Category Archives: Bible

Don’t be like King Hezekiah

Our society is decaying at an increasingly rapid rate.  The concept of “same-sex marriage” is younger than the cell phone, yet look how quickly and firmly it has taken hold in the Leftist culture.  And “transanity” has moved even more quickly, as even middle ground people are too fearful and/or indoctrinated to push back on things as evil and sickening as telling young children they may not really be their genetic gender.

But we Christians shouldn’t fall prey to that level of cowardice.  Sure, if we are older, then these things may not impact us directly.  But if we love our neighbors – which includes our descendants – we need to speak the truth even if it costs us and we need to fight for what is right.

King Hezekiah did a lot of good things, but at the end of his reign in Judah he foolishly showed off the country’s treasures to visitors from Babylon.  Isaiah the prophet chastised Hezekiah and said that eventually it would all be taken away by the Babylonians.  Hezekiah responded in a most selfish manner:

Isaiah 39:8 Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.”

May God keep us from being selfish and complacent.

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The “Christian” Left can’t make it past the first chapter of the New Testament without rejecting essential doctrines

I say that without exaggeration.  If you were reading a book that claimed to be the word of God and the explanation for this life and for eternity and for how to be on right terms with God, yet you completely rejected two of the religion’s foundational premises in the very first chapter, wouldn’t you just give it up and find another religion?  Not the “Christian” Left.  Consider these simple passages, clearly not written as illustrations but as specific truth claims (they immediately follow the genealogy of Jesus so it would be a non sequitur to shift genres).

Matthew 1 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

So we have two claims that the father is not human but that the conception was from the Holy Spirit.  The Left’s opposition to the virgin birth isn’t some side issue, because it goes to Jesus’ claims of deity that they typically deny.  Wolves like Mark Sandlin explicitly deny his divinity.

Then there is Jesus’ purpose for entering his creation.

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,

and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

So Jesus’ purpose was explicitly stated: To save his people from their sins.  Yes, He came for other reasons, but the opening of this Gospel focused on the main reason.  Also note the additional claim to the virgin birth.

Of course, the more you read the Bible, the worse it gets.  The “Christian” Left thinks they like the Sermon on the Mount, but they’d hate it if they understood it.  They only agree with a few parts of it because they get them wrong.

Run, don’t walk, from the “Christian” Left.  Their beliefs are indistinguishable from the world’s.

Leopard Theology: Not as fun as it sounds

Leopard on tree stump
Image via Wikipedia

Many Christians teach Leopard Theology*, because they believe that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots.   They don’t call it that, but that is exactly what their theology is founded upon.  And, like the leopard, they camouflage themselves and they are dangerous predators.  They take on church leadership roles even though they teach the opposite of the Bible.

Saying the Bible isn’t fully inspired by God may seem like a humble premise, but it actually makes several strong and unfounded claims.

It implies that God couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver His word to us in a reliable way, and that despite God’s alleged failings flawed humans are able to discern which parts were inspired and which parts were not.  Are we to believe that humans are to correct for God’s errors?

Why is this a serious problem?  It is hard enough to follow the teachings of the Bible without having “Christians” choose what “really” came from God.  Worse yet, they ignore some parts of scripture so they can teach that the opposite is not only acceptable but desirable.  Some may do it accidentally or out of laziness but others are just blatant false teachers.  They have made up their own god and their own religion.

If someone claims the Bible is only partly inspired, ask a few questions:

  • How did they come to this conclusion?
  • Do they think their favorite verses are inspired?  If so,  how do they know?  How about John 3:16?  How about “love your neighbor?”  Whenever “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is quoted, I never hear the liberal theologians question whether Jesus really said that.
  • If the Bible is only partly inspired, how can they be sure that their preferred verses aren’t the ones that are uninspired and the ones they don’t like are the “real” verses?
  • Why is it that God couldn’t inspire the original writings of forty writers, but He can inspire billions of people to properly determine which parts are right and which aren’t?
  • If He couldn’t get Paul, Luke, Matthew, John, etc.  to record his word accurately, how can He get you to do it?
  • Why should I trust your “inspiration” over those who penned the Bible, or over my “inspiration?”

Then there is Advanced Leopard Theology.  It is just like basic Leopard Theology, except God is also changing spots and adding or removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.   They use phrases such as “God is still speaking,” but they don’t mean He still speaks through his Word (that would be a true statement).  They think He is still revealing new truths to the church and changing doctrines taught in the Bible.  They may also say things like, “The Holy Spirit is moving in a new direction.”  Indeed.

Here’s an example: A Methodist pastor named Laurie Hays Coffman did a pro-gay theology piece that made the argument that she wants to “unfurl our corporate sails to catch today’s winds as the Spirit blows afresh.”  She said she was challenged by the vision God gave to Peter in Acts 10-11 where God makes it clear that the Gospel is for the Gentiles, too, and that the Israelites’ ceremonial dietary laws are no longer in force.  Her reasoning is that in the same way that God overturned those laws that He is now overturning the prohibitions against homosexual behavior.  If that looks like a non sequitur to you then you are correct.  The problem is her poor Biblical analysis.  There are at least nine things wrong with this view:

  1. The person with the revelation was Peter, one of Jesus’ inner circle and a key leader in the early church.  It wasn’t made to you, me or someone like Ms. Coffman.  That doesn’t mean God couldn’t reveal something important like this to us, just that it is highly unlikely.
  2. The visions were clear and emphatic.  Peter was given the vision three times and the incident is mentioned twice.
  3. Peter was inclined to reject the meaning of the vision, whereas these Advanced Leopard Theologians have views on human sexuality that are virtually indistinguishable from the prevailing culture and they are glad to accept this allegedly new revelation.
  4. There was external validation for Peter from the Roman centurion, which also included a supernatural intervention.
  5. This lesson showed up in the Bible, not outside it.  I’m not saying miracles don’t happen outside the Bible.  It is just that things appear in the Bible for a reason.  God communicating that the ceremonial laws had been fulfilled was one of those “big deals.”
  6. This vision overturned a ceremonial law, not a moral law.  There are zero examples in the Bible of God reversing his moral laws.  In fact, the more Jesus talked the stricter the laws seemed to get, because He emphasized the spirit of the law and not just the letter (i.e., lust was akin to committing adultery, anger was akin to murder, etc.).  The dietary laws never applied to Gentiles.
  7. The “God has changed his mind view” is primarily being “revealed” to theologically liberal Christians in the U.S. . . . the very ones who often deny the authority of his Word to begin with!  So we can’t trust the accurate transmission of the original writings but we can trust their new revelations?  I’m skeptical.
  8. If God is revealing a change, why is it necessarily more liberal?  Why couldn’t God make his laws more stringent?
  9. The Bible gives strong warnings not to add or take away from its teachings.

But the orthodox can fall prey to this in a more subtle way by claiming full inspiration but conveniently ignoring passages we don’t like.  Consider this passage on church leadership, where some exaggerate “not given to drunkenness” to mean no alcohol whatsoever but ignore the “must manage his own family well . . .” part.

1 Timothy 3:2-4 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.

Another example is correctly teaching about the sin of homosexual behavior while neglecting to give proper emphasis to Biblical admonitions against divorce, adultery and fornication.  We need to teach all of scripture with balance.  Grandstanding on sins that aren’t temptations to us and soft-pedaling those that are are not attractive or Christian things to do.

There are plenty of reasons and resources to defend the accuracy and integrity of all of the original scriptures.  We don’t need to get sloppy and just follow the parts we like.  And we truly miss out when we cast doubts on every passage and question if it is really the word of God.

I’ll close with some friendly advice: Don’t mess with God’s Word.

Deuteronomy 4:2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you.

Proverbs 30:5–6 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18–19 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

*Also known as Dalmatian Theology.

Also see

The one good thing about The Passion Bible “Translation” . . .

. . . is that it will make it easy to spot wolves.  It is bad as The Message, just for different reasons.  From GotQuestions.org:

The most important problem with The Passion Translation of the Bible (TPT) is actually found in its name—specifically, the term translation. In truth, The Passion Translation is a re-worded and re-written Bible, apparently intended to support a particular strain of theology. If the same material was marketed as a “commentary” or as a “study guide,” it would still be concerning. As it is, The Passion Translation cannot honestly be called a translation or even a paraphrase. The TPT goes well beyond the idea of “translation” and reimagines the Bible as one human author thinks it ought to be written.

The article goes on to list many of the places where the book makes huge translation errors to fit bad theology.  It was written by one guy, which a red flag.  But here’s the biggest problem to me: The author, Brian Simmons, insists that his changes were divinely inspired.

The work, according to Simmons, was commissioned directly by the Lord in a spiritual encounter. Simmons explained that in the encounter, God breathed upon him and spoke to him, clearly commissioning him to do this work. Jesus promised Simmons he would help him, there would be persecutions and misunderstandings because of the work, but he would be with him.

I’m skeptical.  Then again, it was endorsed by Hillsong and Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, so there’s that . . .

Seriously, run from this translation and avoid any church or teacher who uses it.

Most charismatics are closet cessationists

Until recently I was a fence-sitter on the continuation/cessation of spiritual gifts debate topic, never really researching it enough to pick a side.  My position was that while the gifts could continue, I’d never seen them done properly (e.g., those enamored with the gift of tongues never obeyed the handful of verses governing their use, the faith healers were obvious fakes, etc.).  Other than some “sloppy God talk” that I’ve addressed many times, I never went to a church where leaders took things too far (e.g., the Benny Hinn / Bill Johnson – Bethel / etc. nonsense).

Now that I’ve done more research (including reading Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John MacArthur) and understand the history and Bible verses better, I’m a cessationist.

But in a very real and relevant sense, both sides are cessasionists, just with one side being less so than the other.  Many who believe in the continuation of the “sign” gifts (healings, tongues, prophecies) are very sound when it comes to the essentials of the faith, the inerrancy of scripture, etc. , yet they concede that many things have indeed ceased since the 1st century.  Consider these:

  • The canon of scripture is closed.  Even when you point out the claims made by books like Jesus Calling, which insist that the authors heard directly from Jesus, the continuationists don’t think that anything should be added to the Bible.
  • The New Testament-style healings have ceased.  The healings of Jesus and his apostles were vastly different from what charismatics claim to do today.  Biblical healings were 100% successful, immediate and public.  The continuationists explicitly redefine “healings” to be private, partial and not always successful — and of course, dependent on the faith of the healer and/or the sick person.
  • Things like Philip’s miraculous transportation to see the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 ceased.  If Charismatic leaders thought that sort of thing continued they wouldn’t ask for money to buy top end jets.
  • Things like Paul’s encounter with the snake in Acts 28 have ceased.  Wait, I take that back . . . some Pentecostal pastor did try to replicate that.  And died.
  • Church discipline a la Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 has ceased.  Ironically, if it hadn’t ceased, these Charismatic leaders would be the first to be slain for lying about the Holy Spirit.
  • The office of apostle has ceased.  Even charlatans like Bill Johnson and Bethel don’t embrace the “New Apostolic Reformation” tag (although their buddies consider them part of it).
  • The gift of foreign language tongues has ceased.  In Acts 2, people miraculously spoke in foreign languages that they previously didn’t know, and the other references to tongues use the same terms.  Continuationists explicitly redefine what “speaking in tongues” means because none of them have that gift of speaking in foreign languages.  That is why their “tongues” aren’t recognizable to anyone.
  • Infallible prophets ceased.  Continuationists explicitly redefine what prophecy is to allow for the obvious errors of their “prophets.” In the Bible, prophets had to be 100% right 100% of the time – and the penalties for being wrong were severe.  The charismatic “prophets” readily concede many errors and can’t name a single infallible prophet among them, yet they cling to their belief that their random correct “prophesies” are divinely inspired.  They have to ignore 2 Peter 1:21 and more to do that (For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit).
  • The receiving of gifts has also been redefined.  In the Bible, the gifts were immediate and full.  With the continuationists you usually need to be trained to heal, prophesy or speak in tongues — hence the Harry Potter Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (it makes up for its cost by being unaccredited).

That is a significant list of things that we agree have ceased or significantly changed.  So there is no debate with these folks that some things have ceased, just about what other things have ceased.

And I think it is significant that, as noted above, they have had to redefine healings, tongues and fallability of prophets from the original biblical definitions and even the nature of what a gift is.  That is a huge liability for them.   If the three main things they focus on don’t resemble what we see in the Bible and now you have to be trained in the “gifts,” have they truly continued?

And even with the redefined gifts, did they really continue?  No.  History is clear that they did not, so the continuationists need to twist scripture to say that they did cease for 19 centuries but are back now.  Again, most agree that even the redefined gifts didn’t exist during that time frame.

Other considerations:

  • If babble tongues (my term for non-real foreign language tongues)  is a gift of the spirit, why do some fringe Catholics and many other non-Christians practice them?  Since when does the Holy Spirit give supernatural gifts to non-believers?
  • These healing ministries unwittingly breed contempt for those without enough “faith” to be healed.  The sick and hurting people feel pressure to at least show some improvement so they don’t let the healers down or give “evidence” of a lack of faith.    Then groups like Bethel chalk up those improvements (not even full healings) as miracles.
  • John Piper acknowledged that one charismatic leader was completely wrong about multiple prophecies about him, but then was impressed when the guy got one right about someone else.  But the prophecy was about a guy who was nervous about whether a visa was going to come through.  How do people like Piper forget about Satan and his demons?!   The man’s visa issues were easily known to the demons, and the “prophet” got one right.  So what?  But Piper et al have let the charismatics’ redefinition of a prophet stand, so they can’t be dismissed even when they get loads of prophesies wrong.
  • If the gifts have really continued, why would the charismatics have to argue for their position and not just show us with legitimate signs and wonders?

So many things have ceased and even those that allegedly continued have significantly different definitions, which would make them more like new gifts — if real — than continued ones.  How is that biblical?

One of the biggest problems with the continuationist/charismatic movement is that it conditions people to look outside the Bible for new revelations and experiences.  It also encourages people to speak for God when He hasn’t spoken.  And it makes newer believers question their faith unnecessarily since God isn’t “speaking” to them that way. Those things are dangerous and blasphemous.  The movement claims to be all about the Holy Spirit but they ignore what He really does and fixate on things that He doesn’t do.   Giving lip service to the Bible while constantly seeking experiences and allegedly new revelations from God is not Christianity.

Even if the gifts of prophecy and/or tongues continue . . .

  1. It doesn’t mean that you can give someone else the gift.  Only the Holy Spirit does that.
  2. It doesn’t mean you need to be trained to use the gift.  Gifts, by definition, are ready to use.
  3. It doesn’t mean the gift of prophecy would involve telling the future.  The context of 1 Corinthians 14 is that the prophecies are immediately assessed by the church body.   Even if they did involve the future, they wouldn’t necessarily always have good news.
  4. It doesn’t mean that you’d get vague messages from the Holy Spirit about possibly “living on the East coast” or that you “had financial problems” in the past.  Those are about as meaningful as “prophesying” that someone is a carbon-based life form.  Those are Psychic 101 tricks.
  5. It doesn’t mean that non-believers would have the gifts.
  6. It definitely doesn’t mean that you’d give affirming “God is proud of you / no need to change anything / don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise” type prophesies to non-believers (that literally happened to a self-identified unrepentant, polyamorous, pagan witch).

The Continuationists I’ve come across get most or all of those wrong.

Once again, you should start with the gift of discernment.  If you don’t have it, ask God for wisdom and He’ll grant it.

Paul vs. Jesus? Not exactly.

False teacher Jory Micah made a silly claim about the foundations of the Bible, presumably to prop up her true religion, which is radical feminism.  I’m re-running this post because all the arguments apply to her bad theology as well.

 


A thread over at the false gospel-preaching Sojourners Blog had multiple accusations against a commenter about whether Jesus and Paul taught the same Gospel, saying things like:

. . . the question of whether the Gospel according to Paul agrees with the Gospel according to Jesus seem largely ignored.

A commenter there referred to someone quoting Paul as a “Paulian” instead of a “Christian” and a commenter here literally said that “Jesus trumps Paul.”  And there have been whole TV shows and analyses about the alleged differences.  But is this really the case?

The “Jesus vs. Paul” debate is what is known as a false dichotomy, or a false dilemma.  It implies that you have to choose one side or the other, when there are actually other options.  Please consider this:

1. Jesus is God.  The Bible is the word of God.  Therefore, it is all the word of Jesus.  The original writings turned out just like He wanted them to, including Paul’s letters.

2. The “red letters” (direct quotes of Jesus sometimes printed in red ink) carry no more authority than any of the other verses, let alone the ~3,000 verses saying, “God said,” “The word of the Lord came to me,” etc.

3. Roughly 10% of the “red letters” quoted the “black letters.”  Jesus unapologetically and frequently quoted from the Old Testament, including the most controversial parts such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah and Sodom and Gomorrah.

4. Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture, along with a marvelous take-down of those who misunderstand him.

2 Peter 3:15–16 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

5. None of the people making this argument seem to question what Luke wrote in his Gospel, so why do they question what Luke documented about Paul in the book of Acts, including his encounters with Jesus and his acceptance by the other Apostles?

6. Unless you think Paul made up his whole story — which would raise a whole new set of issues — then his claims are just as authoritative as the Gospel writers.

For example, Luke was not a direct follower of Jesus but was a careful historian and under the tutelage of Paul.  Mark was not an eye-witness but leveraged Peter for his Gospel.  But Paul heard directly from Jesus.

7. Think about how much you know about the concept of grace and where that came from.  Do you really want to toss that out?

8. Jesus and Paul don’t disagree.  The clear trumps the unclear, but a Gospel writer’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings doesn’t trump Paul’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings.

9.  Much of Paul’s writings pre-date the Gospels.

So I don’t think Paul disagrees with what others documented directly and indirectly about Jesus, and even if they did you wouldn’t necessarily go with the Gospels.

Quoting Paul doesn’t make one a “Paulian” instead of a Christian, it just means you are quoting the word of God.  Don’t let anyone dismiss your claims because you quote Paul.

Just quote scripture, in context.  It’s all good.