June 20, 2013

Why don't you keep your religion/secularism to yourself?

In a culture that constantly seems to seek to enforce the principle of "keep your personal religious beliefs private in public settings", there can only be one logical reaction, or at least one, "keep your opinions about reserving religious views from public to yourself, please. Thank you."

Many religious views cannot be strictly withheld from public discourse and remain consistent with their core values of public proclamation at the same time.

On the other hand, secularism is hypocritical in demanding the privatization of certain beliefs over others, while at the same time publicly seeking to proselytize for its secularist cause in the matter.

So the next time you hear "keep religion to yourself", you may justifiably reply with "and you, practice what you preach!"


October 13, 2011

How the Bible Protects Us from False Beliefs

Apologetics is the ancient practice of defending the truth of the Bible against the many ways that people try to deny or twist it according to their own views. It comes from a Greek word that means "defense” or “answer" in 1 Peter 3:15. Peter said every believer should be ready to give a defense of our hope in Christ as Lord, yet to do it with gentleness and respect (I myself have failed many times to be gentle and respectful and have felt a lot of shame as a result).

The apostle Paul wrote one of his strongest defenses of the gospel against those who were teaching that they had to keep the Law and become Jewish to be saved. That's when he wrote the book of Galatians. He wrote in the introduction that he was astonished at the Christians in Galatia, because they were so soon being turned from God's message of grace to a different gospel. He said, "not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:6-9)

This was perhaps the strongest condemnation Paul ever pronounced against anyone, and the reason he did so was because those false teachers had distorted the gospel so badly that they were teaching a different way of salvation than the way God had announced through Jesus to the apostles--which was complete salvation by grace alone apart from any good works that we could perform (Luke 18:9-17; Ephesians 2:1-10). So Paul was very upset because they were actually changing the message of salvation. And that is why we have the practice of apologetics today in the Church. As Jude 1:3 says, "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude also saw how it was necessary to contend for the faith and defend it against distortions, even though he would have rather written to them about something else.

Because of all this, we ought to watch out that people don’t influence us in the wrong ways. For example, the early Christians believed what Jesus taught about having the freedom to eat any kind of food as long as we give thanks to God for it. They also warned against the popular teaching of that time that said we must avoid eating certain things in order to be holy or pleasing to God. In 1 Timothy 4:1-5 Paul wrote: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer."

Notice how Paul wrote that "the Spirit expressly” said these things. This means God really wanted us to know that in the last days people would start leaving the truth for other beliefs. Paul even said that false beliefs are from "the teachings of demons." One of those teachings was that people would forbid marriage. Another teaching was that they would require people not to eat certain foods, and he adds, "that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth." Obviously God knew these things would become a problem and so He warned us ahead of time in the Bible to protect us from error.

Another area that the New Testament makes really clear is our need to discern the difference between true and false teachers. Jesus warned that many false teachers would come in His name, but that we should not follow them. While they usually look good on the outside as “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” nevertheless there is a way to recognize them. The way Jesus taught us to tell the difference was by their message and their lifestyle. Hesaid you can judge a tree by its fruits. A good tree makes good fruit but a bad tree produces bad fruit. (Matthew chapter 7)

We don't have to be extremely educated or know a whole lot about everything to tell the difference between good and bad fruit. We just have to know what it is. As Christians, it is important that we learn as much as we can about what God's Word teaches, so that we will become better able to rightly judge between the good and the bad (Hebrews 5:12-14). A simple way to do that is to just know the gospel really well and know who Jesus is according to the Bible. The Bible shows that most deception involves a distortion of who Jesus is and what the message of the true gospel is. Since the it teaches that Jesus is God in human flesh (John 1:14), then most cults and false religions in the world today usually deny some aspect of His God-Man nature. Oneness Pentacostals, such as T. D. Jakes and others, deny the doctrine of the Trinity, which can be seen on almost every page of Scripture. The reason it is so important is because the letter of 1 John makes our belief about who Jesus is one of the tests of true faith. ohn also wrote in John 1:1 that He was both “with God” and “was God” (in His nature) at the same time, but that He is not the same as the Father or Spirit (John 16:13; 17:5). Some people don’t like the doctrine of the Trinity because it is hard to understand, but that shouldn’t discourage us from believing what He revealed about Himself in the Bible.

The other problem that comes up is the message of the gospel. It is solely by God's grace and goodness, and because of His own free will and love, that we are saved by faith in Jesus. We are made new in Christ, so that we live for Him and His eternal Kingdom now. But this simple message is often distorted when people say that we must do good works in order to be saved, such as circumcision (in the early church), or baptism, or the Lord's Supper, or obedience to the Law. All of those things are good and necessary when properly used. The Old Testament sign of the covenant was circumcision, and Jesus commanded baptism and the Lord's Supper, and also taught us to obey God's law (Matt 5:17-19). But none of those can make it possible for us to go to heaven, because that is a free gift. Yet that is precisely what many false teachers denied back then and still deny today. I used to go to a church in Pittsburgh that denied salvation by grace through faith alone. I felt terrible that I fell for that, because that’s what Paul was warning about in Galatians, as well as his other letters.

James chapter 2 also warns us about those who say they have faith, but who do not have good works to back it up. He taught that our faith is rather proven to be genuine by our life of humble obedience, love for others, and good works, though they do not earn our salvation. There are other ways the truth is denied by false teachers, but these are some of the most important ways the Bible warns us about.

Peter and Jude, as well as John (known as “the apostle of love”), wrote specifically to help us tell good teachers from bad ones. Peter said that the "ignorant and unstable" distort the Scriptures (2 Peter 3:14-18). Jude said they pervert the grace of God into immorality and deny Jesus (Jude v.4). He later said, “Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones” (v.8). The glorious ones refers to angels, but is in the context of how such people aren’t afraid to speak blasphemously of authoritative powers. Jude may have had Exodus 22:8 in mind, which says, “"You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” Jude then said that even the angel Gabriel would not say anything slanderous of an authority, not even to the devil himself, but instead appealed to God as the Judge. That was because all authority is given by God. Even though many authorities might not be just or act rightly, they are still to be spoken of respectfully in fear of God. But false teachers usually reject the authority of good Christian pastors and teachers, and they speak badly of them, and often set themselves up as their own authority. They don’t like to do what God's Word says about humble submission to other faithful believers in obedience to Christ. Jude warned us about people like that so that we wouldn’t follow their example.

Most of the New Testament was written in response to these very problems. And thank God He gave us all this information ahead of time, so that we know exactly how we can please Him and bring glory to His name by an assured faith! It is so wonderful that we know these things, because the more we stand firm in the truth delivered to us, the harder it will be to distract us from glorifying the Lord Jesus by our lives, and God will be praised!

Some people are easily led astray by conspiracies, and we can all be affected by them if we are not careful. A verse that has been a good encouragement to me in confusing situations is Isaiah 8:11-13, “For the LORD spoke thus to me... and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.’” This is also a reason why I think it is just good for Christians to learn more about the Bible at a good church. Of course, no church is perfect, but neither are we. We are just glad to be in God’s grace and to learn with others who are standing firm, too!

So I wrote all this because I hope it will encourage you not to let many of the confusing things out there get you down. I also know of many other ways our hope in God and His Word can be hindered by Satan through false teachings, but I wanted to write to warn you of those things which can quickly make us forget how the Bible says we already have everything we need in Jesus Christ our Lord! (Colossians 1-2)

June 14, 2011

Concluding the Debate with KJR at Atheist Central

I have been going at it back and forth with someone over at Ray Comfort's blog, Atheist Central, about the existence of God, etc. Because the comment box was getting too thin over there, I decided to post here his response to some things I told him, and my answer to it. This is not an attempt to publicly make KJR look bad, but simply to answer him thoughtfully, as the Bible tells me I should (1 Peter 3:15).

We eventually started to discuss some presuppositions. KJR's words are italicized and my answers are given below them...

"You quote the Bible at me like it has some value."

Yes. I believe the Bible has authority over both of us, so naturally I quote it to you. If the Bible is in fact true, then your dismissal of it beforehand does nothing to diminish its authority from God.

"That's step #3. Lets start by showing that God exists. Then showing that the Bible actually his work. Then I'll believe it, and you can quote it."

Why should I follow your procedure in this matter? Why should my quoting of Scripture depend on your acceptance of it? Biology teachers don't quote a biology textbook only after every student accepts that it's reliable. If God exists and the Bible is His Word, it doesn't depend on whether you agree or not. The problem is with your unbelief, not the proof. I have already demonstrated to you that God exists, but you ignored my arguments. Why should I expect you to behave differently with additional proofs? God exists because to deny Him cuts the rug out from under your ability to reason, talk, or even do science.

"Claiming theuniverse is a creation isn't proof, or even evidence. The Bible is just one of hundreds of creation stories. And it doesn't even get through the first chapter without failing to fit observable reality."

To me, as a Christian who accepts the divine authority of the Bible, creation is self-evident proof both of being created and the existence of the Creator. The reason you don't accept it as such is because you are committed to autonomy. You don't believe, so you dismiss any tangible evidence in favor of belief. Even if I had shown you observable physical evidence for the existence of God, would that not in itself be proof from creation? It would be indeed. But as an atheist, you have not observed all the evidence in the universe to know for sure whether there is not more evidence out there for or against the existence of God. You would have to have observed all the evidence that exists to know, which you haven't done. So you are left with pure agnosticism--you can't know for sure. But that itself is a position requiring absolute knowledge about the fact that you cannot know all the evidence, thus the contradiction that demonstrates the impossibility of living consistently with your skepticism. Become a Christian and you will have a basis for knowing things as they are made known by the Creator. As an atheist, you don't know enough about all the existing evidence to tell whether the opening chapters of Genesis are not consistent with observable reality, since you haven't observed all of reality. You only observe a small part of it. You don't have absolute knowledge about the beginning of our universe, nor have you observed it. The question of whether Genesis makes sense in an atheist' universe is irrelevant anyway, seeing we are only self-replicating chemicals. You are just programmed for unbelief by the way you have evolved. But to a Christian, the opening Genesis chapters make sense in that they declare God as the Creator and Designer of all things, and that He purposefully made mankind, putting them in a special position of authority over this world, reflecting His own likeness. That is not unreasonable at all from a believing point of view. Only from your unjustified unbelieving view do you have a problem with it because of your presuppositions.

"Of course, you'll just claim that I can't know anything because I reject your particular God."

Yes, indeed. From my point of view, you are living in YHWH's world and denying it. That's what the Bible says (Romans 1:18-32). So as long as you claim to have knowledge as an atheist, you contradict yourself, because if atheism were true, there could be no immaterial laws governing the universe (destroying your faith in logic), nor could you have all knowledge to know whether there is enough evidence in the universe to prove the existence of God or disprove Him. And as I said, by being agnostic you are also claiming a certainty that you cannot support--the certainty that you cannot be certain, which is a claim to knowledge that you cannot have. So I hope you begin to see why as a Christian I think your perspective is foolish. Without acknowledging that we are made by God, and everything we know is dependent upon Him, we are utterly in the dark about science, evidence, logic, intelligence, design, reasoning and morality, since the underlying principles for these things cannot be accounted for without God. As the late Dr. Bahnsen used to say, "The proof that God exists is that without Him you couldn't prove anything."

"The base assumptions I start with is that I exist, and what I can observe is, in fact, real. Beyond that, everything is my interpretation of that observational input."

If I asked you, what proof do you have to know that you exist? You would likely have to answer me assuming that you already exist. The same is true for how you justify your use of reasoning. That's the circularity of atheism. You believe things without proof, then hypocritically denigrate others, especially Christians, for doing the same. I'm glad you admit some of your presuppositions, but on what basis are you able to trust that your observations are correct, or that your own reasoning is reliable?

"No, I don't have all the answers. I also can't say with 100% confidence that there are no gods. That confidence level, however, is so close to 100% as to make no difference. I am absolutely certain that the Bible is man made and Yahweh doesn't exist. Likewise with the Quran and Allah."

The fact that you claim you can't know "with 100% confidence that there are no gods" is itself, logically a claim to absolute certainty. You simply can't say that you are unable to know with 100% confidence that there are no gods, since you don't have all knowledge to know that. Perhaps you can be 100% confident that there is one God? Now the Christian answer to this problem of certainty is by relying on the One who does actually know all things for certain, and reveals specific things to us by which we can know them. We aren't ashamed of the belief that God moved men to write the Bible (2 Peter 1:16-21). But since you claim to know Yahweh doesn't exist, I challenge you to prove that He doesn't exist. Tell me how you were able to see all the existing evidence with a perfectly neutral mind and finally come to that conclusion after long hours of careful consideration. Perhaps you will then see my point.

The Bible teaches that we must repent by changing our minds toward God and putting our trust in the One He has sent to reconcile us to Him, Jesus Christ, His Son. We submit our wills to His, believing so that His death and resurrection covers our sin and brings us to God in peace. We need an ongoing "renewing of our mind" as we learn of Him who first loved us. You need the same, KJR. If I could, I would show you the real scars on Jesus' hands, feet and side, and the glory of His appearances alive from the dead, so that you would believe. But I can tell you to look in the New Testament. Read the story again. Think about it. Think about it seriously. However, as long as you are committed to your unbelief, even if you saw Him with your own eyes, you would not believe (Luke 16:31, "[Abraham] replied to him, 'If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" NET).

"May Thor not squash you with his Hammer."

If you believe in Thor, why do you then argue against the existence of deities? But since you don't actually believe in him, I have no reason to discuss him with you. Let's keep talking about your unsubstantial belief in atheism and the reasons for my belief in Yahweh.

Thank you KJR.

May 28, 2010

Contradicción entre las geneaologías de Mateo y Lucas?

This is pretty much the same post as the one before it concerning the apparent contradiction between the father of Joseph in Mathew 1:16, and the father of Joseph in Luke 3:23, only in Spanish. Click here to read this subject in English: Geneaologies: Comparison of the two fathers of Joseph in Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23
Comparasión de Mateo 1:16 y Lucas 3:23

Mateo 1:16
᾿Ιακὼβ δὲ ἐγέννησε τὸν ᾿Ιωσὴφ τὸν ἄνδρα Μαρίας, ἐξ ἧς ἐγεννήθη ᾿Ιησοῦς ὁ λεγόμενος Χριστός.

y Jacob engendró a José, el marido de María, de la cual nació Jesús, quién es llamado Cristo.

Lucas 3:23
Καὶ αὐτὸς ἦν ᾿Ιησοῦς ὡσεὶ ἐτῶν τριάκοντα ἀρχόμενος, ὢν, ὡς ἐνομίζετο, υἱός, ᾿Ιωσήφ, τοῦ ῾Ηλί,

Y Jesús mismo tenía unos treinta años cuando comenzó, siendo el hijo (como se suponía) de José, de Elí.

1). Mateo 1:16 dice que Jacob "engendró" a José. La palabra "engendró" (ἐγέννησεν) claramente implica que Jacob era el padre biológico de José.

Lucas 3:23 no usa la palabra engendrar cuando enlaza José con Elí en esta geneaología. La frase es literalmente, "José de Elí". La palabra griega "tou" (τοῦ) entre los dos nombres significa "de el" - en este caso, de Elí. Este versículo no necesariamente dice aquí que José es el hijo biológico de Elí, como es el caso con Jacob en Mateo 1:16. Solamente dice "siendo el hijo (como se suponía) de José, de Elí". Dice que José era hijo de Elí en un sentido, pero es posible que Elí era su padre en un sentido legal o como suegro, especialmente si Lucas estaba marcando el linaje de María bajo el nombre de su marido. Por lo tanto no contradicción puede ser implicada estrictamente aquí sin examinar primero las demás evidencias en favor de la teoría que las dos geneaologías refieren a las dos familias de José y María.

(Es muy importante notar que hay dos palabras diferentes entre José y los dos padres nombrado, porque hay claramente dos diferentes geneaologías, y no parece bueno concluir rápidamente que eso es sólo un error o que no es intencional de ningún modo. Al considerar que hay dos linajes con dos diferentes padres, podemos investigar si eso señala dos familias o solamente es un error. No es justo decir que por la única razón que ambos refieren a José como hijo, que por eso debe ser un error sin cuestión. Eso no tendría en cuenta los demás hechos que vamos a investigar sobre este asunto.)

2). Es muy posible que la geneaología de Mateo sea el linaje de la familia de José, pero la de Lucas sea el linaje de la familia del suegro de José, Elí, lo cual es el linaje de María. La importancia de esto es que las profecías dijeron que el Mesías sería el descendiente directo de David. José era descendiente directo de David, como mostró Mateo en su geneaología. Pero la Biblia nos dice que José no era el padre biológico de Jesús, pues Jesús nació de virgen. Por lo tanto Lucas muestra como María era del linaje biológico de David, también. Entonces podemos ver en las dos geneaologías que la promesa de Dios acerca de su Siervo, el Cristo, que sería de la familia de David, fue cumplido a la vez en José y María. Eso hace mucho sentido en luz de las promesas acerca del Mesías, pues las escrituras dicen que sería desciendiente directo de David:
"Ahora pues, así dirás a mi siervo David: "Así dice el SEÑOR de los ejércitos:.. 'Cuando tus días se cumplan y reposes con tus padres, levantaré a tu descendiente después de ti, el cual saldrá de tus entrañas, y estableceré su reino." (2 Samuel 7:8,12, LBLA)

"Yo he hecho un pacto con mi escogido, he jurado a David mi siervo: Estableceré tu descendencia para siempre, y edificaré tu trono por todas las generaciones." (Psalms 89:3-4 LBLA)

"Libro de la genealogía de Jesucristo, hijo de David, hijo de Abraham." (Matthew 1:1 LBLA)

"Y el ángel le dijo: No temas, María, porque has hallado gracia delante de Dios. Y he aquí, concebirás en tu seno y darás a luz un hijo, y le pondrás por nombre Jesús. Este será grande y será llamado Hijo del Altísimo; y el Señor Dios le dará el trono de su padre David..." (Luke 1:30-32 LBLA)

"...que El ya había prometido por medio de sus profetas en las santas Escrituras, acerca de su Hijo, que nació de la descendencia de David según la carne, y que fue declarado Hijo de Dios con poder, conforme al Espíritu de santidad, por la resurrección de entre los muertos: nuestro Señor Jesucristo..." (Romanos 1:2-4, LBLA)

"Acuérdate de Jesucristo, resucitado de entre los muertos, descendiente de David, conforme a mi evangelio..." (2 Timoteo 2:8, LBLA)

3). Otra cosa importante de considerar es que a veces las geneaologías estaban escritas con el nombre del hombre en esa cultura y época, aun al hablar de la familia de la mujer. Además puede ser demostrado, tanto Bíblicamente como históricamente, que un suegro podría referir a su yerno como un hijo, debido al matrimonio legal con su hija. Era costumbre de los Judíos. Por ejemplo, Esdras 2:61 dice, "Y de los hijos de los sacerdotes: los hijos de Habaía, los hijos de Cos, los hijos de Barzilai, el cual tomó mujer de las hijas de Barzilai galaadita, y fue llamado por el nombre de ellas" (RVR60). Nehemías 7:63 dice lo mismo.

4). Al leer los dos linajes en sus gran contextos, puede ser visto que Mateo habla mucho de José en su contexto, pero Lucas habla mucho de María en su contexto. Eso provee más evidencia de que Lucas escribió del linaje de María en su geneaología. Por ejemplo, Mateo 1:19 dice que José quiso abandonarla en secreto a María, porque había concebido antes de que se consumara el matrimonio. Después dice que un angel le apareció a José en sueños y hablaba con él (Matthew 1:20). Mateo capítulo uno termina con estas palabras: "Y cuando despertó José del sueño, hizo como el ángel del Señor le había mandado, y tomó consigo a su mujer; y la conservó virgen hasta que dio a luz un hijo; y le puso por nombre Jesús" (Mateo 1:24-25, LBLA). Mateo está muy enfocado en José, pero Lucas en María. Pues Lucas dice que el angel fue enviado a María también: "Y al sexto mes, el ángel Gabriel fue enviado por Dios a una ciudad de Galilea llamada Nazaret, a una virgen desposada con un hombre que se llamaba José, de los descendientes de David; y el nombre de la virgen era María" (Lucas 1:26-27). Desde aquí en adelante, Lucas habla de la perspectiva de María. En luz de eso, podemos decir que las geneaologías siguen estas diferentes perspectivas, una conforme a José y la otra conforme a María.

5). La teoría que José es el hijo de Jacob por nacimiento, pero el yerno de Elí, quien era el padre de María, podría ser evidenciada también por el libro Judeo, Hagigah 77,4. Este texto no cristiano podría ser referido para mostrar que un yerno era llamaba hijo en algunos casos, y que era una María que se llamaba hija de Elí por los Judíos.

Por lo tanto, la diferencia entre las dos palabras con los nombres de los padres ("engendrar" y "de"), las dos obviamente diferentes geneaologías, la afirmación de que la promesa del Mesías fue cumplido en ambos de los padres de Jesús (José y María), la afirmación de que Jesús nació de virgen y, la costumbre de los Judíos de nombrar el hombre en las geneaologías, todo esto señala al hecho que no es una contradicción, sino dos relatos intencionales e informativos del linaje de la familia de Jesucristo.

Al tener en cuenta estas pruebas demostrativas, te preguntamos al lector a considerar si los que afirman que esto es una contradicción, no son ellos los que han hecho errores en sus juicios de estes dos pasajes?

El problema con estes pasajes paraleles es que muchas personas piensan que contradicen el uno al otro, pero no lo hacen de ningún modo. Son claramente dos diferentes linajes familiares. Uno es de la familia de José y el otro de la familia de María.

(Nota: hay otras preguntas, y también buenas respuestas, a las otras partes de las geneaologías, pero ahora hemos sencillamente tratado de contestar, en pocas palabras, la pregunta sobre los dos diferentes padres de José y por qué hay dos geneaologías diferentes. También hay muchas páginas de web que ofrece más información acerca de estas cosas.)

-La Santa Biblia, Reina Valera, Revisión de 1960.
-La Biblia de Las Americas, por el Lockman Foundation, 1997.
The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, by John MacArthur, 2007.
Recursos gratuitos por E-Sword:
-The Greek New Testament: Westtcott-Hort.
-Thayer’s Greek Definitions.
-Dictionaries of Hebrew and Greek Words taken from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., 1890.
Recurses de la internet:
- Life of Christ: Luke's Account, LifeofChrist.com
- Geneaology of Jesus: Maternal Ancestry in Luke, Wikipedia.org
- Messiah's Right to David's Throne by Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Ariel Ministries
- Why are there different genealogies for Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3? Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

©2010 por Penn Tomassetti

May 27, 2010

Geneaologies: Comparison of the two fathers of Joseph in Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23

Comparison between Matthew 1:16 and Luke 3:23

Matthew 1:16
ιακωβ δε εγεννησεν τον ιωσηφ τον ανδρα μαριας εξ ης εγεννηθη ιησους ο λεγομενος χριστος
iakób de egennésen ton ióséph ton andra marias ex és egennéthé iésous o legomenos kristos

Jacob begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, from whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
y Jacob engendró a José, el marido de María, de la cual nació Jesús, quién es llamado Cristo.

Luke 3:23
και αυτος ην ιησους αρχομενος ωσει ετων τριακοντα αρχομενος ων υιος ως ενομιζετο υιος ιωσηφ του ηλι
kai autos én iésous arkomenos ósei etón triakonta ón uios ós enomizeto ióséph tou éli

Literal Translation:
And he was Jesus, when he began, about thirty years old, being son (as was thought) of Joseph of Heli
Y él tenía Jesús, [cuando] comenzó, unos años treinta, siendo hijo (como se suponía) de José de Elí

Rephrased Translation:
And when Jesus began, he was about thirty years old, being the son (as was thought) of Joseph of Heli
Y cuando comenzó Jesús, él tenía unos treinta años, siendo el hijo (como se suponía) de José de Elí

Matthew 1:16 says that Jacob begot Joseph. The word begot (εγεννησεν) clearly implies that Jacob was the biological father of Joseph.

Luke 3:23 does not use the word begot at all when linking Heli and Joseph in this geneaology. The phrase is literally, "Joseph of Heli". The Greek word "tou" (του), simply means "of the"--in this case "of Heli". This does not state at all that Joseph is here said to be the biological son of Heli, as was the case with Jacob Matthew 1:16. Therefore no contradiction can be dogmatically implied here without first examining the rest of the available evidence in favor of the Joseph-Mary geneaology theory.

The difference between the two different words that link Joseph with two different fathers is extremely important to notice, because of the fact that there are two very different geneaologies recorded.

The theory that Joseph is the biological son of Jacob, but the son-in-law of Heli, who was Mary's father, could be evidenced by the Jewish Hagigah 77,4. This non-Christian text can at least be referenced in showing that a son-in-law was referred to as a son, and Mary was described as the daughter of Heli.

The problem with these two parallel passages is that people think they contradict one another when they do nothing of the sort. They are demonstrably two different family trees. One of Joseph's family and the other of Mary's family.

Matthew's is the family line of Joseph, while Luke's is the family line of Joseph's father-in-law, Heli, thus making it Mary's family line. What this shows the reader is that both Joseph and Mary were in the line of David. The reason that is so important is because the Messiah was prophesied to be a direct descendant of David. Joseph was a descendant of David, as Matthew showed in his geneaology. But the Bible tells us that Joseph was not the biological father of Jesus, since Jesus was virgin born. Therefore Luke shows how Mary was biologically from the family line of David, too. So we can see from these two different geneaologies that the promise from God that His Servant, the Christ, would be from the family of David was fulfilled in both Joseph and Mary.

Another important factor to consider is that family geneaologies always used the man's name in that culture and time period, even as it were, when it was talking about the woman's family. It can also be demonstrated, both historically and Biblically, that a father-in-law could refer to his son-in-law simply as a son, due to the legal marriage with his daughter. This was another common practice of the Jews.

So the difference in the words used for the two fathers of Joseph, the two different geneaologies recorded, the demonstration of the Messianic promise fulfilled in both Joseph and Mary as the parents of Jesus, as well as the historic and Biblical practice of the Jews in using the man's name in geneaological records all points to the fact that these differences are not even close to contradictions, but are two intentional and informative accounts of the family line of Jesus Christ.

With these demonstrable facts in mind, we ask the reader to reconsider whether those who claim this is a contradiction are not the ones truly making an error in their judgments of these passages.

(Note: there are other questions and responses to other parts of these geneaologies, but for now we have simply tried to briefly answer the question about the two different fathers of Joseph and the identities of the two geneaologies)

February 27, 2010

An Explanation for Why I Believe the Bible

I want to think through some reasons for why I believe the Bible. I started commenting on Ray Comfort's blog again, and have been challenged there to think more accurately through some of the issues I have discussed. In this post I hope to do a little of that for myself and to provide insight to anyone who reads. If you are not a Christian, this is a good chance to get a view from my perspective. I'd be interested in what you would say about your reasons for why you believe or don't believe as well. Now, here are some

Reasons why I believe the Bible:

1). I was raised to believe it. This should not be the only reason, and it is not. It is also not a reasonable proof for the Bible's truthfulness, but I'm not using it as that. It is a fact, however, that one reason I do believe is related to my upbringing. I don't think my upbringing instilled true faith in me, only God by His Spirit and His Word can do that - 2Corinthians 4:6. It did expose me to the Bible, which God used to bring me to faith.

2). I believe the Bible because it exposed the attitudes and manner of thinking in my unconverted heart. I read Romans and other passages that described me well, such as Romans 1:32: "Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." Also Romans 2:1: "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things." When I read these passages they cut to my heart, and I felt like they described my own thoughts extremely well. There were many more passages, but these two serve as examples of how I came to the conclusion that the Bible described my own inward attitude and thinking better than I ever realized before. I knew it was right.

3). I believe because the gospel makes sense. When I read about sin in Scripture, and I look at myself and people around me, I see plenty of it. When I read about judgment from a Biblical point of view, I feel it is just. When I read about God, I can understand His sovereign authority and right to deal with people out of justice and judgment. When I read about His mercy, I feel it is needed on my part. When I read about His provision of justice in the condemnation of His just Son for sinners like me, I feel loved. When I read about His justification of sinners through faith in the blood of Christ, I feel a deep desire to believe. When I read about His Holy Spirit's work to save, seal and sanctify every child of God, I feel confident and pray and wait to see the result. When I read of eternal life and a new heaven and new earth after the destruction of this one, I feel the need to get ready and expect that kingdom of righteousness and joy through the Savior. In short, I feel the gospel is convincing because of what it says.

4). Most important to my explanation for why I believe is the Sovereign grace of God, and His work in me by His Spirit. I believe the Bible because I have experienced what it describes in these passages:
John 1:12, 13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." [Note: the new birth is described as a work of God in John 1:13, not an act of the human will or of human effort.]
John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
John 7:17 If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
John 8:31, 32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
1Corinthians 1:26-27 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong...
1Corinthians 1:30, 31 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."
Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.
Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

5) Last, but not least, I believe the Bible because it is the true Word of God. You may ask, "How do you know that it is the true Word of God?" I know because of God's self-attesting authority (i.e., there is no greater witness to God's Word than God Himself). God testifies to His Word through His Spirit and by His creation. We are created in His image, says Genesis 1:26-27, and as a result we know God and recognize His truth inherently. But more than that, by denying it as His Word, we are left without a justification for knowing anything at all. In other words, it is impossible for us to know anything if it is not God's Word. Here's why: our knowledge of anything rests on the foundation that God exists and has created the world just as the Bible says, upholding and sustaining it by His own will and revealing true knowledge to His human creatures. If we deny this, we cannot know anything for certain, unless we acknowledge that God has revealed things to us, so that we can know some things on account of His infallible revelation.

I'm sure there are many more reasons for why I believe, but these ones are significant.