Hi to my Forum Friends,
In another Religion Forum discussion I began, "Can We Truly Understand End Times Prophecies?" -- my Friend, Punkin, has posed comments and questions on several really important issues: (1) the validity of the Old Testament in the New Testament church, and (2) and what defines a "Holiness" church? For more clarity, I have chosen to post my response to these as two separate new discussions.
Punkin tells me, "Thank you for your time, Mr. Bill. I appreciate the thoughtful response and the time it must have taken for you to write it. My studies have been with the King James, and the New Revised Standard Bibles. I also sometimes use a Thompson study Bible for reference. I agree that Paraphrase Bibles are not for serious study."
Those are good selections. However, depending upon where a person is in his/her study of the Bible, the KJV might be hard to understand at times. When I first began going to Bible studies in 1987, and began to read through the Bible -- I found myself bogged down in Romans. When I mentioned this to our pastor, he asked to see my Bible. It was a KJV, so he gave me a new NASB Harper's Study Bible -- the same Bible I have used since 1987. I have many Bibles, many translations, in my personal library. However, I will typically stay with the NASB, NKJV, KJV, or, in some cases the NIV.
A great Bible web site is Blue Letter Bible: http://www.blueletterbible.org
This web site allows one to view verses, and chapters, in 16 translations -- but, only 12 are in English. The other 4 are Spanish, Latin, and two variations of Greek. You can choose a verse and view it in all 16 translations at the same time.
The web site also has Strong's Concordance, commentaries, and other good info on all verses. It is a great tool for studying the Bible. Also, I use it a lot when I am quoting Scripture in my writings, to prevent typo errors from slipping into the verses. This way, I can copy/paste the verse or passage without worrying about errors.
It also has "Thompson's Chain Reference Special Bible Readings": http://www.blueletterbible.org...hompson/specread.cfm
Next, you tell me, "I find it interesting, and a bit disappointing, that you seem to display such a attitude of superiority. I don't mean to offend you with my questions, I'm just an average person with beliefs that are a little bit different than yours. You might remember that those heathens out there already think we're of a mind that we are going to Heaven and they aren't. That already makes them not like us. You sound real certain about your reading of the Holy Bible. But, if it was so clear, why are there so many different religious denominations?"
First, to address the issue of non-believers not liking us for sharing the truth of the Gospel; while we most certainly do want to win them to the Lord, and we should be sharing His Word with love and gentleness (1 Peter 3:15), we are not in a popularity contest. If we share in love, and people get mad at us for sharing Jesus Christ with them -- as Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 10:14, "Shake the dust of their home from your feet and move on" (paraphrased).
To put that into the context of our Religion Forum, where we seem to have quite a population of atheists and non-believers -- when they get upset at us for sharing the Gospel, look past them to the many other readers -- and direct your sharing to them, to those believers and seekers who may be eager to hear the Gospel shared in honesty and truth.
Next, if I appear to project an attitude of superiority; for that I do sincerely apologize. I most certainly am not superior to other Christian believers -- and, there are many non-believers who are just as moral, many who are more intelligent, and many who are smarter than me. However, to say that I know that I am going to heaven when I die; to say that I know the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God; to say that Jesus Christ is my personal Lord and Savior -- is not being arrogant nor superior. It is merely being factual based upon my knowledge of God's Word, the promises given to us by Jesus Christ in the Bible, and my faith in Jesus Christ.
Regarding heaven and hell -- and which is our eternal destination: yes, I will affirm, without hesitation, that all humans are eternal beings; we are all immortal beings, we will all live eternally. That was made a certainty by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The distinction being where one will live that eternity. There are only two possible eternal choices: heaven and hell. All Christian believers will spend eternity with Jesus Christ, in the presence of God the Father, in heaven. And, all non-believers will spend eternity in the only other possible eternal destination -- hell, in the presence of Satan. Saying this is not being arrogant nor superior; it is only correctly quoting the Bible.
One might ask, "Why would a loving God condemn anyone to hell?" God does not condemn anyone to hell. Everyone has to individually choose for himself or herself to live eternally in heaven or to live eternally in hell. Not choosing is not a choice; by default, that person gets hell.
Next, one might ask, "But, is that fair?"
Yes, because God owns the universe. He created the universe; He created the heavens and the earth; He created man. We belong to Him and the universe belongs to Him. He has the right to make any rules He so desires. However, the good news is; His rules are always fair, just, and righteous. So, when He tells us, "To enter My heaven, you must, by grace through faith -- put your faith in My Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only Way to enter My heaven" -- He has this right. It is His house.
For thirty-two years, this month, I have been married to my beautiful Filipina wife, Dory. Before meeting and marrying a Filipina, I never visited a home where I had to remove my shoes to enter. But, when I began, in 1987, attending a Filipino-American church and attending Bible studies in Filipino homes -- I learned very quickly that I must remove my shoes before entering these homes. For years, I have kept a pair of house slippers in a bag which I take with me to Bible study. I call these my Bible study shoes; for when I enter a home, I remove my street shoes and put on my house slippers, my Bible Study Shoes.
Many, such as me, who were born in America and have lived their entire lives in America may say, "That is not fair. Why should they make you take off your shoes to enter their home?"
Well, there is a simple answer. It is their home. And, I have adapted to their custom.
We live in God's world, His home. He tells us that Jesus Christ is the ONLY WAY to enter the kingdom of God. So, if a person is so pig headed that he refuses; then, he is allowed to choose the other home -- the kingdom of Satan, hell.
John 1:12 (nkjv), "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."
John 3:36 (nasb), "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
John 14:6 (nasb), "Jesus said to him, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'"
These verses makes it very clear that salvation is a personal choice -- a choice that each individual must make.
So, is it arrogant or acting superior when I say that I know that I am going to spend eternity in heaven? No. For we have the definite promises of Jesus Christ Himself that this is true for all Christian believers.
John 3:16 (nasb), "For God so loved the world (Punkin, Bill, Deep, David, Skeptik, et al -- all people), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
John 6:47 (nasb), "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life."
Then, Punkin, you tell me, "My Church just calls itself Christ's Church, and we try to do just what the Bible says. Why do you seem to think that the Old Testament is still as valid today as it was before Jesus. Don't you think that the Old Testament's authority passed away when Jesus established his Kingdom back on the Day of Pentecost?"
Should the New Testament church of today put aside the Old Testament and use only the New Testament as our full teaching and revelation from God? Think about that question. If so, how would one explain the Creation, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1)? What do we do with all the New Testament verses where Jesus Himself quotes from the Old Testament? Shall we expunge those verses from the New Testament?
No, my Friend, our Bible is the full 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament. The Old Testament looks forward to the cross. The New Testament looks back at His finished work upon the cross.
I prefer to look at Genesis 1:1 as the main building block of the Bible; if we discard that initial foundation -- upon what will we build?
John 1:1 establishes the deity of Jesus Christ. Without that, we would have no Christian faith. Which is more important -- Genesis
1:1 or John 1:1? Both are equally essential -- for upon both has He built our faith and our salvation.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (nasb), "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
Matthew 5:17 (nasb), "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill."
From Pastor Chuck Smith's (Calvary Chapel) Matthew 5 C2000 Series Commentary (Blue Letter Bible web site):
The law required death for disobedience. Jesus came to fulfill the law by dying for our disobedience. He came to fulfill the prophets where Isaiah said, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we've turned every one of us to our way; and God laid on Him the iniquities of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). He came to fulfill the law and the prophets. I haven't come to destroy it; I've come to fulfill it. And that is why Paul the apostle wrote, "Christ is the end of the law to those that believe" (Romans 10:4); because he has brought us into a new relationship with God that involves our faith in Jesus Christ as the basis for our righteous standing before God, for he fulfilled the law. He did not come to bring an end to it, but to fulfill it, and he fulfilled the requirements of the law for us, dying in our place.
One day Jesus was asked the question, "What is the greatest commandment?" And Jesus answered correctly, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength and with all their mind." And Jesus added, "And the second is just like it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." And he said, "in these two are all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40). This is a summary, a very short summary of all of the law and the prophets; love God with all your heart, love your neighbor as yourself.
Paul the apostle said, "For love is the fulfilling of the law and he who loves has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8). Now the law was given in negative: thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not. Jesus turned it around to the positive: "thou shalt love the Lord thy God, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" and therein is the fulfillment.
For those immersed in Liberal Theology and for the non-believers, the next question typically will be: "Bill, this says that love fulfills the Law. All we have to do is to love one another; for that is what Jesus told us in Matthew 22. Why isn't this enough to gain a person salvation, to gain entry into heaven?"
First, no one in the Old Testament could be saved under the Law. Romans 3:19-20 (nasb), "Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin."
The Romans 3:20 footnote in my Harper's NASB Study Bible reads: "The moral law serves four definite purposes: (1) it exhibits the moral perfection of God; (2) it reveals the inexcusable guilt of man and convicts him as a hopeless sinner; (3) it provides a standard by which human society is, at least imperfectly, governed; and (4) it serves as a guide to believers as to how they may best please their redeeming God and do His will, which is to them the most important motive in life."
Galatians 3:23-29 (nasb), "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise."
Under the Law of the Old Testament, no one was saved. But, in Hebrews chapter 11, we read of many Old Testament saints, "By faith Abel" -- "By faith Enoch" -- "By faith Noah" -- "By faith Abraham" and so on. The Old Testament saints were not saved by the Law; they were taught by the Law, they were made aware of their sin nature by the Law -- but, their faith saved them, even as they looked toward their coming Messiah. Yet, even then -- their faith allowed them only to wait in the Bosom of Abraham, in Hades -- until their Messiah, Jesus Christ, came. Then, they were taken into heaven. Thus validating John 14:6 (nasb), "Jesus said to him, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.'"
The Old Testament saints waited in Hades until Jesus Christ, their Messiah, came to personally take them into heaven -- after He died on the cross to pay "in full" the sin debt for all mankind. (Ephesians 4:8).
Today, Christian believers are taken into heaven upon their earthly death. For the Christian believer, when he breathes his last breath on earth -- his next breath will be in heaven, in the presence of Jesus Christ.
So, no, Punkin, we cannot discard the Old Testament. Yet, the question which all of our atheist Friends will surely raise is, "In the Old Testament, the penalty for homosexuality, fornication, and many other sins was death. Should those people be killed today because of those sins? If the Old Testament is still valid; why not the penalties given there?"
Yes, the Old Testament penalty of death for our sins is still valid. However, praise God, Jesus Christ "paid in full" that physical death sentence we all deserve. Now, we can attain life, spiritual and eternal life, through faith in Him.
Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for all our sins. In the Old Testament, the penalty for sin was death, physical death. Jesus Christ paid our physical death penalty debt in full. Today, we read in the New Testament, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23 nasb). The wages of sin today is still death: physical and spiritual death. But, Jesus Christ paid your physical death penalty. To have your spiritual death penalty overturned; all you have to do is, by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9) -- sincerely invite Jesus Christ to come into your heart and into your life and be your personal Lord and Savior (Revelation 3:20). If you do this, you WILL have eternal life with God.
So, Punkin, is the Old Testament valid today? One of the strongest proofs that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God is prophecy. Of the over 1800 prophecies in the Bible, by far the largest portion of them is found in the Old Testament. Prophecies of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, begin in Genesis and run throughout the Old Testament all the way to Malachi -- over 300 prophecies of the Messiah. Then we have all the End Time prophecies. If we discard the Old Testament and teach only from the New Testament; we must throw away the richness of God's prophecies to us. If we discard the Old Testament, we must throw away all the great stories of history, all the beautiful poetry and songs found in Psalms, all the wisdom found in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Can you imagine discarding all these treasures?
Punkin, praise God, He gave us the entire Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament as His full revelation to man. We believe that it is the Written Word of God; is a supernaturally given revelation from God Himself; and reveals to all believers the nature, character, will, and purposes of God; that it is the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of mankind, and is the final authority for all matters pertaining to our Christian lives.
Would you really want to discard ANY of this amazing book?
God bless, have a wonderful, blessed day,