The First and Last Likeness

The Bible is filled with amazing “Firsts” and “Lasts.”

The first likeness in the Bible is Man being made in the likeness of God.

Ge 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

The last likeness in the Bible is God (in the flesh, i.e., Jesus Christ) being made in the likeness of Men:

(Speaking of Christ) Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

There are 26 other verses with likeness in-between those.

There are many such “bookends” in Scripture. This first and last likeness mirrors the fact of the first man bringing death, and Jesus bringing life (Romans 5:17, and the whole chapter), and is painted plainly here:

1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

What a wonderful “Last Thing.”

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The Path, the Light, the Faith of the Walk

Psalms 119:105  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

When walking a path in the dark with a lamp, only a few feet in front of you is lit.  There is a path all the way down, but nevertheless, that lamp only shows you a little bit in front of you.

To see what’s beyond that little bit, you have to walk forward with the light you have.

That is obedience. That is faith.

With each new step, new things are illuminated.  They were always there. Some people can see further down the path than others, but always, most of it is not visible without stepping forward in faith with the little lighted path you have.

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A Review of “Love Wins” by Rob Bell

I’ve posted a review of Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins over at av1611.com.

While I do address Bell’s distorted, unbiblical view of heaven and hell, the real issue at heart is final authority: Bell has none other than his own heart (Jer 17:9). Bell is only taking one step further than the “fundamentalist” Christians who are currently criticizing him. If we don’t believe we can hold, read, and understand the very words of God given by inspiration of God (2Ti 3:16), disregarding what God says about eternal life and eternal death comes as no surprise.

Given the fact that scholars are busy publishing one translation of the Bible after another, based on the corruptions of Bell’s hero Origen, they really have no leg to stand on when they try to correct his error.

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On my wall is a page.

On my wall is a 400 year-old page from a book.

Page from an original 1611 first edition

Page from an original 1611 first edition of the King James Bible

It is a page containing words God has seen fit to magnify above his very name. These words were printed by Robert Barker on paper made from old clothing. This page on my wall, printed with words from God, magnified by God above his name, was literally worn by someone over 400 years ago, perhaps as a shirt, some pants, or maybe this page contains the remnants of many shirts and many pants worn by many people. Those remnants were ground into paper and adorned with words given by the creator of the universe.

The words on this page were given by God to a king of Israel named David, about 2,530 years ago and about 3,485 years after God gave Adam the breath of life.

The words on this page are alive. No, you can’t tell by looking at the ink. You can’t tell by looking at the fibers of the paper, fibers that once made up clothing for English citizens over 400 years ago. But, I tell you, I testify to you, dear reader, that the words on this page are as alive as you are. I can tell when I read them. I can tell when they comfort me; console me; make me feel joy; and surely enough, I can tell that these words are alive when they convict me and show me how unworthy I am to even cast my gaze upon them.

On my wall, in a frame, is a 400 year-old page from a book.

For hundreds of years after the words on this page were given by the Holy Spirit through David, careful Hebrew scribes diligently copied each word, exactly as it appeared, being used by God to preserve them from generation to generation.

Could I have done such careful, honorable service as they, over two millennia ago? I would need parchment made of skin only of clean animals, and I would have to sew them together with string, also made from clean animals. I would have to take care not to write columns less than 48 or more than 60 lines. I would have to prepare my ink according to a strict recipe from which I could not waver. I could not use my memory, no matter if I had memorized an entire chapter or merely one line. To copy from memory would taint the entire manuscript, and I would have to destroy it. I would have to read aloud each word and each letter as I copied them, one by one, again not by memory but only by sight. When I came to the word “God,” I would then carefully set my pen down, go, and wash my entire body before I proceed. These words are living, and I know it; I must not contaminate the name of my God in my work. When my work is reviewed, one mistake on a sheet of paper would require the entire sheet to be destroyed and rewritten. Should I err three times on a page, the entire manuscript would be destroyed. In my work, I would come to the last book of Moses, and begin to copy: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it…” I tremble. When I am complete, another verifies my work, counting each letter. Should he find that I have added a letter, or left one out, or should he notice one letter touching another or not formed exactly, my work shall be for naught and I must start again.

And what of the saints since Calvary? What of the ones, like Tyndale, who were killed for merely translating the words into a common language? Could I have been as he, burned in a prison yard at the end of his earthly life after being betrayed, saying only: “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes!”

On my wall, in that frame, on that page, in letters I can still read quite clearly, and in words that sound no different than they did 400 years ago when they were translated into English, I read:

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. “

Yes, reader, the letters look a little different than they do in today’s print—a lowercase letter S looks like f, for example. But when I pronounce each word aloud, they sound exactly the same.

These words appear under the heading “P S A L. CXXXVIII”—Psalm 138. The words are from the second verse.

I sometimes wonder: are other pages of the book from which mine is taken on someone else’s wall? To whom did these words speak over the last 400 years, after they came off Robert Barker’s printing press in 1611? Surely there was some use or damage rendering other parts of the book unusable, or this page would never have been separated from the others. Who read from this page in church? Or in whose house did it sit, ready to illuminate whenever a reader desired?

How many readers in four centuries looked at the same page I look at, reading the same verse I read, amazed at just what it means that God has magnified his word above all his name?

Psalm 119:140 Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.

(Verse references: John 6:63; Romans 3:2; Psalm 12:6-7; Deuteronomy 4:2; Psalm 138:2; Psalm 119:140.)

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VerseClick Released

Over the last month, I’ve been polishing my JavaScript and PHP skills, working on a new tool I’m calling VerseClick. VerseClick is a free tool for web masters (and people with blogs) that automatically links Scripture citations and generates a pop-up of the verse, with the King James Bible text.  Clicking the reference opens a new window (at AV1611.com) with the full chapter.

This is a WordPress blog, and I have it running here (for example: Psalm 138:2; Ps 12:6-7). It only takes one line of code to add it to any web page.  Enjoy.

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Work of the Holy Spirit

I. H. Haldeman, in his book on Scripture study, has a wonderful chapter on the Holy Spirit. I just had to share this gem about the true presence of the Holy Ghost with us:

“Oh! the wonder, the joy of it, and the unspeakable glory! The Holy Spirit here! here to continue the presence of Christ to us, to make us conscious of Him, to fill us with Him till our hearts shall be as a Holy of Holies; so that we may enter in, even here, into the secret of His presence, and be glad with a great gladness.

“Thus the work of the Comforter in relation to us is subjective, in us and for us. We occupy the attitude of recipients, not of those who act, but of those who are acted upon. The Comforter will bring us into the place of power, no doubt, but power is not the objective of His work; it is peace, joy, companionship, increasing companionship. It is Jesus Himself with us, all the centuries blotted out, all the past history gone between Judea and this hour. Jesus with us, talking with us, feeding us, and every day revealing Himself to us.”

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What about “forgiving yourself?”

I was asked today what to tell someone who says that they know God has forgiven them, but they can’t “forgive themselves.”

So, I did a Bible study, looking out all of the forms of the word “forgive.”

The concept of “self-forgiveness” is not found anywhere in the Bible.

The word “forgive” and its forms (forgiveness, forgivenesses, forgiveth, and forgiving) appears 70 times in 62 verses.  It is always about someone forgiving a party who has done them wrong, or God forgiving a sin.  (Or not!) Not a single time can I find “forgiveness” to refer to someone forgiving themselves of something.

And this makes sense.

Our sins — particularly our sins against God — are for God to forgive:

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

There is no “self-forgiveness.” Believers have forgiveness in Christ, from the only one who can bestow such forgiveness.

And we are, of course, to forgive others:

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

I suppose that when someone feels the need to “forgive themselves,” and can’t, they are really experiencing unresolved guilt. To me, the answer to that is to recognize that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. Remorse is good. Holding on to guilt is not.

God forgave you. Whether or not you feel like you can forgive yourself doesn’t measure up to anything against that.

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Happy Father’s Day

Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

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The Blessing of Quietness

Quietness. It is a blessing to be desired above riches, friends, parties, and gatherings.

Isaiah 32:17-18 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife. (A house full of sacrifices is a house full of feasts of meat, as a portion of meat offerings were given to the priests. See Leviticus 2:3 and 7:31.)

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

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The Unborn have Spirits and are Alive

The Bible shows us that unborn children are just as human as the born are.

The Biblical term for pregnancy is “with child,” not “with fetus” or “with something not yet alive.”

Ge 16:11; 19:36; 38:24-25; Ex 21:22; 1Sa 4:19; 2Sa 11:5; 2Ki 8:12; 15:16; Ec 11:5; Jer 31:8; Ho 13:16; Am 1:13; Mt 1:18,23; 24:19; Mr 13:17; Lu 2:5; 21:23; 1Th 5:3; Re 12:2

“Child” begins at conception:

2 Samuel 11:5 And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child.

The Bible refers to born babies and unborn babies with the same term (babe). Also, unborn children exhibit awareness. Compare:

Luke 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

Luke 2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

The issue of the Spirit

A person must have a spirit to be alive.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

It is obvious to any who have been around pregnant women that unborn children are not “undead bodies,” so by this principle alone we know they have their own spirit. Compare this to Luke 1:44 above and the question is settled.

We also have specific and direct statements from Job:

Job 3:11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?

Job 10:18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!

In Job’s grief he did what many of us have done at some time: he “wished he had never been born.” And even in this Job knew that if he had died in his mother’s womb that he would have given up his ghost (spirit). Further, to “die” one must have life first. We also see something similar from Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 20:17-18 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?

The issue of the law (an objection answered)

There is only one passage in the Bible that deals with the death of an unborn in the context of law.

Exodus 21:22-23 If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

A misreading of this passage has caused many to conclude that unborn life is not true life, supposing that “if any mischief follow” must refer only to the mother. However, that is not the correct way to read the text, and is done so only if one has a preconceived position against life of the unborn. When the rest of Scripture is compared and the life of the unborn is understood as being a result of having a spirit (ghost), the magnitude of Exodus 21:22-23 is finally seen.

In the passage above, it is a case where men fight, and one causes hurt to a woman with child so that she delivers prematurely (her fruit departs). If either the child or the mother dies, the one who caused the death was to pay with his own life.

The objection to this hinges on what is meant by “her fruit depart from her.” But if the unborn life were not true life, it would make little sense for it to be even mentioned. The punishment for non-lethal harm is described in verses 18-19 and referenced here in verse 22. The death of the miscarried child is certainly “mischief following,” and as we have already seen, the death of an unborn child is “lethal” as it is described elsewhere with words like “die” and “slew” (see above).

Finally, the phrase “fruit of the womb” appears elsewhere in Scripture (such as De 7:13 and Ps 127:3) and means children:

Psalms 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

There is no cause to assume that “her fruit depart from her” must mean a miscarriage or stillbirth. It simply means birth (an in this specific case, a premature birth). So a reading of this passage compared with other verses regarding the life of the unborn clearly shows that Mosaic law provided for a death penalty for someone who directly caused the premature birth and resulting death of a child.

(Please note that I am not arguing for any particular law here based on “the Law” from Exodus — my point is to show that the Bible never imples that the life of an unborn child is any less human than the life of a born child.)

Conclusion

There are other points of debate (such as the “breath of life” which is claimed, by some, to be a literal breath of a human rather than a spiritual breath from God) that I have not gone in to.  Maybe I will at a future point.  But this short study should be enough to show the Bible believer that unborn children have spirits are are living human beings. While one may not be able to conceive of a days-old growing unborn baby being alive in the same sense as a days-old growing born baby, it is not for us to demand of God that we be able to comprehend his glorious works! We only need trust the witness of his word. I end with this:

Ecclesiastes 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

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