Which Bible version do you use?

This question has been prompted by recent articles referring to the misuse of Jeremiah 29:11, now, apparently, a favourite verse.

In two articles I’ve read, the quote is from the NIV:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

However, the KJV says:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Other more literal translations are similar.

Dr Irene Lancaster, in her short article at christiantoday.com, says: ” … there is no word for ‘plan’ in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew word used means ‘thoughts’ – no more and no less. ‘Prosper’ is also a flight of fancy.”

@RevMarkWoods, also writing for christiannews.com, says:
“[Jeremiah 29:11 has] been described as one of the most misused verses in the Bible. Originally a promise to Israel of restoration after years in exile in Babylon, it’s now used as a feel-good affirmation that ‘God has a plan for our lives’ and that everything works out for the best in the best of all possible worlds. This is a long way from Jeremiah’s intention – and a long way from real biblical exegesis, which doesn’t support the idea that God has our futures mapped out for us.
“At its worst, Jeremiah’s verse helps people avoid responsibility for their own choices. It’s a comfort blanket, enabling people to feel that whatever they do – how hard they work, whether they study, whether they work at a marriage or a relationship or a church – doesn’t really matter, because it’s all part of God’s plan.
“And that’s not really how it works. The Bible is clear that the world is a place of moral effort, of responsibility. We aren’t to tempt God by leaving everything to him: he’s given us choices. Yes, we can rely on his guidance and his care for us, but he still expects us to choose well.”

The misuse comes from lifting a more liberal translation of the verse out of context; common, I would suggest, for prosperity and feel-good preachers.

So, does that make the NIV a bad translation? I wouldn’t rubbish the NIV; I used it extensively when involved in a local Bible study group. However, it does show the need for having more than one Bible version available (which I did), with at least one of them being a more literal translation.

Islam 101

The linked file is a PDF version of ‘Islam 101’ that can be found in a few places as internet pages. The title page describes it’s purpose:
“Islam 101 is meant to help people become better educated about the fundamentals of Islam and to help the more knowledgeable better convey the facts to others.”
It is, in my view, essential reading to understand what is behind the threat of Islam that faces the West.
‘Islam 101’ can be read here: http://bit.ly/2pYlPDD
Please read and share.

Quran …. fight; Bible …. love

I saw this verse from the Quran in a Facebook post this morning …
Quran 4:74 “Let those (believers) who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in the Cause of Allah, and whoso fights in the Cause of Allah, and is killed or gets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward.”
It reminded me of this verse from the Bible …
Mat 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you”

The eye could not have evolved

I recently commented on a Facebook post concerning evolution of the eye, which encouraged me to share the following with you.
This link is a clip from Revelation TV of Howard Conder interviewing Richard Dawkins about the eye. The eye is a favourite challenge to evolutionists by Christians who say it is too complex to have evolved. The producer of this video, as he explains, mixes a much earlier explanation by Dawkins with the more recent Revelation TV clip.
In brief, Dawkins says a primitive animal randomly acquired a light-sensitive cell enabling it to distinguish between light and dark. This improved in time, allowing the animal to sense direction of light and then, gradually, begin to recognise shapes, and so on.
This explanation falls at the first hurdle.
If the animal randomly acquired a light-sensitive cell, it would have had no means of processing that information and the cell would have therefore been of absolutely no advantage. There would have been no connection between this new, randomly formed cell and anything – a brain? – that would enable that processing. How would the light-sensitive cell have known it needed a brain to process its information; how would a brain have known it needed to go looking for a light-sensitive cell?
To believe that a connection could have evolved and somehow found its way, either from the cell to the processor or in the other direction, is pure fantasy.

My [theo]logical problem with Islam

It is still considered by many that the three major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, share the same belief in the one God: Jehovah God, or, Allah. The increasing activity of terrorists over more recent years – mainly Muslims with their war cry of ‘Allahu Akbar’ – has led many to question the truth of a common god.

There are numerous biblical texts that affirm Jehovah God was the creator of all things: Genesis 1:1-25; Nehemiah 9:6; Ephesians 3:9; Colossian 1:16; Revelation 4:11 etc.

The Quran also has a number of texts that affirm Allah was the creator of all things: Surah 6:1, 102; 13:6; 35:1-3; 39:46 etc.

Since there can only be one creator of everything, the logical conclusion is that Jehovah God and Allah is one and the same; the God of the Jews, Christians and Muslims.

However …..

The Bible tells us that Jesus is God’s son, was crucified, and resurrected on the third day. This is central to Christianity. Without a resurrected Christ, there is no Christianity: In 1Corinthians 15:14 Paul says “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain”. (‘vain’ in the Bible means empty; worthless; having no substance, value or importance).

Contrary to the Bible, the Quran tells us that Jesus did not die on the cross [4:157], that He is not the Son of God [9:30], but simply a prophet [4:171].

So, who is God lying to, Jews and Christians or Muslims?

Both Judeo Christian and Muslim believers will tell you their ‘god’ cannot lie.

For Jews and Christians this is stated in the Bible in a number of verses: Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 6:18 etc.

However, there are no such verses in the Quran; that Allah cannot lie is simply a belief. Understandably, to Muslims, this would be perfectly natural and there is no need for the Quran to make supporting statements.

What is the point of believing in a god that can lie!

Back to the question: “who is god lying to?” If God cannot lie, then one of these religions must be false.

Am I wrong?

Eternal Security

I suspect most Christians have heard of the doctrine of Eternal Security, also known as ‘once saved always saved’ (OSAS). A friend, who is perhaps best described as a non-conformist, has said to me that OSAS is definitely not true, but was then unable to justify that opinion biblically. Another, an Anglican, says that OSAS definitely is true but, again, cannot support that opinion biblically. In other words, each has formed an opinion on what they believe to be true, but with no real understanding of why. (I’m not sure that non-conformist vs Anglican has anything to do with it). My own opinion has no credibility because it is only based on a gut-feeling: my salvation can be lost if I seriously mess up.
I’ve never been tempted to embark on a full study of this subject, although I have previously dipped my toe into this doctrine and didn’t take long to find strong biblical arguments on both sides. Here are some favourite quotes that highlight the difficulty:
For …
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord [Romans 8:38-39].
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand [John 10:27-28].
Against …
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit . . . if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance . . . For if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins [Hebrews 6:4, 6].
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, [Hebrews 10:26].
If I were to pursue a serious study and come to a conclusion for or against, how would I absolutely know that my conclusion would be correct? There is the possibility that one side of the debate is quite straightforward to prove, and the other is the result of misinterpretation of Scripture, for whatever reason. Considering this might be the case, why am I still not concerned about studying the subject?
My personal view is that it doesn’t matter whether OSAS is true or false. I much prefer to take the attitude that it’s false and not risk any subconscious, or deliberate, temporary lowering of standards to satisfy a temptation. We are weak humans. If we believe our salvation is secure, then we will be more susceptible to sinning.
Surely, if you believe your salvation can be lost, then your resolve to resist temptations of any kind will be stronger.

Is simply believing enough?

Paul tells us that if you confess the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. [Romans 10:9] (All quotes are from MKJV).
The implication here is that, providing you don’t hide your faith, and truly believe, then you are saved.
There are a few verses in John’s gospel that support the idea that simply believing results in everlasting life:
[3:15] …. whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
[3:16] For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
[3:36] He who believes on the Son has everlasting life ….
[5:24] ….He who hears My Word and believes on Him who sent Me has everlasting life……
It’s easy to select these verses and feel comfortable in your salvation.
My problem with this is that, over the years, I’ve come across situations, personally, on television, and reading online, where people who profess to be good Christians at times behave in a way that falls short of what would be expected of them. Putting it plainly, they, to varying degrees and at various times, are hypocritical in either word or deed. I know we all sin on occasions but, as Christians, these should be transient sins committed during a moment of weakness that we immediately regret, followed by a prayer for forgiveness. They should not be sins committed regularly as if they were somehow not bad enough to worry about. I can’t help wondering how hypocrisy affects salvation.
James says You believe that there is one God; you do well: even the demons believe and tremble [James 2:19]. The demons believe, but their chance of everlasting life is zero, suggesting simply believing isn’t enough.
Is there a threshold somewhere between the demons attitude and being a committed, evangelising Christian which, when we cross it, we will have everlasting life? I doubt it, but I’ve no idea how we will be judged in this respect.
My personal view is to accept that believing in Jesus also encompasses all that goes with it: acceptance of Jesus as my saviour, true repentance and keeping his commandments.
If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love [John 15:10]
Whether simply believing is thought to be enough or not, we should lead our lives as if it isn’t. Our belief in Jesus should be the foundation on which we build all that the gospels and epistles teach us.

Paul, Apostle of Christ

The opening paragraph of The Christian Film Review’s review  tells us “Paul, Apostle of Christ is the best Biblical movie since The Passion of The Christ. It is extremely gripping and powerful telling the story of Paul, Luke and the early Church.”

“[T]elling the story of Paul, Luke and the early Church” is a gross exaggeration. Sure, during Luke’s conversations with Paul we get a visual glimpse of the stoning of Stephen, Paul’s ‘Damascus Road’ experience and Ananias laying his hands on Paul and restoring his site in Damascus, but that’s about all.

The run time of 108 minutes wouldn’t have allowed for much more than portraying just a selection of Paul’s missionary life, but this is further reduced by a parallel story being told about a group of Christians in hiding from the Romans, with Aquila and Priscilla seemingly being their leaders. This drama, probably intended to express the extreme danger for Christians in Rome at the time, which it does, is pure fiction; Aquila and Priscilla were not in Rome during Paul’s second imprisonment. The closing salutations in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, written from the Mamertine prison, confirms this. Another drama, imbedded in this one, is the story of the Mamertine Prison’s prefect’s daughter who is very ill, and eventually saved from death by Luke; complete fiction.

There are some small gems available in addition to the film, but nowhere near enough to compensate for my disappointment.

There are also other extras on the DVD which inform us of the background and research undertaken to producing this movie. Yet,  however well-intentioned, this excellent production, in my view, falls far short of portraying its title subject – Paul, Apostle of Christ – and reflecting the real source material, the Bible.

If, like me, you would love to see a film which accurately portrays Scripture (allowing for necessary dramatisation, of course) then this film is not for you. If you still think it might be, and why not, there are a number of reviews to be found you might want to read. Just Google “paul the apostle of christ reviews”.

Even with the extras, would I watch this again. No. It’s just going to sit forgotten somewhere on a shelf.