Contend Earnestly: November 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Does Paul Washer Believe in Christ's Finished Work?

Okay...that sounds a little too far gone. I haven't heard much of Paul Washer but ran across this YouTube video on Carl Schuster's site and really was disturbed by it. This video is over 4 minutes and not one time does Washer use the name of Jesus. He never speaks of grace but continually points to what we must do in our actions. He asks, "how do you know you believe?" The problem with this question is that if the answer doesn't start and end with Christ and the cross and resurrection, no one will ever have assurance, but only doubt. No one can ever live up to the perfection that is called for to enter heaven, no one can ever test themselves and pass the test and no one can ever be assured that they believe if they don't point themselves to the Christ who died for them.

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:9-13

I have not listened to much of Paul Washer, so please point me to other resources that are hopefully better than this one. I like the music in the background though. :)

John Calvin is far better at an understanding of our election and hope in Christ than Washer points out:

They tell you, if you look to Christ salvation is certain; if you return to yourself damnation is certain. Therefore, your mind must be alternately ruled by diffidence and hope; as if we were to imagine Christ standing at a distance, and not rather dwelling in us. We expect salvation from him—not because he stands aloof from us, but because ingrafting us into his body he not only makes us partakers of all his benefits, but also of himself. Therefore, I thus retort the argument, If you look to yourself damnation is certain: but since Christ has been communicated to you with all his benefits, so that all which is his is made yours, you become a member of him, and hence one with him. His righteousness covers your sins—his salvation extinguishes your condemnation; he interposes with his worthiness, and so prevents your unworthiness from coming into the view of God.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.2.24

Christ, then, is the mirror in which we ought, and in which, without deception, we may contemplate our election. For since it is into his body that the Father has decreed to ingraft those whom from eternity he wished to be his, that he may regard as sons all whom he acknowledges to be his members, if we are in communion with Christ, we have proof sufficiently clear and strong that we are written in the Book of Life.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.24.5

Check out the full quotes on the above quotes here

Below is the video of Paul Washer.

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Let the Glory of the Lord Endure Forever

When my dad was 15, he was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Since, he has had close to 20 major surgeries, been close to death 3 times and he is only 54 years old.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works
Psalm 104:31

My mom was date raped in high school

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My mom came from Florida, my dad from Washington, to meet at Oklahoma Baptist University and marry 3 years later

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My mom pulled the goalie and got pregnant with their first son, they named him Seth David McBee, which means "Anointed, Beloved, Son of Light"

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My grandmother, my dad's mom, died when I was three, I was the only grandchild she had and she loved me very much, but loved Jesus more. We later named our second child, Coleman (my grandmother's maiden name) after her. She was a great woman of the Lord.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My brother was born when I was four, he was named Samuel Joseph McBee, which means "Asked of God, Jehovah has added, Son of Light"

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We were so poor when I was in grade school, because my dad was a sign painter and a pastor, that I had to literally dumpster dive for clothes, furniture and mattresses.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My dad lost his business because of the Oil Bust in the 1980's, he started to work for Merrill Lynch, which meant we could buy new clothes and stop jumping into trash cans.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We moved to Washington, from Oklahoma, where I met the love of my life when I was 14, started to date her when I was 17 and then married her when I was 22

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

In High School, I loved playing sports, I loved being popular, loved getting drunk, loved marijuana, loved stealing for the rush, but I hated Jesus, but pretended to like him on Sundays.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

In High School, my brother could care less about popularity, but still was. He preached (very loudly...think Whitefield) during lunch one time, to the whole school, while being told to stop by the vice-principal. He didn't stop. He wrote his entire senior class about His Saviour and sureness and hope of heaven. My brother was my hero and helped change my views of the cross.
Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

I went to Seattle Pacific University, to study business so I could be rich by being a stockbroker. Instead I found Jesus to be real through my new friends, being rich didn't seem so awesome anymore, but I still wanted to be a stockbroker. I broke up with Stacy because, as my whole extended family put it, "I was an idiot." Stacy found Christ to be real during this hiatus and that he was her only hope, not me. I praise God he used my idiocy to show her his wonderful light.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

I married my wife while still in college, she was a massage therapist and was my sugar momma until I was done with school.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

Three years into our marriage, we decided we wanted to have kids. My wife had 2 miscarriages and I can't wait to see my unborn babies in heaven praising Jesus.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My wife got pregnant for the third time, we were scared. She started to get bad back pains and spotting blood, we thought we were going to only meet this baby in heaven as well, God smiled and 9 months later he gave me my first child, my son. His name is Caleb James McBee named after the courageous spy who stood for God's plan instead of man's.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We were poor and Stacy was trying to work while Caleb was a baby. We decided God wanted her to stay home even though it made no sense economically. We didn't care. Stacy hasn't worked since. It's been almost 7 years.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

When Caleb was 2, we decided to take the biggest risk we ever took, I left my job, we left our community, and we built a house and opened a new business within a month of each other. We have almost gone bankrupt a couple of times, but God always provides.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We found a church where God called me to be the Youth Pastor/director (while still running my business), and God, once again, used an ass to speak his truth for over 5 years.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My second son was born, his name is Coleman William McBee, he thought crying was more important than doing anything else and he stayed awake sometimes literally all night long. My wife became severely depressed, I figured out that I was not her Saviour but Jesus was. She was told by some people that she should just smile and get over it. This didn't make sense to us, we started to leave moralism.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We started to be severely attacked spiritually by others. Moralism kills. The Gospel gives life.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We had the toughest two years financially and it tested our marriage and our faith, we found out that money was an idol, but we found Jesus to be better than money and more rewarding and sustaining.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We left our church, and we found out that ministry was an idol, we also found out who were our real friends. But, we also found a great church in Harambee, where Jesus is the most important. We also found great leaders in Doug and Nancy Cassell, they love Jesus more than their spiritual appearance among others. We love that.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We don't know what God has in store for us. We have found that we have a lot of hatred and idols that need to be smashed. We have found that our identity can't be in anything but Jesus, because everything else fails, he doesn't. We have found that if our hope is in anything besides Jesus, our hope will fade to bitterness. I'm excited for this Advent season, because I want to smash idols and hatred and turn my affections more to the Saviour who came as a dumb baby to save a dumb people, for the power and praise of our God. He loved me this much. He has brought me through all the things above, why can't he bring me through this too? No reason, I guess, but my lack of faith in Him is amazing after I see the road he has brought us on to this point.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Putting "Christ" Back into Christmas?

Tell some Christians "Merry X-Mas" or "Happy Holidays" and they will react as bad as they would if you preach with jeans on or try and contextualize the gospel to their children. They simply lose it. I have seen some, when told "Happy Holidays" in the supermarket, snapping back, "Merry CHRISTmas!" Wow. They'll tell you that if you use these terms that you are not being a witness for Christ during this special part of the year. Don't you know that if you rearrange the letters of Santa you can make the name of Satan! Or, I will put the name of Christ back into Christmas, while you put the "ho, ho" back into the term ho-liday.

I find it odd that people hold so dear the term Christmas while not really thinking of the other terms or who is using them. They also parade the term like it is as biblical as the Trinity. While Christmas is definitely a special time of year and one that I do enjoy because Christ is definitely on display in many places, the fact is that never in the Bible are we told to remember the birth of Christ.

While the consumerism does bother me quite a bit during Christmas, so does the Christian who marches around with a chip on their shoulder like they are taking on the world that hates Jesus during the Christmas time. They find it funny when people spray paint red on fur coats and yell, "murderer" but what they don't understand is they look just as ridiculous with their "Merry CHRISTmas" as they try and be a witness when yelling at the clerk that is just trying to keep his job by following the boss' orders to say "Happy Holidays."

Here are a couple of reasons that the terms "Merry X-Mas" and "Happy Holidays" don't bother me at all and could care less who uses the terms or why.

1. Merry X-Mas is Merry CHRIST-mas

This is actually pretty funny. Most people get angry when they see the "X" in place of "Christ" in Christmas. They say that people are taking Christ out of Christmas or that people are crossing out Christ for Christmas. These same people crack me up because they also have 5 different kinds of "Jesus Fish" on the back of their car and every one of the i's on their t-shirts are dotted with the Ichthus as well.

If they just did some looking around they would notice that in the Ichthus that the second letter in the Ichthus is the Greek letter "x" that stands for...yeah...Christ. This shortened term for Christ seems to go all the way back to the 4th century and one of the most endeared symbols in our Christian history uses it in the Chi Rho by Constantine.

I actually laugh every time I hear someone get upset about someone using "X" in place of Christ. If they stopped making T-Shirts saying "Put Christ Back Into Christmas", take off their earphones blasting "Christian" music and step out of their bubble they would realize that when someone uses "X" in Christmas it gives us a great opportunity to speak about what the "X" stands for. I would ask that people do research on how the "X" was used and then be ready to speak to others about its importance. I think we would all be surprised at the usage and also the reaction of knowing the importance of the term and the realization that they haven't taken Christ out of Christmas, but kept Him there and given us a great way to contextualize the gospel to others.

2. Happy Holidays!

The second thing that really irks people are stores or people that say, "Happy Holidays!" What is the big deal? We have always said that this is a great "holiday season" and the term means "Holy Day." And by the way, whether we like to admit it or not, there is more going on during the solstice than just Christmas. We also have Kwanzaa, Hanukka and don't forget the best of all the holidays, Festivus for the rest of us. Now, I am not saying that these holidays are to be revered in any way or are they correct in any way. But, we must realize that since we are not a Christian nation but we are a nation of many religions and many diverse people, that stores who pigeonhole people to the term "Christmas" are not very smart in the way that they market.

Let me ask you dear Christian: Would you shop at a place where Kwanzaa was the only thing celebrated there or would you boycott it? Don't answer that question.

What I would say that instead of getting crazy about people saying Happy Holidays, why not simply say, "Happy Holidays" back? I have to say that you are not doing any good, and actually pretty shameful by making "Merry CHRISTmas" very pronounced when you snap back.

Start thinking before you snap back and ask how you can use these two terms, Merry X-Mas and Happy Holidays for the cause of Christ instead of making yourself sound very odd. By the way, if you do snap back and hear someone laughing loudly, turn around because it's me and I might just spray paint your "CHRIST-mas" sweater red for fun to make a point.

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I Hate, What Now?

I am struggling recently. The reason is because I have some real, true hatred towards some people. I hate what they have done to my life, I hate what they have done to me spiritually and I say that I have forgiven, but I have not. In reality, I hate them. I don't want good for them. I want them to fail miserably. I want fire to come down from heaven and destroy them. Have you ever felt this way towards another? It is draining. I know all the verses of the Bible that speak on hatred and I know that I should be forgiving and I have told myself that I have forgiven them, but in reality, I know that I haven't. The question isn't, "what should I do about my past?" the real question is, "what am I going to do in my present so my future is about Christ and not hatred?"

I know that there are others out there who have come across this harsh reality in their lives, yet most in the Christian circles will just smile at them and pat them on the back and tell them to "forgive and forget." Well, to be honest, it's not that easy. These are real emotions and a reality that doesn't go away by praying a mantra to a fairy god of healing in the sky. One of the things that I love about God is that he isn't always a miraculous, instantaneous healer, but he allows you to work things out while he is there with you comforting and aiding you. Honestly, during this time, I love verses like these:

O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not ahate those who hate You, O Lord?

And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
Psalm 139:19-22

You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me,
And I destroyed those who hated me.
They cried for help, but there was anone to save,
Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them.
Then I beat them fine as the dust before the wind;
I emptied them out as the mire of the streets.
Psalm 18:40-42

Those verses are awesome to focus on during hate, because you get to focus in on God destroying those jerks you hate so much. But, like anything, too much focus on one end is going to bring a spiritual war where you know you are hell bent in the wrong direction. The question really is, "How do you get through this hatred so that it doesn't control you?" Because isn't this the worst part of hatred? The worst part is that those you spend the most time hating, control your emotions and spirit from afar. Brutal. I am writing this in the middle of hatred, not in the beginning, not looking back, but I am smack in the middle of it. I figured that I would provide an answer to those who are also going through this, or who will in the future.

1. Know That God Is In Control

Most of the times that we see David in the Psalms speaking of hatred, he then entrusts himself to God. I have to remind myself of this. God is not only in control, but he is allowing me to go through this for the betterment of my joy and his glory. I have to make sure I really focus in on this. Rage and reaction happens when I am not happy with what God is doing with his control or the pragmatic belief that he is not in control. I can recite verses, but until I allow God to work on my heart to understand that he truly is in control, I will continue in my hatred and allow those I hate to control me, instead of the Spirit.

Look at how some of these verses end in regard to those you hate:

I hate those who regard vain idols,
But I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,
And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.
Psalm 31:6-8

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:17-21

Notice that although emotions run high in human beings, that both David and Paul point us back to the one who is in control and is just, therefore having the right to bring down judgment. We must not just recite these verses, but truly try and live them out.

2. Pray

God knows your heart. Don't be fake. Don't pray for your enemies if you don't mean it. If you do, you will be like those who praise God with your lips but your heart is far from Him. Pray that God would be working on your heart and working on your satisfaction in Him instead of man. Even Jesus didn't entrust himself to man because he knew their hearts (John 2:24,25). Usually, when you hate it's because you put too much trust in man and in some way made them your functional saviour. You need, I need, to pray that God exchanges that functional saviour to the real Saviour who never disappoints and never leaves us. We need this to be a heart change to Jesus, that only comes through prayer and the leaning on the Spirit of God who comforts his own. As the transformation starts to happen, I am guessing it will be easier to truthfully pray for my enemies. At this point...if I pray for my enemies I am lying.

3. Look to Jesus, Recognize the Pharisee

Jesus was the most undeserved person to ever be hated, yet he was. I am not saying that we should get some "hatred" complex, but what I should do is notice that I am not like Jesus, who was hated, but when I hate another, I am like the Pharisees. Remember that you, I, am doing the hating, not being hated. When we look at the Scriptures, the one who is hated, is like Jesus and the one doing the hating, is the self righteous Pharisees. This hurts. This reality sucks. But, the reason that we hate is because we truly believe that we "would never do that to someone" that we "deserve better", we really believe that we are better than others when we hate. What I am going to do is look up all the verses of the Pharisees and instead of putting the word "Pharisee, Sadducee or Scribe" I am going to put my own name in the text.

Both Seth began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:2

Then Seth went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.
Matt 22:15

You are blind Seth, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, Seth, hypocrite! For you are like a whitewashed tomb which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Matt 23:26,27

When I hate, I am a functional Pharisee. I need to return to the cross and our Christ.

Hatred is real. It's not a fake emotion, but one that takes you over. It causes cynicism and true pessimism in everything. I need to realize it's danger and put it at the feet of the cross. I can't just give up and say that, "this is just how I am." This is what those who aren't Christians do, or really immature Christians who don't believe in the changing power of the Spirit. I need to realize that I am not my own, I am made in the image of God and I have the Spirit who dwells in me and God tells me:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

This where I am going to start. I am not sure how it will work out, but I pray that in this situation, God's glory wins out and not my own. At some point, I have to ask whether or not I am going to feed my idolatry of self, or if I am going to feed off of the Bread of Heaven, who is my real God who never fails. Any other god is a joke, especially myself and I laugh at my dumb self everytime I realize that I am making myself an idol. When I do this I go to Elijah's words of "encouragement" about this god that I worship instead of our Jehovah. Because, just like Baal, my god, which is myself in hatred, will always fail and not show up:

Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside (Hebrew for "relieving oneself"), or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.” So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.
1 Kings 18:26-29

Now that's funny. May God intervene in this and display his glory on my heart that I might not follow after a failing god in myself, but follow and surrender to our true God for his glory and my joy.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Definition of God's Love

My friend Mike Van Drie asked an important question:

When I say "God's love", what comes to your mind or how would you describe it?

My first thought on "what comes to my mind" was the cross based on John 3:16. This is actually what was done for the entirety of the world so that we would all know the length and strength of God's love. He did this so that none would have reason to say that God did not love them or pursue them. He did this to show that he does not wish that any or everyone would perish, but so that everyone, whether in this world, or the next (judgment) would have proof of the literal dying love of God on their behalf. This is my first thought.

How would I describe God's love? Meaning, what would be my definition?

Giving us what we need for his glory and for our joy (which can be what we want, but not necessarily so)

I believe that God does all things for his glory and, just like Israel (think civil laws of OT towards the nation of Israel), if we are obedient to those things, we will have the greatest joy in our lives. Are we always obedient? No. This is why we do not live "our best life now" but we struggle, fight and go through much pain. If we were to be sinless, living always for the glory of God, our joy would truly be complete. But, not only do we not, but we can't. So, the great exchange took place so that, although we continually sin, we can say that our joy is complete because of the finished work on the cross and resurrection. As we live in this light with our joy full because of him we shine the glory of God to all people and all nations, including our neighbors.

What are your thoughts on God's love?

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old School Preaching, But Is it Complete?

Mark from Here I Blog, linked to this video and as I started to watch it I had some differing emotions hit me. One, was that it did spur me to thought on my works and the real change, or lack thereof, that has happened because of Christ. Second though, was that I realized how much grace was left out of this small section of preaching. I haven't listened to the whole sermon, nor do I know anything of Al Martin, but I am a little iffy on hearing something like this. It does honestly strike a cord with me as something I need to hear, but without grace attached closely and strongly to this message, what makes this different than any other preaching of having high morals for righteousness? What are your thoughts?

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Monday, November 16, 2009

My Journey Out of Dispensationalism

I grew up in the SBC, and therefore, have always believed in what is called dispensationalism. I will admit though, I believe it more on the basis of what was told to me, instead of true study of the facts found in the Bible. My journey from semi Arminianism to Calvinism started about 6 years ago, so I am seeing the same things happen within this transformation as well. I am right in the middle of this, so I cannot say I am fully amillennial and covenantal, but that is probably just a matter of time now. I first started looking into this as I noticed that all those that I respected to teach me about the truth of Scripture was in one way or another amillennial and covenantal. Not only that, but I had a couple of buddies in Josh Follansbee and David Ponter who kept hammering away at me and then David Drake entered the fray as well to challenge me. David challenged me in saying, "Dispensationalists make Israel and charts and maps the hero of the book of Revelation, instead of Christ being the center and the hero." This hit me hard. Not only that but what was funny is that Josh actually predicted about 4 years ago that if I truly loved Scripture, I would naturally change my views. What did these guys all have in common with me? They all were in some sort dispensationalists as well before making the switch to the historical team of the total Reformed.

One of the first things that caught me off guard, and one that made me start to think was when Josh told me that the Bible records Israel as taking the land promised to them through Abraham from God. The prophecies concerning national Israel were always a big deal for me in why there was dispensations and why there was a literal 1000 year reign of Christ. Some things really started to ramp up when some reading started to happen. These were:

1. A Reading of the Bible (I started a Bible Reading plan that showed me some of the fulfillments that had literally happened for Israel)

2. Reading The Returning King by Vern Poythress which was recommended to me by David Drake

3. Reading A Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger which was recommended by Josh Follansbee

4. Reading Biblical Studies in Final Things by William E. Cox which was recommended by David Ponter and was the clincher.

In this post, I want to simply put forth those things that have been literally fulfilled for national Israel that dispensationalists still hold out hope for in the 1000 year reign of Christ. Here are those things that have actually already been fulfilled and are over and done with:

1. The land promise to Abraham pertaining to the land of Palestine have already been literally fulfilled through Joshua. Look specifically to Joshua 11:23 and 21:43

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.
Joshua 11:23

So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it.
Joshua 21:43

a. The proofs that Israel became a great nation, are too numerous and well known are well documented and one doesn't need simple biblical proof to see this fact

b. The promise that the descendants would be as numerous as the sand of the sea and the stars in the sky has been fulfilled when seeing Nehemiah 9:23:

You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven, And You brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to enter and possess.

c. The promise to Abraham that the Messiah would include all the nations of the earth (Gen. 12:3) was fulfilled in the incarnation of Christ and the book of Acts

2. After the return from the bondage in Egypt other prophecies concerning the nation of Israel included returning to the land, rebuilding the temple and the reinstitution of sacrifices (this is where dispensationalists become close, if not full, heretics). This has already been fulfilled both historically and biblically. The temple was literally rebuilt in 516 B.C. and so the sacrificial system was also back in place. One need only read such books as Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zachariah to find that there is no need for such prophecies to be for the End Times. Remember that all the prophecies concerning the return to the land, the temple being rebuilt and the sacrificial system being reinstated were all made before 516 B.C. Since this time of fulfillment in 516 B.C. there have been no further mention of these prophecies, including Malachi and the New Testament.

3. Since the above mentioned have been fulfilled, all other prophecies were to include the New Covenant of believers which would include Gentiles into God's people and therefore all further unfulfilled prophecies, such as the second Advent, the judgment seat, which includes the Day of the Lord, will include all believers in the Lord Jesus, not merely national Israel. This is known as the New Covenant that was prophecied by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31 and will be carried out by those who believe, the church. Both Jews and Gentiles without distinction.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:28-29

I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
John 10:16

For these reasons, I have departed dispensationalism and have been doing much study to find what I honestly believe. This has put the right focus back in my study, which is off Israel and back to the true Israel, which is Christ. He should always be our focus and our hero in all of the Bible. When we start to cloud him with other issues, we start to fall into idolatry.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Athanasian Creed and the Early Church: Clearly Amillennial

This is taken from an article written by Martin R. Bachicha and I found it quite interesting. Thanks to Mark at Here I Blog for the link. I have always been told by other premils that the early fathers were mostly premils. This starts the investigation and shows that this might not be true at all. I have been studying a lot lately on the subject of end times, Revelation and amillenialism. I have to say that I have definitely switched my view to leave behind dispensationalism, but not quite sure where that leaves me. I am looking forward to continually seek the truth of the Scriptures in what they teach, instead of what I have always been taught. Here is an article to show forth some of this, and next week I will be showing some insight on the main things that have switched my view of eschatology.

The Athanasian Creed and the Early
Church: Clearly Amillennial

By Martin R. Bachicha

Weren't the Early Church Fathers Premillennialists?

In 1976 Alan Patrick Boyd, a graduate student at Dallas Theological Seminary began a challenging undertaking, writing a masters thesis whose goal was to establish the prophetic faith of the early church fathers. His professor, Dr. Charles Ryrie of Dallas Seminary fame had boldly written "Premillennialism is the historic faith of the Church." But upon completing his thesis, Boyd concluded the following in response, "It is the conclusion of this thesis that Dr. Ryrie's statement is historically invalid within the chronological framework of this thesis [apostolic age through Justin Martyr]." [ 1] (Quoted by Bahnsen and Gentry, p. 235. [ 2] )

Thomas Albrecht, who has done additional research on this topic, also writes, "some premillennialists had attempted to show that premillennialism was the ‘pervasive view of the earliest orthodox fathers’ (House and Ice, Dominion Theology, p.202). But many additional scholars have shown this to be false, including Boyd, D.H. Kromminga, Ned Stonehouse, W.G.T. Shedd, Louis Berkhof, and Philip Schaff. According to Boyd, the best that can be said of the early Church father is that they were ‘seminal amillennialists’ (cf. Bahnsen and Gentry, p. 239). The early Church fathers … Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Papius, admitted that there were many other Christians who were quite orthodox and not premillennial." [ 3]

The following quote by the early church historian Eusebius from his classic work The History of the Church clearly demonstrates the amillennial, consummationist outlook held by the early church. Speaking of the grandsons of Jude, he writes: "the grandsons of Jude.... When asked [by the Emperor Domitian] about Christ and his kingdom--what it was like, and where it would appear--they explained that it was not of this world or anywhere on earth but angelic and in heaven, and would be established at the end of the world, when he would come in glory to judge the quick and the dead ...." [The History of the Church by Eusebius] from Charles Ludwig, Ludwig’s Handbook of New Testament Rulers and Cities. [ 4]

Eusebius is one of the early church fathers who most clearly denounces "chiliasm," as premillennialism was then called. In the same work he writes, "About the same time … appeared Cerinthus, the leader of another Heresy. Caius, in The Disputation attributed to him, writes respection him: ‘But Cerinthus, by means of revelations which he pretended as if they were showed him by angels, asserting, that after the resurrection there would be an earthly kingdom of Christ, and that flesh, i.e. men, again inhabiting Jerusalem, would be subject to desires and pleasures. Being also an enemy to the divine scriptures, with a view to deceive men, he said that there would be a space of a thousand years for celebrating nuptial festivals.’" Eusebius also writes of a tradition passed down by Polycarp regarding an encounter between the Apostle John and Cerinthus in a public bath, "He [Polycarp] says that John the Apostle once entered a bath to wash; but ascertaining that Cerinthus was within, he leaped out of the place and fled from the door, not enduring to enter under the same roof with him, and exhorting those with him to do the same, saying, ‘Let us flee, lest the bath fall in, as long as Cerinthus, that enemy of the truth is within.’"[ 5] Tertullianus is another early church father who attributes chiliasm’s birth to Cerinthus. He writes: "They are not to be heard who assure themselves that there is to be an earthly reign of a thousand years, who think with the heretic Cerinthus. For the Kingdom of Christ is now eternal in the saints, although the glory of the saints shall be manifested after the resurrection." [ 6]

Two of the preeminent creeds of the early church that contain verses that clearly lean towards an amillennial belief are the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Apostles’ Creed contains the words "He [Christ] shall come again to judge the quick and the dead," implying that both judgement and the resurrection will take place at His coming. The Nicene Creed states that Christ "shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end." Note that Christ’s kingdom is viewed here as eternal, not as a temporal reign of 1000 years.

By far the early church statement of faith that most vividly presents the early church’s belief in an amillennial, "consummationist" eschatology is The Athanasian Creed. Attributed to Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria and the champion of the Council of Nicaea, around 325 A.D., the creed ends with these words: "He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life eternal, and they who indeed have done evil into eternal fire. This is the catholic faith, which except a man have believed faithfully and firmly he cannot be in a state of salvation." Let us analyze these closing verses more carefully to see how they align with the belief system we know today as amillennialism, and how they oppose any belief in an earthly 1000 year reign of Christ.

1. "He shall come again to judge the living and the dead." This simply means that there will be those who are alive as well as those who are dead when He comes (1 Thess. 4:15). Notice that judgement of the living and the dead occurs at His coming (cf. Matt. 25:31-46), not a thousand years after His coming.

2. "At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies ...." Thus, at Christ’s coming all rise, the good and the evil alike (cf. John 5:28,29, Matt. 12:41,42). Not just the good, and then a thousand years later the wicked.

3. "... and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life eternal, and they who indeed have done evil into eternal fire." This is a clear reference to Matt. 25:31-46. Athanasius views this as taking place after the resurrection (or translation), making it a post-resurrection judgement. This is in sharp contrast to the dispensational view that Matthew 25:31-46 is only a judgement of "living, mortal Gentiles" who survived the tribulation. Note again that it (i.e. Matt. 25:31-46) is viewed as a judgement of all men, the Jew and the Gentile, the wicked as well as the good.

We must ask, why were the early church fathers so solidly amillennial? The first most obvious answer is that it reflected apostolic teaching, which means they were being obedient to God’s word (Acts 2:42, Ephesians 2:20). Most importantly, it is what the scriptures clearly teach, and being faithful students of the scriptures, they came to this rightful conclusion. Even the late Dr. George Eldon Ladd, a premillennialist, wrote "I admit that the greatest difficulty to any premillennialism is the fact that most of the New Testament pictures the consummation as occurring at Jesus’ parousia." [ 7] Lastly, amillennialism is the single view that most highly glorifies our Lord Jesus and His Second Coming. To demonstrate this point I will ask these questions. Which view glorifies our Lord Jesus more? A view that has the glorified Christ reigning eternally immediately after His advent from the New Heavenly Jerusalem in the glory of His Father (amillennial); or a view that has Jesus reigning temporally (i.e. for 1000 years) from an earthly Jerusalem, surrounded by mortal men, sinners (premillennial)? Which view magnifies His Second Coming more? A view where at His parousia He eternally judges all of mankind, the living and the dead (amillennial), or a view where this judgement doesn’t take place until a 1000 years after His coming (premillennial)? Which is more monumental an advent? A Second Coming where sin is utterly effaced and death is completely destroyed (amillennial)? Or a second coming where sin is not effaced and death is not destroyed until a 1000 years later (premillennial)? The answer is obvious. Let us give glory to our Lord Jesus and believe the true prophetic faith: Amillennialism, the one and only true Christian eschatology.


[1] "A Dispensational Premillennial Analysis of the Eschatology of the Post-Apostolic Fathers [Until the Death of Justin Martyr]," unpublished master's thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977, p. 47), quoted in the web article, "Some Questions and Answers on Eschatology," by Thomas Albrecht. [Back]

[2] House Divided: The Breakup of Dispensational Theology, by Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. [Back]

[3] Tom Albrecht, "Some Questions and Answers on Eschatology," World Wide Web article. [Back]

[4] Quoted in the article "The Return of Nero" by Gary Stearman, Prophecy in the News, Vol. 16, No. 5, May 1996, p. 6. [Back]

[5] From Eusebius’ Eccleslastical History, Book 3, Chapter 23. Circa A.D. 324. [Back]

[6] From Tertullianus, The Writings of Tertullianus, Vol. 3, p. 433. [Back]

[7] George Eldon Ladd, The Meaning of the Millennium, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1977) edited by Robert G. Clouse, pp. 189, 190. [Back]

About the Author:

Martin Bachicha is a native of Albuquerque and is the author of The Kingdom of the Bride, a book on Bible Prophecy.

Martin Bachicha
4908 Sherry Ann Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87114

He also writes a prophecy newsletter, The Kingdom of the Bride Prophecy Newsletter. To receive your free e-mailed copy, send an e-mail to

© Copyright 1999, Martin R. Bachicha, All Rights Reserved

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Get Tattoos? Soli Deo Gloria!

One of the questions that is posed is this:

If you know that tattoos are a touchy subject and people will have issues with it, why would you still get a tattoo? Aren't you just being rebellious and self centered?

The interesting thing is that it is always put on us, who want tattoos, as the ones being selfish and rebellious by getting tattoos. The exact same things were said as Isaac Watts wrote beautiful hymns to be sung in the churches. He was rebellious and looking to self and no one wanted to play his hymns in their services. The same thing was said of those who wanted to play drums and electric guitars in the church services back in the day. It is always put on those who don't stick to tradition of the church but continue to be progressive as rebellious and selfish. Should we just give in then to those who are uncomfortable with tattoos, new hymns and drums in worship through song? Or, should we be active listeners, careful with our liberty and do all to the glory of God?

I wanted to just give some examples of what one should think of before getting a tattoo and the process I have gone through.

Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone

This thought of Soli Deo Gloria was one that the Reformers continually fought for. Before the Reformers, Rome had put forth the thought that the highest calling for any individual was to be clergy of the church. The Reformers highly disagreed saying that all of life is worship and any man or woman's life and occupation is the calling of God and should reflect God's glory. Taking the Scriptures for what they said about life, the first question posed in the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms is:

Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

This first part of the answer is taken from the following Scriptures: Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11

So, when we ask, "Why get a tattoo?" the first answer needs to be, "to glorify God." This seems stupid to some, but is a reality for those who take God's glory very seriously. But, what does it mean to glorify? To glorify something in the Greek and biblical context, means that when doing something or thinking of someone it means to have a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory. Paul, and the other authors, point to the fact that what we do and what we see should always result in a good opinion of God so that we praise and honor God.

So, how do I glorify God in my tattoos?

1. Humble to the Authority God Has Put Over Me and With Me

I used to be a youth director at my previous church. One of the things I always did when kids would see my tattoos and say that they wanted one is I would tell them to go straight to their parents to discuss this. Their parents are their authority and they should honor them. My first tattoo came at the age of 18 and I was in college. Legally, I could do whatever I wanted to. Spiritually, I wanted input and and the "go ahead" from my father (who was a pastor for most of his adult life). I went to him in submission asking for his permission. He told me that he appreciated my submission to his authority and that, although he personally didn't like tattoos, I could do whatever I wanted to in regards to getting a tattoo. He gave me some things to think about in regards to the tat, such as placement and design, but allowed me to make the decision. To be honest, when someone says I am being rebellious getting a tattoo, it really angers me. The reason is that I was a very rebellious child in many ways, but I was most submissive in getting my tattoo than in any other way in my childhood.

If you are out of the house and on your own and single. Truly think through the fact that you will probably have a spouse some day. Think through the fact that they might hate tattoos and have to "deal" with your art on your body. This doesn't mean to not get one, but very careful on what you get and where so that it doesn't become a hindrance in your future marriage.

If you are married you are under obligation to go to your spouse, your body is theirs. Every tattoo goes through my wife first. She has denied me more than people know on tattoo designs, and I have shown my love for her by knowing my body is hers and that I will not get anything, or change anything, on my body that would make her uncomfortable or hinder her love for me. I completely submit everything to her in regards to my body so that I die to self and live for Christ through her. My wife loves tattoos and loves my new one and can't wait for it to be finished. She literally gets excited for them and does not cringe in any way. Let me say this again, if your spouse does not like tattoos, for whatever reason, do not get one because you are in sin. Glorify God by submitting to the authority God has over you.

2. Glorifying God, by Knowing Your Audience

Know who God is sending you to and know also those around you and their view on any subject. I have thought about this for the future. I have thought, "What if God sends me to a tribe that has pagan thoughts on tattoos in some remote part of the world?" Or, what if I become friends who truly stumbles over the fact of tattoos because of his old self? I will make sure that I do what I can to cover the tattoos in these instances. Even to the fact of using cover up make-up to make sure my exposed tattoos are covered up if I were to go to the jungles or a tribe that has those connotations with tattoos. The reason is that my tattoos are not to "make a statement" or to make a true weaker brother stumble (to get a reading on what I mean by this read this post here). If I preach to a mass audience where I know that it could trip some people up, I will do my best to cover them. But, I will also do my best to know the audience I am teaching to. This is why I also ask ahead of time what to dress like when I go to preach and teach at venues I am not familiar with. I don't want to show up in a suit, when everyone is in shorts, nor do I want to show up in cargo pants when everyone is in suits. I don't want my tattoos to become part of the message I am preaching if they are not the point. I want Jesus to be exalted where I go, not frivolous things like my tattoos, what I wear or what I eat or drink.

3. Glorify God By Getting the Right Design

Most people, when thinking of tattoos, think that they must get one that in some way has a Christian message. I don't. As long as the message or the design doesn't directly point to something contrary to God, like a naked woman, I don't care what someone gets because all lawful things point to God. When I get my tattoos I glorify God because I can see the artist and their creativity and see how that points to the amazing grandeur of the creativity and artistry found in our God and Creator. The same thing happens when I buy a piece of art, look at the sunset or stand at the foot of amazing architecture. These things do not have to have some message about God for them to glorify Him.

The correct thinking is to have these things and their beauty point you to the true beauty in God and cause you to praise and honor Him, not the artist or builder. This same mind set should happen when you eat good food, have great sex, make money, spend time with your kids, pick out something to wear or eat good food. One should understand that all these things point to the glory of God, as does a tattoo. Now, do we all like the same food, same art or same activities? No. So, I don't care if you don't like tattoos because you think they are ugly. This doesn't mean I can't glorify God in something you find distasteful. Same thing applies when you wear your ugly Christmas sweater with bells on it. You find it amusing and cute, I find it ugly and disgusting. You can glorify God in it, I want to throw up on it. Most of the things in this life that one can glorify God through, others will not be able to.
But, we should not discount others merely because we don't "get it" or don't like it. Nor should we think we can only glorify God in things if they have God's name, Scripture references or a Jesus fish on it.

So, why do I get tattoos? Is it out of rebellion or selfishness? No. It is because I find the great beauty and artistry found in tattoos to be a shadow of the great beauty and artistry found in my Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. Through my tattoos I get to praise Jesus. You might hate them, which is fine, but don't think that I get them out of rebellion, it is quite the opposite.

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
Revelation 4:11

Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

Psalm 96:1-6

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Biblical Defenses Against Tattoos

Besides my last posts on "Making a Brother Stumble" and "The Leviticus 19:28 defense" the other two widely used defenses against tattoos would be, "Aren't you ruining the temple of God?" and "Aren't you being worldly?" Besides these arguments, I don't know of any other problems people have with tattoos. If there are other arguments that you have yourself, or that you have heard, please let me know and I can address them.

These two arguments that are easily shown to be illogical when looking at the Christian walk overall, and are really a response by people who don't like tattoos and want to proof text to try and show great biblical knowledge of the subject.

Aren't You Ruining the Temple of God?

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This passage's focus isn't on smoking, drinking or tattoos (which this verse has been used to take issue with each one of these). This passage is about the Corinthians use of prostitution and how that outward act, is actually spiritually sinful because you have now become one flesh with another, instead of God who bought you with a price.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

This passage speaks directly toward one building their temple upon the foundation of Christ or the foundation of idols. Paul tells the Corinthians that they must seek to build their temple of God upon the true Cornerstone and the true foundation which is Christ, not upon the many idols found, not only within Corinth, but within their own selfish ambitions and desires. Specifically, Paul says not to build your foundation upon your own work instead of the work of the Christ. Again...nothing about tattoos.

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
2 Corinthians 6:16

This passage is specifically speaking on being unequally yoked to unbelievers and the point God makes is that His temple has no business with idols, so therefore, we, who are the new temple of God should not be yoked with those who do not love God. Again, nothing to do with tattoos.

One can see that we are yes, the temple of God and we are to take this seriously. We are to devote ourselves to what the original temple was devoted to, to shine the glory of God to all. This is our purpose. We are to show off the God of Abraham to all people in our outward response to our God.

I, as with others with tattoos, have decided to do some decoration in God's temple to make it as beautiful as we can. This is the same reason that women wear make up and why you shouldn't wear clothes from the 1950's. Just as you can glorify God with what you wear, so you can with tattoos as well. One isn't destroying the temple of God with tattoos, just decorating it. If one thinks you are destroying the body because you might get "ink poisoning" then the same thing could be used on why not to eat sugar, fats and caffeine because all these things can lead to ways in which your body could decay. Ink poisoning is very rare with tattoos and isn't even a defense. It would be like someone having an issue with you driving a car because you might get in an accident and die or destroy the temple of God.

Aren't You Being Worldly?

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17

Usually the one that brings forth this argument thinks they have an open and shut case in regards to tattoos. It is their height of argument, saved to put the nail in the coffin. But what is John speaking of? John actually defines what love of the world is. He defines it as:

the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

It is really idolatry shown through lust of the things in this world, not getting tattoos. Now, can a person getting tattoos be worldly? Yes, of course, they can decide to go against their parents and get one, a wife or husband can ignore their spouses wishes and get one because they have a lust for their own life ahead of those in their authority or those that they have become one flesh with. When I was 18, living in my father's house, I went to him to ask his permission to get my first tattoo. I was "of age" and could legally do what I wanted to, but instead went to my father and asked permission. He said, "although I don't like tattoos, I have no issue of you getting one if you want to." Since I have been married, all thoughts of tattoos go through my wife first and prayer to Christ in my decisions. It is through submission that I get my tattoos, not through pride or rebellion.

Some will still say, "Okay, but aren't you just being like the world when you get those?" Being a part of a culture isn't wrong and it isn't worldly. Again, John told us what is worldly in the direct context of his teachings. His reason for writing that passage was to get followers of Christ to do the will of God and worship and give Him glory, instead of following the lusts of the world and giving self glory. If merely getting a tattoo is being "of the world" then so is buying a big house, driving a car, wearing a suit (or not wearing a suit), putting on make up, wearing cowboy hats in Montana and wearing a Seahawks hat at Qwest Field. That's what the world is, and we look like the world, so it must be sin. No. We are just displaying the culture that we live in.

This is what Christ did. He lived among those and wore and looked like what the culture reflected. That's why Jesus probably had a beard, wore sandals and a funky long robe and undergarment. Because that was what his culture reflected. He would look very different if he were walking amongst us today. Don't think Jesus has some dress on if he visited us today. He would be a representative of our culture, as are we. What you wear or look like doesn't make you worldly, it just reflects your culture. When we went to the South last year, it was funny what that culture reflects down there. 8 out of every 10 women were wearing those velour jogging suits. It made Stacy and I laugh because no one would be caught dead in one of those up here in Seattle. It was definitely a part of their culture.

Just because tattoos haven't been a part of the culture that you grew up in, doesn't make it worldly. Sadly, I sometimes wish I could use that logic so I could make more fun of those that wear velour jogging suits and call it sin.

These are the main arguments against tattoos and hopefully you can see how shallow these arguments are. We are to be the temples of God, living in our culture, displaying the glory of our God. If we were to take these verses as some would want, they would actually take on the dogmas of another major religion: Islam. They dress and do much of the same things that Mohammad's culture took on. That is what Christians are trying to do as they make these Scriptures their proof texts against tattoos, how people dress or look like in general.

I just can't wait for them to start wearing long robes so that their theology fits their practice.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Jesus Loves Me and My Tattoos

I recently have added to my tattoo repertoire and this one is the one I am excited about most. Has a lot of meaning behind it and will look amazing when done. It will be one of those tats that when someone says, "your tat looks pimp" I will just have to respond by saying, "I know." I put up the first pics of the outline on Facebook and was then emailed the following from someone that I don't know personally:

Out of curiosity, would you consider yourself a Christian? I'm curious to know your thinking on getting tattoos in light of Leviticus 19:28...

Now, this seems to be an honest question and so I will not respond in a sarcastic light. As long as honesty is prevalent, I will respond in like form. Which sucks for my readers, but for the questioner, is out of respect.

So, here is the verse in question:

You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. (NASB)

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD (KJV)

These two really sum up the correct translation of this Old Testament verse. It seems pretty cut and dry that one should abstain from tattoo marks or print marks on the body. But is it?

In Bible interpretation, one of the first things you must seek is context. If you don't look in context you will make some grave errors. One of the easiest ways to point this out, in an elementary form, is that the Bible says, "There is no God." Of course context shows that the verse actually says, "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good." (Psalm 14:1) I know that is basic, but so is the look at our verse above that mentions tattoos or marks on the body.

It is widely believed among Biblical scholars that Leviticus 19:28 refers to an ancient practice in the Middle East of people cutting themselves and rubbing in ash when in a period of mourning after an individual had died. It was a sign of respect for the dead and a symbol of respect and reverence and a sense of profound loss for the newly departed; and it is surmised that the ash that was rubbed into the self-inflicted wounds came from the actual funeral pyres that were used to cremate the bodies. In essence, people were literally carrying with them a reminder of the recently deceased in the form of tattoos created by ash being rubbed into shallow wounds cut or slashed into the body, usually the forearms. This rite would have been part of a culturally accepted process of grieving. (via Tattoo Culture Online)

Not only was this the practice but we also see that cutting was a practice by the prophets of Baal while Elijah mocked them on Mount Carmel. (1 Kings 18).

It seems as though the practice had to do with actual worship to another god or gods. Even in the verse that is brought up in Leviticus 19:28, the verse is pointing to some sort of ancient practice of cutting for the worship or honor of the dead, not in the mere deed of cutting or tattooing oneself.

But, even with all this thought, it still says not to do it. But now we come to context of the verse. This chapter, and even the book of Leviticus is set up in many ways as a complete shadow of Christ, in the laws and regulations for the nation of Israel. Therefore, we must look at these laws and separate them from civil laws and moral laws. The question really is, "Which laws are binding only on the nation of Israel, and which ones are still binding on us today?" The reason this is the question at hand is because there are many laws put into effect in Leviticus that we break all the time. Look at some of these:

1. You can't eat shrimp or other unclean animals (Leviticus 11)

2. You can't wear polyester or other garments with two kinds of material mixed together (Leviticus 19:19)

3. You can't shave the corners of your head's hair or shave your beard (Leviticus 19:27)

These are just three proofs that something else is at play here. We would though also say that there are some things in Leviticus that we should follow, such as not making our children prostitutes and not going to mediums and spiritists.

So what is the difference? The difference comes in the practice themselves. Are they for the nation of Israel or for all people for all time? Meaning, is there a moral grounding in the law that is to continually be forbidden?

The answer for Tattoos is "yes and no." But, I believe that the answer to most laws in the Old Testament and our actions in our lives are a "yes and no." Think of this. Are there ways to make money for the glory of God or the glory of self? Are there ways to have sex for the glory of God or for the glory of self? Are there ways to eat or drink to the glory of God or for the glory of self? And when I say, "glory of self" that is the essence of worshiping a false god, which is ourselves. We find this very clearly in Romans 14:23 when it states,

...and whatever is not from faith is sin.

If one gets a tattoo to worship another god, then that is sin. If someone eats meat to worship another god, that is sin. But, if someone gets a tattoo or eats for the glory of God, then that is fine in the eyes of God and he actually loves it, because it is done to show worship to our God.

The verse has even more thought put towards it when we find that Jesus Christ himself has some sort of marking on him when he returns to put a beat down on all pagans and their gods.

Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter."He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. "

Revelation 19:15-16

If tattooing is considered evil, I hope that same person doesn't wear polyester and has a pretty rad beard down to their knees with some ratty hair. This is the crux of the matter in dealing with Leviticus 19, but I will also put up another post on how I can bring glory to God in getting a tattoo and defend tattoos against other arguments in the New Testament. Such as, "Isn't your body a temple?", "Aren't you being worldly by getting tattoos?" and "Aren't you making those who are against tattoos stumble?"

The body of Christ needs to do all things for the glory of God. Tattooing is no different and neither is picking out a shirt to wear for the day or whether or not to eat a hot dog at Costco.

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