application of jots and tittles.  We know that, but we also know where the text of the King James Version came from and we know that text was available for centuries.  God preserved that text of the NT.  Believers received it and used it.

Men Translated from Something

When you read John Owen, what Greek text was he reading?  He had one.  Ward says there wasn't a text until Scrivener.  Wrong.  What text did John Gill use?  What text did Jonathan Edwards use?  They relied on an original language text.  What text did John Flavel and Stephen Charnock use?  They all used a Greek text of the New Testament.

16th through 19th century Bible preachers and scholars refer to their Greek New Testament.  Matthew Henry when writing commentary on the New Testament refers to a printed Greek New Testament.  He also writes concerning those leaving out 1 John 5:7:  "Some may be so faulty, as I have an old printed Greek Testament so full of errata, that one would think no critic would establish a various lection thereupon."

The Greek words of the New Testament were available.  Saints believed they had them and they were the TR.  This reverse engineering, accusation of Ruckmanism, is disinformation by Ward and others.

The Assessment of Scrivener and the Which TR Question

Ward uses the assessment of Scrivener and the preface of the KJV translators as support for continued changes of the Greek text.  This is disingenuous.  The translators did not argue anywhere in the preface for an update of the underlying text.  They said the translation, not the text, could be updated.  That argument does not fit in a session on the Greek text, except to fool the ignorant.

Just because Scrivener collated the Greek words behind the KJV doesn't mean that he becomes the authority on the doctrine of preservation any more than the translators of the KJV.  It grasps at straws.  I haven't heard Scrivener used as a source of support for the Textus Receptus any time ever.  I don't quote him.

I have written on the "Which TR question" already many .times, the most used argument by those in the debate for the critical text.  It's also a reason why we didn't answer that question in our book, Thou Shalt Keep Them.  If we addressed it, that would have been all anyone talked about.  We say, deal with the passages on preservation first.  We get our position from scripture.

The position I and others take isn't that God would preserve His Words in Scrivener's.  The position is that all the Words are preserved and available to every generation of Christian.  That's why we support the Textus Receptus.

Ward never explains why men point to Scrivener's.  I have answered that question many times, but he doesn't state the answer.  He stated only the position of Peter Van Kleeck, because he had a clever comeback concerning sanctification.  But even that misrepresented what Van Kleeck wrote.

The position I take, which fits also the position of John Owen, I call the canonicity argument. I have a whole chapter in TSKT on that argument.  I've written about it many times here.

If pinned to the wall, and I must answer which TR edition, I say Scrivener's, but it doesn't even relate to my belief on the doctrine.  What I believe is that all of God's Words in the language in which they were written have been available to every generation of believer.  I don't argue that they were all available in one manuscript (hand-written copy) that made its way down through history.  The Bible doesn't promise that.

Scriptural Presuppositions or Not?

The critical text position, that Ward takes, cannot be defended from scripture.  The position that I take arises from what scripture teaches.  It's the same position as believed by the authors of the Westminster Confession, London Baptist Confession, and every other confession.  That is accepted and promoted by those in his associations.

Ward doesn't even believe the historical doctrine of preservation. Textual variations sunk that for him, much like it did Bart Ehrman.  Ward changed his presupposition not based upon scripture, but based upon what he thought he could see.  It isn't by faith that he understands this issue.

Some news out of Ward's speech is that he doesn't believe that God preserved every word of the Bible.  He says he believes the "preponderance of the manuscripts" view. I call it "the buried text view."  Supporters speculate the exact text exists somewhere, a major reason why Daniel Wallace continues looking.  That is not preservation.

"The manuscripts" are an ambiguous, sort of chimera to their supporters.  They don't think they have them yet. That view, the one supported by two books by BJU authors, From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man and God's Word in Our Hands, they themselves do not believe.  Ward walked it back during his speech too.  They don't really believe it.  It's a hypothetical to them.  Men of the two above books don't believe at least that they possess the Hebrew words of 1 Samuel 13:1 in any existing manuscript.  At present, like a Ruckmanite, they correct the Hebrew text with a Greek translation.

In the comment section of the above first video, Ward counsels someone in the comment section to use a modern translation from the TR, such the NKJV.  The NKJV, Ward knows, doesn't come from the TR.  There are variations from the TR used in the NKJV, a concession that Ward made in a post in his comment section after being shown 20-25 examples.  He wrote this:

First the concession: I am compelled to acknowledge that the NKJV does not use “*precisely* the same Greek New Testament” text as the one underlying the KJV NT.

He could not find 2 John 1:7 of the NKJV in any TR edition.  Does it matter?  It does, especially a translation that calls itself the NEW King James Version.  The translators did not use the same text as the KJV used, however Ward wants to represent that.  I would happily debate him on the subject.  I'm sure Thomas Ross would.

Mark Ward has committed not to debate on the text behind the KJV.  He is committed now to taking shots from afar, leaving the safe shores of vernacular translation to hit on the text.  Even though he says the variations do not affect the message of the Bible, he continues to argue against the text behind the King James Version.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Yes and Then No, the Bible with Mark Ward (part one)

My last post of last week, the shell game with Bible words, if you followed the links, referred to a session Mark Ward did at Bob Jones Seminary, where he did refer to Thomas Ross and myself.  Someone sent that to me, and in my path to watching it, I became curious in another of his videos.  I'll deal with both here.  One I essentially agreed with, and the other, no.


Chronologically, Mark Ward first made a podcast from his greenhouse about attending an IFB meeting close to where he lived.  An IFB pastor invited him because R. B. Ouellette was going to preach on the King James issue.  He didn't say which church this was.  It was surely revivalist in the Hyles/Sword realm.  Ward started out ready to deal with KJVOnlyism, but it turned into something else.  Here's the podcast.

Ward traveled to a special meeting at a revivalist IFB church to interact with KJVO.  Based upon a heads-up from its pastor, he expected something promoting KJVO.  Ward reported much he liked about the service all the way up to the Ouellette sermon.  Ouellette opened to Job 31:35-36 to defend KJVO.  A plain reading of Job 31 does not appear to do that.

Ward and Ouellette both graduated from Bob Jones University.  In his criticism, Ward distinguished between using the Bible for what a man wants to say and preaching what the Bible does say.  By his account, Ouellette did the former.  He was not a herald, who delivers the Word of the King.  Ward titled his podcast, "The Biggest Step the IFB Needs to Take."  He treats IFB with generosity, more than what I would.   Instead of the KJVO issue, he found a "preaching" one instead.


Bad Preaching

I wrote, "Yes," in this title.  I agree with the criticism of this typical, popular IFB preaching.  If IFB apparently cares for the perfection of its Bible, then preach the Bible.  Its leaders very often preach like Ward described.  He reported loud "Amens" shouted all around, which supported a message that twisted the Word of God.  Ward exposed a reason for someone to separate from IFB churches and men.  I say "Yes" to Ward.  I agree with him.

What causes a man to preach like Ouellette?  It's not that he is unable to preach the Bible.  Why would he settle for something entirely not what the passage says?  Underlying doctrinal problems exist especially regarding the Holy Spirit.  Keswick theology, second blessing theology, or revivalism, all similar error but with a nuance of difference, affect preaching.

Many IFB believe the preacher becomes a vessel for a message from the Holy Spirit.  They believe that through the Holy Spirit God gives the preacher something others can't even see in a text.  This is called "preaching."  God uses "preaching," but by that they don't mean the Bible.  The Bible is used, but the preaching is something unique.  They trust the man of God has been given something they haven't ever seen and can't see.

However, I dispute preaching as the biggest step for IFB. It isn't the "I" (independent) or the "B" (Baptist) in IFB that's the problem.  "F" for Fundamentalism is at the root of the problem.  Actual preaching of the Bible isn't a fundamental of fundamentalism.  In general, IFB does not confront bad preaching.  It allows it and even encourages it.  If someone spiritualizes or allegorizes a passage and reads something into a text, it doesn't bring condemnation.  However, the biggest step for fundamentalism isn't its preaching.

False Gospel

Fundamentalism is rife with a corrupted gospel.  Ward commended the evangelism of IFB.  What is the evangelism of IFB?  Look all over the internet at the gospel presentations.  Most IFB removes biblical repentance and the Lordship of Christ.  Let's say Ouellette rejected KJVO and started using the ESV, or even just the NKJV.  Would he become acceptable to Ward, reaching his primary goal?  Ouellette argues against repentance as necessary for salvation (I write herehere, and here).  When you read doctrinal statements and the plans of salvation of those churches most associated with Ouellette, they're the same.

A few years ago, James White participated in an interview with Steven Anderson.  In White's many criticisms of Anderson, he never mentions his false gospel.  Anderson hosts an anti-repentance website.  Anderson is worse than Ouellette, but both fall short of a biblical gospel.  As White ignores Anderson's gospel, Ward does Ouellette's.  This diverges from the often stated emphasis of evangelicals, the gospel of first importance.  The version issue stokes greater heat than the gospel does.

Some IFB churches preach a true gospel even as some preach biblical sermons.  Yet, a false gospel subverts IFB unrelated to the version of the Bible it uses.  Years ago IFB allowed and even promoted the introduction and then acceptance of a false doctrine of salvation.  I am happy Ward noticed the bad preaching Ouellette, but his focus harms his ability to see the biggest IFB problem.  Ward doesn't mention the wrong gospel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Shell Game Played With Words About the Bible

You know right now the concern about the gender of pronouns used to address the sexes.  The controversy revolves around calling a biological male, "him," or a biological female, "her."  People change the meaning of the words and expect us to play along.  You know it's a man, but you call him, a her.  You call he, a she.

Let's say we're talking about the words of scripture.  Inspiration applies to words.  God inspired words.  And then someone says, I believe in the inerrancy of scripture in the context of words.  We think he means, no errors in the words.  I think he even knows that we think he means words.  However, he doesn't mean words.  He's not saying that there are no errors in the words. 

Someone holds up a Bible and calls it the inerrant Word of God.  He doesn't mean words.  He means something different.  It's hard to say what he means, but it's probably the following.  Inerrancy means that you can trust that the teachings of the Bible are without error.  He doesn't bring up inerrancy in the context of the teachings of the Bible.  He brings it up in the context of words.  He's playing a shell game, moving those shells around very quickly.  You thought he meant words, but he didn't.

You think the bead is under the shell.  That's what someone wants you to think.  The bead is words, but you see a shell.  Words aren't under the shell.  It's teachings, and even that is ambiguous, because even with that, he doesn't mean teachings.

When someone says the teachings of scripture are inerrant, if that's even what he means, because that can become very ambiguous, he doesn't mean that you can't find errors in the Bible.  You can.  However, all things considered, if you take all the combined passages of the Bible to come up with those teachings, all the right teachings are available in the Bible.

Men don't even agree on what the Bible teaches, let alone on what's right that it does teach.  Two different men can say they believe in inerrancy and then disagree on ten different doctrines of scripture.  It's a hypothetical inerrancy.  Let's just say it.  It isn't inerrancy.  I can agree to an ambiguous, hypothetical inerrancy, and then agree that the Bible is inerrant.  I can hold up the Bible and say, this is the inerrant Word of God.

When I say the Bible is without error, I mean that it is without error.  Every Word that God inspired has been preserved in the language in which it is written.  Since inerrancy relates to what God inspired, if there are missing words, then it isn't inerrant any more.  I believe that and not in a hypothetical way.  I'm not going to say that we both agree the Bible is inerrant, fully realizing that when you say "inerrant" you don't even mean "inerrant."  You mean something that allows you to believe the Bible is inerrant without believing that it is inerrant.  This is like calling him, her.

If the Bible is perfect, then it can't be given extra perfection.  There are those who do not believe it is perfect.  They also don't believe that scripture says that scripture is perfect.  They believe that it is inerrant, but it isn't perfect.

I would say, don't call the Bible perfect if you don't believe it.  Also, don't call it inerrant, if you don't believe it is inerrant.  Don't make perfect and inerrant mean something different than what they obviously mean in light of what the Bible says about itself.

I can go through my Bible and show you a doctrine of its inerrancy and perfection.  Then I ask, "Does the Bible teach that it is inerrant and perfect?"  You say, "Yes."  So then I ask, "Okay, so which Bible is the inerrant and perfect one?"  You say, "None are."  So is the teaching of the Bible inerrant and perfect?

I believe the Bible is perfect and inerrant because the Bible says so.  Then you start peppering me with individual words, phrases, verses, and even larger passages.  I explain every one of those texts based on the presupposition that I have.  I can do it.  Now let me get into your presuppositions, how you came to having them, or whether they are reverse engineered.

You say, I can see that there isn't a perfect Bible.  So now when you look at the passages that teach the Bible is perfect, they've got to mean something else.  Where do those presuppositions come from?  How did you get those presuppositions?  How is that conservative?

I'm not playing a shell game when I say the Bible is inerrant and perfect.  Many others are.

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Regular History of Clever New Interpretations, Teachings, or Takes on and from Scripture: Socinianism

One way to get a Nobel prize in something, you've got to break some new ground or discover something no one has ever seen.  In the world, the invention of a printing press or light bulb changes everything.  People are still out there trying to invent a better mousetrap.  It happens.  The phone replaced the telegraph and now our mobile devices.

Everyone can learn something new from scripture.  You might even change or tweak a doctrine you've always believed.   On the whole, you really don't want to teach something from the Bible no one has ever heard before.  The goal is the original intent and understanding of the Author.

From the left comes progressivism.  The U. S. Constitution, just over two hundred years old, means something different than it did when it was written.  Loosely constructed, it has a flexible interpretation into which are read new meanings.  Hegelian dialectics say a new thesis comes from synthesis of antithesis and the old thesis.  Everything can be improved.

Early after the inspiration and then propagation of the Bible, men began finding new things in scripture no one ever saw.  Many of these "finds" started a new movement.  People have their fathers, the father of this or that teaching, contradictory to the other, causing division and new factions and denominations.  Some of these changes become quite significant, a majority supplanting the constituents of the original teaching.

At the time of the Reformation, it was as if the world first found sole fide and sole scriptura.  Justification is often called the Reformation doctrine of justification.  This opened a big proverbial can of worms.  Everyone could read his own Bible, many times in his own language, and now dig into his own copy of the original languages of scripture.  A certain skepticism grew.  "If we didn't know this before, what else have they not been telling us."  It was a time ripe for religious shysters and this practice hasn't stopped since then.

The Italian, Laelius Socinus, was born in 1525 into a distinguished family of jurists and he was trained at Padua.  Early Socinus's attention turned to scripture research instead of law, which led to his doubt in the teachings of Roman Catholicism.  Socinus moved in 1548 to Zurich to study Greek and Hebrew.  His questioning of established doctrine didn't stop.  He also doubted the Reformers and wrote his own confession of faith that introduced different, conflicting beliefs that took hold in his nephew, Faustus Socinus, born in 1539.

Faustus rejected orthodox Roman Catholic doctrines, was denounced by the Inquisition in 1559, and fled to Zurich himself in 1562, where he acquired his uncle's writings that same year his uncle died.  Catholicism was wrong and the doubt turned anti-Trinitarian.  The Reformation did not go far enough for Socinus and in his first published work in 1562 on the prologue of John, he rejected the essential deity of Jesus Christ.

Socinus's journeys ended in Poland, where he became the leader of the Minor Reformed Church, called the Polish Brethren.  His writings in the form of the Racovian Catechism survived in Polish and Latin through the press of the Racovian Academy of Rakow, Poland.  His and his uncle's beliefs took on the name of Socinianism, which also became a catch-all for any type of dissenting beliefs.

Socinianism held that Jesus did not exist until his physical conception.  He was adopted by God as His Son at conception and became the Son of God when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, a Gnostic view called "adoptionism."  It rejected the doctrine of original sin.  It denies the omniscience of God, introducing the first well developed concept of what is called "open theism," which said that man couldn't have free will under a traditional (and scriptural) understanding of omniscience.  It also taught the moral example theory of atonement, teaching that Jesus sacrificed himself to motivate people to repent and believe.  His death gave men the ability to be saved by their own works, who weren't sinners by nature anyway.

The work of Socinus lived on in the belief of early English Unitarians, Henry Hedworth and John Biddle.  Socinian belief was helped along also by its position of conscientious objection, a practice of refusing to perform military service.  This principle was very popular with many and made Socinianism much more attractive to potential adherents.  The First Unitarian Church, which followed Socianism as passed down through its leaders in England, was started in 1774 on Essex Street in London, where British Unitarian headquarters are still today.

As the Puritans of colonial America apostatized through various means, Unitarianism, a modern iteration of Socinianism took hold in the Congregational Church in America.  After 1820, Congregationalists took Unitarianism as their established doctrine.  The doctrine of Christ diminished to Jesus a good man and perhaps a prophet of God and in a sense the Son of God, but not God Himself.

I write all of this mainly as an example of the diversity in the history of Christian doctrine and why it takes place.  When you read the beliefs of Socinians, you can easily see them in modern liberal Christianity and an influence on religious cults that deny the deity of Jesus Christ.  A limited amount of skepticism wards away the acceptance of false doctrine.  Better is a Berean attitude (Acts 17:11), searching the scripture to see if these things are so, and what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, proving all things, holding fast to that which is good.

As I grew up in fundamentalism and among independent Baptists, I witnessed a strong and regular desire among leaders to find something new in the Bible.  Many sermons I heard espoused interpretations I had never heard and didn't see in the text being preached.  A preacher often would say that "God had given it to him."  You could know that God was using the man because God was giving him insights into scripture never seen before.  He was "inspired."  It continues today in many evangelical churches, the same practice that led Joseph Smith in his founding of Mormonism.  Many cults arose in 19th century America under the same spirit of skepticism of established historical doctrines of scripture.

Anyone could be prey to the temptation of novel teaching, a unique take on the Bible.  Faustus Socinus accepted many orthodox doctrines of his day, but he rejected Christ as fully God and fully human because it was contrary to sound reason (ratio sana).  This steered Socinians toward Enlightenment thinking, where human reason took the highest role as the arbiter of truth.

Warren Wiersbe wrote that it was H.A. Ironside, longtime pastor of Chicago's Moody Church, who said, "If it's new, it's not true, and if it's true, it's not new."  Somewhere else I read that it was Spurgeon who first said that.  I don't know.  It's true though that it has been through clever new interpretations, teachings, and takes on and from scripture that actual scriptural, saving doctrines have been corrupted and overturned in the hearts of men, condemning them through all eternity.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Book Offer: "Disciplines for Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ"

After starting a church in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987, I wrote a thirty week discipleship manual then in 1991, titled, "Disciplines for Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ."  This answered a couple scriptural imperatives.  First, the Great Commission is to make disciples, fulfilling the word "teach," the only imperative in Matthew 28:19-20.  Second, if making disciples is the work of the ministry, a pastor should equip the saints for making disciples in fulfillment of Ephesians 4:11-12.

When I grew up in an independent Baptist church and in fundamentalism, I never heard of discipleship.  I didn't even hear of discipleship in a well-known fundamental Baptist college.  I learned biblical exegesis at that time, so I understood Matthew 28:19-20.  I tied that together with Ephesians 4:11-12.  I read some books on discipleship.  The whole church is responsible for making disciples, but I believed the best is one-on-one.

In 1991, I first took everyone in the church through the thirty weeks.  The goal was for everyone to reproduce themselves in another spiritual generation.  Over the years, hundreds of people went through the discipleship.  Almost all of the ones who finished stuck in our church.  People took the discipleship elsewhere to other churches and more disciples were made there.  When my wife and I went to Oregon, we started every new believer on the discipleship.  The church is continuing with them there.

In the last three months, among other things I have been editing Disciplines for Disciples for printing and publication.  In a little over a week, I'm going to send it in for printing.  We are offering it at a pre-publication price of $8 apiece until I send it in for printing.  It is 162 pages, 8 1/2 x 11, two sided, black and white text, colored front and back cover, and spiral bound.  A teacher's edition, the answer key, will be separate for $25.  The publication price will be $11-12 dollars later.

If you want it pre-publication in the next week and a half, let me know at this email:  betbapt and then a very common ending @gmail.com.  It's a very good tool for fulfilling Matthew 28:18-20 and Ephesians 4:11-12.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Choosing Faith or Religion Like Choosing A Wallpaper Pattern

During graduate school, for a short while I worked at a paint and wall covering store.  Of varied responsibilities, I performed the job of organizing the wallpaper books.  They filled the tops of two large tables and I kept them in some kind of order based upon style.  I could at least direct someone according to the taste of a customer.

Philosopher Ernest Gellner wrote that under relativism choosing a religion is akin to choosing a wallpaper pattern.  In other words, considering faith or religion you can act on personal taste or feelings, like someone picking out a style of wallcovering.  In general, truth then doesn't apply to faith or religion, not like the physics of airplane travel or the engineering of a bridge.

You can live in a house without wallpaper on the walls.  Wallpaper itself is a total convenience.  Are faith or religion or moral laws such a convenience?

Men have become convinced by many various ungodly means that religious knowledge, the truth as a basis for faith, is of a different, lesser quality.  First, you choose what you want to believe.  What you've chosen might be something different than mine.  I like something different, and it doesn't matter that they disagree or even contradict.  People might treat scripture like it is just a vessel to conform to whatever they want, but it isn't. However, they are doing this now.

Second, what's important in many varied religions compare.  It's better just to look for common ground. Everyone has free will and you won't convince anyone by trying to force them.  These similarities, kindness, treating other people like they want to be treated, the golden rule, are what's important.  Those are the common ground, hence the truth.  The Bible says nothing like this either.

Third, the truth is really just what you feel in your heart.  Follow your heart.  That feeling that you feel is something God wants you to know.  Are you going to deny that God doesn't want you to know what you need to know?  God's Word says to try these feelings, this intuition, using God's Word.

Fourth, the very existence of so many religions says that it's near to impossible to be certain on the truth.  So many people couldn't all be wrong.  It's proud to think you do know.

Fifth, two plus two equals four.  That's knowledge.  Faith is categorically different, not something known in the same way as math.  Math is real.  Twelve divided by three equals four.  If religion was the same as math, then you could say that you know it.  Religion, faith, has much more variation, because it isn't so sure.  Whatever someone happens to feel or think about religious matters is as good as what anyone else says.  It's very personal, unlike math.  Two plus two means the same thing to everyone.  Religion and faith are different, more like choosing a wallpaper pattern.

None of the reasons or explanations I've given here are true.  Man walks according to his own lust and his view of faith, religion, knowledge, and the truth conforms to that.  What's real is what's out in the world, the people he knows, his dreams, what he wants to do.  Faith and religion can be modified to fit that.

Not just the world, but churches today in rapidly growing fashion coddle relativism.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021


In 1987 my wife and I, having been married for two weeks, took a U-Haul truck to the San Francisco Bay Area, and we started a church in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I pastored it thirty-three plus years.   In 2009, I started the Word of Truth (WOT) Conference.

Besides helpful edification of our church, Bethel Baptist, a plan for the conference from the morning sessions was the writing and publication of books.  A Pure Church came from the first three years of the conference.  A short book on apostasy, Lying Vanities, is coming soon from the next three years.  From the following four years will come a book, The One True Gospel, not yet published.  We covered the doctrine of sanctification the last three years, and a book, Lord-willing, is also forthcoming, which will be titled, Salvation That Keeps On Saving.

Past conference audio is still available at the Word of Truth Conference websiteYou can also watch video.  The church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and the church is local only.  It was our goal with the conference to propagate and preserve the truth.  God has given churches this responsibility.

This year will be the first every WOT conference I will miss.  It's occurring this year again and you can watch it on livestream through the links below.  I'm sure it will be very helpful.  I believe the sessions could be watched later as well upon its completion.  The theme of this years conference is Why Is The Bible True?  Here is the schedule.  You can also click on each one of the links to get to the location of the livestream at youtube.

Wednesday Evening Service, November 10, 7:00pm—Preaching (One Sermon)

Thursday Morning, November 11, 9:30am-12:00pm—Two Sessions

First Session:  “The Testimony of the Spirit through the Scriptures and through the Saints”—There is the witness and self- attestation of the Bible being the truth, by the witness of the Spirit in the words of Scripture and in the heart of believers.  This session will also address the notion of circular reasoning and of its failed application to the Bible.

Second Session:  “The Attack from Satan and Sinners”—Satan seeks to discredit the authority of God’s words; and sinners, in boldness against God’s rule, receive Satan’s lies and play along his cryptic plan.

Thursday Evening, November 11, 7:00pm—Preaching (Two Sermons)

Friday Morning, November 12, 9:30am-12:00pm—Two Sessions

First Session:  “The Issue of Biblical Manuscripts”—This will address the argument of manuscript apparent disparities, not only behind the entirety of the text issue, but also behind the manuscripts of the Textus Receptus.

Second Session:  “Archaeology of the Old Testament”—This will cover the general proof of archaeology, as well as hone in on a particular, factual, archaeological proof regarding the Old Testament Scriptures.

Friday Evening, November 12, 7:00pm—Preaching (Two Sermons)

Saturday Morning, November 13, 9:30am-12:00pm—Two Sessions

First Session:  “Archaeology of the New Testament”—This will cover the general proof of archaeology, as well as hone in on a particular, factual, archaeological proof regarding the New Testament Scriptures.

Second Session:  “The Proof of Prophecy”—An unfailing proof to the truth of the Bible being of the mouth of God is the voice of biblical prophecy and its harmony with the real past and the real present.  This session will show biblical prophecy to be of God alone.

Sunday School, November 14, 9:45am

“The Realness about the Bible”—This session will walk through the stories and facts of the Bible and expose the simple fact of its realness to our world, rejecting and abandoning the notion that the Bible is mere myth, legend, fable, fantasy, or a compilation of moral stories.  It will also include final exhortations to believers and unbelievers, considering the instruction and impact of all the previous sessions.

Sunday Morning Service, November 14, 11:00am—Preaching

Sunday Evening Service, November 14, 2:45pm—Preaching

Doing the sessions and preaching will be Pastors Jerad Stager, David Warner, David Sutton, Chris Teale, and also Brother Thomas Ross.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Postmodern "Grace"

The author of Hebrews in 12:15-17 warns:

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

C. H. Spurgeon wrote concerning the failing of the grace of God:

Under the means of grace, there are many who do “fall short of the grace of God.” They get something that they think is like grace, but it is not the true grace of God, and they ultimately fall from it, and perish. . . . [I]n church fellowship we ought to be very watchful lest the church as a whole should fail through lack of the true grace of God, and especially lest any root of bitterness springing up among us should trouble us, and thereby many be defiled. We must remember that though we are saved by grace, yet grace does not stupefy us, but rather quickens us into action. Though salvation depends upon the merits of Christ, yet those who receive those merits receive with them a faith that produces holiness.

Spurgeon explains that this "failing" is "falling short," and then "falling short" is not getting "the true grace of God" but "something that they think is like grace."  He says the true grace of God "does not stupefy us, but rather quickens us into action."  How you know you didn't get the true grace of God is that the placebo does not produce holiness.

The grace of God is what saves us.  Very often people want that base covered, but at the same time they don't want the holiness true grace produces.  Hebrews uses Esau as an example.  He allowed his fleshly desire to keep him from true grace, replacing it with something short of God's grace.  God's grace produces holiness.

Through the years, I've read many different opinions about what the "root of bitterness" is.  In the context, it's a cause for failing of the grace of God.  Some say that the root of bitterness is an apostate in the church, like Esau, who brings about further apostasy from others.  Others say that it is sin, which is bitter and defiling.  Rick Renner writes:

"It" pictures a person who is continually troubled, harassed, and annoyed by thoughts of how someone else wronged him. The offended person is now so troubled that he is almost emotionally immobilized. Instead of moving on in life, he gets stuck in the muck of that experience, where he wallows day after day in the memories of what happened to him. If that person doesn't quickly get a grip on himself, he will eventually fulfill the next part of the verse.

Tozer explained it the same way:

The sad and depressing bitter soul will compile a list of slights at which it takes offense and will watch over itself like a mother bear over her cubs. And the figure is apt, for the resentful heart is always surly and suspicious like a she-bear!

Perhaps the preceding verse, verse 14, gives a clue:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

Esau lacked peace between he and his father, Isaac, and his brother, Jacob.  So many especially today allow the slights, real and otherwise, and even actual sins against them to keep them from the grace of God.  They also often use these temporal affronts to justify their lusts, incongruous with the true grace of God.  It ultimately reflects on their view of God and His goodness to them.

Spurgeon assessed failing of true grace comes by replacing it with something short of the grace of God.  I'm titling what I believe is the most common contemporary replacement for true grace, "postmodern grace" (Jesus Loves Me with postmodern lyrics).  It isn't the grace of God, because it is short of the grace of God.

Postmodern truth is your truth.  Postmodern grace is your grace.  It doesn't follow peace, because it allows a grudge and resentment to keep it from that.  It doesn't follow holiness, because it sells holiness for temporal, carnal appetites, like the morsel of Esau.  It counts this though as the grace of God.  Postmodern grace isn't about pleasing God, but about pleasing self.  Postmodern grace self-identifies as grace, which is in fact moral relativism.  It doesn't follow after holiness, but after its own lust.

Friday, November 05, 2021

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Is God Not Being Obvious Enough, Proof That There Is No God?

I'm not saying that God isn't obvious, but that is a major reason in what I've read and heard of and for professing atheism and agnosticism.  It's also something I've thought about myself.  God doesn't go around announcing Himself in the ways people think He would if He existed.  God doesn't show Himself in a manner that people expect.

Outside of earth's atmosphere, space does not befriend life.  Space combats, resists, or repels life, everywhere but on planet earth.  No proof exists of any life beyond what is on earth.  Scientists have not found another planet that they know could support life, even if life could occur somewhere else.

No one knows the immensity of space.  We can see that all of space is very big, and of course exponentially times larger than the square footage of earth.  Incalculable numbers of very hot and large suns or stars are shining upon uninhabited planets.  Numbers beyond our comprehension of astronomical objects fly on trajectories and in paths everywhere in space.  That is a very, very large amount of space with nothing alive and apparently serving very little to no purpose.  To many, they seem pointless and could not serve as depictions of God's beauty and power and precision for such a tiny audience.

Another angle I hear relates to suffering.  God doesn't show up to alleviate suffering to the extent people expect from a loving God.  Suffering comes in many different fashions, not just disease but also crime and war.  The periods of clear direct intervention from God to stop suffering are few and far between and long ago.  Essentially the Bible documents those events and circumstances, which are not normative for today.

According to scripture, God is a Spirit (John 4:24), which means you can't see Him.  John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12 say, "No man hath seen God at any time."  One reason God isn't obvious is that no one can see Him.  That does not mean He doesn't reveal Himself, but it is not by appearing to us.  In human flesh, Jesus revealed God to us (John 1:18).  1 Samuel 3:21 says, "the LORD revealed himself."  Romans 1:19 says, "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them."

God reveals Himself now through providence in history, creation, conscience, and in scripture.  Those are not obvious to most people.  They want, what I like to call, the crown performance.  The King or Queen sit and someone comes to entertain in their presence.  People want more from God, but God doesn't give that.  God deserves the crown performance.  He wears the crown.  He doesn't give the crown performances.

Seek God

I believe there are four main reasons God isn't as obvious as people want Him to be.  One, God wants to be sought after.  I often say that God doesn't want the acknowledgement of His existence like we would acknowledge the existence of our right foot.  Five times scripture says, "Seek God," twenty-seven times, "seek the Lord," twice, "seek his face," and thirteen times, "seek him," speaking of God.  A good example of God's desire here is Deuteronomy 4:29:

But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

God in His sovereignty chose to have us seek Him.  That is who He is.

The lesser seeks the greater.  Seeking God recognizes God's greatness.  It is humble.  It is for us to say, "I want to know you," rather than waiting on God to come to us.  I'm not saying He doesn't come to us in the way He prescribes, but He wants us to seek Him and come to Him.  How obvious God is pertains to His wanting us to seek Him.

Pride and lust get in the way of not seeking God.  Those exalting themselves above God will not seek God.  They seek after what they exalt, which is their own lust.  Men walk after their own lust and this inhibits seeking after God.  Men serve the creature rather than the Creator.

God has done everything for us.  We've done nothing for Him.  It should be us seeking Him.  It must be.

Believe God

Faith pleases God.  The way God reveals Himself requires faith from men.  Faith is not be sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  When we see God, it won't be faith any more.  Paul wrote that faith wasn't eternal (1 Corinthians 13).  Faith occurs in this age.  The way God reveals Himself is good enough for the one who believes.  Only the one who believes receives eternal life with God (John 3:15,16,36).

Far few believe than do not believe.  Most men operate by sight.  The degree and manner God reveals Himself is not good enough for them.  Out of pride and lust, they require more.  Even if they got more, it wouldn't be good enough for them.  They are not willing to deny themselves (Luke 9:23).

The heroes of the faith, like those in Hebrews 11, obeyed not having seen.  Consider these verses in Hebrews 11 related to this matter of sight:
Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:7, By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
Hebrews 11:13, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Abraham went to the Promised Land, not having seen it.  Hebrews 11:8 says "he went out, not knowing where he was going."  This was blind obedience.

God wants us believing and obeying because He said it.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:39, "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign."  Signs are God showing more evidence.  People surmise that God isn't being obvious enough.   They want more, so they hold Him hostage to giving more, or they won't believe or obey.

Men Rebel

The third reason God isn't as obvious as people expect corresponds to their sin and rebellion.  Man's problem relates to how God gets him His message.  Man gets the understanding of God through revelation, because his problem is sin and rebellion.  Man can't discover, which is a natural pursuit.  God reveals, which is a supernatural solution.

Romans 1:18 says that men "hold the truth in unrighteousness."  Many of you know that "hold the truth" means "suppress the truth."  Men's unrighteousness makes them suppress the truth.  The problem is not an intellectual one, one that says it needs more proof.   The problem is a volitional one, men are rebellious, which requires a supernatural solution.  The Bible is that solution.  It is divine.  It is powerful (Hebrews 4:12).

Man's problem of rebellion necessitates God's revelation as the solution, not God being more obvious.  Men don't know this without God telling them, but even if they got more evidence, the kind they thought they needed, they wouldn't take it. They think they would take it, but God says they wouldn't.

Scripture reveals eras of miracles.  When miracles were given, the "obvious proof," the crown performance, men were not persuaded.  God uses the weak things of the world, Paul writes (1 Corinthians 1:27), which describes the gospel.  The gospel isn't weak.  It's just weak to men.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  When it works to save men, God also gets the glory for it (1 Corinthians 1:31).

God's Glory

I'm adding this fourth reason because the way God works results in His glory.  He uses a means that doesn't glorify men, but glorifies Him.  Man is helpless, so God uses a means that man wouldn't use.  Man would be more obvious.  God does what in the end will glorify Him.  No man will say he got saved because he was clever.  It requires no cleverness.  God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).