Archive for June, 2016

Are The ‘Obedience Is Required’ Passages Just Descriptive Or Are They Also Prescriptive?

June 27, 2016

Just about every page of the Bible has a verse on it that proves one must obey God to be saved. But some say these passages are all descriptive, not prescriptive. What they mean by that is that these scriptures are all just saying a saved person will obey, not that his salvation is conditioned upon his obedience.

But consider a verse like I Cor 7:19 – “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” The ‘a’ part of that verse is saying the same thing as Acts 15:1, Gal 5:6, and 6:15, that circumcision is not a condition of salvation under the New Testament dispensation (contrasting Old Testament with New Testament law). But that would have to mean the ‘b’ part of the verse is saying that the keeping of other commandments (New Testament instructions) are conditions of salvation. Do you see how that is prescriptive, not just descriptive – that obeying God’s commandments are prescribed in order to be saved?

Following are some other texts that are no doubt prescriptive, and not just descriptive …

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

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”

James 2:14-24-26 “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only”

II Corinthians 5:10 “every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad”

Romans 2:6-10 God “will render to every man according to his deeds … continuance in well-doing … eternal life … them that … do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil … but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good”

I Pet 1:17 “Father … without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work

Revelation 20:11-15 “they were judged every man according to their works

Philippians 2:12 “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”

Let’s also consider a passage like Heb 5:9 – “he (Jesus) became the author (source) of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” I could see how some might think that verse is just descriptive of a Christian (unlike the ones above that are worded in such a way that they are no doubt prescriptive). But if I said the parallel “the teacher became the source of a grade of an ‘A’ unto all them that have a 90 average,” is that just descriptive or is it also prescriptive? Isn’t it prescriptive in that having a 90 average is a condition of getting the grade of ‘A’?

Consider also Matt 7:21 – “he that doeth the will of my Father … shall enter into … heaven.” Is that just “describing” those who will enter heaven – that they will be obedient to the Father in this life (which is true), or is it also “prescribing” that one must obey in order to enter heaven? If I said the parallel “he that wins the race will win a gold medal,” isn’t that saying winning the gold medal is contingent upon winning the race?

The Bible is clear. To be saved we must trust and obey God.

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Tit 3:5 Teaches Christians Receive A Personal Out Pouring Of the Holy Ghost

June 24, 2016

Titus 3:5-6 reads “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ …”

NASV – … renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ …

NIV – … renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ …

NKJV – … renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ …

In this verse, the Holy Ghost is what is poured out from God. The Holy Ghost is the element of the pouring, not the one doing the pouring.

Who is promised the Holy Ghost according to Titus 3:6? Those who are:

• saved according to His mercy, v.5

• justified by His grace, v.7

• made heirs … of eternal life, v.7

That gets every disciple, correct?

Conclusion: All Christians receive the Holy Ghost (not just a select few like the miraculous). Context proves it.

Denominational Logic Says 2 Plus 2 Used To Equal 4, But That Has Changed

June 17, 2016

Almost all denominational churches act as if God’s truth can change. It’s like if a mathematician once said that 2 plus 2 equals 4, but later said now the right answer has changed to 5. Let me begin by illustrating with the divorce question. Jesus said in Matt 19:9 – “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” I think all churches used to stand with Jesus on this subject, but now almost all have compromised and teach something much looser.

For example, the Methodist creed book said in 1896 “No divorce, except for adultery, shall be regarded by the Church as lawful; and no Minister shall solemnize marriage in any case where there is a divorced wife or husband living; but this rule shall not be applied to the innocent party to a divorce for the cause of adultery” (The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church). That looks just like Matt 19:9, right? But gradually through the years, the Methodist church compromised on the divorce question until here is what their creed book said in 1984: “Where marriage partners, even after thoughtful consideration and counsel, are estranged beyond reconciliation, we recognize divorce as regrettable but recognize the right of divorced persons to remarry. … We encourage an active, accepting, and enabling commitment of the church and our society to minister to the members of divorced families.” To make matters worse, we recently read on the internet that the “United Methodist Church … leadership voted to submit … a … legislative proposal … that removes ‘prohibitive’ language from The United Methodist Book of Discipline concerning homosexuality. … the proposal would allow United Methodist pastors to perform same-sex marriages in United Methodist churches. … this proposal does not consider homosexuality incompatible with Christian teachings even though Methodists have historically recognized the practice … as sinful.” That’s what happens when one compromises on adulterous marriages; consistency leads to eventual compromise on (acceptance of) gay marriage.

And the Methodist church is not the only church to change. Almost all churches have compromised like the Methodists by accepting adulterous marriages. Think about where your church stands on that. Now quite regularly we read about churches changing their policy to accept gay marriage. And going back a number of years:

· Rom 6:4 the Catholics changed baptism from immersion to pouring in the 1311 Council of Ravenna

· Acts 20:7 denominations changed the frequency of the Lord’s Supper from once a week to less often

· I Cor 14:34-35 almost all churches used to forbid “women preachers” – now almost all allow it

Can truth change like that? Can the answer to 2 plus 2 change from 4 to 5? Then why would churches think God’s truths can change? Doesn’t the Bible read the same way it did 1900 years ago? Only the “truth shall make you free” from sin (John 8:32). Are you continuing in the constant truth of God’s word (John 8:31), or are you blindly following the ever changing teachings of men (Matt 15:14)?

for the full outline on churches changing through the years, click here:

Denominational Logic Says 2+2=4 And 2+2=5, That Both Answers Are Right

June 13, 2016

The Baptist church teaches baptism must be immersion; the Methodist church teaches sprinkling will suffice. Yet Baptists and Methodists think both churches are right. The new Community churches think man has free will; Presbyterian churches believe just the opposite. Yet the members of both churches think both groups are right. The Episcopal church practices infant baptism; those calling themselves “Bible Churches” say only believers should be baptized. But neither church thinks the other is wrong. I think it is fair to say almost all denominational people think it is fine with God to have all these different type churches with all their different conflicting doctrines.

In contrast to that: A main theme of Jesus’ final prayer (in the garden) was for unity, that believers would be “one” (John 17:21-22). God says there should be “no divisions” among us … that we all should “speak the same thing” (I Cor 1:10). He says if we teach anything different than what the New Testament says, we will be “accursed” (Gal 1:6-9). Jesus said if we teach the “commandments of men,” our worship will be “vain” (Matt 15:9). God’s book says whoever “abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (II John 9).

There is only one right answer to our math problem 2+2. Likewise there is only one right answer to any particular religious question/issue. Only the “truth shall make you free” from sin (John 8:32). Are you continuing in the one truth of God’s word (John 8:31), or are you blindly following the teaching of man (Matt 15:14)? Contact me if you are not sure.

Type And Antitype – The Scapegoat – Our Sins Were Laid On Jesus

June 10, 2016

Consider how the sins of the Israelites were “put” on the scapegoat before it was sent out to “bear” those sins into the wilderness in Leviticus 16:21-22 – “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:  And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.”

It’s no coincidence that Isaiah 53 quotes / refers back to Leviticus 16 and the scapegoat when talking about Jesus’ future sacrifice:

verse 6b “and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”

verse 11b “for he shall bear their iniquities

So according to Isaiah 53, the scapegoat is a type of Christ, just like the lamb is a type of Christ (John 1:29a). The lamb didn’t literally take/bear away sin (Heb 10:4); instead Christ literally did. Likewise sins were not literally put/laid on the scapegoat; instead they are literally put/laid on Jesus. Jesus did literally take/bear our sins away (John 1:29b), right? Then they must also have been literally (spiritually, not physically) put/laid on Him – because in both type and reality, sins were put/laid on a carrier to bear them away.

How Do We Know New Testament Instruction Applies To Us?

June 7, 2016

It might surprise many that some Baptists believe Acts 2:38 teaches Peter’s audience had to be baptized for the remission of sins, but think the passage only applied to the Jews of that day. Of course the very next verse refutes that contention, but their argument brings up a much broader question – how do we know any new testament instruction applies to us? After all, every bit of it was said/written to first century audiences.

The principle that God’s law applies equally to everyone helps us out with this problem. Acts 10:34-35 teaches us that “God is no respecter of persons.” In this case, the Good News Translation gets at the meaning well – “God treats everyone on the same basis.” Now if that is true, then the requirements that God placed on the people of the first century will be placed upon us also, since God treats everyone on the same basis. He is not going to make it a sin for a person to do such and such back then (still in the new covenant dispensation of course), but allow us to get by doing that same such and such today. That wouldn’t be fair to those people back then (or us, depending upon how you look at it).

And so since God required a sinner in the first century to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16), you can rest assured that He is going to require the same of a sinner today. And since God required a saint to repent and pray to be forgiven of sin in the first century (Acts 8:22), you can rest assured He requires the same of saints today.

Some think the definition for modesty has changed, but if God required the first century Christians to dress a certain way then (I Tim 2:9-10), then we must comply with the equivalent. It is true that in some middle eastern cultures it is better to dress more conservative than what God instructs (I Cor 8, 9:20), but God’s absolute requirements on the subject do not change.

This principle that God’s new testament law applies equally to everybody then and everybody today (else God is showing favoritism) is also taught by Gal 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” If a rule was stated to someone then, that same rule applied to everybody then (regardless of race, gender, or social standing), and the same applies to everybody today (regardless of race, gender, or social standing). There are exceptions to this principle (for example, gender roles bring about a very few different requirements for male and female), but they are just that – exceptions, not the rule.

And this principle doesn’t just apply to individuals; it also applies to congregations. For example the book of II Corinthians was written to the church at Corinth, but the example of sacrificial giving by the Macedonians in chapter 8 is not only held out to the Corinthians as a worthy example to emulate, but was held out for all then (Rom 15:26) and for all time – God did not intend for the second letter to the Corinthians to be a private one. The whole point of Eph 2:14-16 is that we can’t be one in Christ if there are different divine laws for different peoples. If we are not bound by the same teaching as the Corinthian saints, then we cannot be the same type of saints as they. And if we are not bound by the same teaching as the Corinthian church, then we cannot be the same type of church as they.

When God told the church at Corinth to withdraw from the adulterer (I Cor 5), He is telling us to do the same if we run into the same circumstances. When God told the same congregation that Christians should not take their brothers to law (I Cor 6), then He is telling us the same. When Paul writes that division is to be avoided (I Cor 1), we should accept the admonition personally even though we don’t live in Corinth. One could just as easily argue that the Matt 19:9 divorce law only applies to Jews (since they were the only ones there listening at the moment) as one can argue that the instructions to the Corinthians apply to that church only. One could just as easily argue that the Matt 5:28 lust law only applies to males (since that is who is specifically addressed) as one can argue that instructions to the Corinthians only apply to that congregation.

Does it really make sense that Paul would tell the Romans in 16:17 to mark those who “cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine … and avoid them,” but there is no need for us to do the same? Is it only wrong for the Galatians to practice the “works of the flesh” list in 5:19-21 (but not for us) since that’s who the book was written to? Do none of God’s instructions to the seven churches in Rev 2-3 apply to us? Or is the truth that it does apply to us because we are striving to be what they were – congregations that belong to the Lord?

God gave an order to the church at Corinth in I Cor 16:1ff to take up a collection for the needy Christians of their day. At first glance, it is obvious that the instruction was intended to be more broad that just to Corinth, because the churches in Galatia are given the same order. As we’ve noted, God would be a respecter of persons if the commanded some saints to do something, but allowed others off the hook of that same requirement. Indeed, I Cor 4:17 says that Paul taught the same thing “in every church.” To argue that this collection commandment only applied then because of a specific benevolent need, would be about like arguing that the Eph 4:28 commandment to labor only applied then because of the specific benevolent need mentioned in that particular verse. So congregations should take up a collection for needy saints in our day, and for preaching the gospel (as texts like Phil 4:15-17 authorize). I Cor 14:37 says Paul’s instructions in that book are “the commandments of the Lord.” God doesn’t give orders/commandments to one group of people, but not another. Recommendations (because of special circumstances, I Cor 7:8-9,26) yes, but not commandments. Can you imagine God sending one group of people to everlasting punishment for not doing something that He doesn’t even care if another like group does?

Any passage that tells us to “keep” the “word of God” (like Luke 11:28) would tell us that we need to heed the instructions of the new testament. The book of I Corinthians is part of the word of God, so we must “keep it,” that is, we must follow the instructions detailed by the book to the Corinthians. John 8:31 requires us to continue in God’s word. Wouldn’t continuing in God’s word mean that we follow the directions of the new testament as if it were directly addressed to us? James 2:22 encourages us to be “doers of the word.” Wouldn’t that mean we are to do what we find the new testament Christians were doing / supposed to do? I Pet 1:22a requires us to obey the truth in order to be saved; wouldn’t that mean we have to obey the truths found in all 27 books, even though they were not written to us directly?

The idea is then that if a congregation today wants to be faithful, then said congregation is going to have to practice the same things we see the congregations of the new testament practicing – God plays no favorites. Anybody that can see I Cor 9:27 (“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway”) applies to all Christians even today though it was only written about Paul, should be able to see the same about other new testament teachings even though they were all specifically written to or about people who lived almost 2000 years ago.

Conclusion: Studying the new testament diligently with a view toward carefully emulating Christians and congregations (I Cor 11:1, Phil 4:9) is born from the principle taught by Acts 10:34-35 and Gal 3:28. God expects us to follow the Bible, and following the Bible includes trying to be like those in the Bible who were accepted by God.

We Live To Do; We Don’t Do To Live?

June 3, 2016

The Calvinists and church at Birmingham types are fond of saying something like: We live to do; we don’t do to live.

But why can’t both be true? Indeed the verses at the bottom of this message prove we also – do to live.

If you see a verse that seems to be saying we don’t do to live, examine it and you will see it is either talking about the law of Moses specifically (like Acts 15:1ff and the book of Galatians), or it is talking about the BASIS for our salvation, not whether or not our salvation is CONDITIONAL.

The difference between basis and condition can be illustrated with the walls of Jericho. If I say “the Israelites didn’t knock down those walls themselves; they would have had to use sledgehammers to do that,” I am discussing the BASIS for the walls coming down. God did it miraculously. But if I say “the Israelites had to walk for those walls to come down,” then I am discussing CONDITION.

We can do the same thing with Naaman (II Kings 5) and the brazen serpent (Num 21). Naaman was cleansed by God’s healing power (Basis), but Naaman had to dip seven times for that to happen (Condition). The Israelites were healed of their snake bites by God (Basis), but they had to look upon the brazen serpent for that to happen (Condition). Likewise when it comes to our spiritual salvation, basis is God’s part; condition is man’s part. If there is no man’s part, then everybody would be saved, because Jesus died (Basis) for everybody (Heb 2:9).

Hebrews 5:9 “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him”

Matt 7:21 “he that doeth the will of my Father … shall enter into … heaven”

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”

James 2:14-24-26 “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 Pet 1:17 “Father … without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work

Revelation 20:11-15 “they were judged every man according to their works

Philippians 2:12 “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”