Staff's ROD

Our 5th emphatic belief states "that the supernatural Apostolic gifts have ceased". We hold this because some believe the Apostolic-era gifts of miraculous healing, speaking in tongues, and new prophesies, to still be in operation today.  Appeals are made to passages in 1 Cor. 12 and 14, as well as Mark 16.  True, God may choose to heal when we pray for a loved one to get better, but that's not what we're talking about here.  The miracle God continues to provide, and of which we are in desperate need, is the healing of our sin-sick souls by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.  

 

Consider these ten facts about apostolic miracles.  (i) Miracles validated the messenger as one sent by God (salvation ° spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us ° God also bearing witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, Heb 2:3-4; cp Jn 3:2). (ii) Jesus' supernatural miracles validated Him as the promised Messiah (But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, Mt 9:6; cp Jn 6:14). (iii) The Apostles and select disciples were granted the ability to perform supernatural miracles, not the entire church (Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and might deeds, 2Cor 12:12; cp Ac 5:12, 14:3). (iv) Paul's ability to heal apparently ceased before the close of the Bible (Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick, 2Tim 4:20; cp 1Tim 5:23).  (v) Paul said tongues would permanently cease (Gr. pauo, 1Cor 13:8-10), and our church fathers confirmed this ("In the earliest times, 'they spake with tongues' ° was done for a betokening, and it passed away", Augustine, 354 AD). (vi) Satan and his duped disciples come with miracles, especially near the end of time (Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 2Thes 2:9-10; cp Mt 7:22-23, 2Cor 11:14, Rev 16:14). (vii) The spirit of antichrist is already here (even now there are many antichrists, 1Jn 2:18; cp 1Jn 4:1,3). (viii) True signs are those recorded in, and preached from, the Bible (But these signs are writtenJn 20:30-31; cp Lk 11:29-30,32).  (ix) Miracles don't produce faith or salvation if men will not hear and obey God's Word (If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead, Lk 16:27-31). (x) Proof of God's Spirit isn't a miracle, but a life that reflects Jesus' character (i.e., fruit of the Spirit never lists miracles, Gal 5:22-23).

 

Does Jesus do miracles today?  Yes, in a very limited sense -- when we pray for a loved one and they become healed without any obvious explanation, I'd chalk that up to a miracle.  But there aren't any miracle workers today, who can unilaterally and always successfully, do miracles as the Apostles did.  Those foundational gifts have ceased, and you only lay one foundation.

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Our 4th emphatic belief is "that the mode of baptism should not serve as a litmus test for fellowship or church membership".  But wait, isn't baptism important to the church?  Yes, it is, but don't make the amount of water your "golden calf." My wife and I were shocked that a church would not permit us to partake of the Lord's Supper, because she had not been fully submerged at her baptism; yet, they would acknowledge she was a bona fide born-again Christian.  Really!

 

Though we appreciate Baptists in the reformed camp, and those who valiantly hold to the KJV, yet we take exception to their modal stance. According to James M. Boice, Baptists insist on immersion based on archaeology: "The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change."

 

But therein lays the problem.  This is called "drowning" or "submersion."  Last time I bought a jar of pickles, they were still wet. Charles Hodge notes "the words bapto, baptizo, and their cognates, are used with such latitude of meaning, [that to] assert the command to baptize a command to immerse, is utterly unauthorized and unreasonable." 

 

There are several notable places where baptism cannot be immersion.  For instance, when Jesus went to dine with a Pharisee, he marvelled that He had not first washed (baptizo) before dinner.  Mark notes when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things ° as the washing of °tables. Hebrews tells us there are diverse washings in the OT, where baptism started. The children of Israel were cleansed by Levites who would sprinkle water of purifying upon them. Isaiah said Christ would sprinkle many nations, which was read by the Ethiopian eunuch whom Philip baptized in the desert.  Paul baptized the Philippian jailer's house at night, at home.  The watery symbol of baptism as a cleansing agent is the point of the sign, not the amount of water used.

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It's needful to discuss a key doctrine related to the Bible's (and our) position on a literal six days of creation; namely, the flood of Noah's day. Ken Ham in his 2010 Genesis Answers Book 3 provides good summaries of these concerns, which we selectively excerpt below.

 

"Many Christians and their leaders believe that it is not relevant whether the flood of Noah described in Genesis 6-8 was global or localized. After all, they say, it's not relevant to salvation.  However, whether the flood was global or local in extant is a crucial question, because what's ultimately at stake is the authority of all of God's Word."

 

"Secular geologists interpret the fossil-bearing sedimentary layers, such as those exposed in the walls of the Grand Canyon, as having taken millions of years to form.  ° The various layers we now see stacked up on top of one another thus supposedly slowly accumulated as sea creatures were progressively buried. Secular geologists' guiding principle of interpretation, 'the present is the key to the past', limits their explanations to current, non-catastrophic mechanisms. Any suggestion of a global flood is totally ruled out before any geological evidence is even examined."

 

"On the other hand, the description of the flood in Genesis 6-8 is not hard to understand. We are told by God that the all the fountains of the great deep burst open and poured water out onto the earth's surface for 150 days (5 months).  Simultaneously, the windows of heaven opened, producing torrential global rainfall.  The combined result was that the waters destructively rose across the face of the earth to eventually cover all the high hills that were under the wholeheavenThe mountains were eventually covered fifteen cubits upwardso that every creature in whose nostrils was the breath of life perished. Only those on the ark were saved."

 

"Based on that clear description of this real historical event, it is very rational to conclude that we should expect to find evidence today of billions of dead things buried in rock layers composed of water-deposited sand, lime and mud all over the earth. Indeed, that's exactly what we find."

 

These rock layers are a sobering testimony to God's wrath against sin.  No wonder that man the sinful creature despises a global flood.

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Our third of 13 emphatic beliefs affirms "a literal six-day creation."  Millions of Years (MoY) thinking, necessary to justify evolution, runs contrary to several important Bible doctrines.  Creation Ministries International's Creation Answer Book illustrate the problems with MoY.

 

Bible Account Of Creation 

Evolution/Long-Age Speculation 

Earth before the sun and stars 

Stars and sun before Earth 

Earth covered in water initially 

Earth a molten blob initially 

Oceans first, then dry land 

Dry land, then the oceans 

Life first created on the land 

Life started in the oceans 

Plants created before the sun 

Plants came long after the sun 

Fish and birds created together 

Fish formed long before birds 

Land animals created after birds 

Land animals before whales 

Man and dinosaurs lived together 

Dinosaurs died out long before man appeared 

 

The book points out five faith-shattering impacts of MoY thinking, as well as issues with fuzzy theology such as the framework hypothesis, theistic evolution or progressive creation.  Such views undermine –  

 

(1) Genesis-based Doctrines – The Bible's teachings on marriage (from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female), the moral law (for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is), the wearing of clothing, and meaning and purpose of our existence are all based on the literal history of events in Genesis.

(2) Hermeneutics (how we understand the Bible) – If Genesis isn't real history, how should we understand any Scripture? Where does history begin?  If Genesis is a metaphor, was there a real Adam?  If Jesus said the flood came and destroyed them all, was He lying?  Perish the thought!

 (3) The Gospel – God through Paul concludes that since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. The meaning of Jesus' death and resurrection depends on real history in Genesis 1-3.  If death over MoY was a part of 'creation', how can it be the last enemy?

(4) End-time Doctrine – We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth. If God 'created' with death and suffering intrinsic to the universe, why would God destroy it and create a new one?  What will that fix? Shall we be 'restored' to MoY of death and suffering?

(5) The Goodness of God – How can we believe God is love when there's so much suffering in the world, if suffering was an initial condition?

 

Fooey on MoY. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

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We wrote about the Textus Receptus (TR) briefly last week in our second of 13 emphatic beliefs.  This week we discuss the ending phrase, which says "we are not KJV-onlyists."  Aren't we a KJV-only congregation?  Yes we are, but that's not what that phrase refers to.

 

The classic KJV-only position holds a double-inspiration view of the KJV Bible, asserting both the underlying TR as well as the English translation were immediately inspired by God. Peter Ruckman and Gail Riplinger hold this view.  In an attempt to identify perfect preservation, the translation was deemed inspired, not the transmission of the apographs (or, the copies). The Westminster Confession of Faith I.8 rightly identifies Scripture in the original languages as the inspired authentic source material for translations and dispute resolution, and their apographs are "kept pure in all ages". God preserved His Word in the TR by freezing it in two dead languages: OT Hebrew and NT Koine Greek.  Because those languages are not spoken any more, the meanings don't change, and we have a sure foundation. Translation work continues because the target language changes, and not all nations yet have God's Word in their native tongue.

 

More importantly, God says this about His Word: The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.  There will be a single baseline (the word), and it would be published. Paul told Timothy thou hast known the holy Scriptures (grammata; lit. letters) and all Scripture (grapha, meaning the written copies) is given by inspiration of God.  Timothy did not possess the originals, but he had copies (not ideas or concepts) which, down to the letter, were inspired.  Thus, the copies that made Timothy wise unto salvation were the preserved equivalent to inspiration. This allows us to check out the translator from a pure base.

 

Denying individual words of Scripture remains Satan's most effective tactic.  In Luke 4:4, Jesus told the devil, It is written, (gegraptai, lit. it was written and still is written) That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Jesus believes God's Word is available, preserved and unchanging.  Ironically enough, nearly all modern translations, including the ESV, omit the phrase, but by every word of God.  Talk about proof of the devil's hand in the critical text! Who else would reject that phrase?  Learn more at HoldingFast.net/Critical-Text/.

 

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The second of 13 emphatic beliefs is "that the Textus Receptus is the holy, inerrant, preserved Word of God, though we are not KJV-onlyists."  We wrote about this twice in 2019, in the 11/03 and 11/10 bulletins, as it relates to preserving the Bible.  Let's introduce some new terms, and describe them in lay language, using Kent Brandburg's nice summary from Thou Shalt Keep Them, by Pillar and Ground Publishing, 2003, pgs 9-14.

 

"Textus Receptus (TR) is the Latin phrase meaning 'Received Text', used to describe the Greek text of the New Testament received and preserved by the churches.  The editions of Scrivener in 1881 and thereafter represent the exact Greek text underlying the King James Version of the Bible, and the preserved autographa. (Autographa refers to the original manuscripts of the Bible, in the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, in the original handwriting of the human authors on the original materials.  These no longer exist.  What we have are the Apographa, literally "from the written", which are hand copies made of the original manuscripts and of the copies of those manuscripts.)  The TR comes from the Byzantine Text, the manuscripts of the New Testament that multiplied in the area of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire where the Apostle Paul started most of his churches.  A majority of the manuscripts were disseminated, read, preached, and studied, so more copies were used, and they wore out faster.  As a manuscript wore out, it was respectfully disposed of after being displaced by a newer copy, explaining why these copies are of a later date than the Alexandrian Text manuscripts."

 

"The Alexandrian Text (AT) refers to the very few but allegedly old manuscripts of the Greek NT that originated from Alexandria, Egypt.  They include Codex Sinaiticus (now in the British Library), Codex Vaticanus (now in the Vatican Library), and some papyri manuscripts.  These copies essentially form the basis of what is known as the 'Critical Text', or the 'Nestle-Aland Greek Text' of the New Testament.  There are over 5,000 differences (7% of the whole) between the AT and the TR. However, there is no real unified Alexandrian Text, despite the terminology.  Sinaiticus and Vaticanus differ in thousands of places. The Egyptian manuscripts do not form a unified text type as the TR does."

 

"One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law °" – Jesus.

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Mission Bible Church's statement of faith is broken into three sections: a list of our 11 fundamental beliefs (meaning, foundational and never negotiable); a list of 13 emphatic beliefs (meaning, doctrines we particularly emphasize); and a short list of helpful confessions noting the exceptions we take.  This week we begin to review our emphatic beliefs.

 

Our very first emphatic beliefs are the Five Solas of the Reformation, which declare God's Christ and Word as the believer's sole authority and hope:

 

  1. Sola Scriptura ("Scripture alone"): The Bible alone and in its entirety is the authoritative, divine Word of God
  2. Sola Fide ("Faith alone"): We are saved only by faith in Jesus Christ
  3. Sola Gratia ("Grace alone"): We are saved only by the grace of God, totally apart from our works of righteousness
  4. Solus Christus ("Christ alone"): Christ alone is Lord, Savior and Sovereign King of Kings
  5. Soli Deo Gloria ("to the Glory of God alone"): All is to be done to the glory of God alone.

 

Space does not permit us to quote the entire New Testament here, but the above 5 points summarize it nicely.  Among the clearest passages are these: (1) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2,3) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast; and He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (4) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; and Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (5) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 

 

Have I left out your favorite strong passage?  Mention it to me afterwards.  These are good and useful matters to discuss!

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Our 11th point of 11 doctrinal statements reads: "the necessity of maintaining, according to the Word of God, the purity of the Church in doctrine and life."  The key words are: maintaining (which implies Biblical leaders who care, and believing congregants who receive instruction); purity (as defined by Scripture); and doctrine and life (ensuring what we say matches what we do).  It aims to promote a healthy, Biblical church which will be vibrant, powerful and effective.

 

Because we see through a glass darkly, and we know in part, God gave pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and ° that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. Orthodoxy (right doctrine) leads to orthopraxis (right practice). The devil knows this; thus, our adversary disrupts our effective witness with wrong ideas. Faithful church leadership exhorts right doctrine, deriving a form of sound words from Scripture, knowing God's sheep hear His voice, so they will receive it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.

 

Your purification (also known as sanctification) is God's current program for you. While it's not wrong to say God saved us from hell, the Biblical language is He shall save His people from their sins. What's the difference?  One is fire insurance; the other, a life on fire for Christ.  Jesus came to purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Our Saviour Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, that He might ° purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Since a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, Scripture exhorts us to cleanse your hands, purify your heartsand to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. This is a tall (lifelong!) order, and part of God's approach to sanctifying a people for Himself relies on the constructs of the church body.

 

When purity is abandoned, we could have them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing [God] hates; or worse yet, we might suffer a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.  Our Lord is watching.

 

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Our 10th point of 11 doctrinal statements reads: "The real spiritual unity in Christ of all redeemed by His precious blood." This is actually an improvement upon the Apostle's Creed, which has the phrase, "and I believe in the holy catholic church," which can be confused for the works-gospel denomination known as the Roman Catholic church.  "Catholic", in its truest sense, simply means "universal throughout all time".

 

Because of Christ's finished work of atonement on the cross, He has redeemed (bought back) all His people, united them together in Christ, and adopted all those circumcised in heartof whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.  Paul under inspiration speaks often of this union with Christ, observing we are buried with Him by baptism into death; planted together in the likeness of His death; our old man is crucified with Him; and encouraging us that we shall also live with Him

 

This unity of all true believers is a very real phenomenon.  One time, some aunts of my wife's mother visited from Lebanon, and we sung hymns after dinner.  They didn't know English, and I wasn't about to attempt Arabic, yet we knew both the same tune.  I could tell we were one in Christ by how they sang.  Babel's barrier had been broken. We know we're in the midst of family when we share the same Father and Savior.

 

Like all spiritual gifts, they must be kindled.  We are to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. This doctrine is so important, that the Lord Jesus prayed that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: and that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

 

Abraham's promise of a great seed will be fulfilled when in heaven we behold a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes. What a glorious sight!

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Our 9th point of 11 doctrinal statements reads: "The everlasting bliss of the saved, and the everlasting torment of the wicked in hell."  (The blue portion originally read, "the everlasting suffering of the lost.") As you know, we used the American Council of Christian Churches' doctrinal statement and amended it slightly.  Why fix that language?

 

Most believe they're good people on their way to heaven.  For those who don't, they have some wild notions of reincarnation, hoping to come back as an animal of some reputation and not a lowly slug.  Many think the worst that happens is >poof<, you die, and there's nothing else.

 

Jesus presents hell as more than just suffering, and taught that hell is a real place with real fire, when He warned if thy {hand, foot, eye} offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Jesus also said, Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  The demons answered Jesus upon their encounter, art thou come hither to torment us before the time? The Apostle John captures the fearful doom of the unsaved, who shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night. To merely call such "suffering" is a gross understatement. Notice Who metes out the wrath.

 

The WCF ch.32.1 expands on both elements of our 9th point: "The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption: but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them: the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies. And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. Beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledges none."

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