Monday, December 31, 2018

The Outcome of My 2018 New Year's Resolution


Introduction


For the last two years I have endeavored to track every minute that I spend studying the Scriptures. The original purpose was twofold: I desired both to gain an accurate view of my life while also setting up concrete and measurable goals to challenge myself to be in God’s Word as much as possible.

Challenge


Try to think of as many individuals from Church history as you can. It is likely that some of the names that popped into your mind were Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon – individuals we hold up as giants in the faith. Why are they considered such pillars of the Church? Because they were the people who made a difference. The people who are known in Church history are those that refused to be content with the status quo. They were the men and women who purposefully focused their attention on the glory of Christ and were fixated upon making Him even more famous in the world around them.

I am not saying that being remembered is a sign of faithfulness. On the contrary, I believe there are millions of believers who we know nothing about that lived faithful lives for the glory of Christ. Regardless, whether or not we are remembered by future generations should not impact our desire to make a difference in this world. I would like to challenge you to discipline yourself by setting your mind on accomplishing great tasks in this life for our Lord. This is the challenge for us all: will we choose to set high expectations for our lives and be disciplined in order to achieve these goals that we may accomplish greatness for God? We should strive to live our lives in such a way that, at the end, we, like Jesus, our Lord and Savior, may be able to say that we glorified Him on earth, having accomplished the work that He gave us to do (John 17:4).

Year Two in Review


At the start of 2018, I decided I would again track my time in studying Scripture while also adding an intense reading plan to increase the challenge and push myself further. My goal for this year was to read through seventy-two books. This desire came as the result of a post that read, “Many CEO’s of large companies read sixty books a year.” Since the Church is a far greater enterprise than a company, I was personally challenged to go above and beyond the amount of reading accomplished by leaders in the secular world.

Well, the year slipped by and I was only able to read fifty books. Thus, I ended the year short of my goal, but I did not find this discouraging because that is still fifty books! You see, even though I fell short of my goal by twenty-two books, had I not set a goal at all, I probably would not have read near that amount. And, just to clarify, only thirty of the books were required by my seminary classes. The other twenty I read on my own time.

Application


I challenge you to set high expectations for yourself in 2019. You may not hit your goals every single time, but at least you will have set them and pushed yourself out of complacency as you strive for excellence for Christ. If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time; but if you aim high, even if you miss, you will still hit higher than you originally would have otherwise. I’m sure you have all read the famous quote, “Aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” It is so very true! Do not just coast through life and allow it to pass you by. Grab time by the reins and make the most of your days (Eph. 5:16).

Your goals for the new year may not be the same as mine and that is okay. Perhaps it is tracking the amount of time you spend studying the Scriptures or in prayer or maybe having a number of books to read. Yet it could also be striving to share the Gospel a certain amount of times per month or volunteering with a local homeless shelter to show the love of Christ in tangible ways. Maybe you wish to push yourself in your job by taking on more responsibilities or taking on more college classes so as to graduate sooner rather than doing the bare minimum so as to grow in juggling your responsibilities and improve your time management skills. The point is that your goal for 2019 can be whatever it is that the Lord is putting on your heart. The challenge is to discipline yourself in order to strive toward achieving this personal goal.

Conclusion


The total time I spent in the Word of God this past year was 763 hours. After adding the past two years together, I have spent 1560 hours studying Scripture from January 1, 2017 to today. I am excited to continue to push myself in 2019 and hope this encourages you to set high personal goals in this new year!
*Click here to read last year's blog post.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Punctuation in the Name of Jesus


Introduction


As we all know, punctuation is a necessary component in understanding the languages that we speak. Various markers have been constructed to pinpoint pauses, stops, and to even insert additional thoughts – all for the sake of conveying the intended meaning of the speaker/author. However, this has not always been the case.

Like anything, both the art and structure of languages have evolved over time. Further, newer linguistical discoveries dealing with world languages continue to unfold as knowledge continues to progress. Thus, many of the ancient languages [Hebrew, Greek, etc.] rarely, if ever, made use of the various punctuation marks we take for granted today. On the contrary, the original speakers would have understood their peers by other means such as the context of the discussion.

The Name of God


A world-renowned example, regarding the use of punctuation, is seen in Isaiah 9:6. This specific Bible verse just so happens to be one of the most often quoted passages in the entire Old Testament, especially during the Christmas season. Why? Because it was a prophecy to Israel about the coming Messiah who would, once and for all, deliver His people. The passage is as follows:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Did you notice what I just did? I inserted a comma after the name “Wonderful” because I believe that it fits better with the overall context of Scripture. The insertion of this punctuation mark is not something you will find in many Bible translations today, yet it could not be more necessary for a proper understanding of this passage. Yes, Jesus is not just a counselor; He is the Wonderful Counselor. However, I would argue that this term is not Scripturally meant to be an adjective, but a noun [i.e. His Name].
For example: within the book of Judges (Judg. 13:18), there is an encounter between The Angel of the LORD [Jesus in the Old Testament] and a Jewish couple. As is Isaiah 9:6, this account is also a prophetic declaration in which God promises to bring about a son. At the end of the discussion, when Manoah asks for the name of the Angel, His response is that His Name is “Wonderful!”

Another example would be found in John 14:16 where we see that Jesus promised the disciples that the Father would send “…another Counselor.” The term “another” implies that Jesus is a Counselor and, as we now know from the rest of the New Testament, the Counselor [i.e. The Holy Spirit] is the very Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:11).

Conclusion


It is easy to read over something as seemingly insignificant as punctuation marks, especially when we have heard this verse quoted so often and always in the same manner. However, as students of God’s Word, we are called upon to do everything we can in order to gain a better understanding of the Scriptures. My challenge to you is to read God’s Name as both Wonderful and Counselor. It is not necessarily wrong to connect the two together and view “wonderful” as an adjective, but Isaiah’s prophecy is clearer when they stand alone.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Awaiting the Seventh World Empire


Definitions


First, let me begin by defining some terms:

A national superpower is a very powerful nation with heavy influence on its surrounding countries [i.e. the United States, Russia, China, etc.], yet having little control over the affairs of foreign kingdoms.

A world empire is made up of many nations all serving under one sovereign authority who has almost complete control of the known world.

The Seven World Empires


Since the beginning of creation, there have been six of these (nearly) global empires: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Each one gained more land, more people and more power than the former. History has revealed that they were all stronger and better than their predecessors. That being said, they all have one remarkable thing in common: they were all temporary.

The pyramids of Egypt are a museum. Nineveh of Assyria became a mound of dirt. The glories of Babylon have long disappeared. Do you even know anything about Persia apart from the movie 300? Greece is bankrupt, and Athens is a pile of rocks. And Rome spread themselves out too thin across the world and eventually collapsed.

However, there is coming a day when the seventh world empire will take its stand on the stages of human history and will forever be the dominant nation. In the coming years we will witness the rise of the final world empire: the nation of Israel. In that day, we will truly be able to say that God indeed saved the best for last because Jesus Christ will be seated on the throne in Jerusalem and will reign forever (Isa. 9:7; Luke 1:32-33). God will finally fulfill His promise to make Abraham into a great nation (Gen. 12:2) and there will never again exist a rival superpower because all nations will be under Christ (Ps. 2).

Conclusion


Israel may not look like much today, but someday God will set them up and establish them as both the national superpower and global empire. After all, Israel is the only country in history to successfully come back from the grave (Ez. 37:1-14). Even though the Jewish people were dispersed over the entire world due to the conquest of Rome beginning in A.D. 70, they maintained their national identity and heritage and regained their homeland almost two thousand years later.

Micah 4:1-2 tells us that, during the future Millennial Kingdom, people from all over the world will travel to Jerusalem to worship the Lord; and that day is quickly approaching. Are you ready for the return of Christ? Are you excited that someday soon He will come and set up His Earthly Kingdom right in Jerusalem?

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Paul's View of the Millennial Kingdom


The Millennial Kingdom has historically been an object of contention among Christians. Although no believers doubt the reality of Christ’s future reign, there is much division on whether or not this Kingdom period is a literal thousand years or just a figurative number mentioned to encapsulate all of eternity. One of the main reasons questions surround this topic is because the Apostle Paul, the writer of half the New Testament, appears to not address this issue.

Argument from Silence


First, there is some truth to that statement. Paul never uses millennial terminology. However, I would like to point out that just because he did not specifically address it does not remove it from being a true doctrine. The Apostle John, who wrote the only book devoted almost entirely to future events, stated a “thousand years” six times in Revelation chapter twenty. To say that Paul’s absence on the subject proves that it will not happen literally is an argument from silence. For example, Paul also does not talk about cats, but they exist nonetheless.

Paul Stated It Indirectly


Second, people often say that Paul never addressed the Millennial Kingdom, but that could not be further from the truth. Yes, he does not use those two words, but he does include the end times model in his eschatological timeline. Check out 1 Corinthians 15:23-26 below:

Paul & John: Their Purpose for Writing


To understand the Word of God properly, we must always put it in its appropriate context. The Apostle Paul wrote at a different time and to a different audience than the Apostle John. Paul wrote his epistles to churches in the middle of the first century comprised mostly of Gentile Christians. He was sentenced to death before A.D. 70 by Rome and his main focus was to teach believers about their [Gentile Christians, not Israel’s] coming salvation. Thus, he tended to sum everything up in both Christ’s return and rebuilding of the heavens and the earth. Click here to read a doctrinal statement I wrote in which I also summed up the end.

In contrast, John wrote at the end of the first century [almost 30 years after Jerusalem was destroyed]. Thus, many of the churches throughout Asia minor would have been flooded with Jewish refugees who were driven from their homeland. John was writing to Christians after the destruction of the temple who were likely struggling to understand the events taking place. Thus, his aim was to give believers a road map of exactly how things are going to happen when the Lord comes back. Neither apostle contradicts each other, they are just writing with a different purpose in mind just like the Gospel accounts.

Paul & John: Their Ministries


Not only did these two write at different times, but they had different ministry contexts. Yes, John ministered to Gentile Christians as did all of the apostles, but only Paul is said to have that as his specific ministry focus (Acts 9:15). Thus, you would not expect Paul to spend very much time talking about the Millennial Kingdom in his letters since the Kingdom will be almost entirely focused upon Israel and the Jewish people. Both of the apostles knew their target audience and each emphasized the topics that were most relevant to them.

Therefore, Paul routinely encouraged his mostly Gentile audience with the coming salvation of the Church [i.e. their salvation]. John, on the other hand, wrote Revelation in a way both to exhort the Church and to instruct God’s people [both Jews and Gentiles] on the future of Israel. Galatians 2:7-9 gives us a glimpse into the ministries of the apostles:

On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the Gospel to the circumcised (for He who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised [Jews].

Conclusion


We should keep in mind that the book of Revelation was comprised of new information that had not yet previously been revealed. Thus, we should read Revelation chapter twenty and praise God that someday soon He will set up and establish His 1,000 year reign upon this world! Some will argue that the Apostle Paul does not discuss the Millennial Kingdom and they are partially right. However, in no way does that disprove the doctrine. If anything, it backs it up and solidifies it because we can see Biblical examples of the apostles being relevant to their own target audience. It is of little concern that Paul did not write about the timeframe of the Kingdom. Luke did not write about the new heavens and the new earth, but we still hold to their coming existence. Just because one of the authors of Scripture did not write on a doctrine does not make it any less true as we ought to look at Scripture as a whole.

Additional Resources:


Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Audiences of 1 & 2 Peter


Why Does It Matter?


Like any portion of Scripture, correct interpretation of the text hinges on an accurate understanding of the identity of the original audience. If the recipient of the letter is misunderstood or unknown, then this could lead to misapplication.

Below is a quote from the ESV Study Bible regarding the book of 1 Peter:

“Most scholars are convinced that the recipients of 1 Peter were primarily Gentiles.”[1]

But are the scholars correct?

1 Peter


First, it is important to note that both 1 Peter and the book of James begin almost the exact same way. They were both writing to those who were dispersed. Acts 8:1 is where we find out that the dispersed individuals were Jewish Christians and, though it goes without saying, the Gentiles were also never dispersed.

Yet the vast majority of scholars tend to see two different recipients of these letters. The ESV Study Bible states, “The audience for James’s letter is almost certainly Jewish Christians….”[2] Do you see the inconsistencies?


So why do many scholars believe that these two books are not written to the same group of people? That is a great question and, to be honest, I have no idea.

Some people claim that the Apostle Peter is speaking of a spiritual dispersion [do not even get me started…], but this is inconsistent with the rest of the book. For example:

  1. 1 Peter 2:9 says they are a chosen race and a nation [the Church is neither].
  2. 1 Peter 2:11-12 implies that the audience is predominantly Jewish because they are sojourners and exiles [having fled from persecution] and they are instructed to maintain honorable conduct among the Gentiles.

Thus, the audience of 1 Peter was mostly comprised of Jewish believers.

2 Peter


2 Peter 1:1 states that this book was written “To those [Gentiles] who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours [Jews] by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The Gentiles have now been given access to the covenant promises of God (Eph. 2:11-22). This one is actually pretty straight forward.

2 Peter was written mainly to Gentile Christians.

Conclusion


In conclusion, we must always go back to the Word of God to find out if what someone is saying is accurate. Regardless of who they are, whether a pastor or commentator, or even if they have their PhD – just because someone states a “fact” about the Bible does not necessarily make it true. That is not to discredit someone for the amount of work they have put into studying the Scriptures, but we ought to be like the Bereans and compare what they say to God’s Word (Acts 17:11).



[1] This quote is taken from the ESV Study Bible published by Crossway Bibles in 2008. It is found on page 2402 in the Introduction to 1 Peter under the section Purpose, Occasion, and Background.
[2] Ibid. p. 2387.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Racial Tensions in the Church of 2018


Looking at our world today it seems as if a war between ethnic groups has begun and, sadly, they are largely correct. However, this is not just a worldly problem between unbelievers. This point of contention has infiltrated the walls and hearts of the church. Men and women who claim both to know and love God are aggressively seeking to bring down an entire ethnic group under the guise of “social justice” (1 John 4:20). What they miss is that their actions are not a form of justice, but revenge. It is not a matter of reconciliation, but one of retaliation.

Why are they doing this? The simple answer is because they have allowed the heinous crimes of the past to feed in them a spirit of bitterness and contempt towards those who had nothing to do with what they are fighting against. Yet that is often how it goes in our lives. We tend to take out our frustrations upon others who were not even involved. This is something we must actively guard against.

The wrongs done in the past were terrible, but they must remain in the past because, as we continue to allow these awful thoughts to fester in our minds, we are giving ourselves over to their control. When we continue to live as if these atrocities are happening to us today, we are enslaving ourselves to a victim mentality. Lives are being dragged off in bondage and captivity and we do not even realize that we are slaves to our own hurts.

Philippians 4:4-9 tells us that we should be setting our minds on good, wholesome and freeing things. Why? Because the Apostle Paul recognized that the human life is governed and maintained through six intakes: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, thinking and speaking. The things that we set our minds and hearts on will eventually come out of our mouths (Matt. 15:18) and, whether we realize it or not, we are being formed by the words we say. The person we will become in the future is dependent upon our thoughts and actions now.

Moving Forward


What if God held the sins of someone else against you? How would that make you feel? Well, that is what many Christians are doing today. They are holding the crimes of past generations upon the heads of the current generation and demanding restitution. Yet, they fail to realize that not only did the current generation have nothing to do with the past but also that their personal lust for more money, more prestige, more benefits and more stuff will never be satisfied. Even if an entire ethnic group was completely wiped out, they would still find something to complain about and their sinful cravings would still demand more. No amount of money, free land, free housing, free food, free education or other handouts will ever “be enough” because what is the price for forgiveness? Is there a price to excuse the mistakes of the past? There shouldn’t be, but compensations like these would make us think otherwise. It is important to realize that the problem with our flesh is that it is never satisfied.

I would actually recommend that Christians of minority groups refuse to accept free handouts because of what these benefits are doing to our society. I know I am asking a lot but think about the greater good which is the advancement of the Gospel. It would be hard to give up free money, but that is the point because living a Gospel-centered life is meant to be hard. The reason I say this is because the benefits that certain groups receive simply because of their skin color both exalts some minority groups over others and continues to feed the victim mentality that so many people today are accustomed to have.

Learning from History


I am not saying that we should forget the past or attempt to rewrite it in any way. That would be absurd because we are meant to learn from history. However, I am saying that we are not to allow ourselves to be consumed and controlled by the things that happened so long ago. I think about all of the Western men and women who fought both for the freedom of slaves and the restitution to be made for the Native American Indians. I think about all of the godly men and women who are actively fighting against the extermination of the young and the old [current monstrosities such as abortion and medically forced suicide].

In the past, it has been Christians who have led the way and were the examples of offering forgiveness to the oppressors. Corrie Ten Boom and Kim Phuc Phan are two excellent examples. Corrie Ten Boom’s family was exterminated by the Nazis. Kim Phuc Phan suffered life-altering injuries from napalm as a child. The world, and regrettably some in the Church, would look at both women and tell them that they were entitled to be bitter, to receive compensation, and to champion the destruction of those who had done them wrong. But what do we know actually happened? Corrie Ten Boom traveled the world with the message of forgiveness and called on her countrymen to forgive the Germans. Kim Phuc Phan tells her story of forgiving the Vietnam government and other specific individuals and how she has come to see God’s grace and purpose in the midst of suffering.

The Proclamation of the Gospel


Yes, slavery was a terrible reality, and many Native American tribes suffered at great costs, but keep in mind what God’s Word says in Philippians 4:4-9. Men meant these things for evil, but God meant them for good (Gen. 50:20). The end result of Westerners crossing the sea in 1492 and then bringing millions of men, women and children from the countries of Africa was predetermined in God’s mind so that billions of people would receive the glorious Gospel of God’s grace. The Native American Indians, as well as the Native Africans, did not know anything about Jesus Christ and what He did for them until the Word of God was brought to them. Yes, it came through the hands of sinful men, but ultimately God’s grace was displayed to even more people because of His Awesome Sovereignty over the nations (Acts 17:26).

Conclusion


Who will be the next great example of forgiveness that future generations will hold in high esteem? From the outside it looks like the war of the racial groups has begun, but the real battle has nothing to do with race. As Christians, we do not wrestle against the pigment of one’s skin or even their genealogical identity. The real conflict being waged is between the Church and the spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12). That being said, we should not leave our brothers and sisters to live out their lives in victimized bondage when Christ has called them to so much more!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

All the Colors that I See: Book Review


A special thanks to B&H/LifeWay for sending me a complimentary copy of their new book, All the Colors that I See.

All the Colors that I See is a very creative and engaging book to read with an infant and toddler. Both Kennedy and Conger do an excellent job through their use of colors and poetry to strengthen the child’s imagination through their personal involvement in the story. Each page presents a new color and activity for the child to do thus engaging more of their senses by teaching them through listening, seeing and doing.

 From start to finish, this book seeks to aid the child in seeing that all of the beautiful things in this world were handmade by God Himself. Everything that has color comprises a beautiful picture of our Lord’s artistic abilities. It is never too early to begin training your child to see the world the way God designed it to be viewed and to teach them to acknowledge Him in all things.

Though I am not a parent yet, this is the type of book my wife and I look forward to reading to our children when they are young. It is well written and beautifully illustrated in a way that captures the heart of a child. As an added bonus, there is even a sneaky chameleon following you through the pages which adds to the child’s enjoyment.

Whether you’re a parent yourself or are attending a baby shower, my wife and I both highly recommend this book!

Friday, July 27, 2018

10 Scary Statements by Future Church Leaders


Over the last three years I have heard some very disturbing statements made by those who either already are or are planning on entering the ministry and will be placed in positions of authority within God’s Church. I agree that we are all on a journey in our walk with the Lord, but I would like to challenge us all to be a little more cautious with the words we choose to use. While we laugh and shake our heads at some of these, statements like the following are very destructive and can easily lead someone into believing a false gospel. This is also a good reminder to us all that, regardless of an individual’s educational background or position of authority, we should always go back to what God’s Word says.

1. Revelation is Not Meant to Teach Us About the End…


Honestly, I am not even sure where to begin. The individual who made this statement continued by saying that Revelation is meant only to give us hope. While God’s Word does give us hope, it also gives us an order of real life accounts. This is akin to saying that the Bible is not meant to teach us about Jesus or that the Old Testament was not meant to teach us about the history of Israel. This thought stems from the idea that we cannot know for sure how exactly the events of the end times will unfold. I agree that we will not fully know everything that will come about, but we can know the order of events accurately. [Click here to read my full response written in a previous blog.]

2. The Angel in Revelation Preaches a Different Gospel…


Doesn’t this sound a little heretical? Yeah, I thought so too. Especially since the book of Galatians begins by stating in 1:8 that “…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” The individual who said this was attempting to use Revelation 14:6 as his justification, but this is a very skewed interpretation of the passage given the fact that the context is all about Jesus Christ. Also, part of the angel’s proclamation in verse seven was an exhortation to worship the Creator of the universe [i.e. Jesus (Col. 1:15-17)].

3. All You Need to Do is Believe in Abraham…


The exact quote was, “I am so glad to know that as long as people are believing in Abraham they are saved.”

To give some context, many missionaries take years to learn the native language. They then take another year of teaching the Bible to the people before they even arrive at the name of Jesus which is presented in the New Testament. Therefore, it is an emotional challenge when someone dies in the middle of this process before the missionary reached Christ. So, what happens to the individual who, as far as anyone could tell, was believing the message but died before they could hear about Christ?

This is a very hard discussion but, rather than jumping to emotions and speculation, let’s first go back to what we know from God’s Word. First, we know that no one can be saved apart from believing in the person of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). Second, we know that all believers have been baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). Thus, if you do not have the Holy Spirit then you are not part of the Church and are not sealed by Him (Eph. 13-14). Finally, we know that three thousand Jewish people believed the Old Testament [way more than just Abraham] and they were not saved (Acts 2:37-41) because they asked Peter what they should do to be saved which implies that they were not.

I do not mean to sound cold, but we cannot have assurance in that individual’s eternal destination in this scenario. Thus, we shouldn’t assume that they are saved even if they were believing everything being taught up until the day they died. Faithful attendance to a Bible study does not get someone into Heaven. Believing in Adam, Noah, Abraham, even the twelve tribes and apostles will not change a person’s eternal dwelling place. The only hope that anybody has is to believe in the risen Son of God (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Thankfully, it’s not for us to know who is and who isn’t saved. Will we see that person in Heaven because “God knew his heart?” Maybe. But, again, we should always go back to what we know from Scripture and what we know is that there is only one Name by which we can be saved and that’s Jesus (Acts 4:12). So, if someone is dying and you have the opportunity, even if you’re only to Abraham in the chronological Bible lessons, why take the chance? Go ahead and tell them about Jesus while there’s still time.

4. You Do Not Need the Old Testament…


A pastor of a very large church in the United States has reiterated this idea repeatedly to his congregation over the past year. He also believes that the Old Testament is full of holes and contradictions and that you do not need to believe in a literal reading of God’s Word. Honestly, there is too much I could say in response to this episode of false teaching. Both the Old and New Testaments are perfect and without error.

The major fact that this pastor has forgotten is that the New Testament writers were preaching the Old Testament. Yes, there was some additional information given, but the epistles are meant to instruct the people on the examples of the Old Testament and the fulfillment it has in Christ. Also, since the Church did not begin until Pentecost (Acts 2), the entire Gospel account [Matthew, Mark, Luke, John] is technically placed within the Old Testament.

5. God Will Never Be Displeased with You…


If this is true, where then is the need for repentance (Acts 2:38)? Confession (1 John 1:9)? Yes, God will never love or value you more than He does because His desire for you is infinite, but that does not mean that He is always pleased with us. Does God take pleasure in our sin? James 4:6 is talking to believers and says that God opposes the proud. 1 Peter 3:7 says that our sin can hinder our prayers. Ephesians 4:30 states that we can grieve the Holy Spirit. While we cannot influence our position in Christ, I would argue that we can very much hinder our fellowship with Him.

6. Jesus Came to His Other People in the Americas…


This is actually Mormonism, not Christianity. Jesus did not come to America after His resurrection nor does He have another people. Israel is His chosen nation and the Church is His chosen body.

7. Michael the Archangel Placed Jesus Into Mary…


This is an interesting one since Michael the archangel is not mentioned anywhere near the birth of Christ. The text says that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary (Luke 1:35) which implies no action taken or even needed by the angelic beings. Again, it’s very dangerous to add to Scripture what is not expressly stated. [Click here to read my full response in a previous blog.]

8. Fearing God Just Means Respecting Him…


This is a very common belief in the Church today. Many will add that “fearing God” just means to be in awe of Him but, sadly, this misses the point. Respect and awe are good things and we should definitely have that disposition and reverence to God. After all, it is God we are talking about. The problem is that these two attitudes do not go far enough and, due to our culture of love and comfort, we have created an imbalanced view of God in our minds.

When God killed Ananias and Sapphira it says that great fear came over the whole Church (Acts 5:5, 11). I have a feeling that this fear of God was more than just a casual, “I really respect You, God.” More than likely these believers were terrified. Yes, they loved God and He loved them, but it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31). Or what about the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 where one of the servants says he knew the Master was a “hard man” and was “afraid” of Him? Think about the churches of Revelation. God spoke some pretty harsh words in order to straighten them out. Yes, God is love but we should be careful not to elevate one attribute above the others when His Word also talks about His justice, wrath and anger.

9. God Will Judge You for Seeking Him Too Much…


Honestly, I am not sure where this statement even comes from apart from the lies of the enemy. God’s Word is emphatic that His people are to seek Him with all of their hearts (Jer. 29:13). Jesus Himself says that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30). Therefore, I am not quite sure how it’s even possible to seek God too much since He requires our all.

10. Bibliolatry…


This is the newest scary statement that I have added to my collection and it is wreaking havoc on the Church at large. It is a lie the enemy is using to get Christians out of their Bibles and into the world. It comes in under the guise of thinking we can learn more about God and His truth from other outside sources. It presents the individual with a false sense of justification for not seeking to know and love God with everything we have and are. It is the lie of Bibliolatry and the evidence of its reality is the existence of this post. The fact is that the mass majority of Christians today do not know God’s Word. Why? Because Satan has tricked us, and we have fallen prey to his schemes. The belief in Bibliolatry has led to Biblical illiteracy.

Google defines Bibliolatry as: an excessive adherence to the literal interpretation of the Bible. Is it even possible to have an "excessive" adherence to the literal interpretation of the Bible? If one were to have an "excessive" adherence to the literal interpretation of the Bible they would be the godliest and most loving individual, confronting sin rightly, managing their time wisely, having a heavenly mindset and loving people! They would not be misinterpreting or misapplying Scripture because they would have "excessively" applied themselves to the study of God's Word. In other words, it's impossible to adhere to God's Word too much.

This is not addressing the motive of some who believe that their knowledge of the Bible will gain them entrance into Heaven rather than faith in the work of Christ. This is worship of self as you trust in your own efforts and knowledge and the worship of anything other than God is idolatry – not Bibliolatry. Bibliolatry is not addressing motive [i.e. why are you studying God’s Word] but simply the action [i.e. you are studying God’s Word].

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Following Cain in the Millennial Reign


There is coming a day when Jesus Christ will return to this Earth and establish His kingdom over the entire globe. His rule will be both unending and unfailing. At the end of a thousand years, Jesus will release Satan for a short time and allow him to rile up the nations by bringing them to war against the eternal Son of God. We know this because Revelation 20:1-10 describes these events.

While this is the most literal interpretation of the passage, many find this hard to believe. The question typically asked is “If Jesus is literally ruling and reigning on a throne in Jerusalem, then how can people reject Him since He is right there in front of them?” This is based upon the idea that seeing something will always result in acceptance of what is tangible. I would argue that the issue is that, apart from God and His grace, we do not actually want Him.

Those Who Forsook God


Lucifer, along with all of the angelic beings, saw God up close and personal. He was a perfect angel and was placed in the immediate presence of God (Ez. 28:13-17). Yet he, along with a third of the angels (Rev. 12:4), chose to leave God’s presence.

During Christ’s first coming almost two thousand years ago, not even His own people received Him (John 1:10) even though He proved who He claimed to be. Judas, one of the original twelve disciples who saw the Lord’s miracles firsthand and maintained a close connection with the Savior for three years, made a conscious decision to betray Him by turning Him over to the religious leaders (Matt. 26:14-25).

Finally, Cain was the very first child ever born into this world. He not only knew that God existed but he knew how to approach Him. God even verbally communicated with him (Gen. 4:6-7). Yet, in spite of this, Cain chose to murder his brother Abel (Gen. 4:8-16). Despite this horrible act of sin, God pursued Cain in the same way He pursued Adam and Eve when they rebelled. However, the sad reality is that Genesis 4:16 tells us that “…Cain went away from the presence of the LORD.” God communicated and met with Cain in a very evident way, and still he chose to reject God by turning his back on Him. Cain’s choice to walk away from God is the same choice many will make at the end of the Millennial Kingdom.

The Future Rebellion


The Bible is clear that none of us seek God on our own initiative (Rom. 3:11). Rather, He is the One who pursues us. Even though Christ will be both seen and heard, there is coming a day when men will reject Him. Why? The reason is because we are evil and we do not naturally want God in and of ourselves. Though Cain will not physically dwell in the future millennium, his example will be followed by multitudes of people and nations.

Bonus Material: Calvinism [Lucky You!]


The doctrine of election states that God chose those who would be saved before the Earth was even made (Eph. 1:4). Since one of the arguments generally posed is the one discussed at the beginning of this article – that it doesn’t make sense for people to reject Christ when He is right there in front of them – one could argue that they do not believe because they are not chosen. If you are expressing this to a Calvinist, then this technically ends the argument. Nevertheless, there are many in the Church today who see the idea of election somewhat differently. I just wanted to offer this as a logical rebuttal for you to stick in your back pocket for the next time you are discussing the intricacies of the Millennial Kingdom [or am I alone in this?].

Conclusion


On a final note, I would also like to point out that the overall argument in question regarding the end of the Millennial Kingdom is not so much based upon Scripture interpretation, but upon one’s own limited understanding. Just as with other passages in Scripture, even if we do not understand why God does the things He does or why certain events unfold the way they do, does not make something any less true.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Lie of Bibliolatry



What is Bibliolatry?


There is a belief that is becoming very prevalent in the Church today known as Bibliolatry. It is the idea that many Christians are spending too much time in God’s Word. It is the thought that a large number of evangelicals today actually hold a higher view of Scripture than they do of God. But is this the case? Do Christians really struggle with worshiping the Bible rather than God?

The Simple Answer


No. I would argue that there is no such thing as bibliolatry. If the Church today is struggling with anything, it is not being in God’s Word enough. Think about it. How often do we really spend reading and studying the Bible? The average Christian today spends roughly about two hours a week learning from the Bible. That is about 1% of our time. Yet, the average person spends more than five hours a day watching television. Thus, to say that evangelicals today suffer from Bibliolatry is a major miscalculation.

Where Did it Come From?


The text that supporters of this belief will use is John 5:39. Within this passage, Jesus confronts the Jews by stating that they search the Scriptures thinking that in them they have eternal life. The problem with this interpretation is that bibliolatry is not the point of the passage.

The context is regarding the Law, specifically that of the Sabbath. At the beginning of chapter five, Jesus healed a man on the sacred day of rest. This was a big no-no in their mind! Yet, Jesus did it because He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-8). As the Son of God, He has the authority to determine what is and what is not acceptable on the Sabbath day. Nevertheless, the point that Jesus was making was that these religious leaders cared more about regulations than they did about actual people.

Why is it Here?


So why do many Christians believe this is a thing? Honestly, it helps us justify our own lack of perseverance and motivation. We do not always feel like reading the Bible. And since many of us have been taught not to do it out of duty, we don’t do it at all.  In an effort to combat the conviction we feel on Sunday mornings, we claim that we are in it for the “relationship”. This is the popular idea that says, “I don’t know my Bible, but I know Jesus!” Believe it or not, I have heard that statement before and, sadly, it’s not accurate. It is impossible to know Jesus apart from His inspired Word.

Where is it Going?


To be blunt, the lie of bibliolatry is going to forever remain with its originator, the father of lies (John 8:44), in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Bibliolatry is a very destructive belief because it presents someone with a false sense of justification for not investing themselves in Scripture. I do not worship a leather-bound collection of paper covered in ink. I worship the revealer of Truth. Truth is not 1,042 thin pages comprised of both red and black letters. Truth is the Word of God. Jesus is Truth (John 14:6). Jesus is not the materials that make up my Bible, but He is the message [i.e. the Word (John 1:1, 14)].

Conclusion


The reason I wrote this is because, just a couple months after beginning Seminary last Fall, I was told by a fellow student that I may be committing this crime – that I am worshiping my Bible and not the Lord. At the time I was not sure exactly what to say, and I still do not have all of the answers, but is there really a limit as to how much one should invest themselves in studying God’s Word? Am I really going to stand before God on judgment day and hear Him tell me that I sought to know Him too much? Sometimes I think we tend to say things without giving them enough thought.

To give an illustration, the Bible serves us like a wedding ring. I do not love my wedding ring more than I love my wife but it’s nonetheless precious to me. I never take it off nor am I ever without it because it is a tangible gift that I have to remember my wife, our love and my commitment to her. In the same way, the Word of God is a gift from the Lord and it is only through its pages that we come to know Him and thus deepen our relationship with Him.

*Click here to see what this lie leads to.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

100 Bible Stories for Children: Book Review


A special thanks to Tyndale HousePublishers for sending me a complimentary copy of their new book, 100 Bible Stories for Children.

100 Bible Stories for Children both artistically and accurately teaches children the truths that are found in God’s Word. Though I am not a parent yet, this is the type of book my wife and I look forward to reading to our children someday.

The illustrations are exceptionally well done, and the overall content is beautifully written in a way that would captivate the attention of a little one. I fully recommend this book to parents and believe this would make a great gift for baby showers, birthdays and Christmas.

The Deuteronomy 6:7 challenge is to teach children the entire Word of God and to do it with all diligence. The text states that parents are to talk to their children about the Lord when they wake up, sit down, stand up and even lie down to go to sleep at night. Basically, no matter where you are or what you are doing, you are commanded to make every part of a child’s life a divine appointment. And what better way than to add a book like this into the equation?

Monday, July 2, 2018

Eschatological Discipleship: Book Review


A special thanks to B&H/LifeWay for sending me a complimentary copy of Trevin K. Wax’s book, Eschatological Discipleship.

In Trevin Wax’s new book, Eschatological Discipleship, he seeks to lead his Christian readers into a deeper understanding of both their historical and cultural context by suggesting that believers should continually be incorporating the question “What time is it?” into their daily lives. The overall emphasis is not as much a study of end-times as it is a matter of being equipped to wisely discern the day and age in which we live. The author states that “As we fulfill the call to be transformed, not conformed to this world that is passing away, we must learn to discern our times properly in order to have a missionary encounter that shines light on the true eschatology of the Gospel that proclaims Jesus Christ as the hope of the world.”[1]

Within this book the author endeavors to walk through a Biblical understanding of discipleship and to show how that model can look right here and now in the Church of the twenty-first century. Wax goes up against some of the Church’s biggest cultural combatants such as the enlightenment, the sexual revolution and consumerism. His reason for bringing these three specific ideals to light is to not only to reveal how ingrained they are in us as individuals but to also help us know how to stand up against these rival worldviews. The goal of discipleship is not to keep up with the latest fad but to become more like Christ. Trevin will help you reclaim this goal.


[1] Trevin Wax, Eschatological Discipleship: Leading Believers to Understand Their Historical and Cultural Context (B & H Academic, 2018).

Thursday, June 21, 2018

High King of Heaven: Book Review

A special thanks to Moody Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of John MacArthur’s book, High King of Heaven.

From eternity past to eternity future, High King of Heaven, as is written on the front cover, seeks to honor Christ by offering theological and practical perspectives on both His Person and work. Some of the contents include His eternality, relationship with the Father, virgin birth, life and ministry, view on Scripture interpretation, death and resurrection, and even His final coming which we all long to see. This book is one of the most Christ-exalting books I have read in a long time – and I have read a lot of books!

This is the thirty-eighth book I have read this year, and it has been moved to the top of my favorite’s list. Apart from God’s Word, I do not normally read books over again after I have finished them. However, I am both confident and excited to say that this is one of those books I will read again someday and reference often.

One of the major advantages this book has to offer is the number of men who contributed to its content. As the reader, you have the privilege of both hearing and learning from twenty-three men who have invested their lives in the study of God’s revelation. Each essay stands firm on the deep theological truths of Scripture and offers practical insights into our everyday lives.

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to know more about Christ. If you are a teacher of God’s Word in any capacity, then you need this book. As a believer in Christ, you will only benefit from reading High King of Heaven.

CHRISTOLOGICALLY CAPTIVATING!!!

-          Biblical Perspicacity

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Eve of Motherhood


Many questions have sprung up concerning this woman. What was she like? Was she smart and pretty? Was she strong and beautiful? Was she the only woman in the Garden of Eden with her husband? This is what the text says:

“The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.”

Genesis 3:20

Does that satisfy your curiosity? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Nevertheless, though very little is known about her, both she and her husband are prominent figures in the course of human history. The reason things are bad today is because of an action that was taken by this first couple.


Indications of Being the Mother of All


However, though this verse is short, there is much we can learn from it. For starters, we must remember that Moses is writing this book over 2,500 years after Creation. This passage states that Eve is “…the mother of all the living [i.e. all people].”

As Moses walked through the camp of Israel, looked back at the Egyptian army and looked ahead toward all the nations the Jews would encounter, he understood that they all shared a common ancestor. Whether or not we choose to believe and accept it, all of our genealogies link up at some point in history. We are all interconnected and racially similar.

Likewise, no matter who you run into today, the main point of Genesis 3:20 is that Eve is ultimately their mother. Why? Because that is what God’s Word states. Therefore, how do you treat your brothers and sisters? Do you honor them and seek to build them up or do you mock and ridicule them?


Implications of Being the Mother of All


Although we do not have answers to all of our questions, the verse does offer subtle insights such as:

1.    The First Lady – every person alive today came from her. Some people think that there was another woman in the garden with Adam, but that argument falls apart for two reasons:

a.      There is no Biblical support.

b.     Eve is stated in Genesis 3:20 to be the mother of all the living. Thus, no one, apart from Adam, exists apart from her. Adam is the only exception since he was made first and she came from him.

2.     Her Beauty – given the fact that there have been probably around a hundred billion people born in this world, I would say that Adam thought Eve was quite breathtaking (if you catch my meaning).

3.      Cain’s Wife – whoever she was, she was ultimately a daughter of Eve.

4.    Nephilim – whoever they were, they were sons of Eve which debunks the theory that they were merely fallen angels with human-like appearances.

Conclusion


Eve is the mother of all people from all nations and all times. There is no person alive today that did not spring from the ancestry of Adam and Eve. Think about that as you interact with other people who, like you, blossom from the same tree.