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.
I just started going to church about three months ago, and I feel so blessed to be a part of what God is and His message. I have a friend who inspired me to go to the church in the first place, and I told him recently that I want to get baptized. My church does group baptisms and won’t be having one probably for months. My friend really wants me to get baptized ASAP even though I’m okay with waiting. He thinks it’s bad for me to wait. Is it a bad thing to wait?
A church that only does group baptisms every three or four months doesn’t understand what baptism is all about. In the Bible, when people were ready to be baptized, they were baptized immediately (Acts 16:33). The word ‘baptism’ simply means ‘immersion’ – it is the reason for your immersion that makes baptism a soul-saving act. When we understand that baptism saves us from our sins (1 Pet. 3:21) and are baptized by the authority of Christ (Acts 2:38) and believe in His Name (Mk. 16:16), then that baptism saves us. Many people are baptized without understanding these things… in which case, they just get wet. Baptism isn’t merely an “outward showing of an inward faith” or “for membership”. Baptism is what saves us (1 Pet 3:21). Baptism is the point when someone goes from being lost to being saved because they are buried and resurrected with Christ (Rom 6:4-5). Baptism is the final requirement to become a Christian. There is not a single example of someone becoming a Christian without baptism.
It is definitely a bad thing to wait, and as attached as you may be to your church, you should seriously consider that they aren’t teaching the total truth of God’s Word. We would be happy to point you toward congregations in your area that teach everything the Bible says and don’t leave important details out. Your friend is right. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of help.
My family and I go to a small Baptist church. One deacon didn't like the preacher even though the congregation loved him. The deacon didn't like the way the preacher walked back and forth across the pulpit, and the preacher was too emotional when he gave testimony. Our preacher resigned, and we lost over half the congregation because of it. My two kids and one other are the only children there now. My husband won't go back because he thinks it is corrupt now. I asked him if we can go visit other churches, and he said, “Why? If one is corrupt, they all are.” How can I convince him they are not all corrupt? I want to keep my family in church. I don't know what to do. My kids are getting where they don't want to go on Wednesday night now because they are the only kids there.
Grasping At Straws
Dear Grasping At Straws,
There are congregations all around the country that aren't corrupted by denominationalism, personal opinions, or traditions. Our recommendation is that you show our article "Down With Denominationalism" to your husband and read it together. There are so many problems with modern religion, and it all comes down to opinions being placed above Scripture. When we leave the Bible pattern, all sorts of chaos and trouble ensues (2 Tim 1:13). The church is supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), but most churches have become places for petty arguments or the latest worship fad.
We know of congregations all over that reject this philosophy and really do put the Bible first. It may be hard for your husband to believe because he has seen so much of the opposite, but it is true. Just because there are lots of bad mechanics doesn't mean that you stop driving a car – just because there are lots of bad churches doesn't mean we can give up on the Lord. Comb through past articles on our site, and you'll see that we do our very best to always give book, chapter, and verse for what we do. Our congregation isn't alone, and if you want, we can help you find one near you that has the same attitude. Feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com with any further questions or if we can help you locate a church.
Modern science once taught that the Earth was flat, and the church backed that teaching. What does the Bible actually say about that?
Throwing A Curveball
Dear Throwing A Curveball,
It was the Catholic church (not the Lord’s church) that supposedly backed the “flat earth” dogma. Without getting into too much history, let’s just say that even that isn’t completely accurate. The Catholic church argued with Galileo over whether or not the Earth was the center of the universe, but pretty much everyone agreed at that point that the Earth was round. The idea that religious people are ineptly backward when it comes science is a myth propagated by those who would have people believe that only atheists can be logical and scientific.
However, back to your question. The Bible refers to the “circle of the Earth” in Isa 40:22. The word used for ‘circle’ is the same Hebrew word for a sphere. Though the Bible is a book about spiritual things, when it touches on science it is always accurate.
This guy made a video that has had over 15 million views on YouTube. It’s entitled ‘Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus’. Is this Scriptural? Thanks.
Dear Viewer 15,000,000,001,
We watched the video, and we can sympathize with that young man’s frustration with religion. We share a lot of his feelings… but like all the other manmade views that he talked about, his views aren’t totally biblical either.
We are saved by grace, and no one can live a good enough life to deserve forgiveness (Rom 4:3-5). If you need forgiveness, that, by definition, means you did something wrong! Salvation is based upon our faith in Christ, not some behavior that we could boast of (Rom 3:27). Yet, what we do does matter. The man that says he has faith in God but shows a life of wickedness isn’t faithful at all (Matt 7:20, Jas 2:17). Faith without works is as dead as a body in a casket (Jas 2:26). Christians must strive to modify their behavior, but we can’t just modify our behavior, we must give our hearts and loyalty to Christ. When the choices we make are controlled by our love and faith in Christ, then we are becoming the people we ought to be. We would agree with this young man that it isn’t enough to “talk the talk”; we must “walk the walk” (Jas 1:25).
On the other hand, to use the blanket statement that, “I hate religion but love Jesus,” makes no sense. The English Dictionary defines ‘religion’ as ‘a) the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, b) a particular system of faith and worship’. Using either definition, Jesus died to set up religion! Jesus purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28), and the church is guided by the systems and laws found in the Bible (1 Tim 3:15). Jesus also died, so people would worship God and devote their lives to Him (Jhn 3:16). Jesus’ death was designed to start a religious movement that would change the world (Acts 17:6, Matt 28:19-20). If we say that we love Jesus but hate religion because it gives us rules and ordinances for “behavior modification” (as that video calls it), we are making a contradictory statement. If we love Jesus, we will modify our behavior (Jhn 14:15). Jesus hated false religion and manmade religion, but He loves His church (Eph 5:25).
So, we would say the video gets some things right and some things wrong… about par for the course when we talk about spiritual things without using the Bible as our manual.