Thursday, October 16, 2014

How does "Inspiration" work? What does it mean?

In (2 Timothy 3:16-17) the Apostle Paul makes a huge claim regarding the importance of Scripture. He states, 
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”.
Inspiration Defined
The New Testament was a originally written in the Greek language. The Greek word for “inspired” in this passage is the√≥pneustos. The√≥pneustos is a compound word that contains theos (the word for God) and pneo (the word for breath). The simplest way to define this term is that inspiration means “God breathed”. This is the way the NIV and the ESV translate this passage. 

When one is reading the Bible they can trust that what they are reading is not the words of men, but the words of God through men. This is what Peter means in (1 Peter 1:20-21).
“knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”
This does not mean that God restricted human activity in order to have them pen exactly what He wanted, but instead He utilized their own styles, abilities and personalities to create Scripture as He saw fit. God enabled and empowered in order to have written exactly what He wanted. Geisler and Nix in their book A General Introduction to the Bible, articulated it this way,
Inspiration is that mysterious process by which the divine causality worked through the human prophets without destroying their individual personalities and styles to produce divinely authoritative and inerrant writings (39).
Although some use the word “inspired” in reference to motivation to paint or write, (such as a singer being inspired by a life event to write a particular song), in the biblical sense,  inspiration means “God breathed”. Inspiration is how God was able to use people to create HIS message for mankind. Inspiration is the important link in the chain from God to man.

By Cliff Sabroe

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who is “The Angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament?

For many generations people have pondered the identity of “The Angel of the Lord (sometimes referred to as “The Angel of God”). We are first introduced to this person in Genesis 16:7-14.
“Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.” Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.”The angel of the LORD said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. “He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.” Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered”.
Immediately after being introduced to “The Angel of the Lord” one finds that he is strikingly different from most angels. He tells Hagar “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count”. Angels do not usually have the ability to multiply one’s descendants. It is possible that he is just bringing a message from God, but he presents the message as if it is his own. 

If he is the Lord, he may be speaking of himself in third person, but it would seem odd if he was. Hagar calls him “Lord” and “God”, and believes that she should be dead for seeing Him. She then said to the One who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”.

This writer is of the conclusion that “The Angel of the Lord” is Deity and possibly the pre-incarnate Jesus.

The Angel of the Lord possesses the characteristics of Deity. “The Angel of the Lord” spoke as God.
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:15-18).
“Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ “He said, ‘Lift up now your eyes and see that all the male goats which are mating are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. ‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’” (Genesis 31:11-13).

The Angel of the Lord accepted Worship

Throughout Scripture, one is taught that they should not worship men or angels, but only God. In fact, angels usually refuse worship as in (Revelation 22:8-9).
 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” 
The command is always to only “worship God”. Even Jesus said “You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve”. It is very clear from Scripture that only God is deserving of worship.

Although the “Angel of the Lord” is called an “angel”, he accepted and received worship. The Angel of the Lord is worshiped in (Joshua 5:13-6:2), and in (Judges 6:19-27).

The Angel of the Lord addressed the entire nation

Usually in the Bible, angels will speak to groups or individuals, but it is God who speaks to nations. There are a few occasions where “The Angel of the Lord” addressed the entire nation.
“Now the angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you, and as for you, you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done? “Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.’” When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. So they named that place Bochim; and there they sacrificed to the LORD”. (Judges 2:1-5).
In this passage “The Angel of the Lord” rebukes the ENTIRE Nation of Israel. Angels often bring messages, but never one’s of this magnitude to all of Israel. What is also striking about this passage is the fact that he claims to be the creator of the covenant and the one who brought them out of Egypt. If that is not “God”, who is?

The overwhelming evidence is that “The Angel of the Lord” is Deity. What part of the Godhead is up for debate, but there seems to be evidence to the idea that “The Angel of the Lord” is actually the pre-incarnate, pre-existing Christ. Especially when one considers that all the appearances of The Angel of the Lord cease after the incarnation.

1Corinthians 10:4 states “and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ”. If the spiritual rock in the wilderness was Christ prior to when He came in the flesh, there is a good possibility that “The Angel of the Lord” is Christ too.

Ultimately, the word “angel” simply means “messenger”. A messenger that brings a message from God, speaks as God, and is worshipped like God, must be God.

By Cliff Sabroe

What is gluttony? Why is it a sin? How should we view food?

In this post questions about overeating and gluttony will be answered as we examine the topic of “The Bible and Food”.

Food is a Blessing
  • (Matthew 6:11) “Give us today our daily bread”.
  • (Matthew 6:31) “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’”.
  • (Exodus 16) - Manna was from Heaven.
  • (James 1:17) “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above”.
  • (1 Timothy 4:3-4)“...foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving ... For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving”.

Food Can Be a Curse
We were all created with a physical appetite. Our appetite is a good thing, but like any “natural desire” it is a problem if we are controlled by it. (2 Peter 1:6-7) states, 
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control...”
What is Gluttony? (The Sin Nobody wants to Talk About)
Gluttony is "the habitual gorging of food and drink”. It is characterized by overeating with a complete lack of self-control. 

What does the Bible say about Gluttony?
“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” (Pro. 23:20-21)
“He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” (Pro. 28:7)
“One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." (Titus 1:12).
Gluttony is not being overweight. (You can be skinny and enslaved to food or overweight and not). It is not eating a big meal (like thanksgiving), for even Jesus participated in feasts. It is not eating certain types of food (like junk food or fast food). Gluttony is being controlled by your appetite, to the point where you no longer have self-control when it comes to your food.

Food is a great blessing from God, but it can also be a curse if we allow it to lead us to the sin of gluttony. Let us make sure we are the ones in control and not our appetites.
Do a self-evaluation. Could you give up food if needed? Do you find your life enslaved to constant (not occasional) food cravings? There are no verses that state it is a sin to not have a certain BMI, to enjoy food or even eat big meals or junk food. Christians, however, should be characterized by self-control in all areas of their lives.

By Cliff Sabroe

Who was Mary Magdalene? Was she the Woman Caught in Adultery in (John 8)? Was she the sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet in (Luke 7)?

Throughout history there has been speculation about the woman called “Mary Magdalene”. Sadly, because of the different theories, many have formed false ideas about this Biblical character. Here is what the Bible teaches us about Mary Magdalene.

She is from Magdala (Luke 8:2)
The term Magdalene means “one from Magdala”. Magdala was a fishing village on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. 

Jesus cured her of evil spirits 
“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out” (Luke 8:1-2). 
“Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons” (Mark 16:9)
She witnessed the crucifixion 
“Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Matthew 27:55-56)
She stayed by the tomb after the crucifixion
“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb” (Matthew 27:61).
An Angel appeared to her after the resurrection
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen...” (Matthew 28:1-6)
She was one of the first to see the risen Jesus
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic,b “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)
Besides a few other parallel passages, this is all the Bible reveals about Mary. She should not be supposed to be the Woman caught in adultery in John 8, nor the sinner who anointed Jesus’ feet in John 7. She was one of the earliest followers of Jesus, her dedication is admirable and legacy lives on through Scripture. 

Quotes from NASB and ESV Bibles
By Cliff Sabroe

Who is Lucifer?

“Lucifier” is a term that is often applied to the Devil. Is “Lucifer” Satan? Why doesn’t my Bible use the term “Lucifer”?

“Lucifer” in our English Bibles
The word “Lucifer” is found only in the King James Version of the Bible in (Isaiah 14:12). The passage reads,
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12 KJV).
As mentioned, the King James Version is the only English translation that uses this term, in other translations it is rendered “morning star, son of the dawn!” (NIV), “O Day Star, son of Dawn!” (ESV), “O star of the morning, son of the dawn!” (NASB) and “O day-star, son of the morning!” (ASV).

Background and Definition
The word used in this passage is the Hebrew term “helel”, which literally means “star of the morning” as translated by the NASB. When the King James Bible was formed in the 1600’s, the translators employed the Latin term “Lucifer”  which also means “light bearer” or “morning star” which is most likely in reference to the planet Venus.

The word “Lucifer” is not a good translation, nor even a transliteration of the Hebrew term. All of the more accurate versions of the Bible since the KJV have corrected this error.

Who is “Lucifer” or “The Morning Star”?
The idea that “Lucifer” is the name of the Devil in (Isaiah 14:12), comes from a misunderstanding of what the prophet Isaiah is discussing. In (14:4) the reader will note that the audience of this declaration is “the King of Babylon” (possibly Nebuchadnezzar). The Babylonian Kings thought very highly of themselves. They would have thought they were great like the “star of the morning”, but they were no match for the power of God. God who is above all the stars and the heavens has the power to destroy even the most powerful kings. For Isaiah writes in verses 22-23 of the same chapter,
“I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and survivors, offspring and posterity,” declares the LORD. I will also make it a possession for the hedgehog and swamps of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts:” 
Lucifer is the Latin word for “morning star” which in the context of Isaiah 14 is in reference to the King of Babylon and not the Devil.

By Cliff Sabroe

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

May a Woman lead a prayer in a public assembly of the church?

Women often have a very dedicated and active prayer life. Throughout Scripture you have numerous examples of women praying. God expects women to pray all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The church would be in a dire situation if women stopped praying. 

What about in a mixed assembly of the church? Although, men and women often have roles that overlap, in the assembly, God wants men to step up and take the lead. Notice what the Apostle Paul writes the young preacher Timothy in (1 Timothy 2:8-12),
Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. (NASB).
Also, in the letter to the Corinthians, the Scriptures state
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. (1 Corinthians 14:34)
This is not to say that a woman may not talk in the church. Women are to sing, say “amen” and actively participate, but they are not to be the ones who we would commonly refer to as “the speaker” in the assembly of the church.

In the church God has outlined distinctive gender roles for men and women. One role is not superior to another. When it comes to leading in the assembly and addressing the audience through teaching and prayer, God’s plan is for men to take the lead.

By Cliff Sabroe
Scripture Quotes from NASB95

Do I have to say “In Jesus’ Name” at the end of my prayers?

I was always taught that at the end of my prayers I need to say “in the name of Jesus” or some other equivalent statement. If you do a quick internet search, you will find that others were taught the same. The question needs to be asked, “Does the Bible teach it is a requirement to say ‘in Christ’s name’ at the end of our prayers?

What does “in the name of Jesus” mean?
This phrase is not a magic formula, instead it is a statement of authority. When we engage in Christian behavior, it is not by our own authority but Christ’s. A police officer may say “Stop in the name of the law!”. The officer is saying that by the authority of the law, an individual needs to obey him. Does an officer always need to say “in the name of the law”? No, it is understood that the authority of a Policeman comes from the law, whether they say it or not.

Stanley Hauerwas of Duke Divinity School articulates it in this way,
"Christians always pray in Jesus' name, because that's the only way we pray. That is to say, from a biblical perspective, to pray in Jesus' name is to pray in his authority seeking his agenda and purpose. That doesn't have anything to do with whether we say the words 'in Jesus' name' at the end of our prayer or not. In fact, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, in what we call the Lord's prayer, he didn't teach us to pray saying 'in Jesus' name' or 'in my name' at the end of the prayer. That's a fine tradition for us, because it reminds us that we are in fact praying in Jesus name, but whether or not we say those words has nothing to do with whether we're actually praying in Jesus' name or not." (1)
Many things we do are said to be in Jesus’ name.
  • In (Matthew 18:2) Jesus speaks of being gathered “in My name”. 
  • In (Mark 9:37) He said to receive a child “in My name”. 
  • In (Mark 9:41) He speaks of giving a cup of cold water “in My name”. 
  • (John 1:12) says that we have the right to become children of God when we believe “in His name”. 
  • (John 20:31) says that by believing we “have life in His name”.
In fact, Colossians 3:17 states that “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus...”. No one would assume that you have state “In Jesus name” before you give someone a cup of cold water or that every time you receive a child you must do it “in His name”. 

It is a biblical practice to say “In Jesus name” while praying, however, it is not a requirement. At times our prayers may be a simple “thank you” or “help me”. Just because one does not actually state “in Jesus name I pray”, does not mean that their prayers are without the authority or support of Jesus.

By Cliff Sabroe
Image from