Sunday, November 16, 2008

More thoughts on the Bible's Levels of Meaning

Last post I said:

"There is the historical level of meaning. At a minimum, every verse has a historical meaning because all of the Bible was dictated by God and recorded as part of the Bible at some point in space and time. Additionally, on those occasions when the Bible makes a fuller statement of history, the Bible does so infallibly."

Every verse also has a moral dimension. At a minimum, that moral for life on this earth is that the Bible is to be obeyed, read, heard, meditated upon, and studied as much as possible.

" My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee." Proverbs 3:1-2

So also every verse of Scripture has a spiritual dimension; that is, every verse of the Bible has something to do with the spiritual realm. This can be seen in the fact that the Bible did not originate in the physical realm. The Bible did not originate in the earth, or in the minds of men. The Bible came from God, who is spirit.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw." Revelation 1:1-2

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The "Fall" is not a Misnomer: Yet Another Proof

I was studying Romans 5 today, and a close look at Romans 5:18 reminded me about all that nonsense some weeks ago in an internet forum about Adam being created subject to the wrath of God; and that being the case, Adam did not "fall".

Romans 5:18 reads, "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."

The greek word underlying "offence" is very revealing. This is the greek word, "paraptoma" [Strongs 3900] which literally rendered means "a fall aside". This is the noun form of the greek verb, "parapipto" [Strongs #3895]which literally means "to fall aside". Hebrews 6:6 renders parapipto [3895] as "fall away" which is close, but "fall aside" is more accurate.

paraptoma [3900] is rendered numerous times as "trespass". "Trespass", whose core meaning has to do with the ideas of overstepping or unlawful infingement, is not a bad translation of paraptoma but it does not completely capture the essence of the meaning of the word. A number of times 3900 is rendered "offence", and it is occasionally translated "fault". All of these renderings are more metaphorical.

In Romans 11, though, we get some clarity. Verses 11 and 12 read,

"I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall [pipto (without the prefix para) Strongs #4098]? God forbid: but rather through their fall [paraptoma, Strongs # 3900] salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall [paraptoma, Strongs # 3900]of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?"

Here, the noun paraptoma is paired with its core root verb pipto which means "fall". Thus there can be no mistake that God in Romans 5:18 describes Adam's sin of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden as a "fall". Thus, saying the "Fall of Adam is a misnomer" is unbiblical.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Two passages on the Understanding the Word ...

. . . (or Lack Thereof)

In Isaiah 28 God declares that the understanding of the doctrines of the Word of God is given to "them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts". That is, God gives much fuller understanding of His word to those whose sole authority is the Word of God, and who do not have the co-authorities of human ideas such as creeds, confessions, or any ideas from the minds of mortal men.

Isaiah 28 teaches that the doctrines of the Bible are sprinkled throughout the Bible, "here a little, there a little". God further explains in the chapter that the reason God wrote the Bible the way He did insofar as the non-elect unsaved are concerned is that "they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." (Isaiah 28:13).

Incidentally, I used to be pursuaded that Isaiah 28:11 referred to the sinful practice of speaking in tongues. I am not so pursuaded of that now, because the verse says "with another tongue will HE speak to this people." We know from Revelation 22:18-19 that when someone is speaking in tongues at any time after the Bible was completed, it is NOT God speaking. When someone speaks in tongues nowadays, it is possibly just the person themselves faking it and speaking out of their own deceived mind. It is also possibly Satan himself or one of Satan's evil spirits acting as a "lying spirit" in the mouth of the one speaking in tongues (1 Kings 22:19-23). But in any case the act of speaking in tongues is NOT God speaking.

But Isaiah 28:11 refers to God speaking to the people. I therefore believe that Isaiah 28:11 refers to how God speaks through the Bible. To the unsaved it is as if God is speaking in gibberish, since the unsaved do not come to a saving understanding of the Word of God. Instead, the Word of God plunges them further and further into error, resulting in their coming under the full wrath of God.

1 Corinthians 2 is related to Isaiah 28 inasmuch as this chapter is concerned with how the Word of God is savingly understood. 1 Corinthians 2:13 declares that the Word of God is given through prophets such as Paul "comparing spiritual things [words] with spiritual." Thus since the Word is given in comparative fashion ("here a little, there a little"), it is understood in this fashion as well. This is why we go through the mechanical process of turning from one part of the Bible to another to another as we search out a doctrine. This is not to say that this mechanical process is deterministic for anyone who employs it. The unsaved can use all the concordances and Biblical Greek/Hebrew computer programs they want, but they will still not come to a saving understanding of the Bible. They still end up under judgment, even thought they might attain to a significant intellectual head-knowledge of the Bible.

May each of us have the unsderstanding that is imparted by the "mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16), for truly this is a great and wonderful expression of the love of God to us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Of Note in John 21:6

"And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes."

We see here an unnumbered "multitude" of fishes. This is the latter rain "multitude" which no man can number. True, the number 153 comes out once they get to shore, but that is only once they get to shore, which likely is a picture of heaven at the end of time, when the true exact number of believers will finally be revealed.

One other curious thing, though. The verse says "and *now* they were not able to draw". What does this mean? God does the drawing, does He not? After all, we read in John 6:44, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. "

So what does the "now" mean in John 21:6? Well, I do not think it implies that prior to that the discples were, in themselves, able to draw anyone to salvation. There are thus two possibilities I can think of. One, the word "now" draws our attention to the concept of *time*. Prophetically the passsage points to the Latter Rain era, which, of course is an era of time. Another possibility is that in the church age, given the churches' visible structure and given the fact that the visible and invible churches were then so intertwined, there was the *appearance* in the church age of believers doing the drawing. It could be that God is calling our attention to the fact that believers never were the ones doing the drawing despite the outward appearance of doing so that the church exhibited.

This latter possibility is given some weight when we consider the presence of Christ on the shore. He, after all, was the one who instructed the disciples to cast off the right side of the ship. And then, once Christ was explicitly recognized, His presence drew everyone to shore, as emphasized by Peter's jumping into the water.

Well, there are probably a good number of readers out there who know this passage a lot better than I do. As always, I welcome input and correction from the Bible.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

John 21:1-6

For a long time I have found this passage curious. I have understood for some time now the reference to ploirarion (Strongs 4142) in verse 8 to refer to the believers outside the churches after the end of the church age.

But I have long puzzled about the reference to "the right side of the ship" back in verse 6. This is a slightly different greek work, ploion (Strongs #4143), in the Bible is used as a figure of the visible church in the church age. Yet, here in John 21:6 the disciples are commanded to cast their nets of the right side of the ploion (4143), and they ensnared a great number of fish.

How could it be that the visible church is somehow involved in a latter rain evangelistic haul?

The key is the phrase "right side", I believe. The word "right" has to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the "right side of the ship" means that the Bible is now focusing on the *invisible* church. This reference provides the transition between the end of the church age, or the "night" in which the disciples caught no fish from the visible church (ploion (4143)), and latter rain, pointed to by "the morning", in which the "little ship" (ploirarion (4142)) enabled the catch to be brought ashore.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Getting Your Feet Wet with New Testament Greek

I happened to run across this, which I believe is the same Beginning Greek Grammar study book I used in my first semester of New Testament greek when I went to college five thousand years ago. If memory serves through these millennia, the book is quite good, though it is not unaffected by secular influences.

It is well suited to self study, if you are so inclined. If you need help, as they say here in the south, just holler.

Some observations on Revelation 20:10

"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake
of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are],
and [they] shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

The KJV is not completely clear on who it is who is tormented. Is it the devil, or is it the devil, the beast, and the false prophet? The particple "tormented" in the greek is the future indicative passive, third person plural. Thus the devil, the beast, and false prophet (Satan and unsaved men) are all in view as subject to the torment.

The phrase "for ever and ever" is not as simple as it might seem. If you consult your interlinear, you will see that this phrase is translated from the greek

eis tous aionas ton aionon

which is literally rendered,

"into the ages of the ages"

Now, the phrase "the ages of the ages" in the New Testament is a figure for eternity, that is, beyond the end of time. A quick check of your concordance software will confirm that.

The question now is, when the Bible talks about "INTO the ages of the ages", or to paraphrase, "INTO" eternity, how are we to understand the "INTO"? Does this mean "into and throughtout eternity", or does it mean, "into (right up against) the starting point of eternity, but not throughout eternity"?

Let me explain in english. In english, I can say

"I dived into the water"

We understand that to mean that I not only dived and came into contact with the surface of the water, but I in fact entered into the depth of the water.

However, if I say, "I ran into a brick wall", we correctly do not understand this to mean that I collided with the brick wall such that I penetrated the surface of the brick wall and ended up inside or through it.

The greek word, "into" in the New Testament works the same way. Depending on the context, it can mean "into and throughor throughout" OR it can mean "into (right up against) the starting point or edge of something but not inside of or through the thing itself".

Here are some examples:

"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:" Matthew 2:11

We understand correctly that they entered into the inside of the house. They did not just smack into the outer wall of the house and stop.

On the other hand,

"And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven,
but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." Luke 18:13

"smote upon" is actually "smote into". Now in the historical context when the man smote himself, his hands did not penetrate and enter into his chest cavity, his hands struck the surface of his breast. Yet the Bible speaks of him smiting "into" his breast. Thus here is a use of the greek preposition "into" that refers to reaching a point, but not reaching a point and entering into that which lies beyond the point.

Thus, I have to admit that, looking carefully and strictly at the biblical grammar of Revelation 20:10, this verse could refer to a temporal torment that ends at but does not include eternity. I have to admit this is something I did not expect to find.

One of the Great Joys of my Life

is Sunday morning worship at home with my family. This morning we gathered in the den and sang from Psalm 29, Psam 90, and Psalm 145. The tunes were Effingham (one of our all-time favorites), Farrant, and Duke Street.

These Psalm selections spoke richly of the glory of God, and the duty of the believer to scribe that glory to him. They also contrasted vividly the eternal destinies of the two kinds of people in the world, the saved and the unsaved. The saved face aa joyous eternity with God himself, while the unsaved face the wrath and perdition of God their Judge.

I read from Genesis 1, adding frequent but brief comments directed primarily at my very young children, trying to remiond them and/or help them understand for the first time that they were created by God, and the world they live in was created by God.

I also read revelation 20, which speaks, among other things, of the end of all things. The beginning of all things (Genesis 1) and the end of all things (Revelation 20) comprised the subject of my remarks. We concluded withy prayer.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Left in the Dust...

By God's mercy, I am recovering from a back injury which had me bedridden last month for the better part of two weeks.

I am delighted to be to the point where I can take short, slow walks. On my most recent walk I thought my two year old daughter would be the perfect walking companion. She'll have no trouble keeping up, I thought.

It turned out I was the one having trouble keeping up. :-P

Having been in bed so much I have thought a lot about those bedridden folks who were privileged to have found themselves in the path of Christ the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

We find one such example in Matthew 9.

" 1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. 2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. 3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. 7 And he arose, and departed to his house. 8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men."

What a beautiful account of the saving power of the Gospel. Christ pronounces the crippled man's sins forgiven. As a confirming proof of His ability to forgive sins, Christ spoke and made the man physically whole, ordering him to "arise, take up thy bed, and walk".

What an exquisite example of the glory, power, and beauty of salvation. How many times can we read accounts like this, yet each time we come away more deeply impressed with the glory and power of Christ, andd the blessedness of eternal life in Him? When man fell, God said to Adam, "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return." Genesis 3:19. But thanks be to God that those whom God has appointed unto eternal life are not left in the dust.

I have read this passage and many in the Bible like it hundreds, if not thousands of times. Yet each and every time there is something new, something glorious to behold.