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06 Jul
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2016 Summer Family Bible Conference

Our summer conference is officially in the books!!

 

It was a wonderful time of fellowship and bible study. It is a great joy to hear men from all over the country preach the Word of God rightly divided and to get away from the world and all of its distractions. Below you will find both the video and audio for all of the sessions.

Take time to listen to them and learn more about “The God Factor.”

Saturday July 9th:

7:00 PM God Isn’t Dead! Ted Fellows Watch Now

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Sunday July 10th:

9:00 AM Inside the Godhead Alan Ragan Watch Now

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10:00 AM It’s All About Jesus! Des Strydom Watch Now

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11:00 AM Is the Bible Really Reliable? Fred Bekemeyer Watch Now

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3:00 PM Is God A Christian? Perry Lemmons Watch Now

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7:00 PM The Glory of God Richard Jordan Watch Now

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Monday July 11th:

9:00 AM What About Those Who Never Heard? Edward Yarber Watch Now

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10:00 AM Can the Bible Make Sense Today? Matt Walker Watch Now

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11:00 AM Is Absolute Truth Absolutely True? Bryan Ross Watch Now

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7:00 PM God, Evil and Suffering John Verstegen Watch Now

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Tuesday July 12th:

9:00 AM Is Hell Necessary?Forever? Carl Hayes Watch Now

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10:00 AM The Gospel That Isn’t the Gospel Ray Keable Watch Now

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11:00 AM There is More to The Gospel Than Forgiveness David Reid Watch Now

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7:00 PM Prayer: Does God Really Care? Tom Bruscha Watch Now

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Wednesday July 13th:

9:00 AM Can A Believer Lose His Salvation? Matt Hawley Watch Now

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10:00 AM Is Baptism Necessary? Which One and How Many? Morris Chesnut Watch Now

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11:00 AM Should A Believer Speak in Tongues? Russel Sheppard Watch Now

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3:00 pm – 5:00 pm “See & Share Workshop” Part 1 Sherry Kurz and Kathy Wouters Watch Now

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3:00 pm – 5:00 pm “See & Share Workshop” Part 2 Lori Verstegen Watch Now

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7:00 PM Does God Still Guide? Rick Jordan Watch Now

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Thursday July 14th:

9:00 AM Must Believers Keep the Sabbath? Russ Hargett Watch Now

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10:00 AM Is the Rapture Pre-Trib? Steve Ross Watch Now

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11:00 AM What is Heaven Like? Art Johndon Watch Now

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7:00 PM It Ain’t Over Yet!! Alex Kurz Watch Now

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born-again-1160830
27 Apr
0

Do You Really Want To Be “Born Again”?

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE “BORN AGAIN”?

“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again”–John 3:7

 By Richard Jordan

Undoubtedly Nicodemus was startled. The emphatic and penetrating statements of Christ had raised issues that had not previously engaged his attention. Yet, really, he ought not to have been so shaken and bewildered. Thus Christ’s gently rebuking, “Marvel not.”

We say this was a gentle rebuke for after further explaining the process of this new birth (v. 8), He responds to the dullness of Nicodemus (v.9) in much sharper terms:

“Jesus answered and said unto him, ART THOU A MASTER OF ISRAEL, AND KNOWEST NOT THESE THINGS?
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and YE RECEIVE NOT OUR WITNESS” (John 3:10-12).

Before we think too poorly of Nicodemus, however, we should reflect upon the fact that this very subject is still one that eludes the grasp of most today. Although the term “born again” has come into popular usage, who can deny that its Scriptural meaning and significance has been almost totally lost and unnoticed.

The basic issue involved in the new birth is not reformation, nor is it religion; the basic issue is the doctrine of regeneration. This is clear from Christ’s words to Nicodemus in John 3:5,6,

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

Notice how careful the Lord is to define the character of the new birth: It is not the reformation of the outward wan, nor the education of the natural man, nor the purification of the old man for that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” Rather it is the Spirit of God giving birth to a new life–a divine life and nature. It is partaking of the Divine nature (II Pet. 1:4). Simply put, it is being born of God–“that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

A COMMON DOCTRINE

Regeneration–i.e., being “born of the Spirit”–is a doctrine associated in Scripture with God’s dealings both with the nation Israel and the Body of Christ. In fact, the word itself is found only twice in the Bible, once in relation to Israel’s program and once in reference to the Body of Christ.

The first occurrence is found in Matthew 19:28, where Christ is speaking to His Apostles:

“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, IN THE REGENERATION when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Notice carefully the wording here: “In the regeneration WHEN the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory.” This is a future regeneration associated with the time when Christ sits on “the throne of His glory.” Regeneration, then, for Israel is clearly a part of her kingdom program and hope.

The second occurrence is from the pen of the Apostle Paul:

“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by THE WASHING OF REGENERATION, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:4,5).

Obviously the doctrine of regeneration is a spiritual truth which plays an integral part in God’s purpose for both Israel’s future kingdom program and the current administration of grace. Thus we must be careful to distinguish the dual applications of this doctrine.

A CONTRASTING APPLICATION

Too often the true significance of John 3:7 is overlooked due to a failure to appreciate its usage of the second person pronouns “thee” and “ye.” Notice the verse carefully:

“Marvel not that I said unto THEE, YE must be born again.”

To the modern reader this may seem unimportant since most of us do not so readily understand the significance of the “thee, thou, ye, you” contrasts in our Bible. A bit of investigation, however, on this point will yield great rewards.

“Thee, thou” and “ye, you” are respectively the singular and plural forms of the second person pronoun. While our modern English uses the pronoun “you” for both singular and plural, the older English was able to distinguish between in singular (thee, thou) and plural (ye, you). Thus “thee, thou” refers to an individual while “ye, you” refers to a group. This same distinction is made in many modern languages and, more importantly, is used by the Greek language of the New Testament.

(This explains why God is never addressed in the Bible by the word “you.” There is one God and He is always to be addressed in the singular. Thus the use of the grave style in addressing God in prayer is not simply a matter of reverence or respect–it is also a simple matter of grammar!)

Thus our Lord was, in fact, saying to Nicodemus,

“Marvel not that I say unto THEE [i.e., Nicodemus], YE [i.e., the nation Israel] must be born again.”

(As an aside, it is interesting to observe that one of the very things often used to complain against the King James Bible is in reality a tremendously helpful study aid! Try it in other passages, such as Matt. 16:18,19; 18:18, Luke 22:31-34, etc.)

In light of this, we should look carefully at Israel’s history: As a nation, Israel was born the first time when God led them out of Egypt. Two passages that make this very clear are Ex. 4:22 and Deut. 32:18. In the former, God declares Israel to be His “first born” and thus Moses later rebuked them:

“OF THE ROCK THAT BEGAT THEE thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.”

The Exodus from Egypt marks the birth of the nation Israel and stands as the great declaration of God’s purpose for that specially favored people. Paul alludes to this in I Cor. 10:1,2:

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, now that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
“And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

They were “baptized unto Moses” and born as a nation. It is almost humorous–tragically so–to hear Moses “arguing” with the Lord over His rebellious people, saying,

“…Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
“HAVE I CONCEIVED ALL THIS PEOPLE? HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEM…” (Num 11:11, 12).

The point to notice here is that Moses clearly acknowledged that it was God who had conceived and given birth to this nation. They were His! And we are not left to wonder about His purpose for them:

“And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.
“Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
“And YE SHALL BE UNTO ME A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, AND AN HOLY NATION. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Ex. 19:3-6).

God gave birth to a nation which was to be a holy nation, “a kingdom of priests.” They were to be the agency and channel through whom His salvation and blessing was to be carried to “all the nations of the earth.” This was what He had promised Abraham, when He had said:

“And I WILL MAKE OF THEE A GREAT NATION, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and IN THEE SHALL ALL FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED” (Gen 12:2,3).

This was the hope set before them through the prophets He sent to them. For example, Isaiah declares,

“But YE SHALL BE NAMED THE PRIEST OF THE LORD: MEN SHALL CALL YOU THE MINISTERS OF OUR GOD: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves” (Isa. 61:6).

We do not have to read the sacred page for long, however, to learn the obvious fact that Israel failed–failed miserably–to keep the covenant made with them through Moses. Because they did not keep the Law, they were under the curse of God. Thus it became necessary for God to bring the nation to birth again–through new covenant and a new deliverer, a “greater than Moses.”

Jer. 31:31-34 teaches that God was to make a “new covenant” with Israel, one which would provide regeneration and forgiveness of sin for the nation. When this new covenant is realized, it will issue in spiritual regeneration and a resultant physical restoration for the national people of Israel. As it were, the nation will be born in a day (Isa. 66:8).

It was to this prophesied rebirth of the nation that our Lord pointed Nicodemus in John 3 and which he was so painfully unable to comprehend. Notice once again how the Lord used the “thou–ye” contrast as He responded to Nicodemus’ dullness:

“…Art THOU a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
“Verily, verily I say unto THEE, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and YE receive not our witness” (vs. 10,11).

Sadly, even the very teachers and leaders of God’s favored people could not see the nation’s true condition and need! Israel had lived under the Mosaic Covenant for nearly 1500 years and had failed to meet their end of the agreement over and over again. Their continued rebellion had led God to allow their deportation and captivity in Babylon so that the land, at least, could have its rest (II Chron. 36:20-21). It was during this time of captivity that Jeremiah had written about the “new covenant” through which God would provide regeneration and restoration for Israel.

This was also the time of Ezekiel and his prophecies concerning the future regeneration of Israel–a regeneration which would result in the glorious physical restoration of Israel and ultimately the whole earth. In fact, our Lord’s words in John 3:5 seem certain to have Ezek. 36:25-30 in mind–a passage clearly describing the Divine preparation of Israel for her kingdom.

Also, in light of our Lord’s words to Nicodemas in John 3:14, it is instructive to note that Psalms 22–a Psalm clearly associated with His being “lifted up”–concludes where John 3 beings:

“For the kingdom is the Lord’s and he is the governor among the nations.

“A SEED SHALL SERVE HIM; it shall be accounted to the Lord FOR A GENERATION.
“They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto A PEOPLE THAT SHALL BE BORN, that he hath done this (Psa. 22:28,30,31).

The infancy stage of this “born again” nation is to be found among Christ’s followers. He had promised them:

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Thus we are not surprised to find the Apostle Peter later writing to the believers who comprised this “little flock,”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath BEGOTTEN US AGAIN unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”
“BEING BORN AGAIN, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Peter 1:3, 23).

And there can be no doubt as to the hope and calling of those who had thus been born again for he goes on to identify them:

“But YE ARE A CHOSEN GENERATION, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, AN HOLY NATION, A PECULIAR PEOPLE; that ye should shew forth the raises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9).

The new birth spoken of by the Lord Jesus in John 3 is a reference to the future birth of the nation Israel when she is to be spiritually cleansed and then possess her land forever. But what about the Body of Christ and the believer today? If the new birth refers to the future hope of the nation Israel, do saved individuals today experience a new birth or does God have something else for them? Remember: both Israel and the Body of Christ are regenerated–but into what?

There can be no doubt that today when a person places faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior–when you rely exclusively on what Jesus Christ did for you at Calvary when He died to pay for your sins and was raised as the author of eternal live to those who trust Him; when you trust Christ today, that very moment God the Holy Spirit imparts His life to you.

Thus Paul declares:

“And YOU HATH HE QUICKENED, WHO WERE DEAD IN TRESPASSES AND SINS’
“EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN SINS, [GOD] HATH QUICKENED US TOGETHER WITH CHRIST (by grace are ye saved)” (Eph 2:1, 5).

We are therefore said to be “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:10). But just what is it God is creating today? Eph. 2:15, 16 spell it out clearly:

“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for TO MAKE IN HIMSELF OF TWAIN ONE NEW MAN, so making peace;
“And that he might RECONCILE BOTH UNTO GOD IN ONE BODY by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”

This is the “new creation” which God is forming during the dispensation of grace. God has temporarily set aside the nation Israel and His program for her (Rom. 11:11-15) in order to form another agency (Eph. 2:11-16) through whom He will accomplish a purpose which He planned “before the world began.” This other purpose is called “the mystery” because He kept it secret–“hid in God” (Eph. 3:9)–until He revealed it to that other apostle, the Apostle Paul. It is summed up in the words of Eph. 2:7:

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”

Today God is creating a new species of humanity–“neither Jew nor Gentile.” Just as Adam was not born but was rather created, so we go from the old creation into the new creation as we go from Adam into Christ!

To sum up: Regeneration is associated with God’s program for both Israel and the Body of Christ. Regeneration for a Jew in the kingdom program made him a part of a born again nation. Regeneration for a person in the dispensation of grace makes him a part of the Body of Christ, a new creation.

A CONCLUDING QUESTION

Every person reading this article was born into this world spiritually dead in sins, “alienated from the life of God.” The question is: Have you been regenerated? Have you passed from spiritual death to spiritual life by placing your faith in the finished work of Christ? If not, do so now!

“BUT GOD COMMENDETH HIS LOVE TOWARD US, IN THAT, WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US” (Rom. 5:8).
“BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED” (Acts 16:31).

STS-JoinUs-Small
22 Apr
0

2016 Soldiers Training for Service Conference

Our 2016 Soldiers Training for Service Ministry Conference is in the Books! It was truly a great time of refreshment, fellowship, and encouragement!

2016 Soldiers Training for Service                                                                                 April 22-24, 2016

LOCATION:               Shorewood Bible Church  ~  1900 Hicks Road  ~  Rolling Meadows, IL

THEME:                     Be Stedfast, Unmoveable, Always Abounding In the Work of the Lord

 

Friday, April 22nd:

7:00 PM God Has Not Given us the Spirit of Fear Ted Fellows Watch Now  

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Saturday April 23rd:

9:00 AM Knowing the Time – Part 1 Richard Jordan Watch Now   

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10:00 AM Knowing the Time – Part 2 Richard Jordan Watch Now   

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11:00 AM Knowing the Time – Part 3 Richard Jordan Watch Now   

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2:00 PM Outreach Demo – Part 1 Ben Wanda Watch Now   

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3:00 PM Outreach Demo – Part 2 Ted Fellows/Rick Jordan Watch Now   

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7:00 PM The Work of Faith with Power John Verstegen Watch Now   

Sunday April 24th:

9:30 AM The Labor of Love Alex Kurx Watch Now   

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10:45 AM Sound Mind Rick Jordan Watch Now   

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6:00 PM Paul’s Source of Confidence Justin Bellows Watch Now   

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Depression
06 Mar
0

Depression Matters

A Scriptural Approach to Experiencing Victory Over Depression

The Source and the Solution

Stopping at the Start

A Neck-up Check-up

Glad to be M.A.D

Defeating Depression Daily

How to Help Others

grace_journal2
06 Mar
0

Grace Journal – Fall 2015

The latest Grace Journal is now available for your viewing.

Grace Journal – Fall 2015

self-me-self-u-1436025-639x852
20 Jul
0

The Real You

The Real You

 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:

old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” — II Cor. 5:17

 By Richard Jordan

 

Understanding what it means to be a “new creature in Christ” is absolutely essential for enjoying the abundant life of freedom that Jesus Christ has provided for every believer.

We learn how to avoid the common traps of poor self-image and self-condemnation as we begin to view ourselves from God’s perspective – rather than from man’s perspective.  Assurance, confidence and consistency will characterize our daily lives as we grow in an understanding of what God has provided for us in Christ.

We need to begin at the beginning: What does it mean to be a new creature and what impact does this have on my life?

 

IN CHRIST

While dispensationally it is possible to be “in Christ” either according to the prophetic program (Gen. 22:18, Isa. 45:25) or the mystery program, (Eph. 2:13; 3:6) the term itself is actually a redemptive term, as 1 Cor. 15:22 demonstrates:

“For as IN ADAM ALL DIE, EVEN SO IN CHRIST SHALL ALL BE MADE ALIVE.”

In the current dispensation of grace, when we trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit instantly baptizes us “into Christ” and thus into His Body.  Being “in Christ” is often referred to as positional truth.  The baptism of 1 Cor. 12:13 is thus rightly viewed as the mechanics of positional truth:

“For BY ONE SPIRIT ARE WE ALL BAPTIZED INTO ONE BODY, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Much religious confusion surrounds the topic of baptism, but in Scripture the main issue behind baptism is total identification.  This is something that happens instantaneously to every individual believer the moment we trust Christ: We are totally identified with Jesus Christ.

It is in Christ that we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings.” (Eph. 1:3)   It is in Christ that we are made complete. (Col. 2:10)  It is in Christ that “in every thing ye are enriched by Him.” (1 Cor. 1:5)  Thus it is in Christ that we are made “new creatures.”

We are no longer “in Adam;” now we are “in Christ.”  When we step out of Adam into Christ, He steps out of heaven into us and makes us into a new creature – a member of the “one new man,” the Body of Christ.

 

THE OLD CREATION 

In order to understand our new identity as new creatures in Christ, perhaps we should start with Adam and the “old things” of which we once were a part.

Paul sets forth the story of the old creation in Rom. 5 by beginning where the Bible begins, with the first man, Adam:

“Wherefore, as BY ONE MAN SIN ENTERED INTO THE WORLD, AND DEATH BY SIN; AND SO DEATH PASSED UPON ALL MEN, FOR THAT ALL HAVE SINNED:”

“(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.”

“Nevertheless DEATH REIGNED from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.” (Rom. 5:12-14)

What went wrong with the old creation is that the first man sinned.  Paul mentions this in almost every verse:

“…THROUGH THE OFFENCE OF ONE MANY BE DEAD…”

“…IT WAS BY ONE THAT SINNED…FOR THE JUDGMENT WAS BY ONE TO CONDEMNATION…”

“…BY ONE MAN’S OFFENCE DEATH REIGNED BY ONE…”

“…BY THE OFFENCE OF ONE JUDGMENT CAME UPON ALL MEN TO CONDEMNATION…”

“…BY ONE MAN’S DISOBEDIENCE MANY WERE MADE SINNERS…” (Vs. 15-19)

Every person born into this world is “in Adam.”  Thus the whole race was affected by Adam’s sin and Paul identifies at least three results that we all inherit from him:

“…by the offence of one JUDGMENT CAME UPON ALL MEN TO CONDEMNATION…”

“…by one man’s disobedience MANY WERE MADE SINNERS…”

“…SIN HATH REIGNED UNTO DEATH…” (Vs. 18, 19, 21)

“Condemnation,” “death,” “made sinners” – that’s what we receive from Adam.  We are born with the same nature and destiny that Adam possessed after his fall.

Every grave marker in every cemetery is a testimony that God’s Word is true.  Because all of us have sinned, death works in us all.  “Death reigns” as king over the old creation.  And this is more than simply physical death, for Rev. 21:8 declares:

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall HAVE THEIR PART IN THE LAKE WHICH BURNETH WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE: WHICH IS THE SECOND DEATH.”

Adam’s legacy is that in our very nature we are sinners.  We sin because we are sinners – it’s our nature to do so.  Sin reigns – it is our master; we are its slave.  The testimony of Scripture is clear: We are “the servants of sin.” (Rom. 6:17, 20)   In John 8:34, Jesus Christ declares:

“…Verily, verily, I say unto you, WHOSOEVER COMMITTETH SIN IS THE SERVANT OF SIN.”

Sin has come and gripped us so tightly that it runs all of the old creation.  Selfishness, anger, lying, self-centeredness, lust, stealing, malice, bitterness, greed, evil thoughts, pride-make your own list.  The Bible calls it sin and it so dominates the old creation that these things are thought of as normal human behavior.  People do them all the time.  We don’t think anything of it because “that’s the way people are.”

Exactly: Sin runs the old creation – it’s the boss and no one escapes.  In Adam, we inherit condemnation, death and a sin nature which can only bring forth evil.  This is our identity in Adam; it is who we are in the old creation.

 

THE NEW CREATURE

The “new creature” is a uniquely Pauline term[1] and is the counterpart of the old creation.[2]   Corporately it is the “one new man” of Eph. 2:13-15, the Body of Christ.  But this corporate, dispensational usage has its corresponding impact on each individual believer.  The context of 2 Cor. 5:17 is clearly dispensational – our commission as “Ambassadors for Christ.”  Thus, Paul’s emphasis on our individual participation in this grand task is all the more important: “…if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.[3]

In the old creation, we were identified with Adam… his life, his way of thinking and acting, his independent attitudes.  Adam was all and in all.  When we come into the new creation, “Christ is all, and in all.” (Col. 3:11)  Christ is now our life.  (Col. 3:4)  He is our mind (Phil. 2:5) and our walk.  (Eph. 5:2) It is Christ who is being formed in us. (Gal. 4:19)  We have “put on Christ…,” (Gal. 3:27) …His actions, His attitude, His way of thinking.  We have a whole new way of life in Christ:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH IN ME: AND THE LIFE WHICH I NOW LIVE IN THE FLESH I LIVE BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  (Gal. 2:20)

In place of Adam’s condemnation, we have Christ’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21); in place of Adam’s death, we receive Christ’s life, (Rom. 6:23) and in exchange for Adam’s slavery to sin we have glorious freedom in Christ.  (Rom. 6:6, 7)

Romans 6:3, 4 declares:

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?”

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

In Christ we are now empowered to “walk in newness of life.”  The “old things” – condemnation, death, slavery to sin-have passed away and now we have righteousness, life and freedom in Christ.

It is absolutely essential that we recognize our new identity in Christ, that we understand who God has made us in Christ.  It is only as we recognize this glorious fact that our behavior can be changed.

We can never hope to “live the Christian life.”  It is an impossible task.  Only Jesus Christ can live it. Hence, Paul’s emphasis on “Christ in you.”  The life of Christ has been placed in us so that it can live through us.  We do not simply need a change in our behavior; we need a totally new identity.  And this is exactly what we have in Christ.

As we learn to look at ourselves and our circumstances from God’s perspective, we find the secret of Rom. 12:2,

“…Be not conformed to this world: but BE YE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND….”

The key to “transformed” behavior is “the renewing of your mind” – developing a totally new mind-set, a new preoccupation.  Our behavior changes as we replace the old, inferior, worthless way of thinking with a new way of thinking… thinking like God thinks.  This is the key to living as a new creature, to having the power of the living God working inside us.

 

LEARNING TO FLY

This transformation is illustrated, however imperfectly, by the story of the caterpillar who wanted to fly.  In many ways, Mr. Caterpillar was much like us.  Caterpillars are all legs and mouth!  They spend their whole life crawling around destroying vegetation and fruit.  But they can’t fly!

Mr. C., however, longed to fly.  In fact, he tried repeatedly to do so using every idea and suggestion he could come up with to accomplish his goal.

First, he climbed to the top of his favorite plant, confidently walked out to the end of a twig and jumped, believing with all his heart he could do it!  To his chagrin, he plunged swiftly to the ground landing with a sound “splat”!

Following an extended period of convalescence and recovery, Mr. C. again set out to accomplish his goal.  This time he had had several months to further analyze things.  Realizing he must do something to escape the law of gravity, he began researching ideas.  Upon reading about hang gliding, he ordered a hang glider kit.

After packing the kit to the top of his plant, he assembled his little hang glider, strapped him self into its harness and again walked to the end of the twig.  Facing the glider into the wind at just the right angle, Mr. C. again stepped off the end of the twig.

For one exciting moment he was thrilled as an updraft actually lifted him up a bit.  However, it was soon obvious that his direction was once again earthward.  Down, down he went as he mulled over his problem, “The law of gravity gets me every time!”

Making something less than a “soft” landing caused a crowd to gather.  One onlooker, hearing Mr. C.’s complaint about the persistence of the law of gravity, stepped forward to say, “I know what you need – a gasoline engine!  It works every time.”

After gathering all the necessary equipment, up he went again to the top of the plant.  He fashioned a set of wings out of a large leaf, strapped on the engine, started it and zap!… off he went in a dizzying, uncontrollable spin.  Although the ride was exhilarating, its ultimate direction was the same as all the others.  Long before the gas had run out, Mr. C. crashed unceremoniously into the side of a tree and sank sadly to the ground.  Failure seemed to be his lot.

As he sought to pick up the pieces, a stranger approached to see if he could help.  After learning of Mr. C.’s various exploits the stranger said, “Your problem is simple:  If you want to fly, you’ve got to become a new creature!”

“You can’t,” came the reply. “But a miracle can happen in your life and you can be created brand new!”
A bit shaken by such an idea, Mr. C. responded, “A new creature?  But how can I possibly do that!”

We interrupt our story for a moment to say that we are in just the same situation:  Born as members of an old creation, we can’t fly.  We are unable to escape “the law of sin and death.”  Try as hard as we may, give it all we’ve got, be as innovative as possible and we are still bound by sin’s slavery.

What do we need?  We need to become new creatures… to get out of Adam and into the Lord Jesus Christ.  No one can do that by himself.  It is a miracle only God can perform.

Going back to Mr. Caterpillar: one day he climbs out on that same twig and begins to build a little house called a chrysalis.  Then he crawls inside, shuts the door and goes to sleep… and a miracle happens!

We can’t see anything from the outside for several weeks but then one day the cocoon begins to move.  Soon it cracks open and out comes, not a caterpillar, but a brand new creature: a miracle has happened and a beautiful butterfly emerges.

Now, remember, the same creature comes out of the cocoon but it is completely different.  The caterpillar only crawls, spending its life chewing up plants and ruining fruit.  The butterfly flies, sipping the nectar from the flower and pollinating them so that there will be more fruit.

And this is just how we are.  In Adam we were fruit wreckers – spiritually dead toward God and bound in sin.  One day we came to trust in Christ.  Understanding from God’s Word that He loved us and sent His Son to die for our sins, we stopped trying to save ourselves and simply trusted what He had done for us at Calvary for our forgiveness and salvation.

Thus all our sins were forgiven, God counted us righteous before Him and He gave us the gift of eternal life, making us alive in Christ.  At that moment, when we trusted in Christ, we became new creatures.  The old condemnation, death and slavery were exchanged for righteousness, life and freedom in Christ.

All this happened when we trusted Christ.  We didn’t feel it, see it or sense it, but it happened.  It is a real spiritual blessing that becomes ours in that moment.  Now we need to learn to live like the new creature we are in Christ.

Let’s return to Mr. C.  He’s there on that twig again, but now he’s a beautiful butterfly.  He’s the same guy, but he’s different.  He is a butterfly.  Now he has to learn to think and act like a butterfly.

As he considers the change in his life, our friend is a bit unsure how to proceed.  “This is all new to me.  How do I do this?  I really want to fly.  I think I know how.  I’ve certainly tried hard enough in the past.”  Thus he walks out to the end of his twig and jumps.  To his disappointment and horror, he again plummets straight to the ground.

“I just don’t understand it!  The law of gravity still holds on to me.  I’ve got to try harder.  I know what to do – my hand glider!”

So he gets the hand glider, carries it to the top of the plant and once again laboriously puts it together, preparing to sail away into the sky.  As he steps off the twig, however, his experience tells him what his heart feared all along… it just wasn’t working.  Down he again goes.  Nothing seemed to work – the law of gravity still held him fast no matter how he tried to free himself.

Once again he sat in despair.  What was wrong?  Once again he racked his brain for an answer.  “I’ve got it!  The gas engine!  That’s what I need; more power!”

But the results were still the same.  The added power only made things worse, making the crash more devastating than ever.

As he sat amid the latest wreckage, dejected, defeated and tired-to-the-bone from trying to fly and failing, his mind kept questioning.  “What’s the matter with me?  I thought I was a new creature – a butterfly.  Butterflies are supposed to be able to fly, but everything I try fails.  It’s simply impossible for me to fly!  The law of gravity is too much for me.”

After awhile that same stranger came by and asked what has our butterfly so down in the dumps?  As he pours out his frustrations, the stranger begins to chuckle.  “Why, you’re not a caterpillar – you are a butterfly!  God has given you something brand new in your life: Look on your back!  Those are wings. You are made for flying!”

“But what about the law of gravity?” Mr. B. asks sarcastically.  “Look! See how your wings are shaped?   They are designed in a special way so, when the air passes over their top, a vacuum is created and it sucks you up into the sky.  Gravity still works but the new wings God has given you have a new law, the law of aerodynamic lift and it overcomes the law of gravity.  Try it!”

“Well,” hesitates Mr. B., “I’ve never done this before.  I know all about the law of gravity, but I’ll trust the law of aerodynamics to overcome it.”

Out on the twig he goes.  This time he simply spreads his wings and flaps them naturally in the breeze. Suddenly his feet leave the ground and he is flying!  What has happened?  Mr. B. has quit thinking like a caterpillar and has begun thinking like the butterfly he really is.

Christian friend, so long as we continue thinking like an old creature counting on our old ways, our human strength and ingenuity, as long as we put our “confidence in the flesh,” we too are destined to fail. “The law of sin and death” will hold us fast.

It is when we begin to think like the new creature we are in Christ that we begin to fly.  Mr. Butterfly could not fly thinking like a caterpillar.  He had to learn to be who he was – a new creature.  So it is with us.  We have to learn to think like the new creature we are in Christ.  Then Rom. 8:2 will be a reality in the details of our life:

“For THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HATH MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.”

Like the law of gravity, “the law of sin and death” drags us down no matter how we struggle against it. It is only “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” that sets us free so we do not have to crash, be pulled down and sin anymore.  It sets us free from our old habits, our old ways so we can walk in newness of life.  What ever we may be struggling with, the answer is the same: Christ living in us.  It is only through this totally exchanged life that we can begin to see the change in life we desire.

The Lord Jesus Christ by His Spirit has come to live in us to enable us to walk in newness of life in our homes, our marriages, with our children, on the job, at church, when we are all by ourselves – in every situation.  And just how high can we fly?  Rom. 6:11- 13 gives us an idea:

“Likewise RECKON YE ALSO YOURSELVES TO BE DEAD INDEED UNTO SIN, BUT ALIVE UNTO GOD through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

“LET NOT SIN THEREFORE REIGN IN YOUR MORTAL BODY, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but YIELD YOURSELVES UNTO GOD, AS THOSE THAT ARE ALIVE FROM THE DEAD, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

 ####

[1] Compare the term new birth. Paul does not connect it with his teachings concerning the Body of Christ.  It suffices as a figure for the change necessary for the sons of Israel, fitting them for the earthly Kingdom.  For us, far more is needed.  Like Adam, we are not a mere renewal in kind but an entirely new creature.  See the editor’s article, Do You Really Need to be Born Again?

[2] “Creature” and “creation” are, of course, basically the same.  The distinction – and hence the use of creature in verses like 2 Cor. 5:17 is that creature refers to a living creation.

[3] For those who object to the italicized words in this verse in the KJV, we point out that the fact they are there is a demonstration that they are necessary to properly express the sense of the verse in English.  They are legitimate, correct and necessary.

17 Jul
0

2015 Summer Family Bible Conference

Our summer conference is officially in the books!!

 

It was a wonderful time of fellowship and bible study. It is a great joy to hear men from all over the country preach the Word of God rightly divided and to get away from the world and all of its distractions. Below you will find both the video and audio for all of the sessions. Take time to listen to them and learn more about “The Great Mystery.”

“The Great Mystery”

Saturday July 11th:

7:00 PM God’s Great Mystery David Reid Watch Now

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Sunday July 12th:

9:00 AM It Requires a Bible You Can Trust Perry Lemmons Watch Now

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10:00 AM It Provides a Gospel You Can Believe Fred Bekemeyer Watch Now

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11:00 AM It Presents a Study You Can Understand Ted Fellows Watch Now

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3:00 PM The Bride of Christ Charlie McQuillan Watch Now

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7:00 PM This Is What It’s All About Richard Jordan Watch Now

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Monday July 13th:

9:00 AM Ungodliness Edward Yarber Watch Now  

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10:00 AM Justification Leroy Reid Watch Now

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11:00 AM Grace Thru Faith Russ Hargett Watch Now

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7:00 PM This Is When It Was Revealed Alex Kurz Watch Now

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Tuesday July 14th:

9:00 AM Assurance Ray Keable Watch Now

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10:00 AM Identification Rodney Beaulieu Watch Now

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11:00 AM Inheritance Bryan Ross Watch Now

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7:00 PM This is Why It Is Opposed Desmond Strydom Watch Now

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Wednesday July 15th:

9:00 AM Redemption Carl Hayes Watch Now  

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10:00 AM Reconciliation Matt Walker Watch Now  

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11:00 AM Reigning Morris Chesnut Watch Now  

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7:00 PM This Is Its Future John Verstegen Watch Now

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Thursday July 16th:

9:00 AM Sanctification Arthur Johnson Watch Now

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10:00 AM Liberation Matt Hawely Watch Now

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11:00 AM Glorification Steve Ross Watch Now

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7:00 PM This Is How To Make It Known Tom Bruscha Watch Now

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 Seminars: 4 pm Monday & Tuesday

Forgiveness: When and For How Long? Ken Scharf Watch Now

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The Modern Bible Babel Kinney Beisel Watch Now

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Gospel Clarity and Expectations Ron Thomson Watch Now

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Why Prayer Will Not Save You Paul Parisi Watch Now

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Bible
25 Apr
0

Is Your Bible the Right One?

Is Your Bible the Right One?

“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God…” –II Cor. 2:17

BY RICHARD JORDAN

For over 350 year the Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Bible, was used by the Body of Christ at large and confidently believed to be the Word of God.  In the last 3 or 4 decades all this has changed.

Now we are faced with a variable Babel of confusion over the various Bible translations continuously being introduced on to the market.  There is a serious question which must be faced:  Are these modern versions really reliable—are they really versions or, as many have come to claim, perversions of the Word of God?

Our examination of this important subject will by no means be exhaustive, given the space available to us here, but we hope to give the reader enough information that as an informed believer you can make a sound decision as to which Bible is reliable and which version is not.

A bit of background to begin with:  In 1881 there was introduced into public circulation a new Bible text.  It came through the work of the Revision Committee which produced the (English) Revised Version, 1881, and the American Standard Version, 1901.

This new Greek text developed by the Revision Committee, under the leadership and pressure of Westcott and Hort, is the basis of modern translations.  It has been used to replace the Received Text of the KJV and its predecessors.  There is, however, a growing awareness that this new Greek text is not reliable—and more and more are returning, as we have, to the KJV.

As we compare verses, we will see why this is true.  We have objective evidence as the reliability of the KJV as opposed to the new bible version—overwhelming evidence that new versions are not simply better translations.  Nor are they simply revisions of the KJV.  Rather they are new and different Bible-texts which often question, discredit and water down important and vital truths basic to the Christian faith (cf. Gen. 3:1).

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE

Let’s start by understanding that there is a great deal of difference between the KJV and the modern versions.  This difference is not simply a translation difference.  It is in fact a basic textual difference:  they are translations of two different lines of Greek texts.  A few examples must suffice:

In Matt. 1:25 the words “her firstborn son” are consistently omitted by modern versions.

In Matt. 6:13 the ending of “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen” is omitted.  This explains why the Protestant version of this prayer is lengthier than the Roman Catholic rendition.  The KJV is the text of the Protestant Reformation while the new versions embrace the Roman reading.

Verses such as Matt. 17:21 and 23:14 are omitted entirely, while in Matt. 24:36 the “nor the Son” are added.

There are literally hundreds of these type textual alterations which have nothing to do with translation.  They come because of the difference in what is being translated—the Greek texts being used are substantially different.  And the difference is by no means insignificant.

In modern versions numerous verses have been changed in such a way as to affect truths basic to the Christian faith. While many are quite subtle, they nonetheless provide the type of objective evidence which convicts these new versions of perverting God’s Word.  Again, space allows only a few examples:

In John 1:27 the words “is preferred before me” are omitted, so that John is made to say only that Christ came after him.  In John 6:47 “he that believeth on me hath everlasting life” is changed to read: “he who believes has everlasting life” (NIV).1  The words “on me” are left out.

John 6:65, 14:12 and 16:10 have Christ calling to God “the Father” instead of “my father,” as in KJV.  In Rev. 1:11 the phrase “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last,” referring to Christ—and an obvious proof that Jesus Christ is the Jehovah of Isa. 44:6—is omitted.  Other titles of Christ which indicate His deity are regularly omitted or altered in such a way as to not connote deity (e.g., Matt. 27:54, John 9:35, I Cor. 15:47; 16:22, Rom. 9:5; 14:10, Col. 1:2, II Tim. 4:22, etc.).

Other vital truths are also affected.  For example, in I Cor. 5:7 the words “for us” are omitted, affecting the doctrine of the vicarious death of Christ by suggesting merely that He was sacrificed and did die, but not necessarily “for us” (see also I Pet. 4:1).  It isn’t surprising that Heb. 1:3 omits the words “by Himself” from the phrase:  “When He had by Himself purged our sins.”  There is also Col. 1:14 where the clause “through His blood” is omitted, casting doubt on the necessity of the shedding of Christ’s blood for redemption.

Then there is Luke 2:33 where the words “Joseph and his mother” are changed to read:  “The child’s father and mother” (NIV), implying that Christ was not virgin-born.  Not even a note of explanation is given.  Surely the evidence for such an important change should have been offered.

In Luke 24:51 the words “And carried up into heaven,” referring to our Lord’s ascension, are omitted.  In John 16:16 the words “because I go to the Father” are omitted.

By now it should be obvious that the new versions are not simply “better translations” or a revision of KJV.  Rather they are new and different Bible-texts.  Nor is it true that they contain only minor changes which do not affect basic meanings.

The great number of passages (we have given only examples) altered or omitted so as to water down or attack the very truths the Bible teaches, especially where the person and work of Christ are concerned, is clear evidence that modern versions are dangerous to spiritual health.

SERIOUS QUESTIONS

Because of the subtle nature of the deception used to corrupt God’s Words, we want to offer three examples of the absolute devastation caused by these new versions.  The complacent nature of the current thinking in regard to these issues has caused some to pass off as only a minor irritant the numerous passages which are altered so as to eliminate or dilute statements on the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the vicarious atonement, etc.  Because of this, and the emotional allegiance often attached to those recommending the modern versions, we ask our readers to consider the impact of these three passages on their faith.  These three passages are irrefutable, objective evidence that modern versions are unsafe.

Matt: 5:22:  Often it is difficult to grasp the impact of what seems to be an innocent omission.  Here is a verse where this syndrome is demonstrated to be a subtle trap leading to spiritual destruction.  In KJV the verse reads,

 “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”

The NIV renders the verse thus:

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin.  But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

Did you catch the omission?  The phrase “without a cause” is omitted from the statement “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”  This does not seem to be too very consequential at first glance.  But for a Bible student who is serious about believing and honoring the Word of God, this verse is devastating.

If the reader is diligent it will not be long before he comes upon Mark 3:5, where we are told about our Lord,

“And when he had LOOKED ROUND ABOUT ON THEM WITH ANGER, BEING GRIEVED FOR THE HARDNESS OF THEIR HEARTS…”

The problem is obvious:  If the NIV reading is to stand, our Lord is condemned by His own words.

This is no small matter!  By this seemingly unimportant omission in Matt. 5:22 the modern versions have destroyed the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus Christ and established Him as a sinner, condemned for failure to live by His own declaration.

Mark 1:2:  This verse brings up the dementia associated with the use of modern versions.  The following change is so amazing that we doubt anyone would believe it if the record was not clear.  In KJV the verse reads,

“As IT IS WRITTEN IN THE PROPHETS, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.”

The NIV rendering is consistent with other modern versions:

“IT IS WRITTEN IN ISAIAH THE PROPHET: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.’”

Any reference edition or center column reference will quickly establish the problem for the modern versions:  The quotation in Mark 1:2 is not from Isaiah.  It is from Mal. 3:1.  Mark 1:3 is a quote from Isa. 40:3.  Thus two prophets are being quoted, not one.  The statement in NIV (and other new versions) is simply false.

This is simply a case of the Greek text and resultant English translation being wrong.  It is a mistake, plain and simple.  No amount of sophistry can argue around it.  Notice the verse does not say, “It was spoken in Isaiah” (as in the case of Matt.27:9’s quote of Jeremiah).  No.  The quote is clearly said to have been “written in Isaiah.”

Two possibilities exist:  Either Isaiah, as we have it, is incomplete, omitting the quote (thus the Bible itself is not complete), or Mark is mistaken having given the wrong reference (which would mean that the Holy Spirit made a mistake writing the Scripture).

These two choices leave us in the unenviable position of having to adjust our understanding of Biblical infallibility.  The doctrine of infallibility will not stand the test if the reading of the new versions is accepted.

Heb. 3:16:  We add this reference because it too seems to be too impossible to be real.  Unfortunately it is all too real—and illustrative of the caliber of modern versions.  KJV renders the verse this way:

“For some, when they had heard, did provoke:  howbeit NOT ALL THAT CAME OUT OF EGYPT BY MOSES.”

The verse is changed in the NIV to read:

“Who were they who heard and rebelled?  WERE THEY NOT ALL THOSE MOSES LED OUT OF EGYPT?”

In other words, KJV says that “not all that came out of Egypt by Moses” rebelled while the NIV indicates that “all those Moses led out of Egypt” did rebel.  Any junior in Sunday School knows which of the two is right!

After 40 years of wilderness wanderings, Moses addresses Israel as she prepares to enter the promised land.  Deut. 29:2 tells us,

“And Moses called unto all Israel and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the Lord did BEFORE YOUR EYES IN THE LAND OF EGYPT UNTO PHAROAH…”  (cf. Deut. 1:30).

Obviously some of those who were in Egypt and saw with their own eyes what God had done there also entered into the promised land, having not rebelled in the wilderness.  As we said, any junior aged boy or girl could name two of them:  Joshua and Caleb!  One wonders what the translators of the NIV and other versions have been reading.

Why should we accept a Bible version that is not true—especially when we have one that is?  Why would we accept a Bible that openly denies the sinlessness of our Lord and that make the doctrine of Scriptural infallibility a falsehood?

THE BOOK WILL DEFEND ITSELF

We do not fear for God’s Word, He’ll take care of it!  We fear only for its readers.  These new versions are simply unsafe to rely on.

We trust this information will help our readers to understand this issue more clearly.  Compare the verses for yourself and you will see that we do have a reliable, dependable copy of the Word of God in our own language.  God has preserved His Word and made it available to us in our own language in an absolutely dependable form, the King James Bible.

___________________________

We are using the New International Version for comparison quotes because of its present popularity.  What is true of it, however, is consistently true of other modern versions.

 

14 Apr
0

Let’s Stop Sin

The Message of Grace #1236 – Let’s Stop Sin

praying-hands-1427667-m
14 Apr
0

The Mystery of Prayer

The Mystery of Prayer

BY RICHARD JORDAN

How clearly I can still hear those words from the lips of that dear lady!  I was attending a YMCA convention in my home town.  We had been assigned to groups of ten, with an advisor for each.  One evening as we discussed the subject of prayer, our instructor burst into a heartbroken sob and told us not to get our hopes up too high because, “it just doesn’t work like the verse says it does.”

The verse was Matt. 21:22:

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

What a heartbreak to see this dear woman—and there are thousands like her—crushed under the weight of claiming God’s Word by faith and then having it fail!  But what a joy to be able to whisper into her ear the answer—that while Matt. 21:22 is indeed God’s Word, it was not God’s Word to her.

The vast majority of believers today have great inner fears about their prayers.  They hear the exciting testimonies of “successful” prayer warriors who give illustration after illustration of personal triumphs in prayer.  They hear—and they fear.  For when they apply the offered “success formula” it only confirms what their heart feared all along—“it won’t work for me.”  Confusion and bitterness are often the result.

The basic fallacy in modern-day prayer preaching and prayer practice comes from the failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth—the claiming of prayer promises that have nothing to do with the dispensation in which we live, but belong rather to a program which God Himself has interrupted and is temporarily holding in abeyance.

The answer to the seeming mystery of prayer is the mystery revealed through the Apostle Paul.  Indeed, no one can say that prayer is a simple matter if they fail to recognize the distinctive ministry and message committed to Paul.

The prophetic program called for the blessings of God to go to the Gentiles through Israel, Abraham’s seed (Gen. 12:1-3; 22:17,18, etc.).  When our Lord appeared He took up the theme of the prophets, proclaiming to Israel, “Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17), and going “about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23;cf.9:35, etc.).  All this because, as Rom. 15:8 says,

“Jesus Christ was a minister of the Circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.”

The Twelve Apostles were trained and sent out to preach this same message (Matt. 10:1-8).  After the resurrection their ministry was enlarged (Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8), but not changed.  Still the blessings were to go to the nations through Israel, Abraham’s seed.  Thus Peter declares to them;

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”

“And He shall send Jesus Christ, who before was preached unto you:”

“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”

“Unto you first God, having raised up His son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:19, 20, 25, 26).

It is not until after the stoning of Stephen that the record gives any indication of a change in the established program.  And how things do begin to change with the salvation of Saul of Tarsus!  Our ascended Lord not only reached down and saved His chief enemy, but also made him His chosen vessel to carry a hitherto hidden message of grace to a rebellious world.  Salvation—not through Israel’s rise to Kingdom glory, but rather in spite of her rebellion, indeed, through her fall—was now to be sent to all alike (Rom. 11:11, 30-32).

The prophetic program has been set aside for a time and the unprophesied “dispensation of the grace of God” has replaced it.  Today the Kingdom program is held in abeyance—temporarily suspended—while God is forming the Body of Christ.  With this change in program, Israel and her program are set aside, replaced by the mystery committed to us through the ministry of Paul (Eph. 3:1-9).

Our ascended Lord gave to Paul—and through him to us—the very secret of His will, the “eternal purpose” kept secret from before the foundation of the world! As I Cor. 2:7 declares,

“…we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.”

What a glorious calling believers have today!  What a shame to fail to appreciate it by failing to recognize and practice our standing in grace!  Nowhere is this made clearer than where the subject of prayer is concerned.

How a recognition of the mystery affects our prayer lives—and that for the good!  Rather than trying to force the Kingdom promise in Matt. 21:22 to work today, how much better it is to practice Rom. 8:26-28,

“…for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:  but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

“And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Instead of wondering why John 14:13,14 does not “work” in our situation today, how much more blessed to apply Phil. 4:6,7!

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Instead of developing “theological gimmicks” as excuses when Mark 11:22-24 does not work for us, how much more reassuring to rest in Eph. 3:20-21!

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”

“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.”

These verses really fit today.  They are God’s Word to us—so they work for us today!

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