Living Biblically 10 – “The Bible is sexist”

CBS is currently airing the last several episodes of its cancelled “Living Biblically” sit-com. I was able to catch up with episode 10 via CBS’s free app that I downloaded to my Kindle.

Living Biblically
Episode 10, “Submit to Thy Husband”
CBS, originally aired 7/7/18

Plot

Chip’s wife, Leslie, is pregnant so he decides to start up a weekly poker game with “the boys” before his domestic responsibilities ramp up. When Leslie, a nurse practitioner, comes home from work exhausted, Chip suggests that she should quit her job and stay home to raise the baby, referencing the Bible as the inspiration for his idea. Leslie is angered by what she perceives as Chip’s Bible-fueled aim to dominate her.

The guy crew (priest Gene, rabbi Gil, friend Vince, and the workplace security guard) show up at Chip and Leslie’s apartment for the card game, but Leslie is too angry to play the polite hostess. When Chip’s boss, Ms. Meadows, also drops by, Leslie imposes on her to go down to the local saloon for a “girl’s night out.”

At the bar, Leslie shares her marital conflict with Ms. Meadows. The latter confides she was “raised in the church,” but has no use for the Bible any longer, calling it “sexist” (the character is an unabashed lesbian). She quotes Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands…,” as evidence that the Bible is no longer to be taken seriously.

Back at the apartment, a distracted Chip continues to send unacknowledged conciliatory texts to Leslie rather than focusing on the card game. Aware of the details of Chip’s marital troubles, priest Gene advises him that the Bible was written for a different time and needs a “modern interpretation.”

When Leslie returns home, Chip apologizes for his heavy handedness and promises to submit to her as they submit to each other.

Commentary

Ephesians 5:22 is egregiously offensive to many unbelieving…and believing…women. But taken together in context with the entire passage of Ephesians 5:22-33, we see both husband and wife instructed to love the other with a sacrificial, servant love. Yes, the husband is to be the head of the family. Not a dictator, but a servant leader. Many Christian husbands have abdicated their spiritual leadership role. Yes, there have been some men who have unfortunately used the Bible to justify mistreating their wives. Many Christian wives have followed the world’s example and sought to dominate their husband.

The Lord’s instructions for a husband and wife on how they are to function together does not need a “modern interpretation,” although you can be sure that the culture is not going to agree with that.

It stung me to watch this episode and listen to God’s Word being strongly attacked. The Gospel is not connected with this series in any way, folks. This is all someone’s interpretation of the Bible who doesn’t know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.


Husbands, Love Your Wives
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-383/husbands-love-your-wives

The Willful Submission of a Christian Wife
https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-382/the-willful-submission-of-a-christian-wife

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Prevailing against the Gates of Hell?

“And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:17-19

Matthew 16:17-19 is one of the most controversial passages in the Bible. Rome bases its claims to Petrine authority primarily upon this entry. But today I would like to focus on just a small portion of the passage:

“…the gates of hell shall not prevail against (the church).” – Matthew 16:18

I listen to a lot of Catholic talk radio strictly for research purposes and over and over again I have heard Catholic apologists present this verse as a prophetic promise of the alleged perpetuity and authority of the Catholic church, that from the time the church was founded on Pentecost to the papacy of Francis, the Catholic church would perpetually withstand the onslaughts of Satan and his demons.

But is that what the verse is actually saying? The Greek word for “gates,” Πύλη, pýlē, literally means “door-gates,” which Catholics interpret in a metaphorical sense as the “seat of power” of Satan. But “gates” can be interpreted more literally and properly here as the entryway into hell.

John MacArthur comments on this verse:

“Gates of Hades: Hades is the place of punishment for the spirits of dead unbelievers, entered at death. This Jewish phrase then refers to death. Even death, the ultimate weapon of Satan, has no power to stop the church. The blood of the martyrs, in fact, has led to the growth of the church in size and spiritual power.” – p. 1155, The MacArthur Bible Commentary

In his commentary compilation, J. Vernon McGee writes of Matthew 16:18:

“The ‘gates of hell’ refers to death. The word used for hell is the Greek word hades, the sheol of the Old Testament, which refers to the unseen world and means “death.” The gates of death shall not prevail against Christ’s church. One of these days the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout. That shout will be like the voice of an archangel and like a trumpet because the dead in Christ are to be raised. The gates of death shall not prevail against His church.” – Thru-the-Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. IV, Matthew Through Romans, p. 92.

There are some American evangelicals who interpret this portion of Matthew 16:18 as a battle-cry for the church to storm Satan’s kingdom and “reclaim America for Jesus,” but is that the sense that Christ meant? See Kevin DeYoung’s article below:

A Closer Look at the Gates of Hell
https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevin-deyoung/a-closer-look-at-the-gates-of-hell/

“The promise in Matthew 16 is not about venturing out on some Dungeons and Dragons spiritual crusade, but about Christ’s guarantee that the church will not be vanquished by death.” – Kevin DeYoung

So Matthew 16:18 is not a prophecy of the perseverance of the Roman Catholic church or a triumphal rallying cry for the militant evangelical church in America to reclaim the country, but rather a promise to the Body of genuine believers (church/ekklasia/called out ones) that death will not prevail over them, thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, who overcame the gates of hell (death) for all who trust in Him.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:54

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me, to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” – Isaiah 61:1

While I personally believe there has always been a remnant of genuine believers since Pentecost, the Catholic church as an institution devolved long ago into anti-Scriptural legalism, ritualism, and worldiness to the point of being the antithesis of the New Testament church.

Do you have a different view of “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against (the church)”? Comments are welcome.

Did Jephthah the Judge sacrifice his daughter or did he dedicate her to the Lord as a servant of the Tabernacle?

Judges 11:29-40

My wife and I are currently reading through Judges and yesterday I was preparing for our next chapter, Judges 11, which tells the story of Jephthah, the mighty Gileadite warrior and judge of Israel.

As Jephthah prepared to battle the Ammonites, he made a rash vow:

“And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.” – Judges 11:30-31

Jephthah defeated the Ammonites, and when he returned home, his daughter who was his only child, ran out of his house to greet him. Jephthah deeply regretted his vow, but he resolved to honor it. Jephthah’s daughter requested to retreat into the mountains for two months with her friends to “weep for her virginity,” which her father granted. When she returned, Jephthah “did with her according to his vow.”

This passage is debated quite a bit. God had previously strongly condemned human sacrifice (see Leviticus 20:1-5), but Jephthah was strongly influenced by the surrounding pagan religiosity. Many scholars and commentators believe that he did sacrifice his daughter.

Other commentators argue that Jephthah dedicated his daughter to God, possibly meaning permanent service in the Tabernacle and perpetual virginity. They point to the Hebrew prefix “ו” that is translated in verse 31 as “and,” but is often used as a disjunctive, and means “or” when there is a second proposition. They say verse 31 should read:

“then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord’s or I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”

Hebrews 11:32 mentions Jephthah as a man of faith, but like the other men he is listed with, Gideon, Barak, and Samson, he also had his severe flaws. The Lord regularly uses weak vessels to magnify His power.

So, do you believe Jephthah sacrificed his daughter as a burnt offering or did he dedicate her totally to the service of the Lord, possibly as a servant to the Tabernacle?

One lesson to be learned from this passage is NOT to make foolish vows. See here.

Did Jephthah sacrifice his daughter to the Lord?
https://www.gotquestions.org/Jephthahs-daughter.html

Is repentance a work?

Repent.

 

It’s become a ridiculed word in society and, surprisingly, even among some Christians.

When I encourage readers to accept Jesus Christ in my posts, I’ll often write something like, “Repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith alone.”

Some may ask, what exactly is meant by “repent”?

The Greek words for repent (verb) and repentance (noun) are metanoéō and metanoia and they appear a total of 55 times in the New Testament. The “Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance” defines metanoia as:

“Change of mind, repentance, the state of changing any or all of the elements composing one’s life: attitude, thoughts, and behaviors concerning the demands of God for right living: note that this state can refer to the foundational salvation event in Christ, or to on-going repentance in the Christian life(my italics and boldface).

When a person is saved, they change their mind (repent) about their rebellion against God, agreeing with God that they are an absolute helpless sinner in need of the Savior, and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. Repentance is part of the conversion to Christ. A person can’t accept Christ as Savior until they have understood through the ministry of the Holy Spirit their desperate need of the Savior and repented (changed their mind) about their rebellion against God. Every person who has accepted (some prefer to say “trusted in”) Christ as Savior has repented of their sinful rebellion. Many preachers of the Gospel even use “repentance” as shorthand for conversion to Christ.

Repentance, turning from sinful rebellion against God to trusting in Christ as Savior by faith alone, is Scriptural and is well understood as basic, elementary theology by most Christians.

Apostle Peter declared to unbelievers,Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19

Apostle Paul later declared to unbelievers, “How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. – Acts 20:20-21

Once a person is saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone, they will follow Christ imperfectly and must repent of (turn from) subsequent sins of disobedience, but that is not a matter of salvation.

Pretty basic stuff, huh? Shouldn’t even be an issue, right? So why am I making a fuss about all of this?

A fellow WordPress blogger has repeatedly accused me of adding works to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone by mentioning repentance as part of conversion. He claims that repentance is a work and cannot be added to simply accepting Christ as Savior.

I’ve been wrongly accused of a lot of things, but I don’t like being accused of distorting the Gospel. I’ve explained several times to this individual that repentance is turning from rebellion against God to agreeing with God about the need for Christ, so it is a vital component of accepting Christ. You can’t accept Christ until you have understood (changed your mind regarding) your need for Christ. But this blogger is having none of it and believes he is defending the pure Gospel against an imaginary work. While I applaud this person’s defense of the Gospel of grace, his misunderstanding of repentance causes him to tilt at windmills. It’s very clear that he understands “repentance” only in some type of Catholic penitential, self-reformation sense.

However, this blogger is not alone in this viewpoint as I have seen some others rankled over the same issue. So why do I continue to include admonitions to repent in my invitations to receive Christ if some are troubled by it? As I explained, repentance is a very necessary part of accepting Christ. At many churches, there are often ambiguous invitations to “follow Jesus” or “receive Jesus into your heart.” Church visitors often “respond” to invitations without truly understanding their depraved, sinful state and their need of Christ as Savior. They make a “decision” and then go home and live their lives like they always have. Their was no genuine conversion. Sinners MUST repent (change their minds) about their sinful rebellion against God and turn to Christ. You cannot genuinely trust in Christ UNLESS you have repented! Repentance is absolutely mandatory in Biblical salvation! Attempting to concoct some type of salvation in Christ without repentance would be like an imaginary scenario in which someone just showed up at a doctor’s office out of the blue with no symptoms. “I’m here, Doc, but I don’t know why I’m here!” Does not compute. Only people who admit they are sick seek a doctor’s help. That’s repentance.

I’ll admit I’m a little frustrated at having to repeatedly defend myself against accusations of adding works to the Gospel, but I hold no ill will against this blogger who has a limited understanding of theology and is sincerely attempting to defend the Gospel of grace. I have suggested to the person that he do a word study of repent/metanoéō and repentance/metanoia in the New Testament, but that would precipitate an uncomfortable paradigm shift.

“Repentance means that you realize that you’re a guilty, vile sinner in the presence of God. That you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell bound. It means that you begin to realize that this thing called sin is in you, that you long to get rid of it and that you turn your back on it in every shape and form. You renounce the world, whatever the cost. The world in its mind and outlook as well as its practice and you deny yourself and take up the cross and go after Christ. Your nearest and dearest and the whole world may call you a fool, or say you have religious mania, you may have to suffer financially, it makes no difference, that is repentance. It’s always been understood the same way. It is a complete change, life-changing and it begins at salvation and that just starts a permanent lifelong process of ongoing confession of sin.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones from “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”

“Living Biblically” misses the main point of the Bible – the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ!

Living Biblically
Created by Patrick Walsh and featuring Jay R. Ferguson, Ian Gomez, Lindsey Kraft, and David Krumholtz
CBS, Monday nights, 9:30 p.m. EST

In the last Weekend Roundup, I mentioned CBS’s new television show, “Living Biblically,” and last night I caught up with Monday night’s pilot episode via on-demand.

The show begins with “lapsed” (non-practicing) Roman Catholic, Chip Curry (Ferguson), who is very troubled by the recent death of his best friend. In the midst of his depression, he decides to start reading the Bible in an attempt to lift himself out of his doldrums and “make sense of it all.” His new “spirituality” consists of endeavoring to live his life in strict accordance with all of the Bible’s precepts. Chip’s local parish priest, “father” Gene (Gomez), tries to humor the zealot into mitigating his rigorous chosen path, while his atheist wife, Leslie (Kraft), is worried her formerly religiously indifferent husband has turned into a fanatical “Bible banger.” Chip takes things too far when he literally “stones” (i.e., small pebble to the forehead) a notorious womanizer who he works with, but his “obedience” seems to be divinely rewarded by a job upgrade at a higher salary. More “comical” clashes between Biblical literalism and secular culture are sure to follow as the series continues.

A couple of moments in the the show really captured its overall spirit:

  • In one of the initial scenes, Chip visits priest Gene in a confessional (photo above) and declares that he’s already a “good” person who desires to be “even better” by following the Bible literally.
  • In the final scene, Chip, Leslie, priest Gene, and Jewish rabbi, Gil (Krumholtz), gather together at a local watering hole and philosophize about Chip’s new “spirituality.” Leslie has just found out she is pregnant and is worried about how Chip’s newfound “faith” will affect their child. The rabbi and priest agree the important thing is that both parents just focus on raising the child as a “loving human being” and everything will be fine.

So what we see in “Living Biblically” is the prevailing gospel of works righteousness with the essential requirement of being a “good” person in order to merit a reward. Jesus Christ was not mentioned once during the entire thirty minutes, which was certainly not a surprise. The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is the red thread that runs through the entire Bible, but Chip doesn’t get it and neither do the show’s writers and creators. The letter of the Law is emphasized rather than the Gospel that the Law points to. In future episodes, viewers will no doubt witness many other examples of Biblical precepts pulled out of their context and made to look comically ridiculous just like the faux “stoning” of the adulterer in this pilot episode.

Few Catholics will have an axe to grind with Living Biblically’s view of religion because it’s largely in sync with the notions of popular Catholicism, but Biblical Christians will certainly have a problem with what this show communicates about the Bible. We can only hope that some souls might be inspired by “Living Biblically” to actually start reading the Bible and that the Holy Spirit will enlighten them to the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Catholic radio priest repeatedly refers to “mindless backwater Baptists”

Friends, it’s time for a little deprecating levity…

Yesterday, I listened to the 2/5/18 podcast of “The Catholic Connection” talk radio show featuring moderator, Jim Havens, and priest-host, David Nix, as they discussed the topic, “Do Catholics Read the Bible Literally?”

Traditionalist priest Nix decried the fact that many Catholic clerics and laypersons do not hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible; that many believe the miracles of the Old Testament (and perhaps even some of the miracles in the New Testament) are mythical stories designed only to teach a moral or spiritual lesson.

Nix then argued for an hour for a literal understanding of the Bible when a literal understanding is called for. Peppered throughout his presentation was his argument that Catholics could embrace Biblical literalism without checking their intellect at the door, unlike “mindless backwater Baptists.” Huh? “Mindless backwater Baptists”? Yes, that is the exact phrase priest Nix used several times in his presentation.

So, when Catholics like Nix embrace the words of Scripture literally, they can do so with intellectual integrity, but Baptists are evidently “mindless” and incapable of such.

Now, I don’t take any personal offense to Nix referring to rural or even urban Baptists as “mindless.” To my way of thinking, it’s always refreshing to hear Catholic clergy take off the namby-pamby ecumenical gloves and communicate with honesty. I’m actually glad Nix reads the Bible and advises his fellow Catholics to read it (most don’t) and trust in it as the Word of God. Perhaps when they read the Bible, the Holy Spirit will also enlighten them to the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and free them from the legalistic chains and ritualism of Roman Catholicism.

“An enraged Pope Paul V, in 1606, told the Venetian ambassador, ‘Do you not know that so much reading of Scripture ruins the Catholic religion?’” – from “The Reformation: A History” by Diarmaid MacCulloch, 1972, pp. 393-394, quoting “La Bibbia Al Rogo: la censura ecclesiastica e i volgarizzamenti della Scrittura (1471-1605),” by Gigliola Fragnito

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthian 1:26-31

Romans 8: Wow!

My wife and I are currently reading through Paul the apostle’s Epistle to the Romans together and we are being thoroughly blessed by God’s Word. Last night we read chapter 8. Wow! My soul sang as we read through the verses. Many commentators over the years have mentioned the magnificence of Romans 8, including 17th century German preacher, Philipp Jakob Spener, who wrote, “If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans a precious stone, chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel.”

Just a few verses:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – 1

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” – 14-16

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” – 22-23

“For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” -26

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – 28

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” – 31

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” – 35

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – 38-39

Praise the Lord for the Epistle to the Romans and all of His Word. Thank you, merciful Father, for the gift of salvation by your grace through faith alone in your Son, Jesus Christ.

If you haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, what are you waiting for?

The scarlet cord that runs through the entire Bible

My wife and I are currently studying through the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament. The more believers study the Old Testament, the more we comprehend, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus Christ and His plan of salvation are woven throughout the entire text via symbolism/typology.

Take Joshua, who the Lord chose to be Moses’ successor. Moses had disobeyed God by striking the rock at Kadesh to obtain water for the Israelites rather than speaking to the rock as God had commanded (Numbers 20:2-13). Moses had previously struck a rock at Rephidim to obtain water (Exodus 17:1-7), but a rock was not to be struck again. This is a wonderful typology of Jesus, the Rock, dying only once for sins, and, after that, the living waters of salvation being obtained only through appeal to the Savior by faith and prayer. Because of Moses’ disobedience, God did not allow him to enter the Promised Land. Moses represented the Law. His successor, Joshua/Yeshua/Jesus (meaning “The Lord Is Salvation”), would be the one to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. This is a wonderful typology of salvation only through faith in Jesus Christ rather than through the Law.

Yesterday, in preparation for our next devotion time, I was studying Joshua, chapter 2, which deals with the two spies sent by Joshua to scout the fortified city of Jericho. We all know that it was Rahab* the prostitute who hid the spies from soldiers sent out by the king of Jericho to search for them. The spies made a pact with Rahab, saying if she left a scarlet rope hanging from her window, all those inside would be spared by the invading Israelite army. Scarlet? Why not black? Or blue? Or green? No, the rope was scarlet red because it symbolized the blood of the Savior to come, Jesus Christ, which was also typified by the blood of the guiltless lamb sacrifice smeared on the door posts and lintel of the Hebrew homes in Goshen on the first Passover.

I know many of you are already aware of these foreshadowings of the Lord Jesus, but I just had to stop and praise God for the theme of salvation in Jesus Christ that runs throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation! For centuries, rabbinic scholars have studied the Old Testament day and night, but they were blind to these simple yet profound symbols and types of the Savior Messiah.

*In Matthew 1:5-6 we find that Rahab married Salmon of the tribe of Judah, and that “Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.” Hence, Jesus Christ’s human lineage can be traced back to Rahab, the Jerichoan prostitute. What other religion’s “holy book” would confess such a thing of its founder? The name, Rahab, means “spacious or broad” in Hebrew and some suggest this referred to Rahab’s rather loose morals. Joshua 2:11 says the hearts of all the inhabitants of Jericho melted from fear of the approaching Israelites, but it was only Rahab the prostitute who turned to Yaweh for salvation by faith, calling to mind Luke 5:32, “I have not come to call the (self) righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Sketchy Catholic versions of the Bible were stepping stones to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone

I’ve mentioned many times previously that I grew up in a large Catholic family. I was the youngest child, a boy, with five older sisters. Oy vey! There were daily estrogen-fueled drama battles at our house like you wouldn’t believe. Our family wasn’t devout as some of my Catholic friends’ families were back then, with statues in every room of the house, in the yard, and rosaries hanging from rear-view mirrors, but we did attend mass every Sunday and I was even an altar boy from 5th through 8th grades. My sisters and I all attended Catholic parochial school and Catholic high school. In all of those years of Catholic indoctrination, the nuns and brothers never had us read from the Bible. We read short Bible quotes from Catholic booklets, but never from the Bible itself. I didn’t own a Bible and neither did my sisters. I don’t remember either of my parents ever reading the Bible. I don’t know if there was a single Bible in the entire house. I never saw one. The Catholic church did not promote Bible-reading among its members. In my experience, our religious teachers often recommended books about Mary and the saints but never the Bible.

I can’t explain it other than to attribute it to the Lord drawing me to Him, but in the mid-1970s, after I married my bride, I became curious about the Bible and began visiting the local (c)hristian book store, Alpha and Omega, which was situated in those days at the four corners of Penfield, NY. I was kind of embarrassed about entering the establishment and would look around first to see if anyone I knew was watching. Wow! I was amazed at the number of Bibles on display. “These Protestants really love their Bibles,” I thought. Well, I looked around a little bit and came across the Catholic version of the student edition of The Living Bible, called “The Way” (see the above photo), an easy-to-read Bible paraphrase.* I brought the Bible home but hid it from my nominally Catholic wife – I didn’t want her to think I was turning into some kind of a religious nut. I read that Bible on and off for several years.

After our two boys were born and we moved into our first house in 1979, I wanted to be a responsible Catholic parent so I started attending mass again. I even asked the co-pastor of our new parish, “father” Roy Kiggins, to come over and bless our house withNew Am holy water. Yes, I did! I also went back to Alpha and Omega and bought what I thought was a “real” Bible, the Catholic New American Bible version (second photo), which wasn’t a paraphrase. Catholic versions of the Bible contain seven more Old Testament books – referred to as the Apocrypha – than Protestant Bibles. I began diligently reading the New Testament, which, over time, led to a mounting personal crisis. God’s Word repeatedly contradicted Catholic doctrines. The more I read, the more the Holy Spirit convicted me that the Catholic church was wrong on many counts. I eventually stopped going to mass. A few years later, after being further led by the Holy Spirit, I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior! Praise the Lord!

Four of my sisters are now self-described atheists or agnostics, while the fifth one claims to be a Catholic (c)hristian although she has firmly stated a couple of times that she doesn’t believe the Bible is divinely inspired or that Jesus was and is God. Do you find that strange? Actually, you’ll find millions upon millions of similarly mixed up and confused people within Catholicism. She has zero use for the Bible but finds comfort in the familiar Catholic rituals and traditions she remembers from childhood. Looking back, I’m puzzled why I was the only one in my family to be drawn to God’s Word. I’m actually grateful for those spotty Catholic versions of the Bible that I initially read. They were stepping stones to the true Word and salvation by God’s grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone.

*Bible paraphrases, like the New Living Translation (NLT), are useful tools when studying the Bible, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone use them as a substitute for actual word-for-word translations of the Bible like the NASB or ESV.

Were Peter and the apostles wrong to select Matthias as Judas’s replacement?

My wife and I finished our reading of Deuteronomy the other night. Like the other books of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy’s not the easiest of reading, especially if you don’t have any Bible aids. As the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses repeated the Law to them, requiring their obedience but also emphasizing trust in the Lord. Moses, personifying the Law, was not allowed to enter the Promised Land himself. It was left to Yeshua/Joshua/Jesus (“Jehova saves”) to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, one of my favorite foreshadowings of Christ in the Old Testament.

Last night, in preparation for our journey into our next study, the Acts of the Apostles, I did a deep dive (at least for me) into the first chapter accompanied by my Bible dictionary, two commentaries, and concordance and I came across some interesting information that I’d like to share.

In chapter one, in the opening verses, the apostles witness the ascension of Jesus into Heaven and then return to Jerusalem and wait to receive the Holy Spirit as Jesus had commanded them. In verses 15-22, while still waiting for the Holy Spirit, Peter, always an impetuous fellow, proposes to the 120 believers gathered in the upper room, that they must choose an apostolic replacement for Judas Iscariot. Two men are nominated, Joseph-Barsabbas-Justus and Matthias. A prayer is said, lots are cast, and the lot falls to Matthias, so he is chosen as Judas’s replacement in vs. 26. but that’s the very last time we read of him.

I’ve read this chapter many times previously and always accepted it pretty much at face value as written, but John MacArthur and J. Vernon McGee had some interesting observations in their commentaries. First, MacArthur observes that this was the last instance of the casting of lots by believers in the Bible. He writes, the casting of lots was “a common OT method of determining God’s will” that was “made…unnecessary” by the “coming of the Spirit.”

So should Peter have waited for the Holy Spirit rather than plowing forward?

In his commentary, J. Vernon McGee proposes the selection of Matthias was possibly an error, that the apostles should have waited for the Holy Spirit and His leading on this matter rather than forging ahead. He suggests that the Lord subsequently chose His own replacement for Judas by selecting Saul/Paul, “an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal. 1:1).

But the opponents of the “Paul over Matthias” viewpoint say the twelve apostles were chosen to eventually reign over the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt.19:28) as opposed to Paul, who was distinctly chosen to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Rom.11:13). Paul didn’t meet the apostles’ criterion for apostleship but did the Lord have His own criterion?

McGee presents his argument as his own personal conviction and obviously not as essential dogma. It’s an interesting viewpoint and I’d be interested to hear if others have come across it as well. This situation with the differing opinions on the Matthias-Paul question is probably “old news” to many of you but it was the first time I had encountered it.