Category Archives: Bible Study

Arguments for Eternal Security

My Outline

bibleBecause I just commented on a post by a fellow blogger who believes one can lose his salvation, I am re-posting this sermon outline.

The following is an outline I used a couple of years ago. It starts off with some arguments against the “once-saved-always-saved” position. The next part lists six basic arguments in favor of the eternal security of the believer.

Of course, this is only an outline, not the sermon. However, you can click below for a link to the audio.

“Eternal Security” 

Arguments Against “Once Saved, Always Saved”

  1. Observational – How people live that believe it.
  2. Free Will – We are created with a will; we’re not slaves.
  3. Scriptural (Hebrews 6; 1 John 3:9; 5:18)

Arguments FOR “Eternal Security”

  1. Creational Argument: We are New Creations (2 Cor. 5:17)
    1. It took a supernatural act to change us
    2. We can’t act supernaturally to change us back
  2. New Birth Argument: We are Born Again (John 3:7,16)
    1. By the Spirit – Jn 3:6
    2. By the Word of God – 1 Peter 1:23
    3. We are not God, so we must remain “born again”
  3. Children of God Argument
    1. Born that way – 1 John 5:1; 1 Peter 1:23
    2. Adopted – Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5
    3. Abba – Gal. 4:1-7
  4. The Possession Argument – We belong to Christ
    1. Purchased – 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 7:23 (Bought with a Price)
    2. Given by the Father – Jn. 6:37-40; 10:28-30
    3. Will never be separated – Rom. 8:35-39
    4. Romans 14:8 – For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
    5. He can keep what is His – 2 Tim. 1:12 “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” See also: 2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.
  5. The Marriage Argument
    1. Ephesians 5:25-28, 31-32 – Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church…This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
    2. He is faithful, even when we are not.
      1. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 “…if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful…”
      2. He is God, not man! – Hosea 11:7-9
  6. It’s a Gift
    1. 2:8-9 Gift of God, by grace
    2. Romans 11:29 KJV – For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance (irrevocable)

Click on the link below to listen to the audio. As you might be able to tell by the opening remarks, I believe it was a sermon we needed, but the devil was opposing. Nevertheless, hearts were encouraged.

https://riversidesermons.sermon.net/main/main/20657994

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Filed under Bible Study, Preaching, salvation

They Did Believe, But…

I’m on my last day of “vacation” in Charleston, S.C., visiting with our oldest daughter and her husband, but I’ve still found time to sit and quietly study. As a matter of fact, I’ve had some wonderful times of peaceful, uninterrupted periods of reading and note taking. 

Which brings me to what I want to share with you this morning, while I have a moment and it’s fresh on my mind. 

I’m good friends with a legendary Church of God gospel group, the Branham Family. In one popular song that Donna Branham (Coleman) wrote, she sings about the story of Peter being released from prison (Acts 12:1-19), then coming to the house where the church was praying. In short, the song makes the argument that even though they had been praying all night, because they were shocked to see Peter at the door, they must have not really believed the prayer would be answered. 

Then, as the title of the song describes, the chorus leads us to acknowledge that “someone in that house believed when they prayed…” because the proof was that Peter did get released. The assumption, then, is that because the people were amazed to see Peter at the door they must have not really believed God would deliver him from being executed the next day. 

And honestly, that’s what a lot of people think about these early Christians. They tend to detract from the fact that they were in one accord pleading with God all night long for Peter’s life, and then describe the prayer warriors as “faithless.”

I disagree. 

You see, as I have been studying Acts 12 (along with the rest of the book), it doesn’t appear that the church that prayed for Peter was faithless; it’s just that they were shocked at how God answered. 

Think about it, just because Peter and the other “apostles” experienced a similar angelic deliverance in Acts 5, that doesn’t mean they were going to assume it would happen again. After all, both Stephen and James had now been killed, not delivered, so why were they to assume the doors would open on their own for Peter this time? 

Yet, they did pray all night for Peter, which is far more than we might see today. Could it be that what they were praying for was Peter’s life to be spared, and possibly by changing the heart of Agrippa? 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is a message to the Church in Acts 12, and I think it’s more than “believe when you pray.” 

I believe the message to us today might be more like, “Don’t be amazed when God answers your prayers in an unexpected way.”

I mean, the church might have been expecting to wake up the next morning to hear word that Herod Agrippa had accepted Christ as his Messiah, or something. But I think it’s unfair to judge this fearless and committed group of early believers as unbelieving pew-warmers just going through the motions.

They DID believe, but they never expected how miraculous the answer would be. 

So, keep praying and believing; you might be surprised at what God has planned. 

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Filed under Bible Study, Church, Faith

Prayer Request and Blog Suggestion

Good Friday morning, everyone! It’s a cold one here in Tennessee, let me tell you.

Anyway, I have two things I’d like to share with you if you have a second.

First, my daughter, Katie (age 22…she just had a birthday) is having gallbladder surgery today. It’s her first major surgery. I would appreciate your prayers, as I’m sure she would, too.

UPDATE: Katie is out of surgery and doing well 🙂

Second, I was glancing through some stuff this morning and came across a blog I’d never seen before. I don’t know anything about the author at this point, but if you’re a preacher or public speaker of any kind, what I read in a short time was impressive and beneficial.

It’s called BIGIDEASONLINE: Highlights From Today’s Preaching Posted Daily.  The actual web address shows a different type of title, but that’s what the blog page looks like. Check it out 🙂

But, speaking of preaching, I recently preached a sermon on biblical fasting. When you have a moment, why not take a listen and then share your own thoughts. I’d appreciate it.

God bless!

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Filed under Bible Study, Preaching

“By” or “Through”: That’s the Question (An Examination of John 1:3)

Introduction

Tuesday morning, after a cup of coffee with some great, godly men in our community, I was standing out in the parking lot of a local restaurant discussing the morning’s plans. It was during this short conversation that the subject matter briefly switched to that of Bible translations.

There we were, standing by the cab of a pickup truck when one of these men – a great friend to our family and church – said something akin to the following:

“The reason I will only use the King James Bible can be illustrated by the change in one word, and that word is found in the first chapter of John. There, the King James Version says, ‘all things were made by Jesus,’ but every other version – every single one – changes that word ‘by’ to ‘through.’ I have a problem with that. As I see it, there’s a big difference between ‘by’ and ‘through.’ Either everything was made by Jesus, or it wasn’t.” (Again, this was not an exact quote, but close.)

Therefore, it might take more than the average 500-word blog post to unpack, but I want to address this apparent conflict between “by” and “through” as found in John 1:3.

Doing the Research

You know, the last thing one should do when confronted with an unknown is say to the one making the assertion, “Nuh uh!” Right after my friend said what he did about every other translation of the Bible changing “by” to “through,” I pulled out my iPhone and pulled up BlueLetterBible.com.

Seeing what I was doing, the gentleman goaded me a little and said with a slight chuckle, “You gotta look that one up, don’t ya?” I grinned as I nodded…the subject changed back to hardware for about 30 seconds…then we went our separate ways.

But I did look it up. It wasn’t difficult to do, either. The Bible-study tools we have access to in an instant, even on our smartphones, are literally mind-blowing. At no other time in history have we had so much knowledge available so quickly right in the palms of our hands. Therefore, it didn’t take more than a few seconds to learn that my friend’s assertions were spot on… The KJV was actually the only one to render John 1:3 with a “by,” not a “through.”

For example:

  • John 1:3 (KJV) – All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
  • (NKJV) – All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
  • (NIV) – Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
  • (ESV) – All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
  • (CSB) – All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.

Yes, I did my research, and what I found was that my friend’s assertion was true: every other translation of the Bible changed the word “by” to “through.” However, my research wasn’t complete; it was time to consult the original languages.

It’s All Greek

Like I said above, the study tools we have these days are amazing, and there’s really no good excuse for any Bible student to claim ignorance. For example, if all one had was access to one online tool such as BlueLetterBible.com, then what used to take hours of study could be done in mere moments. Then if you add to that all the other free websites available, including what’s available from online libraries, and then throw in some relatively inexpensive (but voluminous) programs like Logos, oh… my… goodness! It’s hard to comprehend how blessed we are!

So, when it became obvious that “by” had been replaced by “through,” I decided to take the next logical step and look up the source of the translations in question: the original Greek word, διά (dē-ä’).

It may sound unbelievable to you, but there are still people out there who think Jesus spoke Elizabethan English. However, the Bible was not originally written in the language of Shakespeare. In actuality, John 1:3 was written in Greek, so “by” and “through” are only translations of the Greek word διά (Strong’s G1223).

The next question should then be: “What does dia mean?”

Grab Your Concordance

Well, every Bible student should have a Strong’s Concordance in his personal library, even if his library only consisted of a Bible and one other book. Therefore, let’s take a look at Strong’s and see what we find.

G1223: διά diá, dee-ah’; a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal, or occasional):—after, always, among, at, to avoid, because of (that), briefly, by, for (cause) … fore, from, in, by occasion of, of, by reason of, for sake, that, thereby, therefore, × though, through(-out), to, wherefore, with (-in).

According to Strong’s Concordance, dia is a word that denotes “the channel of an act; through…” Therefore, is it really an act of theological sabotage to translate John 1:3 with through instead of by?

Is it possible that Jesus was the One through whom God the Father made all things?

You see, it is not heresy to say that the Father made all that is through Jesus, the Word of God. No, it is actually MORE theologically sound and true to Jesus’ own words to say that He was the agency or “channel” of creation, rather than the one acting unilaterally in creation. Why do I say this? Consider the actual words of Jesus as recorded by John…

  • John 4:34 (KJV) – Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
  • John 5:19 (KJV) – Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
  • John 6:38 (KJV) – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

If Jesus had acted alone and created all things by Himself, then His own words would expose a critical inconsistency. The fact seems to be that even though Jesus was and is God, the Second Person of the Trinity, He still had to act in accordance with the will of the Father, and therefore saying “all things were created through Him” is more theologically consistent with the nature of the Trinitarian understanding of the Godhead.

A Dose of Commentary

I learned a long time ago that commentaries can be very useful if used properly; I go to them after I have already read the Scripture and done all the exegesis I can do with the study tools at hand. Therefore, it was only after I did the above study that I consulted several scholarly commentaries. For the benefit of this discussion and for your edification, allow me to share the following directly from the sources.

The New American Commentary: John 1-11

The preposition dia (“through”), used in connection with creation here, should not be taken to mean that the Logos is essentially inferior to God, as the Arians argued. But the early Christians, in attempting to discuss simultaneously the work of both the Father and the Son in creation, sometimes tried to hold both together through the use of two prepositions. The Father’s activity was linked with the preposition ek, which carries the sense of “origin,” and the Son’s activity was linked with the preposition dia, which carries the sense of “mediation” (e.g., the early Christian creedal statement in 1 Cor 8:6; also see Heb 1:2 for the use of dia).

The Pulpit Commentary: St. John (Vol. 1)

In asserting that the Logos is he or that through whom all things were made, the writer does not lower the dignity of the Logos by regarding him merely as the οργανον of the Father, because the same preposition is used of the relation of the Father to the world or to his servants (Rom. 11:36; Gal. 1:1; Heb. 2:10). Elsewhere St. Paul powerfully affirms the same application of διά (1 Cor. 8:6) to Christ’s part in the Creation, reserving for the One God, the Father, the preposition ἐκ. From God and by or through God are all things, still “all things” derive their existence “through” the activity, the will, the thought, of the Logos.

Word Studies in the New Testament (Marvin R. Vincent)

By Him (διʼ αὐτοῦ). Lit., through him. The preposition dia is generally used to denote the working of God through some secondary agency, as διὰ τοῦ προφήτου, through the prophet (Matt. 1:22, on which see note).* It is the preposition by which the relation of Christ to creation is usually expressed (see 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2), though it is occasionally used of the Father (Heb. 2:10; Rom. 11:36, and Gal. 1:1, where it is used of both). Hence, as Godet remarks, it “does not lower the Word to the rank of a simple instrument,” but merely implies a different relation to creation on the part of the Father and the Son.

Again, it would seem to me that it is more theologically sound to translate John 1:3 the way all the other translations do it as opposed to the KJV.

Right or Wrong?

But after all that has been said, was the King James Version’s translators wrong in their use of the word by instead of through? Actually, no.

You see, the whole reason we have newer translations of the Bible is because the English language changes over time. Some words have different meanings today than they used to, and that is why we rarely speak of wearing our “gay clothing” to church, or “fetch[ing] a compass” as we travel (Num. 34:5).

At the time the KJV translators did their work, the meaning of “by” was probably more nuanced than today and would have been understood by the reader of the day to have the same depth of meaning as “through.” However, for the modern reader, by implies more of a literal meaning. For example, if my daughter made a wooden elephant figurine, and if you asked who made it, I could answer, “It was made BY Haley.” If we applied the same meaning to the “by” in John 1:3, then we would literally be on the road to heresy, for Jesus did not act unilaterally (own His own), but by the will of the Father (John 5:19).

So, by may have been the best word for the verse in the 17th-19th centuries, but through better conveys the Truth to those in the 21st.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, the translators of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible were men of superior capability. I dare say that finding modern scholars and intellects with similar credentials would be exceedingly difficult. Therefore, because they did such a great work, it would be wise to consider their words when debating the heart of this discussion.

Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most Holy place … Indeed without translation into the vulgar tongue (the modern, common way of speaking), the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well (which was deep) [John 4:11] without a bucket or something to draw with…”

“For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables? why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free…?”

 – from: “The Translators to the Reader,” a prefix attached to the original 1611 edition.

It really boils down to this: What does the Bible really say? Sometimes we have to set aside our preconceived notions in order to honestly exegete Scripture. The last thing we want to do is let a literary bias lend support to a faulty theology, even if our intentions are noble.

Ultimately, though, Jesus is the Door “through” whom we must enter; there is no other Way to the Father. If a translation can’t make that clear, then we have a problem.

So, let me say “Thanks” to my friend. Without his comment, I’d never walked down this rabbit trail 😉 

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Filed under Bible Study, Theology, translations

HELL…It’s Not Just a Curse Word

Believe me, it’s not an easy subject to discuss, even though millions of people every day use it as a curse word. However, if Jesus spoke more about Hell than He did about Heaven, don’t you think we should, too?

Some people accuse us preachers of making this stuff up in order to scare people. Others, like Bertrand Russell, reject Christianity because of Christ’s teaching on the subject. Nevertheless, it’s clearly biblical, and it’s clearly horrible, so how can we say we love people if we don’t warn them?

If you can spare the time, I invite you to listen to the sermon I preached this past Sunday morning. Should you become concerned about the fate of your soul, I would encourage you to go to the “Eternal Life” page on this blog for further information.

If you find the attached sermon helpful, please share it with someone who needs to hear.

Click on the picture for link to the audio.

 

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Filed under Bible Study, Life/Death, Preaching

Our Proverbial Future

The Other Blog

Many of you may know that I have another blog, and some of you may take advantage of it on a daily basis.

The other blog is ProverbialThought.com, and it has been a daily/semi-daily part of our lives for several years, bringing to us the wisdom of Proverbs – with a twist.

But here’s the thing… we are coming to an end to another rotation, and I’m wondering what to do next.

The Future of “Proverbial Thought”

If you haven’t yet gone to my other blog – one that has been co-written by some wonderful people – go there now and see what you think.

Where should we go from here?

Start over – again? With a fresh group of contributors?

What about listing all of the past posts in pages, just like I started doing with the first two chapters?

I would love to know what you guys – you other bloggers and readers, you Bible students – think.

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Filed under Bible Study, blogging, ministry

I Shocked the Sheriff, But I Did Not Shock the Deputy

Command Staff Meeting

This morning’s agenda. I was #2 on the list.

This morning I was once again honored to offer the “Leadership Charge/Prayer” at the beginning of his weekly Command Staff meeting. It’s just one duty that I perform as a chaplain with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office here in Chattanooga.

If you are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, once a week our Sheriff (Jim Hammond) holds a meeting with his Command Staff (all the captains and chiefs over the different divisions of the department). At each of these meetings one of our chaplains opens up the meeting with a charge/devotion and prayer, then later closes the meeting with prayer. And since the Sheriff is not only an intimidating figure in his own right, but also a student of the Bible, it’s always encouraging when he doesn’t find fault with what we say. LOL!

The Leadership Charge

Since today was the 16th of the month, I decided to see if there was something from the 16th chapter of Proverbs that might be applicable. So, I went to ProverbialThought.com and found the commentary I had written for verse seven.

Proverbs 16:7 became the text, and my post on the verse (click this link to read) became my 5-minute sermonette.

My seat was next to the corner on the left.

There, from my seat at the table, I spoke to the Sheriff, his staff, and his captains of the need to please the Lord, not men. I spoke of God’s commandments and how that when we keep them, even our enemies have a hard time finding fault with us. Then I read a verse from the New Testament:

And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; – Colossians 3:23

“It comes down to a simple choice,” I said. “Do we try to make people happy, or do we try to please the Lord?” If all we care about is pleasing people, we will always fail; they are too finicky. But if our goal is to do everything we do to please God, He will handle the rest – including our Sheriff’s upcoming election.

So, what about “shocking” the Sheriff and not the deputy? Nobody was shocked, not even the Sheriff; I did what was expected of me.

It was a catchy title for a post, though 🙂 Wasn’t it?

 

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Filed under Bible Study, General Observations, ministry, politics