Throwback Thursday: Moses and Hobab: Sin or obedience?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 4, 2016 and has been revised.


God’s Word is rich beyond measure. We are so blessed that we can feast upon God’s Word daily. But sometimes I get a little lackadaisical in my approach to the Word. In my haste to complete my daily Bible reading, I can sometimes overlook some very profound truths and admonitions from the Lord. Slow down, Tom! It’s quality, not quantity. “Lord, speak to me!” But there are also times when I come across some verses/passages that I can’t completely understand and I end up scratching my head. “Lord, what does this mean?”

Case in point: My wife and I have recently been reading through the Book of Numbers together. In chapter 9, the Lord revealed to Moses that He would lead Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land by the pillar of cloud during the day and by the pillar of fire during the night. There obviously could not be a more perfect guide than the Lord God Almighty.

Yet in chapter 10 we read that Moses entreated his brother-in-law,* Hobab, to act as a guide for the Israelites:

29 And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the Lord has promised good to Israel.” 30 But he said to him, “I will not go. I will depart to my own land and to my kindred.” 31 And he said, “Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. 32 And if you do go with us, whatever good the Lord will do to us, the same will we do to you. – Numbers 10:29-32

Why would Moses ask Hobab for his help as a guide when the omniscient Lord God Almighty was already leading the Israelites? Was Hobab, a Midianite, even a follower of the Lord at that point? One commentator suggests that, in His providence, the Lord sent Hobab to Moses and the Israelites because of his practical knowledge of wilderness survival, e.g. locating water wells and oases, camp protocol, etc.

So couldn’t the Lord, the perfect guide, have led the Israelites to the very best possible campsites? Why would they have needed Hobab? Here’s three possible interpretations of the passage that I came across:

(1) By turning to Hobab for help, Moses was doubting in the care of the Lord. Moses was trusting in the arm of flesh rather than the Lord. This passage is recorded in God’s Word to show us, once again, that even Moses had his failings and was an imperfect sinner. (2) Moses saw Hobab, a seasoned veteran of wilderness living, as a help provided by the Lord to assist the Israelites in their journey. (3) Moses was only flattering Hobab in an effort to persuade him to accompany the Israelites so that he might eventually also trust in the Lord.

Anyone have an opinion on this passage? We probably won’t resolve this one conclusively this side of eternity.

*Bible scholars are still debating whether “Hobab” refers to Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro/Reuel, or his brother-in-law, although recent scholarship seems to favor the latter view.

Throwback Thursday: Ruth: Who/what was the other kinsman?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on September 5, 2016 and has been revised.


Have you ever sat there, reading your Bible, and the Holy Spirit revealed something delightful in a passage that you had read many times previously, but had never before grasped the full import? I’m sure you can relate. The Old Testament has many types and foreshadowings of Jesus Christ and when we understand their full meaning for the first time it’s a bit of a “eureka” moment.

As I mentioned in some recent posts, my wife and I are currently studying through the Book of Ruth, one of my favorite books of the Bible. I’ve read this book many, many, many times, but just like every book in the Bible, the Holy Spirit reveals something new each time I read it.

In the Book of Ruth, Boaz is a wonderful type of the Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s a relative by marriage to Naomi and Ruth, and Ruth claims him as her kinsman-redeemer. Boaz loves Ruth and is more than happy to oblige her claim, but first he must deal with an unnamed individual, a closer relative of Naomi and Ruth, who is first in line to act as their redeemer. In chapter four, Boaz brings the individual before Bethlehem’s magistrates, but the person ultimately declines to be the women’s redeeemer, freeing Boaz to legally assume the role and marry Ruth.

While reading about Boaz’s dealings with this other kinsman, a question popped into my mind for the first time. If Boaz is a type of Christ, who/what does this other kinsman represent? The unnamed nearer-kinsman plays a small, but pivotal role in the story and I sensed he symbolized something very important, but what was it? I found a very credible answer in J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on the chapter. McGee suggests the other kinsman represents the Law. Although he came before Boaz (Christ), he (the Law) could not/would not redeem the women. A light went on in my spirit. Yes, yes, that was it! The nearer kinsman who could not/would not redeem Ruth represented the Law. I found that other commentators have drawn the same conclusion as McGee.

I remember as a Catholic struggling to find redemption through the Ten Commandments. It was impossible. The Law cannot save, for it only shows us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus Christ took on human flesh to become our Kinsman. But you must reach out to Him and accept Him as your Savior, your Kinsman-Redeemer. Oh, Lord Jesus, thank you for redeeming me from the heavy burden of sin. Thank you for loving me and saving me!

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” – Romans 8:1-8

Throwback Thursday: KJV 1611-Only?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on May 19, 2016 and has been revised. I don’t usually dwell on disagreements over secondary issues, but sometimes they can’t be avoided, especially when proponents of a particular view insist it’s a salvation issue.


The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations?
By James R. White
Bethany House, 2009, 364 pages

5 Stars

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior way back in 1983. There were many people and circumstances that pointed me to the Savior along the way, including a couple of guys at work. Jose and Ray knew I was interested in God and spiritual matters and would eagerly stop me in the hallway to strike up a conversation. I must admit, sometimes when I saw them coming from a distance, I turned and walked the other way. Can anyone else relate? But the Lord had been drawing me to Him for quite awhile, and I eventually accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

Jose and Ray were thrilled that I had accepted Christ, but they cautioned me that I needed to immediately plug into a good, Bible-believing church that only used the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. They advised me that all of the modern Bible versions were corrupt. Although I had just received Christ, I was no stranger to Christianity. I had done much reading and was already aware of the claims of the KJV 1611-only advocates.

Jose and Ray invited me to their church, First Bible Baptist* in Rochester, NY, and I visited a couple of times, but the church’s strong stance on the KJV bothered me. I asked Ray, “If the KJV is the only legitimate translation, then what about all the other people in the world who can’t read English? What do they do?” Ray answered that if modern translators used the KJV as their source-text for non-English Bibles then everything would be fine. Well, no translator is going to translate a translation when the ancient manuscripts are available. I also knew enough about translating to know that no two individuals would translate the KJV’s 17th-century English into another language using the EXACT same wording. Who then would judge which of the translations would be the “authorized” one? If the KJV 1611-only view was correct, then it appeared that God preferred English-speaking people over non-English-speakers. We Americans often have a parochial, myopic view when it comes to the rest of the world and I saw the KJV 1611-only mindset as another example of that.

Not wanting to attend a KJV 1611-only church, I looked through the yellow pages and chose another independent Baptist church close to our home. The pastor there used the King James Version, but he wasn’t dogmatic about it. Not once in the 8 years that we attended did he preach about the sole legitimacy of the KJV. I used the KJV at church like most everyone else in the congregation, but I read from my New American Standard Bible (NASB) at home. The archaic 17th-century English of the KJV seemed to me to be unnecessary baggage to have to deal with while reading the Bible.

I observed the KJV 1611-only controversy from a distance. Peter Ruckman spoke at week-long services at First Bible Baptist a couple of times. Anyone else remember him? Pastor Ruckman was based down in Florida and was one of the standard bearers of the KJV 1611-only movement. Ruckman’s weekly church services were televised in our area and his sermons always seemed to bring up the inerrancy of the KJV and the corruption of the modern translations. His messages usually included ad hominem attacks on anyone who didn’t agree with his KJV 1611-only viewpoint. Ruckman even went so far as to claim that if a particular text was found in the KJV, but not in the early manuscripts (and there are examples), then the additions to the KJV were divinely inspired!

So, I’ve been aware of the KJV 1611-only controversy for quite some time, but never gave it too much attention. After having walked away from the Lord for a very long “season,” I returned to Him two years ago. I continue to use the NASB in my daily Bible reading,** but also have a New International Version (NIV) since that is the translation used by our pastor. I began this blog last July and I’ve noticed from reading other blogs that there are still very strong advocates of the KJV 1611-only viewpoint. To educate myself a bit better, I recently read “The King James Only Controversy” by apologist, James R. White. I was already familiar with White because of his outstanding work defending the Gospel against the errors of Roman Catholicism.

I enjoyed “The King James Only Controversy” and found it to be very informative. I sincerely doubt those who hold to the KJV 1611-only viewpoint would consider it, but the reader who is curious about the controversy might find White’s book as helpful as I did.

Some thoughts from the book:

  • The English language Bible has a long history. The KJV translators relied heavily on the previous work of earlier translators such as Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza. The KJV translators never considered their work to be inerrant and inspired, but only the best possible translation at the time. Early KJV Bibles referenced textual variations in the margins.
  • KJV 1611-only advocates are actually using a revision first published in 1769.
  • Several passages in the KJV are shown to be errors or extremely poor translations.
  • Variations in the ancient manuscripts can and should be examined objectively.
  • Modern translations (NASB, NIV, ESV, NKJV) are dependable. There are good reasons for the differences between the KJV and modern translations, but no translation is perfect, including the KJV.

Emotions run high on this issue. This post will surely offend some. Because KJV 1611-only advocates see the KJV as the inerrant, inspired translation of the Bible, they see any disagreement with their view as a direct attack on God’s Word and an attack on God Himself. There are actually many in the KJV 1611-only camp who go so far as to claim that anyone who does not use the KJV exclusively is not a genuine Christian. I’m not a Bible manuscript scholar, far from it, but I offer White’s book as a thoughtful rebuttal to the KJV 1611-only argument. This post is NOT an attack on God and His Word, although, if you’re a KJV 1611-only advocate, I’m sure you’ll see it that way.***

I’m not claiming that all translations are equal. Christians need to be discerning and must do a little homework. I would never recommend that anyone use a paraphrase Bible as their primary Bible, but I occasionally check a paraphrase Bible (NLT) as a resource.

The Pilgrims and Puritan Protestants came to America with the Geneva Bible, not the KJV. The translators of the KJV were high-church Anglicans and the Puritans viewed the KJV with great suspicion. The article below gives an interesting history of the English Bible for those who don’t want to go to all the trouble of buying and reading White’s book.

* The pastor of First Bible Baptist church at the time was James Modlish, a key figure in the KJV 1611-only movement.

**Note from 2021: I’ve been using the ESV the last several years.

***Another note from 2021: KJV 1611-Onlyism is still a popular paradigm within what remains of independent Baptist fundamentalism. Because of this book, KJV 1611-Onlyists view James R. White as a pawn of Satan.

Jesus in the Old Testament? Yup!

Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament
Christopher J. H. Wright
IVP Academic, 2014, 288 pp.

After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and was born again in the Spring of 1983, I thoroughly enjoyed diving into God’s Word. I couldn’t get enough. After I finished the New Testament, I began reading the Old Testament. Things were going along pretty well until I got to parts of Exodus and then Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Man, those books were heavy lifting with lengthy passages involving the intricacies of the Mosaic ceremonial law and the tabernacle, etc., etc. Around that time, the pastor at our church mentioned “types” (i.e., foreshadowings, symbols, prefigurings) of Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament. That really triggered my curiosity and I went to the local Christian bookstore and bought a couple of books on Old Testament types/typology. Fascinating stuff! You’re probably already aware of such types as young Isaac as a sacrifice, the slain Passover lamb, and Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. The list of such symbols is as long as the “red thread” of Jesus Christ’s coming redemptive work that is interwoven throughout the entire Old Testament narrative, from Genesis to Malachi. Admittedly, there were some Bible scholars who were a bit too zealous in their search for veiled types and sometimes attempted to make a case where there wasn’t one.

In “Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament,” Christopher Wright focuses primarily on the Israelites, God’s chosen people, as a foreshadowing of Christ. As with all Old Testament types, the Israelites were an imperfect prefiguration that would find perfect fulfillment in the incarnation of God of the Son. Some of the characteristics of Israel by which they were to foreshadow Christ include:

  • Israel as the nation “son” of God the Father
  • Israel as the servant of God
  • Israel as a witness/light to the nations
  • Israel as a holy nation

The fact that chosen Israel failed so miserably in its role as a prefiguration of Christ is one of the prime examples of mankind’s absolute need of the Redeemer. Wright does an excellent job of examining other examples of the fulfillment of Old Testament history, prophecy, and song (psalms) in Jesus Christ in the New Testament. The reader will feel like one of the sojourners on the road to Emmaus. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27). Wright’s suggestion that Jesus was somewhat limited in His knowledge/omniscience as a condition of His humanity and was therefore not initially confident of His divine identity and mission will raise some eyebrows, however I’ll leave it to theologians to debate “What did Jesus know and when did He know it?”

There are some popular, progressive mega-church pastors we know (i.e., Andy Stanley) who would do away with the Old Testament if they had their druthers. That’s sheer idiocy and this book will explain why. “Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament” is informative as well as a blessing to read. Thanks, Mandy!


  1. Jesus and the Old Testament Story
  2. Jesus and the Old Testament Promise
  3. Jesus and His Old Testament Identity
  4. Jesus and His Old Testament Mission
  5. Jesus and His Old Testament Values
  6. Jesus and His Old Testament God

Throwback Thursday: Why did Jesus tell the apostles to buy a sword?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on April 29, 2016 and has been revised.


The Bible is an inexhaustible fountain of knowledge and wisdom. I need God’s Word every day just like I need food, water, and oxygen. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to teach me, correct me, admonish me, encourage me, comfort me, and delight me. Praise the Lord for His wonderful and glorious Word!

The depths of Scripture can never be plumbed in this lifetime. I’ve read verses and passages many times without really understanding the full extent of their meaning. Then one day I’ll be reading a verse and, “Pow!,” the Holy Spirit illuminates it to me so that I really “get it” for the first time. I’m sure that’s happened to many of you as well.

I’m currently reading through Luke and yesterday I was reading chapter 22, verses 35-38:

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

I’ve read this passage many times before but it never “clicked” with me. Why did Jesus instruct His apostles to buy a “sword” (Greek: makhaira: generally a large knife or sword with a single cutting edge) when He subsequently rebuked Peter for violently wielding one of those swords in the Garden of Gethsemane just a few verses later (v. 51), causing the reader to question if Jesus had contradicted Himself. I asked the young pastor of the church we attended last year about this seeming contradiction and he confessed he didn’t know the answer. In the documentary, “Fight Church,” the macho son of the macho former-pastor of the independent fundamental Baptist church we used to attend, who is now the pastor, uses these verses to justify Christians owning guns and violently kicking some butt whenever needed.

But as I read the verses yesterday, the Holy Spirit finally illuminated their meaning to me. Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword to fulfill prophetic Scripture:

“Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” – Isaiah 53:12.

Jesus was with Peter and the apostles in Gethsemane when Peter transgressed by using a sword to cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Jesus was counted among the violent anomos (lawbreakers). Oh, I get it now! It’s so simple. So easy. Why didn’t I understand it before? Jesus even states QUITE CLEARLY in the passage that the need for a sword was to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that He would be numbered among the criminals:

“…and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’”

Why didn’t my previous pastor just out of seminary know this? Why does the IFB macho pastor not see this, but instead twists the passage to support his own misguided, macho man viewpoint? Why didn’t John MacArthur, J. Vernon McGee, and other notable Bible commentators understand this clearly obvious reason for Jesus’ instruction to buy a sword? Because it’s the Holy Spirit who illuminates God’s Word to us. Understanding of God’s Word doesn’t come to us from our own human wisdom.

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” – John 16:13

Jesus would also be numbered with the transgressors when He hung on the cross between the two criminals.

“With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” – Mark 15:27-28

Jesus interceded for Peter after his violent act and He also interceded for the repentant criminal hanging beside Him (along with all the rest of us sinners who trust in Him by faith alone), just as Isaiah had foretold.

Lord, thank You for Your Word and for illuminating Your Truths which we can’t possibly discern through our own human understanding.


Note from February 11, 2021: I’m a bit embarrassed by my bold certitude regarding the interpretation of this difficult “let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one” passage. I still hold to the above interpretation (which seems quite obvious to me), but in retrospect I would ratchet down my “triumphant” tone a few notches.

Jesus Christ in the Old Testament?

The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament
By Edmund P. Clowney
P&R Publishing, Second edition, 2013, 220 pp.

I remember reading the Old Testament for the first time as a new believer thirty-seven years ago. It was quite challenging, especially such portions as Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But in his sermons, our pastor at the time would occasionally point out “types” or foreshadowings of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Ah, that was VERY cool. I remember subsequently reading a couple of books specifically about Biblical Typology. The first thirty-nine books of the Bible are full of veiled references to the coming Messiah. I subsequently read the Old Testament with a new appreciation for the many symbols and foreshadowings of Jesus Christ contained within.

This book about OT types recently caught my eye and I gave it a read. Below, I’ve listed the chapter titles and the respective Old Testament characters examined, who, as Clowney demonstrates, foreshadowed Christ in some form or fashion. “The Unfolding Mystery” is a very good introduction to Typology.


  1. The New Man (Adam)
  2. The Son of the Woman (Abel & Seth)
  3. The Son of Abraham (Isaac)
  4. The Heir of the Promise (Jacob & Joseph)
  5. The Lord and His Servant (Moses)
  6. The Rock of Moses
  7. The Lord’s Anointed (Joshua, Samson, Samuel, David)
  8. The Prince of Peace (Solomon)
  9. The Lord to Come (the Prophets)

Catholics Burning Bibles

Yep, we’re currently in the middle of a national emergency. There was an event that happened 178 years ago, which also whipped the nation into a frenzy, but has largely been forgotten.

I recently reviewed a very biased book about the alleged anti-Catholicism of 19th-century American Protestants titled, “The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism” (1938) by Ray Allen Billington. See here. While the book was disappointing as a whole, it did discuss several interesting historical events. One of those was a ceremonial Bible burning in 1842 instigated by Catholic clerics near the northern border of New York State (see map far below).

I don’t have a lot of information about the event, but I was able to patch together the following account with bits and pieces from the internet:

The village of Corbeau (now Coopersville) in the township of Champlain, New York, and five miles from the Canadian border, was originally settled by French-Catholic Canadian refugees who had sided with the American invaders during the assault on Montreal in 1775 during the American Revolutionary War. The refugee population grew even larger following the Canadian Rebellion of 1837-1838. In 1842, representatives of the American Bible Society distributed French-language Protestant Bibles to the inhabitants of the village of Corbeau. Jesuit priest, “father” Telmonde, from Montreal was assigned to the Champlain region and subsequently learned that many of the Catholic villagers of Corbeau had Protestant Bibles in their possession. He immediately demanded that the Catholics surrender their Protestant Bibles. An undetermined number of Bibles, anywhere from one-hundred to three-hundred, were collected, stacked, and duly burned by the Jesuit and his assistants. According to the sworn testimony of one of the participants, there were several private burnings prior to the public ceremonial burning near the Catholic church on October 27, 1842 (see illustration above). The Jesuit’s chief assistant in the Bible burnings was later convicted by the Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone and joined the Protestant mission at Grande Ligne in Quebec Province. The Champlain Bible Burning enraged the Protestants in the area and Jesuit Telmonde beat a swift retreat back to Montreal. The news of the Bible burning soon spread to all corners of the United States, fomenting great anger among the nation’s Protestants. It was a tremendous scandal. In our current era of spiritual lethargy, it’s difficult for us to relate to the outrage felt by 19th-century American Protestants over the ceremonial burning of Bibles. The Champlain Bible Burning was one of several Catholic provocations that contributed to the rise of nativism in the nation, which eventually culminated in the creation of the American (Know Nothing) Party in the mid-1850s.

Main reference – Dwight, Henry Otis. The Centennial History of the American Bible Society, 1916, pp. 203-204

Catholic clerics certainly aren’t burning Protestant Bibles these days. They have since found that friendly ecumenism is much more effective in advancing Catholicism than militancy. But history holds some valuable lessons.

The Burning of the Bibles: Defence of the Protestant Version of the Scriptures Against the Attacks of Popish Apologists for the Champlain Bible Burners
By John Dowling
Original printing by Nathan Moore, 1843
Kindle edition, HardPress, 2017

1 Star

I was hoping to find a history of the Champlain Bible Burning and thought I struck gold with this Kindle ebook. Boy, was I fooled. The book is mainly an argument in defense of the superiority of the Protestant King James translation of the Bible in comparison to the Roman Catholic Douay-Rheims translation, which would later be discredited and abandoned by Catholics themselves. Following the Bible burning, Catholic clerics had defended the controversial event, claiming that the Protestant Bibles were faulty translations and worthy to be destroyed. Protestant John Dowling wrote this book as a rebuttal. There is very little mentioned in this book about the Bible burning incident itself. HardPress did a lousy job of transferring the original text to ebook. Paragraphs are chopped off and begin again elsewhere. Very sloppy and amateurish.


St. Joseph’s Catholic church in Coopersville (Corbeau), New York, site of the infamous 1842 Bible burning


Final Word

Nope, it’s not my goodbye to the blogosphere, but, rather, it’s the title of John MacArthur’s latest book!

Final Word: Why We Need the Bible
By John MacArthur
Reformation Trust, 2019, 136 pp.

5 Stars

Over the past couple of years, Reformation Trust has published three short books written by Pastor John MacArthur on some of the basics of Christian belief. This latest one focuses on God’s Word, the Bible. Whether you’re new to the Christian faith or you’re a “seasoned saint,” you’ll enjoy this book, which explains why the Bible is our totally reliable standard of faith and practice. Argh! We Christians sometimes take God’s Word for granted. May we always cherish the Bible for what it is; God’s inerrant and infallible Word.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17


  • The Bible is Under Attack
  • The Bible is Truth
  • The Bible is Authoritative
  • The Bible is the Catalyst of Spiritual Growth
  • The Bible is Central to Faithful Ministry
  • The Bible is Food for the Soul

Order this book from Amazon here. See my reviews of the two other books by JMac in Reformation Trust’s basics-of-Christianity series, “None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible” here and “Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ” here.

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 87, 88, 89, & 90: Relics and Sacramentals?

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week we will examine chapter eleven of Armstrong’s book in which the Catholic apologist presents four passages as proof-texts for the Catholic belief in the miraculous power of relics and sacramentals.

#87) 2 Kings 13:20-21: “20 So Eli′sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli′sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli′sha, he revived, and stood on his feet.

#88) 2 Kings 2:11-14: “11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Eli′jah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Eli′sha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the mantle of Eli′jah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle of Eli′jah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Eli′jah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Eli′sha went over.”

#89) Acts 5:15-16: “15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”

#90) Acts 19: 11-12: “11 And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

Following these passages, Armstrong writes, “Catholics believe that physical matter can be a conveyor of spiritual grace. This is the foundation for the use of relics (objects associated with saints) and sacramentals (sacred or devotional objects)…The Catholic Church does not teach that there is any magical virtue or any curative efficacy in the relic itself. The Church merely says, following the Scriptures, that they are often the occasions of God’s miracles.” – p. 147.

The Roman Catholic church has accumulated a vast collection of purported relics over the centuries, although, as we’ve discussed in previous posts, the authenticity of many of those relics is less than questionable. The RCC accords amazing powers to its relics including the power to heal physical illnesses and reduce the time a soul must spend in purgatory. Over the centuries, Catholic pilgrims have traveled far distances to churches and shrines to receive the alleged benefits of relics. I recently posted on one such relic, the alleged seamless tunic of Jesus in Trier, Germany (see here)

Armstrong cites the four passages listed above as proof texts for Catholicism’s use of relics, as if the passages teach relics are normative for the present age. God certainly enabled the Prophets and the Apostles of old to use physical objects in miraculous ways as signs of their God-ordained authority. But we now have the New Testament as God’s solely authorized Gospel message to mankind. There is no need for miracle-performing prophets like those in the Old Testament. The Apostles were comprised of men who personally witnessed the earthly ministry of Jesus. People who claim to be apostles today do so deceitfully. It’s quite revealing that people today will claim some of the gifts of the apostolic age, but not others, like raising people from the dead (Acts 9:40-41), and drinking deadly poison and being bitten by venomous snakes without harm (Mark 16:18). Hmm, how do they explain that?

By crediting miraculous powers to relics and other physical objects such as sacramentals blessed by priests, Catholicism has encouraged rampant superstition and idolatry among its members. In addition to pilgrimages to displays of relics mentioned above, Catholics often utilize blessed statues, medals, rosaries, palm fronds, crucifixes, holy water, candles, etc. in their homes in hopes of warding off misfortune.

If Elijah, Elisha, Peter, and Paul were to enter Catholic churches and homes today, they would be appalled by the rank superstition and idolatry found within.

For more information on relics, prayer cloths, and such like see the informative articles below:

How should a Christian view relics? – Got Questions

What is a prayer cloth? – Got Questions

Answering the alleged “95 Catholic Verses” – #s 81, 82, 83, 84, & 85: Veneration/Worship of Saints? – Part 3

Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.

This week, we will continue with our examination of chapter ten of Armstrong’s book that we began two weeks ago, in which the Catholic apologist presents passages that allegedly support veneration/worship of “saints.” Armstrong presents the five passages below as proof texts for his claim that saints in Heaven intercede for people on earth. I’ve used hyperlinks for the last two passages because I think you’ll agree they aren’t germaine to Armstrong’s assertions.

#81) Revelation 5:8: “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

#82) Revelation 6:9-10: “9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?’”

#83) Revelation 8:3-4: “3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; 4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.”

#84) Matthew 17:1-3

#85) Matthew 27:52-53

Beneath these passage Armstrong writes, “Catholics believe that saints and angels in heaven can pray for us on earth and can hear our intercessory requests, just as people on earth can do; in fact, because the saints are so near to God’s presence in Heaven, their prayers are more powerful than ours on earth.” – p. 139.

Revelation 5:8 mentions the elders in heaven with “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” This is an allusion to the practices of the priests of the Old Testament who burned incense in the tabernacle and temple to symbolize the prayers of God’s people. The OT Israelites did not pray TO the priests and neither do Christians pray TO the alleged “saints.”

Revelation 6:9-10 only describes the Christian martyrs in heaven who cry out to the Lord for justice for their murder back on Earth.

Revelation 8:3-4 describes circumstances similar to Revelation 5:8. With the two passages from Matthew, Armstrong is simply grasping at straws to prove his case. The passages do not have the slightest connection to his argument.

The five passages presented here by Armstrong do NOT demonstrate his claim for the prayerful intercession of saints, not even in the slightest. In contrast to Armstrong’s torturous, forcing-a-square-peg-through-a-round-hole eisegesis, nowhere in Scripture can we find an example of a believer praying to anyone other than God. Armstrong and his fellow Catholic apologist are well aware of this fact and so they must resort to painfully twisted misinterpretations.