Thursday, April 2, 2015

How to Try the Spirits - A.W. Tozer

How to Try the Spirits

THESE ARE THE TIMES that try men's souls. The Spirit has spoken expressly that in the latter times some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Those days are upon us and we cannot escape them; we must triumph in the midst of them, for such is the will of God concerning us.
Strange as it may seem, the danger today is greater for the fervent Christian than for the lukewarm and the self-satisfied. The seeker after God's best things is eager to hear anyone who offers a way by which he can obtain them. He longs for some new experience, some elevated view of truth, some operation of the Spirit that will raise him above the dead level of religious mediocrity he sees all around him, and for this reason he is ready to give a sympathetic ear to the new and the wonderful in religion, particularly if it is presented by someone with an attractive personality and a reputation for superior godliness.
Now our Lord Jesus. that great Shepherd of the sheep, has not left His flock to the mercy of the wolves. He has given us the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and natural powers of observation, and He expects us to avail ourselves of their help constantly. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good," said Paul (I Thess. 5:21) . "Beloved, believe not every spirit," wrote John, "but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1) . "Beware of false prophets," our Lord warned, "which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15). Then He added the word by which they may be tested, "Ye shall know them by their fruits."
From this it is plain not only that there shall be false spirits abroad, endangering our Christian lives, but that they may be identified and known for what they are. And of course once we become aware of their identity and learn their tricks their power to harm us is gone. "Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird" (Prov. 1:17)
It is my intention to set forth here a method by which we may test the spirits and prove all things religious and moral that come to us or are brought or offered to us by anyone. And while dealing with these matters we should keep in mind that not all religious vagaries are the work of Satan. The human mind is capable of plenty of mischief without any help from the devil. Some persons have a positive genius for getting confused, and will mistake illusion for reality in broad daylight with the Bible open before them. Peter had such in mind when he wrote, "Our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (II Pet. 3:15, 16).
It is unlikely that the confirmed apostles of confusion will read what is written here or that they would profit much if they did; but there are many sensible Christians who have been led astray but are humble enough to admit their mistakes and are now ready to return unto the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. These may be rescued from false paths. More important still, there are undoubtedly large numbers of persons who have not left the true way but who want a rule by which they can test everything and by which they may prove the quality of Christian teaching and experience as they come in contact with them day after day throughout their busy lives. For such as these I make available here a little secret by which I have tested my own spiritual experiences and religious impulses for many years.
Briefly stated the test is this: This new doctrine, this new religious habit, this new view of truth, this new spiritual experience how has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to God, Christ, the Holy Scriptures, self, other Christians, the world and sin. By this sevenfold test we may prove everything religious and know beyond a doubt whether it is of God or not. By the fruit of the tree we know the kind of tree it is. So we have but to ask about any doctrine or experience, What is this doing to me? and we know immediately whether it is from above or from below.
1) One vital test of all religious experience is how it affects our relation to God, our concept of God and our attitude toward Him. God being who He is must always be the supreme arbiter of all things religious. The universe came into existence as a medium through which the Creator might show forth His perfections to all moral and intellectual beings: "I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another" (Isa. 42: 8) . "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11).
The health and balance of the universe require that in all things God should be magnified. "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable." God acts only for His glory and whatever comes from Him must be to His own high honor. Any doctrine, any experience that serves to magnify Him is likely to be inspired by Him. Conversely, anything that veils His glory or makes Him appear less wonderful is sure to be of the flesh or the devil.
The heart of man is like a musical instrument and may be played upon by the Holy Spirit, by an evil spirit or by the spirit of man himself. Religious emotions are very much the same, no matter who the player may be. Many enjoyable feelings may be aroused within the soul by low or even idolatrous worship. The nun who kneels "breathless with adoration" before an image of the Virgin is having a genuine religious experience. She feels love, awe and reverence, all enjoyable emotions, as certainly as if she were adoring God. The mystical experiences of Hindus and Sufis cannot be brushed aside as mere pretense. Neither dare we dismiss the high religious flights of spiritists and other occultists as imagination. These may have and sometimes do have genuine encounters with something or someone beyond themselves. In the same manner Christians are sometimes led into emotional experiences that are beyond their power to comprehend. I have met such and they have inquired eagerly whether or not their experience was of God.
The big test is, What has this done to my relationship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? If this new view of truth-this new encounter with spiritual things-has made me love God more, if it has magnified Him in my eyes, if it has purified my concept of His being and caused Him to appear more wonderful than before, then I may conclude that I have not wandered astray into the pleasant but dangerous and forbidden paths of error.
2. The next test is: How has this new experience affected my attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ? Whatever place present-day religion may give to Christ, God gives Him top place in earth and in heaven. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," spoke the voice of God from heaven concerning our Lord Jesus. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, declared: "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Jesus said of Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Again Peter said of Him, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12) . The whole book of Hebrews is devoted to the idea that Christ is above all others. He is shown to be above Aaron and Moses, and even the angels are called to fall down and worship Him. Paul says that He is the image of the invisible God, that in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily and that in all things He must have the preeminence. But time would fail me to tell of the glory accorded Him by prophets, patriarchs, apostles, saints, elders, psalmists, kings and seraphim. He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. He is our hope, our life, our all and all, now and forevermore.
All this being true, it is clear that He must stand at the center of all true doctrine, all acceptable practice and all genuine Christian experience. Anything that makes Him less than God has declared Him to be is delusion pure and simple and must be rejected, no matter how delightful or how satisfying it may for the time seem to be.
Christless Christianity sounds contradictory but it exists as a real phenomenon in our day. Much that is being done in Christ's name is false to Christ in that it is conceived by the flesh, incorporates fleshly methods, and seeks fleshly ends. Christ is mentioned from time to time in the same way and for the same reason that a self-seeking politician mentions Lincoln and the flag, to provide a sacred front for carnal activities and to deceive the simplehearted listeners. This giveaway is that Christ is not central: He is not all and in all.
Again, there are psychic experiences that thrill the seeker and lead him to believe that he has indeed met the Lord and been carried to the third heaven; but the true nature of the phenomenon is discovered later when the face of Christ begins to fade from the victim's consciousness and he comes to depend more and more upon emotional jags as a proof of his spirituality.
If on the other hand the new experience tends to make Christ indispensable, if it takes our interest off our feeling and places it in Christ, we are on the right track. Whatever makes Christ dear to us is pretty sure to be from God.
3. Another revealing test of the soundness of religious experience is, How does it affect my attitude toward the Holy Scriptures? Did this new experience, this new view of truth, spring out of the Word of God itself or was it the result of some stimulus that lay outside the Bible? Tender-hearted Christians often become victims of strong psychological pressure applied intentionally or innocently by someone's personal testimony, or by a colorful story told by a fervent preacher who may speak with prophetic finality but who has not checked his story with the facts nor tested the soundness of his conclusions by the Word of God.
Whatever originates outside the Scriptures should for that very reason be suspect until it can be shown to be in accord with them. If it should be found to be contrary to the Word of revealed truth no true Christian will accept it as being from God. However high the emotional content, no experience can be proved to be genuine unless we can find chapter and verse authority for it in the Scriptures. "To the word and to the testimony" must always be the last and final proof.
Whatever is new or singular should also be viewed with a lot of caution until it can furnish scriptural proof of its validity. Over the last half-century quite a number of unscriptural notions have gained acceptance among Christians by claiming that they were among the truths that were to be revealed in the last days. To be sure, say the advocates of this latter-daylight theory, Augustine did not know, Luther did not, John Knox, Wesley, Finney and Spurgeon did not understand this; but greater light has now shined upon God's people and we of these last days have the advantage of fuller revelation. We should not question the new doctrine nor draw back from this advanced experience. The Lord is getting His Bride ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. We should all yield to this new movement of the Spirit. So they tell us.
The truth is that the Bible does not teach that there will be new light and advanced spiritual experiences in the latter days; it teaches the exact opposite. Nothing in Daniel or the New Testament epistles can be tortured into advocating the idea that we of the end of the Christian era shall enjoy light that was not known at its beginning. Beware of any man who claims to be wiser than the apostles or holier than the martyrs of the Early Church. The best way to deal with him is to rise and leave his presence. You cannot help him and he surely cannot help you.
Granted, however, that the Scriptures may not always be clear and that there are differences of interpretation among equally sincere men, this test will furnish all the proof needed of anything religious, viz., What does it do to my love for and appreciation of the Scriptures?
While true power lies not in the letter of the text but in the Spirit that inspired it, we should never underestimate the value of the letter. The text of truth has the same relation to truth as the honeycomb has to honey. One serves as a receptacle for the other. But there the analogy ends. The honey can be removed from the comb, but the Spirit of truth cannot and does not operate apart from the letter of the Holy Scriptures.
For this reason a growing acquaintance with the Holy Spirit will always mean an increasing love for the Bible. The Scriptures are in print what Christ is in person. The inspired Word is like a faithful portrait of Christ. But again the figure breaks down. Christ is in the Bible as no one can be in a mere portrait, for the Bible is a book of holy ideas and the eternal Word of the Father can and does dwell in the thought He has Himself inspired. Thoughts are things, and the thoughts of the Holy Scriptures form a lofty temple for the dwelling place of God.
From this it follows naturally that a true lover of God will be also a lover of His Word. Anything that comes to us from the God of the Word will deepen our love for the Word of God. This follows logically, but we have confirmation by a witness vastly more trustworthy than logic, viz., the concerted testimony of a great army of witnesses living and dead. These declare with one voice that their love for the Scriptures intensified as their faith mounted and their obedience became consistent and joyous.
If the new doctrine, the influence of that new teacher, the new emotional experience fills my heart with an avid hunger to meditate in the Scriptures day and night. I have every reason to believe that God has spoken to my soul and that my experience is genuine. Conversely, if my love for the Scriptures has cooled even a little, if my eagerness to eat and drink of the inspired Word has abated by as much as one degree, I should humbly admit that I have missed God's signal somewhere and frankly backtrack until I find the true way once more.
4. Again, we can prove the quality of religious experience by its effect on the self-life.
The Holy Spirit and the fallen human self are diametrically opposed to each other. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Gal. 5:17). "They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit . . . . Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8: 5, 7).
Before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts He must condemn and slay the "flesh" within us; that is, He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ. This displacement is carefully explained in Romans 6, 7,and 8. When the seeking Christian has gone through the crucifying experience described in chapters 6 and 7 he enters into the broad, free regions of chapter 8. There self is dethroned and Christ is enthroned forever.
In the light of this it is not hard to see why the Christian's attitude toward self is such an excellent test of the validity of his religious experiences. Most of the great masters of the deeper life, such as Fenelon. Molinos, John of the Cross, Madame Guyon and a host, of others, have warned against pseudoreligious experiences that provide much carnal enjoyment but feel the flesh and puff up the heart with self-love.
A good rule is this: If this experience has served to humble me and make me little and vile in my own eyes it is of God; but if it has given me a feeling of self-satisfaction it is false and should be dismissed as emanating from self or the devil. Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulation. If I am tempted to be complacent and to feel superior because I have had a remarkable vision or an advanced spiritual experience, I should go at once to my knees and repent of the whole thing. I have fallen a victim to the enemy.
5. Our relation to and our attitude toward our fellow Christians is another accurate test of religious experience.
Sometimes an earnest Christian will, after some remarkable spiritual encounter, withdraw himself from his fellow believers and develop a spirit of faultfinding. He may be honestly convinced that his experience is superior, that he is now in an advanced state of grace, and that the hoi polloi in the church where he attends are but a mixed multitude and he alone a true son of Israel. He may struggle to be patient with these religious worldlings, but his soft language and condescending smile reveal his true opinion of them-and of himself. This is a dangerous state of mind, and the more dangerous because it can justify itself by the facts. The brother has had a remarkable experience; he has received some wonderful light on the Scriptures; he has entered into a joyous land unknown to him before. And it may easily be true that the professed Christians with whom he is acquainted are worldly and dull and without spiritual enthusiasm. It is not that he is mistaken in his facts that proves him to be in error, but that his reaction to the facts is of the flesh. His new spirituality has made him less charitable.
The Lady Julian tells us in her quaint English how true Christian grace affects our attitude toward others: "For of all things the beholding and loving of the Maker maketh the soul to seem less in his own sight, and most filleth him with reverent dread and true meekness; with plenty of charity to his fellow Christians." Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious.
The Apostle John makes love for our fellow Christians to be a test of true faith. "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him" (I John 3:18, 19). Again he says, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (I John 4:7, 8).
As we grow in grace we grow in love toward all God's people. "Every one that loveth him that begot loveth him also that is begotten of him" (I John 5:1) . This means simply that if we love God we will love His children. All true Christian experience will deepen our love for other Christians.
Therefore we conclude that whatever tends to separate us in person or in heart from our fellow Christians is not of God, but is of the flesh or of the devil. And conversely, whatever causes us to love the children of God is likely to be of God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).
6. Another certain test of the source of religious experience is this: Note how it affects our relation to and our attitude toward the world.
By "the world" I do not mean, of course, the beautiful order of nature which God has created for the enjoyment of mankind. Neither do I mean the world of lost men in the sense used by our Lord when He said, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16, 17). Certainly any true touch of God in the soul will deepen our appreciation of the beauties of nature and intensify our love for the lost. I refer here to something else altogether.
Let an apostle say it for us: "All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (I John 2:16, 17) .
This is the world by which we may test the spirits. It is the world of carnal enjoyments, of godless pleasures, of the pursuit of earthly riches and reputation and sinful happiness. It carries on without Christ, following the counsel of the ungodly and being animated by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2: 2) . Its religion is a form of godliness, without power, which has a name to live but is dead. It is, in short, unregenerate human society romping on its way to hell, the exact opposite of the true Church of God, which is a society of regenerate souls going soberly but joyfully on their way to heaven.
Any real work of God in our heart will tend to unfit us for the world's fellowship. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15). "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" (II Cor. 6:140. It may be stated unequivocally that any spirit that permits compromise with the world is a false spirit. Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil and this regardless of how much purring its leaders may do about "accepting Christ" or "letting God run your business."
7. The last test of the genuineness of Christian experience is what it does to our attitude toward sin.
The operations of grace within the heart of a believing man will turn that heart away from sin and toward holiness. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2:11-13) .
I do not see how it could be plainer. The same grace that saves teaches that saved man inwardly, and its teaching is both negative and positive. Negatively it teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Positively it teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly right in this present world.
The man of honest heart will find no difficulty here. He has but to check his own bent to discover whether he is concerned about sin in his life more or less since the supposed work of grace was done. Anything that weakens his hatred of sin may be identified immediately as false to the Scriptures, to the Saviour and to his own soul. Whatever makes holiness more attractive and sin more intolerable may be accepted as genuine. "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity" (Psa. 5: 4, 5).
Jesus warned, "There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect." These words describe our day too well to be coincidental. In the hope that the "elect" may profit by them I have set forth these tests. The result is in the hand of God.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jumpshot - Video

I saw the video below and was moved by the man's testimony. He is interested in eternal riches, not temporal ones!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Friar Tuck and The Divine Nature of Beer

Beer can be somewhat of a controversial commodity in the Christian Church. Just like many other beverages and foods, it is a gift from God. However, just like other foods and beverages, it has its appointed place and can be abused. Scripture seems to suggest that moderation of alcoholic beverages is permissible as is abstinence. We know for sure that the only prohibition is "drunkenness." Here are a couple of links that might help in further analysis:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Epistle to Diognetus: Chapter 5

5. Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by either country, speech, or customs; the fact is, they nowhere settle in cities of their own; they use no peculiar language; they cultivate no eccentric mode of life. Certainly, this creed of theirs is no discovery due to some fancy or speculation of inquisitive men; nor do they, as some do champion a doctrine of human origin. Yet while they dwell in both Greek and non-Greek cities, as each one's lot was cast, and conform to the customs of the country in dress, food, and mode of life in general, the whole tenor of their way of living stamps it as worthy of admiration and admittedly extraordinary. They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land. They marry like all others and beget children; but they do not expose their offspring. Their board (table) they spread for all, but not their bed. They find themselves in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their days on earth, but hold citizenship in heaven. They obey the established laws, but in their private lives they rise above the laws. They love all men, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown, yet are condemned; they are put to death, but it is life they receive. They are poor, and enrich many; destitute of everything, they abound in everything. They are dishonored, and in their dishonor find their glory. They are calumniated, and are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted and render honor. Doing good, they are penalized as evildoers; when penalized, they rejoice because they are quickened into life. The Jews make war on them as foreigners; The Greeks persecute them; and those who hate them are at a loss to explain their hatred.  (The Epistle to Diognetus Chapter 5:1-17/ Written around 130 A.D.)

Friday, January 9, 2015

There Is No Wisdom in Sin - A.W. Tozer

There truly is no wisdom in sin. An individual and a society is truly deluded if they think that playing with sin is a safe prospect. It is like giving a child a loaded revolver. A.W. Tozer was truly a prophet of his time. Today we are seeing the fulfillment of what Tozer spoke of in his day. The title is linked to the original site.

There Is No Wisdom in Sin

THE WORLD HAS DIVIDED MEN into two classes, the stupid good people and the clever wicked ones.
This false classification runs through much of the literature of the last centuries from the classics to the comic strip, from Shakespeare's Polomus, who furnished his son with a set of good but dull moral platitudes, to Capp's Li'l Abner, who would never knowingly do a wrong act but who would rather fall on his head than on his feet because there is more feeling in his feet than in his head.
In the Holy Scriptures things are quite the opposite. There righteousness is always associated with wisdom and evil with folly. Whatever other factors may be present in an act of wrongdoing, folly is one that is never absent. To do a wrong act a man must for the moment think wrong; he must exercise bad judgment.
If this is true then the devil is creation's prime fool, for when he gambled on his ability to unseat the Almighty he was guilty of an act of judgment so bad as to be imbecilic, He is said to have had a great amount of wisdom, but his wisdom must have deserted him at the time of his first sin, for surely he grossly underestimated the power of God and as grossly overestimated his own. The devil is not now pictured in the Scriptures as wise, only as shrewd. We are warned not against his wisdom but against his wiles, something very different.
Sin, I repeat, in addition to anything else it may be, is always an act of wrong judgment. To commit a sin a man must for the moment believe that things are different from what they really are; he must confound values; he must see the moral universe out of focus; he must accept a lie as truth and see truth as a lie; he must ignore the signs on the highway and drive with his eyes shut; he must act as if he had no soul and was not accountable for his moral choices.
Sin is never a thing to be proud of. No act is wise that ignores remote consequences, and sin always does. Sin sees only today, or at most tomorrow; never the day after tomorrow, next month or next year. Death and judgment are pushed aside as if they did not exist and the sinner becomes for the time a practical atheist who by his act denies not only the existence of God but the concept of life after death.
History is replete with examples of men whose intellectual powers were great but whose practical judgment was almost nil: Einstein, for instance, who was a mathematical genius but who could not look after his own bank account and who absentmindedly ran his little motorboat aground with the excuse that he "must have been thinking about something else." We can smile at this, but there is nothing humorous about that other class of men who had brilliant minds but whose moral judgment was sadly awry. To this class belong such men as Lucretius, Voltaire, Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman and thousands of others whose names are less widely known.
The notion that the careless sinner is the smart fellow and the serious-minded Christian, though well-intentioned, is a stupid dolt altogether out of touch with life will not stand up under scrutiny. Sin is basically an act of moral folly, and the greater the folly the greater the fool.
It is time the young people of this generation learned that there is nothing smart about wrongdoing and nothing stupid about righteousness. We must stop negotiating with evil. We Christians must stop apologizing for our moral position and start making our voices heard, exposing sin for the enemy of the human race which it surely is, and setting forth righteousness and true holiness as the only worthy pursuits for moral beings.
The idea that sin is modern is false. There has not been a new sin invented since the beginning of recorded history. That new vice breaks out to horrify decent citizens and worry the police is not really new. Flip open that book written centuries ago and you will find it described there. The reckless sinner trying to think of some new way to express his love of iniquity can do no more than imitate others like himself, now long dead. He is not the bright rebel he fancies himself to be but a weak and stupid fellow who must follow along in the long parade of death toward the point of no return.
If the hoary head is a crown of glory when it is found in the way of righteousness, it is a fool's cap when it is found in the way of sin. An old sinner is an awesome and frightening spectacle. One feels about him much as one feels about the condemned man on his way to the gallows. A sense of numb terror and shock fills the heart. The knowledge that the condemned man was once a redcheeked boy only heightens the feeling, and the knowledge that the aged rebel now beyond reclamation once went up to the house of God on a Sunday morning to the sweet sound of church bells makes even the trusting Christian humble and a little bit scared. There but for the grace of God goes he.
I am among those who believe that our Western civilization is on its way to perishing. It has many commendable qualities, most of which it has borrowed from the Christian ethic, but it lacks the element of moral wisdom that would give it permanence. Future historians will record that we of the twentieth century had intelligence enough to create a great civilization but not the moral wisdom to preserve it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Comparison of Faithful Transmission and Faithless Textual Criticism

Recently, I was on Facebook discussing some New Testament textual issues in a public forum. We discussed everything from Bible translations to Greek Manuscript evidence. The thread was originally posed as a question concerning the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible; however, the discussion eventually morphed into the Greek Manuscripts from which the KJV and many other translations are rendered from. The good thing is, even though many of us disagreed at the end of the day, no venom or cross word was given. It is hard to find folks that don’t get their dander up when discussing religious issues. I mean, some folks are being slaughtered in the world because they don’t share the same religious or even non-religious convictions. Some people avoid discussion altogether, and I would say that is wise to do from time to time. I suppose they avoid it because so many people lack self-control when discussing this subject. Some of you know that I am a supporter of the Traditional Text of the New Testament (NT). The Modern Eclectic Text is what is primarily used to translate most of your modern English Bibles. At one time my position was in the majority, but now it has dwindled in recent years. Some of it is due to the passing previous generations. In the discussion with my Facebook friends we bantered back and forth about different things, but I finally had to get to the heart of the issue. Nobody on Earth possesses any original Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament. All we have, regardless of age is a copyist transmission. In fact there are no works of antiquity that we possess that are the original transmission. Based on the physical evidence, you could come up with a wide array of conclusions. However, at the end of the day there are some that are more probable than others, but you have to pick one based on faith. Here was my response.
Well, I think the argument is truly a Theological one in the end. We all believe that God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the children of Israel. We believe that a great fish swallowed Jonah and spit him out on dry land. We believe in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, and many more miraculous works. Since I believe things like this, I don’t mind thinking that God in His providence has preserved His written word. The Scriptures themselves testify to their own preservation as did the Reformers, Vaudois, Anabaptists, and Puritans. I mean, the Modern Rational Movement of the 1800’s was the beginning of the dismantling of the Scriptures in Western Society. They lost many battles in the beginning, but are now successfully winning the war. Their efforts resulted in a degradation of the value of the Scriptures and a transferring of their care from the Church to the Academy. Just because a manuscript is late doesn’t necessarily mean there were scribal corruptions. Just because a witness is longer doesn’t necessarily mean it is not authentic. Of course we know there were some corruptions. Most were accidental errors such as skipping a line or two, or repeating a line or two. The scribal intrusions or deletions, which are more disturbing were not that plentiful in the traditional writings. In fact, they were more plentiful in the Alexandrian writings. If you compare the Traditional Texts to the Pure Alexandrian, you would have two different doctrines. One would be Orthodox, and the other, Gnostic. Therefore, I see no reason to mingle the two families. Also, in the middle ages, the Byzantine family was used not only by the Roman Catholics, but the Eastern Church and the Vaudois who were more like the Primitive Christians. There are many good reasons to believe God preserved His Word through the faithful copying of these manuscripts scattered about the world (The RCC didn’t have the only manuscripts). Sure, we need to be skeptical of mankind and his ability to preserve anything, but more than that, we should have a faith that is unwavering in God’s ability to preserve His Scriptures through inadequate and feeble men. What is more amazing about the preservation of the Traditional writings is the agreement in spite of the geographical differences. Of course, one can look at the variants and the Gnostic scriptures and cast doubt upon God’s divine preservation. They can point to all of the known scribal corruptions and even speculate about more. Truly in the end, the issue is a matter of faith. I am drawn to the Traditional Text of the New Testament for many of the reasons I have already cited in this thread, and there are many more that could be made. You don’t have to check your mind at the door to have faith. Arguments can be cleverly constructed for or against anything. Nevertheless, in the end, one has to realize that the physical evidence is limited, as is our ability to ascertain the truth based on that evidence. We need Divine intervention. I have studied this issue for more than a decade, and have found that the arguments leveled in books promoting the Modern Critical or Eclectic Text are not very solid. Holes are everywhere. Some of my arguments for the Traditional lack evidence since much of it has been destroyed or deteriorated. However, I have faith that they have been faithfully preserved. All I have is my faith in God’s ability to preserve His Word. Modern Critical Scholars (Most of whom are agnostics) believe the text is progressive and fluid. They do not believe we have the preserved Word of God but rather fragments of confused, unknown, and reconstructed texts. They believe the scribal corruptions were done by Orthodox believers (Which is a speculation). In the Scholarly world of the Academy, men like James White, Dan Wallace, and D.A. Carson (though well-intentioned) are holding on to an idea that is untenable. They believe God has preserved words that we no longer possess or exist in the world. How does that edify believers? They hold onto the hope that they will find that text that will answer all of the questions. Scholarship has left them and given up on that idea, and gone to the most logical conclusion based on their worldly philosophy. Bart Ehrman is far more consistent concerning this issue than Wallace, White, or Carson. The Naturalistic, skeptical eye based on the doubt that God has preserved His word can only lead to agnosticism and atheism. That is the logical conclusion here. Faith in the Scriptures and Faithlessness in God’s ability to preserve them is inconsistent. This issue of Text Criticism started by the German Rationalist Movement has spread through the Church, sucking the life out of its bones, and successfully producing Agnostics who despise the written Word. This issue, coupled with many other Modern and Postmodern Progressive ideas has been successful in pulling the foundation out from under the Church in Western culture. This is the result, and we are now seeing the fruits of it.
This is truly where we are at the end. It isn’t a bad thing to make your case, but endless debating about the evidence or lack thereof isn’t going to change the fact that you will have to take a position based on faith. I personally believe that God has used His “Ordinary Means of Grace” to preserve His written word in the traditional text of the NT. If you go the way of scholarship, then you are only allowed to rely on naturalistic or physical evidence based upon a blind presupposition. Riding the fence as most Evangelical scholars do is inconsistent. They are trying to look smart while at the same time holding onto the traditions of the Early Church and Reformers, who placed their faith in the Traditional Greek Text of the New Testament.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Saint Must Walk Alone - A.W. Tozer

The Saint Must Walk Alone

MOST OF THE WORLD'S GREAT SOULS have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.
In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation) that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.
Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.
Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart"? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men. Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There alone with a horror of great darkness upon him he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.
Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks alone, and during one of these walks while far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There while he watched his sheep alone the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.
The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other, but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness. They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.
Most revealing of all is the sight of that One of whom Moses and all the prophets did write treading His lonely way to the cross, His deep loneliness unrelieved by the presence of the multitudes.

'Tis midnight, and on Olive's brow
The star is dimmed that lately shone;
'Tis midnight; in the garden now,
The suffering Saviour prays alone.
'Tis midnight, and from all removed
The Saviour wrestles lone with fears,
E'en the disciple whom He loved
Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.

He died alone in the darkness hidden from the sight of mortal man and no one saw Him when He arose triumphant and walked out of the tomb, though many saw Him afterward and bore witness to what they saw.
There are some things too sacred for any eye but God's to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret message of God to the worshiping heart.
Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and, `Lo, I am with you alway.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"
Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be true by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook him, and fled."
The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His Godgiven instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.
The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all, he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own souland who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord's house. He has seen that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, "He has seen a vision."
The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and asks no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Saviour glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and overserious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.
It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd that Christ is All in All, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life's summum bonum.
Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.
The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the broken-hearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer as it were caught up to the third heavens and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. "God will not suffer you to lose anything by it," he told them. "You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you." This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.
The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints

A.W. Tozer “Man-The Dwelling Place of God” Chapter 39

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Way of The Dark One - Epistle of Barnabas

20. The Way of the Dark One, on the other hand, is crooked and altogether accursed: it is the way to eternal death and punishment. In it is found everything that corrupts the soul of men: idolatry, rashness, the pomp of power, hypocrisy, duplicity, adultery, murder, robbery pride, lawlessness, deceitfulness, malice, surliness, sorcery, magic, covetousness, want of the fear of God. Here belong persecutors of the good, haters of the truth, lovers of falsehood; men ignorant of the reward for right living, not devoted to what is good, or to just judgment; men who neglect widow and orphan, who are on the alert, not because they fear God, but because they are bent on vice; who are utter strangers to gentleness and patient endurance; men who love vanities, and fee hunters; who have no heart for the poor, take no trouble about the oppressed, are prone to slander, do not know their Maker; murderers of children, destroyers of God’s image; men who turn away from the needy, oppress the afflicted, act as counsel for the rich, are unjust judges of the poor; in a word-men steeped in sin.” Epistle of Barnabas A.D. 130-131 pp. 63-64 (Ancient Christian Writers)

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Way of Light - Epistle of Barnabas

"19. The Way of Light, then, is as follows; and whoever desires to make his way to the appointed place must be actively at work. Now, the Knowledge granted us to enable us to walk in this way embraces the following points: Love your Maker; reverence your Creator; glorify Him who ransomed you from death; abhor everything not pleasing to God; detest every form of hypocrisy; do not by any means neglect the commandments of the Lord. Do not carry your head high, but be ever in a humble frame of mind; do not reach out for personal glory; do not plot evil against your neighbor; do not open your heart to presumption. Do not fornicate; do not commit adultery; do not practice pederasty; do not let the Word of God escape your lips in the presence of any that are impure. Make no distinction between man and man when correcting anyone's transgression. Be gentle, be quiet; with trembling treasure the instructions you have received. Do not bear malice against your brother. Do not waver in your decision. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain. Love your neighbor more than yourself. Do not kill a fetus by abortion, or commit infanticide. Do not withdraw your hand from your son or daughter; but from their youth teach them the fear of God. Do not covet your neighbor's goods; do not be greedy. Do not be on intimate terms with the powerful, but associate with holy and lowly folk. Accept as blessings the casualties that befall you, assured that nothing happens without God. Do not be double-minded or double-tongued, for the double tongue is a deadly snare. In reverence and fear be submissive to your masters as representatives of God. Do not when embittered, give orders to your slave, male or female, for they hope in the same God; otherwise, they might lose the fear of God, who is the Master of you both. He surely did not come to call with an eye to rank or station in life; no, He comes to those whom the Spirit has prepared. Share everything with your neighbor, and do not say: "It is private property;" for if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more so in the things that perish! Do not be hasty of tongue, for the tongue is a deadly snare. As far as you can, be pure to save your soul. Do not be the one that opens his hands to receive, but shuts them when it comes to giving. Love as the pupil of your eye anyone that explains to you the Word of the Lord. Day and night remember the Day of Judgment. Seek daily the companionship of the saints. Are you proficient in speaking? Then go to comfort, and endeavor to save, an afflicted soul. Do you work with your hands? Then pay a ransom for your sins. Do not hesitate to give, and do not give in a grumbling mood; you will find out who is your good Rewarder. Hold fast to the traditions, neither adding nor subtracting anything. Hate evil incessantly. Be just in your judgment. Do not start a schism, but pacify contending parties. Confess your sins. Do not come to prayer with a guilty conscience. Such is the Way of Light."  Epistle of Barnabas A.D. 130-131 pp. 62 & 63 (Ancient Christian Writers).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Simplicity of Life

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing let's be content with it." 1 Timothy 6: 6-8

"Although there are many prophets of old, they proclaimed but one God. The inclination to deceive and to speak falsely belongs to those who covet riches. It belongs to those who eagerly desire gains. Such an inclination was far removed from those holy men. For they did not lay up store for the future. Instead, they carried out the office entrusted to them in such a manner that they disregarded all things necessary for the maintenance of life. They did not even labor for that day's needs, being content with the unstored food that God had supplied. Not only did they not have any material gains, they even endured torments and death. For the ways of righteousness are odious to the wicked. So the prophets, who had no desire for gain, had neither the inclination nor the motive to deceive" Lactantius 240-320 A.D.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Blog of Dark Day Ministries: The Biblical Model for Civil Government

This is an excellent blog post. Right on the money!

Blog of Dark Day Ministries: The Biblical Model for Civil Government: Here’s what the vast majority of Evangelical Christians think, summarised by Wayne Grudem in his book, Politics According to the Bible...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Be Consistent

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." James 3:17

"Those of us who have dedicated our lives to Christ should live our entire lives in the same serious manner in which we conduct ourselves when in the assembly. We should actually be meek, devout, and loving - not just simply seem to be. I cannot comprehend how some Christians change their conduct and manners with the place they happen to be. They make me think of sea polyps, who make themselves part of the rocks to which they adhere, even changing their colors to match those rocks. Similarly, some Christians lay aside the inspiration of the assembly after they leave it. And they become like others with whom they associate. Having paid homage to the sermon about God, they leave behind what they have heard. Once outside, they foolishly entertain themselves with profane amusements." Clement of Alexandria 150-215 A.D.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Find Yourself a Mentor

"Therefore, it is necessary for you who are pompous, powerful, and rich to find a man of God to set over yourself as a trainer and mentor. Have godly respect for someone - even if it's only for one man. Answer to someone - even if it's only to one man. Learn to listen to someone else, though there may be only one other man who speaks candidly to you. His words may be harsh, but they will bring healing. For your eyes should not continue unrestrained. It is good for them to sometimes weep and hurt. This will bring you greater health in the long run. Likewise, nothing is more detrimental to the soul than uninterrupted pleasure.

Learn to fear this godly man when he is angry. Be pained at his groaning. Respect him as you learn to put a stop to what causes his anger. Anticipate him when he is pleading against your punishment. Let him spend many sleepless nights out of concern for you, interceding with God for you, influencing the Father with the magic of his familiar prayers. For the Father does not hold out against his children when they beg for his pity. And your mentor will pray for you in a pure manner, held in high honor as an angel of God. He'll be grieved not at you, but for you. This is sincere repentance. "God is not mocked." (Gal. 6:7) Nor does He give heed to vain words. Only He can search the depths of our hearts. He hears those who are in the fire. He listens to those who pray from the whale's belly. He is near to everyone who believes, but he's far from the ungodly if they do not repent."
Clement of Alexandria

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Glorify God by Diminishing Yourself

"Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
In the Scriptures, the great miracle of the incarnation slips into the ordinary life of a child; the great miracle of the transfiguration fades into the demon-possessed valley below; the glory of the resurrection descends into a breakfast on the seashore. This is not an anticlimax, but a great revelation of God.
We have a tendency to look for wonder in our experience, and we mistake heroic actions for real heroes. It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us. If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say, “What a wonderful man of prayer he is!” or, “What a great woman of devotion she is!” If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the lofty height where no one would ever notice you personally. All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time.
We want to be able to say, “Oh, I have had a wonderful call from God!” But to do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us. To be utterly unnoticeable requires God’s Spirit in us making us absolutely humanly His. The true test of a saint’s life is not successfulness but faithfulness on the human level of life. We tend to set up success in Christian work as our purpose, but our purpose should be to display the glory of God in human life, to live a life “hidden with Christ in God” in our everyday human conditions (Colossians 3:3). Our human relationships are the very conditions in which the ideal life of God should be exhibited.
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest from the November 16 reading

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ephesians 5:1-7 (Word Study on Verses 3-4)

1 Therefore, you be followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. 3 But fornication (Illicit sexual intercourse), and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as is proper for the saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor low jesting, which are not proper : but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know , that no whore-monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. 8 For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 

I like to do a word study occasionally to make sure that I understand what the text is saying. I am going to follow through what I found looking at some key words in verses 3 & 4.
Things That Not Only Shouldn’t be Done, but Shouldn’t Even be Named Among the Saints
  • Fornication – πορνεία – porneia = Illicit Sexual Intercourse, meaning: Adultery, Fornication, Homosexuality, Lesbianism, intercourse with animals, intercourse with relatives, intercourse with a divorced man or woman, etc…
  • Uncleanness – ἀκαθαρσία – akatharsia = The impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living. Profligate is one that is abandoned to vice; lost to principle, virtue or decency; extremely vicious; shameless in wickedness.
  • Covetousness – πλεονεξία – pleonexia = Greedy desire to have more.
  • Filthiness – αἰσχρότης – aischrotēs = Obscenity, which is offensive to chastity and delicacy; impure, expressing or presenting to the mind or view something which delicacy, purity and decency forbid.
  • Foolish Talking – μωρολογία – mōrologia = Foolish talking
  • Low Jesting – εὐτραπελία – eutrapelia = Scurrility, which means such low, vulgar, indecent or abusive language as is used by mean fellows, buffoons, jesters and the like; grossness of reproach or invective; obscene jests. Or; Ribaldry, which means mean, or vulgar language, chiefly obscene language.
  • Not Fitting – ἀνήκω – anēkō = To pertain to what is due, duty, as was fitting.
The Antithesis of What Shouldn’t be Named
  • Giving of Thanks – εὐχαριστία – eucharistia = Giving of thanks, thankfulness.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Eyes of the Lord are in Every Place

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, discerning the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3

My Dad used to tell me that character is doing what is right when nobody is looking. It is a true statement, but have you ever considered that The Lord God Almighty is always looking? I have to admit that I don’t always think about that. However, Solomon said: “The eyes of the Lord are in “every” place.” That is hard to imagine, but due to our limited knowledge of the unseen world, nothing is surprising. Nevertheless, He is here with you and me, “discerning the evil and the good.” I say do what is right always, no matter “who” might be looking. Just know that “He” sees everything.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Seek The Lord Today

Zephaniah 2:3
Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seekrighteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.

1 Chronicles 16:11
Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.

Psalms 105:4
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.

Psalms 27:8 |
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

Acts 15:17
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.

Acts 17:27 |
That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

We Will Go Home

 And it willl come to pass, before they call, I will answer; and while they are speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the bullock: and dust will be the serpent's food. They will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the LORD. Isaiah 65:24-25

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Which Bible translation is the most reliable?

A friend of mine recently asked: "Phil Brown tell me what you think about this."

I watched, and then responded: "Well, much of what James White said is true. However, some of what he said is mere speculation. Older witnesses do not necessarily equal a more accurate manuscript. I haven't heard the story he told about Erasmus concerning Revelation. But, I do know that he, Dan Wallace, and the late Bruce Metzger spread, a false story concerning how Erasmus came to put 1 John 5:7 in his Greek New Testament. They never have admitted that it was fabricated to advance their doctrine."

The post I am referring to is above under 
1 John 5:7 - Verifying Sources

I further responded: "Well, one thing is that the AV (KJV), and the NKJV come from a line of Byzantine manuscripts just like the 1599 Geneva Bible. What White didn't say is that even though Erasmus's first edition was rushed out within a year (as he so eagerly stated), the KJV, and NKJV come from Erasmus's 4th and 5th editions of the Greek New Testament of which he spent 20 or more years editing (I would bet that the Revelation story also is lacking some truth). Also, nobody but some crazy KJV onlyists are ignorant enough to say that they use the 1611 version (That is a straw man). It has been updated and revised. However, what he didn't say is that those revisions "mostly" involve spelling, punctuation, and adjusting the old style English letters to the new style. There is no real major difference between the Oxford and Cambridge editions either. I think the Oxford is a little more readable to the modern reader than the Cambridge. Again, the meaning isn't different, but some of the words were adjusted for modern usage. Many claim that the text of Erasmus was riddled with errors. Other than the fact that the first edition was rushed out, they will use quotes and history from Erasmus's opponents. Erasmus even said himself: "I did my best with the New Testament, but it provoked endless quarrels. Edward Lee (Archbishop of York) pretended to have discovered 300 errors. They appointed a commission, which professed to have found bushels of them. Every dinner table rang with the blunders of Erasmus. I required particulars and could not have them." Just like many people do today, when they disagree with something, they will make accusations, even if they are untrue. White also made it sound like the KJV Translators only used the text of Erasmus and that the Geneva Bible came from Beza. Theodore Beza produced 9 editions of the Greek New Testament between 1565 and 1604. The most important are the 1565, 1582, 1588-9 and 1598 editions. Beza's texts differ little from Stephanus' 4th edition of 1551. The KJV translators made large use of Beza's editions 1588-9 and 1598. In 1624, the Elzevir brothers published a text based on Beza's 1565 edition. What he said about the Puritans and the Geneva bible were correct, and it is true that the King only wanted "church" and not "assembly" translated due to the fact that he wanted everyone to submit to the Church of England. But, in all truth that is really a small difference between the Geneva and KJV translations. They are not all that different. The KJV is a little more polished. I personally like the Geneva over the KJV, but the NKJV is sufficient for easy reading. White also said that Erasmus didn't have access to more manuscripts. That is not a true statement. He makes it sound like Erasmus himself had no knowledge of the Alexandrian manuscripts. The Sinaiticus manuscripts were not discovered until the mid 19th century. However, he had access to the Sinaitic-type readings and the Vaticanus. It is claimed that the Vatacan library at Rome was not accessible for use by outsiders until the dawn of the 20th century. That isn't true. Erasmus did have access to Codex B readings and rejected them because he knew how bad they were. Paulus Bombasius discovered the neglected Codex B in the Vatican library in 1521 and in June of that year sent Erasmus its readings from I John 4:1-3 and I John 5:7. B is the Pope's manuscript but he rejected it nevertheless. That is testimony to his objectivity and scholarly integrity. The KJV translators also had the readings of Codex B before them and rejected them as did Erasmus. They weren't ignorant of them as White asserts. Erasmus also had access to Codex D, and Codex Bezae but also rejected it. The KJV translators also had these variant readings and rejected them. White downplays the amount of available manuscripts a little. However, just because we have more doesn't necessarily mean that the TR is incorrect. It also doesn't mean that some manuscripts are correct because they are older. The vast Majority of Manuscripts we have today if piled together would favor the Traditional reading over the Eclectic reading. While White is correct in asserting that the Majority of manuscripts aren't identical to the TR or Textus Receptus, he conveniently forgets to mention that they are less identical to the Critical or "Eclectic" Text that White is in favor of. He says Erasmus's translation of the last part of Revelation isn't like any manuscript available, well, the modern Eclectic text isn't like any one manuscript available either. Like I said, he wasn't all wrong, but he left out some details."

"The problem with the whole issue is that it isn't always characterized with Church history. The Byzantine family ( Traditional text/ What the KJV, NKJV, Geneva translations come from) was used by the Church before and after 300 AD. The Alexandrian family was available, but went out of usage around 300 AD after the council of Nicaea and the extinction of Gnosticism, which today is making a resurgence. Many of the Alexandrian sources were shelved, and were not used as reliable sources. One thing that many Scholars fail to mention is that the Eastern Church used the same family of New Testament manuscripts before and after the Great Schism. If there was that much manuscript corruption going on (as many scholars are so eager to speculate), there would be a great difference between the Eastern and Western churches with regard to the Byzantine family of manuscripts they posess. There aren't though. There is a great link to the "Oldest" manuscripts and Gnosticism. The Gnostics had a peculiar set of doctrines, and did not acknowledge the Jesus we see testified of in the Bible. The Vatacanus and Sinaiticus manuscripts, which are heavily relied upon for our modern translations have Gnostic origins. If they were translated alone without the clever ingenuity of Modern Greek Scholars mingling them with Traditional sources, they would have been rejected long ago. However, because there is a bit of engineering going on by the scholarly elite, the changes and editing of the Scriptures are more palatable. White's testimony sounds like anyone who would disagree with him is ignorant of history and the Greek manuscripts. The evidence he left out makes his case less solid."

I shared the following video: 

"Gnosticism is subversive to Christianity. Why would scholars rely on such sources? Regardless of how old they are."

I also shared:

Text Note: How many "works of the flesh" in Galatians 5:19-21? 17 or 15?