Hello again Dr. Luginbill.
I was just wondering, why does the codex Sinaiticus (the best and most ancient manuscript of the Bible according to your website) contain books from the apocrypha?
The best way I know to explain the association of the Apocrypha to many of the complete mss. of the Bible in Greek is by analogy to "study Bibles" and related materials today. One might find all manner of "additions" in such a Bible, such as introductions, indices, and sometimes also other literature. It was not uncommon in years past for the works of Flavius Josephus, e.g., to be closely associated with biblical texts (because of the light they shed on historical events). Also of course commentaries today will often have the text of the Bible but then also extensive notes. In other words, this association of materials should not be assumed to mean that those who included them saw an equivalence; rather, inclusion of a separate category of work in a way that clearly distinguishes between the Bible and that inclusion actually demonstrates that the primacy of the biblical text was appreciated by those who did the including (looked at the correct way, that is).
Sinaiticus also has (almost) the entire Old Testament . . . in Greek (i.e., the LXX or Septuagint version). In Sinaiticus, the inclusion of some apocryphal works in addition to the Old Testament is a result of following to some degree the LXX (Septuagint) Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible as it was then being circulated (and this often included the apocryphal books). The people who put the manuscript together were clearly following conservative principles (with which I personally do not agree), in the same way that it is probably impossible to find an English Bible today that does not include, to take but two examples, the longer ending of Mark and the interpolation in John chapter eight of the woman caught in adultery with which I also do not agree since neither is part of scripture. At least in the case of the Apocrypha, all of these materials are contained in distinctly separate books which may thus be scrupulously avoided.
The fact that some of the Apocrypha, 1st Maccabees, in particular, while not inspired do have some positive features (1st Maccabees being one of our best sources for the history of the Maccabean revolt in the second century B.C.), probably contributed to the reluctance to "dis-include" the works which had been associated with the LXX in this tradition.
As to the New Testament, I will note that the only two apocryphal books included are the letter to Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermes, both considered to be works of the "apostolic fathers" (and so of some authority though not inspired), and both books are included after Revelation (indicating that they are a known addition added for convenience rather than to give them the authority of scripture).
Some feel that Sinaiticus was one of the Bibles prepared in response to Constantine's edict to produce copies of the scriptures. Whoever commissioned the manuscript, it will have been an expensive production. Velum of the quality used was not cheap, and, clearly, the man-hours required to produce such a massive manuscript of such high quality would also not come at no cost. So whoever did the commissioning would have had some say on the final product as well, I would imagine. The bottom line is that while we don't have all the answers, we know enough about the thinking on canonicity at that time, and of the process of the production of ancient books and of the Bible in particular, to say with complete confidence that the inclusion of these non-biblical works is not only nothing to be concerned about but is also no serious argument for doubting the canon as it is universally understood in the Protestant world.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I have a question on how you translate Revelation 20:5 in your Coming Tribulation series part 6. You exclude an entire sentence. I know the canonicity of the books of the Bible has nothing to do with translation. I want clarification on why non-scriptural verses were ever included in any translation from the original Greek. I understand word for word translation might not be perfect because of language differences but entire verses that are non-scriptural.
How did this come about?
The Bible, as I use that word, is the Word of God in its complete and perfect state. The translations of the Bible and also the copies of the manuscripts in the original languages which we possess from antiquity are not perfect. Most English translations are pretty good (despite their faults) and we have a plethora of evidence for the ancient texts of the Bible (especially in the Greek), but the manuscripts are not perfect and they do not agree on every passage 100%. That said, 1) the divergence in theologically important ways is far less than 1% of the whole; and 2) with the aid of textual criticism prepared men can in every case I have ever encountered discover the truth about any of the very few passages where there is some question. This ministry seeks to do so whenever a question of doctrine or a question about a specific passage comes up. Good translation must not only be based upon a good text (here is one of the places where the KJV falls down at times, having been produced before the best mss. were discovered several centuries later), but must also honestly reflect the true meaning of the words rendered in a way which both communicates what is meant to readers in the target language while capturing as much of the tone and flavor of the original as possible (a high standard and one certainly not possible in so-called word for word translations of which I know of none which have gained any purchase in the Church).
The passage you quote in Revelation 20:5 is illustrative of the above in terms of the text being at fault rather the skill of the translators. For a list of some of the other major instances covered at Ichthys see the link: "Interpolations into the Bible". This will explain a little bit about how such things happen (it has to do with manuscript transmission and all manner of human failings). Here is what I write about this particular passage:
This is another interpolation though not as widely recognized as such. Revelation is not as well attested as other books of the NT, but we have plenty to work with; the half-verse [not included in my translation] does not occur in Sinaiticus, the oldest and best witness to the original text.
Just how we got our Bible (which in its original form is an inspired document given by the Spirit) is a somewhat complicated and multi-layered question which can't really be covered in a single email. Let me give you some links to peruse and then please do get back to me with further questions:
Read Your Bible
The Greek Text of the New Testament: Some Issues of Textual Criticism
The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations I
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations II
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations III
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations IV
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations V
Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations VI
Chronological Order of the Books of the Bible: Part 2
The Johanine Comma
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate.
Thanks for the previous resources.
Do you have any detailed commentary and information on the book of Jude? It's a very short book, but ironically very deep.
1) Was he the brother of Jesus or Jude the apostle?
2) How did he come to know of the prophecies of Enoch? It's hard to understand how he would know about the detailed events of Satan and Michael and Enoch's words and yet they are not recorded in the OT especially since the events would of had to taken place within the Genesis account.
3) On what basis did the early church accept this book as scripture?
1) He says he was James' brother and James was one of our Lord's siblings. No doubt a mark of humility that he doesn't wish to say he's "Jesus brother".
2) The "book of Enoch" is apocryphal; Jude as a true prophet received this quotation directly from the Holy Spirit. The author of the apocryphal "Enoch", written much later than Jude, builds a false book on this one true prophecy (including the quote to make it seem as if the quote came from his false book). For more please see the link: "The Book of Enoch".
3) We don't know the particulars. We do know the result. Jude and all of the other canonical books were collected by churches around the Mediterranean world and there is absolutely no historical indication of any disagreement about what was scripture and what was not. In other words, it was obvious to the generation which received the canon that the books were inspired and meant to be the New Testament containing the very books it contains, no more and no less. Controversies only come some centuries later when new generations arose, but there is no historical (or theological) basis for throwing any book out or letting any other book in. No doubt the Spirit was responsible for this perfect collection of "the perfect" (1Cor.13:10).
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hi--I don't know if you can help me or not, but since your area of expertise is classic literature maybe you can. Do you know anything about the Pseudepigrapha? Like 2 Enoch and where it came from and its translations? We have a book on them and I read what it says about it, but it's rather vague as to when it was first translated into English. One Mormon on CARM claims that, when Joseph Smith wrote HIS version of Genesis, "the Book of Moses" and added lots of stuff not in the original Genesis, he got stuff that was from 2 Enoch, at a time supposedly before 2 Enoch had been translated into English. But a website search indicates it may have been translated into English as early as 1820. But no one apparently know for sure. A staunch (if sarcastic) Christian wrote that there WAS an English translation of 2 Enoch published in English in 1820 well over a decade before Smith invented his spurious and even just plain idiotic "Inspired" Translation of the Bible that includes the materials that Mormons think proves Smith's divine authority. The book is entitled: "The Forgotten Books of Eden".
Do you know anything about all of this? I know that no Hebrew version of 2 Enoch exists and that it may date back to the 1st century AD or BC. But either way, Enoch didn't write it. Neither did Moses. But since Joe Smith wrote some stuff in his version of Genesis that sounds a lot like stuff from 2 Enoch, before an English translation was supposedly available, then they think that is proof that Joe got it from God. Which is nonsense. I mean, he has God in a council of the gods, deciding to "organize" matter. He thought the Hebrew word for "create" really meant "organize." I don't know if that could be one of its meanings or not. But his version is the only one that has that "translation."
Thanks for your help. I know Easter is coming up and you are probably busy.
But have a blessed Easter!
On the question, I did a lot with apocrypha and pseudepigrapha in seminary and get questions about this stuff all the time. It's a very large and very diverse corpus of material (people were adding to it as late as the 19th century, "glomming on" to other earlier pseudepigraphal works to add their own two cents and pretending to be "ancient").
2nd Enoch is old, and only exists (complete) in Old Slavonic. It may date to the first century, but no one really knows. The oldest fragments go back to the time of the Renaissance and the dating is done by content (it seems to fall into the genre of mystical Jewish writings of the time of early Christianity). This picture is complicated by (apparent) recent finds of fragments of the text in Coptic (from a ms. dating up to five centuries earlier the earliest 14th cent. Slavonic). The best detailed treatment with translation and notes remains that of F.I. Andersen, beginning on p.94 of V.1 of J. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (1983). Andersen, however, did not know about the Coptic discovery which came over twenty-five years later. As far as translations, the earliest one I can find is the 1896 version in Charles and Morfill, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch. According to Andersen (1983 above), Morfill based his translation on the worst possible exemplar of the text.
What does all this amount to? Not much. If Smith purloined from 2nd Enoch, a clearly pseudipigraphal book of no authority, part of the Gnostic and apocalyptic milieu of post Roman conquest Judaism, then I don't see how that would help his case and of course there is plenty of such material around that is in the same vein (as any cursory survey of the genre will easily show), so the connection is not a necessary one absent word for word plagiarism.
Your in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I had this question posed to me and I was hoping you could help me answer it. How do you prove the authorship of each book of the bible? In other words, how do we know who wrote each book/letter since they are no signed at the end?
Thanks for any help.
Some of the books are anonymous; some are known by tradition; some are clearly marked out in the text as to the author (although even here some argue unnecessarily against what is patently true; see the link for an example: The Pastoral Epistles). So it is very much a case of individual books with individual answers. The first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch, were written by Moses (except for the very last part of Deuteronomy) that is the tradition, and it is one I believe is solid based upon many years of reading the Hebrew and studying these issues. Proof is something else again. Classicists have been arguing about the authorship of certain works Greek and Latin works from antiquity for millennia, with no end in sight. If a skeptic wants to believe that instead of Moses an anonymous later group of "editors" put these books together (the so-called JEPD; see the link and links contained therein), there is little that can be adduced to "prove it" (albeit there is considerably more evidence for Moses' authorship than for this frivolous secular "solution").
On some issues we are more solid ground, the book of Hebrews, for example. Here, in my opinion, there is no question but that in spite of the fact that it is deliberately anonymous it was written by the apostle Paul (see the link). Sorting these matters out is more an issue for biblical criticism than for theology (though there is of course an overlap when it comes to the doctrine of divine inspiration); the best sort of genre for discussing these questions is that of "Old Testament / New Testament Introductions", many of the exemplars of which genre are very detailed and will provide all of the evidence from tradition, extra-biblical sources, and internal evidence usually adduced to make such determinations. Here are some links which will point you to some of the better books in this category:
Issues of Transmission (see Q/A #2)
Issues of Canonicity (see Q/A #6)
Two things often overlooked in these sorts of discussions are 1) all of the writers of scripture were men with the gift of prophecy specially used by the Holy Spirit (2Pet.1:16-21), and as a result invariably known from scripture even if not identified in the text of a book as the author, as with Solomon and the Book of Job (see the link); and 2) they were all Jewish (even Luke; see the link). These two points, correctly applied, helps us narrow down the possibilities in each case with the result that "we" can be fairly certain about authorship in virtually every case.
For believers, the fact that Bible is the Word of God and that we can trust that what we have is truly and completely inspired by Him is the main point of course, regardless of the issue of human authorship led by the Spirit.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I was researching stuff about Mormonism and a Mormon is using this Dr. Margaret Baker's analysis and her saying Joseph Smith was ""This revelation to Joseph Smith is the ancient wisdom symbolism, intact, and almost certainly as it was known in 600 BCE." Joseph Smith and Preexilic Israelite Religion". She is an advocate of this "temple theology".
I just wondered if you have ever heard of this "temple theology" and the idea that the roots of Christianity go back to the time of Josiah. I thought the roots go back to the garden of Eden, when God promised to send a Savior to "crush" the serpent's head. Also, a lot of what she wrote about symbolism sounds like so much mysticism to me. I know that the temple and its rituals and sacrifices prefigured Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us on the cross and the Promised Land of Israel prefigures the true and lasting "promised land" of heaven, where believers will spend eternity with Jesus Christ. But some of her arguments sound screwy to me and trying to justify the rampant liberalism that has crept into the church lately.
The nation of Israel never ever carried out the Law anywhere near perfectly before the destruction of the first temple, and after the return soon devolved into a highly legalistic and pro forma system of its interpretation (scribes and Pharisees). But the Law was always the Law, and some did better with its truths than others. It never "evolved". It always "was". It means the same thing today as it did when Moses penned it. Only the approach taken to it by the generations following Moses differed (though understanding the truth of it is another matter).
No, I'd never heard of this before, but after looking over the Wikipedia link you supplied, it seems to me that calling this woman's teachings "theology" is very misleading. "Theosophy" would be better, since this stuff (which is apparently unique to her) is a mish-mash of biblical truth, Gnostic-like speculations, and some things apparently made up out of whole cloth. Any Christian who has spent any time on the typology and symbolism of the temple/tabernacle will recognize a few things she say are true (as in the tabernacle representing the heavenly geography with the holy of holies representing the place of God in the third heaven and the ark representing His [chariot] throne). But to go from there and claim that people are transformed as they enter one space or another in the earthly copies is a figment of Ms. Baker's clearly fertile imagination both the fact of it (since it never happened) and the supposed "theology" of it (since no one else ever taught this silly stuff before). It is a mark of just how flimsy Mormonism is when anyone leans on that shaky edifice even a little, that such lengths have to be pursued to try and support it.
One last comment, I see also that she uses "lost books" to support her fantasies. This has become a real trend nowadays. I "meet" (online) what seems to be an ever increasing number of false teachers who also feel they can pick and chose and adapt at will whatever they please from this huge and variegated body of non-biblical material (apocrypha and pseudepigrapha) and thereby produce any theology or eschatology they please. Generally also "visions" are involved in this process. Whether or not there really is demon involvement in these cultic appreciations (or just guile was Joseph Smith demon possessed/influenced, or merely completely unscrupulous?), the common factor is that they produce false teachings which have the potential to lead immature and imprudent Christians astray (not to mention unbelievers).
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Hi Dr. Luginbill,
How are you doing sir, very well I trust? First, I would like to say thank you for your response to my previous letter about the New Heavens and the New Earth, it is something to think about. If you have some time, and don't mind, may I ask your assistance on a matter? I remember you had put together a chart of sorts, listing the books of the Bible in the chronological in which they were written (that was actually how I learned about you). Anyway, may I ask:
(1) Does the list I mentioned only pertain to the likely date of each book being written, or also to the chronology of the events also?
(2) Might you have a list that gives the same type of information for the Deutero-canonicals, a.k.a, the Apocrypha?
I ask both of these questions because, I would like to read each of the books of the Bible, including the Deutero-canonicals, in the most probable order in which the events happened, and then, if possible, I would also like to have a list providing the most probable dates in which the individual books were actually written down. Suffice it to say, I understand that you have teaching obligations, so please don't feel rushed to respond.
Blessings be to you my friend, in JESUS name !!!
You're most welcome.
As to your questions, first, yes the list at Ichthys is that of probable time of writing. Anyone who reads this list along with the commentary provided in the two postings where this is discussed will easily see that the construction of a Bible around the lines of historical events would be very problematic. A truly "chronological" approach to the material scripture contains would be doubly difficult to come up with and could not, I fear, be possible without chopping up individual books. After all, many of the historical books cover large periods of time. The book of Acts, for example, would overlap many of the epistles in fact, attempting to line up Paul's epistles alone with the events of Acts is far more difficult than first meets the eye. In addition, many of the biblical books really do not lend themselves to this approach at all (one thinks of Psalms and Proverbs, e.g., which do not deal with historical events at all). I think that a better plan may be to divide up your own Bible reading between, for example, Old and New Testaments, possibly with additional subdivisions of Pentateuch, historical books, wisdom books, Prophets for the former, and gospels and epistles for the latter: that would have you reading six different sections of scripture at the same time and would produce good coverage over time. Adjusting your time on the various parts is also important (Psalms, just for example, is more important to get to know well than, e.g., the book of Esther).
As to the Apocrypha, I can't recommend it. The first book of Maccabees (and the second, to a lesser degree) do apparently have some historical relevance, but they are not inspired and have to be approached as one would approach any secular work of literature. The other books have no spiritual value whatsoever, and can, in addition to wasting valuable time, skew a believer's appreciation of scripture (after all, these books were used to support many of the abuses of the medieval Roman Catholic church). Jerome compared reading them to digging through the mud for an occasional precious stone and I would consider that comparison overly generous. Here are some other things I have written on this:
The Apocrypha is not canonical
Is There Anything of Value in the Apocrypha?
Issues of canonicity
Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha
The Canon: Content, Chronology, and Criticism
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the Word of God incarnate,
I was viewing the Chronological order of the Books of the Bible and have a question I hope you can give incite on. Please elaborate on 2 Timothy 3:16. If the book is dated between 50-55 A.D., does the books written after this date fall into the window as God-breathed, since they did not exist at the time 2 Timothy 3:16 was written?
On a side note, I know of other books that are mentioned in the Bible that are not canonized e.g. (Enoch, Jasher, Letter of First Cor, and more). It looks like the first canon of the Bible was at The Council of Carthage, 28 August 397. So the decision to make the Bible official was sometime after 68 A.D. as well. Looks like there were at least seven generations that people lived and died without an official guidance to go to for the determined word of truth. I'd like more clarity concerning these issues.
Good to make your acquaintance. Yes indeed, everything in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the inspired Word of God. The fact that Paul made this statement in 2nd Timothy 3:16 before Revelation, for example, was written, does not in any way disqualify its application to later books books, that is, which are actually part of the canon, truly part of the Bible. Here is another timeless and inspired pronouncement that applies to the whole:
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4 NASB
The highlighted phrase is the key: scripture, meaning the Bible, is inspired; other works are not. Therefore the issue of "canonicity" which you come to later is really the key question. How do we know what books are really "the Bible" and what books are not? I have not gotten to Bible Basics 7 yet (where this subject will be covered in detail) and will not for quite some time. Suffice it to say now that this is a question which has exercised theologians and Bible-believing Christians for the last two millennia, but one which nevertheless always comes out to the same place: the Bible is the Bible; everything else is not the Bible. And by "Bible", I mean the sixty-six books (in the modern English division of things) which are accepted as scripture by all mainline and evangelical Protestant groups. As you rightly point out, it was only latter that certain other books, most notably that collection of inter-testamental books collectively known as the Apocrypha, were "added" by some groups (most notably the Roman Catholic church), and wrongly so. There was a cottage industry in antiquity of producing more such books (which properly go under the title "pseudepigrapha"), and this production has never really come to an end (people who produced such things in the 19th century, e.g., merely pretended that the works were much older than in fact they were).
How do we know what to accept? First, there is tradition. Since we have no reason to doubt the judgment of history on this point, it is certainly not unreasonable to accept what everyone else has always accepted in this regard, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, and to look askance at books which have not been universally accepted. It does take a bit of research and historical investigation to find out that claims of some of the books in the Bible being "disputed" are much over done and not persuasive, and that claims of other books beings "accepted" are equally dubious when one does more than to scratch the surface in some blog-post (for example).
There is also the manuscript tradition which in my opinion speaks louder than historical mentions on the issue of canonicity (many of which come much after the fact): the major mss. of the Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic originals consistently include what we have in our Bible, and if they do include other things do not do so either consistently or authoritatively. I.e., we would not take the fact that our study Bible has an appendix or a set of maps to mean that these are inspired; likewise including, say, 1st Maccabees in a ms. (positioned after the OT and before the NT so as clearly not being part of either) should not be taken to mean that it was considered scripture.
Also, the traditions in Church history are often illuminating but in a counter-intuitive sort of way: whenever someone such as Marcion attacked the canon it does show us that there was a canon to attack (and it was always the same as what we have today).
Scripture also contains important internal proofs of canonicity (e.g, quotations of scripture in the Bible prove that the part quoted is scripture), not the least of which is the very important fact that scripture, being inspired, is clearly of a different quality than anything else. I do not drink or enjoy wine, but it is common knowledge that anyone who does can easily tell with a sip whether or not the bottle in question is of high quality or swill. If we can make such distinctions with our palate, surely with the help of the Holy Spirit it ought to be very easy to tell whether or not what we are reading is inspired. And so it is. Christians often miss the importance of this litmus test of litmus tests because, after all, we recognize the Bible from having read it many times. Still, reading something not inspired which claims to be so will quickly show us the truth that it is not. For anyone worried that, say, the Apocrypha might be important and part of the Word, merely sitting down and trying to read it will quickly disabuse said person of that incorrect notion. It is clearly not the Bible even though it possesses a similar diction. The book of Mormon is another good example of this wonderful phenomenon. It was written to deliberately mimic biblical diction, but one doesn't have to read very far to understand that it is not inspired by any means. At least this is true for any spiritual Christian who has a rudimentary acquaintance with actual scripture. To paraphrase L.S. Chafer, the Bible is not a book that anyone without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit "would write if he could or could write if he would". Divine inspiration is the only way to explain the power of the words in the Bible, and any discerning Christian with a modicum of spiritual empowerment and spiritual common sense can easily see the truth of these statements and also quickly discern how far short all other literature falls (including deliberate attempts to fake it).
Here are some other links which should be helpful on this score:
The Canon: Content, Chronology, and Criticism
The Bible and the Canon: The Inspired Word of God
Issues of Canonicity: Apocrypha, Enoch, and Inspiration
Issues of Canonicity II: Aramaic, Enoch, KJV, and the Pastorals
Was Judas Saved?, The Gospel of Judas, and Issues of Canonicity
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Thanks for answering. I understand all the answers you sent, but I'm not sure you understood my exact question. Are you saying that Romans 15:4 answers the question for all the canonized books in the Bible written after 2 Timothy and I cite 2 Timothy 3:16 because of what it says about God-breathed, even though those books were not written at the time 2 Timothy 3:16 was written. If so, what would stop more books being written that would also be God-breathed by God. What determines the cutoff point. Does the fact that those extra books (I'll cite Revelations, even though there are more) written after 2 Timothy (which are canonized in the Bible, according to your list) make that so, just because they were canonized, even though they were not written at the time of 2 Timothy? I'm only talking about canonized book. I get what you are saying about the other books. Bottom line, does canonization after what was God breathed supersede information written within the canonized Bible, even though it was not written at the time? Thanks. V/R
God is not subject to time. He invented it. All scripture is God-breathed, regardless of when it was written, before, at the same time, or after Paul made this statement in the Spirit. The fact that the statement is written before Revelation does not mean that it does not apply to Revelation because Revelation is scripture. Revelation is scripture not because man "canonized" it but because God inspired it as is true with every other book in the Bible. All man has done is recognize what God has done. Our task is only to recognize what scripture is. Historically and traditionally the church got it right for the most part; we can easily do the same calculus ourselves and determine that, yes, Revelation is scripture. Since it is, it has the same authority as anything written earlier that is scripture. The only important question is whether or not God has ordained a book to be in the Bible, having inspired its every word for our benefit. He has done so in the case of every book in the (genuine) Bible. Every one of the sixty-six books in a standard English Bible (e.g., KJV, NIV, NASB) is in fact scripture. Not because of any human decision but because of what God has done. Not all versions or all traditions got it right; but anyone with the Spirit and applying the tests outlined in brief in the prior email can see easily enough that the books commonly referred to as "the Bible" are indeed books inspired by God and no other books on earth are.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I'm trying very hard to understand what you are saying. Your comment: Revelation is scripture not because man "canonized" it but because God inspired it as is true with every other book in the Bible. (so if man would not have canonized it, it would still have been scripture and inspired). Why would not that reasoning apply to the other books that was not canonized, IF canonization is not the important thing in deciding what is inspired by God and what is not.
Your comment: Historically and traditionally the church got it right for the most part; we can easily do the same calculus ourselves and determine that, yes, Revelation is scripture. (So the church (man, other than men in the Bible) decided what is canonized, the genuine Bible...had the church not did that, as in the other books that are not canonized, would we have still have said God inspired books e.g. Revelation?
Your comments: The only important question is whether or not God has ordained a book to be in the Bible, having inspired its every word for our benefit. He has done so in the case of every book in the (genuine) Bible. Every book in a standard English Bible (e.g., KJV, NIV, NASB) is in fact scripture. Not because of any human decision but because of what God has done. (I'm not sure I understand your logic on the last sentence). We only accept the genuine Bible because humans decided what to canonize and what not to canonize. Had they not did that, there would be no Bible (66 books, consolidated, and canonized) to believe is the word of God. Instead it would be all those books, just like all the religious books, texts, scripture in the world and everyone would still be doing what they are doing today, minus the Canonized Bible as an authoritative writing to put their trust in. They would treat these books as other religions books...some they would believe and some not (like how we think about other texts or scripture of other faiths.)
Bear with me for a minute. This is what I see. First let's look at why we only accept the scripture that is canonized as the real God-breathed text (Bible). Man (humans) decided what to canonized and what was not canonized. And since man did that; whatever is within those scriptures is God-breathed...not what is not canonized. Now the real determining factor is not if what is canonized is God-breathed, but if every scripture that is God-breathed is canonized. Because I'm sure you do not accept any scriptures that is not canonized. Canonization plays an important role if one is going to make the point that the genuine Bible (as canonized today) is the true word of God.
With that important point, now my original question should made more sense. Because man (not God) decided what books to canonize and what books not to canonize; that's why I had my original question. In 2 Timothy 3:16 where is talks about all scripture being inspired by God, one has to ask the question if at the time when that comment was written, one is to accept the scriptures that would be written after those comments were made as God-breathed also, because they were talking about what existed (not what did not exist at the time). The only thing that makes it so is the fact that (man, other than men of the Bible) decided to canonize scripture in books written after those comments were made, thus it made all scripture inspired by God. That makes these men the authoritative decision-making capacity in what we accept today with, not only the whole Bible, but particularly those books in the canonized bible written after 2 Timothy AND other scriptures not canonized (not inspired by God).
Lastly, while your comments that God is not subject to time and He invented it (I have not issues with that), but it has nothing to do with my questions. While God falls within those parameters, we do not. We only see what we have figured out and what we say God said. Not what God said, but what we say God said. So when we canonize or make authoritative something that we have said God has said, it only makes sense we follow the word as was said by Him. So I see my question as a valid one.
So I'm not saying that those canonized books written after 2 Timothy is not God-breathed. I'm just saying, the only thing that allows us to say so is the fact that we (man) decided to canonized the word, and now we can say so. I do see a possibility that there are other books that are not canonized that could be God-breathed as well as books that are canonized that are not God-breathed. Man (other than those mentioned in the Bible) made these decisions and we have to trust that God told them what to do, but we cannot use the Bible to prove this as so. It's a matter of faith.
Not trying to argue, just relating what I'm seeing and understanding. I would like to know if you can see what I see and if so, do you just decide to overlook it and just believe what you have related to me because it cannot be explained any other way and you just accept it by faith without question. I will understand if you do. It's just that I can't unlearn what I see if not presented with either a clear answer, other than what I see or see that it's one of those things that is clearly something we all have to just accept because that's how it was recorded by man down through history. Thanks. V/R
On your points:
1) Scripture is scripture. If some council of some denomination of the church-visible recognizes a book as inspired, well and good if that book is truly inspired. But even if all main line denominations proclaim a book not canonical, that would not make it non-biblical if God has inspired it; conversely, even if all proclaim a book canonical, that does not make it part of the Bible if God has not inspired it. "Canonizing" is a human process meant to reassure the faithful that the powers that be in the church-visible have agreed with what believers have believed from the beginning about the books of the Bible. In the late first century, everyone knew what the Bible was. There was no disagreement whatsoever and that is really also the only way to explain that all Bibles coming down to the time when these controversies began were one and the same Bible without variation. The last apostle, John, certainly knew that all the epistles were inspired and he also knew that Revelation, which he penned himself at divine command, was inspired. Those who followed him immediately had no doubts about what was the Bible. Several centuries later when the Bible came under attack (more from false additions than from attempts to throw out was scripture although there was some of this as well, most notably Marcion), the church-visible did what it did in a number of other areas and gave formal acceptance to the "canon". That means little (scripture is scripture regardless of human action) except that it does constitute evidence that even several centuries later when the church-visible had slipped spiritually, everyone who knew anything about the Bible still recognized the Bible as the Bible (the books we have today, no more and no less).
2) This is a hypothetical question. In fact, God inspired the entire Bible and traditionally the church-visible got it right for the most part. Of course the Roman Catholic church later accepted the Apocrypha (wrongly), but that is of little important since no Protestants followed suit, and the R.C. church is not interested in the Bible in any case. If, for the sake of argument, the church-visible had gotten something wrong, assuming that book 'A' was scripture when it was not, or that book 'B' was not scripture when it was, then we today certainly would have ample evidence to get it right. That certainly has been the case with false doctrines, for example (today we can easily see that "once saved always saved" is wrong, that hyper-Calvinism is wrong, and that there is a literal Millennium, pace the Reformed denominations).
3) What you say here ("We only accept the genuine Bible because humans decided what to canonize and what not to canonize") is certainly not correct. I have read the Bible many times in the original languages (and many more times in English), and I am quite confident that I can tell what is inspired and what is not with the help of the Spirit. The fact that there are not major mistakes in terms of books usually included which should not be or books not included which should be merely serves to make the point that Christians of all eras have had this same God-given ability and that this explains why there has never been any serious disagreement about what is scripture and what is not at least among born-again believers. The tradition merely corroborates what we already know.
4) And as to your last three paragraphs, when you say "I'm sure you do not accept any scriptures that is not canonized", first, the word "canon" is merely a humanly invented technical term (from the Greek meaning "standard" or "[proper] measure") used by the church-visible starting in the early centuries of this era to put its stamp of approval on what was "the Bible". Please understand: the Bible was (and is) the Bible with or without the stamp of approval of some group of human beings, however "holy" or well-intended. The fact that the authorities of the early church-visible "got it right" is not accidental (because firstly it is obvious and secondly I have no doubt that the Lord was not willing for them to be allowed to get this most important of all things wrong), but it is incidental: it makes no difference to the fact of what is scripture and what is not. Canonization does not determine scripture; canonization merely recognizes scripture as scripture. Canonization is a human process, neither biblical nor divinely mandated, and one that could have been mistaken. It is a blessing that no errors were made (initially), but that was a blessing from God, not a determination from human effort. I also completely disagree with the statement "we cannot use the Bible to prove this as so". There are many internal tests of scripture, and the biggest one of all is the Spirit speaking to us. The Bible is different from any other book, and that is obvious to any born-again believer walking in the Spirit.
Bottom line: I'm not sure what you find to be the problem here, unless it is that you are only willing to apply secular tests of proof whereas the Bible is spiritual, inspired by the Holy Spirit and made clear to us through His ministry alone (unbelievers will never "get" this).
Perhaps it is the hypothetical nature of this discussion which is at the root of this problem. You keep coming back to 2nd Timothy 3:16, and, honestly, I don't see how the fact that it is earlier than, say, the Johanine epistles, affects things one way or the other.
Perhaps there is a book you feel should not be in the Bible or another one you feel should be? Pick any book you wish, and I would be happy to demonstrate that anything out is rightly out and anything in is rightly in and not only from tradition.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ He who is the very truth, the living Word of God.
I'm getting closer in seeing where your mind is concerning this issue, but you still seem to not comment on my question that I originally asked. Let me try again. I will comment in red in your email below to make it easier.
Scripture is scripture. (Agree, no problem here).
even if all proclaim a book canonical, that does not make it so if God has not inspired it. (OK, I totally agree with this statement (from God's point of view...but we are not God. We canonized the books that became recognized as what is called the Bible today. From our (people) point of view, we accept this as God's word, because we said so, through canonizing. The books that were not accepted (all others) we don't accept because we did not believe they were God-inspired (whether they were or not, we did not say yes to them, therefore, they are not Bible)
"Canonizing" is a human process meant to reassure the faithful that the powers that be in the church-visible have agreed with what believers believed from the beginning about the books of the Bible. (Exactly)
In the late first century, everyone knew what the Bible was. (No, they didn't. The Bible did not exist. Only books that were being used in the church. And some of those books change as to what was accepted and not before canonization. And all did not know, just the people who were in charge of these books; unlike today where everyone has access to everything, everywhere and is canonized. That makes a big difference in what they accept and believe.)
Those who followed him immediately had no doubts about what was the Bible. (Assumption and probably true, but I don't believe John was carrying a Bible (since it did not exist) around with him.
scripture is scripture regardless of human action (again, from God's point of view, yes. But man has went with what man has decided is God-inspired scripture).
except that it does constitute evidence that even several centuries later everyone who knew anything about the Bible recognized the Bible as the Bible (the books we have today, no more and no less).
In fact, God inspired the entire Bible and traditionally the church-visible got it right for the most part. (This statement make no sense to me. What makes more sense to me is: The church decided what books would be accepted as God's word, canonized it, and we ultimately have a Bible, as the authoritative word of God.)
the R.C. church is not interested in the Bible (Could very well be, since those books, contradict other books in the Bible.)
today certainly would have ample evidence to get it right. (Purely hypothetical...if that were the case, we would have to change what we decided and accept that we got it wrong after we said it was right. That shows the word as not inerrant. That's why I'm putting so much emphasis on the fact that man decided what was to be and what was not to be accepted as the word in the first place).
"once saved always saved" is wrong, that hyper-Calvinism is wrong, or that there is a literal Millennium A very controversial statement. Not sure how you really mean it, but I do not believe going to heaven is because of works nor going to Hell of bad works. The only reason a person gets to Heaven is they repented, changed directions, and accepted the shed blood of Jesus for their sins, past, present, and future. Nothing more, and nothing less. Now the overlooked part by many is; a Christian's works show whether they made that commitment or not, but it does not keep them saved. (it's not of works). Many people seem to jump into the example...well, then a Christian can get saved and have a license to sin and still go to heaven. It does not work that way. If they are truly born again, they live accordingly. It's does not mean they are perfect, they can and do sin at times. They have a new mind and are chastised when they sin. I'm sure you know all this though.
What you say here ("We only accept the genuine Bible because humans decided what to canonize and what not to canonize") is not correct. (I don't think you understand what I am saying. If we did not have those 66 books (which were decided to be the inspired word of God, consolidated into a Bible, I don't believe people would accept those same books without taking into account the other books as well. When they do that, true contradictions will arise and thus, weaken the faith of Christians, who will not have what we have today to put their trust in.)
I am quite confident that I can tell what is inspired and what is not with the help of the Spirit. (Maybe you can, and that's great, and if so, you know Christians do not go to Heaven immediately after death and the unsaved do not go to Hell immediately when they die, and there is no person in Hell now, nor going to eternally burn in Hell. I only say this to see if you really do understand the Bible according to what you understand in the original languages and as many times as you read it, all easily proven with the Bible--I too have spent 43 years studying the Bible (original texts) as well as all the other major religions...but that's a side note. We are a little off tract.)
The tradition merely corroborates what we already know. (Agree).
Canonization is a human process (Totally agree, but take the canonization part out and we would not have an authoritative word of God today (as far as people are concerned, yet it doesn't change what God meant. Canonization is a bigger deal than you are admitting to.)
I also completely disagree with the statement "we cannot use the Bible to prove this as so". (Again, you have misunderstood me. If you use my statement in context of what I meant, I'm right, but I'm wrong when you don't. And that leads me to the question you seem not to be able to answer. Only this is what I meant: You cannot use 2 Timothy 3:16 to prove that any scripture written after 2 Timothy 3:16 is God-inspired...because that scripture had not been written yet. And if you had been living at the time it was and heard someone say "all scripture written after this date will be just a God-Inspired as what they were referring to in the past, you/they would not have as easily agreed to the pronouncement. While that makes perfect sense to me, I am not saying that the entire Bible is not God inspired, I'm only saying one cannot use that verse to prove it. Just like one cannot use the verse in the Book of Revelation where it talks about adding or taking away from the book and use it to say that applies to the whole Bible, instead of the Book of Revelation for which it was meant. Many people do this in order to have dramatic impact in sermons)
The Bible is different from any other book, and that is obvious to any born-again believer walking in the Spirit. (Totally agree).
unless it is that you are only willing to apply secular tests of proof (on the contrary, I'm only using Biblical proof with my question)
unbelievers will never "get" this. Agree, and my statements in the above paragraph explain this.
I don't see how the fact that 2nd Timothy 3:16 is earlier than, say, the Johanine epistles, affects things one way or the other. (I don't understand why you can't see this either, it's the easiest part of the conversation.)
I would be happy to demonstrate (This would be fun, I've done it a few times.)
From my point of view, all I have been doing is replying to your question. However, it seems that you are not liking the answer for whatever reason. I will have a go at your most recent comments although for the record interspersed commentary like this (I've sorted it out above as best I can) is incredibly time-consuming and difficult to deal with. Much better just to list points and start anew.
1) Agree to agree.
2) Disagree: We recognize what God has done. If "we" are a local church or a denomination and do so "officially", that is fine but it carries no true authoritative weight. Scripture is scripture because God inspired it. The Old Testament would be the Bible even without the so-called council of Jamnia; the NT would be the NT without any of the early church councils or any pronouncements of the church fathers. The Holy Spirit is the One who inspired the books, the One who made sure that they were successfully preserved; the One who makes clear to the Spirit-filled believer that the Bible is scripture (and that nothing else is). Fixating on the process of human recognition of what God has done to the exclusion of the really important litmus test of Spirit to spirit affirmation would be a mistake. "Official" human recognition is incidental; what God has done is the critical thing. Whether "we" accept that is our problem, not God's problem.
3) Here you are dead wrong. The Old Testament was the OT for Jesus and the apostles just as it is for us today. The NT was collected and distributed immediately as the books were written. Paul charges the Colossians to share his letters with other churches (Col.4:16), and his writings were accepted as scripture even while the Bible was still being completed (2Pet.3:16). There are many other internal tests of scripture that would probably put your mind at ease about 2nd Timothy 3:16 (to my knowledge this has never been used as any sort of proof or guidance on the canon before), but as I say I have not gotten to collecting this material for distribution yet. You might want to look at a good NT Introduction where matters of canon are discussed, for example, Thiessen's or Guthrie's. When Constantine commanded hundreds of copies of the Bible to be assembled, there was no argument about what to collect in either the NT or the OT. We have plenty of mss. which are complete or nearly so which go back to as early as the early 3rd century, and the apostolic fathers all quote nearly all the books of the NT (e.g., the letters of Polycarp) with the understanding, expectation and posture of assuming that the gospels and epistles are indeed the Bible. The Bible did not accidentally and gradually "evolve"; just as in the case of the OT, the NT came together as one perfect whole as soon as all the books were completed it only happened much more quickly for the New.
4) But in fact we do have evidence that even as early as the apostles they were collecting what was known to be and clearly was scripture (e.g., 2Tim.4:13). The Bible is the most important thing a Christian can have or access. You can bet that the early Christians and the early churches made getting a complete Bible their top priority. Before probably about the late second century this likely involved multiple scrolls inasmuch as the codex form (our modern "book") was not in general use until at least that point. Some scholars attribute the development of the codex (book form) as opposed to the scroll to the early Christians since they would have wished to have all the books/scrolls in one single volume if possible (and I agree with this point of view).
5) The fact that most traditions have the canon right is incidental; but the true Bible would be the true Bible even if some had gotten it wrong (as some have in fact).
6) If the Bible were only the Bible because human beings decided upon what books they wanted to deem important and collect, it would not be of God in the way it in fact is. What you say here is the secular point of view and is in fact what most unbelievers choose to believe. Born again believers, however, recognize that the Bible is unique and is not, in fact, a product of human design but one of divine origin, with God making use of human beings through inspiration in the first place and supernatural superintendence in the second. It does take faith to accept this, I suppose, but there is plenty of evidence (as shown throughout these emails) to convince even the weak of faith of the inspiration of scripture and of the correctness of the Bible we do have (and evidence for alternative views is entirely lacking which is also evidence for the correctness of what we now possess).
7) I don't understand your objection at all. You seem to be putting all your faith in the tradition of the canon; my whole point to you is that while the tradition is right it is right because the choice was obvious then and obvious now, and because God made sure that the obvious correct choice was made then, and would certainly be able to make it clear to us now if that had not been the case then.
8) You seem to have the same point of view on this doctrine as I do. My point of comparison is that you can clearly see what is doctrinally wrong; in the same way you can clearly see that the Book of Mormon, for example, is not scripture even if everyone in your carpool was saying otherwise merely by reading a few paragraphs.
9) What people might or might not believe if the canon were not straight from the beginning is hypothetical, but I think you are selling God short: He always leads to the truth anyone willing to hear the truth. Those who are disinterested or too stubborn to accept it don't get it of their own fault. He could have worked things differently, but in any case we would still understand that, say, the book "Bel and the Dragon" was not scripture even if it were included in every printed English Bible in a way that suggested it was.
10) "you know Christians do not go to Heaven immediately after death" !!!! Of course we do. Only a few denominations mired in past tradition which ignores scripture think otherwise:
For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
Christ is in heaven; Paul considered death better than life since it meant being immediately with Christ.
11) "Authoritative". Perhaps this is what is at the root of your problem. My authority is God, not any human council or denomination or pastor or treatise or creed. God wrote the Bible, and He has given us the means to verify that the truth is the truth. If some denomination wants to officially lend its "authority" to the Bible, well and good, but that means absolutely nothing to me and it shouldn't mean much to any born-again Christian. Want to know if a book is biblical? Read it. The Spirit will confirm or deny for all reading and seeking in truth.
12) I'm not using 2nd Timothy 3:16 to prove that scripture written after a certain date is inspired. The verse tells us that all scripture is inspired. Is Revelation scripture? Yes. So it is inspired. Dates have nothing at all to do with it.
13) "I'm only using Biblical proof with my question". It seems to me that you are basing your idea of the canon on what church tradition has said. That is not biblical proof at all. It is true that those who in the past officially pronounced the Bible to be the Bible (even though it was by God's decree the Bible) did so no doubt by using biblical proof to assure themselves of what is obvious to any born-again believer. However, basing an argument for canonicity on what other people did in the past is not using "biblical proof".
14) We seem to be at an impasse. I prefer to allow the power of scripture to dictate through the Spirit that it is scripture rather than to rely primarily how much less totally on what others have done.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Please see my notes. But first I've read your reply. For the life of me, I cannot understand why you will not answer my question. I understand all the stuff you are saying but why won't you answer my question? I thought I made it very clear in my last email. Correct, you have been replying, but not addressing my question. It's like you can't see it or understand it. To me, it's not complicated. You don't have to agree with me, whatever that would be. It's not an agree/disagree question. It's simply, can you see what I'm asking and what do you think about it.
Just in case you have doubts about me. I'm non-denominational. Born again Christian. I research the application of Biblical truth in today's world. As you, I've studied much of this material you use in making your point. Much of what you say is foundational in explaining many things. But I'm going much deeper. People don't like to address these things because it threatens their point of view...it's no threat to me...not to get all religious, but Jesus is my Rock. But I don't like to argue, love to converse though. I don't try to convince people to my point of view, I just share it and hope they see what I see. It's up to them to make up their mind. Each gives account to God, not one for another. I like to know why people believe what they believe. I've found out many times, they don't even know. They just follow what they have been taught in Sunday school (if they go), or what the preacher says in church (if they go...and sometimes it's nothing...they seem to not study the Bible today, because they are so far off, not all preachers, but many.
When one studies, they see many things that are not cover the most sermons today. You probably know this though. OK, let's get to your reply. [reduplication of email with interspersed comments not included here]
I asked you last time not to intersperse replies. If you'd like a specific response to your notes, please recast your reply of a piece.
I thought your question was what 2nd Timothy 3:16 meant for the issue of books written after this book. Everything I have written to you addresses this issue. My answer, again, is that the verse applies to all scripture, regardless of when it was written, and by scripture I mean (as all evangelicals of whom I am aware mean) the holy writings inspired by God the Holy Spirit and meant by God to be part of His one unique book, the Bible.
Think about it. The fact that the verse in question is written after the gospel of Luke was written does not "prove" to people who don't believe the Bible in the first place that the gospel of Luke is scripture, any more than the fact that the verse was written before the book of Revelation was written could be used to "prove" to secular lights that Revelation is scripture. Scripture is scripture, believers understand, and what is scripture is determined by God, regardless of whether or not men recognize correctly (individually or in some formal group process) what He has done. If a book is scripture (as the gospel of Luke and Revelation are), then 2nd Timothy 3:16 applies. But the verse does not apply to apocryphal and pseudepigraphical books, whether written before or after, even if men (individually or in some formal group process) think so. That's the best I can do with this.
Finally, on the dangerously false doctrine of "soul sleep", please see the following links:
Biblical Anthropology III: Soul versus Spirit, "Soul Sleep", and the Interim Body
Biblical Anthropology II: 'Soul sleep', & dichotomy vs. trichotomy
Sleep as a Euphemism for Death
"Soul Sleep" versus our true Heavenly State.
Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State.
The False Doctrine of Soul Sleep II
The false doctrine of "soul sleep".
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Now, I know why this problem has not been settled for 2000 years. I search for truth and truth is continually being uncovered. You appear to have already determined the truth. That's a major disconnect. Let me answer my question from your point of view and if I were to accept it, it would make total sense.
What God says is true and what man says cannot change that. The Bible literally floated down from God above and was presented to us, totally from God, without man's involvement. It was for us to follow. Whatever it says is purely from God's mouth. Scripture, canonization, man's opinion had nothing to do with it. It was as though an Angel from God handed it to someone on Earth and said follow this. All we have to do is believe and do what it says. That would make what you say make sense and there would be no question as to what was inside and what dates books were written and what covenant it was and so forth. A little bit like the 10 Commandments, if it happened as told. (Now, barring my point on the Bible floating down from above (which is the only thing that encapsulates your explained thinking on this matter) did I get pretty close to understating where your thinking is?
But both you and I know, that is not how things happened. And you cannot combined man's involvement in making these things as they are today as if man had nothing to do with it. But they were man inspired by God...so said man, who said they were inspired by God. Since man had something to do (inspired or not) with it, that is why it is questioned so much. Man has made many mistakes in history concerning God, religion, scripture and so much more. The Bible is no exception, because it did not come exclusively from God, unattached from man's input. Since it did not, man has to put everything through a test to find out the truth. So asking valid questions, like I, as well as many others throughout history is necessary for truth. One making a proclamation such as you do, means nothing. You/nor I are not in such a position.
The only thing that we have to find out what we need to know is faith. Since the Bible has been produced by man, according to the things that are said within the Bible and many other things, it is used by Christians and men of God in the past to satisfy this search for truth. It has not however gone without question, as should be.
Have you not picked up on God is whatever we say He is. His exists, He does not exist, He's good, He's bad, He's what we say the Bible says about Him, He's not what the Bible says about Him. There is one God, there are many gods....but what has God been saying? He is saying what we say He has said or saying. That's why there is so much confusion and many search for the truth. One has to just put faith in whatever they find as the closest thing to truth as they can, as what many have done. It's just that others have a lot to say about those decisions and use whatever things they can grab onto to make their point. That's how it is and will always be, UNTIL Jesus comes back and sets the record straight and we know instead of hope. Then there will be proof that what is said is true. Until then, we put our faith either in the Bible (and if what it says is as true as we say, then hurray) or something else and whatever will be will be.
We all await for a better world. The millennium provides a hope toward that. Let's hope it is true. Even that seems to be a repeat of history. Law, grace, law, forever something. But that's what we say God says. I really think we know nothing about what/who God really is. Yes, we have our born again experience and can related it to what is said in scripture, but so do many other ways to thinking as they relate to their way of understanding. Neither one has a better life here. It all depends on our future position, which no one knows. They/we just believe or have faith.
It's more of a question of wanting to know God, than trying to question Him. The questioning is toward man's proclamation of understanding God so well, yet there is no substance produced toward that, other than faith in something that has yet to be understood by the ones who believe.
I believe God knows our hearts and mind and the deeper one digs in trying to understand what has been put before us, the more confusing to many who have all the answers it will be. But that should not stop us in trying. We don't really have a choice, other than just believing what we are told and hope it's right. No, I think God expects more of us than that. That's just my opinion and we know what that means...everybody has one. I think the only thing we can truly say about God that anyone could almost always understand is. God is.
Bob, if you don't understand my comments in paragraph two, don't worry about my question concerning 2 Timothy 3:16. You will never understand my thinking as to why I asked and that's OK, I just thought I'd give you a try.
On paragraph #2: no, angels didn't give a pre-written book to, say, John. It was better than that. The Holy Spirit directed his writing so as to divinely inspire ever single word without waiving his human personality or personal modes of expression in the process. This has only ever happened for the books of the Bible, and not for any other literature proceeding from the mind of man (as opposed to the mind of God). Understanding this distinction is the key to understanding everything I have written to you in reply.
(16) For I did not follow concocted tales in making known to you the power and the coming return of our Lord, Jesus Christ, but was an eyewitness to His majesty. (17) For when He had received honor and glory from God the Father, these words sounded forth to Him from God's majestic glory: "This is my beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased." (18) And these words I myself heard as they were delivered from heaven, for I was with Him on the holy mountain (cf. Matt.17:1-8). (19) Yet I consider the prophetically inspired Word (i.e. the Bible) even more reliable (i.e., than what I saw with my own eyes). You too would do well to pay the closest attention to this [prophetically inspired Word], just as to a lamp shining in a dark place (cf. Ps.119:105), until the day dawns, and the Morning Star rises (i.e. the Living Word, Jesus Christ, returns), (20) pondering in your hearts this principle of prime importance: no single verse of prophetically inspired scripture has ever come into being as a result of personal reflection. (21) For true prophecy has never occurred by human will, but only when holy men of God have spoken under the direction and agency of the Holy Spirit.
2nd Peter 1:16-21
Please see the link: "The Bible" (in BB 5: Pneumatology)
Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ who is the Living Word behind the written Word of God.
I reads the link and was very good. I don't understand how you can present so much information and still not answer a direct simple question (which I'm not going to ask you again, because I believe you will continue to evade answering. However I will comment on your reply below.
This is where I say faith has a lot to do with what I'm saying. Believing that the Bible (66 books) is totally inspired by God is a statement that we have to accept because man says God said man said. To an observer, God did not say it. Man said God said it. And man said God said man was inspired to say it so that makes it final (inspired) because man said God said so. What did God really say. He said what we said He said. Not hard to understand. It's a matter of faith.
Now let's look at the 10 Commandments. If God really wrote the commandments on stone and Moses took and presented to people, would be an example of God inspiring his commandments on us. But that only proof we have of that is that of a man, in the Bible (that man wrote) and no 10 Commandments on stone for proof). We accept this by faith. For all we know Moses could have went up into the mountain and carved those commandment himself and said God did it (believing he was inspired by God to do so.
It's things like this that present problems to people who question the truthfulness of the Bible, before they believe. And until I have a good answer, besides just repeating the same old, non-answer to them, I will ask for clarification to direct questions, that most people who claim to have all the answers, seem unwilling to answer because they really don't have an answer. It's much easier to just say, you just have to believe by faith, that it's inspired by God and is true. They hide in the enigma that they created to evade reality.
Now, I know you are a very smart person secularly (seeing all your qualifications) and believe you also believe yourself to be led by Holy Spirit. Taking that into account, do you understand my comments above and realize that, taking everything into account, it boils down to a matter of faith to believe what the Bible says is truly inspired by God, since it cannot be proven it is. Besides that fact that man says Gods say it is.
Taking verses in the Bible to prove your points does not prove the unnecessary need to ask the questions I'm asking. Because it's the Bible inspired comments that are in question. Until that issue is answered, it's fruitless. Can you answer that without one having to zoom in on faith and faith only to believe what you say is true? So says man. And don't say, NO, God says. I say, Man said God says, thus faith.
Unbelievers are smart today and don't except canned answers, that do not answer their question. I have to deal with that on regular basis. They have valid question and I want valid answers. And I don't see another answer except, just have faith, because there is nothing more concrete than what man says the Bible says, and it was inspired by God, so says man. V/R
With respect, it appears to me that you have gotten this backwards. Unbelievers, the ones about whom you are concerned, cannot understand the truth . . . without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. No one's salvation depends upon their being presented with rational proof. No one can prove the existence of God in a materialistic way. On the other hand, God has made Himself known to all through supernatural means. Natural revelation is not just a matter of faith (see the link). No single human being ever attained mental maturity without understanding that God exists and that the world reflects His creation. The heavens declare His glory and He has placed eternity in the hearts of all. Many (in fact the majority) of human beings decline to respond to His gracious "natural revelation" of Himself so as to seek Him out for salvation as He is "not far away" (cf. Acts 17:27).
So believers do not have to prove anything to unbelievers; we are responsible for giving them the truth when and if they are convicted by God working in their lives of their need for a Savior. This is all written up in great detail in BB 4B: Soteriology (please see the link).
To draw an analogy, your argumentation about scripture applied to the existence of God would leave a believer with nowhere to go in confronting unbelievers. In fact, God does exist. In fact, He does make that clear to unbelievers. In fact, they all know in their heart of hearts that they are going to die and face His judgment so that in fact we have a huge advantage in presenting the truth. And it is not we who are presenting the truth but the Spirit of God. Now even so most unbelievers will pretend that they don't understand these things. In fact, most of them have already decided to reject the truth and harden their hearts against it. No point in presenting such swine with the pearls of truth.
Let me be quite candid. If an unbeliever is not going to admit the existence of God, the reality of His perfection, the unavoidable judgment that will follow inevitable death, and the need for help from God in the person of Jesus Christ if eternal life is to be had, then there is no point in arguing about the origin, nature and inspiration of the Bible. Such people have already rejected the truth that they can see with their own eyes in the world writ large by the hand of God how much easier will it be for them to reject words in a translation, seeing they have no respect for the truth?
So it seems to me the reason why your "question" is not being answered to your satisfaction is that you have not formulated it in a way so as to be answerable.
Is the Bible the Word of God? Yes.
Is the Bible inspired? Yes.
Are the sixty-six books found in standard English translations part of the true Bible? Yes.
Is God responsible through inspiration and divine oversight for the content of the Bible? Yes.
These things are facts. I know them to be true. I am relatively sure from what you have written that you know them to be true as well. Not only that, but I have never met a believer who was in solid spiritual shape who had any major reservations or qualms about the sanctity of the Bible. Unbelievers, of course, are another story (and so are Christians in name only or marginal Christians who have been adversely affected by pernicious theologically liberal influences).
So do we who already know that the Bible is the Word of God need to prove that to ourselves? Not really. The Spirit reaffirms that to us whenever we read scripture. However, in theology there have been many collections of the sorts of arguments you disdain made to assure believers of the truth of what they have rightly believed (as a hedge against heresy and false teaching). You may find such arguments unconvincing. I'm not sure why, exactly, and that may be at the root of our disagreement. However, if, as you seem to say in this latest email, the problem is that unbelievers will not accept these arguments because they are not the sort of scientific proof that secular individuals find convincing, my response would be that one will never convert an unbeliever to a believer through human logic. The Spirit is the One who does the convicting and the convincing, and He uses the truth that is already in the unbeliever's heart as leverage, which is true and known to be true even though the unbeliever may deny he believes it in discussing the matter with you: there is a God who made the universe and who is just and righteous and perfect and omnipotent in every way; death is coming and so is judgment absent making peace with Him; therefore His Word of salvation is the only hope: Jesus Christ. Once the unbeliever does believe, then I can assure you that he/she will have no problem with his/her acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God.
Discussions about this matter are important because they do set limits which every believer ought to be conversant with to some degree, if only to fend off doubts and false teaching.
Is it a matter of faith? Everything is a matter of faith. I have never seen or been to Neptune, but I am pretty sure it exists. I believed the Pacific ocean existed before I saw it for the first time. Unbelievers "believe" in evolution and global warming (that is exactly the way they say it), and all manner of things which cannot really be proven to a hardened skeptic's satisfaction. Faith is really another word for free will (see the link). We are here to chose what we will believe and what we will not, and we either have to believe the truth or the lie. That is at the essence of every choice we make that has moral consequence.
So when you say stuff like "man says the Bible says, and it was inspired by God, so says man", this in my view is a mistaken conflation of the unbeliever perspective and believer perspective irrespective of the facts. Unbelievers choose not to believe that the Bible is inspired. They give many reasons, but in fact they don't want to be subject to God so they are not willing to attribute divine authority to any text. Believers believe that the Bible is inspired. They are correct. Why do they believe this? First, because it is true. Secondary reasons are only incidental. The Spirit makes it clear. The experience we have when reading it makes it clear. We have a textual history that is incredibly solid. We have tradition. We have internal arguments that reaffirm it. But if a person who is an unbeliever chooses not to believe the truth of scripture, the reasons behind that choice are incidental. And if a believer believes the truth that scripture is the Word of God, then he/she can benefit from learning that truth through the Spirit regardless of the reasoning underpinning that belief. Since the Bible is the Word of God, since it is inspired, believing that truth is of absolute importance; buttressing that belief with the arguments detailed in this discussion is good but secondary.
If I am an implacable unbeliever, even if I were present when Moses came down from the mountain, even if I saw the tablets with my own eyes, why would I believe that they came from God and not from the mind and hand of Moses?
Our God is a God who hides Himself (Is.45:15) meaning that since we are here to choose, He allows us the genuine free will to do so. He makes His presence known (natural revelation; see the link), but not in a way that disallows the possibility of rejecting Him (so the choice may be fair and genuine). If God were to appear to an unbeliever, how could said person reject Him? But that would not fulfill the plan of God wherein those who choose for Him are chosen (and He chooses those who choose for Him) while all others are left to go their own way in this life (with judgment inevitable in the next).
What all this means is that you will never be able (by human logic absent a response to the supernatural testimony of the Spirit) to "prove" to an unbeliever that the Bible is the Word of God, nor will you ever be able to disprove that fact in the case of any believer worth his/her salt.
I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. The only alternative is to disbelieve that truth. Belief is the fundamental choice we all make about all things; following the truth or disregarding it underpins all of our moral choices.
There is no enigma here except the one you are attempting to construct. The Bible is the Word of God. Period. You may believe that . . . or not. But you have to do one or the other. If you want to assemble all the information in order to make an "informed decision", that sort of reasoning really does misunderstand the process. In the history of the world, I doubt that a single person was saved by being convinced of the arguments you yourself find deficient. Many unbelievers are saved by reading the Bible, but they are saved when they read the gospel therein and believe it (without having any sort of detailed intellectual discussion about the origins of the Bible before or after).
Yes, it is all about faith but faith in Jesus Christ (not in the Bible). If we are saved, the truth that Bible is the Word of God becomes obvious. If we refuse to take refuge in "the only Name under heaven by which we must be saved", then the Bible will be of no use to use, regardless of what we think about it.
In short, your question is unanswerable because it has one foot in the unbeliever's shoes and one foot in the believer's shoes. The Bible is the Word of God, inspired in its original text in a full and complete way by the Holy Spirit. Believers (growing ones, any way) know this whether they can articulate it or not. Unbelievers do not accept this not because of any quibbles about canonicity or the process of inspiration but because they reject God's authority over their lives (so of course they reject His book). Just as it takes the ministry of the Spirit for believers to learn and grow in the truth, so it takes the convicting ministry of the Spirit to turn an unbeliever around. That is a supernatural process which occurs in the case of those who are willing to be turned around. Argumentation will only work in the case of those who are willing to be saved. Even if we could prove by secular methods to an undeniable degree (which by definition is impossible) that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, most unbelievers would still choose to disbelieve the truth. After all, they accept all manner of lies in this world, and reject all sorts of truth as a matter of course. The idea that this is all a matter of reasoned debate is therefore a misunderstanding of the spiritual realities in which this unseen conflict around us is taking place.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
your question is unanswerable because it has one foot in the unbeliever's shoes and one foot in the believer's shoes. This is exactly the point. I totally agree with it. That's why I said it was a matter of faith. The Christian says there is a God and that they can prove it. They cannot. They can prove it to themselves but not to others. The truth is they believe, not know. On the other hand, the atheist says there is no God and they can prove it. They cannot. They believe there is no God and cannot prove it. That's why none of what you said can be proven. It's a matter of faith, man's belief.
Is the Bible the Word of God? Yes. Maybe but you can't prove it, without using the Bible to do it...faith
Is the Bible inspired? Yes. Maybe, but you can't prove it, without using the Bible to do it...faith
Are the books found in standard English translations part of the true Bible? Yes. True Bible?
Is God responsible through inspiration and divine oversight for the content of the Bible? Yes. Who knows? Man says yes.
These things are facts. No they are not...because they cannot be proven. They are beliefs.
I know them to be true. No you don't...You believe them to be true.
you know them to be true as well. No I don't, I believe them to be true, but I have reservations on some.
I have never met a believer . . . who had any major reservations The delusional ones don't, they will believe without question, as do many Bible Scholars. People who want to know the truth absolutely do.
who have been adversely affected by pernicious theologically liberal influences Absolutely incorrect. Unbelievers are grouped in many categories. Those who don't yet know what it's all about, those who could care less, even when they are approached about it, and those who want to know more because it intrigues them and their questioning causes people like you to argue it as the Holiest thing around without trying to understand where they are coming from. Only a true believer knows the importance of a thirsty soul who doubts because of the examples other Christians show to the world.
Some of my last statement I know will be very hard for you to see from inside the box, but get out and think, you will be ok.
I'm not going to go through all your statements, because I am well versed on doing exactly what you have done with them, using them the same way that you have. I was trying to see if you could understand at a much deeper level, but you do not seem to be able to. I'm not trying to be bad here, just being on point. If I offend with my approach, Sorry, I don't mean to...please don't take me wrong.
My statement: Unbelievers are smart today and don't except canned answers, that do not answer their question. Apparently side-tracked you. Looks like based your whole answer off that statement alone. I thought you would see deeper as to why I meant in saying it. The Bible says to prove all things. We don't do a good job at that because it requires people to first believe the Bible, the very thing that is questioned (in some places, not all).
I just wanted to see if you understood that if one does not believe in the God of the Bible, then the Bible is useless. And if one does believe in the God of the Bible, they would have to accept everything in the Bible, if indeed man got it right as to what the Bible really is. That's where everything becomes a matter of faith, debate, doubt, and many other things. You using the Holy Spirit as proof for each one to know is a matter of faith. One can experience faith, emotions, feelings, convictions which are the same as what some say are the Holy Spirit (or their God or belief) and many more things and say it's God. It doesn't make it so nor not so. And it doesn't make it so because you say it does. It's a belief, the same as people can believe in many other things and get the same effects. I've seen it happen many times. Of course after death...that tells the real story, which none of us knows, so that can't be used.
The believer and the unbeliever are on even ground. One uses the Bible to prove their points and the other uses the Bible and other things to prove their points. And God is just used by man the way man chooses. The closest He (God) gets to proving His existence is all his believed creation, until Jesus returns and proves He is God. I so much look forward to that.
Do you know that an atheist can show love toward others better than a Christian can??? An atheist loves (the ones that do) others because he/she really does, not because they are afraid of Hell...they don't believe in it. But they believe in treating others as they would like others to treat them, which is what the Bible says Christians are to do. I would like to know the difference in that kind of love and the Christian/God of Abraham love. This is just one of thousands of things that are the deep things that Christians need to understand, not just Christians but all.
You talk well while staying inside the box, but when you get out, you seem to be lost. Maybe that's why you can't understand my reasons for asking these kinds of questions. I noticed all your answers are the same in your writings. I want more truth than I'm getting. V/R
A question for you.
When you say "if indeed man got it right as to what the Bible really is", do you personally accept that the Bible is the Bible? Or do you reject some of it or wish to add to it?
And if you do accept the Bible as it is, why do you do so is you are not able to prove to yourself that, in your words, "man got it right".
No more dancing around on this one if you wish to continue.
Hi Bob, I addressed your questions below.
A question for you. When you say "if indeed man got it right as to what the Bible really is", do you personally accept that the Bible is the Bible? Or do you reject some of it or wish to add to it?
(I do not wish to add to it...who am I? I would not want to add nor take away, because I don't know what is really the truth on many things. I was not there. And I certainly do not want to reject it. I feel very strong in my faith in what I do believe. I would consider myself very open minded toward many things though. I do believe much of the Bible, but I also know there are things that are not in some of the earlier manuscripts and only in later manuscripts. There are spurious verses. And that casts doubt of some things, politically motivated possibly having to do with the times it was written. Also, while I did, at one time, accept everything in the Bible even before and after I read it, without question, (when I was born again at 17), I do not see things the same way now. For the first 22 years, no problem, because I only read the Bible and believe without question. I believed it so much that I'd said, "If someone showed me in black and white, the facts that it was not true, I would not believe them, because I know they would be wrong" The change that happened in my life when I was born again, no one could say was not real and my witness for Jesus, proved true for all those years. But then I got to researching the history of the Bible, the Greek, Hebrew, different denominational views, other religions, cults (to prove them wrong according to the Bible), the issues of eternal security, tongues, healing, miracles, on and on...everything for the last 21 years, things started to change. I began to find out all the other sides of the story (from other Christians and non-Christians, theologian, scholars, and many others. So I research more and more, deeper and deeper. Now I can clearly see there are legitimate issues and things that cannot be overlooked, thus, I am much more serious about accepting things, I don't just go blindly. Now I need to clarify something here.
I'm fully aware that one could easily say, looks like you are on the road to becoming an apostate. I see their point and understand their concern (by the way no one has actually done that), but I also know that's not true in my heart. And I'm not moved by someone thinking that way. I see it this way. I know I had the born again decision/experience when I was 17 and my life was truly changed. My life reflected accordingly for the next 22 years. As a result of the above comments, my life has become much more aware of things, some in a much different way. My behavior is still the same, as far as how I live, but my understanding is different. I am much more honest about what I know and what I believe. I will not say I know something, when I only believe it. Believing does not mean knowing, always. When one learns many truths that are not addressed in the Bible, they see the Bible differently. My insurance policy is this: Aside from the fact that I had my born again experience, I believe in God, and I hope that God is the God of the Bible. God being all knowing, He knows my mind and heart. He knows I only want to travel the road that is right, the Jesus way (faith). I've prayed to Him to keep me on the right path in my thinking and if I get off, put me back on. I do not want my way, I want His way. Now does that mean I don't (or should not have questions, or question things I don't understand, or doubt certain things. I don't believe so. God knows my mind, so if I think it, it's the same as if I say it. I do not account to anyone except Him...and that's all that matters to me (Biblically). I do not believe something, just because it's in the Bible, if the evidence casts doubt and I see it that way, it's God job to clear it up, and that's what I have faith He will do. If He does not, then I'm not changing my mind just because someone tries to scare me, by some Biblical treats and so forth (not talking about you...just making a point).
And if you do accept the Bible as it is, why do you do so is you are not able to prove to yourself that, in your words, "man got it right".
If I question things that are in the Bible, I don't believe I could say I accept it as it is. But I'm not saying I want to change it in any way. I just want to know the truth about the things I question. You know as well and I that there are many views as to what certain things mean in the Bible. You have a view out there on the Internet and many other preachers, pastors, evangelists, scholars, Bible related studies and so forth do as well, many different. They are not all right (if any). But we choose to believe what we understand is right. Christians, atheists, Gnostics, psychologists, spiritualists, agnostics, all have a part in putting their understandings out there. I study them all, maybe you don't, so you would not understand. Maybe you think the Bible is all you have to know and that's fine, but it's not fine with me. I can't unlearn (nor do I want to) what I've learned through all my research and studying of the word. There is no other religion that I believe is true or better than Christianity. That's the only one I am interested in testing and understanding to my fullest potential. If it's real, it will not fail. But I have problems with seeing certain things as Biblically taught. So I dig deeper, not to argue or convince others, but rather to satisfy myself.
No more dancing around on this one if you wish to continue.
The above comment makes no sense to me. I don't dance around anything. I did get the impression that you were though, because you would never answer my questions. You just answered around it with stuff that did not address my thinking and I was trying to figure out if you just didn't understand, didn't know, or did know, but did not want to show that you understood me because it would disagree with what you understand and teach. I've talked to many people who just can't say they may be wrong, or many not understand things correctly. While at one time in my life, I thought that way (because the Bible was my only source, it was right and that's the end of it), but now I see things different. I do not try to make someone else believe as I believe. I just share with them and make it a point to them to never do anything because I say so. Do the research, understand it, and do what you believe is right because you know in your own heart. However, I do stress to them to make sure and don't make a mistake of not ensuring they are right with God, before they die...that's too big a mistake to not take care of, in my opinion.
For me, I've learned the message of the Bible can and has changed my life to the better (no matter what I believe). I've also learned many other things can change a person's life to the better, equally so. It's the hereafter that makes the difference and no one knows those answers...but we believe things that narrow it down to the only important thing of wanting to know if the Christianity message is true how it is taught in the Bible. There could be serious consequences to not addressing this issue. So one can believe without question and with questions. I've done both and will continue to do so. I believe that if it was not meant for me to, God would tell me so and He hasn't so I do because I want to know more.
Lastly, you may be wondering how in the world I could think the way I do if I am truly born again. Nothing could compare to that knowing. If so, let's not fool ourselves. Many things make people happy and at peace. But if one believes they are lost and need to be saved, sadness and fear, comes into their life, if they believe that message; to remove it Christianity is the only way, after that knowledge. But if they understand many other things, that fear goes away and they can be happy again. My issue is, that can be deadly. That's why I still believe some things I don't understand, but the belief is weaker than before. But my assurance of going to Heaven is not shaken and I have peace and a motivational zeal to continue to research, share, and help others who are lost to WAKE UP. But I don't go door to door like a JW. I just life my life and share where (some would say the Holy Spirit leads). If it's the Holy Spirit, so be it...it's something, it's a caring for others. I know that statement may sound clueless, but it's not...I've memorized around 6,000 verses of scripture in my time, I just don't beat people to death by constantly quoting them like I use to in the beginning. When a person (me) mixes all that with thousands of other understandings, suddenly black and white fades and grays become more apparent. But the truth will always prove true, I believe and hope. Hope that clarifies things a little bit. V/R
I would like to help you if I can. It seems to me that the "problem" here is one of a personal nature, not really a matter of theology or philosophy. I hear from Christians all the time who have trouble accepting one aspect of the truth or another, and I do understand and see why/how you are having trouble with the authority of scripture based upon the history of its construction and also based upon its interpretation. In between there is also the question of exactly what the text of a specific book of the Bible is (and that has a foot in both issues).
The first thing I can tell you about all this is that there are two extremes to avoid. The one is to give one's allegiance to a cult or to a denomination/church where the truth of the Word of God is not being taught in a demonstrably sound, orthodox, and substantive way. The other extreme is to play "lone ranger" and accept no authority other than oneself. The first is a recipe for spiritual torpor or worse, the second for mounting doubt and loss of faith. The Church is the Body of Christ and we are all members, one of another. We need each other, and no Christian can be totally independent of all others. On the other hand, if we are not seeking out the truth and pressing into it, to learn it, believe it, and walk in it, no fellowship that only gives lip-service to the truth will be sufficient either for growth or spiritual safety.
How should a Christian negotiate this apparent dilemma? The answer may not be one you want to hear, but the fact is that all believers need to be accepting of the authority of a sound and solid teaching ministry. What about the teachers? Even those with the Spirit-given gift of teacher have to submit to the authority of some teaching ministry and continue therein right up until the time when through preparation (academic, spiritual and experiential) they are ready to "feed themselves and others" through the study and the teaching of the Word of God. Even then, teachers are no more independent than those they teach, for we all have needs as every part of the Body has to support every other part for its proper function. This ministry, Ichthys, could never have survived let alone thrived without the constant and consistent prayer support of readers like yourself.
You may have the gift of teacher yourself (only you, with the aid of the Spirit's guidance, can determine what you have been given and called to do), but unless and until you have been brought to the point of being able to feed others through the Word (and so also yourself), research and study have to be constrained by an envelope of trust, trust in a ministry that the Lord has provided. Please do not think I am telling you that this is the ministry and I am the person you are certainly welcome here but you are the one responsible for finding the right ministry for you. What I am telling you is that no Christian who is not an "operational" pastor-teacher has the spiritual capacity to play "umpire" on every point of theology and interpretation. Doing so only ends up nourishing doubt and undermining faith. Don't we have a right and a responsibility as Christians to be informed about these things so as not be led astray? Indeed especially in terms of reading our Bibles (see the link). However, our decisions on this should be a "decision" to accept the authority of a specific teaching ministry we have tested and tried and found to be "good".
Now no one, practically speaking, can resist being doubtful about some things, even under the best of teachers. But such "problems" should be set aside rather than scratched until a gaping wound results. If said ministry causes too many "problems" to mount up over time, then perhaps it is time to move on and find something better. Thus the "decision" a Christian without the gift AND without the preparation/training/experience to be a teacher should make is which ministry to believe rather than passing detailed judgment on every point of teaching. The latter is no way to get ahead, spiritually speaking. I think that your experience in regard to "what is the Bible, where did it come from, what it its precise text in any given book, how should it be interpreted (etc.)" is proof of this. The Spirit gives the gift of pastor-teacher to men who have a psychological makeup capable of dealing with and "carrying" conflicting information without it undermining their faith (until such time as the right conclusion is reached through what may be years of careful and painstaking study). If all of the above seems not to be the way most people and most ministries proceed, I would have to agree: we live in the era of Laodicea where lukewarmness (rather than doing things the correct way) is the rule (see the link). You are certainly free to believe what you wish on any point; what I am telling you is that unless you do actually believe something and with certainty, all the knowledge you have accumulated will do you no good whatsoever. Only epignosis is used by the Spirit to guide us and help us grow, not mere gnosis (knowledge; see the link). For truth to benefit us, we must believe it.
One final point, when you say here "I had my born again experience, I believe in God, and I hope that God is the God of the Bible", I may be reading too much into this, but I do hope you understand that faith in Jesus Christ as the God-man who paid the price for all our sins in Calvary's darkness is the basis for our salvation. The only way to the Father is through the Son, our Lord and our God Jesus Christ.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6 NIV
I would be happy to continue speaking with you about these things. However, it seems to me that the issue is one of having faith, faith in the word of God and in Him who is the living Word of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. Once we put first things first, that very righting and simplifying of our priorities and perspective often clears up all other matters as well.
In our dear Savior Jesus Christ, "my LORD and my God!"
I can't say that I disagree with anything you said. It appears that my time has not yet come. You provided some very good guidance for a person searching answers who is not steadfast in what they believe, but I'm searching for much more. I've read your email three times and I get everything you are saying, but it does look like you feeding me milk instead of meat...not saying you mean to, it just comes across that way. And by the way I appreciated your concern at the last part of your email to make sure I believed what it took to be a genuine Christian.
I get your prophecy twist as well with the end time Laodicean Chruch analogy. Furthermore though, I've studied prophecy for 40 years now and have watched the constant adjustments through those years to keep in pace with holding people attention as world events didn't go the way many taught the Bible predicts. Using some of your comments in the prophecy ministry example, I can see very clearly how study is important. I remember I read a 900+ page book on Bible Prophecy in the 70s and was totally convinced that Jesus would return two years after I graduated high school. Well 41 years have pasted and not yet, but it still seems as close. Since then, I've expanded my research and digested the guidance of many teachers of the prophecy ministry and that has brought much light and disappointment to my understanding. I now thoroughly know the teachings of Charles Taylor, Hal Lindsey, Tim Lahyde, Tim Lahaye, Gary Stearman, Perry Stone, Hilton Sutton, Jack Van Impe, John Hagee, and Irving Baxter. Some of them present a very convincing message and it's like being in a candy shop, can't get enough. But for one searching TRUTH in Bible Prophecy from people who have spent up to 70 years studying and dedicating their life to warn people to be prepared for the soon coming King, common sense says they can't all be right and maybe none are. Some do make it as clear as salvation ministers who preach salvation and its resulting effects. Sounds good, feels good, and according to the Bible, must be good. But reality proves different many times.
The prophecy approach is just one of my concerns. I study many major areas of the Bible, as well as true science and secular teachings, and have just as many concerns. I know I could have just not done this and stuck to what I accepted by faith in the beginning and just follow teaching what many have done according to their understanding, but I have to be sincere. It has to prove true or I'd be hypocritical. I have many friends who have become pastors, of several denominations. They all have a great ministry in their own eyes, but they can't agree on what is the right way to each other, but they are happy. I am happy as well, but I want truth, not delusional truth, because we know they are not all right. The church is sick today. One can easily say, just pray for guidance of the Holy Spirit and God will set you on the straight and narrow, just like all my friends who are pastors now, who can't come to agreement, yet have done that in their own minds. Who am I to question, they did or didn't. What I do know is, they all can't be right. So I can truly search the scriptures and see if it lives up to the things taught by the best followers today. I am for truth, no matter what way it leads. I am fully aware that this will cause issues with others who think I'm chasing rabbits, but it does not cause issues with me or me towards them. I'm concerned about truth.
When I find (if I ever do) the truth that I'd be comfortable teaching to others as the truth, then I will be ready and my heart will be 100 percent into it. In the meanwhile I share what I believe and understand now. I have not been afraid to change as I learn and get more understanding as I live out my life. I wish I didn't have to show what I see as incorrect teaching according to the Bible, but I believe it's my responsibility, with the right spiritual intent...got to do it with love. I am not an island; I've learned from hundreds of other people seeking the truth and I share as I feel led.
That being said, you say you'd like to help me if you can. The only way you can help me, if you want, is to answer my question, that I originally asked. And understand I'm not asking for an answer, I'm asking if you understand my reason for asking the question. The question does not require an answer to it without the follow on discovery of the date it was written in conjunction of what was said in the verse.
1. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, all scripture is given by inspiration of God. When that was written, I understand it as applying to all scripture written at that time, not to scripture after that, thus several books of the Bible and other books not canonized as Bible.
2. You believe it applies to the whole Bible (66 Books). You did not prove that to me and since I already know that cannot be proven to anyone, by anyone...I wanted to see how you explained that. You did, but you didn't in a factual manner, it was opinion. I am surprised you cannot see that. I know you are convince you are right, but I don't see it. The only way I can understand why you think you understand this correctly is if you don't take into account the reality that the date has something to do with why I asked the question. You do not take into account this FACT. You just say scripture is scripture and say it applies to the whole Bible (which did not exist at the time (another FACT). You have a right to believe that, but it does not make sense. What makes more sense is; Paul, I see your point logically and the question is valid, but I've decided to believe it applies to the whole Bible (because God knew before hand the Bible would be consolidated and canonized for us) and that's why I believe what I believe. That would make total sense because it would be your opinion, just like anyone else who would believe that way without taking into account the facts I've presented. I would of understood that.
3. I really just wanted to know if you can see that no matter who tries to explain it, it's just opinion. There is no facts. If you believe there are facts, then I'm willing to listen to what they are, because I would definitely like to see it.
4. I think canonization is important to distinguishing what books are God inspired and what is not, despite the fact that it does not make it true, but we believe it does if we are to convince ourselves we should follow it. You made it clear that canonization does not prove scripture is God-breathed. I know and believe that, but if the Bible was not consolidated and canonized, the argument to follow it would be much more difficult.
Lastly, the last sentence of your email is correct, it just does not always clear things up to a thorough researcher searching for the truth, unless one just overlooks these findings and accepts non-answers which do not satisfy the seeking soul. True teachers of historic proof and Prophecy minded people have a tendency to not accept things that way. Faith requires no action, but belief; works require action; but both faith and work are required to be genuine. V/R
First, you are most welcome to the materials posted at Ichthys, and also to ask questions any time. That is the way God has given me to help others in the Church, and also by praying for them. As mentioned before, this ministry is not everyone's "cup of tea" and I certainly do not mean to presume. I only say this because we have been having a dialogue.
As your experience has shown, people come to different conclusions about all manner of things. However, the fact that they do does not mean that there is not a correct answer to every question. Every person has his/her own ministry from the Lord (everyone, that is, who takes the time to grow up spiritually, progress in testing to the point of usefulness, and then actually engage in what it is that the Lord wants done). The fact that your friends have different opinions on important doctrines means most of them are wrong (at least in part), but it could also mean that all of them are wrong. But there is truth available to all who seek it in truth. God has never let any honest and genuine desire for the truth go begging in the history of the world even if it takes persistence to get it. So in terms of your own situation, and that of your pastor friends, the question is "how bad do you want it?" Most Christians in this era talk a good game but are not really willing to do what it takes to search out and engage in the teaching of a substantive ministry (of which small number I certainly hope I can say with confidence that this is one). If you are waiting for a ministry which is 100% true and has discovered the answers to 100% of all Bible questions, you may be waiting a long time (at least until the Millennium). But there are certainly different levels of "goodness" and "badness" out there, and believers, like water, tend to seek their own level.
When it comes to your "question", the fact that I have not answered it to your satisfaction does not mean that 1) for that reason there is nothing worthwhile in this ministry for you; or 2) that I have not answered it satisfactorily in fact, even if you do not think so. When you say "opinion not proof", that itself is an opinion. I have offered plenty of proof, proof I personally find more than sufficient. You do not. That is your right. But "proof" is a relative thing and a relative concept. As pointed out before, hardened unbelievers would be able to deny that Moses actually got the tablets from the Lord. After all, Jesus' contemporaries had no problem rejecting the proof of the miracles done by the Holy Spirit what greater "proof" did they expect of His Messiahship? The Bible is a written document, even in the original languages. If you were in possession of the actual letters written by Paul himself, that would not in any way constitute "proof" for some people that they were what they were and certainly not that they were inspired, even if they said they were in the text. In other words, there is no "absolute proof" for anything in this world, whether spiritual or secular. There is evidence, but evidence can be belittled, ignored and disbelieved. Even if Paul had written 2nd Timothy after the book of Revelation, you would still be able to dispute whether or not Revelation was truly scripture, or truly part of the Bible (or 2nd Timothy, for that matter). This is the unbeliever perspective God has graciously given so that everyone's will might be genuinely free, so that, for those not desiring to accept the Gift of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God and Man in one person forever since the incarnation, He who died in the darkness for all our sins that we might be saved, such ingrates might . . .
" 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."
Isaiah 6:9-10 NIV
Faith is frequently misunderstood. Faith is an essential means of human perception and decision-making. In all things great and small, we human beings choose what to believe, and what to disbelieve. That is at the very essence of the free will we possess. Because of why we are here, when it comes to things spiritual, no one can give you "undeniable proof" about anything true. If that were possible, then no decision would need to be made about what to believe and what not to believe. We would have "absolute proof" and there would then be no question about it. Believing in Jesus Christ for salvation is only a true choice because it can be denied by the unbeliever who wants nothing to do with God that He is the only way to escape judgment and death. Likewise the truth of the Word of God can be denied as the truth. Denying or questioning what constitutes the Word is merely one aspect of that fundamental decision-making process we all have to engage in as human beings living in the world and carrying out God's plan for all.
You see, when it comes to our attitude to the truth, that is a decision, a faith decision but a decision nonetheless. You choose, based on a little information or a lot, based on proof you find sufficient or insufficient, to believe that the Bible is the Bible, and that the Bible is the Word of God, or you choose not to believe it. If you don't believe it, then you have made a choice just as certainly as if you were to choose to believe it. In all things with spiritual value in this life, there is the truth and there is the lie, and we have to believe one or the other. Because of the way God made us, we don't really have the option of remaining in limbo (at least not forever). We either have to believe or choose not to. Later, we can change our minds, of course, just as long as we are in this world and have free will, but we are not immune from the fundamental calculus of the human situation into which the Lord has placed us: believe it or don't. Those are the only two choices. You will have to "have faith" one way or the other. Either you will believe that the Bible is the Bible and that it is the Word of God, or you will believe that it is not. Either way, you do not have definitive absolute and undeniable proof that the Bible is NOT the Bible and that it is NOT the Word of God anymore than the opposite (and true) case.
There is more than sufficient evidence for anyone to understand and accept through faith that the Bible is the Bible and that it is the Word of God. Choosing not to believe these truths because in your opinion "it has not been proven" is a choice. You can't put God in the dock over the fact that in your personal opinion not enough information has been provided. God knows what He is doing. If you deny the truth of the Bible being the Bible and that it is the Word of God, then you do so not on the basis of complete and undeniable information to the contrary but on the basis of faith, what you choose to believe, putting more faith in what you have found out in your personal researches than in the arguments and evidence in favor of the positive truth arguments and evidence which you say you know quite well and which I have recast for you in ways you have not heard before.
Either Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the God-man, the One who paid the entire price for all of sins, and the only way of salvation . . . or He is not. No one can present undeniable, visible proof of this truth (part of the plan: it has to be a free will choice). Even so, unbelievers confronted with the gospel only have two choices: 1) believe the truth of the gospel (and so be saved); or 2) choose to disbelieve it which by definition means believing the lie that says He is not the Savior of the world. Is this unfair? Not at all. The Holy Spirit actually does make it absolutely clear to the heart of the unbeliever in question that the gospel is the truth; if they deny it, they deny something they knew very well was true and overrule the truth with their own will (even though they probably will not admit it to you). That negating of truth is at the core of everything satanic and anti-God, namely, seeking to create one's own reality by willpower to the detriment of the truth and the One who gave it. Unfortunately for the devil and all who follow his lead, this replacing of the truth with a self-made lie only "works" temporarily in this world, and God's allowance of it has the purpose of separating the wheat from the chaff lies will only end up in hell in the end.
This same sanctified logic applies to the question of the Bible as the Word of God. You see, I did answer your question the bedrock underlying it even if it was not to your liking. The truth is that Bible is the Bible, and that the Bible is the Word of God. You can protest all you want saying "not proven!" and/or "you only say that because of faith!". You are correct, of course. What you are not seeing is that the alternative can never be proven either, and when accepted instead of the truth is also accepted "by faith", not positive faith, but a self-willed intent to accept something which is not true in place of what is true.
Tell me. In your heart of hearts, do you doubt that the Bible is the Bible? If you do, that is a choice you have made wherein you have preferred to put more stock in doubts and contrary evidence (insufficient for absolute certainty) than in the truth.
Tell me. In your heart of hearts, do you doubt that the Bible is the inspired Word of God? If you do, that truth is also something you have chosen not to believe.
The reasons behind "not believing" or "having faith in not-true alternatives" or "believing the lie instead of the truth" may sound reasonable or even high-minded and noble. But they amount to rejecting the absolute truth, however persuasive they may be made to sound.
You have presented these issues as if you were a neutral tribunal of scientific inquiry seeking the "real and total truth" about these matters. But as explained above, that is not how human history and the plan of God for us works. We are not the judge; He is the Judge. Our role is to believe or not. First, in His existence, majesty and inherent righteousness and goodness (Ps.19:1ff; Rom.1:18-21); second, in the gospel, the truth about salvation through Jesus Christ alone (Jn.3:16-18; 14:6); third (for believers), in the entire realm of truth contained in the Bible and illuminated by the Holy Spirit.
The fact that some pastors (actually, many) have abused the ministry of the Spirit and in lack of dedication have not spent the time and effort necessary to get to the truth (overlooking formal education, systematic theology, first and foremost for anyone really wanting to get to the pith of what the Bible really says and means: a deep knowledge of the original languages, and failing to put in the blood, sweat and tears to get to the truth thereafter) does not in any way compromise God or change the essential calculus of every human life here on earth. It's all about the truth:
(31) So Jesus said to the Jews who had put their faith in Him, "If you abide in My Word, you will be My students in truth. (32) Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Since everything depends upon God's truth, does it make any sense to you that God, being God, would ever let anyone anyone who really wants it go without the truth? Or have any serious doubts about what is the truth and what is not? He never has and He never will. The question is, who really wants it?
The truth divides like the sharpest sword (Heb.4:12), and all who are confronted with it are forced to believe it or not. Not believing it, whether through outright rejection or passive resistance amounts to the same thing: putting faith in something else other than the truth. That is true when it comes to the fundamental principles of natural revelation written large across the creation, when it comes to the essential question of "what think ye of Christ?", and also when it comes to the Bible for those who do believe in Jesus. Everyone is placed in this life to be confronted by the truth, and our fundamental response is to believe it or to believe something else in its place. There is no other option.
2nd Timothy 3:16 is just one of many scriptures which affirms the obvious, namely, that the Bible is the Word of God. Certainly it applies to all scripture, even though written later, just as prophecy given before the fact applies to what has been prophesied. Revelation is clearly scripture and part of the Bible as John tells us that he was commanded by God to write the book. Now one can reject that as untrue or "not proven", but doing so is as much a decision as believing that it is true. I hope you will see by now that in my view of these things accepting or rejecting truth in actuality has nothing whatsoever to do with "evidence" or "proof". Those are just excuses to reject what a person wants to reject because after all there is no way that anyone could ever convince me with any "absolute proof" that Revelation, e.g., is not part of the Bible and is not the Word of God. No such "absolute proof" exists. Now skeptics can adduce argumentation and other evidence we have heard most if not all of that but it can't be conclusive because no one can bring God into court to testify (and that is what it would take). But we believers do have the testimony of the Holy Spirit to our hearts, and if we reject that testimony (as unbelievers do when they reject the gospel), then we are rejecting the very best "evidence" of all, and of necessity calling God a liar.
You know in your heart of hearts that the Bible is the Bible and that the Bible is the Word of God, because the Spirit has testified to these facts. You can deny it to me, but will you be able to deny it to God on that great day to come? Telling God, "I was only trying to be honest" will be set against what the Spirit will say: "I told you it was the truth; why didn't you believe Me?".
Please don't let yourself be confused by what people say and do or have said and done. This is all about the truth, and ultimately it is between yourself and the Lord.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I wish you knew my heart and mind. There are things you say that are in direct opposite to how I think. I know how you think because I was once exactly like you in your belief (concerning why I believed). I believed the whole Bible and did not question anything. When a person is born again and believes that way, they convey the word, just as you do. And I did that for 22 years. For the last 21 years, I've learned much more about the mechanics of how everything came into the way it is understood today. Many things I've learned has stirred my concern, just as my heart was stirred when I was born again. It's an on-going process and I'm affected from both points of view. Here is where we differ in a major way...and I do understand why, since I've been there.
You have this thinking that one is either for or against the Bible as being the word of God. Now I know the scriptures you can use to support that thinking, but I also know (absolutely, that it is not true). First, while what you say is true, you are leaving out a major thought process that is also included in reality. I do not want to reject ANYTHING from God or the truth. I may not understand it, nor believe it, or doubt it, but I want to know the truth. Unlike the latter of the two trains of thought you cited.
That is why I keep saying it's all a matter of faith. On some things there is no evidence, and some of those things, cross the salvation, eternal destiny line. But someone (myself) who wants the truth and knows as much as I do about what the Bible says and particularly (has to accept that what man says about God is Bible and absolute truth), hesitates to not believe part of it, yet feels compelled to believe it, because of the consequences if I don't. That thinking does not fall within the Biblical thinking of "for me or against me, or lukewarmness mention in Revelation. Because I know my heart. What causes this thinking? I know you disagree, but I see it as, one has a choice to believe man in both instances. Man says, the Bible was written by man, but inspired by God. Another group say the Bible was written by man, but not inspired by God, and another group says, the Bible was written by man, and it may or may not be inspired by God. And some say, it really does not matter. The books were written just like all books are written and man decided to consolidate them and called it a Bible and say it was God, to further Judaism and Christianity. Man did it all, but man has said, NO, God did it and man has also said, NO, man did it. It is not a case of believing God...it's a case of believing what man said about what God said. Meanwhile, God is not saying nothing, except when man says he does. While man uses the Bible's definition of the Holy Spirit to prove their point, man also uses emotions (which they say is the same) to prove other points of view, base on what they believe is the truth. This is why there is no absolute truth that you talked about. Now, I don't believe we live in a world of no absolute truths. For example. We are born, we die, we live until we die, there is space, there is time, there is water, there is air, there are people, there is change. These are just a few I can mention. This is true with man. Now, if we go into the world of God, we can eliminate some of these, but only because we are alive to say so.
Since believing in God and the Bible as the word of God is a matter faith and cannot be proven, it's not fair for one to take the view of a Christian over the view of an atheist. In this world they both can win or lose the argument. So to get to the truth, one has to be unbiased and test everything, the best they can and make a decision. In the end, where things cannot be proven, both will accept by faith, what they believe. There are plenty of things to work with. I don't like the fact that many put atheists in an all inclusive class, like they do Christians. Here's what I mean. There are some born again Christians that you would think are unbelievers or atheists. There are also atheists that one would believe are Christians. It's when they open their mouth to specific questions of either side of the fence that causes them to be judged as to what we say is right or wrong. I happen to know that many atheists do not hate and dislike Christians. They actually love them. They don't believe in God and they have no reason to hate someone who does. Just like we are not suppose to hate someone who does not believe in God. Both can love, but many Christians say an atheist cannot love. They are incorrect. Now, they will say but, they can't love the way God says to love. Yes, they can. They will give their life for others during war and even not in war. The comments I hear that, it does not matter, if they are not saved, because it will be all for naught, I don't agree with. I'm looking more at the why, they do it. They have nothing to gain (in their mind). That says a lot about the love demonstrated on this planet, concerning the meanings of love by Christians and non-Christians.
People are people. We all have the same problems. Both good and bad are persecuted and both good and bad are not persecuted. Both are rich, poor, smart, ignorant, all colors, love, hate, hurt, everything. All can say God is or is not. There does not seem to be anything that separates a person, in such a way that one can tell that they are connected to a higher power, other than themselves. There are so many things that people claim as ways to prove life beyond this life, but I've seen nothing that proves anything (I say this in reference to God's working with us, not His creation) and things like prayer, miracles, Spirits, witches, evil spirits, demons, angels and so much more. You would think something would be real, like in the Bible. Can't even get a single prayer to work as demonstrated in the Bible. But if man knows about the request, then yes, it works almost every time. Tell man your needs and you get answers. Tell God (only) your needs and you drown, starve to death, get murdered, crib death, unanswered prayers, Holy Spirit chastenings vs moral convictions of unbelievers and so much more). And then there is always a way to explain it as God's will, or his ways are higher than our ways. Sorry, not a good answer. That's why I say test things to see what is really true. Let God be true and every man a liar. I'd like to see that played out in reality as we live our lives today.
Having said all that, do I love God? According to the Bible, apparently so, because I love everyone else. While I have no problem keeping His commandments, not because I have to, but because He wants me to; I know one could say I don't keep His commandment, because I question his word. True, but I am simply searching the demonstrated truth of the word, not rejecting it. Am I perfect, NO, Jesus is my perfection. Do I believe everything in the Bible, NO, Do I doubt some important things, YES. Do I not believe the Bible, NO. I'm sorry, I can't make myself believe something that I don't believe because of facts stating the opposite. I could say I do and make people believe I do, but I'm concerned about God; He know my mind and I have to be honest and truthful about who I am to Him...He is my judge, not man. I only say that by faith. I believe there are a whole lot of things that man does not have a clue about how things really happen to cause all of what we think we know.
Now, to get to a few things in your email that caught my mind.
Your comment: The Holy Spirit makes it absolutely clear to the heart of the unbeliever in question that the gospel is the truth; if they deny it, they deny something they knew very well was true and overrule the truth with their own will. That negating of truth is at the core of everything satanic and anti-God, namely, seeking to create one's own reality by willpower to the detriment of the truth and the One who gave it. (Where does the Bible say this?). I'm sorry, when is the last time you led someone to Christ?? That's not how it works. What you said in this sentence does not even enter the minds of some people who are coming to Christ. There are many reasons why a person does not give their life to God at the time they are approached. Their background, environment, serious problems, duress and so much more causes hesitation. Just because they don't accept it right off, does not make what you say true. Many unbelievers are not trying to overrule the truth at all, they are trying to understand the people leading them because they don't set the example, nor have the intelligence to lead them correctly. The Holy Spirit is a result of the words that come out of the mouth of the one leading them to Christ. This is true whether in the beginning and during many attempts to lead them to Christ. And the unbeliever does not KNOW the truth...the believer doesn't even know; they believe. They may know within their own knowing, but since they don't lean on their own understanding, they believe by faith. That's why there are so many problem with denominations and religions, God does not make it clear from His point of view)
Your Comment: The truth divides like the sharpest sword (Heb.4:12), and all who are confronted with it are forced to believe it or not. Not believing it, whether through outright rejection or passive resistance amounts to the same thing: putting faith in something else other than the truth. (I don't know where you get this? while they are similar, they are not the only choices. A person is not forced to accept (to them anything that comes along) without checking it out to make an informed decision. That's why JWs, Mormons, e.g. can cause someone to think they are Christians, but miss the mark. All unbelievers are not idiots.
Your comment: You know in your heart of hearts that the Bible is the Bible and that the Bible is the Word of God, because the Spirit has testified to these facts. You can deny it to me, but will you be able to deny it to God on that great day to come? Telling God, "I was only trying to be honest" will be set against what the Spirit will say: "I told you it was the truth; why didn't you believe Me?".
When I stand before God, it will not be the Great White Throne Judgment, so this comment does not apply to me. It will be the believers judgment. I may lose some rewards, but not salvation. What I see myself saying, is: I don't deserve to be here. The only reason I am is because you shed your blood for my sins and I turned from my sin and I accept that. You were my perfection. My doubts and misunderstanding are works that will be burned up. And as far as my honesty is concerned, I'm hoping that Philippians 4:8 will mean something to him. V/R
If you are a believer in the deity and humanity of Christ, and in Jesus' work for us on the cross in dying for all of our sins, then indeed I expect to stand with you at the bema when we receive our rewards. My concern for you is that you are unnecessarily torturing yourself and warring against your own faith to no good purpose that I can see. As an academic by "day job" profession, I have seen this phenomenon among the overly well-educated many times. There is something about excessive knowledge which can be corrupting to some. What I would wish to reiterate here is that nothing you have "learned" is sufficient evidence to contradict what I know by faith to be the truth. So you are making a choice, whether you want to accept that fact or not.
I stand firm on everything I have written to you here (and previously as well). The fact that your thinking on these important matters has changed over the years does not mean that it has changed for the better. I have been at this a very long time as well (considerably longer than you have), and one of the reasons why I deliberately went out of my way to get the academic credentials I have was for the assurance of those coming to this ministry that a person can be exposed to all manner of "information" without faith in the truth being degraded in any way. In the Church, a believer has to trust his own interpretation of scripture or that of someone else. Trusting many ministries only leads to great confusion (even if the ministries are saying essentially the same thing they will of necessity be saying it differently in many cases and the "noise" will compromise understanding); trusting oneself if one is a) not gifted by the Spirit as a teacher, and b) not prepared (academically, linguistically, spiritually, psychologically and experientially), will only lead to doubts.
I hope and pray for you that you will find a teaching ministry you can deem worthy of your respect to the point of putting your doubts aside and accepting the premise that said ministry is true (even if none can be perfect), learning to put aside small doubts on tertiary points so that you can believe what is taught and grow from the truth you receive that is the only way for a Christian, any Christian, to grow spiritually, and I am absolutely certain that this is the path our Lord commends to us all:
(11) Christ Himself appointed some of us apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers (12) in order to prepare all of His holy people for their own ministry work, that the entire body of Christ might thus be built up, (13) until we all reach that unifying [goal] of belief in and full-knowledge (epignosis: truth believed) of the Son of God, that each of us might be a perfect person, that is, that we might attain to that standard of maturity whose "attainment" is defined by Christ; (14) that we may no longer be immature, swept off-course and carried headlong by every breeze of so-called teaching that emanates from the trickery of men in their readiness to do anything to cunningly work their deceit, (15) but rather that we may, by embracing the truth in love, grow up in all respects with Christ, who is the head of the Church, as our model. (16) In this way, the entire body of the Church, fit and joined together by Him through the sinews He powerfully supplies to each and every part, works out its own growth for the building up of itself in love.
You are certainly welcome here at Ichthys any time. On the points discussed, however, we are going to have to agree to disagree.
Your brother in Jesus Christ, "my Lord and my God", and the only way of salvation.
Thanks for your words. I appreciate your attempt to answer my questions. I will continue to asked others who are well-footed in the Word until I find someone who will answer it in a way which addresses my points of concern. Understand, I'm not asking for an answer to the question, but rather the answer which addresses my seeing the issue which poses the question. I want to know why people refuse to answer questions that put their belief in question. Because they want me to accept what they see without question and all I want is explanation of why they overlook the things that require more explaining.
It's kind of like this. A Baptist pastor feels very comfortable preaching the gospel, the way the Baptist denomination sees it, and has to do so, or he cannot continue as a Baptist minister. The same with most other denominations. Non-denominationalism has more freedom. I'm not a pastor, but I share my experience with others. But I want to be as correct as possible. The problem is, I have issues with many things. I share but I share what I feel is proper. I don't feel it right to make someone think I believe what I don't, but I caution them to not believe something because I say so. I make sure they know, I don't give account for them and they don't give account for me. They need to be sure that what they believe is ok with them and that they understand what they are doing.
The questions I ask are not difficult. They are just humbling to the high minded and most don't want to humble themselves. I have a tendency to listen to the humble more than the proud. If I don't know something, I just say I don't know. I may believe what I don't know and I may not. If faith is the only way to accept it, then I most likely will believe. But if I can know and it is not in step with the Bible, then I will believe the facts. If it contradicts the Bible, I don't disagree with the whole Bible, but I do that piece. It the facts overcome the faith, then common sense, says change to what can be proven, if not, believe by faith.
I do believe in God and I also believe in life on other planets. I don't know if either one is true, but I believe it. I am seriously trying to see if there is a difference between people who are born again and people who live like they are born again, but don't believe that Jesus is God. I've met people who don't believe Jesus is God, but if they didn't say it, you would never know by their love for others and the fruits they produce. I've see Christians and non-Christians who display the characteristics of one having what they claim as the Holy Spirit. And with some, there really doesn't seem to be a difference. And the Devil, honestly, I believe is a superstition. I've never seen any evidence, beyond what people believe, of the Devil, demons, evil spirits. That would be supernatural and I see no power, beyond man's belief and emotional displays, and I've tried to see it. I'm beginning to believe it's all belief, whether good or bad.
I think temptations are addictions. A good psychologist can do the same job as pastors using the Bible. In fact, I've seen more successes that way than by pastors. But I really don't care about their approach, it can be done with the Bible and you don't have to pay. If a person knows the principles in the Gospel of John, Proverbs, and Psalms and practices them, it will change their life. I believe if one applies themselves to these principles, the same thing happens as being born again. I don't believe the Devil temps people. People just do what they learn. What they like, they do. If what they do is wrong, according to the Bible, and they accept that. They can stop. An atheist does it very well. It's just so surprising to me how an atheist can stop smoking, drinking, cursing cold turkey and a Christian tries for years and just claims the Devil has so much power against them. It's just a decision, you do it or you don't.
I've only drank 2 cups of wine, and 1 beer in my life. I inhaled once on a cigarette. I've cursed once in my life. I've never did drugs ever. I stole twice as a kid (some pennies, and a candy bar), I've probably lied under 10 times (before 17), I never looked at porn until I was 25. Biblically, I'm guilty on that one. But I don't practice it now. The point I'm trying to make is, one can just not do something if they choose. I'm not trying to make myself someone great because I'm not trapped in the snares of the world, I'm just saying, I chose to be different because I believe it sets a better example. It does not make me a better person with God, because I cannot add to what He has already done for me on the cross. I just do what I believe is better. I don't even eat process sugars, or grains. I eat very healthy. Most people can't break themselves of sugars and grains if their life depended on it. I do it because I want to live long and healthy. And I have a backup as well. I always obeyed my parents, because my dad would have knocked me senseless if I didn't. He was very old fashion. I remember a couple of years ago, I fasted for 62 days (Master Cleanse), no food and walked 5 miles every other day. And I watch the food channel for hours every day I was on the cleanse. I did not pray one time for strength. I just did it. I went from 167 to 142. Not bragging, just saying, if you want to do something, you do it. Sometimes Christians are so embarrassing as a witness, they got the God of the Universe, "I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthen me", yet they moan and groan how hard it is to overcome. They have been Christians for years, but act like someone who is addicted to everything without hope. And they don't think I understand how hard it is? To me decisions are like, when a love one dies, immediately you accept the fact that you will not see them again (if you are healthy minded), and you act accordingly. That's what you do with any decision. It would not be a decision, if done otherwise. Maybe I am weird, but that's how I see it, until I learn otherwise...and I'm open-minded.
I'm not of any special faith. I'm just . . . . that joined the military and served for 30+ years, got an education, and took it much further by personal research. I would not trade it for any amount of money. I'm very much aware that there are educated idiots. I could have all knowledge and be nothing. It's how you apply that knowledge. And wisdom supersedes knowledge in my opinion.
You know, I could say I don't believe in God, but I would never pass the test. I really do believe (yes, I know the Devil believe and tremble, but his days are numbered, biblically speaking) in God...but the things I wonder about, some would say, I'm an apostate. If I believe like I did in the beginning, I would agree, but I've grown, and I disagree. I could not love and do what I do, if I was an apostate. I'm putting my faith in God and believing in something (Bible+) that I have yet to completely believe.
Many believers mentioned in the Bible have questioned as I do. You know, I cannot understand how Peter could walk on the water, know Jesus as he did and still deny Christ (3 times). I cannot understand how the people could go through the Red Sea, that was parted and forget God right afterwards, thinking Moses would not return from the mountain. I question these stories, because I know that would have not done as they did. I had an angry guy pull a knife on me one day and he said he was going to cut me to pieces if I did not quit witnessing to him. I told him he could kill my body, but I would just walk through this door of life into the next life eternal. I am the redeemed. He said, "Man, you're crazy", and walked away. My faith was as solid as a rock and it still is, when I feel a need to use it. But that does not stop my interest in knowing the truth about the things I want to know. And I believe I will seek as long as I am on this earth and if the Bible is true, I believe I will find.
I know I sound lost and crazy to some, but I know I'm not crazy and I believe I'm not lost. My wife of many years, says I'm not average or normal. I agree...that would be boring and I've never been bored in my life. V/R
I'm not a member of any denomination so I am not under any restraint when it comes to speaking the truth. What I have shared with you is the truth as I know it, not a "failure to question my beliefs". I have been dealing with these issues a very long time and have come to complete faith on them, faith which is absolutely consistent with all the evidence as I see it. Clearly, no one should "preach their doubts" (as my dad was fond of saying). You have doubts, so you absolutely should not say things to people you don't accept as true. But from my point of view the problem is not belief but your doubt. The truth is the truth regardless of either of these things, of course, it's only that I am completely convinced of the absolute truth of my position, and I absolutely fail to see how the information you have shared undermines what I believe and teach in the least way. You see it differently. OK. I'm sad for you, but will continue to pray for you on this.
There is no sentient life on other planets. Belief in God is of no merit. Even the demons believe that how could they not since they see Him continually and shudder in anticipation of judgment. Faith in Christ is a decision to trust that what God says is true: salvation only comes through Him. That is what faith in His Word is as well: a decision to accept that His Word is His Word and that it is the truth. It's hard for me to see how anyone could get very far in spiritual growth without accepting that latter.
There is a devil. He doesn't control our will and his activities are often misunderstood; much of what he "accomplishes" is done through the system he has set in place (please see the link: the Satanic Rebellion series). Once again, the devolution of your belief system can be tied directly to your doubts about the inspired nature of the Bible. In my opinion, you are going to have to accept this as the fact it is in order to make a complete recovery.
It's not about money (this ministry doesn't even take donations). It's not about sin: Christ died for all sins and even the most saintly person who ever lived would die in their sins had not Christ died for them and absent faith in Him (all sin is sin to God, no matter how small).
It is clear to me that you are a man of exceptional intellect. That is only a benefit, however, if you wed it to an indestructible faith. The miracles related in the Bible are true. God created the entire universe of time and space in the blink of an eye He can certainly part a sea which He Himself created as an infinitesimally small part of His creation. Once again, it all comes down to faith. Being good, being loving, being law-abiding and being righteous these are all great things and, for Christians, required things. Doing them, however, is a response not a cause, a response to the truth believed (in the case of Christians who are doing them in a way God approves). No one can stand on their own works. We must stand on what Christ did . . . by faith. That is the free will decision which counts with our Lord and our God. And the same thing, "strangely" enough, obtains after salvation: we chose to believe in Christ; now we must choose to believe God's words, taking them in by faith and applying them by faith. There is no other course of safety, there is no other course of growth.
Praying and hoping for your confidence in the solidity of the truth of the Word of God, the very thinking of Him who is the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.
I'm going to have to read the Satanic Rebellion series and see what it offers to all the other explanations of this subject, before I can comment of some things.
But your comments "There is no life on other planets". I have no idea where in the Bible you came up with that conclusion. There are billions of planets and billions of galaxies with billions of stars in each of them. Science says now there are believed to be at least 2.5 million planets with earth-like atmospheres out there. Why wouldn't there be a possibility of life, other than us? It does not have to be humans, but something. I am not saying there is, but I believe there is 100 percent. Why would God create all of that if man is his prize creation. You are going to have to show me where the Bible says or even hints that there is no life on other planets to even make me raise an eyebrow. I totally agree with your comments of, "it's by faith". I've been saying that all along. We have already discovered that life came to this earth and still comes to this earth through amino acids on meteors. Amino acids are the building blocks of life. If that came from out there, there is a good chance of life from where it came from. These things are very interesting to me and there are 100s of them.
While my faith was once very strong, but now it is not as strong in believing certain things, but let's say I believed as I did before without question. I don't see what would be different in my life than it is today. I would still do the same things I do now, I would still have the same peace, joy, understanding and so much more. I cannot unlearn all the new information, nor would I want to. I did not have these questions before, so I had no reason to question things. I now know more and do have reason to question things. I'm not questioning for the purpose to deny God or nor do what He wants. I do it because I want to know the truth more and more. If it conflicts with what the Bible says, I can't control that. That was the case before I learned of it, as people before me saw it before I did.
I see it this way. If the Bible is the absolute truth and Jesus is the absolute way of salvation, then that will win out with me, because that's what I want. I cannot think of any reason not to want that. It's the best choice of all I've read so far. Since God knows my heart and I am counting of Him to lead me, I can't lose. I am not searching for a better answer to salvation (that was settled years ago). If there is a salvation of any kind, I believe it is Jesus. But I have to deal with all these questions and contradictions, despite the fact that you don't believe there are any contradictions. I know of over 100 (not alleged), but true. There are many alleged that are nonsense, because of not knowing the Greek and Hebrew, but that does not fix all of them. The real ones don't seem to be addressed because it weakens the faith of the church, so they stay away from them or don't even know them. I don't see how these contradictions change the salvation message, but they are errors made by the people who wrote the Bible none the less, which questions true inspiration by God vice man's owns thoughts of the truth.
On another note, concerning Mark 16:18. Other than what this verse says about picking up snakes and drinking deadly poisons and live, where in the Bible was this act demonstrated and if it was not, why is it there? The viper biting Paul does not count.
Well, got a long read ahead. I'm interested to see if it proves Satan's interactions on this earth, that can be proven other than man's evil ways. That is one of the things I am trying to confirm. So far, I see the good and bad of man, but I can't see the supernatural acts of God nor the Devil demonstrated anywhere. It seems like we have made the best of man God and the worst of man the Devil. That is in no way the same as what the Bible demonstrates as the supernatural acts of God or Satan. My goodness the Satanic Church can't even demonstrate the Devil. They have ceremonies like the Christian church has and nothing comes out of either one of them, other than man's emotional delusions. I'd just like to see something different than all the hype of man. Sorry, just am not seeing it. And I'm suppose to believe it happened in early days of the church. Sorry, just being honest, but still watching and waiting. If evidence is all I got to go on, the evidence is not doing it justice. V/R
Scripture attests to God's creation of the angels, and then His creation of mankind in response to angelic rebellion. It says nothing of any creation of any sentient beings with free will on other planets (and I assume you are referring to this type of life). Furthermore, six thousand years ago the universe was still blacked out and filled with the universal deep. There was no corporeal physical life within it of any kind; what life there had been on earth was destroyed in the judgment on Satan's rebellion (an event taking place between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 the "Genesis Gap"; see the link). So even if there were such a thing as evolution, no scientist would argue that it could have taken place in such a short time. Of course they don't believe the biblical account (but many of their questions would be answered if they did give it credence). Finally, it was true humanity that Jesus Christ, who is God, took on. We are more than just "special". Appreciating what it means that God, the Son of God, became human (in addition to being divine) is critical for understanding our importance to God . . . and the importance of all we do (first and foremost responding to Him His way instead of our way).
I've never seen a true biblical "contradiction". There are apparent problems, but I have seen the vast majority of them resolved to my satisfaction with sufficient research, patience and faith.
Yes, God does guide us. But we also have to "grope after Him" (Acts 17:27). If we seek Him, we will find Him. But that desire and intent to find Him is a choice just as finding reasons not to bother or to doubt the efficacy of salvation through Jesus Christ is as well.
Information is not the same as truth. Information comes in all forms, but when it is not biblical all information has in common some level of misinformation. When it comes to information that contradicts the Bible, generally speaking it will mean that the Bible is either being misunderstood, or that the "information" is not quite right (and even a little leaven can leaven that lump), and sometimes a combination of the two. I have met a number of people in my life who have tried to solve this "problem" inside out. It can't be done. One has to start with the proposition that the truth is the truth, as with salvation, so with spiritual growth through believing the Bible. That faith is a choice, to become one with Jesus in the first instance through the truth of the gospel, and to walk with Him thereafter through learning and believing all the truths of scripture thereafter.
I can only tell you my experience in this. If you trust that scripture is true, all the pieces will fall into place (eventually as one researches as a teacher or accesses a good teaching ministry). But if a person is waiting for the pieces to fall into place before committing to the truth of the picture and its pieces, they never will. That is because deciding to believe is the fundamental choice after salvation just as it is when we accept the truth of the divinity of Christ and His work on the cross in dying for our sins to be saved in the first place.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I did not realized you believed in the Pre-Adamic Theory. I'd discounted that long ago when I heard Jimmy Swaggart teach it. This link: http://www.preacherjohnhenry.com/?p=103) explains many of the big problems with it but the problem I saw right off the bat was, why would God destroy a physical world or worlds because of the actions of spiritual beings. Why not just destroy the spirit beings instead. And why in the Universe would He release them out again to do more destruction to His creation. It's like He's playing toys like little kids do. What would spiritual beings (spirits) do to a physical world anyway?
And I don't go along with the young earth people either, simply because, we know the present Earth is at least 50,000 years old because of the Greenland Ice Cap core layers. There are over a hundred thousand layers, but at least 50,000 of them can be accurately determined/dated. So any way you go about it, it's way over 6,000 years old.
So far, I will just stick with the Earth is millions to billions of years old. Evolution makes good sense, once a person knows it thoroughly (this involves meteors with water over millions of years and amino acids on those meteors as well, comets and so much more...it's no longer the primordial soup theory). Whether a person believes in creationism or evolution, they are both theories. I don't know which one is true if any. It's a matter of faith in the one that presents the most evidence.
I was not referring to Angelic type of life on other planets. I was referring to many types of unknown life. It could be anything. It could breathe sulfuric acid instead of oxygen. There are so many options. Just because the Bible does not mention it, does not mean it can't be a possibility. In a matter of speaking, we know for a fact that there has been life on other worlds besides our own. How about us? Man went to the moon. We've sent our vehicles to other planets and moons in the far reaches of the solar system. The Bible does not talk about that. And voyager has left our solar system. I have no doubt that the Universe is teaming with life. It's just so far away that we may never know. And they may never know about us. But I feel very confident that many have hooked up with each other out there somewhere...it just makes so much sense.
As you say, one does have to come to the realization that the truth is the truth. But I believe that when they try to contain that truth to the Bible only, they miss much of the truth in doing so. We need to be open to all truth. We cannot cram it into a one way thinking and expect it to make total sense. It never has and it never will (until Jesus comes back and sets things straight).
I've been reading that Satan Rebellion and I've got to say. The last time I was depressed was 26 years ago. And most of it is very negative. If one believed life should be lived that way, it would not be healthy, physically nor spiritually. I've always tried to live life to its fullest. It seems like it goes very heavy on the fact that it doesn't matter. It's like don't enjoy life too much, don't try to excel, don't try to get wealthy, don't enjoy the things that God has made for our enjoyment, because it's all going to pass away and we will cease to exist and never be heard of again. I already believe that. It's does not matter, that is common sense, why dwell on it. Just enjoy life while we are alive. It looks like too much emphases is put on people who obsess on all these things without including God, particularly unbelievers are portrayed this way. God does not want us to be poor, he provides wealth, if we are willing to apply ourselves. We can enjoy all these things, but keep Him in mind along the way. Don't leave him out. Whether we live it up or live it poorly, we are still going to die. We don't need to dwell on life or death, just enjoy the fact that we are here and thank God for that. People who choose the way of poverty don't know the provisions of God. Many of those people can do better and they should, instead of expecting others to support their way of life. However, there are the poor and we will always have them. It's our job to help them, if they are truly disabled.
But a message that teaches one has to be poor instead of rich, to better be a example for God is nonsense. Always strive to be better, in all ways. But do it in love. There are extremes in both directions and neither are Godly. I feel at ease the rich people in the Bible was not thinking the Prosperity Gospel. There were just rich. And no one that was poor thought God wanted them poor, they were just poor. There are many reasons, some good, some bad.
If we love God and love our neighbor, we fulfill the law. There are volumes that can be written on how to do that. God was not writing to the intellectuals, but searching souls and the children. Keep it simple. Once we taste the word, there is plenty more where it came from to satisfy our hunger.
I love many things in life (nutrition, health, Science, Biology, astronomy, physical fitness, technology, genealogy, eschatology, History, Archeology, any studies concerning the Bible. The list seems endless. Even though I have appreciable level of understanding on all these interests, most of my time is consumed on knowing the truth about Christianity and the teachings of the Bible. All the other things I study contribute immensely to my understanding and thirst for the truth in all things. I'm never bored and enjoy my studies very much. Even though I know in the end it doesn't mean anything and I will just disappear, right now I am here, to enjoy life as I see it, and look forward to a hope of the resurrection to life eternal. It's all worth it to me.
You know, when I was in grade school, I hated reading and could not seem to comprehend anything. I'm sure thankful I changed my mind. V/R
I most definitely do not teach the "Pre-Adamic Theory" (not that its any kind of argument to dismiss something just because someone else you don't respect believes it I'm pretty sure the pope believes in God, but I'm not going to stop doing so for that reason).
I most definitely do not teach the "young earth theory" either. Clearly there were eons of time in the Genesis Gap. I get grief all the time from these types about my teaching.
On life on other planets, here is a good example of the "faith" I'm talking about. You have absolutely no proof of such extraterrestrial life, and yet you "believe" in it anyway. If you took a mustard seed of that faith and applied it in the right direction, you might be able to begin breaking out of this self-imposed prison of secular information you have locked yourself into. No one is commending ignorance. It's what we choose to believe as true that is at issue.
The only way we can know something is true is if God tells us that. Everything else is absolute subjective and dependent upon our ability to process things in a necessarily imperfect way (as even the Neo-Platonists figured out). So we can know for certain what God has written into the universe (natural revelation) and we can know for certain what He has written in His Word but it takes the Spirit and our acceptance of the Spirit's testimony by faith to actually possess that knowledge within us in a useful way (epignosis as opposed to mere gnosis; see the link). In other words, you have to believe the truth for it to be of benefit to you. Believing a lie or something not true or not completely true is of no use; knowing the truth but not believing it is of no use. And the truth is the truth, whether or not it is proven to your satisfaction ahead of time or not. Since it has to be believed to be of use, the more you're looking for proof, the less involved your faith becomes.
As to the rest of your email, I'm not really sure what you are talking about. There is a good deal of the Satanic Rebellion series which explains human life from the divine point of view. This is meant to be encouraging for everyone who is committed to living for Christ and for the life to come rather than being intent upon enjoying this world to the exclusion of God's plan for them. Believers who are committed to following Jesus will have their share of lumps if they make the mistake of thinking anything down here is permanent or start resting on their laurels. Unbelievers are mostly hors de combat, and, unfortunately, most believers in this lackadaisical era have put themselves out of action too. But these are important perspectives for anyone moving forward because we will get hit by the devil.
I think that you are very happy with your situation and your application. I would like to help you, but for me to dig through this wall if you are busily nailing up boards on the other side is unlikely to be profitable for either of us.
This life is all about choice.
Time to choose.
In Jesus Christ our LORD.
I wish you could understand me better. See my comments below. It was the only way I could do justice to your email concerning your answering format. I'm hoping the red shows up on your end. If it does not, I can see it would be more difficult to read my replies. Sorry. [reduplication of email with interspersed comments not included here]
On epistemology, see the link: "Epignosis"
We do seem to be having a hard time understanding each other, it's true. Life is all about faith and choice. There is evidence for both sides. We decide which we are going to find persuasive. God does not force us to decide. He leads us to the truth, if we are willing to be lead, but not if we are not. It's no good blaming Him for something we decide. That is the basic unbeliever position. That's why unbelievers are always protesting about "people who never heard the gospel" . . . because they think such smarty-pants arguments will get them off the hook at the last judgment. That's why they shell out money to charity . . . because they think that might cut some rug with God. That's why they join churches . . . as an insurance policy. But in their hearts, they have chosen to be "smart" instead of humble. It's not about proof, it's not about evidence. It's about choosing whom to follow, the Lord or oneself.
In the One who is the truth, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
I read much of your link and I now understand you better. My questions and comments are not for you. Your mission is for people who stay inside the box. I am science minded as well as spiritually minded. I go out into the world and learn as much as I can to be better prepared to deal with these types of questions, since this seems to be what is on peoples mind most of the time. I'm sorry for taking up so much of your time with all my concerns. I can see it's of no value to you and your mission. I should have gotten the hint when you started to not answer my questions in the last two emails.
Your analysis of unbelievers seems to be a little off.
Bob, unfortunately, I can see that you have big problems with unbelievers. Loving them and ensuring you can determine which ones are believers and which ones are unbelievers is essential. Your statements above perfectly describe most believers, who don't understand what the Bible says. Most unbelievers just go about their merry way and do what they want. Today, a person can hardly tell them apart. The real believers get into the word from numerous angles, inside and outside the box, because they fear nothing. You cannot only just read the Bible and think you are going to have a great effect in this world. I know, you as well as I, will do whatever we want, but I'd suggest you learn some things other than the Bible, which challenges the Bible teachings, foundations, principles. People want answers to these things and you don't seem to be able to provide them. You appear to turn the other way and that is a weakness to them. Biblically speaking, you need to realize that what is the truth will never fail. You don't have to be a Peter example. And a doubting Thomas will always find the right way, no matter where he treads. I've met many Christians who are scared to death to learn, think, challenge anything they don't understand about the Bible. They are afraid that it would turn their world upside down and what would they have to live for. The answer is everything. Nothing changes, the truth is always true.
Nothing personal, I just think you are missing out on so much. Life is more than just feeling secure in what you believe. You seem to be wandering around in the wilderness and yet, you are happy doing so. Don't get me wrong; maybe the mission of Moses is for you. But the land of milk and honey awaits...don't let it pass you by. Walk on the mountain top while there are still a mountains. Knowledge is power and will always be power as long as we are here. When the Heavens and Earth passes, then so will knowledge. Until then, we have a lot to learn. OK, I will stop boring you with my, what to you may seem as valueless babble. But it's all meant well. I wish you the best. V/R
Regardless of how things look to the world or what they say, every human being comes to "God-consciousness" at a fairly early age (except for the mentally deficient). The point is, we are all responsible, because God has made Himself and His truth available. I am sure that many will try to quibble at the judgment; it won't do any good as our Lord will be well able to "play back" the truth and refute all such self-deception and self-serving lies. I always seem to have good relations with unbelievers and that has been true my entire life. My "problem" with them is that I would dearly love for them to be saved. You seem to be intent on sticking up for them. I have no problem with admitting that many of the unsaved are really wonderful, decent people, and may indeed behave better than many Christians. But focusing on that misses the point that they really have been exposed to the truth and have rejected it (or at least have so far deigned not to accept it). It seems to me that you are imitating this approach and considering it noble. But we both know that in the end those who refused to accept Christ will perish, and those who wasted their time on this earth even if in searching but refusing to find will suffer loss of reward. I take absolutely no pleasure in either of these things. Indeed, my whole motivation in this correspondence has been to try to wean you away from such subjectivity toward stepping back into the fight through faith.
The real point here is about you (not unbelievers who merely illustrate your approach). My site and my life and my beliefs are an open book. You keep dodging around, but have said plenty of things that trouble me in regard to your own spiritual situation. What you believe is your business; what you choose is your choice. But you are (as we all are) responsible for what you fail to believe as well as what you choose to believe. This site is all about providing answers based upon careful and detailed exegesis of the scriptures. You have tasted and found it wanting. That is also your business. This site is not for everybody (obviously). Most people are not interested in the truth (or at least not much interested or not interested enough). There are plenty of answers here at Ichthys. It's just that they are not to your liking.
I have clearly failed to get through to you. I do hope (and will pray) that you will find some ministry to your liking where the truth is taught in sufficient detail for you to grow. Because if we are growing, we are honoring the Lord and we are unlikely to fall away.
In Jesus Christ the Lord, our God and Savior, whom we are here to serve, and through whom alone we have life eternal.
I'm sorry Bob, but something is not right. I can't understand where you are going with your comments. You don't seem to understand things the way I thought you would. When I say things that are spiritual according to the Bible, you act like you don't know what I'm talking about. I know you said you are non-denominational, so please give me a link that explains what you really believe. If you were any of the Christian denominations I'd see it very well, but what you say seems to be foreign to their thinking. I'd like to know what I'm dealing with. What's your belief? I'm pretty well informed with most of the cults, Christianity, and other religions, but you seem to be something of yourself. Are you just explaining things the way you see it (as the spirit shows you)?
When I ask you a question, if you don't know the answer, just say you don't know. If you know, then answer it (either according to the Bible or whatever way you can, but a non-answer doesn't cut it). You say you are answering, yes you answer like a Politician who skirts the issue, that's not an answer...that is the dodge you are talking about. I get the impression you really don't have the confidence to answer because you don't know the answers and you are afraid to say so. If you were a Mormon, for example, I'd know how to talk with you (and I don't think you are a Mormon, just in case you don't know what I'm saying). I have been talking to you like you are a born again Christian, but I'm not getting the answers they would give, so I need to know who you really are. Don't be afraid of your faith. I'm not here to tear down your faith. But if you are of a faith, other than Christianity, I'd know not to ask you such questions or expect you to routinely understand my questions, like I have. I'd let you be you and I'd go elsewhere to converse, should you continue to take approach you have so far. I will tell you up front, you can't wean me away from my faith in Jesus Christ. While I don't understand some things about it, I know enough to not forsake it. If my doubts have answers, then let them come and if they don't have answers, then it's faith. You cannot add nor take away from that. We will never have all the answers and there will always be things that have to be accepted by faith. When that understanding is kept in context, questions should be welcomed and answered as best as can be by the facts that are known, by whatever means.
I feel like you are using your inability to answer my questions to point out my unwillingness to accept your teachings, which is to be accepted because you think the Bible says so, instead of addressing my concerns in a way that shows you understand my intent of the questions I propose. If your understanding of what God is can't hold you up in a secular world, then, it's not of the God of the Bible. If you can't answer my questions, which are easy, how in the world can you answer difficult questions, if I were to ask one. I get the impression that you think I should not be asking such questions. To that, if true, I would ask why?
Please just give me the link that explains the faith of your ministry (you). And, since I've just assumed you are a Christian, if your link does not have that info, please explain your understanding of what a true born again Christian is, in totality. Thanks. V/R
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