Friday, May 31, 2013

Safe...(Do all Babies Go to Heaven) Part VI

Why Do Babies Die?

Part VI – What happens to them? 

I left our last post with this paragraph: 

Granted, there are some who say that all babies who die automatically go to heaven because God sovereignly chooses to extend His special grace to them. There is no doubt that God who is in fact sovereign can do just that. I, for one will not argue for a minute that God cannot do what He wants, especially in this situation. The question is does He?  Really, I think the question is does He need to? 

I began this series first of all by recounting a conversation a friend had with me a week ago today. In the midst of our conversation my friend opined that she did not believe that babies sin, nor have a sin nature. She also proffered her conviction that each and every baby that dies must so straight to heaven. She is convinced that God could not, and therefore would not, condemn a baby to hell or to punishment. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Safe... Or (Do All Babies Go to Heaven?) Part V)

Why Do Babies Die?

Part Five 

Well, since I have made the point that all men sinned, how did all men sin? How do babies, many in the womb sin? I think we have to answer the question, “What is my relationship to Adam?” This is an important question, don’t you think?” 

The Apostle Paul has already demonstrated that every living human being has a relationship with Adam. That doesn’t minimize the relationship that all believers have with Jesus Christ. What is the relationship that all mankind has with Adam? How can we say that all human beings who have been conceived sinned in Adam? Remember, Paul made his case that all have sinned and that sin is the cause of death passing upon all men. 

Let’s take a look at a very interesting passage of Scripture, 

“Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedeck met him.” (Hebrews 7:9-10, NKJV) 

This is a reference to an event that took place in Genesis. Abraham won a sizeable battle over some kings. Abraham paid a tenth of the spoils. The account goes on to say that Levi, a child of Jacob, a grandson of Abraham, was in the loins of Abraham when Abraham paid those tithes. 

In the same way the entire human race was in the loins. When Adam sinned, all of humanity sinned since they were in the loins of Adam. When Adam came under the penalty of death for sin, that penalty was passed unto every member of the human race. 

Also, above and beyond the fact that Adam was the “natural head” of the human race, Adam was also constituted by God to be the federal head or representative of the human race. 

What we understand is that Paul states very clearly that the entire human race sinned in Adam and therefore the entire human race is guilty before God on account of that sin. God imputed that single sin of Adam to the entire human race. When Adam sinned every human being sinned. 

So the answer is quite simple, babies die because they sinned in Adam. Romans 5:12 is a very sobering passage. It is not necessary that any human being, including a baby commit an actual sin outside of the womb. Every human being sinned in Adam and the penalty for sin is death. Therefore, it is not unjust that babies die. 

I understand that from the perspective of compassionate, caring, and normal human beings, any death, especially the death of a baby is a great tragedy. One would have to be almost a psychopath to not be moved by a baby’s death.

Even though Paul made a very clear statement in Romans 5:12, namely death spread to all men, because all sinned, my friend refused to acknowledge the fact that this extends to even babies which have not yet left the womb. 

The second part of my friends question was to the effect, “Well, if they sin and as a result of sin die, where happens to them?” Grieving parents ask this question when a baby, born or not dies. Women who become Christians often ask what happened to my aborted baby (babies)? 

The scripture is silent on this issue. There is not a single passage that tells us specifically what happens to babies who die. Even though when Larry King asked John MacArthur, “What about a two year old baby crushed at the bottom of the World Trade Center,” and MacArthur shot back, “Instant heaven,” we don’t know. 

I think the biggest problem that we face is the notion that babies are innocent. MacArthur writes, “When our nation considers war, the question arises, ‘What about the innocent children who die?’”[1] The reality as hard as it is to fathom, is that there are no innocent children. All who have been conceived sinned in Adam, and death is the appropriate penalty. Babies are not innocent, not even my four (4) wonderful, intelligent, and beautiful daughters. 

Granted, there are some who say that all babies who die automatically go to heaven because God sovereignly chooses to extend His special grace to them. There is no doubt that God who is in fact sovereign can do just that. I, for one will not argue for a minute that God cannot do what He wants, especially in this situation. The question is does He?  Really, I think the question is, does He need to?  

Lord willing let’s go further into this topic on Friday.

[1] Safe in the Arms of God, John MacArthur, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), p. 3

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Five Things I Pray (Almost) Daily

Over the last forty (40) years I have written a number of quotes, comments, pithy sayings, and poems in the fly-leafs of my bibles. Each Tuesday I am going to share those various entries from my bibles with you. I hope they will be as much of blessing to you as they have been to me. Sometimes I will be able to give credit where credit is due and sometimes I won’t be able to credit the source. I apologize for this to each one who contributed these gems over the last forty (40) years.


  • expose and eradicate my self-righteousness
  • expose and eradicate the sin that resides in me
  • expose and eradicate the distorted view of who I am
  • expose and eradicate anything that usurps the place of Christ as my hope
  • expose and eradicate anything that opposes, hinders, or stifles God's eternal goal for my life - to be like Him

it is not a system/activity, but Christ's work on the cross that can rescue me from my sin

I need help to see how desperate my condition really is. I need my heart changed.

I need help to see how weak, blind, and vulnerable sin makes me

I need wisdom and correction daily

I am so needy and weak apart from Christ

It gives me victory over sin and a maturity in Christ

It keeps me from getting that I am but a sinner saved by grace and I need Christ daily

Monday, May 27, 2013

Thank You USA Armed Forces!

Thank you to All Veterans Who Served
Honorably, Faithfully,and Sacrificially!

Thank You!

I served from October 1972 to October 1975 in the United States Marine Corps in the following units:

2nd Battalion, Platoon 2134, MCRD San Diego

2nd Marine Air Wing - MAG 26 - HMM-261 -  MCAS New River, Jacksonville, NC (Raging Bulls)

2nd Marine Air Wing - MAG 26 - HMH-461 - MCAS New River,  Jacksonville, NC (Ironhorse)

1st Marine Air Wing - MAG 12 - VMA-211, MCAS Iwakuni, Japan (Avengers)

2nd Marine Air Wing - MAG 31 - VMA-311, MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina (Tomcats)

After my honorable discharge I served as a reservist in two units:

4th Marine Aircraft Wing - 4th Light Antiaircraft Missile Battalion, (4th LAAM), FMF, USMCR, Fresno, CA as a Marine Corps Reservists. (Hawk Missile Unit)

152nd Airlift Wing, Nevada Air National Guard, Reno, NV 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review: Faith and its Evidences, The Works of John Owen, Volume 5

Title:  Faith and its Evidences, Vol. 5

Author:  John Owen

Genre:  Non-Fiction; Theology

First Copyright:  1965

Type of Book:  Hardcover

General Subject Matter:  Christian Living

Special Features:  None

Pages:  457

Price:  $28.00

ISBN:  978-0-851-067-5

The purpose of the author is to provide his readers with the knowledge of the sinful condition from which they were justified, the means by which they were justified, and the effects of justification.

Owen writes:  "But where any persons are really made sensible of their apostasy from God, of the evil of their natures and lives, with the dreadful consequences that attend thereon, in the wrath of God and eternal punishment due unto sin, they cannot well judge themselves more concerned in any thing than in the knowledge of that divine way whereby they may be delivered from this condition."  (To the Reader)

The theme of Faith and its Evidences is the doctrine of justification.The thesis of Faith and its Evidences is that justification is by faith through the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

The author develops his thesis by the means of exposition. Owen explains his subject of justification by faith in order to make this doctrine clear to his readers. Owen presents the facts that surround or encompass this doctrine in a clear and impartial manner. Owen's primary purpose in is exposition is to explain this great doctrine thoroughly and accurately. Owen skillfully combines argumentation with his exposition in order to persuade his readers of the veracity of his exposition.

 Owen establishes his position by his expert exegesis of the biblical text. Owen uses these techniques in order to explain, confirm, and vindicate the truths of the doctrine of justification.

Even though this book was written by a seventeenth century divine, and by most accounts the most brilliant of theologians, I found this book to be extremely interesting. I found it to be absolutely accurate, and totally objective. This book is as difficult to read as any other book by our author yet it is again well worth the read. 

This book is of utmost importance and value to the church today. The church today has seemingly lost sight of the doctrine of justification by faith. Owen's message is timely in the sense that it addresses issues that are faced some four hundred years after this time. Christianity is plagued with those who would confuse  the imputation of righteousness with the infusing of righteousness.

Owen's main argument is that God justifies sinners on the grounds or the basis of Jesus Christ's vicarious death on the cross. This justification excludes any work, effort, or contribution, on the sinner's part. Owen agree with the position of the Reformers that justification by faith is "the article of a standing or falling Church." Owen believed based on sound biblical exegesis that when a Church believed and preached justification by faith it would stand alive and vibrant, but if the church perverted this doctrine by the inclusion of any contribution on man's part the Church would fall into disrepute and loose the sovereign care and blessing of God.

The reader must take into consideration Owen's purpose was to defend this biblical doctrine. As in much of the writings that came from and out of the reformation period it contains some very controversial conclusions. After all Owen wrote during a time of Roman Catholic opposition and confusion with what became known as "Protestant" Churches.

I agree with Owen's opinions, conclusions, and exegesis. True biblical Christianity is centered squarely on justification by faith alone. The Scriptures makes it extremely clear that God requires absolute perfect righteousness in any being who would fellowship with God. It is equally clear that mankind does not possess an iota of the requisite righteousness. The Scriptures do make it clear that justification is by faith. It is a forensic declaration by God upon the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner. Any attempts to earn, merit, or supply righteousness on man's part is fatal. 

This book had an profound impact on me. It did not change my position on justification by faith, however, it did solidify my thinking on the evidences of true salvation. If there is true salvation there will concrete and visible evidence of salvation. I fear that a good many churches today are filled with and even led by individuals who have never been justified by faith. Easy believism, Arminianism, and convoluted teachings on justification has filled churches with attendees and members who have never been saved. I did not change my ideas nor abandon any. This book served as a reminder that true faith and biblical justification by faith can and will be discerned by evidence.

John Owen was a noted pastor, lectured before English Parliament on a number of occasions, and Chaplain to Ireland and Scotland. He was an adviser to Oliver Cromwell (Lord Protector of England)

Faith and its Evidences format is an 8 3/4 x 5 1/2 x 1 1/4 hardback. The binding is library binding. The typography is small and single-spaced. There are no maps, no illustrations, or photographs. 

This book has very few footnotes. There are no end notes, indexes, or bibliographies. The reader should be aware that Owen makes much use of Latin quotes and references without translation.

AS far as a summary of Faith and its Evidences, the content of this book is both pastoral and theological. It is an excellent treatment of the biblical doctrine of justification by faith. My general conclusions are that this book is an accurate exposition of one of the most important biblical doctrines. The principle topics are The cause and object of faith, the use of faith in justification, the nature of justification, the means of justification, and the imputation of righteousness.

Owen summarizes his entire treatise with these words, Those who have lowest thoughts of themselves, and are most filled with self-abasement, have the clearest view of divine glory. The bottom of a pit or well gives the best prospect of the heavenly luminaries; and the soul in its deepest humiliations hat for the most part the clearest view of things within the vail.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Silver Limner

God often lays the sum of His amazing providences in very dismal afflictions; as the limner* first puts on the dusky colors, on which he intends to draw the portraiture of some 
illustrious beauty.

Stephen Charnock

*limner - limner is an illuminator of manuscripts, or more generally, a painter of ornamental decoration

Friday, May 24, 2013

Safe...(Do All Babies Go to Heaven?) Part IV

Why Do Babies Die?
Part Four

Let’s look at the last phrase in verse twelve,

“…for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12e, KJV)

This phrase is connected with Paul’s previous statement,

“…and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12d, KJV)

This last phrase, “…for that all have sinned…” is probably the most important phrase Paul has written yet. We need to know exactly what Paul said. We need to diligently discover the correct translation of this phrase. I don’t think we have it with either the Revised Standard Version or the King James Version.

Later translators who carefully exegeted this phrase saw that the previous translations had mistranslated this phrase and they corrected it. A better translation of this phrase reads,

“…because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12e, NKJV)

Most of you are thinking, “What difference does it make?” I think it makes a great deal of difference. When you say, “all have sinned” you are really making a general observation or general statement. It is true that eventually all men will have sinned prior to their death. Paul is not making a general observation or statement in this paragraph. Paul is saying definitively that all men sinned.

Paul used an aorist tense, active voice, and an indicative mood. In doing so Paul portrays the idea of an act completed once and forever in history at a particular point and time. Paul is not making a general observation. Paul refers to a specific action that took place at a particular point of time.

The reason why this is important is as follows: if you state that “all have sinned” you can imply that they sinned now, or yesterday, last week, or at any time. Paul used a word, and a tense of the Greek verb to refer to a specific one definite completed action – all sinned.

Therefore, death passed upon all men because all men sinned. You must understand Paul’s purpose in this paragraph. Paul is explaining the comparison between Adam and Jesus Christ. Don’t forget that Paul says that Adam is a figure of him (Jesus) that was to come. Paul is showing the reason for this comparison is to emphasize the fact that our relationship to one (Adam) is the same to the other (Christ.) In other words, what is true of us while we are in Adam is true of us while we are in Christ.

God pronounced death upon all men because all men sinned. This is why death is universal. Death is universal even on infants. Why? Because all sinned. All sinned in Adam. Death is always part of the punishment for sin and death presupposes guilt and condemnation. Death is universal, even in the case of babies who have not been born yet nor committed any actual sin. However, because babies do die they must be guilty of a specific and particular sin. They have not sinned by a personal act or action, but they would never die if they were not guilty of some particular and definite sin.

The questions you must ask is, when did infants sins? What sin did they commit? How did they sin?  

Don’t forget, Paul’s contention is that death has come upon all men proving that all men have sinned. All men sinned in the original sin of Adam. In verses fifteen through nineteen Paul repeats his position five (5) times with the words, “one offense”, the “one offense of Adam”, or “the offense of one man.”

This is why Paul compares Adam and Christ. One man’s (Adam’s) sin brought death upon all men. Christ’s one action brings life to all believers. Adam’s one act of sin made all men sinners; the death of Christ makes all who believe in Him righteous. Adam’s sin is imputed to us and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us.

So when did infants and babies sin? In Adam – when Adam sinned, every human being that would ever be conceived sinned. How did infants sin? In Adam – Adam as their representative sinned resulting in the sinning of each and every human being. Babies in the womb sinned. Even before birth they sinned. They sinned in Adam.

Lord, willing Monday we will look at exactly how all men sinned in Adam.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Safe...(Do All Babies go to Heaven?) Part III

Why Do Babies Die?
Part Three

In the last post I wrote that Dr. MacArthur had written,

Any notion that a child is born morally neutral, or that a baby is born without a predisposition to sin, is contrary to Scripture.” Dr. MacArthur goes on to say, “If infants were not sinful or morally corrupt, they would not die at all! If babies were born totally without sin or depravity, there could be no reason for their death.” [1]

There is great truth to what MacArthur says. However, there is a great problem with what he has written.

It is true that all human beings are born with a “bent” toward sin as a result of inheriting a sinful nature from Adam. The problem, which was expressed by my friend, is that most believers might attribute a sin nature to a baby but would not acknowledge that a baby has sinned, especially within the womb. After all, what can it do? While in the womb a baby certainly can’t rob a bank, lust after the opposite sex, take God’s name in vain, envy an item, or violate any other commandment of God.

Of course this is what my friend stressed so strenuously – babies haven’t had the opportunity to sin.

I say to you on the authority of Scripture that all human beings sinned. First, let me say that God is just in pronouncing death as the penalty for sin. Death is the penalty for sin. God told Adam while Adam was still in the garden,

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17, NKJV)

God once again reiterated this principle through the prophet Ezekiel,

“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the Father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4, NKJV)

The most familiar passage of all those which state that death is the penalty for sin is found in Romans,

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NKJV)

It is very clear the bible teaches that death is the penalty for those who sin. In other words, all who sin will die. I guess the question would be has every living being which has been conceived sinned? This was the crux of my friends argument, she didn’t have “proof” or “evidence”, but she did not believe babies had or could sin, especially prior to birth.

The reason that God can pronounce judgment on mankind and condemn man to death and eternal punishment is that every conceived human being has sinned. God is absolutely just in passing the death penalty on every human being, including babies.

Why do babies die? Because they sinned. What is the penalty for sin? Death. This part of the question is actually easy, although from a human standpoint unimaginable.

Turn to Romans 5:12.

The Revised Standard Version, the King James Version, the New Revised Standard Version, and The Geneva Bible to name a few translate this verse as:

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12, KJV)

First, we must take note of the opening word in this verse – wherefore. The Apostle Paul is beginning a new section or a new unit of thought at this place. Second, take note that this word suggests a connection with what he has just written and serves as a transition to what he is about to write. This new unit of thought begins with verse twelve (12) and continues to the end of chapter five (5.)

We must ask ourselves why Paul is introducing Adam at this juncture. Also, what is the significance of comparing Adam with Christ?

The certainty of our salvation comes by being in Christ. We are saved by Christ’s life. It was not just enough for Christ to die but He had to be raised to life in order to fully provide our salvation. (See verse 10)

Paul sums up all that he has written about our salvation. Paul has proved the justness of God’s wrath against all of mankind, i.e. e. the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul has also proven that God justifies and reconciles to Himself, those who were once enemies due to sin.

Lord willing we shall continue with verse twelve in tomorrow’s post.

[1] Safe in the Arms of God, Dr. John F. MacArthur, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), p. 69

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Safe... (Do All Babies Go to Heaven?) Part II

Why Do Babies Die?
Part Two

During my conversation with my friend this past Friday she made the definite statement that babies, especially those yet in the womb have not had the opportunity to sin. She readily agrees that the “sin nature” comes into play, but how and when she is not sure. She is sure that she does not want to attribute sin to a baby in the womb or out of the womb.

First, let me say that the overwhelming majority of people, whether Christians or not hold the position that all babies go to heaven.  Regardless of their view on sin, original sin, or death, they believe that babies are “innocent” and won’t be held accountable by God.

I am well aware of the fact that almost all of the reformers hold to the position that somehow by God’s infinite grace and wisdom that He has made a provision for infants and imbeciles. I am aware of the fact that one of my heroes of the faith, Charles H. Spurgeon believed and taught that all babies who die go to heaven by a gracious provision of God.

Dr. John F. MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church of Sun Valley, CA has written a little book called, Safe in the Arms of God. It is Pastor MacArthur’s position that all babies who die go to heaven.

As a matter of fact, in his book, Pastor MacArthur was very adamant about the fact that we not only can know the answer to this question but that pastor’s must have an answer to this question;

“Several years ago I was asked to participate on a panel at a large conference. Three other pastors joined me on this question and answer panel. One of the questions came from the audience was, ‘What happens to babies when they died?’ The answer of the other three pastors was, essentially, ‘I don’t know.’ I was dismayed. How can a person be a pastor and not have an answer to that question? How can a pastor even offer counsel or encouragement to those who experience the loss of a child unless he or she has answers to the concerns of a grieving heart? When my turn came to reply I said, ‘they go to heaven.’” [1]

Second, there is a very entrenched thought or belief that human beings are born without sin. This “doctrine” or teaching was condemned as heresy some sixteen hundred (1600) years ago, but it still lingers. The underlying foundation of this heresy is that each and every soul that is born is born as a “clean slate.” As a person develops and begins to “sin” by engaging in willful acts of sin, they become sinners. The belief that results from this heresy is that infants and children are “innocent” and have not yet had the opportunity to sin. It is thought that infants and babies cannot make a willful choice to sin. Therefore, a “sinless” or “innocent” child will to go to heaven.

This doctrine was declared to be heretical and was condemned by every council that met to review the doctrine against the Scriptures. The problem is that this thinking has never gone away. People still think it is true today.

When you lasted visited a maternity ward or a family which had just delivered a brand new baby what did you hear? Did you hear someone exclaim, “Oh look at the desperately wicked and deceitful depraved little sinner!” No, in all most every case someone said, “Oh look at the beautiful little baby. Doesn’t he or she look so innocent?” Or, “Doesn’t she look so peaceful and innocent laying there asleep?”

Now, most bible scholars and those trained in biblical doctrine would admit that all human beings including infants are born as sinners from conception. All most all would say that the principle of sin is embedded in the heart or soul of every living being. Most would say that all that are born have a bent toward sin. Even Dr. MacArthur wrote,

Any notion that a child is born morally neutral, or that a baby is born without a predisposition to sin, is contrary to Scripture.” Dr. MacArthur goes on to say, “If infants were not sinful or morally corrupt, they would not die at all! If babies were born totally without sin or depravity, there could be no reason for their death.” [2]

There is great truth to what MacArthur says. However, there is a great problem with what he has written. We will pick this up in our next post, (Thursday, May 23, 2013) Lord willing.

[1] Safe in the Arms of God, John MacArthur, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), p. 13
[2] Ibid, p. 69

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Doctrine Does Divide

Over the last forty (40) years I have written a number of quotes, comments, pithy sayings, and poems in the fly-leafs of my bibles. Each Tuesday I am going to share those various entries from my bibles with you. I hope they will be as much of blessing to you as they have been to me. Sometimes I will be able to give credit where credit is due and sometimes I won’t be able to credit the source. I apologize for this to each one who contributed these gems over the last forty (40) years.


Doctrine separates those
who believe in Scripture from those 
who don't believe in Scripture

Monday, May 20, 2013

Safe or ... (Do All Babies Go to Heaven?) Part I

Why Do Babies Die?
Part One

This past Friday a friend of mine engaged me in a conversation. This of course is not the stuff of which “late breaking news” is made. As a matter of fact this is a conversation, or at least the topic, is one that has troubled me for years. The first part of half of the conversation did not bother me since I can go to the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament and refute the commonly held notion that human beings, namely children, have “guardian angels.” Guardian angels are not substantiated by Scripture. The notion is an idea of Roman Catholic dogma.

It is the second half of the conversation that has plagued me for years. A part of my “argument” against guardian angels is the simple fact that if they do exist, for the most part they are doing a terrible job. After all children are tortured, molested, abused, injured, and killed regularly. One would have to be made of stone not to be affected, no devastated by the horrible abuse that children face. In addition, it is heart breaking, no heart wrenching to see the cameras pan the starving, diseased, and dying children in what we call ”third world” countries. One can only wonder if in fact guardian angels are assigned to children what happened. Where were they when a parent deliberately burned their children with cigarettes because the child would not stop crying? Where were they when “Uncle Buck” repeatedly raped and molested them?

Sorry, back to the second part of the conversation: what happens to babies when they die? My friend made the point that since babies don’t sin how can they be held culpable for sin? Of course her argument was that babies, especially babies in the womb don’t or can’t sin they must go straight to heaven. She is convinced, with no Scriptural foundation that babies haven’t had any opportunity to sin.

Come June 18th my wife and wife will have been married for forty (40) years. No, that is not a typo or bad math. During this forty (40) years God has allowed us to produce four (4) healthy, intelligent, and beautiful girls. From these four (4) girls, three have given to us four (4) healthy, intelligent and beautiful grandchildren. Oops, sorry Gregory and Diontre, two (2) beautiful granddaughters and two (2) handsome grandsons.

We have been richly blessed beyond measure. We have never had a child die, or suffered a miscarriage, or even a severe illness. The most we have had to endure was one broken arm and the requisite number of “stiches” in all four (4) girls. Other than common sense, general life experience, empathy, and etc., I don’t know what it is like to suffer the loss of a child.

My involvement in this question is twofold. First of all it is theological. As a theologian I want to fully understand the Scriptures. I want to work hard at study in order to show myself an able and accurate student of God’s Word. I am dedicated to rightly dividing the Word of God. Biblical Theology must trump emotional, rational and/or logical opinions. Biblical doctrine is essential.

Secondly, my involvement is pastoral. It is difficult to stand beside a family who has lost a baby or child and answer their questions. Their grief compels them to cry out why? Then at some point the question turns to “where?” They want assurance that their baby is safe in Christ and that they will one day see their child again.

As a pastor I don’t have a convenient place to go in the Scriptures and say, “Thus sayeth the Lord.” The scripture is silent on this topic. There are no definitive passages that specifically deal with this topic.

I have “danced” around this question for a number of years. I have not been able to give a definitive answer that both comforted grieving parents and complemented biblical theology. I have been unable to “buy in” completely to the stock answer or explanation involving King David’s experience with his and Bathsheba’s baby. Although there is some merit, I do not believe that this experience gives hard and fast evidence that all babies who die go to heaven or serves to explain why babies die.

If I haven’t offended you or put you off, stay with me. Over the next two or three posts (excluding Tuesday) I hope to look at this question “thrown” at me by my friend. I hope to be honest with the text and from Scripture provide some guidance and thought on this, the toughest of questions.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Defining Contentment

“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” 

Jeremiah Burroughs

Friday, May 17, 2013

Christian Contentment

Today’s blog was inspired by a Pastor’s Fellowship breakfast that I attend once a month. The topic for today was “Contentment.”

Naturally the opening question was along the lines of, “are you content?” Each man present gave a brief reply. As you would imagine a discussion ensued concerning this great topic. We were challenged with such questions as:

  • What is contentment?
  • How does one obtain/achieve contentment?
  • What affects our contentment?
  • Why is it so hard to experience or achieve?
Our attention was obviously directed to the Apostle Paul’s great testimony and statement concerning contentment in his own life at a time when one would expect him to least experience it.

Paul writes, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, [to be brought into a humble condition] and I know how to abound [to exceed a certain number or measure] Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:1-1-3, ESV)

One of the goals of my blog is to expose my readers to a variety of spiritually beneficial topics, books, articles, thoughts and people.

I shared these things with you so that could expose you to a great book and great writer. The best book, apart from the Bible, that I have found on the “art & secret” of contentment is called:

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

and it is written by Jeremiah Burroughs. It is published by Banner of Truth Trust. I believe that every reader should stop what they are doing, click on the link for Banner Truth Trust and order this book ASAP!

Do it today!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Word Study - Reconciliation

Word Study - katallasw

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10, NKJV)

Our goal is to determine the meaning of katallasw within its biblical context. Remember, word studies must always be based on the original language, not simply on the English text. Ultimately the context must determine the precise meaning of the word consideration.

We have selected the word “reconciled” from Romans 5:10. Our word is actually used twice in this particular verse.

First, I have compared nine translations and one paraphrase of Romans 5:10.Two of these translations were thought for thought translations. They are commonly referred to as dynamic-equivalence translations. They stand in juxtaposition to word for word translations. The two dynamic translations that I used are the New International Version and the New Living Translation. As for as literal or word for word translations I compared the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, and the New English Bible. I also compared one paraphrase of the New Testament – the Philips Modern English Bible.

Second, I discovered that all nine translations and the one paraphrase translated the Greek Word katallasw as “reconciled.” They did not vary in their selection of an English word. Not one translation or paraphrase utilized sought to use or substitute a synonym.

Assuming the accuracy and integrity of the translators, it appears that we can conclude that to be reconciled is “to change” or “to be changed,” or, “to be returned to favor.” This doesn’t tell us much but what the hey? It’s a start!

Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1969) defines reconcile as: 1.a. to restore to friendship, harmony, or communion. B: adjust, settle <differences>, 2:  to make congrus <an ideal with reality> 3: to cause to submit to or accept.

Please note that I am not actually defining the Greek word at this point. I am simply attempting to gain insight into its English equivalent.

According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible our writer, the Apostle Paul used this same word four (4) other times in the New Testament

·        1 Corinthians 7:11 – “But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”

·        2 Corinthians 5:18, 20 – “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

·        Colossians 1:21 – “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.”

These additional texts help shed light on the meaning of our word. Paul used katallasw the same way in each passage. In other words, it has the same meaning each time Paul used this word.

Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament (page 333) tells us that “reconciled” in Romans 5:10 translates the Greek Word katallasw. It means to change, exchange, as coins for others of equal value; hence to reconcile (those who are at variance) It means to return to favor with, be reconciled to, one. 

It is used to mean where one ceased to be angry with another and receives him into favor. God cease to be offended and grants his favor anew to those whose sins he pardons.

It is implied and understood that God is angry with sinners and there is hostility between God and sinners. However, God through Christ makes peace with sinners, He is said to pardon them, and to receive them into His favor, thus ending the hostility.

Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (page 513) says “properly denotes “to change, exchange (especially of money); hence of persons “to change from enmity to friendship, to reconcile.” With regard to the relationship between God and man, the use of this and connected words shows that primarily “reconciliation” is what God accomplishes, exercising His grace towards sinful man on the ground of the death of Chris tin propitiatory sacrifice under the judgment due to sin.

Romans 5:10 expresses this in another way: “…that we were enemies” not only expresses man’s hostile attitude to God but signifies that until this change of attitude takes place men are under condemnation exposed to God’s wrath. This stresses the attitude of Gods favor toward us.

Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament (page 61) tells us that the verb form of katallasw means primarily “to exchange; and hence to change the relation of hostile parties into a relation of peace.” “In the Christian sense, the change in the relation of God and man affected through Christ.”

So, while we were enemies with God a change in relationship took place in order for us to have “peace” with God. Once there was a sinful opposition to God and a holy opposition of God towards sinners, there is now peace brought about by God through Christ. Now that we are reconciled the enmity that God has toward sinners is removed enabling God to be propitious and apply the work of Christ to the heart of sinners.

Reconciliation means that the ground of difference has been removed. Reconciliation does not mean that God simply “clears” the guilty. Satisfaction must be made towards His indignant hatred of sin and to satisfy His offended holiness. God does judge our sin; the full penalty for our sin is extracted. God imputed our sin to His Son and His Son paid the full penalty and experienced the fullness of God’s wrath against sin. Reconciliation is an act of God whereby God acts to change the existing relationship between God and man because the grounds, our sin, has been transferred to His dear Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Revealing Research

Church relationships significant, but few helping others grow

According to a recent LifeWay Research survey three out of four people who regularly attend church services state that they have significant relationships with people at church, but less than half of the respondents are intentionally involved in helping other believers grow in their faith.

The question, “I intentionally spend time with other believers in order to help them grow in their faith” was asked and only 42% of those surveyed answered in the affirmative. This is a very revealing survey of so called “Protestant” churches.

It seems that there is a resounding apathy towards the number one marching order of the church. The Great Commission has become for the most part The Great Omission. In order to “teach” disciples all that Christ taught it seems that one must be committed to helping fellow believers grow in their Christian faith.

Furthermore the New Testament is replete with admonitions, counsel, imperatives, and directives regarding the care and development of fellow believers. (Gal 6:1-2; Mk 9:50; Jn 13:14, 13:34, 15:12, 15:17; Ro 12:10;12:16 ;13:8 ;14:13 ;15:7,16;16:16, 1 Cor. 1:10 ,11:33 ,12:24-25 ,16:20; Gal. 5:13, 5:26, 6:2; Eph. 4:2 4:32, 5:19, 5:21 ; Col. 3:9, 3:13, 3:16 ; 1 Thess. 4:9, 4:18, 5:11, 13, 5:15; Heb. 3:13, 10:24-25, 13:1; Jam. 4:11 ,5:9 , 16; 1 Jn. 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11; 2 Jn. 1:5; 1 Pet. 1:22, 3:8, 4:8, 4:9, 5:14)

Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research stated, “The bible frames relationships among believers as a proactive investment in other Christians. In fact, Hebrews 10:24 refers to the need to exhibit concern for other Christians in ways that encourage love and good works.”

He also said, “Most attendees have friends at church, but only a minority invest time to help other believers develop their faith. It is as if churchgoers arrive to sit together as spectators for a game rather than arriving as player-coaches who work together and develop each other’s game.”

This seems to be a rather sad commentary on the average church. Thank God there are exceptions to the rule or discipleship would truly be extinct. A major prayer concern of mine is that the great commission would be restored to its rightful place in the local churches. Any legitimate activity that takes place in the local church is subservient to the making of disciples and the training of disciples in order to help them grow in their faith.