Thursday, June 25, 2015

What is Corporate Election? Is Predestination Biblical?

Here is an another excellent concise summary of the doctrines of conditional election and predestination from the corporate election perspective, which differs from the traditional Arminian view of individual election based on foreseen faith. <borrowed with permission from SEA Blog site and with some edits by Professor Leighton Flowers>

Both the traditional view and the corporate election view are allowed in SEA, for both conceive of election and predestination as conditional on faith in Christ. This material comes from Zondervan’s NIV Life Study Bible (now available only in the KJV under that name but still with the NIV or other translations). The description of the doctrines of election and predestination is followed by some comments quoted from the study Bible’s notes on 1 Peter 1:2 and Romans 8:29 to show how the corporate election perspective might view the place of foreknowledge in election, also quite different from the traditional Arminian view, though completely consonant with Arminian theology, figured as it is within a conditional view of election and predestination.

Election. God’s choice of those who believe in Christ is an important teaching of the apostle Paul (see Ro 8:29-33; 9:6-26; 11:5, 7, 28; Col 3:12; 1 Th 1:4; 2 Th 2:13; Tit 1:1). Election (Gk eklego) refers to God choosing in Christ a people whom he destines to be holy and blameless in his sight (cf. 2 Th 2:13). Paul sees this election as expressing God’s initiative as the God of infinite love in giving us as finite creation every spiritual blessing through the redemptive work of his Son (1:3-5). Paul’s teaching about election involves the following truths:

(1) Election is Christocentric, i.e., election of humans occurs only in union with Jesus Christ. “He chose us in him” (Eph. 1:4; see 1:1, note). Jesus himself is first of all the elect of God. Concerning Jesus, God states, “Here is my servant whom I have chosen” (Mt 12:18; cf. Isa 42:1, 6; 1 Pet 2:4). Christ, as the elect, is the foundation of our election. Only in union with Christ do we become members of the elect (Eph 1:4, 6-7, 9-10, 12-13). No one is elect apart from union with Christ through faith.

(2) Election is “in him…through his blood” (Eph 1:7). God purposed before creation (Eph. 1:4) to form a people through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross. Thus election is grounded on Christ’s sacrificial death to save us from our sins (Ac 20:28; Ro 3:24-26).

(3) Election in Christ is primarily corporate, i.e., an election of a people (Eph 1:4-5, 7, 9). The elect are called “the body of Christ” (4:12), “my church” (Mt 16:18), “a people belonging to God” (1 Pe 2:9), and the “bride” of Christ (Rev 19:7). Therefore, election is corporate and embraces individual persons only as they identify and associate themselves with the body of Christ, the true church (Eph 1:22-23; see Robert Shank, Elect in the Son, [Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers]). This was true already of Israel in the OT (see Dt 29:18-21, note; 2Ki 21:14, note; see article on God’s Covenant with the Israelites, p. 298).

(4) The election to salvation and holiness of the body of Christ is always certain…(a) God’s eternal purpose for the church is that we should “be holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4). This refers both to forgiveness of sins (1:7) and to the church’s purity as the bride of Christ. God’s elect people are being led by the Holy Spirit toward sanctification and holiness (see Ro 8:14; Gal. 5:16-25). The apostle repeatedly emphasizes this paramount purpose of God (see Eph 2:10; 3:14-19; 4:1-3, 13-24; 5:1-18). (b) Fulfillment of this purpose for the corporate church is certain: Christ will “present her to himself as a radiant church…holy and blameless” (Eph 5:27). (c) Fulfillment of this purpose for individuals in the church is conditional. Christ will present us “holy and blameless in his sight” (Eph 1:4) only if we continue in the faith. Paul states this clearly: Christ will “present you holy in his sight without blemish…if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel” (Col 1:22-23).

(5) Election to salvation in Christ is offered to all (Jn 3:16-17; 1Ti 2:4-6; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:9) but becomes actual for particular persons contingent on their repentance and faith as they accept God’s gift of salvation in Christ (Eph 2:8; 3:17; cf. Ac 20:21; Ro 1:16; 4:16). At the point of faith, the believer is incorporated into Christ’s elect body (the church) by the Holy Spirit (1 Co 12:13), thereby becoming one of the elect. Thus, there is both God’s initiative and our response in election (see Ro 8:29, note; 2 Pet 1:1-11).

Predestination. Predestination (Gk prooizo) means “to decide beforehand” and applies to God’s purposes comprehended in election. Election is God’s choice “in Christ” of a people (the true church) for himself. Predestination comprehends what will happen to God’s people (all genuine believers in Christ).

(1) God predestines his elect to be: (a) called (Rom. 8:30); (b) justified (Ro 3:24, 8:30); (c) glorified (Ro 8:30); (d) conformed to the likeness of his Son (Ro 8:29); (e) holy and blameless (Eph 1:4); (f) adopted as God’s children (1:5); (g) redeemed (1:7); (h) recipients of an inheritance (1:14); (i) for the praise of his glory (Eph 1:2; 1 Pe 2:9); (j) recipients of the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13; Gal 3:14); and (k) created to do good works (Eph 2:10).

(2) Predestination, like election, refers to the corporate body of Christ (i.e., the true spiritual church), and comprehends individuals only in association with that body through a living faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5, 7, 13; cf. Ac 2:38-41; 16:31).

Summary. Concerning election and predestination, we might use the analogy of a great ship on its way to heaven. The ship (the church) is chosen by God to be his very own vessel. Christ is the Captain and Pilot of this ship. All who desire to be a part of this elect ship and its Captain can do so through a living faith in Christ, by which they come on board the ship… Election is always only in union with the Captain and his ship. Predestination tells us about the ship’s destination and what God has prepared for those “marked in Him by faith” (Eph. 1:13). God invites everyone to come aboard the elect ship through faith in Jesus Christ. [Life in the Spirit Study Bible, pp. 1854-1855]

Life in the Spirit Study Bible note on 1 Peter 1:2 — the foreknowledge of God We are “chosen” to be God’s people according to his foreknowledge, i.e., according to God’s own comprehensive knowledge of his plan of redemption in Christ for the church, even before creation and human history began (see Rom. 8:29 note).

NOTE: No, this is not an impersonal view of election, as some opponents suggest: In fact, one could argue that it is MUCH more personal because it is a choice of an individual WITH ALL THEIR SIN IN FULL VIEW. Calvinistic election to salvation is said to take place prior to the creation of the world and without any regard to the personhood, choices, actions of the individual. What is more impersonal than that? Ask any woman if she would rather be loved by a man who chose her based on a prearrangement with her parents without regard to anything about her personally before she was born, OR a man who knew her fully, faults and all, and chose to love her anyway! Our corporate view of election is MUCH more intimate and personal than the Calvinistic theory and it does involve individuals being chosen despite many false misconceptions of this view that have been propagated by those who do not rightly understand it. <note added by Professor Flowers>

Foreknowledge is virtually a synonym of God’s sovereign and far-seeing purpose to redeem according to his eternal love. The “chosen” are the company of true believers, chosen in harmony with God’s determined plan to redeem the church by the blood of Jesus Christ through the Spirit’s sanctifying work (see article on Election and Predestination, p. 1845). All believers must participate in their election by their response of faith and by being eager to make their calling and election sure (see 2 Pe 1:5, 10, notes).

Life in the Spirit Study Bible note on Romans 8:29 — those God foreknew “Foreknew” in this verse is equivalent to “foreloved” and is used in the sense of “to set loving regard on,” “to choose to bestow love on from eternity” (cf. Ex 2:25; Ps 1:6 Hos 13:5; Mt 7:23; 1 Cor 8:3; Gal 4:9; 1 Jn 3:1).

(1) Foreknowledge means that God purposed from eternity to love and redeem the human race through Christ (5:8; Jn 3:16). The recipient of God’s foreknowledge or forelove is stated in plural and refers to the church. That is, God’s forelove is primarily for the corporate body of Christ (Eph 1:4; 2:4; 1 Jn 4:19) and includes individuals only as they identify themselves with this corporate body through abiding faith in and union with Christ (Jn 15:1-6; see article on Election and Predestination, p. 1854)

(2) The corporate body of Christ will attain to glorification (v. 30). <…>

******************End of Study Bible Quotaion************************

Another corporate interpretation of foreknowledge in relation to election beyond those mentioned by the study Bible is that it refers to the prior acknowledgment of the corporate people of God as his covenant partner (see Brian Abasciano, “Clearing Up Misconceptions about Corporate Election”, Ashland Theological Journal 41 [2009] 67-102).

At the risk of oversimplification, all these corporate views of foreknowledge in election can be boiled down to saying that in the corporate election view, election according to foreknowledge refers to election based on the prior election of Christ and the corporate people of God.

COMMON ACCUSATION: “Corporate election is impersonal.” This is a misunderstanding of this perspective: READ BLOG POST TITLED: “Corporate Election = Impersonal Election.”

Click Here for a great video on Corporate Elction.

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Edited by: Professor Leighton Flowers of

Content borrowed borrowed with permission from SEA Blog site 
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Does John 1:13 mean that man has no choice in the matter of salvation?

Many people who are of the Calvinist camp of theological interpretation believe that John 1:13 is proof that God irresistibly saves the elect without consideration of their choice in the matter. Here is how the verse reads:

"children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

If we are going to deal with verse 13 we need to take a look at the context beginning primarily with verse 12. In John 1:12 it says "to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." Receiving the word of Christ is a choice, it's the act of faith that leads to being a child of God (see also Romans 10:17).  In verse 13 when John says "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," we have to look at it in light of the preceding verse, which clearly says men must make a choice to receive Him. Nonetheless, let's unpack verse 13 in a bit more detail.  

1. Born, not of blood- means not a natural birth but spiritual.
2. Nor the will of the flesh- means not because of sexual desire that leads to pregnancy.
3. Nor the will of man- not because of someones desire to have a child.

John is drawing a parallel between natural childbirth and spiritual rebirth.

Natural childbirth is:
-Born of blood
-Conceived through the will of the flesh (sexual desire)
-Initiated due to the will of a married couple

Spiritual childbirth is:
-Born of the Spirit
-Conceived through the will of God to save men.
-And initiated in God seeking to save the lost, not the lost having the ability to seek Him.

So even though men must "receive Him to become children of God (v. 12)" the process originates and is initiated by God not men (v.13). This is perfectly consistent with the non-Calvinist doctrine of prevenient grace, which teaches that God draws all men to Himself through Christ but they retain the ability to resist Him if they choose. However, since Calvinists deny that men have any say in the matter of our salvation they cannot reconcile their systemic with the clear point the John makes regarding man's responsibility to receive Him personally.

Therefore, we must conclude that when taking the verse's context into consideration John 1:13 means that God is the One who initiates, enables, and completes our salvation but we must comply (by grace) with His initial drawing in order to become His children. This interpretation is able to remain consistent with the entirety of the text while the Calvinist position must ultimately deny that man in fact is responsible to personally receive Christ to become a Child of God. For more information on "is Calvinism Biblical" Click here.

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Do we sleep when we die?

A perplexing Biblical question has been long debated in the world of Christianity. The idea of being able to transfer into the Presence of the Lord immediately upon death (2 Corithians 5:8) has been a thought of comfort and joy for many, at the same time the thought of entering into a state of unconsciousness that will compare to a night’s sleep awaking into the resurrection has long garnered much support from evangelicals, and it seems to have supporting scripture as well. I must admit, I would probably rather enter into Heaven immediately upon death, but the final say in the matter must be what God says to us about it in His word. I often wonder if our yearning for God as believers has caused us automatically snuggle up to this idea of existing spiritually and departing to Heaven upon death, has this desire kept us from objectively looking at the scriptures that seems to support soul sleep? In this blog I intend to evaluate this idea to find out what a good answer may be.

I recently observed two Christian friends converse on this very topic. One of them supported the notion that the righteous will go to a place of comfort or to God upon their death and the other argued that they will "soul sleep" and then "wake up" at the resurrection. The passage about Samuel being conjured up through a medium (1 Samuel 28) was brought up as proof for the idea that Samuel's spirit has went to a place of comfort or to God after his physical death. If this story genuinely describes this event as an appearance of the actual spirit of Samuel, it would be good evidence against "soul sleep" for the righteous dead. Lets take a look at the passage.

At the beginning of the chapter (1 Samuel 28) we see the Philistine army organizing it's troops for battle against Israel who was at that time under the kingship of Saul. Leading into the story of Saul consulting Samuel through the medium the Bible makes a very interesting statement (v. 3 NLT) "And Saul had banned from the land of Israel all mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead." At first glance, it would seem that the Bible is indicating that mediums can truly "consult the spirits of the dead" but a closer look at the Hebrew reveals that the word hā-’ō-ḇō-wṯ (ob) really only means "medium" or "necromancer." Based on this, I would say that the NLT translators took great liberty in translating this particular verse to say "those who consult the spirits of the dead" when the majority of other English translations translate the word correctly as "medium." It is well known that mediums, sorcerers, wizards, and etc. produce counterfeit magic in order to deceive their audiences for financial gain so we must realize that we cannot base our conclusions about life after death on what we observe in the activities of sorcery and the like, but rather the clear teachings of God's Word.

As we move further on in the chapter we come across another very interesting element, (v.6-7 ESV) "And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.” Here we see Saul in distress regarding the approaching conflict between Israel and the Philistines, he decides to seek God through the Biblical guidelines of prayer, priests, and prophets, but he received absolutely no answer. In his fear and frustration Saul decides to go against not only God's law but also his own law by attempting to get an answer through a medium at Endor. This brings up the obvious question of "would God speak to somebody through a medium?" Based on the fact that God wouldn't go against His own word I believe the apparent answer is no, absolutely not. But as the story continues this question seemingly becomes more and more complicated to answer, and rightfully so.

So Saul decides to consult the medium in order to calm his fear and possibly receive some guidance regarding the coming conflict with the Philistines. The medium asks Saul (who was disguised) who he would like for her to conjure up and he tells her to bring up Samuel's spirit. At this another interesting event takes place, (v. 12 ESV) "When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” An immediate question that one would have is "why did she scream if it was merely a fake image of Samuel being impersonated by a demon?" Well, there are a couple things that come to mind at this question. 1. It was really Samuel's spirit and she was used to bringing up impersonating spirits so it surprised her (the most likely). 2. It was Samuel's spirit and she was afraid he may curse her (less likely). 3. It wasn't Samuel's spirit but rather a demon impersonating Samuel and she was putting on a act to try and convince Saul that is was Samuel (least likely). The reason I would say that option number 3 is the least likely is for a couple of different reasons that we will cover next. One might say "I thought you said that God would not go against His word and speak to Saul through a medium," and I would answer, "you're right." Apparently the medium knew she did not have the power to truly consult spirits of the dead (she was surprised that Samuel appeared), I would suggest that God was actually the one who brought up Samuel to speak to Saul and because of this the medium knew that it wasn't a normal session, and she was terrified. You will notice at the end of the chapter that she didn't charge Saul for his visit but rather paid him with a fattened calf and some unleavened bread. If she was taking responsibility for bringing up Samuel's spirit then I would've expected her to have responded a bit differently.

Now, after Samuel appeared we see a couple of interesting things at work. Right off the bat we notice that the Bible actually calls him Samuel and not "an impersonation of Samuel." We also see Samuel give Saul an accurate prediction that not only would he die the next day, but his sons would die as well, and it happened. One could argue that fortunetellers will often inflict "self-fulfilling prophecies" on people that occur because of a play on psychology and that this is what happened to Saul. But I would ask how did Samuel predict that Saul’s sons would die to? There is nothing in the passage indicating that Saul's sons were with him to be inflicted by a "self-fulfilling prophecy" given by an impersonation of Samuel. Here are a few indicators that this was truly Samuel. (v. 12) "When the woman saw Samuel." (V. 14) "And Saul knew it was Samuel." (V. 15) "Then Samuel said to Saul." (V. 16) "And Samuel said." So we see four instances in which the Bible could have framed this as an impersonation of Samuel but it bluntly states that it was Samuel.

One of the main objections that are made against the idea of the righteous existing in spirit form after death is from Ecclesiastes 9:5-6- "For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun."
 In some interpretations of this passage one would conclude that at the time of death people enter into a state of nonexistence where they "know nothing" until the time of the resurrection (soul sleep). But in context to Solomon's angle in this passage, where the theme is dominantly set on "life apart from God is meaningless," it is quite possible that Solomon is speaking of the unrighteous dead. Another interpretation is that Solomon is speaking of how the dead cannot continue to build knowledge and obtain earthly rewards after they are dead, yet their spirit still exists as seen in 1 Samuel 28. And still you have the "soul sleep" interpretation that assumes 1 Samuel 28 is an impersonation of Samuel, which is possible but I believe it's unlikely. One alternative that advocates of soul sleep may be able to endeavor in regards to reconciling this with 1 Samuel 28 is that Samuel was "soul sleeping" and God allowed him to come awake temporarily to prophesy to Saul.

One more major Bible verse that I see brought up in reference to this topic is Luke 24:43-"Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." Advocates of "soul sleep" will often assert that the comma should be placed as follows "Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise." There are other places in scripture that the comma has been persuasively argued to have been misplaced. An example would be Isaiah 59:19-"When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him." In this scripture Greek scholars have argued we actually see that the comma would be better placed "When the enemy shall come in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him," and I would agree. But when it comes to Luke 24:43 I would not argue that the comma was in the wrong place. Jesus would not have had to tell the thief on the cross "truly I tell you today" the thief  knew it was happening right then and there. The flow of the sentence actually works more properly with Jesus indicating that they would both die that day and they would both be in paradise immediately afterward. So again we see good evidence that the righteous will exist in spirit form after death.

At the end of the day, whether you believe the righteous will exist in spirit form immediately after death or that people will soul sleep until the resurrection is a secondary issue. For me, the fact that I will eventually be spending eternity with my Lord is what the main focus should be, and both views incorporate this truth. I will provide a link to more resources on each view below for further study. I will also plan to make another blog on this topic if the Lord leads me to do so.

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

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Against Soul Sleep:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Does God hate me when I sin?

The feeling of condemnation one can experience when they sin can be overwhelming, and at times destructive. I can relate to the sick feeling of grief that is felt in your spirit when you have given into a temptation and afterward you feel like you have been taken for a ride by the devil. Sometimes you really did sin, other times you feel a sense of aggravated conscience over breaking man made rules and regulations. It is important do be aware of what God actually considers sin before allowing yourself to feel condemned for breaking man made and societal rules of morality.

For example, a person may attempt to heap condemnation upon you for expressing disagreement with something like gay marriage. In our society expressing disagreement with such a concept has been considered what amounts to a "societal sin" by those who defy God's word in the matter. They will often call you bigoted, hateful, against human rights, a religious zealot, and etc. But this does not mean that expressing such a disagreement was a sin in God's eyes. God holds the same view regarding gay marriage, He disagrees with it. Not only does He disagree with it, He defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. Going further into this is beyond the scope of this article but my point is that there are many "societal rules" that are not "Biblical rules" and we should not feel bad if we step on some people's toes by agreeing with the Word of God. We must always remember to use a loving attitude and wisdom when discussing delicate topics with unbelievers. I am in no way encouraging the deranged methods used by groups like Westboro Baptist church who claim that God actually hates sinners (which is not what Jesus teaches), I am simply encouraging people to not compromise their belief in God's word due to societal pressure.

On the other hand  we have instances in which we actually do sin against God by giving into temptation. This is when our flesh or demonic spirits tempt us into disobeying God and succeed. Afterward we feel dirty, confused, regretful, and some times a sense of hopelessness and depression. It can seem as if God hates us when we sin. The truth of the matter is that God hates when we give into sin because it harms our spiritual well being, but He love us with an EVERLASTING love. In reality, God hates when we sin BECAUSE He loves us! This is comparable to how if you had a child that kept throwing himself on the ground and hurting himself you would hate what they are doing, but that doesn't mean that you hate your child though.

This is a good analogy to go with when it comes how to respond when we give into temptation and we are feeling defeated afterward. If your child kept throwing himself on the ground and hurting himself, the first thing any loving parent would do is say, "stop doing that, I don't like when you do that." This is what God initially does when we sin, the Holy Spirit is grieved and a feeling of sickness and guilt begins nagging at us deep in our heart. The next thing any loving parent would do is pick their injured child up and tend to their wounds. In the same way God will heal us and cleanse us as we confess our sin to Him (see 1 John 1:9). But if we resist the voice of our conscience calling us to repent it can eventually be drowned out, and this can lead to more and more despair. We should be quick to repent when we sin, otherwise we set ourselves up for a BIG fall. The next thing a loving parent would do is take a moment to talk with their child and explain why they shouldn't throw themselves on the ground. This is where we need to let God counsel us through His word, His word is food for our spirit man, it strengthens us to resist temptation and grow in our walk with Christ. And the last thing a loving parent would do is give their child a hug and remind them that they love them more than anything. When we confess our sin and listen to the voice of God's word, God pours out His tremendous love upon us reminding us of how great He truly is and how deep His love for us really goes!

I'm writing this post because just like everybody else in the world, I sin. And when I sin I need my Daddy God to chasten me, pick me up, heal me, counsel me, and love me. As a Pastor it is much more difficult to avoid the trap of beating myself up over and over when I sin. But I am thankful that even though God calls me to lead by example in making good decisions, He also calls me to lead by example when I make bad decisions. I cannot teach others to not beat themselves up over and over when they sin if I do that very thing when I sin! So what I have learned is that God wants me especially to set the example of RUNNING to Him when I sin. He will deal with our sin better than we ever could, but we have to come to Him, He invites us to with love in His eyes! I pray that God will empower all of us to cling to Him when we slip, knowing that His power is the only power that has defeated sin, death, the devil, and hell, He is faithful!!! Please share this post so that others may be encouraged to keeping fighting the good fight of faith when they stumble, God bless!

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Is The Bible Reliable?

Over the past 2,000 years the Bible has been the most scrutinized ancient text out of every written work in the history of man. To this very day nobody has uncovered evidence that disproves it's accuracy, validity, or authority. Skeptics and scoffers have always existed, and the Bible has remained trustworthy despite the numerous attempts throughout history to discredit it.

Isaiah 40:8- "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

"The Logical Argument for the Inspiration of Scripture:

Charles Wesley, a famous hymn writer and theologian from the 1700's proposed this logical argument supporting the inspiration of Scripture.

The Bible must have come from 1 of 3 different sources:

1. Good men
2. Bad men
3. God

 The Bible could not have come from good men because they would be considered liars by claiming the Bible was written by God, when they themselves knew it was invented by them.

The Bible could not have come from bad men because they would be inclined to make a book that allows them to do bad, not a book that commands them to do good, forbids all sin, and banishes the wicked to hell for doing bad things. 

Therefore the Bible was inspired by God. Only God would create a book which claims to be written by God, commands all men to do good,  forbids all sin, and banishes the wicked to hell. It makes no logical sense for either good or bad men to create such a book.

Further affirmation: Fulfilled Prophecy, Archaeological Support, and Historical Evidence:

1. Fulfilled Prophecy:

A Biblical researcher named Hugh Ross wrote that he counted around 2500 total prophecies in the Bible of which 2000 of them have been fulfilled to the tee. The remaining 500 are all interconnected and could be fulfilled within a very brief period of time. Some of the major fulfilled prophecies include:

-The Prophecies of Babylon, Nineveh, Tyre and Edom
-Babylon Will Rule Over Judah for 70 Years
-Babylon's Gates Will Open for Cyrus
-Babylon's Kingdom Will Be Permanently Overthrown
-Babylon Will Be Reduced to Swampland
-The Jews Will Survive Babylonian Rule and Return Home
-The Ninevites Will Be Drunk in Their Final Hours
-Nineveh Will Be Destroyed By Fire
-Tyre Will Be Attacked By Many Nations
-Tyre's Stones, Timber and Soil Will Be Cast Into the Sea
-The Jews Will Avenge the Edomites
-Edom Will Be Toppled and Humbled

Isaiah 43:5-6 and Zechariah 8:7-8 are two primary prophecies that were fulfilled in 1948 when Israel became a nation once again. No other nation in the world has been disbanded and reunited as Israel was, especially fulfilling a prediction made over 2,000 years ago.

353 Biblical prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, these include:

-21 in Genesis
-10 in Exodus
-7 in Leviticus
-3 in Numbers
-5 in Deuteronomy
-1 in Joshua
-1 in Ruth
-2 in 1 Samuel
-4 in 2 Samuel
-1 in in 2 Kings
-3 in 1 Chronicles
-2 in Job
-102 in Psalms
-2 in Proverbs
-1 in Song of Songs
-125 in Isaiah
-5 in Jeremiah
-2 in Ezekiel
-12 in Daniel
-2 in Hosea
-1 in Joel
-1 in Jonah
-3 in Micah
-2 in Haggai
-29 in Zechariah
-6 in Malachi

Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the probability of one man fulfilling just 8 of the major prophecies made concerning the Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes representing some 600 university students.

The calculations came out to be 1 in 1017. That's chances of 1 in 100 quadrillion! Stoner explains that those odds are comparable to filling the state of Texas with silver dollars 2 feet deep, taking a silver dollar with an X mark on it and randomly dropping it somewhere in the state. Then you would blindfold yourself and randomly reach into the pile and grab the exact same coin. This what statisticians call "operationally impossible." And that is only using 8 of the 353 prophecies regarding Jesus!

2. Archaeological Support:

When an Ancient book makes certain claims about certain historical locations, and evidence from Archaeology confirms the claims made in that book, it serves to support the books overall reliability. The Bible has been confirmed to be reliable in many different ways regarding archaeology, here are a few:

Support #1:
Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts, has been proven accurate by archaeology in regards to 32 references to countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands. That's 95 different references, all of which have been supported by archaeology.
Support #2:
John, the author of the Gospel of John, 1-3 John, and Revelation, mentions in his Gospel that near the Pool of Bethesda there are 5 porches. For years, archaeologists believed John to be wrong. No such place had been discovered. But recently, 40 feet under ground, 5 porches were discovered.
Support #3:
There are 25,000 sites that show connection with the Old Testament that have been located in the lands of the Bible.

3.) Historical Evidence:

Support #1:
The most ancient textual evidence we have is a portion of the Gospel of John and Mark, on ancient paper called papyrus, John is dated just after 100 AD, Mark is dated closer to 84 AD. There is also a Magdalen fragment from Mat. 26 believed by some to be within a few years of Jesus' death; Gospel fragments found among the Dead Sea Scrolls dated as early as 50 A.D. No other ancient document enjoys such compelling manuscript evidence.
Support #2:
Bible translators have access to over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin and 9,000 other--totaling over 24,000 manuscript copies or portions of the New Testament when translating into modern English. With the earliest one dating within a few years of the death of Jesus.

On the other hand when comparing to other historical documents we see a vast difference:
Secular Manuscripts
 Date Written
 Earliest Copy
 Time Span
 Copies (extent)
 Herodotus (History)
 480 - 425 BC
 900 AD
 1,300 Years
 Thucydides (History)
 460 - 400 BC
 900 AD
 1,300 Years
Aristotle (Philosopher)
 384 - 332 BC
 1,100 AD
 1,400 Years
 Caesar (History)
 100 - 44 BC
 900 AD
1,000 Years 
 Pliny (History)
 61 - 113 AD
 850 AD
750 Years 
 Suetonius (Roman History)
 70 - 140 AD
 950 AD
800 Years 
 Tacitus (Greek History)
 100 AD
 1,100 AD
 1,000 Years
Support # 3:
We now have a total of 616 Old Testament manuscripts available for translation. During the early 1900's the validity of the Old Testament was debated because the majority of our Old Testament scriptures were translated from manuscripts called the "Masoretic Text." The oldest Hebrew text of the Old Testament was the Masoretic Aleppo Codex which dates to A.D. 935. Many skeptics proposed that because of the large time gap between the manuscripts and the Bible days we cannot trust that the Masoretic text is completely accurate.

However, the debate ended in 1947 when a Shepard in Israel was searching for his goat and stumbled upon an ancient cave that contained scrolls of the Old Testament. After these artifacts were tested the scrolls dated as early as 300 B.C. to the first century A.D. These scrolls became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls and when they were compared to our modern Old Testament translations the contents were virtually identical. The only variations between the two were insignificant spelling corrections. 
Based upon the logical evidence, fulfilled prophecy, archaeological evidence, and historical evidence we can rest assure that the Bible remains reliable to this very day. No other ancient text enjoys such an overwhelming amount of support. The most powerful evidence of the inspiration of the Bible are the billions of changed lives over the centuries which point to the power of a risen Savior. God bless!

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

For more inspirational content SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

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Click below for my video teaching on this topic:
Part 1
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Monday, June 8, 2015

Does God want us to be happy?

You probably won't be surprised to find out that the emerging culture of "just do what makes you happy" is something that has happened time and time again over human history. There was a point early in the history of the nation of Israel which is essentially identical to the culture we see becoming prevalent right now. Judges 21:25 says, " Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." The unfortunate aspect of this part of the history of Israel is that their "doing what was right in their own eyes" led to chaos, strife, and eventually judgment from God, sound familiar? So does God want us to be happy? Or does He merely give us a massive list of laws to follow? Because of questions like these I decided to write this important article, let's dive in...

Happy may be defined as, "enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment (Websters)." Unfortunately our modern culture has redefined happy to mean "whatever feels good or right." It appeals to the emotions and the self pleasing aspect of our human nature. Our flesh and emotions can only be stimulated for a temporary period of time in a world that is completely scarred by the sinfulness and selfishness of mankind. This definition of happy also brings another important question to mind, "can doing whatever feels good or right lead to a life of well-being and contentment?" That is, can our culture's definition of happiness actually lead people to the true definition of happiness? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to answer an absolute "no" to this. Just take a look at your nearest secular celebrity, they have everything that makes a person feel good from a physical sense (luxuries, money, attractive partners, fame, etc.) but on the inside they become empty and broken to the fullest extent when the limelight runs it's course.

So, does God want us to experience well-being and contentment in this life? Absolutely! But God helps us to understand from His word that "doing whatever feels good or right" is not the way to get there. We also find that Biblical happiness is something that is spiritual, resulting from a right relationship with God (Romans 5:1), not physical resulting from preferred circumstances. This is why faith is such a crucial element to our relationship with God. Our feelings are telling us "do this and it will lead to happiness" but God is telling us "follow me and it will lead to true (spiritual) well-being and contentment." We have to get past what our feelings are telling us and listen to the voice of God, and that can only be done by using our faith to respond to what God counsels us to do. 

So what is Biblical happiness? It begins with putting to death the desire to please ourselves (Romans 8:13). That means that we have to completely do away with our culture's definition of happiness. You will never find true well-being and contentment in life by continuing to let your own gratification be the primary focus of your life. God does want us to have well-being and contentment, but that desire is secondary to His wanting us to be transformed by His love on a daily basis (Romans 12:1-2). So the objective should not be "how can I make me happy today?" That causes US to remain the central focus. Rather, the objective should become "how can I focus on Christ today and let His love cause me to be more like Him?" 

So pursuing God instead of happiness actually leads to happiness? We actually find happiness by not pursuing it at all? I'll have to admit that is definitely a funny paradox, but it's true. Let's consider Psalm 1:1-2 which says, "Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night." In this passage the word "blessed" is the Hebrew word "esher," which literally means "happy." So here are a couple points we find in this passage that help us to understand God's plan for happiness:

1.) Do not follow the pattern of this world.
2.) Do not surround yourself with people who don't know the Lord.
3.) Delight yourself in God's word.
4.) Meditate on His word regularly.

So as you can see within these four steps to happiness there is nothing about pursuing happiness involved! It really boils down to two things: sacrifice your allegiances to the world, and turn your attention fully to God. The Kingdom of God operates completely opposite to the kingdom of this world. If you want to be great you have to become a servant, if you want to enjoy peace you have to endure suffering, if you want to enjoy blessing you have to enjoy sacrifice! The blessings that we experience in the Kingdom of God are spiritual to begin with (Ephesians 1:3), this is why we are able to learn contentment, because no matter what our physical situation is in the world we can have the joy of the Lord flowing in us at all times! 

Doing whatever feels good or right is not the pathway to true well-being and contentment, our feelings can deceive us, and this process leads to destruction (Romans 6:23). But there is one thing that WILL always and HAS always remained true throughout the ages, the precious Word of God! During times when our feelings are deceiving us, the Word of God sheds light and leads to peace that never fails. Jesus died to make a way for sinners like you and I to come to God in faith no matter what we have done beforehand, He will be our peace if we let Him. Let me leave you with this beautiful scripture from the very lips of Jesus:

Matthew 16:25-26-"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?"

Click here for my video teaching on this topic.

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

For more inspirational content SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How can I get my prayers answered?

Through the Book of James the Bible gives us insight as to how we can receive an answer to our prayers. The writer lines out this teaching for the purpose of correcting believers who were fighting with each other having trouble receiving an answer from God when they prayed. Because Christians often quote only bits and pieces of this passage it has prevented many people from seeing the principle that James puts forth regarding how to get your prayers answered.  The text we will be primarily dealing with in this article is James 4:1-7.

v. 1-3 "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

The first three things mentioned in the passage are:

1.) Fights and quarrels were happening among the believers.
2.) The strife was being caused by their selfish desires that battled within them.
3.) The selfish mentality was ultimately amounting to unanswered prayers and much frustration.

So God points out a crucial problem that was happening among them and then goes on to show it's direct connection to their failed prayers. In other words, the fact that these believers were allowing themselves to be guided by selfish desires was actually causing God not to answer their prayers. Hence he says, "when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."  Let's continue... 

v.4-6- "4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture say “God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.”

A couple of key points in the part of the passage are:

1.) These believers were considered "adulterous" because they were exhibiting loyalty (friendship) to these value system of the world rather than to God. 
2.) Their loyalty to the value system of the world was leading to all of the ungodly behavior that God was pointing out.
3.) Because the world's value system is centered around pride, God was opposing them as they continued to act out of their selfish desires which is the pattern that the world follows. One indicator of God's opposition was unanswered prayer.

So here we find James beginning to put all of the pieces together for us. Loyalty to the value system of this world leads to ungodly behavior, ungodly behavior leads to prayers being prayed with the wrong motive, and prayers being prayed with the wrong motive leads to no answer from God. So what do we do?

v.7- "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

The prescription that James gives to the believers is for them to stop submitting to the things of the world and submit to God instead. This involves a change of focus from your selfish desires to a relationship with Christ. It ultimately leads to a renewing of the mind.

Romans 12:1-2-"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Paul reiterates in Romans 12 the process that James alluded to in James 4:

1.) Submit to God -- Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice
2.) Do not be loyal to the world -- Do not conform to the pattern of this world
3.) Pray with right motives according to God's will -- renew your mind and you will know what God's will is.

So ultimately through submitting to God and letting Him change our hearts and minds through His Word we are able to pray according to His will and see an answer to our prayers. Let me leave you with this beautiful scripture:

1 John 5:14-15- "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him."

To view my detailed video teaching of this topic click here: How to Get Your Prayers Answered

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

For more inspirational content SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

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