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.  

“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.  

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.  

Aliens: Extraterrestrial Friends Or Interdimensional Foes?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)  

Many of the people that I work with in the Hazard area have had experiences with “alien” encounters.  

Oh, I am not just talking about strange sightings in the night skies (although there have been many of these).  

I am talking about people that I have worked with who have told me about encounters with “aliens” that go something like this…

I was putting my child on the school bus and I went back inside the house. As I was sitting on the sofa, I looked over and I saw a little gray “man” with black eyes standing in the doorway. He told me that he needed to speak with me (although he didn’t really speak, but I heard his words in my head). The next thing I remember, I was picking my child up off of the bus. Several hours had passed, and I have no recollection of that time.  

I was at home in bed. I opened my eyes and there were these little gray persons standing around me. I started to float above my bed, and I panicked. I called out on Jesus to save me, and I fell back on the bed and the gray men disappeared. My girlfriend woke up, but hadn’t seen any of these things.

I was out on the lake with my friend, doing some night-fishing. All of a sudden, this huge ship was over us. It stayed there for probably ten minutes, and my friend and I didn’t know what to do….Some time later, it just flew away. It didn’t make any noise, and we did not smell any gasoline or fuel…Later, under hypnosis, we both remembered being taken aboard the ship by these little gray people. They did things to us, but I didn’t remember a lot about that.  

I was taken to a ship, and experiments were done on my reproductive organs. The beings put some kind of object in my nose. Later, a doctor found it and removed it-but it dissolved before it could be examined. Later, I was visited again and told that I was being used to help save a race of aliens. I know a lot of people will think I am making these up, but I will take a lie detector test any time someone wants me to.

These stories could be multiplied, many times over.  

These are regular, everyday people.  

These people are often afraid to speak up about their experiences, fearing ridicule and persecution.  

More then one has been told that they were just “smokin too much reefer,” or “trippin on the wrong shrooms.”  

As such, they face potential character assassination and scorn from family, friends, and co-workers.  

Their employers could take notice, and livelihoods could be affected.  

Despite it all, they know that they have not made these things up or hallucinated them; so the question remains, “What is going on?”

Many are convinced that the beings which they encounter in these experiences are extraterrestrial (originating from another planet in our universe).  

However, I am persuaded that these beings are spiritual in nature, and that they may be biblically identified as demonic.  

The Parallels Of Modern Abduction Stories With Ancient Demonic Encounters 

In studying the Bible teaching of fallen angels and nephilim with several other ancient texts which discuss spiritism, one researcher has catalogued several similarities between these and modern day abduction experiences: 

“Disturbing tales from the abduction phenomena echo ancient encounters with fallen angels, demons, and forms of Nephilim. The victims in the abductions are usually paralyzed at the start of the encounter. Aliens are generally described as rough-skinned, thin-lipped, long-necked, viper-like beings, similar to Nephilim but smaller. Remember, angels possess changeling qualities in our earthly realm; angels could easily alter their size and appearance at will. All these descriptions, common in most abductions, neatly parallel records of ancient encounters with fallen angels, complete with those fallen angels promising knowledge and power. It must be noted, as well, these ancient fallen angels also promised godhood, as witnessed by what took place in Eden with Eve and Adam and Satan. One further wonders, are changelings attempting to create Nephilim hybrids through DNA to skirt around creation laws? Not only do contemporary alien encounters echo ancient encounters with demons, Nephilim, and fallen angels, but also they reflect a commonality and an inexplicable kinship with fairy folk, according to Eason. Author W. Y. Evans-Wentz notes the ancients named the inhabitants of the otherworld: gods (fallen angels); genies (Jinn); daemons (demons); shades; and spirits, which the ancient and modern Celts referred to as gods and fairies. 4 Many of the less benign aliens of today, according to Eason, portray an eerie kinship to the likeness of goblins and gnomes of fairy mythology. Goblins and trolls were described with eyes like glowing coals, with withered crones. Only in Nordic legends were some fairy folk known to be tall and noble; in most other legends, fairy folk were small beings of mischief and evil. Trolls, goblins, gnomes, and other similar creatures come in many different sizes; they have grotesque, fleshy faces and are very hairy. In the 1954 alien abduction that transpired in Chic-Cerro de las Tres Torres, Venezuela, witnesses described the aliens as dwarf-like, hairy beings. In 1955, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, five tiny, goblin-like beings with wrinkled skins and large eyes and ears were witnessed. 5 Most documented accounts describe famous aliens known today as “the grays.” Fairies that kidnapped children were known as the “grey [sic] neighbors” by the Shetlanders; these fairies were small, gray, goblin-and-troll-like creatures. 6 These mythological fairies were a Celtic conception to describe small people who can become invisible and who were feared abductors of children. 7…Alien abductions hold familiar kinship with fairy folk and fairy abductions. For example, Cassandra Eason notes fairies have a need to reproduce with humans, 9 ostensibly like aliens. Fairies never abduct old people—only babies, young men, and young women, much like aliens. In a similar fashion to alien abductions, the victims’ minds remain blank of what was done and said to them in fairy abductions. 10 Goblins, elves, trolls, and gnomes are known in mythology as beings that are described as “grays.” They are gray-skinned have huge, oval heads; small, almond-like eyes; and spindly limbs. And they are eager to breed with humans to modify and refresh their genetic makeup so that they might continue to survive. 11 Again, this is an eerily accurate description of the modern alien descriptions, as well as modern Hollywood creations such as the Asgarde from the Star Gate series. Janet Bord concludes fairy abductions utilized the very same claim staked by aliens today, whereby they need to mate with humans because they need an injection of new genes to bolster their weakened genetic makeup. 12 Gene manipulation through eugenics was the same apostasy endeavored by the Nazis and the New Man project, as well as the far-left movement of liberals, the Progressives, whose doctrines dominated the first four decades of the twentieth century but died a sudden death after World War II, the fall of Nazism, and the rise of Communism. Beware of the resurgence of the contemporary Progressive movement of modern, liberal political parties, for Progressives are still married to the old doctrines of the New Man, the New World Order, and Babylon. Remember, too, this is how at least one race of Nephilim was created in ancient times.” (Gary Wayne, The Genesis 6 Conspiracy: How Secret Societies And The Descendants Of Giants Plan To Enslave Humankind, 7219-7255 (Kindle Edition); Trusted Books) 

Why Are They Doing These Things? 

What conclusions does Wayne draw from his in-depth studies of these matters? 

“It is my contention that these modern alien encounters are nothing more than demonic and/ or angelic encounters, crafted to reflect the modern attitudes of humankind as we endeavor to interpret our place in the universe. Although modified for technology and its rapid advancements, they are a finely sculptured, self-glorified image of delusion that fallen angels are delivering, deceiving the modern mind through its own aspirations, just as they did with fairies and goblins with our ancestors. The advanced technology of alien encounters, along with all of its other alluring mythos, has been uniquely brewed to deceive contemporary humans. This magical and mysterious deception is an enticing and intoxicating cocktail for the modern mindset which is designed to lead our world astray; further away from God and Jesus; and into the universal world of Babel and false light, heralded by eastern religions, New Age, and Masonic fraternities, inclusive of the ultra-diabolical Illuminati. Therefore, expect that alien encounters will continue to increase until the momentum dictates a wondrous day when humankind is greeted with a formal first encounter of the fourth kind.” (Gary Wayne, The Genesis 6 Conspiracy: How Secret Societies And The Descendants Of Giants Plan To Enslave Humankind, 7264-7272 (Kindle Edition); Trusted Books)

Nor is Wayne alone in his contention that these “aliens” are interdimensional beings intent on deceiving mankind.  

Jacques Vallee, a respected and devoted ufologist, believes that the belief systems of humanity are intentionally being warped by these visitors, and that this is the primary goal to which they aspire: 

“How can we verify whether such conditioning is in fact operating?…If the phenomenon is forcing us through a learning curve then it MUST mislead us….If this is so, then UFOs can never be analyzed or conceived, because they are the means through which man’s concepts are being rearranged. All we can do is to trace their effects on humans….What is the variable being controlled in this control system? Thermostats control temperature; gyroscopes control the direction in which a rocket flies. What could a paranormal phenomenon control? I suggest that it is human belief that is being controlled and conditioned.” (Jacques Vallee, The Invisible College: What A Group Of Scientists Has Discovered About UFO Influence On The Human Race, 2993-3009 (Kindle Edition); San Antonio, TX; Anomalist Books) 

In another one of his books, Vallee goes into more detail, explaining once again that a likely explanation for the “alien” visitors is that they are not extraterrestrial, but interdimensional:

“Somebody is going to an awful lot of trouble to convince the world that we are threatened by beings from outer space….The genuine UFO phenomenon, as I have shown in Confrontations, is associated with a form of nonhuman consciousness that manipulates space and time in ways we do not understand….It is curious to observe that even scientifically trained researchers who accept the idea of multiple universes, or the few ufologists who understand the idea that space-time could be folded to allow almost instantaneous travel from one point of our universe to another, still cling emotionally to the notion that any nonhuman form of consciousness is necessarily from outer space….The simple truth is this: if there is a form of life and consciousness that operates on properties of space-time we have not yet discovered, then it does not have to be extraterrestrial. It could come from any place and any time, even from our own environment….The entities could be multidimensional beyond space-time itself. They could even be fractal beings. The earth could be their home port.” (Jacques Vallee, Revelation: Alien Contact And Human Deception, 3527-3543 (Kindle Edition); San Antonio, TX; Anomalist Books) 

The Connections Of Abduction Experiences With Occultism 

It is also worth considering that many of the abduction stories involve more than a hint of occultism and spiritualistic practice. Vallee points out in another excellent book: 

“There is another very important aspect to the entire abduction problem that has never been considered seriously by American ufology, obsessed as it is with immediate facts and first-order explanations. By ignoring this other aspect, we reduce considerably our chances of understanding the entire question. What I am referring to is the simple fact that abduction stories are not specific to the UFO phenomenon and certainly did not begin with Betty and Barney Hill in 1961. I pointed out in Invisible College that the structure of abduction stories was identical to that of occult initiation rituals. Several years before, I had shown in Passport to Magonia that contact with ufonauts was only a modern extension of the age-old tradition of contact with nonhuman consciousness in the form of angels, demons, elves, and sylphs. Such contact includes abduction, ordeal (including surgical operations), and sexual intercourse with the aliens. It often leaves marks and scars on the body and the mind, as do UFO abductions.” (Jacques Vallee, Confrontations: A Scientist’s Search For Alien Contact, 2522-2527 (Kindle Edition); San Antonio, TX; Anomalist Books) 

Other ufologists have been noticing the occult nature of many UFO experiences: 

“In the final years of his life, Dr. Hynek no longer believed in the extraterrestrial theory for the origin of UFOs. We had many conversations about the subject, and he expressed his doubts that UFOs were physical craft from other star systems.. To quote Dr. Hynek, “I have come to support less and less the idea that UFOs are nuts-and-bolts spacecrafts from other worlds. There are just too many things that go against that theory. To me, it seems ridiculous that a technologically advanced race would travel great distances to do relatively stupid things like stop cars, collect soil samples, and frighten people. I think we must begin to re-examine the evidence; we must look closer to home for the answer. I think we should consider that UFOs come from other dimensions, a parallel reality, a universe that exists in the same place as ours, but at a different frequency, so to speak.” Hynek also started to see the connection between UFO reports and certain types of psychic phenomena, because there are many UFO cases that have poltergeists, apparitions, strange sounds and lights, and other types of psychic manifestations attached to them. Over the many years that I have been researching the phenomenon, I have found this to be true. Quite a number of UFO case studies are like ghost stories rather than encounters with spaceships and beings from another star system.” (Philip Imbrogno, Interdimensional Universe: The New Science Of U.F.O.’s, Paranormal Phenomena, & Otherdimensional Beings, 1147-1153 (Kindle Edition); Woodbury, Minnesota; Llewllellyn Publications)  

In fact, the single greatest UFO story in modern history (the Roswell encounter) had a very interesting occult nature that many are not aware of. Speaking of a gentleman named Jack Parsons, we learn:

“Described as a charismatic genius, as well as an eccentric mystic, Jack Whiteside Parsons endeavored to create a passageway or window into our world in 1946. He was a key founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The inventor of Hitler’s V-2 “revenge weapon” and leader of the Operation Paperclip rocket development team, Wernher von Braun, referred to him as the “father of modern rocketry.”…Destined to become a talented chemical engineer and inventor, he was expelled from a military academy for blowing up toilets and claimed to have successfully invoked Satan to appear to him at the age of 13. Parsons became a member of the Aleister Crowley headed, Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO), in 1941 and joined the California based branch, known as The Church of Thelema. (Crowley defined Thelema as: “The science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will.”)…While practicing magic rituals as the head of the church of Thelema, Parsons acquired a mansion in South Pasadena that he developed into a bohemian commune, and welcomed any “exotic types” to join. The commune later became known as the “Parsonage.”…Through his association with Crowley and work in the OTO, Parsons came to believe in the reality of magic (spelled “magick” according to Crowley) as a force that could be explained through quantum physics. He believed that he could bring about the incarnation of a Thelemite goddess that he called “Babalon” onto Earth by altering the constraints of normal space-time through his will via the practice of Thelema. Parsons called the magical operation he was planning the “Babalon Working”, and allowed Hubbard to take part in it as his documenting “scribe”, since he believed Hubbard to be exceptionally perceptive at detecting magical phenomena. Both Parsons and Hubbard believed in Thelema magic so completely that they went out into the Mojave Desert and performed the Babalon working, which was nothing less than a specific effort to “punch a hole” between realms. The final ritual took place in January 1946. Jack Parson believed, as did Van Braun, L. Ron Hubbard, and Aleister Crowley, that powerful non-human entities existed, but in a realm somehow separate from man. Although there seemed to be a prohibition on the type and quantity of interaction allowed, that prohibition could be altered by man’s activity on earth. It is worth recognizing that the Roswell event occurred one year after the Thelemic ritual in the Mojave Desert, as well as a huge increase in UFO sightings that continue to this day. The story of L. Ron Hubbard and Jack Parsons’ Babalon Working illustrates that the nature of the UFO phenomenon is more profound than the majority living today realize.” (Mark A. Flynn, “Foreword” in Josh Peck, Cherubim Chariots: Exploring The Extradimensional Hypothesis-Extradimensional Vehicles, Ancient Nephilim Technology, and Interstellar Prophecies Revealed!, 168-206 (Kindle Edition)) 

Nearly every single person that I have worked and studied with who have had encounters with “aliens” has included some connection to occultism. The persons have usually been involved in witchcraft, necromancy (attempting to summon the dead through devices such as ouija boards and electronic voice phenomena), or various forms of paganism.

We are warned in Scripture that engaging in any kind of willful sin can open doorways for Satan and his forces to take advantage of (cf. Ephesians 4:26-27).  

The Authority Of Jesus 

Considering the strong evidences that these “aliens” are demonic in origin, it should not surprise us that they are subject to the authority of Jesus Christ.  

In the Bible, demonic activity is brought to a screeching halt when the authority of Jesus Christ is invoked. For example: 

Matthew 8:16-When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,

Mark 1:25-27-25  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26  And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27  Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”

Would it surprise you to learn that the authority of Christ has the ability to stop UFO Abduction experiences?  

One former ufologist has brought forth an incredible book which describes several encounters of persons who (through invoking the name of Jesus Christ) had their “alien” experiences stopped.  

“The next section of this book houses the testimonies of people who have found that the name of Jesus Christ is the only effective way of stopping alien abductions. The people whose stories you will read have had success stopping alien abduction. They have found that the name of Jesus is all powerful and that the entities can’t manifest as aliens when they are unmasked for what they really are. We now present to you the testimonials of just a few of those who want their stories known. These people have found the answer. If you are looking for the answer then perhaps their accounts will help you. In their accounts you will see many of their stories share many similarities. You will see that they came to the same realizations and they came to the same answer for ending their dilemma.” (David Ruffino & Joseph Jordan, Unholy Communion: The Alien Abduction Phenomenon, Where It Originates And How It Stops, 5095-5102 (Kindle Edition); Crane; Defender Publishing House) 

E.T. Does Not Want To Phone Home

We are often told that the “aliens” are benevolent creatures who are kind and intent on helping humanity, or simply need our help.  

However, the evidence shows quite a different picture!

“Former abductee-turned-researcher, the late Dr. Karla Turner, also derived some disturbing conclusions based upon her own experiences, and her research of other victims. Some of her observations follow: • Aliens can alter our perceptions of our surroundings. • Aliens can control what we think we see. They can appear to us [in] any number of guises and shapes. • Aliens can be present with us in an invisible state and can make themselves only partially visible. • Abductees receive marks on their bodies other than the well-known scoops and straight-line scars. These other marks include single punctures, multiple punctures, large bruises, three and four fingered claw marks, and triangles of every possible sort. • Female abductees often suffer serious gynecological problems after their alien encounters, and sometimes these problems lead to cysts, tumors, cancer of the breast and uterus, and to hysterectomies. • A surprising number of abductees suffer from serious illnesses they didn’t have before their encounters. These have led to surgery, debilitation, and even death from causes the doctors can’t identify. • Abductees often encounter more than one sort of alien during an experience, not just the grays. Every possible combination of gray, reptoid, insectoid, blond, and widow’s peak have been seen during single abductions, aboard the same craft or in the same facility. • Abductees report being scoffed at, jeered at, and threatened by their alien captors… . Unknown fluids are injected into some abductees. • Abductees —“virgin” cases —report being taken to underground facilities where they see grotesque hybrid creatures, nurseries of hybrid humanoid fetuses, and vats of colored liquid filled with parts of human bodies. • Abductees report seeing other humans in these facilities being drained of blood, being mutilated, flayed, and dismembered, and stacked, lifeless, like cords of wood. Some abductees have been threatened that they, too, will end up in this condition if they don’t cooperate with their alien captors. • Aliens come into homes and temporarily remove young children, leaving their distraught parents paralyzed and helpless. In cases where a parent has been able to protest, the aliens insist that “The children belong to us.” • Aliens perform extremely painful experiments or procedures on abductees, saying that these acts are necessary, but give no explanation why… . Painful genital and anal probes are performed, on children as well as adults. • Aliens make predictions of an imminent period of global chaos and destruction. They say that a certain number of humans … will be “rescued” from the planet in order to continue the species, either on another planet or back on Earth after the destruction is over. Many abductees report they don’t believe their alien captors and foresee instead a much more sinister use of the “rescued” humans.[20] Turner also made the following comment: In every instance from this list, there are multiple reports from unrelated cases, confirming that such bizarre details are not the product of a single deranged mind. These details are convincing evidence that, contrary to the claims of many UFO researchers, the abduction experience isn’t limited to uniform pattern [sic] of events. This phenomenon simply can’t be explained in terms of crossbreeding experiments or scientific research into the human physiology… . Before we allow ourselves to believe in the benevolence of the alien interaction, we should ask, do enlightened beings need to use the cover of night to perform good deeds? Do they need to paralyze us and render us helpless to resist? Do angels need to steal our fetuses? Do they need to manipulate our children’s genitals and probe our rectums? Are fear, pain, and deception consistent with high spiritual motives?[21] Vallée was right. These beings do act deceptively. They also act dishonestly. One would have good reason to be suspicious of their motives, despite their yarns about being here to help us. These beings say one thing and do another. They talk about doing good but they actually behave abominably. People are scarred, physically and emotionally, for the rest of their lives by such experiences.” (Gary Bates, Alien Intrusion: UFOs And The Evolution Connection, 5273-5323 (Kindle Edition); Powder Springs, GA; Creation Book Publishers) 

The Gospel Of The “Aliens” 

Finally, if any doubt remains as to the origin and nature of these creatures, we only need to listen to the message which they themselves are “preaching.”  

What do they tell the people that they abduct?  

Do these “aliens” have a message for mankind?  

Indeed they do!

“If we were really being contacted by highly advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, one might expect some evidence for it in the thousands of messages that have been dutifully recorded by their human contacts. Unfortunately, these messages do not reflect a highly advanced scientific culture. Rather, they reflect the decadence of ancient paganism and the occult. In fact, the messages of the alleged extraterrestrials, beginning in the early 1950s, is little different from the message of modern New Age religion. One could even argue that it was the UFO contactees who really began the modern New Age movement, and not the pundits of the 1970s. 117 Nevertheless, we have examined scores of such messages, and, as many researchers have noted, none can deny that they offer us the same old occultism….So what are the messages from these advanced extraterrestrials deep in space? According to scores of books by contactees that we have read, they teach 1) that biblical religion is false and outdated; 2) that man must develop his psychic ability; 3) that we are at the threshold of a New Age of occult enlightenment; 4) that God and man or the creation are part of the same divine essence (pantheism) and 5) that extradimensional entities are now present to assist mankind in leaving the “old ways” and adjusting to the New Age of spiritual advancement. Nor should we neglect the recurring theme that some forms of drastic authoritarian social control may be necessary to assure the survival of this planet. 121″ (Dr. John Ankerberg & Dr. John Weldon, The Facts On UFO’s, 526-544 (Kindle Edition); ATRI Publishing)

Of course, this leads to several obvious questions:

“Further, in light of the messages given by the UFO entities, how credible is it to think that literally thousands of genuine extraterrestrials would fly millions or billions of light years simply to teach New Age philosophy, deny Christianity, and support the occult? Why would they do this with the preponderance of such activity already occurring on this planet? And why would the entities actually possess and inhabit people just like demons do if they were really advanced extraterrestrials? Why would they consistently lie about things which we know are true, and why would they purposely deceive their contacts? All this is why a number of UFO researchers have concluded that UFOs are real but do not necessarily originate from other planets.” (Dr. John Ankerberg & Dr. John Weldon, The Facts On UFO’s, 204-210 (Kindle Edition); ATRI Publishing). 

Conclusion

When we add all the facts together, we see powerful evidence that the modern UFO phenomena is not about little gray men from other planets trying to guide and help humanity.  

The evidence is extremely strong that these beings are demonic in nature, that they are intent on hurting mankind while pretending to help us, and that they are deceptive to the core.  

Furthermore, the connections with abductees and occultism, the similarity of abduction experiences to ancient demonic accounts, the extremely anti-Christian message of the “visitors,” and the success of invocation of Christ to suspend Abduction experiences, clearly demonstrates that these “aliens” are agents of Satan.  

Friends, there is a war going on around us-and it is a war that we are involved in. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:10-12).

In Jesus Christ, there is salvation and victory available for anyone who will come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30). God has give us the victory through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection on the third day from the grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Why not today accept His incredible gift of redemption? 

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

If you are an erring child of God who has turned away from Christ, why not repent today? 

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.  

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

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Interesting Beginning

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

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

Three-Fold Outline Of Study 

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

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

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

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

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

The Absence Of Instrumental Music In The New Testament Scriptures 

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

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

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

Psallo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why does this matter?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferguson concludes section one of his book by noting: 

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

Original Sin?

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

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

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

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

For example, Ezekiel the Prophet declared:

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

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

In the passage, we are told:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Truth Hits Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josnne describes the joy of that day in these words: 

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

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

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

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

The Bible And Drugs 

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist) 

Introduction 

Our area of the country has been ravaged by the scourge of drug abuse.  

When I first moved to Kentucky, a friend of my father was speaking with him about life in Hazard. His advice?  

“Tell your son not to move to Hazard, it’s the drug center of America!”  

I am thankful that I did move to this area, and I am thankful for all of the addicts that we are blessed to work with.  

In this article, I want to examine a very important question: what does the Bible teach about drugs?  

The Medicinal Use Of Drugs

The Scriptures are clear that God has placed medicines into the world for the good of mankind. Contrary to much speculation in the religious world, the Bible teaches that there is a legitimate medicinal use of drugs.  

One of my favorite examples of this is from the story of King Hezekiah.  

Being sick and near to death, the king prayed to the Lord. Having mercy on the king of Judah, the Lord told Israel the Prophet how to heal him:

Isaiah 38:21-Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a lump of figs, and apply it as a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover.”

Did you notice that? God instructed Isaiah to make medicine to heal the king.  

The Scriptures are full of references to medicines of various kinds.

For example:

“In the figurative account of the evil case of Judah and Israel because of their backsliding (Jer 30:13), the prophet says they have had no rephu’ah, or “healing medicines.” Later on (Jer 46:11), when pronouncing the futility of the contest of Neco against Nebuchadrezzar, Jeremiah compares Egypt to an incurably sick woman going up to Gilead to take balm as a medicine, without any benefit. In Ezekiel’s vision of the trees of life, the leaves are said (the King James Version) to be for medicine, the Revised Version (British and American) reads “healing,” thereby assimilating the language to that in Re 22:2, “leaves of the tree …. for the healing of the nations” (compare Eze 47:12). Very few specific remedies are mentioned in the Bible. “Balm of Gilead” is said to be an anodyne (Jer 8:22; compare Jer 51:8). The love-fruits, “mandrakes” (Ge 30:14) and “caperberry” (Ec 12:5 margin), myrrh, anise, rue, cummin, the “oil and wine” of the Good Samaritan, soap and sodic carbonate (“natron,” called by mistake “nitre”) as cleansers, and Hezekiah’s “fig poultice” nearly exhaust the catalogue. In the Apocrypha we have the heart, liver and gall of Tobit’s fish (Tobit 6:7). In the Egyptian pharmacopoeia are the names of many plants which cannot be identified, but most of the remedies used by them were dietetic, such as honey, milk, meal, oil, vinegar, wine. The Babylonian medicines, as far as they can be identified, are similar. In the Mishna we have references to wormwood, poppy, hemlock, aconite and other drugs. The apothecary mentioned in the King James Version (Ex 30:25, etc.) was a maker of perfumes, not of medicines. Among the fellahin many common plants are used as folk-remedies, but they put most confidence in amulets or charms, which are worn by most Palestinian peasants to ward off or to heal diseases.” (Alexander Macalister, “Medicine,” in James Orr, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 117347-117366 (Kindle Edition); Osnova) 

“Medical care in biblical times frequently employed the use of different kinds of salves and ointments. Olive oil was used widely, either alone or as an ingredient in ointments. The use of oil for the treatment of wounds is mentioned in Isa. 1: 6 and Luke 10: 34. Oil also became a symbol of medicine, and its use was coupled with prayer for the ill (Mark 6: 13; James 5: 14). Herbs and various products obtained from many different plants were among the most popular of ancient medicines. These were applied to the body as a poultice, or, in many cases, taken by mouth. Frankincense and myrrh—gum resins obtained from trees—were commonly used to treat a variety of diseases, although their main use was in perfumes and incense. Wine was commonly thought to have medicinal value. One of its uses was to alleviate pain and discomfort. Wine, mixed with gall and myrrh, was offered to Jesus prior to His crucifixion, but He refused to drink it (Matt. 27: 34; Mark 15: 23). Wine also was used to sooth stomach and intestinal disorders (1 Tim. 5: 23) and to treat a variety of other physical problems. Beer was also widely used as an ingredient in several medicines, especially by the Babylonians….When Leah suffered a temporary period of sterility, she sent her son, Reuben, to the field to obtain mandrakes. Her barren sister, Rachel, also asked for some of the mandrakes (Gen. 30: 9-24). The root of the mandrake was widely used in the ancient world to promote conception, although there is no reason to believe it was truly effective. It was also used as a narcotic.” (Kenneth Eakins, “Diseases,” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary,14729-14755 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: Holman Reference) 

The writer of Proverbs teaches us about the importance of alcohol as a remedy for those who are suffering and near death:

Proverbs 31:6-8-6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to those who are bitter of heart. 7 Let him drink and forget his poverty, And remember his misery no more. 8 Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die.

When Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, He instructed us about the important medicinal use of drugs:

Luke 10:34-So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

The Samaritan used oils and wines to bring healing to the man who had been injured.

When Paul wrote to Timothy, he instructed him about the importance of using medicine: 

1 Timothy 5:23-No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.

Timothy (like many in our day and age) did not want to take medicine that was needed. Yet Paul encouraged him to do so!  

It is interesting to notice that the ‘wine” in this verse may have had reference to regular grape-juice, or to fermented wine. Ancient physicians often wrote of the medicinal use of both:

“It is generally assumed that the wine Paul recommended to Timothy was alcoholic. But this is by no means certain, for two reasons. First, because the term oinos (“ wine”), as we have shown, was used in a generic way to denote either fermented or unfermented wine. Second, because there are historical testimonies attesting the use of unfermented wine for medical purposes. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) recommends the use of a sweet grape juice, called glukus in Greek, because, he says, “though called wine [oinos], it has not the effect of wine . . . and does not intoxicate like ordinary wine.” 7 Athenaeus, the Grammarian (A.D. 280), specifically counsels the use of unfermented “sweet wine” (glukon oinon) for stomach disorders. He writes: “Let him take sweet wine, either mixed with water or warmed, especially that kind called protropos, the sweet Lesbian glukus, as being good for the stomach; for sweet wine [oinos] does not make the head heavy.” 8 Here we have advice which sounds strikingly similar to that of Paul, with the difference that Athenaeus qualifies the kind of wine recommended, namely, the sweet wine, called “lesbian” because its alcoholic potency had been removed. A similar advice regarding the medical use of wine is given by Pliny (A. D. 79), a contemporary of Paul and author of the celebrated Natural History. He recommends using a boiled, unfermented wine called adynamon for sick persons “for whom it is feared that wine may be harmful.” 9 He also recommends to avoid the side effects of alcohol by using wines whose alcohol content had been removed through filtration: “Wines are most beneficial when all their potency has been overcome by the strainer.”” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, WINE IN THE BIBLE A BIBLICAL STUDY ON THE USE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, 920-936 (Kindle Edition); Biblical Perspectives)  

Regardless of whether the alcohol here was alcoholic or non-alcoholic, the point is that it was used as MEDICINE.  

Further, doesn’t the Apostle Paul himself refer to the legitimacy of medicine when he writes these words to the Colossians?

Colossians 4:14-Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.

From these Scriptures (and many others could be referenced), we see that the Bible authorizes the legitimate use of medicines. 

The Recreational Use Of Drugs

While the Bible is clear that the legitimate medicinal use of drugs is acceptable before God, they are also very clear that the recreational abuse of drugs is sinful.  

Let’s notice a few Scriptures which discuss this.  

Ephesians 5:18-And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

The word “drunk” is from a Greek word that basically means “intoxicated” or “inebriated.”  

“There are several Greek terms which are translated ‘drunk,’ ‘drunken,’ and ‘drunkenness’ in the New Testament. Along with several others, W.E. Vine makes an interesting distinction in regard to methusko. He defines it as ‘to make drunk, or to grow drunk (an inceptive verb, marking the process of the state expressed in methuo), to become intoxicated, Luke 12:45; Ephesians 5:18; I Thessalonians 5:17a.’ Robert Young, along with W.A. Haynes, defines it as ‘to begin to be softened.’ S.T. Bloomfield views the term as meaning, ‘to moisten, or to be moistened with liquor, and in a figurative sense, to be saturated with drink.’ E.W. Bullinger says methusko means, ‘to grow drunk (marking the beginning of methuo.’) The renowned Joseph Henry Thayer states that the term means ‘to get drunk, become intoxicated.’ These definitions clearly establish beyond a doubt that drunkenness is something that can grow, progress from one state to another, be considered as a state of becoming softened, and, therefore, that it is the beginning of even an advanced degree. The implication is that persons begin to be drunk when they begin to drink. No doubt the reason that some fail to see this fact is because of what they literally see. They have built into their systems the idea that persons must be staggering or in a stupor to be drunk. If they see them in such condition, they consider them as drunk, and otherwise they do not. This is not, however, the basis upon which the Bible determines drunkenness. Medical science also testifies in regard to alcoholic influence.” (W.D. Jeffcoat, The Bible And “Social” Drinking: In-Depth Research Of A Universal Problem, 106-107; Huntsville, Alabama; Publishing Designs, Inc.)  

What is really fascinating is that in the original language of the phrase “do not be drunk,”, there is an incentive verb that is used.  

The significance of this is in realizing that the incentive verb means “to mark the beginning of a process.”  

“2. Ingressive (Inceptive, Inchoative) Aorist…The aorist tense may be used to stress the beginning of an action or the entrance into a state.” (Daniel B. Wallace, The Basics Of New Testament Syntax: An Intermediate Greek Grammar, 5263 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan)

“The inceptive imperfect expresses the initiation of an action in the past (‘I began to loose’).” (David Alan Black, Learn To Read New Testament Greek,1145 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; B&H Academic)

“inceptive…Giving emphasis to the beginning of the verbal action (Lat. inceptivus, ‘starting’). This term often appears in connection with the aorist (see 2 Cor 8:9) or imperfect-tense verbs (see Mt. 3:5). Also called inchoative, incipient or ingressive.” (Mathew S. Demoss, Pocket Dictionary For The Study Of New Testament Greek, 779 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)  

Paul is telling the Ephesians, “Do not even begin the process of becoming intoxicated.”  

In other words, “Don’t even take the first drink!”  

Consider another passage of Scripture which teaches us about God’s condemnation of recreational drug abuse.  

Titus 2:11-14-11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Paul says that God desires His people to live “soberly.”

The word here literally means to be “free from the influence of intoxicants” (W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 55472 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson Publishers).  

Didn’t God make this clear in the Old Testament Scriptures as well?  

Proverbs 23:29-35-29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. 31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. 34 Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 35 “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

Solomon makes it clear about the best way to deal with drugs and alcohol: do not even look on them!  

In our studies, we should also investigate this passage from the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 9:20-21-20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Someone says, “Mark, what does this have to do with drugs?”  

If you have a NKJV of the Bible, you will notice that it has a footnote with the word “sorceries” that says, “Or drugs.”

What is the significance of this word? 

“One of the items Paul also includes in his list is “sorcery”. So, what is sorcery? Some Bible translations use the word “Witchcraft”. From the English context it is difficult to determine exactly what this refers to considering today’s terminology. This is where it useful to use a Greek Lexicon (dictionary) to examine more closely the intention of the meaning as used in the New Testament compared with non-Biblical definitions. A non-biblical definition indicates the witchcraft uses herbalism or the “magical art of botanicals” and that a “pharmakis” is an “herbalist”. 28 Now let us compare this secular (non-religious) definition to the Bible. Sorcery comes from the root Greek word “pharmakeia” that, again, is also translated as “witchcraft” in other verses of the Bible. These words are misleading in today’s vocabulary but the Greek root sounds a lot like our English word “Pharmacy” (as in a place where you get medicine from a doctor). To get a clearer picture it is important to read the definition from scholars. The respected Strong’s concordance, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and others have the following definitions29: 1) primarily signified “the use of medicine, drugs, spells;” 2) “medication” i.e. (by extension) magic (literally or figuratively) 3) the use or the administering of drugs 4) poisoning 5) properly, a sorcerer; used of people using drugs and “religious incantations” to drug people into living by their illusions 6) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry…The first observation is that Revelation 9: 21 is not associating “witchcraft” in the modern definition of “spells and magic” but places this unique sin between two very universal common and physical and fleshly crimes. If you read the newspaper headlines today is very easy to associate illegal drug use with “murders, rape/ promiscuity, and stealing”. I argue from context that because sorcery is between these two items, this has more to do with the latter definition of drug use as opposed to “spells” in the traditional fairy tale sense or strict occult definition.” (The Doors of Deception?: The Bible, Marijuana, and Recreational Drugs, 587-652 (Kindle Edition)

Please notice that the word used here condemns the illicit use of “pharmakeia.”

It is also interesting to notice that the Apostle John puts this idea of “pharmakeia” into the category of sin that some people refuse to repent of.  

Scripture is clear that God approves the legitimate medicinal use of drugs, and that He condemns the recreational abuse of them.

Is Drug Addiction A Disease?  

Several believe that alcohol and drug addiction is a disease.  

I am not a doctor (I’m a soul man).  

However, I know of several doctors and nurses who do not subscribe to the ‘addiction is a disease’ mentality.  

One nurse told me that she doesn’t accept that for the simple reason that the word “disease” had reference to a virus or bacteria that caused a systematic breakdown of the body.  

Furthermore, where in the Scriptures does God rebuke people for being sick?  

To be completely honest, I am suspicious of the way that several addictions and conditions are presently being characterized as a “disease.” 

For example: 

“Today’s cultural elite, including those in the healing arts, basically no longer think of man in spiritual terms, of morality, character, self-understanding, repentance, and forgiveness. Rather, most of today’s experts look at man and see a soulless animal whose behavior problems are mostly genetic or organic in origin and, in any event, usually manageable with drugs….Are you an angry volcano inside? You may have “intermittent explosive disorder.” Hostile toward authority? You could be suffering from “oppositional defiant disorder.” Worry too much? Probably a case of “generalized anxiety disorder.” Do you suffer from “road rage”? It’s now a mental illness, according to some psychologists, called “aggressive driving spectrum disorder.” Are you a normal boy who fidgets because you don’t like shutting up and sitting still at a desk for six hours a day listening to a teacher? You may be diagnosed, as millions of American children already have been, with “attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” After it became widely known that public school administrators and other nonmedical personnel were coercing multitudes of American children—between 4 and 9 million, by most estimates—into taking Ritalin and similar psychostimulant drugs, experts finally got concerned and put the brakes on the rampant overdiagnosis of ADHD.26….What about addiction? Do you compulsively get drunk when the stress seems too great? While such was once considered a moral flaw or a character weakness, it is now widely categorized as a disease—which logically would make addiction to all other drugs, legal or illegal, a “disease” as well. Are you a lying, cheating jerk? Then you have a disease—especially if you have tattoos. I’m not kidding. Research conducted at Michigan’s Center for Forensic Psychiatry has determined that “certain criminals with tattoos are more likely to suffer from anti-social personality disorder,” or ASPD…Do you get it? Everything bad, from temper tantrums, drunkenness, and road rage to “pathological lying, cheating, stealing, physical aggression and drug abuse,” is now a disease. Everything is physiological or genetic and treated with drugs. Nothing is your fault. You’re an innocent victim. Furthermore, many of us like it that way. We like the idea that whatever is wrong with us amounts to an organic disorder, that there’s no sin, no weakness, no deficit of character on our part. Our egos love that; it comforts us.” (David Kupelian, How Evil Works: Understanding And Overcoming The Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America, 104-107 (Kindle Edition); New York, N.Y.; Threshold Editors) 

Whether or not addiction may be classified as a “disease,” it doesn’t change the fact that addicts often need medical help as well as spiritual. When a person abuses drugs, it can have severe effects upon the body.

As such, said persons may need medical help.

Furthermore, it is possible that the body of an addict may become physically dependent on a certain substance, which is my further medical aid may be necessary.  

Regardless, let’s be sure that we understand that according to the Scriptures, the recreational abuse of drugs is sinful.  

At the conclusion of this article, I want to share a poem with you that I found on the Internet. I don’t know the name of the person who wrote it, but from what I can tell, she is a young woman who struggled (or struggles) with the terrible addiction to the drug known as meth.  

My Name: “Is Meth” 

I destroy homes, I tear families apart, take your children, and that’s just the start.

I’m more costly than diamonds, more precious than gold,

The sorrow I bring is a sight to behold.

If you need me, remember I’m easily found, 
I live all around you – in schools and in town

I live with the rich; I live with the poor,

I live down the street, and maybe next door.

I’m made in a lab, but not like you think,

I can be made under the kitchen sink. 
In your child’s closet, and even in the woods,

If this scares you to death, well it certainly should.

I have many names, but there’s one you know best,

I’m sure you’ve heard of me, my name is crystal meth. 
My power is awesome; try me you’ll see,

But if you do, you may never break free.

Just try me once and I might let you go,

But try me twice, and I’ll own your soul. 
When I possess you, you’ll steal and you’ll lie,

You do what you have to — just to get high.

The crimes you’ll commit for my narcotic charms

Will be worth the pleasure you’ll feel in your arms,your lungs your nose. 
You’ll lie to your mother; you’ll steal from your dad,

When you see their tears, you should feel sad.

But you’ll forget your morals and how you were raised,

I’ll be your conscience, I’ll teach you my ways. 
I take kids from parents, and parents from kids,

I turn people from God, and separate friends.

I’ll take everything from you, your looks and your pride,

I’ll be with you always — right by your side. 
You’ll give up everything – your family, your home,

Your friends, your money, then you’ll be alone.

I’ll take and take, till you have nothing more to give,

When I’m finished with you, you’ll be lucky to live. 
If you try me be warned – this is no game,

If given the chance, I’ll drive you insane.

I’ll ravish your body, I’ll control your mind,

I’ll own you completely, your soul will be mine. 
The nightmares I’ll give you while lying in bed,

The voices you’ll hear, from inside your head.

The sweats, the shakes, the visions you’ll see,

I want you to know, these are all gifts from me. 
But then it’s too late, and you’ll know in your heart,

That you are mine, and we shall not part.

You’ll regret that you tried me, they always do,

But you came to me, not I to you. 
You knew this would happen, many times you were told, 

But you challenged my power, and chose to be bold.

You could have said no, and just walked away,

If you could live that day over, now what would you say? 
I’ll be your master, you will be my slave,

I’ll even go with you, when you go to your grave.

Now that you have met me, what will you do?

Will you try me or not? It’s all up to you. 
I can bring you more misery than words can tell, 

Come take my hand, let me lead you to heck.

(Poem Copied From: http://www.fearlessfriday.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=46227.0)

To all of my fellow Christians, please consider these words: as members of the church of Christ, we have a solemn obligation and a Divine calling to share the Gospel with drug addicts. The Great Commission is for every creature (Mark 16:15-16), and many addicts in the first century found spiritual healing through the Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We need to do everything in our power to help addicts, and to help the family and friends of addicts, no matter how difficult it may be.  

Yes, we must be wise as we minister (Matthew 10:16), but we MUST have compassion and reach out to those who are lost (Jude 22-23).  

Conclusion 

The Bible does authorize the legitimate medicinal use of drugs, but it condemns the recreational abuse of them.  

Instead of becoming intoxicated, God calls upon us to be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This is far greater than anything the world can offer, although the devil tries to offer cheap imitations.  

God gives His Spirit to those who turn to Him for salvation (Acts 2:38; 5:32). Jesus has made salvation possible for mankind by going to the cross of Calvary and shedding His blood to save us from our sins: 

Colossians 1:19-20-19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 

By His death, burial, and resurrection on the third day, Jesus is able to be the Savior of all Who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).  

How may we receive the spiritual blessings that are only found in Him (Colossians 2:1-3)? The Bible tells us:

Colossians 2:11-13-11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

The Colossians, believing in Jesus and repenting of their sins, had been buried with Christ in baptism. In that action, their sins were removed and they were able to rise to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).  

Why not obey this same plan of God today?  

If you are a child of God who has wandered away from the Lord, the Scriptures call upon you to stop living in sin and turn back to the Lord (Colossians 3:1-8). Why not accept His forgiveness by repentance and prayer (1 John 1:9)?  

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