Tag Archive: theology


Without question the greatest reason that we live for God is our unwavering belief in the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through His resurrection from the grave that we have hope and the promise of life eternal with him. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, the apostle Paul explains that, because of these promises of a future resurrection and of living eternally in the kingdom, believers have not only the motivation but also eternal responsibilities for our lives here on earth.

The apostle Paul touches on such responsibilities in his concluding statement in the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. He declares that, if we really believe and if we are truly thankful that our resurrection is sure, we should “therefore” demonstrate our assurance and our thankfulness by “standing firm, letting nothing move us” and “always giving ourselves full to the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). This, then, is the believer’s responsibility: to stand firm in the faith and give himself completely to the Lord.

The Greek for “standing firm” is hedraios, which literally refers to “being seated, being settled and firmly situated.” The Greek for “letting nothing move you” is ametakinetos, and it carries the same basic idea but with more intensity. It means “being totally immobile and motionless,” indicating that we should not even budge an inch from His will. And with our being totally within the will of God, we are to be “always giving ourselves to the work of the Lord,” being careful not to be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

Why did Paul give us this warning? Simply because, if our confident hope in the resurrection wavers, we are sure to abandon ourselves to the ways and standards of the world. Therefore, if there are no eternal ramifications or consequences of what we do in this life, the motivation for selfless service and holy living is gone. In other words, our eternal responsibilities are abandoned.

Conversely, when our hope in the resurrection is clear and certain, we will have great motivation to be attending to the responsibility we have to “always giving ourselves to the work of the Lord.” The Greek for this phrase carries the idea of exceeding the requirements, of overflowing or overdoing. A good example of this is found in Ephesians 1:7-8 where the word is used of God having “lavished” upon us the riches of His grace. Because God has so abundantly provided for us who deserve nothing from Him, we should determine to give of ourselves abundantly in service to Him, to whom we owe everything.

The Bible teaches us that our responsibility as believers is to work uncompromisingly as the Lord has gifted us and leads us in this life. We must fully understand that until the Lord returns there are souls to reach and ministries of every sort to be performed. We are responsible for our money, time, energy, talents, gifts, bodies, minds, and spirits, and we should invest in nothing that does not in some way contribute to the work of the Lord. James tells us, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).

Our work for the Lord, if it is truly for Him and done in His power, cannot fail to accomplish what He wants accomplished. Every good work believers do has eternal benefits that the Lord Himself guarantees. Jesus tells us, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

Simply put, our responsibility lies in working for the Lord, whether it is in “looking after orphans or widows in distress” (James 1:27), giving to the hungry, the naked, visiting those in prison (see Matthew 25:35-36), serving in our workplace (see Colossians 3:22), or doing whatever we do (Colossians 3:23). And our motivation is that we have God’s own promise that our work “is not in vain” in the Lord “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:24).

It has been said that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. The Lord Jesus frequently used parables as a means of illustrating profound, divine truths. Stories such as these are easily remembered, the characters bold, and the symbolism rich in meaning. Parables were a common form of teaching in Judaism. Before a certain point in His ministry, Jesus had employed many graphic analogies using common things that would be familiar to everyone (salt, bread, sheep, etc.) and their meaning was fairly clear in the context of His teaching. Parables required more explanation, and at one point in His ministry, Jesus began to teach using parables exclusively.

The question is why Jesus would let most people wonder about the meaning of His parables. The first instance of this is in His telling the parable of the seed and the soils. Before He interpreted this parable, He drew His disciples away from the crowd. They said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:10-17).

From this point on in Jesus’ ministry, when He spoke in parables, He explained them only to His disciples. But those who had continually rejected His message were left in their spiritual blindness to wonder as to His meaning. He made a clear distinction between those who had been given “ears to hear” and those who persisted in unbelief—ever hearing, but never actually perceiving and “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). The disciples had been given the gift of spiritual discernment by which things of the spirit were made clear to them. Because they accepted truth from Jesus, they were given more and more truth. The same is true today of believers who have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). He has opened our eyes to the light of truth and our ears to the sweet words of eternal life.

Our Lord Jesus understood that truth is not sweet music to all ears. Simply put, there are those who have neither interest nor regard in the deep things of God. So why, then, did He speak in parables? To those with a genuine hunger for God, the parable is both an effective and memorable vehicle for the conveyance of divine truths. Our Lord’s parables contain great volumes of truth in very few words—and His parables, rich in imagery, are not easily forgotten. So, then, the parable is a blessing to those with willing ears. But to those with dull hearts and ears that are slow to hear, the parable is also an instrument of both judgment and mercy.

First, it is important to recognize that this is not a question of whether God still performs miracles today. It would be foolish and unbiblical to claim God does not heal people, speak to people, and perform miraculous signs and wonders today. The question is whether the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, described primarily in 1 Corinthians 12–14, are still active in the church today. This is also not a question of can the Holy Spirit give someone a miraculous gift. The question is whether the Holy Spirit still dispenses the miraculous gifts today. Above all else, we entirely recognize that the Holy Spirit is free to dispense gifts according to His will (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

In the book of Acts and the Epistles, the vast majority of miracles are performed by the apostles and their close associates. Paul gives us the reason why: “The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance” (2 Corinthians 12:12). If every believer in Christ was equipped with the ability to perform signs, wonders, and miracles, then signs, wonders, and miracles could in no way be the identifying marks of an apostle. Acts 2:22 tells us that Jesus was “accredited” by “miracles, wonders, and signs.” Similarly, the apostles were “marked” as genuine messengers from God by the miracles they performed. Acts 14:3 describes the gospel message being “confirmed” by the miracles Paul and Barnabas performed.

Chapters 12–14 of 1 Corinthians deal primarily with the subject of the gifts of the Spirit. It seems from that text “ordinary” Christians were sometimes given miraculous gifts (12:8-10, 28-30). We are not told how commonplace this was. From what we learned above, that the apostles were “marked” by signs and wonders, it would seem that miraculous gifts being given to “ordinary” Christians was the exception, not the rule. Beside the apostles and their close associates, the New Testament nowhere specifically describes individuals exercising the miraculous gifts of the Spirit.

It is also important to realize that the early church did not have the completed Bible, as we do today (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, etc. were necessary in order for the early Christians to know what God would have them do. The gift of prophecy enabled believers to communicate new truth and revelation from God. Now that God’s revelation is complete in the Bible, the “revelatory” gifts are no longer needed, at least not in the same capacity as they were in the New Testament.

God miraculously heals people every day. God still does amazing miracles, signs, and wonders and sometimes performs those miracles through a Christian. However, these things are not necessarily the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. The primary purpose of the miraculous gifts was to prove that the gospel was true and that the apostles were truly God’s messengers. The Bible does not say outright that the miraculous gifts have ceased, but it does lay the foundation for why they might no longer occur to the same extent as they did as recorded in the New Testament.

The Wisdom of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, is one of the books of the Apocrypha. The others in the group are 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The books of the Apocrypha are accepted primarily by the Roman Catholic Church and are included in Catholic Bibles. The Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books teach many things that are not true and are not historically accurate. The Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals to their Bible at the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s A.D., primarily in response to the Protestant Reformation. None of the apocryphal books are included in the canon of Scripture.

The Wisdom of Solomon was believed by some to have been written by King Solomon, although his name appears nowhere in the text. However, the early church rejected the authorship of Solomon because an ancient manuscript fragment known as the Muratorian fragment refers to the Wisdom of Solomon as having been written by “the friends of Solomon in his honour.” It is widely accepted today, even by the Catholic Church, that Solomon did not write the book, which dates back to the 1st or 2nd century BC, many centuries after the death of Solomon.

While Solomon wrote much on the subject of wisdom in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, he never elevated it to the status of part of the Godhead, a philosophy found in The Wisdom of Solomon. The book refers to Wisdom in terms the Bible reserves only for the Messiah, saying “she [wisdom] is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness” (Wisdom 7:26). The book of Hebrews reserves such accolades only for the Son of God, who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). Even more egregious, Wisdom 9:18 says that salvation is an act of wisdom, whereas Scripture is clear that salvation is by faith, a gift of God to those whom He calls, justifies and sanctifies (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 8:30). In fact, if man were to depend upon his “wisdom” for salvation, we would be lost forever with no hope because the unredeemed are dead in trepasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-4) and their minds are darkened (Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14) and their heart deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

The apocryphal books are accepted by the Roman Catholic Church because many of them teach RCC doctrines which are not in agreement with the Bible, including praying for the dead, petitioning Mary to intercede with the Father, worshiping angels, and alms-giving as atonement for sins. Some of what the Apocrypha / Deuterocanonicals say is true and correct. However, due to the historical and theological errors, the books must be viewed as fallible historical and religious documents, not as the inspired, authoritative Word of God.

A very well done article

  The origins of Easter are rooted in European traditions. The name Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre (or Eostre) who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by these people to honor her. The goddess Eastre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit, which was also known as a symbol of fertility. Originally, there were some very pagan (and sometimes utterly evil) practices that went along with the celebration. Today, Easter is almost a completely commercialized holiday, with all the focus on Easter eggs and the Easter bunny being remnants of the goddess worship.

In the Christian faith, Easter has come to mean the celebration of the resurrection of Christ three days after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based. Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week and followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost.

Because of the commercialization and pagan origins of Easter, many churches prefer to refer to it as “Resurrection Sunday.” The rationale is the more we focus on Christ and the less we focus on the pagan holiday, the better. As previously mentioned, the resurrection of Christ is the central theme of Christianity. Paul says that without this, our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17). What more wonderful reason could we have to celebrate! What is important is the true reason behind our celebration, which is that Christ was resurrected from the dead, making it possible for us to have eternal life (Romans 6:4)!

Should we celebrate Easter or allow our children to go on Easter eggs hunts? This is a question both parents and church leaders struggle with. There is nothing essentially evil about painting and hiding eggs and having children search for them. What is important is our focus. If our focus is on Christ and not the eggs, our children will understand that the eggs are just a game. Children can participate in an Easter egg hunt as long as the true meaning of the day is explained and emphasized, but ultimately this must be left up to the discretion of parents.

There is a great need for a “New Protestant Reform.”

The Writings of a Reformed Farmer

The Protestant Reformation saw the advancement of the Gospel and an understanding of right doctrine that hadn’t been seen since the time of Christ and the Apostles. It drew Christianity out of the dark ages of the faith; a time when the Scripture was forbidden to be read in the language of the people, when superstition reigned, where abominations within the church leadership was a norm, and when a knowledge of the Truth was virtually unknown. But to the glory of God, He rekindled the fire of the Gospel, and it spread like a fire in a barn of hay. The Reformation has given us such a wealth of knowledge of the truth of Christ’s teaching that I personally will never be able to ingest all of. Between the writings of John Calvin and John Gill, Matthew Henry and Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, to name only a…

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2013 in review

I wish to thank everyone for making 2013 a success and these stats possible. Without you, your visits and comments none of this would be possible. I am looking forward to all of you visiting again in 2014. Together we’ll spread the Gospel to even more countries.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Geneva Bible is an early English translation of the Bible. Its name comes from the fact it was first published in Geneva in 1560. The work of Protestant exiles from England and Scotland, the Geneva Bible is well respected and was an important Bible in Scotland and England before and even after the King James Version was published in 1611. For some forty years after the King James Version was published, the Geneva Bible remained the most popular English Translation of the Bible.

In 1553 Mary Tudor became Queen of England. As Queen she was committed to eliminating Protestant influences in England and restoring Roman Catholicism as the official religion. Under her rule there was a time of intense persecution of Protestants known as the Marian Persecutions which earned her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” She had over 300 Protestant believers burned at the stake, and many others fled to other countries rather than face certain death for not supporting Roman Catholicism.

During this time period several key English Protestant leaders fled to Geneva, Switzerland, to avoid the persecution in England. Among those were Miles Coverdale, John Foxe, Thomas Sampson, and William Whittingham. With the support of John Calvin and the Scottish Reformer John Knox, these English Reformers decided to publish an English Bible that was not dependent upon the approval of English royalty. Building upon earlier English translations such as those done by William Tyndale and Myles Coverdale, the Geneva Bible was the first English translation in which all of the Old Testament was translated directly from Hebrew manuscripts. Much of the translation work was done by William Whittingham, the brother-in-law of John Calvin.

In 1557 they published an English New Testament. A few years later, in 1560, the first edition of the Geneva Bible was published in Geneva, Switzerland containing both the New and Old Testament along with significant translation notes. This new English Bible was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I who had been crowned Queen of England in 1558 after the death of Queen Mary I. Under Queen Elizabeth, the persecution of Protestants stopped and she began leading England back towards Protestantism. This led to later editions of the Geneva Bible being published in England beginning in 1576. In all, over 150 editions were published with the 1644 version being the latest.

Pre-dating the King James Version by 51 years, the Geneva Bible was one of the earliest mass produced English Bibles commonly available to the public. It was the primary English Bible used by 16th century English Protestant Reformers and was the Bible used by such people as William Shakespeare, John Milton, John Knox and John Bunyan.

Often considered as one of the earliest examples of a study Bible, the Geneva Bible contained detailed notes, verse citations that allowed cross referencing of passages, and also study aids such as book introductions, maps, and woodcut illustrations. It was printed in at least three different sizes and was reasonably affordable, costing less than a week’s wages even for the lowest paid workers.

The annotations or notes in the Geneva Bible were distinctly Calvinist and Puritan in character which made it unpopular with some of the pro-government Church of England leaders as well as King James I. This led King James I to commission the new translation that would become known as the Authorized Version or the King James Bible. Surprisingly, though, some of the Geneva notes were found in a few editions of the King James Bible up to the 1715 version. The Geneva Bible was also seen as a threat to Roman Catholicism as some of its notes, written by Protestant Reformers during a time of intense persecution by the Roman Catholic Church, are distinctly anti-Roman Catholic.

Eventually the King James Version would replace the Geneva Bible as the most popular English translation. The Geneva Bible is a very important English translation and was the primary Bible used by many early settlers in America. In recent years it has gained increasing popularity again, both because it is an excellent translation and because of its well-written study notes.

Many Christians are surprised to learn that the Catholic Bible is different from the Bible used by Protestants. While all 66 books found in Protestant Bibles are also found in the Catholic Bible, the Catholic Bible also contains other books, and additions to books. The Catholic Bible contains a total of 73 books, 46 in the Old Testament (Protestant Bibles have 39) and 27 in the New Testament (the same as Protestant Bibles).

The additional books in the Catholic Bible are known as the deuterocanonicals/Apocrypha. They are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom (Ecclesiasticus), Sirach, and Baruch. The Catholic Bible also includes additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. Should the Apocrypha be included in the Bible? There was significant debate in the early Christian church, with a majority of the early church fathers rejecting the idea that the Apocrypha belonged in the Bible.

However, under tremendous pressure from Rome, Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate, included the Apocrypha, despite Jerome’s insistence that the Apocrypha did not belong in the Bible. The Latin Vulgate became the dominant and officially sanctioned Catholic Bible, and remained that way for around 1200 years. Thus, the Apocrypha became a part of the Catholic Bible.

The Apocrypha was not formally/officially made a part of the Catholic Bible, though, until the Council of Trent, in response to the Protestant Reformation. The early Protestant Reformers, in agreement with Judaism, determined that the Apocrypha did not belong in the Bible, and therefore removed the Apocrypha from Protestant Bibles.

The most popular English translations of the Catholic Bible today are the New American Bible, the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, and the New Jerusalem Bible. Aside from the inclusion of the Apocrypha, each of these Bible translations is reasonably good and accurate in how it renders the biblical text into English.

In summary, the Catholic Bible is the version of the Bible promoted by the Roman Catholic Church and used by the majority of the world’s Catholics. Aside from the inclusion of the Apocrypha, the Catholic Bible is identical to Protestant Bibles in terms of the canon (the books belonging in the Bible).