Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why is my new Bible missing verses?

First off, don’t worry, you have not fallen victim to some massive Bible destroying conspiracy. There are basically two different families of English translations. You have the King James Version/ New King James Version and on the other side you have the English Standard Version, New American Standard Version, the NIV and others. All of these versions are fairly accurate translations, although some are more accurate than others.

As archaeological discoveries are made we are able to find older and older manuscripts. It is assumed that the older the manuscript, the more accurate to the original it is. When the King James Bible was formed the manuscripts the translators used were not as old as the ones that formed the New American Standard Bible and others. Over time when copying by hand verse endings may have been added or footnotes may have been mistakingly copied as part of the text. This is why you will sometimes see verses in one Bible and not in another. It is not that the newer versions took them out, but that as older manuscripts are found, we discover a more accurate rendering of a passage. 

None of these variant passages are significant when it comes to doctrine. Even with the differences, there are no key teachings removed or added, and in the grand scope of Scripture they prove to be very insignificant. You will notice that in your Bible usually there will be a footnote explaining why a verse is not in your particular translation. For example in (Acts 8:37) you may see a note saying “NU, M omit v. 37. It is found in Western Texts including the latin tradition” (Nelson NKJV).

The translators of our English Bibles are very transparent when it comes to why a verse is removed or added. It can be a very rewarding study to research the origin of our different English Bibles. 

By Cliff Sabroe
Image from TheBlaze. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What does baptism do? Why do Christians baptize? Should I be baptized too?

There are many verses in the Bible that mention baptism.  Below you will find a few passages and an explanation of what they teach:
  • Mark 16:16 - "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned"  - Baptism is necessary for salvation.
  • Acts 2:38 - "Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" - Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. 
  • Galatians 3:27 - "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" - Baptism clothes us with Christ.
  • Romans 6:3-4 - "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" - Baptism puts us in Christ.
  • 1 Peter 3:21 - "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience-- through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"Baptism saves us through the resurrection of Jesus. 
  • Acts 2:41 - "So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls." - At Baptism God adds you to the church.
  • Acts 22:16 - "Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name." - Baptism is how one "calls upon the Lord" for salvation and has their sins washed away.
  • Baptism is necessary for one to be in Christ, receive grace, be saved and be added to the church. Baptism is how one asks God to save them. 
  • A person must trust in Jesus' redemptive work on the cross to be saved. Baptism is how we do that. Baptism replicates Jesus' death, burial and resurrection.
  • God justifies the one being baptized by His grace. 
  • Baptism is not a work by which we earn our salvation, but instead it is an appeal to God for the salvation He offers. 
By Cliff Sabroe
Scripture references from NASB and ESV. Image from ourimgs.com

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is it a sin to smoke weed? What does the Bible say about using other drugs? Can a Christian Get High? What if it is legal?

This question was answered during the West Visalia Church of Christ 2015 Youth Forum. 

Here in California it is common to see “Medical Marijuana Dispensaries” or corner medical clinics advertising “Medical Marijuana Cards”. As with most narcotics, when used under the close observation of a legitimate doctor they probably can meet a medical need. For example Vicodin is commonly prescribed for pain. If used properly it can provide relief to a patient recovering from an injury, however, it is commonly abused too. Although there is still an ongoing debate about its use, Marijuana could probably meet a medical need, however, some “Medical Marijuana” users are not taking it for medicinal needs, but instead just to get high.

The question under consideration is not the legitimate medicinal usage of drugs, but instead, is it okay for a Christian to recreationally use drugs for the purpose of being stoned? What does the Bible say?

1. Christians must obey the law.
  • (Romans 13:1) “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities”. 
  • Most illicit drug use is against the law in this country. For a person to use an illegal drug or even prescription medication in a way other than its intended purpose is violating the law and sinning. 
2. Christians are to have good self-control.
  • (Proverbs 25:28) “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls”.
  • (Galatians 5:22-23) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law”.
  • (1 Peter 4:7) “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers”.
    • When a person is under the influence of drugs whether cocaine, pot or even alcohol, their inhibitions are lowered and they are in less control of their actions.  God wants us to be “sober minded” and to be in control of ourselves. If a person is high, they are more likely to sin. 
    • Our task as Christians is to live pure lives and make good choices. Many times people do things while on drugs that they normally would not do. When stoned, a person’s judgement is impaired and harm may befall them and others because of their intoxication.
    • Another point to consider in regards to “self-control” is the addictive properties of most drugs. It is easy to become dependent and addicted to most drugs. 
    • Although some drugs might not be physically addicting, the feelings of euphoria  and temporary pleasure associated with their use can be. Many times a person becomes dependent upon drugs to get through stress, relax or even just function on a daily basis. God is to be our master, but when addicted to drugs we are often servants of a “high” and not our Savior.
3. Sorcery and Witchcraft in the Bible 
  • (Galatians 5:19-20) “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions...”.
  • (Revelation 21:8) “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
    • There is a good possibility that drug use was associated with the sorcery mentioned in the Bible and that the so-called “spells” that people implemented were actually the affects of ancient drugs.
    • Concerning this point the Christian Courier writes: 
      • The Greek word, pharmakeia (Gal. 5:20) derives from the term pharmakon. The original term had to do with “medicine” (like an ointment), or “a potion,” whether for good (as used by a physician), or for “evil” (as in the administration of poison). The term could signify a drug. Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, tells of a man named Arcesilaus, who “fell sick,” and while “under the influence of a drug [pharmakon] which he had taken, was strangled” by one of his own brothers (IV.160). With the passing of time, the term came to be associated with pagan ceremonies, sometimes in connection with the use of drugs. The term could simply take on the sense of charm, spell, incantation, or enchantment (Liddell & Scott, Greek-English Lexicon,1741)....In principle, the term might well apply today to those who use drugs as mind-altering substances for recreational (or even religious) purposes. (Jackson).
    • Although there are other sins associated with sorcery (pagan and idolatrous worship, the occult etc.), it seems that drug use (whether personal or in attempt to poison others) may have been inferred when discussing the sin of “sorcery”.
4. Drunkenness is a sin.
  • (Ephesians 5:18) “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery...”.
  • (1 Corinthians 6:10) “Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”.
    • In numerous passages in the Bible being drunk is condemned. Why is this? Because when intoxicated, one no longer has “self-control” (see point #2). (Proverbs 20:1) “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise”.
    • Without a doubt, it should be assumed that the mind altering state drugs produce would be sinful just like “drunkenness”. In the same way that alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment, drugs do as well.
  • Many of the plants created in nature or chemicals created by man are not inherently good nor evil. There are legitimate medical uses for many of the drugs in use today and there is also a great opportunity for abuse.
  • The Bible does not condemn medicine, in fact Paul told Timothy to “use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23). Legal Doctor prescribed drug use for a legitimate condition would NOT be in violation of Scripture. (Although one should still be cautions with medicine that alters judgement, mood or can be addicting).
  • Using drugs in order to chase a buzz, forget problems, get high or just “feel good” is not only usually against the law, but would also be against the teachings of Scripture.
Post by Cliff Sabroe - Scripture Quotes from ESV Bible. 
Christian Courier. Wayne Jackson - https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/473-does-galatians-5-20-condemn-the-use-of-all-drugs 

Should a Christian take communion alone when they cannot assemble with the local church?

Jesus wants us to remember Him through the Lord's Supper (Communion/Eucharist). What about the times when you can't make it to church? Does He want us to take it by ourselves? Is there more to communion than just eating bread and drinking grape juice? These questions and more are answered this week on the Bible Answer Show
Listen to the audio here

Monday, September 14, 2015

Is it a sin to judge? Please explain Matthew 7:1.

One passage of Scripture that both Christians and non-Christians are familiar with is (Matthew 7:1). It reads “Do not judge so that you will not be judged”. This article is going to answer four questions regarding this passage.
  1. What is the context of (Matthew 7:1)?
  2. Is judging always sinful?
  3. When is judging wrong?
  4. When is judging allowed?
What is the context of Matthew 7:1?
This verse falls in the middle of Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”. The main idea of this sermon is found in (Matthew 5:20) which states “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”. The scribes and Pharisees would often bind heavy burdens on people, judge them hypocritically and condemn sinful actions while they themselves were guilty of sinful attitudes and thoughts. The Pharisees would often hold people to a standard that not even they could keep. When you observe the verses following the 7:1 this becomes more clear. 
“For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye”.
Jesus’ statement is intended to be absurd. The illustration is of one trying to remove a splinter out of another’s eye while have a large beam protruding from their own. This is how the Pharisees and scribes carried themselves. They were so concerned about the sins in everyone else’s lives that they could never see the giant sins in their own.

Is judging always sinful?
Got expects us to make what we would refer to as “judgment calls”. He also at times requires us to notice and deal with the sins in another’s life. The idea of approaching a person when they are sinning does go against our normal feelings of “mind your own business”, but as Christians, we are to help others leave sin and follow Christ. At times, to help a person out of a sinful situation you must “judge” a behavior as wrong. In the following passages it will be observed that “judging” is a requirement.
  • “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.“So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:18-20)
  • "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)
  • “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1)
  • "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother” (Matthew 18:15).
In all these passages we are told to identify sin in the lives of others. This is not to be done in a mean or cruel way, but nevertheless a person must “judge” in these situations.

When is judging wrong?
According to Matthew chapter 7,judging would be wrong if it is done hypocritically, we must first remove the “plank from our own eye”. Judging another is also sinful when a persons intentions are being doubted or if a conclusion is drawn solely by the appearance of another (just because a person “looks like a sinner” does not mean they are). When we make judgments that God would not make we are sinning. Another point to consider is that we must make sure we are not passing judgment in a boastful or ungodly way (if our ego is inflated through passing judgment on another we are sinning). 

When is judging allowed?
We can pass judgment if it is done in a godly way with godly intentions. At times we have to confront a person in sin and identify sin in their life. This is acceptable if it is done in a loving way. If you are going to judge, make sure you judge in the same way that you would want to be judged; make sure that your standard of consistent judgment is the Word of God.

God is final judge in all things, only He can be a completely righteous judge. Remember, you are not God! God judges man according to His standard, the Bible. If we allow God’s Word to judge the actions of another as sinful, in a loving and godly way, that is acceptable. Just always be sure to make sure you consistently apply God’s Word to yourself and not just others. 

By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NASB95 Bible

Friday, September 11, 2015

Can you explain Hebrews 13:17? Does it mean I have to do whatever a church leader says?

Hebrews 13:17 states,
“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (NASB). 
This passage is often used to promote the idea of total obedience to church leaders (such as Elders or Bishops). In some religious circles it is used as a proof-text for Pastoral Rule in a church. Is this what the passage is teaching? This post will ask a few questions of this verse in an attempt to better understand and apply its teachings.

Who are the “leaders”?
Scripture is its own best interpreter. Many form the conclusion from this passage that the “leaders” by necessity must be “elders”, but is that conclusion warranted? Previously in this same section of Scripture, the Hebrew writer declares, 
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7 NASB).
The leaders in 13:17 are the same as those who “led” in verse 7. The leaders in verse 7 are those who “spoke the word of God to you”. The Hebrew Christians needed to go back to what they were taught. They needed to remember these good leaders (whether, elders, apostles, preachers or teachers) and consider the “result of their conduct” and “imitate their faith”.  

These godly leaders had taught the Truth, and were living the Truth. The Hebrew Christians needed to follow what they were taught by them. If they didn’t, they would run the risk of being “carried away by varied and strange teachings”  (13:9 NASB).

These godly leaders cared about these Christians, in fact, the Hebrew writer states in verse 17 that they “keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account”. A person who speaks the Word of God to another is watching out for that person’s soul, and will give an account for what they are teaching and how they are living. This would include elders, but there is nothing in this passage that would exclude other teachers of Scripture such as apostles or preachers.

What does it mean to “obey”?
This term often causes confusion and results in false ideas. The English term “obey” is very strong. When employed, images of kings and dictators often come to mind. No other passage of Scripture paints church leaders as rulers who must always be “obeyed”. Is this what this verse is teaching?

The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek word translated “obey” in verse 17 is peitho. This writer is of the conclusion that “obey” is NOT an accurate translation of peitho in this section of Scripture. Most lexicons give the possible definitions of “persuade”, “convince”, “trust” and even “obey”. The student of God's Word must determine what definition is the most accurate for verse 17? Remember, Scripture is its own best interpreter and usage determines meaning. We must ask, how is the word peitho used in Scripture?

There is an abundance of New Testament passages that contain this term. In the NASB, most of the passages translate the word peitho as “persuaded”. However, different books are written by different authors and one Bible writer may use a term differently from another. 

When trying to determine the definition of a term, it is best to look at its usage in the passage and book under consideration. In the book of Hebrews, the word peitho is used  4 times (2:13, 6:9, 13:17,1 18). To the Bible student, the verse that should stand out immediately is 13:18 because it is in the same passage as the verse under consideration. In our English Bibles it is easy to miss that the same term is being used. In the NASB, Hebrews 13:18 reads,
“Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things” (Hebrews 13:18).
The word peitho in verse 18 is translated as “sure”. We are wise to assume that if a term is used in back to back verses, that its meaning is not going to change. In verse 18, the Hebrew writer states that they are “sure” that they have a good conscience. If translated as “persuaded”, “convinced”,  or “trust” in verse 18, it would still convey the same idea, but “obey” would not!

To better understand the term peitho in verse 17, we must look at peitho in verse 18. When putting these two verses together, along with the other times this term is used in the book (2:13, 6:9), it is clear that “obey” is NOT the definition the Hebrew writer had in mind.


Hebrews 13:17 is not a verse about blindly obeying elders. Instead it is a passage that exhorts the reader to follow the Word of God as taught by godly leaders. We need to be persuaded by, and trust those who are teaching us the Word of God. When the Word is taught, we need to submit to it and understand that our teachers are watching out for our souls. If we do not follow the teaching of godly leaders (whether by word or example), we run the risk of being carried away by false teaching. 

By Cliff Sabroe

Is Same Sex Attraction Sinful?

What does the Bible say about "Same-Sex Attraction"?

There are certain thoughts and feelings that a person has that are often hard to understand. A socialist cannot comprehend why a person would be a capitalist and a capitalist does not understand the socialist. This idea is also true in the realm of sexual attraction. The thought of being sexually attracted to another man is considered disgusting to a man who is attracted to women. The purpose of this post is not to answer whether or not it is healthy, normal or natural to be attracted to the same sex, but whether or not it is sinful.

Homosexuality, sex before marriage, rape, adultery and bestiality are all actions that fall under the category of “sexual immorality”. Sexual immorality is a sin, and if not repented of, will cost a person their soul (Revelation 21:8, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21). Acting upon one’s immoral attraction is sinful whether it be a man having sex with a man, or a married women having sex with a man other than her husband.

This, however still does not answer the question on whether or not the attraction is sinful. One thought that sheds light on this question are the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. One would assume that this teaching would apply for same sex lust as well.

From the passages already discussed one can conclude that homosexual acts and lust are sinful, but what about the temptation to engage in homosexual behavior or homosexual attraction. Please remember, temptation to sin is not the same as sinning. In James 1:14-15 it reads 

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”. 
The temptation itself is not the sin, but when one allows that temptation to become a mental fantasy it is sinful, and when that fantasy becomes a reality, it will destroy. This would be the same for a heterosexual sinful desire as well. If a man finds a woman physically appealing he is not sinning. However, if he starts to dwell on what it would be like to be intimate with her, his thoughts have become sinful.

One person’s temptations are not the same as another’s. Some may be tempted by heterosexual sin (such as premarital sex or adultery) while others may be tempted by homosexual intimacy. Temptation is not inherently sinful, even Jesus was tempted (Hebrews 4:15). Although temptation is not sinful, one should work to no longer be tempted by various sins as they grow in Christ. The danger in not keeping ones desires under control is that the desires/temptations may grow into fantasy/lust which often will grow into action.

Lust is sinful, immorality (whether heterosexual or homosexual) is sinful, temptation, desire and attraction are not necessarily sinful, but if left unchecked, may grow into something that is.

If you are struggling with homosexual attraction (or any sin) and you find yourself wanting to engage in evil behavior, talk to someone, pray, confess your struggles to God and to close Christian friends so they can help you. Don’t allow the desire to become a fantasy in your mind or even reality through sinful action.  All of us have various sins that tempt us and all of us by God’s grace are working to overcome them.  When talking about the sins of drunkenness, homosexuality, adultery, idolatry thievery and more, the apostle Paul writes,

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). 
There is hope for all sinners in Jesus.

By Cliff Sabroe 

Quotes from NASB Bible
Image from myselfanddela - google image search 
(Sad Woman Looking Out Dark Window)