The reality is we are all daily in need of confession and repentance, daily in need of counsel and accountability within the body of Christ, and daily in need of longsuffering grace in order to strive together as Christians. Do not put off this vital warning until tomorrow. As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, tomorrow may just be too late.
Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
I was thinking this past week about cases where a person who has been a professed believer, maybe even a well-known Christian leader, falls into public sin or even apostasy, walking away from the Christian faith. Sadly, there have been many such cases in the news lately.
We often think, and maybe even say, afterward that in hind sight there were some tendencies we could see in that person’s life that led to their eventual demise:
“I did notice he treated his wife very coldly, so come to think of it adultery is not that surprising”,
“I do recall now that they were always seeking approval from people, so I suppose its only natural that they followed that bad crowd,”
“I did hear her constantly complaining about her circumstances, so I guess we shouldn’t be shocked that she ended up declaring she was angry with God and deciding not to be a Christian any more.”
But the fact is, those tendencies toward destructive sin, even apostasy, are alive in every one of us every day!
We must not put off until tomorrow the repentance that is needed today.
There is not a human alive who does not struggle every day with some sin that, if left unchecked, will bring him or her to spiritual ruin.
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By Mark Ward — 7 months ago
You can always find loopholes in language. But I don’t believe there is enough uncertainty to justify the NRSVue’s choice. Out of love for my homosexual neighbors, I must call the NRSVue’s rendering of 1 Corinthians 6 what it is: a removal of something Paul said by the inspiration of the Spirit.
I regularly roll my eyes at English Bible translation freak-outs. I have many times seen Christians hunt for the “errors” in contemporary translations such as the NIV or ESV. Often what they come up with can only be called errors if one views them through malicious eyes and ties them to some concocted narrative of doctrinal downgrade. Our major modern evangelical Bible translations are very good. Not perfect, but very good.
The truth is, our major modern mainline Bible translations are good, too. I think of the RSV from the 1950s, the NRSV of 1989, the CEB of 2011. Though I have less experience with these translations than with the evangelical ones, I feel confident saying they’re produced by serious people who aimed at faithful translation. When I check them, which I have done many times, I repeatedly encounter translation choices that are obviously responsible. I encounter God’s Word. The KJV translators tell us in their famous preface that even the “very meanest” translation of God’s Word is God’s Word. They also tell us to judge Bible translations by their predominant character. They say, “A man may be considered handsome, though he have some warts upon his hand” (my slightly updated translation of their archaic English). And if I make this kind of generous judgment, mainline English Bibles are good.
But sometimes warts can grow rather large. The Revised Standard Version had warts in several passages, especially Isaiah 7:14 (“Behold, a young woman shall conceive. . .”), that have caused most evangelicals to set it aside. Likewise, the freshly published “updated edition” of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSVue) will, I predict, be rejected by today’s evangelicals because of two warts: its renderings of 1 Timothy 1:10 and, especially, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10.
I work hard to make sober judgments about English Bibles, but I’m forced to conclude that the NRSVue has removed two Pauline condemnations of homosexuality—though it has kept other biblical prohibitions of the practice.
Translating 2 Key Greek Words
Here’s how that latter passage reads in the (usually literal and definitely evangelical) New American Standard Bible. I’ve bolded the key words to watch for:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9–10)
Those two English words translate two Greek words. The word “effeminate” translates the word malakoi; the word “homosexuals” translates the word arsenokoitai (which appears also in 1 Tim. 1:10).
These two words almost certainly refer to the passive and active partners in a male homosexual pairing. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy to translate. Responsible translations go different ways.
The ESV, CSB, NIV, and NASB 2020 take the two Greek words and turn them into one thing expressed in one phrase: “men who have sex with men” (NIV; CSB has “males”) or “men who practice homosexuality” (ESV). Other translations are more like the NASB, assigning one-word equivalents to each of the two Greek words at issue.
I have studied these two Greek words carefully, and if I had to pick my favorite rendering, the award would go to the Berean Study Bible:
Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts . . .
This is a translation touchdown: accurate and readable.
But the NRSVue doesn’t just punt at 1 Corinthians 6:9; it lies on the field and forfeits the game. Here is its rendering of the passage:
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, men who engage in illicit sex . . .
Paul says that active and passive partners in a homosexual pairing will not inherit the kingdom of God. The NRSVue does not say this. It first, in my judgment, obfuscates matters by including a footnote on malakoi and on arsenokoitai: “Meaning of Greek uncertain.” Then, despite their admitted uncertainty, the NRSVue translates malakoi as something too specific (“male prostitutes”) and arsenokoitai as something too general (“men who engage in illicit sex”). It does the same with arsenokoitai in the one other place it appears, 1 Timothy 1:10, where Paul lists among other sinners.
By Christ Reformed Presbyterian Church — 8 months ago
Contrary to the uncharitable assumptions of some of our detractors, we do not rejoice in being a “micro” denomination, either in terms of size or strictness. We believe that there are many who share our convictions and look for the Lord to add to our number in His time. We believe that there should be latitude in matters beyond our common commitments. However, we respectfully disagree with the prevailing wisdom of our sister denominations in the matter of defining what is a sufficient common commitment as to provide for the lasting peace and unity of the Church.
Dear Readers of the Aquila Report,
Though we greatly respect those who edify so many with this publication, we did not request our Testimony and Covenant to be posted on the Aquila Report, as we take no delight in the weakness of the Bride of Christ and did not wish to magnify her failings. As to the accusations which have been posted in response to this announcement, we do not regard the court of public opinion to be the proper venue before which to lay the evidence which would clear our names and put to shame those who have slandered us. The evidence would surely sadden and shock you as it has us, would edify no one, and would only bring more grievous dishonor to the name of Christ before a watching world. At our separation from Vanguard Presbytery, we provided evidence to our brothers there sufficient to provide our rationale for leaving, to clear our names of the baseless slanders and threats of legal suit which this same member of that presbytery was already making, and to provide them with the evidence they should require to hold this rogue presbyter to account. As to the slanders which have been repeated since we left, we refer these to Vanguard Presbytery’s attention, as they are the party which Christ has made responsible to address the chief source of the slander. If Vanguard Presbytery publicly denounces these slanders, then we will consider ourselves vindicated of these baseless attacks and will gladly keep the shameful evidence which exonerates us as contained as possible. (1 Cor. 12:23) If Vanguard Presbytery continues a pattern of refusal to hold this individual to account and does not denounce these accusations, we will consider ourselves further vindicated in our decision to leave and will continue to make available the documentation proving our innocence of these charges to any who contact us and have need to know. In the interim, we are content that the unprejudiced child of God is already able to discern in the slanders against us, the anger of a man not accomplishing the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)
For those who have been quick to criticize us, we are not overly concerned about the opinions of those who lack the information or jurisdiction to render any just judgment. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (Prov. 18:13) With Paul, we are content to answer before the throne of Christ. “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Cor. 4:3-5)
To address the matter of why we felt compelled to form a new denomination upon separation from Vanguard Presbytery, we wish to clarify that we count those of many other denominations as brothers in Christ and legitimate expressions of the visible Church. We firmly believe in the catholicity of the Church. We are not schismatics without love for Christ’s Church or a desire for her unity. However, we have not been able to find any of our sister reformed presbyterian denominations which require faithful subscription to the Westminster Standards without either allowing exceptions or adding their own distinctive requirements.
Contrary to the uncharitable assumptions of some of our detractors, we do not rejoice in being a “micro” denomination, either in terms of size or strictness. We believe that there are many who share our convictions and look for the Lord to add to our number in His time. We believe that there should be latitude in matters beyond our common commitments. However, we respectfully disagree with the prevailing wisdom of our sister denominations in the matter of defining what is a sufficient common commitment as to provide for the lasting peace and unity of the Church. We do not claim any such wisdom as to provide our own answer to this question, recognizing the wisdom set forth in the creeds of the Church, most especially the Westminster Standards of Faith. As stated in our Book of Church Order:
“Our Constitution requires faithful subscription to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Westminster Assembly as adopted with minor revisions by the initial synod of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America in 1788. By faithful subscription, is meant what has sometimes been described as “strict” or “full” subscription, specifically, that the main point of each paragraph of the Confession and each answer of the Catechisms is subscribed to without reservation. Thus, it is the solemn obligation of the Presbytery to determine that the candidate so faithfully subscribes, or else the Presbytery must determine that the candidate has not sustained his examination.”
All of our sister reformed presbyterian denominations join in admiration of the wisdom of the Westminster Assembly in producing a magnificent summary of biblical truth. However, the Westminster Standards were not written abstractly as a summary of the biblical system of doctrine, but specifically to provide the core of Christian theology necessary to provide a sufficient foundation for the union of the Christian church. While we grant that this Assembly and its documents are fallible, we believe that church history bears out the wisdom of the Assembly in identifying the doctrines they did as being necessary to secure peaceful and lasting unity. By allowing exceptions to the Standards, whether more generally as “system” subscription provides, or more specifically, as a departure from the plain language of the statement regarding Creation exemplifies, other reformed presbyterian denominations have rejected the wisdom of the Westminster Divines in this respect. Rather than eliminating division, consolidating differing convictions on these essential matters within a denomination only serves to bring the lines of division within the denomination. As a current example, the division between PCA Missouri Presbytery and certain other presbyteries in the PCA is no less a real division than the divisions which exist between denominations. We certainly do not rejoice in this strife, but recognize that differences over such fundamental issues within any association of churches is not sustainable. “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” (Mark 3:25) While we are under no delusions that ours will be a fellowship free of the spots and blemishes which are common to this age of the Church, we do hope that by requiring faithful subscription to the Westminster Standards, we will be able to avoid much of the disunity and strife which men of differing convictions must engage in elsewhere, such that we can pursue our ministry of fulfilling the Great Commission without such distractions and pain of conscience as are burdening our brothers in other fellowships.
Free from the covenant obligation of contending with others who simply do not share our convictions, we desire to share to the greatest extent possible ecumenical partnership and fraternal relations with other expressions of the visible Church which are pursuing the same ministry on behalf of the same Lord and Savior. However, the realization which motivates us above all else is that by holding the essential tenets of the Reformed Faith without apology, as expressed in the Westminster Standards, we can best serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As God knows our hearts, it is not from any sense of superiority or pride, but because we would rather contend with the evil of this world in the power of God than with brothers of different convictions, that we have joined together to form the Christ Reformed Presbyterian Church with faithful subscription to the Westminster Standards as our defining distinctive.
We love Christ, we love Christ’s Church, and we do not believe that Christ is best served when the Church is employing her gifts and expending her time and energy in an inward facing war. As sad as the multiplication of denominations may be, we believe that separating from brothers holding fundamentally different convictions is a more honest and more peaceful approach to the division which must exist among us over issues of truth, than is the attempt to remain in a common fellowship marked by constant strife. Christ will bless the ministry of those who are standing for what He approves, and we look for the Holy Spirit to continue disciplining each of our fellowships such that as we all draw closer to Christ and become more faithful to his Word, we might see a day when our fellowships might reunite. Until then, we do not have the heart to fight against brothers when there is so much work at hand to carry out the Great Commission where Christ has placed us. We have seen the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and have many new converts and covenant families to disciple as well as older saints to edify as we continue the ministry which Christ has given us. To any who would call us away from this work to defend our names of baseless accusations or to engage in an endless war against brothers in an existing fellowship, we say with Nehemiah “I am doing a great work and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Neh. 6:3) God will bring all things to light in time and until then, we cannot think of anything better than to entrust our souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Pet. 4:19)
Stated ClerkChrist Reformed Presbyterian Church
By T. M. Suffield — 12 months ago
Written by T.M. Suffield |
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
For the disciples, receiving the Spirit was like Jesus was with them again. Except as they travelled around and spread across the earth, as they’ve been told to, he was still with each one of them. He could now be everywhere, including inside each of their hearts and minds speaking tenderly to them and empowering them for the next test.
After his resurrection Jesus gathered his disciples to give them his parting instructions and pass on his mission. Each of the gospel writers summarise his words a little differently but they all include what Luke calls “the promise of the Father” (Luke 24).
Matthew records it as a promise that Jesus would be with them until the end of the age, Mark that their preaching would be accompanied by miracles. Luke speaks about them being “clothed with power” and John tells how Jesus acted out what would happen to them soon after by breathing on them and telling them to “receive the Spirit.” (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20).
Jesus was reminding them of what he’d already been at great pains to teach them. In order to complete the task he had given them, making disciples of all kinds of people, they needed the Holy Spirit.
He was clear with them that even after he had gone back to be with God, they shouldn’t launch straight on with the task he gave them, but should wait for the Holy Spirit, who he’d called their “helper”.
On the face of it this seems a bit strange. If my manager at work gave me an important task to do and there was a sense of urgency about it, my natural inclination would be to get straight on with it, or at least find out which of the rest of my work I can stop doing so I have time to do what she needs. I would be confused if after giving me the task, spelling out what needs to be done, and impressing the urgency of it on me, she then made it clear that under no circumstances was I to start. I was to sit tight and wait for someone to help me. I’m sure I’d appreciate help, but I’d feel faintly patronised. Surely I can start, at least, even if I need some other resources?
The disciples have been given a really important job to do, with a sense of supreme urgency about it. They have a whole world to tell about Jesus, why wouldn’t they just get on with it?
Jesus was emphatic. “Don’t go yet, you can’t start without everything you need, so wait until you’ve got it all.” He is like a drill sergeant, surveying his fresh—and slightly deluded—new recruits who are raring to race into a mock battle. The sergeant cautions them against rushing straight in, until he’s given them each some basic training and their weapon. We can be a lot like that, eager to surge ahead without picking up the basic equipment we need to be effective.
“Receiving the Spirit” was all that they were going to need. If we want to follow Jesus and fulfil his mission, presumably we need that too.
A couple of years before, Jesus and his disciples were at the Feast of Booths. This was when the Jewish people remembered God providing water for them when there were wandering in the desert, and it was when they looked forward to the Spirit being poured out like water in the future. On the last day of this festival, Jesus stood up in the Temple courts and shouted:
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”John 7
Everyone was dismantling the structures they had built for the festival and getting ready to return home. Jesus was saying “the water you’ve been celebrating is available all the time, and the eventual gift of the Spirit you’re expecting has arrived. You can get it through me.” It’s an enormous claim.