Staff's ROD

Explanation of our 2nd emphatic point regarding the Textus Receptus.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

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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Overview of our emphatic beliefs, and our 1st one; namely, the five solas of the reformation.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

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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Explanation of our 11th doctrinal point regarding purity of doctrine and life.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

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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Explanation of our 10th doctrinal point about our spiritual unity in Christ.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

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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Explanation of our 9th doctrinal point, related to the doctrine of hell.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

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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Explanation of our 8th doctrinal point on the issue of regeneration.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

Our 8th point of 11 doctrinal statements reads: "Salvation, the effect of regeneration by the Spirit and the Word, not by works, but by grace through faith".  We draw your attention to regeneration, which is the entrance gate of salvation.  It's very important, especially to the pulpit.

 

Many evangelicals in the broader Christian community will insist salvation is not of works, but by grace through faith – yet dismiss the significance of the preached Word.  Our statement adds two key points: (i) regeneration precedes faith, and (ii) regeneration occurs by the sword of the Sprit, which is the word of God. Why are these important?

 

The doctrines of grace primarily hinge on Total Depravity; for if man in his spirit is dead in sins and trespasses, then he is utterly unable to save himself.  Man is not transcendental, with a spark of the divine, able to respond ever so feebly.  No, salvation is solely a work of God, and that through the living Word.  Does that mean we wait for God to zap someone?  No.  We preach the word, because faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. The Scriptures reveals an order of salvation: preacher sent, Word preached, regeneration occurs, spiritual ears granted, effectual hearing occurs, faith follows.  Notice the word "after" in Ephesians 1:13, which says in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed °".

 

If this were not the case (i.e., if unsaved man had some tiny ability to believe on Christ), then he could believe without God's help, even without aid of the preached Word.  Preachers would appeal to your will and not rely solely on God's Word.  Then the convert could boast that they were a little bit smarter than the other guy. The Arminian views faith as a non-work work, but Scriptures presents faith as the fruit (not the root) of the Spirit.  Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ ° to believe.  Jesus told some Jews, Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.  In the classic text – for by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God – the Greek makes clear that faith is the gift in view. 

 

What then of man's will?  Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.  God first graciously inclines our wills towards Him. In fact, it would be quite unfair for God to depend on a dead man to believe.

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Explanation of our 7th doctrinal point on total depravity, or man's natural state.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

Our 7th point of 11 doctrinal statements addresses man's fundamental state of spiritual disposition; namely, "the total depravity of man through the fall".

 

This distinctive is frankly the main point distinguishing true Bible teaching from all other religions across the globe, without exception. As Solomon under inspiration writes, Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? 

 

What do we mean man is totally depraved?  It means that man's entire being, in all his faculties – of the mind, heart, will and nature— is in rebellion against God.  The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  This does not mean all men everywhere are actively committing murders and thefts at all times; as one Pastor put it, "men are not as bad as they could be; there's always room for debasement."  Rather, natural man's obedience to God's revealed will (i.e., the Bible) is not possible, as he is dead in sins and trespasses, whose imagination ° is evil from his youth.  In fact, man's heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, which explains why men love darkness rather than light. There is none that seeketh after God.

 

Does this place the blame on the Creator?  Hardly!  By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. After the 6 days of creation ended, God pronounced it all very good.  Solomon wrote God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. Man was created with a mutable righteousness, with free-will ability to throw it all away – which is what Adam and Eve did.  We'd have done the same thing.

 

What about free will?  Duane Edward Spencer, author of TULIP, wrote, "The careful observer will note that the Scriptures selected by the Arminianist in support of 'free will' do not deal with that subject, but rather with man's responsibility to believe God, and his accountability if he does not.  ° [Man] does not possess 'free will', because he is bound to Satan who takes man captive at his will."  This is precisely why we need a Savior! 

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Explanation of our 6th doctrinal point, regarding the body of Jesus.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

MBC has adopted the American Council of Christian Churches' 11-point statement of faith, being an excellent yet succinct summary. The 6th point includes key phrases worthy of further discussion; it reads –

 

  1. His resurrection from among the dead in the same body in which He was crucified, and the second coming of this same Jesus in power and great glory;

 

Notice the emphasis on the same body and this same Jesus.  First, those are Biblical phrases, spoken by the angels at Jesus' ascension, which also said, ° this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11). Jesus Himself declared the entire planet shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Luke 21:27).

 

There are a couple of common but false teachings about Jesus which, if entertained by the true child of God, would cause reasonable doubt of the basis for their salvation.  For instance, if Judas not Jesus died on the cross, then who came out of the tomb, if anyone? Why would God find that an acceptable sacrifice?  Or, what if Jesus was merely an apparition?  Some claim that Michael the Archangel, not Jesus, returns to earth.  

 

The Bible presents the true account of God concerning His Son. Jesus resurrected in the same body because He whom God raised again saw no corruption, being sinless (Acts 13:37). God required a man to pay for man's sins, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Heb 10:4); and when Jesus arose from the dead, it shows men's sins are fully atoned. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead (1Cor 15:21), and thus our whole spirit and soul and body is preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ(1Thes 5:23). This same Jesus returns in a glorious spiritual body, rarely seen while on earth (Mt 17:1-2). He first came as the suffering Servant; He comes again as the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; Whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to Whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen! (1Tim 6:14-16)

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Explanation of our 2nd through 5th doctrinal points: the trinity, Christ' deity and virgin birth, and Jesus' work of atonement.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

Last week we covered our statement of faith's first point, relating to inerrancy and preservation of scriptures. Next, we assure visitors and congregants alike of our belief in (.2) the triune God of the Bible, (3.) Christ's deity and sinless humanity, and (4.) Jesus' virgin birth.  We trust those are well understood here at MBC.  We modified the ACCC's 5thpoint to read as follows:

 

5. His substitutionary, propitiatory death, in that He gave His life "a ransom for many".

 

For the first 300 years, the early church wrestled with points 2-4 above, finally arriving at the doctrine of the triunity of Christ. But church history records that a full explanation of what Jesus actually did at the cross wasn't clearly articulated until 1093 AD when Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, explained 2Cor. 5:19 using "the Satisfaction Theory" of the atonement.  This is succinctly explained in The 100 Most Important Events In Christian History, (Curtis, Lang & Petersen; Christian History Institute, 1991): "In Cur Deus Homo (Why Did God Become Man?), Anselm put forth a theory about how Christ's death on the cross reconciles men to God. God, Anselm said, is Lord of the cosmos, a Being Whose honor is offended by man's sin. Though He Wishes to forgive man, in order to maintain moral order in the universe, He cannot simply 'overlook' sin.  Some satisfaction must be made, something equal to the offense. Since sin is man's, satisfaction must be made by man; yet man cannot offer adequate satisfaction. So God became man, and the one who offers satisfaction is both God and man: Christ." 

 

Many today agree that Jesus Christ is our substitute, but what is not agreed upon is to what extent His death actually paid for sins.  His death was propitiatory, meaning it truly made a full reconciliation between God and all whom Christ represented, and favorably disposed the offended towards the offender.  The Greek word hilasterion relates to a full placation of God's wrath.  Thayer's Lexicon notes its root is "used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement ° signifying that the life of the people ° was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated."  Praise Him for a full redemption!

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Explanation of 1st doctrinal point, concerning inerrancy and preservation of Scripture.

The Staff's ROD

a Review Of Doctrines held at Mission Bible Church

 

Our first fundamental statement of faith relates to the Bible itself.  Last week, we touched upon the necessity of specifically mentioning the preservation of Scriptures, which reads:

 

1. The verbal, plenary divine inspiration and preservation of the Scriptures in the original languages, their consequent inerrancy and infallibility, and, as the Word of God, the supreme and final authority in faith and life;

 

What's the big deal with preservation? Preservation of scripture is a tangible test of God's covenant faithfulness across the millennia. If God cannot preserve His Word as He promised in Psalm 12:6 and Isaiah 59:21, then God is a liar, and you have no reason to believe He will preserve your soul, or keep any of His great promises. A church weak on the doctrine of preservation of Scripture will be a faith-undermining church. We know!

 

The Far Eastern Bible College of Singapore (febc.edu.sg) nicely summarize the doctrinal impacts: "Our perfect Lord and His perfect Word are the foundation of our faith. If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3). It is only when we have a 100% perfect, infallible and inerrant Bible can we say the Bible is our only and final authority, and foundation of faith. If there is no such an infallible and inerrant Bible today, then the so-called 'scholar' becomes the supreme authority, and we have to kowtow to his subjective and speculative judgments on and corrections of the Bible. Some may want to trust the words of men, but we trust only the words of our Lord °"

 

"The Bible itself which is our supreme and final authority of faith and practice clearly teaches its plenary inspiration, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and its verbal preservation, For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled (Matt 5:18), Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matt 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33). The doctrine of the 100% inspiration (VPI) and 100% preservation (VPP) of each and every word of the Bible is as old as the Bible itself. It is certainly NOT a new teaching or theory, and definitely NOT a false doctrine."

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