Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Bible States that Prophets would and did exist After Christ.

I was watching a movie about Jeremiah, last night. It showed the Jews rejecting him as a prophet, claiming that God hadn't spoken to him. Yet he knew that God had, and couldn't deny it. I couldn't help but feel the parallel to Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and even my own experiences with this. I have heard claims that God doesn't talk to people anymore. I have only heard of one Biblical verse remotely excuseable in being used to support this claim.

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." Heb 1:1-2.

This Scripture is interpreted by them thus - God who before spoke through prophets isn't going to do that anymore because he has now spoken to us by his son, and he said all that needs saying to mankind.

Interestingly people professing this interpretation still read the words of those very same past prophets that they profess to be unnecessary, as only Christ's words would be relevant, if we are to believe such an interpretation. Also they read Paul, Peter, and all those other, supposedly, unnecessary people that wrote after Christ's death. Or are they admitting that revelation is needed to understand what Christ was meaning?

However I don't see this text as saying that at all. To me Paul is saying how blessed we are to have the words of the son himself, rather than just prophets. To me the text says it plainly. I would interpret it thus - God who had only spoken to people through prophets prior to Christ had then spoken to them by his Son himself. That is all it has said: Nothing about no prophets or revelation in the future.

Some use Rev 22:18 where it states not to add to this book to support the idea of a lack of continued revelation, as it would become Scripture. However that is spoken in ignorance of the fact that the book being spoken of was the book just written - the book of Revelation (which John wrote). In fact that book was written before the books of John and 1st, 2nd and 3rd John, which he wrote 2 years later. Also Deut 4:2 says the same of adding to the first 5 books of Moses, yet we have 61 more in the Bible alone. Then Prov 30:6 gives the same warning, yet on went the books thereafter. All understood that this meant not to add or take bits out of the writings of these individual prophets or apostles. It had no reference to books written thereafter.

Not only doesn't the Bible declare any end of prophets and revelation, but it declares the continuance of such after Christ's death many times. Some try to excuse this by proposing that the meaning of the word "prophet" was different for them. However the same word is used to describe the OT prophets such as Isaiah etc. Or are they proposing that the word suddenly changed meaning at the death of Christ: A prophet before Christ receiving prophecy yet one after not doing so? I would also ask, can we have a prophet not receiving prophecy? The Scriptures plainly speak of the continuation of prophets.

"And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch." (Acts 11:27)

"And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. (Acts 15:32)

"And as we tarried there many days. there came down from Jedaea a certain prophet, named Agabus." (Acts 21:10)

"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone." (Eph 2:20)

This verse is even saying that Christ built his church with apostles and prophets in it.

"Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." (Eph 3:5)

Note here that apostles and prophets are there to reveal things NOT before revealed; for the church, from the Spirit. This plainly isn't an explaining of Christ's words, as some may propose.

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, propets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers." (Eph 4:11)

Again we see these as being officers within his church organisation.

And what of the gift of prophecy promised to the faithful in 1 Cor 12:10?

"He that receiveth a propet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward." (Matt 10:41)

What an odd statement to make if there never were to be prophets after him!

"Beware of false prophets, with come to you in sheeps's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits, Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth
evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
(Matt 7:15-20)

Here Christ has given us direction as to how to recognise false prophets from true ones. If there never were to be any prophets after his death why would it be necessary for him to give such instruction?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Scripture - Personal Revelation - Prophets

What is Scripture? I would see it as personal or national experiences relating to God or his word. So if we have a personal experience relating to God or his word, is that Scripture? Members are usually quick to throw in the "that is only Scripture for yourself, only the prophet receives revelation for the church" routine. But let's take a bit of time and think seriously about how we are to consider these experiences.

What if Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ appear to you, and you are told things that don't fit in with what is generally taught? This leads back to a greater examination of my original question. Here I would like to give a better answer to my original question. I would see Scripture as personal or national experiences relating to God or his word, written by men according to their understanding and memory. Also Scripture is put on the level of a particular people (according to their spiritual level). Thus the Old Testament teachings VS the New Testament teachings. Paul said that the gospel of Christ was taught to Israel at the time of Moses but they didn't accept it as they didn't have the faith required to live it (Heb 4:2). But prior to the Law of Moses being given because of spiritual ignorance, the gospel of Christ was taught. So the revelation given to a people is relevant to their ability to accept the doctrine to be given.

I can say from personal experience that misinterpretation is also a problem with revelation. A classic case of misinterpretation is the Chief High Priest (The Prophet) Caiaphas prophesying that Christ would die, so concluding it to be up to him to have it done (John 11:49-53). We can have the most wonderful of visions, be taken by the Spirit and shown great and marvelous things, and come back with entirely false ideas of what we have witnessed because of lack of understanding of certain associated principles. So why would God therefore give us such a vision or experience? Because he knows that eventually we will come to understand. Either that or it will create some useful effect.

I would say that overwhelmingly any personal revelation would be in harmony with what some prophet has already said. Often, though, it will be an ignored doctrine. Sharing these insights is OK where it doesn't conflict with the level the members around you are on. Or, in other words, they have to be able to live with what you are presenting without it creating circumstances where people can use your words to justify evil. Any good commandment can be taken and used for evil purposes. For examples _ The Pharisees went on at Christ for breaking the sabbath in healing someone. A Jew could have said that God had commanded them to rid Israel of Gentiles so kill a Greek merchant to take his money.

So have a good think about the full consequences of what you are about to reveal, because the devil is experienced at twisting these things. He's found a twist for it long before you found out about it. Work out what those twists are and be sure that the people you are thinking of revealing it to are ready for such information. Moses overestimated Israel's ability to handle the doctrine. Thus he smashed the gospel tablets and went and got the Law of Moses, as God knew would happen but had given Moses the chance to see.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Polygamy - Monogamy - Which is Biblical?

Polygamy is a much debated subject, with all sorts of ideas presented. Questions arise as to its value and Biblical accuracy. The latter is easy to establish, as it is written rather than subject to opinion. Some quote Islam and harems to relate this to polygamy and present it as bad. I find that incredible hypocrisy. What are the statistics of divorce in the countries practicing monogamy? What are the statistics of adultery and fornication? If we took statistics of how many people those in "Christian" countries are having sex with, and how many those in Moslem countries are having sex with, I don't doubt at all that the average for "Christians" would be far higher than for those Moslems in countries practicing polygamy. So by the same logic that would make monogamy even worse. There are some problems in all countries. Islam and Christian. And problems are just going to occur where ever two or more people are living in the same area.

But I'm not interested in preaching the practice of polygamy. I have just presented quick defence against the general statement first made against it, in ignorance. It is claimed that the Bible speaks for monogamy. The point of this post is to examine the Biblical stance on the monogamy teaching. Three quotes are used to support the claim that it is Biblical.

I Tim 3:2 "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach."

I Tim 3:12 "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well."

Titus 1:6 "If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly."

These three quotes give a good argument for monogamy. But the translation is very dubious. When you see the word "one" in the New Testament it isn't all translated from the same Greek word. However these three verses do use the same Greek word. This Greek word "mia" is translated several ways according to the meaning derived from the text. It is translated as "one", "first", "a (certain)[a certain person, place or thing]" and an idiom of the language "other" (refer Strong's Concordance). The latter is obviously not the correct usage in this case. So we are left with a word that can equally be translated as "a wife", "one wife" or "first wife". All of these leave us with a different doctrine. A bishop should be the husband of "a wife", would make it that Paul was preaching that bishops must be married. A bishop should be the husband of "one wife", would make it that Paul was preaching an otherwise unpreached doctrine of monogamy. A bishop should be the husband of his "first wife", would make it that Paul was preaching that a bishop should not be a divorced person.

It must be remembered also that the Greek readers were left with the same options. Therefore Paul, in writing this, must have known that their understanding of his intent would be obvious. It should also be realised that Jews and Jewish influence existed among the readers, thus making Law of Moses doctrine underlying.

Absolutely nothing in the text gives away the answer as to which is the correct translation. But the one the translators chose is Biblically the least likely. The law of Moses even gives laws as to how to deal with a man's several wives. Biblical adultery for a man is to have sex with another man's wife, but for a woman it is for a married woman to have sex with anyone. A married man committing sex with an unmarried woman was committing fornication, not adultery. He had to marry her also and never divorce her, or be put to death. These laws and all the people with several wives in the Old Testament, who were supported by God, demonstrate that God hadn't opposed polygamy.

The law of Moses also states that the Chief High Priest must marry a virgin. This meant that he had to still be married to her. This shows the law of Moses preaching that a leader must be 1. married and 2. not divorced.

So of the three possible translations that could be made, the translators of the Bible chose the only one that is Biblically unsupported.

If monogamy was to be the new thing to do from the time of Christ, surely Jesus himself would have taught it. It seems a dreadful oversight if we are to believe that the apostles just happened to forget to mention such an astounding teaching. Jesus Christ doesn't use the words "one" and "wife" even in the same verse, let alone straight after each other.