JREnsey blog August 2017

Welcome to the JREnsey blog for August, 2017.

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The Word for Today

“Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God” (II Corinthians 4:1-4 NLT).

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Media blown away by laying on of hands

President Trump had a meeting of Christian leaders in the Oval Office recently where they offered prayer for him. In the process, some laid their hands on him as they prayed. Some in the mainstream media seemed to have no idea what that was all about and classed it as weird.

Erin Burnett of CNN appeared to be unaware of the significance or even the existence of the practice: “Pretty stunning image, I mean, I’ll give you a quick peek at it….The president bowing his head in prayer in the Oval Office and all these people sort of touching him, it’s very strange.”

What is stunning is how far left America, and particularly the media, have drifted in the last 50 years. By denying prayer or even a glimpse of the Bible in schools, we have come to a place of mass ignorance of Christian practice. Where to from here? Weep for your children.

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Is I Thessalonians 5:22 mistranslated in modern versions?

I recently heard someone suggest that I Thessalonians 5:22 has been mistranslated in the New King James Version—“abstain from every form of evil.” Is this true?

Apparently this is being said because the KJV renders the text: “abstain from all appearance of evil.” The quotation is from someone who feels that any other rendering besides that in the KJV is inaccurate.

The truth is, most other translations render the Greek eidos as “kind” or “form,” which Greek dictionaries list as the first or basic understanding of the word. Therefore, the ESV/CJB/DLNT/NASB/NET/NRSV/NIV, etc. will say “every form of evil.” The NLT/NIV/HCSB say, “every kind of evil.” Mounce’s Interlinear Greek NT reads, “every kind of evil,” with which Vincent’s Word Studies in the Greek NT agrees: “The word signifies form or kind.”

Strong’s, which often yields to or includes KJV renderings in its definitions, basically defines the word as “visible form, shape, appearance, kind.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states, however, that “in I Thessalonians 5:22 ‘form’ or ‘kind’ is indicated.” And Vincent points out: “It is impossible to abstain from everything that looks like evil.” (Italics mine.) To make eidos here mean “appearance” (KJV) alone, to the exclusion of other renderings, is overly narrow.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary notes that “It has a somewhat different significance [from appearance] in I Thessalonians 5:22, in the exhortation ‘Abstain from every form of evil,’ i.e., every sort or kind of evil (not ‘appearance,’ AV).”

“Appearance” is acceptable to me. I know of no one who really has an issue with that rendering. There are bigger fish to fry. The point is that major new versions are accused of weakening the Word simply because they read differently from the KJV. The abstention called for in the verse is just as strong in the versions cited as in the KJV—and evidently more accurate. Moreover, there is no mistranslation at I Thessalonians 5:22 when “form” or “kind” is used. Truth and accuracy trumps familiarity any day. One may like “appearance” because it reads that way in a familiar version, but don’t accuse others of mistranslating the Word when it may be the KJV that is on the edge of accuracy.

Claims like this are typical of those who want to condemn all contemporary versions out of hand. Please don’t be deceived by those who claim that the KJV is absolutely accurate at every word and verse to the exclusion of all others. It was put together by a group of Anglican churchmen in the early 1600s—not handed to King James by Jesus or the Apostles. No English translation should claim sole right to being the Bible. The Bible is the original Greek text, not the work of biased translators 1600 years later working from a text that was cobbled together by a Catholic monk using only a handful of manuscripts. It is fine to use the KJV only if one chooses, but don’t deceive our people by making claims about it that are not verifiable.

Want info about the history of the Bible that will affirm your faith in the God’s Word? Scroll down to BooksBooks and order Searching the Scriptures: Merging Truth, Texts and Translations from advanceministries.org/store. Or from PPH if you desire.

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You may not even be a Christian

According to Ray Pritchard at Keep Believing Ministries, Apostolic believers are not even Christian. In an online article titled God in Three Persons: A Doctrine We Barely Understand, he writes:

“All Christians believe the doctrine of the Trinity. If you do not believe this—that is, if you have come to a settled conclusion that the doctrine of the Trinity is not true—you are not a Christian at all. You are in fact a heretic. Those words may sound harsh, but they represent the judgment of the Christian church across the centuries. Christians in every land unite in proclaiming that our God eternally exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those who deny that truth place themselves outside the pale of Christian orthodoxy.

“Having said that, I admit that no one fully understands it. It is a mystery and a paradox. Yet I believe it is true. I can think of at least three reasons for believing in the Trinity:

1) “The Bible teaches this doctrine.

2) “Christians everywhere have always believed it.”

3) “No other explanation makes sense.”  [End of quote by Pritchard]

One wonders where Mr. Pritchard was educated, if at all. Some are educated beyond the level of their intelligence. His three reasons are poorly formulated and none are true, sounding as if written by a hooded monk in the basement of a monastery during the Dark Ages. Let’s evaluate them.

1) “The Bible teaches this doctrine.” In this he is not following the position of many, perhaps most, of the outstanding scholars of Christendom. They freely admit that the Trinity created by emperor-led church councils in the fourth century is not expressed in the Holy Scripture. Some suggest “hints” of it in the Bible, but they know that to prove it from Scripture is a losing battle. That is why they draw a sum line and call it “a mystery and a paradox” that one must accept by faith—meaning, in reality, faith in the wisdom and knowledge of the priesthood of state-run churches. Trust the church, they say. From the seventeenth century to today, scholars have known that the primary proof-text for the doctrine (I John 5:7b-8a) was not in the original Scriptures. They are left to depend on one verse—Matthew 28:19. It is interesting, however, that researchers have yet to find one extant Greek manuscript with the ending “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” before Nicea in the fourth century. Perhaps they will, but it may well have been tacked onto some manuscript from liturgical use after Nicea.

2) “Christians everywhere have always believed it.” They have not, of course. The Apostolic era Christians did not believe it. They did not put it in their writings because Jesus did not teach it. The philosophy-laden writers of the second and third century in the Roman Empire prepared the foundation for its hardened construction at the Councils of Nicea (325), Constantinople (381), and Chalcedon (451). This, in spite of the fact that history affirms that many Christians throughout the Middle Ages (c. 500-1400) did not embrace a Trinitarian view of God. The state church (Roman Catholic) forced citizens of Western European nations to give homage to the doctrine or die. It is likely that during this time not one of those who gave compulsory lip reverence to the doctrine could explain it. One may bow a knee to a theory, but a feigned or coerced conversion does not create a true Christian.

3) “No other explanation makes sense.” To Pritchard, that is, since he is working from a presupposition that Trinitarianism is right. He as much as admits that the Trinity cannot be understood—i.e., that it doesn’t make sense. That which makes sense can be understood by someone with sense (Romans 1:20). The Oneness position is the only position expressed in the Old Testament. Monotheism made good sense to the Hebrews. The New Testament revealed Christ as a manifestation of the one God (I Timothy 3:16)—a human man without an earthly father—brought forth from a virgin so He could qualify as our kinsman redeemer and be the substitute sacrifice for our sin. The man Christ Jesus was not another God, or another person in the Godhead, but a fully human individual—God manifested in the flesh, the apostle Paul said. He was God’s Son, in whom was God’s fullness (Colossians 2:9), who, as our mediator (I Timothy 2:5) could bleed and die (I Corinthians 15:3). As the incarnation of God, He was sufficiently human to be seen, touched, and subjected to temptation (I John 1:1; Hebrews 5:7; James 5:17; Hebrews 4:15). That understanding of Jesus Christ is simple, scriptural, and unburdened by pagan philosophy.

Pritchard’s final bit of wisdom: “Someone has said it this way: If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.” So, it was not set forth in Scripture, it was not believed or preached by the church in the Apostolic or post-Apostolic era, but some bishops, beholden to a fourth century Roman emperor, got together and declared it to be orthodox; hence, anyone who denies the Trinity doctrine is not a Christian and is therefore lost. Does that make sense?

Sorry, Mr. Pritchard, Apostolic Christians have lost neither their minds nor their souls. You, however, may have scrambled your own brain in the effort to embrace the inexplicable. Simplify your faith with the truth of the mighty God in Christ and His saving name administered in baptism. That’s easy to find in Scripture. Then look for an Apostolic person (they are fairly easy to spot) and he or she will be happy to explain the Godhead and the Bible’s plain path to eternal salvation.

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What’s good for the goose…

A devout Arab Muslim got into a cab in London and asked the driver to turn off the radio. When the driver asked why, the passenger replied that there was no recorded music, especially Western music, in the time of the Holy Prophet.

The cab driver switched off the radio, stopped the cab and opened the door for the passenger to get out. When the passenger asked what he was doing, the cab driver said, “In the time of the Holy Prophet, there were no taxis, no bombs, no plane hijacks, no West-invented loud speakers in Mosques that woke up the newly born, the elderly and the sick at unearthly hours, no suicide attacks, no RDX [explosives], no AK-47s, only peace everywhere. So shut up, get out and wait for a camel.”

– Source: unknown

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No stopping place

The Church of England’s General Synod has passed a motion on welcoming transgender people that includes supporting a call for the House of Bishops to consider preparing liturgical materials to “mark a person’s gender transition,” the church reported Sunday. In other words, celebrate his/her identity of choice, one of dozens now listed on the Internet. The church announced in May it would be voting on the matter over the summer.

“I hope that we can make a powerful statement to say that we believe that trans people are cherished and loved by God, who created them, and is present through all the twists and turns of their lives,” the Rev. Christopher Newlands said, opening debate on the issue.

Bishop of Worcester John Inge said during the discussion that “our response needs to be loving and open and welcoming and the passing of this motion would be a very important factor in that.”

I didn’t know God specifically created them. Genesis has no record of it. God did create the first two humans as male and female. The rest of us came from them and match up with one or the other. Along the way, some have become confused about their gender, a consequence of a wayward culture. Even a cursory reading of Scripture can help clear up the confusion, which is not caused by God (I Corinthians 14:33). I know a guy with just one leg who was made that way by surgery. Did God create one-legged humans? Can biped men simply “identify” as one-legged in order to get disability benefits?

There is no stopping place.

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Look who is trying to turn your child into a sexual deviant

Magazines, movies, and every form of media, plus our public schools, are inviting your children into the lifestyles of this degenerate culture. Matt Walsh urges you not to let them. If you are a parent and have the stomach to know what is happening, read his article:

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/matt-walsh-the-left-wants-to-turn-your-child-into-a-sexual-deviant-dont-let-them/

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The Day the Music Died

The world’s most tolerant people are inviting the world’s most intolerant people into their nation and their cities. The Swedes believe it’s a noble experiment…but it is an experiment doomed to fail. A stunning—and stunningly disturbing—event took place this past weekend. But unless you were scouring the news very carefully, chances are you didn’t even hear of it.

The annual Bravalla Festival, one of the most popular summer music concerts in Sweden, was abruptly canceled. There will be no festival next year. Or ever.

Given that tens of thousands of tickets were sold, the problem was not attendance. Nor was there any difficulty booking big-name rap and rock stars. No, this festival was canceled because of something far more ominous—Bravalla has become synonymous with rape and sexual assault.

Festival officials, as they announced the end of Bravalla, complained that “certain men” don’t know how to behave. You might wonder if those “certain men” are strapping blonde Swedes with names like Erik, Viktor, and Gustav. But in fact, the assailants are allegedly immigrants from the Middle East, North Africa, and other predominantly Muslim areas of the world.

One year ago the Bravalla Festival gained a measure of infamy when police reported five rapes and a dozen cases of molestation. The story got minor coverage in some media outlets, including the New York Times, which described the assailants as “foreigners” and “refugees.” Predictably, the Times also warned of a “far-right” backlash.

This year the situation was even more sickening, with four reported rapes and 23 instances of sexual assault. And the Times? The “paper of record” chose to run a brief Associated Press dispatch noting that the festival has been shut down. Nowhere was there any mention that Muslim immigrants were the likely perps.

Source: Bill O’Reilly.com

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Book review

A New History of Early Christianity

Charles Freeman; London: Yale University Press, 2009; 377 pages; 14.95 from B/N

Last month I reviewed a book on the Christological debates and events in post-Apostolic Christendom, particularly during the third and fourth centuries. The quality of scholarship left something to be desired, along with the physical aspects of the book. This month I am offering another review of a similar tome.

Freeman’s thoughts on pre- and post-Nicea are far more coherent and well-organized. The portion of the book that will most interest Apostolics contains historical information between the Nicean Council and the Constantinople Council of 371. They were trying to come up with a doctrinal position on the nature of God and Christ that would appease the Christians and not offend the pagans. We have long known that the formulation of the Trinity doctrine was birthed from philosophical and pagan input. Freeman confirms that fact, although his personal beliefs about the doctrine are rather vague.

The author walks us through the spread of Christianity in the first and second centuries. Afterward, he focuses on the heated Christological debates that rent the faith in the post-Apostolic era. His insights regarding the role of the Roman emperors in those deliberations are quite informative. Confusion reigned throughout the Christian world about the term homoousios (of the “same” substance), the locution that divided the bishops at Nicea. They could not decide between a Christ who was of the same substance as God, or one who was of a substance “like” that of God (homoiousios). Most of my readers will be familiar to some extent with the debates surrounding these terms.

Let me share a few quotes from the book that I found interesting:

“Nicea was a muddled formula adopted in the heat of the moment to achieve the political purpose of isolating Arius and this was recognized, not least by Constantine, as soon as the dust had settled.” (p. 238)

“It was hard enough to make a philosophically coherent case for the pre-existence of Christ but even more difficult to say with authority when this pre-existence might have begun.” (p. 238)

“The theologians of the early church were all subordinationists, in that they believed Jesus to be, in some way, subordinate to the Father. Subordinationism was strong because it had a mass of support from Scriptures. …It also fitted well with Platonism, which now provided the philosophical backbone to Christian theology. Arius’ conception of the Trinity, in which the Holy Spirit was subordinate to the Son, who was, in his turn, subordinate to the Father, echoed Plato’s hierarchy of the Forms.” (p. 239)

“Those who still supported the Nicene Creed of 325 faced a formidable theological challenge as they could hardly renounce the term homoousios and ‘begotten’ without rejecting the creed altogether, yet these two terms seemed to clash with each other. How could an entity of one substance beget another of the same substance without diminishing itself, or if not, proclaiming its superiority to the one begotten.” (p. 239)

Constantius, a subordinationist who became sole emperor in 351, wished to unite the divided empire around a single Christian creed. “He called on a group of bishops [who] drew up the Dated Creed, so called because the date, 22 May 359 was inscribed on it. …Jesus was described as ‘the Son of God’, distinct from Him but ‘begotten before all ages.’ …The difficulties of having to explain how a Father and his begotten Son could exist eternally…were thus avoided. …There is a short statement of belief in the Holy Spirit but the Spirit is not included with the Father in the Trinity.” (p. 241)

“Athanasius…was not an intellectual and distrusted those who brought pagan philosophy into theology; their speculations were no more than ‘fancies of human invention.’ …He made one important advance on Nicea. He recognized that the status of the Holy Spirit had been left unacknowledged in the Nicene and he insisted that it must be given some form of higher status alongside Father and Son.” (p. 243)

The sides in the Christological debates during the third and fourth centuries were neither all wrong nor all right. Their minds were clouded with pagan vernacular and ideology. Arius had concluded that Jesus was not divine, while Athanasius held that He was indeed an emanation of God, and therefore an eternal Son and Deity. The Arians rejected the eternality of a “begotten” son since such a position flew in the face of all reason. The early third century Sabellians were closest to a scriptural Christology but the Trinitarians led by Tertullian quickly extinguished his flame.

Reading the history of those times makes us know that our erstwhile mini-squabbles at conferences would have been considered child’s play in comparison to those of the fourth-century leaders trying to hammer out the details of the Trinity. “The historian Socrates suggested the Nicene debates were ‘like a battle fought at night, for neither party appeared to understand distinctly the grounds on which they calumniated one another.’” (p. 239) All of that infighting served to make a royal mess of Christology!

The book has sufficient value as a historical resource to justify its modest cost. Get one.

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BooksBooksBooksBooksBooks

Searching the Scriptures: Merging Truth, Texts and Translations

What can be trusted to be the real Bible? How did our English Bibles evolve? Did the translators of the Bible in 1611 have all the biblical manuscripts? Or did they assume that the work of the Catholic monk, Erasmus, was acceptable, along with previous English Bibles, which they mostly copied? Do the contemporary versions purposely “omit” certain words or phrases to water down the Scriptures? What is the real truth about the “omissions”? Dont be afraid of the truth—it will make you free! You can trust the Bible, but not always those who make false claims about particular versions. This book will help you arrive at the truth about the Bible translation issue. By J. R. Ensey; 435 pages; 19.95

Order from advanceministries.org/store. Or call 936-537-0250.

IHML Bible Studies

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No other one-hour Bible study has enjoyed the consistent results of IHML over the years. Often copied but never fully duplicated. It is attractive, well written, and doctrinally sound. Those who are seeking for Availabletruth will see that the new birth is absolutely essential and that Acts 2:38 constitutes that experience. Over 2 million copies sold.

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IHML_GFL_RevisedA follow-up study for the new convert. This little booklet can be given to the new convert to go through alone and then come back to you with any questions they may have. It covers the new birth—what has happened to them in conversion and goes through what their spiritual responsibilities are now.

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Promotional Tracts 
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Hand out these tracts to help you promote the Bible study in your community. Available in English and Spanish. It’s easy to get Bible study opportunities with these tracts.  $9.95 per 100

Order from Advance Ministries or call 936-537-0250.

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Liberals think the rest of us are ignorant clods

This was the scene of real inspiration—34,000 Apostolic youth worshiping and lifting up Jesus at the historic NAYC 2017!

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Say what?

“Hey, church is over! Lets go find some Bluebell!”

“I could have quoted that scripture, but did they ask me…Nooooo!”

“The U.S. Senate is in my future, for sure!”

“I have just about got this lady trained!”

“Another bath and its not even Saturday.”

“I’ve got a crush on that cute guy in the next picture!”

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Personal

I received an email with an old Burma Shave road sign that read:

Drove too long,

Driver snoozing,

What happened next

Is not amusing. Burma Shave

I suppose the sender was trying to remind me to stay alert when I am driving. In January, I totaled my car on the way home from church (and a restaurant) on a drowsy, sunny Sunday afternoon. My car veered off of a narrow country lane and tried to climb some pine saplings. The saplings won the battle and flipped the car over on its top. Fortunately, I was not seriously injured. Mostly my pride. I thank the Burma Shave sender for reminding me to keep my soul (and my Kia Soul) upright.

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Just for the anglers among us:

To go fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air, with the rush of the brook, or with the shimmer of the sun on blue water. It brings meekness and inspiration from the decency of nature, charity toward tackle-makers, patience toward fish, a mockery of profits and egos, a quieting of hate, a rejoicing that you do not have to decide anything until next week. And it is discipline in the equality of men­—for all men are equal before fish. – Herbert Hoover

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Enjoy the dog days of summer!

JREnsey

 

Published in: on August 1, 2017 at 12:44 AM  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Some are educated beyond the level of their intelligence.
    You, however, may have scrambled your own brain in the effort to embrace the inexplicable.
    One may bow a knee to a theory, but a feigned or coerced conversion does not create a true Christian.

    These three sentences, along with many other well crafted expressions highlighted this month’s offering. Your skill with the pen inspires!

    Blessings to you and yours!


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