Knowing God’s Will

I am feeling okay so I decided to post.  This is a topic that stresses so many believers out. What is God’s will for my life? Now usually when they ask this question, a believer is worried about finding the right employment or direction for their lives.

There are many students in Christian Bible Colleges who wonder if they should be a missionary, a pastor, church leader and so on. They spend hours agonizing over if they heard God right and some take into account the reactions of their friends, professors, pastors and get confused over what to do.

Not everyone will support a decision made by just any student who decides that God wants them for the ministry. The student’s track record may not reflect the call they think they have heard and in some cases this is a legitimate observation. In others, key data may be missing and the person consulted for advice comes to the wrong conclusion.

This post is not about helping one find their calling directly. That would be presumptuous and too difficult. It is about the starting point in one’s life as God has made his will about how we live our lives quite clear and less stressful.

The information comes from the following link and there are 2 articles there titled Knowing God’s Will. The first one is part 1 and you have to scroll down to the second.

http://dakotascba.com/Knowing-God%27s-Will.php

I am just going to place the scriptures on here in case you do not want to go to that website. These verses give you clear indication of what God’s will is for your life. As you implement these passages into your lives, ask God for help in doing so then as time goes on and you get better at holy living, you should have an easier time determining what employment field God wants you to occupy.

#1.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”

“Love thy neighbor as thyself”

“Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart…”

“He has told the what is required…love mercy, do justice and…walk with God”

“Go ye into all the world…”

“The beatitudes”

“Make thy own calling and election sure…”

“Be ye in the world but not of it…”

“Why do ye call me Lord, Lord but do not do the things I say?’”

“Seek wisdom, knowledge and understanding…”

“Husbands love your wives…”

“Wives submit to your husbands…”

“Children obey your parents…”

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”

“Without faith you can’t please God…’

“Pray without ceasing…”

“Rid yourself of all malice, deceit hypocrisy, envy…”

“Desire pure spiritual milk…that you may grow…”

“Walk in the light as he is in the light…”

“Continue in Him…”

“Teach what is in accord with sound doctrine…”

“Flee the evil desires…pursue righteousness…”

“Be ye holy for I am Holy…”

“Do everything without complaining or arguing…’

“In humility consider others better than yourselves…”

#2.

Test the spirits (1 John 4:1)

Accept God’s words, turn your ears to wisdom (prov. 2:1-2, 5)

Test yourselves (2 Cor. 13:5)

Do not conform to this world (Rom. 12:2)

Do not use your freedom for evil (1 Pet. 2:16-17)

Do what the Lord has commanded you (Deut. 5:32)

Ask for wisdom (James 1:5, 17)

Fear the Lord (Is. 50:10)

Put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:17)

Meditate on the Bible (Josh. 1:8)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you (Col. 3:16)

Train yourself to be godly (1 Tim. 4:7-8)

Encourage one another (Heb. 3:13)

Honor one another above yourselves (Rom. 12:10)

Confess your sins and pray for one another (James 5:16)

Be humble, gentle, patient… (Eph. 4:1-3)

Do NOT judge (Rom. 14:10)

Use one’s spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10)

Do not weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9)

Praise and glorify the Lord (Ps. 34:1)

Do not be anxious (Phil. 4:6)

Do everything without complaining or arguing (Phil. 2:14-16)

Do not store treasures on earth (Mt. 6:19-21)

Be the light to the world (Mt. 5:13-14)

Be Holy (1 Peter 1:13)

These passages should help you get on the right track for Christian living. The first group of verses do not have a reference as they are more commonly known than the second group.

But make sure you ask the Holy Spirit for help, read the passages in context and if you are not sure use some commentaries etc. to guide your thinking. The starting point is very important for it helps set your feet on solid ground and provides you a good foundation to build upon.

A Few Words

#1 Under The Weather

I may take a few days off due to illness. It will all depend upon how I feel. Writing what i do and how I do it drains me and I take very little time to replenish my strength. So far it seems that my Korean English teaching days are over and I have been working on a seminar for pastors.

This seems to be the message I am getting from God. It also explains why I do so much writing on here. I have too much time on my hands.  It is disappointing in a way as I really enjoy teaching Korean public and middle school students.

Over the years God has answer my prayer about being a good teacher and has helped me to continue my education to higher levels. I would like to honor that  by speaking to pastors so that they can develop truly healthy local congregations.

I do not think I would make a great pastor and my reach would be so limited. In instructing pastors what God wants would get out to a lot more church people hopefully in time before they fall from the faith.

We shall see over the next little while.

#2. Archaeologists Just Do Not Get Ithttp://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/archaeological-evidence-that-israelite-popular-religion-wasnt-quite-the-same-as-official-religion/

A recent excavation in Tel Motza, not far from Jerusalem, found what archaeologists believe to have been a ritual building – with clay figures of animals and men from the time of the First Temple, according to Israel’s Haaretz news site.  The find suggests that Iron Age religion in the area around Jerusalem may not have been monotheistic just before the time the Hebrew Bible – the basis of the Old Testament – started to be written.

We already know this and believers do not need archaeology to tell us this fact. The book of Judges beat them by about 3000 years.  The mentality of many archaeologists are just annoying. There have always been false gods in existence since the time of Noah but that doesn’t mean the Bible is wrong and that the Israelites were not monotheistic.

All this discovery tells us is that SOME Israelites rejected God and followed after false gods. It does nothing to imply that the majority of Israelites were not monotheistic. or it tells us that not all occupants of Israel were Israelites and they did not follow the Israelite God.

#3 Does He Want A Personally Engraved Invitation?– http://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/more-disgusting-immorality-wanting-people-to-think-its-christianity/

So far today, God hasn’t told me, ‘Dean stop that, it’s a sin. I don’t want you to do that.’ Until he does that, I’m going to keep trying to help as many people as I can,” he told Barcroft.

He is talking about swinging, threesomes etc. You can read it at the link.  I guess he doesn’t read the Bible for God already said it was wrong. Many people think that God has to talk to them personally before they will consider something sin.

They do not realize that God has already done that and he recorded his words in the Bible. The above case would fall under the sexually immoral part of the scriptures.

#4. Trivializing God’s Instructionshttp://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/nope-no-never-gonna-happen/

Lopez and co-pastor Danny Quintanilla created drive-thru prayer for anyone who’s in a rush and feeling life’s stresses, but may not attend a place of worship.

I think the words ‘drive-thru’ say it all.

#5. Please Have The Integrity & Character To Resignhttp://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/tremper-longmans-latest-on-the-disaster-at-westminster-theological-seminary/

Members of the Westminster community received a curious invitation recently to attend a retirement celebration for Bruce Waltke. This invitation is something that has caused many to scratch their heads and ask why?

Along with the honesty. If you no longer believe God or the Bible do not remain in a place that finds such alternative views wrong. Scholarship does not trump employment rules or employers especially when you are in the Church or its academic institutions.

The church is about teaching the truth to its people and students. It is not about accepting false ideas then teaching those as true to one’s people or students.  If a professor wants academic freedom then they need to go to an institution that does not believe God or his word. They should not stay and try to change the ones that do.

Not only is that not a very intelligent thing to do but it is a sin.

#6. 2 Things That Should Not Be Expensivehttp://www.christianpost.com/news/syrian-boy-dies-as-devastated-family-is-unable-to-pay-lebanese-hospital-fee-127211/

Syrian refugees are sharing stories of deep pain and loss, with over 3 million of them having fled to neighboring countries seeking protection from the devastating civil war that has torn their nation apart. One family that fled to Lebanon revealed how they lost their 5-year-old son to leukemia after they were unable to pay the fees charged by a local hospital

Food & medical care.  This is just my opinion but these are part of the basic needs of life and those involved in those industries should not be taking advantage of the necessities we have to have.

Medical practitioners and grocery stores would do well to follow– do unto others…

#7. Do We Really Need These Stunts??–http://www.christianpost.com/news/megachurch-preacher-rick-cole-pledges-to-live-on-streets-of-sacramento-until-he-raises-100000-to-help-homeless-127209/

Rick Cole, pastor of the megachurch Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California has ditched the comfort of his home and has pledged to live on the streets of the city’s downtown area for up to two weeks or until he has raised $100,000 to help fund a program called “Winter Sanctuary” that provides food and shelter for the homeless at churches in the area during the winter months.

Why does the church resort to gimmicks when it should be focused on these needs already? Maybe he should raise funds to create jobs, pay off bills or meet some other need so people do not have to be homeless.

I can say this is a gimmick because he has a job to go back to and a home whereas the people he is trying to help have nothing. A little respect for them would go a lot further than this gimmick.

Forgeries & Lies

I am sure you have heard these accusations about the Bible and if not you need to acquaint yourself with the works of Bart Ehrman. He champions the idea that the Bible contains both forgeries and lies within its pages.This is just a brief look at his main thesis of his book Forged.

Now it is difficult to analyze a book on this format because there is simply too much information in a book to really analyze here. The space is not there and readers may go to sleep. So I will try to hit the very main points and let you do your own study on the issue.

#1. Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are

This is written right on the front cover so the purchaser thinks they are going to be treated to an examination of who the authors of the Bible were. The best thing about this book was that Dr. Ehrman documented his definitions of the key words he uses to defend his side of the issue.

The problem is, he presents NO real evidence to support any charge that the biblical authors were anyone but who they said they were or have their names on the individual books.

He also doesn’t provide any evidence to identify those people he claims really wrote the different books of the Bible. They are all anonymous people. Even the scholars he references tend to be anonymous as he uses the phrase, ‘most scholars…’ or something similar throughout his work.

The reader is not really getting an academic or scholarly work on the topic, they are getting a very biased, subjective opinion by someone who openly admits to not believing in God. That fact alone makes his work suspect and the reader should take care that they filter his words carefully.

In attacking the biblical authors, Dr. Ehrman doesn’t pull known individual facts about each person but relies upon generalities to assume that the biblical writers were exactly the same as his generalized example. Nothing specific nor verifiable is given to show that Peter, Paul, Matthew and so on, were unable to write their books. It is all, the ancient world was illiterate so the biblical authors were too, type of thinking.

The book does not live up to the hype on the front cover.

#2. Scripture says that it is inspired or breathed out by God. God does not and cannot lie. Therefore Scripture does not and cannot contain lies. Forgery, on the other hand, involves lying. For that reason there can be no forgeries in the Bible (pg. 132)

This is not what he believes now but is basically mentioning what true believers believe about the Bible. Of course, this thinking is correct because if there was one forgery, one lie, then the ramifications for humans is immense.

Dr. Ehrman does not delve into those ramifications, he just wants to destroy people’s faith in God’s word.

#3. It was there that I realized that since the Bible is a book, it makes better sense to approach it the way one approaches books.(pg. 133)

This is the fatal error of many scholars who take scholarship over faith.  The Bible isn’t just a book. Its historical track record proves that idea false. Also, no other book is used in so many false religions like the Bible is. No matter how you look at it, the Bible is more than just a book and it needs to be viewed for what it really is–the words of the most holy God.

#4. Moreover, as I studied the Bible I began to see the errors, here and there. And then they started to multiply. And eventually they came to involve not just little details, but very big questions and issues of real importance. I came away convinced that the Bible, whatever else it might be, is a very human book(pg.133)

I wish he gave more details about these supposed errors but he doe snot even put them in one chapter to explain why they should be termed an error. he just makes this blanket statement about his realization.

Just so you know, Dr. Ehrman has been known to claim that there are as many errors in the Bible as there are words, so his idea of errors is a bit off. What the unbeliever calls an error is usually something very simple and minute and  easy to explain as different details.

The problem is in getting people like Dr. Ehrman to accept the explanations and have them change their tune. No matter how you explain the difficulties, people like Dr. Ehrman do not accept the explanations and keep on making the same charges over and over.

#5. Human books from the ancient world sometimes contained forgeries, writings that claim to be authored by someone who did not write them. This is certainly true of the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament. The book of Daniel claims to be written, in part, by the prophet Daniel during the Babylonian captivity in the sixth century BCE. But there is no way it was written then. Scholars for over a hundred years have shown clear and compelling reasons for thinking that it was written four hundred years later, in the second century BCE, by someone falsely claiming to be Daniel. So too the book of Ecclesiastes (pg. 133)

This is one of his many accusations against biblical authors and as you can see, he provides nothing to back up his charge–‘But there is no way it was written then’– we must ask why not? Where is his evidence showing it cannot be written then?

I looked in his footnotes and he makes no further mention of any evidence to support that simple dismissal. The same goes when he talks about the person identifying himself as the author of Ecclesiastes. We have his dismissal but nothing else to see how he came to that conclusion.

This is a common theme for Dr. Ehrman as he does the same thing in his lectures and debates. He will demand evidence from the supporters of the Bible yet provide nothing substantial to meet his own demand.

Believers should ask, why does Dr. Ehrman and people like him want these books to be forgeries? What are their motivations for making these accusations? We shouldn’t be afraid of these accusations but investigate the reasoning behind them.

#6. In other words, he is claiming to be Solomon without using his name. But there is no way he was Solomon. This book could not have been written until six hundred years after Solomon’s death, as critical biblical scholars today agree. (pg.134)

This quote simply backs up what I have been saying. Why could Ecclesiastes not be written until 600 years after Solomon’s death? Dr. Ehrman provides nothing to support this claim. Solomon would be one of the elites, someone who would have access to the best education and given his prayer to God, someone bestowed with many gifts enabling him to write such a book. But Dr. Ehrman provides nothing to convince anyone otherwise.

#7. It is a striking phenomenon that even though scholars far and wide agree that these books were not actually written by their alleged authors, many scholars are reluctant to call the books what they are: literary forgeries meant to deceive their readers.(pg. 134)

Most likely the reason is that those scholars do not want the responsibility of destroying the fait of so many people. I do not know for sure but that guess is as good as any other. Maybe they see what Dr. Ehrman doesn’t see. If they call the biblical books forgeries meant to deceive, they are calling God a deceiver equal to the devil.

That is not a very popular thing to say or claim but Dr. Ehrman seems to tread where angels fear to go. Making God a deceiver means we cannot trust his words about salvation and that he is one big jokester instead of a sinless, infallible God, where noo one is like him.

Dr. Ehrman walks on very thin ice  that is cracking and no one is around to help him. You really cannot take anything he says as being credible or legitimate, including his charges of lies and forgeries because of this insinuation about God being a deceiver.

#8. “Books” in the ancient world, for example, were quite different from books today. They were written on scrolls and were not mass produced. Still, that doesn’t stop anyone from calling them books. Forgeries in the ancient world were different in some ways from forgeries today, but they were still forgeries. (pg. 159)

He is wrong here as we do not know anything about how the ancients viewed or produced books. They used the material they thought was best for their era and technology and we do not know in what quantities they were produced.

A forgery is forgery, a lie is a lie no matter how one views those options in any era. we must remember that the witnesses from the ancient world extant today are few in number so we do not have a clear picture on how the ancients viewed anything let alone forgery.

We have personal opinions but those ancient writers never spoke about their societies in general.

#9. It is important to recall that ancient writers who mention the practice of forgery consistently condemn it and indicate that it is deceitful, inappropriate, and wrong. If we are to do so as well probably depends on a number of factors. Modern readers who are religiously committed to the teachings of the New Testament may want to excuse the authors who deceived their readers about their identity, on the grounds, for example, that they were lying in order to achieve a greater good. Other readers may be inclined to acknowledge that the authors violated ancient ethical standards and are best described as I have done so here—as forgers (pg.159)

His words prove my point.

#10. Many Christian readers over the years have failed to see the significance of Paul’s constant attacks on false teachers. One thing that these attacks show, beyond dispute, is that virtually everywhere Paul went, even within his own churches, he and his views were under steady assault by Christians who thought and believed differently. It is easy to miss this rather obvious historical fact, because the writings of Paul’s opponents have not survived the ravages of time, whereas his writings became part of the New Testament. But if we could transport ourselves back to the 50s CE, we would find that everywhere Paul went, he confronted Christian teachers who thought he preached a false gospel. This was true even in the churches that he himself founded. And these opponents were not the same in every place; different locations produced different opponents, with different views.(pg.201)

The generalization here distorts what took place back in Paul’s time. Dr. Ehrman seems to include anyone that had a warm body and could speak as a Christian. I have not come across any such references about Paul in my studies. he did defend the Bible on a daily basis but that doesn’t mean he was thought of as a false teacher bringing a false gospel.

If anything, this quote tells us that some ancient people refused to believe the truth and made all sorts of accusations against it, just like Dr. Ehrman does today. Yet like Dr. Ehrman, none of them presented any divinely inspired works to replace the ones they wanted removed. They relied upon their own ideas and unbelief instead of the truth and fact.

#11. Yet other Christians said that they had to be interpreted literally and followed literally, as do some even today. Early Christians were nothing if not radically diverse. Yet all of these Christian groups claimed not only to be right, but also to be uniquely right—their view, and their view alone, represented the one and only divine truth. As a corollary, they each claimed that their view of the truth was the view taught by Jesus himself and through him to the apostles. And all of these groups had books to prove it, books allegedly written by apostles that supported their points of view.(pgs. 201-2)

All this tells us is that the ancient world was just like today. There were people who believed Jesus and preached the true gospel and there were those who did not but altered what Jesus taught for their own gain.

As Solomon said, nothing is new under the sun.

#12. There is another reason for being relatively certain that Jude did not write the book (referred to earlier, in Chapter 2). Like the lower-class Galilean peasant Peter, the lower-class Galilean peasant Jude could almost certainly not write. Let alone write in Greek. Let alone compose a rhetorically effective letter evidencing detailed knowledge of ancient Jewish texts in Greek. This is an author claiming to be Jude in order to get Christians to read his book and to stand opposed to false teachers who hold a different view of the faith (pgs. 208-9)

Dr. Ehrman does to Jude what he tried to do to Daniel and Solomon. His problem is, he can’t prove this assertion true.

#13. If you’ll remember, Marcion had claimed Paul’s authority for his view that there were two Gods, the inferior wrathful God of the Old Testament and the superior loving God of Jesus. Paul was thought to be the true representative of Jesus’s message, the one who understood that salvation comes apart from the Jewish law. Marcion took Paul’s differentiation between the gospel of Christ and the law of the Jews to an extreme, so that there was in fact no connection between them. Christ represented a different God. The Old Testament God, the God of the Jews, the creation, and the law, was to be escaped by Christians, not worshiped by them.

Marcion’s argument is still used today by many alternative believers who refuse to accept the truth or the correct explanations about God’s OT actions. He shows that being closed-minded to the truth is not a monopoly of the modern world.

#14. We have seen a number of made-up stories already in books that were forged. Whoever forged the Gospel of Peter wrote the account of Jesus emerging from the tomb so tall that his head reached above the skies, with a walking, talking cross emerging behind him. This is not a historical narrative; it is fiction. I would call it a “fabrication,” that is, a “made-up story that tries to pass itself off as historical.” (pg. 258)

I included this last quote simply to say that Dr. Ehrman has no clue why different ancient books were written and distributed. The Left Behind series would be a good example of making up a story based upon a biblical prophecy and illustrating a point to get people to see the reality of accepting the mark of the beast.

The stories may be made up in that series but they cannot be considered forgeries. I am not saying that the Gospel of Peter is following the same type of thinking. I am saying that Dr. Ehrman confuses the whole issue about ancient works, their purpose and use in order to get modern believers to doubt God’s word.

He doesn’t represent the ancients honestly and has an ulterior motive behind his accusations against the Bible. He insults God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, their biblical authors, early Christians with about every paragraph he writes.

He also insults his modern readers and students by failing to present in a credible academic manner any real evidence supporting his charges. There is nothing in his book, Forged, that is convincing or even close to proving that the Bible contains any forgeries or lies. Nor is there anything remotely close to proving the biblical authors were a bunch of anonymous people using disciples’ names.

But this is the way it is with people like Dr. Ehrman. It is easy to accuse and get people confused but it is another thing to actually present verifiable and legitimate evidence to support their accusations.

Where are these anonymous ghost writers? When did they live? How did they get their work inserted into the canon at the different councils? Why did the people at the different councils accept these works over others?

These are but a few of the questions Dr. Ehrman and people like him cannot answer. They make a big claim about a super conspiracy and battle yet they cannot provide any real evidence to support that explanation either.

Even Dr. Ehrman’s own mentor at Princeton disagreed with Dr. Ehrman’s views when he said that the canon were not accepted because they were on an authoritative list but that they were selected because they were authoritative. I am paraphrasing from memory but you can read his words in Lee Stobel’s book ‘A Case For Christ’.

No forgery exists in the Bible.  The early church was not as unintelligent as Dr. Ehrman makes them out to be. They knew which books were from God and which were not. So do we if we give God a chance to show us.

There are also no lies in the Bible. If there were in either case then we all better be looking for a new God to believe and follow for the biblical one would be equal to satan. God is not a deceiver nor a liar. BUT many scholars, academics, experts and so on who study the Bible are. Think about that fact.

 

Taking Your Eyes Off God- 5

I do not think that I will do all the chapters of Bart Ehrman’s book Forged because once he outlined his definitions for the words he uses to describe ancient works, all his arguments became repetitive and nonsensical.

When you take your eyes off God your own research becomes distorted. You can be led to the wrong books containing the wrong information, guided to the wrong conclusions and generally make a mess of the issue you are researching.

Dr. Ehrman’s book is a prime example of this. He would have been better served if he just published his definitions and then placed a list of works under each with the ancient titles he considers to be forged or whatever.

It isn’t just the research that gets ruined by taking one’s eyes of God but also one’s logic gets distorted so one may think they are being logical and reasonable when in reality they are not. I am not going to look at too many of Dr. Ehrman’s words today but enough to give you an idea of how this distortion applies to reading the Bible.

#1.In the Second Letter to the Thessalonians we find a most intriguing verse in which the author tells his readers that they are not to be led astray by a letter “as if by us” indicating that the “day of the Lord” is almost here (2:2). The author, in other words, knows of a letter in circulation claiming to be by Paul that is not really by Paul. This other letter allegedly teaches an idea that Paul himself opposes. Who would create such a forged letter? (pg 25)

Dr. Ehrman goes on to say that this warning is a trick forgers use to make their work look legitimate. So now we must suspect 2 Thess. as a possible forgery merely because Paul warns against imposters.

He has no other physical evidence to support his thesis just this one verse and his own conclusion that 2 Thess. isn’t really written by Paul. That verse is enough to warn believers about false teachers but it does nothing to prove Paul didn’t write the book.

#2. The most famous instance is the book of Revelation. A thirdcentury Christian scholar of Alexandria, Egypt, named Dionysius, argued that the book was not actually written by Jesus’s disciple John, the son of Zebedee. Dionysius’s argument was compelling and continues to be compelling to scholars today. He maintained that the writing style of the book is so different from that of the Gospel of John that they could not have been written by the same Person (pg. 27) (bold mine)

I mentioned the criteria used for determining the validity of a biblical book and you can see one of them  in the bold in that quote.  People who take their eyes off God will use any excuse to ignore God’s word. If I wrote to you like I need to write for my Korean students, none of you would read this website.

Writing style has little to nothing to do with identifying the author, especially when the author’s name is included in the book itself. The differences between the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation can easily be explained. The former John was well acquainted with and was not overwhelmed by the subject material while the latter was all new ot him and overwhelming.

#3. The small letter of Jude, allegedly written by Jesus’s own brother, was also debated in the early church. Some Christians argued that it was not authentic, in part, according to the famous fourth-century Christian scholar Jerome, because the book quotes an apocryphal book called Enoch as if it were authoritative Scripture.

I have to disagree with this conclusion because when I read the book of Jude, I do not see the author quoting the apocryphal book of Enoch but Enoch himself. Then he does not quote it like it was scripture but in making an important point.

Here is the passage in question;

14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with [p]many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

And here is a bit of detail on the book itself:

The Book of Enoch, written during the second century B.C.E., is one of the most important non-canonical apocryphal works, and probably had a huge influence on early Christian, particularly Gnostic, beliefs. Filled with hallucinatory visions of heaven and hell, angels and devils, Enoch introduced concepts such as fallen angels, the appearance of a Messiah, Resurrection, a Final Judgement, and a Heavenly Kingdom on Earth. Interspersed with this material are quasi-scientific digressions on calendrical systems, geography, cosmology, astronomy, and meteorology

Most likely the author of the book of Enoch knew about the real Enoch’s prophecy and wrote a book after that theme. It wasn’t Jude who quoted a non-believer but a non-believer who took from the man who walked with God.

When your eyes are not on the proper focal point then your thinking can be affected.

#4. Other writings are “anonymous,” literally, “having no name.” These are books whose authors never identify themselves. That is, technically speaking, true of one-third of the New Testament books. None of the Gospels tells us the name of its author. Only later did Christians call them Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and later scribes then added these names to the book titles. (pg. 29)

and

This use of a pen name did not happen a lot in the ancient world, but it did happen on occasion. (pg. 30)

Real evidence please. We have so few  ancient works that it is impossible to come to these conclusions. Dr. Ehrman doesn’t use one real specific example of  either of these points. he stays in the generalization mode to make his point about ancient authors.

The fact is we really do not know what ancient authors did or did not do concerning the names of the other authors or their own identification.

#5. Ancient forgers were not as a rule thrown in jail, because there simply weren’t laws governing the production and distribution of literature. There were no copyright laws, for example (pg. 31)

I find this hard to believe and as usual Dr. Ehrman does not quote any ancient law code to bolster his point. It is very difficult to determine how the ancients viewed copyright and forgeries based upon the personal views of a minute amount of people whose works survive to this day.

A lot of Dr. Ehrman’s arguments come from silence not fact. Also they come from extrapolating one ancient person’s view to all other members of an ancient society. I would need more than what Dr. Ehrman offers to change my mind about this.

#6. When God told Jonah to proclaim to the city of Nineveh that in forty days it would be overthrown, he obviously knew full well that the people would repent and that he would stay his hand of judgment. God never did plan, then, to overthrow the city, even though that’s what he told his prophet to proclaim. Sometimes a deceptive statement can do a world of good. (pg.50)

How is it deceptive? Just because God knows their answer already he needs to deprive them of the opportunity to repent of their sins? Does Dr. Ehrman kow the mind of God? This kind of distorted thinking takes place when people look at biblical facts through eyes on other sources and not God.

God may know our answer beforehand but he has given us the right of free choice, so he presents the situation and lets people choose what they want. He has done the same thing for Dr. Ehrman and everyone else–repent or go to hell. Should we be deprived of that choice simply because  God already knows our answer?

Without the options to choose between, we haven’t made a choice. Dr. Ehrman is the one being dishonest here as he distorts a biblical fact to call God dishonest. Chapter 2 is even worse as Dr. Ehrman’s failure to have his eyes on God leads him to distort the past to fit his theories.

#7. Ancient people also had a more nuanced sense of truth and falsehood; they too had stories that they accepted as “true” in some sense without thinking that they actually happened (pg, 54)

To be honest, the response to this idea is a resounding ‘no!’. Dr. Ehrman tries to distort how the ancients viewed truth and error and again to be honest, there is no difference between the ancient world and the modern one on this matter.

That view all depends upon the person you talk to or read. The truth has never changed, nor has its definition and tough there may be ‘nuanced senses of truth’ that doesn’t change what is really truth.

#8. In ancient historical writing the matter was a bit more complicated. In large part that was because in antiquity there simply weren’t the research tools available that we have today: extensive access to reliable sources, copious written records, databases, data retrieval systems, the possibilities given us by mass media and electronic modes of communication. Ancient historians had to do their best to cobble together a plausible narrative of past events. It was very hard indeed to give an “accurate” account, though most historians tried (pg. 56)

I thoroughly disagree. we do not know what was available to the different historians or common people or how they used what was available. Not one ancient library has survived intact to this day so we do not know how they were advertised, promoted, used, or structured in their use.

We also do not know what material they housed. we have different people’s accounts of what they were supposed to have housed but who knows, that ancient author may have lied. The Library at Alexandria is said to have housed over one million manuscripts on all topics but we cannot verify this claim because of the tragic fire destroying everything in it.

#9.But the phenomenon of massive and widespread literacy is completely modern. Before the industrial revolution, societies had no compelling reasons to  invest enormous amounts of money and other resources into creating a literate population. It was only with the development of the industrial world that such a thing became both desirable and feasible (pg. 82-83)

Again I disagree with this and with the knowledge that archaeologists and scholars mis-identify buildings we do not know if there were public schools or not. dr. Ehrman seems to misunderstand a lot about international trade as that alone would provide enough motivation for a king to educate his people.

The industrial revolution may have renovated education in the Middle Ages but it does not speak to the quality and quantity of education in the previous eras.

#10. Most people in the ancient world could not read. And those who could read often could not write. And in this case by “write” I mean that most people—even if they could copy down words—could not compose a sentence, let alone a well-arguedtreatise. (pg.84)

The following comment is not original with me, I just forget where I read it.  If the ancient people were illiterate, who were all the inscriptions, written laws, and other written material produced for?

It is a very good point for the elite are not the numerous part of the population. They would not need Hammurabi’s laws posted way out in the boondocks to know what the laws were. They were usually in the cities in places of power and good communication.

We may not have a lot of material from the past but we have so much that this argument doesn’t hold water. The illiteracy argument just doesn’t make sense and it undermines the forgery argument because why would ancient forgers go to so much trouble to forge something important if the people couldn’t read it?

Paul’s warning in 2 Thess. was not to the elite but to the whole church so why warn the whole church if they could not read at all? You can’t make the accusations of forgery and say it was widespread then turn around and say the people couldn’t read.

#11. The people who knew how to write were primarily men who were priests. In fact, for the entire first century CE (the time of Jesus and Simon Peter), we know for certain of only two authors in Palestine who produced literary works (pg. 85)

Again another unprovable generalization. We do not know who could or could not read or write. Those words are an insult to all ancient people for it is like future archaeologists or scholars saying that because only Isaac Asimov’s work survived over 2,000 years no one else could read or write in the 20th century.

The logic is just unbelievable. Those words are certainly an insult to me as I would not want to be considered illiterate when I wasn’t.

#12.And since most of Galilee was rural, not urban, the vast majority of Jews had no encounters with Gentiles. Moreover, Greek was not widely, let alone normally, spoken. The vast majority of Jews spoke Aramaic and had no facility in Greek. (pg. 86)

Dr. Ehrman has no clue on how the lingua franca of a time is used or known. I am just being blunt here because I am tired of archaeologists and scholars who keep pontificating on topics that they have no knowledge of. They claim to know things but in reality they just do not.

Aramaic may have been the language for the nations but that doesn’t mean people gave up their native tongues and only learned that language. The vast amount of Jews actually spoke Hebrew not Aramaic. They spoke their own language and it is most likely that Aramaic was taught as a second language not a first. Then not everyone learned it or wanted to learn it.

I can tell you right now as a teacher of the modern lingua franca, no one gives up their mother tongue to speak the internationally accepted language. If they did, they would not be able to communicate with their own people and they would lose their identities. It isn’t done anywhere. Even the Filipino people still, after a century or more of English curriculums and use,  speak their original languages.

#13. On the basis of archaeological digs and historical sources, it is clear that Capernaum was a historically insignificant village in rural Galilee. It is never mentioned in any ancient source prior to the Gospels. It is scarcely mentioned by any sources after that. (pg. 86)

Don’t you love it when people appeal to archaeology and make it an authority when everyone knows it is a limited field of research and cannot uncover 100% of the past. Then they use it to bolster their points when it sides with them but dismiss it when archaeology disagrees with them.

But when people take their eyes off God, their ethical codes change. They are no longer restricted to God’s code  but employ their own flexible one when it suits them. Literacy and education do not depend upon how often a town is mentioned in ancient works. Nor do they depend solely upon the size of a town.

In this country, even the smallest of towns finds a way to educate their children. As an example, for 4 years I lived and taught in a town that was 30 minutes from the home town of the United Nations head.

It is so small, that in one second you have passed and forgotten it. Yet he was educated and rose to the leadership of a world body. We do not know the attitude of the parents in Capernaum or its leaders. For all we know they did the exact same thing as older Korea–sent their children to the next town to be taught in a school.

Ban Ki-Moon’s era in Korea was much like many areas of the Middle East. Very poor, very rural, lacking a lot yet his parents and the town leaders found a way to educate their children. I have no doubt the ancient Israelites were much the same way. I have confidence that their attitude was the same attitude of when I grew up–parents wanted better for their children than what they had.

#14. Where in the ancient world do we have anything at all analogous to this hypothetical situation of someone writing a letter-essay for someone else and putting the other person’s name on it—the name of the person who did not write it—rather than his own name? So far as I know, there is not a single instance of any such procedure attested from antiquity or any discussion, in any ancient source, of this being a legitimate practice. Or even an illegitimate one. Such a thing is never discussed. (pg.89)

These words by Dr. Ehrman come in his attempt to address the possibility that even if Peter was illiterate, he could have dictated his words to a secretary. He doesn’t put much stock in it because as you can read, no one mentions it.

He thinks existence depends upon being mentioned somewhere and that is just not a good stand to make. Bosses dictate letters all the time to their secretaries, it doesn’t mean they didn’t write the letters. It just means they didn’t have time to write them themselves.

Then we must ask about Stephen Hawking. His people have had to interpret his sounds  before he got an electronic machine to voice the letters he types on a keyboard. Does this mean he never authored A Brief History of Time because he never actually used a pen and wrote the words himself?

Dr. Ehrman’s arguments fail in light of real evidence. Even if Peter dictated his epistles, he still wrote them because God gave him the inspiration not his secretaries. When people take their eyes of God they come up with any reason to claim that the Bible was not written by those we know authored their pages.

They do not want the truth, they are looking for any route  they can to escape God’s words. If you want the truth you need to keep your eyes on God. In doing that you can learn what God wants you to learn and you can spot the errors in the writings of those you have to read as you research or do your bible study.

The information given by those who do not do that will be distorted as you see by the above article. If you want to know the truth and be set free as Jesus said double-check the experts while keeping your eyes upon the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Those who have taken their eyes off God do not have the truth. For good research, bible study and Christian living you need to learn to spot those who have their eyes on God and those who don’t.

Taking Your Eyes Off God- 4

Turning your eyes off God doesn’t always happen to those who leave the faith. Sometimes those who are believers take their eyes off God and follow after strategies or ideas that may sound good or have been proven to be successful even though they did not come from God. They are borrowed from the secular world and adapted for Christian use.

I am sure my readers can think of many such examples. They come from the leadership so people think it is okay to use them or that God approves.

#1. Building programs

Years ago the church I grew up in was building its 3rd sanctuary and an old friend and I got into a discussion on the issue.

I did not really approve of the move because of the expenditure but her words in defense have always stuck with me not because they were profound but because they illustrated the misguided thinking that takes place in the church. It also shows quite clearly what I am talking about.

Her words were–‘we need to show the unbelieving world how successful we are.’ These words demonstrate quite clearly how far some of us are from keeping our eyes on God and his word. We get it into our heads that God needs  a new building to draw people to him and that building needs to be state of the art.

If we look at what Jesus did, he had multitudes following him not because he had his disciples build grand buildings but because he taught them correctly, he healed their illnesses, fed them and took care of their needs.

I am not saying that believers cannot use buildings or build their own. Sometimes we need our own to protect us from secular landlords who do not follow God’s morality and who participate  in not so honest business practices.

The point is, what is the purpose behind the building of sanctuaries? Is it to meet secular standards of success or to follow secular thinking but Christianize it so we can feel good about taking our eyes off of God and his ways?

It is not the building that does Christ’s work nor should we promote it to such duties.

#2. $113 million!?– http://www.christianpost.com/news/christ-cathedrals-113-million-redesign-to-include-illuminated-sanctuary-host-up-to-8000-at-mass-127062/

The redesign of Christ Cathedral by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which is set to cost close to $113 million, will feature an illuminated sanctuary and host up to 8,000 people during outdoor mass, new plans revealed.

“Through this innovative design process, an insightful plan has emerged that will establish Christ Cathedral as a place for involvement in the sacraments, a place to hear the word of God proclaimed and a place for personal prayer and devotion,” Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange said earlier this week. “It will be a holy place, where God dwells among us.”

When I was in undergrad school, we used to make fun of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) of the Middle Ages as they spent untold amounts of money on their cathedrals of the backs of the poor.

Then our own people started building such huge multi-million dollar structures and we had to shut up. I am not a fan of the RCC and believe it is a false church even though there are RCs who are truly Christian amongst its ranks.

This $113 million expenditure just adds to my opposition to them and their false doctrines. The last line goes against what Paul tells us about God and where he dwells

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (2 Cor. 6:16 NASB)

LA is a very large city with a very large population of poor people, though I am not talking about the homeless here. There are many who are poor yet can still keep their homes. There are many who are sick or in need in other areas yet because the RCC has taken its eyes off God its priorities have become skewed.

They feel that a large amount of money spent on a building that will not make it to heaven is what God wants. The RCC’s thinking is quite a contrast to how Jesus thought and acted from what we know from the gospels.

“A cathedral, such as the Christ Cathedral when completed, lifts the mind, heart and soul of believers — and perhaps even others — to the love of God and the hope that God has promised,” said Msgr. Christopher Smith, Christ Cathedral’s rector.

Smith added that the design aims to build “a deeper unity of purpose and mission among Catholics within our local Church” in addition to “a renewed commitment to permeating the world with the love of Christ.”

Maybe it is just me but I disagree with such comments. To ‘lift the hearts and minds of believers & others’, to show the love of God and his hope, the money should not be spent on a building. Instead it should  be raised and spent on helping those who need help.

I can think of one good use for that money right now–create jobs so people can save their dignity, their pride and see that God cares about them. It is pretty hard to see God caring when one is left in need while available resources are spent on a building that has no soul to save or help.

#3. Square 1— Hitler and the Cross by Erwin Lutzer

I hesitate to use this work as an example as my criticism of this Christian author almost cost me a 30 year friendship. Mr Lutzer was one of his favorite authors. I was disappointed in the book because I was under the pretense that Mr. Lutzer was going to provide real information about Hitler’s use of the cross, the words ‘ God’ and ‘God is with us’ among other religious symbols and the nazi use for them.

I thought I was going to get the honest scoop handled in a very intelligent Christian manner and one that was going to tell me the truth. What I got was something vastly different from that.

The information was very superficial, handled in the typical evangelical don’t go beneath the surface way and each chapter was geared to present the gospel message.  I am afraid to say that Mr. Lutzer dropped the ball on this topic Instead of providing real food for spiritual growth and provide information so believers could counter unbelievers arguments that Hitler was a Christian, we got square 1.

You have heard of the term ‘preaching to the choir’ well the choir doesn’t need square one any more. They need real food, real spiritual information to grow beyond the gospel message they have already believed and accepted.

This is one of the reasons why the local churches are not as healthy spiritually as God would like. Too many Christian leaders have taken their eyes off God and allowed their priorities to be skewed. They also do not read the people nor the situation very well.

It is one of the reasons why problems in the church are not handled correctly. Church leaders have allowed their fears and concerns to take their eyes off God and place them elsewhere and those alternatives ruin so many people and their hopes or dreams.

We need to allow people to grow beyond square 1 so they know how to obey God correctly and how to administer his will properly. I tink I wrote about how my former denomination was changing the morning worship time to a ‘seeker sensitive’ time and how disappointing it was to hear of the implementation of that strategy.

With our eyes off God our obedience gets messed up and even though we think we are pleasing God we are really missing the boat. Pastors need to grow beyond pop Christianity and delve into the deeper realms of God and his kingdom in order to lead his people to a deeper faith in Christ.

This means putting our eyes back on God and following him while learning our lessons as we go. But we got to get the people PAST square 1. We do not protect them by keeping them there. We are making them more vulnerable to the attacks of evil because of this off-kilter mentality.

They do not know how to defend themselves or their faith because our priorities are messed up. That is not good nor what God wants. God wants his followers to grow up and be soldiers of the faith for him. Not cowering children isolated by over-protective church leaders.

Our church leaders need to stop allowing fear to govern their thinking and activities and get their eyes back on God so they can teach the people what they need to know in order to grow up and be strong in Christ.

#4. Money, Money, Moneyhttp://www.christianpost.com/news/family-members-of-late-pastor-chuck-smith-sue-calvary-chapel-claim-elder-abuse-and-wrongful-takeover-of-his-property-127135/

Family members of Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, have filed a lawsuit against the church, claiming elder abuse and wrongful takeover of his property, according to local news reports and court records. Smith had been struggling with lung cancer and died last October.

I am not concerned about the spiritual label this person or that church maintains. The article is just used as an example to show what happens when people take their eyes off God and put them on money.

It is not just a prosperity gospel problem  or a t.v. evangelist’s problem, the money focus permeates Christendom. For the last couple of decades the Christian church has gotten into financial planning and have somehow gotten themselves named as beneficiaries in many different wills.

I am sure you have heard or read about this trend. The focus on money is not just for the false believer anymore. One of the reasons for this trend is the church’s desire for more and more innovative programs designed to win souls.

Again, I must point back to Jesus’ ministry to show that he did not teach his followers to create programs. He did show everyone how to be fishers of men but those lessons did not always include an altar call, an evangelistic rally or message every time a believer turns around.

He had a variety of ways to call people to his kingdom. With his disciples it was a simple ‘follow me and they left what they were doing and followed him. For others it was being served both good spiritual and physical food. Then there was the healing ministry, the take time for the children aspect, the individual attention to special cases, the judicial role and so much more.

Today’s world is not that much different from Christ’s time. We may have cars and trucks, they had wagons and chariots. we have tall buildings, they had tall buildings.  Technology may have been a little different but the basics of life never change– people love darkness over light.

They sin and have a sin nature. So it isn’t going to be the innovative programs that bring people to Christ, it is going to be how the people hear the word of God and realize they need to change.

When the Christian church started copying the RCC organization and took their eyes off God and put them on different strategies, needs changed. Raising money and money itself became more important than the spiritual quality of the people.

By extension, the programs became more of a focal point than the words of Christ. The Churches soon became mired in a quandary. How could they save souls if there was no money for the programs? They forgot that we do not need programs to win souls, we just needed to listen to and keep our eyes on God and follow his direction.

Helping a neighbor when they need it plants a seed which can then grow as the neighbor experiences more such godly experiences. We do not need to draw them into the church and have them participate in a program to do this.

Christians just need to love their neighbors as themselves. But it takes a spiritually healthy church that has gotten past square one to do this. It doesn’t take a lot of money.

When I was young I played varsity sports and whenever things were going bad for us our coach would tell us in practice that it was time to get back to the basics of the sport. Time to get back to the fundamentals.

Well the Christian church needs to get back to Christ’s fundamentals. This does not mean we go back to house churches or some  other misunderstanding of the practices of the ancient church.

It means we get back to putting our eyes upon God and following his lead not the ideas of the rest of the world. We need to get back to helping our neighbor, feeding them when they need it, taking care of them when they are sick, helping out when their loved one is in prison and so on.

We need to get back to loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Then we need to get back to the basics of obeying Jesus admonition to Peter–feed my sheep. Not with Christian junk food or distorted priorities but with a balanced and healthy diet of real spiritual food so that the church can grow correctly.

We do not need creative financial planning or lots of programs to accomplish this objective. We just need people willing to roll up their sleeves and get serious about their faith. The money will come when it is needed– from God.