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Does the Bible contain contradictions? October 6, 2012

Posted by Henry in Contending for the Faith.
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Sometimes in spreading the Word of God it is necessary to ask some of the hard questions that many Christians might not want to touch. The title of this post is just one example which I felt moved to devote attention to given previous discussions on other topics here. The importance of the question resides in the fact that many people have rejected the Bible and consequently the gospel on the basis that the Bible contains contradictions. Some say 101 contradictions to be exact. I first encountered this supposed 101 contradictions in the Bible during a discussion with a Muslim colleague about faith some 10 years ago. How can you share your faith with someone who has already made up their mind as they are convinced that the Bible contains 101 contradictions? What is even more striking is that some Christians are prepared to accept that there are contradictions in the Bible? Does this position not undermine the faith and provides ammunition to those who seek to refute the Bible’s claims? So what do you think? Does the Bible really contain contradictions and if so what are the examples?

I thought I would freshen up this post by stating my personal view on the subject matter. Personally I do not believe that the scriptures are contradictory. However, people’s interpretation may very well render the scriptures contradictory but this is not a fault of the scriptures themselves but a fault with the interpreter. When we neglect to apply proper exegisis and discernment then this will very well lead to contradictions being reflected upon the text of scripture. The Bible says that every scripture is God breathed (2 Tim 3:16) and that God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33) so there can therefore be no contradictions in the scriptures. The unbelieving and those who have a vested interest in destroying Christianity will continue to argue however that the scriptures are contradictory even without substantiating their claim with any proof. If we are to proclaim the gospel effectively therefore then we must be prepared to challenge headon any arguments which seeks to pervert the Christian faith by declaring that the scriptures are contradictory. This is a very important area in contending for the Christain faith (Jud 1:3) though some may very well argue that this topic by it’s nature is divisive and should not be open to public discussion.

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Compromising the Gospel May 25, 2012

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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Many Christians may get offended when I highlight the disparities between the church I see today and the church that was evident in scriptures. Personally I do not care if anyone gets offended but the truth of the Word should be proclaimed with all boldness and without fear or favour. Today we have too many watered down churches preaching a seeker sensitive, “cuddly feely” gospel instead of the unadulterated Gospel. Some will argue that I am dividing the church with such pronouncements but I have news for anyone who thinks that. The truth is that scripture declares that the wheat and the tares shall grow together until the time of the harvest so a division is already there. What we must never do is to compromise the gospel because we do not want to offend those sitting in the pews because they may leave. So what? Let them leave if they want for Jesus said wherever two or three are gathered in His name He will be there to bless. One wonders however if money is the driving force behind the “dumbing-down” of the gospel to ensure that church attendance is kept up which in turn will ensure that the finances are secure.

 

Today there are many people occupying our pulpits and profiteering from the gospel. They teach all manner of false doctrines just to get their congregation to part with their money. Such so-called ministers will often boast of their opulent wealth – with their mansions and private Lear Jets to boot – even to their very own undiscerning congregations who follow after these blind guides mainly because they tell them what they want to hear. This is not surprising however because the scriptures say that, “through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you” (2 Pet 2:3). The sad truth about it however is that even when you show that such minister are in error their members will come out and defend them staunchly instead of doing the Berean thing and examine the scriptures to see if what these men and women proclaim is true.

 

There are various brands of Christianity, or “Churchianity” to put it more correctly, today with each declaring that they have the true gospel. The naïve and the simple-minded will however declare that all churches are the same despite not understanding that there is a gulf of difference between the various versions of what they claim is the truth. Perhaps the god of this world has blinded their eyes to the truth such that they are not able to glean the fact that there is only one truth and that two or more contrary positions cannot all be truth at the same time. It is not only the preachers therefore who are compromising the gospel but the hearers also when they neglect to “test every spirit” and study the scriptures as the Bereans did when they heard Paul’s message.

 

Many people in the churches are being destroyed through lack of knowledge of the Living God. In many cases a different Jesus is being preached to them and consequently they believe in a different god from the God of the Bible. But how can they believe the true gospel which they have not heard, or how can they believe in God whom they have not known? Consequently many are lost even though they are in church. In order to know God we need to first know who the true Jesus is for it is He who declares the Father. Encouraging or admonishing someone to believe God, and trust in His saving Grace is futile if they do not know the One True God. They need to know God for themselves first before they can trust in Him.

The First Pastor: The Good Shepherd October 4, 2010

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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In many respects the church today seems to have lost sight of the fact that Jesus Christ was the first Pastor and that He is therefore the standard-bearer for the role of being a pastor. Not only was Jesus the first Pastor but He is still the chief Pastor (1 Pet 5:4) and Head of the Church (Col 1:18). In John 10:11 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd” and no other person qualifies as such, not the Pope, not the patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches and not “Daddy G.O.”. If Jesus is therefore the Good Shepherd what better example do we have to follow than Jesus Himself? In today’s churches however we have gone after our own way to establish man-made institutions, practices and canons concerning the role of pastors, which are contrary to the Gospel. However, it should be clear that if we need any clarification or questions answered concerning the role of pastoring then we have only to look to Jesus’ example as laid out in Scriptures. The Apostle Paul for example admonished us in 1 Cor 11: 1 to be followers of himself even as he is a follower of Christ. It is therefore Christ’s example that we should seek to follow and not man’s.

Problems in your marriage? February 2, 2010

Posted by Henry in Relationships.
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There are many Christians today who are experiencing problems of one sort or another in their marriages. Some go down the route of divorce citing “irreconcilable differences”, and this can be witnessed even amongst pastors, whilst there are others who suffer in silence hoping that things will improve one day. Still there are others who live like “cats and dogs” in their homes and are constantly at each others throats. Couples who are experiencing such problems will often look at their neighbours or other couples in the church and wish that their marriage was like theirs. In an attempt to resolve their problems some may go to marriage counsellors; some speak to their pastors and other church elders; others sow a seed believing God for a miracle; whilst others even pray and fast. But no matter what method or formula they try they experience little or no improvement and they begin to doubt God or they blame the devil for attacking their marriage.

Now I do not want it to appear as if I am trivialising anyone’s experiences and whilst I am no expert on marriage I am fully aware of the fact that no individual is perfect and it can be challenging for two imperfect individuals to live together as man and wife. But one of the things I want to focus on is that whilst many people are looking this way and that for solutions to their marital problems, often they fail to look in the very place where the answers lie and that is in the scriptures. It was God who ordained marriage from the beginning of creation and He has already established in His word how married couples should live. But what is often the case is that Christians want the “perfect” marriage but are not prepared to observe the teachings of scriptures on the matter.

The first thing we learn from scripture is that woman was given to man (Adam) by God as a “help meet” or helper (Gen 2:18). Secondly we learn that “woman” was so-called because she came out of man (Gen 2:23). Thirdly we learn that because it isn’t good for man to be alone and that he needed a helper, God ordained that the man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the twain shall be one flesh (Gen 2:24). This is the basis of marriage as God ordained it. Jesus, in Matt 19:6, went further to say that ‘what God has joined together let no man put asunder.’ Since it is God who ordained marriage therefore God should be at the head of every marriage, especially the Christian marriage. The scriptural basis for this can be found in 1 Cor 11:3:

3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Since Christ is the head of man, the Christian man needs to submit himself to Christ’s leadership in his marriage. And since God ordained man to be the head of woman, the woman should submit herself to her husband because this is divinely ordained. In looking back at Gen 2:18 as aforementioned, we note that woman was made out of man to be a helper to him. A helper therefore is someone who assists the leader but not lead themselves. But too often we have some women who seek to usurp the man’s authority in the home (or even in church) and this can be one source of the marital problems. Some women can be naturally bossy especially if they have management responsibilities at work and in the board room and they can become haughty or prideful towards their husbands as a result. However, they need to learn how to conduct themselves towards their husbands when they get home. It should only be one person wearing the trousers in the home and that is the man. The scripture, Eph 5:22-24, commands a woman to be submissive to her own husband:

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

 

For a wife to be submissive however the husband needs to take responsibility and lead. Often times a woman can lose respect for her husband if he appears weak and unassertive. Some men however can take assertiveness too far thinking that they have the right to shout at their wives, beat on them or make unreasonable demands. This is clearly wrong in sight of scriptures. One of the first responsibilities that a man has towards his wife is to LOVE her, as scripture commands:

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Eph 5:25)

This scripture is not to be taken lightly as it implies huge responsibilities. Imagine that Christ gave himself for the church by dying on the cross for it? This is the type of love that a husband need to have for his wife. Too often though during courting a man may say to his fiancée that, “I love you to death” but in reality he doesn’t really mean it. If this were true why it is that such a man would want to leave his wife as soon as problems arise in their subsequent marriage? Yet a man is required by God to love his wife even to the point that he should be ready to give his life in order to save hers. To extend the point further, scripture also commands in Eph 5:28-29 that a man should love his wife even as his own body:

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church

 

We have already seen in Gen 2:24 that when a man and a woman are joined together in marriage they become one flesh. This is the reason therefore that a man should treat his wife as part of his own body as he has the responsibility of nourishing and cherishing her. Again this is one area of neglect on the part of some husbands which causes problems in Christian marriages. Too often a man expects a woman to take care of his kids, prepare dinner and look after the home but neglects his wife’s needs. His excuse might be that he works too hard and he is too tired but a man should make time for his wife. Although nourishing and cherishing may include providing shelter and food it encapsulates a lot of things including romance and meeting a wife’s emotional needs. If priority isn’t given to these areas, undoubtedly this may cause resentment on the wife’s part and cause her to be less submissive and trigger off a breakdown in the marriage. What is often the case is that one problem leads to another because when the woman gets resentful and do not want to be “affectionate” towards her husband then the man also get resentful and bitter. Scripture however commands the man to love and not to be bitter against his wife:

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them” (Col 3:19)

In the context of marriage however, how does one define love? To answer this we need to look at 1 Cor 13 (using the NIV version):

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  8 Love never fails.

If there is love in a marriage why is there envying and strife? Why, does a husband or a wife keep record of wrongs which they use against each other in future squabbles? Why is the husband or the wife so easily angered instead of being quick to forgive? Why is it that the husband or the wife finds it so hard to say I am sorry when they have wronged each other? Too often when married couples have their differences they go off to bed, even to separate beds, without seeking to resolve those differences. Yet the scriptures say:

In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (Eph 4:26)

Talking about sleeping in separate beds, one of the areas that also often cause problems in a marriage is SEX. I know it is taboo and we don’t talk about such things but it is an area of marital life that is of vital importance and needs to be talked about. Often times when there are certain problems in a marriage sex is used as a weapon to spite the man (or the women in some cases). But what do the scriptures say regarding sex? Paul had this to say regarding sex in marriage in 1 Cor 7:

3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. 6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

Although Paul does not speak by commandment here he knows only too well the problems that can arise if married couples neglect their conjugal responsibilities to each other. Paul points out that such neglect can lead to Satan tempting either or both partners to sin against the marriage, especially in the form of fornication. It goes without saying therefore that men, in particular, need sex but often times because most women do not have a high libido they “hold out” on their husbands. This can lead to feelings of rejection and sexual repression in men. It is important therefore for wives to be more accommodating towards their husbands in this area as Paul encourages. Sex is not everything but it is vitally important in a marriage because it is through the act of sex that the two become one flesh. Of course if there are physical problems that affect married couples coming together then they should seek medical assistance or advice without neglecting to pray also.

It is also important in a marriage to have communication at every stage. Couples need to talk to each other and express their feelings and desires. Marriage to a large extent is about compromise and for this to be effective there must be communication. Bickering and shouting at each other or giving each other the cold shoulder or playing the blame game does not facilitate communication. Communication should therefore occur in a calm and safe environment where both parties may have their voices heard. If there is love as defined by 1 Cor 13 (above) then this will facilitate good communication. If these biblical principles are adhered to I believe that all marital problems can be resolved to achieve a fruitful and lasting marriage.

Are Denominations Important? January 14, 2010

Posted by Henry in Denominations.
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There are many different Christian denominations across the globe today, be it Baptist, Methodist, Apostolic or Oneness Pentecostals, Reformed, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist, just to name a few. The interesting thing to note however is that none of these names existed during the early birthing and consequent growth of the Church. So why then do we have so many different denominations today and are denominations important?

Certainly for some people denominations are important to them because they feel that theirs is the “true church”. In my own experiences when having discussions with members of denominations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist and Oneness Pentecostals, they all are of the view that their own denomination is the true church and consequently everyone else is on the wrong path. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have made claims suggesting that they are the Elect and the 144,000 who will be saved. A closer look at scripture will show however that in actual fact the 144,000 mentioned in the Bible constitutes 12,000 men of each of the 12 tribes of Israel who did not “defile themselves with women” (Rev 7: 4 – 8, 14:1 – 4). It is clear to see then that these 144,000 are not Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In contrast the Seventh Day Adventist say they are the true church because they have kept the Biblical Sabbath which they claim is Saturday (the seventh day) and that those who attend Sunday church do so in direct opposition and disobedience to God. They ignore the fact that the calendar we now use was instituted by Pope Gregory the Great, hence the Gregorian calendar. As such it would be very difficult to ascertain whether the seventh day as we know it today coincides with the seventh day God instituted as the Sabbath from the time of creation. The key point that the Seventh Day Adventists seems to have missed however is that God set aside the 7th day as a day of REST, what ever that day is or was. God did not say that we should attend church services on the Sabbath but to REST and do no work in it. The other point to note though is whether New Testament Christians are obliged to observe the Sabbath since Jesus fulfilled the Law thereby abolishing it, which also included the Sabbath. In any event Romans 14:5-9 has this to say:

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.

The Oneness Pentecostals on the other hand believe that one should be baptised in Jesus name only, as opposed to Jesus’ instruction in Matt 28:19-20 where he told the disciples to go out and teach all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Oneness Pentecostals however uses Acts 2:38 as one of the central pillars of their faith. This is what they use to support their claim that one should be baptised in Jesus name only because Peter said so. But who is Peter? Do we obey Peter or do we obey Christ? Notwithstanding, it is doubtless whether what Peter said was meant to be a baptismal formula since Jesus already gave us the baptismal formula that we should use. Peter was more concerned with telling the Jews of their need to be baptised in the name of the very Man whom they had crucified. After all scripture tells us there is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved except Jesus.

The points highlighted above, although not exhaustive, do demonstrate some of the ways in which denominations do differ on points of doctrine. It may be argued that some of these points are not “foundational” to the gospel but the question should be asked, why do denominations differ on points of doctrine and beliefs? I believe the answer to this question lies in the fact that Bible tells us that heresies will creep into the church over time. This can be the only explanation for why there are so many different denominations, each with their own “brand” of Christianity, which differ in some way from another. It is interesting to note however that even from the early days, the Church was being divided up into denominations and Paul had to deal with this very issue in the Corinthian church (1 Cor 1:10-13):

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Instead of being haughty and puffed up about this denomination or that, we need to heed the words of Paul here and get back to the “basics” of Scripture. As Paul makes it clear, Christ is not divided, therefore no divisions should be found amongst us and we all should be speaking the same thing and be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement. It is my prayer that we who call ourselves the true church should heed Paul’s admonition.

The Kingdom of Heaven September 18, 2009

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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Many people may have heard this faithful saying, that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand”, especially being preached from street corners and in market places but few would even bother to pay attention to what they might perceive as fanatical drivel, much less to believe or accept it. Instead many people mistakenly think that these preachers are simply deluded mad men or women or religious fanatics especially when in our day we have bold adverts being posted on the sides of buses saying, “There is probably no God, so quit worrying and enjoy your life”. But I have news for you friends, “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”! Yes, John the Baptist uttered these very words over some 2000 years or so ago now and no doubt many people thought he was crazy then because he was not a man who wore smart apparel and esteemed in society but rather a dishevelled man dressed in animal skins and lived on the edge of (polite) society. Many must have wondered what on earth is this “lunatic” talking about! But still many believed on his message and were baptised by him.

We should note here that the “Kingdom of God” and the “Kingdom of Heaven” are synonymous. The first mention of the Kingdom (for ease of reference) in the New Testament is in Matt 3:1-3:

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

In the passage John did not say plainly what the Kingdom is precisely but he left no doubt as to the significance or importance of it, if we look further along in the passage. The key point here to note though is that we should repent of our sins because of the Kingdom.

We see in the passage where John baptised all those who repented of their sins because they wanted to “partake” of this talked about “Kingdom.” But at this point the Kingdom had not yet (fully) come so this baptism was in a sense a prelude to the future Kingdom which John hinted at in verse 11, which was to be established by Jesus Christ. The interesting thing to note here though from verse 7 is that pursuing the Kingdom also represented a “fleeing from the wrath to come”. Though it is not spelt out here we can conclude therefore that the Kingdom of Heaven represented “salvation” for all men who would actively seek “it” through repentance and turning away from sin, and which is evidenced by “good fruit”. We also get a sense from verses 10 & 12 that the Kingdom is governed by a Righteous Ruler (Jesus Christ) who will separate (Judge) those who have attained to the Kingdom (i.e. produces good fruit) from those who don’t.

Jesus made it clear to us that the Kingdom of Heaven should be our primary goal in this life – it is of paramount importance. In Matt 6:33 Jesus implored us not to seek after worldly things or to worry about food, raiment etc but rather to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is important to us because the Bible says in Heb 9:27:

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

There will come a time at the end of the age when God will judge the world. Those who are His children will inherit eternal life but those who are not will be cast out into eternal damnation. The Kingdom of Heaven is therefore the only path to salvation and Jesus Christ is the only “Gateway” into this Kingdom. For He said in John 14:6:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Do you want to enter into this Kingdom? If so you need to enter by way of Christ.

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