Ask Your Preacher
Should the 151st psalm have been included in our Bible?
Dear Plus One,
Psalm “151” is a title given to a psalm that is accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church as part of the Bible, but that is about it. Even the Jews consider it to be apocryphal. An apocryphal book (‘apocrypha’ means ‘hidden’) is a book that was rejected from the Bible because it was considered inauthentic. These books are not written by God and never were accepted by God’s people as divinely inspired. Some apocryphal books (such as the aforementioned Psalm) were included in the Septuagint, which confuses people at times, but even though some apocryphal books were included in the Septuagint, they were never considered God-breathed Scripture. Printed Bibles include maps, commentaries, and footnotes… and yet, we don’t consider those things to be Scripture; in the same way, the Septuagint included apocryphal books that were never viewed as the Word of God.
It is well documented that Jews didn’t consider the apocryphal books to be authored by God. Josephus, a venerated Jewish historian, specifically stated that the apocryphal books weren’t from God in his writing Against Apion. The Manual of Discipline in the Dead Sea Scrolls stated that the Apocrypha wasn’t inspired. To further prove the point, the Apocrypha itself says that it isn’t Scripture! The apocryphal book, 2 Maccabees, specifically says that it isn’t inspired by God in 15:38-39, and the author apologizes for any inaccurate information he might have provided. Though the apocryphal books are unique historical accounts, they are never quoted in the New Testament, and they were never accepted by the church or the Jewish community as divinely inspired text. That is exactly why it isn’t necessary that they be included in modern translations of the Bible – they aren’t Bible, just secular history.
How do we know when miraculous works/healings ceased?
The Scriptures talk about the miraculous ability to speak in different languages (Acts 2:4-6), prophetic wisdom (Jhn 14:26), and a host of other things. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to the apostles (Acts 2:1-4), and the apostles were able to pass on these gifts to others by laying their hands on them (Acts 8:18). The apostles were the only ones with the ability to pass on the gifts. Therefore, when the last person that the last living apostle laid hands on died… the gifts ceased to exist. God intended for this to happen.
Miracles were needed to prove that Jesus and His apostles were sent from God (Acts 14:3, Acts 2:22, Jhn 9:16). Miracles were used as a proof that what the disciples said was truly God’s Word (Acts 8:6). Now that we have the perfect and complete Bible, we no longer need those miracles – which was Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians. When the “perfect” of 1 Cor 13:8-10 happened, the church no longer needed miracles to further the message of Christ. After the Bible was completed, the church was able to fully see God’s message of salvation (1 Cor 13:12) without further need of prophecies and miracles.
If God and Jesus are the same, how did He really suffer? He already knew He would be okay, and the man on the cross beside Him didn't. How is that fair? And if They are one in the same, why do we have to go through Jesus to talk to God? If God is Jesus, then They are the same; why can't we just talk to God?
One And The Same
Dear One And The Same,
As far as the Father and Jesus being the same... they are both deity, but they are also unique beings. There are three parts to the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is most easily seen in Matt 3:16-17. When Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove. Each of them is eternal (they were all at the creation – Gen. 1:1, Gen. 1:2, Col 1:15-17). John 1:1 specifically says that Jesus is Deity. Jesus is different than the Father, but He is part of the Godhead. Jesus even said that He had always existed (Jhn 8:58). The apostles worshipped Jesus as God (Jhn 20:28).
When Jesus died on the cross, He really felt the pain, and He really had to trust that the Father would raise Him from the dead in the end. His faith was strong, but it was still something that took great strength of character and it still hurt – faith in the outcome didn't remove the pain. After all, Jesus was completely human just like everyone else; the only difference was that He had the strength of character to not sin (Heb 4:15).
I know I need God in my life, and I want to believe, but I keep getting stuck on things like how God existed before everything, heaven, hell, and eternity. I can't wrap my mind around those concepts. I know the Bible is real; it proves itself, but how do I comprehend God when we've never seen miracles, visions, Jesus, etc.? All today's Christians have is the Bible; is this fair for us today when people back then had all these signs?
Hard To Believe
Dear Hard To Believe,
Miracles had one very specific purpose – to give evidence that the apostles, prophets, and Jesus were from God. Paul called miracles “the signs of an apostle” (2 Cor 12:12). Heb 2:4 states that God bore witness to the apostles and prophets through “signs and wonders”. Even the enemies of Christ agreed that miracles were a sign of divine approval (Acts 4:16).
Ironically, even though you and I often think that miracles would make more people believe, we know that isn’t true. During Jesus’ life, He performed more good deeds and miraculous acts than could be written down (Jhn 21:25)… and yet, they crucified Him because they didn’t believe. Moses parted the Red Sea in front of an entire generation of Israelites who walked through on dry ground… but all of that generation died in the wilderness because they didn’t believe (Heb 3:17-19). Generations of Jews saw miracles, heard prophecies, and still turned their back on God’s will.
Miracles don’t make people faithful. It takes an honest and humble heart to turn to God… and miracles or no miracles, that has never changed. As you said, you know the Bible is real, and it proves itself. What you do about it is a matter of examining your character, and a miracle wouldn’t change that.
No one can comprehend the totality of God or His invisible greatness, but the evidence is all around (Rom 1:20). Even the greatest mathematicians can’t wrap their brains around infinity, but we understand the basics of the concept, and that is enough to know that we need to begin preparing for it.
It says that we must keep the Sabbath holy – which means for us to give back to God our time, relax in His presence, and get a day off just for Him. Why do we keep working on Sundays?
Dear Rest Up,
Saturday is the Sabbath day… but Christians don’t have to worry about keeping the Sabbath. The word ‘sabbath’ means ‘rest’. The Sabbath day was a day that the nation of Israel was told to rest, stop working, and make holy to the Lord (Ex 31:15). The Sabbath was part of the Old Testament law – a law that Christians are no longer under (Gal 3:23-25). We are specifically told not to let anyone bind the Sabbath on us (Col 2:16). Christians worship Christ on the first day of the week – Sunday (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:1-2). We are not bound by the strict rules of avoiding all work like the Jews were, but we are told to treat Sunday as “the Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10).