The Role of Tradition

“The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.” – Michael Horton, “What Still Keeps Us Apart?”

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others.” – C. H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1876), 1.

“Tradition is the fruit of the Spirit’s teaching activity from the ages as God’s people have sought understanding of Scripture. It is not infallible, but neither is it negligible, and we impoverish ourselves if we disregard it.” – J.I. Packer, “Upholding the Unity of Scripture Today,” JETS 25 (1982): 414

“Although tradition does not rule our interpretation, it does guide it. If upon reading a particular passage you have come up with an interpretation that has escaped the notice of every other Christian for two-thousand years, or has been championed by universally recognized heretics, chances are pretty good that you had better abandon your interpretation.” – R. C. Sproul

The Messianic Claims of Jesus Christ

As Christians, we believe our Savior’s name is the Lord Jesus Christ. Its important to understand that “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name, but rather a title. The word “Christ” comes from the Greek word “Christos” which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah. When we say, “Jesus Christ” we are literally saying, “Jesus the Christ” or “Jesus the Messiah.” But are these claims valid? Can we be sure that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah?

Through what we call Messianic Prophecies, God provided a sure and certain way to recognize His Messiah when He came. These are events written in the Bible, hundreds and even thousands of years before they would take place in time. Only God could reveal such amazing detail millennia in advance of the events.

God had declared that His Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and a son of David (Jer. 23:5,6; 1 Chron. 17:10b-14). God had also said that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), in the surroundings of poverty (Isa. 11:1-2), in Bethlehem, the city of David (Micah 5:2). He would be proceeded by a herald (Isa. 40:3-5, Mal. 3:1), be seen riding on a donkey (Zech 9:9, 10) and would be present 483 years after the decree was made to rebuild Jerusalem, after the Babylonian captivity (Dan. 9:24-27). He would be a king (Gen 49:10; Isa. 9:6,7), a priest (Psalm 110:1-7) and a prophet (Deut. 18:15-19; Isa. 61:1, 2). Continue reading

The Size of the Universe

Here are two videos which allow us to gain some sense of the size of the Universe. What a waste of space!!!… unless the whole purpose of everything out there is something other than you and me, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1

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Can Paul and James be reconciled on the matter of Justification?

Dr. R. C. Sproul in an article entitled Faith and Works writes the following:

If justification is by faith alone, how can we apply James 2:24, which says a person is justified by what he does, not his faith alone?

That question is not critical only today, but it was in the eye of the storm we call the Protestant Reformation that swept through and divided the Christian church in the sixteenth century. Martin Luther declared his position: Justification is by faith alone, our works add nothing to our justification whatsoever, and we have no merit to offer God that in any way enhances our justification. This created the worst schism in the history of Christendom.

In refusing to accept Luther’s view, the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated him, then responded to the outbreak of the Protestant movement with a major church council, the Council of Trent, which was part of the so-called Counter-Reformation and took place in the middle of the sixteenth century. The sixth session of Trent, at which the canons and decrees on justification and faith were spelled out, specifically appealed to James 2:24 to rebuke the Protestants who said that they were justified by faith alone: “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” How could James say it any more clearly? It would seem that that text would blow Luther out of the water forever. Continue reading

Justification According to the Roman Catholic Church – Its Complicated!

Below you will find a video clip I put together (lasting approximately 5 minutes, 34 seconds) based on a question and answer session involving Dr. R.C. Sproul.

Sue asks Brian a big theological question. Enjoy!

Understanding 1 Timothy 2:4

John, how can election be true when 1 Timothy 2:4 clearly says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”?

Thanks for your question. This is usually the follow up question after people ask about 2 Peter 3:9 which I dealt with if we take a deep breath and summon up the courage to ask the simple question, “what does the context tell us about the use of the word “all” here?”, I believe we will come away with the correct interpretation. Actually, it is absolutely vital we do this because context tells us how a word is being used.

Sometimes the word “all” refers to all people everywhere, in fact, many times it does. On other occasions it means “all kinds” or “all classes or types” or “all within a certain type or class.”

We use the word “all” in the exact same way in the English language. When a school teacher is in a classroom and is about to start the class and asks the students, “are we ALL here?” or “is EVERYONE here?” he is not asking if everyone on planet earth is in the classroom. Because of the context in which the question is framed we understand that he is referring to all within a certain class or type – in this case, all the students in the class. To say that he is referring to all people on planet earth would be to grossly misinterpret the intended meaning of his question.

As we look at 1 Timothy 2:4, I believe the word “all” is being used to refer to all types of people. I say this based on the context. Here is the passage in 1 Timothy 2:1-4: Continue reading

The Human Brain

Psalm 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

A new scientific study reveals that a single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth. “A typical, healthy one houses some 200 billion nerve cells, which are connected to one another via hundreds of trillions of synapses. Each synapse functions like a microprocessor, and tens of thousands of them can connect a single neuron to other nerve cells. In the cerebral cortex alone, there are roughly 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies.” Read more here.

Playing Marbles with Diamonds

Does your Bible Study offend God? Did I get your attention?

What!!? God can be offended when we study the Bible?

Yes, if we’re talking about the average Bible Study that takes place today. Let me explain:

Jesus, in the preamble to quoting a verse from the Old Testament said, “…have you not read what was spoken to you by God…” (Matt. 22:31). The testimony of Jesus and of the Bible is that “All Scripture is God breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16). Therefore, when we open up a page in our Bibles, we are treading upon holy ground. The Bible, although a book, is also unlike any other book. It is not simply a book giving facts about God. The Bible is a book written by God. Certainly, human writers were involved, but the text of Scripture is inspired or breathed out by God Himself.

Just having this concept in place would greatly help us in our Bible studies. What do I mean by that? Well, many people view the interpretation of God’s Word as “no big deal” really. To them its nothing more important than the reading of any other book, at least in their methodology. Continue reading

Understanding John 12:32

Question: I read your recent article on John 6:35-45 entitled “The Perseverance of the Saints,” and I understand the following to be a brief summary of Jesus’ words regarding God’s Sovereign purpose in election from John 6:35-45: Unless it is granted, no one will come to Christ. All to whom it is granted will come to Christ, and all of these will be raised up to eternal life on the last day. So, this being the case, can you please explain to me the meaning of John 12:32, where Jesus said: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”?

Thanks for your excellent question. What I will say here may surprise you, but as I have sought to explain elsewhere, the word “all” has a number of different meanings in the Bible. We tend to assume that when Jesus speaks of drawing “all men” that He is referring to every last person on the planet. Well, that may or may not be true, but it is in the CONTEXT where we find the phrase that tells us if this assumption is correct or misplaced.

Even today we use the words “all” or “every” in many different ways. When a teacher in a classroom of people asks, “Are we all here?” or “is everyone listening?” we understand he is not talking about every one of the 6 billion plus folk on the planet, but all the students who have signed up for the class. Context determines the proper interpretation or meaning of words. When the word “all” is used, it is used within a context.

In this illustration, the “all” had a context of the school classroom, which did not include “all” the hockey players in Iceland, “all” the dentists in Denmark, or “all” the carpet layers in Atlanta, Georgia. To rip the word “all” out of its setting and say that the teacher was refering to all people everywhere, would be to totally misunderstand and misinterpret how the word was being used. Again, it is context that determines correct interpretation. Continue reading