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What about the Apocrypha?

Posted by: David Carroll

My daughter Bethany asked me the other day why the Apocrypha is not included in our Bibles (meaning our protestant Bibles since of course it is included in the Catholic Bible). My answer was not very deep but I told her that these books were written during the inter-testamental period in the 400 years of silence. The silence refers to a period of time when God was not speaking to prophets. The other part of my answer to her was that none of the apocryphal books were quoted as scripture in the New Testament. At that point I had exhausted my entire knowledge of the subject.

You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers.

John J. Plomp

I was not really satisfied with the extent of the answer I gave to her so today, I did a little investigating and learned a few things.

Did you know:

  • It is in the apocrypha that the Roman Catholics find their proof text for the doctrine for purgatory [2 Maccabees 12:46] which speaks of prayers for the dead.
  • The council of Trent in 1546 officially made these books part of the Canon of scripture.
  • That same council pronounced that anyone who did not recognize these books as scripture as anathema (removed from the body of Christ)
  • Hebrews 12 makes some allusions to some historical events that are documented in the apocrypha. (but there is not “it is written” or “thus says the Lord” type of language)
  • The early church fathers were not in agreement on the apocrypha, some such as Jerome completely denying their authority as scripture.
  • The apocryphal books were Jewish books and so would come under the authority of “God’s chosen people” who were given responsibility for the Old Testament scriptures. [Rom 3:2] “to them were committed the oracles of God.” Consequently it would not be the domain of the Church to determine the Old Testament canon. And in fact, these books were never “laid up in the temple” and the Jews did not consider them to be part of scripture included in the Law, Prophets and Writings.
  • Jesus spoke of all the prophets in:

Luke 11:50-51 (NKJV)
that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple.

  • it is interesting to note that Abel and Zechariah are bookends for the Jewish scriptures. The order of of the Jewish books are from Genesis (first book) to 2 Chronicles (last book). In essence, Jesus is excluding any prophets that might have occurred after Zechariah.
  • The only reason given by Catholics for the inclusion of the Apocrypha is the infallible authority of the Roman Catholic Church magisterium to proclaim on such matters. This excludes and is against another reasons to reject the apocrypha including historical evidence of the early church, and even precludes any blatantly obvious historical errors that might be found in these books.
  • In fact the book of Judith which is an apocryphal book, claims that Nebuchadnezzar ruled from Nineveh which is by every historical and scholarly evidence completely untrue. Also this same book claims the second temple was rebuilt a century prior to when it actually was. Granted supposed contradictions and errors are just the sort of thing atheists use to discredit the Bible but none of the supposed errors atheists can come up with are unexplainable or could not be reconciled with further unknown information. The errors in Judith are so blatant as to be impossible to dismiss as only “apparent error.”

So as a protestant, what exactly is the criteria for knowing what is scripture? It is not the authority of the church but rather it is the book’s prophetiticy. That is is the book inspired by God to a prophet of God. We do not determine canon, God does. The way he does this is by speaking to his prophets. A prophet is a spokesperson for God. Now, God chooses his prophets but it is up to us to discover which books are prophetic. It is interesting that for all the books in our Bible, each book was immediately recognized for it’s prophetical content by the author’s contemporaries, not by someone centuries later.

The Jews had already discovered the Old Testament canon for us making that part easy. How was the New Testament canon discovered? My understanding is that the New Testament is written by first hand apostles of Jesus. In other words those who had direct contact with Jesus or were transcribing for those who did. These men were apostles and as such were confirmed by signs and wonders. They did miracles. And the epistles and gospels were passed around by the contemporary early believers as holy writ.

But really the New Testament Canon is another question for another day anyway. But that’s my short answer like I would have given my daughter Bethany if she asked the question. Perhaps I’ll investigate more later and write another post on the subject.

Unshackled

Posted by: David Carroll

Sh1Wednesday, I was set free. Doc says I can go without the neck brace. Freedom is a wonderful thing but scary too I found out. I still walk around like I had the  brace on and I am scared to turn my head too much. It’s weird, almost like I want to put it back on for comfort. Delaine tells me I snored last night too and I have not been snoring. I knew immediately what it was, my chin was being held up keeping my jaw from dropping which kept my mouth shut and kept me breathing through my nose. So now do I put it back on when I go to bed just to keep from snoring?

Ahh but I got to drive today…for the first time since driving to the hospital on Dec 13. (Except for that little emergency when Delaine got locked out of her car at Walgreens, about five minutes away, and I bravely drove to rescue her). Got my hair cut (great to visit with you Marilyn!), got Toby’s bath done, and picked up my prescription. And I finally have a few new twenty dollar bills in my billfold. I found out something interesting, if you can’t drive, you don’t need any cash. I’ve had the same single five dollar bill in my billfold since my surgery. Now I’m flush with cash! (It goes fast).

Toby and I went for another long walk whilst listening to Rush. I took the twin walking poles and really tried to kick up the pace a bit. Oh, and by the way, I asked Doc about how much exercising I could do and found out all that (light)weight lifting I’ve been doing was a bad thing (because the vertebra fusion is still trying to take). So no more weight lifting for another month. But I can do all the walking I want to, so I figured I could at least get the arms in on the act with the walking poles. Besides they make you feel like an Olympic cross country skier.

The main thing is the Lord is good and his word is sweet and I am grateful to his healing hand on my body.

Proverbs 3:7-8 (NKJV)

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

Speaking of being free from my neck brace, I have been freed from something else too. I have identified myself with Christ who died and was raised from the dead. So I reckon I am freed from sin’s power over me and one day I will even be freed from sin’s presence.

Romans 6:7-11 (NKJV)

For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Faith comes by hearing

Posted by: David Carroll

In the previous post, I talked about the requirement of salvation which cannot be earned or purchased. That requirement is faith. Faith includes and is evidenced by all sorts of things like obedience, childlike trust, and most of all desire to be delighted in Jesus Christ. But how does that faith come? First of all it is a gift from God but it comes through the mind by hearing the word of God preached. Someone must tell you the good news of the gospel of the Kingdom which is Jesus Christ who is the King. When you understand and receive that good news gladly and move toward it desiringly then you are exercising God’s requirement which may cost you but that cost is not a work, it is only more evidence of your faith.

Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Gaines275That’s what I am going to do today is hear the word of God preached in a clear and understandable way. There will be singing and praise too. But it will all be focused on God and Christ. That’s what we call worship. Then after the word is preached there will be many who will feel desire and faith welling up in them and an invitation to come to Jesus will be given. As a Deacon I’ll go back and counsel with one of those who come and explain more of what is happening to them. And whether they are exercising faith for the first time or whether they are already believers, I’ll test them to see whether their faith is based on their trusting Christ and him alone. If it is not, I’ll go through another gospel presentation to give them one more chance to do that.

Salvation is free, but there is a requirement

Posted by: David Carroll

You cannot earn salvation from God. Why? Because He has already purchased it through the death of Jesus Christ, God the Son. God offers salvation freely to those who come and and receive it. But you cannot have it if you will not come.

Why does God not offer salvation for some sort of special offering or force us to earn it in some way. It is because God will not share his Glory with anyone. To earn or work is to be owed a debt or a wage. God has already fully paid the price.

But still there is a requirement. There are teachers who today say that all that is required is to believe in the gospel and that there is no cost to you. This is false teaching. It is true that you must believe and it is true that you cannot work for salvation thus you cannot earn it.

But there is a requirement and we might as well call it a cost but the cost is not to purchase or earn anything. The cost is to have a change in your thinking, a change of mind, a change in what you desire, a change in what you thirst for.

Revelation 22:17

Let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires to take the water of life without price.

Notice that you must thirst for the water of life and you must come and desire it. All these are requirements. But notice that there is no price you could pay for this. It is free because the price has already been paid. The crucial element is desire for God and a coming to him. Then finally drinking the water of life in.

What is required is anything that gives God glory and what is not required is anything that gives you glory. That is why it is by grace through faith we are saved because this way God is glorified.

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

The Bible in some verses say that you must repent and believe to be saved. But isn’t the repentance part a work?

Acts 3:19
Therefore repent and turn that your sins may be blotted out.

Repenting is not the same as works. It is a misunderstood word that most people think means to feel sorry for your sins. But the word means to have a change of heart or a change in the way you think about the world. It means to agree with the way God sees things. Is this not part of desiring God? Yes, it is one of the requirements that gives God glory. To not repent and think God’s thoughts after him, would make you a rebel in the kingdom.

There are a lot of requirements actually, becoming like a little child, taking up your cross and following him, obeying him, being born again. All of these things are in essence the same thing. They are the essence of faith in Jesus and trust in Him as Lord and Savior. They are all expressions of that desire for him to be satisfied in him for all that you need.

My notes from listening to a sermon entitled “Joy Recovered” by John Piper

Sweating to the oldies

Posted by: David Carroll

DSC_0648Listening to some old sermons that I had never heard before, I just finished my longest and heaviest workout since, well, maybe since this past summer. I got my heart rate up to 140 sustained  for about 10 minutes but walked for a total 30 minutes. Ten of those minutes were outside but Toby and I had to turn around because it was too cold and windy to stay (for me anyway), so I finished my walk on the treadmill.

That’s an older shot of Toby racing the cars on Walnut Grove road at Shelby Farms when we used to go for a walkabout almost every day there. That’s one of my goals by the way, is to get back in shape where I can do that again. Anyway, the snow shot is appropriate because it snowed about three inches yesterday. Toby was made for cold weather and he he does not need that little red coat that he had on but Delaine made me promise to put it on him.

Back to the workout. After the walk, I found my little dumbbells and got the little six pounders and did some hunched over raises to exercise my shoulders. Then I did three sets of inclined presses at thirty pounds.

I’m going in for my second followup visit with the surgeon this Wednesday and I should become un-shackled from this neck brace I been wearing. And I’m sure we’ll have an interesting conversation about those little white pills I’ve been taking. Actually I’m ready to get off of them and start going drug free. Hey, I’ve managed to stop coffee drinking. That's what the bouts of severe nausea did for me.

I just thought about another thing that could have been affected by the tumor in my spinal cord. Last time I went to the Doc to see about the nausea, my blood pressure was 117 over 75. My blood pressure has never been that low and even with the meds I take it’s usually around 135/90. Could it be that getting rid of that tumor cured that too? Hey, I’m a believer. I give God credit for everything, even if it turns out to be not true.

Now I am going to brave the wind and snow and cold to go get in the hot tub. Ah, just like Colorado! Oh yeah, another goal, ski again!

Thank you Lord, you have blessed me with sweetness of life again and I praise you and desire that you be glorified.

Ready for some (light)weight lifting

Posted by: David Carroll

NautilusI felt pretty good this afternoon so I was ready for a bit of walking. It was too cold outside so I went upstairs to do the treadmill. I have nice Nautilus weight machine sitting there which has gone unused since before my lumbar fusion surgery in May of last year. I’ve told you all about my continuing pain in my neck and shoulders. So on the way past the weight machine toward the treadmill I get the bright idea to do some inclined presses to give those hurting shoulders a bit of a workout. Normally I’d put about 60 lbs on there to do three sets of ten reps. Well I smartly think I should start out easy and put it on thirty lbs. I could not budge it. So I try twenty lbs. I get eight very shaky reps in before giving up. I did eight more later. This is not just out of shape, this is major muscle damage and rehab time. But I know I need to start slow and easy. It’s now hours later and I can already feel that good feeling that comes from purposely exercising muscles.

The treadmill went great, I gradually pushed the speed up to 2.7 MPH and still could not get my heartbeat past 125 for ten minutes. I’m pleased with that. I even walked Toby out in the cold for another ten minutes later on tonight. That’s just a couple of weeks after getting on the treadmill for the first time since surgery.

I’m going to get over this thing and be good as a 54 year old man can be. Of course that is if the Lord is willing. I pray Lord that you are but only if it will glorify you.

It felt great to be back in corporate worship this morning

Posted by: David Carroll

Bellvue2bigBelieve it or not, today was the first day I have been back at a worship service since my surgery. Things went great for a while then we all stood to sing a number of wonderful hymns in a very worshipful attitude. I was singing my heart out. (Delaine my wife, wants me to “blend” a bit more”) But I was really getting into it. Then I started noticing that my diaphragm was hurting and I was running out of breath. Finally a bit of dizziness started to develop and before I knew it, I had to sit down. I got my second wind and just continued to sing from the seated position. I felt kind of wimpish but I was worshiping God and not trying to please men anyway.

After a great sermon by Pastor Steve on revival as experienced by the Jews in Exodus 33, he began to give his invitation. I told Delaine I was going to go forward to counsel those who were coming to make decisions. Deacons have that responsibility in our Church. Our schedule as Deacons is three years on, one year off. Well I am coming back on this year so I have not been deaconing yet this year. The Lord blessed me with an easy couple who had already professed Christ, already been baptized by immersion and already joined Sunday School and just wanted to join the Church. We had a sweet time of hearing testimony. About half way through I had to tell the wife I was working with (another Deacon was working with the husband) what was wrong with my neck because I know she was curious about it. She said she would pray for me, much appreciated.

WaffleFinally Delaine and I went to the Waffle House for some breakfast (you know you can eat breakfast anytime of day don’t you?) That was good  but my shoulders and arms were really hurting by that time. So I was ready to get home and relax.

I had wanted to visit a Sunday School class this morning but I slept too late. Probably a good thing because I don’t think I could have made the four hours total from Sunday School to Sunday Afternoon Lunch.

Memory Verses

Posted by: David Carroll

I have been memorizing scripture for more than twelve years now on a regular basis. Most of the time it has been part of a small group accountability effort. I cannot overestimate the value of memorizing scripture for the impact it will have on your walk with God. It affects so many areas of the Christian life to have a verse ready for any situation, witnessing, counseling, meditation, encouragement and fighting sin.

I wrote a Pocket PC application to help me organize and practice the memorization process a number of years ago. And of course it still works like a charm. However, I rarely if ever carry it now since I use a Windows Mobile Smartphone which handles all of my email and contacts better than the Pocket PC did. But the SmartPhone interface is not conducive for scripture practice because of the keyboard and small screen.

So I had the idea of putting together a web-based version similar to my previous incarnations of the Verse Memorization program. I just have the basics of it working and there are a few bugs yet. The look and feel of it really need a lot of work but it is usable. Still to do are the ability to modify the categories and add new verses. But I have a huge database already of several hundred verses that should be enough to get me back started practicing them as a part of my daily disciplines.

You are welcome to give it a try yourself. Click on the “Verse” menu item above and you will be taken to an initial page of verses laid out in a table. There is a dropdown box to choose one of my own crazily organized categories to change the verses selected. Then find a verse you want to practice and click the “Practice” hyperlink. That will give you a modal dialog box with the rest of the instructions there. Words that start with “quotation marks” do not work like they are supposed to yet.

Update 2/6/2006 1:50PM : I fixed a couple of bugs and dressed up the look a bit.

Another Update 2/6/2006 11:59PM : I noticed the the instructions on the practice dialog page did not tell you that you could press the spacebar when ever you get stuck on a word. In fact pressing the spacebar will one word at a time complete the whole verse for you. I corrected the instructions.

Creation Science in Spanish

Posted by: David Carroll

An exciting thing that came out of one of my meetings this week is that I was asked to teach the Creation Science Course again but to a Spanish audience and have the whole series video-taped to use for training pastors in Central and South America. Actually the video would become part of a whole series of pastor training material of which there are already 96 hours completed.

I know just the right man to translate for me as well. He is Dr. David Harms, a medical doctor who gave up his medical practice to become a missionary to the Honduras people for 25 years. He still knows all the scientific and necessary technology to be able to communicate the technical terminology to a Spanish audience.

I really don’t see any obstacles to this project except that we must ask the Lord to be willing for it to happen.

Thank You Lord for an opportunity like this to help train pastors in the truth of your Creation and your Word.

Continued Progress

Posted by: David Carroll

I feel like I have gotten a lot done this week. I had another great class Wednesday Night and folks came up afterwards and asked some great questions. The last two days, I have had some long meetings with various people and my stamina continues to improve. One thing I just realized today is not only have I not had any low-back pain since my surgery but I have not noticed any arthritis pain in my left hip which was almost as painful as the sciatica pain I was having. In fact I was even considering a hip replacement. Now I still have to qualify that I am still on drugs (less and less amounts every week though), so I can’t speak definitively but I can say that I am believing God has used this last, providential surgery to completely heal me of the things that have afflicted me so much for the last three years including my arthritis.

I did discover Wednesday Night when I forgot to take a pain pill and also several mornings this week when I would wake up after all the pain medicine had worn off that my neck and shoulders are still hurting. Understandable though, because I still just seven weeks out from the surgery.

Thank you Lord for all you have done for me and I pray that it will all be to glorify your name through my testimony for You.

The Stages of Eternal Life

Posted by: David Carroll

I was listening to another Piper Sermon this morning and I knew I needed write this down and study it and make it part of my own understanding to share with others. I listen to Piper sermons devotionally because his words draw me to Christ in a tearful, making me love so much more, and that is such a good thing.

But there is more to the motivation for writing these particular notes. Piper is a Calvinist and I am maybe a three point Calvinist. So in the intramural debate between Christians on this subject we would be on opposite teams but at the same school. What I heard in this Sermon was a list of the Stages of progression to Eternal Life. And these stages necessarily include how a person gets Eternal Life in the first place. Everything he said, I could agree with completely even given my three point Calvinist stance. (I don't like using that term to describe me but it makes my point most plainly in this context.)

Stage 1. Eternal life is in Christ.

John 1:4
In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

John 14:6
Jesus said, "I am the way the truth and the life."

If we are going to find Eternal Life, we must look to Christ and find it in Him.

Stage 2. Eternal life comes to us through the word of Christ.

John 6:68
(Peter talking to Jesus) "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life"

John 1:1,14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God ... and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us

We can only know about Eternal Life through the words of Christ, and what he taught.

Stage 3. In the hearing of the words of eternal life, God draws people to Christ.

John 6:44
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him

This is the wooing and drawing of God, without which no one would by nature choose Him.

John 5:40
But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

Some will resist this wooing even though they have heard the words.
God must give you a measure of faith to be able to see Jesus and who He really is.
Is that regeneration, or we still talking about God's drawing, beckoning people?

Stage 4. We receive eternal life through believing in Christ.

When we hear the words of life, and use that measure of faith that God has given us to act on God's drawing power, and believe in Jesus, we receive him into our lives and with him we receive eternal life, because he is eternal life.

John 15:5 (NKJV)
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

It is the vine that has the sap of life which can course through the branches giving them life. If the branches are not attached to the vine, they are dead.

Stage 5. In believing we have eternal life NOW, not just in the future.

John 5:24 (NKJV)
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

This is not a future event but an event that occurs at the moment of hearing Jesus' Word and believing it. In the above verse, both words that speak of possessing eternal life and passing into life are present tense not future!

Stage 6. This eternal life is a personal relationship with God the Father and God the Son.

John 17:3 (NKJV)
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Eternal Life is not an insurance policy against death and hell. Eternal Life is all about knowing God and Jesus intimately. And that does not happen in an instant. It will take an eternity to know the fullness of God.

Stage 7. Eternal life is not interrupted at death.

John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.

Stage 8. Eternal life will be made complete when our bodies are raised from the dead and reunited with our spirits.

John 6:40 (NKJV)
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

There is a period of time when we will not have our new ressurected bodies if we die before the rapture. We will enjoy the presence of Christ in heaven in our spiritual bodies.

Romans 8:23 (NKJV)
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

We will eagerly wait in heaven for that day when we are reunited with out perfected ressurected bodies.

Stage 9. Eternal life will last for ever and ever.

Have you ever worried about getting bored in heaven? Don't worry, it will take an eternity to discover all the beauty, majesty, wonder, and splendor of God and all that He is. And it will take an eternity to fully grasp the depth and height and width and breadth of God's Love.

Under Sin

Posted by: David Carroll

I am a pretty good person. I treat other people decently. I don't steal, kill, lie much, or swear much, and I give to my church and other charities. I live a pretty easy life too. I’ve got happiness in my nice wide-screen entertainment center complete with game console and I just want peaceful evenings to spend there. I want my job which is not too stressful and pays me pretty well. I want a nice long vacation. I want a secure retirement. And I want some cancer-free years in my den. Then I’ll have joy.

But what have I left out of that nice description of my nice life? Where is God in all that. Where am I deriving my joy from in such a life? Oh yes, I can pray a thanksgiving prayer to God for all of these manifold blessings he has bestowed upon me. God is the most importing thing in the universe. Sin is rebellion against God. When I sin, I don’t want to be bothered with God let alone find my joy in Him.

Romans 3:10-11,18 (NKJV)

As it is written: "There is none righteous, no, not one"
There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.

"There is no fear of God before their eyes."

This is not me any more. Here is who I am: I want to find my joy in God. I want to be completely satisfied with Him. I want to love God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. I want to be a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. Why do I want these things? Because I have been given a new birth. I am a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I have a new nature in me.

But that old nature still hangs around. I need to be reminded constantly about God and my devotion to him and how he saved me and gives me grace every moment. I need to read my Bible every day. I need to talk about Him to other people, I need other people to tell me about what God is doing in their lives. This is what constant prayer, devotion, fellowship, worship and witnessing is all about. It is about feeding the new person that I am in Christ, and starving my natural condition which is not righteous and does not seek nor fear God.

Because sin separates us from God and ruins our fellowship with Him we have a wonderful promise from Him in:

1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Inspired by: John Piper - All Jews and Gentiles are Under Sin Part 2