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.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson