Not Under Bondage

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

In the seventh chapter of the Book of First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul discusses questions that the Christians in Corinth had posed, especially relating to questions of marriage.  

After pointing out that Christians who are married to non-Christians need to do everything they can to maintain their marriage (in the hopes that they might be able to one day save their unbelieving spouses-1 Corinthians 7:12-16), Paul discusses the situation of a Christian whose unbelieving spouse deserts them.

He writes these intriguing words: 

1 Corinthians 7:15-But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.

Here, the Apostle points out that the Christian is not under obligation to continue and pursue the relationship with the unbeliever in such circumstances. More to the point, he says that brothers or sisters are “not under bondage” in these cases.  

What does this phrase mean?  

One researcher, carefully examining this phrase as used in extra-biblical documents from the first century, has demonstrated that these particular words were commonly used in Jewish certificates of divorce. More to the point, the phrase “not under bondage” was used in such certificates of divorce to authorize the divorced person to remarry:

“I have also argued that Paul’s words “you are no longer enslaved” in i Corinthians 7:15 is a reference to the Jewish divorce certificate, which was often likened to a certificate of emancipation from slavery because of the similar wording and procedures for them both. Paul was certainly familiar with the wording of the Jewish divorce certificate because he cites the right to remarry that is found on the certificate with regard to widows, who shared this same right (1 Cor. 7:39). This citation suggests that Paul expects his readers to be familiar with this wording too, as they no doubt were. When Paul said “you are no longer enslaved” in verse 15, this was in the context of release from a marriage to an unbeliever who had deserted. Paul used wording that was reminiscent of the wording on both Greek and Jewish divorce certificates. There would have been no doubt in the minds of his readers that Paul was referring to the right of a divorcee to remarry.” (David Instone-Brewer, Divorce And Remarriage In The Bible: The Social And Literary Context, 3418-3423 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 

Contextually, this interpretation makes sense for at least two reasons.  

First, In describing the relationship of husband and wife, the Apostle describes such as a form of slavery:

1 Corinthians 7:3-4-3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does 

Second, when describing how Christian widows have the right to remarry, Paul uses virtually the same wording: 

1 Corinthians 7:39-A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

Please notice that in verse 39, the fact that the widow is no longer “bound” authorizes the right to remarry.  

Even though the verbs in verse 39 different than those found in verse 15, the idea seems to be the same:

“A major question surrounds verse 15a. If a believer is not bound to try to preserve a marriage in cases of permissible divorce, is he or she then free to remarry? Verse 39 uses similar language in addressing the widow. Once her husband dies, she is no longer “bound” to that marriage and is free to find another partner. The verb for binding is different in that context, but seemingly synonymous. If remarriage was universally granted to the legally divorced in both Jewish and Greco-Roman circles, it would seem that Paul would have been much more explicit in forbidding it if that was his intention.” (Craig L. Blomberg, 1 Corinthians: The NIV Application Commentary-From Biblical Text…To Contemporary Life, 108 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan) 

A Christian who is married to a non-Christian should do everything possible (within reason, that is) to maintain the marriage; yet if the unbeliever departs, the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases.  

What this definitely means is that the Christian is not obligated to pursue the relationship with the unbelieving spouse; and it also likely teaches that a Christian in such circumstances is free to remarry.  

Of course, the greatest marriage is that between Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Are you a member of Christ’s church?  

Jesus Christ came and died on the cross of Calvary to save you from your sins (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:6). He was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Will you not day accept His gracious invitation to be saved?  

Acts 8:35-39-35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.

36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.

If you are a Christian who has turned from the Lord, won’t you come back to Him today? Listen to what God’s Word tells Christians who wander from Him: 

1 John 1:8-9-8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

An Examination Of The Book Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church-Part One

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of the first things which visitors to churches of Christ notice is the absence of instrumental music in our worship assemblies.  

Considering the entertainment-driven culture of religion found in many common-day churches and denominations, where bands and instruments of all kinds are used to energize and bring forth emotionally charged experiences, the simple order of acappella music is quite the contrast!  

When asked why New Testament Christians do not employ instrumental music in the worship of the church, we respond with the biblical injunction that everything which we practice and teach in the assembly of the saints must be authorized by the Lord (Colossians 3:17). Since only acappella music is authorized by the Lord, this is the only type of music we employ in the assemblies of the saints (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19). To go beyond this is to risk turning true worship (John 4:23-24) into empty worship (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7) or will-worship (Colossians 2:20-23).  

While the subject of instrumental music in the church may not be a priority to many, those who are true worshippers of God will carefully consider these matters (John 4:23-24). We are called upon by God to give rational defenses of why we believe what we believe and why we practice what we do (1 Peter 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1).  

It is in that spirit of honest investigation that I would like to share some observations with you (in this and the next two articles) about a book that carefully examines these subjects.  

Years ago, Brother Everett Ferguson wrote an excellent work entitled Acapella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church.  

Ferguson’s book is an exploration of the history of the use of instrumental music in the public worship of the church (as the title suggests). It seeks to carefully examine the relevance of instrumental music in worship, paying special attention to the mention of instrumental music by early Christian writers. His volume is also extremely helpful in that it examines the history of instrumental music through the Old Testament, as well as considering the use of instrumental music between the Testaments.  

As to why such a study is beneficial, Ferguson has pointed out: 

“One means of testing an interpretation of New Testament texts is by the background sources. …Have we read the New Testament correctly? This can be checked in part by the interpretation of the New Testament in early Christian writings and by the practice of the post-New Testament church. Is it an accident that we have no clear reference to instrumental music in the church’s worship in the New Testament? Was instrumental music actually used but not referred to? The answer of history is “no.” What is an inference from the New Testament evidence, and the presumption from the church’s setting in the context of Judaism, is made explicit in the testimony from church history. When our conclusions about the New Testament evidence concerning the use of the instrument are checked by the writings of the early church, we once more find a negative result.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 860-870 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing)

Just as Paul encourages Christians to learn from the important history of the Old Testament (Romans 15:4), so we can also learn from the study of church history.

An Interesting Beginning

Ferguson begins his study by mentioning a conversation he had with a friend a number of years ago:

“During my graduate study days at Harvard I lived in the same dormitory with a Greek Orthodox student who was a graduate of the University of Athens and a candidate for an advanced degree at Harvard. I asked him if it was correct that the Greek Orthodox churches did not use instrumental music in their public worship. He said, “Yes.” Then I inquired as to the reasons why. His reply was most interesting to me: “We do not use instrumental music because it is not in the New Testament and it is contrary to the nature of Christian worship.” By this he stated my case exactly for unaccompanied church music. Other Orthodox would add that the tradition of the church is against the practice. A special contribution of this book is to demonstrate the historical evidence of the early Christian centuries.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 85-89 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing)

Three-Fold Outline Of Study 

The author goes on to explain that his investigation of acappella music in the public of the church will involve a three-fold study.  

First, Ferguson believes a detailed and careful examination of the New Testament Scriptures which discuss music in the worship of the church should (of course) be of primary importance.

Second, he proposes a careful examination of the writings of the post-apostolic Christians (who are often referred to as the church fathers) to determine whether or not they held the same basic views regarding acappella and instrumental music in the public worship of the church.  

Finally, Ferguson would encourage an investigation of other theological or doctrinal subjects to determine whether or not instrumental music should be rejected in the worship of the church.  

This article will focus on Ferguson’s investigation of the New Testament Scriptures regarding these topics (and future articles will examine the other two steps in Ferguson’s outline).  

The Absence Of Instrumental Music In The New Testament Scriptures 

The author quickly points out that the New Testament clearly authorizes acappella music in the worship of the church, but is also very silent regarding instrumental music in such:

“According to the New Testament evidence instrumental music was not present in the worship of the early church. Singing incontestably was present in the corporate life of the early Christians (1 Corinthians 14: 15, 26; Colossians 3: 15 ff.; Ephesians 5: 18 ff.), and this was rooted in the practice of Jesus with his disciples (Mark 14: 26). But there is no clear reference to instrumental music in Christian worship in any New Testament text.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 95-100 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing)

Brother Ferguson then engages in a detailed study of the Greek word psallo (usually translated as psalm).  

Psallo

Through the years, advocates of instrumental music in the church have argued that the word psallo authorizes the use of the instrument since the word sometimes meant to pluck (like on an instrument) in the Old Testament era.  

Ferguson demonstrates quite convincingly that by the time of the first century, the word psallo had come to mean simply to “sing.” Words change over time, and the word psallo had likewise evolved to carry the idea of acappella music.  

Our author cites a common English example to demonstrate how such a change can occur over time. The word “lyric” had originally come from a word that had reference to the “lyre,” a stringed instrument; yet now, it simply means the words of a song.  

In studying the history of the word psallo, Ferguson observations: 

“The main controversy has in the past concerned the Greek word psallo, which in the history of its usage has referred to both instrumental and vocal music. Consequently, it would seem, no one has been able to establish with finality that the word necessarily includes or excludes instrumental music. From an earlier classical (500-300 B.C.) meaning “to play,” the word came to mean in Byzantine (after A.D. 300) and modern Greek “to sing” or “to chant.” 1 This transition in meaning was apparently effected by Jewish and early Christian usage. The real question is how the word is used in the specific New Testament texts (Rom. 15.9; 1 Cor. 14: 15; Eph. 5: 19; Jas. 5: 13). Personally, I am convinced that later ecclesiastical usage and Jewish usage before and contemporary with the New Testament confirm a reference to vocal music exclusively in the New Testament texts.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 100-106 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing). 

In describing the specific definitions and etymology of the word, we are told:

“The root meaning of psallo, as defined by H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, is “pluck,” and so most frequently “to play a stringed instrument.” 2 In this limited sense the word referred to playing an instrument plucked with the fingers. (In a broader sense the word could be used of making music in other ways.) This was the meaning of the word in classical Greek. The Greek language has other words for “to play on an instrument,” such as kitharizo (“ to play the kithara,” a lyre or harp’ 3) and auleo (“ to play the aulos,” or pipe) in 1 Corinthians 14: 7, and kreko (“ play”). Words meaning just “to sing” were ado (compare the noun “ode”) and humneo (“ to hymn” or “to praise”). On the other hand, E. A. Sophocles’ Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods (From B. C. 146 to A.D. 1100) defines psallo as “chant, sing religious hymns.” The word thus later completely lost any connotation of an instrument and so in modern Greek (shaped by ecclesiastical usage) means simply “to sing.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 111-117 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing).

The difficultly lies, as Ferguson explains, in trying to determine exactly when the word psallo underwent this change from instrumental to acappella. There is evidence, for example, that this change took place long before the first century, for there are several Jewish works from the first century B.C which use psallo in reference to acappella music: 

“Conversely, psallo with the simple meaning “sing” or “sing praise” (“ sing the psalms”) is well attested before New Testament times. Such is the usage of the Psalms of Solomon, Jewish hymns from the first century B.C. usually ascribed to the Pharisees but thoroughly representative of Palestinian religious piety shortly before the time of the New Testament.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 143 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing)
Two hundred years earlier, in the third century B.C., the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures were translated into the Greek language. This translation, known as the Septuagint, has some very interesting lessons for us regarding the etymological history of the word psallo.  

When the scholars who translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek came upon the Hebrew word nagan, they used the Greek word psallo. This clearly referred to instrumental music in some passages (1 Samuel 16:16-18, 23; 18:10; 19:9).  

However, it is when psallo is used to translate the Hebrew word zamar that things really start getting interesting: 

“Psallo occurs most frequently in the Septuagint as a translation of zamar, a Hebrew word with a similar etymology and development to its Greek translation. It is defined as “make music” in praise of God, and the lexicon cites many instances of “singing,” in a few of which instrumental accompaniment is mentioned in the context (but not included in the word itself), and several instances “of playing musical instruments.” 10 In a few instances where psallo translates zamar, the mention of an instrument with the word shows that the idea is “to play” (Ps. 33: 2; 71: 22; 98: 5; 144: 9; 147: 7; 149: 3). Each of these references is cited by Brown, Driver, and Briggs for “making melody on an instrument” as a definition of zamar. The Greek construction in each instance is psallo followed by the preposition en (“ with” or “on”) and the name of the instrument.”…intended by the word psallo. Thus Psalms 47: 6, 7 concludes in the Septuagint, “Sing [psalate] intelligibly.” Psalms 71: 23f., “My lips will rejoice when I sing [psalo] to you… and my tongue will be concerned with your righteousness all day.” Psalms 105: 2, “Sing to him and make melody [psalate] to him; narrate all his marvels.” A large number of the occurrences of psallo in the Psalms are in passages where the parallelism characteristic of Hebrew poetry is employed. In nearly every case the Septuagint translators have paired psallo with a word for vocal praise….The Hebrew word in these verses is defined as “sing” or “sing praise,” and we can assume that the Greek translators understood the Hebrew and sought to convey the same idea by psallo. Thus modern translators too have rendered “sing” or “make melody.” Other occurrences of psallo in the Septuagint, all once more apparently meant to express singing in praise to God as zamar did, are Psalms 7: 17; 9: 2; 9: 11; 30: 12; 61: 8; 66: 2, 4; 75: 9; 98: 4; 108: 3.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 157-195 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing). 

Why does this matter?

“If the precise meaning of certain verses may be in doubt, what is clear is that an instrument did not inhere in the word psallo in the Septuagint. Psallo could translate a word meaning “play” (nagan), or a general word (zamar). The meaning which would cover all occurrences is “make melody.” This could include making melody on an instrument, the classical use of the word, but in the preponderance of occurrences it clearly refers to making melody with the voice.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 195-201 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing). 

After examining several other ancient authorities and references, Ferguson explains when the basic shift of the word psallo began to take place: 

“Regardless of the conclusion to be drawn from Philo’s silence, linguistic evidence would seem to indicate that it was in Jewish religious language that we find the shift in usage for psallo from instrumental to vocal music (Septuagint, Psalms of Solomon, etc.). Where the instrumental idea was present, it was treated metaphorically (Philo, perhaps the Dead Sea Scrolls). This linguistic development will be seen to correspond to the developments in regard to the music of Jewish worship, which will furnish a further clarification of the background to worship in the early church.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 325-330 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing)

Ferguson goes on to explain the importance of the Jewish synagogue in the years before Christ’s birth in this investigation, and how these were used for teaching and worship among the Hebrews. Interestingly enough, the case may be argued that it was the influence of the Jewish synagogues themselves that brought about the change of the word psallo from instrumental to acappella music: 

“There remains no evidence that instrumental music was used in the synagogue service; indeed this holds true until comparatively recent times….Since a special vocal use of psallo is first and most clearly attested in Jewish religious literature, and since the Psalms were recited without instrumental accompaniment in the synagogue services, a reasonable hypothesis may be suggested for the change in the usage of the word. The change in practice in the synagogue, so that the Psalms were used without the instrumental accompaniment that had characterized their use in the Temple, produced a change of meaning in the word so that it meant “to sing the Psalms.” The difference in the way the Psalms were used changed the meaning of psallo which was employed to describe this use. Christians derived their use of the word from the Jewish circles in which the church began, not from classical Greek usage. Moreover, Christian worship in many of its practices seems to have followed the worship of the synagogue.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 732-742 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing)

The evidence is therefore very strong that the word psallo (by the time of the first century) had come to have reference to acappella music, and that any inherent quality of the word authorizing instrumental music had been lost long before the dawn of the Christian Age.  

Ferguson concludes section one of his book by noting: 

“The conclusion drawn from the New Testament texts and from linguistic evidence was that instrumental music was not present in the worship of the New Testament church. This conclusion has further support in the contextual setting of New Testament times. Jewish practices and attitudes (both Rabbinic and Hellenistic) furnish strong presumption against the presence of instrumental music in the early church. The next chapter will test this conclusion by the testimony of church history. Before leaving the New Testament references, we may note in passing that the New Testament gives no negative judgment on instrumental music per se. It makes neutral references to playing on instruments (Matthew 11: 17 and parallels), uses instruments as illustrations (1 Corinthians 13: 1; 14: 7f., with unfavorable connotations it may be noted), and compares the heavenly worship to the sound of instruments (Revelation 14: 2f., probably under the influence of Old Testament and Temple practice). A parallel to the last reference may be seen in Revelation 5: 8 with its figurative use of incense from the temple worship. The situation is simply that instruments are not referred to in the church’s worship.” (Everett Ferguson, Acappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church, 838-848 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Desert Willow Publishing)

Conclusion

The New Testament Scriptures are clear that God has authorized acappella music in the public worship of His church. Since we are commanded to abide in the teaching of Christ and His Apostles (2 John 9-11; Colossians 3:17), why not simply have acappella music in the church assembly, as God has authorized?  

Worship is one of the great privileges of God’s people. We may freely praise Him for His great lovingkindness and mercy, especially when we consider the wondrous gift of Jesus Christ to be our Savior (Matthew 11:28-30). Through His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), Jesus has the power to save us (Hebrews 7:25).

Why not today repent and be baptized into Christ as a believer, confessing Him before men and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-47; 8:35-38)?  

Why not today, as a Christian who has turned from the Lord, repent and pray to Him for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

The Pagan Origins Of Evolutionary Ideas

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Many people in our nation would be horrified to learn that much of what we have been taught as “scientific truth” actually is a redressing of ancient pagan religion.  

For example, consider the popular “Nebular Hypothesis.” This idea is taught in college courses all through the country, and it supposedly describes the process through which the planets of our solar system were formed. Supposedly, the sun (about four billion years ago) ejected a filament that somehow cooled and then collected together into huge balls of matter which then “miraculously” (pardon the pun) formed into the planets of our solar system. The scientist who is credited with this idea is Immanuel Kant.

But do you know where Kant got his ideas?

Writer Chuck Missler tells us: 

“Famous astronomer Immanuel Kant is credited with the Nebular Hypothesis, but he didn’t invent it himself. In 1734, mining engineer Emanuel Swedenborg (1688- 1772) published his Prodromus Philosophiae Retiocinantis de Infinito et Cause Creationis in Latin, in which he describes an alternate view of the creation of the universe. Swedenborg was a mystic in the negative sense. He claimed to be a Christian having visions, but he collected information about the supposed origin of the universe after having séances with spiritual beings that claimed to inhabit Jupiter and Saturn and other planets. His books Arcana Coelestia and Earths in the Universe describe some of the discussions with these other spiritual beings. Unfortunately, these “angels” gave Swedenborg a wide range of ideas that denied the straight- forward interpretation of the Scriptures. Instead, they led him to regard the historical narratives of Moses as symbolic and filled with secret, hidden knowledge. Swedenborg came up with the idea that the planets formed from material that ejected out of the Sun, and the Sun itself was formed from a spinning nebula. Swedenborg’s claims of visions impressed the people around him. We know, however, that when Swedenborg was 23 years old, he had an opportunity to spend several weeks at the home of Edmund Halley, the astronomer after whom Halley’s Comet is named. Swedenborg did have some astronomy background when he wrote his alternative ideas about how the planets originated. Swedenborg had an influence on Kant, who alternately praised and demonized the mystic. Twenty years after Swedenborg’s Prodromus , Kant published his General History of Nature and Theory of the Heavens (1755), in which he describes the Nebular Hypothesis. Kant sanctified the idea, and Pierre Laplace did the same, giving the faulty idea greater credibility than it would have had otherwise. These scientists were both capable of double checking the math, but they failed somewhere along the line. There are many problems with the Nebular Hypothesis, which neither of these great men exposed as they should have.” (Chuck Missler, Beyond Newton: Exploring Challenges To The Current Astronomical Models Of Our Universe, 190-208 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House). 

Isn’t it interesting that much of what is commonly believed to be “scientific truth” is actually rooted in pagan superstition?

Or we could consider Charles Darwin himself, the “father” of evolutionary thought. Many people believe that he developed his ideas from simple scientific explorations; yet the facts are actually a bit different than the politically correct version usually related. Studying the interesting history of the theory of evolution in the modern age, we learn:

“*Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was a do-nothing expert. In his 1734 book, Principia, he theorized that a rapidly rotating nebula formed itself into our solar system of sun and planets. He claimed that he obtained the idea from spirits during a séance. It is significant that the nebular hypothesis theory originated from such a source…..*Robert Chambers (1802-1883) was a spiritualist who regularly communicated with spirits. As a result of his contacts, he wrote the first popular evolution book in all of Britain. Called Vestiges of Creation (1844), it was printed 15 years before *Charles Darwin’s book, Origin of the Species…*Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913) is considered to be the man who developed the theory which *Darwin published. *Wallace was deeply involved in spiritism at the time he formulated the theory in his Ternate Paper, which *Darwin, with the help of two friends (*Charles Lyell and *Joseph Hooker), pirated and published under his own name. *Darwin, a wealthy man, thus obtained the royalties which belonged to Wallace, a poverty-ridden theorist. In 1980, *Arnold C. Brackman, in his book, A Delicate Arrangement, established that Darwin plagiarized Wallace’s material. It was arranged that a paper by Darwin would be read to the Royal Society, in London, while Wallace’s was held back until later. Priorities for the ideas thus having been taken care of, Darwin set to work to prepare his book. In 1875, Wallace came out openly for spiritism and Marxism, another stepchild of Darwinism. This was Wallace’s theory: Species have changed in the past, by which one species descended from another in a manner that we cannot prove today. That is exactly what modern evolution teaches. Yet it has no more evidence supporting the theory than Wallace had in 1858, when he devised the theory while in a fever. In February 1858, while in a delirious fever on the island of Ternate in the Molaccas, Wallace conceived the idea, “survival of the fittest,” as being the method by which species change. But the concept proves nothing. The fittest; which one is that? It is the one that survived longest. Which one survives longest? The fittest. This is reasoning in a circle. The phrase says nothing about the evolutionary process, much less proving it….It is not commonly known that *Charles Darwin, while a naturalist aboard the Beagle, was initiated into witchcraft in South America by nationals. interior, he took part in their ceremonies and, as a result, something happened to him. Upon his return to England, although his health was strangely weakened, he spent the rest of his life working on theories to destroy faith in the Creator.” (Vance Ferrell, The Evolution Handbook: Over 3,000 Scientific Facts Which Annihilate Evolutionary Theory, 357-420 (Kindle Edition); Altamont, TN; Evolution Facts, Inc.). 

While many in our country would like to believe that the theory of evolution is a ‘scientific” theory, the facts and history tell a different story.

Oh, there are some facts of science which lend credibility to the notion of “micro-evolution,” i.e., change within species.

However, the facts of science are clearly against this nonsense of “macro-evolution” i.e., change between species.  

Do you ever wonder why these facts are not commonly taught to Americans? Could it be (in part) because if people knew the true origins of the theory of macro-evolution, it would not be allowed to be taught as “fact” in public school (since people would learn that it is primarily a religious notion)? It certainly gives one pause to consider, especially when we learn that the scientific case for creationism could be taught in public schools without advocating any one religion.  

Friends, the evidence is overwhelming that there is a Creator Who made this universe and who has reached out in lovingkindness to sinful mankind (Romans 1:18-20). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the Cross of Calvary, the pay the price for your sins (Romans 5:8). He was buried, and three days later (and as verified by over 500 witnesses), He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Will you not today accept His offer of salvation by believing in Him (John 8:24), repenting of your sin (Luke 13:3), confessing your faith in Him (1 Timothy 6:12), and being baptized in water for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)?

If you are a child of God who has been baptized into Him but have left your first love through sin, why not today repent of that sin and pray to Him for forgiveness (1 John 1:9)? 

The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you.  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

A Doctor Analyzes The Theory Of Evolution

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

The more I learn about the “theory” of evolution, the more amazed I am that so many in our society have accepted this pseudoscience hook, line, and sinker.  

Oh, please don’t misunderstand me.   

I am well aware that this theory of origins has been force-fed into the impressionable minds of children in the American school system for generations.  

I am cognizant of the fact that the public media in the United States has a definite bias and agenda towards promoting the “goo-to-you” theory.  

Too, I am fully aware that many-even in the Lord’s church-have sacrificed Scriptural truth to appease the pro-Darwinists of our day and age.  

Yet what truly amazes me is how this theory is still so strongly endorsed by so many, in light of the numerous irrefutable problems and gaping contradictions that exist within the system, and especially when such are being continually expounded upon by well-educated scientists and researchers!  

Let me give you an example.  

One physician has written an excellent study on the numerous problems of Darwinism theory. In the conclusion of his fascinating book, What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects The Theory Of Evolution, Dr. Geoffrey Simmons writes:

“The ship of evidence that carries Darwin’s theories is full of gaping holes, and yet a huge following will not allow it to sink. Their belief is as strong as that of those who oppose evolution, who are often mocked as “religious”—yet, like a religion, the “science” of evolution is actually based on a belief system.” (Geoffrey Simmons M.D., What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects The Theory Of Evolution, 301 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

In fact, Dr. Simmons explains that if Darwin were alive today, his writings would probably not even be published: 

“The theory of evolution is like a connect-the-dots game. Some dots are clearly connected, such as wolves to dogs, but the vast majority, such as reptiles to mammals, cannot be connected without millions of intermediary dots (species). Darwin’s theories do not come close to explaining the enormous complexity even within a simple cell (let alone the entire body), the whole-package phenomenon (WPP), and irreducible complexity. The fact that a series of useless steps is needed to accomplish a tiny task forcefully argues against evolution. The fact that all bodily functions require the convergence of many useless steps and useless systems (when each is viewed in isolation) excludes evolution as an option. The presumed multiple mutations leading up to mankind would have had to be organized, purposeful, targeted, simultaneous, frequent, safe, and too numerous to count. The original blueprint would have had to contain all of the subsequent blueprints, such as how to make the next steps out of the many on the way to manufacturing insulin, hemoglobin, adrenalin, or growth hormone. It would also have had to include how to use these chemicals, how to control their concentrations (feedback loops), how to replace them, how to keep them from interacting with each other, how to concentrate them in areas or at times of need, how to use them within each cell, and how to dispose of them….Darwin knew little of genetics, hardly anything about human physiology, and nothing of conception. He could not tell the difference between a kidney cell and a liver cell, nor did he know they existed. His writings included inflammatory, sexist, and bigoted comments. He rarely gave credit to any scientific source. No such scientific article would be accepted for publication nowadays….Very few educators seem to have taken an unbiased, in-depth look at the data. By observing farmers breed animals to get a better version, Darwin deduced that man could eventually breed one species into another. Simply stated, by making horses smaller and smaller, one might eventually get a dog or a cat. If Darwin’s writings were scrutinized by today’s standards, he probably would not be published. No one has ever shown that one species can change into another. Yet Darwin wrote that bears, who prefer to keep their heads above water, could evolve into whales that can dive many fathoms beneath the water’s surface, sustain themselves permanently out at sea, withstand incredible hypothermia, migrate thousands of miles each year, and successfully give birth underwater. Not to mention such factors as growing blubber, shrinking four extremities, shedding all hair, growing fins, and developing a subsonic communication system.” (Geoffrey Simmons M.D., What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects The Theory Of Evolution, 301-303 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

What About The Fossil Record? 

The esteemed doctor goes on to summarize still more problems of Darwinism which arise from the Fossil Record.  

While I disagree with the millions and billions of years dates that are here mentioned (based on Scriptural and scientific reasons), Mr. Simmons comments pose another serious problem for Darwinism:

“Flies found in amber that is estimated to be 225 million years old are the same as today’s flies. The giraffe, with its incredibly long neck, has not changed in two million years, and it has no shorter-neck predecessors among the fossils. Rodents also appeared suddenly in the fossil record. Fish arrived without preceding fish-like fossils. Insects showed up without any precedents. Thousands of new species, discovered at the Burgess Shale in Canada and at a counterpart in China, exploded on the scene during the Cambrian period (sometimes called the biological big bang) 540 million years ago. No predecessor fossils have ever been found for 99 percent of some quite large and weird-looking animals. The opabinia had five eyes; there were worms with thorny noses to snag prey; and we’ve even found evidence of crawling creatures with eyes on the ends of stalks. There are no new phyla since the Cambrian period. Most species, according to the fossil record, evolved very little, if at all, before becoming extinct; the life expectancy of a species of animal might have extended a hundred thousand generations or a few million years, yet each generation continued to look much like, if not identical to, the previous generations. Take the beetle. It has not changed in two million years. Or the bowfin fish, which has not changed in 100 million years. The lungfish has not changed in 350 million years. Herbert Nilsson of Lund University, Sweden, stated, “It is not even possible to make a caricature of evolution [Darwin’s gradualism] out of paleobiological facts. The fossil material is now so complete that the lack of transitional series cannot be explained by the scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled.” Or consider the words of paleontologist Steven Stanley: “The known fossil record is not, and never has been in accord with gradualism.” Or those of paleontologist David Raup: “Different species usually appear and disappear from the fossil record without showing the transitions that Darwin postulated.” Or those of biologist and curator of the American Museum of Natural History, Ernst Mayr: “With curious frequency it is even stated today that Darwin’s method was largely one of speculation and deduction.” Or those of Francis Hitching in The Neck of the Giraffe, who states that most scientists now discount the idea of the lungfish having evolved into an amphibian, based on its head structure and lack of true legs.” (Geoffrey Simmons M.D., What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects The Theory Of Evolution, 303-305 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

Genetics: Friend Or Foe? 

In describing how genetics cause even more of a huge catastrophe for the proponents of the theory of macroevolution, Simmons discusses the findings of modern day science:

“Stasis and extinction are the patterns seen in fossils. Freaks of nature are shunned, such as a zebra born without stripes. Animals will often kill different-looking or different-acting offspring even if they might grow up to be stronger or faster (but how would they know?). Once in every ten million cell divisions, a cell makes a copying mistake. The chance of the mistake passing into the next generation is one in two. The odds are six to one that it will disappear by the tenth generation and fifty to one that it will be gone by the hundredth generation.” (Geoffrey Simmons M.D., What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects The Theory Of Evolution,305 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

Yet someone may ask, “Mark, that is pretty incredible: but if the Earth really is billions of years old, wouldn’t that be enough time for these favorable generic changes to take place?”

I’m glad you asked. Let’s allow Dr. Simmons to answer:

“According to F.B. Livingston, it would take approximately 20,000 generations, or 400,000 years, for an advantageous gene to spread among the hominid populations of the Pleistocene Era. If we are descendants of the famous Lucy, the australopithecine skull found in Ethiopia in 1974 and thought to be three million years old, then there would have been time for only seven advantageous genes to have changed. That’s barely enough of a change to tell a difference, let alone make a monkey into a person. Some scientists think that one beneficial mutation happens per 20,000 mutations. Or reverse this: 19,999 out of 20,000 mutations are useless, dangerous, or quickly diluted out. To calculate the statistical chance of man’s DNA codes having so come about—correctly and by mere chance—multiply 6,000,000,000 by a number just short of infinity. Nesse and Williams estimate the likelihood of any gene being altered as one in a million per generation—and most often these changes are either lethal or lead to freaks…. According to Richard Milton, who wrote Shattering the Myths of Darwinism, the chances of forming protein and self-replicating DNA randomly are as likely as “winning the state lottery by finding the winning ticket in the street, and then continuing to win the lottery every week for a thousand years by finding the winning ticket in the street each time” (in other terms, one chance in 1065). (Geoffrey Simmons M.D., What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects The Theory Of Evolution, 305-307 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers)

The Bottom Line

After highlighting several other problems with the theory of evolution, Dr. Simmons concludes: 

“I am not a theologian, nor do I pretend to be. I’m merely a collector and analyzer of biological and medical facts. The data, as I see it, points directly to an Intelligent Designer, much like a car speaks for an automaker, a soufflé for a chef, and a play for a play-wright.” (Geoffrey Simmons M.D., What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects The Theory Of Evolution, 309 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers). 

So Then Why Do So Many Accept Science Fiction Over Science?

Perhaps you are wondering, “If the evidence is so strongly against the theory of evolution, then why do so many still believe in and advocate it?”  

I believe the words of Richard Lewontin provide the answer for that question.

In acknowledging some of the many nearly innumerable issues with Darwinism “science,” we are told why so many evolutionists still adhere to the theory: 

““Our willingness to accept scientific claims against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.   “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.   “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, FOR WE CANNOT ALLOW A DIVINE FOOT IN THE DOOR.” (Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review, p. 31, January 9, 1997-emphasis added, M.A.T.)

Are you saying that the reason why evolutionists continue to hold to this ridiculous theory is because of a bias against God?  

Absolutely!

And, there are other evolutionary scientists who have been as forthcoming about this as Lewiston:

“Writing in Nature as long ago as 1929, biologist D. M. S. Watson brazenly conceded, ‘The theory of evolution itself [is] a theory universally accepted, not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative is special creation, which is clearly incredible’113 (emphasis added). The palaeontologist L. T. More, of the University of Chicago, has said much the same thing: ‘Our faith in the idea of evolution depends upon our reluctance to accept the antagonistic doctrine of special creation.’114 So has the eminent British anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith: ‘Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it only because the alternative is special creation, which is unthinkable’115 (emphasis added).” (John Blanchard, Does God Believe In Atheists? 2383-2394 (Kindle Edition); Carlisle, PA; EP Books USA)  

So, let’s make sure we understand this.

Evolutionists know the problems of the theory of evolution.    

Evolutionists know the impossibilities of the theory of evolution.  

Evolutionists know the absurdities of the theory of evolution.  

Yet evolutionists continue to hold to this theory for one simple reason….because they DO NOT want to grant the possibility that GOD EXISTS.  

Now, here is a question that I have.  

Considering all of these facts, WHY is the theory of evolution allowed to be taught in public schools as TRUTH to children?  

This last question should give us all opportunity to pause and consider.

Conclusion

Friends, the verdict is clear: there is a God. His Word (in nature and in Scripture) have been authenticated through in numerous infallible proofs.

Why not turn to Him today for salvation?

Through the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, forgiveness for sins had been provided and intimate relationship with God is available (John 10:15-18; 17:).  

God has declared that believers in Jesus (John 8:24) who repent of their sins (Luke 13:3) and are baptized into Him (Romans 6:3-4) Upon a profession of faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10) will be saved (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and added by God Himself to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 1:3).  

God also offers forgiveness to Christians who have turned away from Him. In repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9), the erring child of God is restored to the Lord (Galatians 6:1; 1 John 2:1-2).

Why not obey Him today? 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

Original Sin?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of the prominent teachings of our day and age is that children are born as sinners.  

This teaching (largely borrowed from the Catholic Church) embodies the idea that humans are born as sinners as a direct result of the sins of Adam and Eve.  

Of course, Scripture is clear that children do not inherit the sins of their parents.

For example, Ezekiel the Prophet declared:

Ezekiel 18:20-The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

Later in his Book, Ezekiel discusses the king of Tyre. This wicked ruler is being compared to the downfall of another villain (possibly Satan himself).  

In the passage, we are told:

Ezekiel 28:15-You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you.

Please notice that the king of Tyre had been perfect and free from sin until he chose to rebel against God.  

Years later, the Apostle Paul wrote about the fact that before sin entered into his life, he was spiritually alive: 

Romans 7:9-I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

All of these facts go to demonstrate to us that children are not born as sinners.  

It is also interesting to notice that the earliest Christians did not subscribe to the idea that children are born as sinners. Consider these quotations from the early church writings: 

“They are as infant children, in whose hearts no evil originates. Nor did they know what wickedness is, but always remained as children.” (Hermas, 150; 2.53)  

“Who are they that have been saved and have received the inheritance? Those, doubtless, who believe God and who have continued in HIs love-as did Caleb of Jephuneh and Joshua of Nun-and innocent children, who have had no sense of evil.” (Irenaeus, 180; 1.502) 

“Behold, Christ takes infants and teaches how all should be like them, if they ever wish to be greater. However, (the Gnostics point out that) the Creator, in contrast, let loose bears against children, in order to avenge His prophet Elisha, who had been mocked by them. This antithesis is impudent enough, since it throws together things so different as ‘infants’ and ‘children.’ The first is an age that is still innocent. The other is one already capable of discretion (able to mock, if not to blaspheme). Therefore, God is a just God.” (Tertullian, 207; 3.386)   

“If you mean the (region in Hades of the) good, why should you judge the souls of infants and of virgins to be unworthy of such a resting place-those who by reason of their condition in life were pure and innocent?” (Tertullian, 210; 3.233)  

When Truth Hits Home

One of my favorite books is written by a former nun named Joanne Howe.  

In describing a conversation she had with a minister who was a member of the church of Christ, she explains her amazement at seeing how the Bible conflicts with Catholic teaching on this point: 

“Study began with Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve. This suggestion annoyed me. I had taught creation and the fall of man for years. I knew the story well and was aware of its theological teachings, I thought I knew all there was to know about sin and its consequences. How wrong I was! Paul asked for my definition of the word “sin.” Quoting from memory the Baltimore Catechism’s definition, I responded, “Sin is my willful thought, desire, word, action, or omission forbidden by the law of God. On account of Adam and Eve’s sin (which is called original sin), we, his descendants, come into the world deprived of sanctifying grace and inherit his punishments.”….Paul seemed confused by this lengthy explanation of sin, especially original sin. He then referred me to Ezekiel 18:20, where I read in the Catholic Bible: “Only the one who sins shall die. The son shall not be charged with the guilt of his father, nor shall the father be charged with the guilt of his son. The virtuous man’s virtue shall be his own, as the wicked man’s wickedness shall be his.” The words startled me, a conflict arose in my mind. I had always understood that every person enters this world with both sinful nature and inherited original sin. As a descendant of Adam, I not only was born a sinner, but was personally guilty and under condemnation before God. Before I read Ezekiel, I was unaware that I had not inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin or the guilt of my parents, but had inherited both the ability to learn good and evil. Turning to the New Testament, Paul asked me to read James 1:13-15: “No one who is tempted is free to say, ‘I am being tempted by God.’ Surely, God, who is beyond the grasp of evil, tempts no one. Rather, the tug and lure of his own passion tempts every man. Once passion has conceived it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begets death.” “Amazing!” I said to myself. Contrary to all I had learned and taught as a Roman Catholic nun, God’s Word told me that we must answer for our own sins, not for those of our forefathers. I concluded that Roman Catholic theologians were in error on that subject.” (Joanne Howe, A Change Of Habit: The Autobiography Of A Former Catholic Nun, 1530-1547 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company)

In studying the Word of God, Joanne learned about the terrible consequence that every sinner brings upon himself/herself: eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23).

As horrible as this news is, it pales in comparison to the gift that God freely offers through His Son Jesus Christ: eternal life!  

Because of Jesus’ death, burial, and Resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), sinners can be saved by the amazing grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Through repentance and baptism, believers are set free from the guilt and condemnation of sin and receive every spiritual blessing that can only be found in the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:3; Acts 2:37-38).

Josnne describes the joy of that day in these words: 

“October 4, 1972, will long be remembered as my day of liberation. I arose early that morning, anxious to begin the day with an hour of study in God’s Word and a brisk morning walk. Later, I would worship with New Testament Christians with whom I had been meeting on Sunday and Wednesday evenings….I felt angry that I had lived by man’s standards for perfection. My life had been spent attempting to keep the commandments perfectly but often failing! Jesus was the perfect sin-bearer before God and the only atonement for sins. I felt numb as the impact of the Scriptures sank in. I had never before grasped the meaning of the Bible’s truths! My worship was unacceptable before God. Scripture once again confirmed that my acts of penance, reparation, praying the rosary, and participations in religious devotions were totally unacceptable before God. I was convicted anew of my ignorance of God’s plan. Why? A passage I read in Ephesians 2:8 jolted my thinking. I said: “For by grace have you been saved through faith; this is not your own doing, it is God’s gift—not a reward for anything you have accomplished, so let no one pride himself on it.” That was a message of tremendous significance. Throughout my life I was taught and believed that when I was a baby God had sanctified my life with His grace in my spiritual birth at baptism and that grace increased with every worthy reception of one of the sacraments (communion, confession, and confirmation) and with every spiritual meritorious work I performed daily. I was now learning that all my righteousness was as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). God’s Word told me that I could not earn righteousness before Him; that works such as penance and supplication for sins would have no deeper roots than my own strength; and that if I continued to depend on works for security I would ultimately fail and inevitably lose eternal salvation. I was convinced that salvation could not be purchased by any religious or moral actions on my part. Salvation was a gift from God to me, and I was to accept it by faith, in accordance with the simple plan of salvation set forth in the Bible. In pursuit, I had finally learned God’s unerring truth in His Word! As the autumn wind blew rustling leaves about me, my conscience chilled. I had lived on the ragged edge of spiritual destruction, and the compunction to respond to God’s gift became overwhelming!…During the worship service that morning, my thoughts were exploding. I had trouble focusing on the preacher’s message. I wanted to shout to the world my realization of God’s love, my sorrow for unrepented sins, and my wish to become “born again.” My decision to put on Christ in baptism had been made during the early-morning walk. In a short time, it seemed that my whole life had passed before me, and I became fully aware that my questions had been answered. I will never forget the hymn that was sung as I moved slowly up the aisle to meet my Lord in baptism: There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that blood lose all their guilty stains. Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power . . . Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more. E’er since by faith I saw the stream, Thy flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die! My friend Paul reached out his hands to accept my surrender to God. Hugging me and drawing me close, he whispered, “Welcome home, Joanne.” Then, turning me to the assembled congregation, he said, “Most of you know Joanne and the struggles and challenges she has faced in making her life-changing decision. I never fail to stand in awe and wonderment of God’s grace. Today, Joanne has come forward to be buried with her Lord in Baptism. Would several of the ladies accompany her to prepare her for this glorious occasion?” Assisting me with preparation for the baptism was Helen Pearson and Lydia Holby, two of the women who had befriended me during that long and wearisome journey. I thought, “What if someone had not shared with me the simple truth of the Gospel?” The message of redemption was so simple, yet so deeply moving and convicting. Its powerful words had brought me to the fountain of life—Jesus! Standing in front of the congregation in the baptismal water, clothed in a robe of white, I confessed openly my belief in Jesus, and my desire to be born again. Following the example in I Timothy 6:12, and as the Ethiopian nobleman did in Acts 8:27, I died to my past with Christ and was buried with Him in the water of baptism to arise as a new creature (Romans 6:2-4). After all the public and private presentations I had made in teaching others about religious convictions and consecration, this surrender climaxed my complete dedication to God, to whom I had made a commitment at the tender age of six. Baptism into Christ (Galatians 3:27) was the transition between my old life and the new in Jesus. Baptism is the only way the Bible teaches that anyone can get “into Christ.” Faith had started the salvation process, but the power of the Word of God had changed my thinking and purpose in life. I felt so unworthy, for it was only by God’s grace that I was being saved. Believing in His promises, I was immersed in the water of Baptism. Now justified before my God (Romans 5:9), I had the seal of God’s covenant (Acts 2:38, Hebrews 9:15-17, and Hebrews 8:8). Cleansed of all past sins (I John 1:9), I would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:16-21), and would be admitted into the citizenship of Heaven when I died (Hebrews 10:19). God had broken my will; through the power of the Gospel I was now a New Testament Christian according to God’s plan for salvation. Amid hugs and smiles of congratulations, and amid my own tears, I recognized that this overwhelming joy and contentment were greater than any cost I could possibly pay. An enormous burden had been lifted from my heart—the load of sin!” (Joanne Howe, A Change Of Habit: The Autobiography Of A Former Catholic Nun, 1796-1874 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company) 

Why not follow Joanne’s example today (Acts 2:41)? 

Or if you are a Christian who has left the Lord through sin, why not repent and come back to Him through repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

The Work Of The Holy Spirit: Part Two Deity Of The Spirit

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

In our last article in this series, we noticed that the Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person. He is not an “it,” or or impersonal force, as some people maintain.  

In this article, we will notice that the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is Deity (I.e., God), but that He is a separate Person from God the Father and God the Son.

Let’s start by noticing that Jesus Christ clearly lists the Holy Spirit as Divine, a net yet separate from God the Father and from Himself. The Apostle John recounts the words of the Savior: 

John 14:16-17-And I will pray the Father, and He will give you ANOTHER Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Please notice that word “another.” It is from a very interesting word in the Greek New Testament, allos, and has a very important connotation. W.E. Vine explains it eloquently: 

“allos (243), and heteros (2087) have a difference in meaning, which despite a tendency to be lost, is to be observed in numerous passages. Allos expresses a NUMERICAL DIFFERENCE and denotes “ANOTHER OF THE SAME SORT”; heteros expresses a qualitative difference and denotes “another of a different sort.” Christ promised to send “another Comforter” ( allos , “another like Himself,” not heteros ), John 14:16 . Paul says “I see a different (KJV, “another”) law,” heteros , a law different from that of the spirit of life (not allos , “a law of the same sort”), Rom. 7:23 . After Joseph’s death “another king arose,” heteros , one of quite a different character, Acts 7:18 . Paul speaks of “a different gospel ( heteros ), which is not another” ( allos , another like the one he preached), Gal. 1:6–7 . See heteros (not allos ) in Matt. 11:3 , and Acts 27:1 ; in Luke 23:32 heteroi is used of the two malefactors crucified with Christ. The two words are only apparently interchanged in 1 Cor. 1:16 and 6:1 ; 12:8–10 ; 14:17 and 19 , e.g., the difference being present, though not so readily discernible. They are not interchangeable in 1 Cor. 15:39–41 ; here heteros is used to distinguish the heavenly glory from the earthly, for these differ in genus, and allos to distinguish the flesh of men, birds, and fishes, which in each case is flesh differing not in genus but in species. Allos is used again to distinguish between the glories of the heavenly bodies, for these also differ not in kind but in degree only.” (W.E. Vine with F.F. Bruce, W.E. Vine’s New Testament Word Pictures: A Commentary Drawn From The Original Languages-Matthew To Acts-Every Verse Explained, 42525-42538 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers). 

By using this word, Jesus was therefore telling us two important facts about the Holy Spirit.  

First, the Holy Spirit is of the same Nature as God. The Spirt is not a little god, nor is He some kind of demi-god as some religious groups teach and emphasize. Instead, He is fully God. This is demonstrated in many other ways throughout the Bible. For example, when the Apostle Peter confronted the wicked Ananias and Sapphira in the fifth chapter of the Book of Acts, we see this interesting interchange of words: 

Acts 5:3-4-But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

Please notice that in this passage, trying to lie to the Holy Spirit is the same as trying to lie to God. In other words, the Holy Spirit is God. Peter is laying claim to the same fact that Jesus did when He referred to the Holy Spirit as “another” (allos) Helper (John 14:16-17). We muse see that the Holy Spirit is God. 

Second, while the word allos shows us that the Spirit is God, it also shows us that the Spirit is a separate Person from God the Father and God the Son. The testimony of Scripture has always been that God is three Persons in one Godhead. For example, the Prophet Isaiah tells us: 

Isaiah 48:16-Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”

The one who is speaking (e.g., the One Whom has been sent) is identified as the First and the Last (Isaiah 48:12), and the one Who made the Heavens and the Earth (Isaiah 48:13), both clear references to Jesus Christ (cf. Revelation 1:8; Colossians 1:16-17; John 1:1-5). Please notice that then there is a reference to the fact that it was the Lord God (the Father) and His Spirit (the Holy Spirit) Who sent Jesus. Here, hidden in the Old Testament for all to see, is a clear reference to the Holy Trinity; and from this we see a clear indicator that the Spirit is God, yet separate from God the Father and God the Son.  

We see other clear indicators of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all through the Bible. For example, at the baptism of Jesus, we have the Father speaking from Heaven and the Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:13-17). In His discourse with the Apostle, Jesus makes continual references to the Himself and the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 14:19-31; 15:26-27; 16:5-7; 13-15). In His Great Commission, Jesus commanded that disciples be baptized in the name of (I.e., by the authority of-Acts 4:7) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28;19). We read the Apostle Paul praying to the Godhead for the Corinthians, that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit” be with them (2 Corinthians 13:14). Several times in the Book of Revelation, we see reference to all three Persons of the Godhead. For example: 

Revelation 1:4-5-John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from HIM WHO IS AND WHO WAS AND WHO IS TO COME, and from the SEVEN SPIRITS (the Holy Spirit, cf. Isaiah 11:1-2, M.T.) who are before His throne, 5 and from JESUS CHRIST, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,

Revelation 2:7-He who has an ear, let him hear what THE SPIRIT says to the churches. To him who overcomes I (JESUS) will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise OF GOD.”  

Revelation 5:6-7-And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a LAMB as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the SEVEN SPIRITS of God sent out into all the earth. 7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of HIM WHO SAT ON THE THRONE.  

Truly, the Bible teaches us in many different ways-in both literal and symbolic language-that the Holy Spirit is God, yet is a separate Person from God the Father and God the Son.  

This Holy Spirit is in full relationship with God the Father and with God the Son, and they invite you and I to join into that fellowship. Friend, that is what the entire Gospel message is about! Even though we can never earn forgiveness for our sins by our good works of merit (Ephesians 2:8-9), the Godhead has made it possible for you and I to be saved. Through the atoning death of Jesus Christ at Calvary, His burial, and Resurrection on the third day, we can find forgiveness (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). The Lord invites all disciples who hear His Word (John 6:44-45) to believe in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), repent of their sins (Luke 13:3), confess Him before men (Acts 8:37), and be baptized into Him to receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

Will you not accept His gracious invitation today? If you have entered into fellowship with Him through baptism (Romans 6:3-4), and have wandered away from Him through sin (1 John 1:8), why not today repent and confess your sins to Him to be forgiven and restored (1 John 1:9-2:2)?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.  

The Work Of The Holy Spirit: Part One Who Is The Holy Spirit?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Among Christians, there is a great deal of confusion about the Holy Spirit. In this article, we are going to begin carefully studying about the Holy Spirit to better understand Him and His work. Of course, as we begin this study, we must remember that the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:1-3), and so we will not every fully comprehend Him. Nevertheless, while the secret things belong to the Lord, the things which He has revealed belong to us (Deuteronomy 29:29). Let us turn our attention to the Word of the Spirit.  

In this article, we will notice that the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person. Indeed, several passages of Scripture teach us that the Spirit is a Person in that He possesses all of the basic attributes of a Person. For example, notice the following characteristics of the Holy Spirit: 

The Spirit Knows (1 Corinthians 2:11) 

The Spirit Speaks (Acts 8:29; 10:19-20; 11:12; 13:2; 1 Timothy 4:1)

The Spirit Can Be Grieved (Ephesians 4:30)

The Spirit Wills (1 Corinthians 12:11)

The Spirit Loves (Romans 15:30)

The Spirit Can Be Resisted (Acts 7:51)

The Spirit Groans (Romans 8:26)

The Spirit Testifies (John 15:26)

The Spirit Guides (John 16:13)

The Spirit Searches (1 Corinthians 2:10)

The Spirit Leads (Acts 16:6-7)

The Spirit Forbids (Acts 16:6-7) 

The Spirit Teaches (John 14:26)

Someone might ask the question, “Mark, if the Spirit is a Person, why does the Bible sometimes refer to Him as an “It?”  

There are, indeed, passages where the Holy Spirit is referred to in the neuter gender (cf. Romans 8:16, KJV). However, what many fail to realize is that the reason for this is because of the Greek language in which the New Testament is written. Consider the following: 

“What about the neuter nouns and pronouns used of the Holy Spirit? When it comes to discussing masculine, feminine, and neuter words in Greek, we are entering a realm that many people would probably prefer to avoid. However, because the Jehovah’s Witnesses enter this realm to argue against the Holy Spirit’s personality, we must take a brief look at how we should respond. Let us begin by noting that in the Greek language, all nouns are one of three genders—masculine, feminine, or neuter. These genders are not indicators of sex. In The Elements of New Testament Greek, J.W. Wenham notes that “in Greek, gender has to do with the form of the words and has little to do with sex. There are masculine, feminine, and neuter forms, but ‘bread’ [in the Greek] is masculine, ‘head’ is feminine, and ‘child’ is neuter.” 47 Thus, simply because a term is grammatically masculine does not mean that it is actually masculine in gender. Simply because a term is grammatically feminine does not mean that it is feminine in gender. And simply because a term is grammatically neuter does not mean that the item is an “it.” One reason the Jehovah’s Witnesses say the Holy Spirit is an “active force” is that the Greek word for “Spirit” (pneuma) is neuter. However, as noted above, this is faulty reasoning, since the neuter gender of the word has to do with the grammatical form of the word and not actual physical gender. For example, one will find that in Scripture, neuter terms are used in reference to infants (Luke 1:41,44; 2:16; 18:15), children (Mark 5:39-41), girls (Matthew 9:24-25; Mark 5:41-42), unclean spirits (Matthew 12:24,27-28; Mark 7:26,29-30), and angels (Hebrews 1:14). Obviously, each of these beings have personality, even though a neuter term is used in reference to them. We can safely conclude, then, that the use of a neuter term does not indicate a lack of personality.” (Ron Rhodes, Reasoning From The Scriptures With The Jehovah’s Witnesses, 212-213 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Harvest House Publishers) 

We should also recognize that while the Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit is a Person, it uses both masculine and feminine forms to refer to Him. We must remember that literally, God is neither male nor female; instead, both male and female genders help us to better understand different characteristics of His Being.

“”First, we have to understand that the God of the Bible, though called our heavenly Father, has no gender-He has no genitalia, no X or Y chromosomes. God is spirit (see John 4:24), and the mystery of His Person goes way beyond anything thing we humans can imagine. It is in that sense-in terms of His spiritual nature-that the Bible describes us as created “in his image” (Genesis 1:27). He is the Person from whom our “personness” is derived, both male and female. That’s not to say we should describe Him as androgynous. God created male and female genders; they don’t define Him. He created us “male and female” for a number of reasons, one of which was to express in the created universe some diverse elements that reflect His own character. So even while the Bible most often refers to God by masculine names and pronouns (such as “Father” and “he”), sometimes he is compared to a mother holding a newborn or to a hen guarding ing her chicks (see Matthew 23:37; Isaiah 49:15). (James Garlow & Peter Jones, Cracking Da Vinci’s Code, 180-187 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, Co; David@Cook)

Throughout Scripture, God reminded the people not to create idols of Him as pertaining to male and female since they witnessed firsthand that He has no such distinguishing characteristics (Deuteronomy 4:15-18). Literally, the Spirit is neither male nor female (Numbers 23;19; Hosea 11:9); yet metaphorically, He reveals Himself to us as both male (Psalm 103:11-14; Luke 15:11-32) and female (Psalm 123:2; 131:2; Isaiah 42;14; 66:12-13; Hosea 13:8; Matthew 23:37) at times.  

The Personhood of the Holy Spirit is clearly revealed throughout the Scriptures. Indeed, He has revealed to us through the Word that the entire Godhead desires all of mankind to be saved (Ezekiel 18:23). God loves you so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This belief is a knowledge of God’s Word coupled with both trust in in and obedience (cf. Romans 10:17; James 2:14-26). Will you not today accept the Good News that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and arose again the third day from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)? Will you not, as a believer, repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess your faith in Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:12), and be baptized into Him to have your sins washed away (Acts 22:16)? if you are a child of God who has left the Lord, won’t you please return to Him today in repentance and prayer (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?  

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.