Posts filed under ‘salvation’

What Does It Mean to Understand or Interpret the Bible Literally?

literal_coverI’ve written quite a bit about this subject, but it’s interesting how often people get the wrong impression. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of people who have gone out of their way to create disharmony within Christendom, but first, not fully understanding a position, and second, ridiculing that position they fail to understand and the ones who adhere to it.

If I say I take the Bible literally, the oft-heard response is laughter and a snide comment from those who oppose such a position. What they’re unfortunately doing is applying the meaning for literalistically to the word literally and they are really two different words with two different meanings. Now even though you’ll find definitions for the word “literalistically” that include taking something literally, it’s more than that.

Adherence to the explicit sense of a given text or doctrine.

Let me give some examples of what I mean.

If I said, “I am so hungry I could eat a horse,” the average person who is familiar with that idiom would understand exactly what I meant. They would understand my literal meaning and would not take my words literalistically. They would simply understand me to mean that I am very hungry. They would not take me to mean that I wanted to actually eat an entire horse. Of course, people who were simply new to the English language and/or not familiar with that idiom might have a bit of difficulty understanding what was actually meant. This happened to me when I was taking Spanish. There is a Spanish idiom – and I forget exactly how it sounds in Spanish – that means “There, a quarter!” It is said as a throw-away phrase, but when a person who is fluent in Spanish hears someone else say that, they do not immediately begin looking on the ground for a quarter. They understand what is meant by that phrase.

Let’s take the phrase that is often seen on highway signs, “Fine for littering.” Now, most people understand that to say that if a person is caught throwing garbage out of the car window (littering), they will be subject to a fine payable to the court that has jurisdiction over that area.

But look at it another way. The sign also can be interpreted as saying “It’s okay (fine) to litter.” In fact, I’ve written a book on this very subject called, Interpreting the Bible Literally (Is Not as Confusing as It Soundsand cover this subject because I was talking with a dad whose son was on the Autism Spectrum. The dad was telling me how he laughed when on a trip, they came across just such a sign on the highway. The son’s comment was, “That sign says it’s okay to litter!” The son wasn’t being facetious or sarcastic. That’s the way he understood the sign. The dad had to explain that the word “fine” had several meanings and context is often relied upon to help people understand the meaning that is meant. I would take the way that son understood the sign as literalistically or maybe a better way to say it is hyper-literally.

When we get to the Bible and interpreting it, there are so many ways it seems that people do that. Because Dispensationalists (like myself) are often accused of misunderstanding and mishandling God’s Word because of the alleged template we use to do so (there is no template), it has become the norm to hear how people misunderstand the way I understand the Bible. Essentially, I understand the Bible in its most plain and ordinary sense. I have no difficulty at all because the Bible is not a book of magic with hidden codes. It’s not as Origen believed, with at least three depths of meaning for each section of Scripture. The Bible basically says one thing or it says nothing. It could not sustain itself if there were hidden meanings throughout Scripture or a meaning for one situation using this verse and an opposing meaning for another situation using the same verse.

God is not the Author of confusion so we must ask ourselves why He would bother to write a book at all (using roughly 40 human authors over a period of approximately 1,600 years), if He did not intend for us to be able to gain HIS meaning from its pages? Certainly, there is a great deal that is hidden to unbelievers but that has nothing to do with God purposefully confusing His Word or making it so “layered” that meaning is totally up for grabs. A lost person’s blindness won’t allow them to see His truth so they can search the Scriptures all they want and at least some will be hidden from them but it’s not because the language is code for anything. They are simply blind but in the very reading of it – as has happened to some atheists – God may choose to open their eyes to His truth. When that happens, much of the Bible begins to fall into place for them and they understand because their eyes are now open to it and they can see what they failed to previously understand.

But then you’ve got Christians from varying walks of life and denominations, who have different views on Eschatology (study of the end times), or the Trinity, or something else and you wonder how does that happen? Does that mean they’re not Christians? Not necessarily. It could simply mean that they are taking a completely wrong approach to things. I’m not including people who are involved in cults or extremist fringe groups here. Those folks need to find salvation first.

Learning the Bible is more than just reading it repeatedly. That is an excellent place to start, but to understand how to interpret it, understanding the various methods utilized are important and then determining the best method is tantamount. Once the best way to interpret Scripture is determined, if the correct one (and really folks, there can only be one correct method), is chosen, then a great deal of problems will be avoided.

Let’s look at just one example if we may. The Bible, like most writings, uses a variety of styles as God put His Book together as a gift to humanity. In Scripture, we see poetry, wisdom, history, and within these, we might stumble across idioms, metaphors, figures of speech, and more. It is important to understand this before we get into it. If we don’t, we will encounter problems.

Look! Enemies are gathering in the north like water rising in a river.
They will be like an overflowing stream.
They will overwhelm the whole country and everything in it like a flood.

The above text, from Jeremiah 47:1b-2a, speaks of rising water, an overflowing stream, and a flood. Is the prophet Jeremiah warning people that a flood of actual water is coming and they’d better get to high ground? Is that what he’s doing?

Clearly, Jeremiah is issuing a warning that has to do with Israel’s enemies. He essentially likens the gathering of that enemy against one of Israel’s enemies like water that rises in the river, an overflowing stream, and a flood. Jeremiah is using poetic imagery, metaphors, to paint a picture. He wanted to paint a very vivid picture of what was going to happen so that the people would know. He was not telling them that actual floodwaters were on their way. He was telling them that one of their enemies would be very much like flood waters as they gather together. In this case, Pharaoh was planning to attack Gaza where the Philistines lived and it was the gathering of his armies that is the subject here.

But my point – as I’m sure you see – is that this Egyptian army was likened by the prophet as flood waters, so powerful, so great, and so many were the troops of Pharaoh that Gaza would have little chance, as Pharaoh’s armies would literally overwhelm them as floodwaters would. Notice Jeremiah uses the word “like” to prove that he is not talking about actual floodwaters.

Now turn to Daniel 9:26 where we read the following words:

Now after the sixty-two weeks,
an anointed one will be cut off and have nothing.
As for the city and the sanctuary,
the people of the coming prince will destroy them.
But his end will come speedily like a flood.
Until the end of the war that has been decreed
there will be destruction.

I’ve emphasized the word “flood” in the fifth line down so that you would notice it. What’s happening here? Do you think that the words in Daniel are referring to flood waters or some type of army? If you chose flood waters, you’d be wrong. Notice again the use of the word “like” in the text.

Yet, in spite of this, many individuals who talk about or write commentaries on Daniel refer to this section as an actual flood of water that God will send. No, it’s a metaphor that means something massive is going to get rid of this “coming prince” mentioned in the previous line. When it says “his end will come speedily like a flood,” it’s not talking about Jesus as some interpret. They are mistaken. This has nothing to do with Jesus except for the fact that He will be the One who destroys this “prince” as He returns (2 Thessalonians 2).

What is interesting is that the only area where people place common sense and logic on the shelf is when they get to areas that deal with the prophetic as both the passage in Jeremiah 47 and Daniel 9 connect with. When they’re not dealing with prophecy, most people have no difficulty understanding what Scripture means. They get to prophecy and they seem unable to apply common sense to things, the same common sense they applied to Scripture that wasn’t prophetic in nature.

God uses poetic language in His Word. He also uses idioms – many of them germane to the time in which they were first written. Jesus used idioms at various times in his public sermons. In order to fully grasp their meaning, we have to travel back to the time when they were first used. Instead, people try to understand the Bible by applying today’s meaning to something and these same people would do that with no other work of antiquity.

We need to approach God’s Word determined to gain His meaning from it, not ours. We cannot go to it and read meaning into it based on today’s understanding or culture. The only way to fully understand something written centuries ago is to learn more about the time period during which something was written.

Stay tuned because we’ll offer more insight into what should not be the problem of interpretation.

August 31, 2016 at 10:22 AM Leave a comment

Is the Occult Presence in Society Increasing or Is It Just Being More Openly Accepted?

What the average fan of Beyoncé does not realize is that she is a creation. Katy Perry, Rihanna and others like them are all creations. When these people make the mistake of thinking they are self-made or truly important, the Elite will drop them like yesterday’s trash, easily replacing them with another person who will willingly sell themselves for fame, fortune, and unfulfilled aspirations. No matter how rich they become, they are being used until there is nothing left of them, but they willingly allow themselves to be used by the Elite so the Elite can send signals to society, to shape it, to brainwash it, and ultimately prepare society for what’s coming.

Continue Reading August 31, 2016 at 7:25 AM 2 comments

You CAN and SHOULD be as Healthy as Possible

There's more here than the average person realizes about gluten.

There’s more here than the average person realizes about gluten.

For those who have been reading the articles on this blog for any length of time, you know that I often come back to this subject of our physical health. It is extremely important and the only thing I can emphasize more consistently and vehemently is our spiritual health. You could be the healthiest person in the world regarding your physical health, but if you do not have salvation, it does you no good. You are still dying without Christ and if that situation does not change, you will enter eternity with a healthy body (relatively speaking), but will spend that eternity without God in Christ. Because of that eternal separation, your body will suffer decay and eternal torment. In that case, does being physically healthy really matter? Not at all, except that you felt good while here on this earth, in this life.

In spite of how healthy people may strive to be in this life, we will all die, won’t we (barring those alive when the Rapture occurs)? Nonetheless, Christians above all people should be physically healthy. No, I’m not saying that God will heal everything that ails you. No, I’m not saying that God will provide great health if you will but simply believe it. I’m saying that something else entirely and by the way, before I get too deeply into this, I’m talking about our overall general health here. I’m not referring to folks who have genetic issues that result in terrible illnesses nor am I talking about people who may develop problems due to some type of car accident or something else, as in the case of Joni, who was a tremendous swimmer and athlete, but one day, dove into the water and broke her neck because she hit bottom, not realizing how shallow it was right there.

What I’m talking about are the things that Christians must do in order to help stave off physical health issues that can and do almost always wind up affecting our mental or emotional stability. I speak from experience because for many years I suffered from several problems that robbed me of good health. Again, those who have read my reports here know some of the history. While I’ll never share all of it, I’ve shared enough that paints a picture of a middle-aged man who was developing several health problems and now I fully understand that most of it was due to how I ate.

I realize that may sound very simplistic, but if you understood what I now understand, having gained tremendous insight over the past nearly three years of study, seeing doctors (including naturopaths), and done everything I could to help myself, you would realize that in too many ways to count, what we eat plays a huge role in how we feel and how healthy (or not) we are in our daily lives.

Just about three years ago, I tipped the scales at 255 pounds. That much weight on a man of my height and build (medium frame; 5′ 7″ tall), is not good; not good at all. My waistline was nearly 46″. Yuck! I look back at pictures of myself and I looked like a balloon waiting to burst. It’s a very good reminder of what can happen when we are not in charge of our health.

I see this a great deal still. The church we used to attend sends out prayer lists and we are still on that list because we know many of the people. We like to be kept in the loop to know how to pray for them. Almost without exception, the prayer requests are for someone’s health. What is so sad is that I fully believe that a great many of these health problems could have been avoided had people just learned how to eat properly and avoid those things that ultimately weaken our systems so that we wind up dealing with many health issues. It’s like a dominoes effect.

This was me and as a Christian, I recall being desperate enough to cry out to God to heal me. Of course, at the time I wanted Him to heal me instantly but as I’ve stated before, had He done so, I never would have found out what I can and should do to avoid encountering those same health issues that I’ve been pulling away from over the past nearly three years.

Not only was I 255 pounds, but my blood pressure was all over the place. Ultimately, it took my cardiologist to put me on FIVE different medications at the same time before my blood pressure came down to manageable levels. He was concerned about what he called my left “bundle blockage” and was relieved after testing to learn that it was simply due to my high blood pressure that would heal itself when he brought my blood pressure down to manageable levels. My “ejection fraction” rate was also very poor; around 30%. This is how much blood gets “ejected” from the heart after it beats. It needed to be at least 50% to be considered in the normal range. Once he began to get my blood pressure under control, he was glad to see my ejection fraction rate go up to 50% in a very short time.

But in reality, these were all symptoms of a problem and as I would learn, I had the key. Let me give you the short of it. Today, nearly three years later, I weigh 188.0 pounds, I am down to being on only TWO blood pressure medications with a BP rate in the low to mid 120’s over mid-70’s. Certainly, part of that has to do with the fact that I’ve lost nearly 70 pounds and I’m continuing to lose. My next goal is 170 so we’ll see if my body takes me there. I’ve also begun sleeping without my CPAP machine for the first time in decades and so far, there have been no ill effects.

Here’s what I have realized. What I eat can hurt me. In fact, it can kill me. All of my life I have been “addicted” to sugary items. The food companies switched out sugar for man-made high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) a number of decades ago. I’ve talked about HFCS before and have noted that it is addictive. When you drink a soda sweetened with HFCS, it does not quench your thirst. In fact, your body wants more of it. This is also true of foods that we eat which contain HFCS. Moreover, HFCS is not something our bodies break down. This ingredient goes directly into our blood stream, unlike pure cane sugar which does get broken down by our systems. The more products I ate laden with HFCS, the more I wanted to eat them. I always felt full, even bloated, slightly sick, lacking in energy, couldn’t think straight, and was often irritable for no apparent reason.

Over the past three years, I’ve gone to a number of doctors (even an endocrinologist) and naturopaths. By far, most of the long-term help and recovery I have received has been from quality naturopaths and even though I live in Georgia, I use one from California because the requirements to become a naturopath in California are much more stringent there. Some naturopaths can even prescribe medications there.

Here is a short quick list of the knowledge I have gained over the past three years:

  • I’m MTHFR – a genetic disposition that makes it impossible for my body to absorb and use Folic Acid, which the body needs. For me, I must have a “methylated” form of it; Folate.
  • I’ve found that I’m allergic to the following three big ones (but there are others):
    • corn
    • apples
    • soy
    • dairy
  • I’m sensitive to:
    • gluten
    • wheat

I know that being gluten-free is somewhat of a fad today, but my sister had Celiac Disease as well as Hashimoto’s Syndrome. She ultimately died because she was overweight and had a weak heart. For me, the gluten sensitivity gene is there somewhere and it’s simply best to avoid it.

Now, you can imagine that if I’m avoiding gluten, wheat, corn, soy, dairy, and HFCS, I’m severely limited in what I can eat or drink. Yes, this is true, but there are substitutes and it all comes back to how much is your health worth to you? It’s worth a great deal to me now that I can compare the way I am not with the way I used to be and for a good portion of my life.

Because I have come so far over such a period of time, I am convinced that what I put in my mouth – either food or drink – can benefit me or destroy me. It is that simple. I’m living proof of it. I take a Probiotic daily. I take a small segment of supplements. I get allergy shots. But the biggest thing I do is avoid the things that I know will bring me harm.

What I have also found is that when I want something sweet, I have a number of sodas to choose from, sodas that are sweetened not with HFCS, but with pure cane sugar. Most of the time, I will drink only have the bottle, sometimes even less. A whole bottle might last me two to three days. With sodas sweetened with HFCS, I couldn’t get enough. How about desserts? Most desserts have HFCS or dairy in them. I choose ice cream made with goat milk because it lacks the casein that is often the problem for people who need to avoid dairy. We use goat milk butter in our house as well. We eat organic when we can. We buy meat that has not been raised on hormones or antibiotics when we can. We have our own chickens and we know what we feed them, but we also buy organic chicken eggs. But the biggest thing we do is avoid the foods that we know are bad for us. We rarely eat out anymore and fast food places don’t even exist for us anymore.

But even though I know how well this “lifestyle” has worked for me, I find it absolutely amazing that you can share this with other people and while they might give you a nod and tell you how interesting that is, there is a huge disconnect for them. They are of the opinion that while it works for me, they don’t necessarily need it because they’re “healthy.” Yet, some of these folks are 40, 50 or more pounds overweight and are on several blood pressure meds. They have no stamina or energy and cannot walk up a short flight of stairs without breathing heavily. Their eyes remain closed to their own need. They simply don’t see it. You could talk to them until you run out of breath and they still wouldn’t get it. It’s because they’re not “hungry” enough for it yet. They don’t see a real personal need for it…yet. They may never.

Hey, this might be a great substitute for paprika! They look similar.

Hey, this might be a great substitute for paprika! They look similar.

It breaks my heart to see all the prayer requests coming through that simply ask us to ask God to “heal” a person, or to have “good” test results about some health issue. So much of people’s health issues are directly related to what they eat and drink. Yet, because they like their fried chicken or their beer or soda, they’re not willing to give it up.

It would be like a person sitting down to dinner and sprinkling rat poisoning on their food. They might say it “enhances” the taste of the food, but at what cost? Enough of it and it will kill a person. If we saw someone doing that to themselves, we would grab the rat poison away from them and try to talk some sense into them. We might even call 911 out of concern for their health and safety. We do not do this with the average person though because of what they eat or drink, do we? After all, if you can buy it on a grocery store food shelf, it must be okay, right?

Now, when I think of eating a donut or regular ice cream or having some of what used to be my favorite pizza or a candy bar, I think again. All I have to do is remember what that stuff did to me and it cures me of wanting it anymore. We were attending a function recently where some neighbors were also. We exchanged pleasantries and they both commented on how much weight I had lost. I said, “And it’s gone for good, too. Not coming back!” One said, “Never say never.”

Well, by God’s grace, I can say “never” because I’m all too aware of how dangerous many of the foods are to our bodies that we eat today. Isn’t that tragic, that the big food companies produce our foods with all the fillers, the fake ingredients, the overabundance of sweeteners and all the rest? It simply hooks us to a life of obesity and ill-health. The only way to avoid that is to get off that train altogether. I have done it and I hope you will consider it too.

gracealoneBut I’ve also learned that no matter how much truth you share with people, unless they can actually see it for themselves, they will reject it. They might appear to appreciate what you’re telling them, but if they don’t appreciate it enough to take it to heart, they’re really only giving lip service to it. Ultimately, they will blow your advice off.

It is exactly the same way when talking about a person’s need to receive salvation from Jesus. They may think it’s a great idea. They may even warm up to it, but until they actually see a true need to embrace salvation, they will not do so.

We humans are often too blind to see truth, whether it’s related to our own physical health or spiritual lives. It is part of the curse of having a fallen nature. I truly hope that if you’re a Christian reading this, you will come to grasp the truth behind making and keeping yourself healthy. You can either eat whatever you want and will eventually come to rely on the medical profession to try to improve your health (they can only do so much especially if don’t change your eating habits), as you watch your health slowly fade away from you. You’ll realize one day that you had the ability to change that but didn’t.

If you’re not a Christian and you’re reading this, I want two things for you: First, I want you to be healthy and I believe that comes from our eating habits. What you put into your mouth can destroy good health and create bad health for years to come. You have the power to be healthy. Don’t leave that up to doctors who essentially treat the symptoms you come into their office with, though they’re willing to do that.

Second, I want you to embrace salvation. I want you to understand – whether you “feel” it or not – that you are on a one-way path to eternal separation from the God of the Universe. You don’t have to remain on that path. You can change it and you must. Please read our “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation” page to learn more.

If you change nothing about what you eat, you will develop bad health at some point in the future. That is a certainty. If you change nothing about your present course, which has you going away from God, your soul will perish once you leave this life and enter eternity. I’m asking that you do not let this happen. Consider what you can change about your life and make the right choices.

August 30, 2016 at 12:05 PM Leave a comment

What Should Authentic Christians Look Forward to in the Future?

This is all-too important to ignore or treat with disdain. We Christians have tremendous reasons to “look up” and understand that our citizenship is not here on earth, but in heaven. John tells us that as we focus our hearts and minds on the eventual return of our Lord and the culmination of all things by Him and His eternal power, many cares and concerns in this life will fall away.

Continue Reading August 29, 2016 at 8:57 AM Leave a comment

Using Scripture in the Argument or Debate

In truth, when people become angered by someone who cannot or refuses to see any truth in their opinion, it says a great deal about them as people, not the person they’re trying so hard to convert to their way of thinking. Their insecurities are often the driving force behind why they argue and debate. They have to continually prove to themselves that they are correct because of their own ever-present doubts. I have found this to be the case with people in cults. They chafe under that label and have to prove to people that they are “Christians” too so they are in attack mode most of the time, seriously on the defensive.

Continue Reading August 27, 2016 at 11:50 AM 2 comments

Why Are Satan and Demons Allowed to Produce Miracles? Part 2

I find it fascinating that God did not prohibit Satan and his minions from doing what they do naturally in their realm, here in this natural realm. Instead, God simply forbade the Israelites (and Christians as later reiterated in the NT in numerous places) to avoid going there. The door was never to be opened to that realm. Why not? Because those spiritual beings have no good intentions for humanity at all. Their goal is to help Satan bring his promises of Isaiah 14 to fruition, where he will become complete and total ruler of this world and make himself “like the Most High,” (Isaiah 14:14), for a very brief period of time. It all comes down to that, which, in my opinion, is the very reason he makes initial contact with Eve in the first place.

Continue Reading August 26, 2016 at 7:02 AM Leave a comment

Why Are Satan and Demons Allowed to Produce Miracles? Part 1

We see throughout the Old and New Testaments these examples of what Satan is capable of doing. Again, I’d like to emphasize that anything he does, he does only with God’s permission, but clearly, he is a very powerful being and the fact that he exists mainly in the spiritual dimension gives him the power to bring about what we call miracles, but for him, they are simply part of his natural ability. I also think that this is why Christians should not chase after miracles per se, because in doing so, our emotions will often catch us up so that we will become so myopic that we will accept miracles from any source, believing that only God would provide what we deem the “miracles” to His children. This is absolutely incorrect thinking and the fact that God has forbidden any connection with the occult or dark arts is proof that alleged miracles can come not just from God, but from Satan and his demons as well. Satan exists in the supernatural realm, therefore it is reasonable to conclude that performing what we call miracles are natural for him. However, he is always kept in check by God.

Continue Reading August 25, 2016 at 10:44 AM 3 comments

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