googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: December 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

To Be or To Become

Picking a favorite book in the Bible is kind of like picking a favorite child. But if I had to choose one, I would say that the Gospel of John currently occupies that position in my heart. Whenever I quote the Bible or use a passage to illustrate some point, I find myself going to John more often than not. And for deep theology, John chapter 1 is hard to rival.

There is so much to learn from John that an entire blog could be devoted to simply studying his gospel and it’s tempting to turn this blog in that direction. In this post, however, I want to look at how John used different verbs to emphasize the eternal nature of Jesus – identified in John 1 as “The Word” ( λόγος).

Back in Exodus 3:14, in God’s discourse with Moses, He identifies Himself to Moses as ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (LXX), “I am the one who is” or, in the KJV, “I am that I am.” By the time of the NT, this use of the emphatic had become a personal name for God. Jesus, of course, referred to Himself as the ἐγώ εἰμι. The most notable example occurs in John 8:58 but there are actually many other instances.

The imperfect form of εἰμι is ἦν (3rd person, singular). Could the use of ἦν carry any similar significance to the use of the emphatic ἐγώ εἰμι? In John 1:1, we see the repeated use of ἦν.

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν λόγος, καὶ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν λόγος.

The Word WAS in the beginning,
And the Word WAS with God,
And the Word WAS God.

The imperfect aspect implies a continuous action in the past. I’ve heard Dr. Spiros Zodhiates (and others) argue that continuous action implied by the imperfect aspect means that ἦν here could be translated more like, “In the beginning, the Word already was.” For the longest time, I was skeptical of his claim. After all, ἦν is an extremely common form and I considered this to be an unusual meaning. Consider, for example, the wedding in Cana described in John 2:1 where it says, καὶ ἦν μήτηρ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐκεῖ·, “and the mother of Jesus was there.” It would make no sense to say, “and the mother of Jesus was already there.” Now, I believe in the eternal existence of Jesus, but I thought his translation was a stretch. I dismissed Zodhiates’ claim as being overreaching.

Lately, though, I’ve had a change of heart. While reading Wallace’s, The Basics of New Testament Syntax, I came across his simple observation that opened my eyes to the possibility. In John’s monologue (v. 1-18), there are many uses of this imperfect verb:

v. 2: οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. (This one was in the beginning with God)
v. 4: ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· (In Him was life, and the life was the light of men)
v. 9: ἦν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον, ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον. (It/He was the true light, which illuminates every man, coming into the world).

John uses the word liberally and in what seems to be in a very ordinary sense. But in v. 6, we see a curious departure.

ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ θεοῦ ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης·

“There came a man -- having been sent from God -- whose name [is] John,” (Young’s Literal)

The use here of γίνομαι (ἐγένετο) rather than ἦν sort of leaps out. In John 3:1, concerning the coming of Nicodemus to Jesus, John wrote:

ἦν δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἐκ τῶν Φαρισαίων, Νικόδημος ὄνομα αὐτῷ

“And there was a man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus his name,” (Young’s Literal)

John could have very easily used the same construction concerning John the Baptist yet he chose ἐγένετο rather than ἦν. It is as though John was saying, “Jesus was but John became.”

When looking at the entire passage, it’s conspicuous that ἦν is only ever used to refer to the Word. Everything else is modified by ἐγένετο:

v. 3: πάντα δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν γέγονεν (All things were made through Him, and without Him was made not even one thing which had been made)
v. 10: ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἦν καὶ κόσμος δι' αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο (He was in the world and the world was made through Him)

Toward the conclusion of John’s monologue (v. 14), comes another use of the verb ἐγένετο:

Καὶ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο

“And the word became flesh.”

If I may make an amplified translation of that, it might sound something like: And the Word (which always was) became flesh (something it had never been before).

I admit it’s not the typical understanding of the verb ἦν but I think a case can be made here. In this passage, John seems to overtly contrast the Word with everything else. The Word alone always “was.” Everything else “became.”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Salvation Message

How can I know God? How do I get to heaven? What must I do to be saved? Over the millennia, countless numbers of people have asked these questions. Perhaps you’ve asked them yourself. The simple fact that your reading this post shows you’ve at least thought about it. So then I will tell you God’s simple plan of salvation.


The mortality rate among humans is 100%. This life and everything you have now will someday pass away. It’s inevitable.

When God created the world, though, it was not His plan that people would die. When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them a perfect world to live in. He gave them only one restriction: do not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He gave Adam a stern warning, “when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). But Adam disobeyed God and ate of that forbidden fruit. When he did that, he exchanged his immortal body for a mortal one.

We now are descended from Adam and we have inherited his body of flesh. As Adam died, we all die (Romans 5:12). It’s a guaranteed. You need to consider what is going to happen after you die.

The Bible says that it is appointed to us to die and then we are judged (Hebrews 9:27). God is perfect in everything He does. The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). Because of this, some people believe God will simply overlook everything they’ve ever done wrong. They don’t seem to understand that God is also just.

Imagine a judge in a criminal trial who is sentencing a murderer. The judge says, “I’m a loving judge so I’m not going to condemn you. Instead, I’m going to set you free!” That judge would be an unjust judge. So while God is perfect love, He is also perfectly just. Even though He loves us, He will still hold us accountable for our sins.


Ok. So God will judge us. Have we really been that bad? Be honest with yourself for a moment (it’s just you and the computer) and compare your life to the 10 Commandments.

One Commandment is that we do not lie (Exodus 20:16). Do you think it’s wrong to lie? Have you ever lied? Everyone has. What do we call someone who lies? We call him a liar.

Another Commandment is that we do not steal (Exodus 20:15). Do you think it’s wrong to steal? Have you ever stolen anything (even just a little thing)? Everyone has. We call a person who steals a thief.

We are commanded to not take God’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7). Have you ever said, “Oh my God,” or “Jesus Christ” (in exclamation), or “God damn”? Everyone has. These are examples of taking God’s name in vain. We call people who misuse God’s name, blasphemers.

Is adultery wrong? Jesus said if we even lust after a person, we’ve already committed adultery in our hearts (Matthew 5:28). Have you ever lusted after someone?

Do we need to go down the entire list? Have you always put God first in your life? Have you always kept the Sabbath holy? Have you always honored your parents? You see, it’s not if we’ve broken any commandments. The fact is everyone has broken every commandment. When we stand before a perfect God, we are nothing but lying, thieving, adulterous blasphemers who have broken every law.


God, Who is perfect, cannot bear sin. Every sin must accounted for – and the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). As we’ve already seen, we are all guilty (Romans 3:23). I'm guilty; you're guilty; everyone is guilty! And because we are guilty, the just Judge will condemn us for our sins.

The Bible says that after our works are judged, whoever’s name is not found in the Book of Life is cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15). This is the second death. We may die physically because of Adam’s sin, but we are condemned for our own sins.


The situation may look bleak. We’re all guilty of sin, the penalty for sin is death, so we’re all are worthy to die for our sins. But this is where the perfect love of God comes in. The Bible says that God loved the world so much that He gave us His Son and whoever believes in Him would not perish (John 3:16)

You see, Jesus is the only person Who has kept the Law. The Bible says He was tempted in every way that we are yet He did not sin. Of all the people who have ever lived, only He was not worthy of death. And even though He did not deserve to die, He gave His life to pay the penalty for our sin. By His sacrifice, God’s perfect justice was satisfied.

Jesus is the only Savior (Acts 4:2). There was no other perfect man: not Buddha, not Mohammed, not Confucius, not even Moses or Abraham. These men were sinners and would have had to give their lives as the penalty for their own sins. They could not give their lives as the payment for our sin.


So now we have a choice. When we stand before God in judgment, we can hope that our works were good enough to save us (a futile notion) or we can plead the shed blood of Jesus as the payment for our sins.

Salvation is really that simple. We gain eternal life by believing in Jesus. Romans 10:9-10 says:
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Luke 18:10-14 tells us about a sinner (a tax collector) who prayed only that God would show him mercy. In his simple prayer, the Bible says he was justified before God. Christians sometimes use his prayer as a model for what we call “the sinner’s prayer.” It’s not a magic formula, but a prayer of repentance should sound something like this:

“God, I know I’m a sinner. I’ve sinned against you and I know I am lost. But I repent of my sins and accept Jesus as my Savior. I ask Jesus into my heart as the Lord of my life. Amen.”

A little child will sometimes ask something impossible of his parents. He doesn’t understand how such a thing is done (or not done); he simply asks believing it can be done. This is the kind of faith we need. We don’t have to understand everything about God before we can be saved. We simply ask for salvation in childlike faith and God will save us. When prayed sincerely, a simple prayer like that shown above will remove a mountain of sin.


If you have prayed and accepted Christ as your Savior, then congratulations, you have passed from death to life (John 5:24). The next step is to find a Bible believing church and begin learning more about Jesus.

There are a couple of clues in finding a good church. For example, in a Bible-believing church, the first thing they will probably ask you to do is be baptized. Another thing you should do is ask to speak to the pastor. Ask him what he thinks about salvation. Print this post and take it with you. Show it to the pastor and ask him if there is anything else you need to do to be saved. If he says, "no" then you've probably found a good church.

Next study, pray, and then tell others about Jesus!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Songs

As I’ve gotten older, I find I’m increasingly annoyed by the secularization of Christmas. One thing in particular I’ve come to have little tolerance for is secular “Christmas” songs. I first recall feeling annoyed when my daughter was 2 and we bought her a Disney “sing-along” video. One line from the song, Here Comes Santa Claus really bugged me:

Peace on earth will come to all if we just follow the light.
Let’s give thanks to the Lord above because Santa Claus comes tonight!

Huh? Give thanks to God for Santa? Something just struck me as odd about that.

Anyway, I’ve come to really appreciate the good, old fashioned, Christmas carols. Most people know these songs but sometimes we don’t know all the words. Some of these songs are mini-sermons. I thought it would be nice to look at a few verses from the favorites. How about this stanza from Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:

Hail! the heav'n-born Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sone of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Wow! That’ll preach!! Can you see how that’s a little more inspiring and reverent than saying, “Let’s give thanks for Santa”? And how about this classic?

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;


O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

True God of true God,
Light from Light Eternal,
Lo, He shuns not the Virgin’s womb;
Son of the Father, begotten, not created;
Repeat refrain
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

Repeat refrain

Yes!! Come let us adore Him indeed!!

Perhaps my favorite Christmas hymn is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. From that song we have the following:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.


O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Now that will put you into the Christmas spirit!

I’m sure I’ll hear Jingle Bells and Rudolph a few times this year. But it’s the classics that really remind me why we celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Roger Ebert “Reviews” Stein’s Movie, Expelled

A while back, I blogged about the conspicuous fact that professional movie critics shun overtly religious films. It’s not debatable. Perhaps they don’t want to give press to Christian movies. In the meanwhile, they gush over mediocre films that promote liberal agendas. It’s so obvious it’s actually funny.

Anyway, Roger Ebert proved me wrong by reviewing Ben Stein’s movie, Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed. OK, never mind that the movie came out in April, that it’s finished it’s theater run, and has already been out on DVD for 2 months; he reviewed it so I can no longer say he never reviews conservative films.

Ebert prefaced his review with these words:
I've been accused of refusing to review Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled," a defense of Creationism, because of my belief in the theory of evolution. Here is my response.
It’s odd that someone would begin a review with a comment like this because it sure sounds defensive. If I were a professional critic, I would be too embarrassed to write a review AFTER a film was no longer showing in theaters. But I guess he felt obliged since I’m apparently not the only one who accused him of blatantly avoiding a movie because he disagreed with it.

However, if you read the rest of the review, you can see it’s not much of a review at all. It’s more like Ebert defending evolution, calling creationists stupid, attacking Ben Stein personally, and only occasionally referencing the movie. Even those few references to scenes in the movie are, in my opinion, misrepresentations. For example, in the above quote, Ebert characterized Stein's movie as, "a defense of creationism." The movie is no such thing.

Actually, I’m not going to even count this as a review. It’s more like an admission that Ebert didn't review the movie because he thinks creationists are stupid. It’s kind of ironic in a sense. Stein’s movie isn’t really about evidence for intelligent design (or creation); it’s about the concerted effort of militant evolutionists to squelch any debate or disagreement with their theory. In this scathing “review,” Ebert is actually engaging in the very behavior the movie seeks to highlight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Biggest Ponzi Scheme Ever – But It’s Not What You Think

OK. So on the heels of a financial crisis, the former chairman of Nasdaq admits to pulling off a $50 billion scam. Reuters is quoted as saying, “Bernard Madoff, a quiet force on Wall Street for decades, was arrested and charged on Thursday with allegedly running a $50 billion "Ponzi scheme" in what may rank among the biggest fraud cases ever.”

Well, I hate to break the news to you but it’s not the biggest scam. It’s not even close. The largest pyramid scheme is hundreds of times bigger – only we don’t call it a ponzi scheme. It’s better known as that “pay as you go” system we like to call Social Security!

Social Security is hurtling toward bankruptcy in only a few short decades. Here’s a quote from the Social Security Administration’s website:

Many people think that the Social Security taxes they pay are held in interest-bearing accounts earmarked for their own future retirement needs. The fact is that Social Security is a pay-as-you-go retirement system—the Social Security taxes paid by today’s workers and their employers are used to pay the benefits for today’s retirees and other beneficiaries.

Social Security is now taking in more money than it pays out in benefits, and the remaining money goes to the program’s trust funds. There are now large “reserves” in the trust funds, but even this money is small compared to future scheduled benefit payments. In 2017 benefits owed will be more than taxes collect­ed, and Social Security will need to begin tapping the trust funds to pay benefits. The trust funds will be exhausted in 2041. At that time, Social Security will not be able to meet all of its benefit obligations if no changes are made.

There you have it folks. The “pay-as-you-go” system of Social Security is a ponzi scheme by definition.

What annoys me is that a lot of the “victims” of Madoff’s crooked dealings thought they were only benefiting from insider trading and not aware they caught up in a pyramid scam. In that case, it’s hard to feel sorry for those people. But we KNOW that Social Security cannot be sustained yet working class Americans are still shelling over 7.5% of every paycheck only to delay the inevitable.

Why is Madoff making headlines while the train wreck of Social Security is continuously ignored? We need to act now and hold those criminals (aka Congressmen) accountable for this economic disaster!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Who Were the Wise Men?

Matthew 2 tells us about the coming of the wise men. At Christmas time, these iconic characters are included in nativity scenes all over the world venerating the baby Jesus. Unfortunately, very little is known about these persons and I feel much of our conception about them is wrong.

First off, the Bible does not tell us how many wise men there were. Since the Bible refers to them in the plural, we can only be sure there was more than one – beyond that is speculation. The number three is likely derived by the fact that there were three gifts mentioned in the text (Matthew 2:11) - gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But this cannot be conclusive since each wise man could have given more than one gift. Further, the gifts named might simply be representative of the kinds of gifts given (such as in describing gifts at a baby shower as “clothes, diapers, and toys”).

From tradition, the wise men were named Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. These names, however, do not appear in the Bible nor any Christian literature until around the 6th century AD. The Bible only refers to them with the Greek term, magoi (plural of magos, Strong’s word # 3097) from where we derive the word, Magi. Strong’s defines the word as:
Of foreign origin (Rab-Mag); a Magian, i.e. Oriental scientist; by implication, a magician -- sorcerer, wise man.
Outside of Matthew 2, the word occurs only twice more – both times in Acts 13:6,8. There it is used of the false prophet, Elymas Bar-Jesus, and is translated as “sorcerer” in the KJV. Since the men described in Matthew declared they were coming to worship the King of Israel (Matthew 2:2), it’s not likely they were Eastern mystics or astrologers as some have asserted. They likely were learned men who were at least somewhat familiar with the Jewish prophecies of the Messiah. I do not see the need to believe they were astronomers and, in another post, I stated my reasons for believing the “star” seen by the Magi was not any astronomical event but was more likely an angel.

The Bible does say they saw His star “in the East” but again we are not sure precisely where that means. It could be the Middle East or it could mean the far East. We know they did travel for some distance because the text suggests they traveled for perhaps as long as 2 years! Consider first Matthew 2:7:
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
Then later we read (Matthew 2:16):
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.
So Herod chose to kill all the children under two because that’s about how long ago the wise men had told him they had seen the star.

Which leads me to another point: Matthew 2:13-14 tells us that after the visit of the wise men, an angel warned Joseph of Herod’s plans and so Joseph fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus that very night. Yet in Luke 2:21-22 we read that Jesus was circumcised after 8 days. And after the “days of her purification” (40 days according to Mosaic Law), Mary presented Jesus in the Temple at Jerusalem. So, were Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in Jerusalem or Egypt?

The answer is really very simple: The shepherds visited Jesus on the very night He was born. Jesus was circumcised 8 days later. Mary presented Him at the Temple 40 days later. And the wise men did not visit Jesus until He was nearly two years old! The nativities showing the wise men with the shepherds presenting gifts to an infant Jesus are all wrong!

There’s much we don’t know about these men. There’s also much we think we know but instead we err. But even these nameless men can teach us a valuable lesson – wise men still seek Him!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Acts 2:38, Repent and be Baptized for the Remission of Sins

In another post (here), I mentioned that I did not believe baptism is necessary for salvation. One text people often cite as support for the idea of “baptismal regeneration” is Acts 2:38:

Πέτρος δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· μετανοήσατε [φησίν] καὶ βαπτισθήτω ἕκαστος ὑμῶν ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς ἄφεσιν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ὑμῶν καὶ λήμψεσθε τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος.

Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” [NASB]

The understanding of this passage hinges on the word “for.” When Peter says “Be baptized FOR the forgiveness of your sins,” does that mean “be baptized in order to obtain forgiveness of your sins”? Some people think so.

The word “for” in English can have different meanings. It can mean “in order to obtain” as in, “He went to the store for milk.” It can also mean “because of” as in, “He was punished for his sins.” The Greek word translated “for” here is the word, εἰς. And like “for” in English, εἰς can have different meanings. The most ordinary meaning of the word is as a preposition meaning “into” but like “for” it can also mean “in order to obtain” and “because of.”

Let’s look at the very easily understood passage of Matthew 12:41

ἄνδρες Νινευῖται ἀναστήσονται ἐν τῇ κρίσει μετὰ τῆς γενεᾶς ταύτης καὶ κατακρινοῦσιν αὐτήν, ὅτι μετενόησαν εἰς τὸ κήρυγμα Ἰωνᾶ, καὶ ἰδοὺ πλεῖον Ἰωνᾶ ὧδε.

"The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at (εἰς) the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here." (ASV)

The word εἰς here is translated “at.” In this passage, the very clear meaning of the word is “because of.” Obviously the men of Nineveh did not repent in order to obtain the preaching of Jonah; They repented because of the preaching of Jonah.

So Acts 2:38 can easily be understood to mean, “Repent! and be baptized because of the remission of sins.”

As an aside, I've already mentioned the word εἰς is more commonly understood to mean “into.” The word βαπτίζω (βαπτισθήτω) is an untranslated word meaning, “immerse” (Strong’s word # 907). So, another possible interpretation of the verse is “Repent and be immersed into the forgiveness of sins.” In this light, ceremonial water baptism is not implied at all. Of course, I only offer this as food for thought; we know the converted at Pentecost were baptized in water. This is sort of a “what if” thought.

In conclusion let me just say that we need not endure repeated demands that Acts 2:38 can ONLY be understood to mean we must be baptized in order to be saved. We can see that there are other reasonable interpretations of the passage. Indeed, I believe the “because of” understanding is the correct one.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is There a Religious Case for Gay Marriage?

In the 12/15 issue of Newsweek, columnist Lisa Miller wrote an article titled, Our Mutual Joy, where she tries to make the case there are religious grounds to support gay marriage. Needless to say, her argument is a little weak. She gives a lot of “explanation” about what the Bible says but very few quotes from the Bible. You might say it’s sort of a “Gospel according to Lisa.”

She begins with the observation that Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and other patriarchs of the Bible were all polygamists. I thought that was odd. If she’s trying to support gay marriage, why is she emphasizing all of these heterosexual marriages? The only possible reason I can think of is to plant the seed of doubt that the traditional model of marriage doesn’t really exist in the Bible. Consider this quote from the article:
“While the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman.”
What?? She can’t be serious! This is an example of what I meant in saying the article is mostly what Lisa says about the Bible and not really about what the Bible says. Perhaps Lisa is unfamiliar with Mark 10:5-9. When asked about marriage (or more specifically, about divorce), Jesus said:
"It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied. "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.' 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (NIV)
Now, this isn't what I’m telling you about the Bible. This is what the Bible says. If we read this passage, we see very clearly how the Bible defines marriage: One man married to one woman for life. It’s not a man with a man. It’s not a woman with a woman. It’s not a man and many women. It’s one man and one woman. End of story. Is that so hard to understand?

But I guess it is hard to understand because Lisa doesn’t seem to get it. When Jesus made the above statement, He was quoting Genesis 2:24. In her article, Lisa actually included the Genesis quote, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” But she immediately dismisses it by citing “Bible scholar” Alan Segal saying, “if you believe that the Bible was written by men and not handed down in its leather bindings by God, then that verse was written by people for whom polygamy was the way of the world.”

Lisa has a very strange way of making a point: She tries to use the Bible to support gay marriage; she cites passages from the Bible that support monogamous, heterosexual marriage; then dismisses the passages claiming they were written by chauvinists anyway.

Later, Lisa alludes to Romans 1 where Paul describes homosexuality as a perversion. She again cites another Bible “scholar”, Neil Elliott, who claims that Paul was referring only to the Roman Emperors. Per Elliott, “Paul is not talking about what we call homosexuality at all.” He’s not? Then in verse 27, where Paul says, “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion,” that’s not talking about homosexuality? It sounds to me like Mr. Elliot is not much of a “scholar.”

To Lisa’s credit, she dug deep to try to find any verse in the Bible that supported her position. She quoted 2 Samuel 1:26 where David mourned the passing of Jonathan:
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.

So, is she trying to say that David and Jonathan were gay for each other? That’s ridiculous! Need I remind readers of David’s infamous encounter with Bathsheba? I assure you David was very much straight.

In concluding her article, Lisa penned these words:
“My friend the priest James Martin says his favorite Scripture relating to the question of homosexuality is Psalm 139, a song that praises the beauty and imperfection in all of us and that glorifies God’s knowledge of our most secret selves: ‘I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.’”
Huh? How exactly does that verse relate to homosexuality? And that’s the “priest’s” favorite Scripture on the issue? That seems to me de facto evidence of the lack of Biblical support for gay marriage.

In short, Ms. Miller’s article was little more than opinion, out-of-context quotes, and misrepresentations of the Bible. The Bible outright condemns homosexuality and specifically limits marriage to the monogamous union of a man and a woman. If Ms. Miller doesn’t agree, then she’s welcome to disagree. But please don’t resort to the absurd notion that the Bible actually means the opposite of what it clearly says.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Is Obama an Uncle Sam or an Uncle Tom?

Let me start by saying that I’m not asking that question. In the November 24 issue of Newsweek, there was a blurb reporting that Ralph Nader said of the President Elect, “We’ll see if he’s going to be an Uncle Sam or an Uncle Tom.” Admittedly, it’s a racist remark but when asked about it, Nader firmly stood by the statement.

By the way, the Bible curiously never describes people by race. It does describe people as belonging to nations but it further says that all nations are of one blood (Acts 17:26).

So, what makes someone an Uncle Tom? It’s a very easy test really: anyone who is black and is not a liberal is an Uncle Tom. At least, that’s the impression I have. And where did I get that impression? From liberals, of course! Conservatives don’t use the term “Uncle Tom” except when quoting liberals.

I first noticed this phenomenon during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Here was a black man being considered for a seat on the highest court in the land. He was replacing the retiring black Justice, Thurgood Marshall. Justice Marshall was adored by liberals – not necessarily because he was the first black Justice on the court but because he himself was a liberal. But Thomas was vilified by liberals. They didn’t care that another black man was going to hold the esteemed position; he was conservative so he was an “Uncle Tom.” I can’t count the number of times I heard that term used of Thomas.

Since that time I’ve heard the term used to describe many blacks: Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, J.C. Watts, etc. What exactly do these folk have in common (besides being black, of course)? Bingo! They’re all conservative. If you are a black conservative, you are considered an “Uncle Tom.”

I tried to think of any black liberals that have been called Uncle Toms. The only one I could think of was Bill Cosby. Cosby is not a far-left liberal but a few years back, he made some “controversial” remarks about how blacks could help themselves by getting an education, getting good jobs, and stop whining about how they’re “victims.” I had never thought of Cosby as a conservative but his remarks were spot on. Apparently he hit a nerve among liberal blacks who considered his remarks too conservative and so, for a while at least, he earned the title of “Uncle Tom.”

So we now have Nader’s comments about Obama. Will Obama be an Uncle Tom? Liberals feel they have sent a mandate and are putting Obama on notice. He’s expected to champion the liberal agenda. They’re ready with the insults. If he pushes for gay marriage, signs the Freedom of Choice act, and bankrupts the coal industry, he's Uncle Sam. If tries to govern from the middle or reach across the isle, he’s an Uncle Tom!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why I Blog About Creation

One of the reasons I’m so passionate about the evolution issue is because I believe evolution is perhaps the foremost obstacle preventing people from coming to Christ today. The logic goes something like this: people are told evolution is a FACT (have you noticed how evolutionists, when make this statement, always capitalize the word “FACT”?); the people then reject or water down the Genesis account of creation; next, they reject the need of a Creator; soon, they reject the entire Bible; finally, they reject the idea of God altogether. There was no creation, there was no Adam, there was no sin of Adam, there was no Fall, so there is no need of a Savior.

I have to admit it’s a reasonable conclusion. If evolution is true, the whole foundation of Christianity is shaken.

Jesus Himself talked about these very things. There are several passages that we could point to as examples of this. Consider first John 5:45-47:
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
Here we see a perfect example of Jesus pointing out the simple fact that, if we don’t believe Moses (the author of Genesis), then we won’t believe Jesus either.

Also from John, Jesus gave us these insightful words:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? John 3:11-12

In this passage, Jesus draws a connection with God’s revelation of earthly things and His revelation of spiritual things. God has told us about the creation of the earth, the Flood, etc. If we don’t believe the Bible about these things, how can we believe it about anything?

Finally, consider the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). There, the Rich Man, being in torment, asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn the rich man’s brothers to repent before they came to this place. Abraham told him the brothers had Moses and the prophets (i.e. the Old Testament Scriptures) and that they could repent by hearing them. The rich man insisted that they were not persuaded by the prophets but would be convinced if someone came back from the dead. Listen to Abraham’s response (v.31): “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

Today, we have someone who came back from the dead: Jesus Himself. Even so, some people still refuse to believe. Why? Because they don’t believe Moses and so neither will they believe Jesus.

Normally, I don’t care if someone believes something that’s not true. If people want to watch pro-wrestling, look for UFO’s, hunt for Bigfoot, or have Santa come visit their children, you won’t hear a peep from me. I say let them have their fun. But a belief in evolution can have life changing consequences. I cannot simply sit by and let people reject God because they believe something that’s not true.

This is why I blog about creation.