"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3).
This verse addresses so many common errors in our day.
The worst is also the most common. As I have written elsewhere, Americans may be overwhelmingly professing Christians, but that profession is false. The true religion of most Americans in Deism. We talk about God, even about Jesus, but that profession has no impact on our lives. We live as if we are atheists, treating God as a doddering grandfather who is restricted to heaven and church. However, as Solomon wrote in this proverb, God is under no such restriction. He is omnipresent, and aware of every act we perform or thought that passes through our hearts. And He judges us accordingly.
The reverse side of that implicit Deism is the Open Theists, who claim that God is learning as contingent events occur. That is, that He cannot have exhaustive knowledge of events because those events depend on the supposedly-autonomous decisions of men or chance. Again, that doctrine is refuted, because God has exactly what the Open Theists deny, i. e., exhaustive knowledge.
It refutes the pseudo-Christian sects which try to downgrade the deity of God by denying His omniscience. Jehovah's Witnesses explicitly deny that God is omniscient, for some of the same reasons as the Open Theists. An all-knowing God must be an all-determining God, and the Watchtower cannot accept such a concept. Mormons have demoted God to a mere exalted man, which necessarily precludes attributes that are different in kind from those of humans, such as omniscience.
It also refutes the idea that the triune biblical God of the Bible is the God only of Christians, but has no claim or relevance to those who sincerely follow other religions. Jehovah claims universal jurisdiction. Therefore, followers of other religions are not sincere but misguided; they are, instead, rebels against their proper creator and ruler, and He knows who each one is.
For most people reading this, there would a be a common experience in school of learning Euclidean geometry as part of our mathematical education. Part of that study would have been a group of axioms, i. e., principles which are unprovable, but are essential for building the rest of our geometrical system. Those axioms are then used to build and prove everything else.
All of life works the same way. Simply in order to live, we have to make certain unprovable assumptions, such as that we exist, that the things we sense in the world around us are really there, etc. Without those assumptions, everything degenerates into irrationality, incomprehensibility, and futility. We would not be able to function as thinking creatures.
The Bible assumes one principle as fundamental to all others, such that without it, again, we degenerate into irrationality, incomprehensibility, and futility: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7). It furthermore condemns as a fool anyone who rejects that fundamental axiom: "How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffingand fools hate knowledge? Because they hated knowledgeand did not choose the fear of the Lord" (Proverbs 1:22, 29). Any worldview built on any foundation other than the triune God of the Bible is built on a false basis, and must, therefore, collapse. Notice that this is something that the writers of the Bible didn't consider to necessitate proof. It was something so self-evident that to deny it is considered to be foolish. Just as a mathematician who denies the axioms of geometry, the man who denies the most fundamental principle of the real world will necessarily end up in irrationality, incomprehensibility, and futility. Is this not what we see happening in our modern world? As Westerners have replaced our Christian heritage with humanism and mysticism, we have seen only growing social breakdown, such as violence and suicide. We have demonstrated the truth of Solomon's assertions in Proverbs. Jesus, too, well described this form of spiritual breakdown: "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand" (Matthew 7:26). And the sand is being washed away.
One of the worst doctrines found in classical dispensationalism is that history is divided into periods when believers were saved in different ways. For example, the Jews were supposedly saved by obeying the Law, while Christians live in a different dispensation, in which we are saved by grace. While most self-described dispensationalists now repudiate that concept, it has crept into a more-general evangelical audience. You will often run into people who claim that Old Testament salvation was by law, but the New testament is grace.
That assertion is false.
On one hand, it is true that the Bible says, "You shall therefore keep My statutes and My rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD" (Leviticus 18:5). On the other hand - and no one seems to notice this - it is never stated that any person has achieved eternal life in that way! Even David, the man after God's own heart (I Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) is described as a sinner (Psalm 51), and never as one saved by his law obedience.
Why is that? Because, as David himself says, every man, woman, or child since the fall of Adam (excluding Jesus) is born a sinner, and any sin, even just one, makes that man, woman, or child a rebel under the Law (James 2:10). So, what about Leviticus 18:5? It is God's word, and, therefore, necessarily true. However, it is just hypothetical. If there were a man who was 100% consistent with the Law in thought and action, from his conception forward, then that man could claim eternal life as his due. However, besides Jesus, there has not been, nor could ever be, such a man.
Has the Law then deceived us with an impossible dream? Not at all. Rather, the Law should lead us to despair of that way of salvation. And, indeed, that same Law points us to the only alternative: "I will not
spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and
break My covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God. But
I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers,
whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations,
that I might be their God: I am the Lord" (Leviticus 26:44-45). In that same Law, God promises the salvation of His people, not on the basis of Law, but on the basis of His covenant to be gracious to His chosen people! Therefore, whenever anyone claims that there are two (or more) methods of salvation in the Bible, or that Jews are saved in a different way from Gentiles, then he is parroting something which he has been taught, because there is no such dichotomy in Scripture.
"If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14).
These are the words of Jesus, explicitly telling us that we can pray to Him, expressing our needs and desires, and looking to Him to provide them. There can hardly be a stronger claim to deity and equality with the Father.
Yet, some people will come up with the most-imaginative twists to avoid what Jesus says.
I brought up this verse in a forum with Jehovah's Witnesses. I mentioned it because they teach that prayers can only be made to "Jehovah God." I asked them to explain how they can maintain their claim in the face of these words of Jesus.
The only reply I got claimed that "me" is not in the original text. And, if you look only at the King James Version, you might get that impression. However, I showed him the page in the Kingdom Interlinear Bible (the Watchtower's own production of an interlinear Greek/Hebrew/English version), which shows the "me" in the Greek text. That is, the Watchtower's own edition of the Greek New Testament showed "me" in the text. That person immediately disappeared from the conversation.
So, this is my challenge to Jehovah's Witnesses: if your organization makes claims which are so easily refuted by their own literature, then who do you continue to follow that organization?
Before I start, I wanted to mention that this is my 600th post!
In the Old Testament, God makes clear the point that He didn't want His people to consume blood.
It started when men first started eating meat, after the Flood: "You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood" (Genesis 9:4). Thus, it wasn't part of the Mosaic laws of ceremonial cleanness.
It did, however, continue under the Mosaic ceremonies: "If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among
them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats
blood and will cut him off from among his people" (Leviticus 17:10). And, "Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh" (Deuteronomy 12:23).
It is also found in the New Testament: "You [shall] abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and
from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep
yourselves from these, you will do well" (Acts 15:29).
I bring this up because of the Catholic doctrine of the eucharist, according to which Rome claims that the wine and bread of communion literally become the blood and flesh of Jesus. Their official statement on the matter comes form the Council of Trent: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was
offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction
of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by
the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the
whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ
our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of
his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and
properly called transubstantiation" (CCC 1376).
Do you see the conflict? While the scriptures repeatedly condemn consuming blood, the Church of Rome claims that her members do literally that in the eucharist! That shows, first, that Rome's eucharist, in spite of the name, is no act of thanksgiving, but is, instead, a rite of superstition; and second, that the words of Jesus, "This is My blood," cannot be taken literally.
Why did God forbid the consuming of blood? Because it is life. The animal cannot live if it loses its blood. And, more importantly, it is the blood of Christ that is ultimate life, because it alone is the basis of eternal life. While Rome is correct in pointing to the blood of Jesus for salvation (John 6:54), she is wrong in how it is applied. There is no salvation in ceremonies. It is only by faith that the benefits of Christ's blood are received: "We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith" (Romans 3:24-25, see also Ephesians 2:13, Hebrews 9:14, and I Peter 1:19). While talking about the blood of Christ, Rome makes her priests the conduits of salvation, in place of faith. that is one of the reasons that the Catholic eucharist is a blasphemy, in which no true Christian should participate.
Cults and sects often accuse orthodox Christians of deriving our doctrines, such as the trinity, from Greek philosophy. They never actually mention a particular Greek philosopher who taught the doctrine. Nor do they ever disprove the biblical justification for the doctrine. It's just an assertion that they constantly repeat, without actually checking the facts.
Mormons are one of the groups in particular that do this.
The reason I mention them specifically is that one of their own websites mentions -brags to be more explicit- that one of their cardinal doctrines, the preexistence of souls, comes from Plato: "Several philosophers from Plato through Leibniz and Kant to
twentieth-century Cambridge intellectuals, dozens of poets from
antiquity to Robert Frost, and numerous religious thinkers throughout
the Jewish and Christian traditions, propounded a pre-earthly realm
peopled by the souls of men and women yet unborn. Pre-existence has
been invoked to explain 'the better angels of our nature,' including
the human yearning for transcendence and the sublime; it suggests a
reason for the frequent sensation of alienation and the indelible
sadness of human existence" (https://ldsmag.com/article-1-408).
Do you see the hypocrisy?
This has been my consistent experience with Mormons. They make unsubstantiated accusations against Christians, while blanking out even the professed sources of their own religion.
Arminians have enshrined their doctrine of free will, making it the concept that trumps all others. Yet, it has no biblical basis. Ask them! They will hem and haw about why it should be true, but they will offer zero biblical justification.
I suggest, instead, that Scripture is against their doctrine of free will (not that I deny the reality of free will, as I have said before). Rather, I deny their use of it, to mean that men have a will that can choose to seek and obey God. "Free" merely means without coercion. No one, including God, coerces the unregenerate to hate God and to rebel against Him. That is their nature, and they freely, even gladly, choose to act according to it, just as a bird freely wills to fly or a fish to breathe water. But the Arminian would never claim that a man is free to will either of those, since both are contrary to the nature of a man. However, the Arminian blanks out the logical parallel between that and a choice by the unregenerate to act regenerate.
Paul says, "God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:25-26). Whose will does the sinner freely follow? Not his own. Rather, he wills the will of Satan. The coercion isn't by God, or predestination, but rather by Satan. Yet the Arminian never criticizes Satan for ignoring man's free will! That misdirection is very telling! What breaks that bondage? It is only by the prevenient act of the Holy Spirit in regenerating the elect sinner. It is by this intervention that Jesus, in His kingly office, overthrows the power of Satan and brings that man to repentance and faith: "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe;but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, He takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil" (Luke 11:21-22). Turning to Paul again, he summarizes this in Romans 9:16: "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43