Daily Archives: March 30, 2014

Questions about Bible Misinterpretations: 3 John 2—Does this verse indicate that God desires us to be financially prosperous, as Word-Faith teachers argue?

 

Misinterpretation: Third John 2 says, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (nasb). Word-Faith teachers cite this verse in support of the prosperity gospel.

Correcting the Misinterpretation: The Greek word for “prosper” in this verse does not refer to financial prosperity but simply means “to go well with someone.” In fact, the niv translation correctly reflects this idea in its rendering of the verse: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” In biblical times the wish for “things to go well,” along with the wish for “good health,” was a standard form of greeting. Financial prosperity is completely foreign to both this ancient greeting and 3 John 2.[1]

 

 

[1] Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. (1997). When cultists ask: a popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations (p. 303). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Questions about Bible Difficulties: Romans 1:26—Does this verse mean that homosexuals should not be heterosexual because it is unnatural to them?

 

Problem: According to some homosexuals, when Paul spoke against what is “unnatural” in Romans 1:26, he was not declaring that homosexuality was morally wrong, but simply that it was unnatural for homosexuals. “Unnatural” is used in a sociological, not a biological way. So rather than condemning homosexual practices, it is argued that this passage actually approves of them for homosexuals.

Solution: When the Bible declares that homosexual practices are “against nature” (Rom. 1:26), it is referring to biological nature, not sociological nature. First, sex is defined biologically in Scripture from the very beginning. In Genesis 1, God created “male and female” and then told them to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen. 1:27–28, niv). This reproduction was only possible if He was referring to a biological male and female.

Second, sexual orientation is understood biologically, not sociologically, when God said “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, niv). For only a biological father and mother can produce children, and the reference to “one flesh” speaks of a physical marriage.

Thirdly, the Romans passage says that “men committed indecent acts with other men.” This clearly indicates that this sinful act was homosexual in nature (Rom. 1:27, niv).

Fourth, what they did was not natural to them. They “exchanged” the “natural relations” for the unnatural ones (Rom. 1:26, niv). So the homosexual acts were pronounced unnatural for homosexuals too.

Fifth, homosexual desires are also called “shameful lusts” (v. 26, niv). So it is evident that God is condemning sexual sins between those of the same biological sex. Homosexual acts are contrary to human nature as such, not just to a homsexual’s sexual orientation.[1]

 

 

[1] Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (pp. 438–439). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

Questions about God: How do you know that God exists?

 

Is there truly a God? How can anyone be sure such a being exists?

We believe that the existence of God, and questions such as these relating to it, can be intelligently answered. The reason we know that God exists is because He has told us so, and has revealed Himself to us.

It would be no help to us at all in our human predicament if God were silent, but happily this is not the case. God not only exists, but also He has communicated that fact to us. He has told us all about who He is, what He is like, and what His plan is for planet earth.

He has revealed these things to mankind through the Bible. The Bible has demonstrated itself to be more than a mere book; it is the actual Word of God. The evidence is more than convincing to anyone who will honestly consider its claims.

Because of the boasts the Bible makes for itself, many have tried to destroy it, as related in this statement by Martin Luther:

“Mighty potentates have raged against this book, and sought to destroy and uproot it—Alexander the Great and princes of Egypt and Babylon, the monarchs of Persia, of Greece and of Rome, the Emperors Julius and Augustus—but they prevailed nothing.

“They are gone while the book remains, and it will remain forever and ever, perfect and entire, as it was declared at first. Who has thus helped it—who has protected it against such mighty forces? No one, surely, but God Himself, who is master of all things” (Cited by Fritz Ridenour, Who says, G. L. Publications, Regal Books, 1967).

Even the French skeptic, Rousseau, saw something different in the Scriptures. “I must confess to you that the majesty of the Scriptures astonishes me; the holiness of the evangelists speaks to my heart and has such striking characters of truth, and is, moreover, so perfectly inimitable, that if it had been the invention of men, the inventors would be greater than the greatest heroes” (Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations, Frank Mead, p. 32).

The Bible, therefore, gives us sufficient reason to believe that it is the Word of the living God, who does exist and who has revealed Himself to the world.

Another reason that we know God exists is because He has appeared in human flesh. Jesus Christ was God Almighty who became a man. The Bible says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, RSV), and it is clear about the fact that Jesus came to earth to reveal who God is and what He is all about (John 1:18).

If someone wants to know who God is and what He is like, he only needs to look at Jesus Christ. As Lord Byron said, “If ever man was God or God was man, Jesus Christ was both” (Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations, Frank Mead, p. 81).

Instead of man reaching up to find God, God reached down to man, as Casserley explains, “The gospel provides that knowledge of ultimate truth which men have sought through philosophy in vain, inevitably in vain, because it is essential to the very nature of God that He cannot be discovered by searching and probing of human minds, that He can only be known if He first takes the initiative and reveals Himself” (J. V. Langmead Casserley, The Christian in Philosophy, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951, p. 21).

Jesus, in coming back from the dead, established Himself as having the credentials to be God, and it was this fact that demonstrated its truth to the unbelieving world. As Machen says, “The great weapon with which the disciples of Jesus set out to conquer the world was not a mere comprehension of eternal principles; it was a historical message, an account of something that had happened; it was the message, ‘He is risen’” (J. G. Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, pp. 28, 29).

Thus we have the Bible, and the person of Jesus Christ, as two strong reasons arguing for the existence of God. No other religion or philosophy offers anything near to demonstrate that a God exists.[1]

 

 

[1] McDowell, J., & Stewart, D. D. (1993). Answers to tough questions. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

Questions about Humanity: What Is the Human Spirit?

 

The human spirit is the incorporeal part of man. The Bible says that the human spirit is the very breath of Almighty God and was breathed into man at the beginning of God’s creation: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). It is the human spirit that gives us a consciousness of self and other remarkable, though limited, “God-like” qualities. The human spirit includes our intellect, emotions, fears, passions, and creativity. It is this spirit that provides us the unique ability to comprehend and understand (Job 32:8, 18).

The words spirit and breath are translations of the Hebrew word neshamah and the Greek word pneuma. The words mean “strong wind, blast or inspiration.” Neshamah is the source of life that vitalizes humanity (Job 33:4). It is the intangible, unseen human spirit that governs man’s mental and emotional existence. The apostle Paul said, “Who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Upon death the “spirit returns back to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7; see also Job 34:14–15; Psalm 104:29–30).

Every human being has a spirit, and it is distinct from the “spirit,” or life, of animals. God made man differently from the animals in that He created us “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26–27). Therefore, man is able to think, feel, love, design, create, and enjoy music, humor, and art. And it is because of the human spirit that we have a “free will” that no other creature on earth has.

The human spirit was damaged in the fall. When Adam sinned, his ability to fellowship with God was broken; he did not die physically that day, but he died spiritually. Ever since, the human spirit has borne the effects of the fall. Before salvation, a person is characterized as spiritually “dead” (Ephesians 2:1–5; Colossians 2:13). A relationship with Christ revitalizes our spirits and renews us day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Interestingly, just as the human spirit was divinely breathed into the first man, so the Holy Spirit was breathed into the first disciples in John 20:22: “And with that [Jesus] breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ ” (John 20:22; see also Acts 2:38). Adam was made alive by the breath of God, and we, as “new creations” in Christ, are made spiritually alive by the “Breath of God,” the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:3; Romans 6:4). Upon our acceptance of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God joins with our own spirit in ways we cannot comprehend. The apostle John said, “This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13).

When we allow the Spirit of God to lead our lives, the “Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). As children of God, we are no longer led by our own spirit but by God’s Spirit, who leads us to eternal life.[1]

 

 

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

Questions about Prayer: What Is the Value of a Prayer Meeting?

 

From the very beginning of the church, Christians have gathered to pray (Acts 4:24; 12:5; 21:5). Prayer meetings are valuable for the church as a whole and for the individuals who participate.

Prayer is only for those who believe that God is personal and who want a personal relationship with Him. Christians know prayer works because they have encountered a God who declares, “Talk to me and I will listen.” The apostle John confirms this: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14–15).

Through our prayers, especially with one another, we are demonstrating and validating the faith we have in Jesus. Andrew Murray, the great Christian minister and prolific writer, said, “Prayer depends chiefly, almost entirely, on who we think we are praying to.” It is through the discipline of prayer with one another that we develop a growing intimacy with God, and create a spiritual bond with one another. This is one of the most valuable aspects of praying with one another.

Another valuable benefit of prayer meetings is the confession of our sins to one another. Prayer meetings give us opportunity to obey the command to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Here, James does not necessarily speak of physical healing, but rather of spiritual restoration (Hebrews 12:12–13). He also refers to the forgiveness of God, which enables the believer to become spiritually whole again. James knew that the one who becomes separated from the flock is most susceptible to the dangers of sin. God wants His people to encourage and support one another in loving fellowship, mutual honesty and confession as we pray for and with each other. Such close fellowship helps provide spiritual strength to experience victory over sin.

Another great value of prayer meetings is that believers encourage one another to endure. All of us face obstacles, but by sharing and praying together as Christians, we often help others avoid “bottoming out” in their spiritual lives. The value of corporate prayer lies in its power to unify hearts. Praying before God on behalf of our brothers and sisters has the effect of linking one another spiritually. As we “carry each other’s burdens,” we “fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Where there is prayer, there is unity, which Jesus prayed so fervently for His followers to have (John 17:23).

More than anything else, prayer meetings bring about change. Praying with one another, believers can witness God produce miracles and change hearts.

A prayer meeting is a time of real value as believers seek a deep intimacy and quiet communion with God at His throne. It is a time of unity with fellow believers in the presence of the Lord. It is a time to care for those around us as we share their burdens. It is a time when God manifests His never-ending love and desire to communicate with those who love Him.[1]

 

 

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

Ken Ham: The Unbiblical ‘Noah’ Is a Fable of a Film

Leading creationist Ken Ham, who recently debated Bill Nye, says that the new blockbuster, starring Russell Crowe, is an insult to Christians: “Ultimately, there is barely a hint of biblical fidelity in this film. It is an unbiblical, pagan film from its start”

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CultureWatch: Please, Let My People Think

Is biblical discernment at an all-time low in the Christian church today? Is the ability of Western Christians to think critically, carefully and logically at a premium today? Any incisive Christian observer would have to offer an unambiguous ‘yes’ to both question, regrettably.

We know, according to Scripture, that fallen man has a fallen mind. Indeed, sinful man in rebellion against God is said to have a “reprobate” mind, a mind that fails to honour and acknowledge God (see Romans 1:18-32). Without Christ, our mind is darkened and unable to perceive spiritual truth.

But we expect believers to be different. We are to have a renewed mind which transforms us (Romans 12:2). Indeed, we are said to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). We are to renounce worldly, fleshly thinking, and think God’s thoughts after him.

Yet regrettably so many believers simply do not do this. They still think like the pagans do, and have never developed a biblical worldview. As a result, as says R.C. Sproul says, we “live in the most anti-intellectual era of church history”. That is a damning indictment – but true.

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Jesus Christ is the I Am

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Exodus 3:14 ESV)

Sacred Scripture or the Bible, which is the living Word of God, His communication to His people, is not just a collection of writings or a simply a history. The Holy Spirit not only indwells Christians he also indwells Sacred Scripture. When believers read and study the Word of God, The Holy Spirit works through it to accomplish spiritual, eternal work within them. God communicates with His people primarily through His Word. One of the main goals in this is God’s revelation of Himself to those who love Him.

Jesus Christ is the interpretive key to Sacred Scripture. Any other hermeneutic will lead people into various forms of heresy or unbelief. If anyone has ever debated a Jehovah…

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