We Are All Going to Die

In May the pastor’s roundtable began to discuss the book of Ecclesiastes. We will be recording a total of six conversations about this book. The roundtable discussion airs the last Sunday of the month on WRUP 92.7 FM. As part of the discussion of Ecclesiastes, Pastor Chambers’ sermon on the same part of Ecclesiastes will air the following Sunday. You can listen to both broadcasts below.

October 27 Pastor’s Roundtable

Pastor Dave Chambers
Pastor Joe Herr
Pastor Tom Schierkolk
Pastor Dave Sexton

November 3 Radio Show
We are All Going to Die

Pastor Dave Chambers

Should Christian’s Support Kanye?

Kanye West has won 21 Grammy awards, 29 BET awards, 10 Billboard awards, 16 MTV awards and 140 other awards for his work in the music industry. He has sold over 21 million albums. Seven of his nine studio albums have gone platinum. Kanye is a hugely successful hip-hop artist. Recently he underwent a dramatic conversion to Christianity. The new message of Kanye is far different from the message that filled his music a few years ago. His latest album is entitled “Jesus is King.” He now sings of Jesus to thousands of people as he tours America hosting his Sunday Services.

Whenever a well known figure has a dramatic and public conversion many people, Christian and non-Christian, struggle to understand and respond. Some have accused Kanye of engaging in a huge publicity stunt. Others have said Kanye is using his Sunday Services to fuel album sales. Some Christians are concerned that Kanye’s conversion is not real and others wonder if church leaders should be promoting him so soon after his conversion.

Conversion happens in a moment. A person who calls upon Jesus for salvation is immediately taken out of the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of Jesus. Salvation is immediate, but the evidence of salvation is not. Some new believers find their life is dramatically transformed. They turn aside from all the things of their former life and make a clean break with the sins of their past. Most believers find the transformation of life is slow and gradual. We should not necessarily expect Kanye to show immediate victory over sins that have been a major part of his life for many years. What we should expect to see is a diligent effort to put away sin in his life.

The best evidence of salvation is long term continuance in the faith. In the parable of the soils, Jesus points out that some false professors spring up quickly and give early signs of growth before shriveling under the assaults from sin. Those who remain and bear fruit show they were truly saved. Only time and eternity will tell if Kanye’s profession is genuine. However, Kanye is not beyond redemption. No one should doubt Kanye’s salvation because of any terrible thing he has done in the past. The grace of God is far greater than any of Kanye’s sin. The blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin, even sins we may find particuarly offensive. If Kanye believes Jesus is God who died and rose again for his salvation, and if Kanye called out to Jesus for forgiveness of sin, then Kanye is saved.

The question that must asked and answered by Christians is if Kanye should be given the pulpit and platform of Christian churches so soon after his conversion. Kanye has his own platfrom from which he has long proclaimed his message, but should the church give him their’s. Kanye has clearly taken a leadership role in American Christianity. James 3:1 says that any one who is given the authority to teach the church is held to a greater accountability. Is it wise for any church to put a newborn Christian in a position where he will be accountable for what he teaches to thousands of Christians? Instead of giving him the pulpit, the church should be giving Kanye time and training to grow in doctrine, in faith and in Christlikeness.

The monthly pastor’s roundtable will be discussing further the question of Kanye on November 24. Tune in to 92.7 FM at 9:30 AM to hear the answers they give to this timely question.

Why did King David take the Ark of the Covenant away from the Tabernacle?

In the days of the judges the nation of Israel abandoned the worship of God to worship idols. When they did worship God they mixed in many idolatrous practices. Finally, the Israelites decided the ark of the covenant was a talisman that would give them victory over the Philistines. This did not work out very well for the Israelites. The army of Israel was defeated and the ark of the covenant captured. Capturing the ark did not work out well for the Philistines. God began to make a mockery of the Philistine god Dagon and to afflict the Philistines with plagues. After 7 months in the cities of the Philistines the ark was returned to Israel and stayed in Gibeon for over 70 years.

After King David secured his kingdom against the Philistines he determined to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. Under the leadership of David, the Levites brought the ark into the city and placed it in a tent near David’s palace. However, the tabernacle, the altars and all the other furnishings for the tabernacle were left in Gibeon.

The ark of the covenant played an important role in the worship of God. When the tabernacle was completed the visible presence of God came to reside on the mercy seat that covered the ark of the covenant. With the ark separated from the tabernacle the presence of God was obviously removed from the place of sacrifice. Without the ark at the tabernacle the priests could not obey God’s commands regarding the most important sacrifice of the year- the day of atonement. Why would King David keep the ark and the tabernacle separate?

Various practical reasons have been offered to explain the King’s actions. The tabernacle was old. Though portions of it had been rebuilt over the 500 years since it was first built, the long neglect of Divine worship during the time of the judges and the kingship of Saul may have left the tabernacle in such a dilapidated state that it could not be moved without severe damage. Also, it appears that while David was hiding from Saul in the wilderness, the duties of the high priest were divided. When David took the throne two men may have been serving as high priests in Israel. David may have chosen to have two places of worship rather than remove one man from the being the high priest.

Though these reasons may be valid, they do not go far enough. Psalm 78:60-68 teaches that God allowed the ark to be captured by the Philistines and then stored in Jerusalem, distant from the tabernacle and altar of burnt offering, as an act of judgment against Israel. God removed His presence from the tabernacle and the Israelites. Their continued idolatry made it impossible for them to worship in His presence. Just like today, sin will hinder the ability of God’s people to come into His presence.

God also chose to make Jerusalem the center of His worship. He determined the temple would be built in Jerusalem. We do not know when God revealed this to David, but God was at work in David’s actions to accomplish His purposes. God’s judgment of the nation prepared the way for His grace. God was working through King David to restore the true worship of Himself in Israel and to return His glorious presence in the midst of His people. Though God had distanced Himself from Israel for a time, He did not completely rejected them. God in His grace was working to bring His people to repentance and restore them to fellowship with Him.

Wisdom is Better

In May the pastor’s roundtable began to discuss the book of Ecclesiastes. We will be recording a total of six conversations about this book. The roundtable discussion airs the last Sunday of the month on WRUP 92.7 FM. As part of the discussion of Ecclesiastes, Pastor Chambers’ sermon on the same part of Ecclesiastes will air the following Sunday. You can listen to both broadcasts below.

September 22 Pastor’s Roundtable

Pastor Dave Chambers
Pastor Joe Herr
Pastor Tom Schierkolk
Pastor Dave Sexton

September 29 Radio Show
Keep Life in Perspective

Pastor Dave Chambers

Can a Christian lose his salvation?

Once received, can salvation be lost? This question has been asked and discussed by many Christians and is understandably one of great importance. The security of salvation impacts how a believer lives the Christian life. The reasons for believing salvation can or can not be lost come from the believer’s understanding of key salvation doctrines.

Most Christians accept one of three possible answers to this question. The least commonly held view is that salvation is lost every time a Christian sins. Those who hold this position believe that to keep their salvation Christian’s must ask for forgiveness every time they sin.

The more common view is held by many who believe Lutheran or Arminian doctrines. This second group includes Wesleyans, Methodists, Charismatics and some Baptists. This belief contends that salvation is not lost by committing sin, but a person who lives in sin or turns from the faith loses his salvation. This position finds support in passages like Hebrews 2:1, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip”; Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame”; and Galatians 5:4, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” The warnings in these passages against falling from grace or letting truth slip seem to indicate that a Christian can lose his salvation.

The third view is held by many Baptists and those who believe Calvinistic doctrines. The third view is called eternal security and it denies that those who are truly saved can ever lose their salvation. A minority of those who hold this view believe anyone who prays a prayer for salvation is saved forever, no matter if they continue to live in sin or later deny Jesus. The majority who hold this third view believe those who are saved are secure in their salvation and genuine salvation is accompanied by a changed life. Because of James 2:17 they insist a prayer or confession of faith not accompanied by a transformed life is not truly saving faith. Scriptures upholding the doctrine of eternal security include John 10:28-29, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

Despite the presence of passages that would seem to teach otherwise, the New Testament is clear and consistent in its teaching about salvation. The saved are saved forever. Salvation can never be lost. The Christian is secure in salvation because no part of it is accomplished by the person. Jesus has done everything necessary to save those who believe. The book of Hebrews is often cited as proof that salvation can be lost, but it is not. Hebrews is an awesome explanation of the supremacy of Jesus. He is greater than angels, Moses, the priests, the law and the sacrifices. Because Jesus is infinitely better, the salvation He gives is sufficient and eternally secure for all who will believe. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)

Are there contradictions in the Bible?

The Bible claims to be free from all error. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect.” Psalm 12:6 says, “The words of the Lord are pure words.” Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is pure.” Since the Bible claims to be perfect, the reader has a right to expect Scripture to be correct in every matter it addresses and to be consistent with its own teachings. If the Bible contradicts itself, then it is not what it claims to be.

The reader’s presuppositions about the Bible play a major role in evaluating the apparent contradictions in Scripture. Those who accept the claims of the Bible as true or plausible will examine apparent discrepancies with a willingness to accept reasonable answers. Those who absolutely refuse to accept the Bible’s claim will be quick to find contradictions where there are none and deny the validity of plausible answers.

The answers to many of the apparent contradictions are not intended to be undeniable proofs. They are plausible explanations that show passages which appear to contradict each other can be reasonably understood in a way that is not contradictory.

Many of the apparent contradictions are differences of detail or differences in the author’s perspective. In the gospel of Mark Jesus mentions a rooster crowing twice, but the other gospels only speak of the rooster crowing. The specific number in Mark does not contradict the more general accounts. Jesus did not say the rooster would crow only once. The specific does not necessarily contradict the general, nor does a greater number exclude a lesser. Did Jesus heal two blind men in Jericho or just one? Though Matthew says two, the other gospels only mention one. Any child knows that if Jesus healed two blind men, he must have also healed one blind man. (Matthew 20:30; Mark 10:46)

Some apparent contradictions are actually two different but similar events. The Beatitudes of Luke 6 and Matthew 5 are described as being given “in the plain” (Luke 6:17) and on “a mountain.” (Matthew 5:1) This is no contradiction. Luke 6 describes a later event than Matthew 5 in which Jesus repeated a portion of the message he had preached in the Sermon on the Mount.

Some differences are explained by differences of the particulars being discussed. When David bought the threshing floor from Ornan, 2 Samuel says he paid 50 shekels and 1 Chronicles says he paid 600. Further reading in these passages reveals 2 Samuel specifies that David paid 50 shekels for the oxen and threshing floor, while 1 Chronicles says David paid 600 shekels for “the place.” 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles are describing the transaction differently. 2 Samuel tells of his purchase of the oxen and threshing floor and 1 Chronicles includes his purchase of the land surrounding the threshing floor.

Some differences are explainable by a different truth being taught. One of the most confusing apparent contradictions in the Bible is that between the books of Romans and James. The apostle Paul says justification is given “to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him.” but James says, “By works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” These two statements seem to be unreconcilable. Yet, reading the statements in their context it becomes evident the apostles are talking about two different things. Paul is describing the means by which a man receives justification. James is discussing the evidence of justification. The statements are not contradictory but complimentary.

A few contradictions can be traced to scribal error. The scribes who copied the text of Scripture took great pains to avoid any mistakes. The manuscript evidence shows they were incredibly accurate copyists, but some errors did creep in. For example, 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles record different numbers for Solomon’s horses. Though one passage says 4,000 and the other 40,000, the difference between the words for these numbers in Hebrew is very small, similar to the difference between four thousand and forty thousand in English. A scribe could easily misread the number, or a flaw in the manuscript could obscure the number.

A detailed analysis of every apparent contradiction in the Bible is not possible in this post. Excellent discussions of Bible contradictions are available online and in Christian books. A thoughtful reading of Scripture will readily provide reasonable answers to the supposed contradictions in the text. The Christian can have confidence the Bible is accurate in all it teaches. “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.” (Psalm 119:140)

Should a Christian be baptized a second time?

Every so often a Christian asks this Baptist pastor about being rebaptized. At times the desire for a second baptism is in response to a time of backsliding. A believer may have repented after a period of living in sin and desires to be baptized as a show of their renewed commitment to the Lord. The desire to show their return to the Lord is praiseworthy, but this kind of baptism misunderstands the purpose of baptism.

Jesus gave two ordinances to the church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The command to observe the Lord’s Supper included the need to do so “often.” “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) The record of Acts and 1 Corinthians indicates the church observed the Lord’s Supper as part of their Sunday gatherings. (1 Corinthians 11:21-26) The Lord’s Supper was repeatedly observed by all Christians.

Jesus commanded the twelve disciples to baptize every one who believes. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19) The book of Acts shows how the apostles obeyed this command. Those who believed the gospel of Jesus were baptized and added to the church. The New Testament church treated baptism as the initial sign of faith in Christ. Baptism was the way new believers told the church and their neighbors that they were followers of Jesus. Because salvation is received once and baptism is a testimony of salvation received, baptism was not repeated over and over again. There is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:5)

However, some situations require the rebaptism of a believer. Because baptism is the public testimony which proclaims a new believers salvation, any baptism that took place before conversion is not Christian baptism. A person baptized as an infant is unable to believe Jesus, receive His salvation or confess Him as Lord. Those baptized as infants should be baptized after salvation. A person who professes salvation, is baptized, but later becomes convinced his earlier profession of faith was not genuine should be baptized again. Anyone baptized before salvation should be baptized again following his conversion.

One danger of multiple baptisms is they may encourage the beliefs that baptism provides some special grace, washes away sin or gives the person a spiritual power boost. Baptism does none of those things. Baptism is the loving response of the Christian to his Savior. No act of obedience, however important, gains for the Christian a special measure of grace or additional spiritual power. The only grace in obedience is the grace of God which enables the believer to obey. A Christian who has made a public profession of faith through baptism gains no benefit from a second baptism. A sinning believer who desires to show the genuineness of his change can do so by a public confession of sin and acknowledgment of repentance. No other baptism is needed.

Enjoy Life

In May the pastor’s roundtable began to discuss the book of Ecclesiastes. We will be recording a total of six conversations about this book. The roundtable discussion airs the last Sunday of the month on WRUP 92.7 FM. As part of the discussion of Ecclesiastes, Pastor Chambers’ sermon on the same part of Ecclesiastes will air the following Sunday. You can listen to both broadcasts below.

August 25 Pastor’s Roundtable

Pastor Dave Chambers
Pastor Joe Herr
Pastor Tom Schierkolk
Pastor Dave Ryerson
Pastor Dave Sexton

September 1 Radio Show
Live Wisely

Pastor Dave Chambers

Can Someone Get Saved from Reading a Bad Bible Translation?

Anyone shopping for a new Bible is likely to be overwhelmed by the choices available today. The bewildering array of translations, all cryptically encoded behind letter trios, is enough to confuse even a seasoned pastor. When one is forced to choose between acronyms like KJV, NKJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, HCSB, ASV, ATV, ABC, QUV, WWE, the letters soon become a meaningless jumble.

Despite the challenges, sorting through the jargon to select a good translation is important. Not all versions are translated equal. Some translators did their job poorly. Some translators included too much of their own interpretations. Some translators intentionally distorted the meaning of key verses. Can a person find the gospel in a bad translation?

Consider the worst case scenario. An individual in a cult reads the cult’s version of the Bible translated by members of the cult with little training in Greek or Hebrew. The translators intentionally change the text to undermine key Biblical truths, such as the deity of Jesus. Yet, even when incompetent heretics mangle the words of God, gospel truths are such a major part of the Bible they can never be entirely removed. Thomas Jefferson produced a highly edited version of the New Testament in which he attempted to cut out the Divinity of Jesus and all description of miracles. Yet, the gospel is still present. The Jesus Seminar voted to remove from the gospels everything they thought was myth. But they could not erase the gospel. The saving truths of the gospel so fill Scriptures that removing all gospel truths is nearly impossible. A Bible without the gospel could not rightly be called a Bible since it would be little more than two leather covers and a bookmark.

A person can be saved from a bad translation. The Bible itself contains evidence of the power of the gospel even when communicated by an inferior translation. At times Jesus and the apostles quoted from the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint (today it has its own confusing three letter acronym, LXX). This translation was inferior to other texts available at the time. Jesus certainly knew the Septuagint was not the best translation, but He quoted from it any way. He quoted it as the Word of God. He quoted it expecting His hearers to believe and obey it as Scripture. Christians ought to have a translation that accurately communicates the inspired words written by Paul, Moses and others, but we need not fear that a weak translation is going to damn a soul to hell. The Holy Spirit is able to convict men of sin and show them their need of a Savior even when the truth of His Word has been obscured by the failures of men.

A bad translation may create confusion in the mind of the reader. A bad translation may require the soul winner take more time to explain key elements of the gospel. A poor translation may make sharing the gospel more challenging, but never let a bad translation stop you from sharing the gospel. Keep witnessing. The Word of God is alive and powerful. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Is cussing a sin?

Recently President Trump gained attention for publicly taking the Lord’s name in vain and for frequently using profanity. Observers have noted the increased willingness of public figures to use profanity in forums where it was once considered impolite to use foul language . This trend is a reflection of the widespread use of profanity in American culture. A Christian cannot avoid hearing cuss words, but should he use them? Many Christians lerned to cuss long before they ever heard the gospel. Should they be expected to go through the trouble of breaking that habit?

The Bible does not include a list of prohibited words. Since the Bible does not forbid any specific words, can anyone really say the Bible forbids cussing? According to Scripture, the way  a person speaks matters a great deal. What a person says reflects who they really are. “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34) The things we say have a significant effect on others. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

Scripture forbids the Christian to engage in any corrupt communication. Corrupt speech is like a rotten apple. It is useful for nothing and could cause harm if consumed. Cussing is useless speech that is hurtful to others. Most cuss words fall into two categories: curse and profanity. A curse is wishing ill upon someone. One common curse is a command for someone to depart to infernal regions. Should the Christian state a desire for someone to be damned, or wish them to go to hell? Isn’t such a statement the opposite of Christian compassion, the great commission and Christlikeness?

Profanity is that which attempts to corrupt or belittle with the mouth. Often these words are scatological or sexual in nature. Specific examples need not be given. Those who have heard them used know these words are used in a fashion which intends to destroy, defile or demean.

Recent decades have seen some American preachers take up the habit of cussing in the pulpit. Thankfully the fad has lost momentum, but those who engage in this despicable practice have defended their speech by pointing out that the apostle Paul cussed. This is simply not true. The epistles of Paul do not contain one single equivalent of a Greek cuss word. One supposed example of Paul’s using foul language is in Philippians 3:8, “I do count them but dung.” Paul is making a strong point, but is he using profanity? The Greek literature from that era has             numerous examples of the word Paul used. Not once is it portrayed as profanity or foul language. Paul used the proper term to describe filth, including human waste. Other supposed examples could be given, but when the words Paul used are examined in light of how they were used and understood in his day they can not be construed as cuss words. Some are strong. Some are harsh. None are profanity.

Because what we say matters. The Christian ought to speak words that “minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) To use profanities and curses is to speak of things which ought not be spoken of (Ephesians 5:3-4) and to trivilize matters of eternal importance. Cussing is the opposite of gracious speech tht edifies the hearer.

From the wisdom of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, to the warnings of Jesus,   to the instructions of Paul and the rebuke of James, Scripture consistently teaches that a Christian’s speech ought to be different. It must be careful, gracious, wise and helpful speech that builds up. Profanities and curses do not meet this standard.