Archive for September, 2012

What About Slavery ?

September 28, 2012

History tells us many American preachers during the days leading up to our Civil War justified slavery based upon passages such as I Peter 2:18 which tell servants to be subject to their masters. But perhaps these preachers were overlooking the fact that there are at least two types of slaves described in the Bible. One is forced slavery such as we saw in America two or three centuries ago. The other we call an indentured servant. That is when a man voluntarily (or through court order) sells/rents himself into slavery in order to pay off a large debt that he couldn’t pay off otherwise.

The former type was sometimes authorized in the old testament when the Israelites were allowed to take prisoners as slaves when they won wars against foreign national enemies. But this type is never allowed in the new testament and is specifically condemned in passages like I Timothy 1:10 which condemns “menstealers” (“enslavers” – ESV, “slave traders” – NIV). The old testament allowed (even commanded) the Israelites to “hate your enemies” (Matt 5:43) in the sense of going to physical battle against them, but the new testament instructs Christians to the contrary; instead we are to love our enemies (Matt 5:44ff) under all scenarios.

Since the new testament condemns the American style slavery of African-Americans, passages like I Peter 2:18 must be talking about indentured servants. Our politically correct society would disallow indentured servitude today, but such a system would be much preferred to legalizing stealing through the current day practice known as bankruptcy (Romans 13:8a, Psalms 37:21a).

What American slave traders did was nothing short of kidnapping at gunpoint, and therefore sinful. And those that bought such slaves became a partaker in the slave traders’ evil deeds (II John verses 10-11). The new testament law says no to slavery.

Are Homosexuals Born That Way ?

September 21, 2012

It is not true that homosexuals are born that way (genetically), but even if that were so, since the Bible condemns the practice, homosexuals would just have to go against their “in-born” preference in order to avoid sin. About homosexuals (and other type sinners), I Cor 6:11 says “such were some of you.” The significance of the past tense here implies these homosexuals needed to stop their practice of homosexuality. Just like a heterosexual male is born with the susceptibility to be tempted to engage in sexual relations before he is married, but he is required by God to control those natural appetites, the same would be true of homosexual males under such a scenario.

This verse also indicates these homosexuals had stopped that practice. If the gay church is right that being born that way implies a homosexual cannot control his sexual orientation, then I Cor 6:11 would also prove homosexuals are not born that way since these homosexuals obviously did change.

The gay church admits Lev 18:22 and 20:13 (“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”) condemn the practice of homosexuality, but say that was part of the old testament law and therefore does not apply today. They are correct that Christians are not under the old testament law today (Gal 3:24-25), but even so, these Leviticus passages prove homosexuals are not born that way, because God would not call something a sin (even in the old testament) that someone could not help, or was born with. In the Bible, sin is always a wrong choice.

Some argue that science says being gay is genetic, but notice the following quotes:

• Dr. Charles Socarides, M.D., Journal of American Medicine – “homosexuality is not ‘innate or inborn’ but an acquired or learned process”

• William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, Human Sexuality – “The genetic theory of homosexuality has been generally discarded today.”

• Knoxville News-Sentinel, 4-17-79 – “There is no evidence that homosexual preferences are genetically determined.”

• Isadore Rubin, Ph.D., pro-homosexual Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S. Inc. – “Genetic, constitutional or glandular factors play little role in the causation of homosexuality.”

• Time Magazine, June 20, 1977 – “The major problem with the theory … is that most psychologists believe homosexuality is conditional, not congenital.”

Having said that, I would be the first to admit that scholars don’t mean much; you can find scholars on both sides of just about every issue. But God is always right and so what does matter is what he says in his revealed will. Therefore Rom 1:26-27 (“… their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working  that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”) should settle this issue. Being gay is not hereditary. The Bible calls it unnatural. Being straight is the natural development for any normal young man or young woman. Becoming a homosexual goes “against nature” (the body parts don’t fit), and is a perversion of what is normal and what God intends.

Salvation Is Conditional Upon Belief PLUS

September 14, 2012

Calvinists say the salvation provided freely by the death of Christ is unconditional on our part, but the Bible teaches …

Belief is an Essential Condition of Salvation

John 8:24 if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins

Acts 10:43 whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins

Romans 3:26 the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus

Repentance is a Condition of Salvation

Luke 13:3 … Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out

Baptism is an Essential Condition of Salvation

Mark 16:16a He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 22:16 arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord

I Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us

Obedience is a Condition of Salvation

Hebrews 5:9 … he (Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him

Matthew 7:21-23 he that doeth the will of my Father … shall enter into … heaven

Acts 10:34-35 he that … worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him

II Thess 1:8-9 them that … obey not the gospel … shall be punished with everlasting destruction …

James 2:24 by works a man is justified, and not by faith only

I Peter 1:22 ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth

I John 2:17 he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city

Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit

September 7, 2012

One of the more frequent questions to our “Bible Answer” radio program through the years has been about the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – what is this sin?, and can it be forgiven?

Matthew 12:31-32 reads “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” By examining the context we see the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit here is a person attributing the power behind performing miracles to the Devil, when the power was really through the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:24).

Though nobody performs genuine miracles today (I Cor 13:8-10, Zech 13:1-2), it is still possible to commit the sin of Matt 12:31-32 today, because it is still very possible for a person today to read about the miracles in the New Testament that were performed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and correctly think they really happened, but believe and say they were done by the power of Satan.

Our text is saying every sin can be forgiven “but” (except) this one. Jesus’ death is assumed (Matt 26:28), and our repentance is assumed (Luke 13:3). So Matt 12:31-32 is saying the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven even if such a person repents. Notice the distinction Jesus makes between this sin and every other sin is not in our ability to repent of the sin, but the willingness of God to forgive this sin. Put another way: the passage is not saying it is impossible to repent of this sin; instead it is saying God won’t forgive this sin – even if repented of.

In normal conversation we know to accept the plain meaning of what is said unless something dictates otherwise. It should be the same when reading what the Bible has to say. Many people won’t accept the plain meaning of Matt 12:31-32 because it is a bitter pill to swallow. We should remember the example of Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac on the alter (Genesis 22). He didn’t reject the plain meaning of what God told him to do simply because it was the toughest pill that anybody has ever had to swallow.

Thankfully Matt 12:31-32 makes it clear there is only one unpardonable sin (I John 5:16). This text and passages like I John 1:7,9 prove God is willing to forgive all other sins.