The Most Important Thing

In a rather contentious Bible study, I was asked what I thought the most important thing to tell someone was.

If I were going to give them one thing out of the Bible, what would that one thing be?

After a brief pause, (because that was all that was allowed) I turned to Jeremiah and read to those in the study, the following:

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

At which point I was promptly argued with, and told that the most important thing was to tell them that Jesus died for their sins. I was not surprised. I knew before I read Jeremiah that I would be set upon because I was not “telling them about Jesus” and “giving them the gospel.” However, the accusation results from a failure to understand some basic facts about the passage above, and the logic of it. It has very much to do with understanding how the LORD God works and how human nature works. The passage above addresses both those issues in a very powerful way, that will, if the person has any love of the truth at all, lead them straight to the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, it will lead them there, not in ignorance, but in understanding, and enable them to trust the Lord Jesus fully.

In understanding how this is, it is essential to understand that it is the LORD God who seeks us, not we who seek Him:

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23)

The Scripture confirms this by giving us the  converse of the above:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(Romans 3:10-12)

Whether we like it or not, the issue of someone coming to know and understand the LORD and subsequently trust the Lord Jesus Christ, is not actually left in the hands of man. Rather, it is the word, the Scripture, in which the LORD has invested the power to work in the heart and lives of men:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11)

And so it is that all men can ever be, are mere messengers – ambassadors of the LORD and His word. The one simple duty of those who have been born again is to faithfully deliver that word of truth to everyone around them. It is the LORD and His word that will do the heavy lifting of working in the heart and soul of man. Ultimately, through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, the LORD God reconciles man to Himself. This also, Scripture confirms:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (II Corinthians 5:17-21)

Seeing then that we are merely messengers, what message does the passage from Jeremiah bring that would be more important than “telling them about Jesus?

To begin to understand this, we must understand that man has two significant problems in his nature that stand in the way of him ever coming to Christ. Those two things are addressed in the Jeremiah 9:23-24 in the following ways:

“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

And:

“let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

The first, which is addressed as glorying in oneself and what one has done, is pride. Pride is devastating to anyone’s ability to come to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Pride is what destroyed Lucifer and caused his fall. Pride will cause the LORD to turn away from an individual and never offer them salvation. This the Scripture also confirms:

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)

And again:

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15)

And yet again:

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (I Peter 5:5)

Hence, one of the most important messages that we, as individuals, must understand, is the fact that the LORD will not regard us, nor hear us if we are bound up in pride. Pride is insidious and perverse and will cause us even to be proud of being “humble” and “spiritual.” We must truly humble ourselves before we can even consider coming to Christ for salvation.

How critical is this? Consider the following illustration by the Lord Jesus Christ:

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)

The Pharisee demonstrated rank pride, and was rejected. The Pharisee believed he was justified before the LORD because of what he did. Consequently he was deceived of himself, by his own heart. Because the Pharisee did not know and understand the LORD God, he failed to realize that the LORD God had rejected him — all because of his pride. The publican on the other hand, knew he had no place to stand, and in all contriteness, humility and sincerity of heart, pleaded for mercy. To the publican, the LORD God looked, regarded, and accepted. This is because the publican did not come to the LORD demanding to be accepted. Neither came he expecting that the LORD should accept him. Rather, he came knowing that he was not qualified to even ask of the LORD anything, but placing his trust in the LORD’s mercy and grace, knowing the LORD God to be a merciful and just Lord and God.

In this, the knowledge of Jonah is illustrative:

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (Jonah 4:1-2)

This leads us into the second trait of man’s nature, which is intertwined with a very critical issue: The ability to trust and have that trust based on sure knowledge, rather than ignorant superstition. If we recall the Pharisee in the illustration from Luke, he thought he knew God, and was accepted of the LORD. However, he only thought he knew, but did not actually know the truth of the LORD God. Hence, for lack of knowledge and understanding, he trusted in error, and it failed him. In sum, he believed, but did so as he was ignorant of reality, not realizing his ignorance. This in not an uncommon problem. Most fail in understanding Who the LORD God is, and what He will accept and what He will reject. It is plain the LORD rejects superstition, which is the believing of something in ignorance or without concrete evidence in fact.

This failing of man, the apostle Paul addressed when he spoke in Athens at Mars Hill:

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. (Acts 17:16-23)

Though Paul had preached the gospel to many in Athens, it bore little fruit as it seemed to the Athenians to be just another god, somewhat different from the gods they already had. But having no understanding or knowledge of what the God Paul preached was about, they were unable to come to any conclusion, and hence brought Paul to a place where they could hear more. Thus, the problem they had, Paul addressed directly on Mars Hill — declaring unto them that they worshiped without knowledge and understanding. They worshiped a God which they, in their present state, could not perceive. Having no real perception of Him, it was impossible for them to understand Who He was, and what He was about. Hence, the apostle Paul set about rectify that shortcoming by declaring the LORD God, and Who He is to the Athenians. The end he sought to achieve was their coming to the knowledge of the truth, and subsequent trusting of the LORD in truth, and not in ignorance and superstition.

This is exactly what the LORD requires, as the Scripture makes it very plain and clear:

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23)

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

It is manifestly impossible to worship in truth, if you have no idea, no concrete proof of whether or not you actually know the truth. If you are only guessing, then you do not have the truth. If you actually do not know and understand the LORD God, you are only guessing. I am sorry. That is an unacceptable basis for coming to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

This, the Lord Jesus Christ made quite plain to the woman at the well in Sychar: That you must come in spirit and in truth:

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)

We should note that the Lord Jesus tells the woman plainly and clearly what is required BEFORE she asked for it, not after. The Lord Jesus told the woman:

  • if you know what the gift of God is
  • and you know who is offering it

… then you will ask, and He will give.

Which brings us to the issue of trust.
It is the inherent tendency of every person to trust themselves before they will trust anyone else. In fact, we learn at an early age to not depend upon someone we do not know and do not trust. Hence, to place our eternal destiny in the hands of someone of whom we know little to nothing, is ignorance and foolishness. If we are honest with ourselves at all, we will admit that we have difficulty trusting even those we do know. How then can we trust someone we cannot see, and have never met, and do not know?

The short answer is: We don’t.

However much outwardly we may say differently to placate those around us and not hurt their feelings, we reserve judgment and withhold trust.  Since no one can see our heart, we “get away with it” and no one is the wiser. However, the LORD God knows different:

But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (I Samuel 16:7)

Hence, we will not fool the LORD God. If we choose to believe, deciding to “trust,” yet not fully, we are reserving part of ourselves from the LORD and not allowing Him liberty in our hearts. To do so, is to say that we hold the LORD no differently than anyone else. This the LORD God will not abide, and will reject as it is inasmuch to say that He is not totally and completely worthy of our trust. In short, it is an insult and an offense. Additionally, if we do choose to trust in ignorance, thinking it is the Lord Jesus we are trusting in, what is to insure that it is actually the Lord Jesus Christ in whom we are trusting? After all, the Scripture is express that Satan has insured there is a false Christ, a false gospel, and a false spirit that he uses to snare men with.

This also the Scripture advises us of:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (II Corinthians 11:3-4)

And again:

But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11:12-15)

There is but one way to prevent such deception from occurring:

To learn, from the Scripture, the person of the LORD God — before you decide to “trust and believe.”

This is not to learn about Him — that is, His attributes; but through seeing how He deals with individuals and nations, we learn His character, His nature, His Person — those things which are essential for trust. This we find throughout the entirety of the Old Testament. It is to see in the Gospels, how the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the “fullness of the Godhead bodily,” dealt with individuals from all social and economic strata, and from all walks of life, and perceive how His Person is. Then, and only then, can one trust truly and completely.

Can this be done by one who is lost, and not saved — not born again?

Absolutely. However, it does require the instrument of faith, which the LORD has promised to grant to anyone who will truly hear His word. Faith is not something one generates within themselves so that they may “believe.” Rather, faith is an “it,” an instrument well able to reveal the truth and make the Person of the LORD God perceivable and understandable. In many ways it is no different that any other instrument of perception, such as a telescope, binoculars or radar. Those instruments enable us to perceive physical things beyond normal vision. In like manner, faith enables us to perceive spiritually, that is, in the spiritual.

However, the attainment of faith does not come simply because one demands or expects it. Rather, it comes as a result of being granted it by the LORD God upon hearing of His word. This “hearing” does not mean that the sound fell upon the ear, or that one merely listened and it went in one ear and out the other. Rather, it is that one heard, and considered in the heart, the word of God, the Scripture. Upon this hearing, that instrument whereby anyone can clearly and accurately perceive the truth of things, which is faith, is granted:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)

But be forewarned, lest we think faith not really necessary or essential to knowing  and understanding the LORD God:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Hence, it cannot be that false faith which one gins up within themselves, making themselves see something which they do not actually see. It is not the “faith” which is born of pride that states “If others are able to perceive and know, I can to.” No. It is that faith which allows one to perceive, and reveals in surety of knowledge and understanding:

“This is the truth. I actually see this truth.”

It is very much like getting proper eyeglasses to see with when your vision is bad. That is why the Lord in the Book of Revelation, calls it “eyesalve.”

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Revelation 3:17-18)

This now brings us right back to the question:

How then can we trust someone we cannot see, and have never met, and do not know?

The answer is obvious and really doesn’t need to be repeated. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus Christ gave the commission to the apostles, He stated it thus:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Teach — Teach them Who the LORD God is, and what He has done for them in and through Jesus Christ. Teach them to the point where they can know Him and trust Him in truth and honesty. That point is different for every person, including some who will never come to the point of being able to trust. For them, there is no hope. Nonetheless, those who are in covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ are duty bound to teach all who will receive it. Baptize — Upon belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and desire to follow Him as His disciple. Teach — The doctrines of the LORD God so that they may grow in grace and be conformed to the image of Christ in all they are and do, to the end that they also may be able to teach others.

Unfortunately, one of greatest barriers to someone coming to the LORD actually comes from a number of those who profess Christ. They will tell you that you cannot understand the LORD God. After all, they reason that the LORD is infinite and we are finite — we cannot possibly understand Him. However, the LORD states differently:

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:24)

Thus it is obvious that when the LORD says that we can understand Him, and someone else tells us we cannot, the LORD’s argument wins every time. Quite obviously, those who would contend the point do not know and understand the LORD God. But their lack of understanding should not be allowed to preclude anyone else from knowing and understanding Him.

Hence, the most important thing that I can say to someone from the Scripture, if I only have one thing I can say, and that limited, is this:

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Come, put away your pride, humble yourselves and learn of LORD God. It will lead you to Christ, and you will find rest for your soul.




Changes

Back in 2003-4 time frame, I penned a statement of faith that was based upon the statement of faith of the first true New Testament church I was in. What I did was essentially corrected and amended their statement as there were (and to this day still are) typographical errors, citation errors, and statements which were either nonsense, or were arcane enough so the average person could not actually understand what was expressed. Primarily, I did this to more fully express what I believed, and to solidify in my own mind how best to do that. Nothing accomplishes those purposes quite like writing.

In 2009, Ebenezer Baptist mission undertook the task of writing its statement of faith, which resulted in some changes to my statement, as I am under the authority of the mission. Most of the changes were not significant or substantial, but clarifying of held doctrines. A couple of articles were split for clarification, and one new was added (Of Liberty of the Conscience). With those basic changes the statement of faith was pretty much complete.

However, that was four years ago, and much teaching has gone on since then. There is a far better understanding of certain doctrines, and for the first time, an valid, defined, testable understanding of iniquity, transgression and sin. There is also a far better understanding of how man is made in the image of God. These things and others warranted looking again at the statement of faith to see what needed to be changed and/or clarified. This time, there are significant changes.

Do these changes alter the doctrine? Actually, no, they do not. What they do is clarify the foundations of the belief and add significant information to the doctrine, which strengthens the doctrine. Additionally, gaps and ambiguities are removed so there is no misunderstanding as to what is believed. To illustrate what I mean, article six (VI) is set forth below. First is the statement from 2009, and below it is the newly agreed to statement.

VI. Of The Creation (5/31/09)
I believe in the Genesis account of creation, and that it is to be accepted literally, and not allegorically or figuratively; that man was created directly in God’s own image and after his own likeness. I hold that all of creation was not, and is not a matter of evolution or evolutionary change of species, or development through interminable periods of time from lower to higher forms; that all animal and vegetable life was made directly, and God’s established law was and is, that they should bring forth only “after their kind.” Moreover, that the earth is approximately 6000 years old, and that the creation of the entire physical universe occurred in six, twenty-four hour days, and that on the seventh day the LORD rested.

Some things to note in the original statement from 2009 are a lack of specificity as to where everything came from, and whether the twin errors of the Gap theory and day/age theory are allowed. Moreover, only the minimum is mentioned about the creation of man. Since the majority of the rest of the statement of faith deals with man and the LORD’s provision of salvation in Christ, it is rather odd that so little is mentioned about man and how he was created, and why he is accountable.

You are free to judge, but I believe that is fixed with the following statement:

VI. Of The Creation (9/25/13)
I believe in the Genesis account of the creation of the physical universe; that it is to be accepted as factually and literally true: That all things which are, were created ex nihlo, or out of nothing, by the infinite knowledge and power of the LORD God. I reject any assertion that the account is allegorical or figurative as pertaining to the events of creation and their sequence. I reject as spurious both the “Gap” theory and “Day/Age” theory of the creation account. I hold that all of creation was not, and is not, a matter of evolution or evolutionary change of species, or development through interminable periods of time from lower to higher forms. I believe, as Scripture plainly expresses, that all animal and plant life was made directly, and God’s established law was, and is, that they should bring forth only “after their kind.” I believe that all of creation was formed fully functional, or “in-process,” as if it had always existed; that all life was created in a mature state. I hold, in accordance with the Biblical timeline, that the earth is approximately 6000 years old; that the creation of the entire physical universe occurred in six, twenty-four hour days, and that on the seventh day the LORD rested.

I hold as true, that man was created directly by the LORD God, and in the similitude of God. That this likeness is found in five distinct aspects: That man is a tri-unity of parts: soul, spirit, and body; That man has the innate ability to judge; That man has free-will within the parameters of his given existence; That man is creative, being able to bring forth out of that which exists; That man has the moral imperatives of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, grace, and love. Accordingly, man is the pinnacle of the LORD’s creation. I believe that the LORD God, having bestowed upon man such attributes, holds every individual accountable for the conduct of his existence.

It is my prayer that the updated articles in the statement of faith are a benefit and a blessing as they are intended to clarify and answer why certain things are as they are. Additionally, there are three (3) new articles which are identified as necessary:

Of Righteousness and Iniquity
Of the Penalty for Sin
Of the Father

Two have already been added, and the third will be shortly. These articles are necessary as these subjects are prone to error and very little is taught and/or understood about them.

May you be blessed,

Paul W. Davis




Come, Let Us Reason – Isaiah 1:18 in the Spanish Versions

When I witness to someone concerning their need for salvation, there is a verse that I like to use as it is very applicable to rational Westerners (which we in America are — like it or not). That verse is Isaiah 1:18, which states:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

The verse contains much in the way of doctrine. Primarily, I like to point out that the LORD God desires to reason with every one of us. I want the person I am witnessing to, to understand that believing in Christ Jesus for one’s salvation is not an issue of superstition or blind belief. Rather, what I emphasize is that the Lord is not pleased by someone coming to Christ for salvation without actually knowing the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He is real, a real person who you can know through the operation of faith.  Using blind belief to trust in either the Father or the Son is neither sufficient nor acceptable. No, the LORD God desires that we are fully persuaded by knowledge and reason. To be certain, this reasoning is not reasoning with the mind, although that does occur in the process. Instead, it is a reasoning with the soul. The reasoning primarily focuses on the state of that person’s soul as the LORD God sees it and knows that it is. The reasoning is about God’s righteousness versus man’s ability to become righteous by his own effort. And further, this reasoning also brings the person to consider who Christ is, why He died on the cross, and why Christ is qualified to pay the price for that individual’s sin, and conversely, why that individual is not qualified to stand on their own merit. In all the reasoning which the Holy Ghost does with the individual, there is not an agreement between them until that person yields on each particular point. It is rather an adversarial process that can take months or years with the person denying the truth of their state, and/or the truth of who God is, and how and why Christ came, along with who Christ actually is. This last point is a very critical point that must be thoroughly understood and agreed to willingly before the LORD will accept the profession of that person. Why? Because the LORD is not pleased by blind belief, nor is He pleased by superstition as they who engage in such practices have no sure knowledge of who and what they are trusting. Instead, the LORD God desires that everyone come to know, not guess, but know Him personally. And, to know and fully understand that they can indeed trust Him and the provision He has made for us in Christ Jesus. This is what glorifies the LORD God, whereas blind belief doesn’t glorify at all. To persuade an individual, and have them come to the knowledge of their Creator and His love for them, and for that individual to be sure and certain of it, is indeed a glory and honor to God. After all, that soul turned to the truth willingly, and became obedient to the truth willingly; and all because the Holy Ghost persuaded them in their heart. Any fool will believe blindly and without proof, and that is no glory to God. Thus, there is extreme importance attached to the phrase in Isaiah 1:18 which states “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:” However, that phrase suffers when we decide to use the Spanish Bible. Now, for those who are not familiar with this issue, we in the English-speaking world are not the only ones to suffer from a proliferation of Bible versions. However, we at least do have a right Bible that we can turn to as the need arises. Unfortunately, that is not the case in the Spanish world. I wish I could state differently, but based upon dealing with translating English into Spanish over the last several years, I cannot. I work with a translator that is qualified to translate, and normally does medical interpretation and translation. She, along with a brother in my home church, have translated the Reproach of Men site into Spanish. In so doing, the Statement of Faith was also translated, in which each and every supporting verse of each article was checked to see that it properly supported the statement made. The variation of the Spanish verses from the English is simply astounding. Now, to be sure, the Spanish Bible used was not the RV 1960, rather the Bible used was the Reina-Valera 1602, which is supposed to be the most like the KJV. However, considering all that was discussed above about the LORD God reasoning with individuals (through the instrument of faith) and what the LORD God requires of them in the way of belief, what is one to make of the following rendering of Isaiah 1:18:

Venid luego, dirá el SEÑOR, y estemos a cuenta: si vuestros pecados fueren como la grana, como la nieve serán emblanquecidos; si fueren rojos como el carmesí, serán tornados como la lana.

And now, the literal translation of that passage:

The Lord will say come and let’s agree: if your sins are as scarlet, like the snow, they shall be made white; if the are red like crimson they shall be as wool.

I don’t know about you, but I do not like what I read in the translation above. If, . . .? If . . . ? If your sins are as scarlet. . . Uh . . . no, — I don’t think so. Our sins “are,” . . . not “if,” but are, as scarlet. The price of our sin is blood, and the shedding of it to cover them. Moreover, (and I asked specifically about this) since when is the snow, scarlet? No, that cannot be right either. It must mean that some punctuation is incorrect.

The Lord will say come and let’s agree: if your sins are as scarlet; like the snow, they shall be made white;

Which, with the replacing of the comma with a semicolon, is better, but it still does not resolve the first clause and all the attendant problems of using the word “if” rather than the Spanish equivalent of the word “though.” In Spanish, the word for “if” is “si” and the word for “though” is “aun.” Thus it is not a “mistake” in the sense of a typographical error. Rather, the word “si” was deliberately chosen when the word “aun” was a clear and unambiguous rendering of the underlying Hebrew (at least in the Masoretic). Moreover, the word “aun” would give the Spanish reader the plain sense and understanding that they are sinners in need of salvation. As this passage stands, the reader is given to option of questioning the validity of the LORD’s charge laid against them. Of course, the error was repeated in the last phrase as well. Again, the question “if” our sins are red. No. Sorry . . . . . . They ARE red like crimson. Beside the use of the word “if” in place of “though” there is serious concern for the statement “The Lord will say come and let’s agree:” and what it means with its attendant implications for the doctrine of salvation. Now, I am certain that in the minds of many, the question will be raised: ‘What’s wrong with that statement, isn’t the Lord still seeking to call man to agree that man is a sinner?’ Yes, He is. But the problem lies not in the fact that the LORD is seeking to bring man to the understanding that each and every person is a sinner, as that is very much the case. Rather, the problem lies in the fact that this statement is placed in the future. Instead of “saith the LORD, ” which is present perfect tense. What is given in the Spanish is “The Lord will say” which is future tense. Why is this an issue, and what real difference does it make? Well, of you are an ultra-dispensationalist, or are one that holds that salvation is different in the different periods of man’s history, I guess it doesn’t really make that much difference. However, if you believe that God has never changed, and that since the fall, man has never changed, and you understand that the LORD God knew in eternity past that man would need a Savior, then it is a destructive rendering of the underlying Hebrew text, and inconsistent with the rest of the Scripture. How so? Consider the following passages:

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: . . . (Luke 1:67-70)

But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. (Acts 3:18)

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (Hebrews 11:4)

Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. (Isaiah 48:12-16)

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 12:8)

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Hebrews 9:24-26)

Now, I won’t quote all of Isaiah, chapter 59 as it is lengthy, but well worth reading as it details the condition of man. However, the last part of the chapter states:

Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. (Isaiah 59:15-17)

Just when did the LORD see the condition of man? In Revelation chapter 13, quoted above, it plainly states that “the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.” Please note this places the sacrifice of Christ to have occurred before the creation of man. Clearly, the Scripture details that the LORD created man on the sixth day, which is after the foundation of the world. So then, the LORD saw the fallen state of man before He made the heavens and the earth, before man was ever created, and already had a resolution to the problem of man being justified in the sight of the LORD God. But, it is argued, how could the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, be slain on the cross before the world was ever made, and long before the Gospels detail His crucifixion? Isn’t that a contradiction, and doesn’t that cause problems in the Scripture? Only if one’s understanding of God is incomplete or flawed. Consider the following passage and its implications as touching what the LORD tells us in Scripture:

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Romans 4:16-17)

When God “calleth those things which be not as though they were.” what He is telling us is the following:

The LORD God sees all time all at once and differentiates every point in time from every other point in time.

Hence, in eternity past, when the LORD God made a covenant with Himself for the salvation of man, the outcome of Christ’s earthly ministry was never in doubt. The fact that the Word would become flesh, live perfectly before the Father, and go to the cross to pay for our sins, was a sure and certain thing:

It was impossible for the Lord Jesus Christ to fail.

Hence, the gospel, and means of salvation for man, throughout the entire history of man from the fall has NEVER changed. In Ephesians, chapter 2 it is expressly stated:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8)

And just so men know that grace and works for salvation don’t mix, we are told in Romans:

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Romans 11:6)

So then, when it states in Hebrews, chapter 11 that “by faith Abel” and in Genesis, chapter 6 “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:8) we know that both Abel and Noah believed in Christ to come and were justified in the sight of God based upon that belief and trust in God’s promise of a Savior. (Of course, one could read Job 19:23-27 or Hebrews 3:15-4:2) Hence — the gospel has always been the same. Therefore, it is reasonable to pose the question: Is it “the Lord will say . . .” concerning our sin, or is it far more accurate to understand that it has always been “ . . .saith the LORD” in addressing the wicked and sinful condition of man? Plainly, the LORD God has always stated, and continues to state that we, individually are sinners in need of salvation. He has made it clear that there exists no other means of salvation outside the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who being the Word, long before the world ever was, chose to take on the form of a man and become our next of kin so that He would pay the price of our sin. The statement and declaration of God is present perfect, not future tense. It is not ‘He will say.’ He has said and continues to say what He knew in eternity past. Thus instead of:

Venid luego, dirá el SEÑOR, y estemos a cuenta: si vuestros pecados fueren como la grana, como la nieve serán emblanquecidos; si fueren rojos como el carmesí, serán tornados como la lana. (Isaías 1:18)

To be accurate it must state:

Venid ahora, y razonamos dice el SEÑOR: aun vuestros pecados son como la grana, como la nieve serán emblanquecidos; aun son rojos como el carmesí, serán como la lana. (Isaías 1:18)

Sadly, this is not the only passage in the Spanish Bible(s) which is flawed in this way. In the Statement of Faith, many verses from the 1602 (and it is worse in the 1960 RV) had to modified to match what is stated in the King James Version. And yes, this verse was rewritten to match the KJV:

Venid ahora, y razonamos dice el SEÑOR: aun vuestros pecados son como la grana, como la nieve serán emblanquecidos; aun son rojos como el carmesí, serán como la lana. (Isaías 1:18)

And there’s not a problem with the Spanish Bibles? Is it any wonder that the Bible seems to have no significant impact upon the Hispanic world?




The Election of Grace: The road to salvation

Beyond doubt, the doctrine of the election of grace has been hijacked and misconstrued by certain persons into a false doctrine of “election to belief.” An honest study of the Scriptures demonstrates clearly that there exists no “election to belief,” but a very clear election of grace by the LORD God. The following graphic, and Adobe Acrobat link below the image, illustrate the path which one walks to salvation in which, if one ultimately believes, the LORD God will of His own volition, elect them to salvation by bestowing grace upon them in Christ Jesus.

Election of Grace slide

The Election of Grace: The road to salvation — Adobe Acrobat document.

I pray you find it profitable in Christ.




Jonah and Christ

Copyright 2005. All scripture is Authorized King James Version, 1769 edition. This article may be copied and used without permission of the author, provided it is copied and used in its entirety. Certain words and phrases of Scripture have been emphasized by the use of underlining.

But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:39-40)

We have already seen that the Lord Jesus Christ went to heaven (paradise) the moment He died on the cross, and that the thief who believed Him would join Him shortly. So then, what is the meaning of the above verses since the word of God cannot contradict itself?

If we look at the context of the statement, we find that the Jews were seeking a sign. Now, we should understand that signs are physical manifestations that are supposedly used to confirm or deny the truth of something we cannot see. However, as the Scripture makes plain in many other places, signs can be duplicated and mimicked. Signs are not a legitimate means of determining whether or not that God is doing something. Rather, the appropriate means is by use of the instrument of faith.

This explains why the Lord Jesus Christ told them they were an “evil and adulterous generation.” However, in keeping with their desire for some physical sign, the Lord did tell them that they would receive the sign of Jonas, or Jonah, which consisted of the Son of man being three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Now, in keeping with the context of the statement, of which signs are physical, and Jonah’s being swallowed by the whale is physical, we should understand that physically, the body of the Lord Jesus would be in the earth three days and three nights.

This is confirmed by many Scriptures which I will not quote as it should not be necessary. Thus, the context of this is strictly physical and contains no spiritual implication, other than declaring that the scribes and Pharisees had no faith.

Now, why is the word “heart” used? Since I do not have access to an unabridged Koine Greek Dictionary, I cannot say for certain. However, I can state that the “definitions” given in both Young’s and Strong’s (both of whom opposed the Authorized King James Version) are neither complete nor adequate for determining the reason why this particular word was used at this point. I do know that in each and every language the vast majority of words have more than one meaning and it is entirely probable that this is the case with this word as well.

One additional note: It is unreasonable to assume that the Lord Jesus Christ’s body somehow sank into the heart of the earth to preach in some physical “holding tank” since the Scriptures do not contain any such fanciful notions. This notion is more like mysticism or fantasy than Scripture.

Finis




“The Passion”

Religious Movies and Faith

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Before I get started, I know that my position as stated herein, will be controversial with many. I know that many of those who name themselves as fundamental, independent Baptists have seen this movie. Many, including pastors and missionaries will advocate seeing it. I also know that many have written against this movie and it is not hard to find various reasons stated for not viewing this film. However, I wish to approach this movie from a point of view that I have not seen expounded upon — the point of view of faith. My position is based solely upon the word of God. After careful searching of the sense the Lord gave me about this movie (It is a Catholic movie with a Catholic Jesus, based upon corrupt scripture and writings.), I found that there was actually a stronger reason than the fact that it is Catholic for not seeing it. In fact, what I found was a bit disturbing.

To begin, there are some questions I would like to pose for your consideration.

  1. Why does the Scripture not describe the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ in graphic detail?
  2. Why does the Scripture not describe the Lord Jesus Christ’s physical features in detail (or enough to positively identify Him were He to appear in front of us)?
  3. Why did Abraham, who had seen the Lord Jesus, not make an image (drawing or painting) and tell his son Isaac what the Lord looked like?
  4. Why did John the Apostle not describe the physical features of the Lord Jesus in both the Gospel and in Revelation?
  5. Is the Lord Jesus Christ Almighty God? Really?

To begin answering these questions, and see the perspective that I am coming from, I have included a number of passages from Scripture that are all linked by a particular commonality.

In the 20th chapter of the Gospel of John, the challenge to Thomas is related to us. Apparently, Thomas had a common problem — he would not believe unless he saw in person — the Lord Jesus Christ and the peculiar identifying marks of His suffering.

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:24-29)

Please note in the above passage the rebuke the Lord gives Thomas when He told him “and be not faithless, but believing.” Thomas’ problem was one of failure to exercise the faith he had been given by the Lord. However, we should also note what the Lord said immediately following His rebuke of Thomas, and Thomas’ confession to the Lord: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” It is this statement that should frame any desire we have to see any depiction of the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ outside the confines of the Scripture.

A failure to identify the Lord Jesus Christ and who He is, is nothing new on this earth. When the Lord Jesus was in the midst of His earthly ministry many people did not know who He was, and expressed it to the Lord quite plainly. One such incident happened at the feast of the dedication:

And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. (John 10:22-30)

There are many things I use this particular passage for: I frequently use it to demonstrate that salvation is eternal and cannot be lost because the Lord holds those who are born again in His hand and no one (including that person) can remove them from the Lord’s hand. I also use this passage to demonstrate that only those who belong to the Lord can ‘hear His voice’ in the Scripture. However, this particular time I would like to focus on the question and challenge raised by the Jews:

“Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.”

It is apparent that the Jews were looking right at the Lord Jesus, but could not discern that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. The reason why is given in the Lord’s answer to them, and by extension — to us:

“Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”

The terrible thing about this is that He had told them repeatedly who He was, and had proved it by His life and work — yet they could not believe that the man they were looking at was indeed the Son of God.

Why not? Is it strictly because they would not believe? To whom is it given to be able to identify and know the Lord Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t everyone be able to identify the Lord Jesus Christ? Doesn’t the Lord want to save everyone? Of a certainty the Lord does desire the repentance and salvation of everyone. However, he will not reveal who He is to just everyone, and he does not use worldly methods to provide that revelation.

One of the most important passages in Scripture about the foundation of the church also contains a very important spiritual truth about knowing who the Lord Jesus Christ is. In Matthew, chapter 16, the Lord challenges His disciples as to His identity:

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:13-17)

The key in the above passage is the fact that Simon Peter knew who the Lord was because God the Father had revealed Jesus’ identity to him by faith. This provides quite a contrast to the witness of the Jews in John, chapter 10, who could not at all discern who the Lord really was. To understand this dichotomy, it is necessary to note the exact wording of the Lord’s reply to Simon: “for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Of all things, this is the practical description of the operation of the instrument called faith. It is essential to understand that nothing earthly, or worldly is at all able to reveal to anyone who the Lord Jesus Christ really is. No, that understanding and knowledge is strictly confined to the operation of faith.

The necessity of faith and its effectiveness in revealing spiritual truth is given in Hebrews, chapter 11. For the sake of brevity, only the first six verses of the chapter are shown as they particularly pertain to this discussion.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-6)

Even though none of us were there, if we use the faith the Lord imparts to us upon the hearing of His word, we will understand and know the truth of how this world, and the surrounding universe were made. Through the instrument and operation of faith, Abel knew that the proper means of honoring the Lord was by offering a blood sacrifice from the flock to show a picture of the sacrifice of the Lord that was to come in the then distant future. Cain, not having faith, offered a sacrifice that pleased him, instead of the Lord. Cain, by earthly reason, offered what he thought would honor the Lord, not discerning the reason for a specific blood sacrifice. Though we are not told much about Enoch, it is clear that faith, and its operation were essential to his ability to please the Lord. Finally, we are warned, if we do not use faith to know and understand the truth that God has put before us in His word, we cannot please Him at all. Rather, without faith and its operation, it is impossible to please God, no matter how good it looks to men.

In the following passage, we find that faith is essential, even for the believer, to discern when the Lord is telling us something through His word, and to know that it is indeed the Lord who is revealing things to us, and putting verses in our mind. After all, Satan knows the Scripture far better than we do, and has no problem using Scripture to deceive us into doing things for him, and to the detriment of the gospel.

And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. (Luke 24:13-16)

It is interesting that these two are disciples that walked with the Lord for quite some time prior to His crucifixion. Now, only three days later, they cannot identify Him when he walks up to them on the road to Emmaus. The Scripture plainly states that their eyes are holden, and they cannot not perceive who He is. Instead, they are somewhat incredulous at the question posed to them by the Lord Jesus about the reason for their dispirited attitude. In the verses following this passage, we are told that The Lord upbraided, or rebuked them for their hardness of heart.

It is this hardness of heart that prevented the Lord’s disciples from discerning who He was at that moment. Thus, we can see the Lord is under no obligation to reveal Himself to those who will not believe. More than that however, what is also shown here is that the Lord’s appearance was something that was not readily discerned, or remembered. I tend to find it somewhat strange that only three days after the Lord was crucified that His own disciples that walked with Him virtually every day for three years, could not identify Him.

What this tells me is that any depiction of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether drawing, painting, play, or cinema is going to be inaccurate — in the extreme. Moreover, it is not going to help people identify and come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Why?

Because of the following testimony of Nathanael.

The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. (John 1:43-49)

We must ask the question: How did Nathanael know it was the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God? The answer is simple, and has nothing to do with appearance or emotion. Rather, it has everything to do with the instrument of faith. Nathanael discerned the identity of the Lord Jesus by the instrument and operation of faith.

It is faith that will reveal the person of the Lord Jesus Christ — from the Scriptures. What Abraham told the rich man in hell is vital to understanding why so many “revivals” and evangelistic efforts based upon emotional appeal never work, nor do they seem to produce any long-lasting effects.

Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:27-31)

The rich man’s logic is typical of what most everyone thinks — that a powerful emotional experience will shake up his brothers and they will repent and believe. However, the disapproval of that method by God (and thus Abraham) is readily apparent. Abraham’s reply is critical to those wishing to “shake someone up” and thus “get them to believe” the gospel — it won’t work. God may use certain events that He has brought about in a person’s life to move them to hear the gospel. However, for us to manufacture emotional events to attempt to achieve a certain state in a person so that they will listen, is not given to us by the Lord. Only the Lord knows what will properly move a person towards Him, and what will not. We do not.

What the children of God are given to do is preach the word, live godly and holy in this present wicked world, and be obedient to the Lord. That is all. The Lord’s children are ambassadors, not actors. It is the Lord that will use His word that we preach to move the hearts of people. As He has plainly stated in the Old Testament:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11)

Thus, the power is in the word, not us. The only thing we can do is hinder the person from hearing the word if we do not present a right and proper witness. It is imperative that we remember that Moses and many (if not all) the prophets were long dead when Abraham told the rich man “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”

There is a final thought from the word of God before addressing how doctrine is built, and the witness of three godly men; it is centered on the fifth question at the beginning of this (now lengthy) article: Is Jesus Christ Almighty God?

If He is, is it permissible to make any image at all of Him, even when He has taken the form of man? After all, His earthly ministry of being born in the flesh was not the first time He had appeared to men, in the form of a man. Yet, nowhere in Scripture do I find any detailed description, or depiction of His appearance that would enable anyone to make any model, painting, drawing, or any other depiction of Him that would be at all accurate. Why not?

Perhaps the following passage explains and sums up the reason why.

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (Exodus 20:1-5)

Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. (I Corinthians 10:14)

Building Doctrine

And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)

The above passage from the mouth of the Lord Himself is very express, “every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life:” Thus, it is clear that the early church erred in not making drawings and paintings of the Lord Jesus so that everyone would see “him” and believe.

Really?

No, not really. One can, and the Catholics do, misinterpret passages such as this (as in the case of foot-washing) to build doctrines that are not at all pleasing to God. In fact, much of the doctrine that exists in “Christianity” today, does not please God. Why? Because it is built upon some other foundation that was not laid through the operation of faith. The operation of faith confirms what is written in the word of God, and for those things that are not express, faith will reveal the Scriptural principles that direct us in the way we should go. Faith tells us that the Lord will not ever violate His word.

Thus, we can see that the passage of verse 40 is not literally, physically telling us that someone must “see” the Lord Jesus Christ, or His image (Does the Scripture really give us His description?) So they can be saved. No, far too many passages reveal that looking directly at the Lord Jesus in the flesh was not, and is not a guarantee that anyone would know who He is. This is also plainly illustrated in the same incident as verse 40.

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? (John 6:41-42)

Even though the Jews knew the history of Jesus and had seen the miracles done by Him, they could not discern who He really is. Thus, the crux of the whole issue of building doctrine comes down to this:

The reason why the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ did not, and would not make any images of Him, or use anything to represent Him in any way — despite the fact that the Lord made the statement He did in verse 40, is because it would not guarantee that anyone would come to know Him personally. Instead, it would lead only to idolatry.

Abraham’s Example

And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. (Genesis 18:1-5)

It is noteworthy that Abraham never described the physical appearance of the Lord to his son Isaac. Neither did the Lord find it prudent to have Moses put any description of Himself in the first five books of the Scripture.

Isaiah’s Example

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (Isaiah 6:1)

Neither did Isaiah ever describe the physical appearance of the Lord, though he undoubtedly saw Him.

John’s Example

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:10-18)

Again, John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, gives no description of the physical features of the Lord. Rather, he does describe the glory of the Lord and His humility — both of which can be spiritually discerned.

Satan’s Deception

This is what I fear: That in this late hour many are being deceived and led astray by emotion. Television and movies (in fact all visual stimulation) can be emotionally powerful. The individual that stated “A picture is worth a thousand words.” never quite told the whole story. Indeed, if the picture is distorted, the story it will convey will be distorted as well. I am very familiar with the use of propaganda and the fact that photojournalists are frequently used by one side or the other to create emotional upheaval and sway persons to support one side or the other in a conflict. Why? Because pictures have the power to stimulate the emotions, and can be used to selectively illustrate a wrong. It is easy to isolate a subject and remove it from the proper context with photography. The same applies to cinema.

In the context of the above discussion, I would like to pose a question for consideration:

Outside of the fact that Jesus is God (and thus depicting Him is questionable), what Jesus is Mel Gibson depicting in this movie?

The reason I pose this question is due to the following passage of Scripture:

Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (II Corinthians 11:1-4)

Why was the apostle Paul so concerned? In the following passage from the same chapter, he clarifies:

But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (II Corinthians 11:12-15)

We must remember that Satan is all too willing to imitate the Lord for the express purpose of leading people away from salvation. The most effective means of doing that is to get them to believe in a false Jesus — one that only enables you to do the “good works” necessary to get to heaven. Instead of preaching the true Jesus that totally paid the price for our sin on the cross. When the Lord Jesus stated “It is finished.” and gave up the ghost, that meant that I did not need to do any works at all for salvation (not that I could anyway) (By the way, did Mel leave that line in the movie? Did anyone even notice in the emotion of the moment?).

For those who are believers, it is essential to remember that Satan has counterfeited virtually everything about the Lord’s work — including redefining faith to make it a work only. As believers we should also remember that Satan knows the Scripture far better than we do. (After all, he attempted to use the Lord’s own words against Him.)

The Lord’s Commandments

As a child of the Lord, I am aware that the Lord has instructed me that if I love Him, I am to keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21) and he will manifest Himself to me. One of His commandments is found in II Corinthians concerning unclean things. In understanding this particular commandment, I looked up the word “clean” so I would know what “unclean” was (after all, if something is not clean, it must be unclean). What I found is that “unclean” meant that something is impure, tainted, unclear, or sullied. In other words, we could say that an unclear, or distorted gospel is unclean. Even more so, a deliberately distorted gospel is unclean.

In the Scripture, it is very express what the gospel is. Thus anything that does not adhere strictly to the Scripture’s description of the gospel is an unclean gospel, an thus an unclean thing. It is very cut and dried, so to speak.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:14-18)

Now, what is touching? If we sit and absorb a message into our minds, that is certainly more than touching, isn’t it? How then, can the Lord be pleased with me if I disobey His direct commandment? Do you think the Lord should bless anyone for their disobedience?

Conclusion

For me the Scripture is quite express and clear concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. I know who He is by faith. I knew who He is the night I was saved by Him and His work on the cross. How did I know? By the instrument and operation of faith. I know of His sufferings by faith, and I do not need a movie to “make it real” to me. I know that in the Scripture I am told that to walk by faith and not by sight, as it is written: “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” (II Corinthians 5:7)

I also know that I am to flee idolatry, not tolerate it. I am told by implication that I will not be strong enough to withstand the temptation of idolatry; that is why I must flee it, as it is again written: “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” (I Corinthians 10:14)

Finally, I am told not to glory in anything save the knowledge of the Lord. I am to be humble, and not proud of the knowledge and understanding of His word that He has given me, as it is also written:

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Thus, this movie, and religious films in general are injurious to faith and its operation. Because of these things I cannot see this movie, or any other movies or plays depicting the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it is plainly displeasing to the LORD.

Finis




The Necessity of Faith

The Scripture is express that faith is essential if one is to have any hope of pleasing God. However, it seems that the “faith” defined by many Christians is not really faith at all. Rather, it is either intellectualism or emotionalism dressed up as faith.

This is not acceptable. Moreover, it is a ticket to destruction. It seems to be lost on an increasing number of individuals that there is no substitute for faith. However, I suppose this also has never changed — that it has always been this way. Which is why we have the example of Israel as an utter failure in the Old Testament. Israel failed due to a total lack of faith on the part of a majority of it’s citizens — they could not perceive who the LORD is, and what He was doing.

Individually, that can happen to anyone today — even those who claim Christ. Hence, it is incumbent upon each of us to insure that the faith we believe we have, is actually the faith defined in Hebrews, chapter 11.

I pray the message is profitable for you.

For those who cannot use the embedded player, wish to use a different player, or want to save the file, the following link is provided:

The Necessity of Faith

In Christ,

Paul W. Davis




Faith vs. Rationality

There exists in the minds of many, a divergence between faith and reason. However, there exists no such divergence if one has a proper understanding of Scripture. Moreover, the reason and logic of the Scripture can be taught, and taught in such a way that someone who is lost can understand it if they apply themselves.

Herein lies the problem: Knowledge of salvation gained in this way — is not faith. Moreover, it is not an acceptable substitute for faith. Though the understanding arrived at may be the same, the means by which that understanding is arrived at is crucial. The route of one is the mind, but the route of the other is the spirit. The difference is life and death.

We would do well to examine ourselves as to how we arrived at our own understanding of the things of God — is it by faith, or by reason and rationality. The difference does determine where we end up.

I pray the following lesson is profitable for you.

For those who cannot use the embedded player, wish to use a different player, or want to save the file, the following link is provided:

Faith vs. Rationality

In Christ,

Paul W. Davis




The Foolishness of Preaching

According to modern American Christians, plain preaching of the word of God is wasted effort, and utterly ineffective  for reaching people and bringing them to Christ. Rather, what they believe is necessary for reaching the lost and even helping Christians grow in Christ, is quoted below:


“Drastically reduced! This 12 DVD set formerly sold for over $200. Now, the WND Superstore is making this extraordinary set available for only $49.95! Hurry, supplies are limited!

Product Description
Ten years in the making, “The WatchWORD Bible – New Testament” is a remarkable breakthrough – 26 hours of content, much of it shot on location. Each of the 27 books of the New Testament is brought to you word-for-word through a dynamic combination of video, text, narration, music and sound effects.

For the broadcast reach, it uses the Contemporary English Version, a clear introductory translation. “The WatchWORD Bible” is compelling to watch and amazingly easy to understand. Its uses are almost endless: for kids, young adults, seniors, families, the disabled, churches, schools, bible studies, read programs and English as a second language. “The WatchWORD Bible – New Testament” is an essential addition to every library. Individual books or the entire series now available on DVD. Instant search by chapter on DVD. “The WatchWORD Bible” – It’s the Word of God!” ((http://superstore.wnd.com/store/item.asp?ITEM_ID=2297&ref1=email&ref2=082910Watchword))

I beg to differ. According to my Bible, the things promoted as helps in the above advertisement are actually hindrances bringing individuals to Christ. Moreover, they are done in the wisdom of man, and not the wisdom of the LORD. The following lesson addresses this issue. May you find it profitable.


[audio:http://www.reproachofmen.org/preaching/mp3/foolishness_of_preaching.mp3]


For those who cannot use the embedded player, wish to use a different player, or want to save the file, the following link is provided:

The Foolishness of Preaching

In Christ,

Paul W. Davis




Faith and the Lack Thereof

The following is a message about Simon Peter’s lack of faith when he walked on water, and what we can learn from it.

I pray it is profitable for you.

In Christ,

Paul W. Davis



For those who wish to download the audio file, or cannot get the Podcast to work, the following link is provided:

Faith and the Lack Thereof