Wednesday, February 25, 2009

10 Things America Needs to Know...NOW

A Tale of Two Cities begins with the phrase, “it was the best of times and the worst of times.” We could say the same for The Year of our Lord 2009. (Perhaps our problems began when we quit using the phrase, “in the year of our Lord.”)

Our times are the “best” because, no matter how bad things get, we still get to weather the recession in America instead of somewhere else in the world. What a huge blessing! ”Thank You, God!” Though we have lost much, none of us are sifting through a garbage dump somewhere in the third world looking for a scrap of food to eat today in order not to die tomorrow. I’ve seen that with my own eyes and those scenes are burned in my memory. People elsewhere would fight to the death to get at what you and I put down the disposal every night. Our garden sheds would pass for luxury housing in many parts of the world.

Our times are the “worst” for we find ourselves within the most serious economic crisis, some say even more so, since the Great Depression of 1929-1941. Homes, jobs and fortunes in staggering numbers have simply vanished since last September. Economists, politicians and journalists are scrambling to find an “economic silver bullet.” Even more argue over who to “blame” for our current malaise. These “experts” are pouring over spread sheets in near panic to find that elusive “switch” to turn the economic machine back on.

Regardless as to the symptoms of this latest crisis and regardless of our own individual circumstances…we would do well to understand that our crisis is far more spiritual than economic. Though not primarily a book on economics the Bible contains pure truth revealed by God Himself. He speaks to economics as well as many other subjects. We would be wise to both hear and do what He says! Consider these truths as we all ponder our own economic circumstances:

1. God creates wealth, not the Federal Reserve – Deuteronomy 8:18
2. Just one soul exceeds the value of everything else – Matthew 16:26
3. Debt is slavery – Proverbs 22:7
4. Prosperity is not our top priority – Matthew 6:33
5. Life does not consist of the abundance of one’s possessions – Luke 12:15
6. There is more value in the giving than in the receiving – Acts 20:35
7. Subsidizing the idle is wrong – II Thessalonians 3:10
8. Look to God for your substance, not the government – Genesis 14:22-24
9. Greed is not good, in fact, it is idolatry – Colossians 3:5
10. Sin is our greatest national problem…by far – Proverbs 13:44

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8 (Websters 1833 Bible, courtesy, (emphasis added - RM)

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Are You an "Ice" or an "Ex?"

There is a world war being fought with renewed intensity these days. It is a war, not of guns and bullets, but one of truth and error. This war began in the second century and continues to this very moment. It is a war of biblical interpretation.

The Scripture is very clear about what it is and how it is to be interpreted. Two passages come quickly to mind:

II Peter 1:19-21 – We have also a more sure word of prophecy; to which ye do well that ye take heed, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (American Standard Version(ASV)

II Timothy 3:16-17 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works. (ASV)

These verses are saliently clear, ALL Scripture is inspired of God and Scripture is not to be interpreted according to one’s own emotions, feelings or opinions. This was the un-contested understanding of the early church. However, near the end of the 2nd century, this began to change. Origen of Alexandria began to teach that the Scripture had “multiple meanings” and that each person could “interpret” each Scripture “allegorically,” i.e. according to their own individual experiences. This philosophy, grounded in the pagan Homeric Greek philosophy of Plato, took hold in the apostate church and holds sway to this very day. It is a philosophy embraced by the Roman Catholic Church and “emergent” theologians such as Brian McLaren. It is a man centered philosophy that essentially places God in a secondary position in the search for and the establishment of truth. Mechanically, this “allegorical method” is one that looks inside the Sacred Writ and allows the seeker to “pour in” his or her own “meaning” into the passage. The “truth” that is therefore “discovered” is of the making of the seeker and in the “image” of man. This is what Paul warned of in Romans 1:25 when the “interpreters” of his day…”changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” (Webster' 1833 Bible) This madness is known to us today as eisigesis (ice-a-gee-sis). A relative new term coined ca. 1878, eisigesis is defined as;

“The interpretation of a text…by reading into it one’s own ideas.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, (Merriam-Webster, Inc. Publishers, Springfield, MA, 1991), pg. 399)

To coin a phrase, for one to embrace eisigesis in the pursuit of truth would lead one’s search for salvation onto the “thin ice.” Eisigesis has brought us everything from 2nd century Gnosticism to 19th century liberalism to the so-called “Emergent church” of today. The process takes one in circles, always searching and yet never finding. Eisigesis allowed King Saul to rationalize keeping alive the king of Amalek as well as the best of the herds and flocks instead of utterly destroying them as God had clearly commanded in I Samuel 15. Today, eisigesis allows men and women to rationalize all kinds of things un-biblical though the Scripture clearly teaches that additions and subtractions to God’s Word are strictly forbidden as we see in Proverbs 30:6.

There we are enjoined to “…not add to His words or He will rebuke you and prove you to be a liar.” (Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.)

On the other hand, those who wish to honor God and move “neither to the right or to the left,” view Scripture from an exegesis [ex-a-gee-sis (“ex” – out of)] basis. Exegesis is what Jesus Christ referred to as “having ears to hear.” It is the mindset that instead of injecting our own opinions into the Scripture, we humbly extract God’s will for us from the Scripture without question or argument. The exegete is totally subservient to his or her Lord and Master’s Word, the final say in the on-going war of biblical interpretation. In I Samuel 15, Samuel was the exegete while Saul was the eisigete. Samuel is now honored among the faithful while Saul was removed from the throne of Israel. Just how we interpret God’s Word has the most serious of consequences.

Eisigesis views the Word of God as a collection of “stories, historical fiction and fables” to be “interpreted” via one’s own life’s experiences rendering God a god of “confusion” and “contradiction.” It produces a foundation of sand causing both spiritual collapse and spiritual death. The end of eisigesis is unbelief and the end of unbelief is death eternal.

Exegesis views the Word of God as 100% “God breathed,” “Holy Spirit inspired” and is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (Websters 1833 Bible, op. cit., II Timothy 3:16) It has nothing to do with our own life’s experiences, opinions or conjectures. It is not influenced by circumstance or any kind of pragmatically conceived benefit. It produces a foundation of rock solid faith rendering both spiritual stability and spiritual life. The end of exegesis is belief and the end of belief is life eternal.

So dear reader, which are you, an “ice” or an “ex?” Heaven and hell anxiously await your response.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Towards Salvation or Resulting in Salvation? - An Analysis of Romans 10:9-10

Paul speaks of the fact that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth" in Romans 10:4 (KJV). Words mean things. When we read the word "end," we naturally think of the conclusion, termination or cessation of a matter. Not knowing otherwise, we might interpret this verse to mean that belief in Christ results in righteousness i.e. salvation. However, the word "end" in this verse is the Greek word telos, "...the result of a state or process," according to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

The concept of the word "end" meaning "process" is supported by the use of the word "believeth" in the original text. In Young's Literal Translation, this verse is rendered: "For Christ is an end of law for righteousness to every one who is believing, ..." Paul continues in this same vein five verses later in Romans 10:11 where he states again; `Every one who is believing on him shall not be ashamed,...' The phrase, who is believing, indicates an on-going process not the final conclusion of a matter.

We can conclude, therefore, that "believeth" is part of a salvation "process" and not the "completion" of salvation as many would have us to allegorically assume.

You may now ask; "Just what does all of this have to do with the subject at hand?" Simply this: for those who would view the word "end" as a destination, the same would view both "belief" and "confession" in Romans 10:9-10 as resulting in salvation, NOT part of a not-yet-completed process. But they, dear reader, would be in error should they view it so.

There is much mistranslation of these verses in multiple versions. Said mis-translations are due to the fact that many versions are translated (interpreted) by scholars whose theology is driven by the Reformed, Calvinistic and Evangelical tradition. Romans 10:9-10’s treatment by many translators reveals a “theological tail” wagging the “theological dog” in rendering the original meaning of these two key verses. A brief review of how vs. 10 in handeld. Instead of believeth unto righteousness and confession is made unto salvation, we have:

* In the usually accurate English Standard Version: " believes and is justified," and "one confesses and is saved."
* The also usually accurate New American Standard Bible says, "resulting in righteousness" and "resulting in salvation."
* The rarely accurate so-called "dynamic equivilence" New International Version says, "are justified" and "are saved."
* The darling of the modern day "Alexandrian School," the Enlish Majority Text Version says, "resulting in righteousness" and "resulting in salvation."

Many versions, however, render this passage correctly such as the American Standard Version of 1901:

Rom 10:9 & 10 – “…because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:
for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. “

The original language texts use the Greek word eis which corresponds in English to our word unto. “Unto” (eis) is defined by Strong’s as “…expressing motion.” In other words, in Romans 10:10, both belief and confession are “flowing towards” a goal not yet achieved. We come now to the crux of the matter. Since belief and confession do not result in salvation, when and how is salvation achieved? Paul quickly tells us in vs. 13:

Rom 10:13 “…for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” KJV

There we have it. We are saved (past tense) once we have “called on the name of the Lord.” Peter proclaimed at Pentecost that this would take place (Acts 2:21). Paul himself clarifies what “calling on the name of the Lord” is…it is baptism! He clearly states in Acts 22:16, in his own account of his own conversion, that this is so:

Act 22:16 “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” - KJV

In conclusion, Paul clearly teaches the necessity of baptism for salvation in Romans 10…contrary to the teachings of the vast majority of the denominational world. Our challenge is great is this vast sea of lostness but “God is for us and who can be against us?”

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