Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

DOCTRINE

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Up In The Air

Friday, October 20, 2017
At what point in The Great Tribulation are we, the church, raptured?  I struggle to understand who this "multitude" mentioned in Revelation chapter 7 is and at what time they arrived.  Is there any information from the Bible that gives us any idea of when we will be raptured?  Do we suffer through the tribulation with the unsaved?  Do we all die as martyrs?  Do we get "caught up" before the Tribulation begins?

Sincerely,
Looking Ahead

Dear Looking Ahead,

The word ‘rapture’ means ‘caught up’ in Latin.  The term ‘rapture’ is used to describe an event that many think will take place right before the days of tribulation in Revelation.  The problem with this theory is that it is wrong.  There will be a time when all christians will be caught up into the air to be with Christ – the end of time (1 Thess 4:14-18).  The book of Revelation doesn’t describe events in the future; it describes events in the past.  The book of Revelation deals with problems that the church was to “shortly” see come to pass (Rev 1:1).

Furthermore, the tribulation taught by many denominations is based off of a misinterpretation of Matthew chapter twenty-four.  Matt 24 is dealing with the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jewish temple that would happen in 70 AD.  If we carefully pay attention to the context, Jesus is talking about the Jewish temple’s destruction, not a worldwide trial thousands of years in the future (Matt 24:1-2).  Jesus specifically said that the tribulation would occur within that generation’s lifetime (Matt 24:34).

There will be a day when all the faithful are caught up to meet Christ in the heavens.  The day He returns (Acts 1:11), all mankind will be judged at the same time (Jhn 5:28-29).  In that great day (Jude 1:6), the whole world will be burned up with fire (2 Pet 3:10-12).  There will be no post-tribulation, pre-tribulation, semi-tribulation, etc.; there will only be the great Day of Judgment (2 Pet 3:7, 1 Jn 4:17). If you would like a more in-depth look at the book of Revelation, we have a series of classes on the book that can be found here.

Starting At The Beginning

Friday, October 13, 2017
I was never raised in a family who lived by the Bible; they said they were christians, but they only lived by the Bible when they wanted to.  Now that I have started a family, I want to live the right way.  I have started to read the Bible from the beginning, and I found it a little hard to understand, so I went and bought myself a child’s Bible.  That may sound silly, but it has helped me, so I can go back and understand the Holy Bible.  My question is: I know God created the world. Jesus Christ is His Son that gave His life for our sins. The thing that I want to know is: is Jesus a separate person, or is it God who lived in Jesus?  And also, who is the Holy Ghost?

Sincerely,
Putting The Pieces Together

Dear Putting The Pieces Together,

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct Beings.  The easiest way to see this is to look at the baptism of Jesus.  At Jesus’ baptism, Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and the Father spoke from heaven (Lk 3:21-22).  All three of Them are God.  Jesus is described as deity in Jhn 1:1.  The Holy Spirit is described as deity in 1 Cor 2:11 and Gen 1:2.  And last, but not least, the Father is described as deity in Gen 1:1 and numerous other locations.  They are each distinct entities, but They are one in purpose.  We will try and summarize Their responsibilities:

The Father – The Father has total authority to plan and oversee the salvation of mankind.  The Father was the one that sent Jesus at the proper time to die on the cross (Gal 4:4).  The Father answers our prayers (Lk 11:2).  The Father provides for the needs of mankind (Lk 12:30).  He is the great master builder and planner of our salvation.

The Son – Jesus made the Father’s plan happen.  Jesus emptied Himself and became a human (Php 2:4-8).  Jesus is God’s son because He was miraculously born (Matt 1:18).  His blood cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn 1:7).  He is the head of the church and its Savior (Eph 1:22, Col 1:18).  If the Father was the architect of our salvation, Jesus is the carpenter… which is ironic, since He actually was one! (Matt 13:55)

The Holy Spirit – The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood of all the Godhead.  We have answered many questions on His role.  If you want an in-depth look at the Holy Spirit, read “What The Holy Spirit Does”.  For the sake of brevity, we will simply say that the Holy Spirit’s primary job was to create the Bible and keep it preserved throughout all time.  It is the Holy Spirit that guided the minds of the apostles as they wrote down the words of the Bible (Jhn 14:26, 1 Cor 2:13).  If the Father was the architect, and Jesus was the carpenter, then the Holy Spirit is the realtor.  He made sure that everyone would know what Jesus did and how to be saved through Christ’s blood.

Hopefully, that helps give you a basic idea of how the Godhead works.

Constantinian Shift Pt. 2

Thursday, October 12, 2017

(This question is a follow-up to “Constantinian Shift”)

I am glad you have corrected your statement about Constantine "forcing" all to convert to Christianity.  There is a very fine line between statements of historical truth and statements meant to lead a reader to a conclusion by implication and exaggeration.  My only issue with your line of reasoning has to do with how you determine what is historically reliable and what is not.  You cannot have things both ways.  When presented with historical sources and actual named witnesses to a questioner laying a foundation of an organized church before Constantine, you rejected the history outright and claimed it was contradictory and unreliable (see your response to "A History Of Error" in the Catholic archive).  Then in response to other topics (canon of New Testament and Constantine's activities), you relied on extra-biblical historical accounts.  So on one hand, you are relying on history to make some points, while on the other hand, you are rejecting history to disprove other points.  I am hoping you see this contradiction as I really don't want you guys to keep sawing off the very branch you are sitting on in an attempt to influence your readers away from a faith you don't agree with.  Why do you accept the testimony of the witnesses to Constantine's subtle ways of influencing conversion?  What makes you think those extra-biblical accounts are reliable?  How do you know the early church historians (bishops and clergy) that attest to an organized church before the famous edict are unreliable?

Sincerely,
Cite Your Sources Please

Dear Cite Your Sources Please,

We appreciate your concern over our use of extra-biblical history.  Let's see if we can quickly clarify.  We use historical resources as reliable sources in regards to Constantine because that is the ONLY history of Constantine we have.  The Bible never directly deals with Constantine; therefore, we are left to use secular history as our only guide.  You may have misunderstood our statements about Constantine – we do believe Constantine forced people to obey his state-run religion.  As we mentioned in the last post, he forced them by using inducements.

The times that we have stated that the early church historians were being unreliable or contradictory is when we do have a biblical account to compare it to.  The Bible is always the first and foremost guide in church history, and the Bible soundly condemns Catholicism's practices.  Therefore, people who lived and taught anything in opposition to the Bible are wrong, no matter whom they are.  There were early church historians that were beginning to move toward the Catholic way of functioning before the era of Constantine (Constantine simply is the historical demarcation point when things began to quickly move downhill), but the fact that early church writers taught things contradictory to Bible teachings discredit them in doctrinal matters.  We can trust early historians in secular history unless they prove otherwise (i.e. contradict the majority of historians); we can trust early historians in religious history unless they prove otherwise (i.e. contradict Scripture).  Hopefully, that gives you some clarity as to why it seems like we are "cherry picking" the history that we want.  Everything gets compared to Scripture – even early church writers.

All My Children Pt. 2

Monday, October 09, 2017

(This post is a follow-up to “All My Children”)

Thanks. A follow-up: so these "sons of God" are humans, but some assume them to be angels because in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible it reads “More and more people were born, until finally they spread all over the earth. Some of their daughters were so beautiful that supernatural beings came down and married the ones they wanted."  Why then does this version say "supernatural beings", if they were only men?

Sincerely,
Text Perplexed

Dear Text Perplexed,

There are two things to consider when choosing a Bible translation:

  1. 1. Accuracy
  2. 2. Readability

As you have noticed with the Contemporary English Version, the easier a translation is to read, the less accurate it becomes – and the more accurate a translation is, the more difficulty you will have in reading it.  The key is to find the right balance between readability and accuracy.  There are three types of translations: word-for-word translations, thought-for-thought translations, and paraphrase translations.

Paraphrase translations don’t even attempt to be accurate; all they want to do is make the Bible easy to read.  We never recommend a paraphrase translation.  In our opinion, the Contemporary English Version is a paraphrase.  It is geared toward simplifying the Bible to a level that is easy for grade schoolers, English as a second language readers, and the translators describe it as being designed for “uncompromising simplicity”.  That is why you are having so many translation problems with it.

Thought-for-thought translations try and take the original language and translate it using what the translators think is the same idea or concept that the Greek and Hebrew languages were trying to convey.  The NRSV, NIRV, and TNIV are all though-for-thought translations.  The NIV (currently the most popular version) is a mix between a word-for-word and a thought-for-thought – we have a lengthy article on the NIV translation that will give you more insight into that particular translation (click here to go to that post).  Thought-for-thought translations are better than paraphrasing, but they still remove the exact words of Jesus and His apostles and replace them with someone’s best guess at what they might have said if they had spoken in English.

Last, but not least, we have word-for-word translations.  Word-for-word translations are exactly what they sound like – they do their best to directly translate every word from the Greek and Hebrew into English.  There are currently four major word-for-word translations available: King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), American Standard Version (ASV), and New American Standard Version (NASB).  God tells us that every word was directly conveyed from God to the original Bible writers (1 Cor 2:13).  Since God made a point of divinely inspiring every word of the Bible, we here at AYP only feel comfortable using a translation that keeps those words intact.  Personally, we find the NASB and NKJV to be very readable and highly accurate.  Having read the New Testament in both the Greek and English (a couple of our AYP writers can read Koine Greek), we have found those two versions to be very sound.

To sum up, if you really want to make sure you are reading what God authored, make sure to ask for a word-for-word translation.

Only One Cog In The Machine

Tuesday, October 03, 2017
Is it the case that the ideas of the Christ and salvation were not taught exclusively by Paul since he himself said that he only wanted to preach in places that had not yet heard the Gospel?  Plus, there were others such as Aquila and Priscilla, Apollos, etc.  He also said that there were those who taught another Jesus or gospel, others who relied on other people such as Cephas, and even those who believed only in Christ without any preachers.  Or was it the case that he was the leader of the entire movement because he was the one who claimed a revelation… whereas others had received traditions?

And is this the reason he never mentions Gospel stories or even mentions Mary, Pilate, Calvary, Golgotha, or Herod?  And when he mentions the apostles who knew Jesus in person, why does he not express any special reverence or awe for them at all?

Sincerely,
Passionate About Paul

Dear Passionate About Paul,

Paul was only one of thirteen different apostles teaching Christianity and only one of countless preachers and teachers.  You are right that Paul taught in new territories that others hadn’t reached (Rom 15:20), and the Lord chose to use Paul’s letters for a large portion of the New Testament canon, but that doesn’t make Paul the primary preacher of Christianity.  In fact, the first sermon was preached by Peter (Acts 2:14), and Paul didn’t even begin to preach until several years later.  Paul was originally opposed to Christianity (Acts 26:10) and wasn’t converted until the Lord spoke to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-5).  Paul’s letters don’t contain every detail of Christ’s law because Paul didn’t write all of Christ’s law!  Paul’s letters were written to already established congregations that were aware of the story of Christ’s life and didn’t need him to reiterate every detail.  As far as Paul’s lack of reverence for the other apostles – the other apostles didn’t want reverence; as Peter said, “I, myself, am also a man.” (Acts 10:26).

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