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The Narrow Path 10/8

The Narrow Path / Steve Gregg
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October 8, 2020 8:00 am

The Narrow Path 10/8

The Narrow Path / Steve Gregg

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October 8, 2020 8:00 am

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Wisdom for the Heart
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Music Good afternoon and welcome to The Narrow Path Radio Broadcast. My name is Steve Gregg and we're live for an hour each weekday afternoon with an open phone line so that you can call in if you wish to ask questions related to the Bible or the Christian faith or to express the difference of opinion you might have with the host on any subject. We'll be glad to talk to you about whatever's on your mind in this coming hour.

We have no commercial breaks. We simply have an hour of Q&A and that's what we've been doing for 23 years daily. That's a lot of Q's and A's and you know if you're interested, you don't want to call in but you'd like, you have a question on a subject you wonder how it might be answered on the show, somebody has put together, several people have worked together and collaborated on a website called and they've got there a topical index of calls from this show going back many years. I think I've heard that there's now 10,000 calls on this index and you just go there and you can I guess enter, I haven't used it myself, but you can enter a topic and you know several calls usually on the topic that have happened on previous shows come up, there's a hyperlink right to the call itself, you can listen to it.

So you know if you don't want to call in but you have a question, probably in most cases someone has already asked the question and we've dealt with it before. Right now our lines are full but I'm going to give you the phone number anyway because within minutes some of these lines will open up and you can get through if you happen to catch it right. The number is 844-484-5737.

That is 844-484-5737. Now I don't know how many people we have listening in Arkansas, we're not actually on in any stations in Arkansas, but I'm visiting one of my favorite brother-in-laws here in Arkansas right now and we're advertising from his home and we're having a meeting in this home tomorrow night and if you are in northwestern Arkansas anywhere and want to join us there's information about that, the time and place at our website under the announcements tab. Also in the next several days we'll be in other locations, Winona or Winona, I don't know if it's Winona or Winona, Missouri, it's going to be on Sunday we'll have a meeting and then we're going to be up in Evansville, Indiana and later in Indianapolis, Indiana and later still up in Lafayette area in Indiana. So we've got a number of places we don't go to very often and we have meetings in those places in the coming week or two and if you are in any of those areas you might want to check our website and look at the dates where we are and if you're anywhere near there or you want to just fly in for the meeting.

I say that, you know, joking but actually we've had people do that. I've actually, when I was teaching in Santa Cruz had people fly down from Portland, Oregon to attend one of my midweek meetings. Not very many but I guess I usually say if you're nearby but with airplanes and so forth you don't have to be very nearby I guess. That's this week and next week and the specific dates and places you can find at the website

Make sure you include the, the, or you'll get somewhere else. All right, we're going to go to the phone lines because they are full and talk to Everett from San Pablo, California. Everett, good to hear from you.

Thanks for calling. Thank you, Steve. All right, Steve, I have two questions. First question comes out of Philippians 2 where it talks about, um, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. What does it mean to work it out with fear and trembling? The other question is out of Hebrews chapter 10 where it talks about the gesture led by faith but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. My soul, whose soul, who is speaking there in that particular context? My soul shall have no pleasure in him. That will be my two questions.

Um, well, let's start with your first question. Um, in Philippians Paul said, oh, as you have always obeyed, so not only in my presence but also my absence, uh, work out your own salvation in fear and trembling. And then the next line is, for it is God who works in you to will and to do, uh, for his good pleasure.

Now, obviously there's a reference to working out followed by a working in. Uh, we are to work out our salvation because God works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure. What this is saying is that the Christian life, uh, requires that God do a work inside of us in order for us to in any sense do the will of God. But because God does work inside of us, he does alter our will. He does alter our limitations. He will, he works as to will and to do.

He's a good pleasure. Well, he doesn't make us do it. He strengthens us in that resolve because we are Christians. We do want to do the will of God. That's in fact, that's almost the very definition of a Christian. Somebody who is surrendered to Christ and he's the Lord and we want to do what he says. So God has worked in us to, to want to do God's will, but he also gives us the ability to do it.

So that ability is there, but it's not automatic. You might've known a Christian at some point in your life who did something that probably wasn't the Lord's will. That doesn't mean that God wasn't working in him, but it means that he didn't work out what God was working in him. God moves in us to strengthen us in our resolve to, to obey him and to enable us to do it.

But we could still sit around on our hands and be lazy and not do it. So Paul's encouraging the Philippians to continue as they have already been doing, living according to the will of God, as God puts it in them. They're supposed to work it out in their outward affairs of life. So when he says, work out your salvation, he doesn't say work for your salvation. This, you're not working to be saved.

You're working because you're saved because God has worked in you. There's now an appropriate outward behavior that Christians should have. And that's what he's referring to there, I believe. Now you asked also about Hebrews chapter 10, where it's, it's actually quoting from Habakkuk, I believe in chapter two. And, and he says, you know, the just shall live by faith, but if he, if anyone draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Now the speaker is God. God is speaking to the prophet himself because the prophet is so, you know, he's concerned. The prophet is living at a time when the Babylonian forces were menacing his own country, Judah. And the prophet inquired of God about that. And God explained to him, well, Judah is going to fall. Judah is going to be conquered by the Babylonians. And the prophet complained about this and said, that doesn't make much sense because they're worse than we are.

The Babylonians, they're pagans. We might not be good, but they're worse than we are. How can they be used to punish us?

And God's response to him was essentially, well, you're right. They are bad and they're going to be judged too, but not until you are. You're going to be judged first and they're going to be the instrument of that.

At a later time, they will be judged as well. But the just person, in case you're wondering, the righteous person will live by his faith. Now, that's how it reads in the Greek. In the Hebrew, it actually reads, the just man will live because of his faithfulness or his fidelity or steadfastness. The Hebrew word there in Habakkuk, I think it's too far offhand.

I'm not looking at it. But the Hebrew word says the just shall live by his fidelity. Now, when this was translated into Greek in the Septuagint and quoted from the Septuagint in the New Testament, the wording is a little different. And they had to choose a word in Greek to represent the Hebrew word, you know, faithfulness or fidelity. And they chose the word pistis in Greek, which can mean faithfulness or faith. It's the ordinary word in the New Testament for faith, although in some cases it's translated faithfulness. For example, in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, pistis appears, and it's always translated faithfulness rather than faith.

I think it should be translated that way also in Matthew 23. When Jesus talked about you've neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and pistis, which I'm pretty sure that along with justice and mercy, faithfulness is more likely to be what he's talking about as opposed to faith itself. Also, there's some other places, there's at least two other places in the New Testament where the word pistis means faithfulness, but it's also the word Paul uses when he talks about being justified by pistis. Now, because Paul uses Habakkuk 2.4, and the word pistis, faith, is used in the Greek Old Testament, but it is translated in a Hebrew word that means faithfulness. It raises questions as to whether Paul is really saying, Christian is saved by faithfulness. Now of course, a Christian isn't saved either by faith or faithfulness, he's saved by Christ. Christ is the Savior, but a relationship with Christ involves our faith in him and our faithfulness to him. And it may be that the Septuagint translators pick that word, and Paul approvingly quoted from the Septuagint, in order to say this is more than just you having a mental belief in God, it's a relational thing where like friends or like married partners are faithful to each other and they trust each other.

There's a relationship here, it's a covenant relationship. So, he's saying the just will live by that, but he says, but if anyone draws back, meaning from pistis, or from faithfulness, in Hebrew, if anyone draws back from being faithful, my soul shall have no pleasure in him, God says. Now that doesn't tell us whether they'll live or not, but of course, in Habakkuk, it's not clear what live means. We're talking about a situation where there's going to be a Holocaust here, there's going to be a Babylonian slaughter of the Jews, and the faithful one will live by, because of his faithfulness, would simply be saying there's a faithful remnant in Israel, and while there's going to be a general slaughter, that God is going to see to it that the faithful ones, the remnant, survive, which people like Jeremiah was of that remnant and others who did survive that slaughter.

So, to say those who aren't faithful, God will have no pleasure in them, I mean, it probably means that they're not going to survive, after all, or at least if they do survive, they'll probably be carried away into captivity, as most of them were. So that's what, the reason that the writer of Hebrews is quoting that is because he's facing the same situation Habakkuk was. The nation of Israel is about to be destroyed by foreigners. In Habakkuk's day, the Babylonians, in the writer of Hebrews' day, the Romans, Jerusalem is about to be destroyed, and the writer of Hebrews mentions that a number of times in various ways.

And so, I think the reason that the writer of Hebrews quotes Habakkuk is because he's in a circumstance very analogous to that of Habakkuk. Twice in history, Jerusalem was destroyed by foreigners, in Habakkuk's day, and in, frankly, the days of the writer of Hebrews, and he's saying, you know, the righteous remnant, they will be preserved, and they were. Historically, we know that before the Jewish war began, in 66 AD, according to Eusebius, the faithful in Jerusalem fled. They got away to Pella. They were the Christians in Jerusalem, of course, the believing Jews, and they escaped it. So they survived it. Now, I'm not saying that Habakkuk 2.4 can make no reference to eternal life, and when Paul talks about, you know, the just shall live by faith, he's actually quoting from Habakkuk in Romans and Galatians, he is, no doubt, speaking of what we consider as salvation.

The writer of Hebrews might, however, have been using it exactly the way Habakkuk was. He might be saying, the only people who are going to survive this are those who are faithful, and not necessarily be talking about survival into eternity, although the same people who were faithful and would survive that would also have eternal life. So there's layers of meaning that one can see in this passage. Well, I want to thank you for taking the time out to explain that to me, Steve. God bless you and many blessings on your path, sir. Thank you so much. Okay. Great, Everett. Good to hear from you. God bless you. Bye now. All right. Res from Marin County, California. Hi, Res.

Welcome to The Narrow Path. Thanks for calling. Hi, Steve. Thanks for taking my call. I just want to say that I love listening to your program.

I usually listen at 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. in the Bay Area when it comes back on, because I'm kind of a night owl. I don't sleep, but I just lay there and I listen to your voice and it calms me down. So I want to thank you for that, please. Yeah, my voice puts a lot of people to sleep, actually. Well, it's not a bad thing.

It's very calming. In a good way. Yeah, right. Exactly. In a very good way.

Yeah. And I just sit there and I pray while I listen to you. And I appreciate the way you explain things to people and that you don't hang up on anybody if you get a question maybe that you're even uncomfortable answering, because I find that most people try to stay so politically correct they don't even want to answer questions that are valid. I do sometimes hang up on people, but only when they're being extremely rude or disingenuous.

But I never hang up on someone because they disagree with me or ask me an uncomfortable question. But go ahead. What is your question? Well, I just had one question first, and then just a couple comments after that. My first question was regarding what your opinion was in regards to programs that are compatible with Christianity, such as like the Landmark Forum, and these type of programs that basically institute bringing out, quote unquote, your authentic self, and whether or not it's compatible with Christianity. Okay. Well, I've got a problem because I'm not familiar with that particular program.

So I'm not sure what the teachers say. But I will say this, that any Christian program that advertises itself as bringing out the best in yourself, while there's something to be said for bringing out the best in yourself, so to speak, but it sounds like a self-help kind of a thing, sort of like your best life now kind of a situation. I think Christian programs should not be focusing you on yourself. I think that you should be focused on Christ. And if you focus on Christ, you're definitely going to bring out the best in yourself, too. But I think the problem we have in our society is I don't think people aren't sufficiently focused on self-improvement.

I think they're overly focused on self. And I think that a Christian ministry would do more service of a sort that we really need if they said, let's talk about how great Jesus is, you know. Now, I'm not saying there's no place for our counseling ministry or whatever to help you get over the addictions or problems in your life. But I have to say, I don't know if they describe themselves the way you just described them, but we have a very self-oriented culture, which is why I think our churches are as weak as they are. I think even the gospel has been made a self-help kind of appeal. And so I can't speak about the particular group you mentioned or the ministry because I've never heard of it. But if you're asking about that kind of thing where it's sort of a Christian self-help deal, I guess I'll say I won't say they can't do any good.

To my mind, it's very much like 12-step programs. I know that they do some good. In my opinion, though, they're not really the same thing as the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel. If they were, we would hear something about them in the Bible. And the fact that Paul talks, for example, in 1 Corinthians 6 about how certain kinds of people will not inherit the kingdom of God. He mentions idolaters and adulterers and fornicators and homosexuals.

He mentions all these kinds of people, drunkards. And he says these people will not inherit the kingdom of God. But then he says in verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 6, And such were some of you, that you have been washed, you've been justified, you've been changed by the gospel through Jesus.

So they didn't have the either advantage or disadvantage, however you may want to look at, of self-help programs or even 12-step programs. They just had genuine conversion, which I think is not as common in the churches today as it has been at some times in the past and should be. I think a lot of times people don't understand what it means to be converted. They make sort of a sympathetic response to Christianity, but they haven't been delivered because they haven't really become disciples. They haven't really met the conditions of the gospel. You know the first condition Jesus said, if anyone come after me, let him deny himself. Let's get self out of the picture here and let's just take up your cross and follow Jesus. Now if people do what Jesus said, they often find that they do get delivered from a great deal of stuff that other people end up hooked on programs to manage. You know that's one of the problems I have with self-help things, if they're not strictly what the gospel preaches, is that they kind of addict people to the program. You know they make them almost perpetual dependents on the program. Now there's nothing wrong with being a perpetual dependent on Jesus. That's what we're supposed to be.

But I don't think any program is the same thing as Jesus. Anyway, there's some loud noises on our line here. Can you hear me?

Yes, I can, but I mean, I don't know where the noises are coming from. It might be a bad line. How about now? Well, I heard you well before. We're fine. But I do need to take another call.

Was there something else you needed? Yeah, I wanted to make a comment real quick that I feel may be kind of edifying to the listeners as well, and that's regarding the December 25th story of Jesus' birthday. And actually, if you go back and you look at the actual date of the Star of Bethlehem, when it was in the sky, it goes back to June 17th to B.C.

And if we go back nine months, the actual conception date, a full term of nine months, you come up to the date of September 11th. So my comment was, why don't we hear more about this in the churches and the teachings, because we know… Okay, well, let me answer that if I can. I think we don't hear more about it because it's not considered to be very important.

For example, if I was a pastor of a church, I would not consider it important enough to mention. I don't care when Jesus was born. I don't know if you're implying that September 9-11, an attack that happened on the World Trade Center, has anything to do with the birth date of Jesus. No, the conception date, not the birth date. The conception date is nine months after… I guess the reason churches don't make more of this, and I probably wouldn't recommend that they do, is that it would have very little to do with walking with Jesus. To me, the purpose of teaching in the church, as Jesus put it, is to teach them to observe all things He commanded. A person could believe there could be 365 people in a church. Each one of them believes Jesus was born on a different date of the year, and obviously 364 of them would be wrong, but it wouldn't make a difference. It wouldn't make a difference in their lives that I would know of. So I think that's probably why you don't hear more about it. Some people get off on things that are very interesting to them, things that I would consider to be matters of curiosity, merely.

And unfortunately, some churches do get into that kind of thing, but I think that the church should be focused very powerfully on making disciples, because that's what has made the church weak, the lack of disciples in fairly modern times. So I appreciate your call, and thank you very much for joining us. And if you listen to me tonight as you're going to sleep, you'll hear your own voice for a change.

That might be interesting to you, and your friends tell them. All right, let's talk to John from Jackson, Wyoming. John, welcome to The Narrow Path. Thanks for calling.

Hi, Steve. Hey, I talked to you a few days ago about divine healing, and your answer just brought some more questions to my mind. I enjoyed your answer, but you were talking about Paul and some of the others that he left unhealed because of their sicknesses. Now, I understand Paul had the gift of healing. He healed different people in the course of his ministry.

So I was just wondering how that came into effect. I thought the gift of healing would be something that you would have if you had the gift, that you had it all the time. Yeah, well, Paul never actually... It raised the question about... Go ahead.

Go ahead. Yeah, I was going to say, Paul never actually said he had the gift of healing. His gift, he said, was that of an apostle. And he spoke about signs and wonders, which must mean healings, at least including them.

He spoke of those in 2 Corinthians 12, 12 as the signs of an apostle. So he did perform healings and other signs and wonders apparently, which he said were marks of his apostleship. He never really referred to it as a gift of healing. You know, it's interesting, and I don't mean to be controversial here because I do believe God heals, but the list of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, where certain gifts, nine gifts are listed, does not actually mention a gift of healing.

It mentioned gifts of healings, plural. And it leaves open the possibility that what he's calling gifts of healing is not really referring to somebody having the power to heal so much as God granting a healing in this case or that case or another case. Anyone who gets healed has received this gift, not the gift of healing others, the gift of being healed. And the word healing is used in the Scripture in a number of places, in places where it could refer to something that somebody has received and not something that someone else has delivered to them or ministered to them. Now, clearly Paul and the apostles did have supernatural signs and wonders, including healings associated with their mystery. But the New Testament nowhere guarantees that everyone is going to be healed, even if they encounter somebody who has something called a gift of healing. As you say, if anyone had a gift of healing, Paul seemed to have one. And yet there are people like Timothy that had stomach problems that Paul just said, take some wine for that. Or he said, I left trophimus sick and maledim.

Or he had his friend Epaphroditus who almost died. And Paul himself had his thorn in the flesh. So I would just correct the idea that Paul ever said he had a gift of healing or that there are people who have a gift of healing, which when they have it means they can heal everybody they want to. God heals when he wants to heal. And he does it supernaturally at times. But I don't know that there's certainly nothing in the Bible that speaks of someone having a gift of healing, which unambiguously means that they can heal people.

But there are gifts of healings, which might be referring to individual healings that are God's gift to the people who are healed. It's ambiguous. I need to take a break, but I hope that helps you, brother. You're listening to The Narrow Path. We have another half hour coming up. Don't go away. Our website is

I'll be back in 30 seconds. As you know, The Narrow Path radio show is Bible radio that has nothing to sell you, but everything to give you. So do the right thing and share what you know with your family and friends. Tell them to tune into The Narrow Path on this radio station or go to where they will find topical audio teachings, blog articles, verse by verse teachings and archives of all the radio shows. You know, listeners supported Narrow Path with Steve Gregg.

Share what you know. Welcome back to The Narrow Path radio broadcast. My name is Steve Gregg and we're live for another half hour, taking your calls as we did in the previous half hour. If you have questions about the Bible, the Christian faith, anything related to those kinds of things, whether you're a Christian or not, if you have a difference of opinion from those, whether you're a Christian or not, many Christians certainly have differences of opinion from this host.

And of course, non-Christians would have even more differences of opinion. You're always welcome to call in and to discuss those matters. Unfortunately, if you want to call in right now, you can't, the lines are full, but there will be lines opening up in the next few minutes. So if you call in a few minutes and you have this number I'm about to give you, you may very well get in. The number is 844-484-5737. That's 844-484-5737. Our next call today comes from Kevin in Neuquon, Wisconsin. I don't know if I'm pronouncing that city right, but welcome.

Oops, I hit that button. Hey, thanks. There we go.

Yeah, it's Neuquon. I have a question. I was recently talking to a fellow Christian who somehow we got on this topic of homosexuality and what the Bible says, and actually sort of mentioned one of the persons he talked about to a previous caller today, 1 Corinthians 6, 9. And basically the other Christian was taking a stance that I never heard of before. So basically they said, the word homosexual or homosexuality was never in the Bible.

He's an adult with a sleep with little boys. 1900s. Yeah. And that it was pedophilia. And I wanted to get your take on that. Well, it's mistaken.

That person's mistaken. It may be that the word homosexual wasn't in the English language until the 1900s, but that has very little to do with the meaning of Greek words 2,000 years ago. The Greek words that Paul uses in that verse are words that refer to a man sleeping with a man. That's basically what the Greek words mean. Now there are two words that Paul uses, and most Greek scholars believe.

One refers to the man who's in the male role in that relationship and the other two, the man who's sort of in the female's role in that relationship. So basically those who are advocates for normalizing homosexual behavior in the church, they often raise this point, which is very poorly established. If you look at any of the major lexicons of the Greek language, and because this has come up many times before, I have, you'll find that there's no real evidence from the real Greek scholars that this is speaking of man-boy relationships, which is what, of course, the LGBT people who are trying to normalize that behavior in the church would suggest. I'm not saying there are no scholars who agree with them, but the scholars are agenda-driven. I mean, there are scholars in universities that will say all kinds of things.

The real question is, what is the evidence? And the evidence for the meaning of these words can be found in the very best lexicons of the Greek language, which anyone can buy, and there are many of them, and they would not support the pro-homosexual interpretation of those words. I once made a file on my computer—I can't find it right now because I'm online, I'm on the air—where I actually documented what the lexicons say about those words in 1 Corinthians 6. I do have one other question that's unrelated if you have another moment, but actually in regards to exactly the Second Amendment, and I know you've talked about this a little bit, and I agree with you, I think on the level that it's very hard to use scripture, to be able to take force upon somebody else, to even protect yourself. However, I would argue the fact that if you used it to protect others, such as your family, then there's a little more—I guess you could more easily use scripture to do that versus defending yourself. Would you agree with that?

Absolutely, and that's what I do say whenever we discuss it. I believe that some people think that Christians should not defend themselves against, for example, an intruder in the home or against somebody who wants to do them mortal harm. And if they feel like they should just turn the other cheek in those situations, they're welcome to do so. But I think if they do, they're misunderstanding Jesus' teaching about turning the other cheek. Jesus is, first of all, not describing a mortally dangerous situation. He's describing an insulting situation.

He's talking about someone slapping you across the cheek and being humble enough to just absorb it and not retaliate. Jesus does not ever describe a situation where someone's trying to kill you, and you just say, okay, just kill me now. Now, I'm not saying there would never be such a case, because often when it's persecution—you see, Jesus isn't necessarily assuming in the turn the other cheek thing that you're being persecuted for righteous sake. You're just somebody is your enemy, and they want to make you look like a fool and slap you in public.

Well, let them do it. But when it comes to specifically being on trial, being arrested for being a Christian, there certainly is biblical precedent and maybe even teaching that suggests you can run away from that. You don't have to just stand there and let them take you.

But no Christian in the first century would have ever believed in fighting the Romans when they're coming to arrest them and trying to kill them or anything like that. But you've raised another point, and I raise it too, and that is that in situations where you might be trying to decide whether to defend yourself or not, it might be not just you that's in trouble. You might have a house full of people who are vulnerable. For that person to kill you is just the first step toward getting to them as far as they're concerned. And so the general principle for all Christian conduct is to what you would want done to you, do that to others. So, I mean, certainly if your wife and children or your neighbor's wife and children are in danger and you're in some kind of position where you can rescue them, I'm pretty sure if you were in their condition you'd want someone to rescue you. So, I mean, there's nothing there that would forbid you from intervening to help somebody else.

And, frankly, I don't even think there's anything that says, you know, if a guy's going to shoot you, that you can't do something to try to defend yourself. That's not what Jesus discusses in the Sermon on the Mount. Right. All right?

You were trying to find a file—thank you—you were trying to find a file on your computer. Do you know something like that similar on the about the homosexuality term? I think I probably discussed those Greek words in more detail on some of the calls I've had over the years.

You might look at and you might find me discussing it more there. Okay, will do. Thank you.

Okay, Kevin. Thanks for your call. God bless. Bye now. All right, let's talk to Shay from Wausau, Michigan.

Shay, welcome to The Narrow Path. Thanks for calling. Hey, Steve. I'm trying to connect some points as far as kind of a future Antichrist type question. I believe that I heard you say in one of your lectures—I don't know if it was Church History, which one it was—a story about a monk that was hired to basically find evidence of a future Antichrist. Do you recall anything like that?

Well, no, not that. I think the only monk I would have mentioned with reference to the subject of a future Antichrist would be Francisco Ribera, who was a Spanish Jesuit in the late 16th century. Because the Protestant Reformation had identified the papacy with the Antichrist. They reformed people to this day, generally would say that the rise of the papacy was the rise of the Antichrist and that the pope in any generation is the Antichrist in that generation. And that was the universal view of people like Luther and Calvin and John Knox and Zwingli and all the Reformers, as well as some people before them like John Huss and Wycliffe and Tyndale, who lived before the Reformation.

It was a widespread view. And so, obviously, with the Reformers spreading the view throughout Europe that the pope is the Antichrist, that somewhat tarnished the pope's dignity of his office. So, the Jesuits were a movement that rose up to defend the pope. That's the specific reason for the Jesuit movement, to defend the pope.

And it was they who ran the inquisitions, which, if they felt someone was not being adequately respectful to the pope, they'd torture them until they learned their lesson. Now, it was a Jesuit in Spain named Francisco Rivera who wrote a commentary refuting the Reformers and identified the Antichrist not with the institution of the papacy, but as an individual man who would rise up in the last days. Now, I have to say, before there was a Reformation, the early church fathers also spoke of a coming Antichrist and may very well have been thinking in terms of an individual man because there's nothing much said in the Bible to guide them on this. First of all, the word Antichrist is not found in any eschatological passage. You won't find the word Antichrist in the book of Revelation. You won't find it in Second Thessalonians where the man of sin is talked about.

You won't find it in Daniel. The word Antichrist is only found in the Bible in the book of 1 John and in 2 John. John is not talking about eschatology there. In fact, at one point in 1 John 2, John says, as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, there are already many Antichrists by which we know it is the last time. And he says, whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ is Antichrist. And then he says later, whoever denies that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, that spirit is not of God, and that's the spirit of Antichrist, which already is in the world, which you were expecting. So John, the only writer who ever used the word Antichrist in the Bible, and he didn't use it in Revelation, strangely, but in his epistle, said, anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ is Antichrist, and he says, you were expecting Antichrist, well, he's here.

That's how we know it's the final hour, he said. So John says, whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. So obviously, John wasn't talking about some individual Antichrist at the end of the world, unless he thought he was in the end of the world, which is a possibility, but he did affirm that many Antichrists had come, and to him, that was the fulfillment of the expectation of coming of Antichrists. Now, the church fathers, some of them said they're looking for the Antichrist to come, and they probably did think of him as an individual, but they didn't have much Bible to go on. They had probably Revelation 13 about the beast, no doubt Daniel 8 about the little horn that would rise up out of the ten-horned beast.

They'd have 2 Thessalonians 2 about the man of lawlessness. None of those passages, first of all, none of them identify the person under discussion as the Antichrist, and it's not altogether clear that all these passages are talking about the same entity even. It's convenient to take all the passages in the Bible about some horribly evil person and say, well, this is all found in one horribly evil person at the end of the world, but that's something the Bible actually doesn't specify. The early church fathers, many of them believed that would be the case, but with the fall of the Roman Empire. See, the church fathers believed that when the Roman Empire would fall, and they all knew it would because they understood Daniel 8 and actually 2 Thessalonians 2 that way. They believed that Paul was referring.

We talked about that which hinders the man of sin will be taken another way. They all said that's the fall of the Roman Empire, but these church fathers lived before that event, so they were at liberty to think anything they wanted about what the man of sin would look like, an individual or not. The thing is that when the Roman Empire fell, what did rise was the papacy, and that's why after the fall of the Roman Empire, Christians looking back on history and so forth, like the Reformers, they all said, well, Paul was right. The Roman Empire was taken away, and up rises the man of sin in the temple of God, which is Paul's expression for the church elsewhere. So they, you know, this idea that the man of sin is not one man but an entity, sort of like Jesus.

The body of Christ is corporate. In fact, Paul refers to the body of Christ as a new man that God created from the two, Jew and Gentile. So they believed after the fall of Rome, and when they saw what happened, they believed those prophecies had been fulfilled. So after the fall of Rome, the church fathers were not talking about a future anti-Christ. People eventually began to suspect that the papacy was that which Paul had spoken of, and Daniel, and they even thought that was the beast of Revelation, which I think they made the mistake of thinking all these entities are the same thing.

My own interpretation of Revelation in Second Thessalonians would lead me to suspect that we're not talking about the same entity in those cases, nor is there any indication in those books that they are. So the Reformers were holding the view, which was widespread, even the Franciscan order long before the Reformation, the Catholic Franciscan order said the Pope was the anti-Christ. So this didn't just arise with the Reformers, but Francisco Ribera is the one who, I guess, kind of popularized the idea in modern times that the anti-Christ is going to be an individual who will rise up for a brief period near the end of time.

So he couldn't be the papacy, obviously. And so, by the way, Protestants, when they read Ribera, they knew he was covering for the Pope, and no Protestant would accept that view for about 300 years after it was written. It was a Catholic view. The idea of an individual anti-Christ rising in the end times was first brought into Protestant circles through a guy named Samuel Maitland, who was the librarian for the Archbishop of Canterbury in the British Church. And he actually read Francisco Ribera, and frankly, the Anglican Church is not very far removed from the Catholic Church. And he was the first Protestant we know of to adopt in modern times the idea of a future individual anti-Christ. And Darby picked up on that in his dispensational eschatology. Actually, Maitland accepted it in 1827, and it was around 1830 that Darby brought in dispensationalism and incorporated the idea of an individual anti-Christ in it. So that's kind of the history of it in modern times. But sometimes people say, well, Steve, you say that Darby or someone invented the idea of a future—or that Francisco Ribera invented the idea of a future anti-Christ individual. No, there were definitely Church Fathers who believed that. But their view was—the view of the Church was altered with the actual events taking place, that they felt that when the Roman Empire falls, that's when you're going to see the man of sin.

And when the Roman Empire fell, a very anti-Christian movement did arise—institution did arise—within what Paul refers to as the temple of God, which is the Church. Anyway, that's a short course on it. I have a lot of calls and only a few minutes left, but I hope that's helpful.

You can get all of that, of course, from the website. All right, thank you. Okay, Shay, thanks for your call.

All right, let's talk to Mark from Vancouver, BC. Mark, welcome to The Narrow Path. As you know, the Bible clearly—the New Testament scripture clearly indicates that, obviously, Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, and of the world, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was crucified, resurrected, and glorified. Is there, as far as you know, even one verse in the New Testament that would exclude a person from the Christian faith? If they believe those things I just mentioned, but if they do not believe that Jesus is co-equal with God the Father, would there be, as far as you know, even one verse in the New Testament that would exclude a person who doesn't believe that Jesus is co-equal with God the Father, even though he believes all those other aforementioned things?

Okay, well, let me just say, there's no verse in the New Testament that would exclude a person in the New Testament that would clearly say that if you don't believe Jesus is co-equal with God the Father, you're not a Christian. I, of course, do believe that Jesus is God, and I do believe in the Trinity, but I don't find anything in the Bible that says that that specific belief is mandatory for salvation. Certainly Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David did not have a Trinitarian view, as near as we can tell, nor did the Jews of Jesus' time, nor did the disciples themselves when they began to follow Jesus.

They came with a Jewish view, not a Trinitarian view. The idea of the Trinity, I think, was teased out of the Scriptures through Christian theology, especially after Pentecost, and I believe it's true, but it's not something that's lying on the surface for someone to just trip over and say, oh, there it is. The Trinity doctrine is really a rather complicated doctrine, which I think, again, is a correct synthesis of a lot of scattered data in the Scripture, but which for some reason was never laid out in any one verse or passage of the Bible, which might mean that it wasn't the most important thing for people to really understand.

If it was, you'd think someone would, you know, explain it in the Bible. I'm pretty sure that the disciples, when they first started following Jesus, didn't have a Trinitarian view. I don't know where they would have gotten it, and we don't read of Jesus ever teaching it to them, but we also know that he told them that there are things that he could not tell them in his lifetime with them, but when the Holy Spirit would tell them, when the Holy Spirit would come, he'd lead them into all truth. In my opinion, their later writings suggest that they believed something along the lines of what we believe on the Trinity. I have to say that the Trinity doctrine existed very early on, but it wasn't universal in the church. Well, frankly, until long after the Nicene Council, there were Arian Christians and there were Trinitarian Christians, and that's why there was a council. They had to hold a council because the Christians weren't all sure about this. It hadn't really been established as a universal norm in Christian theology, so they had to decide whether it should be. And once they decided it would be, even then there were Christian churches that rejected it.

All the German churches still were Arian for another century after Nicaea, and it's hard to believe that just because they accepted the view that had been widespread among them before the council, that they somehow had denied Christ. And it seems to me that if a person's not recognizing fully the full deity of Christ would exclude them from being saved in God's sight, that there'd be something much clearer about it in Scripture. You know, I have friends, Christian friends, who, you know, they don't have any real bias against Jesus being God, but they're confused by the data of Scripture. You know, they think when the Father is mentioned separately from Jesus or when Jesus the Father is greater than I, they just haven't figured out how to process that. Now, I work through all that in my own biblical studies when I was much younger, and I don't find any difficulty with Jesus saying those kinds of things and still believing He is God in the flesh. But I think to say that Jesus is God and to say that He's the Son of God and that He is distinct from the Father and distinct from the Holy Spirit, as He Himself said, then some people just, they're puzzled over that.

And I can't blame them. It's not exactly the easiest thing in the world to understand. And I don't believe that salvation comes from the level of sophistication of your understanding of mysterious things that even theologians can hardly really honestly claim to fully understand. I think salvation comes from embracing Christ for who they, as far as they can tell from His claims, they know Him to be and following Him. And, you know, when you take His yoke upon you and begin to learn from Him, in my opinion, the Holy Spirit will guide you into truth. And I think if a person doesn't understand Christ to be God, but they begin to follow Him, which is, I would say, like the case of the apostles themselves when they first met Him, you eventually come to that knowledge.

But in the process of reaching that understanding, I don't think you're lost. It is, after all, I'd say a very difficult doctrine for many people. If you're interested in me talking, explaining it considerably more, I can't do so now, but I have a lecture at our website that you would probably be interested in. It's called, well, it's in the series called Knowing God. And there's a lecture there about the deity of Christ. There's a lecture there about the Trinity. There's a lecture there about the Father God.

And I, you know, I deal with the tension between the different kinds of statements that confuse people about that. So those lectures, I would recommend. And if you're interested in them, I would recommend. It's at, our website. Yeah, thanks, Steve. Thank you. God bless. God bless you, too.

And for any other out there besides the caller who are struggling with this doctrine, I would suggest you at least listen to my explanations at the website, which I can't take the time to give here. If you go to, look under Topical Lectures, and there you'll find, among others, a series called Knowing God. And you can tell by the titles of the lectures there which ones are relevant to what we're talking about right now. And if you listen, everything's free. Everything at the website is free. So you can just go there and use it. You can also get app for your iPhone or for your Android. And you can listen to those lectures on your phone that way, too, whenever you want to. Let's talk to, let's see, Ian from Tallahassee, Florida. Ian, welcome to The Narrow Path. Thanks for calling.

Yes, Steve, thank you for taking my call. I was just curious if you knew if there was a source, say, the Midrash or Mishnah or something that would describe what laws the Jews considered pertinent in the days of Jesus, because some of those, as you mentioned to me and others before, are sundry laws based on where they're living, and they're living in a different time. So I'm just curious if there was a source where at that time they said, okay, these are the laws that they consider to be eternal, that Jesus would be fulfilling, as opposed to the ones that... You mean statements in the Talmud? Statements in the Talmud and, you know... It is in the Talmud? Orthodox.

Well, no, I don't know. The Talmud is many volumes long, and I certainly am not conversing to know about it. I was just curious if there was a place where they delineated those laws specifically, or if it's more nuanced than that. Well, as far as I know, when Jesus was on the earth, I believe the Pharisees, at least, believed that all the laws, all the 613 laws that were given by Moses were binding upon Israel. They may have had to make some, you know, provision for Jews of the diaspora who lived hundreds of miles away and couldn't come to the temple all the time. But for those who were able and who lived in Palestine, I think they thought all the laws, including all the temple laws, were mandatory. It was only after the temple was destroyed that a group of rabbis got together to sort of modify what we now call Talmudism or Orthodox Judaism, and they had to find some way to continue the Jewish faith without the sacrifices in the temple and the priesthood. Which, I mean, not to be unkind, but I think that's a fool's errand because the Old Testament is all about the temple and sacrifices and so forth. So, what happened is that God, having sent Jesus to complete that system and to be the final sacrifice, God did away with the sacrificial system just as if to say, hey, it's over now. The temple's gone.

And they should have, I think, gotten a clue. Hey, if God has taken away from us the Old Covenant and these Christians are saying that God has made a New Covenant, certainly the destruction of the temple would seemingly confirm that God is done with the Old Covenant and there's a new one, and maybe Jesus is the Messiah after all. They didn't reason that way, and therefore they thought, okay, we can't keep the Jewish law anymore, the temple law, but we can make up some rules and call that Judaism. And that's what they did, and that's what Talmudism is. Orthodox Judaism is Talmudism. Now, many Jews are not Orthodox. There's Reform Judaism, there's what they call conservative Judaism, which is really quite liberal, but Orthodox Jews are the ones that we would have most in common within our beliefs, and yet, of course, they reject Christ and they follow a lot of man-made rules.

It's a man-made religion based on the Talmud. I'm out of time, I'm sorry to say. I appreciate all who've called. We're on again, you know, soon, so listen every day and you'll be able to call in or listen to the questions that may interest you or inform you. The Narrow Path is a listener-supported ministry. You can go to our website,, to find out how you can donate online or from an address you can send checks to if you wish, Let's talk again tomorrow. God bless.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-22 02:58:29 / 2024-02-22 03:19:13 / 21

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