How Reliable is the Bible?

I was doing a search for another topic and came across this video clip of Dan Wallace about the reliability of the Bible at the EhrmanProject. Wallace was my first year Greek professor and it an absolute superb scholar. When it comes to manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, this man is one of the top experts in the field. Watch the video, it will assure you that the text we have today is reliable and trustworthy.

Here is part 2.

The long and the short of what Wallace is saying is that we have so many Greek texts of the New Testament, that we don’t have to guess what they said. We know what the original manuscripts said. Even when there is a major difference in texts, as he mentions concerning Romans 8:1, none of those differences affect any major doctrine of Christianity. The point: we can trust our Bibles.

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Debate: Calvinism — For or Against?

I heard about this debate from one of the men attending my church. I’m glad he mentioned it and glad I found it at Ed Stetzer’s site. It’s worth the listen, so play it in the background while you go about your work. I will post comments once I finish listening to it. Also, listen to it and see if there is something said by either side that really challenges your views.

Thoughts? After I listened to it, I saw what the man in my church told me about the debate. Michael Horton, who was defending Calvinism, kept referring to passage after passage, while Roger E. Olson just kept appealing to his logic. Not good.

One point that both Horton and Olson agreed upon were about those who try to claim to be “biblicist” as opposed to being Arminian or Calvinist. I saw this in my series in Answering an Arminian, where that writer tried to claim to be a Biblicist. I liked what both men pointed out is that the moment you open Scripture, read it and begin to interpret it, you start doing theology and that immediately puts you in one camp or the other. so this claim to be a “biblicist” is completely false. No one can just open Scripture and quote it without interpretation.

Jimmy Swaggert Gives Typical Misrepresentation of Calvinism

Jimmy Swaggert gives a fine misrepresentation of Calvinism. This is on Youtube as a “wonderful sermon,” but it’s not wonderful in the sense that it doesn’t represent the truth of what Calvin said, nor what Calvin believed.

What we believe is that Jesus death is only effectual for the elect, or those who believe. Yes, the number of elect is determined by God before the foundations of the world, based upon the immutable counsel of HIS will. Yes, the offer of salvation goes to all. This is why Jesus hung on the cross, outside the city on one of the main roads leading in and out of Jerusalem. God ordained that Jesus was there before all.

BUT, only those elected by the Father and born again by the Holy Spirit will believe in Christ and be saved (John 3). If God doesn’t move in them, they stay right where they are by their own free will, which Christ declares to us when He says that men do not come to the light because they love the darkness. They love the darkness because their deeds are evil. Therefore it takes the Holy Spirit blowing where He pleases in order to change the hearts and minds of those who would much rather sit in the darkness with the evilness of their sins than be saved.

Calvinist do agree with Swaggert that the gospel is to go to all. We would also agree that it is the responsibility of everyone, even those who have not heard, to trust in Christ for salvation. Where we disagree is on ability. The lost, even those who are of the elect, do not have the ability to believe with saving faith on their own. This is why Jesus declares that we must be born again. The Spirit must move in a person before they will believe, giving that person a new heart to believe, new ears to hear and new eyes to see. Otherwise they are dead in trespasses and sins and the beauty of the gospel means nothing to them.

Thanks be to the God and Father of Our LORD Jesus Christ that He does not leave us alone and that the Holy Spirit does blow where He pleases. Otherwise none would be saved and all would be lost. But by God’s grace, some are saved.

As for “just a few” as Swaggert declares, please note that Calvinist believe there are so many elect that they are uncountable. This is a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, that his descendants in the faith would be so numerous, they would be like the sand upon the sea shore. Again, another misrepresentation of Calvinism by a card-carrying Arminian.

UPDATE: If Swaggert wants to go off on people who say just a few will make it into heaven, then he really needs to look to Jesus Himself. Matthew 7:13-14 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. This is the problem that so man Arminians have… that Bible keeps getting in the way of all their humanistic arguments.

Four Things the Gospel is NOT

I was listening to a sermon by Voddie Baucham of Grace Family Church down in Houston and he pointed out four areas that people make when it comes to the gospel. They were so good I had to incorporate them into my sermon this past Sunday. Here they are:

  1. People think the gospel is the plan of salvation – People think the gospel is a plan or steps we take to become saved, such as the four-spiritual laws. But that is not the gospel and by saying that it is it leads to two errors. The first is that it truncates the gospel leading to the belief that the gospel gets us saved… and then we need to do the rest. No, the gospel saves us, sanctifies us and glorifies us. The second error is that it leads to the belief that the gospel is something that we do. The gospel isn’t something we do, it is what Jesus has done.
  2. Secondly, people think the gospel is the Greatest Commandment – these people boil the gospel down to love God/ love people. On the surface, this sounds great but what they fail to realize is that the Greatest Commandment is an an encapsulation of the Law. In Matthew 22:34-39, Jesus is saying that the first commandment is a summary of commands 1-4, and the second commandment is a summary of commands 5-10. The Law does not lead to salvation, faith in Christ does. By saying the gospel is the Law, we are binding people’s consciences to do what they are incapable of doing. This is why knowing the Gospel of Christ is so important. It’s not more Law, it grace. Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. The gospel empowers us to do these things, but we are not saved by doing them: Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight.
  3. People think the gospel is the Great Commission – This groups believes the gospel is actually doing the Great Commission and teaching people to do whatsoever I’ve commanded you. Again, sounds good, but this is just another form of the Law. The gospel is not teaching people to do everything that Jesus told us to do. The gospel is not moral teachings or proclamations, but the proclamation of the good news that He was the One who did do these things.
  4. People think the gospel is our personal testimony — Just look at how many evangelism programs teach people to share their testimonies. What they fail to realize is that we are no in the process of becoming the gospel ourselves. In other words, we are replacing His story, with our story. We are not the gospel, Jesus is. This is just a variation of St. Francis of Assisi’s statement: “Preach the gospel at all times, use words when necessary.” It sounds good, but again, we are not the gospel, Jesus is. Read my post on St. Francis state here.

What is the gospel?

The gospel is an announcement of the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is the fact that He died on the cross and was raised again on the third day. It is that He was sinless and took on our sin and satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf. The gospel is not the Law, but the fact that Jesus satisfied the Law, earning righteousness in a way that we cannot earn righteousness. When we believe in Jesus for our salvation, all the benefits of His ministry are given to us. We no longer rest in our failed works of the Law, but rest in His perfect satisfaction of the LAW. God no longer looks at us as sees us as children of wrath, but He sees the righteousness of His Son, and sees us as His children. This is the gospel.

You can hear the full sermon that contained this intro here.

Harold Camping Repents! Amen and Amen!

Good news! Harold Camping, the man who has predicted the return of Christ multiple times, has now repented of doing so and admits that it was wrong to make such predictions.

“We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God’s hands and He will end time in His time, not ours!” a statement on Family Radio’s website reads. “We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically.”

Camping, 90, has made predictions about Judgment Day, Christ’s return and the end of the world for the past few decades – with the May 21, 2011, forecast receiving the most media attention. Each time the date passed, he did not admit to mistaking the timing but instead reasoned that the events happened “spiritually” rather than physically.

But once Oct. 21, 2011 – the day Camping said the world would be destroyed physically – came and went, the Christian broadcaster began to reevaluate his views about being able to calculate and know the exact date of the apocalypse.

“Even the most sincere and zealous of us can be mistaken,” Camping and Family Radio staff stated in their March letter. “We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ’s return. In fact for a time Family Radio fell into that kind of thinking.

“But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that ‘of that day and hour knoweth no man’ (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan.”

This is absolutely wonderful. God’s Spirit has moved in the man and he realized his sinfulness in trying to predict the return of Christ. We have been calling for him to repent for years, since he has been making such predictions since 1992.

No man knows the time and day that Christ will return, and finally, Camping has seen the light of that Scripture. We should forgive him for what he has done, and rejoice that the Spirit has moved in him to bring him to repentance. Read more here.

Answering an Arminian: Part Two on Election and Hell

I’m still working through the letter from one of the areas many Arminians. You can see part one here. In that issue, we were dealing with limited atonement, or particular redemption as the doctrine is properly called, in which Jesus died for the church (Ephesians 5:25).

Here, Arminian Bob (for lack of a better name) continues to takes on predestination. He writes:

(Augustine) taught that all others were created to go to Hell.

The best answer to his first sentence is Scripture… once again.

Romans 9:22-24 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

In the discussion in Romans 9, Paul is showing that God has made it clear that He will show mercy to whom He shows mercy. In other words, those whom He elects will be saved. The question then is: what about those who are not elect? Paul uses an illustration saying that God can use some of the clay to demonstrate His grace and mercy by saving some, and the rest of the clay to demonstrated the riches of His glory towards those who are saved by destroying the rest.

Many may find this truth very harsh and difficult. But it’s still God’s truth. He has a right to do with His creation as He pleases. When it comes to fallen mankind, what we all deserve is hell. God, in His infinite mercy, chooses to save some from what we all deserve.

The Arminian hates this truth because it ultimately points back to the fact that our salvation is based upon God’s choice of us, not our choice of Him. In other words, those who are saved will come to know Christ because the Father has elected us in eternity past, the Son died for us on the cross some 2,000 years ago, and the Holy Spirit moved in us, causing us to be born again, working faith in our hearts, and giving us the ability to believe in Christ for salvation, which is what we will do because we see the goodness and beauty of Christ.

The caveat to all this is that even though election be true, we do not know who the elect are and are commanded by Christ to continue to proclaim the gospel to all. Whosoever believes will be saved, as John 3:15-19 show us. We know that the “whosoever” are the elect, but we do not know who the elect are until they become the “whosoever.”

Jesus also tells us in John 3 that those who reject Christ, are condemned already, thereby showing themselves to be those who are prepared for hell. Unless they repent, they remain among those who are destine for hell and we have to trust in God’s sovereign choices.

This really is the issue. Arminians want to play God when it comes to salvation instead of letting God be God. They will charge us saying that if we are Calvinist, then why evangelize? Again, because the LORD commanded us. But we can make the same charge to them. If salvation is truly based upon the free will of mankind, then why evangelize. They will eventually make the right choice and trust in Jesus.

(Augustine) taught that all those who were chosen to go to Heaven were as good as in Heaven and all those whom God chose to go to Hell were as good as in Hell.

I would love for Arminian Bob to give some actual references for this teaching because Calvin certainly didn’t teach this. Our election is only made certain when we believe. Just because we were elected in eternity past, doesn’t mean that we were saved in eternity past. Jesus still had to die on the cross, we still had to have the Spirit move in us, and we still had to believe in our lifetime.

The responsibility to believe, which is placed on all mankind, is only obeyed by those who are the elect.

Enough for now, I will pick up the rest of Arminian Bob’s comment later.