The Heresies of Balaamism and the Nicolaitans are Alive Today

The Heresies of Balaamism and the Nicolaitans are Alive Today
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

(5) Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (6) But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
-Revelation 2:5-6 (HCSB)

We find that in the book of Revelation churches were being rebuked for their stance on the Nicolaitans. But what did the Nicolaitans teach that was so bad? While today article will not be a long one it will be an enlightening one, a nugget of truth. You see their teachings still exist today and are very prevalent.

Our culture has become one of permissiveness, and it has crept into our churches. We no longer consider it proper and right to stand for moral fortitude. No, we don’t even address issues of living together and sinning anymore (not all churches, but quite a few). I can name a few churches who won’t say that abortion is wrong, or that it is right; they will just overlook it. Many churches don’t even address people who call themselves Christians but are living together, unmarried. While I am not a legalist (by any stretch of the imagination) these basic issues should be addressed from pulpits across America. What has happened to the church?

The church has fallen into the errors balaamism and that of the Nicolaitans. According to M.R.DeHaan in his book “Studies in Revelation” he states that these two errors go together. Balaamism is the rise of permissiveness. But how did that happen? Because of the error of the Nicolaitans. The Nicolaitans brought about a kind of hierarchical clergy which brings about a disconnect between the people and those called to minister to God’s people. Unfortunately the Nicolaitans wanted to have power and the way they grabbed that power was to make people religious slaves. They became dictators over people’s lives instead of shepherds. They lusted for power and it is because of their line of thinking that we get the rise of the clergy in the “middle ages.”

But do we see this today? Unfortunately, yes. When a minister becomes a dictator they are falling into this trap. When they must control people and use them up and then throw them away and make it seem like it is the persons fault as to why they were thrown away. These kinds of ministers will make it seem like the person who left is at fault, when in reality the fact is that maybe the person did do something wrong, but they were being used and abused by a dictator. Far too often though, it is the minister who is at fault, not the person who got used. (I know this is simplistic and there are usually many more factors, but it is to make a point. keep in mind usually both parties are to blame, at least somewhat). The point is, should the minister be a dictator or should they be someone who restores people in a loving way?

Usually where you see a dictatorship you will see people who are the “eleet” in the church. They will get their obvious sins overlooked, while others will be punished harshly and persecuted. This leads to permissiveness not only among the people, but among the leadership as well. I commend churches who have checks and balances for these kinds of ministers so they don’t get to the point of being a dictator. It is amazing to me that some churches allow that to happen. Sadly, though, this has become a sad reality for many churches across the world.

While I know this isn’t a kind message today, it is one to think about because the church of Ephesus fell into this trap, and God didn’t like it then and He doesn’t like it today.

So what do we do for churches that are like this? Do we cause division or strife? Do we overthrow the pastor? The answer is a resounding NO! We pray for the pastors and take our grievances to the church board/deacons/elders. Don’t gossip about it, but let the structure of the church look into it. So what happens if it doesn’t stop? What happens if the ones in charge are just a bunch of “yes men.” Then you do as David did. Leave that church alone and run for your spiritual life and let God sort it out. Don’t split the church, don’t do anything but find the place where God is trying to lead you. I know that is hard but God hates Division (c.f. 1 Timothy 1).

Now may the Lord keep you and bless you. May He make His face to shine upon you, and show you Peace. Amen.

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Perverse Teaching is in The Church Because Christians Don’t Care Enough

Perverse Teaching is in The Church Because Christians Don’t Care Enough
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

(7) Many deceivers have gone out into the world; they do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. (8) Watch yourselves so you don’t lose what we have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. (9) Anyone who does not remain in Christ’s teaching but goes beyond it, does not have God. The one who remains in that teaching, this one has both the Father and the Son. (10) If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your home, and don’t say, “Welcome,” to him; (11) for the one who says, “Welcome,” to him shares in his evil works
-2 John 7-11 (HCSB)

(3) Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. (4) For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.
-Jude 3-4 (HCSB)

 

Christians need to get back to studying God’s Word and learning what it says so they can stay out of false teaching. Doing this will help to keep people from getting duped and leaving the church.

In verse seven of second-John, he states that many people have gone out into the church who aren’t really Christians (or those whom have corrupted Christianity).He states that these people do not confess that Jesus actually came to us in the flesh but who have come to us in some other way. But we don’t have to worry about that right? WRONG! There are many “ministers” today who deny the 100% humanity of Christ and the %100 divinity of Christ (i.e. The Dichotomy of Christ). They make Him out to be fully human or fully God. To do either is to deny what makes Jesus who He is. Another teaching some will use is to deny the Trinity of God (Please do research on this, we aren’t going into it here as I have previously written about it. See the Apologetics articles section). This is evil teaching and does lead people astray from the truth.

Verse eight is a reminder to the reader to always be on guard against false teaching. The loss here is not talking about salvation but that of reward in heaven. In other words, make sure that you don’t fall into false teaching so that you don’t lose rewards in heaven for your faith. The JFB Commentary says the following about this verse.

  • …Fully consummated glory. If “which ye have wrought” be read with very old authorities, the reward meant is that of their “work (of faith) and labor of love.” There are degrees of heavenly reward proportioned to the degrees of capability of receiving heavenly blessedness. Each vessel of glory hanging on Jesus shall be fully happy. But the larger the vessel, the greater will be its capacity for receiving heavenly bliss…

Verse nine talks about the people who go beyond the simple grace that is given to us by Christ. These people, if they go beyond the Bible, are not teaching God’s Word properly. They do this by either malicious intent or because they don’t know any better. A person who doesn’t know any better will be presented with the truth, eventually. If they continue in their false teaching (usually because of their stubbornness, because they have wasted a portion of their life and mind on falsity) then they teach these things willingly out of rebellion against God.

In verse ten we are told to have nothing to do with these false teachers. The greeting here is not talking about a simple greeting but that of someone who is shown full hospitality, because in so doing they are endorsing their teaching. We are strongly warned against inviting these teachers in our midst because they will lead others astray and corrupt the minds of people; adding to grace and removing the simplicity of the message of Christ.

In Jude in verses three through four, he gives the same warning and says that we should be ready with answers to these false teachings. We should earnestly know what we believe and be ready to express it, coming against false teaching. He says that these false teachers have come into the church stealthily, mixing faith with error so that it looks good, but the end result is death. Verse four introduces us to something else we haven’t covered. Some were taking the grace of God to mean they could sin and do whatever they want and still be good-to-go(we still see this one a lot today in churches). This is falsity because if someone is truly “saved” then they won’t want to do the works of the flesh anymore, they may stumble but they don’t make it their lifestyle.

We must be discerning to recognize false teaching and we can’t do that unless we are constantly in the Word of God. We must constantly test teaching to see where it comes from, to see if it is error.

How about you today? Are you studying God’s Word to make sure you haven’t fallen into false teaching? Are where you should be in your relationship with God and His Word so you can have discernment? Are you constantly testing things and making sure they are correct? If not then maybe it is time to repent and time to start doing so. The choice is yours.

Seriously? King James only?

Seriously? King James only?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Alright, so most of you know I took the week off for vacation with my family. However, I ran across an individual who told me that only the 1611A.D. version of the King James Bible is inspired. WOW! I thought that this line of false thinking went away years ago! Sadly, I was wrong. With the rise proper exegesis (the textual study of God’s Word) this position is outmoded. You see Jesus didn’t speak the King’s English. No, he spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, and more than likely Greek. The original manuscripts were written in Common Greek and Aramaic (speaking strictly of the New Testament). The rest of our Bible was written in Hebrew. So, no, the translation wasn’t inspired.

For your consideration I have compiled some things that may interest you about the King James Only Movement and some questions that should make these folks do some RESEARCH before speaking.

 

Questions for “KJV only” advocates:
original Article found at: http://www.bible.ca/b-kjv-only.htm#questions

Some questions by Steve Rudd, who compiled the remaining questions from others.

  1. Which KJV is inspired, since it was revised four times, the last being in 1769.
  2. What Bible would these KJV worshippers recommend since before 1611 there was no Bible.
  3. Do they realize that the apostle Paul did not use the KJV.
  4. Why do KJV only advocates reject the apocrypha, since the original 1611 version contained the apocrypha?
  5. If the KJV translators were inspire, why did they use a marginal reference to the apocrypha:
  6. If God always gives the world his word in one language (as KJV advocates say of English), then the KJV is certainly not that language, for God chose Koine GREEK not ENGLISH to reveal his New Covenant!
  7. If God gave us the KJV as an inspired translation, why would God not repeat the process again in modern language in each language?
  8. If God supervised the translation process so that the KJV is 100% error free, why did God not extend this supervision to the printers?
  9. Why did the KJV translators use marginal note showing alternate translation possibilities? If the English of the KJV is inspired of God, there would be no alternates!
  10. If the KJV translators were inspired of God in their work, why did they not know it?
  11. Why were all the marginal notes and alternate readings removed from modern editions of the KJV, along with the Apocrypha, the opening Dedication to James I, and a lengthy introduction from “The Translators to the Reader.”?
  12. When there is a difference between the KJV English and the TR Greek, why do you believe that the Greek was wrong and the KJV English is correct?
  13. If the KJV-only supporters believe fully in the word-for-word inspiration of the KJV, why would italics be necessary?
  14. In defending the KJV’s use of archaic language, do you really think it is a good thing that a person must use an Early Modern English dictionary just to understand the Bible in casual reading?
  15. Why do KJV only advocates feel that all modern translations are wrong for copyrighting the work of each translation when they copyright the materials on their websites, tracts and books they use to promote the KJV? Do they not realize that after 100 years all books pass into public domain and that all copyrighted Bibles today will soon be public domain just like the KJV? If “God’s truth should not be copyrighted” then why do they copy write their defenses of God’s ultimate truth, the Bible?
  16. Is it not ridiculous to suggest that when the TR disagrees with the KJV that Greek TR has errors, but the KJV doesn’t? Is this not the ultimate example of “translation worship”? (Reject the original in favour of the translation)
  17. Did you know that the Textus Receptus, from which the KJV was translated, was based on half a dozen small manuscripts, none earlier than the 10th century?
  18. If the Textus Receptus is the error free text, then why are the last 6 verses of Revelation absence from the TR, yet present in the KJV? Did you know that for these verses, the Latin Vulgate was translated into Greek which was then translated into English – a translation of a translation of a translation?
  19. Why do KJV only advocates believe that the English of the KJV is clearer and more precise than the original Greek language manuscripts? Why should Bible students throw out their Greek dictionaries and buy an “archaic English” dictionary? Are there not word pictures in the original Greek words that the English cannot easily convey? (Jas 2:19 “tremble”; Greek: PHRISSO, indicates to be rough, to bristle. is a powerful word picture of how the demons are in such terror that their skin is rough with goose pimples. Also differences between “agape” and “phileo” love words.)
  20. Why did the translators make mistakes in the chapter summaries in the 1611 version? Wouldn’t God have inspired this as well? Why would God inspire the English providentially accurate, but then allow misleading chapter headings? (Every chapter of the Song of Songs is interpreted as descriptive of the church. This is wrong. SoS is God’s “mate selection manual.” Also, Isa 22 “He prophesieth Shebna’s deprivation, and Eliakim, prefiguring the kingdom of Christ, his substitution” This is wrong and reflect the incorrect theology of the day.)
  21. Why would the translators use book headings like “The Gospel According to Saint Luke” since the Greek merely says “The Gospel According to Luke”. Does not this show that the translators were influenced by their contemporary theology and the Catholic false doctrine of “sainthood”?
  22. Do KJV only advocates realize that they stand beside the Mormon church in that both groups believe that they were delivered an “inspired translation”? (Mormon’s believe Joseph Smith’s English translation of the Book of Mormon from the Nephi Plates was done under inspiration.) Do KJV only advocates realize that the most powerful and irrefutable evidence that neither were translated under inspiration, is the very first edition with all their thousands of errors? (KJV- 1611 edition; BoM- 1831 edition)
  23. Do KJV only advocates realize that, to point out that all modern translations have the same kinds of mistakes we are accusing of the KJV, is irrelevant, because we maintain that all translations have errors and none were translated under the inspired supervision of God?
  24. Why would the Holy Spirit mis-guide the translators to employ the use of mythical creatures like “unicorn” for wild ox, “satyr” for “wild goat”, “cockatrice” for common viper, when today we know what the real name of these creatures is?
  25. If the KJV is error free in the English, then why did they fail to correctly distinguish between “Devil and Demons” (Mt 4:1-DIABOLOS and Jn 13:2-DAIMONIZOMAI) ; “hades and hell” (see Lk 16:23-HADES and Mt 5:22-GEENNA; Note: Hades is distinct from hell because hades is thrown into hell after judgement: Rev 20:14)
  26. Why would KJV translators render Gen 15:6 which is quoted in identical Greek form by Paul in Rom 4:3, 9, 22; Gal 3:6, in FOUR DIFFERENT WAYS? Why are they creating distinctions were none exist?
  27. Why did the KJV translators have no consistent rule for differentiating between the use of definite and indefinite articles? (Dan 3:25 we have one “like the Son of God” instead of “like a son of God”, even though in 28 Nebuchadnezzar states God sent “His angel” to deliver the men. The definite article was also added to the centurion’s confession in Mt 27:54.)
  28. How can you accept that the Textus Receptus is perfect and error free when Acts 9:6 is found only in the Latin Vulgate but absolutely no Greek manuscript known to man? Further, how come in Rev 22:19 the phrase “book of life” is used in the KJV when absolutely ALL known Greek manuscripts read “tree of life”?
  29. How can we trust the TR to be 100% error free when the second half of 1 Jn 5:8 are found only in the Latin Vulgate and a Greek manuscript probably written in Oxford about 1520 by a Franciscan friar named Froy (or Roy), who took the disputed words from the Latin Vulgate? (we are not disputing the doctrine of the trinity, just the validity of the last half of this verse)
  30. How do you explain the grammatical error in the original 1611 KJV in Isa 6:2 where the translators made a rare grammatical error by using the incorrect plural form of “seraphims” rather than “seraphim”?
  31. Must we possess a perfectly flawless bible translation in order to call it “the word of God”?  If so, how do we know “it” is perfect?   If not, why do some “limit” “the word of God” to only ONE “17th Century English” translation?  Where was “the word of God” prior to 1611?  Did our Pilgrim Fathers have “the word of God” when they brought the GENEVA BIBLE translation with them to North America?
  32. Were the KJV translators “liars” for saying that “the very meanest [poorest] translation” is still “the word of God”?
  33. Do you believe that the Hebrew and Greek used for the KJV are “the word of God”?
  34. Do you believe that the Hebrew and Greek underlying the KJV can “correct” the English?
  35. Do you believe that the English of the KJV “corrects” its own Hebrew and Greek texts from which it was translated?
  36. Is ANY translation “inspired”?  Is the KJV an “inspired translation”?
  37. Is the KJV “scripture” ? Is IT “given by inspiration of God”?  [2 Tim. 3:16]
  38. WHEN was the KJV “given by inspiration of God” – 1611, or any of the KJV major/minor revisions in 1613, 1629, 1638, 1644, 1664, 1701, 1744, 1762, 1769, and the last one in 1850?
  39. In what language did Jesus Christ [not Peter Ruckman and others] teach that the Old Testament would be preserved forever according to Matthew 5:18?
  40. Where does the Bible teach that God will perfectly preserve His Word in the form of one seventeenth-century English translation?
  41. Did God lose the words of the originals when the “autographs” were destroyed?
  42. Did the KJV translators mislead their readers by saying that their New Testament was “translated out of the original Greek”? [title page of KJV N.T.]  Were they “liars” for claiming to have “the original Greek” to translate from?
  43. Was “the original Greek” lost after 1611?
  44. Did the great Protestant Reformation (1517-1603) take place without “the word of God”?
  45. What copy or translations of “the word of God,” used by the Reformers, was absolutely infallible and inerrant?  [their main Bibles are well-known and copies still exist].
  46. If the KJV is “God’s infallible and preserved word to the English-speaking people,” did the “English-speaking people” have  “the word of God” from 1525-1604?
  47. Was Tyndale’s [1525], or Coverdale’s [1535], or Matthew’s [1537], or the Great [1539], or the Geneva [1560] . . . English Bible absolutely infallible?
  48. If neither the KJV nor any other one version were absolutely inerrant, could a lost sinner still be “born again” by the “incorruptible word of God”? [1 Peter 1:23]
  49. If the KJV can “correct” the inspired originals, did the Hebrew and Greek originally “breathed out by God” need correction or improvement?
  50. Since most “KJV-Onlyites” believe the KJV is the inerrant and inspired “scripture” [2 Peter 1:20], and 2 Peter 1:21 says that “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:  but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” would you not therefore reason thus – “For the King James Version came not in 1611 by the will of man:  but holy men of God translated as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”?
  51. Which reading is the verbally (word-for-word) inerrant scripture – “whom ye” [Cambridge KJV’s] or, “whom he” [Oxford KJV’s] at Jeremiah 34:16?
  52. Which reading is the verbally (word-for-word) inerrant scripture – “sin” [Cambridge KJV’s] or “sins” [Oxford KJV’s] at 2 Chronicles 33:19?
  53. Who publishes the “inerrant KJV”?
  54. Since the revisions of the KJV from 1613-1850 made (in addition to changes in punctuation, capitalization, and spelling) many hundreds of changes in words, word order, possessives, singulars for plurals, articles, pronouns, conjunctions, prepositions, entire phrases, and the addition and deletion of words – would you say the KJV was “verbally inerrant” in 1611, 1629, 1638, 1644, 1664, 1701, 1744, 1762, 1769, or 1850?
  55. Would you contend that God waited until a king named “James” sat on the throne of England before perfectly preserving His Word in English, and would you think well of an “Epistle Dedicatory” that praises this king as “most dread Sovereign . . .Your Majesty’s Royal Person . . .” – IF the historical FACT was revealed to you that King James was a practicing homosexual all of his life?  [documentation – Antonia Fraser — “King James VI of Scotland, I of England” Knopf Publ./1975/pgs. 36-37, 123 || Caroline Bingham — “The Making of a King” Doubleday Publ./1969/pgs. 128-129, 197-198 || Otto J. Scott — “James I” Mason-Charter Publ./1976/pgs. 108, 111, 120, 194, 200, 224, 311, 353, 382 || David H. Wilson — “King James VI & I” Oxford Publ./1956/pgs. 36, 99-101, 336-337, 383-386, 395 || plus several encyclopedias]
  56. Would you contend that the KJV translator, Richard Thomson, who worked on Genesis-Kings in the Westminster group, was “led by God in translating” even though he was an alcoholic that “drank his fill daily” throughout the work?  [Gustavus S. Paine — “The Men Behind the KJV” Baker Book House/1979/pgs. 40, 69]
  57. Is it possible that the rendition “gay clothing,” in the KJV at James 2: 3, could give the wrong impression to the modern-English KJV reader?
  58. Did dead people “wake up” in the morning according to Isaiah 37:36 in the KJV?
  59. Was “Baptist” John’s last name according to Matthew 14: 8 and Luke 7:20 in the KJV?
  60. Is 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 in the KJV understood or make any sense to the modern-English KJV reader? – “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.  Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.  Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.”  As clearly understood from the New International Version [NIV] – “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.  We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.”
  61. Does the singular “oath’s,” occurring in every KJV at Matthew 14: 9 and Mark 6:26, “correct” every Textus Receptus Greek which has the plural (“oaths”) by the post-1611 publishers, misplacing the apostrophe?
  62. Did Jesus teach a way for men to be “worshiped” according to Luke 14:10 in the KJV, contradicting the first commandment and what He said in Luke 4: 8?  [Remember – you may not go the Greek for any “light” if you are a KJV-Onlyite!]
  63. Is the Holy Spirit an “it” according to John 1:32; Romans 8:16, 26; and 1 Peter 1:11 in the KJV?  [Again – you may not go the Greek for any “light” if you are a KJV-Onlyite!]
  64. Does Luke 23:56 support a “Friday” crucifixion in the KJV?    [No “day” here in Greek]
  65. Did Jesus command for a girl to be given “meat” to eat according to Luke 8:55 in the KJV? [or, “of them that sit at meat with thee.” at Luke 14:10]
  66. Was Charles Haddon Spurgeon a “Bible-corrector” for saying that Romans 8:24 should be rendered “saved in hope,” instead of the KJV’s “saved by hope”?  [Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol 27, 1881, page 485 – see more Spurgeon KJV comments in What is “KJV-Onlyism?”, his & many others’ views in the article, “Quotes on Bible Translations.”]
  67. Was J. Frank Norris a “Bible-corrector” for saying that the correct rendering of John 3:5 should be “born of water and the Spirit,” and for saying that “repent and turn” in Acts 26:20 should be “repent, even turn”?  [Norris-Wallace Debate, 1934, pgs. 108, 116] Also, is Norman Pickering an “Alexandrian Apostate” for stating, “The nature of language does not permit a ‘perfect’ translation – the semantic area of words differs between languages so that there is seldom complete overlap.  A ‘perfect’ translation of John 3:16 from Greek into English is impossible, for we have no perfect equivalent for “agapao” [translated “loved” in John. 3:16].”?
  68. Was R. A. Torrey “lying” when he said the following in 1907 – “No one, so far as I know, holds that the English translation of the Bible is absolutely infallible and inerrant.  The doctrine held by many is that the Scriptures as originally given were absolutely infallible and inerrant, and that our English translation is a substantially accurate rendering of the Scriptures as originally given”?  [Difficulties in the Bible, page 17]
  69. Is Don Edwards correct in agreeing “in favor of canonizing our KJV,” thus replacing the inspired canon in Hebrew and Greek?  [The Flaming Torch, June 1989, page 6]
  70. Did God supernaturally “move His Word from the original languages to English” in 1611 as affirmed by The Flaming Torch?  [same page above]

There is a lot more out there about the errors of those that claim King James Only. So I won’t cover them here, but this should get you familiar with the topic and should get you to do some of your own research as well.

Blaspheme Much?

Blaspheme Much?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Blasphemy is one of those concepts that in modern society have been lost. Many a Christian will read that we shouldn’t blaspheme God but has no idea what it really means. Oh they have a vague conception, but couldn’t tell you if they had committed it or not. So today we will take a quick look at the concept of Blasphemy.

What we call blasphemy always means to insult God in some kind of way or fashion, to distort God’s character. The question is how does one blaspheme God? By consciously using derogatory speech and/or actions toward or about God. It can also mean to mock or do the same thing toward someone here on earth. Why? Because we are The Body of Christ and are made in the likeness of God. In today’s modern translations you will not see the word blasphemy. Instead most of them will employ the word “slander.” While slander is part of what we just discussed it is not the whole of it. Blasphemy involves malicious intent of will, it involves mocking and evil actions.

Blasphemy in the Old Testament was seen as a crime punishable by death. Isaiah called the worship of the golden calf a blasphemy against God. The reason was that they intentionally abandoned God and worshipped an idol made by hands. In the New Testament the religious leaders wished to kill Jesus for equaling himself with God. They considered this blasphemy (which it would be if it were anyone else other than Jesus, because He is God.).

The good news is that all blasphemy will be forgiven, except for blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This is called the unpardonable sin. So let us look at it a little more closely, in context.

“22Then there was brought to Him a demon-possessed man who was blind and dumb, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. 23And all the multitudes were amazed, and began to say, “This man cannot be the Son of David, can he?” 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebub the ruler of the demons.” 25And knowing their thoughts He said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself shall not stand. 26″And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? 27″And if I by Beelzebub cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. 28″But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29″Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30″He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. 31″Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32″And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come,” (All Scripture quotes are from the NASB).
-Matt. 12:22-32 (NASB)

There are a lot of thoughts on this subject, but Scripture, in context, gives us this answer. Look at verse 22. In this verse Jesus heals a man who was blind and could not speak. The Pharisees (the religious leaders of the time) state that Jesus does this by the power of Satan! Jesus responds stating how illogical that is because a kingdom that is divided can’t stand (we could go into politics here, but I won’t).

Now here is something you won’t hear every day. In the context of the passage we are dealing with miracles and who gets credit for them. Blasphemy against the Spirit is crediting the miracles of Jesus to Satan. But why is this case?

Well we can find clues in Jesus’ baptism. At His baptism He was baptized so that he might fulfill all righteousness. At this event the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. Now the priests of the day would anoint with Olive Oil and allow it to be poured on their heads and it would fall to around their feet. This was representative of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit; here we have the Holy Spirit actually descending on Jesus. This shows that He is the anointed of God and that His miracles come from the Holy Spirit.  This would have been well-known by these Pharisees before they ever made their statements.

These miracles were done to validate what Jesus was here on earth to do (i.e. die and rise again for our sins). To attribute these miracles to Satan attributes the work of redemption to Satan as well. These Pharisees knew better in their minds and hearts and not only resisted Jesus in themselves but maligned all that He stood for. By doing this they not only resisted Him till death, but tried to lead others to do the same!

So the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is when an individual, knowing full well what they are doing (i.e. the redemptive work of Christ), resists Him till death while leading others to do the same. They attribute His works to Satan and mar what Christ has done for us.

A true believer would never commit this sin, because they have surrendered their hearts and lives to Christ. So if anyone out there is truly distressed as to whether or not they have committed this sin should not worry about it. This distress is evidence that they have not. Why? Well, the reason is because someone who has committed this sin wouldn’t be distressed at all over their choice. They have hardened their hearts to such a point that it would not bother them in the slightest.

I hope today’s article has helped you and that you now have a more firm concept of blasphemy. May god bless you on your journey.

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Resources Consulted

  • Manser, M. H. (1999). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.
  • Thomas, R. L., & The Lockman Foundation. (1998). New American Standard exhaustive concordance of the Bible: Updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.
  • Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained (236). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  • Cross, F. L., & Livingstone, E. A. (2005). The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev.) (215–216). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Myers, A. C. (1987). The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (162). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Was Jesus Two Separate People?: The Heresy of Nestorianism

Was Jesus Two Separate People?
The Heresy of Nestorianism
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

 

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form
-Colossians 2:9 (NIV)

 

This heresy was propagated by a man named Nestorius who lived in the late fourth century (exact date is debated and not really known) to 451AD. He was born in modern day Turkey and became a monk and preacher. We don’t know much more about his early years. Whatever else we know about him is in 428AD. In this year he was brought in as the bishop of Constantinople because of a nasty feud amongst the local candidates.

His theological Heresy was an attempt to show that Christ was also a man. The reason he wanted to do this was in response to scholars of his day who placed far too much emphasis on the Deity of Chris; so much so that they were starting to teach that Christ couldn’t have come from Mary because God could not come from a mortal woman. He was trying to bring a balance, but his understanding of the nature of Jesus (Hypostatic Union) was off and heretical.

The Nestorians believed that Jesus was a combination of two separate persons, the man and God. I was thinking of this subject and it is kind of like saying Jesus had Multiple Personality Disorder (now known as Identity Dissociative Disorder). For those of you out there who know more about Psychology than I do, I know this should be applied here but I was trying to bring a little levity to this topic. Anyway, why would I say that? A person with MPD has two separate personalities in one body. This is how the Nestorians viewed Christ, two separate and distinct beings.

Most Trinitarian theologians will tell you that the incarnation is a union of two natures into one personality, God the Son. Nestorians literally taught that there were two separate personalities. One being a man named Jesus and the other being God (hence the MPD joke). They see the man (one individual personality) indwelt by Jesus.

 

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Sources Consulted

  • Shedd, W. G. T. (2003). Dogmatic theology (A. W. Gomes, Ed.) (3rd ed.) (958). Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub.
  • Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1910). History of the Christian church. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  • Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
  • Douglas, J. (1992). Nestorius. In J. Douglas & P. W. Comfort (Eds.), Who’s Who in Christian history (J. Douglas & P. W. Comfort, Ed.) (502–503). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.

Was Jesus Just another Martyr?: The Heresy of Socinianism

Was Jesus Just another Martyr?
The Heresy of Socinianism
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
-Colossians 2:9 (NIV)

 

 (8) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—(9) not by works, so that no one can boast.
-Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV)

This heresy started in Poland in the 16th century by Laelius Socinus and Faustus Socinus. This teaching states that only man needs to be reconciled by God (which is true). The problem comes in how they said you should obtain reconciliation. They believed that one must come to God through their own will, not through grace. They taught that one must improve our moral character in order to become right with God, which can only happen through sheer will and repentance. The death of Christ was only to show us how to be a martyr and was of no power than any other martyr. They taught that the language the writers of the New Testament used, when talking about Christ, was merely a way to illustrate His life. In other words the writers didn’t really mean what they wrote; when it says that Jesus died for our sins, they would teach, it is not really what is meant.

Now where Socinians have gone wrong, Biblically speaking:

  • They have totally denied the trinity in their teaching.
  • They teach the Holy Spirit is a force from God, not a person and apart of the Godhead.
  • They teach that Jesus is not divine but a perfect example of how we should live, just as any other martyr.
  • They placed emphasis on human rationality instead of Biblical authority.

This teaching denies Biblical Christianity and must be condemned. So the question is asked, “Where do we find this kind of teaching today?” Well this teaching has survived primarily through the Unitarian tradition (as well as smaller fringe groups). We will leave today’s Unitarians as a subject for another time.

While Jesus is the perfect example of how we should live, He did a lot more than be an example. He died for our sins so that we might be made right with God. Not through anything we have done, but through what He did. This is where the two verses above refute this kind of teaching.

May God bless you today my friends.

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Sources Consulted in the Writing of this Article

  • The Pulpit Commentary: Index. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (399). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  • Strong, A. H. (1907). Systematic theology (732–733). Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society.
  • Cross, F. L., & Livingstone, E. A. (2005). The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev.) (1671). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Slick, M. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Socinianism. http://carm.org/socinianism

Who Cares About Augustine?

Who Cares About Augustine?
By: Rev. Joe Kramer

Today we are going to deviate from a teaching and remember one individual whom we as Christians have forgotten about. He has become a footnote in history for most of us. But because of him, and others like him, true Christian doctrine has been preserved for our benefit.

It has been said that a man (human being) never stands alone, but on the shoulders of those who came before them. You see we don’t live in a vacuum. A lot of the teachings that we take for granted today come from people of faith from long ago. Some of these people in the early centuries following Jesus’ ascension are referred to as the “Early Church Fathers.” Today I would like to draw your attention to Augustine.

Augustine was born in 354 A.D. and died in 430 A.D. His mother was one of his greatest influences. He was the most influential Apologist (defender of the Christian Faith) of the first centuries. His writings, amongst other early writers, are the basis of the field we call Apologetics and were written to mainly refute paganism.

The interesting part is that Augustine spent a great deal of time among the pagans. You see in his earlier days he strayed from the Christian faith and sought out spirituality in all sorts of ways and religions. During this time he gave into all kinds of evil deeds, including sexual sin and all the pleasures he could find. He found them empty and his life empty as well. He came back to Christianity.

Because of his time amongst the “false religions” he learned quite a bit about them. Because of his knowledge, God used his writings to refute their claims and show just how empty they were.

His writings are too numerous to list here, but I have included a link to a site or two (found at the bottom) to look at his work. CARM lists His remarks on the book of Psalms, His book called the “City of God,” and his seven part book series on Baptism against the Donatists.

We owe a humongous debt to Augustine for his refutation of Pelagianism and Donatism. Pelagius denied the concept of predestination and original sin. He taught that one could reach God on his own merits without the grace of God. This is of course unbiblical and a system of works, not grace which Ephesians 2:8-9 refutes (just an example there are many more). It reads (NKJV), (8) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast. Donatists taught that the sacraments (Baptism and Communion) had to be done by a minister who was Holy enough to give them out, or those sacraments would be invalid. The problem is that no one is Holy enough. The Donatists placed too much emphasis on the sacraments (almost a mystical view of their power) and not enough on the reality of the sacraments. The reality being that the sacraments have no physical power, but are a wonderful outward sign and witness of the change in our lives that Christ has made.

The one thing to remember about Augustine (and anyone else) is that though he did great things, he is not God. As such his (as well as others) writings are not inerrant. So you know what? They can “miss it” just like everyone else. You will find that Augustine leaned into the Catholic Church’s point of view during his time, because he was Catholic. You will find that certain things are difficult to understand because you may not know the historical background. That is alright, because so long as you understand some of his writing God can use it for your betterment.

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Places to find information on Augustine’s writings. There only two here, but many more are out there.

 Augustine of Hippo: A Biography

Writings of Augustine

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Sources consulted in this Article

  • Toon, P. (1992). Augustine of Canterbury. In J. Douglas & P. W. Comfort (Eds.), Who’s Who in Christian history (J. Douglas & P. W. Comfort, Ed.) (46). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.
  • Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1797). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  • Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Slick, Matt. Christian Apologetics and Reasearch Ministries. Donatism. http://carm.org/donatism/
  • Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1910). History of the Christian church. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.