Monday, June 30, 2008

A rebuttal to Walter Veith's presentation on the SDA doctrine of the Sabbath (part 1)

[continued from here]

As I have finished the foundational presentation of what the Scriptures say about the Law and about the Sabbath in light of the fullness of Christ's revelation, it is time to tackle head-on Seventh Day Adventist and Creationist Walter Veith's presentation on the Sabbath, which at about 1½ hours long is embedded in my friend Isaiah's post which precipitated this entire discussion in the first place. The video it seems is part of the Total Onslaught series made by the SDA-affiliated Amazing Discoveries, and can be found here:

It can be seen that Walter Veith makes many claims and quotes in this 1½ hour presentation of his, and therefore we would analyze the various things he has said according to Scripture (for the Bible quotes) and according to historical theology and documentation (for the literature sources).

Since the video covers a lot of ground, I think it would be good if a brief point-by-point rebuttal of some of the things claimed by Veith in this video is put forth first, before systematically address the various errors in it, and thus in Seventh-Day Adventist doctrine regarding the Sabbath.


Brief rebuttal of Walter Veith's message

02:02 The Beast is a political entity? Probably, but not proven

03:30 Where in Dan. 7:25 is the Sabbath mentioned?

04:54 Evolution theory denies 6 days because otherwise they would be in trouble with violating the Sabbath?!

09:58 “The devil was angry that He [God] created Man?” Really? Where is that stated in Scripture? Since after 6 days, the Lord pronounces His creation to be very good, doesn’t this not mean that either Satan was not created after 6 days, or that he hadn’t fell yet?

12:26 Sabbaths were given as a sign to Israel (Eze. 20:12,20) of the Old Covenant. In Heb. 4, we can see the ceremonial [ie sign] of the Sabbath has been fulfilled in the eternal rest bought by our Lord Jesus Christ for us who believe.

13:35 Ex. 31:13, 16 is talking about the Sabbath as a sign of the Old Covenant with Israel.

15:15 “God’s mark is the Sabbath”? Classic case of eisegesis; of importing concepts anachronistically from other parts of the Scriptures instead of reading and interpreting the texts in context

15:56 “God has a sign, and it is the Sabbath”. Being circumcised also is called a sign (Gen. 17:11), so why aren’t you using the same logic on circumcision? SDAs do not practice circumcision, nor do they baptize their babies, so why the inconsistency of selectively obeying the Law? (See their belief statement here http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html)

22:25 [Using Ex. 20:8-11] “Without the Sabbath, without that signature, the whole law becomes just another document with rules”? Why should we adopt such an obvious eisegesis which discard the entire context and reads contemporary concepts into this passage?

33:03 For someone who talks so much about keeping God’s law, violating the second commandment sure does come easy.

34:40 Sunday is so called because this day is dedicated to the Sun, and this is supposed to mean something? This is just mere nomenclature, not that Sunday was chosen because it was dedicated to the sun. In the same way, in Japanese, every day is named after an element, and Saturday is named after the earth (土曜日) so does this imply that since the Jewish Sabbath is on a Saturday, therefore it is dedicated as a day of venerating the earth?

36:20 Where in Dan. 7:25 is mention made of the Sabbath?

41:24 Just because RCism claim to be the one transferring the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday does not make it so. RCism lies about many things, so why do you trust them on this one?

43:15 “Satan has attacked the Sabbath because it is the Seal of God” Ipse dixit! Petitio principii!

44:35 Just because the RC claim to have the power to change the Sabbath does not make it so, nor does it mean that history happens as she claims it to be.

45:25 As an aside, how are we supposed to validate the wild claims by SDA apologists like this one? Where can one get a copy of the Catechismus Romanus?

46:00 Anachronistic eisegesis! Reading of Is. 58:13 into Rev. 1:10!

47:06- 47:21 Again, why should we care what the RCs claim? And they say in error that Scripture does not so state. True, Scripture is not explicit on the shift, but it does state it as a matter of fact.

49:20 Who cares what the Roman heretics say? Let us look to Scripture for guidance instead.

51:08 Great mistake of Walter Veith! Never venture into our territory! According to him, the Lutheran Ausberg Confession states that

The observance of the Lord’s Day (Sunday) is founded not on any command of God, but on the authority of the church

– The Ausberg Confession, as quoted in Catholic Sabbath Manual, part 2, chapter 10, and then quoted by Walter Veith

Well, this is actually what the Ausberg Confession says about the Sabbath:

For those who judge that by the authority of the Church the observance of the Lord's Day instead of the Sabbath-day was ordained as a thing necessary, do greatly err. Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath-day; for it teaches that, since the Gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of Moses can be omitted. And yet, because it was necessary to appoint a certain day, that the people might know when they ought to come together, it appears that the Church designated the Lord's Day for this purpose; and this day seems to have been chosen all the more for this additional reason, that men might have an example of Christian liberty, and might know that the keeping neither of the Sabbath nor of any other day is necessary.

(The Ausberg Confession, Article XXVIII: Of Ecclesiastical Power, Paragraph 18)

Walter Veith has here misquoted the Ausberg Confession to make it say what it does not say!

51:26 Why does Veith not quote from the Westminster Standards instead rather than the writing of an ordinary Presbyterian minister? Is it rather because their stand does not actually prove his position?

This is what the Westminster Confession of Faith says about the Sabbath

As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath (WCF, Chapter XXI: On Religious worship and the Sabbath-day, paragraph 7)

Again, this contradicts his (mis)representation of their teachings

52:05 Again, why not look at their [the Congregationalists] confessional standards instead, which is the Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order of 1658? It is stated

As it is of the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time by God's appointment be set apart for the worship of God; so by his Word in a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath to be kept holy unto him; which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished (The Savoy Declaration, Chapter 22: On Religious worship and the Sabbath-day, paragraph 7)

This thus contradicts his (mis)representation of their teachings.

52:44 Is this an Anabaptist minister? This is what the 2nd London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, similar to the Westminster Confession of Faith, says:

As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he has particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's Day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished (LBCF, Chapter 22, Of Religious worship and the Sabbath Day, paragraph 7)

53:41 Assuming this is a correct quotation, it is still a reading into the ancient texts what the word ‘Sabbath’ refers to, so all the rest about Alexandria and Rome are just plain speculation.

58:45 The women did not know of the change, but of course, since Christianity has not yet started then.

1:03:00 So he admitted that it was after the Sabbath that the Christians gathered to have Communion? Doesn’t this undercut the entire argument he is advancing of Sabbath being the day to worship God? And so what even if he was traveling on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath? Most certainly, he is not chained to a legalistic observance of it!

1:03:20 Acts 2:46 tell us about the special custom of the early Jerusalem church which is not normative for believers, so to interpret this is mere supper together is wrong. They were in actual fact having daily communion.

1:04:14 Why does he like to use obscure Bible renderings such as the NEB and the Weymoth translation, unless he is choosing those translations because they support his thesis [like Rick Warren]?

1:04:42 If they store them at home, then there still needs to be a collection, unless Paul himself goes house to house to collect them, so such is an eisegesis of the text.

1:11:12 The Pope changed the calendar because of astronomical reasons, NOT for doctrinal reasons!

1:11:37 – 1:12-10 “… not aligned with the pagan feast of Istar” Mere speculation! And bearing false witness too. There was war because of the change in calendar? Which war? Even if there was a war, how do you know that it is truly because of the change in calendar and not for some other political reason?

1:13:24 And how does he know that Col. 2:16 refers only to the ceremonial Sabbaths? In context, the meaning is plain enough! The Greek similarly supports the traditional exegesis of the passage.

1:15:27 According to Veith, ceremonial sabbaths are linked to the sanctuary service (!), which is a distinctly SDA heretical doctrine.

1:17:00-25 The reason why Paul did so is because he was ministering to Jews and therefore need to do so on a Jewish Sabbath! And the reason why the whole city came to hear Paul on a Sabbath is not because they were hallowing the Sabbath so to speak, but because they know Paul was preaching in a synagogue, and synagogues are only active on Saturdays!

1:17-50- 1:18:00 Promoting salvation by obedience?

1:20:10 There will be something [ie new moon celebration] that will be kept in heaven as well?!!! Eisegesis!


With this done, let us look systematically at the major errors of Veith's presentation.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 9 -10

The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel; and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: “The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.” But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him, and stirs up his enemies. The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the Lord of hosts. So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day— the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another. They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm, Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. (Is. 9: 8-21)

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help,and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. (Is. 10:1-4)

The LORD speaks forth prophetic judgments against Ephraim, the northern Kingdom of Israel. After previously prophesying with regards to the hope of the people of God which is the coming Messiah, and consoling the remnant that their hope is in fearing God and obeying Him, Isaiah spoke forth the terrifying prophecy against the northern Kingdom of Israel, for being so wicked as to ally with a pagan nation (Syria) against their Jewish brothers. Their wicked action in rising against their brothers will be severely punished by God, as this passage shows.

Verse 8 starts the prophecy of Isaiah against the northern kingdom, and the judgment of God will be such that the people will know God is against them (v.9a). In their pride and arrogance of heart (v. 9b), they not only rely on their strength, but they boast of even greater strength after being punished previously for their many errors. "No bricks? Use stronger and more expensive dressed stones. The symacores have been cut down? We would plant stronger cedar trees in their place", thought the Israelites (v. 10). But God in His wrath would not allow that to happen. He would stir up the enemies of Israel (the adversaries of Israel's then king Rezin) (v. 11), leading the Syrians on the East and Philistines on the West to attack them and conquer and devastate their land (v. 12).

We can here notice that Syria who will attack Israel had previously allied themselves with them, all of which probably happened just before the march of the Assyrians. What irony! Those who attack the people of God will be paid back in full, even more when it is Covenant breakers who commit such treachery. Since Israel wanted to be like the nations, she will suffer like them also.

Verse 13 shows the hardened state of the Israelites in the northern kingdom, that they would not seek God when disaster strikes. And therefore the LORD would cut off the rulers of society: the elder and honored being the head, and the [false] prophet who teaches lies being the tail (v. 14-15). The leaders are the ones who lead the people astray to their ruin (swallowed up) (v. 16), such that apostasy is endemic to the entire nation, manifesting in that 'everyone is godless and evildoer and every mouth speaks folly' (v. 17b) and therefore God will have no joy or compassion over all of them, whether young or old, not even the poor, the fatherless and the widow because they too are wicked (v. 17a). [Btw, those who are poor and helpless, and at the bottom of society can be wicked as well, contra Liberation "Theology"]

The pervasive and awful wickedness of the Israelites here is portrayed as like a fire (v.18) which destroys things around it and throwing up smoke that is offensive to God (as opposed to the sweet smell of incense offered by a clean heart). The wrath of the LORD of host will thus cleanse the land by scorching it in His wrath and spending them on the Israelites who will be as fuel for the fire of God's wrath (v. 19). An appalling vision is described, as the Israelites are driven to treachery against each other and cannibalism in their desperation, eating of others (on their right and left) and even themselves in their impoverishment (v. 20). And yet, though they attack and devour each other, they remain steadfast in their hatred of Judah (v. 21), thus showing forth their depravity in which even the severe judgments of God did not bring them to repentance.

Is. 10 starts off with pronouncing judgment against those who are the people causing the most injustice and calamity in society by their godlessness. Those who twist the law of the land as putty to legally approve sin are detestable to God and woe is pronounced on them (v. 1). The same is pronounced on all who oppress the powerless people of society in order to gain advantage at their expense (v. 2), most definitely whether it is legally correct or not. God calls upon them to consider as all their petty benefits they have gain through all of this would not help them one bit when judgment comes through the destruction of their nation (v. 3), with the only two options given to them is either to be a prisoner or to die (v. 4a), of which all that they have materially etc will not be able to avail them in the day of judgment against Israel.

"For all this His anger has not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still". This phrase occurs in Is. 9:12b, 17c, 21b and 10:4; a total of 4 times. We can see here the wrath of God against unrepentant Israel who steadfastly refuses to repent of their gross wickedness. God has continued to pour out His wrath upon them, and yet even after all these horrid calamities, God's justice and wrath is not yet satisfied — so great is their wickedness. In the end, Israel as a nation would be destroyed and people deported among pagan nations, as Israel drank the judgment of God down to its very dregs.

On the Mosaic Law in light of the fullness of the revelation of the Gospel

Here is an article on the Mosaic Law, expounding more upon it in relation to the viewpoint of rabbinic Judaism, and how it interacts with the Gospel of grace through faith alone, as well as the dynamics between the coming of the New Covenant as the Old Covenant is phased out.

Also, with regards to the previous article on the Sabbath, I have added something which had slipped my mind then, which is very pertinent for our discussion on the Sabbath. The verse I overlooked in haste is

And he [Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mk. 2:27)

This should put to an end to all forms of legalism with regards to the Sabbath, but sadly it doesn't.

The beginning of Ebionitism?

In The Church History of Eusebius, NPNF2-01 Bk. III, Chapter XXVII: The heresy of the Ebionites (available online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.xxvii.html). Footnotes 824 states:

The Ebionites were not originally heretics. Their characteristic was the more or less strict insistence upon the observance of the Jewish law; a matter of cultus, therefore, not of theology, separated them from Gentile Christians. Among the early Jewish Christians existed all shades of opinion, in regard to the relation of the law and the Gospel, from the freest recognition of the uncircumcised Gentile Christian to the bitterest insistence upon the necessity for salvation of full observance of the Jewish law by Gentile as well as by Jewish Christians. With the latter Paul himself had to contend, and as time went on, and Christianity spread more and more among the Gentiles, the breach only became wider. In the time of Justin there were two opposite tendencies among such Christians as still observed the Jewish law: some wished to impose it upon all Christians; others confined it to themselves. Upon the latter Justin looks with charity; but the former he condemns as schismatics (see Dial. c. Trypho. 47). For Justin the distinguishing mark of such schismatics is not a doctrinal heresy, but an anti-Christian principle of life. But the natural result of these Judaizing tendencies and of the involved hostility to the apostle of the Gentiles was the ever more tenacious clinging to the Jewish idea of the Messiah; and as the Church, in its strife with Gnosticism, laid an ever-increasing stress upon Christology, the difference in this respect between itself and these Jewish Christians became ever more apparent until finally left far behind by the Church in its rapid development, they were looked upon as heretics. And so in Irenæus (I. 26. 2) we find a definite heretical sect called Ebionites, whose Christology is like that of Cerinthus and Carpocrates, who reject the apostle Paul, use the Gospel of Matthew only, and still cling to the observance of the Jewish law; but the distinction which Justin draws between the milder and stricter class is no longer drawn: all are classed together in the ranks of heretics, because of their heretical Christology (cf. ibid. III. 21. 1; IV. 33. 4; V. 1. 3). In Tertullian and Hippolytus their deviation from the orthodox Christology is still more clearly emphasized, and their relation to the Jewish law drops still further into the background (cf. Hippolytus, Phil. VII. 22; X. 18; and Tertullian, De Carne Christi, 14, 18, &c.). So Origen is acquainted with the Ebionites as an heretical sect, but, with a more exact knowledge of them than was possessed by Irenæus who lived far away from their chief centre, he distinguishes two classes; but the distinction is made upon Christological lines, and is very different from that drawn by Justin. This distinction of Origen’s between those Ebionites who accepted and those who denied the supernatural birth of Christ is drawn also by Eusebius (see below, §3). Epiphanius (Hær. XXIX. sqq.) is the first to make two distinct heretical sects—the Ebionites and the Nazarenes. It has been the custom of historians to carry this distinction back into apostolic times, and to trace down to the time of Epiphanius the continuous existence of a milder party—the Nazarenes—and of a stricter party—the Ebionites; but this distinction Nitzsch (Dogmengesch. p. 37 sqq.) has shown to be entirely groundless. The division which Epiphanius makes is different from that of Justin, as well as from that of Origen and Eusebius; in fact, it is doubtful if he himself had any clear knowledge of a distinction, his reports are so contradictory. The Ebionites known to him were most pronounced heretics; but he had heard of others who were said to be less heretical, and the conclusion that they formed another sect was most natural. Jerome’s use of the two words is fluctuating; but it is clear enough that they were not looked upon by him as two distinct sects. The word “Nazarenes” was, in fact, in the beginning a general name given to the Christians of Palestine by the Jews (cf. Acts xxiv. 5), and as such synonymous with “Ebionites.” Upon the later syncretistic Ebionism, see Bk. VI. chap. 38, note 1. Upon the general subject of Ebionism, see especially Nitzsch, ibid., and Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, I. p. 226 sqq.

Thus, it can be seen that the Ebionites came from the Jerusalem Church which had apostatized as they cave in under Jewish pressure, plus the fact that the Church there refuses to mature into the fullness of the Christian faith (especially with regards to Christology it seems) but continue to identify Christianity as a Jewish faith, failing to differentiate between the true Abrahamic and Mosaic Judaism as compared to the distorted rabbinic Judaism of their time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Spurgeon: Election and assurance of salvation

July 17

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God' - 1 Thessalonians 1:4

Many persons want to know their election before they look to Christ, but they cannot learn it thus, it is only to be discovered by 'looking unto Jesus'. If you desire to ascertain your own election; after the following manner, shall you assure your heart before God. Do you feel yourself to be a lost, guilty sinner? Go straightway to the cross of Christ, and tell Jesus so, and tell Him that you have read in the Bible, 'Him that cometh unto me, I will in no way case out'. Tell Him that He has said, 'This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'. Look to Jesus and believe on Him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for so surely thou believest, thou art elect. If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust Him, then you are one of God's chosen ones; but if you stop and say, 'I want to know first whether I am elect', you ask you know not what. Go to Jesus, be you never so guilty, just as you are. Leave all curious enquiry about election alone. Go stright to Christ and hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election. The assurance of the Holy Spirit shall be given to you, so that you shall be able to say, 'I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to Him'. Christ was at the everlasting council: He can tel you whether you were chosen or not, but you cannot find it out in any other way. Go and put your trust in Him, and His answer will be - "I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee'. There will be no doubt about His having chosen you, when you have chosen Him.

'Sons we are through God's election,
Who in Jesus Christ believe.'

[Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evenings: Daily readings by Charles Spurgeon (Christian Focus Publications, Ross-shire, Scotland, Great Britain, 1994)]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Reply to Isaiah on the topic of the Sabbath (part 1)

I have just finished this article on the Christian Sabbath as it is based on the Fourth Commandment in the Decalogue. I am neither a Dispensationalist nor a New Covenantal Theologian but a Covenantal Theologian, so the issue of the Law must be faced head-on instead of just dismissing it as being of no consequence like most modern Christians nowadays who superficially and derisively claim that "we are under Grace, not Law".

This was done mainly as a partial answer to my brother-in-Christ Isaiah who is grappling with the issue due to hearing messages from the Seventh-Day Adventists, the most prominent cult today which practices Saturday Sabbath, of which the most recent one can be seen here. His blog is more well-read than mine, and as such, like it or not, he has more responsibility for whatever he blogs than me since more people will be influenced by whatever he says, and therefore I have felt a burdern to proclaim the Word of God on this matter. This matter is not in fact just a preference issue, but has become something of an obedience issue, and may probably degenerate into a test of orthopraxy (right living) just like adultery. It therefore has serious ramifications when taken to its logical conclusions, of which the Seventh Day Adventists have done so already.

As Paul addresses the Galatian Christians two millenia ago, I hope to address Isaiah and his friends: Not out of condemnation (that is reserved for those who are attempting to lead them astray), but out of love for them As Paul states in his epistle to the Galatian Christians:

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.”

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

(Gal. 4:21-31. Bold added)

This is part one of my reply to the issue of Sabbatarianism, and more specifically the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath as a requirement of the Law of God. I will be posting the second reply which will be a rebuttal of Walter Veith's message on the Sabbath, based upon the foundation of the true doctrine of the Law as I have exposited from Scripture.

[Just FYI, there will be no Weekly Meditations this week due to the intensive effort required to fight this fire. Sorry. Hey, at least I get to re-read through Deuteronomy, Romans, Galatians and Hebrews and parts of Leviticus, and that consecutively while seeking understanding of the Law.]

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Satire: St Hinn the Rich

The folks over at Team Tominthebox New Network have came up with this. Absolutely hilarious!

In an exclusive report, TBNN has learned that Benny Hinn has been recently granted the first official "sainthood" by Health, Wealth and Prosperity Gospel leaders. TBNN learned that a group of HWPG pastors, which included big names like Creflo Dollar, Leroy Thompson, Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland, met in Atlanta, Georgia last week to discuss the prospect of "sainthood" for those who had contributed much to the HWPG cause. During the meeting the group discussed possible choices for the first ever "sainthood" amongst HWPG advocates. Over the course of the meetings Hinn's name repeatedly came up.

[continue]

Now, whenever the Faith adherents desire more money, they can pray to Saint Hinn, the patron saint of Money. Don't expect any treasury of merit to be avaliable to you though, until probably he passes on in life.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Answering the abominable heresy of the (Neo-)Ebionites

The weekly meditation that I have posted last week on Is. 9 and the Messianic implications it has seems to have attracted the attention of a Swedish (Neo)-Ebionite Anders Branderud, who calls himself a Netzarim. Since there has been a lot of interest in all things Jewish in recent times, I think that this issue should be addressed in a bid to head off Judaizing influences which have the potential to place deluded people under the anathema of God (Gal. 1:8-9)

Historically, the emergence of the Ebionite heresy is rather hard to trace. What we can know however with the aid of Scripture is that it must have came from the Judaizing party first reproved in the Council of Jerusalem (Act 15: 1-29) which had tried to press the observance of the Law according to the Judaist understanding of the Law. Later on, when they prove recalcitrant, the Apostle Paul rebuked and condemned them and their teachings in the entire epistle to the Galatians, nothing that the Judaizing party ought to emasculate (castrate) themselves since they boast so much in their flesh and in circumcision (Gal. 5:12), noting that 'for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery' (Gal. 5:1). The Judaizers probably still persist as a group historically as the Ebionites, and slander and attack Paul as an apostate plus reject his writings as Scripture because it did not square with their unbiblical understanding of the Law plus the fact that Paul was their most outspoken critic.

As a historical movement, the Ebionites have been virtually eliminated from the word scene due to persecution from both Jews and Gentiles. The Gentiles detest them since they were Jews, Christians rightly denounce them as heretics, and the non-Christian Jews detest them because they claim to follow Jesus whom they regarded as a false prophet. In other words, their position placed them in no-man's land, as being similar to an 'almost Christian" — hated by the World, rejected by God and excommunicated from the Church. As such, they have mostly gone extinct. Their initial persistence however have caused a backlash as the Church then denounced all things Jewish, of which the harsh rhetoric used would unwittingly provide fuel for future anti-Semitism which is always prevalent in the hearts of the Gentiles.

The recent interest in all things Jewish have however resurrected the Ebionite heresy from the grave. Similar to the ancient Ebionites, these Neo-Ebionites claim to follow "Rabbi Yeshua" while rejecting Christianity. One such group is the "Netzarim", who are self-styled "Restored Nazerene Jews of Israel". They most certainly are Jews, but they create an ahistorical "Yeshua" of their own making and claim to follow him. In reality, they follow a mere figment of their imagination and are totally deluded. Let's face it, either you be a unbelieving Jew who denies Jesus, of you follow Jesus as your Messiah. Such a "half-way" position is totally untenable historically, not to mention logically and scripturally.

As stated, one way to address such nonsense is to read up on the facts of history. The texts of the New Testament are historically beyond refute as to their credibility and reliability, having have superior manuscript evidence as proof. In fact, one of the earliest manuscript papyri were dated to around the turn of the second century AD [Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Zondervan Publishers, 1998, Grand Rapids, MI), p. 61-62], far too little time for the NT texts to be corrupted. Therefore, it is simply impossible to claim to believe in "Rabbi Jesus" while rejecting all the evidences of Jesus Christ and of the Christian faith based upon Him based upon the facts of history. You can disagree with the New Testament if you so wish, but don't claim to follow Jesus when you actually don't!

This Neo-Ebionite site has manged to distort historical documentation even by misquoting the words of Eusebius, an early Church father. In his work The Church History of Eusebius, which is found in the collation NPNF (Nicene Post-Nicene Fathers) (available online on CCEL here). From here, we can compare the distortions of the Neo-Ebionites with the truth.

The Neo-Ebionites first claim that the charge of the Jerusalem church was given to James the Just, giving EH II, XXIII.4 as their reference. What of course it didn't say was that James confessed Christ as the Messiah.

12. The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: ‘Thou just one, in whom we ought all to have confidence, forasmuch as the people are led astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus.’

13. And he answered with a loud voice, ‘Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sitteth in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven. (Eusebius, Church History of Eusebius, Book II, Chapter XXIII: The Matyrdom of James, who was called the brother of the Lord, NPNF2-01, source)

Next, they claim that the original disciples of Jesus called the Netzarim excised Saul, thereafter referred exclusively as Paul, and judged him as an apostate, quoting EH, III, xxvii, 4. Checking with the original source shows that Eusebius was talking about the Ebionite heretics here, and therefore the "Netzarim" showed themselves to be Neo-Ebionites in fact. The footnotes in this text (made by the editors) sure looks interesting.

4. These men, moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle, whom they called an apostate from the law;830 and they used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews831 and made small account of the rest.

830 This is mentioned by Irenæus (I. 26. 2) and by Origen (Cont. Cels. V. 65 and Hom. in Jer. XVIII. 12). It was a general characteristic of the sect of the Ebionites as known to the Fathers, from the time of Origen on, and but a continuation of the enmity to Paul shown by the Judaizers during his lifetime. But their relations to Paul and to the Jewish law fell more and more into the background, as remarked above, as their Christological heresy came into greater prominence over against the developed Christology of the Catholic Church (cf. e.g. the accounts of Tertullian and of Hippolytus with that of Irenæus). The “these” (οὗτοι δὲ) here would seem to refer only to the second class of Ebionites; but we know from the very nature of the case, as well as from the accounts of others, that this conduct was true as well of the first, and Eusebius, although he may have been referring only to the second, cannot have intended to exclude the first class in making the statement.

831 Eusebius is the first to tell us that the Ebionites used the Gospel according to the Hebrews. Irenæus (Adv. Hær. I. 26. 2, III. 11. 7) says that they used the Gospel of Matthew, and the fact that he mentions no difference between it and the canonical Matthew shows that, so far as he knew, they were the same. But according to Eusebius, Jerome, and Epiphanius the Gospel according to the Hebrews was used by the Ebionites, and, as seen above (chap. 25, note 18), this Gospel cannot have been identical with the canonical Matthew. Either, therefore, the Gospel used by the Ebionites in the time of Irenæus, and called by him simply the Gospel of Matthew, was something different from the canonical Matthew, or else the Ebionites had given up the Gospel of Matthew for another and a different gospel (for the Gospel of the Hebrews cannot have been an outgrowth of the canonical Matthew, as has been already seen, chap. 25, note 24). The former is much more probable, and the difficulty may be most simply explained by supposing that the Gospel according to the Hebrews is identical with the so-called Hebrew Gospel of Matthew (see chap. 24, note 5), or at least that it passed among the earliest Jewish Christians under Matthew’s name, and that Irenæus, who was personally acquainted with the sect, simply hearing that they used a Gospel of Matthew, naturally supposed it to be identical with the canonical Gospel. In the time of Jerome a Hebrew “Gospel according to the Hebrews” was used by the “Nazarenes and Ebionites” as the Gospel of Matthew (cf. in Matt. XII. 13; Contra Pelag. III. 2). Jerome refrains from expressing his own judgment as to its authorship, but that he did not consider it in its existing form identical with the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew is clear from his words in de vir. ill. chap. 3, taken in connection with the fact that he himself translated it into Greek and Latin, as he states in chap. 2. Epiphanius (Hær. XXIX. 9) says that the Nazarenes still preserved the original Hebrew Matthew in full, while the Ebionites (XXX. 13) had a Gospel of Matthew “not complete, but spurious and mutilated”; and elsewhere (XXX. 3) he says that the Ebionites used the Gospel of Matthew and called it the “Gospel according to the Hebrews.” It is thus evident that he meant to distinguish the Gospel of the Ebionites from that of the Nazarenes, i.e. the Gospel according to the Hebrews from the original Hebrew Matthew. So, likewise. Eusebius’ treatment of the Gospel according to the Hebrews and of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew clearly indicates that he considered them two different gospels (cf. e.g. his mention of the former in chap. 25 and in Bk. IV. chap. 22, and his mention of the latter in chap. 24, and in Bk. IV. chap. 10). Of course he knew that the former was not identical with the canonical Matthew, and hence, naturally supposing that the Hebrew Matthew agreed with the canonical Matthew, he could not do otherwise than make a distinction between the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the Hebrew Matthew, and he must therefore make the change which he did in Irenæus’ statement in mentioning the Gospel used by the Ebionites, as he knew them. Moreover, as we learn from Bk. VI. chap. 17, the Ebionite Symmachus had written against the Gospel of Matthew (of course the canonical Gospel), and this fact would only confirm Eusebius in his opinion that Irenæus was mistaken, and that the Ebionites did not use the Gospel of Matthew. But none of these facts militate against the assumption that the Gospel of the Hebrews in its original form was identical with the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, or at least passed originally under his name among Jewish Christians. For it is by no means certain that the original Hebrew Matthew agreed with the canonical Matthew, and, therefore, lack of resemblance between the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the canonical Matthew is no argument against its identity with the Hebrew Matthew. Moreover, it is quite conceivable that, in the course of time, the original Gospel according to the Hebrews underwent alterations, especially since it was in the hands of a sect which was growing constantly more heretical, and that, therefore, its resemblance to the canonical Matthew may have been even less in the time of Eusebius and Jerome than at the beginning. It is possible that the Gospel of Matthew, which Jerome claims to have seen in the library at Cæsarea (de vir. ill. chap. 3), may have been an earlier, and hence less corrupt, copy of the Gospel according to the Hebrews. Since the writing of this note, Handmann’s work on the Gospel according to the Hebrews (Das Hebräer-Evangelium, von Rudolf Handmann. Von Gebhardt and Harnack’s Texte und Untersuchungen, Bd. V. Heft 3) has come into my hands, and I find that he denies that that Gospel is to be in any way identified with the traditional Hebrew Matthew, or that it bore the name of Matthew. The reasons which he gives, however, are practically the same as those referred to in this note, and, as already shown, do not prove that the two were not originally identical. Handmann holds that the Gospel among the Jewish Christians was called simply “the Gospel,” or some general name of the kind, and that it received from others the name “Gospel according to the Hebrews,” because it was used by them. This may well be, but does not militate at all against the existence of a tradition among the Jewish Christians that Matthew was the author of their only gospel. Handmann makes the Gospel according to the Hebrews a second independent source of the Synoptic Gospels alongside of the “Ur-Marcus,” (a theory which, if accepted, would go far to establish its identity with the Hebrew Matthew), and even goes so far as to suggest that it is to be identified with the λόγια of Papias (cf. the writer’s notice of Handmann’s book, in the Presbyterian Review, July, 1889). For the literature on this Gospel, see chap. 25, note 24. I find that Resch in his Agrapha emphasizes the apocryphal character of the Gospel in its original form, and makes it later than and in part dependent upon our Matthew, but I am unable to agree with him.

This immediately alerts us to the subjectivity of these "Netzarim", since it is a fact that the Ebionites were thrown out of the Church early in its history and as such have no legitimate claim to historical continuity with the teachings of Jesus, being opposed by all the Apostle even and anathemized by God Himself through His Word (Gal. 1:8-9).

Historical revisionism sure runs rampant in such circles, with even the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews from that area being used as "proof" of Christianity being a Hellenic and thus false religion. Nevermind the historical fact that the Jews had rebelled against Roman rule under the leadership of the false messiah Bar-Cocheba (Eusebius, Church History of Eusebius, Book IV, Chapter VI: The Last Siege of the Jews under Adrian, NPNF2-01, source), and therefore they get what they justly deserve (As if the Roman Empire was going to lie down and allow one of its own provinces to revolt!). It is a fact that the Jews were a rebellious people, and although they have a reason to be, the suppression and expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem was done for political reasons rather than any religious consideration. Noting that Christians everywhere were being persecuted during that period, the Neo-Ebionites showed themselves long on assertion but short on logical rational thinking, as if the Roman Empire was going to do the bidding of Christians who they were actively persecuting! Sheer idiocy!

On the Law

Theologically, the entire thrust of the argument against Christianity by these Neo-Ebionites is that Christianity is "anti-Torah". Such shows their Legalistic slant, and proves once for all that they do not even understand their own Scriptures, distorting the teachings of the Old Testament to be one of legalistic law-keeping, whereas it was never meant to teach such a perversion. We can of course look at the New Testament to see the correct understanding between Law and grace, of which the best presentation is found in Romans and Galatians. However, a quick glance of the Old Testament would show that to be the case also.

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise (Ps. 51:16-17)

Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith (Hab. 2:4)

Besides these two overt texts, we can see the grace of God apart from the Law in the narrative episodes of Israel's history. When Israel was saved from Egypt in the Exodus, was it because they were righteous? No, for it is written:

Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you [Israel] this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people (Deut. 9:6)

Therefore, Israel's salvation from Egypt was totally of grace. Even in the giving of the Law, we can see that the way of salvation is still by grace. For in Deut. 27-28, God had through symbolisms showed forth the Law and its attendent blessings and curses as both sides of the same coin through half of Israel pronouncing the blessings on Mount Gerazim and the other half proclaim the curses opposite them on Mount Ebal (Deut. 11:29). The symmetrical nature of these two can be seen when comparing the first and second part of Deut. 28. Yet, God has pronounced that they will experience both and after their destruction and dispersal among the nations, they will be saved again (Deut. 30:5). Such salvation would be by grace and that alone, for we can see that God will work to change them (Deut. 30:6) so that they will turn to Him. Also, in Ez 36:22-27, this new heart is given by God alone and it is based on grace not on Law, for as verse 22 says

It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. (Ez. 36:22b)

From all of this therefore, we can see that salvation even in the Old Testament is by grace not by Law at any point in history. The Law was given only to Israel after they were saved (from Egypt). And therefore, the Law was to serve not unto salvation but as a rule for the people of God, and is therefore to be evaluated accordingly. The rabbinic Jews from before Jesus' time up till now have therefore distorted the message in their own Torah and as such are living everyday under the wrath of YHWH whom they claim to follow. The Neo-Ebionites therefore, having follow the Legalistic works-righteousness of rabbinic Judaism, are similarly distorting the true message of the Torah and are thus under the condemnation of God for it.

Christianity therefore is the true message of God and an extension of Abrahamic Jewish religion. Far from Christianity being "anti-Torah", it is the Judaism that rejects Christ and believes in works-righteousness that is in actual fact "anti-Torah"! For they substituted the commands of God for the traditions of Man (Mk. 7:9), as the fathers the Pharisees did before them.

In conclusion, to unbelieving Jews and the Neo-Ebionites, hear the Word of YHWH:

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (Jn. 8:42-47)

Repent therefore, and believe in the true Messiah, Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God, for the forgiveness of sins. Repent of your wickedness in blaspheming God and of thinking that your works and the observance of the Law can earn you merit in the eyes of God, while God Himself has said that your righteous acts are as polluted garment (Is. 64:6). All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), Jews and Greeks alike (Rom. 3:9), and are therefore under the fiery wrath of God. Only God can save you now, and in this He has provided a way through belief in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior (Rom. 10:9-13). Repent therefore of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, such that you will be imputed the righteousness of God and saved by Him. Amen.

Quotable quote: Theology Matters

The reason why there is so little depth, so little intelligence, so little grasp of the fundamental verities of Christianity, is because so few believers have been established in the faith, through hearing expounded and through their own personal study of the doctrines of grace. While the soul is unestablished in the doctrine of the Divine Inspiration of the Scripture — their full and verbal inspiration — there can be no firm foundation for faith to rest upon. While the soul is ignorant of the doctrine of Justification there can be no real and intelligent assurance of its acceptance in the Beloved. While the soul is un-acquainted with the teaching of the Word of God upon Sanctification it is open to receive all the crudities and errors of the Perfectionists or "Holiness" people. While the soul kows not what Scripture has to say upon the doctrine of the New Birth there can be no proper grasp of the two natures in the believer, and ignorance here inevitably results in loss of peace and joy. And so we might go on right through the list of Christian doctrine. It is ignorance of doctrine that has rendered the professing church helpless to cope with the rising tide of infidelity. It is ignorance of doctrine which is mainly responsible for thousands of professing Christians being captivated by the numerous false isms of the day.

- Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Baker Book, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, 1984), p. 214

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Passion KL (& Jarkarta)

My brother-in-Christ Huaizhi (whom I have met once in less-than-ideal circumstances) has posted a blog post on this event quite some time ago, and after thinking about it, I thought this should be an interesting event which should be much, much better than those very shallow and somewhat questionably-orthodox conferences like the Festival of Praise with Hillsongs and other such bands.

What I am talking about is the Passion conference, which according to Colin Hansen in his book Young, Restless and Reformed is at the heart of the New Calvinist movement sociologically. It seems that it is going worldwide now, and that seems to be an interesting opportunity to look at it first-hand. The conferences closest to Singapore will be held at KL, Malaysia on the 3rd August, followed by at Jakarta on the 5th August 2008. I will not say that I am for it, but I am neutrally positive towards the event. After all, I would place myself in the Reformed wing of the New Calvinist movement sociologically. [On such a scale, Piper would be centrist and Driscoll and Keller would be on the Progressive/Pseudo-Emerging side].

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Song: 宣教的中国

My friend Isaiah has embedded an interesting song (宣教的中国) in a recent post of his. The first time I heard the song was last June 2007 while I was involved in the Southern Cross Project — Singapore under Campus Crusade for Christ GEN12ii mission project. The staff in charge, who had been involved in mission work in China before, introduced this song to us. From what has been shared, this song is written by a Taiwanese and was sung in a CCC staff retreat in Thailand before. Anyway, without further to do, here is the video:

And here are the lyrics:

宣教的中国

有一种爱像那夏虫永长鸣
春蚕吐丝吐不尽
有一个声音催促我要勇敢前行
圣灵在前引导我的心
迈开步伐向耶路撒冷
风霜雪雨意志更坚定
我要传扬, 传扬主的名
誓要得胜在神的国度里

副歌:

我带着使命向前走
要唤醒沉睡的中国
纵然流血的时候
我也永远不回头
我带着异象向前走
要看到宣教的中国
将福音传遍世界每个角落

(Source)

For those who don't understand Chinese, here are what the lyrics mean [And no, this is not a translation of the song, just the lyrics]:

Verse:

There is a love that is like the worm [cricket?] that chirps continuously in the summer
like a silkworm that spins silk without end
There is a voice compelling me to move forward bravely
as the Holy Spirit leads my heart.
Stride foward towards Jerusalem
Whatever difficulties we face will make us even stronger
I want to proclaim, to proclaim the name of our Lord
And I will swear that I will gain the victory for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Chorus:

I move foward under the commission of our Lord
with a desire to wake up the sleeping nation of China
Even to the point of shedding my blood
I will yet not turn back from my mission
I go forth with the vision from God
with a desire to see an evangelizing China
which will bring the Gospel to every corner of the earth.

Amen.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Song: Licht dieser Welt (Here I am to worship)

This was just too intersting to ignore, and no, my German is too rusty to understand the words (well, except for "Gott", "mir", "welt", "ich", "du", "dich", "nur", "kann", "gut", "zu" and maybe a few more; forgotten most of my vocab...).

[Song seems to be translated by Andreas Waldmann. Original of course is by Tim Hughes]

Weekly Meditations: Is. 9 (1): Messianic Prophecy

But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

(Is. 9:1-7)

The prophet Isaiah, after pronouncing severe judgment against Judah and those within her who disbelief God, carries on here to prophesy about the Messiah who will save Israel from her enemies. He has already prophesied that the Messiah is to come to bring peace to His people, and the sign of the Messiah is that he comes from a virgin (Is. 7:14). Such peace is the true peace which only He can give, and in this passage, we can see Isaiah proclaiming much more regarding this great Messiah who will bring peace to Israel.

In verses 1, we can see the prophecy being proclaimed of the place where the Messiah is to come from (not his birthplace but his place of residence and hometown so to speak). Galilee is situated at the Northeastern region of Israel in the land given to the tribe of Naphtali, and it is from this place where hope would shine forth. God starts off by promising that "there will be no gloom for those who are in anguish", thus showing forth that God is here offering consolation for those who are in deep sorrow over sin and the judgment because of sin. This area has not featured as an important area at all in God's plan previously, and as such is described as being "brought into contempt", yet this will change as God will use this backward area as the hometown for the coming Messiah. Galilee the backward, uncouth and rustic area, the place at the edge of the land of Israel where Gentiles are very much present, will be the place which God decides to honor as the place where the Messiah would grow up and hail from.

Verses 2 to 7 proclaims the exceeding wonders and glories of the coming of the Messiah, of which we can meditate on its fullness just by itself. The Messiah here is the Light that comes into the world (Jn. 1:9; 8:12). To a dark and dreary land full of darkness and hopelessness, He came to give joy (v. 3) and light, as He is the One who can give them peace. The Messiah will come to release His people from bondage from the oppresor (v. 4), though such a delivery was most definitely not what the Jews of Jesus' time expected as they were too carnal to understand true spiritual truths. The garments of war would be burned up and destroyed in the fire at His coming, thus signifying the ceassation of war and the coming of peace as the Kingdom of God breaks into the lives of people as they submit to Christ. Truly, the Messiah would bring peace and joy to His people, which is certainly great news to those who are in the midst of war and/or oppression.

Verse 6 is the mighty proclamation not only of the lofty titles of the Messiah, but also of His identification with Divinity itself! This child the Messiah is born and is given for us, and He shall be the ruler and sovereign over His people, finally shattering the kingdoms of the world when He comes again and takes His rightful Kingship over the whole world. He is called Wonderful Counselor, showing His tender-hearted care of His people and binding up their wounds. He is also the Prince of Peace who will bring peace over our souls and our lives and, when He comes again, over the whole world. And He is called Mighty God and the Everlasting Father, which are titles of divinity and thus identifying the Messiah as being God Himself; God incarnate since He would come in the flesh, being born of a virgin (Is. 7:14), as a child and a son! What an astounding revelation God made to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear this astounding prophecy uttered by the prophet Isaiah, which was canonized in the Old Testament before Christ even came on the scene historically? Yet, the Jews in Jesus' time (including the religious leaders) were so blind to their own scriptues which prophesied about their own Messiah that they think it is blasphemy for Jesus who claim to be the Messiah to claim to be God (Jn. 8:58; 10:30-33)! How tragic!

Verse 7 carries on with the proclamation of the victorious, ever-growing and everlasting nature of the reign, rule and peace of the Messiah's Kingdom, which will be established in perfect justice and righteousness. The Messiah is prophesied to sit on the throne of David and is thus the eternal heir of David's throne. We can see here the phrase that "there will be no end" applied to his kingdom and of peace, thus showing that no mere earthly reality and Kingdom is meant here, nor is this ruling Messiah a mere mortal since all human beings must die and "lose" their kingdoms to either their heirs, usurpers or conquerors (And no, they cannot bring their kingdom to heaven either unless he is God). From this, we can immediately see that the Messiah must be more than human if such a prophecy is to come true, so this should immediately put to rest all Jewish speculations about an earthly Messiah, which sadly it didn't.

This entire prophetic utterance is concluded by the sure word of the Lord promising the fulfilment of this prophecy, because God Himself as it were places His Name and honor on the line for its fulfilment. "For the zeal of the LORD of host will do this", and therefore it will be done, and absolutely nobody can stop it.

Truly, what a powerful Messianic prophecy of encouragement to the remnant during Isaiah's time, and to us too as we look back to the Cross. For God so loved us that He promised and placed His honor on the line to fulfil His promise for our deliverance and hope. Absolutely nothing can stop God from sending the Messiah our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to come and save us from our sins, to liberate us from darkness in the power of sin into His glorious light, and thus bringing us into His Kingdom where he reigns in our hearts and brings peace to our troubled souls. Let us therefore come now and spend some time in awe of this God who has done all this for us, and worship Him who is worthy of all our praises and honor and glory! May the Lamb who was slain receive all glory, honor, power and praise now and forever, world without end, Amen!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

More on the PD paradigm: The PD Church

Well, with the dust settling on the recent controversy, I would like to serve up my review of Warren's first book The Purpose Driven Church here. After hearing Pastor Bob DeWaay's latest clarification on his visit to Saddleback and meeting Rick Warren, I decided to do a review of this book since it forms the basis of Warren's Ministry philosophy, which as it will be seen is totally antithetical to true Christian ministry, being influnced by the heretic Charles Grandison Finney and the founder of Church Growth Theory Donald McGraven.

And here is an excellent article by my friend Mike Ratliff as he looks at the situation in which Warren tries to play diaprax on his critics: Can A Leopard Change Its Spots?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Persecution in Canada

Question: How do you persecute a Christian in a "christian" country?

Answer: Prosecute them under "hate-crimes" law.

Look at the ridiculous stupidity of the Canadian government here. The "Alberta Human Rights Commission" have ruled against pastor Stephen Boissoin and The Concerned Christian Coalition Inc, and all because he [gasps] protested against the promotion of homosexuality to five year olds.

One wonders what manner of pea-brained bigots are ruling Canada right now. As it is written,

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. (Prov. 29:2. Bold added)

And here is an interesting video (on another subject) related to the immoral fascist behavior of the Alberta "human rights commission".

[HT: Aomin.org]

Anyway, please pray for the growing persecution that will be coming on the Church in the Western world. Pray for Pastor Boissoin that he will continue to stand for God even as he prepares to appeal to a real, non-kangaroo court of law. Pray that the peace of God will be with him and that, regardless of the final ruling, he will not recant but will be able to joyfully stand with the apostles in saying

Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard (Acts 2:19b-20)

Amen. May our Lord get the glory through the suffering of His saints.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

No weekly meditations today

There wouldn't be a weekly meditations today, as I am preparing and packing for my church camp in Malaysia which will be from Monday to Thursday. Lord willing, I will be back on Thursday. In the meantime, all comments will switched to being moderated since I am most probably not available to monitor them.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

These prayers make Satan rejoice, not tremble

Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.”

- A. W. Tozer

[HT: Justin Nale]

Tood Bentley: A minister of "the spirit" of?

Well, here are some more videos compiled by Lane Chaplin on the Todd Bentley "revival" over at Lakeland, Florida, using the audio from the Way of the Master episode on this very topic.

Part 1:

Part 2

[HT: Lane's blog]

And here is a Crosstalk program on this issue:

Claims of revival must always be made in the light of Scripture so that we can determine whether this is a true movement of the Holy Spirit that points to Christ, or if it’s a counterfeit.

With this thought in mind, Ingrid Schlueter welcomed Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. Joining him was Pastor John Sharp, the pastor of The Way Christian Fellowship in McCarney, Texas. These pastors joined Ingrid to discuss the alleged revival in Lakeland, Florida.

There are numerous theological and doctrinal problems with this alleged “revival” that are discussed by the pastors, problems that are highlighted by audio clips presented by Ingrid. One clip has Todd Bentley claiming that gold teeth are appearing in his followers. Another mentions how he was ordered by Holy Spirit to kick an “elderly worshiper” in the face! One makes contradictory statements about the source of the “anointing,” while other clip exposes the overemphasis on angels.

[HT: Christian Research Net]

Well, to this we must conclude: Todd Bentley is most definitely influenced by a spirit, but it most definitely is not the Holy Spirit.

Beware of Todd Bentley!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Repentance steps for Rick Warren

Defending the faith is not just about tearing down heresy but also about building up in sound doctrine. It is thus not only negative but positive. Recently, a question was put to me as to what actions Rick Warren should take which would show forth whether he is repentant over his sins. Of course, the basic answer is that given by Pastor Bob DeWaay, which is to preach the Gospel and go back to Sola Scriptura in ALL of life and ministry. I have however decided to unpack that a bit and show forth some concrete steps Warren should take. Feel free to add in any legitimate points you may have on this subject.

  1. Stop allowing Roman Catholics to take part as churches in the 40DOP or DOC or whatever program Warren wishes to start, without them first becoming Christians and renouncing their false religion.
  2. Publicly call on the Pope to repent of denying the Gospel, to repudiate the Council of Trent with its attendent anathemas against Bible believers
  3. Do not preach “how to grow your synagogue” messages to unrepentent Jews but call on them to believe in their Messiah Jesus Christ
  4. Publicly repudiate what he calls a pervasion of his teaching in churches kicking out believers (Purpose Driven resistors) and stating that those who say that this is what they have learned from him or the PDC (Purpose Driven Church) are in serious error.
  5. Stop using the Message pervasion and stick to good Bible translations like the NASB, NKJV and the ESV. Repent of using 13 different bible “translations” and of ripping the verses out of context in his PDL
  6. Emphasize that what the Lord requires is not sacrifice but obedience, and therefore what is required is holy living more than what any member can contribute to the Church and her programs. Emphasize that the Church should love and treat all her members equally whether they are serving in the church or not.
  7. Set himself against the relativism and inclusivism present in the Emerging Church Movement. He can do it as lovingly as the way D.A. Carson does it.
  8. Renounce playing politics and involving the Church in social causes void of the proclamation of the Gospel. Take part only in social causes that are coupled with a clear proclamation of the Gospel of Christ
  9. Stop being unequally yoked with members of the CFR in politicking. Get back to calling all Man to repentance, including the big shots over in CFR who are lost apart from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ
  10. Change the 'P' in the PEACE plan to "Proclaiming first and foremost the unadulterated Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in all its fulness, calling on all Man everywhere to repent and turn to Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sins and the wrath of God" (Idea taken from Pastor Bob DeWaay's response)

I think all these should be a good start. And let me say up front that I will most definitely rejoice the day Warren does this. After all, it is written:

...there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Lk. 15:10b)

And

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? (Ez. 18:23)

Amen.

Pastor Bob DeWaay responds to the spin doctors

Well, Pastor Bob DeWaay of Twins Cities Fellowship has given his response to the spin doctors trying to use DeWaay's words against other Christia watchmen and apologists who oppose Warren's unbiblical Purpose Driven paradigm, in his Sunday School class on June 1st here. This is especially pertinent given the fire-storm erupted over Chris Rosebrough's not-very-sensitive post regarding Rick Warren. Warren defender Richard Abanes has tried to milk out something from DeWaay's previous statement made in his previous Sunday School class last week (May 25th): that he and Rick Warren share the same doctrines, just different ministry philosophies, of which DeWaay aptly rebuts Abanes' grasping of straws in this response of his. After listening to him, I can say that I have new-found respect for Pastor DeWaay, who truly loves the sheep and does not compromise the truth nor does he stumble the sheep but affirms his solidarity with them, all while doing so in a gentle and godly manner. If only there were more pastors and Christians like him.

Anyway, here is the statement that Pastor DeWaay has sent out through a friend on Saturday, May 30th, which Pastor Ken Silva has posted on his ministry page here.

I wrote my book, Redefining Christianity, assuming that Rick Warren actually believes the Saddleback Church’s statement of faith, but that he refuses to preach it because he wants to be popular with the world and grow his movement. I still think that could still be true—I give him the benefit of the doubt.

At the Saddleback Church conference he was speaking of winning souls for Christ and talking about his father’s legacy of building churches and winning souls. More than likely he believes Baptist doctrine. But along the way he was derailed by reading the church growth theory of Donald McGavran. While in seminary I studied under a disciple of McGavran. McGavran’s book was required reading. His philosophy hinges on this idea: “people do not become Christian for theological reasons, but for sociological ones.”

Rick Warren believed McGavran and set out to study people to find out what makes them tick so he could get them into church — thus “Saddleback Sam.” Purpose Driven is a franchise system to multiply this idea into other churches. Warren tells pastors that they do not have to change any doctrine to join his movement. The reason for that is that doctrine becomes unimportant because it is no longer taught. I don’t think Rick Warren changed his Baptist doctrine either; he just doesn’t allow it to determine what he teaches and what he does. When we met that is what I challenged him about.

So I have not moved in my beliefs nor have I changed my position on any doctrines I have preached.

I will not allow myself to be pitted against any of Warren’s critics. I read Warren Smith’s book and spoke with him on the phone. He is a wonderful brother. The New Age implications are in Rick Warren’s movement and are helping lead toward a One World church. But because he has publicly made statements besides his statement of faith that he believes there is a literal hell and that people without Christ will go there, I don’t believe Rick Warren is a true New Age believer, and neither does Warren Smith. Warren Smith simply says there are New Age implications to what Rick Warren is doing, and I agree with him.

Tomorrow morning [Sunday, June 1, 2008] I will make a statement clarifying what I mean when I said that we did not have theological disagreements in our meeting. Rick Warren did not disagree with my positions on doctrine in our meeting. But he did not comment on everything I said. Please read my book, because in it I point out that Rick Warren privately affirms orthodox Christian theology—he did so again in our presence. So this is not news worthy.

To set the record straight, for those who think I am suddenly okay with Rick Warren – I am not. I asked him to preach Christ and honor the idea of scripture alone – and I pointed out that he cannot have a “reformation” based on general revelation.

These are huge issues and he did not say he was going to change anything—but he did not disagree. Do Warren’s supporters really think that having an orthodox theology in private is all that God expects of a preacher? Do they think we should not hold Rick Warren accountable to sola scriptura? Do they think that we can have any old ministry philosophy even if doing so totally changes the definition of the church and her message from how the Bible defines them?

I challenge Rick Warren’s supporters to step up to the plate and demand that Rick Warren repent, as I requested him to do in my book. Otherwise they have no business claiming that I agree with them.

Bob DeWaay

As Ingrid Schlueter has also stated succintly regarding this episode:

What ultimately matters is not what is said in private by any Christian leader. What has been said publicly by Rick Warren has always been the issue. Rick Warren, I am sure, is a gracious host, and personally, highly congenial. When was that ever in question? The only reason that I and the others who have addressed the PDL movement have ever written or said anything about Rick Warren’s teachings is that these ideas have had a vast impact on the evangelical church around the world. When these ideas do not comport with Holy Scripture, we are under an obligation to say something.

Pastor Bob DeWaay himself has also just posted a column on Christian Worldview Network here to counter the misinformation spread around by various people regarding the visit. Thanks Pastor Bob for standing up when it counted; we salute you.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Booke Review: Turning back the Darkness

After posting all the nice excerpts, here is my short review of the book Turning Back the Darkness — The Biblical Pattern of Reformation by Richard D. Phillips, which also contains all the good quotes quoted previously also.

Quotable quote (11): No neutrality

Surely this tells us that we must disabuse ourselves of the possibility of neutrality when it comes to matters of truth. There are good reasons to avoid controversy; surely we should neither seek it nor love it. But we are called to realize that in a world such as ours, in a time like that in which we live, when truth is up for sale, there is no neutrality. There is fidelity to Christ, and there is friendship with the world.

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002), p. 173

Monday, June 02, 2008

Quotable quote (10): The Gospel: Relevent?

The Gospel is relevent; it is always relevent, as long as there are sinners, as long as God sits upon a holy throne of judgment, as long as lawbreakers are under the condemnation and in the bondage of sin. The Gospel is relevent to the ultimate and greatest needs of every man and woman, needs that do not change with the generations or intellectual fashions.

- Richard D. Phillips, Turning Back the Darkness: The Biblical Pattern of Reformation, (Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il, USA, 2002), p. 167

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 8 (2)

For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness (Is. 8:11-22)

The firs part of chapter 8 shows us the mighty wrath of God coming over and against His people the Jews for sinning against him. God is sending the mighty Assyrian Empire as his rod to chastize Judah for her sins, and especially for the wicked sin of King Ahaz who decided to trust in Man rather than in God. In this climate of judgment, there is hope for those whose faith in in God, which we shall certainly see.

The passage opens with verse 11 which informs us of God's instruction to Isaiah, that he should not worry about the conspiracies nor call them conspiracies, and that he should not worry like others (v. 12). But rather he should turn to God and Him alone he shall honor and fear, and dread (v. 13). The result of this is that God will be his sanctuary, yet this action would at the same time also be judgment onto the unbelieving houses of Israel, even to Jerusalem the "holy city" (v. 14) resulting in their destruction and fall (v. 15).

From verse 11-13, we can see the secret of truly trusting God and being secure in Him. To do this, we must abide in Christ and not be troubled by the things of this world. Most certainly King Ahaz was conspiring with the Assyrians to eliminate the confederate forces of Syria and Israel, and so factually there is a conspiracy in the making, in fact one among several. The politicians now are no different from then, and in fact conspiracy theories abound in this age and time. While some of them are probably true, what dos God expect of us? Sure, all of these politicians (and pastor-politicians ie Rick Warren) are busy playing politics to control the world and "make it a better place", but what does God expect of us in this?

As we can see, God gave Isaiah, and thus us also, specific instructions. Verse 12 tells us not to call conspiracy what others call conspiracy, not that we live in a state of denial about that fact, but we should be unmoved by it. We should neither fear what the world fears nor be in dread about the future. For our God is a sovereign God, and there is nothing those politicians can do which is outside the sovereign decree of God. As it is written:

The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will. (Prov. 21:1)

Even the mighty Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman empires were forced to serve our God, so why should we fear conspiracies even if they are true. Aren't all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing (Dan. 4:35a), and God does all He wills? Is there anything the governments of this world or the UN can do that God has not ordained it to be? So therefore, God directs us not to fear these things, but if we need to fear something, let us fear God and Him alone.

Verse 13 tells us that we must honor God and Him alone as holy. This tells us that we are sanctify God in our hearts and live our lives accordingly; to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16), giving him the honor and reverence He rightly deserves. We should only fear God and dread His wrath instead of fearing the uncertainties of life and dreading the calamities of this world. And this is God's promise to us: that while destruction and devastation would come about by the outpoouring of God's wrath in judgment, those who trust in Him and fear Him, honoring Him alone as holy would find God to be the sanctuary they need. Even in the midst of chaos and total societal breakdown, or war and famine, God will protect and provide for His people In this therefore, God has provided for those who trust in Him a sanctuary in the midst of Judgment.

Such consolation however has a most definite opposite effect on the unfaithful and unregenerate Jews who trusted not in God but in themselves. To such people, God and His Gospel of salvation will be an offense to them causing them to stumble. Such judgment is on the entire Covenant people encompassing both houses of the Divided Kingdom, and most certinaly included the inhibitants of Jerusalem, the "holy city" (v. 14b). For God will not spare anyone merely because they have the appearance of piety and are outwardly religious, but inside they are full of pride and unbelief, even though they may be in Jerusalem where the templs was. The good news will cause many Jews to stumble, fall and be broken (v. 15); all who do not trust in God by faith for their salvation.

Verse 16 shows that even at this time those who remain faithful to God must continue to stand firm and seal up the teaching or law in their hearts. In other words, they are to continue to abide in Scripture for their comfort and strength. Like Isaiah, we are to hope and wait on God who has in judgment hidden His face from the unfaithful and disobedient (v. 17). Verse 18 brings back to mind the use of Isaiah's two sons in 7:3, 15, 16; 8:1-3 as signs against faithless Israel. Through the prophetic words of judgment, Isaiah proclaims the authoritative Word of God which seals Judah's sins and destruction. Verses 21-22 prophesies the punishment of the wicked, showing their great distress and hunger and their contemptuous speech against both God and king. They will see nothing but death and darkness, thick darkness is their destination, and their final destination is hell.

Verses 19 tells us about the deplorable state of the Jews who desire to seek guidance from other gods, the dead (necromancy) and occultic powers (mediums), instead of their living God. Should they not inquire of their God, yet in their wickedness they know no bounds to their rebellion, asking the dea on behalf of the living rather than the Living God who controls all things. And verse 20 show us our ultimate frame of reference with regards to doctrine and life. For all of such innovations by the Jews, Isaiah sounds forth a clarion call back to God and His commands through the text of Scripture. "To the law and the testimony!", he proclaims. Law here referring to the first five books of Moses; the Torah, while testimony refers to the judges and prophetic utterances, and all of this constitute Scripture or God's Holy Word. If they do not follow the Scriptures, Isaiah proclaimed, it is because they have no dawn, or no light in them. The sufficiency of Scripture here is proclimed by the prophet Isaiah, in that Scripture and only Scripture must dictate our lives, other than that, there is no light and no life in such practices and teachings.

Therefore, in conclusion, let us learn to trust in God once more. Do not be overly concerned about the degeneration of this world but rather live in obedience to God in holiness for Him. The LORD of hosts, Him we must honor as holy. Let Him be our fear, and let Him be our dread, and thus He will be a sanctuary for us. Amen.

Book Review: Convergence

I have prepared a short review of this interesting book by Sam Storms entitled Convergence: The Spiritual Journey of a Charismatic Calvinist on my website here. I think this is an interesting book for those who are Reformed with experential and Charismatic sympathies (ie John Piper).