Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Theme of Acts

Acts is not primarily a book of doctrine but rather a historical record of the transition period in which God moved from the nation of Israel to the Body of Christ; from the gospel of the kingdom (Acts 2:38) to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 13:38-39); from the ministry of Peter (Acts 1-12) to that of Paul (Acts 13-28). 

Acts is rightly called a transition book because one dispensation is fading out (Law) and another is fading in (Grace). The early chapters of Acts is a continuation of the prophesied kingdom program of Israel (which concerns a literal kingdom on earth) and not an inauguration of the mystery program of the body of Christ (which concerns a spiritual body seated with Christ in heavenly places) that was revealed to and through the apostle Paul (Eph. 3). Please carefully compare Acts 3:19-24 (spoken since the world began) with Romans 16:25-27 (secret since the world began). 

The popular view of Acts is that from beginning to end it is primarily the record of the birth and growth of the church of this present age. But the correct view of Acts is that from beginning to end it is primarily the account of the fall of Israel. It explains step by step why the chosen people had to be set aside and salvation sent to the Gentiles apart from them. It reveals why the commission that Christ gave the 12 had to be suspended and another apostle raised up to go to the Gentiles with the gospel of the grace of God. Paul was NOT one of the 12 (Gal. 1-2) and was NOT sent under the same commission (Matt. 28:19-20 with 1 Cor. 1:17).

Despite what most Bible teachers say, the book of Acts does not provide a solid pattern that we should try to follow today. If we are to follow the pattern set forth in Acts we will run into some real problems:

1. Which message should we preach to those who want to know how to be saved, Acts 2:37-38 or 16:30-31?
2. Where and to whom should we preach? Should we, like the 12, begin at Jerusalem (1:8)? Or should we, like Paul, depart from Jerusalem and go far hence to the Gentiles (22:21)?
3. Should we preach to the Jews only (11:19), to the Jews first and then the Gentiles (13:46), or to everybody alike (28:28)?
4. Do we receive the Holy Ghost several years after repentance and baptism (2:4), immediately after repentance and baptism (2:38), after the apostles from Jerusalem lay hands on us (8:14-17), before baptism (10:44-48), or after we repent, get baptized, then re-baptized, and then have an apostle lay hands on us (19:1-6)?
5. How are we to handle money? Should we sell all our possessions and have all things common with the  rest of the church (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35) or should we work to supply for our needs (20:33-34)?

 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Is the King James Bible Inspired?

     Most fundamentalists are “doubletongued” (1 Tim. 3:8) when it comes to the issue of the word of God. For example, a pastor will stand up and say with a King James Bible in his hand, “THIS Bible does not merely contain the Word of God but IS the Word of God”. A little later in the same message that pastor will say, “This is an unfortunate rendering by the King James translators because it does not agree with the original text”. When you ask them, “How can the King James Bible have errors in it if it is indeed the word of God?” They will respond, “The King James is a good translation but only the originals were inspired and therefore perfect.” They do not actually believe the Bible they hold in their hands is the pure word of God but merely an accurate translation of it. When they refer to the scriptures, they are in reality referring to original writings which they have never seen. Even though they have never seen the original writings, they somehow know that the King James disagrees with them in a number of places. These “fundamentalist” scholars pretend to believe the Bible but at the same time sit in judgment upon it. They are often caught talking out of both sides of their mouth in attempt to please men. Does the Bible say that the scripture was only inspired in the originals? Does the Bible say that a translation cannot be inspired scripture? No, that is just what some fallible men teach. If you believe what the Bible says about itself, you will believe that there is a perfect copy of scripture available for us today. The King James Bible is not inferior to its underlying texts in the original languages and it is as equally inspired as the original manuscripts. 
 
     Back in 2008 I attended a so-called “King James Bible Conference”. Based on the name of the conference and the way it was advertised, you would think the speakers were going to teach that the King James Bible is the inspired and perfect words of God. If this was going to be the case it meant that the men speaking at the conference had apparently changed their well-documented position. I was sure this was not the case, so I made the trip just to witness a “doubletongue” in action. I was not disappointed. The real theme of the conference was that we needed to have knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek if we were to truly understand the Bible. Dr. Smith compared the Greek text to a telescope. He said that while we could see the stars without a telescope, we could not discover their full beauty without one. In like manner, the Greek text allows us to fully discover the beauty of the Bible. In other words, he was saying that the King James Bible is INFERIOR to its underlying texts. The theme of the conference was that the King James Version is the best English translation, BECAUSE it is based on the Masoretic text and the Textus Receptus. Thus, the final authority for Dr. Smith and the other speakers was NOT the King James Bible, but the texts in the original languages. There was only one speaker that sounded like he might actually believe the King James Bible is perfect. He preached a message called, “Shut Up, You Don’t Speak Greek”. The theme of the message was that the “scholars” today do not really know Greek as well as they pretend and that referring to it was unnecessary. He mentioned that the reason why pastors like to refer to the Greek is to sound scholarly but that the average church member is not helped at all by it. He said that the “archaic” words in the King James can be defined by the context or comparing scripture with scripture. I noticed that the other speakers did not enjoy his message but rather looked embarrassed. When the DVD's of the conference were advertised later in the periodical of which the host preacher is the editor, I noticed that this message was NOT included in the set. In fact another message by the same preacher but was not preached at that conference was put in the place of it with an asterisk that said it was not available on DVD (to cover up the fact that this message was not even preached at that conference). The good, godly, dedicated, separated, etc... editor and evangelist LIED.

     Here are statements that the three main speakers of the conference have put out concerning what they believe about the Bible:

We believe the Bible, the Scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament, preserved for us in the Masoretic text (Old Testament) Textus Receptus (New Testament) and in the King James Bible, is verbally and plenarily inspired of God.” (Smith)

“It is our strong conviction that the Received Text of the New Testament and Masoretic Text of the Old Testament, underlying the KJV is the preserved Word of God.” (Sorenson)

"It is my firm conviction, that KJV, based upon what has become known as the 'Received Text' is the ONLY Bible that retains ALL the fundamental doctrines of our Lord Jesus Christ, without any deletion, being a faithful translation of the text upon which it is based." (Jasmin)
 
     In all three of these statements, it is apparent that the final authority for these fundamentalist leaders is NOT the King James Bible but its underlying texts. Of course, there are variations in the “underlying texts” and therefore the real final authority for these men is THEMSELVES and their SCHOLARSHIP. Basically, these men believe that the words of scripture were inspired originally, the doctrines of scripture are preserved only in the original languages, and that today we have a good translation of the preserved texts. The root of their problem is failing to believe that a translation can be inspired scripture.
 
     The following excerpt from a letter that I received from a man who disagrees with my stand for the King James Bible is an example of what most “fundamentalists” believe about inspiration.
 
“The point is not that this or that translation is better than the KJV, but rather that every translation should stand or fall on its own merits.  The KJV has a lot to recommend it, but just as you listed what you saw as "problems" with the NAS, I could list some problems with the KJV.  I'm sorry, but it is NOT the one and only PERFECT and COMPLETE Word of God exactly as He intended it from the beginning of time.  That distinction has to be reserved for the autographs, which (as you note) do not exist on earth any more.  His Word is settled forever in heaven (in the form of the autographs, I think, not the KJV) but it is His thoughts that are available to us in the English language.  As anyone who is multilingual will testify, no language is can be perfectly translated into another.  When a thought is translated from, say, Greek into English, it is an attempt to translate the meaning, although different words are used.  This just cannot be denied.  Consider, for example, the many Greek words that are all translated "love" or "charity" in the KJV.  The fact is, a word that has the EXACT same meaning often does not exist, so the translator must try to express the meaning using different words.  If they are different words, then, it is the meaning or thoughts that are conveyed, not the exact words.  This is simple logic, but it is valid nevertheless.  The KJV is not exactly the same thing as the autographs.  Therefore, if the KJV IS the ONE AND ONLY WORD of GOD, then the autographs WERE NOT.”
 
     Obviously, this man believes that only the originals were inspired and that today we merely have God’s thoughts. Of course, the Bible says that it is the “words” of God that are preserved (Psalm 12:6-7), not just His thoughts. To get around that plain statement of scripture, this man believes that the words are only preserved in heaven. Well, the Bible does not say that. Yes, the word of God is settled forever in heaven (Psalm 119:89), but preservation means that God will keep His words pure on EARTH. Nobody is trying to corrupt the word of God in heaven, but there are “many” trying to on earth (2 Cor. 2:17). The words of the Lord have been purified in a “furnace of EARTH” and they are kept pure for every GENERATION. There are no generations in heaven. Furthermore, the purpose of scripture is to reveal God and His truth to men. Why would God write a Book for men and then keep the only perfect copy of it in heaven?
 
     The Bible plainly teaches that God inspires every word of scripture and has taken it upon Himself to make sure those inspired words are preserved and kept pure (2 Tim. 3:16; Psalm 12:6-7). I believe Him. My position on the KJB being the inspired words of God is a FAITH position that I received from the Bible and not a philosophical position  that I received by tradition of men. Many teachers claim that the KJB is preserved but not inspired. If something is preserved it is kept the same. If the Bible was inspired it is still inspired if it has truly been preserved. Inspiration means that the scripture is the living words of God. Preservation means that we have those words today. According to Peter, the word of God "liveth and abideth forever" (1 Pet. 1:23). If the Bible is only preserved then all we have is a body of dead words. James said that "the body without the spirit is dead "(Jam. 2:26). Words without the Spirit are dead. But Jesus Christ said that His words "are spirit, and they are life" (Jn. 6:63).  God let the original writings decay and fade away. Therefore, His inspired words must extend beyond the original writings. The Lord Jesus believed that the copies of scripture that were available when He was carrying out His earthly ministry were inspired. In Mark 12:36, He quotes Psalm 110:1 and says that it was what David said “by the Holy Ghost”. No doubt, Jesus was referring to scripture that the Pharisees, whom He was talking to, had read. When Jesus referred to the “scriptures”, He was not referring to original writings that could not be read. How could the originals, which were no longer in existence, be searched (John 5:39)? The “holy scriptures” that Timothy knew from a child were not the original writings (2 Tim. 3:15). According to what Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16, Timothy had inspired scripture. In Jeremiah 36, the Lord has given us a whole chapter that illustrates how He preserves His inspired words. After the original roll was destroyed by king Jehoiakim, God gave His words again through Jeremiah. God let the original be destroyed because He has the power to preserve His word. According to the Bible, God does not place the same priority on the original autographs as the “scholars” do. There has never been a Bible (all 66 books) available in the original writings. Therefore, if only the originals were inspired, no body has EVER had a perfect Bible.  

     God has also let the Hebrew and Greek of the Old and New Testaments become dead languages that only a handful of people can partially understand. Today, there is no ONE perfect copy of the scripture in the original languages. Therefore, His inspired words must extend beyond the original languages. God chose to preserve His inspired words in the universal language of English. The Authorized Version of 1611 is the perfect and inspired word of God. It has withstood all scrutiny and attacks for over 400 years. God superintended the whole translating process and made sure that His words were translated exactly the way he wanted. The Bible teaches that a translation can be inspired. When New Testament writers quoted Old Testament writers, that translation from Hebrew to Greek was inspired and was worded exactly the way God wanted it. When Paul spoke to the Jews in the Hebrew language and Luke recorded it in Greek (Acts 22), that translation was inspired and it was worded exactly the way God wanted it. The point is that a translation can be inspired scripture. In the Bible we read about three translations. In 2 Samuel 3:10, we read that God wanted to “translate” the kingdom from Saul to David. In Hebrews 11:5, we read that God “translated” Enoch from earth to heaven. In Colossians 1:13, we read that believers are “translated” from the power of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son. In all three cases the translation was perfect and successful. In fact, because God did the translating, the translation was even better than the original. The King James Bible is superior to the originals in that the originals are GONE but we can read the King James Bible TODAY.
 
      The bottom line is that this is an issue of final authority. If the only perfect scripture that ever existed was in the originals, or is scattered among various manuscripts, then MAN is the final authority. However, if the King James Bible is the preserved word of God, then it is our final authority. The last thing Satan wants people to do is believe and submit to the word of God. Thus, the serpent’s philosophy of, “Yea, hath God said” (Gen. 3:1) still prevails in the minds most today. If the devil can't convince you to believe his lie that God never even gave us His word, he will then try to convince you to believe his lie that although God did give us His word it was only in the original writings and therefore we do not have those inspired words TODAY. The "scholars" tell us that the Bible should say that all scripture WAS given by inspiration of God and not that it IS given by inspiration of God. They point out that the word "is" in 2 Timothy 3:16 is in italics and claim that it really doesn't belong in the text. The second "is" in the verse is also in italics; "and is profitable". Well, if the first "is" should be "was" then the second "is" should be "was". Therefore, according to them, "All scripture WAS given by inspiration of God, and WAS profitable". An inspired Bible that no one has access to is not profitable to anybody! But in the immediate context Timothy knew the holy scriptures from a child. He certainly didn't have the original writings of the Old Testament but Paul said that what he had was given by inspiration of God. He also said that WE must have scripture given by inspiration of God if we are going to be "perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." I have been charged to preach the word which is inspired of God (2 Tim. 4:1-5). If I didn't believe that Bible was the inspired and pure words of God, I would resign because I would have no confidence in what I was preaching. Inspiration means that God's Spirit gave us God's words and they are "quick and powerful" (Heb. 4:12). God has used the KJB in a great way in my life and I have also seen  firsthand how He uses in the lives of those I preach to every week. God gave us inspired scripture for a very practical and PRESENT application. I know with all my heart that my old King James Bible is the inspired words of God. I will not let the devil or men convince me otherwise.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Main Division in the Bible

 

PROPHECY

 
Peter said to Israel, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN.” (Acts 3:19-21)
   

MYSTERY

  
Paul said to the Body of Christ, “Now unto him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was KEPT SECRET SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN, BUT NOW IS MADE MANIFEST” (Rom. 16:25-26a)
 
Concerns a KINGDOM; a political ORGANIZATION
 
Dan. 2:44
  
Concerns a BODY; a spiritual ORGANISM 
 
1 Cor. 12:12-1
 
The kingdom to be established ON EARTH
Jer. 23:5; Matt. 6:10
 
The body given a position in HEAVENLY places
 
Eph. 2:5-6
 
The kingdom PROPHESIED since the world began
 
Lk. 1:67-75
 
The body was chosen in Christ before the world began, but kept SECRET since the world began
 
Eph. 1:4, 3:9 
 
Israel to be given SUPREMACY over the nations
 
Isa. 61:6
 
Jew and Gentile placed on the SAME LEVEL before God 
 
Rom. 10:12, 11:32
 
The Gentiles to be blessed through Israel’s RISE & INSTRUMENTALITY 
 
Zech. 8:13, 23
 
The Gentiles blessed through Israel’s FALL & DIMINISHING
 
Rom. 11:11-12, 15
 
Prophecy mainly concerns NATIONS
 
Isa. 2:4
 
The mystery concerns INDIVIDUALS
 
2 Cor. 5:17
 
Prophecy concerns blessings, both MATERIAL and spiritual, on EARTH
 
Isa. 11:1-9
 
The mystery concerns all SPIRITUAL blessings in HEAVENLY places
 
Eph. 1:3
 
Christ comes to His people, Israel, ON EARTH
 
Rev. 1:7
 
Christ comes for His body, the Church, meeting them in the AIR
 
1 Thess. 4:17
 
Justification is by a man's faith and it must be a faith that WORKS
 
Jam. 2:24
 
Justification is by the faith of Christ (Gal. 2:16) and is received through FAITH ALONE
 
Rom. 3:28; 4:5
 
The proclamation of the prophetic program committed particularly to the TWELVE apostles
 
Acts 1:6-8
 
The proclamation of the mystery committed particularly to PAUL
 
Col. 1:24-29
 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Enjoying the Christian Life

[17] Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
[18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
[19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

You wouldn't know it by the melancholy way that some professing Christians act but God wants His people to enjoy life. No, it's not more spiritual to be miserable. The Christian is not exempt from sorrows and burdens but the Christian life is still by far the most enjoyable life. Since the beginning the devil has sought to slander God by making Him out to be someone who is somehow holding out on us (Gen. 3:1-5). God richly gave the man and woman many things to enjoy in the garden but the devil pointed out the ONE thing that He withheld and then lied about it being something very good for them to partake of. Likewise, God has richly given us many things to enjoy but the devil tempts us to question God and partake of what He has forbidden. The devil tempts people to believe that sin is more enjoyable than righteousness. Of course, he does not tell them that the pleasures of sin are only for a SEASON (Heb. 11:25) and that the wages of sin is DEATH (Rom. 6:23). Everything that God forbids is for our own good. He loves us more than we even love ourselves. He knows what is best! God has given us natural desires and those desires should only be fulfilled in accordance with God's word. The world, flesh, and devil tempt us to fulfill those desires outside of God's boundaries. That is what temptation is all about. Consider the first temptation (Gen. 3). Is it sinful to possess a knowledge of good and evil? God Himself has that knowledge and He is no sinner! But they were not to obtain that knowledge in self-will. They were to trust God and His word. Consider the Satan's temptation of Christ in the wilderness (Matt. 4). Would it be sinful for Jesus to have the kingdoms of the world? It is God's will that He reign on earth but it would've been sinful for Him to receive those kingdoms by worshipping Satan. Temptation is often about fulfilling lawful desires in an unlawful way. It is not a sin to be hungry but it is sinful to be a glutton. It is not a sin to have sexual desire ("Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled") but it is sinful to be a fornicator and adulterer (Heb. 13:4). 

According to 1 Tim. 6:17-19, if we are going to enjoy life, we must: 
1. Trust in the living God (Prov. 3:5-6)
2. Recognize He is the Source of every good thing we have (Jam. 1:17)
3. Seek to be rich in good works (Eph. 2:10) instead of things (eternal reward vs. temporal gain)
4. Be a giver, not a taker (Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7)
5. Live each day in light of eternity (Titus 2:13)

Magnifying Paul's Office

The apostle Paul had something to say about the importance of his message and ministry in basically every epistle that he wrote. He was not...