Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 6

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Welcome back my friends.

I have finally got a chance to get back to my bottomless pit study. I am looking forward to this portion, since I hope it is the passage that holds the most information!

Lets get started!

Rev 20 :1

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain

Questions

  • Is this the same angel as in Rev 9:1?
  • How heavy is this chain?
  • What is the key made of?

I guess I have more questions than answers for this verse, but to think that the chain is a literal physical(?) chain that somehow restricts spiritual beings seems farfetched to me.

Rev 20:2

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

As an aside, a brother has also asked about the thousand year teaching and if Satan is bound at the present time. To avoid being distracted from the bottomless pit study, I will post something on that topic after this study.

Rev 20 :3

and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

chain gif

What happened to the chain?

Did the chain have any part in sealing the dragon in the pit?

Satan was thrown into the bottomless pit. This is the first time any one is described as actually going into the pit – earlier, some locust type creatures escaped the pit.

Regarding the thousand year topic, and the phrase “deceive the nations no more” see my next posts. I want to focus on the pit for now, though there be many topics in this passage that call out to me to my distraction!

We know that the dragon is (or will be) in the bottomless pit. This verse tells us that. Golly, even this verse states that the pit is simply a temporary confinement for the dragon, since he will be loosed at some time. What I can’t seem to find out is if any other creature actually is thrown into the pit.

If the pit has some characteristics of the grave associated with it in John’s mind, it might make some sense when death and hell are thrown into the lake of fire. I think that since the pit is associated with sheol/gehenna, the bottomless pit may actually give up her dead into the lake of fire. It seems to make some sense to me, but I am open to comments.

This study has been interesting in my opinion since it shows the shallowness of my understanding of one topic in this difficult book. As you surely noticed through the posts, I had more questions than answers.

This is acceptable in my mind, since we are dealing with a symbolic book, crafted by the Spirit of God through a man Jesus loved.

The message of the Bible is an eternal message, a message that needs to be studied and wrestled with to make it your own. Time and effort is required to understand the message, and we have less than a century to do it in our lives.

Garfield

It is not a Garfield comic, that can be understood in 3 seconds and as quickly forgotten!

I suppose the only thing I know for sure is that the pit is a place I want to avoid.

He has made that possible!

Thank you Jesus!


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Faith – Introduction

Faith 2

I was in Sunday School class early this morning and had the opportunity to discuss Christian maturity with the teacher. As we chatted, we wandered off into the subject of faith.

For the next few posts, I hope to delve a little into the concept of faith, and its real world applications for our lives.

Faith

He had told me there are a number of Greek words in the New Testament that are translated “faith” in our English Bible, and I let him know I thought otherwise.

So I came home and did a quick study, using the Blue Letter Bible web site. The following table gives a summary of the New Testament Greek words used when describing our English word “faith”.

Strongs # Greek Transliterated English Equivalent
New Testament (Greek) for “faith”
G571 ἄπιστος apistos that believe not, unbelieving, faithless, unbeliever, infidel, thing incredible, which believe not
G1680 ἐλπίς elpis hope, faith
G3640 ὀλιγόπιστος oligopistos of little faith
G4102 πίστις pistis faith, assurance, believe, belief, them that believe, fidelity
G4103 πιστός pistos faithful, believe, believing, true, faithfully, believer, sure not tr
G6066 ὀλιγοπιστία oligopistia littleness of faith

faith 4

I’m glad he challenged me to look it up and I think we were both sort of correct.

The root word found in each of the above greek words is pistos/pistis, and when checked in that web site I like (see above), both are derived from the Greek word “peíthō”.

Strong’s Definitions
πείθω peíthō, pi’-tho; a primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy, to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively, to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty):—agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) conflent, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield. (Boldened words will be topics for next few blogs)
As our study progresses into each of the greek terms defined above, I would like to explore the concept of faith.
For the short term, I would like to consider the root word peíthō, as it is the most interesting of the greek words above, primarily since it has been the word I have been recently studying.
Watch for my next post – I hope you will AGREE to come visit.

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – Thousand Years Part 2

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Let’s continue in our second post based on the “Questions I’ve Been Asked”, regarding the binding of Satan, and more specifically, the term “a thousand years” in the book of Revelation.

You see, a brother asked me about the thousand year teaching in the Book of Revelation and if Satan is bound at the present time.

I hope I can address these concerns properly.

Let’s read the passage one more time.

Rev 20:2

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

As I mentioned at the end of our last post, this next question has been the most influential in my understanding of the passage.

1000-22.) Does the literalness of a passage increase due to the use of a precise number?

When John is writing this passage, he uses a specific number, and because of this, must mean what he writes, right?

(And isn’t that a cool gif? —->)

We must take his description of the thousand years literally since he specifically uses that specific term and did not modify it by using terms like “approximately” or “about” or “more than”. I must have heard this argument a million times! – Literally a million times!!!

But is that how a Jewish man would communicate 2000 years ago (not exactly 2000 years ago, but again, you know what I mean, right)?

John was a man steeped in the Old Testament, and surely knew of the instances the prophets used the very same term. Granted, sometimes the prophets would be defining a population, the result of a census, or a sum of money, and that seems to be an obvious use of the term in a literal sense. But sometimes the prophets used the term “thousand” to define an indefinite time, or an extended time.

Consider the following passages

Deuteronomy 1:11
May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you!

Was the LORD going to implement a birth control system once the population grew to a certain point? (Don’t be so sarcastic Carl!)

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Ok, follow me on this – let’s assume that one generation is 40 years (just for giggles!)

OK, lets make one more assumption, and that is that Moses recieved this promise aproximately 2,000 years before the birth of our Lord. I know it was less, but let me make the math easy!

A thousand generations would be forty thousand years. 40,000 years! That means that this promise ceases to be valid in the year 38,000.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad my great great great …. grandchildren have a chance, but honestly, what about my lineage in the year 38,001? (Ok Carl now you are being ridiculous!)

Deuteronomy 32:30
How could one have chased a thousand,
and two have put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
and the LORD had given them up?

Although there are many instances of small contingencies of Israeli men taking on multitudes (I am thinking of Gideon and Jonathon for instance), I don’t know if the exact thousand to one or five thousand to one ratios ever exactly occurred.

The Psalms are very descriptive and poetic and often use terms in a very symbolic fashion – not very much unlike the book of Revelation.

Psalm 50:10
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.

I am sure God owns all the cattle. I guess I need to google the actual number of hills on earth – I am sure it is one thousand exactly!

Again Carl – too sarcastic – tune it down a smidge!

Psalm 68:17
The chariots of God are twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands;
the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.

Twenty thousand chariots are a lot of chariots!

Psalm 84:10
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Could the psalmist be using “thousand” days as an expression extending beyond two years and 9 months? Why is he so short sigted? I would have used a million instead of a thousand – At least then I would have over 2700 years of being in His courts!

Psalm 90:4
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.

Yesterday and a watch at night are two different spans of time, so if we are goings to be ‘literalists” regarding the use of the term thousand, we need to consider the literalness of some of the other time descriptions being used.

Psalm 91:7
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

The psalmist seems to use thousand and ten thousand interchangeably. Interesting.

Psalm 105:8
He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,

The covenant is referred to as being forever and the generations are numbered at a thousand. Is there a hint here that thousand means more than a thousand?

It seems that when the writers of Scripture wanted to define an extended number or time , they used the term thousand.

When they wanted to really blow your mind Scripture writers would use the term “murias”, which comes down into the English language as the word myriad. This term seems to give the impression of an innumerable number.

Although this is a short study, it is rooted in the Old Testament. As I grow as a Christian, I am increasingly impressed with the importance of comparing Scripture with Scripture. especially in the book of Revelation.

I look forward to comments and questions, especially passages of Scripture that may help in understanding this topic better.


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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 5

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On to the next verse we find in the book of Revelation, and trying to find some answers to the Bottomless Pit question a brother set me on to research. It seems I still have four verses to consider.

I will address the last two in the next post.

Lets consider our first verse.

Rev 11 :7
And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,

Nagging questions…..

Who is the beast?

  • He fights against the two witnesses (whoever they represent I don’t know, but at the very least they are on God’s side).
  • He is coming out of the pit so he probably smells of death (2 Cor 2:16)

Is his ascension a present activity or is it describing the beasts origin?

In other words, does the beast ascend to make war, or has he ascended previously and John is simply describing the origin/source of the Beast?

The word ascendeth in the Greek is the Strong # G305,

  • verb – present active participle – nominative singular neuter
  • anabaino an-ab-ah’-ee-no: to go up
  • arise, ascend (up), climb (go, grow, rise, spring) up, come (up).

Notice that Johns verb choice is a present active participle. I do not know greek, but from what I can find out, the use of a present tense signifies continuity, or continuously coming out of the abyss.

One website that tries to explain greek grammar states that the present tense signifies “a continuous action, habitual action, often reflects a lifestyle”

(Now I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time considering the continual ascending of the beast as a lifestyle, but the point is taken, that this does not seem to be a one time event.)

Other than defining where the beast is rising from, this verse doesn’t shed much light on the pit.

Rev 17 :8
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.

What is going on here?

Dang – I am glad the only thing I have to consider is the portion describing the bottomless pit, cause this thing about “the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” is simply beyond me. Also, the book of life thing is confusing for me, so I am glad I don’t have to address that topic!

What I do have to address is the pit.

What does this passage teach me concerning the pit?

  • Well – the beast comes out of it – but we saw that in an earlier passage (Rev 11:7).
  • Could this be the same time, same ascendancy as in Rev 11:7?
  • I think John is describing a different time, this being the time(s) the beast goes into damnation/perdition.
  • Rev 11:7 speak of the beasts ascendancy and seeming success over the two witnesses.
  • This passage speaks of the downfall of the beast.

I am tempted to think that the mention of the bottomless pit is more of a description of this beasts origin, as opposed to defining a physical location. I don’t have much to base that on other than this is a highly symbolic book and trying to identify a location for the pit may be a fools errand.

Also, whatever John is trying to describe escapes me since his verb tenses are confusing to me. The beast shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and yet is not, and yet is.

I guess the one thing that I know is that the pit is a real bad place – real bad! Other than that, I am not seeing much more that this verse is telling me of the bottomless pit.

If you have some input, I would welcome it! Hope to see you again for our final post in this series.


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Conditional Security – 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8

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1 Thessalonians 3:1-8

1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone,

2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,

3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.

4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.

5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you–

7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.

8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.

Oh how he loved them Thessalonians!

Paul proves his love when he speaks of going without, of sacrificing his brother Timothy and to be left alone in Athens due to his concern over the Thessalonians.

But what was Paul’s concern?

Though he had warned the young believers of distress, pain and suffering to enter into their lives, he was concerned that these forewarned trials might still nullify his work in the believers.

You see, Paul’s concern was their faith. For these believers to be “moved” by afflictions is a threat that Paul could not endure. Would the believers maintain faith in the midst of trials?

It seems Paul’s faith in the Thessalonians faith was a bit weak – but fully understandable, since the Thessalonians faith was being tested, and their faith seemingly hadn’t been tested prior to this. Beyond all this, Jesus is the only One we really can trust to be fully faithful!

Wagging Tail

But what else was Paul trying to infer/imply? It is interesting that the term “moved” in the Greek, generally refers to a dog waggin his tail.

Strongs Concordance

Moved – σαίνω saínō, sah’-ee-no; akin to G4579; to wag (as a dog its tail fawningly), i.e. (generally) to shake (figuratively, disturb):—move.

Isn’t that interesting, that Paul uses such a word. Somewhere else in his writings he refers to troubles as being not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.

Paul is referring to trials “moving” the believer. Is he implying the trials have the potential to control the believer? Like a dog controls his tail? Am I making too much of this?

Maybe.

But if trials have the potential to control a believers life, and if the believer being controlled by these trials would nullify the work of the apostle….

But alas, Paul had no reason to fear that his work in the believers would be in vain. They were standing strong in their faith, exhibiting love to each other and desire for the apostle.

Which implies that apostles work being in vain (empty) would be that they did not stand strong in their faith.

Strongs Concordance

Vain, κενός kenós, ken-os’; apparently a primary word; empty (literally or figuratively):—empty, (in) vain.

Hang on Carl – according to some great Bible teachers, if these Christians were not strong in their faith, they would still be Christians. The work of the apostle would still be evident, just a bit dimmed and blunt.

But not nullified Paul!

Come on – they gotta still be Christians!


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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 4

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Welcome back friends

In this post, we will continue looking at the question of the Bottomless Pit by delving into chapter 9 of the book of Revelation.

So lets get at it!

Rev 9 :11

They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon.

Who are “they”?

Verse three describes locusts coming out of the smoke that was released from the bottomless pit, and the following verses describe these “locusts”.

Locust gif

Locusts are a common picture of judgement in the Old Testament. Even as discussed in the previous post, when I referred to Exodus 10:14-15, the darkness was created by the locusts. Joel also describes a locust invasion. I will leave it to the reader to consider if John may be using some of Joel’s writings in these verses.

These “locusts” that come out of the pit have a king over them, the angel of the bottomless pit.

Some of the things to notice about the bottomless pit are

  • There is authority within the “Bottomless Pit”
  • Remember earlier that we found that it took authority to open the bottomless pit.
    • Is the authority within the pit the same as the authority over the pit? (Me thinks not!)

The King of the Bottomless Pit is named. Abaddon

This is very interesting since the Hebrew word that translates Abaddon is G3 Abaddon (ab-ad-down’) n/p.

    • a destroying angel
      • (abstractly) a perishing
      • (concretely) Hades [intensive from H6] KJV: destruction.Root(s): H6 Apollyon

As an aside, it is of note that this angel (Abaddon) is a destroying angel, not necessarily a torturing angel.

If John is considering that the pit represents death, which I think he is, the king of the pit, being a destroying angel, seems to give some weight to the annihilation theory of the existence of the damned.

Of course a little later in our study, death and hell are thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14).

If I am consistent with John, this would mean that death and hell – that is, hades or the grave – are thrown into the lake of fire to experience the second death.

That is amazing!

Death is put to death!

Jesus did much more than I can imagine, did He not?


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Conditional Security – Jude 5

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Jude 1:5

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

Can Jude be any less blunt?

Wow – these Israelites, whom Jesus saved out of Israel, were destroyed by Jesus later, due to absence of faith.
Did I read that right?
OK, so Jude may be talking of the people, the family of Israel, the tribes, the entire gaggle of people that were delivered from Egypt. I get that.
But those that Jesus destroyed? No that is not what I think it means!
Jesus destroyed those who did not believe.
Those without individual faith are destroyed by Jesus.
Let that sink in. Can it get any more disturbing to the modern Christian to hear a statement such as this!
OK, lets get back to the point. Could the first deliverance refer to simply being delivered from the tyrants of Israel? I’m thinking the first deliverance was a type, a foreshadowing of a greater deliverance, of a greater salvation, of a greater redemption intended for all who saw the acts of God, heard the words from Moses and internally exercised faith in the God of Israel.
What was the difference between one who was destroyed and one who wasn’t, even though both had been delivered? The duration of their faith separated these two groups of folk – all believed once, some believed continuously.
Only one condition, and that condition is the individuals duration of faith in the Savior, and Jude is preaching this story to believers.
one condition
Seems kinda obvious as to the intent of the author. One condition to avoid destruction in the Christian experience.
And that condition is continuous faith. Dang the people above made the one decision to join the deliverance from Egypt. And were destroyed. By none other that the One who initially delivered them.
Remember Jesus did not say “You must become born again” (referring to a point in time!)
Nope – He didn’t say it that way, and that wasn’t His message.
You must

Be

born again (a state of being!)

Consider!

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 3

Question GIF

Thanks for coming back to our study.

In this post, we will begin to get to the meat of the question by delving into the book of Revelation. This is where the modifier “bottomless” is applied to the pit concept, and is the subject of the original question! (Finally, eh?)

I have continued to underline the English word in each verse that has been translated from the Greek “abussos”. Note that sometimes the word is translated as “pit” and sometimes it is translated as “bottomless pit”.

Lets begin the book of Revelation.

abussos

As an aside, a very interesting layout within the Book of Revelation is the placement and structure of “Abussos” in Revelation.

Consider the symmetry of the Word of God. It is amazing to see the unnoticed structure of the Word and the beauty of the message, not only in the content, but in the presentation of the message!

Abussos in Revelation

A Rev. 9:1-2, Rev. 9:11. Key – Let loose – Locust scourge. The Angel called in Hebrew Abaddon in Greek Apollyon.

B Rev. 11:7. The Beast ascends out of the abyss, overcomes saints
B Rev. 17:8. The Beast ascends out of the abyss. Lamb overcomes (Rev. 17:14).

A Rev. 20:1-3. Key – Shut up – Loosed – Deceive (Rev. 20:8). Serpent, called Diabolos (Greek) and Satan (Hebrew).

Our first verse to consider is found in chapter 9.

Rev 9 :1

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.

Who received the key to the bottomless pit? The fifth angel? The star?

As I glanced at this verse I initially assumed it was the star that received the key to the bottomless pit, but considering the mission of each of the seven angels in the book of Revelation, (see below) it seems possible that the recipient of the key was the fifth angel.

Other translations seem to favor the opposite, that is that the star that fell receives the key to the bottomless pit. I assumed that John may be assigning the term “star” to Satan, but after checking with other New Testament instances of a star falling, came up short. I was recalling Luke 10:18, where Jesus saidI beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Not quite the same, but a study of the word “lightning” in Matthew 24:27 is very interesting! Check out Return of the LORD as Lightning? if interested.

Whoever obtained the key, one principle truth comes through in this verse regarding the bottomless pit. Authority was required to open the bottomless pit! The key was required to open the shaft and representative of authority over the shaft. Think of it this way. Who has a key to your home or apartment. Those that have authority to enter it. A key represents authority.

As another aside, I found it interesting to consider other verses referring to the assignments of the angels in Revelation.

8:7 The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

8:8 The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.

8:10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.

8:12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light might be darkened, and a third of the day might be kept from shining, and likewise a third of the night.

9:1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit

9:13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God,

11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Back to the topic at hand – that is, the bottomless pit.

Rev 9:2,3

He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft.

Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth.

Who opened the bottomless pit? Don’t know! (see above)

Some of the things to notice about this verse are

  • Smoke arose out of the shaft of the pit
  • Sun and air were darkened by the smoke.
  • Smoke was like the smoke of a great furnace.

smoke 1 gif

This verse doesn’t teach that the pit is the great furnace. Simply that the shaft of the pit, when opened, spewed forth smoke. This smoke is likened to the smoke of a great furnace.

So many similes and metaphors – Helpppppp!

Darkness and smoke (along with the appearance of locusts) are associated with Old Testament themes of judgement and death.

Consider the following.

Exod 10:14-15

The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again.
They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

Joel 2:2

a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness!
Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
a great and powerful people;
their like has never been before,
nor will be again after them
through the years of all generations.

Joel 2:10

The earth quakes before them;
the heavens tremble.
The sun and the moon are darkened,
and the stars withdraw their shining.

Also, consider Genesis 19:24-28, for themes of judgement, angelic messengers and a description of smoke as of out of a furnace,

Genesis 19:1, 13, 24-28
1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth
13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”
24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven.
25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
Could John be thinking of some of these passages when he is penning this portion of the book? He was immersed in the Old Testament. The book of Revelation is full of Old Testament quotes and references. I wonder….
It is important to remember that smoke signifies fire, or at least a lingering burn, and that the smoke is part of that which was burned up.800px-Dachau_006

You know, my wife and I visited Dachau in Germany a few years back and in our exploring of the WWII concentration camp, we stumbled upon a small shrine, where it is said that thousands of Jews rested, in the form of ashes. The rest of their corporeal bodies went up in the smoke! A harsh truth is found in that shrine.
The wickedness of man seems to know no bounds, and the furnaces of Dachau are a testament to that wickedness. Man has no right to take life. He did not create life.
No so with God. The bottomless pit may speak of this judgement.
Hopefully, further study will clarify the “Bottomless Pit” and it’s part in the judgement of sinful men and rebellious angels.
Hope to visit with you during our next post. May God bless you and encourage you in your walk with Him.


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Conditional Security – Hebrews 11:13-16

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Hebrews 11:13-16

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.

14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.

16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

They desire a better country!

Because of this desire, that is the desire that the Old Testament saints had, that is their witness of being strangers and exiles on the earth.
Therefore…  Therefore 2
Because these saints did not think of their previous land, (because if they did they would have returned), God is not ashamed to be called their God.
What?
Something is missing here.  The Old Testament saints decided to think and speak of a better country, a better place to be, a better homeland.  This decision to think and speak this certain way impacted God’s attitude towards them. 
God’s attitude was determined by these Old Testament saints decision to think correctly.  And the result of God not being ashamed? He has prepared for them a City
Oh, to have right thoughts, to be aligned with His thoughts in the midst of a busy day, full of distractions,  concerns and problems.   Desire a better country, brother and sister! Desire the heavenly one, where the Heavenly One is.  May He not be ashamed to be called our God.

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – Thousand Years – Part 1

Question GIF

Our first 2 posts under the topic of “Questions I’ve been Asked” have been somewhat controversial!

Lets start this one off with the binding of Satan. (Carl – can’t you find something a bit less debateable?) More specifically, lets look at the term “a thousand years” in the book of Revelation and how it relates to the binding of Satan.

You see, a brother asked me about the thousand year teaching in the Book of Revelation and if Satan is bound at the present time.

I hope I can address these concerns properly.

Let’s read the passage first

Rev 20:2

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

Revelation 20:2 is the first of six references of a thousand years between verse 2 and verse 7. I have argued before that since John repeats himself six times, he must be making a point about the actual length of time that Satan is bound.

But lets think about this.

1.) Does the literalness of a passage increase due to the repetition of a word?

1000 multi

If repetition is a method to emphasize literalness, consider the following passage. Same author – John – writing down the words of Jesus, in describing Himself as a “door”. No Christian I know will say that Jesus is a literal door. (Hint – it is a metaphor for something greater!)

John 10:1-2

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

John 10:7

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

John 10:9

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

I do hope that this one instance (there are many more!) of repetition of a word shows the weakness of this argument. I understand there are differences between the two passages (six repetitions in the book of Revelation, as opposed to only four in John 10), but the point needs to be considered.

Our next post will consider if the literalness of a passage increases due to the use of a precise number? I think understanding the question of precision has actually been the most beneficial for me in this study. I hope you will come join me.

I look forward to comments and questions, especially passages of Scripture that may help in understanding this topic better.


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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 2

Question GIF

Thanks for coming to visit and enter into our study on the bottomless pit.

My hope is that with a bit of study and a few choice questions, a bit of clarity may come to some.

So, lets Consider the Bible and what it teaches about the bottomless pit. We will begin with looking at the greek equivalent of the english word “pit”.

The greek word “abussos”, translated pit or abyss, is the direction the current post will follow. The definition is as follows, per Strongs Concordance.

abussos

Strong’s Number: G12
Greek Base Word: ἄβυσσος

Usage: Deep, (bottomless) pit

Detailed definition:

  1. Bottomless.
  2. Unbounded.
  3. The abyss.
    1. The pit.
    2. The immeasurable depth.
    3. Of Orcus, a very deep gulf or chasm in the lowest parts of the earth used as the common receptacle of the dead and especially as the abode of demons.

Where is this greek term “abussos” found in the New Testament Scriptures? This term is used once in Luke, once in Romans and 7 times in Revelation. This post will deal with the first two references.

I have italicized the specific term/terms that “abussos” has been translated as.

Luke 8 :31

And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.

This is the story of the demons and the pigs, where Jesus approached a man by the name of Legion (since he had so many demons in him), and the demons began to deal with the Messiah, (as if they had any bargaining power). The first thing they request is not to be sent to the abussos, the pit.

My initial thoughts about the pit have been justified in this very verse – it is bad, real bad!

Other than that, the primary issues I understand are:

  • Demons are associated with the abyss (pit).
  • Jesus had the authority to send the demons there.
  • The demons knew it.

It is of interest that the demons ended up “down the steep place into the lake and drowned”

The lake is not the pit, (or it would have been called a pit, I suppose), but a certain link between the pit, water and demons might be found. The demons requested to be in the swine, and the Lord allowed it, but the host swine for the demons did not exist long.

Where did the demons go after their host (the pigs) were destroyed? This text gives us no answers to this question!

Rom 10 :7

“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

Paul is directly associating the abussos, “the deep” with death. He takes Dt 31:11-14 and freely translates it into the Christian experience.

Dt 30 11 & Rom 10

First off, notice how Paul interprets Dt 31:13, where he defines “beyond the sea” as descend into the deep (abussos). This connection of the sea with the pit seems to come up occasionally in this study, and it may be beneficial to note.

Rant #1

OK here comes rant # 1 in this post.
As I continue trying to understand the Bible, I am finding it increasingly important to see how the apostles understood the Old Testament.
A number of challenges have erupted in my studies and I realized that I want to depend on my cultural settings to find the meaning in the passage.
This is not wise!

Ticked off

This freedom of the apostles to interpret the Old Testament (differently than I) used to really tick me off, since I was a dyed in the wool literalist.

It was difficult to defend my understanding of some of the promises in the Old Testament. I kept banging up against this type of passage, where an apostle would not interpret an Old Testament passage per Carl’s methods.

How dare they

How dare those apostles!

Instead, let’s consider a few lessons.

  1. The Apostles Consistency
    • The apostles are being consistent with Jesus’s understanding of the Old Testament. Remember when Jesus referred to “the Temple” (John 2:19 -22) being destroyed. Everyone (including me, if I had been present) misunderstood Him. The apostles no longer misundertand Him. (Luke 24:45). If we seek to apply the apostles teaching according to our understanding, we may be missing out on what the message is trying to communicate to us.
  2. My Growing Understanding
    • By that I mean, I am constantly finding passages that challenge my previous understanding of the Biblical message. And this is OK – heck this is great, since it allows me to remain(?) humble. (hahaha!)

As an aside, I heard the story of a highly respected theologian hundreds of years ago, who wrote a massive commentary before he was thirty, and then spent his life defending it. Either he was a genius, or too stubborn to admit error as the Word challenged his beliefs. This approach does not appeal to me. I am convinced that the Christian life is a life of repentance and a willingness to adjust our thinking and actions to glorify God.

Often, it seems that one passage will impact many prior beliefs. My repentance from a wooden literal-ism has brought about more questions than answers. Not a comfortable position to be in as one who prided himself in his ability to answer bible questions! But being stubborn in error is still error!

In conclusion, I am open to corrective teaching, and this blog is one avenue to find that correction. As a matter of fact, I look forward to finding an apostle quote or refer to an Old Testament passage. It makes me stop, consider and evaluate why he may have used that particular passage in his message.

End of Rant #1

With all that said, the points of interest in Romans 10 seem to be

  • Paul associates “the deep” (pit) with “beyond the sea”.
  • The pit is associated with death.
  • No mention of satan, demons, torment, fire, smoke or darkness is mentioned in this passage.

I hope we can continue in our next post, where we will continue with passages in the book of Revelation that address the “pit”.

May you have a great day and continue to seek Him. Hope to see you during our next post – Promise no rants on the next post!


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Conditional Security – 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

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1 Corinthians 1:4-9

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–

6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–

7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,

8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I would look at verses that seem to support the eternal security teaching and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these passages.

Today’s passage is found in 1 Corinthians 1:8, but I would like to consider the passage from verses 4 through 9.

Is Paul seeking to instruct the believers in Corinth about eternal security? Or is he breaching upon their lack of stability?

Security and Confirmation

Verse 8 clearly states that Jesus Christ shall confirm them unto the end, which must surely mean that once a person becomes a true believer, Jesus Christ is responsible to independently supply the believers security and deliver that person to God at their death. At least that is how I read it in the past and suppose it is the common understanding among those who lean toward the eternal security teaching.

But I do have a few concerns.

I would like to start with Paul’s description of the Corinthians confirmation in verse 6. The passage is telling me that the testimony of Christ was confirmed in the Corinthians. This is the very same word that Paul uses two verses later in verse 8.

So lets consider what is going on in these verses.

Testimony

In verse 7, Paul states the purpose of the confirmation described in verse 6. The testimony of Christ – that is the witness/proof of Christ, was confirmed in the Corinthians via the gifts they received, the knowledge and utterance they experienced. The confirmation had a purpose. The confirmation had two participants, that is, God supplied the gifts, but the Corinthians exercised these gifts of knowledge and utterance. This is important to consider.

In verse 8, Jesus Christ is confirming the believers for the purpose of presenting them as blameless in the day of Christ.

Lets think about this.

Security Synonym?

confirmation 1

Is confirmation a synonym (a word that means the same) for security?

As I read this passage in my earlier belief of eternal security, I would have to say yes! But the question begs to be answered honestly. Please remember that security has synonyms such as safety, defended, protected, sheltered, unharmed and shielded. Confirmation does not relate to these concepts.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Additional Questions

confirmation

Is this confirmation something that is performed only in heaven? Or is this confirmation something that is being accomplished within the believer’s life?

Of course, if it is some type of mystical confirmation in heaven that is a completely independent activity of Jesus Christ alone without the participation of the believer, then adherents to the eternal security may have a valid argument with this verse.

But if the believer participates in this confirmation by obeying the direction (however imperfectly ) of the Master, following His teaching and seeking His direction, then somehow verse 8 includes a human component, a willingness and desire to conform to a blameless life, under the power and enabling of the Lord.

The greek word used in both verse six and eight has the the root meaning of “to be firm”.

When used of persons, it signifies someone who is trustworthy, someone who inspires confidence. In verse eight, the verb is in the future tense and active voice. The active voice represents Jesus Christ (the subject) as the doer or performer of the action.

Let me ask this simple question. As Jesus is confirming these believers to be blameless, would it not be obvious to all? Remember that to confirm someone is to produce someone who is firm, trustworthy, and one in whom you can trust and depend on.

Would not this fruit be evident in the believer’s life? A life that is becoming more like Jesus. He is certainly firm, trustworthy and One in whom we can place our confidence!

This is most interesting since many in the eternal security camp may speak of those who have no outward witness of Christ living in them as still being believers that are eternally secure and guaranteed entry into heaven, simply due to some statement of belief in the past.

break covenant

Of course this is a difficult statement to say in these days of sensitivity, where we must not offend any. But I wonder what engenders God’s trust in a believer who breaks covenant without concern and who claims a vital relationship with Him in the midst of obvious sin and rebellion.

Consider.

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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – OT References

Question GIF

In our first study on the topic, “The Bottomless Pit” I offered a list of verses of all OT references to the English word “pit” terms can be found in a post called “Questions I’ve Been Asked – What about the Bottomless Pit – OT References”)

This so happens to be quite a list, so I have supplied links for each of these words, with a brief definition (Strongs). The term most likely sought in this study is #6 – H7585 sh’owl (Sheol)


1.) H875 ‘er (be-ayr’) n-f.
a pit
especially a well

בְּאֵר (H875)


2.) H953 bowr (bore) n-m.
a pit hole (especially one used as a cistern or a prison)

בּוֹר (H953)


3.) H1360 gebe (geh’-beh) n-m.
a reservoir
by analogy, a marsh

גֶּבֶא (H1360)


4.) H1475 guwmmats (goom-mawts’) n-m.
a pit

גּוּמָּץ, gûmmāṣ


5.) H6354 pachath (pakh’-ath) n-m.
a pit, especially for catching animals

פַּחַת (H6354)


6.) H7585 sh’owl (sheh-ole’) (or shol {sheh-ole’}) n-f.
Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates

שְׁאוֹל, šĕʾôl (H7585)


7.) H7745 shuwchah (shoo-khaw’) n-f.
a chasm

שׁוּחָה (H7745)


8.) H7816 shchuwth (shekh-ooth’) n-f.
Pit

שְׁחוּת (H7816)


9.) H7882 shiychah (shee-khaw’) n-f.
a pit-fall

שִׁיחָה (H7882)


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A Literal Bible – Part 2

page-turning-bible-animation-21Does the Bible lend itself to a LITERAL reading?

Our last post on this topic dealt with the question

“Is all the Bible to be read literally?”

We discussed the literal definition of the word “literal” – Oh how boring…., and genres of literature that passages within the Bible fall into. (somewhat interesting….)

This post, I would like to focus on the question

Is the message intended to be taken literally?

This is the heart of the message I am trying to communicate!

The intended (or true) meaning may be clouded or completely in error if taken literally.
Sometimes the message isn’t completely clear and the author will correct the misunderstanding. The following passages are offered to try to explain this concept.

Lets see if some of the messages Jesus gave in the Gospel of John were meant to be taken literally.

  • A Literal Temple

When Jesus said “Destroy this Temple”, the religious leaders understood the literal temple. Might this have been a mistake?

John 2:18-21

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
  • A Literal Rebirth

When Nicodemus came to Jesus, Jesus told him he must be born again. Did Nicodemus take this literally?

John 3:3-9

3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?”
  • A Literal Well

When Jesus told the woman at the well about living water, and she asked Jesus about a bucket and the depth of the well, was she taking Jesus’ words too literally?

John 4:9-11

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?
  • A Literal Lunch

When the disciples came back from the town, after Jesus discussion with the woman at the well, they were confused about what Jesus had eaten. Maybe the disciples understood Him too literally?

John 4:31-35

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
  • His Literal Flesh

How about when Jesus taught that His flesh was to be eaten and His blood was to be drank. Should that be taken literally?

John 6:48-52

48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

The Person of Christ

How about the “I am” statements in the Gospel? Shall literalness help us in our understanding of the person of Christ? Shall we consider the Messiah to be…

  • A Literal Light

John 8:12

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 9:5

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

  • A Literal Door

John 10:7

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

  • A Literal (Path)way

John 14:6

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  • A Literal Vine

John 15:1

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

John 15: 5

5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Two final points come to mind at this time.

  • Many times throughout the gospels, those who took the sayings of Jesus too literally either
    • Were in a state of confusion, but eventually found clarity,

or

    • refused to consider anything other than the literal understanding.

Those who were confused but hungry and teachable eventually got the message. Those who refused to consider any other understanding seemed to be associated with His enemies.

  • Throughout the gospel, there are thousands of instances where depending on literalness causes confusion. And thousands of instances where it occurs in Johns other writings. Thousands! Even in Revelation. Thousands I tell you, thousands!

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


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Questions I’ve Been Asked – The Bottomless Pit – Part 1

Question GIF

Our next topic under our “Questions I’ve Been Asked” is gonna take a few posts, and I hope you will continue with me on this study.

I was listening to a Bible teacher on you tube a while back and he was teaching on the topic of the Bottomless Pit. Although many of the issues he raised were very questionable (IMHO) , a friend asked me what I thought the Bible taught concerning it.

You know, at the time, all I knew was that it was bad – real bad!

But I don’t think that would satisfy this brother, so off I go into studying – “The Bottomless Pit”

First off – Definitions!

Strong’s concordance explains “abussos” as follows:
G12 abussos {ab’-us-sos} AV – bottomless pit 5, deep 2, bottomless 2; Total: 9

  • bottomless
  • unbounded
  • the abyss
    • the pit
    • the immeasurable depth
    • of Orcus, a very deep gulf or chasm in the lowest parts of the earth used as the common receptacle of the dead and especially as the abode of demons.

Secondly – Source Material

What might the Old Testament teach us about the “Pit” before we venture into the New Testament? At this time, I understand the term bottomless to be a modifier to pit, and not necessarily defining a proper name.

The following nine Hebrew terms are translated pit in the Old Testament and have varying degrees of importance in our study as we consider how the Old Testament may give light in relation to the apostles understanding of this topic, and especially John’s use of “pit” in Rev 20.

(Links for lists of verses of each of these OT terms can be found in a post called “Questions I’ve Been Asked – What about the Bottomless Pit – OT References”)

1.) H875 ‘er (be-ayr’) n-f.
a pit, especially a well
2.) H953 bowr (bore) n-m.
a pit hole (especially one used as a cistern or a prison)
3.) H1360 gebe (geh’-beh) n-m.
a reservoir
by analogy, a marsh
4.) H1475 guwmmats (goom-mawts’) n-m.
a pit
5.) H6354 pachath (pakh’-ath) n-m.
a pit, especially for catching animals
6.) H7585 sh’owl (sheh-ole’) (or shol {sheh-ole’}) n-f.
Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat), including its accessories and inmates
7.) H7745 shuwchah (shoo-khaw’) n-f.
a chasm
8.) H7816 shchuwth (shekh-ooth’) n-f.
Pit
9.) H7882 shiychah (shee-khaw’) n-f.
a pit-fall

The majority of these terms define a simple hole in the ground, usually with dire consequences. An example would be – Joseph was thrown in a pit.

Sometimes the term used simply defines a well, sometimes, though rarely, with a positive connotation (a well of living waters – Song 4:15)

Where it gets interesting is in the 6th term – Sheol. This term is used 63 times in the Old Testament, translated as

  • grave – 29 times
  • pit – 3 times
  • hell – 31 times

Sheol is usually referring to a hole in the ground, but it represented death, decay and the end. Although there are two texts that speak of a resurrection …

Job 19:26

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God

Dan 12:2

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

…it is not completely clear (at least to me) what the Jewish population believed about the grave.

If the Old Testament Saints believed in a physical resurrection, Sheol, as a physical hole in the ground, represented the greatest enemy.

sheol-word-hell

If Sheol represented a specific place of reward or punishment, I have not found it stated as such in the Old Testament. (I said Old Testament folks – I heard some of y’all thinking bout Luke 16!!!)

With that said, at the very least we can know is that Sheol represented the grave.

The next post will begin dealing with New Testament light on this subject!

I hope you can join me as we dig into this interesting and somewhat emotionally charged topic.


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A Literal Bible – Part 1

page-turning-bible-animation-21

Does the Bible lend itself to a LITERAL reading?

Is all the Bible to be read literally?

First off, let me perfectly clear – I’m not saying we are not to read the Bible. Gosh golly nooooo. Read the Bible. Wrestle with it. Struggle with the Word. Argue with Him until it becomes clear. Honestly, if this post is competing for time that you could be reading the Bible, shut me down! Read the Bible instead. It will do your soul good.

Now that you have understood my stance on Bible reading, I suppose I am simply asking that when you read the Bible (remember you should read the Bible), are all portions of the Bible to be read in a strictly literal manner?

Literal Defn

Is it true that the best method of understanding the Scriptures is to interpret the message literally?

I suppose that depends.

First off, lets make sure we understand what the term “literal” means.

I checked the definition found on http://www.dictionary.com, and found the following information.

Literal
adjective

  • in accordance with, involving, or being the primary or strict meaning of the word or words; not figurative or metaphorical: the literal meaning of a word.
  • following the words of the original very closely and exactly: a literal translation of Goethe.
  • true to fact; not exaggerated; actual or factual: a literal description of conditions.
  • being actually such, without exaggeration or inaccuracy: the literal extermination of a city.
  • (of persons) tending to construe words in the strict sense or in an unimaginative way; matter-of-fact; prosaic.
  • of or pertaining to the letters of the alphabet.
  • of the nature of letters.
  • expressed by letters.
  • affecting a letter or letters: a literal error.

noun

  • a typographical error, especially involving a single letter.

Like I said, reading the Bible literally depends on a number of factors. Let’s consider some of those factors.

The Genre of the Passage

Types+of+writing+in+the+Bible

Different genres demand different approaches to interpretation. Types of genres include historical narrative, law, wisdom, psalms, prophecy, apocalyptic, gospel or epistle

In a historical narrative passage, such as the taking of the census before the birth of the Messiah, or the crucifixion of the Savior, literalness serves us well.

In an apocalyptic genre, such as in Revelation, where the writer describes scorpions with stinging tails, it would be wise to consider the genre before committing to a literal interpretation of the passage.

As an aside, it is not a literal interpretation to say that the apostle is describing fighter helicopters. That is an effort to interpret John’s vision by defining what he described as an object that is familiar to 20th century western culture. A literal interpretation will be that the scorpions are scorpions.

A Figure of Speech

Is the writer/speaker using a figure of speech. Some types of “figures of speech” are below with examples from the Bible

  • Hyperbole– an extravagant statement; the use of exaggerated terms for the purpose of emphasis or heightened effect.

Jesus used hyperbole often to teach those listening.

Consider Matthew 5:29

29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

  • ironyIrony/Sarcasm– The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning. A statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea. When used to taunt or ridicule, it is called sarcasm.

When the Pharisees went to trap Jesus in His Words, John records their saying with irony. The Pharisees didn’t mean it but the irony is is that He is true, teaches the way of God, etc.

Consider Matthew 22:15-16.

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words.
16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances.

sarcasm

Or for a good example of sarcasm, lets take a look at Elijah

1 Kings 18:27

27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

  • Paradox– A statement that appears to contradict itself.

Jesus used this method in His teaching very often.

One example is in Luke 16:19-31

Those who live in poverty and destitution while being looked down upon by the rich and powerful are really the first in the Kingdom, while those who are rich and powerful while looking down on those who live in poverty are really last in the Kingdom.

The first will be last, and the last will be first.

Or consider

Matthew 22: 1-14

1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying,
2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son,
3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.
4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’
5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,
6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.
9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’
10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.
12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Just as those who are initially invited to the son’s wedding reject the invitation, those who are initially left out of the wedding plans are accepted as insiders at the wedding banquet. The insiders are out, and the outsiders are in. (If you desire to further study the paradoxical statements of Jesus, I would refer you to http://www.renewtheology.org/paperCFreeman1007.htm .)

  • The historical/cultural use of a word/topic/phrase in the scriptures.

A good example of this is the phrase “an evil eye”. In my past reading of the gospels, when I came across the phrase “an evil eye” I understood it to refer to an eye full of hate or maliciousness. After considering the historical use of the term in the Old Testament, I now understand the term to refer to a greedy covetous person. Without the historical use of the term being considered, I could not have come to that conclusion.

Recently another good example of an incorrect use of a cultural phrase occurred in my office, when I noticed my boss had gotten a haircut. I made mention that he had “gotten his ears lowered”, without thinking that that phrase may be cultural. As a Canadian in Texas, this sometimes happens! I had to explain that his ears weren’t actually lowered but that his hair was higher’d, (huh?) Canadians can be so hard to understand sometimes, eh?

Our next post will continue considering the Bible’s message, specifically the intention of the Biblical message.

Hope you continue to visit and open up a discussion.

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.


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Questions I’ve Been Asked – Introduction

Question GIF

Occasionally I will be chatting with a friend or a stranger (some stranger than I) and a topic will come up that stirs my mind, and causes me to venture down that road of research that just might upset one of my theological apple-carts.

As this occurs, I intend to post on these questions and will offer my findings for your review and comment.

Hope to visit with you, even if it is only to see some of them apples strewn about my pilgrim path!


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Book Look – Finding Church – Obligation

Finding Church

I found a book called “Finding Church” by Wayne Jacobsen, and am on my second reading.

During my reading yesterday, I came across the concept of “having to go” to church. I lived in that morass of thinking for decades.

What is it that took the “wanna be with believers” from the children of God?

One simple truth – You “gotta go to church”.

What?

Why do believers adopt a “gotta go” attitude?

  1. Possibly because the “wanna go” life dried up and died?
  2. Or because of “gotta go” requirements being imposed on believers?

Who knows – As a matter of fact, if any one has knowledge of how that “shift” in church life occurs, let me know – I would be very interested to reading up on it.

Wayne makes a point supporting this thinking when he states

“….making attendance an obligation may already demonstrate that we’ve lost the vitality of real community and have become mired in mundane rituals, demands for conformity, or internal conflicts that alienate people”

Ask yourself one question. Would you attend church if the obligation (whether social or religious) to attend was completely removed?

Do you anxiously wait to visit with a brother or sister, or attend “services” only to discuss sports, work or the weather?

Brother & sister, consider the reason for fellowship. Service to others through mutual encouragement is the goal, not simply the gathering of warm bodies to fill a building and to listen to a lone preacher man.

koinonia 1

Fellowship is the sharing of life with each other, not the commonly accepted understanding of receiving bible facts (teaching) from a man many in the church rarely rub shoulders with in daily life.

Consider the last time your family came together due to obligation. A properly functioning family comes together because of love, of wanting to be with each other, of a longing to see each other and share life with each other. If your children come to visit you because of guilt, change your ways! (The word “dysfunctional” comes to mind if this is your situation.)

Why is it acceptable to motivate believers with obligation instead of love? It should not be so with the body of Christ.

1 John 1:3,6-7

that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

koinonia 2

Note that those who are in fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (vs 3) have fellowship with one another (vs 7). Those that are not in fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ do not have fellowship with anyone.

An obligation to a building or a religious service, however good they may be, will not provide the fellowship described in the Word. Obligation strips the desire of fellowship down to a simple item to be checked off in our religious exercises.

So sad.


If any who are reading this and have found what I am describing, please let me know. If any are hungry for a church life that “connects”, that is living and breathing, reach out.

Others may be able to help you. Comment as you see fit. I always love hearing from you.


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Taxes & Churches – Avoiding Taxes

taxes-150x150Where did the right for churches to avoid paying taxes come from? I mean, did this right to avoid paying taxes come out of Bible teaching?

Is this “right” that churches exercise grounded in the Bible?

Consider the third topic of discussion.


3. Churches Existing Only to Avoid Taxation

 TAXES & CHURCHES

The third time this struggle came up for me is a conversation I had with one of my daughters friends a while back.

He was telling me about some house churches in a town north-west of where I live that were avoiding the paying of property taxes by claiming their home as a church and hiding behind the 501 (c) 3 status.  I don’t know where this young man is in relation to the Lord, but his take on the situation was bang on.  He said that it was obvious, in some of the churches, that the only reason the “church” existed was to avoid the paying of property taxes.  (Is the common refrain of offence ringing in anyone’s ears?)  My goodness.  

Summary Arguments

I can imagine some of the arguments that might arise if this teaching were to be taken seriously by the modern church.

  1. If churches had to pay taxes, missions would suffer.
    • But why would missions need to suffer?  Why not cut church staff, and allow the rank and file of the church to step up.  I think if you have been reading my junk for a while, you realize that I also struggle with what I think of as “professional christianity”.  We hire those to serve us, when we as believers need to serve one another.  It is a crippling disease within the western church.  But this is not the purpose of this blog.
  2. If churches had to pay taxes, there would be less service to the believer, less perks within the church.
    • No free study manuals, coffee, padded pews, etc.  Is that what the body of Christ is all about for you?
  3. If churches had to pay taxes, the growth of the modern church system would come to a grinding halt.
    • Large mega churches would definitely become rarer, since their tax burden might restrict future building plans.  Some existing churches would fall into default because they aree leveraged beyond their means.  
    • When this argument comes up, I often think of the struggling Chinese church prior to and during Mao’s revolution.  All modern western missionaries were pulled from China during the revolution and the western church bemoaned the situation, thinking that without the american missionary leading the church, the church would fall apart and disappear. Have you considered the last 100 years of the Chinese church?  If the rate of Christian growth continues, the nation of China will become a predominantly Christian nation within a generation or less.  (Very similar to the events of the early church in the Roman nation!) And this type of growth without any fancy buildings, professionally trained staff, or weekly entertainment get togethers.  

Amazing!

 TAXES & CHURCHES

What think ye? Is there something I am missing? 

Use the contact form below to share your thoughts.


 

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Local Church Membership Q&A – 20 – Epilogue

Church on a hill

Previous posts in this series were based on a pamphlet provided to me in my search for direction regarding local church membership.

Since my discussion with Cody, I tripped over a blog that discusses the dangers of signing a church covenant, a very fitting epilogue to our discussion on membership

Take a few minutes to visit Istoria Ministries Blog.


This is our final post on this instance of local church membership.  If you have followed the posts through to this one, I would love to hear from you.  Please drop me a line.  As always, if you read something in this discussion that concerns you, please take the time to send me your comments or reply within the post.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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