Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Tone of Our Preaching/Counselling

There is one type of sermon or counsel which promises all manner of blessings then makes the whole scheme dependant upon the hearer performing a certain work or works; there is another type of sermon or counsel which the simple hearing of is enough to impart and empower with all manner of blessing!

Perhaps some people might change their own life after hearing the first type of sermon or counsel - but with the second type, it is the sermon or counsel itself which changes the life of the hearer!

May God help us to preach or give the type of sermons or counsel where ALL the hearer needs to do is BELIEVE! May we give the type of word which ITSELF produces FAITH in the hearers - words that "minister [impart, empower, equip with] GRACE to the hearers" (Eph.4:29).

One type of message makes your hearer go away knowing why he'll probably never become a spiritual 'millionaire' - the other makes your hearer feel that he's just become a spiritual 'millionaire' simply by hearing what you had to say. Praise Jesus!

Your audience will be more likely to ACT like spiritual 'millionaires' once they first KNOW they ARE spiritual 'millionaires'.

That's the type of message which actually produces growth.

"...but speaking the truth in LOVE
[i.e., in GRACE] may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself IN LOVE [i.e., in GRACE]" (Eph.4:15,16).

Grace produces the needed change.

Very often if someone is struggling, it's not so much because he doesn't know what he needs to do, but because he needs to experience the love and power of God which can miraculously, freely change him into the person he needs to be. Our words can give our hearers that experience.

The first type of sermon describes all the lovely scenery & destinations that your audience can drive to and then commands them to go search for a petrol station and buy petrol & fill up their tank otherwise they're gonna miss out; the second type of sermon makes your audience feel like their petrol tank is being filled up freely while just sitting there listening to you - with the result that they go out and drive :) :)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Parable to Explain Predestination

Predestination is like an event organizer who planned a free concert. In his mind, he anticipated comfortably filling the stadium at Lang Park. So he booked the venue, planned the whole concert in advance, issued free-entry tickets to be made available to the public from any Ticketek outlet, then initiated a rigorous publicity and advertizing campaign.

When the time came, whoever wanted to could collect their free-entry ticket from Ticketek, then show-up at the turnstiles and be granted free admission into the concert.

While the audience was sitting there enjoying the event organizer's great generosity, some people who didn't officially represent the event organizer started demanding to see proof of payment from the audience. "Events at Lang Park aren't free," they insisted. It created such a scene that it momentarily threatened to disrupt many in the audience from feeling that they were allowed to stay and enjoy the rest of the concert.

But then many in the audience started producing the torn-off butts of their free-entry tickets, which clearly showed Ticketek's logo as well as the name of the event and the words "free entry". Their ticket-butts proved that the event organizer himself had pre-planned many months in advance that they should be given full admission upon presentation of their free-entry tickets alone. The audience weren't gate-crashers after all - they were the pre-planned; they were there in full conformity with the organizer's original idea, plan and criteria.

That's the sense in which the Apostle Paul meant that believers, as the Church, had been predestined!

Paul was revelling in the gracious truth that the emergence of the Church as the people of God on the basis of faith alone without the requirement of the observance of the Law and irrespective of whether a person was Jew or Gentile, was the very scenario which God had planned, chosen, elected and predestined all along and which had been foreseen by the Prophets. Therefore the early Church's Savior, salvation and faith were legitimate, despite what the Judaizers were insisting.

Predestination and Individual Salvation

Is Romans 9 about individual salvation?

It is about individual salvation in the sense that Paul's design in this chapter, so it seems to me, was to defend the justice of God's scheme of 'salvation by faith'.

The scheme meant that many Jewish individuals were missing-out on experiencing salvation, due to their unbelief. This seemed to some an almost untenable outcome - that Jewish individuals themselves could miss-out.

Nevertheless, Paul explained, God was justified and Scripture was not broken - for it had always been God's prerogative and plan to save on a different basis than the individual's own works or Jewishness.

God's plan had always been to save Jewish individuals mercifully on the basis of his or her faith alone. And the Prophets already foresaw God's choice that the same merciful scheme would extend also to Gentile individuals.

It was quite okay therefore, Paul explained to the believers at Rome - it was entirely just, equal, merciful, Scriptural & pre-stated - that they should now be experiencing God's promised salvation on a different basis to works (of the Law). It was also to-be-expected sadly that the rest were missing out even despite their Jewish nationality.

How to Conform With God's Eternal Plan and Purpose

The Apostle Paul's concept of 'predestination' meant that the experience of salvation which was being received by many Jews and Gentiles on the grounds of faith alone without the observance of the Law was a legitimate scheme that had been pre-planned by God all along and foreseen in the Scriptures of the Prophets.

If you've received Jesus, then you conform with God's eternal plan & purpose!

The Gospel's Provisions

'Not to think more highly of himself than he ought" meant not to think more highly than was allowed by the Gospel's provisions.

It meant not to think that the works of the Law could produce the blessings which were attributable to God's grace and faith alone.

Having boldness and access by the faith of Him is Gospel. But thinking Jews couldn't be saved; or thinking Gentiles couldn't be saved apart from the observance of the Law; or thinking that one's own standing with God was not dependant upon God's mercy and his own continuance in faith; or thinking that one's function in the church somehow set him above another - all of these were inconsistant with sober Gospel-truth.

Thinking soberly meant to think nothing higher or lower of oneself than was provided for by the Gospel.

Paul also urged others not to 'think more highly of us [the apostles] above what is written'. To think more highly of a particular minister presented a danger of being side-tracked from or dilluting Gospel truth. Paul's objective in advising this was to ensure the preservation of his readers' experience of the liberty that was theirs by the Gospel and not be brought into doctrinal bondage.

The Gospel made men free. Therefore a primary way of thinking more highly of oneself than one ought, and the main danger of thinking more highly of a particular minister than was written, was to insist on or rely on anything other than faith - and a continuance in faith - for salvation. Alternatives or add-ons to the Gospel of salvation, such as keeping the Law, was not sober thinking: it sprung from thinking too highly of one's own works than he should, or from thinking more highly of a particular 'apostle' than was written.

Think of yourself and others in terms of Gospel truth so that the blessing of the Gospel can continue in your lives!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

How Would Jesus Run a Nation

Someone asked, "How would Jesus run a nation?"

Moses' civil Law gives us some helpful case-studies on how to govern. Moses' law was based on love and fairness.

There was no charging of one segment of society in order to pay for another segment of society - to do so would have been considered an injustice.

It recommended other ways to empower disadvantaged segments of society - but it never consisted of public, tax-funded, government-run schemes.

There was no such thing as progressive taxation - rich and poor alike paid 10% - nothing more, nothing less.

There was no legislated redistribution of wealth. There was no tax-funded welfare system - the cost of welfare was shouldered by one's own family first of all, or failing that, by private, voluntary, mutually-profitable agreements with one's creditor or employer.

Individuals weren't taxed to fund somebody else's health costs - there was no tax-subsidized health system - individuals paid their own health costs.

You weren't taxed to fund the education of someone else's children - families paid for the costs of their own children's education - there was no tax-funded educational system.

And there was no tax-funded prison system - the justice system consisted of restitution payments being made from the perpetrator to the innocent victim, without any cost to the public.

In Moses' system of Law nobody was forced by law to pay for anything for anyone else: every individual paid for everything himself - and the law didn't provide anything to anyone for free. Everything was provided on a user-pays basis, through a system of mutually profitable arrangements between individuals in the private sector.

But it was all subject to moral law.

We can learn from that. It keeps society fair and government small. It keeps people free! Anything the government can provide, families or businesses can provide better - provided they are allowed to provide it on a for-profit basis. This keeps things fair, instead of unequally charging the wealthier.

It makes providing services sustainable - because they can be funded on a private, for-profit basis.

It promotes responsibility and productivity and strengthens family and business relationships.

It combines compassion with fairness, without compromising either.

Economies function better when men are free without big government. That's why I prefer privatization to government-spending in a welfare-state.

State-funded welfare, taken to extreme, is misguided compassion. It's an inequality of justice against those who pay for it. God's law found ways to allow everyone the chance to get ahead, without ever charging any one segment of society. Every solution was always a win-win situation financially.

Better quality services can be provided when they're provided on that basis rather than by big government.

If I Was An Electoral Candidate...

Someone asked, "If you were running for election, what kind of policies would you come up with that would address our country's needs? Both on a local and national basis?"

My answer:

"Reforms such as these would probably need to be introduced slowly, but ultimately I think I would like to see our Government:

Reduce many Federal powers and decentralize powers to the States

Strengthen certain aspects of moral law

Illegalize abortion

Replace our welfare systems with private insurances (on a user-pays basis)

Move towards privatization of health and education

Move towards privatization of most Government services other than justice and defence

Re-introduce, strengthen and expand certain aspects of work choices

Introduce a flat-tax and eliminate most other taxes

Recommend 0% interest rates on loans except to non-citizens

Sell-off much Crown Land (and weaken the concept of 'Eminent Domain')

Allow more water-catchment in high rainfall areas and the supply of water to the rest of the State including to the interior - but with much of the new infrastructure built, owned and operated by the private-sector or perhaps by local government rather than by the Federal Government

Replace prison sentences with a system of restitution

Fereign policy:

Move away from foreign-aid being the role of the Government and move instead towards it becoming more often the role of the private-sector and based on a business-model rather than a welfare model except in emergencies; and

Recover, with some adjustments, certain colonial-era values such as the harmonization of Government/military interventionism & governance (when its morally called-for) with private-sector foreign investing and Church missions

For example, for refugees: create & govern an autonomous region inside Afghanistan; then open the region up for foreign investment; and see the work of missionaries thrive there

And I would like to see our Government give glory to God publicly".

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Romans Chapter Nine Explained

I don't think that I've complicated Romans 9 nor intellectualized it, as one hyper-Calvinist objected. On the contrary, the observations I've made about Romans chapter nine came to mind very naturally and easily without too much thought at all, simply by considering the chapter in the context of the overall flow of Paul's argument in the preceding chapters.

Paul's objective in the Book of Romans was to teach the legitimacy of his Gospel message - the legitimacy of the Church.

He had just finished proving God's plan to save by faith alone rather than by the observance of the Law (chapters 1-8). He then anticipates an objection which the believers at Rome might feel. If this be so, what will become of the nation of the Jews? Isn't God's promise nullified? Paul addresses this objection, in chapter nine.

Chapter nine therefore was not for the purpose of teaching some additional truth about salvation not previously taught in chapters 1-8. Having proved that salvation is by faith (chapters 1-8), Paul was not now adding some additional idea that God has arbitrarily chosen to save one person and not another without any revealed basis for that choice.

Rather, the purpose of chapter nine was to address an anticipated objection to the truth already explained. Since salvation is by faith, where does that leave the Jews? and what does it say about God's promises?

And Paul's answer to that objection was as follows:

* It had always been God's plan that His promise in regard to the Gospel would not be received on the basis of physical Jewishness (as illustrated by Sarah in regard to Isaac) nor on the basis of the works of the Law (as illustrated by Rebekah in regard to Jacob and Esau).

* It had always been God's prerogative to extend or withold His mercy on His own basis (and that basis, Paul had explained, was revealed to be FAITH, rather than Jewishness or Law-keeping).

* It was already foreseen by the Prophets that God would extend His mercy to believing Gentiles, without the works of the Law, rather than exclusively to Jews who had the Law.

Thus Paul defended God's sovereign prerogative to set FAITH rather than Jewishness or Law-keeping as the basis upon which He would both show mercy or withold mercy.

Paul used Scripture to defend God's sovereign choice to extend the availability of His mercy to Gentiles on the basis of faith.

Paul explained that God's promises to the physical nation of Israel had not failed, for the outcome which emerged in the first century was an outcome already foreseen by the Prophets.

Thus the objection was answered, and Paul's teaching of justification by faith (chapters 1-8) was upheld.

Therefore the Gospel was indeed the legitimate fulfillment of the Prophets. The existence of the Church was valid. Salvation is for all who believe.

To show this was Paul's objective in Romans chapter nine!

Ordained to Eternal Life - Acts 13:48

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Not that the ordination was the cause of the belief, but that the belief identified those who could now be described as the ordained to eternal life.

When did it become known that these were ordained to eternal life? After they heard and believed the Word.

God had foreordained it that believing would result in eternal life. Therefore the believers were ordained to eternal life. And it was known that they were now so ordained after it was known that they had become believers.

It's a bit like saying, "The exact number of the people whom it was anticipated would attend the free concert, accepted the free-entry tickets".

I use the word "anticipated" because God predestined as many as He foreknew.
Ordination is not the same as pre-determinism in the hyper-Calvinistic sense.

The Sense of the Word "Predestined'

When Paul exulted in our predestination by God, he wasn't thinking about some decision of God's to arbitrarily choose one person and not another to salvation without any revealed basis for that choice - rather, Paul was glorying in the truth that it had been God's plan all along to take-out a people for His Name, by grace, and on the basis of faith alone, rather than on the basis of the works of the Law or on the basis of Jewish nationality.

The Church - inclusive of Jews and Gentiles - saved by grace through faith, not through the works of the Law - had been God's pet plan ever since before the plan was revealed, and had now become His pet prize.

That's what Paul gloried in! He used the word 'predestined' in order to boast in the solid Scriptural basis for the existence of the Church in the plan of God, according to his Gospel.

If therefore you are part of His Church (by God's grace and through faith), then you also were predestined by God to all His wonderful, eternal plans since before the world began!

(Because God ordained it, not only in the Scriptures, but also before the world began, to save people by His grace through faith, without the works of the Law and irrespective of their nationality).

God foreknew a people whom He would take out of the world, by grace through faith, to be His Church, His building, His house, His temple, His vineyard, His people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His bride.

By using the word 'predestined', Paul was asserting the legitimacy of the Church in the plan and Scriptures of God.

And it legitimizes you as a believer in Jesus. Hallelujah!

My Explanatory Notes on Romans 9 response to the controversy between Calvinists and Armenians.

1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,

2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.

3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:

4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

God's promises had not failed. The Church is the Israel of God.

7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

From the beginning it was God's plan that inclusion in His eternal purposes would not be on the basis of physical descendancy from Abraham.

9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.

10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

Not only did the word spoken to Sarah prove that inclusion in the family of God was to be based on something other than physical descendancy from Abraham, but the things spoken concerning Rebekah's children also proved that neither would the works [of the Law] be the ultimate criteria for inclusion in the family of God either, as follows:

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

The future supremacy of Jacob over Esau was stated before the birth of the twins - before either of their works had been performed.

Paul used this fact to illustrate that God would ultimately give His love and mercy to a people, not on the basis of any physical descendancy from Abraham, nor on the basis of the works of the Law, but on another basis of His own choosing - on a different basis about which He spoke even before the Law was introduced - and that basis, as Paul had explained in previous chapters, is faith.

God chose to make certain privileges available to Jacob and to Jacob's descendants (Jacob, refers also to the nation of Israel). Those privileges were offered to the nation of Israel - but it was still Israel's responsibility to respond to theh offer through the obedience of faith. If they did not respond to the privileges, there would still be consequences for Israel.

God hated Esau in comparison. Similarly, Jesus stated that anyone who does not hate his father and mother is unworthy of Him. It means, in comparison. Esau and his descendants (Edom) were not given the same privileges as the nation of Israel.

Paul was illustrating that it was quite in-keeping with Scriptural principle that God excluded the physical descendants of Abraham who sought righteousness through the works of the Law, in contrast to accepting into His grace a people who would enter through the door of His choosing, and that door is the door of faith.

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Almost as if anticipating the types of misunderstandings about his above statements which have ensued throughout history, Paul qualifies that this is not to be taken to mean that there is unrighteousness or inequality in God's dealings with man.

15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

It is righteous of God to show mercy and compassion upon His own righteous terms. And those terms will always be consistent with His Word and with His own character.

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

The election of God, the experience of God's mercy and compassion, is received on God's own terms - not by man's insistance that it must be on the basis of attempted obedience to the Law. And God's terms, as previously shown by Paul, is faith.

17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

He shows mercy on whim He will. Upon whom does He will to show mercy? He wills to show mercy on those who meet the criteria of His own choosing, which is faith. His mercy could not be claimed on the basis of physical descendancy alone (as illustrated by Sarah in regard to Isaac) nor on the basis of the works of the Law (as illustrated by Rebekah in regard to Jacob) - but on the basis of His will, which is faith.

And the rest, He hardens. Or, He allows to continue in their ever-hardening state. He is said to be the hardener in the sense that it was His will to show mercy to those of faith alone.

19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Paul again anticipates a potential misunderstanding of his statements, and now proceeds to remove such potential:

20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

It was quite okay for God to choose to set faith as the prerequisite.

21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Seeing it is not unrighteous of God to choose to show mercy on the basis of faith (rather than on the basis of nationality or the works of the Law), it cannot therefore be said that God is being unequal in His treatments of men.

22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

What should be amazing, is not that God finally chose to show the higher regard that He shows towards faith - what is amazing is that He for so long was willing to put-up with the behaviours of the natural seed, of those who were under the Law.

23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

His vessels of mercy were those who met the criteria which He Himself set as the prerequisite for becoming objects of His mercy, which is faith.

24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

His called, His chosen, are those who would come via the doorway of faith.

25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

Gentiles would be included.

26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

Only a remnant, like the remains of a flock ravaged by a predator.

28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

It was a righteous act of God - not an unequal act of God, but a Scripturally precedented and foreseen act of God - that would cause an elect Church, inclusive of Gentiles, to emerge on the basis of faith alone, out of the rubble of the physical nation of Israel who were under the Law.

29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

144,000 from Each Tribe

144,000 from the twelve tribes were sealed (in the Book of Revelation). There were 288 singers in David's tabernacle. 144 is half of 288. Does the figure of 144,000 therefore symbolize that it was only a remnant of Israel that was sealed? And yet 144=12x12. It was therefore a complete number, in its own right. The election according to grace hath obtained it, and the rest were hardened. And so [in this manner?] all Israel shall be saved [i.e., the true Israel amongst the Israelites].

Friday, 23 July 2010

Is TULIP Taught in Romans 9?

God made "faith" the prerequisite for salvation rather than physical Jewishness; and God extended the availability of this mercy to the Gentiles.

In Romans 9 Paul showed that it was not altogether without precedent in Scripture for God to take such a sovereign prerogative, and Paul showed that this outcome had already been foreseen by the Prophets.

Thursday, 22 July 2010


The church at Rome may have consisted of Jewish as well as Roman believers.

The church there may not have been started by one of the twelve Apostles or by Paul - but possibly by proselytes returned to Rome who had been saved on the Day of Pentecost at Jerusalem; or by believers who were scattered from Jerusalem; or by other leaders who emerged besides the Twelve or Paul.

The Jewish believers at Rome may have mistakenly thought that Gentile believers needed to be circumcized. Conversely, Gentile believers may have mistakenly thought that Jews could scarce be saved, or Gentile believers may have been in danger of taking their own position with God too much for granted.

It is against this backdrop that Paul's apostolic guidance is to be understood.

God's mercy and election towards Abraham's physical descendants were antecedent to their obedience, and were given as a motive to their obedience - and if they obeyed they received the consequence of their obedience, or if they disobeyed they received the threat to their disobedience.

So the terms "election" etc. didn't automatically imply an eternal state of blessing - it implied a merciful offer to be availed-of through obedience or forfeited through disobedience.

God's offer was to Abraham and to his seed. If natural Israel walked in obedience, they shared in the promise. If Gentiles walk in the footsteps of the faith of our father Abraham, they also receive what was promised. The Law was only a temporary introduction.

The natural seed had privileges, but they were also capable of losing those privileges. The privileges afforded them were never due to their own good works but due to the faith of their forefathers. Obedience was always paramount, as was faith.

The promise made to Abraham was comfirmed through Christ, made available to both Jew and Gentile, by faith. That was God's choice.

Tithing - Hebrews 7:8

Regarding the question of tithing in the New Testament, I heard a preacher cite Hebrews 7:8 as an alleged direct reference to tithing as a New Testament practice.

While it certainly might be worth considering that the practice of tithing under the New Covenant might be there by inference in these verses, it's not abundantly clear to me that it's there as a direct reference.

8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

I heard the preacher assert that the verse means that although men physically receive our tithes here on earth, it is in reality Jesus in heaven who is receiving them.

But I've always thought the verse was mainly a comparison between the Levitical order of priesthood and the Melchizedek order of priesthood.

I thought the meaning was that mortal Levites were receiving tithes "here" (i.e., in Israel under the Mosaic covenant up until the destruction of the Temple in AD70) but "there" (i.e., in the Book of Psalms) it was said that "he" (i.e., Melchizedek, who received Abraham's tithes) liveth (the Book of Genesis provides no genealogy for him, and therefore his priesthood became a symbol of Christ's eternal priesthood).

Even if the inference is there in this passage in Hebrews that the Church is to continue the practice of TITHING to Jesus, I didn't hear the preacher prove to my satisfaction that that is the focus of what the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews was purposefully attempting to get-at directly.

I thought the author of the Epistle wasn't trying to make a point about tithing - he was just trying to explain that the Levitical priesthood was always meant to be superseded by another eternal High Priest under the Order of Melchizedek.

Levi paid tithes in Abraham to Melchizedek. That illustrates that the Law and the Levitical Order would be superseded by another Priesthood after the Order of Melchizedek - but it doesn't directly state that the Church should continue tithing. The meaning might be inferred, but if it is, Hebrews 7:8 doesn't seem to be a direct reference to it.

This doesn't necessarily mean though that New Testament believers won't give a tenth or more of their income to the Lord. In this Post I'm merely asking whether the "here" in this verse means planet earth or Israel; whether the "he" refers to Jesus or to Melchizedek; and whether the "there" is a reference to heaven or a reference to the incident between Melchizedek and Abraham as recorded in the books of Genesis and Psalms.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Historicity of the New Testament

Is the New Testament history? Yes! The Gospel story could never even have gotten off the ground if the historical record contained in it was known to be untrue by the dwellers in Jerusalem at the time.

The old city of Jerusalem occupied an area of only 0.9 square kilometres, and the permanent population at the time of Christ was approximately 88,000. With so many people living in such close proximity to each other within the walled city, practically everyone could have known everything that happened anywhere in the city.

By comparison, the suburb of Miami, in the city of the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia occupies 3.0 square kilometres, and has a population of approximately 6,167. So imagine 88,000 people living in an area only 30% the size of the suburb of Miami. The equivalent population density would hypothetically be as if 293,333 people were living in Miami!

If someone published a book about then-current events in the city, nearly everybody would immediately have known whether the book was fiction or non-fiction. The likelihood of this is heightened even more if the alleged events are of the nature and magnitude described in the four Gospels.

And as if that isn't enough, the same information was published not only by one author but by a total of four independant authors at the same time.

And besides them there were also a number of other independant authors who recorded and confirmed many of the same events - writers such as the historian Josephus.

Consequently no-one at the time in Jerusalem disputed the historical record contained in the four Gospels. Everyone living in Jerusalem knew the historical record was accurate.

Not everyone concluded that Jesus was the Son of God as He claimed - no-one, however, denied the factuality of the historical events themselves as they are recorded in the four Gospels.

Everyone at the time knew there had been a man named Jesus - that He indeed had done the miracles described - and that hundreds of eyewitnesses were claiming to have seen Him after His resurrection. No-one disputed that. The only dispute was over whether He really was the Son of God as He claimed.

No-one disputed the historical record - and multiplie thousands were even willing to accept the implications of the historical record. Many of those who had previously condemned Jesus to death deduced that Jesus must be the Son of God as He claimed, at great risk to themselves and their properties. They believed and were willing to stake their very lives on it - even in defiance of the Jewish and Roman decrees.

Many sold what they owned and laid the money at the apostles' feet. Many preferred to be forced to flee from the city for their very lives rather than deny their newfound faith. Many were even subsequently imprisoned or killed - a fate which they chose rather than deny what they knew to be truth, as recorded in the four Gospels.

Interestingly none of their persecutors disputed the historical record - their only dispute with them was over whether Jesus had the right according to their law to call Himself the Son of God.

If the information in the four Gospels was widely known to be fiction, it would be impossible that so many other independant writers could have concocted such identical stories.

It would be impossible that the whole city of Jerusalem accepted the record as historical fact.

And it would be even more impossible that the whole multitude of many thousands of believers would have been willing to sell their goods or have them confiscated and then be persecuted and scattered from their own city and be imprisoned and killed, all over something which was widely known to be mere fiction.

The historical record contained in the four Gospels was beyond dispute. The New Testament meets all the criteria of textual criticism. The only dispute was over whether Jesus truly was the Son of God as He claimed.

The historical record as it stands still requires that every individual make a decision about Christ's claim to be the Son of God. Whoever believed and received Him was given the power to be called the sons of God!

Furthermore, the New Testament record hasn't changed since it was first written.

The onus of proof is with those who assert that the presentday New Testament is not identical to the original record as it existed in the first century.

If the document has been changed as some claim, then they ought to be able to provide evidence of the original document; they ought to be able to track the changes that were made down through the centuries, demonstrating the process of evolution until the present document finally emerged.

But to the contrary, the literary evidence shows that from earliest manuscripts until today, the text has remained exactly the same.

Independant historians aside from the Bible also documented the beliefs, events and practices of early Christianity - and their written records confirm the record of the presentday Gospels. Evidently therefore there haven't been any changes.

The New Testament Gospels satisfy all of the criteria of textual criticism. The record of the four Gospels is therefore deemed to be reliable. The evidence is that the four Gospels were originally written exactly as they appear today, and that no changes have been made.

If anyone denies the validity of the New Testament record, he should also deny many other generally-accepted historical records, if he applies the same reasoning (that is, if he is using any reasoning at all).

In addition to the literary evidence for the New Testament, the power of the Holy Spirit gives continuing evidence to the truth about the Son of God. And many believers can testify to the power of God in their lives.

"Blessed is he that believeth".

"Now abideth faith, hope and love..."

Calvin, Armenius or Paul? - Romans 9:16

I like to take a popular or controversial Bible verse, read the whole book of the Bible in which it occurs in one sitting, then see what meaning naturally springs to mind when arriving at the verse in context.

One such verse is, "So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy" (Romans 9:16). Controversy between Calvinists and Armenians has raged over this verse for centuries.

‎But the meaning that seemed to spring naturally to my mind after considering the context was that Paul was defending God's sovereign right to extend His mercy to believing Gentiles, not exclusively to Jews. Paul was defending God's prerogative to set FAITH - and not nationality - as the prerequisite for salvation. That was a plan, Paul explained, which did not originate with man's will but with God - it was not without precedent in Scripture and it was an outcome that had already been foreseen by the prophets. Since the Roman believers therefore stood by mercy and faith alone, they should both be grateful and fear.

This doesn't merely answer the whole Calvinist/Armenian question - it totally eliminates any basis in these verses for the very question itself in the first place!

What do you think - am I missing something?

Monday, 19 July 2010

David's Tabernacle - Amos 9:11,12

AMOS 9:11,12
11 In that day
[not necessarily, in that very day, but, after that] will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old [there is no mention of either the northern or southern kingdom - the emphasis is specifically on the restoration of David's tabernacle]:
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name [even the Gentiles would be called by His name], saith the LORD that doeth this [this remarkable thing would be done by the Lord].

The dispensational view is that during the Millenium, David will literally reign over Israel, and the Gentiles will receive a measure of benefit from that. But let's see how the Apostles applied it:

ACTS 15:16,17
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

The Apostles used this verse as their basis for conceding that Gentile believers in Jesus could enjoy all of God's covenant blessings without becoming Jewish proselytes, even without a literal reign of David in Israel.

David's throne was the Lord's throne. ("Solomon sat upon the throne of the Lord".) So when the Bible said David shall reign over them, it probably meant Jesus shall reign over them - for Jesus is the seed of David. When Amos said God would restore David's tabernacle, it was fulfilled in a greater way than by the mere return to the land of Israel of David's family-line after the captivity, because more families than only David's returned to the land. It was probably fulfilled by the coming of Jesus, who is the seed of David, and who reigns in heaven, and by whom the Gentiles now call upon the Name of the Lord and are themselves called by His Name.

The Apostles saw Amos' prophecy as a basis for the presentday inclusion of Gentiles in the blessings of the New Covenant. There doesn't appear to be any specific New Testament teaching which implies the Apostles might have been expecting some future dispensational fulfillment of Amos' prophecy.

David's descendants were restored to the land after the captivity. David's seed - the Messiah, Jesus - has come. The remnant has obtained what was promised - and the Gentiles are grafted-in. The prophecy is being fulfilled now. That seems to be how the Apostles understood it.

Maybe there shall be greater outworkings of the prophecy in future: it is not for us to know the times and seasons which the Father has placed in His own hands. But what we do know about this prophecy, based on Apostolic authority, is that Jewishness or Gentileness is of no avail [for it's neither the northern nor southern kingdom that was to be God's focus at the time of restoration, but David's tabernacle, i.e., those belonging to God's covenant of mercy through Jesus Christ]. What avails is a new creature. Amos foresaw this.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

'Salt' Can Lose its Saltiness - True or False?

Someone said the Bible includes a mistake of fact - by saying that salt can lose its saltiness.

But something can legitimately be called 'salt' even though it may not be pure NaCl.

For example, food-grade table salt is usually only 97-99% NaCl. It often has iodine, magnesium carbonate, fluoride or folic acid in it. If it's wrong to call it 'salt' - what should we call it?

82.5% of the world's 'salt' is industrial salt which is even less pure than table salt - but for all intents and purposes we still call it 'salt'.

Salt wasn't always pure sodium chloride in Jesus' day either. I've seen rock salts which are slightly greyish in colour due to mineral content. I've also seen salt which is yellowish in colour due to folic acid content.

When such a rock salt becomes damp or wet, some of the sodium chloride leaches out with the moisture, with the result that the remaining rock salt becomes less 'salty' in flavour.

That's probably what Jesus was talking about I imagine. Whatever He meant, everyone evidently readily understood His analogy - for there is no record that anyone disagreed with him over His assessment of the properties of 'salt'.

So if someone wants to cite an alleged mistake of fact in the Bible, they'll have to cite something else.

Prophetic Navel-Gazing Exegesis - an Eschatological Hermeneutic

All is quiet on the end-times scene at the moment, since BP plugged the leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

This is so, despite the claim that "each year since the 1960s, there has been a spill the size of the Exxon Valdez’s into the Niger Delta".

According to a group of independent experts "between 9 million and 13 million barrels of oil have been spilled in the Niger Delta since drilling began in 1958."

The Nigerian government estimates that "7,000 'spills', large and small, occurred between 1970 and 2000."

And "Today about 2,000 oil-polluted sites still need cleaning up".

The article asks why no-one cares. I bet you never hear any end-timers mention it either!

Until news affects Americans it has little media market - and as little eschatological interest.

If it's currently affecting America, then it's prophecy fulfilled! Nevermind if the prophetic Scripture actually indicated a specific place and timeframe! :)

This is called navel-gazing. Forgetting all else around and staring at one's own belly-button. Not a good way to interpret Scripture :)

Circular Reasoning in Modern Eschatology

I watched a program on TV last night in which a popular end-times preacher gave his proofs for a pre-tribulation rapture.

I felt many of his proof-texts lacked the bridges needed in order to first prove their relevance to the topic.

For example, he used verses in Isaiah and Daniel to prove his pre-tribulation view and stated that those verses are about "the Antichrist" and about "the [future] Great Tribulation" - but he didn't prove why those verses must be about a future tribulation - and those verses don't in themselves make it immediately obvious.

It seemed therefore that he was relying on one interpretive model in order to prove another interpretive model.

It was as if he was thinking he'd proved that B=C by merely stating that A also =C. But the argument is inadequate without first proving that A=B!

(I'm not hereby stating my view. I'm just pointing-out that the popular view relies more heavily on unsubstantiated bridging statements, assumptions and circular reasoning than perhaps the view's own proponents realize!)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Orthodox Eschatology

History's worst wars, pestilences, earthquakes, famines and apostasy all belong in former generations.

As for the rapid increase in technology - it occurred last century, not this century.

Plus any increase in technology can only be compared with the past, not with the future. Who can say whether a future generation won't see an even more rapid leap in technology such that the leap experienced last century will seem insignificant in comparison? A future generation may look back with amusement at how impressed our generation felt with its own technological advances - just like we look back with amusement at how impressed people felt when the first penny farthing was cycled through the streets of Paris!

Besides, Daniel 12:7 was not a prophecy about 'technology' and air travel - it was a prophecy about the knowledge of God and knowledge of the sealed prophecy increasing and many responding to that prophecy with appropriate action. That's how most standard Bible commentators throughout church history have understood that verse.

And as for Jesus coming back within the generation that saw the State of Israel rebirthed - it's already a generation too late for that - Israel was rebirthed last generation, not this generation. Unless you keep stretching the definition of 'generation'.

Besides, Jesus didn't say that the generation that saw the rebirth of Israel would see the fulfillment of all things - He meant that the destruction of the Temple would happen within the generation that saw the signs of which He had spoken. And all of those signs came to pass and the Temple was destroyed within that generation exactly as Jesus had foretold. The disciples hadn't asked only about His coming, but they'd asked also about signs when the Temple would be destroyed. Jesus answered that question - but of the timing of His coming He said no-one knows.

It has been the "last days" ever since the Day of Pentecost; it was already the "last hour" when John wrote in the first century. Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. Therefore watch!

This is not 'mockery' - it is a return to the type of good exegesis that long existed before the emergence of end-times hysteria and false prediction in 19th-century America.

Jesus is coming!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Love is When Your Head & Your Heart Agree - a repost from Evelyn Gambol

Pagtalunan Evelyn Gambol posted this yesterday:

"Sometimes your head is telling you to use your common sense but your heart is telling you to go with what you feel. After everything I've been through, I've came to define love is when your head & your heart agree, when everything inside you is screaming this is right..."

Romans 9 Explained - by Dr Rodney Howard-Browne

Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne posted this today:

"People say that God ordains our way in a manner that leaves us with no choice. They say that God is the one who sovereignly chooses to use us for good purposes or bad, but that is a misrepresentation of scripture. If you read the entire passage in Romans (we do not have space for the whole chapter here), you will see that God is talking about and defending His mercy - extended toward the Gentiles, the heathen, the ungodly - not just toward the Jew. In verse 22, you will see that God did not desire or plan to have destructive, evil vessels on the earth, but rather He bore their evil doing with patience and longsuffering. It is not that God does not have a specific plan for our lives – He does. God has planned for all of us to be vessels of mercy, prepared for glory. We choose whether or not to be what God intends for us to be.

Romans 9:20-25
20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.

2 Chronicles 24:14 (KJV)
14And when they had finished it, they brought the rest of the money before the king and Jehoiada, whereof were made vessels for the house of the LORD, even vessels to minister, and to offer withal, and spoons, and vessels of gold and silver.
[And they offered burnt offerings in the house of the LORD continually all the days of Jehoiada.]

Under the Old Covenant, God used certain material things to represent spiritual things or principles. In the Temple, there were vessels specifically designed and intended for serving and worshipping God. Under the New Covenant, we are the vessels who serve and worship God, anywhere we go. The vessels used in the temple were holy and sanctified. We should be holy and sanctified and we will be – if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.

Ezra 6:5
5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God.

We, God’s creation, were designed and intended to worship Him, not other gods or the devil. We function at our best in the place that God intended for us. Everything else is frustration and torment.

2 Timothy 2:19-22
19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonor.
21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Being either a mud pot or a fine golden vessel is our choice. We change from the ignoble to the noble as we purge our lives from sin and the crud of the world.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Our vessel (body) may be made of earth, but as we yield to God and His presence and power in our lives, we shine forth His glory. We are golden vessels when we are yielded vessels."

Friday, 9 July 2010

Some Thoughts on Eschatology

Note to myself for further thought:

"Then shall they see..." - not the son of man coming in the clouds - but "...the sign of the son of man coming in the clouds".

"This generation shall not pass away before all these things be fulfilled" But that's not to say that Jesus didn't discuss anything beyond "these" things in that context!

It may be possible therefore that Jesus described both first-century events and the day of His coming.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Romans 9-11 is Teaching, not Prophecy

Romans 9-11 was a teaching passage, not a prophetic passage. It answered to the then-current situation. 11:25-27 is therefore probably best understood as an explanation of then-current outcomes to Old Testament prophecy, rather than as a new apostolic forecast of some yet future outcome.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Afghani Refugees - a Possible Solution

So many refugees are fleeing Afghanistan. Most of the illegal refugees arriving in Australian waters are from Afghanistan.

It's obvious they prefer to live in a Western-style country under a Western-style government rather than stay in their present circumstances. Many countries are reeling with coping with the crisis.

I think this gives the UN humanitarian grounds to resolve that the Coalition countries could set-up an autonomous region within Afghanistan.

This proposed autonomous region would be under a Coalition government for at least the first three or four generations, until the culture, commerce, freedom and values of the Coalition countries (which the refugees evidently prefer over their current circumstances) has had time to become permanently established in the autonomous region. All Afghani refugees could then be allowed to immigrate into the autonomous region where they could enjoy the type of society they prefer over their current circumstances.

This could be viewed as an 'experiment'. The two 'Afghanistans' could co-exist side-by-side: one Afghanistan would remain under the present Muslim government, complete with the Taliban insurgencies and the Coalition peace-keeping forces; the other Afghanistan would become an autonomous polity based on the Western-style freedoms which the refugees are now demonstrating their preference for.

After time, we could observe which of the two 'Afghanistans' has prospered. Observe which 'Afghanistan' becomes the preferred place for Afghanis to live.

Eventually one 'Afghanistan' will desire to become like the more prosperous of the two 'Afghanistans'. So at that point both 'Afghanistans' can again reunite under one prosperous and free Afghanistan.

Problem solved! On the short-term the refugee crisis is addressed. Medium-term, the refugees are being redirected to an internationally acceptable location. And long-term the first truly free and prosperous nation in the region is established as a model to other Middle-Eastern countries. The flood of illegal refugees could stop and the Coalition forces could finally go home.

Historically the UN has allowed this kind of solution before - perhaps it's time it was proposed again.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Yeshua, My LORD and My God! - by Desirie Echolls

The following was published by Desirie Echolls:

"Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Opinions vary, and it has been said that He was a mere man, a philosopher, an enlighten teacher, a prophet, a fraud, a lunatic, etc., but what does the Bible say? Is the picture of Jesus that has been traditionally held by the church a man made fairytale? Is it the result of the political schemes of early church leaders, who manipulated and created doctrine for political power and control? Is Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah, and God in the flesh? Or is He one of many “savior gods,” and no different from the gods of ancient mythologies and pagan religions? Have other gospels, with a more complete or accurate portrayal of Jesus, been suppressed by the church?

These are questions that cannot all be answered in one note, so, this will be the first of many. In this note I will discuss what the Bible says about the deity of Christ. I am not in any way an expert in Christian apologetics. However, I do believe that every Christian should always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). The term “apologetic” comes from the Greek word apologia, which means in defense of. It is the term the apostle Paul used when addressing King Agrippa in Acts 26:2. He said, “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself [or “I make my defense”] this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews.” He went on to passionately preach Christ. His excitement was not merely in hope that he would be acquitted of any charges, but in the hope that King Agrippa would understand the truth about Jesus. In that same Spirit I write this note today, not for the sake of argument, or because I feel the need to defend truth for the sake of truth. Truth is true whether you or I believe it or not. As a Christian, my “defense” of truth is for the sake of the hearer. I proclaim truth and dispel false beliefs because I deeply love people and desire to see them walk in the true and genuine light of God. It’s only the truth you know that sets you free; and Truth is personified in Jesus. So, who we believe and know Jesus to be is vital (John 8:32; John 14:6).

“Without money and arms, [He] conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mahomet (Mohammed), and Napoleon. Without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and schools combined. Without the eloquence of schools, He spoke words of life such as never were spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of any orator or poet. Without writing a single line, He has set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and sweet songs of praise, than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.

Born in a manger, and crucified as a malefactor, He now controls the destinies of the civilized world, and rules a spiritual empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe.

There never was in this world a life so unpretending, modest, and lowly in its outward form and condition, and yet producing such extraordinary effects upon all ages, nations, and classes of men. The annals of history produce no other example of such complete and astonishing success in spite of the absence of those material, social, literary, and artistic powers and influences which are indispensable to success for a mere man." Philip Schaff

The Deity of Jesus in the Gospel of John

John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 1:1 has been mistranslated by Jehovah Witnesses to read, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was a god.” They teach that Jesus is a mighty god, separate and not to be confused with God Almighty. There are several problems with this argument. First, there is no grammatical justification in the original Greek text to validate their translation as “a god.” Secondly, this idea of Jesus being divine but not equal to God is contrary to the whole council of scripture.

Watchtower argues that because there is a definite article “the” (Greek: ho) before the first occurrence of God (ho theos – literally “the God”), but not before the second occurrence of God in the Greek text, that the second occurrence is not referring to “the God.” They claim that because of the absence of the definite article before the second theos in John 1:1, it then becomes an adjective speaking of the divine quality Jesus. Should ho theos be translated as God or the God, and theos without the article be translated as referring to something as a god or simply having divine qualities? Watchtower does not even consistently adhere to their made up grammatical rule. Consider the following verses referring to God, in which the Greek construction is identical to that of John 1:1, and how a translation of “a god,” would render these verses.

Luke 20:38, “He is [a] god, not of the dead, but of the living.”

Matt. 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of [a] god.”

Luke 1:35, 78; 2:40; John 1:6,12,13,18; 3: 2,21; 9:16,33; Romans 1:7,17,18; 1 Cor. 1:30; 15:10; Phil. 2:11,13; Titus 1:1

Theos is properly translated as a noun meaning God. The obvious motivation for Watchtowers translation of John 1:1 is theological and not grammatical. If John wanted to convey that Jesus had divine qualities and not that He was God, then he would have used the Greek adjective for divine, theois instead of the noun theos.

Their argument is even weaker when you consider that Jesus was in fact referred to as ho theos (the God) in the same Gospel of John.

In John 20:28, Thomas calls Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Literally, “The Lord of me and the God [ho theos] of me.” Ho theos is also used in reference to Jesus in Matthew 1:23 and Hebrew 1:8.

Matthew 1:23
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

Hebrews 1:8
But to the Son He says:
“ Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

Additionally, if Jesus is “a god,” but not “the God,” we would have to conclude that he was a false god and should therefore be rejected entirely since the Bible is extremely clear that there is only One God!

Isaiah 45:5
I am the LORD [Yahweh], and there is no other; There is no God besides Me.

Deuteronomy 32:39
‘Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me;

Isaiah 43:10
You are My witnesses,” says the LORD [Yahweh],
And My servant whom I have chosen,
That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
Nor shall there be after Me.

Isaiah 44:8
Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?
You are My witnesses.
Is there a God besides Me?
Indeed there is no other Rock;
I know not one.

Others have argued that the word John was referring to as God, was not Jesus Himself but the words that He spoke. John 1:14 is clear that Jesus was the Word incarnate not merely a prophet who spoke the Word of God. This argument is also refuted by the fact that Jesus Himself is referred to as God in other verses as mentioned above, and the fact that throughout the Bible it is clearly expressed that Jesus is God.

Jesus as the “I AM”

John 8:58, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Many argue that Jesus never claimed to be God. Jesus did not simply claim to be “God,” but not to be mistaken as claiming to be a god other than Yahweh, Jesus claimed to be THE GOD when He used the name of God in reference to Himself.


The name Yahweh appears approximately 5,300 times in the Old Testament. It was the name given to Moses in Exodus 3.

Exodus 3:14-15
“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”

Moses was in essence asking not only for God’s name but asking who He was. God answered Moses first with I AM THAT I AM, which was an expression of God’s eternal nature, the Eternal One. Then in verse 15 He shortened this name to Yahweh. Both I AM (in verse 14) and Yahweh (in verse 15) are from the same root word which means “to be.”

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament that predates the birth of Christ. It renders the Hebrew phrase I AM (the Name of God) in Exodus 3:14 as ego eimi. Both Jesus and the Jews of His time were familiar with the Septuagint and understood ego eimi to be the Greek translation for the Name of God. “Ego eimi” was not a phrase normally used in conversation; it was an emphatic form of speech. When Jesus used this term in John 5:58, He was not just saying that He predated Abraham but that He was the Eternal I AM. He was claiming to be God. He even began this statement, with “verily, verily,” for emphasis! He was emphatically claiming to be Yahweh. The Jews He was speaking to undoubtedly understood what He was saying and picked up stones to stone Him to death. Which was the penalty for blasphemy according to Jewish law (Lev. 24:16).

Jesus used the term ego eimi in reference to Himself several other times as well, including John 8:24 and 28.

John 8:24
“Unless you believe that I AM [ego eimi], you will die in your sins.” (there is no “he” in the original text, it simply reads “I AM”)

John 8:28
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM [ego eimi].” (again there is no he in the original text)

Other verses were Jesus uses ego eimi in John include:
John 4:26; 6:35,48,51; 8:12,24,58; 10:7,11,14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1; 18:5,6,8

Yeshua (Jesus)

Jesus was born to a Hebrew woman, and was given the Hebrew name Yeshua. Yeshua in Strong’s Concordance is #3442, the shortened form of #3091 (Yehoshua), which comes from #3068 (Yahweh) and #3467 (yasha), which means “to save.” Yehoshua is a combination of Yahweh and yasha. Yeshua, the contraction of Yehoshua, means “He [Yahweh] saves.”

Jesus is the English translation of the Greek name Iesous. However, Jesus introduced Himself to Paul as Yeshua in Acts 26:14-15.

Instances where Old Testament passages about Yahweh were applied to Jesus

Isaiah 40:3 and Mark 1:2-4

Isaiah 40:3
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“ Prepare the way of the LORD[Yahweh];
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.”

Mark 1:2-4
“As it is written in the Prophets:
“ Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“ The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘ Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.’”
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

According to Mark, Isaiah 40:3 was fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus.

Isaiah 6:1-5 and John 12:41

Isaiah speaks of seeing Yahweh seated high on a throne and in verse 3 says the whole earth is filled with His glory. John said that the glory Isaiah saw was Jesus’ glory. Yahweh said in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD [Yahweh]; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another.” Still John equates the glory of Yahweh with the glory of Jesus.

The attributes of Yahweh and Yeshua

Yahweh’s voice is “like the roar of rushing waters” (Ezekiel 43:2)
Yeshua’s voice is “like the sound of rushing waters.” (Revelation 1:15)

Yahweh is everlasting light (Isaiah 60:19,20)
Yeshua (the Lamb of God) is the Lamp that lights the city of God so that the sun and moon are not needed. (Revelation 21:23)

The Alpha and Omega (First and Last): Yahweh (Isaiah 41:4; 48:12, Revelation 1:8), Yeshua (Revelation 1:17, 18; 2:8; 22:12-16)

Savior: Yahweh (Isaiah 43:3,11; 63:8; Luke 1:47; 1 Timothy 4:10), Yeshua (Matthew 1:21; Acts 7:59,60; 10:36; Romans 10:12; 1 Corinthians 2:8; 12:3; Philippians 2:10,11)

King: Yahweh (Psalm 95:3; Isaiah 43:15; 1 Timothy 6:14-16), Yeshua (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16)

Judge: Yahweh (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 50:4,6; 96:13; Romans 14:10), Yeshua (John 5:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1)

Light: Yahweh (2 Samuel 22:39; Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 42:6), Yeshua (John 1:4,9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5)

Rock: Yahweh (Deuteronomy 32:3,4; 2 Samuel 22:32; Psalm 89:26), Yeshua (Romans 9:33; 1 Corinthians 10:3,4; 1 Peter 2:4-8)

Redeemer: Yahweh (Psalms 130:7,8; Isaiah 48:17; Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 63:9), Yeshua (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12)

Our Righteousness: Yahweh (Isaiah 45:24), Yeshua (Jeremiah 23:6; Romans 3:21,22)

Husband: Yahweh (Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:16), Yeshua (Matthew 25:1; Mark 2:18, 19; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 21:2,9)

Shepherd: Yahweh (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 23:1; Psalm 80:1), Yeshua (John 10:11,16; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:4)

Creator: Yahweh (Genesis 1:1; Job 33:4; Psalm 95:5,6; Psalm 102:25,26; Isaiah 40:28, Isaiah 44:24 “I the LORD [Yahweh], am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone), Yeshua (John 1:2,3,10; Colossians 1:15-18, Hebrews 1:1-3, 10)

Giver of Life: Yahweh (Genesis 2:7; Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; Psalm 36:9), Yeshua (John 5:21; John 10:28; John 11:25)

Forgiver of Sin: Yahweh (Exodus 34:6,7; Nehemiah 9:17; Daniel 9:9; Jonah 4:2), Yeshua (Mark 2:1-2, Acts 26:18; Colossians 2:13; 3:13)

Omnipresent: Yahweh (Psalm 139:7-12; Proverbs 15:3), Yeshua (Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:20; Ephesians 3:17; 4:10)

Omniscient: Yahweh (1 Kings 8:39; Jeremiah 17:9,10,16), Yeshua (Matthew 11: 27; Luke 5:4-6; John 2:25; John 16:30; John 21:17; Acts 1:24)

Omnipotent: Yahweh (Isaiah 40:10-31, Isaiah 45:5-13), Yeshua (Matthew 28:18)

Eternal: Yahweh (Psalm 102:26, 27; Habakkuk 3:6), Yeshua (Isaiah 9:6, Micah 5:2, John 8:58)

Immutable: Yahweh (Isaiah 46:9,16; Malachi 3:6, James 1:7), Yeshua (Hebrews 13:8)

Receiver of Worship: Yahweh (Matthew 4:10; John 4:24; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 7:11; Revelation 11:16), Yeshua (Matthew 14:33; Matthew 28:9; John 9:38; Philippians 2:10,11; Hebrews 1:6)

IF Jesus is not God, then He is a blaspheming false prophet, who wrongfully received worship! He cannot be considered a prophet or a good teacher unless He is in fact God. A true prophet of God who was not equal to God would have stopped people from worshipping them. Jesus allowed it; He is worthy of worship because He is God. He is the Holy Lamb of God, Who was and is and is to come!

In another note I will discuss common misunderstandings about the nature of Jesus. People often fail to realize that Jesus BOTH fully God and fully man. They misunderstand verses which, in context, are referring to the humanity of Christ. There are also several misconceptions about titles given to Jesus, such as Son of Man, Son of God, the Only Begotten, The Firstborn over all creation, etc. I will cover what these passages and titles actually mean in context."

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Praying With All Prayer

Intercession = praying for non-Christians who can't pray for themselves.

Supplication = praying for other Christians

Which Temple - AD70 or Future? - Matthew 24

The conversation described in Matthew 24 took place on the mount of olives overlooking Jerusalem just before Jesus went to the cross. Everyone says Matthew was written long before AD70. To claim that Jesus was NOT talking about THAT Temple but instead about some future third temple would be like saying:

JOHN: Hey Tony - check out Cassander's beautiful Aldi!

TONY: I tell you, this Aldi will be such a wreck - it'll be a write-off!

JOHN: What! Tell me, when will this happen?

TONY: Really soon, and sadly, Cassander will be killed in the accident and many of his passengers will be seriously injured.

A short time later, Cassander gets killed in a road accident and many of his passengers are injured, and his Aldi gets written-off - just as Tony predicted.

Many years later along comes a guy named Grigor who asserts:

GRIGOR: Tony didn't mean THAT Aldi - he meant something else!

That's exactly what some end-times preachers are doing with the predictions about the Temple in Matthew 24. I'm not saying whether they're right or wrong - just pointing-out what they're actually doing with the text.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Tribulation - Lull Before the Storm?

I have some questions about the popular idea that the Tribulation begins with a worldwide period of peace.

Most people don't know the basis for it, but keep preaching it anyway.

Other end-times preachers attempt to base it on a passage where Daniel prophesied that the "prince" shall confirm the covenant for "one week".

But to claim that this refers to a future seven-year period of worldwide peace requires a lot of assumptions.

Firstly, you have to say that the word "week" means seven years. It probably does.

Secondly, you have to say that the "prince" is a future Antichrist and not the Messiah or a first-century figure.

Thirdly, you have to say that he "makes" [instead of CONFIRMS] a covenant [instead of THE covenant].

Fourthly, you have to deny that he confirms the covenant for a whole week - you would have to say that he only confirms it for half the time and then completely breaks it.

Fifthly, even though it is a historical fact that sacrifice and oblation ceased in the first century, you will have to say that the sacrifice and oblation must start-up again sometime in the future and then the Antichrist will cause it to cease again.

Sixthly, you have to stretch the meaning to include the whole world instead of just Israel, even though Daniel doesn't say that.

Seventhly, you have to assume that the Temple will be rebuilt and then destroyed again - because the sanctuary was in fact already destroyed in the first century just as Daniel here prophesied.

Eighthly, if Jerusalem's desolation caused by the Antichrist is a future event, then you have to imagine that the last 2,000 years of Jewish desolation was something that Daniel was never told about - which is unthinkable.

Ninthly, you would have to explain why the Book of Revelation never mentioned a period of worldwide peace.

Tenthly, you would have to explain why the Bible says that terrible worldwide calamities happen before any mention of the beast - catastrophes like: 33% of the world's population, trees, oceans, marine-life and water-sources destroyed; all of the earth's mountains and islands removed from their place; and meteorites scorching 33% of the earth; plus the sun, moon, stars and universe no-longer existing. That doesn't sound like a period of worldwide peace before the Antichrist shows his true colours!

Eleventhly, you would have to explain why Revelation mentions nothing about a Temple being rebuilt and sacrifices starting-up again and then being destroyed again by the Antichrist.

And you'd have to explain why the Book of Revelation never mentions a seven year tribulation, or even the word "Antichrist".

And the list could go on...

That's a lot of assumptions to make just to prove an idea!

Any rational person should be able to tolerate someone asking questions about an idea that relies so heavily on mere assumptions.