Tricky Translation: interpretation or explanation

I recently heard a priest quote the verse that says “no prophesy of scripture is of private interpretation”. The person used this quote to defend the idea that non-clergy people should not be interpreting the Bible of their own understanding. They should listen to the traditional orthodox teachings passed down through the priesthood for one to truly understand the scriptures because it was originally passed down from holy men of God to them. When I heard this I recognized it to be the age old tactic of appealing to special exclusive knowledge to control the minds and hearts of people. It also is a really deceptive way to stop people from reading the scriptures, being led by the Spirit and getting close to God. Fundamentally, people in authority like to use the Bible to fool us into not reading it. Unfortunately, even the translation of the scriptures also sometimes make it difficult to fully understand the message that was intended. The use of the word, “interpretation”, in that verse makes it easy for someone to use that verse to convey the wrong message. Interestingly, “interpretation” may not be the best word to use to translate the Greek word it represents. Want to know why? Then, let’s have a look! Read More

Thoughts on Bias and the Bible

I have been attending church meetings since the first Sunday right after I was born. I have heard hundreds of sermons in church, on the radio, television and more recently on Youtube. I have given sermons at church, taught bible classes, and have been reading and studying the bible personally for many years. Interestingly, it has only been recently that I have noticed differences between what I hear about the bible and the actual words in the bible itself. Even more interesting is that I am also noticing differences with what English bibles state compared with what the original Greek New Testament or Hebrew Masoretic Text state. None of these observations are even touching the field of textual criticism between differing Greek text, but I digress. In this post, I want to share some of my thoughts on a few common things Christians say versus what the bible says or doesn’t say. Read More

Sermon Notes: Lessons of great faith

I was asked to give a short exhortation on faith at a church zoom meeting last month. After the brother who hosted the zoom meeting asked me to give the exhortation, I asked the Lord what I should speak about. As I continued to meditate on faith, the Lord led me to a passage about the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. Jesus had only told two people in scripture that they had “great faith”, and this woman was one of them. It is an often overlooked passage, and I believe that many misunderstand its meaning and significance. There were five lessons that I highlighted in the exhortation that I gave. I want to share the lessons that the Lord showed me in this passage last month. Read More

Thorn in the flesh

For several years now, and more recently on Facebook, I have been hearing Christians say that Paul had a thorn in the flesh given to him by God that was some sort of agonizingly painful sickness or infirmity, and so we can’t always expect healing from God if the apostle experienced this. Every time I hear this it really disturbs me. I feel as though Christians are saying that God gives sickness to his children, and to me I feel like God is being falsely represented, and blamed, and that the faith of believers are being weakened and tainted. However, many similar comments have been made by very prominent preachers and pastors over the years from my observation. It is no wonder to me that many believers don’t believe that they can be healed in a real way and many give up very easily when they get sick. I want to look at this, and really get to the heart of the matter. Read More

Tricky Translation – Chief or First

Paul called himself the chief of sinners. We all know it. We all heard it. We all sing it. We all read it. If the apostle Paul can call himself the chief of sinners, then what about us? What are we? “We are lower than low. We are just guilty sinners”. This is what many Christians have heard and thought throughout the years in churches around the planet. Doctrines have been formulated around this idea. Great preachers have proclaimed powerful sermons around this idea of Paul being the chief of sinners. As a consequence of this, many Christians live defeated lives but are masquerading as pious and humble. What if Paul never said he was the chief of sinners? Well, maybe, instead of just accepting everything we hear, let’s take a deeper look. Read More

Is his name Jesus?

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Jesus’ real name is…”? It seems like everyone thinks they know Jesus’ ‘true’ or ‘real’ name these days. I have been hearing pastors, scholars and typical Christians using names like “Yeshua” or “Yahshua” or some other variation. Some will go as far as to say that “Jesus” is not the real name of the messiah, and to be saved we need to call upon the ‘real’ name of Christ. So, what is really going on here? Are they right? Or are they jumping to conclusions? Is “Jesus” really Christ’s name or not? Let’s clear this up. Read More

God’s Hidden Name

Have you ever come across “God” written as “G-d”? Or have you ever heard Jews reading Hebrew from the Tanakh (Old Testament in Hebrew) say “Hashem” or “Adonai” when you realize that the word they saw is actually “YHVH” instead? How about looking at the underlying Hebrew of the Old Testament and realizing that the translators have translated “Adonai YHVH” as “Lord God”, and you know that is not what the Hebrew text says? What is going on here? It’s obvious isn’t it? Jewish leaders and Hebrew translators are not saying/translating God’s name in the Old Testament. Why is this? Is this the right thing to do? Let’s check this out. Read More

Love or hate the sinner or the sin

If you do a search on the Internet for “Love the sinner, hate the sin“, you will most likely come up with two responses. The first response is a lot of articles from pastors, priests and Christian writers telling you not to ever say that. The second response is quotes and articles from famous Calvinist preachers saying that God doesn’t love the sinner, but rather hates the sinner, and the sin as well. Either response is telling Christians not to ever say that. Both responses are on opposite extremes on the reason why you should never say that. This seems very weird to me. When I read the scriptures and reflect on what I understand about God, I can’t help but think how neither of these responses can even be applicable. However, let’s have a look at this. Read More

God or Sovereign

Over the years of being in Church, I would hear preachers from time to time say something like, “God is sovereign”. When I was much younger it was not something that you heard often. In recent years, however, I am not only hearing this from preachers in the Brethren churches that I have attended, but I hear it over the radio, on the TV, on YouTube, and even from the mouths of ordinary every day Christian folk. I especially hear it whenever bad things happen to believers, and it comes as an exclamation or as a reason to not question God’s authority. It is often said in conjunction with statements like, “God is in control”. The interesting thing about declaring that God is sovereign is that this statement cannot be found in the Bible, or at least, in the King James Version bible that I grew up with. So, where did Christians get this from, and why do they keep saying it? Why is it important to declare God as sovereign? What does sovereign even mean? Isn’t it sufficient to just say God is God? Is being sovereign greater or better than being God? I will explore this idea and provide an answer to these questions. Read More

Quotation Quandary – Hebrews 10:5 versus Psalm 40:6

A couple months ago, I had a conversation with a church brother regarding the body of Jesus Christ. His claim was that Jesus’ body was specially made for him, and my rebuttal was that Jesus’ body was a (hu)man’s body just like any other man. I recall having an almost identical argument with an older church brother over five years prior, where that brother claimed that Jesus’ body was “perfect” and thus was a special body. Although this post is not about either discussion, what I found interesting upon reflecting over both encounters is that both men quoted Hebrews 10 verse 5 as their main proof text. After this recent encounter, I decided to have a second look at this verse in context, and found out that it is actually a quote of Psalm 40 verse 6. So, I cross checked this reference, and was absolutely shocked that the phrase that was used as a proof text was different to the original quote. It seems like I have found another quotation quandary. Let’s have a deeper look. Read More