Archive for Scripture

Writing On The Earth

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Law, Religion, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by willnotbesilent

For a little change of pace, let’s back away from blasting tradition and just take a look at something fascinating in Scripture.

We’re all familiar with the story of the adulteress who was brought before Jesus in John 8:2-11:

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery; and having set her in the midst, they say unto him, Teacher, this woman hath been taken in adultery, in the very act. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her? And this they said, trying him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. And they, when they heard it, went out one by one, beginning from the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. And Jesus lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? did no man condemn thee? And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more.

Now here’s the Sixty-Four Million Dollar Question: What did Jesus write on the ground that affected the surrounding Pharisees so badly that they couldn’t stick around?

The account of John doesn’t tell us, of course, but amazingly enough, the answer is in Scripture!

O Jehovah, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be put to shame. They that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters. — Jeremiah 17:13 [emphasis mine]

What does it mean to be written in the earth? Well, what does it mean to be written in heaven?

Nevertheless in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. — Luke 10:20

We all know that to have one’s name written in heaven is to be a partaker in salvation. Therefore, one can logically conclude that to have your name written in the earth bears the exact opposite connotation — condemnation.

JESUS WAS WRITING THE NAMES OF THE ADULTERESS’ ACCUSERS!

All the Pharisees, being intimately familiar with the writings of Jeremiah, knew exactly what Jesus was doing as He stooped and one by one wrote their names in the dirt. His words, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” only emphasized his message: The Pharisees had forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters — they themselves had committed adultery against God. And here they were, seeking to kill someone guilty of a crime they themselves had committed! Once again, Jesus was pointing out their blatant hypocrisy and reminding them of the condemnation they all faced.

Imagine how disturbing it would be if you were one of the adulteress’ accusers, familiar with the writings of Jeremiah, and you watched Jesus methodically write your name in the dirt, along with the names of all your cohorts. No wonder they left as their names appeared on the ground.

And then the story ends with the ultimate display of mercy. Jesus, the only one present who had no sin, who had every right to cast the first stone, finally rose to His feet.

“Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn thee?”

The woman, perhaps stunned that she wasn’t being stoned at this very moment, could only murmur, “No man, Lord.”

To which Jesus replied in all the love of a Father to a penitent child, “Neither to I condemn thee. Go thy way. From henceforward sin no more.”

Understanding what Jesus was writing in the earth lends a whole new perspective to the story that only magnifies the amazing omniscience, wisdom, and mercy of God. This is what Christianity is all about.

Now here’s the question we should all ask ourselves: If we had been present for the event of John 8:2-11, would Jesus have been writing OUR names in the ground?

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The Thief On The Cross

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Faith-only proponents hold up the example of the thief who was crucified alongside Jesus. Christ not only forgave him, but also made a promise:

And Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” — Luke 24:43

The thief was not baptized, and yet Jesus took him into His kingdom – gave him forgiveness and salvation. Why?

Quite simply, it’s because baptism had not yet been instituted as the means to enter the kingdom. One could not be baptized into Christ’s death because Christ had not yet died. Baptism into the body of Christ was part of Christ’s last will and testament, which did not take effect until Jesus died.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. — Hebrews 9:13-17

As God, Jesus has the power to forgive sins. While He walked the earth, He forgave sins even if those people had not been baptized, because, as stated above, His death had not yet come to pass to bring the testament into effect.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” And immediately when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, He said unto them, “Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk’? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins” (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) “I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.” And immediately he arose, and took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were amazed, and glorified God, saying, “We never saw it in this fashion.” — Mark 2:5-12

Infant Baptism

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Many denominations practice infant baptism, also known as “christening” among such circles as the Catholic and Lutheran churches. By taking their baby to a baptism ceremony and having a member of the clergy sprinkle water on the child’s head, many parents believe that they are saving their baby’s soul — that it is automatically going to heaven no matter when it dies.

This practice has absolutely no basis in scripture. Philip told the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, “If you believe with all your heart, you may [be baptized].” To which the eunuch replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Only then did Philip baptize him.

Notice that Philip was very clear that he would only baptize the eunuch once he confessed his belief in Jesus. An infant has no knowledge of Jesus, and thus cannot believe in something it does not know exists, let alone confess that belief. Jesus says in Mark 16:16, “He who has believed and been baptized shall be saved.” He does not say, “He who has been baptized shall be saved.” He says, “He who has believed AND been baptized shall be saved.”

In Acts 2:38, when the multitude asks what they must do, Peter tells them to repent and be baptized. He makes it clear that, along with belief (faith), one must repent. What sins has in infant committed of which to repent? None! The child hasn’t figured out how to talk or even mastered half of its motor skills. All it can do is lie there and cry for mama. At what point has that child sinned?

Some use the case of the Philippian jailer to justify infant baptism, quoting Acts 16:31-33:

They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he [the jailer] took them that very night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

“See?” some say. “It says, ‘he and all his household’. You can’t tell me there weren’t infants in the jailer’s household.”

Can’t I? Well, first, there is no Scriptural indication that there WERE infants in the jailer’s household, so it is a huge assumption, not to mention adding to God’s Word, to say there were. Second, Paul told the jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Later, it says the jailer was baptized, “he and all his household.” So if he and all his household believed AND were baptized (and we consider that Philip would not have baptized the eunuch if he had not believed), that does seem to rule out infants, since, as stated before, infants are incapable of believing in something they do not know exist.

The clincher rests in verse 34, which states, And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. After reading this, there is no way to prove that the phrase “his whole household” included infants — because INFANTS CANNOT BELIEVE IN SOMETHING THEY DO NOT KNOW EXISTS!

I Peter 3:21 adds to this:

The like figure whereunto [the flood] even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . (KJV)

If baptism saves us as the answer of a good conscience toward God, then how can baptism save an infant? Can baptism be the infant’s answer of a good conscience toward God? Of course not! All the infant is probably thinking while getting its head wet is how hungry it is at the moment.

Yes, Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 18:16) He is not saying anywhere that children should be baptized. He also is not saying that they need salvation. As a matter of fact, He is making specific mention of their innocence: “The kingdom of heaven belongs to SUCH AS THESE.” The kingdom of heaven belongs to those with the purity and innocence of little children. He even continues to say (verse 17), “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” If children are in need of baptism and salvation, He would not have told adults to be like children to enter the kingdom of God. It would have been a poor analogy at best.

The concept of infant baptism rests on shaky ground. A casual, objective study of Scripture can prove this beyond refutation. It is nothing more than a tradition of men, a rite invented and carried on by human beings, with no sanction whatsoever from God.

Do Children Need Salvation?

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by willnotbesilent

No doubt, if you have listened to various believers giving their “testimonies”, you have heard stories similar to these:

“My Sunday school teacher led me to Christ when I was four years old.”

“When I was eight, I accepted Jesus in the back of my parents’ car on the way to the lake.”

“I was saved at the age of fourteen.”

Were these people in need of salvation at such a young age? Many say they did — that the earlier one embraces salvation, the better. They often reference such passages as Psalm 51:5:

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.

Psalm 53:3 says,

. . . There is no one who does good, not even one.

Psalm 58:3 adds to this.

The wicked are estranged from the womb; these who speak lies go astray from birth.

Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Scripture makes it clear that human being are sinful and wicked by nature. Our fleshly selves drive us from a young age, beginning with a desire for food and, if allowed, escalating to downright selfishness and destructiveness when we get older. We all have a tendency to follow our emotions and fleshly reactions rather than do what is right.

But are children in need of salvation from the consequences? John Calvin taught that all children are so depraved by nature that, if they die before being saved, they go straight to hell. If this is the case, the millions of aborted babies, who have done nothing, are damned. The children who die in infancy are lost. The five-year-old child who lost her life to cancer is suffering in eternal condemnation.

Some teach that children are innocent until the first time they do something wrong. When they tell their first lie, for example, their innocence is shattered forever, and instantly they are in need of salvation.

Is either belief in accordance with Scripture?

In Romans, Paul speaks about God’s law, the moral boundaries God set for us. He is explaining how the law binds us to the consequences of sin (Romans 6:23), sin being transgression of the law (I John 3:4). In Romans 7, Paul goes on to explain how salvation sets us free, or apart, from the law. In verse 9, Paul makes a curious statement:

I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment [regarding covetousness] came, sin became alive [through knowledge of sin] and I died.

Based upon this verse, we can conclude that there was a point in Paul’s life when he was not subject to the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). He then became entangled in sin and its consequences, and had to be set free. We can read about his liberation in Acts, the story of his salvation. Paul writes in I Corinthians 15:56-57,

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So at this point, Calvin’s teaching of original sin takes a heavy blow. Apparently, Paul was born innocent, and he remained innocent until he became subject to the law. This agrees with a passage we find in Ezekiel 28:15:

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.

One can conclude then, that we are innocent at infancy, and thus sacred and blameless in God’s eyes. On the day that we sin, however, we become caught in the consequences of sin, and are in need of salvation.

But what about six-year-old Tara? She was running in the house, though her mom told her not to, and accidentally knocked over an expensive heirloom vase, which shattered on the floor. Her mom and dad find the aftermath and ask what happened. Tara knows she should tell the truth — her parents and her Sunday school teacher have both told her that many times — but she is afraid of the punishment she might receive for breaking the vase. So she points to her three-year-old brother playing with his MegaBlocks and blurts out, “Mark did it!”

Tara is only six years old. She knew she was not supposed to disobey her parents, but she did in running in the house. That’s against God’s command (Ephesians 6:1). She lied and accused her brother of breaking the vase, which God also forbids (Exodus 20:16). She violated God’s will knowingly. Is she doomed to go to hell unless she gets saved? Will she be held accountable for her actions as a small child?

In Numbers 14, God has led Israel through the wilderness and at last brought them to the very doorstep of the Promised Land. But when spies return with word of giants living in the land, the people panic, and for what seems to be another instance among countless others, they rebel against God. They accuse Him of trying to kill them all, and even talk of returning to the very Egypt from which God so miraculously delivered them. God, in His anger, then condemns them to wander in the wilderness. Read carefully as he pronounces His judgment on the people in verses 29-33:

. . . your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey — I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness.

God was holding the people of Israel responsible for rebelling against him . . . but only those aged twenty years and older. Why? Is He saying that out of the thousands of Israelites who were age nineteen and younger, not one of them joined their parents in complaining against God? Not necessarily.

The prefrontal cortex of the human brain is located just behind one’s forehead. It is in this section of the brain that we make all our rational decisions, as opposed to our emotional, knee-jerk decisions. Here we make choices based on what we know as right or wrong. For example, if someone insults us, our first impulse might be to say something scathing or even hit them. That reaction would be based on emotion. But we know that Jesus told us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), and that Proverbs 15:1 says a soft answer turns away wrath. To not respond in kind would be a rational decision. All our rational decisions come from the prefrontal cortex.

Scientists have proven that the prefrontal cortex has not fully developed until around the age of twenty years old — the same age God used to draw the line between those whom He held responsible for the rebellion and those whom He did not. Scientists have just recently become aware of this fact. God knew it when He pronounced His judgment on Israel. It was not, as some might think, an arbitrary age. God never does anything arbitrarily. He knew that the young Israelites were not yet fully mature — but their parents should have known better, especially after all the miracles and awesome things they had witnessed.

Children and teenagers are all apt to make decisions based on emotion, hormones, and insufficient knowledge. They have yet to fully grasp the concept of responsibility. The time spent growing up with their parents is for them to learn these concepts so that, when they are grown and their ability to make rational decisions is fully developed, they can make wise, sound choices. Proverbs 22:6 says,

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

A parent’s responsibility is to give a child a solid beginning, teaching them about morals and truths, about God and righteousness and Christianity, so that, when a they grow to adulthood they can make wise decisions — including the lifelong commitment to following Jesus Christ.

Proponents for the salvation of children use the example of Jesus in Matthew 18:2-6:

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of God. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Remember that salvation is not based on faith alone. One must believe, repent, and be baptized. Therefore, when Jesus speaks of “these little ones who believe in Me”, he isn’t referring to children who have been saved. He’s speaking of the little voices you hear singing “Jesus Loves Me” and the ears listening to Daddy read Bible stories. The child believes in Jesus because Mom and Dad say Jesus is real, just as children raised in a secular home believe Santa Claus is real because Mom and Dad say he‘s real. The child has not made any profound observations on his or her own or realized how profound a sinner he or she is as a fallible human being. But it is important that a child believe in Jesus, because that is the very foundation of a Christian life. Mom and Dad are training up the child in the way he should go. Otherwise, they are sacrificing their child’s spiritual future, and it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea than to have the child’s blood on their hands.

Also remember that Christianity is a lifelong commitment. For a child to make the commitment to follow Christ at the age of six is ridiculous. Their ability to make decisions based on knowledge is extremely limited. Because of this inability, God does not hold them responsible. He considers them innocent. Mark 10:13-15 offers proof of this. Parents were bringing their children to Jesus for him to touch, and the disciples were trying to forbid them.

But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these [people who are like little children]. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child [with the humble, innocent manner of a child] will not enter it at all.”

Though this passage is used by many to argue that children should be led to salvation, Jesus is not saying anywhere here that this is the case. He is saying that, in order to enter the kingdom of God, we must be innocent, childlike — born again. He is using children as an example of purity: “The kingdom of God belongs to SUCH AS THESE.” If children were in need of salvation, to say that one must be like a child would be inaccurate.

So should a parent or teacher or anyone else pressure a child into being saved? Absolutely not! God has given children time to mature and make up their OWN minds, based on what THEY know. He wants them to be responsible adults, so that when they do make their choice to follow him, they will be able to follow through with their decision.

A danger lies in pushing a child toward salvation at a very young age. Because God does not hold a child responsible for their actions, would He consider them saved when pressured into salvation by an adult, especially since he holds them innocent in the first place? From what does this child need saving? A four-year-old child does not have nearly the understanding of sin and death, of God and righteousness, that an adult would have. He gave them this twenty-year period of development so they would have plenty of time to make their own decision based on knowledge of good and evil, the realization of their true wretchedness, and their ability to follow through with a lifelong commitment. Can a five-year-old make a commitment she must hold to for the rest of her life? Of course not! To expect such things is unreasonable and foolish. It’s equivalent to having a little boy swear to a little girl that he will marry her. It’s happened before, and we consider it foolish. Why? Because they are children. A lot can happen in their lives. That little boy is not held to his vow to the little girl because he made it when too young to completely understand what he was saying. It is no different with salvation.

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