The Doctrine of Adoption

Joseph Kissing His Brother Benjamin by Charles Foster, 1897

2 Corinthians 6:18 “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my son’s and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”

In the book of Genesis, Jacob (who’s name was changed to Israel), became the father of 12 sons and a daughter. His 12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel. They are listed here in order of birth:

  1. Reuben
  2. Simeon
  3. Levi
  4. Judah
  5. Dan
  6. Naphtali
  7. Gad
  8. Asher
  9. Issachar
  10. Zebulun
  11. Josheph
  12. Benjamin

The familiar story of Joseph, Israel’s favorite and unique child (Gen 37:3), tells how he became exhaulted over his brothers and elevated to the highest position in the land under the king. Joseph is an early type and foreshadowing of Christ.

In chapter 41 Joseph has two sons Ephraim and Mennaseh by his Egyptian wife. After Joseph’s family joined him in Egypt, his father Israel, blessed Ephraim and Mannaseh. But he did something peculiar. He didn’t just bless them as his grandchildren. His blessing was bestowed on them as though they were his own sons.

Genesis 48:5-6 And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. Your offspring whom you beget after them shall be yours; they will be called by the name of their brothers in their inheritance.

Notice how Israel spoke Ephraim and Manasseh compared to his first two sons. They will be just as important as the first born sons of Israel. Not only just as important, but Israel claims them as his own children.
In theology we have what is known as the doctrine of adoption. Jesus Christ being the firstborn of God (Colossians 1:15), those who are adopted by God through faith become sons of God or “co-heirs with Christ”.

Romans 8:14-17 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

Like Joseph’s children born of foreign land, we Gentiles were also born as foreigners of Israel. But, through Christ we have access to the Father, like Ephraim and Manasseh had through Joseph. As we read in Ephesians 5:1, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”

John 1:12 says “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of Godeven to those who believe in His name.”

Also read: 1 Chronicles 28:6, Hosea 2:23 (Romans 9:24-26), Romans 9:8, Galatians 3:7, 26, 29; Galatians 4:4-5,  Ephesians 3:26

Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

The Shema and The Trinity

moses_speaks_to_israel
MOSES SPEAKS TO ISRAEL, by Henri Felix Emmanuel Phillippoteaux

“The Shema is the central prayer in the Jewish prayer book. It is generally one of the first prayers a Jewish child learns. The Shema defines what it means to be Jewish as it has since the days of Moses:

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad—“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4).”

http://www.jewishvoice.org/media/publications/articles/yeshua-and-the-shema.html?referrer=http://www.google.com.af/

If the the Shema states that God is one, doesn’t that contradict the Christian doctrine of the Trinity?

If the LORD is One, then how can He be also Three? The word “echad” (the ch is more of a throaty h sound) in the above verse is the Hebrew word for one. But, if we believe God is a Trinity how do we reconcile this apparent contradiction?

Well, in Genesis 2:24 the same word “echad” is used to describe how a husband and wife will become one flesh.

In Genesis 11:6, the tower of Babel narrative describes the people as being one (echad).

Ezra 2:64 the whole assembly is gathered together (echad). But the people in the assembly numbered 42,360. In these verses, echad represents a unified oneness, not a numerical oneness.

Now, I can’t say that echad always represents a unified oneness. Sometimes it can represent a numerical oneness (Ex. Numbers 13:2, Deut.17:6) . So how do we know the difference?

As usual, the answer lies in the context. The word for God in the Shema is plural אֱלֹהִים (‘Elohiym). Just like Genesis 2:24, chapter 11 verse 6, Ezra 2:64, and others not listed here, echad means a compound unity.

You will see the word Eloheinu above and perhaps think that’s different than the plural Elohiym. The only difference is Eloheinu means “Our God” but the root word is still the plural word Elohiym.

Therefore, we see that even before the Trinity was understood as we understand it today, the Hebrews of the Old Testament understood there was a vastness and complexity to the Godhead. The very first word used for God in the Bible (Genesis 1:1) is the plural word Elohiym.

So there is no contradiction. God does not change (Malachi 3:6).

Psalm 102:25-27
“In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.They will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing You will change them and they will be discarded. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end.”

Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

Homosexuality from Multiple Perspectives

Destruction of Sodom
The Destruction of the Cities of the Plain (Lot and his daughters running for cover in foreground. Mezzotint with etching, c.1830s.) ~ by James G S Lucas

So the LGBTQ movement is something that is becoming more and more common and personally affects Christians more than ever before, quite clearly because of the acceptance of the movement in mainstream media.

I have recently wrote about the importance of loving everyone regardless of their race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, etc. which can be found HERE but the definition of what that love looks like is very much debated among Christians and everyone else.

As such, I thought it may be helpful for some Christian’s and non-Christians alike for us to outline what we believe at Theologetics.org and why we believe it.

Let’s start by looking at what is at stake. For someone who identifies as being gay or a lesbian, if Christians take a stance against same-sex attraction and these Christians are wrong about it being a sin, the individuals that embrace same-sex attraction will rightly feel ostracized and hurt because what they are identifying as is the same thing many Christians would wrongly be calling a sin. But if Christians stand against homosexuality because it really is something that is wrong, something God condemns, and something that is a hurtful lifestyle, then Christians that lovingly condemn the sin are showing true love to the sinner.

As Christians, it is important for us to realize how deep this goes, many if not all people that embrace same-sex attraction are not just lightly making the decision one day to like the same sex, they had been feeling an attraction for a long time.

Lets take a brief look at the attraction itself. Often it is believed this attraction is something people are born with. While there is not much evidence for that stance, the truth is it really doesn’t matter from a Christian perspective. Some people are born with a disposition for the abuse of alcohol or drugs but that doesn’t make that desire healthy or right. So I would caution Christians or secularists that take a side of the issue using the logic that it is or is not in the genes since the Bible clearly states that we all have sinned and have a sin nature, so genes are not a good measuring stick for this issue or any other for that matter.

So to the Christians reading this I say please be kind, gentle, loving and patient when dealing with this issue as those who are lost need to see Jesus in you more often than hearing about what the Bible says is wrong. Remember, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” Proverbs 15:1

So now, let’s take a quick look at the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t address the issue of homosexuality much but when it does it is clearly condemned as being sin. For the purpose of keeping this blog short I won’t go into the meanings of the verses about homosexuality but for someone that questions what the Bible really says about it being sin, you can find some information on it HERE. Basically there are several ways the Bible is read and how it is read depends on the reader.

In my opinion, the four basic types of Bible readers are:
1. Non-Christians
2. Cultural Christians
3. Non-Fundamentalist Christians
4. Fundamentalist Christians

Non-Christians consider the Bible to be either just another book of many, that it is out-dated or maybe even that it is a bad book. They may believe it has some good ideas or no good ideas but definitely not a book that has any authority over how people should live their lives. As these beliefs are unfounded, it would take at least another separate blog to begin to explain the reasons why but some information about the authority of Scripture can be found as a PDF HERE.

In reality, a Cultural Christian is someone that really follows culture over the Bible regardless if it aligns with the Bible or not. They don’t really read the Bible that often and usually don’t care to either. They may consider themselves a Christian because their parents are Christian, or they were baptized as a child, or something to that effect. A Cultural Christian says one thing and does something else. This is hypocrisy. It is illogical to say you believe something or identify as something but live as though you do not. In reality, many Christians have areas in their lives that they may say they believe what the Bible says but live as though they do not believe it. All who say they follow Christ should examine their hearts in any area of life and truly compare it with what the Bible says regarding that area.

Non-Fundamentalist Christians are among varying denominations and individuals that generally don’t believe in the complete authority of the Bible. They may believe that the Bible is either only partly inspired by God or not at all, or that the inspired word of God has been changed and not to be taken literally today. Similar to Cultural Christians, a Non-Fundamentalist’s belief is also illogical, let me explain.

If I were to believe the Bible is only partially inspired by God, and that some of it are men’s ideas added in, I would have no way of knowing what to really believe is true or not and thus, it would not make sense to put any faith in the Bible at all. The same logic applies if I were to believe the Bible were originally 100% God’s inspired words but that it has since been changed.

Similarly, if I were to believe the Bible was written completely by men, not inspired by God at all, it would have no authority and would just be another book among millions, so calling myself a Christian would really be pointless as all other ideas, religions, and philosophies would have equal merit and truth. (That’s not to say other non-Christian sources of information don not have some truth to them, just that the Bible is the only ancient manuscript that can be shown to be without error in it’s original manuscripts, and divinely inspired with hundreds of fulfilled prophecies. Again, some information about the authority of Scripture can be found as a PDF HERE and other good places to start would be books by Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharias, C.S. Lewis, and Dan Story)

Which leads to the last type of Bible reader; the Fundamentalist Christian. Fundamentalist Christians believe the Bible is completely inspired by God. They look at context when interpreting the Bible and take it to be literal when the language is not poetic or allegorical. If you claim to be a Christian, this is the most logical way to read the Bible. If you are not a Christian, there are many reasons why you should look into what the Bible really says, specifically about Jesus, and the historical, archeological, theological, and simply logical reasons why the Bible is the inspired Word of God which any of the previously mentioned links and authors are great places to start.

So, if the Bible is completely inspired by God (which the evidence is well in favor of it being so) and the passages that discuss homosexuality are examined in context and taken literally (the most logical way to read and interpret the Bible), homosexuality is clearly found to be a sin. 

Anytime anyone chooses sin, they are saying to God that they want to do things their way instead of God’s way. Anytime we try and do things our way leads to pain, sickness, destruction, and death. Being a sin, homosexuality is destructive to those who practice it and thus, the most loving thing Christians can do is lovingly stand against the sin while being loving and like Christ to those who embrace same-sex attraction. This is our stance. I hope this was helpful for those who read it, at least in understanding where many Christians and Christian organizations are coming from when they say they will not compromise on Scripture when it comes to these specific issues of homosexuality.

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

What Believing in Evolution Actually Means

Earth
The geocentric model according to the Bible of Martin Luther.

There is no denying it, micro-evolution exists, although the term itself is quite misleading. Micro-evolution is a term that is commonly used to describe adaptation within a species to help them survive. These adaptations never result in a new species, there is not even one piece of observable scientific evidence to suggest otherwise. Adaptations always result in the same or less information within that species DNA code and for macro-evolution to occur would require new information which simply does not happen.

This blog is not meant to be about the absurdities of macro-evolution. There are great resources out there that go in to much detail about micro and macro-evolution from a Biblical standpoint (Mike Riddle and Answers in Genesis are two resources that immediately come to mind but there are many more). This blog is about what it means for a Christian to believe in macro-evolution (which I will simply call evolution from here on out). So it is my hope that if you have read this far, you will find this helpful and not hurtful.

For a Christian to believe in millions of years of evolution means:

1. The authority of scripture is compromised since the writing style of Genesis is “historical narrative” and not poetry:

The normal order for a Hebrew narrative sentence is:
Conjunction–Verb–Subject–Object.

The order in poetic writing is:
Subject–Verb–Object

The style of writing of Genesis 1 is historical, using the waw-consecutive to express consecutive action (waw = and).

http://www.ldolphin.org/genmyth.html

So for example, if I were to choose to believe that the creation account is not really a literal six day event as recorded in Genesis but a figurative allegorical story, that would be similar to me believing Jesus was not really a literal man but a figurative fictional character. It would be one thing if Genesis were written as poetry but the fact is, it was not. If I were to treat it like it is poetry and not literal, what stops me from doing the same thing with the rest of the Bible?

2. To believe in evolution means man wasn’t made distinct from the animals as recorded in Genesis but is an animal.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.””
Genesis 1:26

“then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
Genesis 2:7

The Bible teaches that God made us unique, that there was a distinct moment where we were created in God’s image. Not slowly becoming more human, and thus, more like God over millions of years.

3. To believe in evolution means Eve would not have been made as a help-mate for Adam from his rib.

“20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”
Genesis 2:20-22

Again, the Bible lays it out clearly, man was literally alone and God took part of Adam to provide a suitable mate for him since no creature that already existed was fit to fill that void.

4. To believe in evolution means thorns, disease, and death would have existed before Adam and Eve since fossils (supposedly existing millions of years before Adam and Eve) show thorns, disease, and death; all of which should have only happened after Adam and Eve sinned.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Genesis 1:31

“16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.””
Genesis 2:16-17

“17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.”
Genesis 3:17-18

Using faulty dating methods, the fossil record is believed to show death and disease existing way before Adam and Eve would have existed. But in Luke 3:23-38 it shows Jesus’s bloodline all the way back to Adam who is portrayed as a literal man. This bloodline places Adam roughly 6,000 years ago. If Adam existed 6,000 years ago but we have fossils supposedly hundreds of thousands to millions of years old that show thorns, disease, and the death of humans and animals, then the Bible would simply be wrong. There is no combining evolution and the Bible, there are logical and scientific ways to show that the Biblical account of creation is the most likely and that the scientific assumptions and dating methods currently used today are false.

5. If humans merely evolved instead of being created the way the Bible says we were, that means God used death to create us and it had nothing to do with Adam and Eve’s sin which seems to negate our need for a savior.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned–”
Romans 5:12

I know there are Christians out there; sincere, God-fearing, and Jesus-loving Christians, who hold to the belief that God used evolution to create us. Aside from a lack of true evidence, it seems to me that it is a serious compromise of the authority of Scripture to hold such a view. I hope this blog has given food for thought to any Christian with a theistic-evolution viewpoint or any Christian who hasn’t really considered how to reconcile evolution and the Bible. I do not mean to try and condemn anyone, only to point out what seems like the logical conclusions of a theistic-evolution worldview.

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Why Didn’t God Make Us Perfect Without Sin?

satan-fall-milton
Gustave Doré (engraving); Satan, the Fallen Angel, is flung from Heaven and nears the confines of the Earth on his way to Hell [Paradise Lost, John Milton; 1667]; c. 1866.
God is perfect and God is holy.

So why didn’t God make humans and angels perfect so that they would never sin?

If we can even deduce this, the following are some of the questions I would consider to help us understand why God didn’t make us perfect:

A. Could God have created a perfect being with free will that would never sin?
B. In heaven, will we lose our free will or will it still be possible for us to sin?
C. Why did Lucifer sin in the first place?

D. Why does God allow sin?


A. Could God have created a perfect being with free will that would never sin?

Consider Philippians 2:5-7
“5
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.…”

Now it seems as though even Jesus Himself outlined human equality with God something that cannot be attained and Jesus was man and God! (This concept of Jesus being 100% man and 100% God is confusing but a brief explanation can be found here under Jesus’ Humanity & Eternality)

Also consider that the question “Could God have created a perfect being with free will that would never sin?” seems to cause an issue; If God were to create a perfect being with free will that never sinned, then it is possible He would in one sense have created a being that was equal to God (at least on some level). A being that is perfect without sin would also be holy, so this seems to indicate that He would have just created another God (this is assuming that perfection is all-encompassing).

Now, this thought process implies that what makes God God is His being perfect and holy. This may not be entirely true since God is more than perfect and holy. There is also His eternality, aseity, necessity, and a list of other characteristics you can find here but it is worth thinking about.

Someone may ask, “If it’s true that God wouldn’t make someone perfect to begin with, how is it possible to become perfect in heaven?” Well, the saints (those who accept Christ as Lord and Savior) were not created perfect but have been perfected by the blood of Jesus. A caterpillar does not become a new creature when it transforms into a butterfly. It’s existence doesn’t cease, it is in a sense “perfected”. The Christian does not cease to be one creation and enter into a different existence. It transforms into perfection.

So, it seems that we will possibly be transformed into perfection in heaven but not into perfect beings, at least not perfect like God is perfect so there seems to be a difference.

B. In heaven, will we lose our free will or will it still be possible for us to sin?
&
C. Why did Lucifer sin in the first place?

One would assume that in heaven, we will know God and His perfectness. That we would still possess free will so to speak but we would never want to deny our Creator because of our knowledge and love of Him? This has been the explanation I have always believed but it still seems like it circles back to the question; Why in heaven would Lucifer sin being in what seems like a similar situation?

I personally believe the answer to question B. is no we will not lose our free will but we won’t want to sin. One reason presented to me for why we could possess free will in heaven and never sin is that we will likely know the difference from being in a place where suffering and pain exists to being in a place where it does not (somewhat separated from God’s presence on earth at God’s discretion). Lucifer had no such knowledge. So it is possible Lucifer ignorantly thought he could take God’s place and it subsequently got him and all the angels who took his side thrown out of heaven because of it. But what could have started this “chain reaction” so to speak?

I have written before about my personal thoughts on sin and/or evil possibly being the direct result of God’s absence but I recently read an article by John Piper (Where Did Satan’s First Desire for Evil Come From?) about an idea worth pondering; that basically God’s glory somehow being hidden from Lucifer may explain Lucifer’s initial desire to “be” God. So maybe, while Lucifer didn’t know what we know about the ugliness involved in the separation from God, some degree of separation may have sparked the flame within him. This is not to say that it is absolutely how it happened, it is just a possibility. Why would God do that to begin with you may ask? I will give my explanation in the next section.

D. Why does God allow sin?

God is perfect and God is holy. He created us with the sin plan. Somehow this is better than making us perfect without sin. I believe that the reason why it is better is evident in the Genesis account of God making the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for Adam and Eve, and even before with Lucifer by possibly hiding His glory from Lucifer so he and all of creation could experience an unforced choice to love God which seems to require free will.

Another article I read by

So, all things considered, it appears that God created humans and angels with the ability to sin (freely deny Him) because He wanted us to be able to love. God did not want robots, after all, so He allowed himself to be hidden just enough that we must choose to believe, follow, and love Him. It is the sad reality that sin separates us from God. God does not want us to be separated from Him but because of the gift of free will which God has given each of us, we can choose to live a life without Him. Because God is holy, He cannot give anyone a “free pass” and let sin go unpunished but the good news is that someone already bore your punishment for you and His name is Jesus! All you need to do is accept His gift and turn from your sin. It is my prayer that you choose to do so right now, because you may not get another chance tomorrow and there is nothing worse than a lack of God for eternity.

By Clark Campbell with input from Derrick Stokes and Paul Grodell
Theologetics.org

Thoughts, Prayers, Amens and Lies

Praying-Child
Jacques Hnizdovsky (1915-1985) Praying Child Notecard

I had a discussion about prayer with a few individuals online that brought up some interesting ideas, this is just part of that conversation. It all started when this statement was made:

Person A “Any of us who tweet or post “prayers” for people in tragedy and do not follow through on them are in sin. Any of us who merely tweet or post “thoughts” going out to people in tragedy are painfully mistaken. And any of us who broadly dismiss the honest prayers for people in tragedy are tragically blind to true power.”

Now this first statement seemed pretty straight forward to me and a rather truthful statement as well but the conversation that ensued brought up some interesting questions about prayer.

Person BJust making the statement “you are in my prayers” requires the conscious thought in reference and affirmation [of] a higher power and if sincere IS in essence ……a prayer

So as I see it, here is the “theory” being presented for lack of a better word;

A Christian’s thought is a prayer.

If someone has a prayer request and you say to them “You are in my prayers”, because you think it, agree with what they are saying, and have a relationship with God, because God knows your thoughts, you in essence just prayed. Let us continue…

Me “Person B, your statement is an interesting one, at first thought I’ll admit it sounded like a cop-out to actually taking the time to say a specific prayer but when I thought about it, I’m wondering if there could be a little something to that statement…

Person A “Not sure that I agree with that person B. Tacitly referring to a higher power and affirming the existence of a higher power is not in essence communicating with that higher power. Prayer is directed to God. Telling someone “you are in my prayers” is directed toward that person. Also, what is the content of this “prayer” when you say “you are in my prayers”? It seems rather vacuous. In other words, when you say “you are in my prayers”, what are you actually praying for or about on behalf of that person?

Person BIf a person is in your thoughts even and you have a personal relationship with God – any conscious thought of that person while thinking of God would be as sincere and direct a petition to God as any plastic prayer one could muster.

One could go to church and pray every prayer in the book standing or kneeling or arms raised….it matters not.

I would say the almighty needs not for you to do that. Your own relationship with God and your conscious and heartfelt sincere thought is enough. …”

Person A “…When you say “my prayers are with you,” there is no specific petition attached to that, and that is directed at the person and not to God. Prayers can be communicated all sorts of ways, but there must actually be a communication, which implies specific content. So, I’m not sure in what sense simply saying it makes it true…

So, what is being presented now is that saying you will pray for someone is not a prayer because prayer is a conversation between you and God, but that conversation has not happened yet when you simply tell someone you will pray for them. A valid point.

Person BDo you believe God knows your intent? God has grasp of your conscience? God is aware of your conscious and subconscious? That God knows exactly what you are thinking?

Person AIf you do not actually pray, did you have intent to pray?

Person BI agree that if you say that (with intent to pray) and never pray- you’re right (right about not praying being a sin). However if you have a conscious contact with God- and you tell someone you will keep them in your prayers- God can take it from there- you just prayed.

MeThe one point that has not been specifically brought up is that the Bible, and Jesus Himself, commands us to pray specific prayers beyond just agreeing with others needs. The agreement is basically the amen part of the prayer. I personally think that person B is onto something if the comment to someone’s request for prayer was “amen” because that implies “I hear your need, I agree with you and stand with you and believe God’s will will be done.” But if someone were to say “I’m praying” since the Bible is clear on what prayer is, that person should actually take the time to say a prayer.

A few more things were said but one last statement stood out to me:

Person BIf God already knows your specific content whether it be verbalized or not- what need there be for an Amen. God already knows you are in agreement. God already knows if you’re NOT in agreement!!

So one last point I would like to make is that by this logic, one could argue that prayer is not needed at all. If God knows all and is all powerful, then who are we to think that making requests to God in prayer will make any difference?

Well, the problem with this line of thinking is that, like I brought up in the conversation, the Bible and Jesus Himself commands us to pray. Prayer is for our benefit not Gods and is specifically defined. Prayer allows us to grow closer to God, and while God is unchanging by nature with His immutability and impassibility, we can change, so the outcome of a situation can change because we pray.

An example of this is in Genesis 6:6

“And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Did God make a mistake in making men on the earth? Did he change his mind about his creation? If he was grieved in his heart, does that mean he has changing emotions the same way we have changing emotions?

No. No. And no.

The simple answer is that God does not change, we do. God is holy and we are not. When sin enters the picture, God must act, he is unchanging in this way. So the same principle can be applied to prayer. While we cannot change God’s mind, I believe prayer can move God to act in ways we cannot fully understand and no matter what, prayer lets us become more intimate with the one who made us, we can draw closer to him through our prayers. Who wouldn’t want that?

By Clark Campbell with quotes from a random online conversation
Theologetics.org

Option c: The Time-Salvation Paradox

Calvin-and-Arminius
Portraits of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius

There is one aspect about God and our understanding of Him that I felt compelled to write about. This one area has divided Christians for centuries, and that is the subject of God’s sovereignty in relation to man’s free will.

Now, I know this is a topic which has been perpetually argued, but it is because of this fact that I had felt so passionate about the subject. I would love to end the debate, although I am not that naive to think that the argument I am about to outline could do so but it is my hope that it might possibly provide Christians who take a strong stance for Calvinism or Arminianism a more common ground and that is Option c.

To preface the argument, there are two reasons I think it is so important that Christians (notably Christian apologists) come to some agreement on the subject of God’s will and man’s will.

The first reason, is that when skeptics see how different Christians, churches, and denominations disagree and possibly even argue about God’s omnipotence, it builds a wall instead of providing a door.

The second reason, is that if the subject comes up when witnessing to someone who has doubts about how God’s will and man’s will can be understood, I feel taking a strong stance for Calvinism or Arminianism has the potential to hurt one’s witness, allow me to explain this:

For the Calvinist, “IF” he is wrong about the elect and we do have free will when it comes to choosing Christ, this can cause people to reject Christ when presented this view because they may feel their decision doesn’t matter when really it does (remember this is “IF” the Calvinist is wrong, similar reasoning is used in Pascal’s Wager).

On the other hand, a skeptic may argue against an Arminian’s views stating those views place God in a position of diminished authority, which causes logical inconsistencies with the Christian’s beliefs of God. So what I suggest is the third option which is my argument, so let’s examine Option c and what I like to call the Time-Salvation Paradox.

In my studies and thoughts about salvation, human will, and God’s transcendence, I have realized I was limiting God by thinking that what God has decreed is in the past. For example–when God chose the elect. And as it turns out, this is a very important detail with some surprising consequences. The idea occurred to me one day after reading this passage in the Bible:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day
is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
2 Peter 3:8

This is not a verse one typically sees referenced when God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is argued, but stick with me. The one conclusion that I have come to is that the only people who choose God are the ones He elects, but God only elects those who choose Him. This statement alone may not sound logical but the reasoning behind it however, I believe, makes all the difference.

Option-c-

If you take into account the fact that God did choose those He elected before the foundations of the earth, and since God exists outside of time, what has happened with God may not have happened yet with us. To say that it did would mean that God is subject to the same confines and laws of time as we are. Because God is outside of time, what has already happened, (i.e. His choosing the elect) can be said to have not yet happened until we choose God (illustrated in the symbol above).

What I like about this stance is that it focuses on what God can do instead of what God cannot do. Calvinism says that God cannot make man with free will because that would compromise His authority. Arminianism says that God cannot choose people unto salvation because that would compromise His love and justice. Option c says that God can do both of those things, the paradox, if it can even be called that, is understanding how.

Again, God exists outside of our laws of time and space, and thus, outside of our understanding. God’s “time” is not faster or slower than ours, it is nonexistent as He is the creator of it and not bound by it. This is a foundational Christian belief about God, so with that in mind…

A summary of the argument is as follows:

Time-Salvation-Paradox 1.36.13 AM

God is spirit and He is eternal. God exists outside of time.

Man is physical and he is temporal. Man exists inside of time.

Because God exists outside of the laws of time, a moment that has already happened to man could be said to be happening right now with God.

But because man is temporal, a moment that has happened inside of time has already happened and will not happen again with man.

Also, since God exists outside of time, a moment that has not yet happened to man could be said to have already happened with God.

Similarly, consider how God had chosen the elect outside of time before the foundations of the Earth were even set. (Eph 1:4)

Because man is temporal, a moment that has not yet happened inside of time has not yet happened with man. (1 Cor 7:18, 20, 22, & 24)

And because man exists inside of time, man has not yet been chosen inside of time until the moment he chooses God. (1 Tim 6:12 & 1 Pet 5:10)

So it can be demonstrated that people who do not choose God are personally responsible for their choice for eternity, while people who do choose God do so because they were called by God.

This is because everyone has a God given ability to choose God inside of time, while God has chosen the elect outside of time.

So, brothers and sisters, I hope at the very least this argument has brought you another way to look at God’s sovereignty in conjunction with man’s will. Whatever view you feel fits God’s Word and His character best, let it unify us as the Body of Christ. We are not labeled Calvinists, Arminians or a combination of the two; we are Christians, “Little Christs” saved and loved by God. Let our views bring us together for the sole purpose of glorifying God and spreading the Good News. As long as we are doing that, what else could possibly matter?

By Clark Campbell
This blog was written from multiple papers on our List of Theologetics Papers page posted here and here.

Omitted verses. Omitted message?

king_james
King James I of England and VI of Scotland
by John Smith, after Sir Anthony van Dyck
mezzotint, 1721 (1617)

One common objection to newer Bible translations like the NIV is that some verses appear to be missing. And when compared to the King James Bible, there are missing verses. One such list that I saw on social media stated the following verses were missing from modern translations.

Screenshot_2015-05-18-12-44-46

Now, my purpose here is not to argue if the verses are omitted in the original manuscripts or even why they are omitted in modern translations (Biblical scholars have agreed that newer translations have omitted many verses that the KJV included because older and more reliable manuscripts that have been found after the KJV was written do not have these verses. http://www.gotquestions.org/missing-verses.html). I also do not intend to recommend one version over another. My reason for writing is to dispute the claim that modern Bible translations purposefully omitted the messages these passages would have otherwise conveyed. In fact, often the same phrase is found and included elsewhere in the Bible.

So let’s put these verses to the test. For this blog I will be comparing the King James version to the New International version. The verses in italics are omitted from the NIV but included in the KJV. The bold verses are included in the NIV.

Luke 17:36 (omitted)
Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Matthew 24:40 (included)
Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.

Luke 23:17 (omitted)
For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.
Matthew 27:15 (included)
Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.
(Also included are Mark 15:6 and John 18:39)

Acts 8:37 (omitted)
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
(This verse is an area of contention because of the obvious Christian doctrine; particularly believing that Jesus is the Son of God. However:)
Romans 10:9 (included)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Also included Acts 16:31, John 5:18, 1 John 4:15, 5:5) Jesus is also called “Son of God” numerous times in the NIV: Matt. 14:33, 16:16, 27:43, 22:54, Mark 1:1, 3:11, 15:39, Luke 1:32 & 35, John 1:49, 11:27, 19:7, Acts 9:20, Romans 1:4, 2 Cor. 1:19, 1 John 4:15, among many others.

Matthew 18:11 (omitted)
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10 (included)
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Matthew 23:14 (omitted)
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Luke 20:47 (included)
They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.
(Also Mark 12:40)

Mark 7:16 (omitted)
If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
(A common phrase that’s included at Mark 4:9, 23; Matthew 11:15; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17; 3:6, 13, 22)

Mark 11:26 (omitted)
But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:15 (included)
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Also Matthew 18:35)

Matthew 17:21 (omitted)
However this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting
(Mark also chronicles this account yet Mark says Jesus only mentioned prayer.)
Mark 9:29 (included)
He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Mark 15:28 (omitted)
And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.
Luke 22:37 (included)
It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’…

Mark 9:44 and Mark 9:46 (both say the same thing and are omitted)
Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:48 (included)
where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Romans 16:24 (omitted)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 3:18 (included)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
(Also similar phrasing in 2 Corinthians 13:14, Revelation 22:21, and Philippians 4:23)

And for good measure, a verse not on that original list:
Colossians 1:14
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
The underlined portion is missing in modern translations. Does that mean modern versions maliciously leave out the importance of Jesus’ blood? No. We find the same message (with Christ’s blood included) in other passages of newer translations.
Ephesians 1:7
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
(Also Romans 3:25, Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:19, Revelations 1:5)

The following verses were also included on the list but none of these verses change the message that writer was conveying if they are not included:

John 5:4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
Acts 15:34 However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there.
Acts 24:7 But the commander Lysias came by and with great violence took him out of your hands.
Acts 28:29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves

So, while some may hold a sense of allegiance to the KJV, the “missing” verses in other modern translations is due to evidence and archaeological discoveries which not only make the newer translations likely closer to the original manuscripts but it clearly doesn’t take away from theological meaning and message of Scripture! This is not to put down the KJV which is a great translation and has accomplished much for God’s kingdom but as believers, we must remember that God’s Word is perfect in it’s original form. There are good translations and there are better translations. Some versions convey certain passages better while others do a better job with other passages.

For information on picking out the best translation for you click here.

By Derrick Stokes and Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

What is MOST Important to God?

michelangelo-buonarroti-creation-of-adam
Detail from The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 of Sistine Chapel ceiling.

To start, let’s define the terms.

Definition of most:
Greatest in amount or degree.

Definition of important:
Strongly effecting the course of events or the nature of things

So with God, what specific thing strongly effects the course of events or the nature of all things in the greatest amount or degree?

To me, three answers seem to stand out; there is love, there is free will, and there is holiness.

John 3:16-18
16 “For God so loved* the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes** in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned*** already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

*We know love is important to God because He died to redeem us so we might be saved from sin.

**We know free will is important to God because He gives us the opportunity to choose His Son, to choose to spend eternity with Him, and this is evident even from the beginning when God created man and woman in the garden of Eden.

***And we know that holiness is important to God because those who do not choose to believe in Jesus don’t just get a free pass, but condemn themselves to an eternity apart from God.

In contrast, we know it cannot be any of the three by themselves because the others clearly exist, as this is evident throughout all of the Bible.

What does this mean for us?

Well, with all the beliefs in theology, there seems to be 3 levels of importance.

A. Matters of Salvation – How one is saved, the most important. Jesus is God in the flesh. It is only through belief in Him that you can be saved. This is not by works but by faith.

B. Matters of Witnessing – Effecting salvation of others, second most important. Some beliefs can affect your witness to the lost and possibly the salvation of others. Such beliefs include the authority of Scripture, the role of Christians as missionaries, views on God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, etc…

C. All Other Beliefs – The least important. These are the denominational differences that seem to divide believers but are really trivial beliefs; the proper way to baptize, types of acceptable music, religious traditions, etc…

Other theological stances on certain issues may inadvertently lead to violating A or B, for example: condoning homosexuality, gay marriage, or theistic evolution may seem innocent enough but by doing so, one would have to compromise on what Scripture says about those issues and could thus compromise the authority of Scripture leading to that person’s effectiveness in witnessing.

Also, taking something that falls under C too far could effect one’s witness, for example: if believers fight and argue about religious traditions instead of agreeing to disagree and acknowledge that traditions don’t save people, only Jesus does – that can tarnish the view of the Body of Christ for those who observe this division.

So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, because we can deduce that love, free will, and holiness are so important to God, we know that each person is first solely responsible for his/her salvation. After that, we all share a responsibility to present ourselves worthy to be called followers of Christ and to bring the good news to the lost. And lastly, anything else we believe should be laid aside and not cause contention among one another. Let us strive to build each other up and spread the Gospel to all.

For further insight on love click here
For further insight on free will click here and here and here
For further insight on holiness click here

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Why Did Jesus Want Two Swords Before He Died?

Jesus-Betrayed
Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860.
Artist: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

“Jesus died because He loves us.”

The meaning of this statement was taken to a whole new level for me once I understood why Jesus may have wanted His disciples to be armed on the night before He was crucified.

Luke 22:35-38
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

I found this passage perplexing since Jesus commanded His disciples to buy swords but then when they said they already had two, Jesus said that would be enough. What was He referring to? Enough for what??

Well I read an article about Dale Martin, who is a professor of religious studies at Yale University (link at the bottom), that may explain it. The article is titled:

Jesus Was Crucified Because Disciples Were Armed, Bible Analysis Suggests

The writer of the article actually tries to prove a different point about how Jesus was trying to be a political leader.

What the writer didn’t mention are verses that would prove this view wrong, that His disciples thought that’s what the Messiah would do all along; free them from Roman rule, but the Bible is clear on all accounts that this was not why Jesus came to earth. Regardless, if Jesus’s disciples having swords did make the crucifixion possible, it is pretty amazing to think about how the events leading up to Jesus’s death actually unfolded.

In Luke, it’s recorded that before Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples to buy swords. They told Him they had two already and He said that was enough. This seems strange, what good would two swords do all of them? Well according to the article mentioned above, by Roman law, Jesus was crucified because of the swords His disciples were carrying the night He was captured. If that was the case, He actually made sure they had swords so that He would be crucified.

Also, Jesus wanted them to have the two swords to fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

So what seems like a strange request by Jesus the night before being betrayed, humiliated, beaten, and crucified was possibly a request to ensure that He would be crucified to fulfill the prophecies about Him and save the lost. What an amazing God we serve!

If you read this article and do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please send us an email (Theologetics3.15@gmail.com). We would love to tell you more about how to have a personal relationship with Him!

http://www.newsweek.com/jesus-was-crucified-because-disciples-were-armed-bible-analysis-suggests-271436

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org