Prophecy versus Mystery

Much misunderstanding among students of the Bible results from a failure make proper distinctions. Indeed, scripture commands the student to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2Tim2:15). C. I. Scofield, in his classic booklet Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, highlighted ten important distinctions; the very first chapter addresses proper distinctions between the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God. An article (with accompanying Chart) titled Distinctions between Prophecy and Mystery has been added under Biblical Studies which explores a related, but absolutely vital, distinction between prophecy and the mystery, which is the key to seeing the proper distinctions between: 1) the nation of Israel, her Messiah, and His coming Kingdom, versus 2) the Church (which is the Body of Christ), its Head, and the present dispensation.


Elect/Election in the Bible

The term “elect” simply means chosen, and “election” means to be chosen. In the Bible, these terms are used of:  1) Messiah/Christ, 2) the holy angels, and 3) the nation of Israel. The Lord Jesus Christ is perfect and without sin, so His election by God cannot have anything to do with personal salvation.  The holy angels are unfallen, such that they do not require salvation (and the fallen angels are not eligible for salvation).  However, by far the most common use of elect/election relates to the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel has always been comprised of both believing and unbelieving Jews (cf. Rom3:3; 9:6), so the election of Israel cannot pertain to the salvation of individual Jewish persons.

Biblical “election” is God’s choice of a person or persons for a particular purpose in His divine plan.  Christ was chosen by God to be the redeemer of believing humanity (Jn3:16).  The angels were chosen by God to be His governing and ministering spirits within the creation (Heb1:14).  And the nation of Israel was chosen by God for a myriad of reasons, but primarily to be His principal channel of revelation to fallen humanity, through which God brought forth both the Person of Messiah (Rom9:3-5) and the Holy Scriptures (Rom3:1-2).  These purposes have nothing to do with the personal salvation of the objects of God’s election.

Reformed theology’s notion that “election” is God’s choice of who He will save and who he will not, made before His work of creation and having nothing to do with faith on the part of its objects, finds no support in the Bible.

A full length article on this subject has been added under Biblical Studies.  God bless!


The Name of the LORD

The identification and etymology (and as a result the proper pronunciation) of the name of the one true God, Who has revealed Himself in the text of the Bible and in the Person of Jesus Christ, has long been disputed. The controversy appears to be shrouded in mystery, cloaked in myths and traditions, and largely propagated by various Jewish sects and a multitude of pseudo-Christian cults. However, when the Biblical record is consulted as the final authority on this matter (Isa8:20), the issue is not at all as ambiguous as many suggest. The identification and etymology of the name of God is clearly revealed in the Hebrew scriptures, and it’s proper pronunciation can be reliably inferred from their testimony.

A full length article on this subject has been added under Textual Studies.  God bless!


Hebrews: Press on to Spiritual Maturity in Christ

Bible

“THEREFORE, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection . . .” (Hebrews 6:1)

The first generation of Hebrew Christians living in and around Jerusalem increasingly faced persecution from their unbelieving families, friends, and countrymen, tempting them to return to their former lives of Judaism, including adherence to Mosaic law and worship/sacrifice at the Temple. The Epistle to the Hebrews is a polemical tour-de-force expounding on why such a return is both logically and spiritually impossible. Because of the supremacy of the Person of Christ and the finality of His sacrificial work on man’s behalf that fully propitiated God, it is impossible for Jewish believers to return to the Mosaic system of worship (cf. Gal2:18; Heb10:38); but to do so would diminish the Person of Christ and make His unique, once-and-for-all sacrifice appear ineffectual (Heb10:9-10,18). Thus, the only course available for the believer is to press on to spiritual maturity in Christ (Heb6:1; 10:32-39; 12:1-2; Cp., Gal3:23-25).  In that light, it is even more inconsistent for Gentile Christianity, for whom the Old (i.e., Mosaic) Covenant never applied (cf. Eph2:11-12), to embrace elements of that now obsolete Jewish system (Heb8:13).

I began teaching a weekly class on the Epistle to the Hebrews in September 2018.  The notes and audio for this study are updated regularly.  You can find them under the Biblical Studies menu; check periodically to follow the study as it progresses.  God bless!


Why You Should Use the King James Version

Today, though still widely read and loved by many, the King James Version is being increasingly forsaken by the Christian public at large in favor of one of the modern versions (e.g., NIV, ESV, NASB). Christians are encouraged to do so by both publishers and scholars. The two most oft repeated reasons to abandon the King James Version are: 1) the archaic language used in the KJV makes it difficult for modern readers to understand, and 2) new archeological discoveries of biblical manuscripts, purported to be older than the manuscripts available to the KJV translators, differ from the Hebrew/Greek manuscripts used as the textual basis in the King James Version; thus, the KJV is derived from an inferior Hebrew/Greek textual basis. However, both of these assertions, when “weighed in the balances”, are “found [to be] wanting” (Cp., Dan5:27).

Bible-believing Christians, especially those without facility in the Hebrew/Greek scriptures, should not abandon the King James Version of the Bible for one of the hundreds of modern versions. Rather, they should continue to use the KJV as Bible-believers have for the past four centuries, for the following reasons. First, the precision of the English grammar used in the KJV accurately communicates grammatical subtleties inherent in the Hebrew/Greek, most of which are lost in the modern versions (including the New King James Version). Second, the philosophy of translation used by the KJV translators (i.e., formal equivalence, or word-for-word translation) honors the nature of scripture and stops short of introducing (potentially) biased interpretation into the translation. Third, the English used in the King James Version gives rise to essential doctrines that are absent from many modern versions. Fourth, the Hebrew/Greek textual basis undergirding the King James Version is superior to that used by the modern versions, being based on the textual tradition that has been providentially preserved by God throughout all generations.

A full-length article on this topic has been added under Textual Studies.

 


Light vs. the Sun in Genesis 1

The creation of light on Day 1, before creation of the sun (on the 4th day), has profound theological significance.  All ancient, pagan peoples worshiped the Sun as the source of light.  In Genesis 1 God reveals that light preceded the sun, and its source was the very Word of God (Genesis 1:3).  The Apostle John makes clear in his gospel that Jesus Christ, the Word [of God] (John 1:1), was the Divine Agent of creation (John 1:3) and “the true Light” (John 1:9).  The Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of worship (Revelation 4:11), and all men past or present who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served [any aspect of] the creation more than the Creator” are fools and idolaters (cf. Romans 1:22-25).  In Genesis 1, the literal, historical order of Divine creation is a rebuke to all pagan perversions of theological truth.


Not Apostasy, But Rapture!

Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians was written as a response to a query that church had sent to the Apostle. The Thessalonians were troubled by a letter they had received, purportedly from Paul (but actually a forgery), alleging that they had entered into “the day of the LORD” (2Thess2:2). They were troubled by this since Paul had previously taught them that the rapture of the Church would happen before the outpouring of God’s wrath during the Tribulation period (1Thess4:13-5:9); if this allegation were true, and the day of the LORD had indeed begun, that meant the believers in Thessalonica had been left behind! It should be noted that the believers in Thessalonica were undergoing intense (albeit local) persecution (1Thess3:2-4), so that it was no doubt tempting for them to believe that the Tribulation had begun.

Paul’s reply was to immediately remind them of what he had previously taught them (2Thess2:5); namely, that the Antichrist cannot even be “revealed”, which begins the Tribulation (Dan9:27), until after an event he calls “the falling away” (2Thess2:3). The Greek noun translated “falling away” is apostasia, transliterated as ‘apostasy’ in some English versions. The correct translation of apostasia is ‘departure’; exactly what kind of departure is in view depends upon context, and can just as likely mean a physical departure as it does a departure from the faith (i.e., apostasy). It is interesting that all English translations before the KJV rendered apostasia in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as “departure”, whereas the KJV and most subsequent translations render it “falling away” or something which similarly implies the ‘departure’ is religious in nature. There is nothing in the context of 2 Thessalonians 2, however, that demands (or even suggests) that the departure to which Paul refers be non-physical.

Furthermore, in the Greek text there is the definite article in conjunction with apostasia, so that the best translation is not “a falling away”, but “the departure”. The use of the definite article means that Paul is referring to a specific event that he expects is already known to the Thessalonians. Since Paul’s first epistle to them included the most detailed revelation of the rapture of the Church in the N.T., and in fact mentions the rapture in every chapter (1Thess1:9-10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-17; 5:1-11), while not one reference to a religious apostasy or departure from the faith occurs, context demands that the specific departure to which Paul refers is the rapture. The context of 2 Thessalonians 2 also supports this, since the rapture, referred to as “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him”, introduces the chapter (2Thess2:1). Thus, the evidence is overwhelming that the departure Paul holds out as necessarily taking place before “the day of the LORD” and the revealing of the Antichrist is the rapture of the Church. Thus, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is the most explicit teaching of the Pre-Trib rapture in the Bible.


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