Daily Archives: January 16, 2014

Bible Translations: What Is the 21st Century King James Version (Kj21)?

 

21st Century King James Version—History
Published in 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc. (Gary, South Dakota), the 21st Century King James Version of the Bible seeks to preserve the sacred message and beautiful language of the King James Version while making it easier to read and understand for the modern reader. Edited by William D. Prindle of Deuel Enterprises, the updates relied on the scholarship, skill and dedication of the original translators of the KJV, which have stood the test of time for four centuries. A revised edition with the Apocrypha (but without lectionary markings) appeared in 1998 as the Third Millennium Bible.

21st Century King James Version—Translation method
The 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) is based on the King James Version (KJV) of A.D. 1611. It is not a new translation, but a careful updating to eliminate obsolete words by reference to the most complete and definitive modern American dictionary, the Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, unabridged. Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization have also been updated. Words which are either obsolete or archaic, and are no longer understood by literate Bible readers, have been replaced by carefully selected current equivalents. All language relating to gender and theology in the King James Version remains unchanged from the original. Also included are the cross references from the original KJV, plus many more.

21st Century King James Version—Pro’s and Con’s
The 21st Century King James Version has never gained traction in the Christian community, largely due to the fierce loyalty many KJV users have to the 1611 “authorized” King James Version. This is sad, as the KJ21 is indeed a much more readable and understandable English translation of the Bible than the KJV. The 21st Century King James Version fulfills its goal of updating the archaic language of the KJV while staying as close as possible to the original KJV.

21st Century King James Version—Sample Verses
John 1:1, 14–“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”

John 3:16–“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 8:58–“Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am!’ ”

Ephesians 2:8–9–“For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God—not by works, lest any man should boast.”

Titus 2:13–“looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ,”[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: Why Is the Humanity of Jesus Important?

 

The humanity of Jesus is equally as important as the deity of Jesus. Born as a human being while still being totally divine, the concept of the humanity of Jesus co-existing with His deity is difficult for the finite mind of man to comprehend. Nevertheless, Jesus’ nature—wholly man and wholly God—is a biblical fact. There are those who reject these biblical truths and declare that Jesus was a man, but not God (Ebionism). Docetism is the view that Jesus was God, but not human. Both viewpoints are unbiblical and false.

Jesus had to be born as a human being for several reasons. One is outlined in Galatians 4:4–5: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Only a man could be “born under the law.” No animal or angelic being is “under the law.” Only humans are born under the law and only a human being could redeem other human beings born under the same law. Born under the law of God, all humans are guilty of transgressing that law. Only a perfect human—Jesus Christ—could perfectly keep the law and perfectly fulfill the law, thereby redeeming us from that guilt, which He accomplished on the cross, exchanging our sin for His perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Another reason Jesus had to be fully human is that God established the necessity of the shedding of blood for the remission of sins (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). The blood of animals, although acceptable on a temporary basis as a foreshadowing of the blood of the perfect God-Man, was insufficient for the permanent remission of sin because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed His human life and shed His human blood to cover the sins of all who would ever believe in Him. If He were not human, this would have been impossible.

Furthermore, the humanity of Jesus enables Him to relate to us in a way the angels or animals never can. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Only a human could sympathize with our weaknesses and temptations. In His humanity, Jesus was subjected to all the same kinds of trials which we are, and He is, therefore, able to sympathize with us and to aid us. He was tempted; He was persecuted; He was poor; He was despised; He suffered physical pain; and He endured the sorrows of a lingering and most cruel death. Only a human being could experience these things, and only a human being could fully understand them through experience.

Finally, it was necessary for Jesus to come in the flesh because believing that truth is a prerequisite for salvation. Declaring that Jesus has come in the flesh is the mark of a spirit from God, while the Antichrist and all who follow him will deny it (1 John 4:2–3). Jesus has come in the flesh; He is able to sympathize with our human frailties; His human blood was shed for our sins; and He was fully God and fully Man. These are biblical truths that cannot be denied.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Preach the Word: Because It Sets Forth Divine Truth with Clarity and Certainty – John MacArthur

 

Pastors don’t know everything. In fact, an important part of shepherding God’s people is having the humility to take the time to search for the right answer instead of quickly and carelessly deploying the wrong one.

But it’s one thing to tell your congregation “I don’t know.” It’s another entirely to stand before them and say “I can’t know, and neither can you. But you should still listen to me.” That’s the hazardous message emanating from too many pulpits today—nobody knows what God’s Word really means.

I preach the Word of God because it is understandable. God revealed His Word in such a way that it can be comprehended with clarity (cf. Psalm 119:105, 130). If He had not done so, the Bible would no longer serve as an objective standard for life, since it could not be understood in a straightforward sense. Yet, because He has revealed His Word in a way that is universally comprehensible, all men are accountable to it.

If the clarity of Scripture is denied, the certainty of any biblical doctrine must also be rejected, since we can no longer be sure that the Bible actually means what it says. Once doctrinal certainty grounded in biblical authority is dismissed, personal convictions must also be discarded, since they no longer have any firm foundation. And if personal convictions disappear, spiritual community will also vanish, since true fellowship necessarily begins with shared values and convictions.

A healthy church is one that is motivated by a common affection for God and His Word, and one that really knows what it is to love one another. That affection, both for God and for others, arises out of the confidence that the Bible is true, that it is absolute, and that it can be understood.

Scripture is clear. Deny that simple fact and you forfeit all confidence and conviction. No wonder evangelicals who have drifted away from the centrality of Scripture seem to lack certainty and clarity about anything. Careful exegesis and doctrinal precision are inevitable casualties of postmodern uncertainty, too. Consider this shocking comment from a supposedly conservative minister:

If there is a foundation in Christian theology, and I believe that there must be, then it is not found in the Church, Scripture, tradition or culture. . . . Theology must be a humble human attempt to “hear him”—never about rational approaches to texts. [1][John Armstrong, “How I Changed My Mind: Theological Method,” Viewpoint (Sep-Oct 2003), 4.]

That is an amazing statement. It is ludicrous. How can we truly “hear him,” meaning God, unless we go to the place He has spoken—His Word? The only way I can ever be certain about anything is to approach every biblical text with a careful, rational, discerning mind to hear and understand accurately what God is saying.  Take that away and what basis is there for certainty about any truth?

One of the most popular writers in the Emerging Church movement—which embodied postmodern skepticism and relativism—succinctly summarized his mindset, saying, “Certainty is overrated.” [2][Brian McLaren, cited in Greg Warner, “Brian McLaren,” FaithWorks (no date). http://www.faithworks.com/archives/brian_mclaren.htm%5D In one of his books, he writes, “I have gone out of my way to be provocative, mischievous, and unclear, reflecting my belief that clarity is sometimes overrated, and that shock, obscurity, playfulness, and intrigue (carefully articulated) often stimulate more thought than clarity.” [3][Brian McLaren, A Generous Othodoxy (Grand Rapids: Youth Specialties, 2004), 23.]

The wife of another leading pastor from the Emerging trend celebrated her uncertainty, saying, “I grew up thinking that we’ve figured out the Bible, that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.” [4][Kristen Bell, wife of Rob Bell. Cited by Andy Crouch, “The Emergent Mystique,” Christianity Today (November 2004).]

And so we often hear of a new hermeneutic, grossly mislabeled as the “hermeneutics of humility,” which essentially says, “I’m far too humble to say that I know what the Bible means, and anybody who claims to know what it means is arrogant.”

But what’s more arrogant than claiming that God has not spoken clearly enough for us to understand?

When I preach, the response that always pleases me most is, “The message was clear.” Clarity is critical and basic. Ambiguity is deadly and produces nothing. People who think the truth itself is ambiguous don’t know where to turn for salvation. They can’t be sanctified. They don’t find comfort. We get nothing from ambiguity except confusion. Clarity is the desired result of a good understanding of the biblical text. If a preacher is not clear to his hearers, it is likely because he is not yet clear in his own mind. That means more diligent study is required.

When I started in ministry, I committed myself to expository preaching—just explaining the Bible—because I knew there was nothing I could say that was anywhere near as important as what God had to say. The real goal of my teaching has always been to keep my own opinions out of it as much as possible—to get the meaning of the passage right and to make it clear to my hearers. Pastors need to remember from the very outset that when they go into a pulpit, they are there to explain the Word of the living God with clarity and precision, not to impress people with their own cleverness or amuse them with human opinions.

The Word of God is clear, and when I explain it accurately to my people, they understand it. That understanding is the first and most essential point of expositional preaching, because people cannot believe or obey truth they don’t understand, thus building their lives on the wisdom that comes from above.  A clear understanding of God’s Word forms the convictions that shape our lives and leads to deep affection for divine truth (Psalm 119:129–31; 19:10).

 

(Adapted from The Master’s Plan for the Church)
http://www.gty.org/products/books/451125


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Muslim Questions: What Is Islam, and What Do Muslims Believe?

 

Islam is a religious system begun in the seventh century by Muhammad. Muslims follow the teachings of the Qur’an and strive to keep the Five Pillars.

The History of Islam
In the seventh century, Muhammad claimed the angel Gabriel visited him. During these angelic visitations, which continued for about 23 years until Muhammad’s death, the angel purportedly revealed to Muhammad the words of Allah (the Arabic word for “God” used by Muslims). These dictated revelations compose the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book. Islam means “submission,” deriving from a root word that means “peace.” The word Muslim means “one who submits to Allah.”

The Doctrine of Islam
Muslims summarize their doctrine in six articles of faith:
1. Belief in one Allah: Muslims believe Allah is one, eternal, creator, and sovereign.
2. Belief in the angels
3. Belief in the prophets: The prophets include the biblical prophets but end with Muhammad as Allah’s final prophet.
4. Belief in the revelations of Allah: Muslims accept certain portions of the Bible, such as the Torah and the Gospels. They believe the Qur’an is the preexistent, perfect word of Allah.
5. Belief in the last day of judgment and the hereafter: Everyone will be resurrected for judgment into either paradise or hell.
6. Belief in predestination: Muslims believe Allah has decreed everything that will happen. Muslims testify to Allah’s sovereignty with their frequent phrase, inshallah, meaning, “if God wills.”

The Five Pillars of Islam
These five tenets compose the framework of obedience for Muslims:
1. The testimony of faith (shahada): “la ilaha illa allah. Muhammad rasul Allah.” This means, “There is no deity but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” A person can convert to Islam by stating this creed. The shahada shows that a Muslim believes in Allah alone as deity and believes that Muhammad reveals Allah.
2. Prayer (salat): Five ritual prayers must be performed every day.
3. Giving (zakat): This almsgiving is a certain percentage given once a year.
4. Fasting (sawm): Muslims fast during Ramadan in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. They must not eat or drink from dawn until sunset.
5. Pilgrimage (hajj): If physically and financially possible, a Muslim must make the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once. The hajj is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.

A Muslim’s entrance into paradise hinges on obedience to these Five Pillars. Still, Allah may reject them. Even Muhammad was not sure whether Allah would admit him to paradise (Surah 46:9; Hadith 5.266).

An Evaluation of Islam
Compared to Christianity, Islam has some similarities but significant differences. Like Christianity, Islam is monotheistic. However, Muslims reject the Trinity—that God has revealed Himself as one in three Persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Muslims claim that Jesus was a mere prophet—not God’s Son. Islam asserts that Jesus, though born of a virgin, was created like Adam. Many Muslims do not believe Jesus died on the cross. They do not understand why Allah would allow His prophet Isa (the Islamic word for “Jesus”) to die a torturous death. Yet the Bible shows how the death of the perfect Son of God was essential to pay for the sins of believers (Isaiah 53:5–6; John 3:16; 14:6; 1 Peter 2:24).

Islam teaches that the Qur’an is the final authority and the last revelation of Allah. The Bible, however, was completed in the first century with the Book of Revelation. The Bible warns against anyone adding to or subtracting from God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Galatians 1:6–12; Revelation 22:18). The Qur’an, as a claimed addition to God’s Word, directly disobeys God’s command.

Muslims believe that paradise can be earned through keeping the Five Pillars. The Bible, in contrast, reveals that sinful man can never measure up to the holy God (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Only by God’s grace may sinners be saved through repentant faith in Jesus (Acts 20:21; Ephesians 2:8–9).

Because of these essential differences and contradictions, Islam and Christianity cannot both be true. The Bible and Qur’an cannot both be God’s Word. The truth has eternal consequences.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:1–4; see also John 3:35–36).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Humanity: What Is Human Nature? What Does the Bible Say about Human Nature?

 

Human nature is that which makes us distinctly human. Our nature is distinct from that of the animals and the rest of creation in that we can think and feel. One of the chief distinctions between human beings and the rest of creation is our ability to reason. No other creature has this ability, and there’s no question that this is a unique gift bestowed by God. Our reason enables us to reflect on our own nature and the nature of God and to derive knowledge of God’s will for His creation. No other part of God’s creation has a nature capable of reason.

The Bible teaches that God created human beings in His image. This means that He enables us to have some understanding of Him and of His vast and complex design. Our human nature reflects some of God’s attributes, although in a limited way. We love because we are made in the image of the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Because we are created in His image, we can be compassionate, faithful, truthful, kind, patient, and just. In us, these attributes are distorted by sin, which also resides in our nature.

Originally, human nature was perfect by virtue of having been created so by God. The Bible teaches that human beings were created “very good” by a loving God (Genesis 1:31), but that goodness was marred by the sin of Adam and Eve. Subsequently, the entire human race fell victim to the sin nature. The good news is that at the moment a person trusts in Christ, he receives a new nature. Second Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Sanctification is the process by which God develops our new nature, enabling us to grow into more holiness through time. This is a continuous process with many victories and defeats as the new nature battles with the “tent” (2 Corinthians 5:4) in which it resides—the old man, the old nature, the flesh. Not until we are glorified in heaven will our new nature be set free to live for eternity in the presence of the God in whose image we are created.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.