Posted in Bible Doctrine

Has God encoded a hidden message in outer space?

Does God exist, and has He left a hidden message for man? ARTICLE: Two physicists are analyzing Cosmic Microwave Background in space, seeking to answer “what the medium and message might be IF there was actually a message.” While they don’t subscribe to Intelligent Design, they suppose “the CMB would make the perfect billboard on which to leave a message that would be visible to all technological civilizations in the universe.”


Has a Creator encoded a message of proof in His creation?

Psalm 19 answers this precise question and provides an even more astonishing truth.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

The Creator God has revealed Himself, declared His glory, and shown His handywork in the heavens, but this divine message isn’t encrypted in mathematical codes, nor is it restricted to those with cutting edge technology to observe it or with elite education to understand it. You see, man needs not probe the dark recesses of outer space to imagine enigmatic media nor devise algorithms to conjure obscure messages from the Creator. Rather the Creator’s message in the heavens clearly reveals Himself every day, to all languages, to every place, and to all time – to the extent that He declares man to be without excuse (Psalm 97:6; Romans 1:18-20).


Is the Creator’s message difficult to ascertain?

To identify this (hypothetical) message from the (hypothetical) Creator, the aforementioned scientists translate temperature variations of the CMB into a binary bitstream and then attempt to decipher a message from the patterns of 1s and 0s.

This story is emblematic of man’s skeptical views of God and His message – skeptical of God’s existence but convinced that (if He exists) He communicates in cryptic ways. Both reveal a debilitating lack of faith. For it is by faith that we believe God framed the worlds (Hebrews 11:3; Psalm 33:6; Jeremiah 10:11-12), incidentally by His word.

But Psalm 19 continues to explain that God speaks not only generally through His creation but also specially through human language, preserved in the Bible.

Psalm 19:7-9 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Beyond His demonstration in creation, God gives revelation in Scripture. This message is not simply informative but transformative in nature. Consider the incredible power of God’s message to mankind: it converts the soul, imparts wisdom, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, and endures forever. Mankind, in straining to find some obscure message, overlooks God’s accessible, clear, and powerful message.



Skeptic, God is demonstrative and communicative. Rejoice that He has not left you scouring the galaxy for an obscure message from Him. He has clearly revealed Himself in His creation and in His Word. Receiving His most detailed and candid message about all that science cannot answer requires only two things (not a doctorate in science and high-tech equipment, but) a common Bible and a believing heart. Pick up a Bible and read it.

Believer, if lost man will labor and strive in attempt to discover a cryptic message from a God he doubts exist, how much more should you diligently & faithfully read, study, and love the clear and rich message from the God in whom you claim to believe. Pick up your Bible and read it.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Gramma and Priscilla

Many people claim their grandmother is the best, and I genuinely believe that’s because they don’t know mine. Yet I’ve struggled to describe this godly woman to those who don’t know her. Yesterday was her 85th birthday, and today might be her last day in this life.

God (as usual) ministered greatly to me in my daily reading and provided an example of her life. So, I’m writing to process it and preserve it, partly for others’ benefit but mostly for mine.


The pattern of my grandparents

In Acts 18, Scripture introduces a much-loved but little-known couple – Aquila and his wife, Priscilla. As I meditate on their Biblical record, I see my grandparents superimposed upon them.

Aquila & Priscilla travelled and ministered with Paul and were left behind with the infant church in Ephesus (Acts 18:18-23). They discipled Apollos to become a mighty preacher (Acts 18:26-28). They laid down their necks for the mission & were loved by all the churches (Romans 16:3-5). Their house was the meeting place for at least one church (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19). At the end of Paul’s life, he salutes them, as fellowlabourers who had been faithful to the end (2 Tim 4:19).

There are many parallels to my grandparents, who surrendered to the Lord’s call, moved up north, started 6 churches with salvations and baptisms totaling in the thousands, made disciples, trained pastors – all while bringing up five children to serve the Lord, who would bring up grandchildren, who would bring up great grandchildren to serve the Lord.

The pattern of my Gramma

It is noteworthy that Aquila is never mentioned alone in the Bible; in every verse, his wife, Priscilla, is explicitly listed with him. This must be because she was always by her husband’s side, surrendering to the mission with him, laboring in the ministry beside him, and absolutely vital to the work God was doing.

In each step of my Grandpa’s life, Gramma is notably at his side – laboring with him and absolutely vital to the work God was doing. Indeed, much could be said about my Grandpa – his transformation as a first-generation Christian, his spiritual leadership of four generations, and his fruitful ministry of church planting and pastoring – and notably, it was my Gramma who brought him to church, where He was wonderfully saved by Jesus.

Gramma is a prayer warrior and a faithful counselor who speaks the truth in love. In the midst of trouble, she demonstrates joy. In decades of change, she remains faithful. In old age, she doesn’t complain or criticize but manifests the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). She is a virtuous woman (Proverbs 31:10-31) in every sense; her children arise up and call her blessed, and her husband praises her.

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come – Proverbs 31:25.


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Why doesn’t God intervene?

Are you disappointed? Has God not answered your prayer? Are you asking, “Why?” Here’s a thought from John 11. Though Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11:3, 5, 11), He intentionally waited, not intervening to heal him (John 11:6, 21), which resulted in Lazarus’ death (John 11:14, 32) and his sisters’ grief (John 11:19, 33). This inevitably provoked the age-old question: why would an all-powerful, loving God allow bad things to happen to good people? Specifically, why didn’t Jesus intervene and prevent this situation if He had the power to heal (John 11:37). Thankfully, God gave us the answer in the rest of the story: Jesus allowed Lazarus to die to orchestrate a far greater story than just a healing; it’s a story about a RESURRECTION that conquers death (John 11:23, 25, 44); it’s a story that brought many to believe in Christ (John 11:42, 45); it’s a story that brought tremendous glory to God (John 11:4, 40).

What disappointment are you facing? In what way has God refrained His almighty power from intervening? Possibly it’s about health, relationships, elections, or ministry. Take comfort:

  • God is orchestrating a far greater story – ultimately leading to a resurrection that conquers death (1 Thessalonians 4; 1 Corinthians 15).
  • He is working a greater work – that many would believe in Christ.
  • He is fulfilling a greater purpose – to bring glory to Himself.

So dear Christian, walk by faith, believing that God works all things together for your good (Romans 8:28) and that He’s able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). Take a few moments to ponder how that greater story may unfold.

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Posted in Moral Issues

The original intent of The Second Amendment

What was the intent of the authors of The Second Amendment? Would they modify the language if they could’ve foreseen the availability & lethality of modern weapon systems?

Guns are one of the most controversial & polarizing issues in our country. Some people passionately oppose guns; some passionately defend them. While there are undoubtedly corrupt people who seek to disarm citizens to secure their power, the vast majority of gun opponents are sensible & responsible people who are rightly disturbed by gun violence. Likewise, while there are certainly lunatics who would use guns for evil, the vast majority of gun proponents sincerely believe they are a primary means of ensuring personal safety as well as political liberty.


The Language of the Second Amendment

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The central piece of legislation regarding firearms is The Second Amendment to the Constitution. It’s language, albeit aged, is clearly and strong, giving uninfringeable power both to regulated (i.e. exercised) militias (as opposed to a national army) and the individual person. One objection that might be the limiting factor in gun rights is – “What did the founding fathers have in mind?” What kind of weapons did they know about, and would they have wanted the populace to have the high-powered, fast-firing weapons that are available now?



The Authors of the Second Amendment

What did they have in mind when crafting & ratifying The Second Amendment? That the life of an individual, though it be costly, is a worthy sacrifice for the freedom of the nation.

While it’s enlightening to learn about specific contemporaneous weapon systems (e.g. canons, bombs, the Belton automatic rifle), it’s also revealing to consider the context of the founding fathers. The Second Amendment (along with the rest of the Bill of Rights) was passed in the first session of the first U.S. Congress. Some of the men of that first U.S. Congress were delegates to the First Continental Congress which adopted the Declaration of Independence. When they signed the Declaration of Independence they were putting their lives in jeopardy. If captured by the English, they would have been executed for treason. Other congressmen fought in the War for Independence – voluntarily laying their life on the line for the chance at freedom. Without exception every congressmen suffered personal loss in the war. The hearts of American Revolutionaries is well summarized in the closing line of the Declaration of Independence, “…We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

What did the founding fathers have in mind when crafting & ratifying The Second Amendment? That the life of an individual, though it be costly, is a worthy sacrifice for the freedom of the nation. That value wasn’t just rhetoric; it was forged in the war that vaporized possessions and that robbed parents of their sons, children of their dads, and wives of their husbands. They experienced the steep price of freedom (from tyrants foreign & domestic) and boldly legislated their belief that freedom is worth the cost.

I’m not saying all gun legislation is bad. I’m suggesting that we place a high premium on liberty, and we thank God for it. I’m suggesting that we hold our nation’s founders in high esteem, and we critically examine each legislation, policy or directive that affects it. I’m suggesting that we soberly count the cost of freedom and find it worthy. 


I want to know your thoughts:

  • Where would you draw the line for what weapons are available to the public?
  • And what legislative boundaries could be enacted without infringing on the rights of the people?
  • What (if any) role should militias play in our society?

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Abortion is sometimes humane… right?

“Abortion for a fetus with congenital disease or abnormality is the responsible and humane option.” Is this view consistent POST-birth? Is it humane to murder an infant diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome, a toddler with Multiple Sclerosis, or child with Muscular Dystrophy? Can God not heal? Can God not give grace? Does God not have a purpose?

If God takes special interest in the weak & helpless people of the world (Exodus 22:21-24; Psalm 68:5; 82:3-4; 94:6-7,23), shouldn’t we stand up for those who cannot protect or even speak for themselves?

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Posted in Bible Doctrine

Faith-based view of the Bible

A faith-based view of the Bible is a principal conviction of my life, and while most Christians would claim that their beliefs about the Bible are based on faith, often they are not. The two goals of this post are to explain the position of a faith-based view of the Bible and to expose its opposition.

Explaining the Position of a Faith-based View

So what exactly is a faith-based view of the Bible? That one’s beliefs about the Bible are based on faith in (i.e. believing) what the Bible says about Itself. Allow these congruent examples of faith-based beliefs to clarify:

  • Faith-based view of the CREATION:
    I believe God created everything in 6 days… because that’s what the Bible says. It is recorded Genesis & confirmed in the New Testament (Mark 10:6-8. Hebrews 1:10. 2 Peter 3:4) Although there are many Creationist scientists; Henry Morris has fantastic books; and Answers in Genesis has compelling thoughts about science… I believe in creation by FAITH (i.e. trusting what the Bible says).
    Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

  • Faith-based view of the FLOOD:
    I believe God destroyed life with a worldwide flood, sparing only the people and animals on the Ark… because that’s what the Bible says. Again, it is recorded in Genesis & confirmed by in the New Testament (Luke 17:26-27. Hebrews 11:7. 2 Peter 2:5). I don’t believe in the flood because every culture has an account of a cataclysmic flood, because archaeology may have found parts of the Ark, or because historians conclude that contemporaneous technology could have constructed an Ark compatible with Scripture; those things are interesting, but I believe in the flood by FAITH (i.e. trusting what the Bible says).
  • Faith-based view of the RESURRECTION:
    I believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead… because that’s what the Bible says (Mark 9:31. Mark 16:6. Acts 17:31), not because they found an empty tomb that they believe was Jesus’, not based of the writings of Josephus, and not dependent on shroud of Turin. I believe in the resurrection by FAITH (i.e. trusting what the Bible says).

Accordingly, a faith-based view of the Bible demands that one’s beliefs about the Bible are defined by the Bible Itself.

There are certain things I don’t understand about Creation, the Flood, and the resurrection (physics, chemistry, biology). Likewise, there are certain things I don’t understand concerning God’s Word – how did they decide which books to go in the Bible, when to add sections that were only in a few manuscripts, or which word to choose – but in all cases, I believe in spite of my questions.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

I suggest that the foundational issue of faith is critical to how a believer approaches every doctrine… including the Word of God itself.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Exposing the Opposition of a Faith-based View

Many Christians carry a faith-based view of the creation, the flood, the resurrection and salvation. If asked, “What do you believe about Heaven, Hell and salvation?” they would immediately refer to Bible verses to express their beliefs – because FAITH in the Bible is the basis for their beliefs on those subjects. But when asked about Scripture Itself (what they claim is the basis for all their beliefs), they automatically refer (and defer) to extra-biblical sources, and this immediate response exposes the authority & basis for their beliefs. Consider these faulty sources that are common for beliefs about the Bible:

  • Manuscript Science – how many; how old; how complete; where they were located; who possessed them; what kind of condition they’re in.
    But the man of God should forsake science to keep the Scriptures that are committed to him.

    1 Timothy 6:20-21 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith…
    Observe the warning that science will cause men to err from the faith. Science is the enemy of faith.

  • Secular Philosophy – the lines/origins of manuscripts; minority vs majority texts; Textual Criticism.
    But the man of God should be established in the faith (i.e. trusting in God’s Word).

    Colossians 2:7-8 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
    Observe the warning that while faith will establish the believer, philosophy will spoil the believer. Secular philosophy is the enemy of faith.

  • Human Wisdom – the education, beliefs & morals of the translators; readability of versions; recommendation from a professor or pastor; popularity.
    But the man of God should stand in faith of God’s Word.

    1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
    Observe that man’s wisdom is a faulty foundation for our beliefs. Human wisdom is the enemy of faith.

  • Traditional Fables – which version is older; which version we’ve always used; which version did a favorite theologian use.
    But the man of God should be nourished up & edified in the words of faith & doctrine.

    1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
    1 Timothy 4:6-7 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
    Observe that traditional fables yield questions not spiritual growth.

  • Worldly Cares – possibility for human error; pragmatic fear of congregational acceptance.
    But the man of God should trust that God will provide and should subject his fears to faith.
    Matthew 6:30 & Matthew 16:8 reveal that worrying about God’s provision is a lack of faith.
    Matthew 8:26 and Matthew 14:31 reveal that fear of circumstances is a lack of faith.
    Observe that worldly cares focus on man’s abilities (and inabilities) not God’s ability. Worldly cares are the enemy of faith.

**NOTE – All these are intriguing and valuable subjects – BUT NEVER should they take priority, precedence, or power over what the Bible says about Itself.

If one of these is your answer to what you believe about the Bible, I suggest you search out what the Bible says about Itself and allow that to define your beliefs. This is merely the foundational view/ approach to the Bible. Dedicate yourself to discovering what God says about His Word.


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Posted in Bible Doctrine, Ministry

Who runs the church – Part 2

I recently wrote on the subject of church authority. You can read the entire post here. The essence was: God designed the church to be led by a team of elders (AKA pastors), with one leader of leaders. The post was supplemented with a warning against a common distortion of Elder Rule – the malpractice of labeling non-pastors as elders. 

From that post I received some astute (and kind) questions concerning the definition of “ordained elder.” First, I want to mention that I appreciate feedback – especially of the courteous variety. The two primary questions are “How do you define an ORDAINED ELDER?” and “Would Presbyterian Ruling Elders qualify as ORDAINED ELDERS?” In this post I intend to address these two questions and clarify the definition of ordained elder. 


How do you define an ordained elder?

The Bible uses the term ELDER synonymously and interchangeably with SHEPHERD/PASTOR (1 Peter 5:1-4) and BISHOP (Titus 1:5-7). Elder, Pastor, and Bishop are terms for the same office (this is not surprising as the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, Israel, the church, and the Scriptures each hold several monikers).  There can be no Biblical ELDER who is not also a PASTOR and BISHOP. In cases where a church has elders who are not given the governing authority or teaching authority or ministerial authority, that church dangerously distorted the title and office of ELDER.

Additionally, it is beneficial to consider the Biblical description of the calling & ministry of an ELDER. A Biblical ELDER must:

  • Be called by the Spirit through a driving desire for ministry. 
  • Be ordained by the church planter and/or existing group of elders of the local church (i.e. presbytery). No church elder in Scripture was ordained or ratified by a denomination, association, or central church. 
  • Be primarily occupied with the ministry of the Word and prayer. Not just tasked with administrative boards, policies, councils, and committees but tasked with watching for the souls of the members, with protecting the flock from false doctrine, and with correcting sin in the church body.

 An ELDER’s calling & ministry must be consistent with the Scriptural description of the office. When a church gives the title of ELDER to men with no calling or with only operational responsibilities, that church has misplaced the title of ELDER.


Would Presbyterian Ruling Elders qualify as ordained elders?

The inquirer hails from a Presbyterian (PCA specifically) church where Elders must be men, meet the character requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and be examined and trained. Being in no way an authority on that brand of Presbyterian ecclesiology, I read the denomination’s Book of Church Order. While somewhat more Scriptural than some Presbyterian variants, I conclude that PCA differ markedly from the Biblical office of Elders.  

The PCA acknowledges that Elder, Pastor, & Bishop are synonymous, yet it still creates two distinct orders of elders – also called Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders. More than a mere difference in their area of leadership, the PCA also sets up two orders that are substantially different from each other. While some suggest (inconclusively) that 1 Timothy 5:17 implies some elders are not teaching elders, there is no Biblical ground for a lower order of elders who have different callings, ordination or authority. 

  • Teaching Elders are gifted and called to ministry by the Holy Spirit. PCA recognizes no such gifting or call for Ruling Elders.
  • The “Presbytery” (by which they mean denominational district leaders not the leadership of the local church) is comprised of all Teaching Elders and only a fraction of Ruling Elders.
  • Teaching Elders are ordained, installed, and removed by the “Presbytery” (denominational district leaders); Ruling Elders are controlled by local churches.
  • If there is no Teaching Elder in a local church, and no “Stated Supply” (substitute) can be found, the “Presbytery” (denominational district leaders) may authorize a Ruling Elder to have limited pastoral service (that of Teaching Elder)… BUT for no longer than a year.

The answer to “Would Presbyterian Ruling Elders qualify as ordained elders?” is no – because neither the churches nor the Elders themselves see them as Pastors. They are seen as many Baptist deacons are seen – decision-making laymen… but not Pastors.  The Biblical model of church polity vests authority not in a central church, denomination or association but in the elders of an autonomous local church – whether they are vocational, bi-vocational or tentmakers.


Why does it matter?

First, allow me to say that I rejoice to hear about people who have been born again and are serving our Lord Jesus, and I have no animosity toward churches of another denomination or church polity. With that said, God has clearly vested church authority in a team of pastors (elders); Dangers exist in usurping authority from the place where God entrusted it – whether that be placing it in the hands of a congregational vote, deacons, a single pastor, or board of “elders” who aren’t really pastors.

But most important to me, I want to be faithful to establish the authority of our church plant in the most Biblical way possible. This church is Christ’s body; He’s the Lord; He’s the Chief Shepherd. I cede all my plans to His design.

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Posted in Bible Doctrine

The Greatest Magic Trick of All Time… and the TRUTH

The story of the Exodus is legendary – God rescuing & freeing His enslaved people; Moses, the insecure, fugitive outcast-turned-deliverer; the fantastic plagues; the Passover; the parting of the Red Sea; and one of the most intriguing elements of the Exodus – the Egyptian magicians. They were able to imitate the sign of Moses and even the first two plagues, but the magicians’ greatest trick is still fooling everyone in the 21st century?


Identifying the Magicians

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. – 2 Timothy 3:8

Paul’s second letter to Timothy yields the two names that the Old Testament does not. Confirmation of Jannes & Jambres’ identity as two princes of Pharaoh’s magicians can be found everywhere from the Book of Jasher to Kabbalah, from Targum Jonathan to Pliny’s Natural History, from Jewish tradition to The Apocryphon of Jannes and Jambres the Magicians.

We would commonly define “magic” as sleight of hand/ illusion, but the true meaning of the word is sorcery, the use of hidden forces; it’s synonymous with witchcraft. It’s important to recognize the demonic powers behind these two magicians to see through their magic trick.


Recognizing their Trick

Jannes & Jambres withstood Moses by counterfeiting God’s work. The counterfeit signs looked so similar in style and content that it caused caused people to discount God’s power and disregard God’s message (Exodus 7:11-13. Exodus 7:22-23). 

The magicians mimicked Moses’ sign and turned their rods into serpents… but Moses’ rod (technically, Aaron’s) ate the rods of the magicians, illustrating their inferiority to the power of God. Likewise, the magicians imitated the plague of water into blood and the plague of frogs, but they failed to copy the the plague of lice and subsequent plagues (theories for which are as stimulating as they are varied). The primary lesson is that the magicians’ imitations, though impressive & similar, lack the power of God.


Seeing the Relevance

One of the great keys to Bible study is to observe & analyze the use of LIKE and AS. Let’s look at the context of the naming of these two magicians.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. –  2 Timothy 3:1-8

Observe that Paul prophesies that in the “last days” false teachers will have a “form of godliness” but will deny the power thereof – Just like Jannes & Jambres had a form of God’s work but were of a different power. The false teachers will deceive people “AS” Jannes & Jambres withstood Moses. In other words, false teachers will cause people to discount God’s power and disregard God’s message the same way as the magicians – through counterfeits.

Make no mistake, Satan consistently COUNTERS the work of God by COUNTERFEITING the work of God. Examples include: His kingdom (Colossians 1:13), Christ (1 John 2:18), apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13), ministers (2 Corinthians 11:14-15), prophets (Matthew 7:15), teachers (2 Peter 2:1), and signs & wonders of the apostles (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).

Yet reread the text above. It speaks specifically of counterfeits that will happen in the “last days.” Counterfeits that will “resist the truth” (see John 17:17). Counterfeits that will lead people to perpetually LEARN but never know the TRUTH. Interestingly, when the magicians see what they cannot produce, they declare that Moses’ work was the “finger of God” (Exodus 8:19).

Simply put – in the last days, Satan will work through men to counterfeit God’s Word. As the magician’s work, the counterfeits will be similar in style and content, yet they will lack God’s power, and they will produce a false sense of knowledge, and as a result people will be “led away with divers lusts.”


Recognizing the Counterfeits?

One helpful clue is the location. Even more clear would be the origin of the magicians – Egypt. A cursory study reveals that all Bibles originate from one of two lines of manuscript – ALEXANDRIA (Egypt) and ANTIOCH (Syria). We find the first mention of both of those cities in the same chapter of the Bible; Antioch is the origin of a man of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost whose service caused the Word of God to increase, disciples to multiply and people to be saved(Acts 6:3-8); Alexandria is the origin of heretics who tried to “resist” that work by “disputing”, accusing, and finally killing one of the aforementioned men of God. 

Interestingly, God does not tell how many magicians or how many counterfeits there were, but He attributes them to two men – Jannes and Jambres. Pliny suggests that they were familiar with the God of the Hebrews through the wisest sage of Egyptian history – the dream revealer, Joseph. Therefore it is plausible that the many counterfeits of God’s Truth can be attributed to two heretic men. If interested, one should read about Westcott and Hort.

A careful reading of Exodus 7-8 shows that the magicians (plural) counterfeited the signs & plagues of Moses. It is especially clear in Exodus 7:11-12, where Aaron’s rod (with Moses) ate the magicians rods (plural).  Finding a single counterfeit among a group of authentics may prove difficult, but you are tasked with finding a single authentic among a group of counterfeits. It might help to know that all Bibles in print, with the exception of one, are derived from the Alexandrian text; the lone exception translated from the Antioch Text is the King James Version.


My challenge to you

Most people answer questions about the Bible based on personal history, version readability, or humanistic philosophy. Instead, I challenge you to discover what the Bible says about itself; allow God, Himself, to answer questions like, “Did God perfectly preserve His words,” or “Does it matter which Bible I use?”


Your Thoughts

2 Timothy 3:15-17 is the completion of the chapter that warns of the immitations of Jannes and Jambres. What does it reveal about origin & preservation of Scripture?

Which passages of Scripture answer your questions about Biblical preservation?

What has shaped your beliefs and practices on Bible versions?

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Welcome to the family

Yesterday my son attended church for the first time. He didn’t understand any of it then, and he won’t remember any of it later. But it was a special day. I saw David surrounded by a church family who had been praying for him before he was even born. It gives me peace to know that in David’s future, he’ll see examples of people serving the Lord, hear caring adults teach Him God’s Word, receive encouragement from people who love him, and have a place to serve others. 

Everyday I pray that like the David of the Bible, my son will have sure mercies, be a man after God’s heart, and be a vivid portrayal of Jesus Christ. His church family will play a critical role in how God answers that prayer, and I’m so thankful for their willingness to play that role. I don’t want to imagine living life without the support of my church family. 

What about you?

What do you enjoy most about your church?
What are top ways that your church family provides support for families?

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Posted in Family

Punishing children – is it unchristian?

As a foster family, we’ve received lots of mandatory training. My most recent training was on behavior management. Our Christian organization’s disciplinary policy is inherited from the state Department of Family & Children Services (DFCS); since I’ve received multiple training sessions, I’m familiar with their forbiddance of corporal discipline. I expected to hear alternative disciplinary techniques, but I DID NOT EXPECT this…

The Christian organization enlisted a Christian teacher who opened the Bible and taught that punishing children (in any way) is unchristian. Instead of punishing, parents should discipline their children. He began to describe how he & his wife stopped enforcing rules and allowed their daughter to decide in what time and on what terms she wanted to obey; he celebrated that she often chooses to do right on her own – not because she was forced to but because she chose to. The teacher further explained that if you let the child have control, there are fewer power struggles.

I fully anticipated skeptical (even critical) feedback, but parents (foster & otherwise) praised this philosophy of parenting. After scouring a dozen contemporary parenting Bible studies, I’ve realized this teaching is becoming mainstream.

Could it work? If we stopped enforcing rules that make the child HAVE TO do right, could it prompt the child to WANT TO do right? Is paddling unchristian? Is punishment unchristian? I contend that the mainstream is incorrect, and that the Bible clearly teaches paddling as the preeminent method of behavior correction & character development. Although you weren’t privileged to hear the training, this post will address the teacher’s two primary arguments from the Bible.


The “rod” was not to beat… but to guide.

Many people misquote Proverbs 13:24, but what is the “rod?” The teacher immediately read Psalm 23:1-4 and explained that the shepherd’s staff was not meant to BEAT the sheep (as it was his livelihood) but, as the text says, to COMFORT the sheep. The teacher explained how the staff was used to guide and almost embrace the sheep. 

Not so fast… How did we get from ROD to STAFF? Creative hermeneutics, I guess. A better Bible study method would be to search other uses of ROD in Proverbs and the Bible as a whole.

  • Proverbs 10:13 says the rod is for the fool’s back. That does tell us how the rod is used, but since it’s not about children, let’s move along.
  • Proverbs 22:15 says that the rod DRIVES foolishness from a child’s heart by the rod. That doesn’t sound like a guide or embrace.
  • Proverbs 23:13-14 were conveniently omitted from the Bible study because it clearly says the rod is for BEATING children. While I would be careful with that terminology in our day & time, it is an undeniable fact that the Bible commands parents to paddle their children.

The teacher also revealed that the Hebrew word translated “chasten” simply means instruct; he assured the class that parents weren’t meant to cause pain (physical or emotional) to their children but to comfort them. 

But wait… In Job 5:17-18, the Hebrew word is translated chasten again, but it is obviously painful, physical punishment. In Deuteronomy 11:1-7, the same Hebrew word is translated chastisement, and each example is not of verbal instruction but of painful, physical punishment.  And if chasten simply means instruct, then why would it cause children to cry so severely that it tempts parents to “spare” the rod (Proverbs 19:18)? 


Jesus didn’t paddle… He discipled.

At times, the disciples failed, made mistakes, and let pride take control, but Jesus didn’t paddle them, nor did Jesus take away their belongings, restrict their privileges or put them in timeout. Instead Jesus gave them room to repent in their own timing. Jesus didn’t PUNISH them; He DISCIPLED them. The teacher revealed how “disciple” is the root of discipline, and therefore the parental responsibility is to demonstrate the desired behavior not to enforce it.

First, it is imperative that parents model the same behavior they desire in their children. You teach what you know, but you reproduce who you are (Matthew 7:17-18). Respect, submission, repentance (and many more) is better caught than taught, but it is not either-or but both-and. Remember that God has only prescribed one thing that will drive foolishness (disobedience) from a child’s heart; it’s not a good example but the rod of correction.

To be sure Christ is our greatest example, but the analogy is all wrong. The church is not the child of Jesus but the bride of Jesus. God the Father is the parent (of course Jesus and the Father are one, but they are distinct persons and have particular relations to the believer). Of course God punishes the lost/wicked/unsaved. The real question is, does God the Father punish His children? Not only does Hebrews 12:6-9 affirm that God punishes all His children; it also declares that if you don’t experience punishment, you are not His child.


What’s the big deal?

It’s critical to follow God’s command & example because parents (ideally fathers) are a child’s introduction to God the Father. Dads, you have a high calling – to illustrate God the Father. He has even shared His name, Father, with you. Intentionally portray Him. Bless your children as He blesses us. Charge your children as He charges us. Trust your children as He trusts us.Love your children as He loves us. And punish your child as He punishes us.

A child needs to learn submission to his human father, so that He may learn submission to his Heavenly Father. A child needs to learn cause & punishment from his human father, so that He may be spared greater consequence from his Heavenly Father.


Give me your thoughts:

  • How did your parent’s correction (or lack thereof) promote or hinder your relationship with God? 
  • What has being a parent taught you most about God?

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