Saturday, December 10, 2005

Priase The Lord!

This is a totally different post than I will normally ever put up here, but yesterday at 2:45 PM, my wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy.


  • Name - Noah Luke Johnson
  • Weight - 8 pounds, 1 ounce
  • Height (length) - 20 3/4 inches

Glory to God for all of His blessings.

If you want to see pictures of the whole the family (who am I kidding, you don't want to see me, but there are pictures of Noah), click here!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Great Audio About Understanding the Bible

In relation to my latest few posts on how we need to understand the Bible, check out John MacArthur's recent series called "The Power of the Word in the Believer’s Life." You can stream it online or download the mp3 for free. If you have any problems with it, let me know, and I'll see what I can to do help you get the programs. This series starts on 11/29 and goes (at least) through today. I haven't been able to listen to the entire series yet, but I plan on catching up today.


I pray that you will be encouraged with this series on the Bible and it's power and importance in our lives.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Am I the Pot or the Kettle?

Ok, so I know that in my last few posts I have been describing my encounter with KJV Onlyism and I believe that this is an issue that is very divisive and the proponents of this idea are mislead and substituting the translation of the Word for the Word. We must never place our preference of a translation over the Word of God.

That being said...

Have you read the Message or the Message Remix? I have not read the entire bible in either The Message (MSG) or the Message Remix. However, I have come in contact with it a few different times in the last year or so. Each time that I have read a passage, I have been more than concerned.

Before I launch into my explanation of my concerns and conclusion - let me restate something. I believe that none of our current translations (NASB, ESV, KJV, NIV, etc) are totally infallible or inerrant. They are infallible and inerrant insofar as much they completely reflect the exact original inspired writings.

Types of Translations:

When looking at how the bible should be translated, I prefer that the bible be translated in a word for word fashion as much as possible. Translations that used this method are the NASB, NKJV, ESV, KJV and others. Another very good way to translate the bible is a phrase for phrase or thought for thought method. Translations that used this method are the NIV, NLT, and others. The reason that I prefer the first type is that this gets the closest to the exact meanings of the individual words of the inspired text and I find it more useful for teaching and studying. For a visual representation of where the different translations stand, I have included the following chart from the International Bible Society:

Notice that The Message doesn't appear in either of these categories. That is because the Message (as well as The Message Remix) is more of a paraphrase of the word instead of a translation. Maybe a better way to understand it is that it is almost an interpretation of the text instead of a translation. Let me show you two of the examples of this:

Jude 1,2

  • MSG: "I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ. 2Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!"
  • NASB: "Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you."

First of all, I have issues with the way verse 1 is phrased, and I would (if I were to take up more time) love to go into that, but not today. In any event, the more gross embellishment in this text is in verse 2. When looking at verse 2 in most translations, we see a sort of general greeting of the blessings of knowing the Lord. However, in the Message, the author(s) go further and try to explain what it means by saying "Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!" What in the world does "love is on the way" mean? And following that thought, how would I find out what it means? Would I do a cross reference in The Message to find out where the phrase was used elsewhere in the Bible to get a better handle on it? Try it, and you get nothing. That would be absurd. The reason this would not work is that The Message is not written in a way that the same thoughts or phrases of the various authors are expressed in the same way. Also, since there is no Greek phrase saying "love is on the way” it is impossible to come to any understanding other than a "This is what I think it means." or, worse yet, "this is what I feel this passage means."

Ok, so a good place to start to understand what a word or phrase means is to see where else this appears in the Word. Well, when I looked through The Message, I was unable to find one other occurrence of this phrase. When I looked for the phrase that was used in the NASB in the rest of that translation, I found this, “Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” (1 John 3) This seems very similar to the way that Paul greeted the readers of many of his letters (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).

Look at these verses in the NASB. Do you see how similar, and in many cases identical, these greetings are in the NASB (also see the KJV, NKJV, and ESV). Now, look at these same verses in the MSG. If nothing else, the liberty that the MSG takes when telling us what these passages say is a matter of concern. It is even more concerning when you look at the Greek. Now, even if you know no Greek, compare this (these are the Greek passages of 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2):

  • 1 Cor 1:3 χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη απο θεου πατρος ημων και κυριου ιησου χριστου
  • 2 Cor 1:2 χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη απο θεου πατρος ημων και κυριου ιησου χριστου
  • Gal 1:3 χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη απο θεου πατρος και κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου
  • Eph 1:2 χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη απο θεου πατρος ημων και κυριου ιησου χριστου
  • Php 1:2 χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη απο θεου πατρος ημων και κυριου ιησου χριστου

The exact same words are used in the same order (except for Gal 1:3), but the MSG translates them with added phrases like “May all the gifts and benefits” (1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2) or “with the great words” (Gal 1:3) and “poured into our lives by God” (Eph 1:2).

My Concern:

Regardless of the intention of the author(s), editor(s), and others involved with The Message or The Message Remix, we must be very careful what we do with the Word of God. Let me also say this: I assume that the intentions of all those involved with the MSG are all above board and desiring to serve and honor God as well as bring the Word to the world. But intentions - even the best intentions - do not make a bad or troublesome thing better. "The ends don't justify the means."

Let's remember what we're dealing with. We're dealing with the Word of God. The written word of God that He gave to Apostles and Prophets who wrote it down and that He has soveriegnly preserved over thousands of years! So where in any type of thought do we feel that we can "edit" or "embellish" or "enhance" the Word of God?

This may sound just like what I was arguing against when dealing with KJV Onlyism. The difference is that I believe that it is possible to stay true to the inspired text while translating the bible into the language of today where KJV Only believers believe that you cannot and should not.
My Conclusion:

Basically, my conclusion is this. My main concern with The Message is that it is presented as a translation or version of the Bible. I think that it would be best understood as an interpretation or commentary on the Bible. So the fact that it is presented as the Word of God, but inserts ideas or comments into it is a source of great concern.

  1. If you want to use The Message as a commentary - treat it as a commentary that is filled with the author's own ideas and comments and remember that these things are more present in paraphrase versions than are in more literal translations and in the actual Greek texts.
  2. I would not ever use The Message as a primary source for studying, teaching, preaching, or scripture memory.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Updated Post!

Hey, I did a little editing on a previous post. Go ahead and re-read (or read for the first time) my post titled Being Offensive is Necessary. Also, if you've ever been hammered on because the gospel that you talk about or believe is offensive or intolerant - let me know.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I'm Thankful For...(It's Thanksgiving!)

  1. My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Your sacrifice and love for me, I would be on the receiving end (and justly so) of the wrath of God. Now, thankfully, I can love and serve my savior with joy and thankfulness for His awesomeness. My thankfulness is made greater whenever I see how wretched I am, and how much of a harlot I am when I truly examine my relationship to my Bridegroom. - May God give me the grace to follow Him only, and cling strongly to the Word and be committed to prayer so that I may be a faithful servant.
  2. The Word of God. One of my greatest struggles in my Christian life has always been diligent reading and studying of the Word. I have always known (well, for as long as I can remember) how important and necessary a desire for the Word as well as a habit of faithfully studying it is, but I have so often dropped the ball. I thank God that He is making the desire to read and study His Word more passionate in my heart, so that I can actually say that I love the Word and the reading and studying of it. - May God continue to grant me grace and endurance in this area. May I never just study the Word for mere knowledge, but may I study in the desire to grow in holiness and to serve my God better than I do now.
  3. My Wife - Stephanie. Whenever I sit back and actually think of the huge blessing that God has seen to give me in you, I am amazed. I cannot even begin to explain all of the ways that you make me a better servant, husband, father, and son. I promise to try to let you know more often how much I love you in both my words and my actions. You are the love of my life - May God show me how to try and out-serve you and love you sacrificially just as Jesus showed me by His example.
  4. My firstborn son, Micah. It is impossible to think of my life over the last 3 years and not think about him. Whether he was in his mother's womb or running around the house like a crazed and silly loon (I have no idea where he gets his silliness), he is a source of almost constant joy in my life. I have recently been reminded of how much of a blessing even a young boy can be when he is obedient, gentle, and loving. - I pray that God will give me the strength to be a consistent example of a faithful servant of The Lord to impress upon him. May God grow me into a wiser, more patient, and more loving father.
  5. My Unborn Son(s). As long as I live, it will be impossible to think about the birth of this child (which, as of Thanksgiving Day 2005, has not happened yet) without thinking about the child that we lost almost 18 months ago. Little Abi (if you want to know the story of this name, just ask) was only with us for a few weeks, but I cannot tell you how often I think of this child and still miss him (I always thought he was a boy). Knowing this - that he cannot come back to me, but that I can go to where he is - and the mixed joy and pain that this still comes to my heart when thinking of him- I can truly say that I am now able to better and more thoroughly love the son that I do have and the children that I will have (Lord willing).

    As for the little guy who is now making Stephanie's life miserable, I am so thankful for the blessing that you are, and the joy that you have already brought to our lives. I cannot wait to meet you and make you a part of this family. - May God grant me the ability to love this boy distinctly and individually for who he is and will be, not for who I want him to be. May the Lord give him and his mother safety and protection during his entry into this world.
  6. My Parents.
    1. What can a man say about his mother. Thank you for giving up a career, your 20's, 30's, and 40's, and some of your sanity to raise me. The sacrifice and example that you were in my life helped me know what a Godly mother and wife looks like and has helped me to find and love a Godly wife and mother for my own children.
    2. Dad. You were always a beacon of discipline, love, sacrifice and devotion. All of these things not only describe how you raised us, but also how you love the Lord. Your quiet example of reading the Word, memorizing it, and speaking truth in love has inspired me in ways that you may not know. I pray that I can have 1/2 of the impact on my sons that you have had on me (and Ethan and Ezra). I love you both very much, mom and dad.
  7. My Brothers - all 3 of you. Whether you and I didn't get along in High school, or whether we were able to come closer in a real way for this first time in high school, or that the Lord blessed me with the extreme privilege to lead you to salvation in Christ Jesus... no matter the circumstances that I have been through with each of you - thank you. I can say that all of you, Ethan, Ezra, and Jeff, have been a source of joy, encouragement, conviction, and frustration (c'mon, let's be real - I probably made each of you a little nuts once in a while) in my life. Thankfully, the frustration and or pain that you've caused me pales in comparison to the joy and goodness that you have brought to me. - I pray that I can be as good of a brother to you guys as the Lord has caused you to be toward me.
  8. To the many, many, many others to whom I owe my thanks - I do not have the time to write out my thanks for you. But I pray that I would show and express my thankfulness to you indivdualy so that you can know (if nothing else), that you have greatly impacted my life. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

With Gentleness and Reverence (Part 3)

I have thought about this whole encounter and the implications on the gospel for weeks and weeks. I keep experiencing a serious sadness over not only this encounter that I had (and sadly participated in as well as probably made it worse), but also over for the damage that this encounter (probably) did to the gospel when relating to my witness to my neighbor.

Lessons that I have learned:

  1. If I am ever in a similar situation dealing with this specific issue, I must...must...go over and above the call of duty to maintain a loving and peaceful conversation - even if it means that I don't get the last word in or score the last point in the debate.
    1. That is where I believe that I lost site of what I was defending and why. I initially missed how 1 Peter 3:15 needed to relate to my demeanor and instead got caught up in needing to be right.
    2. Even though I had not had time to reflect on my own deficiencies of the first encounter (on my doorstep), I did have time to focus and to take that into consideration prior to the second one (on the street near the group's van). So, this offers me some hope that I can learn and can act correctly - even if it takes a smack in the face.
  2. The inspiration and infallibility of the Word of God is not a casually accepted or defended issue. I need not only to believe these things, but understand what, in fact, is inspired (the original writings of the Apostles and Prophets) as well as how what we have today (the manuscript evidence for the originals and the various translations of the bible) needs to be understood. But I also need to be able to articulate why only the 66 books in the Bible are Inspired writings as opposed to the apocryphal books and other writings of antiquity or the modern times.
    1. When discussing this idea of the inspiration of the Word with a non believer, we need to start by talking about the prophetical and historical accuracy of it. When looking at to historical accuracy (it is undeniably accurate) and ask this type of question: If the things that can be so easily disproved and shown faulty (names, places, cultural events, etc) were paid the high amount of attention that they were in order to ensure accuracy, how much more care (for accuracy) would be used with things that were not easily provable (miracles)? One of the first places where the easily disprovable things of that day comes in contact with the supernatural is the resurrection of Christ. There were hundreds of people who would vouch for seeing the risen Christ after he had been killed. So, if I were a Jew or a Roman who wanted to stamp out Christianity - I'd just need to find out who these people were and convince them to tell the "truth" that they had never seen the risen Christ. This didn't happen, and these same people died horrible deaths defending the impossible truth - the truth that they had in fact seen Christ in the flesh after his death. There are many places to go with the unbeliever, but this is one of the more common and crucial ones (if not the most crucial one).
    2. When discussing this with a believer believes that a specific English (or French, Italian or Latin - for that matter) translation is the only true Scripture, there is a simple question that can be asked. This question, if answered honestly and Biblically, will reveal the error of this line of thinking very quickly. The question is this: "Did God inspire errors in the Bible?" Whether you're talking about spelling, prophetical, historical, or whatever type of error, the answer should be no. Once that is established, it is easy to point out that every translation of the Bible has had to be reprinted with corrections that the original proofreaders did not catch, and therefore disqualifying them from being inspired and infallible.
As a Christian, I need to not only be able to articulate different doctrines and theologically important ideas. It's easy to say this, but very difficult to do. There is so much complexity in so many areas of apologetics that most of us will never be able to be experts in any area (much less most or all of them), but I think that we should be familiar with the basic and more common questions that we have a good chance of encountering in our time. Here are a list of topics or ideas that we might need to "brush" up on for the near future:
  • da Vinci Code: Wasn't Christ "voted" into Godhead at a church council of Nicaea? (Pop cultures fascination with this absurd novel and it's ideas)
  • What about the Gospel of Thomas, why isn't that included in the Bible? It should be given as much weight as any of the others. (The Jesus seminar scholars are trying to wipe out the biblical and historical Christ)
  • The Trinity is not a word in scripture, there is only one God who manifests himself as as Father in creation and as the Father of the Son, in the Son for our redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in our regeneration (This is an age old heresy that is alive and well, and being sold as an "OK" thing to believe. It isn't.).*
I am sure that there are many more things that I should be familiar with so that I am not surprised when attacks or objections are thrown out at me. However, you can forget everything that I have just said about possible objections that we might encounter if you know and understand this one point. The best and most sure way to be on the ball and be able to defend your faith is not to know every type of objection, but it is to know the bible, and understand what it is saying.

But always - in this and in every other aspect of our lives - remember that we need to esteem our God in the way that we speak of and defend His word.

*If you want to find a good article about Oneness Pentacostal (or Modalism) theology, read What is Oneness Pentecostal theology?". You can also find a good and thorough list of questions, issues, and answers, please click here and visit The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry's ( section on confronting this heresy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

With Gentleness and Reverence (Part 2)

Once the H-Bomb (heresy) was dropped, my defenses rose quickly. Now, I had heard of and read about King James Onlyism in the past year or so, and so I knew of some of the arguments and the way that the issues are approached - so, I was not totally unprepared, but I was less prepared than I would have liked to be.

One of the biggest issues is the "removal" of important words or phrases from the content of the new versions as opposed to the AV 1611.*

  1. His (KJV only) position: The new translations remove the blood of Christ and other key theologically important doctrines by the changing or removing words. I'll give you one of the most popular examples that is thrown out.*
    • Col 1:14 AV 1611 KJV - "In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:"**
    • NASB Col 1:14 - "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
  2. KJV Only Explanation: "Satan hates the Atoning Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, so we shouldn't be surprised to find the blood missing in modern translations."*** Basically, Satan is behind the new translations and translators, and this is proof.
  3. My response: Not going into an argument surrounding the textual evidence supporting this particular translation of the passage, I would say that if (and that's a BIG "if") Satan is trying to expunge the atoning work of Christ's shed blood on the cross, why does this phrase still appear in the rest of the bible? Look at Ephesians 1:7, this parallel passage shows exactly what the KJV only folks claim is being removed from the bible. Also, the last time that checked any translation of Hebrews 9, 10, and 11 (see the references in the KJV or NASB), this portion of scripture goes into great detail about this very thing - the atonement.
The gentleman at my door kept on coming back at me with one main question when I would challenge his claims and defend the gospel as inspired only in it's original writings.

The question was this:
Q: Do you think that this (holding up his bible) is scripture?
A: As much as that book that you are holding up accurately reflects the original writings, then yes - in that degree it is scripture.

He didn't like that response from me, and he told me as much later. Now, to be fair - if anyone came up to me on the street, in church, or at work and held up a bible and asked me this same question, my answer would have been shorter; namely, I would have answered, "Yes!" That being said, I would still hold to what I said to the man at my door, but if I would have said "Yes" to him, then he would have said to me that his bible is different than mine, and only one can be right (or something to that effect). If I would have said no, he would have said that I am a liberal or someone who doesn't value the word (or something to that effect).

All of our differences put to the side - the biggest problem that I had with this whole encounter was not related to the KJV or NASB, but it was with how our conversation ended. After about a little while (maybe 20 minutes or more, I really don't know) we had gone around and around and gotten no where. At this time, the older gentleman told me that he could only take so much time with me, and he had to move on. Just having read what he said, it may sounds like a nice way to end a conversation, but it was anything but nice. It was almost a rude way to end the conversation. Well, I didn't want to end on a bad note, so I leaned out of my door to call to them to try and continue the conversation or end it better, and what I got was another curt response to the effect of "We're Done!" Then, as I looked over the heads of those two men, I saw my unsaved neighbor smoking a cigarette on his front step. And to make matters worse, this was exactly where the two men where going.

Now, I can only guess what went through my neighbor's mind as he saw the tail end of my conversation and endured the whole length of whatever conversation he had with the two gentlemen, but he knows that I am a Christian. So he saw a less than happy ending (I don't know how I looked, but the older gentleman looked and sounded angry) to a conversation between myself and two men. And now he's introduced to these two men who try to WITNESS to him about Christ.

I was very distressed that the witness of Christ to my neighbor was probably hurt (it wasn't built up, that's for sure), and so I resolved to try to catch up to them down the street to express my concerns. Before I could go outside, I had to go back in to put on socks, shoes, and a jacket - so in this time I was able to formulate what I wanted to say to these guys if or when I was able to catch up to them. I had three things that I wanted to say:
  1. Thanks for bringing the gospel to the homes of people who may not know.
  2. I wanted to apologize if I was not showing a proper demeanor of a servant of Christ in and after our conversation.
  3. Regardless of our differences, I think that the damage done to the gospel in the eyes of my neighbor was very bad.
Well, when I got outside and hustled down the street, I found these men talking to someone about 2 or 3 blocks down. I didn't want to hamper any work that the Lord was doing with their witness nor appear agressive, so I waited across the street from the house until they were done. When they came back to the street to their van (their group must have been meeting up to go to a different neighborhood or something), and before I had a chance to say anything, the same gentleman said to me (in a not-so-friendly tone), "I thought that our conversation was over."

That wasn't the only thing - before I could get out anything out, he then asked me if I knew what I had done during our previous conversation. He said that I had told my entire neighborhood that I doubted the word of God (relating to my opposition to KJV onlyism). I told him that I said no such thing, but that I was trying to defend the Word. At this time, he again abruptly tried to end our conversation, and not in a peaceful manner, and began moving toward and getting ready to enter the van (filled with 5 or 6 other people from his group).

Trying to salvage a this conversation and end it with...well, something other than hostility, I told him that 1 Peter 3:15 says that we need to answer questions about our faith with gentleness and respect. And here comes the worst part of the whole day.... He looked me in the eye and said, "I don't have to do that!"

I was flabbergasted, so I pleaded again for him to look at that passage. He answered in the same way as he did the first time. The third time I referenced this verse in 1 Peter 3, he said, "Read the King James (1 Peter 3:15) - I don't have to do that!" With that, the door closed, and the driver pulled away.

Stay tuned for "With Gentleness and Reverence (Part 3)".

*Please note that whenever the word "remove" or "change" is used in this type of a debate by someone who believes only in the KJV, it is a removal or changing of words from the King James Translation, not from the original Greek or Hebrew. But, remember, to the person who holds a position like these men do, the Hebrew and Greek don't matter anymore - only the AV 1611 KJV matters.

**The bold lettering seen in this passage was added by me for emphasis so that the reader can easily see the difference between the AV 1611 and the other translations.

***This was quoted from the tract "Let's Compare Bibles - If You Think All Bible Trnaslations Are Good, Perhaps You Should Think Again." by James L Melton. This is one of the tracts handed to me during this encounter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

the late Dr. Adrian Rogers

I included the information showing that he is now dead because I find it all the more powerful to konw that this man is now in the presense of his Lord. I find that it makes his powerful preaching about heaven, hell, sin, righteousness, and judgment all the more poignent and stirring. Click here to visit the official Dr. Adrian Rogers site.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

With Gentleness and Reverence (Part 1)

Or should I say with meekness and fear? Sound like an inconsequential difference? Read 1 Peter 3:15 in the NASB and in the King James Version (or click here to read it in the AV 1611 KJV), and tell me if a way to understand the instruction would be misunderstood or wrong by saying that meekness means gentle or a non-abrasive presentation and fear means to above all show reverence for He whom you are defending.

The way that I understand the bible - these explanations stay true to what the bible says in 1 Peter. Meekness could or should be understood as "enduring injury with patience and without resentment" or by being "not violent or strong." Fear should be understood as "to have a reverential awe of <fear God>."

Now, why do I bring this up?

Last Saturday, I was working on my Sunday School lesson in 1st Peter 3 (it's amazing how God works, huh?) when a pair of men came to my door. They politely introduced themselves as being from a local church and asked for a moment of my time. I invited them to continue the conversation, and they asked me a few questions.

Q: Are you born again?
A: Yes, I am.

Q: When did that happen?
A: I was 5 years old, and I prayed that God would forgive me of my sins. I knew that I was a sinner (even though more complete understanding of that truth has been revealed and will continue to be revealed to me over time), and I asked Jesus to come into my heart (which I understood as Christ was now going to be in control of my life and the leader that I should follow). When I did this, I prayed next to and into a heat vent because I thought that God would hear me better (I could always hear mom and dad better through the vents, so I figured that it should work for prayer too).

Now, the two gentlemen didn't make any comments or ask further questions about my conversion, so I assume (hope) that they understood and accepted that I am saved. I do have to say that whenever I have witnessed to strangers, I don't usually accept a basic conversion story like I gave without furhter information. I ask the person for a profession of faith, of sorts - specifically regarding these issues:

  1. Who is God (Christ, Father, Spirit, Trinitarian understanding)
  2. Understanding of Sin (I do it, God hates it, it's end result is - or should be - my damnation)
  3. The sacrificial atonement of Christ on the cross (the only means by which I - the sinner - am made right with God and avoid His wrath in eternal damnation)
  4. Many other questions would be incorporated as the conversation continues and requires.
So, instead of being questioned further, the men thanked me and handed me 3 tracts. Now, I was curious as to why a Christian would hand me, another Christian brother, tracts on salvation. Now, to be totally fair, only one of the tracts was relating to salvation. The other two were about a specific bible translation. Here is where the "rub" came in our conversation.

Here is the the gentlemen who came to my house believe about the Bible:
  1. The AV 1611 King James Bible to be the perfect and infallible word of God.
  2. The Bible was inspired in its origination and then divinely preserved throughout its various generations and languages until it reached us in its final form.
  3. The AV 1611 preserves the very words of God in the form in which He wished them to be represented in the universal language of these last days: English.
  4. Each word is therefore sacred and as such is, in [their] minds, exempted from the pilferage of presumptuous scholars, whether they be of the Alexandrian variety or of the "conservative," Traditional (Byzantine) type."*
To summarize this position - they believe that the 1611 KJV is the only actual Bible, all others are heretical. I asked one of the gentlemen if the other versions (NIV, NASB, NKJV, etc) were heretical, and he answered, "Yes!"

My position is that the original writings of Peter, Paul, John, Moses, etc are inspired, and the bibles that we have are considered divinely inspired scripture insofar as much as they correctly and exactly communicate the original writings. The way that we can come to know what the original writings were (since no original copies have been found or still exist) is to study the copies that were made. There is a fairly complex process involved when figuring out what the originals said that I do not have the time to go into.

Obviously, being told that the Bible that I read, study, and teach from is heretical, is enough to get a reaction from me. In my next post, I will get to the heart of this whole ordeal, and show what I've learned (

*The bullet points were taken from one paragraph of the online doctrinal statement of the church that they attended, and separated into bullet points, by myself, for presentation in this format.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Weeping for the Truth

Tonight, my wife and I were watching the television. And I, being a man - and doing what men are so prone to do, was flipping the channels during a commercial. I ended up stopping on one of the religious channels, and like an open sore on the face of a stranger - I couldn't stop myself from looking in horror.

Now, I had a whole litany of things written out concerning the abuses of scripture and some blasphemy (yes, blasphemy) that was on this show during the time that we were watching, but, it is not my desire to further proclaim false doctrines and evils done in the name of the Lord. I can only plead with you that we need to be faithful to the true gospel and be diligent in our study and proclaiming of it.

I am almost overcome with sadness that so many people are being led astray and are being told to hope for financial prosperity and physical healing when the only thing that we really need is Jesus' precious blood shed on our behalf. From that point, whether I am a rich man like living in a nice house in the suburbs, a poor man living in a shack in the slums, or a new convert in Africa who is murdered because of my faith in Jesus - my life needs to be for Christ. My Best Life Now might be to die a martyr. My Best Life Now might be to scrape by while raising children who love the Lord. My Best Life Now is not determined by worldly success or stability, but it is determined by the perfect will of almighty God. And the will of that same God required that the Best Life Now of His Son was to die a criminal's death. How much more do I deserve that death than He did. So if I have been born again, every moment that the Lord gives me breath - no matter my circumstances - that I am living for Him is my Best Life Now.

Do not pervert the gospel and the work of Christ and the sacrifice of generations of martyrs by making the focus of your faith on making you healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A quick thought about the Word of God

On Halloween, I had my wife journey out to a local retailer and purchase Luther so that we could watch a good movie on this more interesting of nights. In short - I loved it. Some of the dialogue between Luther and his opponents and supporters was very inspiring. I whole heartily recommend this movie to any Christian.

One of the main thrusts of the life of Luther (to the best of my limited understanding) was the integrity of the gospel of Christ. Moreover - he was standing up to a corrupt but very powerful church organization basing his dissent on nothing other than the Word of God. This was in a time, where simply questioning practices of the church resulted in severe persecution and death. John Huss, a Czech priest, was burned at the steak for his desire to give full communion to all congregants and not just the special people.

How many of the church fathers, reformers, ministers, missionaries, and regular Joe and Jane Christians have been killed, burned alive, butchered, torn to pieces, sawn in two, and suffered many other more horrible types of deaths than I can even imagine for the cause of Christ. Many died because they would not renounce or reject the Bible, and some just for having a bible.

Reality Check Time.

How much do I esteem the Word of God? Knowing that the time and era that we live in is so unique in the fact that we our ability to worship God is not only allowed, but protected by law - how captive to the Word of God am I? This is the same book that Christians are anxiously desiring in Africa, China, Saudi Arabia, and other countries and are restricted from having. Jesus quotes the Old Testament when he said, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."

Q: Am I desiring the word of God as much as (it should be more than) my body desires food?

I know - your first reaction is likely that this question from a Bible teacher that it's almost cliche. Well - it's only cliche because so many people hear this and don't ACT on it. It's cliche because it has to be said over and over and over and over and over again and there still might not have been any change in the lives of the hearers.

In a prayer prior to his sermon on 12/15/2002, John Piper eloquently articulated this dichotomy. A transcript of this part of his prayer (as best as I could transcribe it) follows. Piper is preaching in the Maranatha Auditorium at Northwestern College and it is being simulcast to his church in Minneapolis.

"Lord, there are hundreds in these two places that should measure their affections for Jesus and expectations of being with Him, with the level of anticipation that they look forward to the of the 2nd installment of the Lord of the Rings. I pray that we would take that measure, and then repent and plead that the music of our eagerness would be transposed into the key of Christ."

Don't turn a deaf ear to the Word of God. Do you desire it more than food? I don't. Because of that, I need to pray and seek after God that He would make Himself and His Word my uttermost desire and longing.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Reflections on 1 Peter 3:15

If I started making fun of you in a hostile manner - not joking - and to your face, how would you react? Moreover, if the things that I were saying were definitely false, how much more pointed would your reaction be?

Would you answer back with, "Well, I understand your feelings, and I believe that you are entitled to your opinions. But, I don’t want to cause any bad feelings by disagreeing with you...." No? If you’re like me, you would get crazily upset over the slander and false accusations, and fiercely defend against the falsehood.

So let me ask you a question, Christian. When you hear someone at home, work, or play blaspheming the name of Christ, denying the existence of God, or mocking the Bible – how quickly and loudly do you efend your God? The first phrase in verse 15 says, "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts," has a great deal to say of where Christ, His name and His Glory, should be in relation to all other things. Namely - the first and set apart position that nothing else comes close to equaling.

So, I say this: When our ears are accosted with blasphemy and vile things said about God, we need to be ready to make a defense for Him. More ready and willing to defend Him than to defend myself of those people closest to me. He died for me, I need to defend His name.

The following FALSE accusations are meant to provoke you to defend the true gospel. These statements are false, in big or small ways, and they need to be answered. How would you answer them? Don’t just tell me what you know, explain to me how they're wrong by using the Word of God as your primary defensive and offensive weapon.

  1. According to 1st Peter 3:21-22, we are saved by Baptism. You cannot be saved without being baptized.

  2. Jesus eternal? Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is the first born all creation. How can He be eternal and God if he were created? Basically – he’s not eternal, and he cannot be God.

  3. Jesus Christ never claimed to be God. He was voted into “godhood” at a church council hundreds of years after he died.
Please defend the faith that we hold dear. Answer these questions using the Word of God, and if you’re willing, send me your defense and I’ll post some of the better ones. Let’s sanctify Christ as Lord and defend the Truth of the Word of God!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Christ - the example

Concluding the final lesson of 1 Peter 2, we dove into this passage (verse 20 to the end of the chapter). This truth has many implications on how we are to live, love, serve, and worship. One of the the implications from this truth (one that I feel we have missed in our modern Western culture) is the idea of persecution, torture, and death. We see in the text of 2 Peter 2 that Christ was blameless, yet he endured all of these trials.

How many Christians in our time and setting think about the personal reality of encountering severe persecution. In sunday school, I passed around a list of names and stories of people who are currently imprisoned in different places around the world. Following our class, the sermon in the main service seemed to dovetail fluidly with the idea of suffering for the Lord and the need to get the gospel out to the world.

The concept of the necessary suffering of Christians was hammered home again to me on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, I was listening to one of my favorite radio programs, and the host was summarizing something that John MacArthur had said. Aparently (I could not find the information online - and I looked pretty hard), he has given a list of 5 things that would show that you're in the will of God - living the Christian life as you should. Number 5 was suffering. (If anyone knows of a link to this information, please send it to me or leave a comment, and I'll link to it). Well, then on Thursday, I was listening to this same radio program and it was an annual "Send Bibles To Africa" program, and so many of the stories that the African people in need of bibles told was how they were being murdered and abused by their Islamic neighbors and family. Now, other than being spiritually "thumped" for how little I value my bible when compared to these people, I was struck again with the reality that we cannot get away from suffering for the cause of Christ.

I do not relish the idea of suffering greatly for the cause of Christ, but you and I need to pray that we are willing to suffer greatly - even death. Because, if we are not completely leaning on the Lord in the easy times, how much more difficult will it be to lean on him when the times are dire?

I hope and pray that we set out to make our faith so strong and esteem our God so highly that we would willingly endure these trials with joyful hearts when they come upon us.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Don't "Just" Take Communion

Recently, I was asked to assist with our church's communion service. I was so excited to help, and even more excited when our youth director (who lead the service) asked me to preach/teach/give a challenge focusing on "examine yourself" from 1 Corinthians 11:28. I have to tell you - I was so ... (struggling to find the right word)... passionate about this that I found it extremely difficult to boil it down to a meaningful 10 minute attempt to accurately give a picture of what this means.

Here's what I came up with (the primary referance used is 1 Corinthians 11):

First of all, it's amazing that while most communion services use the text from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 for the taking of the elements, and they usually stop the reading at verse 26. These 4 verses are set in between different sections (v18-22 and v27-34)and about the observing of the Lord's Supper in an incorrect manner. I trust that you can (and hopefully will) read this chapter to understand the context, but it's clear that there is a very right and very wrong way to observe this ordinance. One of the things that Paul says (v 29-30) is that some people are sick, weak, or even DEAD because of their neglect in correctly observing the Lord's Supper. Now, understanding the cultural differences between 1st century Christian and 20th century western cultures, there are some very good principles that we can observe.

One of the primary differences between our cultural observances of this ordinance is that we do not observe an entire meal, instead we take the "elements" of this meal to remember the Lord's Supper. The key is that we need to examine ourselves to make sure that we're not taking communion in an unworthy manner (1 Cor 11:27,28). There are other questions that need to be addressed, but in the time that I had, this was the focus of the message. One of the other necessary studies is, for instance, what does being "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" mean?

Q: What do I need to examine so that I am not observing the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner?

A: Primarily, we need to examine how we take communion. The Corinthians were eating the Lord's Supper as if it were just another meal. Paul mentions that there were those who were getting drunk while others went hungry (v. 21). This is a picture of some having excess (not just in drink) and others being utterly deprived. The overall point is that they were not separating this as a time to remember the sacrifice of Christ, and that led them to eat and drink as if it were just a regular meal or party.

Now that we understand what errors the Corinthian believers were making with the Lord's Supper, we can look at what would cause us to be observing it in an unworthy manner. I have come up with a list of things that I have done (and probably you have too) that will show the principle of taking communion in a wrong way:

  • Standing up (because I have to) for praise and worship when I'd rather sit and sing...grrrr.
  • I really don't feel like talking to people, but because Pastor said to greet someone, but I'll act happy and say "good morning" anyway.
  • Bowing my head while being lead in prayer about someone or something that (at that moment) I am just not personally and spiritually invested in. But I bow my head because that's what you do.

The point is this - I should never, NEVER, take communion with an attitude that isn't focused and done in heart-felt seriousness for the reason for this observance. This has served as a good and sobering thought: how much of my current refining is a result of my stubborn heart and casualness toward the Lord? Now, I do not believe that all of the trials or bad things that happen are a direct result of being wicked or not pleasing God in life. If you don’t agree, look into Job 1 and see how God refers to Job before his trials begin, or John 9 and see how Christ explains the reason for this man’s blindness, and not to mention every trial and persecution that Christ went through.

Whether I am at the communion table or at a football game – the sacrifice of Christ, and what that sacrifice has purchased for me should be the overwhelming force behind my speech, actions, and attitude.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Being Offensive is Necessary.

The true gospel has never been (and will never be) accepted by the majority of any particular culture or society. Whenever the true gospel is preached and the message is not altered, there are many who are utterly offended by it. We should not be offensive in the way that we present the gospel, preach the Word of God, or live our lives (see 1 Peter 4:14-16), but likewise we should never make the gospel that we preach or the Word of God itself inoffensive in what it says.

Now, this thought itself may seem offensive to you, but I want to show you why I believe it is true, and we need to understand this. In 1 Peter 2:6-8, Peter quotes the O.T. and making the connection that Jesus Christ is the corner stone, or foundation on which all else depends, of true faith and belief in God. These same quotation shows that Christ will be (He is) a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. Nothing can be "true" of God unless it is built upon this foundation. I don't have to tell you that this idea of one exclusive way of salvation (much less anything else) is intolerant (and therefore, it's offensive).

Q: Why is this important?
A: The very Word of God itself declares that God chose the foolish (dare I interject that it is also offensive and unacceptable to an unsaved person) things of the world to fulfill His will. For a good reference, read 1 Corinthians 1 - yes the whole chapter - and note how the Apostle Paul repeatedly makes the point that God chose the foolishness of the message to save those who would believe (v. 21). Also, note verse 23 that the gospel that Paul preaches is foolishness to gentiles and a stumbling block to Jews.

Q: Well, my church doesn't believe that, so why should I care what you believe?
A: It's not what I believe that should be the initial question. It should be this: What does the Bible say? Then the next thing needs to be, if this is what it says why do I discount or disbelieve it?

The true gospel that the Bible sets forth, that Christ preached, and the apostles died for has been offensive because it has ALWAYS said this:

  1. God has standards (His Holiness)
  2. Man sinned and, by nature, cannot meet God's standards (our sinfulness and offensiveness to God)
  3. God must, because of His nature, eternally punish those who don't meet his standards (His Justice)
  4. Man cannot reconcile himself with God, no matter what we do (our depravity)
  5. God poured his wrath on His Son in the place of those who are believe in Him so that they could now meet his standards (His Mercy)
  6. Those who do believe in Christ are changed, are seen as Christ in God's eyes and their lives show that they no longer serve sinful flesh, but rather serve Almighty God. (Salvation - Justification and Sanctification)
Schizms have been made and churches have split over any and all of these issues. But they always seem to come down to a few things. We either try to change who Christ is, and that His sacrifice on the cross isn't enough to forgive me totally of my sins.
  • Mormon theology teaches that we are saved by the grace of God and Christ's atonement after all that we can do. (they also deny the eternal deity of Christ, yet another heresy)
  • Catholic theology states that one must go to purgatory to suffer for some sins before entering heaven. Other than the fact that the doctrine of purgatory doesn't appear in the Bible, this doctrine says that Christ's sacrifice (in effect) wasn't enough to pay for all of my sins. Therefore, I have to do works that make up for that deficiency.
The Gospel is exclusive because God is Holy and Righteous. If I think that I'm "not that bad," the Bible says that anyone who is jealous, has outbursts of anger, envious will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21). God sees anger as murdering someone and lust as adultery in the heart (Matt 5:21-32). Furthermore, James says that if we break one law - do one sin, we are guilty of them all before God (James 2:10).

If we do not hold fast and preach the only true biblical gospel, but tone down the offensiveness of the gospel, the exclusiveness of the gospel, or the intolerance of the gospel we will be in serious jeopardy of not preaching the true gospel at all, and those who hear it will not hear the saving message of the gospel! If we don't preach the true gospel - that which Christ and the apostles proclaimed - then we are not preaching the saving and sanctifying message that Christ died to give and rose again to validate.

Christ says that unless a man is born again, he will not enter the kingdom of God. If you don't know what that means or aren't sure if you are - please ask me. Eternity hangs in the balance on this one.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Have you ever heard the saying...? (Part 2)

I'd like to alter the saying mentioned in Part 1 to be the following: "You can tell someone's heart or devotion to God by examining one simple thing...their day-planner."

Now, I understand that most of us don't keep a day-planner for our day to day activities, but what if we did? Now, I'm not thinking of a day-planner where you pencil in what you need to or intend to do, but one that is retro-active in its entries. If there were a report like this that would show me exactly what I was doing for my day on a 15 minute increment as well as an overall summary of time, what would it look like? Now, obviously, there is no such report that can be generated automatically that we can look at, but what if you or I were to sit down for a few minutes and sketch one out? It'd actually be pretty easy since most of our lives have a great deal of consistency on a day to day basis.

For instance, I work the same time (relatively) each day for the same amount of time during the week. I'm in the car (mostly to and from work) for a similar amount of time each day. And so on and so on. So, once you build a "normal" day, it's easy enough to edit it for any given day.

Q: What's the point here?
A: The point or intention of this exercise is to get an idea of how much of my time do I spend solely devoted to God as opposed to how much time do I spend on "relaxing" or time solely spent on me.

I am looking at this with the same critical eye that I was examining the "giving" issue that I have previously raised. Here's an example:

Many of my Christian friends love our local football team. The Vikings play for about 3 or 4 hours each week during their season. Most fans (Christians and non-Christians alike) are riveted to the TV or radio for that time, and make an event of it. We'll clear our schedule, get food, set up the TV/Family room, dress for the occasion (hat, jersey, etc) - all of this prior to the 3 hours of entertainment - just to watch a football game. But it doesn't stop there, following the game (for days on end) there is the discussion of the game results and the prognostication of the rest of the season, play-off hopes, etc., etc.

How does my dedicated - not gonna compromise this time except in the case of an emergency - time for my football team stack up against time that I devote wholly to my love for and walk with Christ?

My thrust is not to say that every Christian needs to have the same "cookie-cutter" type of quiet time formula, but I think that if I (we, you, or whomever) don't have some sort of designated, set apart, special, intense, devoted time for my walk with God - and yet I have it for my own personal time - I need to do some serious reevaluating of where my true treasure and love resides. Sounds harsh, huh? Well, it should. We (Christians) are warned over and over about what we do and how we act and to be aware that these things will be judged. 1 Corinthians 3:14,15 speaks to how a Christian's works will be judged by God in the end. I think that a good understanding of this passage revolves primarily around the gospel that we preach and we need to make sure that it conforms to the true gospel (there is no other gospel - see Galatians 1:6-10 for Paul's super clear admonishment about this). But, our way of life, and what we show as valuable (with our time and money) reflect the worth that we attribute to the gospel and ultimately to Christ Himself.

Wrap up:
1 Peter 2:2 says that new Christians should desire the pure milk of the Word. This (I understand) means that a new Christian desire and need the plain and simple truths of the gospel just like a baby desires mamma's milk. And parents - you and I both know that babies are never circumspect about their need for food. Psalms 119:9-16speaks for an older believer in God and the scope of his desire for God's truth. When Paul tells Timothy that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, Paul also instructs him to flee from these things and puruse righteousness, among other things (1 Timothy 6:10-12). Also, we can get an idea of how important it is to make a point of special, devoted time to God by seeing Christ as the example. One of my favorites is Mark 1:32-37 (specifically verse 35) where we see that Jesus got up early after a long night of working to make special time for God.

For His glory, let us examine ourselves in all areas.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

1 Peter 2 - Long for the pure milk...

Before part 2 of the "Have you ever heard the saying...?" post, I want to encourage you all to read 1 Peter 2 and at least think about what verses 1-3 mean and how that should apply to you and me. This is one of the areas I want to focus on this week.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Have you ever heard the saying...? (Part 1)

The saying goes something like this, "You can tell someone's heart or devotion to God by examining one simple thing...their checkbook."

I think that this is a good general idea that we should examine to see if there is any truth in it. This is not something that I would go out and harass someone else with, but it is something that I need to use on myself (likewise you should use this on yourself). There are many reasons why I am bringing this up today, and I think that this mentality of "checking" ourselves is vital for us to grow in grace and truth. I find a good model for giving is the tithing model. Now, many people have a different standard to measure their financial giving (Joy and not the amount given is the key; Old Testament tithing was closer to 30% than 10% and had various purposes; etc.), but for this little article, let's just use the tithing (10%) criteria. Just look back over the past few months and see how much you gave to your local church (first) and other ministries (2nd) compared to how much you spent on other stuff. Now, I'm not saying that you should not pay your mortgage, rent, or other bills - but how much did you spend on "fun" or extra stuff. Was that more - substantially more - than what you gave to God?

Q: What qualifies as "fun" stuff?
A: If I would be so bold, I would use a fairly lose definition with another question, "What do you need to spend your money on to provide for your family and be a good steward of what God has given you?"

The test is an easy one - just go through your credit cards and checking accounts for a few months and add up all of the things that you did that were extra - dinner out (non business), new toys (I mean big boy toys - electronics, tools, etc), monthly bills for Cable TV, high speed Internet, etc. Add these up, and then compare this total to the total that you give. These are all things that, if I stopped spending as much of our money on, my family would not notice, or hardly notice. Now, I am not saying that a family should spend no money on fun things or that we shouldn’t enjoy some of what God has given us, but I am saying that we should examine this type and amount of "fun" and relate it to how much we give to God.

My hope is that most of us have a positive result. But, how close are the two totals? My goal is not to be legalistic about this, but if I spend as much money on myself in the name of "fun" or "extra" stuff as I give to God, is that something that I need to examine more closely? Brothers and sisters, I only bring this up because it is one of the many things that the Holy Spirit is convicting me of. We need to cling to the imperishable things of God and be willing to give all of our perishable and temporary things back to the Lord.

A good quick reference for how wealth can effect my spiritual condition is to look at the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19:16-30. There are many examples of Godly men in the Bible who are very rich, but there are also many examples of those who didn’t have anything. If you doubt that, just look no further than at our Savior, he didn’t have any real property or wealth (Matthew 8:19,20), and neither did the apostles. They either gave it up before or during the time that they followed Christ.

This may not be totally accurate, but in relation to Matthew 19, think of your own financial status (rich, poor, middle class, etc) in relation to the rest of the world (6+ Billion people) and not just Americans or people in Western Europe. You'll find that you and I are among the top 1/5th (at least) wealthiest people in the world. I hope that this will, at least, cause you to ask questions and be willing to look at your money in a new way.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My first prolonged witness encounter with a stranger:

I work in the city, and I work until 9PM. Recently, I have noticed that there are more and more people walking, dining, and partaking of various adult beverages that I pass by on my way to my car. Well, about 3 months ago I took a large step – I ordered some tracts from Living Waters to use when I witness. Now it is important to note that I when I ordered these tracts I had not yet ever gone out of my way to confront a stranger with the gospel. That’s important to note because I wanted to do this, and one way to get me going was to put some money where my mouth was (as it were). All of this to say that I have (for a few months) tried to overcome fear, see and take the opportunities that are there, or make an opportunity to share the gospel with those who I may or may not ever see again. Over the last week, I have noticed more and more people out and about, so I made it a point to have some of my gospel tracts easy at hand for sharing the gospel as well.

Fast forward to last night….

As I was leaving work I passed a bunch of people socializing and waiting to enter a dining establishment. I walked right on by so many people because it just didn’t feel like the right time. Now, it is very likely that this feeling was just me not wanting to share the gospel in a way that would take me out of my comfort zone – I don’t know what it was for sure, but I know that God will break down my personal barriers the more I trust him in obedience (however small it starts out as). Well, by God’s grace I was accosted by a young man for some money to buy food. Out of habit, I told him that I didn’t have any change for him.*

I did say that I had something else for him. I said, “I don’t have any change, but do you want $1 Million?” I pulled out a million dollar bill tract and gave it to him.

Him: “I don’t want it. It’s not worth anything. I can’t buy anything with it.”

Me; “True, you can’t buy anything with it, but if you use it properly, it’s worth a whole lot more than $1 million.”

At this he was a bit intrigued, so I turned the tract over and read him the first line on the back of the tract. “The Million Dollar Question: Will you go to Heaven [when you die]?”

Him: “Oh, man – you know that when you die, you’re already in heaven.”

I was a bit confused by his response, but through some more questions (why do you think that, where did you get that information, how do you know that your idea is true) I came to understand that he just “knows” this with no real thought behind it. I asked him if he believed in the Bible and he gave me some sort of a non-committal response. So I tried to build the case in his conscience for what the Bible has to say. Basically, I said this, "Assuming the Bible is true (I know it’s true), and God judges you when you die – He sees hatred as murder, lust as adultery – will you be guilty or innocent?" Now, his response was a combination of “everybody does it,” to which I replied “You just quoted a Bible verse,” and I quoted Romans 3:23 to him. He then tried to downplay how bad an angry thought or a lustful thought really is. Well, to make this short story long, I left him with a 10 Commandment Medallion and told him to consider the Judgment of God that will come, and to really think about his guilt or innocence.

In hindsight, there are many things that I could have and/or should have done differently, or questions of his that I could have answered better. However, I am thankful that God was gracious enough to give me the courage to bring the law (he had not humbled himself to the law, so I didn’t bring up the gospel because he was not agreeing that he needed the Good Knews) and I trust that the Lord will work in his life. If it be His will, this man will come face to face with his sinfulness on this side of eternity and God will save his soul.

To God be the glory.

*(Sidebar – but important) Truth be told I did have a few dollar bills in my wallet, but I didn’t have any change. I hesitated pulling out my wallet to get some money. A few minutes later I did remember that I had some of my lunch left over (1 sandwich, 1 banana, and 1 Little Debbie Nutty Bar). I offered him my lunch and he turned down everything except the Nutty Bar because he already had a banana and he didn’t like Miracle Whip (on my sandwich). So, I didn’t feel so bad about not forking out some dough for this guy to buy food with. On the other hand I am ashamed and I am afraid that I may have done harm to my witness. You see, before I had given the man my lunch (but after we had started talking), he stopped another man walking by for some money. He said something like, “I asked him (me) for some money, but he didn’t have any. And I’m only talking with him about God because it’s interesting.” The other pedestrian looked at me, then at the gentleman asking for money, looked back at me – smirked, and pulled out a few bucks. Now, I don’t know what went on in that man’s head, but my fear was something like, “Huh, a crazy religious freak wants to push his ideas on this guy, but he’s not willing to help him out.” Even though this gentleman turned down most of the food that I had, my witness was still tarnished because I appeared unconcerned with his immediate needs to the other pedestrian.

Monday, September 19, 2005

An Interesting Question...

Have you ever taken a pop quiz in life? I was at church this weekend and I asked if anyone could name me 10 pro sports teams. A brave young boy was the first to respond and he did a very good job of rattling off 10 teams. No stutters, no pauses (or very short pauses). I then asked him if he could name me the 10 commandments. He gave me 3 pretty fast, and then he started to falter. Now, I cut him off (so as not to embarrass)and asked the rest of the congregation if anyone could name me the 10 commandments.... Now, I don't know whether it was a lack of "on the spot" memory, a fear of speaking in public, or just one of the common bonds among Baptists which is an aversion to raising our hands for any reason during a church service. To be fair, I know for a fact that many of the church's members could have told me, if not all 10 in order, 9 without much problem.

Ok, why did I ask these two questions. One word - Evangelism. I did this to show how easy it can be to get someone to interact with you so that you can begin to share the truth of the Word with them. Without belaboring the point (because many others do a better job than I do), we need to be involved in evangelism. We need to go out to the world to show the light of life. The reason we need the 10 commandments is that unsaved people need to be shown how harshly God sees sin. Only then, when we understand how exceedingly wicked sin (any sin) is, are we able to understand the true love of God!

If you haven't yet, I advise you to listen to the sermon called "Hells Best Kept Secret" as given by Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron. This is a powerful sermon that sparked a renewed commitment to repentance - true repentance - and it's role in true conversions. Also how false repentance results in false conversion.

How does all of this come together? The 10 Commandments should be the primary tool to prepare the way for the gospel message that we are called to bring (Psalm 19:7). Just look at some of Paul's writings about the law in Romans 3:20; 7:7; and Galations 3:24. Again, these are a snapshot, not the full spectrum of the Biblical argument for using the law to show us of our sinfulness.

We need to understand the gospel that we preach and have a passion for the lost. Now, this doesn't mean that all true Christians must stand on the street corner handing out tracts or standing on a park bench preaching to the passers-by. I do think that all Christians should have a burden for the lost and be equipped and willing to witness to the lost. I think that once we become equipped, we'll be more motivated by the Holy Spirit to bubble over with this information, and we'll naturally go out of our way to share this truth - Law and then the Gospel - with the lost.

10 Commandment Medallion images from

Sunday, September 18, 2005

1 Peter 1 - Keep Sober Thru Trials (they will come to you)

Peter first expounds on the fact that we were chosen according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2; Romans 8:28-30), and uses covenant language that the 1st century Jews would understand when he speaks of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:2). In the Old Covenant, the priests would make sacrifices with the blood of animals to cover their sins and the sins of the people. See Hebrews 9 for a better foothold on this idea than I could ever give.

Then we see that God has caused us to be born again. Some translations are weaker on this point than I (in my humble opinion) think is appropriate. Contrast the language used in the NIV and the NASB, it's a very enlightening difference (see also James 1:18). I think that it is also very important to see how much Peter contrasts our hope for what is to come with the dead and dying things of this world (1 Peter 1:4,5).

The main emphasis of this study (this week) is the idea that suffering or trials for the believer are not optional. If one raises the quesiton, "If I live the Christian life, honor God, serve him faithfully, shouldn't I not experience trials?" I would answer this person a simple "No." I would also point out that a simple study of the life of Jesus Christ will show the folly of that sentiment. He was (is) the perfect man, He lead a perfect life, He loved God more purely than anyone could even dream, but yet he suffered greater. Christ suffered more than the cumulative sufferings of mankind (I heard this phrase on "the Bible Answer Man" hosted by Hank Hanegraaff, but since I don't have a direct quote, I don't want to actually use quotation marks). See also 1 Peter 3:17; 4:12-19; 5:8-10; and James 1:2-4 for other references to our suffering for Christ. That's not an exhaustive list of referencs, but it's a start.

A note to the reader: If you agree or disagree with what I've laid out as what the Bible says here, please let me know. Especially let me know if you find that I'm in error. I don't take studying or teaching the Word of God lightly, and I'd rather know my error now than at a later date (or never).

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson