The Value of You

Have you ever been depressed? Ever doubt your worth? After falling miserably and flatly upon your face, do you often wonder why you are even here? Here as in on this earth, and in this time. Are you an accident of natural selection and are meaninglessly wondering through life? These may seem absurd or raw questions, but they are from postulations and conclusions of modern Atheism. Some feel that they have simply evolved here and yet I feel that I am here because of a Creator who created the very first man--Adam. 

Man and animal are creations of God. Man however transcends the animal by being a creation with the image of God upon him/her. Man is different from the animals in many ways. In fact, the Garden of Eden and the environment for man was made especially for him to examine and learn from. God gave a mandate for man to have dominion over the earth and all of the animals. It is a God given command to conquer and rule the earth (See Genesis 1:28). The KJV uses the term "subdue" which implies a degree of sovereignty, control, and direction over nature. Man then is not to merely relish and exhaust the creation but also to advance civilization and regulate natural forces.

He is not an evolution of a lower species deriving from chance or random natural selection. Man alone has the capacity for self-consciousness, speech and the spark of morality. We are forced to recognize a metaphysical dimension that is about the human person. As humans (matter) we know four dimensions by way of our five senses (length, height, width, time). Today however some cosmologists suggest there could be 10 or even almost 30! To say that God does not exist is to accept and embrace one's own arrogant conclusions, drawn from incomplete data! In spite of the fall of Adam and Eve man still has this quality in some sense. In this way man is “in the image of God” apart from regeneration. He is made more Christ-like in salvation by faith and is being spiritually transformed and re-birthed. The value of you does not simply end or begin at a certain age, that is why euthanasia is despicable but popular in Atheist societies (communism).

Man is not divine but has intrinsic value that transcends that of anything on earth or in our Universe. It certainly transcends other created things. You and I have this value! The Hebrew terms selem (image) and demut (likeness) are basically synonymous terms. Early church fathers, like Iraenaeus, uniformly distinguished these terms but both terms point to spiritual qualities shared by both God and man. When God became a man, He began to exist in a dual manner as God who was here and yet God who still transcended as the Creator God of the Universe. Jesus knew and recognized this distinction since He was indeed God who had genuinely become a man. He recognized that God was also somewhere other than Himself. This act gives even more value and meaning to each and every human life that is born and enters into history and time. Indeed in an awful world there is a value and gem in the mind of God called man! You and me. 

Sin is an awful stain upon man since it is a denigration to the very image of God that all of man shares. This punishment is severe and yet by the power of the Holy Spirit we are to be transformed away from such stains. Sin however creeps into the believer as well. The sin then is a greater blight against this value and the enhancement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Sin has always been seen in a negative and positive sense. Hebrews 11:25 suggests that sin has pleasure in it, but only for a season or a short time (NIV). Some Calvinist even believe that sin and evil are the creations of God. Sin however is the ultimate blight upon man's value! God does not wish to devalue His own image, that is why He has given us Jesus Christ! Man then only enjoys his sin, much like human gluttony enjoys the taste of another morsel. A morsel he does not need. 

God cared so much about his Creation that He would come to offer peace and reconciliation between Himself and fallen man. By grace He came and died for us as a genuine man (Son of God) and took upon Himself the sin of the whole world. We have the option of standing in Judgement with His righteous merit, or our own pitiful selves. Our trust and obedience to Him and His Word will grant us peace and reconciliation and then are becoming spiritually transformed until we are glorified and meet with Him when He comes, a second time.


Musings on the Papacy of Rome

The Pope of Rome:

George Joyce in The Catholic Encyclopedia makes no bones about the collective expression of the Catholic Church concerning the pope when he states:
“The title 'pope' once used with far greater latitude, is at present employed solely to denote the Bishop of Rome, who, in virtue of his position as successor of St. Peter, is the chief pastor of the whole Church, the Vicar of Christ upon earth.”

This statement is more revealing than one might note at first. In fact, it either concedes that the pope has not always been in its present condition or that it will one day change. Protestants and Evangelicals agree that it is indeed something that did not just occur as a command from Christ to the one considered first pope-Peter (See Matthew 16:18-19). In fact, J. P. Kirsch asserts that Peter grew in prominence and then was given headship over all the Apostles. The key text for this argument is found in Matthew 16:18-19. He states that in those texts we see Christ declaring Peter as the “spiritual guidance of the faithful”. Speaking of the wishes of Christ he continues:

“His statement then admits of but one explanation, namely, that He wishes to make Peter the head of the whole community of those who believed in Him as the true Messias; that through this foundation (Peter) the Kingdom of Christ would be unconquerable; that the spiritual guidance of the faithful was placed in the hands of Peter, as the special representative of Christ.”

The current situation of the papacy “is a relatively late institution” (Geisler). Although the claims and contradictions of the Catholic Church are many on the issue of the pope some of the characters of the papacy have been varied since some have been heretics and others seemingly good men left with “little choice but to wield power…since no one else was there do so in any kind of stable way.” Some came to be pope in much different ways than others but culturally a pope was at times a good alternative to chaos when no emperor existed or a competent one at least.

 In fact, Gregory the Great, who became pope in 590 AD, was a politician who became had become a monk. Tradition suggests that he even attempted to leave Rome hidden in a huge basket to escape being voted in as pope. Gregory called himself “the servant of the servants of Christ” which was to become a title that all popes since would take on. This has indeed been an albatross about the necks of some popes as many were heretics and given to corruption, most of which occurred after the era of Gregory the Great.

Foundations for Popery:

Prior to Gregory, Damasus I reigned as the bishop of Rome from 366-384 AD. Damasus however had a very “high view of his own authority”. In fact, The Catholic Encyclopedia records this, “The increased prestige of the early papal decretals…belongs to the reign of Damasus…This development of the papal office, especially in the West, brought with it a great increase of external grandeur. This secular splendour, however, affected disadvantageously many members of the Roman clergy, whose worldly aims and life, bitterly reproved by St. Jerome, provoked (29 July, 370) and edict…forbidding ecclesiastics and monks (later also bishops and nuns) to pursue widows and orphans in the hope of obtaining from them gifts and legacies.”

Damasus also took the historical title of a pagan Roman priest “pontifex maximus”. Interestingly enough Damasus was the one to argue that “the authority of the bishop of Rome had been established by Jesus himself.” His proof text, of course, was Matthew 16:18-19.  Siricius, his successor, was the first to use the title of “pope”. A synod in 495 AD, held at Rome, became the very first to declare any pope (Gelasius I) as “the Vicar of Christ”. It is here that Hill believes the “theological foundations” for papal power were laid.

This foundation had been laid in imperial Rome as bishops or simply men, in need of a savior as everyone else, rose to prominence and unjust jurisdiction over people’s and lands. Rome however is a very important place to anyone who is a student of the Scriptures since it is there that both Peter and Paul were martyred for Christ. The Apostles had travelled spreading the Gospel as they went and consequently establishing an assembly of the Body of Christ in those respective places. The understanding that their letters and writings were indeed inspired Scripture tantamount to the Hebrew Scriptures is apparent in the New Testament (See 1 Timothy 5:18; 1 Peter 3:15-16). Therefore, there was and is a natural respect and inclination of authority vested in their words and commands given us and preserved by our Creator God.  These two ingredients were essential in the usurpation of such authority and power from the foundational Apostles of the Church to that of heretics and men wanting to bring civility.

Damasus I began the rolling tide of popery by actually wresting the meaning of Christ’s words in Matthew 16:18-19. Therefore, a perversion and manipulation of the church erupted from a misinterpretation of the very text given for the Church itself. Let us consider this key text and Catholic misinterpretations.

Key text for doctrine of the Pope: Matthew 16:15-19

Matthew 16:15-19, He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." NRSV

Reformation apologist James R. White contends that this passage is “key” but further says it is a “final refuge” for the position held by the Catholic Church. I would have to agree with White and the Reformation’s traditional interpretation here although there are at least 3 other interpretations as to whom or what the “rock” is in vs. 18. White states: “The central theme is the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. Any interpretation that takes the focus off of Jesus as Messiah is missing the point.” Indeed it gives further solidarity to the Christology of the New Testament.

It is also significant that Christ said “My church” (See Matthew 16:18) demonstrating that he alone is the architect and builder as well. Texts such as Acts 4:11, 12; 1 Corinthians 3:1l; Ephesians 5:23 indicate that that Christ is both the foundation and the head of the church. By the use of the pronoun here Spiros Zodhiates suggests, “The Lord Jesus is not only going to build His church; He's going to possess it in the fullest sense. It is His church, and no one else's. And He alone builds. As the apostle Paul says later, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God increased (1 Cor 3:6; a.t.)

It is can also be noted that in Matthew 16:18-19 two different concepts are used. Jesus uses the terms “church” and “kingdom of heaven” and makes a proper distinction here. The church consists of the Body of Christ or the believers on earth then and now. The Kingdom of heaven is considered by some to pertain to the earthly and heavenly realms. The point then of “binding and loosing” is that things which have and are conclusively decided by God (kingdom of heaven) are also going to be or should be imitated by the Church on earth. The Church is comprised of believers who acknowledge the common confession, as did Peter, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

William Webster has stated that “the overwhelming majority of the Fathers of the early centuries cannot be cited as supporters of the Roman Catholic interpretation of Matt 16:18 as proposed by Vatican One.” Augustine and John Chrysostom are among two of the greatest patristic theologians (East and West) that refute the Catholic notion and maintain a consistent Scriptural argument that is against the Roman Catholic interpretation that is persistent until this day.

The word for “Peter” (petros) means a small stone (John 1:42). Jesus uses a play on words here when he uses “rock” (petra) because this word refers to a foundation boulder (cf. 7:24, 25). It is out of harmony with much of the New Testament to attribute this use of “rock” to Peter himself since it is clear from the texts that Christ is both the foundation (Acts 4:11, 12; 1 Cor. 3:11) and the head (Eph. 5:23) of the church. The original Apostles did play a foundation role in the early church; however, a role with Peter having popish-like primacy seems ridiculous when such a role should always be reserved for Christ alone. This is further demonstrated in the very next verse when Christ warns them not to tell anyone that He was the Christ (See 16:20). The subject of the pericope rests upon the identity of Christ, found in the words of Peter.

Spiritual House built up by Living Stones

Just prior Peter had acknowledged and spoke as representative of the others, as usual, that Jesus was indeed the Messiah! To this response Jesus tells him that the Father had revealed this to him and not “flesh and blood”. Therefore, from the lips of Peter—a small stone—has come a foundation stone, upon which the church will and shall be built. Matthew being Hebrew, as well as all other Scripture writers excluding Luke, would naturally use such concrete concepts as “rock” here. Platonic Greek thought tended towards expressing things in more abstract concepts (e.g. mercy, love).

1 Peter 2:5-6, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (6) For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." NIV

Indeed in this preceding text Peter has later explained the imagery again when he states that the church is a “spiritual house” built of “living stones” (believers). In vs. 6 he quotes the prophet Isaiah 28:16, a reference to Christ being the chosen and precious foundational stone. Living stones confess that Jesus is the Christ; the Son of the living God and Peter as well as subsequent believers can do the same.


 1.      Joyce, G. (1911). The Pope. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 24, 2008 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12260a.htm

2.      Kirsch, J.P. (1911). St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 26, 2008 from New Advent:http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11744a.htm

3.      Geisler, N. L., & MacKenzie, R. E. (1995). Roman Catholics and Evangelicals : Agreements and differences (279). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

4.      Hill, Jonathan. Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity. Copyright © 2006 by Jonathan Hill Pg. 169

5.      White, R. James. The Roman Catholic Controversy, Copyright © 1996

6.      Zodhiates, Spiros. Exegetical Commentary on Matthew. Copyright © 2006 by AMG Publishers. All rights reserved. Used by permission

7.      Webster, William. Roman Catholic Tradition, Copyright © 1994, 1999 Christian Resources


Image of God in Man: Are you any better than the animals?

Blasé Pascal once said:

What a chimera is man! What a novelty, what a monster, what a chaos, what a subject of contradictions, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, witless worm! Casket of truth, sewer of incertitude and error, glory and refuse of the universe.” (Pascal, The Pensées, frag. 246)

Such a view does give us, as fellows of mankind, reason to pause and indeed consider ourselves afresh. Pascal does echo similarities found in Scripture. The text of Scripture frequently describes man as a sinful creature in need of redemption. In fact, God has told us that all have sinned (Romans 3:23). God did not create man to be totally independent of Him. Man is indeed dependent upon God and that is a problem seen and resolved in the Genesis account. Honoring and recognizing the creator and subsequently surrendering self-will to Him is what has brought about divergent anthropological views. If man realizes there is a Creator then he should also realize that the Creator has a plan and desire for His creation.

Man was made in the image of God. When God created Adam, He created him in the likeness in which the Christ child would later come; it was the visible apparatus that God chose before the foundations of the world. The form in which Christ the Son of God would come predicated how God created Adam, the first human existence. Adam was also made in the image of God in an inward or spiritual sense, thereby causing us to express attributes that God possesses such as love, wisdom, intellect, and will.

Thomas Aquinas, an early Christian, scholar laid much ground work for future believers. He has much to say about the “image of God.” The words of Aquinas are profound. In fact, in his Summa Theologica he states:

Since man is said to be the image of God by reason of his intellectual nature, he is the most perfectly like God according to that in which he can best imitate God in his intellectual nature. Now the intellectual nature imitates God chiefly in this, that God understands and loves Himself. Wherefore we see that the image of God is in man in three ways.

First, inasmuch as man possesses a natural aptitude for understanding and loving God; and this aptitude consists in the very nature of the mind, which is common to all men.

Second, inasmuch as man actually and habitually knows and loves God, though imperfectly; and this image consists in the conformity of grace.

Thirdly, inasmuch as man knows and loves God perfectly; and this image consists in the likeness of glory. Wherefore on the words, "The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us" (Psalm 4:7), the gloss distinguishes a threefold image of "creation," of "re-creation," and of "likeness." The first is found in all men, the second only in the just, the third only in the blessed

Man and animal are creations of God. Man however transcends the animal by being a creation with the image of God upon him/her. Man is different from the animals in many ways. In fact, the Garden of Eden and the environment for man was made especially for him to examine and learn from. Man is to have dominion. It is a God given command to conquer and rule the earth (See Genesis 1:28). The KJV uses the term "subdue" which implies a degree of sovereignty, control, and direction over nature. Man is not to merely relish and exhaust the creation but also to advance civilization and regulate natural forces.

Man is not divine, but certainly transcends other created things. For example, the Hebrew term selem (image) and demut (likeness) are basically synonymous. Early church fathers, like Iraenaeus, uniformly distinguished these terms but both terms point to spiritual qualities shared by God and man.

Man transcends all of creation by virtue of this quality. It is because of this that man is completely differentiated from all other created things. He is not an evolution of a lower species deriving from chance or random natural selection. Man alone has the capacity for self-consciousness, speech and the spark of morality. In spite of the fall of Adam and Eve man still has this quality in some sense. In this way man is “in the image of God” apart from regeneration. He is made more Christ-like in salvation by faith and is being spiritually transformed and rebirthed.

The Apostle Paul writes, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come” (KJV Romans 5:14). The HCSB says, “He is a prototype of the Coming One” (Rom. 5:14). When one feels mercy or love, he or she is utilizing divine characteristics of the very nature of which God consists. These attributes are given by God to man.


1. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas Second and Revised Edition, 1920 Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province Online Edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1093.htm

Musings about the Canon and Orthodoxy:

Orthodoxy Demands Canonization:

From Jesus to the present day there has been an unbroken chain of tradition, a veritable standard against which beliefs could be tested. The length and breadth of this standard however has not always been the same. Basic doctrines and practices have been inherited since Jesus and the Apostles. “The first Christians, then, were Jews who believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead, thereby vindicating his message.”[1] Oral tradition or the rule of faith by preaching the Gospel was common early on and many Christians were basically just a part of Judaism since many still had little differentiation. They held dear to those traditions given them by those intimate with Christ, the Apostles, or companions. Christianity however thrived on Old Testament teachings and soon the letters from the Apostles and companions of the Apostles such as Luke and Paul.

Sacred Writings:

These writings were kept sacred, just as they did the Hebrew Bible (See 1 Timothy 5:18; 1 Peter 3:15-16). They were read in daily worship, communal meals or in Eucharist celebrations on the first day of the week. It became necessary to preserve the tenets of the Christian faith. In Mark 7:5 the same Greek word for “traditions” of the Pharisees is the same Greek word later used by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:15. Here though Paul refers to a “tradition” that has been passed down by the Apostles and should be held to firmly. These letters were considered sacred by believers and were read as far as they could be copied and sent.

B.L. Shelly says, “Since the first Christians were all Jews, Christianity was never without a canon, or as we say, Scripture.”[2] By the first century, in the days of Irenaeus and Tertullian, Christians believe that they also possessed writings by the Apostles and their companion disciples such as Luke and Paul, or the brother of Jesus—James.

Concise Examination of a Need for Canonization:

The need for authority and standardization of specifically Christian doctrine and faith is mostly why a canon of Scripture was eventually fully established. Orthodoxy demanded the canon in some sense. Since many groups existed very early on that taught a variety of beliefs (Docetism, Montanism, Ebionism, Gnosticism, and Marcionites). The early believers were already familiar with the standard authority of the Old Testament; Paul made this clear in 2 Timothy 3:15. Outside of that the Pauline Epistles and the Gospels were probably held to be sacred. Historically churches, groups, writings, or individuals that diverged from, what we would later call the canonized Scriptures, were considered heretical. Some writings were considered pure heresy and needed to be dispelled, while others were deemed deuterocanonical, a secondary canon. For the most part, outside the Catholic Church this second canon (LXX; Apocrypha: Judith, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, First and Second Machabees; also certain additions to Esther and Daniel) however is not recognized. It is not included in most Bibles realized as Divine Scriptures.

For the sake of discussion we will look at some negative reasons for the canon. As Christianity grew and flourished heresy grew along side. Therefore there is a negative aspect as well. There are certain dates and people that gave impetus to the canon.

Geisler and Nix suggest “At least as early as a.d. 140 the heretical Marcion accepted only limited sections of the full New Testament canon. Marcion’s heretical canon, consisting of only Luke’s gospel and ten of Paul’s epistles, pointed up clearly the need to collect a complete canon of New Testament Scriptures.” [3] The need is clearly pointed out here. The New Testament canon process lasted 100-220 AD.[4] The Old Testament canon is much earlier but harder to articulate precisely without more detail. The canon of both Testaments known to us as the Bible comes later. Concerning the New Testament canon however Geisler-Nix note, “Although the church did not give official recognition to the canon prior to the late fourth century, it is misleading to say there was no recognition before then.”[5] In the meantime and even until today aberrant theologies emerge.

Montanism is just such a one. It emerged in the second half of the second century. It did not hold many beliefs that early church objected to, at first, but they relied too heavily upon revelation and prophecy coupled with a tendency to exalt revelation over reason. Indeed Tertullian, the one to coin the Latin term trinitas, (Trinity) was himself a Montanist. In fact, Geisler and Feinberg note, “It is true, nonetheless, that Tertullian exalted revelation above human reason. In one famous passage he cried out: “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the academy and the church?”[6]

Hill states that mystical rites, once based upon Christian ones, began to imitate ecstatic trances of their prophetesses. Before long it resembled a pagan mystery religion rather than Christianity. Montanus claimed to be the leader of the church, with new revelation, until Christ returned. After his death and non-appearance of Christ the movement suffered vitally.

Ebionism was more severe. It was a mixture of Christianity and Judaism. Ebionism is first mentioned by Irenaeus in 175 AD. “This view asserted that the law of Moses was equal to the doctrine of Christ”[7] H.F. Vos says “it was in reality only a continuation and amplification of the Judaistic opposition to the apostle Paul. In his letter to the Galatians he sternly rebuked those who sought salvation through law keeping.”[8]

Hill states that Gnosticism “was without doubt the biggest and most controversial movement within Christianity.” Gnosticism was everywhere. It was not a single sect, but a whole host of movements with similar views while some were extremely variant. Hill notes that the basic conviction was in dualism. This meant that there are two overarching principles. The good and the evil, and of course diametrically opposed. It is suggested that Gnosticism is indebted to Zoroastrianism and Platonism.

Canonization: Its Place and Process

Obviously such aberrations indicate a need for a standard. Greek religion believed that God had actually spoken through men. Such men as Homer or Hesiod, early Greek poets, were just such ones. Christians believe that God had spoken to them as well through the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament Scriptures. In fact, the evidence for the Christian texts is decidedly overwhelming in comparison to any other ancient piece of literature. Even Homer and Hesiod.

Apostolic approval was just as important though, not just Apostolic authorship. Books were canonized by God and man discovered them. In discovering this there was a process. Geisler and Nix suggest these questions, or the like, are at the very foundation of this discovery process:

1. Was the book written by a prophet of God?

2. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God?

3. Did the message tell the truth about God?

4. Does it come with the power of God?

5. Was it accepted by the people of God?

The books we have now are divinely inspired. It is the prophecy of many that indicate its inspiration and need for canonization. As the church grew it had demands. Theological and practical problems in the Christian lifestyle needed addressing.

When Christians were preaching the Gospel they could have a standard by which all other beliefs or books were judged by, the canon of Scripture. The New Testament canon was not fully completed until the 4th Century. Interestingly, many of the early church fathers, dating from the 1st Century, cite or quote from nearly every book. As alluded to earlier, the primary reason for accepting a writing or book into the canon of Scripture was whether or not it had been written by an apostle or an immediate disciple.

In 1546 the Council of Trent was held. It was not until this council, a council dominated predominately by the Roman Catholic Church, the acceptance of canonization actually took place. Trent essentially adopted the list that had been drawn up at the Council of Florence in 1442. This canon however does include the second canon, also called the Apocrypha. George Reid, from the Catholic Encyclopedia states: “In the mind of the Tridentine Fathers they had been virtually canonized, by the same decree of Florence”. As Reid suggests, at Trent we witness first acts solemnly declaring as "sacred and canonical" all the books of the Old and New Testaments, the two Testaments that Protestant and Evangelical churches hold dear.[9]

Protestant Churches have always continued to exclude the dueterocanon and deem them as apocryphal. At times deuterocanonicals are included as an appendix in Protestant Bibles, this tradition however is not found largely in English speaking countries.


[1] Hill, Jonathan. Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity. Copyright © 2006 by Jonathan Hill. Pg. 24

[2]Shelley, B. L. (1995). Church history in plain language (Updated 2nd ed.) (58). Dallas, Tex.: Word Pub.

[3]Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996, c1986). A general introduction to the Bible. Includes indexes. Includes a short-title checklist of English translations of the Bible (chronologically arranged). (Rev. and expanded.) (278). Chicago: Moody Press.

[4] Reid, G. (1908). Canon of the New Testament. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 14, 2008 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm

[5]Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996, c1986). A general introduction to the Bible. Includes indexes. Includes a short-title checklist of English translations of the Bible (chronologically arranged). (Rev. and expanded.) (282). Chicago: Moody Press.

[6]Geisler, N. L., Feinberg, P. D., & Feinberg, P. D. (1980). Introduction to philosophy : A Christian perspective (262). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

[7]Sell, H. T. (1998, c1906). Studies in early church history. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

[8]Vos, H. F., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1996). Exploring church history. Originally published in 1994 under title: Introduction to church history; and in series: Nelson's Quick reference. Nelson's Christian cornerstone series. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[9] Reid, G. (1908). Canon of the Old Testament. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved July 15, 2008 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm


The Truth about Deception:

Deception for Our Times:

When we think of Biblical Warnings about the last days, what comes to mind? Some will think of earthquakes, wars, the Mark of the Beast, or the Anti-Christ. There are so many different opinions and views on events in the last days. In this day and hour you can really take your pick as it concerns end time views. The following story, hopefully, can cut through all the chatter and help us see something very important.

A janitor would wait patiently each week for a group of seminarians to finish their basketball game. While he waited, he would study his Bible. One day, as the seminarians were leaving the gym, they noticed the janitor carefully reading the text in his lap. One young man asked which biblical book was the subject of the janitor’s study. The old man answered, “The Book of Revelation.” The ballplayer was surprised and asked the janitor if he understood the complicated book. “Oh, yes!” the man answered. “I understand it. It means that Jesus is gonna win!” -- And that is a most accurate analysis of the Book of Revelation!

The janitor's words are quite profound and true. When we look at end time or eschatological studies you can see a very loud warning. It is a warning that is thread all the way through scripture. It is the caution against falling victim to deception and deceivers. The first and last warnings about the end times in Jesus’ discourse on the Mt. of Olives are cautions about deception.

Jesus started by saying, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4) And He concluded about a warning of false prophets, “For there shall arise false Christ’s, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24)

In this discourse, Jesus makes use of the word “deceive” four different times. Then we look at the Epistles of Paul and in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

When we first look at this text, some may not see why it is relevant to you or me today. But if a deceiver or false prophet is anyone who portrays the truth of God falsely, it looks different.

Could a false prophet be someone who convinces us that it is ok to compromise eternal values? By this broader definition of a false prophet or deceiver, many of us can be swept into its layer. Deception comes packaged many times in the bundle of a lie or lies. Thus a lie is to deceive.

Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." Accordingly, a false prophet can be one who gives advice or encourages us to act against the will of God; gives advice contrary to scripture; gives advice falsely to purposely under-mind Godly leadership; someone who brings into question the absoluteness or completeness of God’s Word.

Three Battle Grounds:

It is not my purpose to point to specifics, but to point to the warning and the battle grounds upon which such wars are waged. In this generation there is an all out war waged against morality and sound Bible teachings. In this war there are three battlegrounds where the apparatus of deception is employed.

The first battleground and most obvious is the assault from the secular society, pressuring us to compromise Christian principles and values. We see this everyday as gnosticism and liberalism eat away at long held values and truths.

The second battleground
is the pressure we face from people within the church who do not hold to the values and principles of God’s Word. They adhere to individual philosophies or misconceptions of Scripture. Many have lost a high view of Scripture. They have been deceived that it is only a piece of literature with little value.

The third battleground is the one we struggle with inside our minds. The battle is to gain control over the internal temptation to compromise our beliefs.

The truth about deception is that it is real, and it is being employed in these last days to attack Christian principles; the very truth of God's Word; and your mind.

2 Peter 1:2-8:

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God has given us the necessary tools to be triumphant and have overcoming power. However, we must notice that Peter goes on to say, starting at verse 5, to add to your faith. To yield way to these things to transpire in your life, move out of the way and let them happen!

1. Virtue – Moral Excellence/Character
2. Knowledge – Understanding of God’s Word and knowledge of Him
3. Temperance – Self-control
4. Patience – Patient endurance
5. Godliness – Exercise/Actions of your love to God in obedience to his will and commitment to his service
6. Brotherly Kindness – Love one like they were your TRUE brother
7. Charity - brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

As Spirit-filled and Spirit-led Christians we must allow these things to be added in our lives and walk with God. Many times because of our circumstances or dilemma’s we seek out other avenues of intervention, when we should be looking unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith.

If a Christian could develop these 7 attributes, self-deception would be a thing of the past. The psychologist and psychiatrist would have to close there door!

1. Temperance/Self-control will not let you lose it and do or say things we should not.
2. Virtue/Morality will not let you keep the dark secrets of life hidden close to you!
3. Patience will make you wait for the answer from God!
4. Brotherly kindness will not let you harbor hatred towards another!
5. Charity/Love will make your life open as a rose in the morning dew!
6. Knowledge will tell you that God is on your side!
7. Godliness will keep you in His will.

The truth about deception is that it is attempting to hide from you one very profound truth. Yes, deception is an attempt to hide truth. The truth is that you and I are not totally independent creations.

Human Dependence:

I understand that God has created me for a purpose. That purpose transcends my secondary pursuits as an individual in modern times. It transcends my dreams, goals, or aspirations. It is a greater purpose than getting a skill or trade to provide for one's family. It is an eternal purpose that should govern our existence here on earth, in the continuum of time.

That purpose I believe is our relationship with God. Christopher Hitchens and the such like look at religion and what has been made of it and scoff. They scoff at the notion of religion and its pertinence to society. Man was not created for total independence. Hitchens sees himself as a meaningless being wandering through a never ending evolution. He even purports that earth might be a dump for a higher civilization of beings. Well, there he is. Richard Dawkins says he would rather believe that an alien life form started human civilization, rather than God.

Man is dependent, it is the human dilemma. That is part of mans purpose. The Genesis account clearly proves that we were created to be in communion and relationship with our Creator God. God wanted someone to be with. He made man. In the very first book of the Bible we see that man is fallen and yet there is a solution.

Man has gone his own way throughout time, but God has a final solution through Jesus Christ. Through Christ we can be restored, indeed reconciled back to right relationship with God. It is a way of living, a way of thinking. It is seeking to please God above man. To rather seek and long for that which would be pleasing and acceptable to God and not trends and patterns of fallen human thought. It is to be in accordance with His natural order and a desire and love to do so.

The Plight of the Liberal

The plight of the liberal is freedom. Who knows if or when one is a liberal, or whether or not they are acting liberal? The point is that they are with us; this plight is with us. It is with us as much as they are with us. Since the Fall in the Garden liberalism has been de-constructing what God originally designed and intended. Liberal thought is basically a thought pattern or intent to liberate man from certain standards or restrictions thereby increasing a sense of freedom. In some sense freedom is necessary for Truth to survive and become known.

For example, truth is the relationship between our thoughts and reality. If I called a friend and told him that I posted a particular thread on this blog and that, later, I wanted him to read that thread. My friend would only have my word and his thoughts until he got to his computer and went to my blog and saw the reality. The reality that I indeed did post a particular thread. Truth is the relationship between thoughts and reality. Freedom then enables us to know truth. Thankfully we know the Truth of God's Word today because of freedom that we enjoy. Freedom that liberal thinking people took from tyranny. Liberal then is a bit relative.

The issue becomes absurd and confusing when freedom is conceived of as self-autonomy. Liberty without order is not liberty but soon to be infringement upon another person's freedom. In fact, to have liberty you must be willing to give it to others.

When liberty destroys order, the hunger for order will destroy liberty. Will Durant
Those who overtly seek freedom from laws can become lawless and no longer be free. Their liberating conquest is now an enemy unto themselves and has bound them to the consequences of aloneness and self-governance. When one's liberties, like those of terrorism, begin to embark upon the liberties and freedoms of others then order must destroy that liberty to survive. There is and will always be a thin line between freedom and order; freedom and authority.

Voltaire once said, "man is free at the moment he wishes to be." In some sense this is true, yet man only becomes free from one taskmaster to become property of another.

Adam and Eve realized after the Fall that they could not hide from God within the leaves and cover of the Garden of Eden. God indeed found them. Now man seeks to hide within himself. Man, inwardly, is constantly wishing and wanting to be free from constraint...to be self-autonomous. In fact, in large part this is the plight of the atheist too. He does not want a God over him.

No human will be without the struggle of flesh and spirit. No human will find true happiness and contentment without following after God and yielding control to His Holy Spirit. Man cannot find Eden on His own. Eden is no longer a place on the map, it is a relationship with God.

Galatians 5:1 NIV
(1) is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:24 NIV
(24) Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5 speaks of our freedom in Christ and to not turn to the yokes of slavery. Yet we must hold such words in contrast to vs. 24. Paul says we "belong" to Christ. Just three chapters earlier Paul stated:

Galatians 2:20 NIV
(20) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
No we are not slaves to this world, but we have indeed chosen to crucify ourselves. To die and then live again as Christ lives in us. We BELONG to Christ. Having it "your way" may work for fast-food but it does not work for the Apostolic lifestyle. We are in a race and in such a race let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. We must endure and finish the race. Sin will cause us to miss this mark.

Everyday man is in a battle with his humanity. In fact, humanity may once again, take control, reach its pinnacle and bring human thought and intellect back to its darkest times. When one tends toward liberalism, indeed if one ever feels the need for this plight, he should ask himself four questions.

1. Am I attempting to make more room for my flesh to glory?
2. How much room have I made to glorify God lately?
3. Will this liberty prove too heavy for me in this race?
4. Who is in control here? Me or God.

In the Garden of Eden man and woman had only one rule. Israel had hundreds of rules. Both sinned and rebelled against God. They fell short. We must realize, even in this pursuit, that rules and order will only help those who are truly committed to the pursuit of freedom.

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)