Scriptures & Thoughts: Gospel

What did “gospel” mean to the original hearers?

A good message to hear!

(Romans 1:15-17) So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,  “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”

The news of the fulfillment of prophecies which were hundreds of years old:

(John 1:43-46) The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip *said to him, “Come and see.”

(John 4:28-30) So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

(John 7:40-44) “Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.

The news of a coming kingdom:

(Matthew 4:23) Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.

(Matthew 9:23) Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.

(Matthew 24:14) This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

(Mark 1:15) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

A whole new way to live:

(Acts 14:15) and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

(Romans 6:5-7) For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.


A message worth dying for in order to spread it:

(Mark 8:35) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

(Acts 20:24) But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

(Revelation 2:9-10) Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Why is there more than one Biblical gospel account?

(Mark 1:1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

(Luke 1:1-4) Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

(John 20:30-31) Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Different audiences?

TO WHOM?

implied audience?

Mark:

mostly Gentiles, fairly new in their faith, and facing persecutions

Matthew:

better educated Jews who believe in Jesus, but argue over the Law

Luke:

wealthier Gentile Christians in an urban setting, becoming complacent

John:

very mixed: mostly Jews, some Gentiles, Samaritans, etc.

 

What are the differences between different biblical gospel accounts?

WHAT?

subtype of “Gospel” genre?

Mark:

narrated “good news” (1:1) about Jesus, esp. his actions & his death

Matthew:

book of “heritage” of Jesus (1:1) & much of his “teaching” (28:20)

Luke:

an “orderly account” for attaining “secure knowledge” (1:1-4)

John:

much “testimony” and “signs” for believers (20:30-31; 21:24-25)

WHY? community circumstances & author’s purpose? to encourage a group undergoing difficult trials and persecutions to teach a community with internal divisions and external enemies to challenge believers to put their faith into practice more fully to strengthen a group ostracized by other Jews for their faith

 

Another synopsis:

Matthew: Jesus as the son of David who establishes the kingdom of heaven.

Mark: Jesus as the Son of God who suffers to ransom others.

Luke: Jesus as the Savior of the world who seeks the lost.

John: Jesus as the Lamb of God who brings eternal life.

Is the gospel good news to you?

(Matthew 13:44-46) “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

(Romans 1:14-16)  I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.   For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

(John 8:4) Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.

(Philippians 4:4) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

What has the gospel done for you?

(Ephesians 1:13-14) In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

How can we convey the gospel to communicate it as good news?

(Matthew 5:13) “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

(Mark 16:15) And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

(Acts 26:27-29) “King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.” Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”

What about the “gospels” that are not included in the Bible?

The word “gospel” is derived from the Greek word (euangelion) which literally means “good news”

Around the time of the Apostolic Fathers and Justin Martyr the word was formerly noted as referring to the written records of the life and work of Jesus

By end of the second century like “The Gospel According to…” were assigned to these works. By the fourth century this is universal.

How are only the four gospels linked? Three answers have traditionally been given (Boring 466)

  • Divine Inspiration- we believe this to be true but no particular theory of verbal inspiration helps make the link clear here
  • Individual Memory- between the death of Jesus and first written Gospel accounts this message was passed down orally. Yet the selection, order, and verbal agreement of the Gospels requires more that’s memory be involved.
  • Community Tradition- Traditionally scholars have imagined snippets of material being collected and edited from the oral tradition including miracle stories, passion stories, legends, sayings, parables, etc. – It is much more likely that the first Christians faithfully & creatively preserved, expanded, and interpreted this tradition which four men recorded as guided by the Holy Spirit.

(Galatians 1:8) But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

“Oh, my God!”

It isn’t uncommon for a child to be taught certain things not to say as they grow older. One of the phrases that might frequently be taught against, in a Christian family, is “Oh, my God.” As a child, the meaning of this commandment may not hold the same significance to the individual as it would when he or she was older. It’s when the individual is older and more mature in their faith that a comprehension and fulfillment of the commandments noticed in Scripture can be done. This particular commandment is one that we read of in the Old Testament, yet remains to be one of the most kept from our youth today.

In Exodus 20:7 we can read that, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain (NASB).” The context surrounding this verse is of course the Lord giving the 10 commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In the previous chapter, it can be read that the Lord’s presence on the mountain was so bold that the only visible thing was the smoke from fire which God came down in. As Moses and the people were approaching the mountain, the people were afraid of the absolute power that escaped through flashes of light and roaring sounds from within the smoke. Descriptions such as this capture what the essence of God is intended to sound like from the mouths of man. From scenarios like this it is also deducible to notice the difference between declaring the Lord’s name in vain and simply declaring His excellence.

‘For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. (Hebrews 6:13-16 NASB)’ This Scripture adds to the idea of the Lord’s name carrying such a significance through time, that even the Lord swears by His own name. Having no entity greater than He, He was forced to swear by His name.

The sanctity of the Lord’s name alone is enough to strike fear in the hearts of the strongest men. In the account of the Exodus 3, Moses asked the Lord what he should say when the people of Israel ask Who sent him to them. The Lord’s reply is one that fully encompasses the identity and longevity of His existence. God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you. (Ex. 3:14 NASB)’” Because of God’s nature, there was no other description needed. When taking into consideration the thought at large then, to say with adoration and respect for the power He has over life, “Oh, my God,” would not be an unacceptable phrase. Within certain situations one may find him or herself, the only words that seem fitting to say, when expressing the feelings that are stirring inside, are just statements declaring Who He is. In regards to a being that had no beginning, no boundaries, and no body adequately described by physical or worldly things, mankind can’t create a phrase special enough to match His attributes. Therefore, saying in vain the name of such a being would not a follower, worshipper, or glorifier make. His creation is to admire His handiwork and glorify His greatness.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1 ESV)” This is verse is known by many and is referenced often when anyone is looking for the right words to describe what might be in their mind. When the psalmist wrote these words, the overall attitude surrounding this verse and the verses following it was astonishment. When reading things such as this it reminds us that the name of our Creator is one to be in constant fear of! This is not to say that we should be scared of His power, but that we should be in a constant state of humility and respect. If the spirit behind the phrase is one that centers itself around moods such as these, then there should be no fear or odd feelings about saying “Oh, my God!” This crucial difference is what marks the separation between the words of adoration and the words that we teach our children not to say.

 

Scriptures and Thoughts: Inspiration

Introduction

Θεόπνευστος – “God breathed”

 

  • 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;”

 

Breath/Spirit in the OT is involved in creation; preservation; and revelation to and throughout prophets.

What Inspiration did not do: 1.) inform when there is no need [Acts 22:3-common knowledge] 2.) Cite only biblical sources 3.) Make the writer all-knowing 4.) make the writer sinless 5.) supply the writer with what he could obtain from sources.

3 primary views:

 

  • Liberal view: “The Bible contains the Word of God.” Man is granted power over infinite truth, rather than taking a place under it.
  • Neo-orthodox view: “The Bible becomes the Word of God.”
  • Conservative view: “The Bible is the Word of God.” God gave verbal plenary to authors who used their personalities and cultures in their writings (2 Peter 1:21). “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?

(2 TImothy 3:14-17) “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

(1 Peter 2:13) And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.


(2 Peter 1:16-21) “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

What is the process of inspiration like?  Do they hear a voice?

(Exodus 33:11) “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.”

(1 Samuel 3:2-4) “It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, ‘Here I am.’”

(Jeremiah 1:4) “Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,”

(Ezekiel 18:1) “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,”

(Jeremiah 49:14) “I have heard a message from the LORD, And an envoy is sent among the nations, saying, ‘Gather yourselves together and come against her, And rise up for battle!’”

(Luke 1:46-56)
“And Mary said:
‘My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has had regard for the humble state of Hisbondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever.’
And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.”

How do we know which ancient writings are inspired?

  • Written by a recognized prophet or apostle
  • Written by those associated with recognized prophet or apostle
  • Truthfulness
  • Faithfulness to previously accepted canonical writings
  • Confirmed by Christ, prophet, apostle
  • Church Usage and Recognition

(Isaiah 55:10-11)“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,

           And do not return there without watering the earth

           And making it bear and sprout,

           And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;

     So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;

           It will not return to Me empty,

           Without accomplishing what I desire,

           And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

(John 16:12-14) “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

(Galatians 1:6-9) “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”

(1 John 4:1) “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

(Deuteronomy 18:17-22) The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

Has inspiration ceased?

(1 Corinthians 14:36-38) “Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only? If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.”

(1 Corinthians 12:8-11) “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

(1 Corinthians 13:8-10) “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”

Can the Bible say a word in its own defense?

(2 Timothy 3:17) “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

What is the evidence for the inspiration of the Bible?

Predictive prophecy (see Deuteronomy 18 above) – consider prophecies in Daniel about great world empires and the demise of Macedonia, or Isaiah 51 and Psalm 22 describing Christ.

No factual errors or logical contradictions.

Scientific foreknowledge.

A few examples:

Noah’s ark (Genesis 6:15) – Ship builders today are well aware that the ideal dimension for ship stability is a length six times that of the width;

Oceans containing springs (Job 38:16) – Until recently, it was thought that oceans were fed only by rivers and rain. Yet in the 1970s, with the help of deep diving research submarines that were constructed to withstand 6,000 pounds-per-square-inch pressure, oceanographers discovered springs on the ocean floors;

Sexual promiscuity is dangerous to your health (1 Corinthians 6:18; Romans 1:27) –  Much data now confirms that any sexual relationship outside of holy matrimony is unsafe;

Do different writers of the Bible have different styles?  What does this tell us?

Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46

*God used different men with different perspectives and styles to provide a whole picture of the same event.

Are any English translations inspired?

Is Scripture Sacred? -Austin Gonzales

“Humans DID tamper with the Bible… and added what they wanted added, and took away what they wanted to take away, and every time the book is translated, something is always lost in the translation. That’s a simple Fact of Life.”

“God did not write the Bible; man did. …The stories in the Bible were passed down and dictated to scribes.” “Didn’t you ever play the game [‘Telephone’]? By the time the story reaches the last kid, it has changed so much, that it’s nothing at all like the story first started out. …Today’s Bible simply is nothing at all like the original scrolls that were written – by numerous men – in [different languages]. As languages evolved over time, so did the content of the ‘Bible.’”

“Every version of the bible has been altered. There are scriptures that have been removed from it… Meanings have been changed, just look at the different versions we have.”

“I …received a ‘visitor’ one night …my ‘visitor’ was an ‘angel’ …the meaning of that ‘dream’ was that… EACH core religious book is only ONE PIECE in a vast jigsaw puzzle, which you cannot possibly see the entire picture of if you only stare at one piece…”

(- Comments of people professing CHRIST, taken from a Facebook post)

How do we respond to statements like these? How do we convince fellow Christians, who are doubting, to understand the accuracy of the Bible, besides using the Bible’s own claims about itself? Here are some brief examples of some strong evidences for you to research:

Arguments using a minimum of scripture, with a lot of basic logic:

2 Timothy 3:16 – The original word for “inspire” literally means “breathed out.” What scriptures are spoken by/breathed out by God? ALL. This may be using scripture, but this means that if you believe even one verse of the Bible is from God (like verses spoken by/about Jesus), then according to the Bible itself; you must believe they all are from God.

Galatians 1:8 – Paul, an apostle of Jesus, wrote (before any of our friends today have received their ‘visions from angels’) that if just such a vision, or even if he himself, taught something contrary to the gospel already preached before the time of this writing; then they are to be accursed. Therefore, 1) just because an angel told them something, doesn’t mean that it was from God. And 2) other religious texts, if they are contrary to what the apostles had been teaching then, are also not actually from God – no matter how moral they may be.

Why would Christ have His followers record His teachings – only to allow it all to be severely altered beyond the point of recovery (Possibly use Mark 13:31)? Take a look at history, and you’ll see that He hasn’t:

Evidences from secular history:

Despite many powerful regimes’ attempts to rid the world of the Bible through force, the Bible has continued to be shared and reproduced and even become the world’s all-time #1 best-seller. But besides this:

We know that the Jews maintained near-fanatical strictness regarding the reproduction of the Old Testament. For example, they “…carefully counted every line, word, syllable, and letter to ensure accuracy.” The two Dead Sea Scroll copies of Isaiah were dated 1,000 yrs. before the oldest manuscript previously known, yet the mere 5% variation between them and our Standard Hebrew Bible “consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.” Finally, because Christ regarded the existing copies of the O.T. as authoritative, we know that the first-century text of the O.T. was a reliable reproduction of the original O.T. texts. Therefore, the only portions worth any concern must be found in the New Testament:

We have 24,500+ copies of New Testament manuscripts, from which we can back-up (or refute) ANY modern translation! “The degree of accuracy of the copies is greater for the New Testament than for other books that can be compared. Most books do not survive with enough manuscripts that make comparison possible” (There are only SEVEN extant manuscripts of Plato’s Tetralogies, for example!).

Within these copies, there are 150,000 differences between copies. However; many of these ‘variants’ consist of things like a missing letter, switching of two words, or omission of an insignificant word. Truly, only about FIFTY variants are any different from each other – out of 150,000! “And even then, no doctrine of the Christian faith or any moral commandment is effected by them.”

We have enough quotations from the early church leaders that even if we did not have a single N.T. manuscript, would still have all but eleven verses of the entire N.T., all recorded within 150-200 yrs. after Christ!

There were only 35-40 yrs. between the N.T.’s completion and the oldest manuscript fragments. 100 yrs. passed before copies of the earliest whole books were written. And we have copies of the entire N.T. as old as within 250 yrs. of its completion. Regarding other ancient texts, there were – for example – at least 1,200 yrs. between Plato’s Dialogues & his Tetralogies, and their earliest (fragmented) copies; and 1,400 yrs. between Aristotle’s Ode to Poetics and its earliest copy! But no one doubts that Plato or Aristotle say what they said! “…If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”

Other considerations:

The only quotes of Christ’s teachings, that we have, are from the New Testament writers. So if we can’t trust the rest of the N.T., then we can’t even trust what Jesus said. But besides the historical evidences we’ve mentioned, nearly every one of the apostles and other N.T. writers became martyrs for the words that they were preaching and recording. People don’t die for their lies when they know that they’re lies.

We can find ancient, secular sources that back up the Bible’s many and detailed prophecies – often stated hundreds of years beforehand – and the Bible’s clues to its historical context. For example: the conquering of Tyre by the Babylonians and by the Macedonians.

Modern science backs up things that the Bible mentions – things that no man knew about for hundreds of years after scripture was written! I am running out of room to go into detail, but the Bible mentions things like; ocean springs and currents, a recipe for soap, the universe’s particle makeup, the connection between blood and life, the First Law of Thermodynamics, health risks of sexual promiscuity, and so forth. All of these things, and more, were not recognized by scientific communities for hundreds of years after the Bible records them. The kinds of things that no man or group of men could simply make up – not in such a large and accurate quantity!

Finally, it sounds cheesy but it happens: The Bible actively changes the lives of those who commit themselves to its instructions.

“Manuscript Evidence: New Testament vs. Plato, Etc.” by Dave Armstrong

“Manuscript Support for the Bible’s Reliability” by Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries

No Room for Boasting

Is the church basically just a group of people who think that they are better than everybody else, because they hold themselves to a bunch of traditions and rules that they think makes them superior?

Perhaps unfortunately that is sometimes the way churchgoers actually feel, but the Bible itself does not describe Jesus’ church that way. In fact, the book of Romans takes pains to make it abundantly clear that the righteousness of the church is NOT about how good they are as people, but rather how kind God has been to pour His grace out on those who will put their faith in Him.

The book of Romans gives us principles such as these:

“There is none righteous, not even one… There is none who does good, There is not even one.”

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”

“Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.”

The point is that people in the church are not naturally “better people” than those outside. Rather, they are clothed with the goodness of Jesus. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Church is all about Jesus, and His goodness.

These principles led Paul to say these words in 1 Corinthians 4: “To me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself… Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”

In other words, Paul was saying that the job of the church is not to figure out who is the best Christian and who is the most lousy, or to brag about how good we are. Instead, judgment belongs to God, and we rest in His promises for those who are faithful.

And yet, while the church is not obsessed with being “better than” other people or figuring out who is the holiest, it is still true that the church strives for moral excellence. In the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians, The church in Thessalonica is commended for walking as they should, with the instruction “that you excel still more.” Again in the same chapter they are complimented for the love that they have for one another, yet they are told, “but we urge you, brethren, to excel still more.”

And in an odd way, it is the very fact that the church is justified by faith rather than by works that enables the church to grow spiritually. Because of Christ’s sacrifice and the words of scripture, we can know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13), and this frees us from negative thinking and constant fear of punishment or failure, so that we can walk down the path of holiness with confidence and joy. We can also be free from the pettiness of comparing ourselves to those around us. It has been said, “it is amazing how much can get done when no one cares who gets the credit.”

The church is not simply a place for “good people” who make all the right decisions in life. It is a place for broken people to find justification by faith, to rest in God’s promises, and to follow Him as well as they can on the pathway of righteousness.

Scriptures and Thoughts on “Holiness”

What does holiness mean?
The common answer to “what is holiness” is: to be set apart. This is accurate. Holiness also carries the specific connotation of being different or distinctive, and of being consecrated for a particular use.

(Leviticus 20:26) You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

Hebrew:
Qodesh – sacred, consecrated, set apart, distinct
The furnishings of the tabernacle were holy because they were set aside for only that purpose. They were consecrated to the Lord’s service.

Greek:
Hagios – holiness, distinctiveness, full dedication to the Lord. Also translated as “saint” and as “sanctification.”

Can a person be holy, or only God?
People are repeatedly called holy in the Bible. Holiness does not necessarily mean perfection, but distinctiveness and consecration to a particular use.

“To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints.” (Romans 1:7)

“And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)

“as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” (Ephesians 5:3)

“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.” (Philippians 1:1)

(1 Corinthians 3:16-17) Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

(1 Peter 2:9) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

We are called to this holiness:

(1 Peter 1:15-16) But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

We must have it:

(Hebrews 12:14) Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Of course, God is more holy than us because He is perfectly good and we are not, and because even when we are perfected into the image of His Son, He will still possess qualities and identities, such as being the creator or having omnipotence, that we will not.  He is holy on a whole other level.

(Revelation 15:4) “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” 

Why is God’s word called the Holy Bible?
(Romans 1:2) which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,

It is certainly unique and distinctive:

(2 Timothy 3:16) All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

(Isaian 40:8)“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

 What is a saint and how is this concept related to holiness?
A saint literally is a “holy one.” The same definitions and connotations associated with holiness should describe a saint.  (And all Christians are referred to as saints, see question about people being holy.)

Are Christians “holier” than their neighbors?
Yes, Christians should be different, peculiar, in a way that their non-Christian neighbors are not.

(2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

(1 Peter 2:9) “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

But remember, holiness in an indication of being consecrated, but not necessarily of being perfect.

(Romans 3:23) All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

(Ephesians 2:8-9) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

(Romans 3:27) Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.

A typical “holier than thou” attitude us boasting in better behavior. Instead, we ought to humbly acknowledge the special status that God gives those who respond to His invitation.

(Luke 18:11-14) “The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.” “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

 How can I fight for and grow in holiness?
(Leviticus 17-26) These chapters are called the holiness code. And while they do contain a lot of “don’ts” they also contain a lot of positive admonitions to be productive and godly.

(Luke 11:24-26) “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ “And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. “Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

(Romans 12:2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Philippians 4:8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

(1 Thessalonians 4:3-5) For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.

(John 17) “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth”

 Can a person be holy and still relate and connect to the world?
God was holy, yet He pitched His tent with the wayward Israelites.
Jesus was holy, yet he walked among the spiritually sick.

(John 17:15-19) “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” 

What does holiness look like in the real world?
One who abstains from what is impure, even when it is not popular.

(2 Timothy 2:21) Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

(James 1:27) Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23) Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 7:1) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

We must have an attitude that makes the Spirit welcome. Since the Holy Spirit is He who makes us Holy.

(1 Corinthians 3:16-17) “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

(Ephesians 4:30) Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

(Psalm 51:10-12) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.