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The Argument For The Deity Of Jesus Christ

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

As New Testament Christians, our faith is dependent upon the identity of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the foundation of the church of Christ (Matthew 16:13-18; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20-22).  

In this article, we are going to carefully examine and explicate the basic argument which shows that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 

The Argument Stated

Let’s carefully notice the the argument that we will be studying: 

If the New Testament Scriptures are genuine and credible, and if they teach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  

The New Testament Scriptures are genuine and credible, and they teach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  

Therefore, Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Clearly Defining Our Terms

By “the New Testament Scriptures,” reference is made to the twenty-seven Books which have been inspired of God and have been handed down to the church from the time of their writing by the Apostles of Jesus and their companions, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, as also the evidences which they provided clearly demonstrate and prove (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:1-4).  

By “genuine,” I am referring to the fact that the New Testament Scriptures are indeed written by their traditionally accredited authors, the Apostles and Prophets of Christ, and their close companions. Hence, the Gospels and New Testament Epistles are not anonymous documents, nor are they from an era postdating the first century A.D.

By “credible,” we are discussing the fact that the New Testament Scriptures are true in their reporting, in that their writings are historically objective and authentic. Their authors are not guilty of lying or of false reporting; but these Books are instead trustworthy in the historical details which they set forth and narrate.  

By “Son of God,” we are asserting that the New Testament Scriptures teach (through direct statement, approved example, and necessary inference) that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed, Deity, the Second Person of the Godhead, also known as the Son of God. Due to the confusion of the phrase “Son of God,” in our modern religious context, the following linguistic comments are quite helpful: 

“Perhaps no name or title of Christ has been so misunderstood as the title Son of God.[ 22] Some have taken this term to mean that Christ came into existence at a point in time and that he is in some way inferior to the Father. Some believe that since Christ is the Son of God, he cannot possibly be God in the same sense as the Father. Such an understanding is based on a faulty conception of what “Son of…” meant among the ancients. Though the term can refer to “offspring of” in some contexts, it carries the more important meaning, “of the order of.”[ 23] The phrase is often used this way in the Old Testament. For example, “sons of the prophets” meant “of the order of prophets” (1 Kings 20: 35). “Sons of the singers” meant “of the order of singers” (Neh. 12: 28). Likewise, the phrase “Son of God” means “of the order of God,” and represents a claim to undiminished deity. Ancient Semitics and Orientals used the phrase “Son of…” to indicate likeness or sameness of nature and equality of being.[ 24] Hence, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, his Jewish contemporaries fully understood that he was making a claim to be God in an unqualified sense.” (Ron Rhodes, Christ Before The Manger: The Life And Times Of The Preincarnate Christ, 446-459 (Kindle Edition)) 

Having  defined our proposition, let us now turn our attention to a careful investigation of these matters.  

Are The New Testament Scriptures Genuine?

Many in our modern day overly skeptical world have been taught that the New Testament Scriptures (especially the canonical Gospels) are anonymous forgeries, perhaps written by religious zealots in the second or third century A.D. (long after the time of Jesus Christ). It is further claimed that these Books are therefore unreliable in anything which they teach about Jesus, and that because of their alleged uncertain authorship, these Books cannot be trusted in the slightest.  

However, the facts themselves demonstrate clearly that the New Testament Scriptures are not anonymous forgeries, but were written by their traditionally ascribed authors. Matthew and John were Apostles of Christ, while Mark was a close companion of the Apostle Peter and Luke a confidant of the Apostle Paul.  

Let’s start by noticing what the Gospels themselves claim. Far from being anonymous, the Gospels clearly identify themselves as being the work of their respective authors!

“The first and perhaps biggest problem for the theory of the anonymous Gospels is this: no anonymous copies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John have ever been found. They do not exist. …Instead, as New Testament scholar Simon Gathercole has demonstrated, the ancient manuscripts are unanimous in attributing these books to the apostles and their companions…When it comes to the titles of the Gospels, not only the earliest and best manuscripts, but all of the ancient manuscripts without exception, in every language— attribute the four Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John….Second, notice that there is some variation in the form of the titles (for example, some of the later manuscripts omit the word “Gospel”). However, as New Testament scholar Michael Bird notes, there is “absolute uniformity” in the authors to whom each of the books is attributed….In fact, it is precisely the familiar names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that are found in every single manuscript we possess!…Third— and this is important— notice also that the titles are present in the most ancient copies of each Gospel we possess, including the earliest fragments, known as papyri (from the papyrus leaves of which they were made). For example, the earliest Greek manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew contains the title “The Gospel according to Matthew” (Greek euangelion kata Matthaion ) (Papyrus 4). Likewise, the oldest Greek copy of the beginning of the Gospel of Mark starts with the title “The Gospel according to Mark” (Greek euangelion kata Markon )…In short, the earliest and best copies of the four Gospels are unanimously attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is absolutely no manuscript evidence— and thus no actual historical evidence— to support the claim that “originally” the Gospels had no titles.” (Brant Pitre, The Case For The Real Jesus: The Biblical And Historical Evidence For Christ, 17-19 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY: Image, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House).  

Another evidence of genuineness which is also worth noting comes from the early Christians: disciples of Christ who carefully studied the matters of Apostolic authorship very carefully. They continually affirmed the genuineness of the New Testament Scriptures from the earliest of times. For example, please consider the following quotations from some of the early Christians:

“It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds. Now, the church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the church is the Gospel. Therefore, it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and renewing men afresh.” (Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.428)

“I say, therefore, that in those [apostolic] churches, the Gospel of Luke that we are defending with all our might has stood its ground from its very first publication. And it has stood its ground not simply in those churches that were founded by apostles, but in all the churches that are united with them in the fellowship of the mystery of the gospel of Christ. . . . The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford defense of the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage. I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew—while that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s, whose interpreter Mark was. For men usually ascribe Luke’s form of the Gospel to Paul.” (Tertullian (c. 207, W), 3.350.)

“Concerning the four Gospels which alone are uncontroverted in the church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the Gospel according to Matthew (who was at one time a tax collector and afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ) was written first. He composed it in the Hebrew tongue and published it for the converts from Judaism. The second one written was that according to Mark, who wrote it according to the instruction of Peter. For Peter, in his general epistles, acknowledged Mark as a son, saying, “The church that is in Babylon, elect together with you, salutes you. And so does Mark, my son.” And third, was the one according to Luke, which he composed for the converts from the Gentiles. This is the Gospel commended by Paul. Last of all, there is the one according to John.” (Origen (c. 245, E), 9.412.)

Commenting on some of the quotations from the early Christian writings, Kruger has observed:

“The question we have been asking in this chapter is a simple one. At what point did Christians consider their own books to be “Scripture”? Was this a late- second- century phenomenon largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, as some scholars suggest? The historical evidence surveyed here suggests a very different picture than the one that is typically presented. Not only do others in Irenaeus’s own time period already receive many of the New Testament books as Scripture (for example, Muratorian Fragment, Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus of Antioch), but this trend can be traced even further back into the second century. Justin Martyr appears to know the four canonical Gospels and indicates that they were used as Scripture in worship alongside the Old Testament during his day. In addition, Papias, Barnabas , Ignatius, Polycarp, 1 Clement , 2 Peter, and 1 Timothy also seem to regard a number of Christian writings as Scripture. They often refer to them expressly as “Scripture” (sometimes introducing them with “it is written”) or regard them as possessing apostolic authority— which, functionally, would be on par with the authority of Scripture. While the boundaries of the church’s Scriptures during this early time were still fairly fluid (and would not be resolved for centuries), there seems to be little doubt that the church did, in fact, have Scriptures…One should also not forget that the evidence above is not just from a single church father, but from a variety of sources spread over a number of different regions. While any individual piece of evidence might be contested or questioned, it is the extent of the evidence that proves to be the compelling factor. If we are correct that Christians began to view their books as Scripture much earlier than Irenaeus— perhaps even by the turn of the century— then this provides noteworthy confirmation of the arguments we have been making throughout this volume. We have argued that canon was not a late ecclesiastical development but was something that would have grown naturally and innately out of the earliest Christian movement. Moreover, we argued that even the authors of the New Testament appeared to have some awareness that they were writing Scripture. All of these factors together serve to challenge the “big bang” theory of canon that argues that the canon was forcibly planted within the soil of the church by later ecclesiastical powers (whether Irenaeus or others) who were keen to refute the heresies of their day. Instead, the evidence we have seen here suggests the canon began more like a seed that was present in the soil of the church from the very beginning, growing gradually and consistently over time.” (Michael J. Kruger, The Question Of Canon: Challenging The Status Quo In The New Testament Debate, 202-203 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVaristy Press)  

All of the evidence thus far demonstrates the genuineness of the New Testament Scriptures.  

However, please notice one final proof of the genuineness of the New Testament : the testimony of the earliest enemies and adversaries of the church!   

“Infidel writers of the first four centuries also wrote favoring our authors. The Emperor Julian, known as “the apostate,” wrote in 361 a work against Christianity; but he nowhere expressed a doubt as to either the books of Christians or their authors. It is almost certain that had occasion admitted of it, he would have challenged the genuineness of the books. Porphyry, universally conceded to have been the most formidable opponent to Christianity, wrote in 270, and spoke of Matthew as “their evangelist.” In 176, Celsus, esteemed by modern infidels as a wonderful philosopher, wrote a book against Christianity entitled A True Discourse, of which Origen has preserved fragments. But so unlike was he to his modern infidel brethren that he admitted the existence of the Christian or New Testament writings, and their genuineness…Whatever the reason, it must be apparent to every unprejudiced mind that earnest seekers after truth, who ignore such testimony accessible to the average scholar, are inexcusably guilty of trifling with indisputable evidence which would be convincing in any civil court. Such testimony has been provided in abundance by the friends and foes of the lowly Nazarene- our Lord in glory- and it proves that these”…holy men of God,” to whom their writings were assigned, “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).”” (James Todd, quoted by W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words, 167-168,; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company)  

Everest sheds more light on these fascinating topics: 

“All the early adversaries of Christianity granted the genuineness of the New Testament books. These adversaries were men of talent and learning. By worldly interests and intense hatred of Christianity they were urged to use against it every possible weapon. The fact that they did not show its sacred books to be spurious is proof that they were not able to do so….”Testimony of Julian. The Emperor Julian composed his work against Christianity in 361. He united talent, learning, power, and persecuting zeal. If anything could have been said against the genuineness of the New Testament he would have been eager to make his attack from this side, but he did not. He bore witness to the genuineness of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. He concedes their early date and quotes them as the genuine works of their reputed authors. He quotes Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians. His whole attack assumes the genuineness and credibility of the New Testament…”2. Testimony of Hierocles. In 303 he was president of Bithynia; a cruel persecutor, and a sarcastic writer. He concedes the genuineness, and confines his efforts to the hunting up of internal flaws and contradictions. He refers to six of the eight authors of the New Testament. 3. Testimony of Porphyry. He was the most severe and formidable adversary of the primitive church…”He wrote about 270. He was well acquainted with the New Testament. He has plain references to Matthew, Mark, John, Acts, and Galatians. There is no trace of a suspicion that the sacred books were spurious. That he would have made this point, if possible, is evident from the fact that he did attack the book of Daniel in this manner…4. “Testimony of Celsus. He flourished about 176, and about 76 years after the death of the Apostle John. What we know about his work entitled ‘The True Word’ has been preserved by Origen. More than eighty quotations, made by him from the New Testament, have been thus preserved. His whole argument proceeds upon the concessions that the books he quoted were in existence, were held in high esteem by the churches, and were genuine. Thus by a plain and independent path we can trace the New Testament back to the Apostolic Age. It is also a remarkable fact that these bitter enemies are made to bear this unwilling, but decisive, testimony.” Harvey W. Everest, The Divine Demonstration: A Textbook Of Christian Evidence, 54-55; Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company)  

When the evidence is carefully weighed, we see that the New Testament Scriptures are, indeed, genuine.  

Are The New Testament Scriptures Credible?

Now, we must examine whether or not the Apostles of Christ and their companions were accurate in the histories which they recorded.  

One of the first evidences of the credibility of these Books is found in the early dates of their writings. While many teach that the Books of the New Testament were written late in the first century, the facts show that they were actually written very early on in the first century.  

What kind of evidences are we talking about?

Let’s first consider this unpopular and oft criticized detail: there have been manuscripts of the New Testament Scriptures found among the well-known Dead Sea Scrolls! Cooper tells us:

“The caves at Qumran are famous for the hoard of Old Testament and other manuscripts that have been found there. But the thing which receives the least publicity (if any publicity at all) is the fact that the caves have also yielded fragments of New Testament books. This absence of publicity – this blanket denial of their identity is not to be wondered at. The fact of the matter is this, that these manuscripts were deposited in the caves at Qumran by the year AD 68 at the very latest, when Qumran and the surrounding area was overrun by the Roman 10th Legion, and according to the critics, the New Testament – especially the Gospels – had not yet been written by that time…Cave 4 at Qumran is of some interest to us here. In that cave was discovered a particular fragment known today as 4QAlpha. Though not actually a fragment of Mark’s Gospel – it was originally thought to be a medical text it does reflect the healing miracle of the blind man recorded in Mark 8:22- 26, and moreover contains the New Testament names of Caiaphas, Peter (the first time that this name has been found in an Hebrew/Aramaic document), and Aquila…Fragments of various New Testament books were themselves found in the caves of Qumran, most notably in Cave 7. One that is of particular interest is called 7Q5, and carries nothing less than a passage from Mark 6:52- 53. 3…identifying other fragments from Cave 7 as parts of the New Testament, especially fragment 7Q4 which contains 1 Timothy 3:16- 4:3….The discoveries in Cave 7 at Qumran – and the commendable diligence of O’Callaghan who identified them – proves that what the critics have been teaching all these years is wrong, misinformed and mistaken on all levels. Archaeology has never spoken plainer than it speaks right now. Copies of the New Testament books of Mark, 1 Timothy, James, Acts, Romans and 2 Peter (at least) were all in circulation by AD 68 at the very latest, and clearly years before. But what is more, they were in circulation internationally and not just locally amongst Christian groups or churches….We spoke earlier of the lack of publicity which surrounds the discovery of New Testament books – or rather their fragments – at Qumran, and their omission is pointedly displayed by Emanuel Tov, who has issued a ‘complete’ list of all the Biblical texts discovered in the Qumran caves. 22 It is indeed a prodigious and comprehensive list, except that when it comes to Cave 7 he omits all reference to the New Testament fragments which were discovered there….As we have seen, represented amongst these ‘unclassified’ fragments are the New Testament books of 1 Timothy (7Q4); Mark’s Gospel (7Q5) (7Q6, 1) (7Q7) (7Q15); James (7Q8); Acts (7Q6); Romans (7Q9); and 2 Peter (7Q10). How these can all be omitted from a list which claims to be ‘complete’ is something to be wondered at. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The New Testament: part One-The Gospels, 300-470 (Kindle Edition))

Speaking of these facts, Geisler has written: 

“Jose *O’Callahan, a Spanish Jesuit paleographer, made headlines around the world in 1972 when he announced that he had translated a piece of the Gospel of Mark on a DSS fragment. This was the earliest known piece of Mark. Fragments from cave 7 had previously been dated between 50B.C. and A.D. 50 and listed under “not identified” and classified as “Biblical Texts.” O’Callahan eventually identified nine fragments….A date beforeA.D. 50 leaves no time for mythological embellishment of the records. They would have to be accepted as historical. It would also show Mark to be one of the earlier Gospels. Further, since these manuscripts are not originals but copies, it would reveal that the New Testament was “published”—copied and disseminated—during the life time of the writers. Itwould also reveal the existence of the New Testament canon during this early period, with pieces representing every major section of the New Testament: Gospels, Acts, and both Pauline and General Epistles.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 188 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

Friends, the evidence is clear that the New Testament Scriptures started to be written at a very early date, well in the Eyewitness period. This is especially interesting when we consider the history of the Magdalene Papyrus (also known in some circles as the Jesus Papyrus): 

“The Magdalen Papyrus includes three fragments which contain a total of 24 lines, written on both sides in the format of a codex rather than a scroll….In 1995, however, German archeologist and professor of New Testament history Carsten Peter Thiede argued that the Magdalen fragments were older than previously thought. [59] Yes, they were written as a codex rather than a scroll, he said, but that didn’t justify a younger date. He made a case they were written in the first century, during the actual lifetime of the apostles. Thiede had been examining the Magdalen fragments while they were in the custodianship of the Oxford library. He used a new scanning laser microscope to measure the height and length of the ink and even the angle of the stylus the scribe had used. Thiede did a paleographic comparison of the Magdalen fragments with four other first century manuscripts dated A.D. 58 from Qumran, ca A.D. 79 from Herculaneum, A.D. 73-74 from Masada and A.D. 65-66 from Oxyrhynchus. Thiede concluded from careful comparison of the letter shapes that P64 had been wrongly dated too late and was more likely written in the first century. If Thiede is correct, then P64 was copied while Matthew and the other eyewitnesses were still alive….These ancient fragments of the New Testament are one of the many pieces of evidence we have that the Gospels and epistles were written very early, by the apostles themselves, and certainly not by drunk monks in the Middle Ages.” (Chuck Missler, How We Got Our Bible, 1051-1080 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House) 

Well, how early into the first century was the Magdalene Papyrus written? Cooper has well written: 

“Our attention is drawn to the work of Dr Carsten Thiede, and his book, The Jesus Papyrus (see Bibliography). Suffice it here to say that a thorough and scientific analysis undertaken by Dr Thiede of the Gospel fragments known to scholars as the Magdalen Papyrus (named after Magdalen College Oxford, where it is kept), dates this particular copy of Matthew’s Gospel to times so close to the Resurrection, that it could easily have been copied or read by an eyewitness of our Lord’s entire ministry. To be brief, the Magdalen Papyrus was copied out between the mid-40s and AD 50. But we must also bear in mind that this particular papyrus was itself but a copy of an even earlier original, though by how many removes we cannot know.” (Bill Cooper, Old Light On The Roman Church: A Consideration In Four Parts Of Certain Neglected Areas Of Church History, 599-605 (Kindle Edition))

Astonishing!  

Many have, sadly, been weaned on the notion that the New Testament was not written and known for centuries after the time of Christ, when a council of the Roman Catholic church (allegedly) declared some of the books “inspired.”  

Yet if this is true, how is it that the Apostle Paul refers to the Books of Luke and Matthew as “Scripture” (1 Timothy 5:18; Luke 10:7; Matthew 10:10)? Furthermore, if the Apostles did not know that their writings were inspired Scripture, why does the Apostle Peter refer to the writings of Paul as such (2 Peter 3:14-6)?

Also, the Apostles clearly establish in other words the authoritative nature of their writings (1 Corinthians 14:17; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:13).  

The early Christians were very familiar with the New Testament Scriptures, and their authority: 

“Here’s another astonishing fact: the early Church fathers—Origen, Clement, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Polycarp, etc.—prolifically cited the New Testament in their writings. Just a few of the early fathers alone account for 36,000 New Testament citations, but the number of such citations from all the Church fathers exceeds one million. “So extensive are these citations,” say Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, “that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.” 71 And as Sir Fredric Kenyon observes, “The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other book in the ancient world.”” (David Limbaugh, Jesus On Trial: A Lawyer Affirms The Truth Of The Gospel, 4060-4066 (Kindle Edition); Washington, DC; Regnery Publishing) 

In discussing the interesting development of the New Testament canon, another researcher has clearly pointed out that from the earliest times, the Books of the New Testament were well-known to the early church: 

“The question we have been asking in this chapter is a simple one. At what point did Christians consider their own books to be “Scripture”? Was this a late-second-century phenomenon largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, as some scholars suggest? The historical evidence surveyed here suggests a very different picture than the one that is typically presented. Not only do others in Irenaeus’s own time period already receive many of the New Testament books as Scripture (for example, Muratorian Fragment, Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus of Antioch), but this trend can be traced even further back into the second century. Justin Martyr appears to know the four canonical Gospels and indicates that they were used as Scripture in worship alongside the Old Testament during his day. In addition, Papias, Barnabas , Ignatius, Polycarp, 1 Clement , 2 Peter, and 1 Timothy also seem to regard a number of Christian writings as Scripture. They often refer to them expressly as “Scripture” (sometimes introducing them with “it is written”) or regard them as possessing apostolic authority—which, functionally, would be on par with the authority of Scripture. While the boundaries of the church’s Scriptures during this early time were still fairly fluid (and would not be resolved for centuries), there seems to be little doubt that the church did, in fact, have Scriptures.” (Michael J. Kruger, The Question Of Canon: Challenging The Status Quo In The New Testament Debate, 195 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)

Now, why does the early writing of the New Testament Scriptures argue for the credibility of these Books and what they report?  

First, the events which had taken place during the life of Christ would have been fresh and easily recalled within the minds of Christ’s Apostles.  

Second, the early writing of these events would have been well within the lifetimes of the eyewitness period. Why would this matter? Simply stated, if the writers of the New Testament had been guilty of editing the facts about Jesus (or “fudging the facts,” as we might say), they would have been immediately exposed as frauds and Christianity would have died in its infancy. However, that is not what you see happening! Instead, the facts show that the enemies of Christianity freely acknowledged the basic facts put forward by the Apostles of Christ, yet simply refused to accept the theological implications of these important matters.

The early writing of the New Testament Books (especially the Gospels) is a strong evidence in favor of the credibility of these Scriptures.  

Another important factor which argues for the credibility of the New Testament Scriptures is the fact that the Apostles often appealed to the testimony of clearly hostile witnesses in promoting their defense of the Gospel.  

In discussing especially how some ancient pagan Roman documents confirm the credibility of Christ, Bill Cooper has well written: 

“The chances of a local rumour doing the rounds in Jerusalem reaching the emperor’s ears back in Rome are extremely slight. To reach the emperor at all, the rumour would have to hitch a ride to Rome on the back of an official communication, and there is good evidence indeed that just such a communication was sent from Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius about the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord. While that is not something that the critics would like to hear, it is important enough for us to consider just what this evidence is. We need firstly to bear in mind the fact that such a communication – an update on events in the province of Judaea – would be nothing extraordinary. Such communications were an expected and everyday occurrence, and woe betide the governor who neglected to send them. At the least, dereliction, treasonous thoughts or sabotage would be suspected. Nevertheless, this report must have been something special, because it seems to have had a profound effect on Tiberius himself who received it, Tiberius putting a motion to the Senate to have this Jesus added to the gods of Rome. Happily, the Senate declined the invitation because they’d hitherto heard nothing about this Man….Now, just who was Tertullian writing to? Was it a friend or colleague? – a sympathiser of the Christians perhaps? No, by no means. He was writing to the magistrates of Carthage, to the very men who were then persecuting the Christians. To invite them to consult the state archives to test the truth of what he was saying was a brave move and a foolish one if the annals had not existed, or had told a story contrary to his own….Again the invitation to consult the state archives. Who was Justin writing to? none other than the emperor of Rome at that time, Antoninus Pius, his sons, and the Senate of Rome. That again is quite a readership, and Justin would have been the most foolish man on earth to invite a hostile emperor to consult the archives on Pontius Pilate if those records had not been there to consult. Moreover, those archives must have held papers on the Crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent Resurrection, including a report on the rumour that Matthew records about the disciples being thought to have stolen His body. It’s a wonder that the critics forget to mention these things. But there’s more….In other words, what we have just read about the report from Pilate in Justin, Tertullian and Eusebius, would not be there for us to read unless that report had at one time existed, and had been available in the state archives for others to consult some two hundred years or more afterwards. It is as simple and as straightforward as that. The critics can howl that it isn’t true till they’re blue in the face if they wish, but eggs is eggs, and facts are facts are facts!”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The New Testament: Part One-The Gospels,1272-1319 (Kindle Edition)) 

Even the writings of the ancient Jews confirm these same basic facts! In researching the writings of ancient Jewish traditions during the first century, another scholar has pointed out some of the ways that these rabbinic writings confirm the basic tenants of the New Testament: 

“We learn from the Jewish sources that Jesus was the firstborn son of Mary (the rabbis). He had followers (Josephus) or gathered disciples (the rabbis); he taught them and worked miracles (Josephus, the rabbis). He was put on trial and died by formal execution (Josephus, the rabbis). Either the Jews alone carried out his trial and execution (the rabbis), or the Romans did in some cooperation with Jewish leaders (Josephus). Jesus’ followers claimed that he rose from the dead (the rabbis), and his movement continued (Josephus, the rabbis). Jesus’ brother James was a leading figure in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death (Josephus). While the main facts about Jesus’ life were known, very little if anything of his teaching was remembered.” (Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside The New Testament: An Introduction To The Ancient Evidence, 2100-2105 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company) 

Still another important evidence regarding the credibility of the New Testament lies in the fact that the Apostles of Christ encouraged (and at times even commanded) Christians and unbelievers to carefully examine the evidences of the things which they were affirming (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). If the Apostles had been trying to present a false manifesto of Jesus of Nazareth, they would not encourage people to carefully track down and examine he evidences; for them they would the risk of the entire scheme falling apart and Christianity being exposed as a deception before the movement even got started!  

Finally, please consider that the writings of the Apostles have been carefully examined and scrutinized by the experts in legal representatives and have been found to be historically accurate.

First, please hear the testimony of Simon Greenleaf, who lived from 1783-1853. During his life, he was a professor of law at Harvard University. In fact, he produced the standard three volume set of books that are still used today to teach lawyers the various rules of legal conduct, as well as determining the criteria for determining the credibility of legal documents for examination in courts of law. When he applied his vast expertise and investigative skills to determine whether or not the New Testament Gospels were credible, what did he find?  

“The great truths which the apostles declared, were, that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in him, could men hope for salvation. This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling terrors that can be presented to the mind of man. Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of a public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of his disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them. The fashion of the world was against them. Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments and cruel deaths. Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these [pg 026] miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing. As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigour and resolution. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience and unblenching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted; and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency. It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact. 53”. (Simon Greenleaf, LL.D., An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists, by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. With an Account of the Trial of Jesus, 1356-1372 (Kindle Edition); A. Maxwell & Son, 32, Bell Yard, Lincoln’s Inn; W. Smith, 113, Fleet Street; Hodges & Smith, Dublin; T. & J. Clark, Edinburgh. England) 

We could also add to this the testimony of J. Warmer Wallace, an expert homicide detective who likewise turned his learned expertise to the study of the New Testament Scriptures: 

“We’ve examined the four important areas that jurors must consider when determining the reliability of eyewitnesses. The most reasonable inference is that the gospel writers were present, corroborated, accurate , and unbiased . If this is the case, we can conclude with confidence that their testimony is reliable . We’ve done the heavy lifting needed to determine the reliability of these accounts; we’ve been diligent and faithful as jurors and have considered the evidence. It’s time to make a decision.” (J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims Of The Gospels, 4547 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, Colorado; DavidCook) 

We could also include along with these criteria the facts of the apostolic suffering for their testimony, as well as the findings of archaeology, and it all together leads to the same inescapable conclusion: the New Testament Scriptures are, indeed, credible.  

Do The New Testament Scriptures Teach That Jesus Christ Is The Son Of God?

Having established that the New Testament Scriptures are both genuine and credible, we need only ask one if these documents teach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (keeping in mind the definition of this phrase that we put forth earlier in this inquiry).

Please consider the following references:

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

John 5:18-Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.

John 5:22-23-22  For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23  that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
John 8:58-Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

John 10:30- I and My Father are one.

Philippians 2:5-7-5  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.

2 Peter 1:1-Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Hebrews 1:8-But to the Son He says: “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER; A SCEPTER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE SCEPTER OF YOUR KINGDOM.

These references (and many others could be cited) all demonstrate that the New Testament Scriptures affirm the Deity Of Jesus Christ, and establish that He is, in fact, the Son of God.  

Conclusion

Adding all of these facts together, we may conclude that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Since our initial argument is in valid format, and since the premises have been proven true, then the conclusion MUST follow.  

Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  

Jesus Christ was sent by God to pay the price for the sins of mankind. He died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Even today, He commands believers (John 8:24), to repent of sin (Acts 17:30-31), confess their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:35-39), and be baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16).

Why not obey Him today?

If you are a child of God who has turned away from Christ, why not today repent of that sin and confess it to the Lord in prayer (1 John 1:8-2:2)? 

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 Picture Of A Godly Father

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Have you ever heard the official history of Father’s Day?

In 1909, a woman named Sonora Dodd was listening to a sermon about Mother’s Day. Her father, William, had been widowed and was raising six children all by himself. The first official Fathers’ Day was held on June 19, 1910. (June was chosen because that was the month that Sonora’s father was born). Then in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson declared that the third Sunday in June would be recognized as Father’s Day all over the United States of America.

In this article, i want to share some thoughts with you about fathers. As fathers and mothers go, I was (am) blessed to have top-notch ones. I still remember a conversation a friend of mine had with another after meeting my parents. The one asked, “What are Tabata’s parents like?” The other replied, “Dude, they’re like the Waltons.”

Too many in our country did not have the blessing I did growing up: having a Christian father and mother.  

Let me share with you a passage of Scripture which I believe teaches us several important lessons about godly fathers.  

Matthew 7:7-11-7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

The Motivation Of A Godly Father 

From this passage of Scripture, Jesus teaches us many lessons about the motivations of a godly father. In fact, the motivation of the godly father can be summed up in the word that Jesus uses to describe the Fatherhood of God Himself: the word “good.” The words used for “good” are also usually interchangeable with the ideas of kindness and compassion:

“This adjective means good or well; it describes goodness, beauty, and moral uprightness. Throughout the process of creating, God declared all that he made “good” (Gen. 1:31). The entire creation is inherently valuable, it is well done, and God is satisfied with what he has made….agathos means “good,” though its connotations overlap with kalos (“beautiful”) and chrstos (“kind”)….kalos denotes the quality of an object or action that is beautiful, ordered, or virtuous and may be translated as “beautiful, good.”” (William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 12302-12359 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan). 

The word “good” is a powerful little word, and one that is often misunderstood. It carries with it the idea of that which is intrinsically wholesome; that which is altruistic (seeking the good of others). Therefore, the godly father is one who sincerely desires the good of his children. This is illustrated by Jesus in this passage.  

“Jesus’ examples are carefully chosen. He takes three examples, for Luke adds a third to the two Matthew gives. If a son asks for bread, will his father give him a stone? If a son asks for a fish, will his father give him a serpent? If a son asks for an egg, will his father give him a scorpion? (Luke 11: 12). The point is that in each case the two things cited bear a close resemblance. The little, round, limestone stones on the seashore were exactly the shape and the colour of little loaves. If a child asks for bread, will a parent mock that child by offering a stone, which looks like bread but which is impossible to eat? If a child asks for a fish, will a parent give that child a serpent? Almost certainly, the serpent is an eel. According to the Jewish food laws, an eel could not be eaten, because an eel was an unclean fish. ‘Everything in the waters that does not have fins and scales is detestable to you’ (Leviticus 11: 12). That regulation ruled out the eel as an article of diet. If a child asks for a fish, will a parent indeed give that child a fish, but a fish which it is forbidden to eat, and which is useless to eat? Would a parent mock a child’s hunger like that? If the child asks for an egg, will the parent give that child a scorpion? The scorpion is a dangerous little animal. In action it is rather like a small lobster, with claws with which it clutches its victim. Its sting is in its tail, and it brings its tail up over its back to strike its victim. The sting can be exceedingly painful, and sometimes even fatal. When the scorpion is at rest, its claws and tail are folded in; and there is a pale kind of scorpion, which, when folded up, would look exactly like an egg. If a child asks for an egg, will a parent mock that child by offering that child a stinging scorpion? God will never refuse our prayers; and God will never mock our prayers. The Greeks had their stories about the gods who answered people’s prayers, but the answer was an answer with a barb in it, a double-edged gift. Aurora, the goddess of the dawn, fell in love with Tithonus, a mortal youth, so the Greek story ran. Zeus, the king of the gods, offered her any gift that she might choose for her mortal lover. Aurora very naturally chose that Tithonus might live forever, but she had forgotten to ask that Tithonus might remain forever young; and so Tithonus grew older and older and older, and could never die, and the gift became a curse. There is a lesson here: God will always answer our prayers; but he will answer them in his way, and his way will be the way of perfect wisdom and of perfect love. Often, if he answered our prayers as we at the moment desired, it would be the worst thing possible for us, for in our ignorance we often ask for gifts which would be our ruin. This saying of Jesus tells us not only that God will answer, but also that God will answer in wisdom and in love.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel Of Matthew-Volume One, 4908-4937 (Kindle Edition); Edinburgh, England; Saint Andrews Press)

The main ideas behind these illustrations are to show us the genuineness of the Father’s love for mankind. The Lord is not going to trick His people; He does not want to harm His people. Instead:

Jeremiah 29:11-For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Micah 7:18-Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.

The Vocation Of A Godly Father

Jesus teaches us here also about the fact that the godly father is more than just someone who DESIRES the good of his children; instead, he is willing to work and sacrifice to provide for those children. Notice that the loving father in this passage will assuredly help and care for his child in need; and this reflects the heart of the loving Father in Heaven Who desires to give “good” things to His children (Matthew 7:11).  

God the Father Himself is the ultimate Example of this Fatherhood. Jesus discusses how how God watches over and provides for His children. Truthfully, the Sermon on the Mount also shows us how well God takes care of people in providing for them in the form of the sun and the rain: 

Matthew 5;44-45-44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Every day that we live, God displays His goodness to the world of mankind (cf Acts 14:17).  

In the same way, godly fathers will attempt to provide for their children. They are willing to do whatever they can to help them in their need and trials.  

Sadly, in our day and age, many “men” have lost sight of the importance of this. Children need their mothers, but they also need their fathers!  

In order to understand the crisis in American homes, consider the following: 

““America leads the industrialized world in fatherlessness.31 And among those who have fathers, the average school-age boy in the United States spends just half an hour per week in one-to-one conversation with his father, according to David Walsh, founder of Mind Positive Parenting. “That compares with 44 hours a week in front of a television, video game screen, Internet screen,” he says. “I think that we are neglecting our boys tremendously. The result of that is our boys aren’t spending time with mentors, with elders, who can really show them the path, show them the way of how it is that we’re supposed to behave as healthy men.”32

The effect of fatherlessness and the lack of rites of passage are underestimated. Boys suffer when there’s no father in the home or no positive male role models in their lives; they start to look for a male identity somewhere else. Some guys find it in a gang, other guys find it in drugs, alcohol, playing video games and objectifying women. Another side effect of fatherlessness is increased incidence of attention and mood disturbances.” (Philip G. Zimbardo & Nikita Duncan. “The Demise of Guys, 69-70 (IBooks Edition)). 

We need to realize that one of the greatest needs in our country is for men to strive to be godly fathers. The Bible certainly highlights this: 

1 Timothy 5:4-But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.

1 Timothy 5:8-But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Godly fathers will desire the best for their children, and they will work and sacrifice to care for them.  
Even more to the point, though, is this: children need their fathers to instruct them in the way of the Lord. In describing the need for parents to teach children the Word of God, Moses declared:

Deuteronomy 6:7-You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

The Apostle Paul declared:

Ephesians 6:4-And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Years ago, I came across this poem that truly illustrates the important role that fathers play in teaching their children: 

“There are little eyes upon you, and they’re watching night and day, There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say; There are little hands all eager to do everything you do, And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you. You’re the little fellow’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise; In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise; He believes in you devoutly, holds that all you say and do He will say and do in your way when he’s grown up like you. There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right, And his ears are always open and he watches day and night, You are setting an example every day in all you do, For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be like you. (Croft M. Pentz, The Speaker’s Treasury of 400 Quotable Poems)

The Veneration Of A Godly Father 

Finally, I want to suggest to you that godly fathers deserve to be honored and respected. The problem with “father’s day” is that it is only one day a year! In truth, it should be much more often-it (like Mother’s Day) should really be every day! 

The text here in Matthew actually illustrates this. Look carefully at verse seven. Do you see that word “knock?” It is actually a very interesting word in the Greek New Testament, and carried with it the idea of a “reverent” knocking. The Amplified does a fine job translating it:

Matthew 7:7 (Amplified)-Keep on asking and it will be given you;  N2  keep on seeking and you will find;  N3 keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.

Godly fathers deserve our respect. We are reminded of this in the Decalogue: 

Exodus 20:12-Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

Godly fathers, thank you for all that you do, and may God richly bless you.  

I want to bring this article to a conclusion by sharing these words with you from the pen of the famous commander, Douglas MacArthur: 

“By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder -infinitely prouder -to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, ‘Our Father who art in Heaven.'”

Friends, the Father in Heaven (along with His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) loves you more than you can know. He wants you to become part of His family, forgiven of sin and added to His church. That is what Jesus’ death on Calvary is all about: the Son of God Who loved you and gave Himself for you (Galatians 2:20). On that cross, the Son of God paid the debt that you couldn’t pay (Matthew 20:28). He was buried, and He arose from the dead on the third day after His death (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Will you not today believe in Him, repent of your sins, confess Him before men, and be baptized into Him to be forgiven of your sins (Acts 2:37-47; 8:35-38)?  

If you have been baptized into Christ as a penitent believer, you are a member of His church (Acts 2:47). God calls us to live faithfully to Him (Revelation 2:10), but sometimes we turn away from Him and sin (1 John 1:8). Yet He tells us that if we will repent of sin and confess it to Him in prayer, He will forgive us and take us back (1 John 1:9-2:2).

Won’t you please return to 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.  

“I Can’t Become A Christian Because I Know That I’ll Mess Up”

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Over my years of preaching the Gospel, I have been richly blessed to speak with several individuals about lots of different topics.  

One of the topics that has come up more times then I can count deals with excuses people make about not wanting to become a Christian.  

Often we will sit and study (sometimes for hours, sometimes for weeks), and we will notice God’s incredible grace in sending His Son to die for us (2 Corinthians 9:17). We will study about His grace in allowing us time to hear His Word and repent of our sins (Romans 2:3-4). We will study about His grace in allowing us to be baptized into Christ, being buried with Him (Romans 6:3-4).  

Then, the individual I am teaching will often make this comment (or something similar):

“Mark, I know that I need to be saved; but I can’t because I am just so afraid that I’ll mess up and sin after I become a Christian!”

Let me share with you what I tell those individuals:

“Let’s be absolutely clear here bro; I guarantee that you will mess up!!” 

I often get a look of shock when I share that sentiment.  

Friends, let me tell you something: temptation and human weakness are not things which just vanish the moment we are baptized into Christ!  

Doesn’t the New Testament teach us this fact plainly?  

When the Apostle Paul wrote to our brethren in Rome, they had been baptized with Christ (Romans 6:3-4). Yet he told them:

Romans 6:12-13 (ERV)-12  But don’t let sin control your life here on earth. You must not be ruled by the things your sinful self makes you want to do. 13  Don’t offer the parts of your body to serve sin. Don’t use your bodies to do evil, but offer yourselves to God, as people who have died and now live. Offer the parts of your body to God to be used for doing good.

Paul told these Christians that they needed to stop sinning.  

Yes, they had been buried with Christ in baptism, and had risen to walk in newness of life. What then? Some of these Christians had “messed up” and were living in sin.

Did Paul say, “Wow, since you are sinning and have messed up, you can’t be forgiven.”

No!

He said that now, they needed to repent and start living right.  

When Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians, did he not express the same sentiments? 

Hebrews 12:1-2-1  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Paul wrote to these Christians and encouraged them to lay down the sin which so easily ensnared them. The imagery of “the sin which so easily ensnares” is that of any type of sin which will surround us and cause us to trip. Some scholars have pointed out that this could have reference to certain types of baggage that a runner would carry in a race that would cause him to stumble, while others have related the language of Paul to certain kinds of loin clothes that a runner would wear which would cause hardship during the Olympics.  

The point I want you to see is that these Christians, who had been baptized into Christ prior to Paul’s writing (Hebrews 10:22), were still struggling with sin in their lives. They had “messed up.” They had started the race and were still struggling with sin.  

Did this mean that they were no longer saved?  

Had the grace of God abandoned them because they had sinned after becoming a Christian?

Not at all!  

I want to suggest five things to you about this mentality that “we can’t become a Christian because we will mess up later.”

First, the Bible makes it absolutely clear that you will continue to struggle with temptation and sin after being saved. Receiving the new birth does not mean that our temptations will cease, for as long as we have these bodies and live in this fallen world, we will struggle with sin. In fact, this seems to be the point that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians when he discusses the blessings of the Second Coming of Christ and how we will receive our new glorified bodies: 

1 Corinthians 15:44-It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Our “new bodies” will be “spiritual” and not “natural.” Many teach that this means we will receive bodies that are not physical (an idea which is contrary to the text-Christ’s resurrected body is like what our new bodies will be like, and as His body was a physical body, so will be ours-1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 23).  

However, in context, the meaning of “spiritual” and “natural” is very clear: 

“Paul: You misunderstand what I meant by the term natural. The New Revised Standard Version and its predecessor the Revised Standard Version are the only translations to use the word physical. Virtually every other translation renders the word natural.[ 12] Those who translate the word as physical are mistaken, and it is easy to demonstrate this. The Greek word we are talking about is psychikos.[ 13] Would you like to know how many times in the Bible, including the intertestamental writings, this word means physical or material, as the New Revised Standard Version suggests? Zero! It is never used that way.[ 14] The Greek word we are talking about for spiritual is pneumatikos.[ 15] Would you like to know how many times this word means immaterial as the New Revised Standard Version suggests? Zero![ 16] To see what I meant by these words, you only need to look a few chapters earlier in my same first letter to the Corinthian church…I’m saying here that the natural man who is controlled by his fleshly and sinful desires does not accept the truths of God because they can only be understood by those who are controlled by desires that are centered on the true God—in other words, spiritual people. Thus, in chapter 15, verse 44, I’m saying that our bodies are buried with all of their fleshly and sinful appetites. But they are raised with only holy appetites that are focused on God. There is no reason whatsoever for translating what I wrote to mean that we are buried with physical bodies but will be raised with immaterial ones, leaving the old body in the ground.” (Michael R. Licona, Paul Meets Muhammad: A Christian-Muslim Debate On The resurrection, 1590-1602 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)

Friends, as long as we are in this world, we will struggle with temptation and sin.  

Second, please consider this: God’s grace is more then sufficient!  

Some seem to have the idea that God’s grace is abundant in leading us to become a Christian, but after that, it somehow loses its power. This is, I think, what caused some in the second and third century church to believe that there is no forgiveness to a Christian who sins. It is almost as if people think, “Well, God’s grace brought me here; now it’s up to me.” Oh, they won’t use those words; but they will often live in such a way that they believe they must be sinlessly perfect, and if not, then that’s it.  

The End.  

No hope.  

Finito.  

Game Over.  

They are “once saved, always in misery.”

Friends, please understand: the grace of God is more then sufficient for you! Isn’t that what the Apostle John meant in 1 John 1:7?

1 John 1:7-But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

John is writing to Christians, and he reminds them that if they (Christians) say that they have no sin, they are deceiving themselves (1 John 1:8). Notice the tense of the verb: John says if there are Christians who say they HAVE (present tense) no sin, then they deceive themselves. M
Could there be a more vocal claim that Christians sin and “mess up?” 

Far from claiming that Christians never “mess up,” John says if a person says they never do, they are lying to themselves!

Yet John points to a powerful truth in verse seven. He says that if we KEEP ON walking in the light, then we will KEEP ON having fellowship with each other; and the blood of Jesus Christ will KEEP ON cleansing us from our sins.  

The verb “cleanses” that is used here is very important, as are the tenses: 

“The Greek for to cleanse is katharizein, which was originally a ritual word, describing the ceremonies and washings and so on that qualified an individual to approach the gods. But, as religion developed, the word came to have a moral sense; and it describes the goodness which enables people to enter into the presence of God. So, what John is saying is: ‘If you really know what the sacrifice of Christ has done and are really experiencing its power, day by day you will be adding holiness to your life and becoming more fit to enter the presence of God.’ Here indeed is a great conception. It looks on the sacrifice of Christ as something which not only atones for past sin but also equips people in holiness day by day.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters Of John And Jude, 34 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

The saving blood of Jesus does not lose its power after the waters of baptism. Instead, the blood of Christ continues to cleanse God’s people of sin, even as Jesus Himself continues to be the Advocate for His people (1 John 2:1-2).  

Third, this passage-and all the ones that we have studied-demonstrate that even though we will sin as Christians, we must continue to fight against sin in our lives. Salvation is not n excuse to keep on living in sin; rather, it is the means by which holiness may be attained.  

When we are baptized into Christ, there is a definite sense in which we are saved (set apart-sanctified).  

Isn’t that what Paul told the Corinthians?

And such WERE some of you? But you were WASHED, but you were SANCTIFIED, but you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).  

Yet there is also a sense in which we as God’s people ARE BEING sanctified (as 1 John 1:7 teaches).  

God is perfecting us my friends. Part of that purifying process is the struggle against sin. Therefore we must not stop struggling against sin! Instead, we must fight against it (1 Timothy 6:12), as we work to discipline our body and spirit (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and continue seeking those things which are above (Colossians 3:1-3) by continually putting to death sinful actions that would separate us from Him (Colossians 3:5-11), and adding those things which are needed to help us grow into the people that God wants us to be (Colossians 3:12-25).  

So don’t use salvation as an excuse to sin: use it as the motivation to become what God calls you to be!  

Fourth, know that when you fall short and sin, you can still come into the presence of God through repentance and prayer. Paul writes:

Hebrews 4:15-16-15  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Some of my favorite words were written by John Piper as he commented on this passage:

“But it gets even better. On the way to the cross for thirty years, Christ was tempted like every human is tempted. True, he never sinned. But wise people have pointed out that this means his temptations were stronger than ours, not weaker. If a person gives in to temptation, it never reaches its fullest and longest assault. We capitulate while the pressure is still building. But Jesus never did. So he endured the full pressure to the end and never caved. He knows what it is to be tempted with fullest force. A lifetime of temptation climaxing in spectacular abuse and abandonment gave Jesus an unparalleled ability to sympathize with tempted and suffering people. No one has ever suffered more. No one has ever endured more abuse. And no one ever deserved it less or had a greater right to fight back. But the apostle Peter said, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22-23). Therefore, the Bible says he is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). This is amazing. The risen Son of God in heaven at God’s right hand with all authority over the universe feels what we feel when we come to him in sorrow or pain—or cornered with the promises of sinful pleasure. What difference does this make? The Bible answers by making a connection between Jesus’ sympathy and our confidence in prayer. It says that since he is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses… [therefore we should] with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Evidently the thought goes like this: We are likely to feel unwelcome in the presence of God if we come with struggles. We feel God’s purity and perfection so keenly that everything about us seems unsuitable in his presence. But then we remember that Jesus is “sympathetic.” He feels with us, not against us. This awareness of Christ’s sympathy makes us bold to come. He knows our cry. He tasted our struggle. He bids us come with confidence when we feel our need.” (John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Cane To Die, 72-73 (Kindle Edition); Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Books)

Fifth, remember that God has given you His Holy Spirit to help strengthen and perfect you. If you try to fight the struggles of the flesh on your own, you will fail; but with the help of the Holy Spirit you can succeed!

Romans 8:12-13-12  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Friends, we need the help of the Holy Spirit to encourage us in our struggle against sin. We have to do our part-we work with the Spirit-but without the Spirit’s help, there would be no victory.  

Also notice that if we stop struggling against sin-if we just walk away from the Lord and return to the world-then we will die. Compare this with 2 Peter 2:20-22.

Finally, even though you will “mess up,” you are not alone.  

When you become a member of the church of Christ, you become part of a family of people who often “mess up” right along with you.  

But you know what’s great?  

Even though we mess up together, we pick ourselves up together and keep marching on. So we encourage each other when we assemble together (Hebrews 10:24-25), and we bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2). We pray for each other (James 5:16-20), and we love each other (Romans 12:9-13). We fall short, but we strive to forgive and encourage each other (Ephesians 4:31-32).

You need your church family, and your church family needs you.  

So why are you waiting? The Lord has gone to the cross of Calvary to save you (Romans 5:8)! He was buried and arose from the dead on the third day to save you (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)! Jesus built and purchased His church with His own blood to save you (Acts 20:28; Matthew 16:18)!  

Even now, realizing your sinfulness, weaknesses, doubts, and fears, He is ready to save you (Matthew 11:28-30).  

Even knowing that you will at times “mess up,” He still wants to be your Savior (Hebrews 7:25).  

Acts 22:16-And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

If you are one of the ones like me who has “messed up” before-won’t you please come back to Christ today? He tells Christians: 

1 John 1:9-If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Come back, to the Lord and to the church. There will be great rejoicing in Heaven, and on Earth, when you do!

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

Does The Bible Teach That There Is A Solid Dome Above The Earth?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

For years, skeptics of the Bible have made the claim that the writers of Scripture were extremely scientifically challenged; and that this scientific ignorance manifested in their writings.  

It is claimed, for example, that Moses taught that there is a solid dome around the Earth. This is based on a misunderstanding of the definition of the word “firmament” as used in the Book of Genesis: 

Genesis 1:6-Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”. 

Our English word “firmament” comes from the Latin word firmamentum. This was translated from the Greek word steréōma, which was itself a translation of the original Hebrew word rāqîa. As you can see, this word translated as “firmament” has a great deal of linguistic history! So, what does the original Hebrew word rāqîa actually mean? Was Moses teaching that there is a dome around the Earth?  

Let’s study how this word rāqîa, and its’ corresponding verbal form rāqa, are used throughout Scripture.  

First, the word rāqîa itself simply means something which is expanded.  

“The King James version’s word appears to come from the Vulgate’s word firmamentum , which in turn appears to stem from the Septuagint’s translation, σ τ ε ρ έ ω μ α ( stereoma)…The Hebrew word is ע י ק ר ( raqia ), meaning “extended surface” [1, p. 956]. Lexicons [2, p. 591] say it comes from the verb ע ק ר ( raqa ), whose primary meaning is “to stamp … stamp down … spread out” [6, p. 347]. One 19th-century lexicon [2, p. 692], uncontaminated by 20th-century cosmology, adds to the list of the verb’s meanings the interesting phrase “to expand.””. (D. Russell Humphreys, PH. D. Starlight And Time: Solving The Puzzle Of Distant Starlight In A Young Universe, 570-580 (Kindle Edition); Green Forest, AR; Master Books) 

As another excellent resource has pointed out: 

“The waters were separated, and above the earth was a firmament (6). The English word goes back to the Latin firmamentum, which in turn rests upon the Greek stereoma, both of which carry the idea of solidness.3 However, the emphasis in the original Hebrew word raqia is not on the material itself but on the act of stretching out or the condition of being expanded. The word “expanse” (ASV, marg.) is more appropriate. In several places in the OT the act of stretching out the heavens is prominent (see Job 9:8; 26:7; Ps. 104:2; Isa. 45:12; 51:13; Jer. 51:15; Zech. 12:1). Evidence that God is the Creator rests upon the act of stretching out rather than upon the character of that which was formed.4 Throughout the OT interest centers in God’s relationships to nature and to man. God is the Creator, and from that declaration the OT moves on to show that nature is a creature and a tool. Likewise God judges, delivers, and cares for man.” (George Herbert Livingston, B.D., Ph.D., Beacon Bible Commentary: Volume One, 407-420 (Kindle Edition); Kansas City, Missouri) 

Second, our passage in Genesis gives us some more detailed information about the meaning of the word “firmament.”  

We read: 

Genesis 1:20-Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”

Please note that the word “firmament” could have reference to the place where birds fly, I.e., the space above the Earth (what we would call the atmosphere).  

We also learn from studying Genesis one that the “firmament” had reference to the place where the heavy bodies were located:

Genesis 1:14-18-14  Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15  and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16  Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17  God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18  and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

It seems pretty clear to me at this point that the word “firmament” simply meant “Heaven.”

In fact, is there is still any doubt, look at what else Genesis 1 tells us:

Genesis 1:8-And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

Did Moses teach that the firmament is a solid dome surrounding the Earth?  

Not at all!  

The word firmament is another name for heaven, which God has “stretched out.”  

If critics of the Bible would actually study their Bible, then their objections would vanish like a puff of smoke.  

Third, by studying other passages of Scripture which use the word rāqîa, and its’ corresponding verbal form rāqa, we find further evidence of these conclusions.  

“There are many OT passages that refer to God having “stretched” or “spread out” the heavens, some using the verb [ rāqa , related to rāqîa . Many of them use [ nā t ā h meaning ‘to extend, stretch out’, and sometimes translated ‘bowed’. There are two other verbs, m ā tach ( ) and t āphach ( ), ‘to spread out, extend’. 16 These passages are primarily referring to the events on Day 2 (the lemma of the Hebrew verb is inserted): 1. 2 Samuel 22:10—He bowed [ nātāh ] the heavens and came down 2. Job 9:8—who alone stretched out [ nāt āh ] the heavens 3. Job 26:7—He stretches out [ nātāh ] the north over the void 4. Job 37:18—Can you, like him, spread out [ rāqa ] the skies? 5. Psalm 18:9—He bowed [ nātāh ] the heavens and came down 6. Psalm 104:2—stretching out [ nātāh ] the heavens like a tent 7. Psalm 144:5—Bow [ nātāh ] your heavens, O L ORD , and come down! 8. Isaiah 40:22—who stretches out [ nātāh ] the heavens like a curtain, and spreads [ mātach ] them like a tent to dwell in 9. Isaiah 42:5—Thus says God, the L ORD , who created the heavens and stretched them out [ nātāh ] 10. Isaiah 44:24—Thus says God, the L ORD … who alone stretched out [ nātāh ] the heavens, who spread out [ rāqa ], the earth by myself 11. Isaiah 45:12—my hands that stretched out [ nātāh ] the heavens 12. Isaiah 48:13—my right hand spread out [ tāphach ] the heavens 13. Isaiah 51:13—the L ORD , your Maker, who stretched out [ nātāh ] the heavens 14. Jeremiah 10:12—and by his understanding stretched out [ nātāh ] the heavens 15. Jeremiah 51:15—and by his understanding stretched out [ nātāh ] the heavens. 16. Ezekiel 1:22—the likeness of an expanse [ rāqîa ] … spread out [ nātāh ] above their heads. 17. Zechariah 12:1—Thus declares the L ORD , who stretched out [ nātāh ] the heavens.” (Jonathan D. Sarfati, PH.D., F.M., The Genesis Account: A Theological, Historical, And Scientific Commentary On Genesis 1-11, 4446-4473 (Kindle Edition); Powder Springs, Georgia; Creation Ministries International). 

Fourth, I believe we need to consider why so many skeptics of the Bible hold to this notion of a solid dome being the “firmament.”  

The more I have learned about the critics of the Bible, the more I have come to see that one of the things which fuels their vehemence against the Sacred Text is their affirmation that the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy) was not written by Moses (who lived nearly fifteen hundred years before Jesus was born).  

Instead, they maintain that the Torah (another designation for the Pentateuch) was actually written by anonymous scribes who lived around the sixth century B.C., and that these editors were heavily influenced by an ancient Babylonian text known as the Enuma Elish (which is the Babylonian creation myth).  

Regarding the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, there is a great deal of evidence. For example, McDowell has shared these interesting proofs: 

1B. R.H. Rfeiffer writes: ‘There is no reason to doubt that the Pentateuch was considered the divine revelation to Moses when it was canonized about 400 B.C.’ (Pfeiffer, JOT, 133) 1C. Ecclesiasticus, one of the books of the Apocrypha, written about 180 B.C., gives this witness: ‘All this is the covenant book of God Most High, the law which Moses enacted to be the heritage of the assemblies of Jacob’ (Ecclesiasticus 24:23 NEB). 2C. The Talmud (Baby Bathra, 146), a Jewish commentary on the Law (Torah) dating from 200 B.C., and the Mishnah (Pirqe Aboth, I, 1), a rabbinic interpretation and legislating dating from 100 B.C., both attribute the Torah to Moses. 3C. Likewise, Philo, the Jewish philosopher theologian born approximately A.D. 20, held Mosaic authorship: ‘But I will…tell the story of Moses as I have learned it, both from the sacred books, the wonderful monuments of his wisdom which he has left behind him and from some of the elders of the nation.’ (Philo, WP, 279) 4C. The first century A.D. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus writes in his Josephus Against Apion (11:18): ‘For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another (as the Greeks have) but only 22 books (our present 39), which are justly believed to be divine; and of them, five belong to Moses, which contain his laws, and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death.’ (Josephus, WFJ, 609)” (Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, 458-459; Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers).  

It also needs to be pointed out that the study of archaeology has continually corroborated the authenticity of the Book of Genesis, especially in documenting the locations, names, details, and other facts of the world of Moses that later editors would not have been aware.

One of the most interesting evidences of this which could be cited comes from the discovery of the now-famous Ebla Tablets: 

“Sixteen thousand clay tablets from the third millennium B.C. were discovered at Ebla in modern Syria, beginning in 1974. Biovanni Pettinato dates them 2580–2450 B.C. and Paolo Matthiae suggests 2400–2250 B.C. Either period predates any other written material by hundreds of years. Apologetic Importance of the Tablets. The importance of the Ebla tablets is that they parallel and confirm early chapters of Genesis. Although clouded by subsequent political pressure and denials, the published reports in reputable journals offer several possible lines of support for the biblical record (see ARCHAEOLOGY, OLD TESTAMENT). Tablets reportedly contain names of the cities Ur, Sodom and Gomorrah, and such pagan gods mentioned in the Bible as Baal (see Ostling, 76–77). The Ebla tablets reportedly contain references to names found in the book of Genesis, including Adam, Eve, and Noah (Dahood, 55–56)….There are significant implications in the Ebla archives for Christian apologetics. They destroy the critical belief in the evolution of monotheism (see MONOTHEISM, PRIMITIVE) from supposed earlier polytheism and henotheism. This evolution of religion hypothesis has been popular from the time of Charles *Darwin (1809–1882) and Julius *Wellhausen (1844–1918). Now monotheism is known to be earlier. Also, the force of the Ebla evidence supports the view that the earliest chapters of Genesis are history, not mythology” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 208 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)  

The claim that the Book of Genesis relies on much later Babylonian creation myths is shattered when we compare the two accounts, as well as when we analyze the historical circumstances of both documents. Bill Cooper has provided this excellent information for us:

“The Enuma Elish, otherwise known as the Babylonian Epic of Creation, burst onto the academic scene in the 1870s. Its discoverer and first translator was the Assyriologist, George Smith. 2 It caused a great deal of excitement amongst both Bible-believers (of which George Smith was one) and the critics, and the table below (based on George Smith’s table) shows why…The Enuma Elish certainly doesn’t ‘agree’ with Genesis in anything like a theological sense. Nor does it ‘agree’ in any sense with Genesis over the days of creation, the orders of created beings, and so on. Rather, the Babylonian epic only agrees with Genesis loosely about the chronological order of the Creation, but even that is achieved only by straining things a bit….How anyone, Bible-scholar or not, can read the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis, and then suggest that it owes its authorship to such malevolent nonsense as this, I do not know.”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Genesis, 541-566 (Kindle Edition).  

Yet what is really fascinating is how the evidence of history demonstrates that the Book of Genesis actually influenced the Babylonian narrative!

Cooper continues: 

“As for Genesis being the younger of the two accounts, A H Sayce, Professor of Assyriology at Oxford, largely took over George Smith’s work of translation after Smith died in 1876. He was particularly interested in the Enuma Elish, translating it afresh and bringing all his expertise to bear on the text. He had little time for the ‘Higher Critics’, denouncing their subjective guesswork and often childish puns, and after examining the Enuma Elish in great depth and, tellingly, publishing its text he has this to say of it: “ Since the death of George Smith other fragments of the Epic have been discovered, and we now know more exactly what it was like. It was an attempt to throw together in poetic form the cosmological doctrines of the chief Assyrian or Babylonian schools and combine them into a connected story. But the attempt breathes so thoroughly the air of a later philosophy which has reduced the deities of earlier belief to mere abstractions and forces of nature, that I much doubt whether it can be assigned to an earlier date than the seventh century BC.” 6 Now this is interesting, very interesting indeed. We have seen already how the Book of Genesis is traceable all the way back to Moses (and even beyond in its clay tablet form, particularly the early chapters). In other words, it is immensely older than the 7th century (700-600) BC in which the Enuma Elish was composed. But what happened about a hundred years earlier than the writing of the Enuma Elish, to account for the ‘air of a later philosophy’ which had such a telling and mollifying effect upon the more demonic excesses of earlier Babylonian beliefs? We must recall here the taking captive of the Ten Tribes of Israel by Assyria in the year 722 BC, perhaps a hundred years or more before the Enuma Elish was composed. Now, it has to be said that the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom were not exactly Biblical fundamentalists when it came to theology. The very reason why God expelled them from the land was their idolatry and their refusal to repent of that. Nevertheless, the knowledge of God was never entirely lost amongst them (it never is), and the sudden flooding of the land of Assyria (and with it Babylonia), with those who were once the Chosen People of God, must have had a considerable cultural impact on the native populations. Amongst the Israelites were some, if not many, who remembered the teachings of the Book of Genesis on the Creation. These would often have been told and listened to by the native population over that one hundred year span, and would certainly have had an impact upon those who, 55 years after the Assyrian Conquest, were sent back to settle a now empty Samaria, even claiming for themselves (rightly or wrongly) that they were Israelites. 7 Which means that we have a situation here that is most strange. It would seem from this that, rather than the Babylonian mythology affecting the Book of Genesis, as the critics have claimed for so long, it is the other way about. It is the Book of Genesis, or the somewhat dimmed memories of it amongst the displaced Israelites, which affected the Babylonian myth. That is why the Enuma Elish borrowed something of the structure of Genesis with regard to the order of creation, certainly enough for us to recognise one or two details, however vague. But who would have thought it? Things are opposite concerning the history of the Bible to what the critics and modernists have been telling us all these years.” (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The Book Of Genesis, 576-600 (Kindle Edition))  

Conclusion

The claim of the critics-that the Book of Genesis teaches there is a solid dome around the Earth-is false.  

The critics of Scripture-instead of allowing the evidence to lead them to the proper conclusions-often choose rather to make up their minds and then twist the Word of God to try and justify their mistaken viewpoints.

Having accepted the naturalistic supposition that the traditional authorship of the Bible Books is flawed (despite the evidences to the contrary), they latch on to wild and unfounded suppositions and claim these are “rational” when they are anything but.  

As for the claim that the Bible writers were scientifically unlearned and that the Bible contains scientific mistakes, I would be more than willing to examine that contention in more detail in a future study. The fact is, the writers of the Bible had access to incredibly advanced scientific foreknowledge that clearly demonstrated that they were inspired of God.

George Dehoff has well written: 

“The Bible is not a textbook on material science. It is a textbook on religion the science of correct living. It was written hundreds of years before modern science was originated, yet it is scientifically accurate. Modern science has never disproved any statement in the Bible but has proved and demonstrated the truthfulness of hundreds of things which the Bible anticipated. The Mind which directed the writing of the Bible put into it many truths which were beyond the range of human comprehension and human knowledge at the time they were written.” (George Dehoff, Why We Believe The Bible, 633-638 (Kindle Edition); McLoud, OK; Cobb Publishing) 

Friends, the Bible is true. Scores of evidences from several fields may be used to document this (the scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers, prophecy and fulfillment, archaeological confirmation, supernatural unity, etc). Why not accept it as the Word of God and decide to be a wise builder who builds his life on the solid foundation of Scripture (Matthew 7:24-27)?

The God of Heaven has given us His Word; but we, as accountable beings, have violated that Word through sin (Romans 1:18-20). Sin itself separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). If this problem of sin is not dealt with properly, it will lead to eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23). This is the very definition of Hell (Matthew 25:41-46).  

Yet God loves you and I so very much that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to be a sacrifice for our sins (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16-17). Jesus, loving us so very much, went to the cross of Calvary and paid for the sins of every person (1 Timothy 2:6). He was buried, and three days later, He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).  

While Jesus died for every person (1 John 2:2), only those who receive Him will be saved (John 1:12). The Word tells us how we receive Christ and His salvation: 

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 away from God, won’t you today repent of that sin and confess it to the Lord in prayer? God’s Word tells Christians: 

1 John 1:9-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.  

Job Bible Class: Job’s Friends-Part One

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Quotation For Consideration 

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? (Abraham Lincoln)

Introduction

Most of the Book of Job is a series of conversations between Job and his three friends: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. While much of these friends’ attitudes and actions are reprehensible, there are some commendable things about them which stand out.  

In this lesson, we will carefully consider some of the more endearing qualities of these men. The main text we will be studying comes from the second chapter of Job:

Job 2:11-Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.

One: They Made Time To Be With Job When He Needed Them

One of the the first things which stands out to me about Job’s friends is that they actually made the time to go and visit Job.

Keep in mind, this was not just a stroll down the street to chat with Job. All three of these men came from different countries, and they each had extremely time-consuming and difficult careers (not to mention families of their own). Add to this the price of travel, and we see that they were indeed very concerned about Job!

“Eliphaz, who took the lead in the debate against Job, is identified in the text as a Temanite. Teman is a city in Edom. Edom encompasses the southern portion of what is now the nation of Jordan. Teman was famous in the ancient world for its exceptionally wise scholars.[4] Ancient literature indicates this fame persisted for centuries. The prophet Jeremiah comments on Teman in a series of rhetorical questions: “Is there no longer wisdom in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom decayed?” (Jer. 49:7). Given the eight-hundred-mile distance between Teman and Job’s home in the land of Uz (see fig. 2.1) and the investment required to undertake such a journey, it seems likely that Teman’s leaders sent their most gifted scholar, Job’s friend and peer, to offer comfort. It makes sense that Eliphaz, the most revered, was probably the Temanite best known to Job, and the text indicates (see Job 2:11 and 42:10) that, despite the distance, Eliphaz was among Job’s dearest friends. The text suggests that Zophar and Bildad were of virtually equal abilities to Eliphaz and also close friends to Job. Apparently, when word of Job’s devastating losses and sufferings spread, the world of that time sent their three most eminent wise men to offer comfort and counsel. Who else could even try?” (Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures In The Book Of Job: How The Oldest Book In The Bible Answers Today’s Scientific Questions, 28-29 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books) 

Notice specifically WHY they were coming together:

Job 2:11-Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him.

The words used in this passage are extremely significant. They show us the deep relationship of these men with each other, and with Job. Furthermore, they highlight the godly intentions for which they are going to visit with the suffering patriarch.

“On learning of Job’s affliction, three beloved friends . . . Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, agreed together to travel to Uz in order to console Job. The term for friends has a wide range of meanings, including an intimate counselor . . . a close friend . . . a party in a legal dispute. Friends often solemnized their relationship with a covenant, promising to care for each other under all kinds of circumstances. The relationship between Job and his three friends gives every evidence of being based on a covenant. . . . Such a relationship was characterized by loyal love. . . . Motivated by love and their commitment, these men came to console and to comfort Job. The word to console . . . means literally “to shake the head or to rock the body back and forth” as a sign of shared grief. To comfort . . . is to attempt to ease the deepest pain caused by a tragedy or death . . . With the noblest intentions, these three earnestly desired to help Job bear his sorrow.” (John E. Hartley, The Book of Job (NICOT) (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 85) 

True friends will want to help and encourage us, even in the midst of our pain.

Romans 12:15-Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

1 Thessalonians 4:18-Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.

Two: They Joined Job In His Sorrow

Please notice that for a time, Job’s friends were silent and didn’t say anything at all. Sometimes the best way to help a friend who is going through a difficult time is to simply be there, even if you don’t say anything at all. 

“For one thing, they cared enough for Job to travel a long distance to visit him. And when they commiserated with him, they didn’t sit in a comfortable home or hospital room: They sat with him on the ash heap, surrounded by refuse. Because their grief was so great, they couldn’t speak for seven days. (Of course, they made up for their silence afterward.)…The best way to help people who are hurting is just to be with them, saying little or nothing, and letting them know you care. Don’t try to explain everything; explanations never heal a broken heart. If his friends had listened to him, accepted his feelings, and not argued with him, they would have helped him greatly; but they chose to be prosecuting attorneys instead of witnesses. In the end, the Lord rebuked them; and they had to ask Job’s forgiveness (Job 42: 7–10).” (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Patient: Waiting On God In Difficult Times, 24-25 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, CO; David C. Cook)

Often, our actions speak louder then our words. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar joined Job in his suffering and in his grief. Notice that they went to the city dump with Job.  

Job 2:8-And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes.

The Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) renders this phrase as “the dung heap,” which is identified as the city garbage heap.  

Job 2:8 (CEV)-Then Job sat on the ash-heap to show his sorrow. And while he was scraping his sores with a broken piece of pottery,

In ancient times, the city dump was where garbage and dung were burned, and wild animals were known to roam. This was a site of horrible sights and smells, very real danger, and nothing pleasant. Yet it was to this place that they went and stayed with Job for at least seven days!  

“Truth be told, these men were initially shocked when they saw what they saw. They didn’t even recognize Job! They probably first went to his old home site, where they had been before. The place didn’t even look familiar. Everything around it was destroyed. There was nothing stirring. It was ghostly silent; all they could see were the gravestones on the hillside. And somebody nearby says, “Oh, Job? He left sometime ago. I think he’s staying out at the city dump.” Another shock. When they arrived, even before they got up close, they could tell the difference immediately. Their friend had no hair, his robe was torn, and he is sitting there with dung burning near him, a pack of wild dogs not far away, and stinking, rotten garbage everywhere. They stood and stared in disbelief. That’s when their feelings came out. “Man, look at this.” And “they threw dust over their heads toward the sky” (an ancient expression of grief) as they cried. That implies they were down near the dust. The narrative states, “they sat down on the ground” (v. 13). That’s what friends do. They don’t worry about getting dirty or messy. This brings me to my fourth principle. Friends aren’t turned off by distasteful sights. On the contrary, they come alongside and they get as close as possible. Friends are not offended because the room has a foul smell. Friends don’t turn away because the one they’ve come to be with has been reduced to the shell of his former self, weighing half of what he used to weigh. Friends see beyond all of that. They don’t walk away because the bottom has dropped out of your life and you’re at wits’ end. On the contrary, that draws them in. These men literally raised their voices and sobbed as they sat down on the ground with Job. They demonstrated the depth of their anguish by staying seven days and seven nights without uttering a word.” (Charles R. Swindoll, Job: A Man Of Heroic Endurance, 51 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson) 

Becoming a better friend means that we will strive to help our friends wherever they are at, regardless of the unpleasantness of their situation. It means that we will do our best to console them, and allow even our wordless presence to be a refuge for them, knowing that simply “being there” can speak volumes more then our tongues ever could.

Three: They Stuck Around Even When It Would Have Been Easier To Leave

Several times, it is clear from the text that Job was not overly thrilled that Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar were there with him. Several times, he made this known to them!  

It would have been very easy for them to say, “Adios buddy!” Yet, they did not do so. They stayed and stuck it out! Even when it would have been much easier for them to hit the road, they decided to stay with Job.  

Job had LOTS of “friends” who had turned away from him (carefully study Job 29-31). It is a sad fact that sometimes, our “friends” disappear when we run out of money or are of no benefit to them any longer:

Proverbs 14:20 (CEV)-You have no friends if you are poor, but you have lots of friends if you are rich.

Proverbs 19:4 (CEV)-The rich have many friends; the poor have none.

Proverbs 19:6 (CEV)-Everyone tries to be friends of those who can help them.

That doesn’t mean that there is never a time to leave, of course. Several times in the Bible, we are warned of the dangers of allowing wicked people to influence us (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33). In fact, one of the reasons for church discipline is to try and bring an openly sinning brother or sister to repentance (1 Corinthians 5:5). However, such withdrawal of fellowship is a last resort.  

Four: They Were Still Job’s Friends Even Though They Were Convinced He Had Committed Some Horrible Sin

Job’s friends were convinced that Job had committed some terrible sin, and that it was for this reason that God was punishing him.

Job 4:7-11-7 No truly innocent person has ever died young.

8 In my experience, only those who plant seeds of evil harvest trouble,

9 and then they are swept away by the angry breath of God.

10 They may roar and growl like powerful lions. But when God breaks their teeth,

11 they starve, and their children are scattered.

Job 8:4-6-4 He made your children pay for their sins.

5 So why don’t you turn to him

6 and start living right? Then he will decide to rescue and restore you to your place of honor.

Job 15:4-6-4 Your words are enough to make others turn from God and lead them to doubt.

5 And your sinful, scheming mind is the source of all you say.

6 I am not here as your judge; your own words are witnesses against you.

Job 22:4-11-4 Is he correcting you for worshiping him?

5 No! It’s because of your terrible sins.

6 To guarantee payment of a debt, you have taken clothes from the poor.

7 And you refused bread and water to the hungry and thirsty,

8 although you were rich, respected, and powerful.

9 You have turned away widows and have broken the arms of orphans.

10 That’s why you were suddenly trapped by terror,

11 blinded by darkness, and drowned in a flood.

Now of course, they were completely wrong! Job was not suffering because of sin in his life.  

Yet what stands out to me is that even though Job’s friends thought that he had committed some terrible sin, they were still there!  

A true friend will try to love their fellows well, even in the worst of circumstances.

Proverbs 17:17-A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.  

Five: They Tried To Strengthen Job’s Hand In God

Finally, please consider that Job’s three friends had a strong desire in trying to strengthen Job’s relationship with God.

Job 5:8 (CEV)-Job, if I were you, I would ask God for help.

Job 8:5-6 (CEV)-5 So why don’t you turn to him

6 and start living right? Then he will decide to rescue and restore you to your place of honor.

Job 11:13 (CEV)–Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer,

Job 22:21-23 (CEV)–21 Surrender to God All-Powerful! You will find peace and prosperity.

22 Listen to his teachings and take them to heart.

23 If you return to God and turn from sin, all will go well for you.

Job 22:24-30 (CEV)-24 So get rid of your finest gold, as though it were sand.

25 Let God All-Powerful be your silver and gold,

26 and you will find happiness by worshiping him.

27 God will answer your prayers, and you will keep the promises you made to him.

28 He will do whatever you ask, and life will be bright.

29 When others are disgraced, God will clear their names in answer to your prayers.

30 Even those who are guilty will be forgiven, because you obey God.

While the three friends of Job were horribly mistaken as to why Job was suffering, and while they were in so many ways “miserable comforters,” it is very commendable that they were trying to encourage Job to walk with the Lord.  

We read in the Bible about the close friendship between Jonathan and David:

1 Samuel 18:1-3-1 Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

2 Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.

3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

While there are many commendable traits about Jonathan, one of the greatest is found later in 1 Samuel:

1 Samuel 23:16 (ERV)-But Saul’s son Jonathan went to see David at Horesh and encouraged him to have a stronger faith in God.

1 Samuel 23:16 (NLT)-Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.

Good friends will help us to have a closer walk with God.  

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

Questions

Which ancient translation of the Old Testament says that Job was in the “ding heap” when his friends found him? __________________

Lost some passages which show that Job’s friends thought that he was suffering as punishment from God for personal sin. _________________________________________

Which passage in the Book of Jeremiah identifies Teman as a land of great wisdom? ________________

What are some reasons to believe that Job’s friends had godly motivations for coming and visiting with Job? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
For Prayer Partners:

Look carefully at Job’s three friends. What are some other commendable qualities that they possess?  

Will Animals Go To Heaven?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

One of the questions I have often wondered about, and which I myself have been asked by several individuals, is whether or not animals will be in Heaven.  

Lots of people ask this question because they love animals. Some have told me that when their animals die, it is almost like losing a member of the family. I still remember the pain of the death of animals that were beloved pets in our home when I was growing up.  

Dare we hope that animals may be in Heaven?  

In examining this subject, we will ask and answer the following questions in this article:

Does God Care About Animals?  

Do Animals Have Souls?  

Does The Bible Teach Animals Will Be In Heaven?  

Let’s study.  

Does God Care About Animals? 

In the very first Book of the Bible, we learn some very important facts about animals. 

Genesis 2:19-Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

Please notice from this passage that God “formed” the animals, just as He “formed” Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:7). The word carries with it the idea of moulding something into a form, and was used to refer to a sculptor who made a beautiful masterpiece. This tells us that God put careful planning and care into His creation. 

We also learn from this passage that God gave mankind the responsibility of naming the animals. This implies that God was going to put mankind “in charge” of the creation, which of course He did (Genesis 1:26-27).  

There is another important thing to consider from the Book of Genesis in this regard. The Scriptures are clear that in the beginning, God made humans and animals to be vegetarian. We read:

Genesis 1:29-30-29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

It is not until many years later, AFTER the Global Flood, that we read of God authorizing mankind to utilize animals for food:

Genesis 9:3-Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.

Even with this provision in mind, we see several passages of Scripture which demonstrate clearly that God cares for animals.  

When God was teaching Jonah about the importance of learning and showing mercy and lovingkindness, He brought up all of the people and animals which would have died in the city of Nineveh if Jonah had his way:

Jonah 4:11-And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?

We are reminded in several Scriptures that God provides for animals and preserves their lives:

Psalm 36:6-Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O LORD, You preserve man and beast.

Psalm 145:9-The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.

Psalm 147:9-He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens that cry.

Matthew 10:29-Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

Do we not see in Numbers 22 the care and concern that God has for animals?  

The prophet Balaam had disobeyed God and the Lord had sent an angel to kill him. Three times, the angel appeared to kill Balaam; yet his donkey saw the angel and turned aside, saving her master’s life. Each time, Balaam (who did not have the ability to see the angel) struck the donkey!  

We are told:

Numbers 22:22-27-22 Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.

23 Now the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road.

24 Then the Angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side.

25 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck her again.

26 Then the Angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

27 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff.

When the angel appeared to Balaam, he told Balaam that his donkey had saved his life. We then are told these intriguing facts: 

Numbers 22:32-33-32 And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me.

33 The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.”

Isn’t it interesting that the angel was furious with the way that Balaam had treated his donkey? These facts go to show me that God does, indeed, care about animals.  

This passage also teaches us what God thinks about cruelty to animals. He is furious with sinners every day (Psalm 7:11), especially when they mistreat the creation over which He has placed us over as stewards (Psalm 8).  

(On a side note: it is fascinating that Balaam’s donkey was able to see the angel of the Lord, even when Balaam couldn’t. Is it possible that animals are somehow able to see more in the spiritual world than we human beings? This passage certainly supports this notion!). 

Do Animals Have Souls? 

The next question to examine deals with whether or not animals have souls.  

Now, to many in our materialistic generation and world, there will be an immediate denial that animals have souls. Even among Christians, there is usually quick denial that animals have souls. 

Of course, this attitude is actually of “recent” origin. It wasn’t until the Enlightment of the seventeen century that doubt about the existence of the soul of animals became an issue in the West. Certainly, there are several passages of Scripture which teach that animals have souls. Notice that God in Genesis clearly tells us that animals have souls: 

Genesis 1:30-Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life (nephesh), I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

Furthermore, there are several places where animals and humans alike are said to have the “breath of life” (a phrase similar to nephesh):

Genesis 6:17-17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

Genesis 7:15-And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life.

Genesis 7:21-23-21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man.

22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died.

23 So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, we are told about how animals and humans both have a spirit:

Ecclesiastes 3:21-Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the animal, which goes down to the earth? 

In the Book of Revelation, we read of “souls” (Greek, psuche) being associated with animals:

Revelation 8:9-And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

Now, we need to be sure and notice that the soul of an animal is not the same “kind” of soul that human beings have.

For example, only mankind is said to be made in the image of God (Genesis 1;26-27).

Speaking of the differences between human and animal souls, philosopher J.P. Moreland has offered these intriguing insights: 

“It is sometimes a surprise to people to learn that the Bible teaches that animals, no less than humans, have souls. In the Old Testament, nephesh (soul) and ruach (spirit) are used of animals in Genesis 1: 30 and Ecclesiastes 3: 21, respectively. In the New Testament, psuche (soul) is used of animals in Revelation 8: 9. Moreover, it is a matter of common sense that animals are not merely unconscious machines. Rather, they are conscious living beings with sensations, emotions (like fear), desires, and, at least for some animals, thoughts and beliefs. The history of Christian teaching is widely united in affirming the existence of the “souls of men and beasts” as it has sometimes been put. But what is the animal soul like? Let us consider this question. How do we decide what an animal’s soul is like? Obviously, we cannot inspect it directly. We cannot get inside an animal’s conscious life and just look at its internal states. The best approach seems to be this: Based on our direct awareness of our own inner lives, we should attribute to animals by analogy those states that are necessary to account for the animal’s behavior, nothing more and nothing less. 16 For example, if a dog steps on a thorn and then howls and holds up its paw, we are justified in attributing to the dog the same sort of state that happens in us just after we experience such a stick. The dog feels pain. Now the dog may also be having thoughts about his unfortunate luck in stepping on the thorn, but there is no adequate evidence for this if we stick to what we observe about the dog’s behavior. Such an attribution would be unjustified. An interesting implication of this approach is that as we move down the animal chain to creatures that are increasingly unlike humans—from primates to earthworms—we are increasingly unjustified in ascribing a mental life to those animals. Now an organism either does or does not have a conscious life; for example, a worm either does or does not feel pain. But we have more grounds for ascribing painful sensations to primates than to worms according to the methodology above. All living animals have souls if they have organic life, regardless of the degree to which they are conscious, but we are justified in attributing less and less to the animal soul as the animal in question bears a weaker analogy to us. In light of this methodology, what can we say about animal souls? Obviously, our answer will vary depending on the animal in question. But it seems reasonable to say that virtually all animals have certain sorts of sensations, for example, experiences of taste and pain. Many if not most animals seem to have desires as well, such as a desire for food. Many animals appear to engage in thinking and have certain sorts of beliefs. For example, a dog seems to be able to engage in means-to-ends reasoning. If he wants to go through a specific door to get food, and if the door is closed, he can select an alternative means to achieve the desired end. Many animals also engage in willings: that is, they will to do certain things, though there is no adequate evidence to suggest that they have libertarian freedom. It is more likely that an animal’s will is determined by its beliefs, desires, sensations, and bodily states. There are several capacities that animals do not seem to have. We have already mentioned libertarian freedom of the will. Animals also do not seem to have moral awareness. Animals do not seem to grasp key notions central to morality such as the notion of a virtue, of a duty, of another thing having intrinsic value and rights, of universalizing a moral judgment, and so on. They cannot distinguish between what they desire most and what is most desirable intrinsically. Alleged altruistic behavior can be explained on the basis of animal desire without attributing a sense of awareness of intrinsic duty to the animal. Animals, therefore, do not seem to be capable of having a conflict between desire and duty, though they can experience a conflict between desires (e.g., to scratch the chair and to avoid being spanked). Animals do not seem to be able to entertain various sorts of abstract thoughts, for example, thoughts about matter in general or about love in general or even about food in general. Moreover, animals do not seem to be able to distinguish between true universal judgments (all alligators are dangerous) and mere statistical generalizations (most alligators are dangerous) nor do they have a concept of truth itself. While this is controversial and I may be wrong in this judgment, animals do not seem to possess language. 17 One problem that keeps people from getting clear about this is the presence of certain ambiguities about what language is. More specifically, the question of animal language cannot be adequately discussed without drawing a distinction between a sign and a symbol. A sign is a sense-perceptible object, usually a shaped thing like the characters “BANANA” or a sound (the utterance of “BANANA”). Now if an animal (or a human infant for that matter) comes to experience repeatedly the simultaneous presence of a sign (the visual presentation of BANANA) and the presence of a real banana, a habitual association will be set up such that the animal will anticipate the sense perception of a real banana shortly after seeing this shape: BANANA. In the case of the animal, BANANA does not represent or mean a banana, so it is not a symbol. Rather, BANANA is merely a certain geometrically perceived shape that comes to be associated with a banana in such a way that the latter is anticipated when the former is observed. By contrast, real language requires symbols and not mere signs. When language users use the word banana, it is used to represent, mean, and refer to actual bananas. Now the evidence suggests that animals have certain abilities to manipulate and behaviorally respond to signs, but it is far from clear that they have a concept of symbols. One reason for this claim is the lack in animals of grammatical creativity and logical thought about language itself that is present in real language users. Finally, St. Augustine once noted that animals have desires, but they do not have desires to have desires. They may have beliefs, volitions, thoughts, and sensations, but they do not seem to have beliefs about their beliefs, they do not choose to work on their choices, they don’t think about their thinking, and they are not aware of their awarenesses. Nor do they seem to be aware of themselves as selves. In short, they do not seem to be able to transcend their own states and engage in reflection about their own selves and the states within them. Animals are precious creatures of God and ought to be respected as such. But the animal soul is not as richly structured as the human soul, it does not bear the image of God, and it is far more dependent on the animal’s body and its sense organs than is the human soul.” (J.P. Moreland, The Soul: How We Know It’s Real And Why It Matters, 140-144 (Kindle Edition); Chicago; Moody Publishers) 

These passages teach us that animals have some kind of “soul.”  

Will Animals Be In Heaven?  

We could make an argument from the answers to the two previous questions that animals will be in Heaven.  

If God loves animals, and if animals have souls, then why would we NOT assume they will be in Heaven?  

“The simplest answer is: Why not? How irrational is the prejudice that would allow plants (green fields and flowers) but not animals into Heaven! 69 Much more reasonable is C. S. Lewis’ speculation that we will be “between the angels who are our elder brothers and the beasts who are our jesters, servants, and playfellows”. 70 Scripture seems to confirm this: “thy judgments are like the great deep; man and beast thou savest, O Lord”. 71 Animals belong in the “new earth” 72 as much as trees. C. S. Lewis supposes that animals are saved “in” their masters, as part of their extended family. 73 Only tamed animals would be saved in this way. It would seem more likely that wild animals are in Heaven too, since wildness, otherness, not-mine-ness, is a proper pleasure for us. 74 The very fact that the seagull takes no notice of me when it utters its remote, lonely call is part of its glory. Would the same animals be in Heaven as on earth? “Is my dead cat in Heaven?” Again, why not? God can raise up the very grass; 75 why not cats? Though the blessed have better things to do than play with pets, the better does not exclude the lesser. We were meant from the beginning to have stewardship over the animals; 76 we have not fulfilled that divine plan yet on earth; therefore it seems likely that the right relationship with animals will be part of Heaven: proper “pet-ship”. And what better place to begin than with already petted pets?” (Peter Kreeft, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Heaven-But Never Dreamed Of Asking, 483-494 (Kindle Edition); San Francisco, CA; Ignatius Press) 

While there is a strong argument for animals being in Heaven from the above cited information, there are at least two passages of Scripture that we will consider which directly touch upon this issue.  

The first passage is from the Book of Psalms. In the 104th Psalm, David describes the incredible creation of God.

Speaking of various animals in the creation (birds, storks, wild goats, rock badgers, lions, leviathan, all the bearcats of the forest, etc.) and how God provides for them, we are told:

Psalm 104:37-30-27 These all wait for You, That You may give them their food in due season.

28 What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good.

29 You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, THEY DIE and return to their dust.

30 You send forth Your Spirit, THEY ARE CREATED; And You RENEW THE FACE OF THE EARTH.  

Did you catch that friends?  

David describes the death of the animals, and then he describes their living again.  

Furthermore, the text tells us that this is connected with the renewing of the face of the earth. Throughout Scripture, we are told about the promise of God that there will be “new heavens and a new earth” which will be accomplished at the Second Coming of Christ (2 Peter 3:9-13; Revelation 21:1-5).  

Whatever this “new heaven and new earth” is, it would appear from this Psalm that it will include the bringing forth of the animals who have died.

The commentary of the famous preacher Adam Clarke on this passage are insightful:

“Do not these words plainly imply a resurrection of the bodies which have died, been dissolved, or turned to dust? And is not the brute creation principally intended here? Is it not on this account it is said, Psa 104:31, “the glory of the Lord shall endure for ever, (לעולם leolam),” to be manifest in those times which are secret, when Jehovah himself shall rejoice in his works; when the brute creation shall be delivered from the bondage of its corruption? See the notes on Rom 8:19-23.”  

The second passage to which I would call your attention is from the Book of Romans.  

In the context, the Apostle Paul is talking about how the redemption of the children of God is. When Adam sinned, the entire creation of God was cursed (Genesis 3:17-19). Now, because of what Jesus has done-and because of what He WILL DO-the reation has hope again. We are told:

Romans 8:19-22-19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;

21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Notice that Paul teaches the entire creation itself “will be delivered” at the time of the Second Coming when God’s people are fully redeemed in “the glory which shall be revealed” (Romans 8:18).  

What exactly is “the creation” that Paul talks about?  

“Creation is a significant term in this text. It cannot refer to redeemed believers because “the children of God” is one group distinct from “creation” itself. Creation yearns to experience the “freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Neither does it refer to angelic entities because they were never subjected to futility or enslaved to decay. It also does not refer to unbelievers because they are not delivered from the “bondage to decay.” Consequently, what Paul means by creation is the cosmos, which is Abraham’s inheritance (Rom. 4: 13). Creation refers to the heavens and the earth, which God subjected to futility in the wake of the original couple’s sin. This is the “curse” of Genesis 3. The world God created, though subjected to futility and enslaved to decay, is redeemed—like humanity itself, including “the redemption of our bodies”—from death through the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. Creation—the animals, trees, oceans, and skies—is the object of God’s redemption through the resurrection of Jesus….At the same time, the redemption of creation is not merely a return to what it once was. Redemption moves creation along to the purposes God had for creation initially. God’s creation will be free from sin, free from corruption, and free from death, and thus free to fully become what God intended in the beginning….The gospel is the story of how God fulfills the promises to Abraham in Jesus the Messiah. The gospel is the hope of Israel, which is resurrection. Resurrection proves God has not given up on creation or its purposes. The gospel is a message of salvation for not only Jews and Gentiles but the whole of creation. It is the message of the resurrected Lord, the resurrection of our mortal human bodies in the power of the Spirit, and the resurrected earth, as the redeemed live in communion with the Triune God. These three wonders are seamlessly sewn together in Paul’s biblical narrative.” (John Mark Hicks, Bobby Valentine, & and Mark Wilson, Embracing Creation: God’s Forgotten Mission, 1482-1500 (Kindle Edition); Abilene, TX; Abilene Christian University Press) 

Several passages of Scripture tie together the animals in the world with the creation that suffers as a result of man’s sin. Furthermore, these passages indicate a “hope” for redemption, which Paul may have had in mind when he wrote his passage in Romans 8. Consider:

Joel 1:18-20-18 How the animals groan! The herds of cattle are restless, Because they have no pasture; Even the flocks of sheep suffer punishment.

19 O LORD, to You I cry out; For fire has devoured the open pastures, And a flame has burned all the trees of the field.

20 The beasts of the field also cry out to You, For the water brooks are dried up, And fire has devoured the open pastures.

Jeremiah 12:4-How long will the land mourn, And the herbs of every field wither? The beasts and birds are consumed, For the wickedness of those who dwell there, Because they said, “He will not see our final end.”

With these things in mind, the insights of one author who carefully studied these matters, deserve our attention: 

“During my pet search, a gentle voice behind my mind seemed to whisper, “Read Romans 8.” I had read this chapter before, but now something beckoned toward a closer look. After paging my way to this New Testament section, this is what I found:…These words deserve careful consideration. In fact, this has become one of my main there-might-be-hope-for-Jax sections. In my Bible prophecy seminars, I always encourage my audiences to put away preconceived opinions and to pay close attention to the text—to the actual words of God. Only then can we really understand the message of truth. If we look closely at Romans 8: 19–23, the concepts are truly amazing. Paul revealed how Adam’s sin affected the “whole creation” (v. 22), which must include the animals, too. Yet sin will not continue forever. In the interim, the “creature itself” (v. 21) is portrayed as “eagerly waiting” (v. 19), in “hope” (v. 20), while yet “groaning … in pain” (v. 22) until the full restoration after the second coming of Jesus Christ. Then “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (v. 21).” (Steve Wohlberg, Will My Pet Go To Heaven? 798-810 (Kindle Edition); Roseville, CA; Amazing Facts) 

Conclusion

Will animals be in Heaven?  

Based on the testimony of Scripture, I absolutely believe so.  

The question is: will YOU be in Heaven?  

Friends, we have a serious problem that animals don’t share with us: human beings are sinners. When we choose to break the Law of God, we separate ourselves from Him (Isaiah 59:1-2). This is why animals (as well as unaccountable human beings such as infants, small children, and mentally handicapped individuals-see Ezekiel 18:20; 28:15; John 9:41; 15:22) do not need to be saved. They have no need for salvation, for they were never lost; they are SAFE.

Yet Jesus Christ came to bring salvation to mankind (John 3;16). He died on the cross of Calvary, paid the debt for our sins, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Will you not today, as a believer in Jesus (John 8:24) repent of your sins (Luke 13:3), confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God (1 Timothy 6:12-13), and be baptized into Him to be forgiven (Acts 2:38)?  

If you are a child of God who has turned your back on the Lord through sin, will you not right now-at this very moment-repent of your sin, confessing it to the Lord in prayer so you may be restored and forgiven again (1 John 1:8-2:2)?  

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

Prophesying In Proportion To Our Faith

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

In the Book of Romans, there is a very interesting passage which the Apostle Paul has left for us:

Romans 12:6-Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;

What lessons may we glean from this inspired Word of God? 

To answer that, let us look carefully at three things.  

The Context Of The Passage 

When studying anything, we need to consider it in its’ context. I have personally seen more harm done to Scripture when the context of a passage is not carefully examined. Remember that the devil tried to deceive the Lord Jesus Himself by taking a passage of Scripture out of its’ intended context; and it was only by quoting another passage from the Word of God that the Lord showed how the devil had misapplied Holy Writ (Matthew 4:5-7).  

The Book of Romans consists of sixteen chapters. It was written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Christ at Rome. Paul was writing in the hopes that he would soon be visiting there, and he tells us that he had a very special reason for his desired stop with the brethren in that city:

Romans 1:11-For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—

The Apostles of Jesus had been given His special authority, to bind and to loose His Word (Matthew 18:18; John 17:8). Implied in the very word “Apostle” is the idea of one who was sent forth with the authority of a king or ruling body who dispatched them.

One example of this important authority of an Apostle is seen in the way that the Jewish ruling body, the Sanhedrin, operated: 

“The Sanhedrin was the supreme court of the Jews. In matters of religion, the Sanhedrin had authority over every Jew throughout the world. When the Sanhedrin came to a decision, that decision was given to an apostolos to convey it to the persons whom it concerned and to see that it was carried out. When such an apostolos went out, behind him and in him lay the authority of the Sanhedrin, whose representative he was.” (William Barclay, The New Daily Study Bible: The Letters To The Galatians And Ephesians, 85 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press).  

This special authority of the Apostles included their Divine guidance by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13; Acts 2:1-4).  

In the first century, when the Apostles wanted to convey the ability to perform miraculous gifts to others, they did so through the laying on of their hands: 

Acts 8:18-And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,

Now, please notice that one of the reasons why Paul was so eager to come to Rome was so that he could impart spiritual gifts to the Romans. This is important, because it shows us that there were no inspired Prophets at Rome already.  

In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul talks about the condemnation of mankind (due to sin). He concludes that all-both Gentiles and Jews (Romans 2:12-15; 3:1-5) are under condemnation from God because of failure to perfectly keep God’s perfect Law (Romans 3:23).

He then begins a detailed study of the justification of God’s people, demonstrating that we are saved through faith-and not through perfect law-keeping. Abraham was a perfect example of this justification by faith, and the Law itself testified of how we wold be saved through faith in the perfectly righteous Messiah of God: 

Romans 4:23-25-23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,

24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,

25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

As a result of this imputed righteous, we are now able to stand before God based upon faith:

Romans 5:1-2-1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Paul then goes on to describe the perfect obedience of Jesus, the Last Adam, as contrasted with the disobedience of the first Adam.

The focus of the Apostle on Jesus’ perfect life and obedience leads him to demonstrate the salvation that God’s people enjoy, which is achieved in the watery grave of baptism (Romans 6:3-4).   

The Apostle then begins a detailed discussion regarding sanctification, reminding Christians of all ages that sanctification is actually a two stage concept (being both an event and a process).  
“The English word sanctify or sanctification is built on the Latin word sanctus , which means “holy.” In English, we don’t turn the adjective holy into a verb. The world holify does not exist. But in the Greek language of the New Testament, the adjective holy ( hagios ) can be made into a verb ( hagiazō ), which means “to make holy” or to “treat as holy.” In Greek, that same adjective for holy ( hagios ) can be made into three different nouns ( hagiosmos , hagiōsunē , hagiotēs ), which sometimes mean “the condition of being holy” (“holiness”) or “the process of becoming holy”—which would be “holification” if such a word existed in English, but since it doesn’t, we use “sanctification.” Here’s the crucial point: any time you read in the New Testament any form of the word “sanctify,” you know you are reading about holiness . So a book like this on sanctification is a book on being or becoming holy. And the reason I use the terms “being” or “becoming” holy is that the New Testament refers to our holiness in both of those senses—a condition of being holy and a process of becoming holy. The clearest place to see both of these in one chapter is Hebrews 10. Hebrews 10:10 says, “By [God’s] will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” So there is a sense in which all those who believe in Jesus “have been sanctified.” They are holy. And then four verses later (v. 14) we read, “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified .” So there is a sense in which Christians are both perfected already (are perfectly holy) and are being sanctified (being made holy). Both the condition of being holy and the process of becoming holy are prominent in the New Testament. Neither is minimized. The most obvious way to see the prominence of the Christian condition or state of holiness is to see that Paul calls Christians “saints” forty times in his thirteen letters. Paul’s favorite name for Christians is saints . The New Testament word behind the English “saint” is simply the adjective for “holy” turned into a noun—“holy ones” ( hagioi ). You can see the connection between the condition of being sanctified and the name “saints” in 1 Corinthians 1:2: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified ( hēgiasmenois ) in Christ Jesus, called to be saints ( klētois hagiois ).” So the picture is that God calls us, and unites us by faith to Jesus, so that “in Christ Jesus,” we are holy, sanctified, and the name that we get, therefore, is “saints” or “holy ones.” But the process of becoming holy (sanctification) is also prominent in the New Testament. We saw Hebrews 10:14, “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified .” We see it in 2 Corinthians 7:1: “Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” So if we are bringing holiness to completion, there is a process of becoming fully holy. We are not there yet. Or 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely .” This prayer shows that our becoming holy is not yet complete. So Paul asks God to complete it. Or Hebrews 12:10: “[Our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but [God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness .” So a fuller holiness is coming through God’s discipline. The upshot of all this so far is that whenever the New Testament talks about sanctification, it is talking about holiness. And when it is talking about our holiness, it is either talking about the condition of our being holy (because we are in Christ Jesus—and thus saints), or it is talking about the process of our becoming holy through God’s work in our lives.” (John Piper & David Mathis (General Editors), Acting the Miracle: God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification, 345-381 (Kindle Edition); Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway). 

In chapters 9-11, we then read about the predestination of God for His people throughout eternity. This predestination was in harmony with the free will of the people. This is especially demonstrated through Paul’s description of the unbelieving Jews who rejected Jesus by the words “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22). Speaking of the grammar of this passage, we are reminded: 

“28 They are , “objects of wrath.” They are “prepared for destruction” in the sense that by their life and conduct they have determined their own destiny. Murray comments that “there is an exact correspondence between what they were in this life and the perdition to which they are consigned. This is another way of saying that there is continuity between this life and their lot of the life to come” ( Romans , 2:36).” (Robert Mounce, The New American Commentary Volume 27: Romans, 234 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group)  

However, the disobedient Jews may still be redeemed if they continue not in their unbelief, but instead obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 11:23-27).  

This leads us to Romans 12.  

In Paul’s writings, we find this pattern: the Apostle often begins a section of Scripture with a doctrinal discourse, and then spends the next part of his Epistle discussing how these teachings are to be applied in the lives of God’s people.  

Having established these great truths, Paul reminds the Christians about the incredible grace that God has bestowed upon them, and how this demands a proper response from them: 

Romans 12:1-2-1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The Apostle now establishes the fact that these mercies of God demand a proper response from us: they demand a complete surrender of ourselves (body and spirit) to the will of God.  

Romans 12:3-5-3  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4  For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

Stressing the importance of their unity in Christ, Paul is now going to exhort the members of the church to use their gifts in a way that will benefit and bless the entire church.  

With this context in mind, let’s now notice the incredible content of this passage of Scripture.  

The Content Of The Passage 

Let’s notice the passage again:

Romans 12:6-Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
Let’s carefully break down the content of this passage and study.  

The Gifts 

The first thing to notice is that Paul says “gifts” have been given to the church.  

What does this mean?  

The Greek word used here that is translated as “gifts” is charisma. This word had several different connotations.  

For example, sometimes it could refer to miraculous gifts (I.e., to the ability for some to work miracles such as raising the dead, opening the eyes of the blind, speaking and interpreting tongues, receiving and imparting the Divine Word miraculously, etc.-see for example 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 1:6).  

There are many times where it could be used to refer to the “gift” of God in bringing salvation for sinners (Romans 5:15-16; 6:23; 11:29).  

The word was also used to refer to the “gift” of God in helping a person to develop celibacy and continence during times of “present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:7).

Charis could also be used to refer to the many “gifts” that God provides in answer to our prayers (2 Corinthians 1:11).  

It is important to realize that the gifts that God provides to mankind are gifts that are given to be a blessing; and that they are to be used for the establishment and edifying of the family of God.  

With that in mind, notice that Paul points out that God has given gifts to His people. Every Christian has gifts that God has given him through the Spirit that can and should be used to help the church to grow.  

The Meaning Of Prophecy 

The word “prophecy” is an interesting word. The most common Old Testament word translated as “prophet” is naba, and was no doubt related to the Akkadian word nabu, which meant “to be called.” It also carried the idea of “one who bubbles,” I.e., one in whom the Word of God was proclaimed to the people.  

It is important to realize that in Scripture, words often contain at least two different meanings: a general meaning, and a specific meaning. Don’t we see this, for example, in regards to the use of the word “elder?” An “elder” can simply be an older person; or it can have reference to a leader in the church (Acts 14:23).  

In the same way, the word “prophet” can have the general meaning of a teacher, and the specific meaning of an inspired Prophet to whom God directly gives His Word.  

The general meaning of the word “prophet” (and uninspired teacher) is perhaps best illustrated in the words of the Apostle Peter: 

2 Peter 2:1-But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

Notice how the words “teacher” and “prophet” are used interchangeably. In its most basic and general form, the word “prophet” meant simply a teacher.  

This is also illustrated in the famous “schools of the prophets” mentioned in the Old Testament, where several people would go and learn to preach and teach the Word of God (1 Samuel 19:18-24; 2 Kings 4:38-41; Amos 7:14).

These prophets were not granted new Revelation from God per se, but were proclaimers of God’s Word that had been already delivered to the people.  

Thus, the word “prophet” sometimes had reference to uninspired public proclaimed of the Aoes of God.  

When speaking of miraculously endowed Prophets, the Bible teaches that gift would cease (along with all of the miraculous gifts) when the New Testament Scriptures had been completed and confirmed (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). Vine’s comments are instructive here: 

““Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive, see Micah 5:2, e.g., and cf. John 11:51, prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, Matt. 26:68, it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future, see Gen. 20:7; Deut. 18:18; Rev. 10:11; 11:3.… “In such passages as 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20, the ‘prophets’ are placed after the ‘Apostles,’ since not the prophets of Israel are intended, but the ‘gifts’ of the ascended Lord, Eph. 4:8, 11; cf. Acts 13:1; … ; the purpose of their ministry was to edify, to comfort, and to encourage the believers, 1 Cor. 14:3, while its effect upon unbelievers was to show that the secrets of a man’s heart are known to God, to convict of sin, and to constrain to worship, vv. 24, 25. “With the completion of the canon of Scripture prophecy apparently passed away, 1 Cor. 13:8, 9.” (W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 49513-49533 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers).  

The second and third century Christians mention how these miraculous gifts did indeed cease. Their writings are quite clear about it. For example: 

Chrysostom-“[Commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:] “This whole place is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians , 36.7. Chrysostom is commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:1–2 and introducing the entire chapter. Cited from Gerald Bray, ed., 1–2 Corinthians , Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999), 146)

Chrysostom (Commenting On 2 Thessalonians 2:7)-“One may naturally inquire what is that which restrains the man of lawlessness, and in addition, why Paul expresses it so obscurely. What then is it that holds back, that is, that hinders the revealing of, the Antichrist? Some indeed say, the grace of the Spirit, but others the Roman Empire. I agree with the latter position. Why? Because if Paul meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely but plainly, that even now the grace of the Spirit, that is the gifts, hold back the Antichrist. If not, he should have come by now, if his coming was to occur with the cessation of the gifts of the Spirit; for they have long since ceased….But because Paul said this of the Roman Empire, he merely touched the topic, understandably speaking covertly and darkly. For he had no need to create unnecessary enemies and useless dangers.…(Homilies on 2 Thessalonians 4. [NPNF 1 13:388-89*.])

Theodoret of Cyril-“In former times those who accepted the divine preaching and who were baptized for their salvation were given visible signs of the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Some spoke in tongues which they did not know and which nobody had taught them, while others performed miracles or prophesied. The Corinthians also did these things, but they did not use the gifts as they should have done. They were more interested in showing off than in using them for the edification of the church.” (Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians 240. [PG 82:319])

Augustine-““In the earliest times, the Holy Spirit fell upon them that believe and they spoke with tongues, which they had not learned, as the Spirit gave them utterance. These were signs adapted to the time. For there was this betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues to show that the gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a sign, and it passed away.” (Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John , 6.10. Cited from Philip Schaff, Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers , 1st series (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2012), 7:497–98)  

Gregory the Great-“Is it, my brethren, because we do not have these signs that you do not believe? These were needed at the church’s beginning. The new faith needed to be nourished by miracles to grow. When we plant a vineyard, we must water the plants till we see they have begun to grow in the earth, and when they have once taken root we cease to water them constantly.… But true life cannot be obtained by means of these outward signs by those who perform them. For although corporeal works of this kind sometimes do proclaim an inner holiness of life, they do not bring it about.” (Homilies on the Gospels 29. [Cetedoc 1711, 2.29.4, 5, 4.39; SSGF 2:428*; PL 76.])

Now, here is a question about our text: is Paul taking here in Romans 12 about inspired Prophets, or non-inspired preachers of the already delivered Word of God?  

I believe he is talking about uninspired “prophets” or preachers.  

Here are the reasons why.  

First, there is nothing in the context to suggest that Paul is talking about miraculously given gifts.  

Second, the passage clearly shows that the gifts Paul is talking about were already in the possession of the church in Rome.  

Third, the gifts that Paul talks about were gifts that were common gifts to all the believers; and yet the miraculous gifts were not for every believer (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:29-30).  

Fourth, that there were no miraculous gifts of the Spirit in Rome at this time seems evident from the fact that Paul had a strong desire to impart miraculous gifts to the church (Romans 1:11).  

All of these factors lead me to the conclusion that the gift of prophecy here has reference to uninspired preachers of the Word of God.  

The Motivation Of Prophecy 

Paul wants us to understand here that the preacher of God’s Word must have the right motivations in proclaiming Scripture. He must be intent on building up the church.

The most important aim of the Gospel preacher is preaching the Word of God.  

2 Timothy 4:2-4-2  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

We have the obligation of speaking to the truth in love as Christians (Ephesians 4:15), of proclaiming the saving Message of Christ to a lost and dying world (1 Corinthians 1:18), of being true to Christ and His Word when people all around us would try and destroy us for being true to the Holy Scriptures (1 Peter 4:16).  

Those with the gift of preaching must remember the solemn work that had been entrusted to them. Only when we have fully accepted the solemnity of the work that God has given us will we be able to say:

2 Timothy 4:6-8-6  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

The Measure Of Prophecy 

The last part of the verse is very interesting.  

What does Paul mean when he says that we must prophesy according to the proportion of our faith?”  

The word “proportion” that is used here was sometimes used in the Ancient Greek-speaking world to mean “standard” or “rule” (or as we might say, “canon”).  

Before the word “faith” in this passage, the definite article is found. In other words, it says “THE faith.”  

Now, in the Mew Testament, the phrase “the faith” has reference to the revealed Word of God. For example: 

Acts 6:7-Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Acts 13:6-8-6 Now when they had gone through the island to Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. This man called for Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear THE WORD OF GOD. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so his name is translated) withstood them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from THE FAITH. (Notice how “the faith” is used synonymously with “the Word of God”).

Acts 16::4-5-4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them THE DECREES to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in THE FAITH, and increased in number daily. (Notice how “the faith” is synonymous with the Divine “decrees”).  

Philippians 1:27- Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL.”  

Colossians 1:23-if indeed you continue in THE FAITH, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of THE GOSPEL, which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.  

2 Timothy 3:8-Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist THE TRUTH: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning THE FAITH; (Notice that “the faith” is synonymous with “the truth”).

With that in mind, what is Paul telling preachers?  

Romans 12:6 (DRB)-And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith;

Romans 12:6 (GW)-God in his kindness gave each of us different gifts. If your gift is speaking God’s word, make sure what you say agrees with the Christian faith.

“‘Proportion’ is a translation of analogia in the Greek, a word used nowhere else in the New Testament; it means ‘in right relationship to,’ ‘in agreement with’. We tend to take ‘the faith’ as meaning ‘that which is believed, a body of doctrine,’ so that the exhortation here to the prophets is to make sure the message they deliver is in agreement with already admitted Christian doctrine.” (Gareth Reese, New Testament Epistles: Romans-A Commentary, 584-585; Moberly, Missouri; Scripture Exposition Books) 

“The αναλογια της πιστεως, which we here translate the proportion of faith, and which some render the analogy of faith, signifies in grammar “the similar declension of similar words;” but in Scriptural matters it has been understood to mean the general and consistent plan or scheme of doctrines delivered in the Scriptures; where every thing bears its due relation and proportion to another.”. (Adam Clarke)

Thus interpreted, the meaning is that the prophet must make sure that what he teaches people is in harmony with the revealed Word of God, i.e., the Scriptures.  

If it is argued that the New Testament Scriptures were not yet considered authoritative by the church, a little study will show the error in that thinking.  

First, the Apostles were already referring to their writings as Scripture. For example:

1 Timothy 5:18-For the Scripture says, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE AN OX WHILE IT TREADS OUT THE GRAIN,” and, “THE LABORER IS WORTHY OF HIS WAGES.”

Paul here quotes two Scriptures in order to demonstrate his point that elders in the church are entitled to pay. The first reference is rom Deuteronomy 25:4. However, the second quotation is only found in one place:

Luke 10:7-And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.

Paul quotes from the New Testament, and calls it Scripture. 

The same thing is found in the Apostle Peter’s letter, when he is referring to the Epistles of Paul:

2 Peter 3:16-as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

Please notice that Paul refers to the writings of Peter, and classifies them as “Scripture.”  

These examples show us that the early church was already recognizing the New Testament Books as “Scripture”. 

Second, the Apostles clearly point out that their writings were as authoritative as their own teachings. Notice:

1 Corinthians 14:37-If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 2:15-Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.

The Apostles of Christ invested their authority into the written New Testament Scriptures.  

Finally, notice that the earliest church outside of the apostolic age clearly acknowledged the authority of the New Testament. For example, consider these quotations from the early Christian writers: 

“Renouncing the error of your fathers, you should read the prophecies of the sacred writers…Learn from them what will give you everlasting life.” (Justin Martyr, 160)

“More strength will be given you, and the knowledge of the heart will be increased more and more, as you examine more fully the Scriptures, old and new, and read through the complete volumes of the spiritual books.” (Cyprian, 250)  

“”We have learned the plan of our salvation from no one else other than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us. For they did at one time proclaim the gospel in public. And, at a later period, by the will of God, they handed the gospel down to us in the Scriptures-to be ‘the ground and pillar of our faith.'” (Irenaeus, 180).

“”In order that we might acquire an ampler and more authoritative knowledge of Himself, His counsels, and His will, God has added a written revelation for the benefit of everyone whose heart is set on seeking Him.” (Tertullian, 197)  

“”It will be your duty, however, to present your proofs out of the Scriptures, as plainly as we do.” (Tertullian, 213)  

“”Brethren, there is one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures and from no other source…Even as He has chosen to teach them by the Holy Scriptures, so let us discern them.” (Hippolytus, 205)  

“We have the Lord as the source of teaching— both by the Prophets, the Gospel, and the blessed apostles. . . . He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and the voice of the Lord (which by the Lord acts to the benefit of men) is rightly [regarded] as being faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195)

“To those who thus ask questions, in the Scriptures there is given from God . . . the gift of the God- given knowledge. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195).

(All of these quotations are from David Bercot, A Dictionary Of Early Christian Belief: A Reference Guide To More Than 700 Topics Discussed By The Early Church Fathers, 22294-22380 (Kindle Edition); Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers Marketing) 

So in this passage, Paul is telling preachers to make sure that what they teach is in harmony with what God’s Divinely inspired Word has declared. In this regard, the exhortation of the Apostle is the same that God has given to His people throughout time: be faithful in what you teach!  

if there is anything that is needed in this world, it is the need for people to return to the teaching of Scripture.

We need to get away from the things which cause denominationalism and put God’s Word first again.

We need for preachers to be true to His Word again, no matter how many people it offends (in the church, or outside of it).  

The Consequence Of The Passage

Finally, let’s notice of the natural consequences of this passage of Scripture.

First, please consider that the natural and mandatory response to God’s gifts (the reasonable service to God’s mercies) is complete obedience to God (Romans 12:1-2). The love of Christ compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  

Second, God has given gifts to each of His people.  

1 Peter 4:10-As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God has given you a gift Christian! How are you using it?  

Third, the gifts that God gives to His people are all important. Sometimes Christians feel that if their gifts for the church are different from other people’s gifts, then they are somehow unimportant.

It reminds me of the following story I read years ago.  

Once there was a huge and beautiful church building. It was incredibly crafted, well-designed, with beautiful stained glass windows. There were nice and cushioned pews, amazing large print Bibles, and hymnals with old and newer songs. At the top of the ceiling, where the handsome ceiling beams were laid, there was a big black nail. Well one day, as the nail was looking down at the church building, he began to start feeling quite disgusted with himself. What difference did little Old Mr. Nail make?  

After all, look at the pews that provided comfort and ease to the partitioner; what a great service Mr. Pew was very important!

The beautiful humans were so needed; they helped the people to sing such beautiful praises to God!

The ceiling fans helped keep the people comfortable (and let’s be honest, they helped keep the people awake during the sometimes long and drawn out sermons).  

Yet what good did Mr. Nail do? 

So the nail became annoyed and disgruntled, and over the next few weeks, he just gave up and let himself go.

After all, what did he do that was important?

He wouldn’t be missed if he was gone, right?  

Before long, Mr. nail just fell out of the ceiling.  

That night, a terrible storm blew through the area; and that beautiful church building had something terrible happen! The feeling of the building collapsed, and the whole place was ruined.  

One of the firefighters found the reason for the collapse: a nail had fallen down out of the ceiling. The other nails, and the support of the entire place, had relied on that nail.  

The entire church had collapsed because of one nail that do not realize how important its work really was.  

Friends, YOU and YOUR WORK in the Lord is vital, it is needed, and it is appreciated.

1 Corinthians 15:58-Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Galatians 6:9-And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Finally, preachers of the Word of God: be faithful to His Word. No matter what persecution you may face (from either in the church or outside of the church), preach God’s Word.

And let me also encourage all the brethren: lift up your preachers and encourage them. Be a strength for them in this difficult world.  

My friends, the greatest gift that God has given has been the gift of His Son, Jesus to pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 9:15). Through His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25).

If you are not a Christian: will you not today repent of your sins as a believer, and be baptized into Christ in a profession of faith in Him (Acts 2:37-37; 8:35-39)?  

If you are a child of God who has left the Lord in sin: will you not today repent of that sin and confess it to God in prayer to be forgiven and restored (1 John 1:8-2:2)?

Your family in Christ is ready to help 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.