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Cults and Christianity VII

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Question #1:

Dear Dr Robert D Luginbill

I noticed the other day that on one of your discussions, which you seem to have many of, you do not put the name of the persons that you are responding to. The particular talk in question was: "Are the Celts the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel"? The name of the person who responded was yourself, signed Bob L, but you neglected to give the name of the person who was asking the questions and arguing in favour of the point about the Celts and the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

I have believed that the Celts and others are actually the ‘Ten Lost Tribes of Israel’ for many years, but will not go into it because I respect the fact that there are many views of interpretation in the bible and that one day we will find out everything, but now we need to keep our faith in the basics and serve the Lord.

I would appreciate it if you could give me the name and contact details of the person who you were responding to as I was very interested and impressed with his/her arguments and would like to hear more of what he/she has to say.

My one comment is that you mentioned not being able to accept Josephus and Esdras because they are not inspired works and therefore not part of the Bible. I was very interested in this because I have read Josephus and found him very interesting as an historian. You said that they are not part of the Word of God and I agree and therefore certainly are not absolutely necessary for salvation through the blood of Christ, but if they are to be discarded than that would mean we must discard every history book that we do not agree with. Since when do we refuse to even consider history which we are regularly trying to prove over and over again? There is more in the Bible to prove Josephus and Esdras than to disprove what they say and there is more to disprove many of the present day futurist biblical eschatological beliefs than to prove them. Many are taking and trusting their pre conceived theological theories and trusting their futurist views in order to believe they will be raptured and by this ‘Escape the Tribulation’.

I would greatly appreciate the information I have requested.

Yours in His Service from PRETORIA

Response #1:

I don't post names (or identifying features) of correspondents for privacy reasons, so I am afraid I'm going to have to disappoint you on this request (also, this posting was done many years ago and I no longer have the information in any case). What I can do is give you a couple of other links where the subject is discussed at Ichthys:

Who is "true Israel"?

Who are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel?

How Many Tribes do the Jews of Today Represent?

How Many Tribes Do The Jews Represent? II

More on the lost tribes

I certainly agree with you that the pre-Trib rapture fantasy is a danger to the Church (please see the latest link: "Dangers of the Pre-Trib Rapture False Teaching").

On Josephus, I would not cast out the testimony of any ancient historian prima facie; I would recognize that there is a difference between the inspired Word of God and any secular writing no matter how careful – a very big difference indeed. Josephus wrote in the late first century A.D. and so he was not in any position to have any independent information about the Assyrian deportation of the northern tribes which happened nearly 800 years earlier. As to the apocryphal books commonly known as 1st and 2nd Esdras (to be distinguished from the canonical book of Ezra), these are works of multiple and uncertain authorship and of uncertain dating (at least some large part probably dates to the same time as Josephus). Neither work(s) would have any way of knowing anything about the history of the Celtic migrations across the landmass of Europe in 2nd millennium B.C. The Celts from all that we know about them were (and are) an Indo-European people, with Indo-European culture and speaking an Indo-European language. They were typically itinerant in prehistoric times with an oral culture of epic poetry. All this is absolutely antithetical to a Semitic people who spoke a Semitic language, and who had been thoroughly urbanized in their captivity, being settled in cities. There is no historical precedent for an urbanized folk who were previously agricultural reverted to pre-agricultural nomadic wandering. I have never heard any theory advanced about how this could even have been possible or why or how or where it would have happened. Taken together, these two sets of objections constitute impossible hurdles for this false theory. It may seem as if it is merely a historical curiosity, but this false theory has been used as a wedge for introducing all manner of destructive heresies. It has been in the past a "gateway drug", so to speak, for many of the evil one's other false doctrines, and anti-Semitic ones in particular (because accepting such false theories inevitable leads to wrongly questioning the genealogy of today's Jewish population; see the link).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hello Robert,

When you get a minute can you tell me briefly what you think of the claims that the Jews in Israel are not the real Jews...I think the man writing this in this web site would need to get around the fact that Jesus would not be returning to Israel if the population there are not the true Jews, but I need your advice on this. DNA Unearths Stunning Secret: Jews are Khazars!

Many thanks once again.

God bless from Tasmania

Response #2:

I would give wide berth to anyone spouting any such anti-Semitic nonsense. Of course Jews are Jews. Ironically, the only people who want to say otherwise are people who hate Jews; and absurdly, often such people, who are inevitably Anglo-Saxon through and through, claim to be "the real Jews". This sort of tripe has been around for over a hundred years and is a particularly virulent strain of anti-Semitism, AKA "British Israelism". There are plenty of variations on the theme: since there is not a scintilla of fact behind these claims proponents feel free to make up whatever sounds good out of whole cloth. Here are some pertinent links which will help with the background and details:

Who is true Israel?

Who are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel?

Are the Celts the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel?

The Ten Lost Tribes

Some Jewish Issues

Israelology and Anti-Semitism

Antisemitism

As far as DNA testing generally is concerned, I have no doubt that there is something to it – in that they may actually be able to identify unique individuals from samples. But when it comes to tracing back ancestry many millennia into the past and then drawing conclusions from such DNA results as in the ridiculous claim your report, I would be most skeptical. Who then, we may ask, has "true Jewish DNA" if Jews are not Jewish? Palestinians "have more Jewish blood"? How could we possibly know that? What is the baseline, since this testing has only been available for a few years? What I mean to say is, it's not as if the DNA has an English language stamp "true Jewish blood". There is a comparison of characteristics from sample A to sample B or to group C. Who is group C, for this "professor"? Who are "the true Jews" against which he makes the comparison so as to figure out that Jews are not Jews? If there are no "true Jews" to compare against, then it is impossible to say that the people who say they are Jews are not the true Jews – which of course they are. But if he is comparing actual Jewish DNA to Anglo-Saxon DNA and finding differences then his argument is completely circular (i.e., it's only "not Jewish" because he has prima facie declared the Anglo-Saxon DNA "true Jewish".

Your argument, moreover, is excellent and important to keep in mind: For any Bible-believer, we know that our Lord is coming back to rescue His people, Israel, who will be (in part) in the land at the second advent. That would be the Jews (as we know them).

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hello sir. I read a little about you. Setting aside some personal questions. I have a project that you might find intriguing. Years ago I thought to discover what the Old testament scripture would unfold if the names of the people and towns were translated. I found in the book of Amos, some amazing things. If a computer program was set to replace the names with their meaning I believe the Gospel would unfold. The work I started by hand would take to long. Do you know of a program that I could use? I found my Bible program allows for only one chapter at a time. Some historical understanding has to be applied to the pictorial language such as a word for sackcloth is a picture of the clothing of grief and morning. A characteristic God confronts in Amos CH 1, doing away with it. Could you help?

Response #3:

Hello Friend,

Good to hear back from you.

I can't even imagine such a computer program – not one that could possibly work, at any rate. Many of the names in scripture are based on roots which can be ambiguous and have multiple parts and alternative spellings so that the precise construction of them (and hence their meaning) leaves things open to much debate. There is no agreement by scholars on precisely what many biblical names really mean and many names have a variety of forms (so no computer could ever figure it out without instructions more complicated than humans can at present figure out how to write).

As to Amos, I don't see many unusual names in the first chapter – mostly well-known ones. In any case, I have to say that I don't agree with the methodology. Names may be significant, but over-emphasizing that significance is generally a mistake in biblical interpretation. Lots of people – and many cults – are going that route today ("Bible codes" of one type or another; see the link: "the object marker 'eth" - scroll down to Q/A #5), but this is a false trail along the lines of worrying too much about genealogies which, while they are important and biblical, can be neurotically overdone to the point where the actual truth becomes a casualty (cf. 1Tim.1:4; Tit.3:9).

I would certainly be willing to lend a hand if you have questions about specific names or passages however.

Here are some other pertinent links:

Numerology

Aleph Tav

The "Chronicles Project"

Gematria

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello---Could you please tell me what this Hebrew phrase in the subject line means? This guy on CARM--I have sent you his stuff before and he is a raging fanatic--

"There is only one Holy Spirit "inspired" meaning of "beyn ha'arbayim" in the Holy Scriptures, and this one and only Holy Spirit "inspired" meaning is not found in any "oral tradition(s) of men" that "nullify" the word of God. (Mark 14:12; the day of Christ's crucifixion - not on Friday in our historical timeline on Earth as practiced by the "whole of man made organized Christianity"- all "oral tradition(s) of the Holy Week observances are not historically accurate or Biblical) The Apostle Paul, or any other Apostle for that matter, did not worship our Heavenly Father while abiding in a doctrine of demons. In other words, the writers of the New Testament ("inspired" by the one and only Holy Spirit), did not worship our Heavenly Father in any "oral tradition(s) of men" that "nullified" the doctrine of Christ. (i.e. all "oral tradition(s) of the Holy Week observances) The writers of the New Testament ("inspired" by the one and only Holy Spirit), did worship our Heavenly Father in spirit and truth, while abiding in the doctrine of Christ. "

I have the stuff you once sent me on the timeline of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, so no need to repeat that. I told him the NT was written in Greek, not Hebrew. He may be one of those that thinks Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. He hasn't said, though.

Could you also tell me what the Greek word used in Matthew 28:1 means, that is usually translated as "began to dawn toward the first day of the week." I looked it up in our interlinear Bible and the Greek looks really strange there. Is it a Greek idiom, perhaps?

Thanks for your help. In Christ

Response #4:

Sorry for the delay. Difficult week here - and weekend.

The Hebrew phrase beyn ha'arabiyim (בֵּין הָעַרְבָּֽיִם) means literally "between the evenings" and so "twilight" is generally how this is understood since the sacrifices are known to have been conducted just after sunrise and just before sunset, that is, at a time when it was neither "night nor day" from that point of view.

I have run into a great many individuals who seem to have staked their entire faith and Christian existence on proving that Friday was not the day of the crucifixion (it was), and that it was "really" Thursday . . . or Wednesday (depending upon the disputant in question). Needless to say this requires all manner of linguistic gymnastics to pull off, and always involves recourse to the phrase above, imputing some sort of mysterious meaning to the words which is not evident even to a Hebrew reader who has not been initiated into this "mystery". One thing I will note from the post you include is that "what it really means" is not given up by your correspondent! This is analogous to internet adds which tell you how to lose weight with a simple trick or some such thing, but don't give up the secret until you buy the book (it's a classic sales ploy, and therefore a standard "cult", technique).

Matthew 28:1 has  Ὀψὲ δὲ σαββάτων τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ εἰς μίαν σαββάτων; which translated a bit over-literally means "and after the Sabbath at first light (τῇ ἐπιφωσκούσῃ) on the first day of the [next] week" – in other words, "first thing Sunday morning" (Easter) – just as the traditional interpretation has always taught.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Bob,

Please read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caius_of_Korea

Do you think that the miracle recorded here is possible, even if uncommon?

Sincerely,

Response #5:

God can do anything, and He does things we would never expect all the time.

So when it comes to third party reports like this – that is, spectacular things someone else saw someone else do and then reports it to us (even though we as the third party did not see it and have no way of verifying either the truth regarding the first party or the accuracy of the person reporting, i.e., the second party) – I am happy to rejoice in the glory of God and his wonderful deeds towards men, while at the same time retaining my healthy skepticism about the details which I read on the internet which were gotten from third parties who were interpreting someone who was remembering what happened from his/her point of view. Is someone saved? I rejoice! Does someone wish to build doctrine on experiences, theirs or others, and expect me to accept the veracity of things that cannot be verified? I prudently choose to demur. I believe God. I believe the Bible. I know what people are, however, even if they claim to be Christians (Jn.2:25).

Here are some links:

Third Party Testimony III: Near Death Experiences, Revelations and Tongues

Third Party Testimony II: Charismatic Claims of Visions, Dreams and Prophecy

Third Party Testimony I: We Believe God and His Word – Not People

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hey Bob how are you doing, hope your summer is going well. I've really been trying to grow in the grace of our Lord. I moved back to VB and think I'm finally in a church where I can serve.

I'm sure your familiar with the seventh day adventist group. I was talking to a couple that got me thinking about some of their points. And was hoping you could clarify. Referring to Colossians 2:14-16 they say that Paul is referring to ceremonial law and not the moral law/10 commandments.  Because it refers to "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us" the 10 commandments where written by the finger of God. I read an article from an adventist site that quoted this verse:

Deuteronomy 31:26
(26) Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

So the 10 commandments were put inside the ark and the ceremonial law which is what Colossians 2:14 is talking about was put outside the arc. Is this correct?  Does Colossians only refer to the ceremonial the law? And if so what about the seventh day Sabbath. Hoping maybe you could provide some clarity on this issue.

Thanks your friend in Christ,

Response #6:

Always good to hear from you, my friend!

Here is how I translate the passage in Colossians:

(13) And though you were [spiritually] dead in your transgressions and in the un-circumcised state of your flesh, [God the Father] made you alive together with [Christ], having forgiven you all your transgressions. (14) [God] has erased the charge against us along with its particulars (i.e., our sinful nature and personal sins) which opposed our [relationship with Him], and He removed it [as an obstacle] between us by nailing it to the cross. (15) [For by means of the cross, God] has stripped [demon] rulers and authorities [of their power] and subjected them to public humiliation, having triumphed over them in [Christ]. (16) So don't let anyone judge you in regard to food or drink, or in the category of festival observances, be it of new moons or Sabbaths. (17) All these things are shadows of what was to come, but the reality has to do with Christ. (18) Let no one gain control over your life, desiring to [enslave you to himself] through a show of false humility and the adoration of angels, basing his approach on what he has [allegedly] seen while puffed up by his own fleshly thoughts, (19) yet not embracing the Head [Christ]. For it is from this Source that the entire body [the Church] is [truly] supplied and instructed through [all] its joints and sinews, and [thus] produces the growth that God has given. (20)If you have died with Christ to these false [pagan] principles [belonging to] this world, why are you letting yourselves be [wrongly] indoctrinated as if your life were of this world? In accordance with the commandments and teaching of [mere] men [these false teachers tell you] (21) "Don't handle! Don't taste! Don't touch!", (22) even though [we know] that all these [are only] things [which] decay with use.
Colossians 2:13-22

So from the context it is clear that Paul is talking about sin – as described by the Law (but not limited to legally proscribed behavior) – which constitutes "the charges against us". Christ died for all of our sins, and they all had to be judged in Him for us to be saved. That includes violations of the ten commandments, anything else prohibited by the Law, and all other sin whether specifically regulated as such or not (e.g., sins of the heart and the tongue).

I'm not sure what benefit to their (false) doctrine it is to make this distinction which neither the Greek here in Colossians nor scripture generally makes anywhere. I suppose they must thing that this all has to do with the fourth commandment, but that commandment (the only one not repeated in the New Testament) is only applicable after the cross in symbolic terms (see the link), and it is instead the attitude of sanctification toward the world in general which "honor the Sabbath" represents which we should embrace – doing so every day (not just Sunday – or just on Saturday). Our "faith rest" in the Lord Jesus Christ is an important part of our daily walk with Him, and that is the import of the fourth commandment for us, something much more vital then a weekly, ritual observance. Sabbath observance is a dangerous form of legalism and it is for that reason no doubt that the fourth commandment is the only one not repeated in the New Testament.

Happy to correspond with you further on this point. Here is a link to get you started which will lead to others: "Is Sabbath Observance Legitimate for Christians?".

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hi Bob,

Here's a recent debate with an anti-Trinitarian:

Him: I believe you can find sufficient reasoning of why any verse Trinitarians use to support their doctrine, doesn't necessarily mean what they think it means. But the thing that I can't get past, is all the verses which are seemingly impossible to read, and still say that Jesus is God.

Me: If Jesus isn't God, then why does he accept worship? (John 9:38)

Him: There can be different meanings to what "worship" is. There were many men in the Old Testament who God's people would "worship." (Gives a link about something about Moses bowing before his father-in-law).

Me: The word "worship" can also mean, you know, "worship." I'm just floating that as a possibility. Like bow down and worship as God. You know, the reason why the Pharisees wanted to murder Jesus "for being a man, he makes himself equal to God." (John 10:33)

Hey, you know what that would have been a good time for? Jesus to say something like

"Woah woah woah, guys! You're taking this the wrong way! You see, bowing down is just a sign of respect, like what Moses rendered to his father-in-law. I'm not like God or anything like that. Don't get your phylacteries in a knot, rabbim!"

But he didn't say that. Do you know what he did say?"

Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are "gods"’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— then what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world?" (John 10:34-36)

Key word: sent. As in, from heaven. As in, the one and only human being who was sent from the Father from his rightful place in heaven down to earth to be born.

Response #7:

Nicely done!

Question #8:

Hi Bob,

Paul is in Rome when he wrote this letter and mentions Linus as in his company. Is this THE Pope Linus?

Response #8:

I defer to objective historians who are well-acquainted with the papacy, many of whom consider Gregory "the great" to be the first "pope", that is, the first prelate of Rome who arrogated to himself  and to his "holy" See some sort of universal authority (quite apart from God). Of course just like the Romans of Cicero and Caesar's day needed to reconstruct their "history" back to "the origin" through mythology, so also the R.C. church has done. Peter was no pope. Nor was there actually any "pope" Linus. What the R.C. church does with this Pauline reference (2Ti 4:21), is something you'd have to ask them. The believers back in that day were actually believers. Whether modern popes and modern R.C.'s are actually believers in Christ is at least certainly open to debate: to a man and woman every refugee from that religion I've every spoken with has claimed they were not saved while still in the R.C. organization and that moreover it's impossible since it is a religion of works. So it's a little presumptions for them to try and force their works religion and its organizational structure back on people like Linus and Peter who were truly believers in the Lord and serving Him in truth.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Back to the original topic of this email, I was reading this from John Piper:

One of the things that makes that kind of praise from a contemporary the more credible is that, unlike many ancient saints, Athanasius is not recorded as having done any miracles. Archibald Robertson, who edited Athanasius’ works for the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, said, "He is . . . surrounded by an atmosphere of truth. Not a single miracle of any kind is related of him. . . . The saintly reputation of Athanasius rested on his life and character alone, without the aid of any reputation for miraculous power." Then he goes on with his own praise of Athanasius.

This just so obviously and conclusively proves that the Protestants were right about the RCC making it up as they went along, such as that "all saints do miracles!" In normal circumstances, this would be hilarious, but then I remembered what will soon come with the False Prophet and the Antichrist. What if the RCC grant both of them "instant canonization" for their false miracles and illusions?

I call them false miracles because the Psalms clearly teaches that God alone works wonders. (Psalm 72:18)

Response #9:

A "saint" (hagios) in the Bible is a believer, someone who has been "sanctified" (made holy) by the blood of Christ, so that Paul generally addresses all his epistle recipients as saints (even the Corinthians whose bumpy spirituality is well-known: 1Cor.1:2; 6:1-2; 14:33; 2Cor.1:1). So debating about what "sainthood" means in the RCC is really neither here nor there. I fully expect the RCC to back antichrist . . . along with all of traditional, established Christendom (see the link).

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

Catholics teach that II Maccabees 12 teaches the existence of purgatory. However, the people in the story were idolaters, meaning that they died in a state of mortal sin and thus would have been sent to Hell directly, no purgatory.

The story still contradicts Catholic doctrine.

Response #10:

It's a good point, demonstrating that, really, R.C. doctrine only uses scripture (and in this case, apocryphal works) to reinforce teachings they pull from thin air. This book you mention is not in the Bible in any case (it is in the Apocrypha with a capital "A"), so it can be of no value in terms of theology. 1st Maccabees has some historical value (not canonical either, however).

One of the easiest ways to distinguish cults, religion, and false teaching from genuine Bible teaching: is the person/group in question respectfully going to the Bible to be humbly instructed by it, or are they mining for support of their predetermined positions and ignoring it everywhere it's truths are not convenient?

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Please have a look at this:

http://randalrauser.com/2016/08/on-god-and-volcanoes/

One of the comments mentions that some believed that Mount Sinai was actually a volcano. I did some research and discovered that this theory was actually very popular among many different skeptical thinkers, including Freud.

However, it is not really possible scientifically speaking. None of the mountains in Sinai were ever volcanic. Some people particularly attached to the volcano theory move "Sinai" to Northwestern Saudi Arabia (where there really are active volcanoes), but if I move Israelites over to Japan, I can get even more volcanic sites as candidates for the "historical" Mount Sinai.

Response #11:

It's always amusing to me that Bible skeptics always seem to come up with the wildest theories to explain otherwise very straightforward biblical statements, which theories are a million times wilder than the thing they have "problems" with in the first place – if one accepts that God is really God (as of course He really is): E.g., Ezekiel must be describing a spaceship (!).

Question #12:

What do you think of this drawing? I got it from an old book. I'm not so convinced that the Earth is round. I haven't been able to find one NASA photo that isn't computer generated. Not to mention the bible described the Earth as a fixed point.

Response #12:

I'm pretty sure it's round. See the link: "Does the Bible Ever Describe the Earth as Being Round?"

On the chart, I prefer mine. Here's the link for that one:

The Waters above and below the earth.

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Professor, I have studied both the bible and most of the sciences. I actually teach biology, chemistry, and geology. One thing that I have learned myself personally is that – a great deal of their science information isn’t adding up with the Word of God. The scriptures are clear, that as believers we are to [Prove (examine) all things; hold fast that which is good. 1st Thes. 5:21].

Over the past two years I have realized one thing – the majority of everything they say are lies. I have examined all of NASAs photos in Photoshop as well as Fotoforensics and they’re either CGI, Photoshop drawings, or just paintings. It’s actually strange how the Most High stopped the Tower of Babel from being built but would allow man to fly into the out heavens. There’s actually a simple explanation – he wouldn’t.

Next, they actually want people to believe that the Earth has a curvature in every one mile squared of .666 ft., and tilts on an axis of 33.4° (100° - 33.4° = 66.6°), is spinning 1040 miles/hr (1670 km/hr or 0.5 km/sec), while rotating around the sun at 66.600 mph. One thing I have learn from life is if something happens once, it’s an anomaly. Twice, it’s a coincident. Three times, it’s a pattern. The very fact that there aren't any real photos from NASA of the entire earth is proof enough. Not to mention, the lies they put out about having thousands of satellites, with absolutely no real photos or proof, circling the earth at 17,000 mph, in an atmosphere that's supposedly moving over 1000 mph, in temperatures 1500° F above their melting points and are able are to take clear photos in lieu of wind speed, density of the gas, solar radiation and dust — defies both the laws of physics and chemistry.

Now according to the scriptures, the earth is definitely not a globe or ball. Isaiah 40:22 It is he [God] who sits above the circle ( , chug) of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in;

The Hebrew word that is used in Isaiah 44:22 ( , chug) is definitely not implying to a globe or sphere. The root word only occurs in the Hebrew Bible once as a verb (Job 26:10). In nominal forms, the same root occurs four times, three as the noun (chug; Job 22:14, Prov 8:27, Isa 40:22), and once as the noun (mechugah; Isa 44:13). This term refers to a "circle instrument," a device used to make a circle, what we call a compass.

Isaiah 44:13 refers to this "circle instrument."

Isa 44:13 The carpenter stretches a line, marks it out with a stylus, fashions it with planes (horizon), and marks it with a compass; he makes it in human form, with human beauty, to be set up in a shrine. [NIV]

The verbal form of the word basically means "to make a circle" or "to scribe a circle."

Job 26:10 He has described a circle on the face of the waters, at the boundary between light and darkness. [NRSV]

This is clearly the main reason, mostly all of the generations of times past described this "circle" or the horizon as the "edge" or "end" of the earth (Deut. 13:7, 1 Sam 2:10, Job 28:24, Psalms 48:10, etc.).

King Solomon himself, in a poetic hymn uses this "ends of the earth" as well as the Prophet Isaiah by saying, "circle of the earth," both corresponding to what Job expressed. Proverbs 30:4, Isaiah 44:13

Prov. 30:4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of the hand? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is the person's name? And what is the name of the person's child? Surely you know!

The Israelites, conceptualized the world as a large, flat, circular disk anchored in water below (tehom, Prov 8:27, Gen 1:2, 49:25, etc.) by pillars or foundations (1 Sam 2:8, Prov 8:29, etc.). Between the earth and this [tehom] deep was Sheol, the place of the dead. The earth was covered by a "firmament," conceived as a large solid upside down bowl or "dome" (Job 22:14, 37:18), in which the stars were placed (Gen 1:14-20). Above the dome was also water, which was the source of rain.

Gen 1:7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome.

The dome had "doors" and "windows" to let the waters above fall to the earth (Gen 7:11, Isa 24:18, Mal 3:10, etc.). God was described as ruling the world from his throne above the dome (Psa 33, Psa 113:4-6, Matt 5:34, etc.).

Psalm 104:5 Who laid the foundations [ ; base] of the earth, that it should not be removed [(gaw-law') uncovered] forever.

How is the earth covered? Psalms 104:6 Thou coveredst it with the deep (tehom) as with a garment: the waters stood above (upwards) the mountains.

Job 38:4 "Where were you when I laid the foundation [base] of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding,

Psalm 93:1: "Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm ..."

Psalm 96:10: "He has fixed the earth firm, immovable ..."

Isaiah 45:18: "...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast...

1 Chronicles 16:30: "He has fixed the earth firm, immovable."

Joshua prayed for the sun to stop moving, not the earth.

[Josh. 10:13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.]

Response #13:

I'm no physicist (I flirted with failing the subject in high school – of course that was reflective of a lot of other things besides academics . . .).

Before we get into the particulars and the exegesis of Isaiah 40:22, let me ask you to explain how it is – if the earth is not round – that sailors have been circumnavigating the globe for centuries now. Even if a person would quibble about complete "around the world" voyages, it is very clear that people sail/fly from the U.S. to China/Japan all the time; and others do so from China/Japan to India, and others do so from India to Europe, and from Europe to the USA. It's inconceivable to me that billions and billions of such trips could be falsified – especially going back many centuries – or who would have the power or motivation to do so. I have not circumnavigated the world myself, but I have traveled to Greece, and I have traveled to Japan, so from my personal experience the only place the "gap in the plate" could be would be somewhere in central Asia – but I'm pretty sure that the trans-Siberian railroad is not a gimmick. I have a good friend, a Christian, who traveled on it from Moscow to Beijing, and she would not lie about that. So there is no gap. A person can travel "around the world" and that doesn't seem to me to be possible if the world is not round.

Science is wrong about a great many things (clearly) and following it's pronouncements of the moment (which change like Orwell's 1984 with every new piece of information) has become a sort of religion in our society. However, God did make the world and gave us the ability to find out certain things about it. Where that has been done objectively (as in Isaac Newton, a believer), I think that it would be going off the road on the other side to reject things that are clearly demonstrable – and that can be just as problematic as blindly embracing theories that are not so (as with evolution and climate change). Here are some links on all this which may prove helpful:

Science and the Bible II

Science and the Bible

More on science and the Bible

The problem of science and the Bible

Charles Hodge and Charles Darwin

Is the earth ever described as round in the Bible?

The origin of the four seasons

The shape of the universe according to the Bible

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Dr.,

Would you have a look at these files and please comment?

Response #14:

I had a look at your files. On a flat earth, you have argued this about as effectively as it can probably be argued from a biblical exegetical point of view. There is much in here with which I would agree – except for the conclusion. The fact that many "people of the Ancient Near East, (?)as well as ancient Hebrews and Israelites(?), conceptualized the world as a large, flat, circular disk anchored in water below" does not make them right. Certainly if any "ancient Hebrew or Israelite" did so, they didn't get this from the Bible because the Bible does not teach this. The Bible does use phenomenological language just was we do in everyday speech, but the fact that I say "the sun comes up / goes down" does not mean that I believe that the sun is revolving around the earth instead of the other way around – it's just the way we say things. And even if some writers of scripture did see things that way, and even if the Spirit did allow them to say things in a way that is not inconsistent with a flat earth, that is not at all the same as there actually being a flat earth. If they Bible actually taught a flat earth pro-actively, that would be a different matter. But it does not. None of these passages you cite need be taken in that way since 1) the passages are true regardless of whether we see things as you have put them forward or if we see this issue through the prism of the phenomenological language of the time – and of our time still. The sky still looks like a vault and the horizon still appears rounded, whether that is because the earth is a sphere (it is) or because we were only looking at the edge of a bottle cap formation (we aren't).

I gave you some common sense objections the last time you wrote me about this. I suppose your graphic will seem to answer some of them – if factors of time and distance are ignored (which, obviously, they can't be). But a obvious problem with this present representation is Antarctica. If this picture you provide were true, then arctic bases south of Chili would be tens of thousands of miles away from those south of Australia (they obviously aren't), and circumnavigating the arctic coast would take years (the edge of the bottle cap). Clearly this is not the case and was not the case when this area was being explored in the 19th century – when there was no discernible reason for a grand conspiracy and no technological means to perpetrate one.

The main point I would wish to leave you with is that while many of your observations about the way in which the Bible describes things are true enough, they don't actually teach what is suggested. They are completely consistent with either picture: 1) the ancient pre-exploration one, and 2) the modern post-exploration one. Since there is plenty of evidence that the latter is a the true picture of the physical realities and because of the obvious problems with the former, based on centuries of exploration, the only way I would endorse the former is if I felt that scripture had to be understood in that way – and in my view not only doesn't it have to be understood that way but in fact it is forcing things to suggest it is teaching things that way.

Why does scripture say things in this regard the way it says them? In my opinion it is precisely for the reason that it was important not to portray a world in a way in which the ancients wouldn't have understood, but also at the same time to give true statements which would not be contradicted once the world would be explored. The Spirit has accomplished both of these important goals perfectly, and I am very happy to be able to say to my science-minded friends, "you see, there is nothing in the Bible which is wrong concerning science when the Bible is correctly understood", just as I am happy to say to you that science is only confirming what the Bible had anticipated all along – when science is merely objectively and humbly describing the physical realities it is theoretically dedicated to exploring (speculative theorization about "evolution" and "climate change" and modern day politicization of science not withstanding).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Professor, this is my last email about this. I'm not a flat earther I just trust the bible. Isaiah clearly knew the difference between a ball and circle[cf. Isa. 22:18 & 40:22]

He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a BALL(dur) into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house. Isa. 22:18

It is he that sitteth upon the CIRCLE(chug) of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: Isa. 40:22

I teach chemistry and I know that one of the physics of water is that it always searches for the lowest energy level point which is a flat plain. I also know that water does not curve except for waves, single drops of water, or if it's frozen in a spherical container. There isn't a scientist on this earth that can prove that water can curve in our atmosphere other than the three instability times. That's why it's called sea level and not sea curvature.

In Rock City, Tenn., you can see seven states from their observations ledge. This is absolutely impossible if we were on a sphere.

You ever wonder why NASA never celebrate the accomplishments of the first man ever to reach the stratosphere. I guess the real reason is because Professor Auguste Antoine Piccard completely exposes all lies every space program agency on earth tries to convey to the world to discredit God's account of Creation. Gen. 1:1

Through the portholes, Piccard and his' assistant saw the earth through a copper-colored, then bluish haze. They described the earth as a "FLAT DISK (not spherical] with an upturned edge." He was an atheist, it wasn't benefitting him at all to say the earth looked flat.

Moving on: During the 2nd Advent of our Lord, the bible says Behold, he cometh with clouds[army of angels]; and EVERY EYE SHALL SEE HIM, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

It absolutely impossible for every eye on the earth to see Christ's return if we lived on a sphere. The only way this is possible is on a flat plane

Every scripture in the entire bible clearly says that the earth doesn't move except during earthquakes. It also clearly says that the sun, moon and stars move.

Response #15:

As pointed out, the Bible uses phenomenonological language just as we do today. That can't be used as evidence (anymore than a scientist using the word "sunup" can be taken to mean he really "knows" that the sun is revolving around the earth rather than the other way around). I trust the Bible too. It doesn't teach that the earth is not round. And as also pointed out, nothing it says is inconsistent with the earth being a sphere (see the link). All of these things brought up here are thus otherwise explainable, and easily so. For example, the fact that "every eye" shall see Christ return does not mean that the earth cannot be a sphere. Nothing prohibits Him from circling the earth or just enough so to fulfill the prophecy. But while that is possible, I do not see how it is possible for it to be night in Australia while it is daytime here in the US . . . if the earth is not a sphere. Because there is nothing to block the sun if we are all on the same plane (I'm also waiting for an answer on the arctic question).

Unbelievers disagree with just about everything in the Bible, not just its representations of the physical world. If things were as you represent them, it makes no sense to me that the entire unbelieving world would have gone out of its way for centuries now to hide this one thing that the Bible doesn't even clearly teach – nor can I conceive of how they could have done so. After all, all believers start out as unbelievers. At some point, someone in on the conspiracy would have been saved and spilled the beans.

There is clearly much about the universe that unbelieving science does not understand and has gotten wrong – and if they would believe what scripture has to say (i.e., about instantaneous ex nihilo creation and about the fact that the re-constructed and re-established flora and fauna of the earth is only six thousand years old) they would be put on the road to the truth. My concern is that by making this argument which does not fall into that category – because you are misunderstanding what the scripture is saying – winning others over to this true perspective is only pushed farther away rather than being helped to win a hearing.

Written in the love of Jesus Christ and in the love of the truth.

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Robert,

I recently found you on the internet. My family and I are experiencing a big spiritual war. Even though we choose not to raise our children in any religious organization I was raised Mormon. I never liked the Mormon religion. As a child I would day dream in church of making bread so I didn't learn much. I was the only one in my large family that married out of the religion and was very criticized. I had to promise my family that my husband would join after we got married so I could marry him in peace. He did and after our temple wedding we decided no more. When we moved we were pressured to start going to church after decades of being inactive. We choose not to and to make a long story short we took our names off the Mormon Church. Unfortunately after we took our names off the church we have become homeless. It's been over a year now. My family and the community don't seem to really truly care. My husband and I thank God all the time for showing us what we have seen. We wouldn't change it for anything although it has been extremely tough. We have been shunned not only by Mormons but even people who call themselves Christians. I'm amazed to see how all these humans are so uncaring. They are all about themselves, they are prideful and most of all there are a lot that claim they are Christians but all they can do is use there mouths. They can't seem to walk the walk. I pray to God all the time. I know he knows our needs before I pray. My husband and I truly believe in following Jesus Christ. We are going where he is even if its hard. In our Journey I have felt we are the only ones. I don't know how to explain. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your knowledge. I love your Three false doctrines study. I'm completely hooked on all your writings. They have been a blessing. Your writings are exactly what I feel but can't put them into words. Everyone of them. Thank you God. Thank you Robert. I'm hoping we find a home before the winter. I'm hoping we can financially get through it. I know God knows best!

Response #16:

Good to make your acquaintance. I'm happy to hear that you and your family have been able to extricate yourselves from this religion, but of course sad to hear about your struggles as a result. If it's any consolation, it seems that most if not all of the Christians I know who are actually trying to put the Lord Jesus Christ first in our lives have had similar serious struggles. That is to be expected:

[They were] strengthening the hearts of the disciples, and encouraging them to remain in the faith, and saying "We must pass through many tribulations to reach the Kingdom of God".
Acts 14:22 (cf. Jn.15:20; 16:33)

And we sent Timothy to you, our brother and co-worker in the gospel of God and of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that none of you might waver in the midst of these tribulations. For you yourselves know [very well] that we have been appointed for this. Indeed, when we were with you I was warning you that we [all Christians] were destined to be persecuted (lit., "tribulated").
1st Thessalonians 3:2-4

The evil one has no interest in vexing unbelievers and no particular interest in vexing believers who don't care about the Lord. Satan saves his energies for those of us who are really trying to "live godly in Christ Jesus" (2Tim.3:12).

I am very encouraged by your testimony but especially by your positive attitude and obvious trust in the Lord in spite of this present adversity. You are right: He is 100% faithful and never lets down those who are truly seeking Him (Ps.9:10).

Ichthys is a personal ministry personally supported and without any special resources, but I have put you and your family on the Ichthys prayer list, and I am also making a point of remembering you in my own prayers as well.

You haven't shared all the details with me (that is certainly fine). One thing I would observe is that inasmuch as your present dilemma seems to be the result of persecution by a religious group which dominates the geographical area you are living in (and also no doubt exercises a good deal of influence over those who are not members as well), you might consider finding some place where this is not the case. I well understand emotional attachment to a particular area. I loved California where I lived for many years, but I would never have survived out there if I had placed that consideration over finding a job capable of supporting me and my family (things have been quite enough of a struggle as it is). Apologies in advance if there are other factors that take precedence – as I say, I don't know the details.

Thanks also for your good words!

In the Name of the One who is our Rock of defense and sure support in this life and in the next, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #17:

Hello--I wonder if you would take a look at this article. It won't take long. Is the writer correct about the Greek and what "obedience of faith" means? That it means to believe? I have always thought so, and he does give Bible verses, that imply obeying the Gospel is believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and God and Savior.

https://faithalone.org/magazine/y1993/93july3.html

The Obedience Which Is Faith--Romans 1:5 and 16:26

Thanks. Have a good evening. God bless!

Response #17:

When you say about "the obedience of faith" that "it means 'to believe' ", I would absolutely agree. That, it seems, is also the conclusion of this article, and not a difficult lift from the fact that both contexts in Romans are talking about the need to be spreading the gospel and bringing others "to believe". As our Lord said, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (Jn.6:29 NIV). Doing "the work of God" is surely the same as being obedient to Him.

As to the article, I don't think it is necessarily 1) particularly clear in making this pretty obvious point; nor 2) completely fair to the versions and persons it criticizes since in both cases most of them are not directly opposed to this correct view (MacArthur and the new NIV being the exceptions, but then both of these sources are often wrong).

So I endorse the view (your view), but not the article (because it does more to confuse than elucidate – just like the average Sunday "sermon"). Here is what I write about this verse, along with my own translation:

[Jesus Christ], through whom on behalf of His Name I have received [this] grace and [my charge of] apostleship, for the [fulfilling of His] purpose among all the gentiles of their obedience [consisting] of [their] faith.
Romans 1:5

Thus faith is not a mere intellectual appreciation of who Jesus is and what He has done (for "even the demons" know this), but an acceptance and commitment of heart to this truth as the way of salvation. God made us to need Him and has done everything necessary for us to return to Him – and because of Jesus' sacrifice we are obliged to do so. Accepting the truth of the gospel in faith is an act of obeying God, the first and fundamental act of obedience which enters us into the family of God and begins the life of faith.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Thanks. I just wanted to see if the author was correct about the Greek. This Mormon guy says God only gives His saving grace to those who obey Him, and he frequently quotes that verse. I keep telling him--and showing him this article--that to obey Jesus is to believe in Him and then quote John 3:36. He thinks that we are saved by grace through faith WITH works of obedience, quoting James 2:24 all the time, to back him up. But nowhere does James say that we are saved by grace through faith with works, only that a faith without works is dead. I ask this guy, how can faith be dead if it is the gift of God and results in our believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and God and Savior? He never, ever answers me. Just keeps repeating the same set of Bible verses over and over again. I have shown him 53 Bible verses that clearly say we are saved by God's grace/faith and not works--but he says he still sees "works" in them. I ask him to show me where any of the verses actually SAY we are saved by grace through faith and our works. He won't answer then, just keeps repeating himself.

There are none so blind...

Thanks and God bless you, too.

Response #18:

Good job. Yes, Mormonism is a religion of works just like the R.C. church, but salvation is and must be entirely grace – we have to accept what Christ did for us, becoming a human being and bearing all of our sins, in order to be saved: it's all about Him and not at all about us. If we make it about us and what we do, we dishonor Him, who He is (God and man) and what He has done for us (coming into this world and dying for us on the cross, being judged for our every sin).

The only quibble I have here with what you write is that in Ephesians 2:8, the "gift of God" is salvation, not faith; pistis is a feminine noun whereas the touto / "this" in "and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (RSV) is neuter; it thus has to refer to all that precedes (i.e., salvation) and can't refer to faith only; that would have had to have been haute / "this" (fem. to match pistis fem.). So in that verse faith is part of the equation embraced by "this" ("that" in KJV), but the neuter takes in all that precedes, that is, the whole process, namely, being saved through faith. Everyone has the capacity to believe; only those who use it to believe in Christ are saved:

(8) For you have been saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Christ]; and this (salvation) did not come from you – it is God's gift. (9) Nor did it (i.e., salvation) come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast. (10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for [the purpose of accomplishing] good works, which [very works] God has prepared ahead of time for us, that we might walk in them (i.e., live our Christian lives in the accomplishment of them).
Ephesians 2:8-10

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hi Robert,

This is just a quick question, are you familiar with Michael S Heiser PhD, he seems to have a lot of knowledge with ancient languages, if you have heard of him and know his work, what do you think of his writings?

Many thanks, and also for your previous answers too.

Response #19:

I haven't studied Heiser's writings in detail, but I have received a number of questions about him in the past. He may have great credentials, but he also has some theories which are pretty "whacky" (to use the appropriate technical term). He seems to be confused about certain Hebrew words in ways which betray a lack of understanding about the inspiration of the Bible as well as about the Trinity.

I'm happy to take on any specific questions you might have.

Here are a couple of links to where some of this is discussed at Ichthys:

Genesis Gap: Questions and Answers III (see Q/A #6)

Angelic Issues VI (see Q/A #19)

Angelic Issues VII (see Q/A #25)

The Bible and the Canon IV (see Q/A #27)

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Please have a look at this link re: Vincent Cheung

http://www.vincentcheung.com/2012/06/07/blasphemy-against-the-holy-spirit/

John Piper appears to say something similar. What says you?

Response #20:

Jesus died for every sin of every human being ever committed – it's called "the blood of Christ" (see the link). So the entire idea of there being some "secret super sin" a person, Christian or not, might commit which would put them "beyond forgiveness" would be laughable if it were not so outrageous and if that false doctrine had not thrown so many brothers and sisters into paroxysms of guilt and fear because they are afraid they have somehow committed this terrible sin. All sin is terrible, even the ones we think absolutely nothing of or don't even realize we're committing. And Jesus had to die for every single one of them for us to be forgiven. So He did – praise God! – and so we are saved by grace through faith (Eph.2:8-9). Failing to believe that we are forgiven is a sin in and of itself, but in the case of believers who don't lose faith altogether it is not unpardonable. The only sin for which Christ could not die is the sin of rejecting Himself as Savior, and that is the sin against the Holy Spirit – the Chief Evangelist – to whom Christ is referring in Mark 3:28 (cf. Matt.12:31-32; Lk.12:10).

I have dealt with this topic often. Here are some links if interested in the details (n.b., this is such and obvious and important point that it does not speak well of any ministry or system of teaching to get it so wrong):

Speaking against the Spirit (in BB 5)

An Extended Conversation on the 'Unpardonable' Sin

Have I committed the unpardonable sin?

The Unpardonable Sin and Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

Blasphemy against the Spirit (in BB 5)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Should we update our soteriology? Should we say that anyone can be saved unless they:

(1) Deny Christ

(2) Take the Mark of the Beast

(3) Say something bad or make a public statement with their vocal chords at one point that could be construed as "blasphemy" against the third person of the Trinity?

Here is what one apologist has to say regarding this verse:

The Holy Spirit is God's active principle in the world, as the Son (Word, Logos) is the Father's command and direction. By "active principle" we mean that the Holy Spirit is the personified effect of God in the lives of people and in the world. (See our essay here.) By "blaspheming" the Holy Spirit, Jesus therefore refers to one who denies the divine authority and activity of the Spirit -- as did those who attributed the exorcisms of the story to Beelzebul. Dunn, in Vol. 2 of Christ and the Spirit, puts it this way: ...the beneficial effect of [Jesus'] exorcisms was so self-evidently of God and wrought by his Spirit, that to attribute it to Satan was the worse kind of perversity -- deliberately to confuse the Spirit of God with the power of Satan was to turn one's back on God and his forgiveness (Mark 3:29). In terms of the post-resurrection scenario, this also applies to those who refuse the prodding of the Holy Spirit to believe the Gospel. They deny the activity of the Holy Spirit in prodding them to believe, and thus blaspheme the Holy Spirit by putting his activity down to guilt feelings, etc. This is why we are also told that "whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him" -- the Son of man, God's Word and Wisdom, is the message of God; it is not that part of the Godhead which convicts us. The matter is really rather simpler than some televangelists have supposed.

I am mentioning this because there was a meme on Youtube called "The Blasphemy Challenge" where teenagers put up a video saying that they deny the existence of the Holy Spirit. So if the Greek word, in the aorist tense, means to speak against in one punctiliar moment, then shouldn't we tell these parents to stop praying for these children, as they have done the equivalent of taking the Mark of the Beast?

Response #21:

No one who believes will take the mark. Many believers will apostatize and follow antichrist, then take the mark. Many unbelievers will actively reject the truth of the gospel and take the mark. No one who takes the mark will change their mind later. That is a prophecy, not a decree per se. So nothing in that stricture involves any change in the gospel. Denying Christ is an active refusal to accept Him, and if a person perseveres in that state to the end, they will not be saved. But Peter denied Christ three times, and I can assure you that he is in heaven. So here too we have nothing inconsistent with the gospel. Finally, I have already explained (and linked to further explanations) what the "unpardonable sin" and/or "the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" is, namely, rejecting the Spirit's witness to the truth that Jesus is the Christ and that salvation comes through faith in Him alone. A person who does that cannot be saved as long as he/she rejects the truth and persists in unbelief. So, again, no contradiction with the gospel. I might despair at cleaning up all these messes people are making out there in cyber-space and in various groups, churches and denominations, but I know that it is all part of the plan of God to separate the wheat from the chaff and truth from lies. We keep banging away, doing our job, and let the chips fall where they may, confident that the Lord has this all in hand – and that we are safe in His hands.

But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin." He said this because they were saying, "He has an impure spirit." [whereas He was being witnessed to by the Holy Spirit]
Mark 3:29

Yours in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Matthew 12:31-32 "And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

The second sentence is key here. The contrast is crystal clear. It's a speaking sin. The two Greek words for the word "speaks" in this passage are both in the aorist mood. The aorist mood means that "the kind of action is punctiliar. The aorist indicates finished action." Essentials of New Testament Greek Ray Summers (Broadman Press, 1950, p. 66]. This is not a continual rejection of the Holy Spirit or even a continual speaking against the Holy Spirit. It's a speaking sin. Once spoken a person has committed it.

Is this person's analysis of the grammar of Matthew 12:31-32 correct?

Response #22:

Both verbs are aorist – and both are subjunctive. In the subjunctive (we have the equivalent of a future more vivid condition here), one has essentially two choices in Greek, practically speaking, namely, to use the aorist or present stem. In strong verbs like lego, the default is the aorist. It might be significant if the present were to be used (possibly); it's unusual for it to be significant if the aorist is used. This distinction we call "aspect" and, as I tell my students, "aspect" usually means next to nothing. It is very common among those who don't know Greek (or who know very little Greek), however, to make a much bigger deal out of the difference between a present and an aorist than is justified by actual usage in the language. That is clearly the case here. If our Lord has used the present, it could be equally over-translated to mean that unless a person is continually and continuously speaking against the Spirit, no problem. That is clearly ridiculous, and that may explain an additional reason for His choice of the aorist. But one cannot draw from the choice of tense stems an inference that someone who rejects the gospel cannot later change his/her mind. Of course they can – if still alive. But determined rejection of the Spirit's witness – indicated by the individuals who were calling the Spirit's miracles works of the devil – will not be forgiven because it is a sign of the hardness of heart which has rejected the gospel. And only a change of heart from unbelief to belief will overrule this "unpardonable sin".

The the type or manner of sin does not matter – we have all committed many sins of all kind and would be damned for the least of them if Christ had not died for every single one of the – which He blessedly did! And all sins are forgiven when we trust in Christ for our salvation. So it is patently legalistic (not to mention blasphemous for demeaning the work of Christ) to say that some "special sin" will damn us even if we believe in Christ – and so much so as to let any true believer who is empowered by the Spirit know that it must be wrong (even if he/she doesn't have enough Greek et al. to know why). All sin is sin, and no "speaking sin" is any worse than a sin of thought or deed. But our words do indicate both what is really in our heart and also what we are likely to do as a result. Just a few verses later our Lord has this to say:

"But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."
Matthew 12:36-37 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

You might even want to put this one on your latest website updates for Saturday.

Debate with Vincent Chung

http://godsphilosopher.blogspot.com/2017/08/constructive-criticism-of-vincent.html

Response #23:

I'll include it when the right theme comes up in the queue!

Question #24:

Hi Bob,

Is Failing a Sin, and is Failing different from Losing?

Here is a link to where John Piper makes this claim.

When you start on an endeavor and fail, is that a sin? Is failing different from losing or being defeated? John Piper said that all failure in life, no matter what, is the result of sin.

According to the Bible, sin is breaking the law of God, but what law is being broken when you fail? There is no commandment that says "thou shalt always be victorious."

Sincerely,

Response #24:

This is one of the more ridiculous things I've ever heard.

Scripture please?

Question #25:

This isn’t my idea, but John Piper’s idea. And that’s why I was contacting you: I wasn’t aware of any commandment that says "thou shalt not lose," so I was wondering where did he get that notion.

Response #25:

I understand – the question was directed to him.

Point: if someone says something we find biblically wrong, the first thing is ask for their biblical basis. If it is clear that they have none, we have just saved ourselves a whole lot of time and angst.

 

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