As one born and raised in a country dominantly steeped with religious sacramentalism and eastern mysticism, the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ was just one of the many options to access God. Thankfully, the person who brought me the gospel cared enough to persistently witness despite my show of obstinacy. After hearing the gospel ten times, at least, I finally trusted Christ as Savior forty years ago. Since that miracle, an appetite to know more of the things of God grew within me – a desire, I know, only the Holy Spirit can give. It did not take long to find out that following Christ meant a break from religious traditions. It was also misconstrued as defiance of family traditions. Hunger for Christian fellowship led me to discover serious doctrinal differences among professed Christian gatherings. It has also led me to study the Bible more to find out whether these differences were vital or relatively insignificant.

A Filipino pastor I met introduced me early to the term “Fundamentalism.” The literature he lent me spoke of the theological battles that started from the mid-17th century (when the denial of the supernatural elements of the Bible began in the academe) through 18th century Germany (when belief in the all-sufficiency of human reason was said to have the capacity to promote man’s happiness in this life through the Enlightenment Movement). It showed how this dangerous movement successfully crept into Bible Schools and Seminaries in the 19th century and what these theologically conservative learning institutions did to address the growing menace of rationalism and liberalism at the turn of the 20th century. Wow! These were heavy but enlightening data. They also gave me some strategic grasp of what the term “Fundamentalism” meant in these contexts – something basic or foundational, an anchor to cling to amid the raging and changing tides of unbelief.

Apparently, there is an urgent need to preserve these foundations for the next generation. Thus, the question: just what is Biblical Fundamentalism?

THE ESSENCE OF FUNDAMENTALISM

The prevailing misuses and misrepresentations of the term compel us to go back to its essential meaning. My readings lead me to the following definitions.

Historically, we are not a denomination but we espouse a Biblical position. The term fundamentalist was born out of a set of 12 booklets published by two businessmen in California. “The Fundamentals,” widely circulated between 1909 and 1919, contained a defense of the great doctrines of Scripture such as Biblical inspiration, the deity of Christ, the new birth, Christ’s second coming, etc. Since their circulation, all who believed the doctrines propounded in these books were called Fundamentalists.

Philosophically, we are not a reactionary movement but a remnant movement.

Fundamentalism was in being and existed long before liberalism was born. Schleiermacher (1768-1834) is generally conceded as the father of modernism. But Fundamentalism is simply a 20th century restatement of the historic Christian Faith (emphasis mine). Its beginning is in the New Testament. The designation of Fundamentalism is new to the century, but the content of Fundamentalism goes way back. It would be perfectly proper to identify the Apostle Paul as a Fundamentalist, for he held to the fundamentals of the Faith. It is important to understand that Fundamentalism is not the result of liberalism, nor a reaction to it.

Practically, Fundamentalism is simply “Bible-believing, Bible-obeying Christianity” (M. H. Reynolds, Jr.); or “the unqualified acceptance of and obedience to the Scripture” (David Beale).

There is one thing we certainly are not. We are not terrorists!

THE ENVOYS OF FUNDAMENTALISM

From onlookers’ perspectives, a movement is just as good as the people representing it. What the movement stands for should ideally reflect the people espousing it. Unfortunately, the ideal is not what always happens in a fallen world. Some children of older fundamentalists have abandoned the movement. Seeing the flaws and fallibilities of some of its reps has led them to come up with a sweeping caricature of Fundamentalists that grossly misrepresents historic, Biblical fundamentalism. As a result, they have thrown the baby away with the bath water. So, what is a Biblical Fundamentalist?

He is a born again Christian who differs from other professing believers because he is a convinced…

Biblicist. He regards Scripture in its entirety as final authority and seeks to use it as his authority for faith and practice. He derives meaning in life from the Biblical text, not existence nor experience. He judges all things by the Bible and is judged only by the Bible. As a cessationist (in contrast to a continuationist), he recognizes Scripture as complete and sufficient for godly life and service – not tradition (as the Romanist), not reason (as the modernist), not emotion (as the charismatic), not experience (as the existentialist), not extra-Biblical revelation (as the false cultist). He operates on the principle of obedience and not convenience (as the neo-evangelical pragmatist).

Inerrantist. He recognizes the divine origin of Scripture, verbally (word-for-word) and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit (God-breathed). He recognizes that the product of divine inspiration is the inerrancy of the Scriptures (without error) and that the proof of inerrancy is inspiration.

Literalist. His belief in God’s intrinsic integrity and his high view of Scripture leads him to accept it as it is in truth, the Word of God – and that God means what He says, and says what He means. He is committed to carefully exegeting the Biblical text, and is cautious not to eisegete it, in order to validly apply its eternal truths and commands to his beliefs, world-view, thought processes, decision-making, conduct, ethics.

Creationist. He finds no problem accepting that God started it all by the Word of His mouth, ex nihilo, just as Scripture explicitly says. Common sense tells him it’ll take more faith to believe the view that his ancestors were apes.

Exclusivist. He insists, just as Scripture says, that the Triune God alone is God. He is one God existing in three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – co-equally and co-eternally the same in essence though distinct in existence. There is no other God. He is convinced that his salvation is of the Lord and is found exclusively in God’s virgin-born and sinless Son, the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is received solely through faith, not works, grounded solely on His finished, substitutionary sacrifice on Calvary – His once-for-all blood-atoning death and physical, bodily resurrection. His blessed hope in this fallen world rests on Christ’s Second Coming.

Separatist. Neither cultural absorption nor cultural isolation are options for him. His devotion to God leads him to be more like his Savior. It is also his motivation for not conforming to the spirit of the age or being unequally yoked with unbelievers (personal separation); for separating from false teaching and false teachers (ecclesiastical separation); and for refraining from being identified with persistently erring brethren (familial separation). However, he eagerly fellowships with the saints of God for mutual encouragement and edification, with Christian brethren who seek to honor Him and obey His Word.

Evangelist. He practices fidelity to that Faith and endeavors to preach the good news of salvation to every creature. He declares that the salvation Christ offers is deliverance from sin’s penalty, power and ultimate presence on the day of glorification when Jesus Christ literally and physically comes back for His own. He warns every one of the awful consequences of rejecting the gospel of grace – divine retribution, eternal separation from God in the lake of fire.

Whether Paul’s day or ours, spanning from the Middle East to the west to the Far East, God’s people need to believe staunchly and proclaim fearlessly yet lovingly these divinely revealed truths despite the odds. As a husband and father of five children and a pastor of a church with young professionals who are starting families – seeing the issues and struggles they face as believers make me realize that this is 21st century history in the making. Like us, they will need to draw answers to their questions from the foundational and immutable truths of God’s Word..

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INTRODUCTION

Is homosexuality right or should it be condemned? Is there an objective standard outside of ourselves to get fair and just answers to these questions? Should they be protected by the state through congressional legislation? How should society and the church deal with advocates of such a lifestyle? Should same-sex relationships be accepted as the new norm?

Persistent attempts are being made by LGBT (Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender) advocates to make it so. The May 10, 2016, Yahoo News reported the historic win for a congressional seat in the House of Representatives of Geraldine Roman, the first and highest ranking transgender politician in a predominantly Roman Catholic country like the Philippines. This 49-year-old, former Spanish News Agency senior editor now legislator, underwent sex reassignment surgery in the 1990s. One of her campaign promises was to lift restrictions of a law passed in 2001 which made it impossible for transgender Filipinos to change their name and sex. She is also pushing for “an anti-discrimination bill that ensures equal treatment in the workplace, schools, commercial establishments and government offices.”01

Another news-worthy report came in months later related to this issue. According to the September 8 edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) has designated single all-gender-rest-rooms in its main campus as toilets for all genders. Their purpose was to foster dialogue between the University, the LGBT community and others in campus. ADDU President, Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J. said it was intended “to increase understanding and respect for the human needs and sensitivities of all.” It further added that this

… is not only because Davao City has special legislation proscribing discrimination against the LGBT community, but more so because ADDU is itself positively committed to cultural sensitivity, intercultural dialogue and cultural transformation in favor of a society that is more accepting of diversity, including gender diversity, based on a fundamental recognition of the dignity of all.”02

Ever since the Dutch Parliament passed a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry, divorce and adopt children in the Netherlands last December 2000, a number of others followed. But the whole world felt the shock when the United States of America Supreme Court made their controversial ruling to legalize it last June 2015. Those who celebrated the decision claim that theirs was a battle won by a minority in pursuit of equality. For conservatives, it was a blow to the ethical and moral norms of society, emboldening LGBT advocates worldwide. As the saying goes, “when America sneezes, the whole world catches a cold.”

With all these in the public fore, as a pastor of a local New Testament Baptist Church in Manila, we decided to get the pulse of our congregation. While all took the traditional view of marriage, it was only after a series of messages on this subject taken from this paper that many of our people began to understand how many of us, especially our young people, have been deceived and desensitized into believing that homosexuals were not “born this way.”

This paper is an attempt to address the questions posted above while assuming the divine inspiration, inerrancy, authority, sufficiency and relevance of the Scriptures. It is our prayer that it will shed light, not heat, to the current controversy. May it appeal to our consciences than to our emotions. We pray, it will provide various sectors of society an objective, timeless and transcultural basis in formulating one’s position on the subject and stir everyone concerned to principled and appropriate action.

CHAPTER I
THE BASIS FOR HOMOSEXUALITY

The homosexual revolution is no doubt in full swing on a global scale. Laws of the land from the west have legitimized their lifestyle and some sectors of organized religion have succumbed to their pressure by ordaining gay ministers. In this chapter, we ask: where do LGBT advocates base their claim for the legitimacy of their lifestyle?

The subject of ethics is about the good (the values and virtues we should cultivate) and the right (what our moral duties should be). Because it is about morality, it is usually related to religion and is a normative discipline. However, ethics is not interested much with what people do as it is more interested in what people ought-to-do. It focuses not so much in what values people presently have than in what values people ought-to-have. The Judeo-Christian tradition is one of the main historical sources of the moral heritage of the Western world.

The Judeo-Christian Ethic

Orthodox, historic Christianity has always recognized the Bible as the authoritative basis for belief and behavior. The Old and New Testament Scriptures were written by some 40 human authors of diverse backgrounds covering a period of about 1,600 years in three different continents (namely, Africa, Asia and Europe).The doctrines and ethical norms maintained in these documents have been proclaimed and articulated through the centuries in various settings: churches, pulpits, publications and other gatherings. The Biblical writers claim that their writings were of divine origin, breathed out by God the Holy Spirit who drove them to produce an inerrant and authoritative text.03 While these human authors wrote to their original audiences to address current issues of their day, their writings were apparently preserved for succeeding generations as well.04 Jesus Christ Himself recognized the Old Testament as a message from God,05 acknowledged its historical authenticity,06 believed its prophetic accuracy,07 and submitted to its divine authority.08 He also pre-authenticated the New Testament as He predicted the Holy Spirit’s role in guiding its writers “into all [the] truth” (the definitive article “the” in the Greek text).09 These are stubborn facts – facts well substantiated.

American author, critic, scholar, famous professor of English Literature with degrees from Yale University and Harvard University, William Lyon Phelps (2 January 1865 – 21 August 1943) had this to say regarding the Bible’s impact on the Western world:

Everyone who has a thorough knowledge of the Bible may truly be called educated; and no other learning or culture, no matter how extensive or elegant, can, among Europeans and Americans, form a proper substitute. Western civilization is founded upon the Bible: our ideas, our wisdom, our philosophy, our literature, our art, our ideals come from the Bible than from all other books put together. It is a revelation of divinity and of humanity; it contains the loftiest religious aspiration along with a candid representation of all that is earthly, sensual and devilish. I thoroughly believe in a university education for both men and women; but, I believe, a knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible.10

However, historical records speak of the theological battles that started from the mid-17th century (when the denial of the supernatural elements of the Bible began in the academe) through 18th century Germany (when belief in the all-sufficiency of human reason was said to have the capacity to promote man’s happiness in this life through the Enlightenment Movement).11 Modernism or rationalism posed that anything that would not square with reason could not or should not be accepted as true. This dangerous movement successfully crept into Bible Schools and Seminaries in the 19th century, forcing these theologically conservative learning institutions to combat and purge from among themselves its growing menace at the turn of the 20th century. After going through two World Wars, the promises of rationalism or modernism were found wanting. A paradigm shift of human mindsets took place so that postmodernism was born. Modernism’s bankruptcy was exposed so that the needed change had to take place – but it was a change toward the wrong direction. Instead of the look up, it went further within, still independent of God. The parameters of human reason were no longer the basis for knowing what was true and right. Reality has become whatever one imagines it to be. Truth and right were determined subjectively. Every viewpoint is to be viewed with respect and tolerance except those who believed in objective truth. Moral absolutism gave in to cultural relativism. Unfortunately, academic and secular circles continue to adopt this dominant worldview.

Arthur Holmes points out the problem of losing the power of moral imperatives in today’s postmodern culture. In his book written in 1984, Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions, he says, “This is precisely the problem with modern ethical theory in the West: it has lost its Judeo-Christian roots. It may even advocate virtues and practices that are in many instances compatible with a Christian ethic, but it has lost the binding force of divine commands.”12

Where does that leave the current generation on matters of theology, value systems, philosophy, ethics, or anything for that matter? Whose standard should be followed, including the matter under discussion?

LGBT’s Basis for Ethics

The advocates of LGBT try to make their lifestyle the cultural norm through congressional legislation. They have done this in many Western countries and attempts are being made to do the same in the local scene. By doing so, they have succeeded in making gay marriages become the law of the land.

There are, however, obvious questions and serious ramifications to this. Should the consensual voice of the majority in the House of Representatives be sufficient grounds for determining what should be considered the norm? Questions such as: should we base our ethics on what is popular, what is politically correct, what is personal preference, or what is principled and proper?

Jim Berg labeled “the ethics of the new morality”13 in four categories. Something is right if it feels good. This worldview is capsulated in a pop song with its lyrics – “it can’t be wrong if it feels so right.” He calls this the pleasure ethic. For others, something is right “if we love each other” – the affection ethic. This is the usual argument of LGBT advocates. Still, others say something is right “if we agree” – the consensus ethic. It does not take a scholar to realize that unanimity to a particular decision or course of action may sometimes spell a recipe for disaster. How and when can gang rape ever be good and right? Finally, for others, something is right because God says so – the Biblical ethic. This is not to say that feeling good, showing affection, seeking a consensus for a particular course of action is always wrong. We are simply pointing out here that these are not the bases for determining what is ethical.

The problem with the affection ethic is that, according to Paul, true, sacrificial love “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”14 John the Beloved apostle writes, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”15 Robert Gagnon words it well when he says:

Without a moral compass, love is mere mush. Without taking into account God’s will for holy living, love turns into affirmation of self-degrading conduct. This means that true love of one’s neighbor does not embrace every form of consensual behavior. What constitutes an expression of love to one’s neighbor depends significantly on how one assesses the benefit or harm of the neighbor’s behavior. If indeed homosexual behavior is sin and an obstacle to the fullness of life available in Christ, then the church has an obligation both to protect the church from the debilitating effect of sanctioned immorality and to protect the homosexual for whom more is at stake than the satisfaction of sensual impulses.16

Nature or Nurture

When asked a question about marriage and divorce, the Lord Jesus Christ said:

“Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. ….”17

For Him, male and female were created for each other and that the only meaningful, sexual relationship is the husband-and-wife relationship.

Traditionalists maintain that a homosexual lifestyle is a choice to depart from God’s heterosexual design for marriage. Revisionists and LGBT advocates, on the other hand, claim they were “born this way,” thus, implying that God had a hand in genetically making them “women trapped in a male’s body” or “men trapped in a woman’s body.”

Heath Lambert helps us see how the field of Psychology has never proven anything conclusive on this subject. He writes:

When the American Psychological Association (APA) weighed in on homosexuality in 1952 with the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) it declared homosexuality to be a mental illness. By 1974, it declared that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. By 2000, it declared that the people with mental illness were the ones who were troubled by their homosexuality.

This dramatic shift did not happen because of any new information about the nature of sexual orientation. No empirical data contributed to increased understanding about theinfluence of nature or nurture in determining orientation. The APA changed its position of homosexuality because of increasing cultural acceptance of homosexuality. The APA knows as much about sexual orientation today as it did in the 1950s.18

Where do such attractions come from? Again, we quote the APA, a secularist source, saying, “although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.”19

LGBT advocates have no basis to justify their homosexual behavior. Love and affection without truth and holiness turn out as a mere flimsy excuse for lawlessness, a license to sin. Secular researchers admit that science has not explained or cannot explain where homosexual behavior stems from. None of the studies have ever arrived at a conclusive study on this because the only real source for accurate and true answers on this issue has been given through divine revelation. Let us turn to that in the next chapter.

CHAPTER II
BIBLICAL TESTIMONY ON SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS

Whatever position one takes on this issue, expecting universal consensus is a delusion. It will not happen in a sinful fallen world. Reason and research do not answer the ought question on what should compel us to legitimize or reject same-sex relationships. This writer maintains that an objective authority outside of ourselves is needed. That authority is God who has spoken to man through creation, through his conscience, and more specifically through the pages of His inspired, inerrant, infallible Word, the Bible. We shall look at key passages.

God’s Design for Marriage in Creation

The Bible clearly teaches that marriage was not a product of social or anthropological factors. Rather, it was divinely designed. It was God’s idea and creation from the very beginning.

For His Glory
In the eternal counsels of the Tri-une God, both man and woman were created in His likeness, to reflect His image and rule the earth. He designed husband and wife to call attention to the glory of God. The Scriptures tell us plainly that all things were created “by Him [Jesus Christ] and for Him,” Col 1:16, or “for His pleasure,” Rev 4:11. Thus, marriage was divinely designed for His credit and contentment.

Yet, how many couples enter marriage with this perspective in mind – to glorify God? Many proceed merely to have their needs met or their sexual appetites satisfied. While this is certainly part of marriage, it is not its ultimate goal set by its divine Author. It is not surprising, therefore, why our society is witnessing the strangling of the family. This man-centered perspective is apparently the underlying motivation behind the moral chaos happening around us. Same-sex marriages, abortion, adultery and other sexual aberrations are all reflective of our culture’s relativistic and selfish mindset. Basing on the above passage, God intended marriage to be God-centered.

For Procreation
The Book of Beginnings, the Book of Genesis, gives us an inspired record of how and when everything began. The first chapter gives us a chronological account of the six days of creation where everything was declared “good” at the end of each day. After man and woman were placed in the garden prepared for them, God says of all that He has made at the end of the sixth day, “It was very good.” Here, procreation is presented as part of God’s design for marriage.20 Sex was God’s gift designed for man to enjoy exclusively within the bounds of the husband and wife relationship. Marital sex was never to be undervalued as an act of impurity, especially when the married couple engages in it with the purpose of ministering to their spouse’s needs.

Of course, this also involves the responsibility of providing adequate care and training for the children to be raised as godly seeds.

For Companionship
As the narrative unfolds, the second chapter of Genesis gives us the story behind the anthropological account of creation. It provides details on the location of the Garden of Eden, the stage where the prime of God’s creation would be situated to enjoy Him and His blessings. It included the formation of man from the dust of the earth and how woman comes into the scene. The first thing that was called “not good” in creation was the fact that man was alone. Thus, God created woman to exclusively meet a need which nothing else in creation could provide for man – the need for companionship.21

For Completeness
The same passage reveals the first man’s handicapped condition in the absence of woman. Thus, she was created to assist or support man for his completeness – as an helpmeet. Her role was not merely to be his servant. She was designed for significance, someone to suitably meet his needs which nothing else in creation can.

Two things can be clearly inferred from these passages. One, God designed a monogamous relationship for He took only one rib to address the problem. Two, God designed a heterosexual relationship for He made the rib into a woman and brought her unto the man.

For a Covenant Partnership
Finally, God designed a covenant partnership22 which involves a separation: “For this cause a man shall leave father & mother….” This means leaving the deepest ties of youth and establishing a new one so that past ties are not allowed to hinder the growth of the newly established relationship.

Furthermore, this partnership involves unity and permanence: “… and shall cleave to his wife….” “Cleave” carries the idea of “clinging to, sticking (glue) to, holding fast to someone in a permanent bond, in affection and loyalty.” Once sealed, the bond cannot be parted without incurring severe damage. No wonder, there are devastating effects when attempts are made to “put asunder” what God has joined together.

Lastly, this involves intimacy: “… they shall be one flesh.” This implies the physical unity, and more. It also means becoming a spiritual, moral, intellectual, physical unity between man and woman. This is marriage according to its Author, the way God intended it to be.

God’s Design Marred by Sin

How can a very promising relationship, like marriage, become a problem? The answer is found in the third chapter of Genesis. As a result of man’s disobedience, God placed His curse on His pristine creation that resulted in various aberrations and perversions which were clear departures from God’s original design.

God’s Punishment
The serpent, who represented Satan, was singled out to be “cursed above all cattle.” While all of creation would lie under God’s curse, the reptile would be cursed above all. When God pronounced on it that “upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life,”23 it seems this was the first time the serpent began to crawl. The Devil’s ultimate destruction is predicted. The continuous enmity between him and “the seed of the woman” will cause his final demise.24 This verse has been called the protoevangelium, the first time the gospel is hinted. Even childbearing would carry the effects of the curse. Giving birth would be accompanied by severe pains.25 The womb that was originally designed to bring forth godly seeds would eventually deliver inherent sinners who deserve death.26

So, everything else was never the same for Adam as well. Sin so affected man that it marred God’s image in him and alienated him from His Creator, making him deserve divine retribution for all eternity. God’s judgment affected a number of areas. First, the ground was cursed and is no longer going to bear fruit for him as before.27 Second, it affected his work. The mention of “thorns also and thistles” is a reminder that nature was no longer subject to man’s dominion. They make man’s work more difficult and complex because the ground from then on would hesitatingly give its yield. While work was part of man’s activity prior to the fall, this time he will have to sweat in his labors in order to provide for himself and his family.28 Sickness, suffering and physical death became part of his earthly experience as a result of his disobedience. Since then, he has to work until his death when his body returns to where it belongs – dust.

God’s Provision
Amid the passing of divine judgment, God gave hope for the first time by shedding initial light on the good news that salvation from sin and victory over Satan are available through the Messiah, referred to here as “the seed of the woman.” Man’s separation from God can be restored by man’s acceptance of God’s propitiatory and atoning work for his sin.

In contrast to the fig leaves man made as a covering for their guilt at the Garden of Eden, “the LORD God ma[d]e coats of skins, and clothed them.”29 Apparently, their former covering was inadequate, to say the least. These animal “coats of skins” were made by God Himself. The implication is that an animal must have been slain. Very likely, its blood was shed as atonement for man’s sin. The rest of Biblical revelation teaches that “salvation is of the LORD.”30 It is grounded on the death of an innocent substitute.31 It is carried out by the shedding of blood.32 What happened then became a picture and precedent for all men of how redemption from sin was going to be executed in Christ.

God’s Desertion of Human Depravity

God’s Righteousness Revealed in the Gospel
The apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans contains an inspired explanation of what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about and how it should ethically impact believers’ everyday lives. From the opening verses of this epistle, Paul makes plain that the gospel is not a mere code of ethic or a set of rules and regulations to live by. Rather, it is a divine revelation concerning the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (who was predicted by the Old Testament Prophets) and His work on Calvary (when His resurrection from the dead was a manifest declaration of His deity, His innocence, and the fulfillment of all that the prophets have spoken).33 The first three chapters present all men as sinners, Jew and Gentile alike. The good news is that God’s righteousness has been provided for unrighteous men. Forgiveness of sin, reconciliation and restoration is possible for anyone. However, these are not gained through human merit for man is morally and spiritually bankrupt, totally unable to pay his debt to God on his own. Neither can it be earned through law-keeping, for the law, good as it is, has no capacity to save. It merely exposes man’s guilt and the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Instead, the one, true, just Judge offers pardon and justifies the guilty in His sight, without ruining His perfect justice, on the grounds of Christ’s perfect and propitiatory sacrifice on Calvary. This can only be appropriated by the means of faith in Him.34

God’s Revelation Rejected
But before Paul bears out the good news, he explains in the first chapter why no one has any excuse before the invisible God for not knowing Him. He reveals Himself to all, without exception, through general revelation: creation (God’s omnipotent power, majesty and glory revealed). Yet man rejects and suppresses (holds back the truth) this limited but universal light,35 even engaging in idolatry by exchanging and worshiping the creature more than the Creator Who is blessed forever. This has resulted in God abandoning them or ceasing to restrain them in their obstinacy by turning them over36 to their reprobate minds. As a further degrading consequence, this has darkened man’s view of God,37 defiled his own affections or desires,38 and distorted his ethics.39 These inordinate affections have found expression in various sexually aberrant sins.

It is clear from these passages that Paul sees homosexual behavior as disgraceful – a result of divine judgment. Mere passions and desires toward same sex partners are equally vile according to this passage. By exchanging their natural attractions to the opposite sex for the same sex, they are sinning against God and are doing so contrary to nature. James De Young adds this comment on this passage:

For Paul, what is “natural” (vv. 26-27) reflects the being or nature of the Creator (vv. 18-23) and His revealed law (the Old Testament). It is the normative creation order of what, as designed by God, ought to be, not what exists. Such terms as unnatural reflect the rebellion of fallen female and male against the order.40

God’s Rebels Reason
Paul’s condemnation of same-sex unions is so clear that professing Christian and selfconfessed gay author Matthew Vines observed, “For countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, Romans is the book that has driven them away from their faith and torn them from their homes and families. It’s the book that’s sent so many down a path of despair.”41 Apparently, these “countless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people” understood Paul’s point. But instead of godly sorrow that should have lead them to repentance to salvation, their repulsion of the truth directed them to a kind of grief that brought them the wrong direction – the “sorrow of the world [that] worketh death.”42 Paul’s plainness leads Vines to accommodate but twist the Biblical evidence as he recaps his book against the Church’s traditional, non-affirming position by saying:

The bottom line is this: the Bible does not directly address the issue of same-sex orientation – or the expression of that orientation. While its six references to same-sex behavior are negative, the concept of same-sex behavior in the Bible is sexual excess, not sexual orientation. What’s more, the main reason that non-affirming Christians believe the Bible’s statements should apply to all same-sex relationships – men and women’s anatomical complementarity – is not mentioned in any of the texts.43

Vines rightly recognizes that all six references in Scripture to same-sex behavior do not approve of such behavior. He, however, contradicts Paul by qualifying and limiting the apostle’s use of “same-sex behavior” to be merely a reference to excessive lust which (he claims) excludes enduring and loving sexual orientation, passion or attraction of committed same-sex partners. Furthermore, to say that men and women’s anatomical complementarity is not mentioned in any of the texts is to simply ignore the evidence. Burk’s refutation of Vines puts things in perspective:

For Paul, nature is not defined by secular sources (as Vines suggests) but by the Old Testament. In fact, there are numerous linguistic links between Romans 1: 26-27 and the creation narratives of Genesis 1-2. For example, Paul’s use of the relatively unusual words thelys for females and arsen for males strongly suggests he is relying on the creation account of Genesis 1 where the same two words are used. These two terms accent the sexual differences between males and females and suggest that homosexual relationships violate God’s creational intent. Thus for Paul, “against nature” means that homosexuality goes against God’s original design.44

Vines professes belief in the authority of Scripture yet, in reality, he denies the relevance andsufficiency of it. He goes the extra mile of twisting its message to fit his beliefs and lifestyle.

Unlike him, liberal Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, Luke Timothy Johnson, plainly admits his total disregard for Scriptural authority. His statement implies an acknowledgement of the clarity of the Biblical text on this subject but realizes that rejecting the Bible’s message is the only way to justify same-sex unions. He writes:

I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality—namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order.45

Apologist John Frame brings this interesting insight to help us understand how and why people can be so off target and arrive at such unscriptural conclusions:

When sinners try to gain knowledge without the fear of the Lord, that knowledge is distorted (Rom 1:21-25; 1Cor 1:18-2:5). This is not to say that every sentence they utter is false. It is to say that their basic worldview is twisted and unreliable. Their most epistemological mistake is, typically, to assert their own autonomy: to make themselves, or something other than the Biblical God, the final standard for truth and right.46

God’s Deliverance Provided

The apostle Paul expresses his own personal inward struggle against sin in the same book of Romans in a manner every believer can relate. After dealing with the doctrine of justification (how man is delivered from the penalty of sin) in the first five chapters, he talks about how the process of sanctification takes place (how the believer is delivered from the power of sin). He talks about how the believers’ freedom from sin makes him a slave to righteousness through Christ in the sixth chapter. The next chapter deals with the Christian’s freedom from the law.

As a regenerate Christian, his desire to do what is lawful and good is ever present. But he recognizes a propensity to sin from within, a pattern that goes contrary to that desire – “another law in my members, (constantly) warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”47 At the end, he expresses his frustration, lamentation and admission of his inability to please God due to his natural sinful tendencies. He cries, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”48 That which the Mosaic law cannot do, or his conscience (the law of God written in man’s heart) cannot do, only Christ can do for him and for all who have come to trust in Christ – deliverance from sin’s penalty and power! The opening verse of chapter 8 is Paul’s conclusion of the matter: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus….”49 The apostle, in this great chapter, assures those “in Christ” of the guarantee of their complete salvation on the day of glorification!

How does this apply to our subject at hand? Burk and Lambert traces Paul’s progression of his presentation of the gospel in Romans and beautifully puts it in context:

Paul’s teaching in Romans 8 is particularly relevant in light of his teaching in Romans 1. In that vitally important chapter, Paul makes clear that God’s wrath is revealed in his giving up of people to homosexual sin. It is a truly devastating picture of the carnage of sin in a sinful world. We need to remember, however, that Paul is merely beginning an argument in the introductory chapter of Romans. We should not stop reading at Romans 1, and neither should we forget that chapter when we get to the hope-filled content of Romans 8. Paul intends the powerful teaching of Romans 8 to dispel the discouragement of Romans 1. The same Spirit that overwhelmed Jesus’ corpse with life is able powerfully to change those with sexual desires like those described in Romans 1.50

The visible transformation to a new life may take some time. It will require radical steps to avoid common pitfalls and to manage persistent temptations. But the divine provision to receive pardon from sin in Christ, and the enabling power to overcome (not just sinful patterns, but the carnal propensities of the flesh) are already available for the believer through the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is called the Spirit of life for He restored Christ to life from the grave. He also is the same Spirit that quickens and restores our mortal bodies with all its corrupt propensities into usability for God.51 Wow! The Christian believer is currently in possession of the hope, forgiveness, deliverance from sin (whatever it is, including the sin of homosexuality) and divine enabling for victorious living through Jesus Christ – all that is needed for godly life and service! What glorious truths! But it is available to all those and only to those who have repented of their sin and have come to Christ in faith. Why should anyone turn elsewhere?

CHAPTER III
THE LEGALIZATION OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGES

LGBT advocates are at it again. In November 2016, World Magazine reported thousands of demonstrators coming out to protest three bills to legalize same-sex marriage in Taipei, Taiwan. These bills were intended to “offer couples welfare benefits, joint property rights, and shared custody of children.” As a result of the demonstration, the report stated that “the legislature decided to allow two public hearings before voting on the law.” Those bills could “make Taiwan the first Asian government to recognize same-sex marriage.”52

The Issue of Human Rights

The gay agenda tries to convince many that they have a cause worth fighting for – that one’s sexual orientation is inborn – whether heterosexual (attraction towards the opposite sex), homosexual (attraction toward the same sex) or bisexual (attraction to both). They have deluded themselves into believing that this is not a moral issue but a human or civil rights issue. They misguidedly equate the slavery and race issues of past generations to their cause.

In his chapter on Human Rights, Arthur Holmes points out that:

In assessing any human right, the underlying claim is that all persons have an equal right to be treated as persons – regardless of differences in race, religion, sex, politics, or social and economic status. Such differences are ethically irrelevant and do not all affect the essential nature and worth of a person. Discrimination, however, makes such differences count; it treats people unequally, by virtue of race or sex or some other irrelevant factor.53

In other words, every person has a right to be treated as a person. But where does this inherent right come from? Who gives man his fundamental dignity and value? Thomas Jefferson’s famous lines on “The Declaration of Independence acknowledges that “… that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Such a statement concurs with the Biblical teaching that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”54 This God-given dignity in man (that he is a derivative replica of His Creator) is the reason why the State has been divinely granted the delegated authority to implement the severe penalty of capital punishment on those found guilty of the heinous crime of murder.55 It is also the ground for the New Testament’s prohibition of cursing our fellowmen.56

This being the case, homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals should be treated as persons with dignity and worth, just like everybody else. The reason is plain and simple. The God, Who created them persons endowed with certain unalienable rights, is the same God who created them “male and female” – not as homosexuals, lesbians and bisexuals. Treating homosexuals as persons is one thing. Condoning immorality is another.

David Noebel poignantly clarifies and distinguishes this when he wrote:

It (homosexuality) certainly is not a human rights or a civil rights issue, unless one is willing to make other forms of aberrant behavior civil rights issues. The homosexual revolution is definitely a moral issue, an issue on which we all must take a firm stand, remembering that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”57

Noebel has a point. If homosexuality is to be treated as a civil rights issue, then people indulging in sexual immorality, adultery, theft, extortion or even murder should be granted the same. Imagine a parade of inmates fighting for their rights to murder just as slaves fought for their “unalienable rights” that are “endowed by their Creator.” How absurd is that!

The Role of Government

Under the Theocracy of Israel, where God’s Law is the law of the land, sexual deviancy was treated as a criminal offense, just like murder. Along with adultery and bestiality, sodomy’s penalty was death.58

On the other hand, the New Testament writers taught and recognized God’s authority delegated in human government, even in their pluralistic settings.59 Paul writes:

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.60

Christian believers are instructed to pray for all men, including “… kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”61 These passages apply to the government’s role of maintaining public order and implementing just and equitable treatment of all its citizens for a just and peaceable society.

It would be difficult to be precise on how far can and should the State intervene on private matters in a way that would not infringe on one’s individual liberty (such as matters of morals and conscience). Suffice it to say, we have Biblical grounds to state that while State and Church powers should be kept separate, the Bible clearly teaches that the State cannot be, indeed is not, separate from God.

The truth is, our liberties are not absolute. Our freedom to swing our arms as wide as we can while walking ends as soon as we disturb the person next to us. There are some personal practices that can be harmful to society’s stability or even to ones’ self. For example, the law’s requirement to buckle up our seat belts while driving serves that end. In considering the matter of legalizing same-sex unions, apart from the gains of broadening some of our politician’s electoral base, we ask: what good will this bring to society or to individuals? Again, we quote Holmes for this helpful insight to shed light to this question:

Hence a moral practice like homosexuality, even in private between consenting adults, if it were to become sufficiently widespread and sufficiently accepted, would erode the family structure which is a major strength of the nation. The practice might then even be regarded as treasonous.62

Biological and Psychological Considerations

We need not belabor this point. We will refer this subject to the exhaustive study and research of Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S., Ph.D. (scholar-in-residence in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University) and Paul R. McHugh, M.D. (professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who for twenty-five years was the psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital) published in the Fall 2016 edition of The New Atlantis: a Journal of Technology and Society. We will only mention here the key findings of their study enumerated in their Executive Summary63 that dispel the claims of the gay agenda and makes the legislation of same-sex unions an unreasonable, even harmful, option.

One of their significant findings was “the understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings — the idea that people are ‘born that way’ – is not supported by scientific evidence.”

On Sexuality, Mental Health Outcomes, and Social Stress, these researchers conclude the following:

  • Compared to the general population, non-heterosexual subpopulations are at an elevated risk for a variety of adverse health and mental health outcomes.
  • Members of the non-heterosexual population are estimated to have about 1.5 times higher risk of experiencing anxiety disorders than members of the heterosexual population, as well as roughly double the risk of depression, 1.5 times the risk of substance abuse, and nearly 2.5 times the risk of suicide.
  • Members of the transgender population are also at higher risk of a variety of mental health problems compared to members of the non-transgender population. Especially alarmingly, the rate of lifetime suicide attempts across all ages of transgender individuals is estimated at 41%, compared to under 5% in the overall U.S. population.

On Gender Identity

  • The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be “a man trapped in a woman’s body” or “a woman trapped in a man’s body” — is not supported by scientific evidence.
  • According to a recent estimate, about 0.6% of U.S. adults identify as a gender that does not correspond to their biological sex.
  • Compared to the general population, adults who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery continue to have a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health outcomes. One study found that, compared to controls, sex-reassigned individuals were about 5 times more likely to attempt suicide and about 19 times more likely to die by suicide.
  • Children are a special case when addressing transgender issues. Only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.

To declare homosexuality as politically and culturally right, when it is morally and scientifically wrong and harmful, is a sure road to divine judgment and self-destruction.

CHAPTER IV
HELP FOR GAYS AND SAME-SEX COUPLES

Earlier, we argued that love without truth becomes an excuse for lawlessness. God’s love never rejoices in iniquity for it rejoices in the truth. On the other hand, truth without love is heartless and cold. God’s truth and holiness reaches out to those who err. For the Church to reflect God’s glory, Christians who sincerely desire to be Christ-like will treat all men as persons created in God’s own image and likeness while display concern and compassion for those who have fallen into sin through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.

The Need for Proper Diagnosis

In the medical field, an accurate diagnosis of an illness is necessary for any doctor to properly provide helpful prescription to the patient. Right thinking is the first step to right living. The subject under consideration is no exception.

If homosexuality or lesbianism is merely an alternative lifestyle, an available and amoral option similar to choosing between which soda to purchase (a Coke or a Sprite), then by all means legitimize and legalize it. If same-sex relationships are helpful and healthy, perhaps, it should even be commended. On the other hand, if these are aberrant and sinful, then we should tell it like it is. Anything falling short of this would be a self-deception, a disservice to all and will only mean cuddling gays in their harmful lifestyle. It will also mean an offense to God who alone, in His divine perfections and intrinsic qualities, has the absolute prerogative to define or determine what is righteous and what is evil, what is holy and profane, what is wholesome and what is not. He has also made gracious provision for repentant sinners to be reconciled to Himself on the grounds of Christ’s vicarious atonement for our sins.

We have already seen Scriptural evidence of God labeling same-sex orientation and behavior as sinful – just as He condemns gambling, cheating, murder, adultery and the like. Jesus said,

That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.64

The lexicons’ definition of fornication (Greek, porneia) is “illicit sexual intercourse” which includes “adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, bestiality, incest.”65 It is listed among Jesus’ catalogue of sins which, He says, comes “from within, out of the heart of men.”

The truth is, no one else understands the heart of man better than God. The prophet Jeremiah declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”66 No words are more appropriate to describe the inscrutable nature of the human heart. Even its owner cannot understand it. In his fallen state, man is unable to see it as it really is. It is incurably sick, as modern translations put it. Only God’s omniscient eye can fathom it and judge it accurately and fairly. Thus, it makes all sense in the world that His assessments, His answers and His solutions are heeded. Once again, man’s need for God is being underscored as the bankruptcy of postmodern thought is exposed. “Modern” psychology or sociology, by their own admission, have all been found impotent to properly diagnose and address this moral issue. We need to humbly accept this reality despite milestones of human achievements and advancements in science and technology.

The Need for Proper Rapport

Bible-believing Christians need to remember two words in dealing with LGBT advocates: be welcoming but non-affirming. Christians, instructed in the Word, need to be leading by example in welcoming all men, homosexuals included, as they truly are – members of the Adamic race yet fallen sinners. Who isn’t? As such, all should be treated with respect, equity and dignity as men who are created after the similitude of God, James 3:9. But we cannot consent nor affirm a lifestyle that God Himself disapproves and condemns.

Paul reminds us of the importance of presenting the truth of the gospel in a loving way.

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.67

The gospel in itself is offensive for it uncomfortably confronts sinners of their guilty standing before God. But Christians need not add to the offense of the gospel by their careless or tactless delivery of truth. Rather, they need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to accurately and compassionately proclaim the good news of salvation with the prayer that God grant sinners repentance to the acknowledging of His truth.

The Need for the Proper Cure

The American Psychological Association admits:

All major national mental health organizations have officially expressed concerns about therapies promoted to modify sexual orientation. To date, there has been no scientifically adequate research to show that therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation (sometimes called reparative or conversion therapy) is safe or effective.68

Even if we assume reparative therapy for homosexuals may help, it will only address some symptoms of the problem but it will never address the root of the problem. Reparative therapy might accomplish a reformation (enabling people to turn a new leaf) of its patients but only the gospel of Christ can bring about a regeneration (the Holy Spirit imparting to repentant sinners a new life).

All men are sinners by nature and by choice. The historical fall of man at the Garden of Eden has brought God’s curse upon all creation, plunging man into his currently desperately depraved state. Without divine help, he is without hope. Yet, despite this, the Scriptures tell us the good news that God has taken the initiative to provide restoration, forgiveness and reconciliation on the grounds of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice accomplished at Calvary. It was His love that moved Him to voluntarily lay down His life for our sins. His vicarious death adequately satisfied God’s outraged justice. His burial and resurrection was clearest proof, not only of His deity and impeccable character, but also of the Father’s acceptance of His Son’s perfect atonement for the believer’s justification. There is no other acceptable sacrifice.

Furthermore, the same power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power available for repentant sinners to enable them (whether homosexuals, gamblers, adulterers, idolaters, extortioners, etc.) to overcome a sinful lifestyle, no matter how deep or dysfunctional one’s past.

The apostle spoke of some converts to Christ in the Corinthian church whose past should have barred them from inheriting God’s kingdom. Yet he reminded them that their sins do not define them any longer. It is Christ and what He has done that does.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [catamites or pederasts], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [or homosexuals], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.69

This is Paul attesting to the power of the Spirit of God Who delivered and transformed the lives of those Corinthians “who call[ed] upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”70. And we know his testimony is true for it is backed up by the miracle of inspiration.

Today, that same Jesus promises to deliver those who repent of their sin and turn to Christ in faith. This does not mean there will no longer be temptations nor struggles, but there is unlimited supply and sufficient grace to enable sinners to progressively and practically live victoriously over sin’s power today.

CONCLUSION

The gay agenda appears to be gaining ground in today’s postmodern world. They see the world as they imagine it to be without any objective standard or basis. But God’s Word is crystal clear – God designed the gift of sex to be enjoyed within the bounds of a husband-and-wife relationship. Thus, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, bestiality and all other deviations from His divine design are aberrations – sinful in the eyes of the living God. To reason apart from divine revelation is to assert one’s autonomy from God. To depart from the divine design of a loving and holy God would only mean self-inflicted harm and an invitation to provoke His judgment. Objective, scientific research only affirm the declarations of Scripture – that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”71

So, in an age of pluralism and postmodernism, the call is urgent in Scripture for Christians to live and proclaim the gospel of Christ for it remains to be “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.”72

In an age of confusion, where contradictory solutions from so-called “experts” are being offered, there is the urgent need for Bible-believing churches to be “the pillar and ground of the truth”73 by equipping Christian families with the unchangeable and life-transforming message of God’s Word by preaching the whole counsel of God! This need is urgent so that God’s people “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”74

In this age of ethical relativism and egoism, we pray for our government leaders, including our legislators, to be “not a terror to good works, but to the evil”75 by refusing to legalize same-sex marriages that would embolden its advocates to advance their immoral agenda. It will also result in harming themselves and weaken the basic unit of society – the family.

We challenge all LGBT advocates to think through the serious and dangerous ramifications of making decisions merely on the basis of “the ethics of the new morality” where pleasure, affection and mere consensus becomes the determining factor of how society “ought to” or is allowed to conduct everyday affairs with no regard to the voice of conscience and the Creator. We ask all to be wary of compelling the State and the general citizenry, with the use of tax payers’ resources, to protect any form of dishonorable and disgraceful conduct that jeopardizes public decency.

Finally, we call all sinners (and we all are) to come to the only One who can mend lives that have been ruined by sin. No matter how dirty, dysfunctional and damaged one’s past, Christ offers cleansing, restoration and forgiveness to those who, in faith, will turn to Him from sin. He alone provides divine enabling through the power of the indwelling Spirit to bring order and harmony in believers’ lives and growth unto Christ-likeness. The choice is yours.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Berg, Jim. Purity: Winning the Battle in a Perverse World. Greenville, South Carolina: BJU Press Video Lectures, 2008.

Burk, Denny. “Suppressing the Truth in Unrighteousness: Matthew Vines Takes on the New Testament.” In God and the Gay Christian: a Response to Matthew Vines, edited by R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Kindle ed, loc. 374-595. Louisville, Kentucky: SBTS Press, 2014.

Burk, Denny and Lambert, Heath. Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says About Sexual Orientation and Change. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2015.

De Young, James B. Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in the Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2000.

Frame, John. Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 1994.

Gagnon, Robert A. J. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 2001.

Gonzales, Yuji Vincent. “Ateneo de Davao Designates ‘All-Gender’ Restrooms.” September 8, 2016. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/813900/ateneo-de-davao-designates-all-gender-restrooms.html (accessed November 2, 2016).

Holmes, Arthur. Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1984.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. Commonweal Magazine. “Homosexuality and the Church: Scripture and Experience.” June 11, 2007. https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/homosexuality-church-1 (accessed November 19, 2016).

Lambert, Heath. “Is a ‘Gay Christian’ Consistent with the Gospel of Christ?” In God and the Gay Christian: a Response to Matthew Vines, Edited by. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. Louisville, Kentucky: SBTS Press, 2014. Kindle ed, loc. 867.

Lu, Angel. “Thousands Protest Same-Sex Marriage Bills in Taiwan.” November 18, 2016. https://world.wng.org/2016/11/thousands_protest_same_sex_marriage_bills_in_taiwan (accessed November 21, 2016).

Macaraig, Ayee. “Philippines Transgender Politician Celebrates Historic Win.” May 10, 2016. https://www.yahoo.com/news/philippines-transgender-politician-celebrates-historic-win-070225928.html (accessed November 4, 2016).

Mayer, Lawrence S. and McHugh, Paul R. “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences.” Fall 2016. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/executive-summary-sexuality-and-gender (accessed November 21, 2016).

Noebel, David A. The Homosexual Revolution. Manitou Springs, Colorado: Summit Ministries Press, 1977.

Phelps, William Lyon. Human Nature in the Bible. New York: The Curtis Publishing Co., 1922.

Schaeffer, Francis. The Great Evangelical Disaster. Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1984.

Thayer, Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament 4th ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971.

The American Psychiatric Association Home Page. “Answers to Your Questions For a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality.” http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf (accessed November 10, 2016).

Vines, Matthew. God and the Gay Christian: the Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Relationships. New York, New York: Convergent Books, 2014.

01. https://www.yahoo.com/news/philippines-transgender-politician-celebrates-historic-win-070225928.html
02. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/813900/ateneo-de-davao-designates-all-gender-restrooms
03. II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:19-21
04. Romans 15:4
05. Matthew 15:1-9
06. Matthew 12:38-42; 19:1-6
07. Luke 24:27, 44-45; John 10:35
08. Luke 4:1-13
09. John 16:7-15
10. William Lyon Phelps, Human Nature in the Bible (Introduction, Copyrighted by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York: The Curtis Publishing Co., 1922), p. ix.5
11. Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1984), p. 33.
12. Arthur Holmes, Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1984), p. 74.
13. Jim Berg, Purity: Winning the Battle in a Perverse World (Greenville, South Carolina: BJU Press Video Lectures, 2008), session 1.
14. I Corinthians 13:6
15. I John 5:3
16. Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, Kindle ed., 2001), loc. 606.
17. Matthew 19:4-6
18. Heath Lambert, “Is a ‘Gay Christian’ Consistent with the Gospel of Christ?” in God and the Gay Christian?: a Response to Matthew Vines, ed. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (Louisville, Kentucky: SBTS Press, 2014, Kindle ed.), loc. 867.
19. http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf
20. Genesis 1:26-28
21. Genesis 2:18-23
22. Genesis 2:24-25
23. Genesis 3:14
24. Genesis 3:15
25. Genesis 3:16a
26. Romans 5:12
27. Genesis 3:17b
28. Genesis 3:18-19a
29. Genesis 3:21
30. Jonah 2:9
31. Hebrews 9:28
32. Hebrews 9:22
33. Romans 1:1-4
34. Romans 5:1
35. Romans 1:18
36. Three times, Paul tells us “God gave them up…,” Romans 1:24, 26, 28. In other words, God allowed men to act out their own sentiments.
37. Romans 1:23-25
38. Romans 1:26-27
39. Romans 1:28-32
40. James B. De Young, Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in the Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 2000), p. 163.
41. Matthew Vines, God and the Gay Christian: the Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex Relationships (New York, New York: Convergent Books, 2014), p. 95.
42. II Corinthians 7:10
43. Vines, p. 130.
44. Denny Burk, “Suppressing the Truth in Unrighteousness: Matthew Vines Takes on the New Testament,” in God and the Gay Christian: a Response to Matthew Vines, ed. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. (Louisville, Kentucky: SBTS Press, 2014). Kindle ed, loc. 436.
45. https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/homosexuality-church-1
46. John Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 1994), p. 51.
47. Romans 7:23
48. Romans 7:24
49. Romans 8:1
50. Denny Burk and Heath Lambert, Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says About Sexual Orientation and Change (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2015), Kindle ed., loc 1018.
51. Romans 8:1-11
52. https:// world.wng.org/2016/11/thousands_protest_same_sex_marriage_bills_in_taiwan
53. Holmes, pp. 79-80.
54. Genesis 1:27
55. Genesis 9:6
56. James 3:9
57. David A. Noebel, The Homosexual Revolution (Manitou Springs, Colorado: Summit Ministries Press, 1977), p. 147.
58. Leviticus 18:22; 20:13
59. Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-16
60. Romans 13:3-4
61. I Timothy 2:2
62. Holmes, p. 103.
63. http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/executive-summary-sexuality-and-gender
64. Mark 7:20-23
65. Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, s.v. “,” 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1971).
66. Jeremiah 17:9-10
67. II Timothy 2:24-26
68. http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/orientation.pdf
69. I Corinthians 6:9-11
70. I Corinthians 1:2
71. Genesis 1:27
72. Romans 1:16
73. I Timothy 3:15
74. Ephesians 4:14-15
75. Romans 13:3


Recent comments given by President Rodrigo Duterte regarding his opinions on matters of faith has and is creating a stir. We are referring to his tirade-sounding statements questioning the Biblically inspired narratives of Creation, God’s purpose for providing Eve to Adam, the wisdom of God in allowing man’s fall into sin, the Last Supper incident, and the like. As a result, the President’s logic has led him to conclude that God is “stupid.” While the President has qualified that he is criticizing the “God of the Catholics,” and that he has categorically affirmed his belief in a sovereign and a perfect God, still his statements were pointed toward the narratives of Scripture.

This has triggered inquiries from some of our friends to ask us what we think should be the proper Biblical response to such a situation. We have decided to put our thoughts into writing as an attempt to address such inquiries. This is being written with the hope that this will shed light, not heat on the current controversy so that understanding hearts and more sober minds would prevail.

We believe the consequent emotional reactions from social media on the President’s recent statements stem from two primary concerns.

First, the President is no theologian. We all know he is a lawyer, was a city fiscal, a local city mayor who now occupies the highest elected office of the land. But, just like many unbelievers and others struggling with the Christian faith, his recent statements bear out that he questions, at least, the accuracy or authenticity or perhaps even the authority of the Bible. Knowing this helps us to understand where he is coming from. Therefore, he is not an authority in matters dealing with the reasonableness of the Christian faith as revealed in Scripture. Just like everyone else, Mr. Duterte is a sinner who needs to be instructed and enlightened by the timeless and transcultural truths of the Word of God. Thus, he needs to be made aware that there are serious consequences for anyone who wrestles with the Scriptures, 2 Peter 3:16.

Secondly, he is the President of the entire Philippines. As such, he is bound by the constitution he has sworn to uphold to mobilize the entire government bureaucracy to maintain law and order in the streets, continue building infrastructure to improve the quality of life in our country, ensure the delivery of basic government services – regardless of his or anyone else’s religious persuasion. These are the areas where he should be focusing his energies on. As President, matters of faith (important as they are, since they deal with eternal realities) are very personal and may be shared on personal platforms. They should be kept that way as he conducts his duties as head of state. While he has every right to his own opinion, attacking anyone’s faith from any presidential platform would be overstepping his boundaries, may come across as offensive to some, and could be read as an attack against one’s right to exercise freedom of religion in our pluralistic society, 1 Peter 2:13-14; Romans 13:1-7.

So, what is the proper Biblical response to such a situation? We have listed seven.

  1. Regardless of whether we voted for him or not, we should recognize that God, in His divine providence and sovereignty has placed Mr. Rodrigo Duterte as the President of our Republic, Dan 2:20-23; Rom 13:1. Because all authority is ordained of God, ultimately, resistance to government authority is resistance to God, Romans 13:2-7. This is why the apostles admonished believers to “submit … to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake,” 1 Peter 2:13-17; Titus 3:1.
  2. Bible-believing Christians should continue praying for him: for his success in assuming his role as our country’s president, 1 Tim 2:1-2; and for his salvation, that he may come to personal faith in Christ as Savior, 1 Tim 2:3-4.
  3. As citizens, we should utilize the democratic institutions, take advantage of lawful avenues and respect the equal powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government to hold people in authority accountable for their misdeeds. Even the apostle Paul used his rights as a Roman citizen and knowledge of Roman law to humble certain magistrates of their illegal and unjust treatment on them, Acts 16:35-40.
  4. we should always prayerfully, responsibly and conscientiously exercise our right of suffrage every time the chance is given us during elections. Those moments are divinely appointed opportunities to participate in our democratic processes in choosing officials of character and statesmanship. There is a sense in which we get the leaders we deserve due to our wise or careless use of this right, Prov 29:2.
  5. For the born again believer, we should realize that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, John 18:36. Therefore, we should guard ourselves against efforts from various sectors of society that would initiate some form of civil disobedience motivated politically, personally or otherwise that may result in anarchy. Christians should ascertain that they do not contribute to this climate of lawlessness in any sphere of life.
  6. Let us get busy carrying out our God-given mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to this lost, dying and decaying world for this message remains to be the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, Rom 1:16. The almighty God continues to offer forgiveness, cleansing, restoration, reconciliation and deliverance from sin and from this present evil world. He alone is able to save for He is God-man, the only mediator between God and man who voluntarily gave up His life to atone for our sins. His resurrection proves His sacrifice at Calvary was sufficient, 2 Cor 5:21; John 14:6. He will save all who will repent of their sin and come to Christ in child-like faith, John 1:12; 3:18, 36; 5:24.
    These are the Christian’s primary responsibilities: evangelism and godly living. Through preaching the gospel, we provide the opportunity for sinners to be radically transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through righteous living, we impact society with a good testimony. Through personal and public obedience, we honour God.
  7. Lastly, when the state begins to infringe on matters of personal conscience and compels its citizens to disobey the clear commands of Scripture, the example of the apostles would be in order: “We must obey God rather than men,” Acts 5:29.

Dr. Roberto-Jose Livioco
Minister of the Gospel/Christian Apologist
Foundation Baptist Church, Pastor
Fundamental Bible Conference, Chairman


14Jun17

THE TRUTH ABOUT BIBLICAL FUNDAMENTALISM
By Roberto-Jose Livioco

As one born and raised in a country dominantly steeped with religious sacramentalism and eastern mysticism, the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ was just one of the many options to access God. Thankfully, the person who brought me the gospel cared enough to persistently witness despite my show of obstinacy. After hearing the gospel ten times, at least, I finally trusted Christ as Savior forty years ago. Since that miracle, an appetite to know more of the things of God grew within me – a desire, I know, only the Holy Spirit can give. It did not take long to find out that following Christ meant a break from religious traditions. It was also misconstrued as defiance of family traditions. Hunger for Christian fellowship led me to discover serious doctrinal differences among professed Christian gatherings. It has also led me to study the Bible more to find out whether these differences were vital or relatively insignificant.
A Filipino pastor I met introduced me early to the term “Fundamentalism.” The literature he lent me spoke of the theological battles that started from the mid-17th century (when the denial of the supernatural elements of the Bible began in the academe) through 18th century Germany (when belief in the all-sufficiency of human reason was said to have the capacity to promote man’s happiness in this life through the Enlightenment Movement). It showed how this dangerous movement successfully crept into Bible Schools and Seminaries in the 19th century and what these theologically conservative learning institutions did to address the growing menace of rationalism and liberalism at the turn of the 20th century. Wow! These were heavy but enlightening data. They also gave me some strategic grasp of what the term “Fundamentalism” meant in these contexts – something basic or foundational, an anchor to cling to amid the raging and changing tides of unbelief.
Apparently, there is an urgent need to preserve these foundations for the next generation. Thus, the question: just what is Biblical Fundamentalism?

THE ESSENCE OF FUNDAMENTALISM
The prevailing misuses and misrepresentations of the term compel us to go back to its essential meaning. My readings lead me to the following definitions.
Historically, we are not a denomination but we espouse a Biblical position. The term fundamentalist was born out of a set of 12 booklets published by two businessmen in California. “The Fundamentals,” widely circulated between 1909 and 1919, contained a defense of the great doctrines of Scripture such as Biblical inspiration, the deity of Christ, the new birth, Christ’s second coming, etc. Since their circulation, all who believed the doctrines propounded in these books were called Fundamentalists.
Philosophically, we are not a reactionary movement but a remnant movement.

Fundamentalism was in being and existed long before liberalism was born. Schleiermacher (1768-1834) is generally conceded as the father of modernism. But Fundamentalism is simply a 20th century restatement of the historic Christian Faith (emphasis mine). Its beginning is in the New Testament. The designation of Fundamentalism is new to the century, but the content of Fundamentalism goes way back. It would be perfectly proper to identify the Apostle Paul as a Fundamentalist, for he held to the fundamentals of the Faith. It is important to understand that Fundamentalism is not the result of liberalism, nor a reaction to it.

Practically, Fundamentalism is simply “Bible-believing, Bible-obeying Christianity” (M. H. Reynolds, Jr.); or “the unqualified acceptance of and obedience to the Scripture” (David Beale).
There is one thing we certainly are not. We are not terrorists!

THE ENVOYS OF FUNDAMENTALISM
From onlookers’ perspectives, a movement is just as good as the people representing it. What the movement stands for should ideally reflect the people espousing it. Unfortunately, the ideal is not what always happens in a fallen world. Some children of older fundamentalists have abandoned the movement. Seeing the flaws and fallibilities of some of its reps has led them to come up with a sweeping caricature of Fundamentalists that grossly misrepresents historic, Biblical fundamentalism. As a result, they have thrown the baby away with the bath water. So, what is a Biblical Fundamentalist?
He is a born again Christian who differs from other professing believers because he is a convinced… :
Biblicist. He regards Scripture in its entirety as final authority and seeks to use it as his authority for faith and practice. He derives meaning in life from the Biblical text, not existence nor experience. He judges all things by the Bible and is judged only by the Bible. As a cessationist (in contrast to a continuationist), he recognizes Scripture as complete and sufficient for godly life and service – not tradition (as the Romanist), not reason (as the modernist), not emotion (as the charismatic), not experience (as the existentialist), not extra-Biblical revelation (as the false cultist). He operates on the principle of obedience and not convenience (as the neo-evangelical pragmatist).
Inerrantist. He recognizes the divine origin of Scripture, verbally (word-for-word) and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit (God-breathed). He recognizes that the product of divine inspiration is the inerrancy of the Scriptures (without error) and that the proof of inerrancy is inspiration.
Literalist. His belief in God’s intrinsic integrity and his high view of Scripture leads him to accept it as it is in truth, the Word of God – and that God means what He says, and says what He means. He is committed to carefully exegeting the Biblical text, and is cautious not to eisegete it, in order to validly apply its eternal truths and commands to his beliefs, world-view, thought processes, decision-making, conduct, ethics.
Creationist. He finds no problem accepting that God started it all by the Word of His mouth, ex nihilo, just as Scripture explicitly says. Common sense tells him it’ll take more faith to believe the view that his ancestors were apes.
Exclusivist. He insists, just as Scripture says, that the Triune God alone is God. He is one God existing in three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – co-equally and co-eternally the same in essence though distinct in existence. There is no other God. He is convinced that his salvation is of the Lord and is found exclusively in God’s virgin-born and sinless Son, the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is received solely through faith, not works, grounded solely on His finished, substitutionary sacrifice on Calvary – His once-for-all blood-atoning death and physical, bodily resurrection. His blessed hope in this fallen world rests on Christ’s Second Coming.
Separatist. Neither cultural absorption nor cultural isolation are options for him. His devotion to God leads him to be more like his Savior. It is also his motivation for not conforming to the spirit of the age or being unequally yoked with unbelievers (personal separation); for separating from false teaching and false teachers (ecclesiastical separation); and for refraining from being identified with persistently erring brethren (familial separation). However, he eagerly fellowships with the saints of God for mutual encouragement and edification, with Christian brethren who seek to honor Him and obey His Word.
Evangelist. He practices fidelity to that Faith and endeavors to preach the good news of salvation to every creature. He declares that the salvation Christ offers is deliverance from sin’s penalty, power and ultimate presence on the day of glorification when Jesus Christ literally and physically comes back for His own. He warns every one of the awful consequences of rejecting the gospel of grace – divine retribution, eternal separation from God in the lake of fire.
Whether Paul’s day or ours, spanning from the Middle East to the west to the Far East, God’s people need to believe staunchly and proclaim fearlessly yet lovingly these divinely revealed truths despite the odds. As a husband and father of five children and a pastor of a church with young professionals who are starting families – seeing the issues and struggles they face as believers make me realize that this is 21st century history in the making. Like us, they will need to draw answers to their questions from the foundational and immutable truths of God’s Word..


INTRODUCTION

We live in a day when anti-authoritarian tides have been raging from every direction. Rampant corruption has led to a growing sentiment from various sectors of society to seek the overthrow of human government institutions on a global scale. Scandals among church leaders have contributed to the erosion of credibility of religious institutions. The situation is no different at home. Sometimes, children do not know whom to follow, especially when marital conflict and child abuse are more of the norm than the exception in the domestic scene. This makes twenty-first century culture conducive to a relativistic mindset – anything goes. One’s opinion is just as good as the others. Truth, reality, ethics and moral judgments are being defined by and reduced to the issue of what will bring maximum benefit to oneself. Ethical egoism has become the pervasive ethic in our culture. This is a sure formula for chaos. Is there anyone in a position to demand obedience to set standards and norms that would somehow alleviate the prevailing confusion of our times? If so, what would be those standards? Who is going to impose them?

Authority means the “power to influence or command thought, opinion or behavior.”[1] Orthodox Christians maintain that since all authority comes from God.[2] He has taken the initiative to reveal Himself, and that a part of this revelation has been recorded in Scripture. Thus, Scripture is both a personal and propositional revelation of God.  What the Bible says is what God says.  What the Bible commands, God commands.  What the Bible promises, God promises. Does the Scripture have this authority to demand obedience, does it have this right?

This paper is designed to prove why the answer to this question is a resounding “yes!” After looking at certain phenomena that make this piece of literature unique to all others, a survey of Biblical passages will be made to show what the writers (of Scripture) themselves believed with regard to the divine origin of their writings. But the strongest reason for believing the divine inspiration of Scripture will be presented and reserved for last. It is the Lord Jesus Christ’s recognition of its divine authority and His submissive attitude toward this time-tested and providentially preserved Book. In other words, if Jesus is who He claimed Himself to be – the incarnate and sinless Son of God, fully divine and fully human – then one cannot escape the inescapable conclusion that whatever He believed and taught must be true. Since He submitted to the authority of Scripture, then we, His finite moral creatures, can do no less because Scripture must then be the authoritative Word of God!

CHAPTER I: THE UNIQUENESS OF SCRIPTURE

The Bible is undoubtedly the most remarkable book ever written. A number of facts make it so extraordinary from all or any other piece of literature. These phenomena may not necessarily prove that the Bible is the Word of God but they certainly make one conclude that this Book is significantly unique. Let’s examine some of them.

Its Amazing Unity

Think in terms of the fact that it was written by over forty different authors, covering a period of about 1,600 years. They were all from different diverse backgrounds: Peter was a fisherman, Paul was a Pharisee, Amos was a shepherd (a herdsman), Nehemiah was a king’s cupbearer, Matthew was a tax collector, Luke was a physician, David was a king, John and Peter were fishermen. They were written in three different continents (namely, Africa, Asia and Europe) and in different circumstances. Paul wrote in prison, John was in exile at the isle of Patmos, Moses was in the wilderness. They wrote in three different languages. The Old Testament was primarily written in Hebrew. Most of the Book of Daniel was written in Aramaic. Greek was used in the New Testament (although a few lines were also written in Aramaic). These men had very little time, if any at all, to compare notes. In most cases, they did not even have access or knowledge of the writings of others. Yet, with all this diversity, the Bible has an amazing unity that makes its sixty-six books not merely a library of information and instruction, but one Book! Apologist John Frame took note of this extraordinary structure of the Scriptures when he wrote:

Here we have a wide variety of human authors, writing across many centuries, with very different interests, concerns, styles, and levels of intellectual sophistication, saying many different things, and yet, saying one thing: Jesus is coming, and this is what he will be and do. Does this not indicate something of God’s sovereignty over history? Does it not show that the Old Testament is more than an ordinary book? Does it not show some remarkable things about Jesus? Is this not a powerful witness to the Word of God?[3]

Charles Ryrie expresses his astonishment for the Bible by saying that

… it is one book without contradictions in what it says. And what it says is remarkable, for it speaks with equal ease and authority of the known and unknowable, of the pleasant and unpleasant, of man’s accomplishments and failures, of the past and the future. Few books ever attempt such scope; none is completely accurate except the Bible.[4]

Its Fulfilled Prophecy

It may take a whole new book to enumerate the numerous prophetic passages from the Old Testament that have found fulfillment in the New Testament. We will only cite a couple here due to space limitations. Let us take the Book of Daniel, since this is one of the most attacked books in the Old Testament. According to the book itself, Daniel lived during the Babylonian empire when he predicted the coming of the Medo-Persian, Alexandrian and Roman empires. He even predicted the rising of another world empire that is yet to come.[5] But the liberal scholars’ bias against the divine origin of the Scripture leads them to “late date” the writing of the book, setting it sometime during the 400 silent years between the Malachi and Matthew. This would imply that Daniel just looked back at history and write it rather than predict it. This does not solve the liberal’s problem for at around 538 B.C., Daniel predicted that Christ would come as Israel’s promised Savior and Prince. This prophecy was stated to happen 483 years after the Persian emperor would give the Jews authority to rebuild Jerusalem, which was then in ruins.[6] This occurred hundreds of years later, just exactly as the prophet predicted. So, even if the liberal puts the writing of Daniel no later than 300 B.C., there were still prophecies that have been fulfilled after that date. It is only logical to conclude that the prophecies that have not yet been fulfilled as of today await future, literal fulfillment.

The prophets Isaiah[7] and Ezekiel,[8] for example, predicted the restoration of the Jews to the land of Israel as a true nation in the latter days. The prospects of this coming to pass seemed utterly impossible for almost 1,500 years. Yet, we now have the nation restored since 1948. God’s truth has been marching on!

Its Historical and Archeological Accuracy

The historical accuracy of the Scriptures comes far more superior than the written records of Egypt, Assyria and other early nations. Innumerable archeological discoveries of the past century have served to confirm the Biblical records. Dr. Henry Morris quotes Dr. Nelson Glueck (whom he says to be probably the greatest authority in Israeli archeology), wrote in his book, Rivers in the Desert:

No archeological discovery has ever controverted a Biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of Biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries.[9]

            Years ago, a man named Wellhausen, influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution, came up with a documentary hypothesis that man was always moving to a higher order. He conjectured that the Pentateuch could not have been written by Moses because he did not believe man was advanced enough at that time in the evolutionary scale to have such an advanced code of laws. He also thought that man was unable to write back then. So, he concluded that the first five books of the Bible must have been written by a number of authors who later on attributed their writings to Moses. All these turned when in 1901 at Susa in Persia, some men found a seven-foot slab, six feet in circumference. Archeologists found out that this slab was older than Moses by 2,000 years. On it were 282 statues of law which is now known to be the Code of Hammurabi (King of Babylon).[10] This tore down the foundation of Wellhausen’s theory for it has no basis in fact.

 Its Survival Through Time

Despite attempts by political and religious leaders to burn the Bible, the Old and New Testament documents remain to be with us. Although all are agreed that the original manuscripts of Scripture do no longer exist, copies of those manuscripts, translations of it, commentaries are too numerous so that it is virtually possible to accurately reconstruct the original texts. It message has survived persecution, opposition and even generations through the passage of long periods of time.

The Masoretic text is regarded by theologically conservative scholars as an extremely accurate text of the Old Testament. Ryrie points out that:

Indeed, the Masoretes (traditionalists) who between A.D. 600 and 950 added accents and vowel points and in general standardized the Hebrew text, devised complicated safeguards for the making of copies. They checked carefully by counting the middle letter of pages, books and sections. Someone has said that everything countable was counted. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, they gave us a Hebrew text from the second century to the first century B.C. of all but one of the books (Esther) of the Old Testament. This was of the greatest importance, for it provided much earlier check on the accuracy of the Masoretic text….[11]

John Montgomery quotes Sir Frederick Kenyon, formerly director and principal librarian of the British Museum, to summarize the textual advantage of the New Testament. Kenyon wrote:

In no other case is the interval of time between the composition of the book and the date of the earliest extant manuscripts so short as in that of the New Testament. The books of the New Testament were written in the latter part of the first century; the earliest extant manuscripts (trifling scraps excepted) are of the fourth century – say, from 250 to 300 years later. This may sound a considerable interval, but it is nothing to that which parts of the great classical authors from the earliest manuscripts. We believe that we have in all essentials as accurate text of the seven extant plays of Sophocles; yet the earliest substantial manuscript upon which it is based was written more than 1400 years after the poet’s death. Aeschylus, Aristophanes, and Thucydides are in the same state; while with Euripides the interval is increased to 1600 years. For Plato it may be put at 1300 years, for Demosthenes as low as 1200.[12]

Since the time Kenyon wrote this at the beginning of the twentieth century, more papyri documents of the New Testament have been discovered which could be dated back to the first century. Thus, shortly before his death, Kenyon (quoted by Montgomery) concluded that:

The interval, then, between the dates of the original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.[13]

Today, there are more than 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament. This makes the New Testament the best-attested document in all ancient writings. These are amazing testaments of divine providence to the Old and New Testament Scriptures. No other book can be compared to it.

These external evidences may not conclusively prove that the Bible is the Word of God. But they certainly point to the fact that the Bible is unique from any other piece of literature. This is something one would expect from a book that claims to be of divine origin. Let us now look at the more important evidences – the internal evidences of the inspiration of the Scriptures. This will be the focus of the next chapters.

 CHAPTER II: THE TESTIMONY OF THE WRITERS

            The human authors of Scripture claimed that their writings were supernaturally inspired by God. The Old Testament, for example, abounds with such statements as “Thus saith the LORD:…”; “The Word of the LORD came unto me, saying…,” indicating that the men who wrote the Bible knew that they were communicating an infallible and authoritative message from God. This is an astounding and bold claim!  If these forty or so writers were wrong, then they must be clearly insane or among the greatest liars that ever lived. On the other hand, if these claims are true, then it is pointless for any man to look elsewhere other than the Word of God for instruction, counsel, purpose and direction in this earthly sojourn. Henry Morris points out that “over 3,000 times the various writers stated in one way or another that they were transmitting God’s Word to man.”[14] Paul Steele argues that this number is specifically for the Old Testament alone – 3,808 to be exact, according to him. He also counts “forty-four times in the New Testament alone the Scripture is referred to as ‘The Word of God.’”[15] God made sure that those who read the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, will understand that the text they read is not just the word of men, but the very Word of God!

What Old Testament Writers Said of Their Own Writings

Let us look at some of these instances where the Biblical writers clearly expressed their knowledge that they were writing the Word of God.

The context of this passage in II Samuel is that David was about to die. So, what he said here was his deathbed statement. Usually, people’s dying words are the most important words they utter. This is no time for small talk. Notice how David began. “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”[16] David clearly did not mean he was just giving a hunch of what the Spirit of God was saying. He meant the Spirit of the Lord used him as an instrument and he spoke in the power of the Spirit of God when he wrote these words, including the Psalms. Thus, his writings are not to be looked upon as mere human inventions.

The same happened with the prophet Jeremiah as he was made aware of the awesome responsibility of his call to do the work of the ministry. He argued before God his youthfulness and inexperience as grounds to question his capacity to preach the Word of God to Judah. After the Lord assured him of His presence and deliverance, Jeremiah said, “Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.”[17] In another occasion, God further told him to “speak to all the cities of Judah, … all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word.”[18] In other words, he was not to edit, alter, add, subtract anything that God would say!

In Exodus, Moses explicitly tells his readers that it was God Himself Who both engraved on and made the two tables of stone where the Decalogue was etched! “And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.”[19] This is why we are told in II Kings:

But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he [This pronoun “he” is clearly not referring to Moses but to “the LORD” – Yahweh.] wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods.[20]

What New Testament Writers Said of the Old Testament Writings

The writer to the Hebrews put it plainly as he wrote, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son….”[21] In other words, God spoke to the fathers in times past. How did He do this? The prophets were the human instruments He used in order to speak to them. Notice what the text says as to who did the speaking. Was it the prophets to the people? In some occasions, that was what happened but that is not what the writer is emphasizing. He is underscoring the fact that ultimately, it was God who did the speaking, using the prophets to speak to the fathers in times past. Yes, God Himself is in the business of revealing Himself through His Word.

The Book of Acts is an inspired historical narrative of the first thirty years of the Christian Church. Luke, the beloved physician and missionary companion of the apostle Paul, was the human author of this book. He cited apostles who quoted Old Testament Scriptures as absolute authority to prove the gospel of Christ. Here are a few examples.

After the ascension of Christ, the disciples traveled a Sabbath-day’s journey back to Jerusalem and prayed. Sometime after that, they sought for a replacement for Judas for the office of the apostleship. Peter addressed the one hundred twenty disciples and explained to them that what happened to Judas was a fulfillment of Scripture. He said, “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.”[22] In other words, Peter is pointing out that what has happened to Judas has been foretold by God the Holy Spirit through “the mouth of David.”[23]

A few chapters later, as the number of the disciples grew qualitatively and quantitatively, we find the apostles having to face much persecution from religious and local authorities. Peter and John return to the brethren and report to them what they just encountered. The Bible says,

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?[24]

Under the threat of intense opposition, these Christians turned to God, acknowledged His sovereignty over all of creation, and recognized that what they were experiencing was a fulfillment of what He said through David in Scripture![25] This is an attestation to the validity of the Old Testament as being the very voice of God speaking through mortal man!

Here’s another instance. This time, the apostle Paul is cited by Luke as quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.[26] The apostle saw the rebellious character of the Jewish people in his day as similar to that of the prophet’s day. Paul was, in essence, saying of his fellow Jews that this was to be expected since it was typical of them to reject God’s testimony. The record says,

And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive….[27]

Note how he attributes to the Holy Spirit what Isaiah wrote.

In his second and last epistle, Peter exhorted Christians to keep growing in the faith despite the growing apostasy of a pluralistic society. So, he tells them that it would do them well that they “take heed” what they possessed, God’s “more sure word of prophecy” since “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”[28] The context indicates that the “prophecy of scripture being referred to are the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament. These were not “of any private interpretation.” The Greek word for interpretation[29] means “explanation” is an intensive word in the ablative of origin form. Peter is saying no portion of Scripture originated from the prophet’s own explanation. They did not just decide one day that they will write Scripture because their prophetic utterances did not come “in old time by the will of man.” Rather, these holy men received their message from God and wrote them, word for word, while “… they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

What New Testament Writers Said of Their Own Writings

In his first epistle, Peter referred to the phrase “the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”[30] Then, two verses later, he also says, “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”[31] Peter is talking about the gospel spoken by the Apostles as well. He recognized the word of the Apostles found in the New Testament as the Word of God that would endure forever.

Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians was a letter of rebuke to these spiritually immature Christians. One of the symptoms of their carnality was their exaltation of human wisdom at par with divine revelation. These Corinthian saints were enamored by the brilliance of the highly educated Greek philosophers. So the apostle reminded them that even though the gospel was not highly regarded by most people, his message nonetheless was not of human origin. He claimed that it was conceived in the mind of God.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.[32]

Paul’s point was that although the unregenerate may find the gospel message foolish, there is profoundness and depth to the Christian message because of its divine origin. The extent to which the Spirit of God made sure that His message would be accurately delivered to man was by giving man, not just thoughts or ideas, but “words … which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” Theologians call this verbal inspiration. This means the Spirit directed and influenced the writers of Scripture right down to the very words they originally wrote.

Another symptom of their carnality surfaced through their misuse of their God-given spiritual gifts. So, Paul censures some self-proclaimed prophets in that congregation, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” In other words, he is saying, “let me give you a challenge to test your self-proclaimed prophets. See if they will stand up right now and acknowledge that what I am writing is the commandment of God and I am not writing of my own volition.” Then Paul adds, “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”[33] Here’s his point. If they cannot acknowledge that what Paul wrote is God’s commandment, then they are ignorant!

In the Book of Galatians, Paul addresses a serious concern. The brethren there had been misled by Judaizers into thinking that law-keeping (particularly the compliance to the Jewish rite of circumcision) was a necessary requirement to be justified before God. So, the apostle defends the gospel of salvation by faith, not by law-keeping, by pointing out in the third chapter that the law cannot change God’s promise. Paul proves his argument by merely showing that both the Jews and the Gentiles grow together in one body of the seed of Abraham, in Christ alone, so that all are one in Christ, just as it is declared later in the chapter.[34] The passage he quotes from the Old Testament Book of Genesis[35] has a certain word in the singular (seed) rather than in the plural (seeds),[36] showing therefore the apostle’s conviction on verbal inspiration.

Notice how aware Paul was of his apostolic authority of proclaiming the truth of God as he tells the first century brethren, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”[37] He was, in essence, saying to these Thessalonian saints, “you received it that way – as the Word of God – and that is indeed what it is.”

Perhaps, it would be best to close this chapter by looking at what the apostle Paul clearly taught regarding the divine origin of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, in his epistles to Timothy. As he gave instructions to Timothy, his son in the faith and fellow-laborer in the field, on how to conduct local church planting ministry, he wrote. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”[38] This is a very interesting passage because, first, Paul referred to a source as basis for his admonition to take good care of elders who taught the Word – “for the scripture saith.” Second, the portions he cited are from the Old and New Testaments, Deuteronomy 25:4 (“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.”) and Luke 10:7 (“The labourer is worthy of his reward.”), respectively. Later, in his second and last epistle to Timothy, he wrote, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”[39] Obviously, the “holy scriptures” Timothy was taught in his youth were the Old Testament Scriptures since not one line of the New Testament was yet written then. Even that was sufficient to bring him to the knowledge of salvation which is found solely in Christ Jesus when He is received Him by faith. And then, notice carefully what he says in the next verse, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”[40] What portion of scripture “is given by inspiration of God”? The answer is “all scripture.” What did that include? Apparently, he already referred to the Old Testament as “scripture” in the previous verse. But it certainly included the New Testament as well since he also referred to that document as “scripture” in his first epistle to Timothy. So, Paul is saying, both the Old and New Testaments are inspired by God. And inspiration means “God-breathed” or “divinely breathed in.”[41] This is a quality no other book has!

So, we see the apostles affirm, again and again, that those things that were written aforetime in Scripture were written for our learning. They were well aware that they were writing down a message from God. More than being the Word of God, they are actually the very breath of God! Yea, in fact, “every word … proceedeth out of the mouth of God!”[42]

 CHAPTER III: CHRIST’S VIEW OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

One wonders how the critics of the Bible and those of us who refer to its authority would answer if the Lord were to ask us a question today which He had asked His audience during His earthly ministry.  Jesus said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”[43] He is, in effect, saying, “Either you obey Me, or stop calling Me ‘Lord’ which means ‘Master’.”  Our practice should be consistent with our profession of who Jesus Christ is and vice-versa.

In fact, this is the first and foremost reason why Christians believe in the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture. It is not because of what churches teach nor is it also only because of what the writers claimed, important as these might be. Neither is it primarily because of what readers sense (e.g., changed lives). Rather, it is primarily because of what Jesus Christ Himself said. People who say they believe Christ but not the Bible as their absolute authority are, in reality, contradicting themselves. Since our Lord endorsed its authority, we are bound to conclude that His authority and the Scripture’s authority either stand or fall together.

 Submission to Scriptural Authority in His Conduct

The Lord Jesus Christ showed His attitude of submission towards the Scriptures as a powerful argument for its authority. He submitted to the Old Testament in His personal conduct. His temptation in the wilderness is a case in point. In all three instances when the devil tempted Him, Jesus said, “It is written …”[44] or “It is said …,”[45] to apply the text to Himself. Jesus stopped the mouth of the devil with “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” This coincides with what the apostle Paul says regarding that quality of Scripture underscoring its divine origin. It is inspired of God or God-breathed. It would be more accurate to say that He quoted Scripture to Himself in the devil’s presence. He was not quoting Scripture at the devil, as if to use it as a weapon with mystical powers to drive the enemy away, as some have suggested. The devil himself quoted Scripture in one of his temptations.[46] This clearly indicates that he is a master of the Biblical text and is skillful in twisting it or quoting it out of context. Thus, he does not run away from anyone who simply quotes Scripture at him. But for the Lord Jesus Christ, quoting Scripture to Himself was enough for Him to direct His course of action and to avoid the wicked one’s proposals. In other words, the reason for His not submitting to Satan’s suggestions was “It is written.”  There was no need to question, discuss, argue, or negotiate.  The matter had already been settled by Scripture.

Submission to Scriptural Authority in His Calling

Secondly, Jesus submitted to the Old Testament in the fulfillment of His calling. He clearly understood His Messianic role from a study of Old Testament Scripture. The gospel of Mark says: “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”[47] Note the word must. He knew and accepted that He could enter into His glory only by the road of suffering and death. And why must he? The reason for the sense of necessity or compulsion which constrained Him was that Scripture said so. Jesus voluntarily and deliberately put Himself under the authority of what stood written. He determined to fulfill it, both in His mission, His ministry, just as in His manner of life. In fact, Jesus commanded Peter to put his sword back into its place when the latter attempted to protect the Lord from the apprehending soldiers sent by the chief priests and elders at the garden of Gethsemane. What was Jesus’ reason? “But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?”[48] Everything He did was calculated to follow and fulfill Scripture. Years later, the apostle Paul wrote, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….”[49]

Submission to Scriptural Authority in His Controversies

Furthermore, Jesus submitted to the Old Testament in His controversies. The Gospels are replete with examples here.  Jesus referred back to the Scriptures to be His final court of appeal as He was attacked by His critics.  In fact, His chief criticism of His contemporaries concerned their disrespect and ignorance of Scripture.

To a lawyer, he said, “What is written in the law? how readest thou?” To the religious leaders, he said, “have ye not read this Scripture…?”  To the Pharisees, he contended saying, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition … Making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition ….”  To the Sadducees, he said, “Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?”The point is clear.  If the Son of God Himself regarded Scripture as the authoritative Word of God, then shouldn’t that settle it for all of us?  Not for some.

            First, note how Jesus regarded Scripture as historically trustworthy and accurate, including its miracle accounts. Matthew records an incident when the scribes and Pharisees were seeking for a sign from Jesus. Apparently, they did not believe Him and were, therefore, looking for more evidence. Jesus rebukes them by saying:

An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [50]

It is interesting how the Lord quotes from one of the more often questioned books in the Old Testament, the Book of Jonah. Liberal scholars have difficultly accepting the Biblical account as literally true. They argue that Jonah must have been drowned by all those gastric juices inside the great fish, especially after being in there for three days, so that there is no way he could have survived that experience alive. But Jesus refers to its historical accuracy and uses it as basis for his argument on his predicted literal, bodily resurrection as the ultimate sign for the veracity of His claims!

Second, for the Lord Jesus Christ, the Old Testament stood higher than any human tradition or teaching. Once again, the scribes and Pharisees tried to find fault on Him by raising the question on why His disciples broke human tradition, that of not wash their hands before eating bread. Jesus brought the issue back to them and asked why they broke the commandment of God for the sake of a man-made tradition. He quoted the Old Testament Decalogue when He said:

For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; and honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.[51]

These religious leaders had adopted a practice called Corban,[52] relieving young professionals of their Biblical responsibility to care for and honor their parents for as long as the cost of doing so was given to the temple. In so doing, they have imposed a man-made tradition at the expense of breaking a commandment of God. Jesus called these kinds of people as “hypocrites!” These are strong words coming from the God of love who regarded the Scriptures as far more authoritative than any human tradition of teaching!

Again, Matthew records our Lord addressing a moral question posed by His religious critics. “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” He answers it by giving a scientific pronouncement of the creation story from the Book of Genesis!

Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. [53]

Jesus clearly upheld the Genesis record as an accurate, literal, historical narrative. In other words, how can a myth marry a myth and produce a literal child? Geisler gives this helpful comment on this passage,

Here the very validity of Jesus’ answer to the question about marriage and divorce depends on the reliability of there being a literal creation in the beginning of a male and a female whom God had joined together as “one flesh.” Hence, there is no way here to completely separate the doctrinal or spiritual from the physical and historical in Jesus’ teaching.[54]

            In another occasion, Jesus was put to the test by the Sadducees on the issue of the resurrection, a truth these religious leaders denied. He rebuked them of their ignorance of the Scriptures and said,

Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.[55]

Jesus did not only show His submission to Scriptural authority amid this controversy. He also displayed His belief in verbal inspiration by resting His argument on one word, and on the tense of it, to refute His religious critics’ unbelief of the resurrection. Abraham had been dead for some 300 years when these words were spoken to Moses.[56] Now, in this exchange with the Sadducees, Jesus properly points out to them that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living after quoting God saying, “I am [not was] the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” He drew a tremendous conclusion about the resurrection from the present tense of a single verb in an Old Testament passage!

All these show how the Lord Jesus Christ displayed such remarkable confidence on the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. To Him, it is the Word of God which “cannot be broken.”[57] Is it conceivable that His followers should have a lower view of Scripture than He? Jesus said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”[58] If Jesus regarded Scripture with such high esteem, then people who seem to take delight in looking for supposed errors in the Bible are, in effect, calling God a liar!

 

CHAPTER IV: CHRIST’S PROVISION FOR THE NEW TESTAMENT

How could Christ endorse something that had not yet been written? The answer is in His appointment of the apostles. In the Old Testament, God was active in redeeming and judging Israel, raised up prophets to give a true record and interpretation of what He was doing. Then, God was active through Christ in redeeming and judging the world. Was this supreme and final revelation of God in Christ to be last to future generations? No! There must be authoritative scribes and interpreters for that revelation as well. How did Jesus provide for this? He chose, appointed, trained, and authorized the Twelve.[59] They became His personal representatives, endowed with His authority to speak in His name.[60] They had a four-fold uniqueness in their ministry.

 The Apostles’ Personal Call and Authorization

First, they had a personal call and authorization from Christ. This was the case of the twelve apostles after a time of all-night prayer.[61] Our Lord already had several disciples converted through His earthly ministry. But from these disciples, he called out the Twelve whom He appointed and personally commissioned to the work of the ministry. He called these men His apostles.

Paul claimed something comparable. He clearly asserted and defended his apostolic authority.[62]

The Apostles’ Eyewitness Experience of Christ

Second, they had an eye-witness experience of Christ. They were sent out by Him but their essential qualification for the work of apostleship was that they should have been “with Him.”[63] He gave them unrivalled opportunities to learn His Words and behold His works so that they might later bear witness to what they had seen and heard.[64] This was especially true of the resurrection. An apostle had to be an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ. It was for this reason that Matthias was chosen to replace Judas.[65]

This raises a question about the Apostle Paul. Basing on the above qualifications, is he fit to be called an Apostle in this technical sense? One way Paul defends his apostleship is by pointing out that the message he preached was not received from man but by divine revelation. It is in this context where he mentions that he spent three years in Arabia.[66] While nothing specific is mentioned regarding the circumstances and purpose of this three-year journey, it seems (from the context) that this had something to do with Christ’s revelation of Himself to the Apostle. In attempting to explain why Luke, the Beloved Physician and Historian, does not mention this incident in his inspired writings, particularly in the Book of Acts, Albert Barnes comments:

The journey into Arabia, probably, did not furnish any incidents in regard to the success of the gospel there which required particular record by the sacred historian; nor has Paul himself referred to it for any such reason, or intimated that it furnished any incidents or any facts that required particularly the notice of the historian. He has mentioned it for a different purpose altogether–to show that he did not receive his commission from the apostles, and that he did not go at once to consult them. He went directly the other way.[67]

There seems to be reasonable ground to believe that, perhaps, these three years in Arabia was to make up for three years of Christ’s public ministry which the Apostle missed.  He argued for the defense of his apostleship that he was an actual eyewitness of the resurrected Christ[68] and adds that he was the last of them.[69]

The Apostles’ Influence from the Holy Spirit

They had an extraordinary influence from the Holy Spirit as they wrote the New Testament documents. Jesus gave them a two-fold promise before He left the earthly scene. One, the Holy Spirit would remind them of the teachings He had given them.[70] Two, He would supplement it, leading them “into all [the] truth,”[71] including “things to come,” which they could not bear at that moment.[72] This was fulfilled when they wrote the Gospels, the epistles, and prophetic literature (e.g., the Book of Revelation). Kenneth Good has this insightful comment on this passage:

Our Lord also preauthenticated the New Testament (John 16:12-15). His plan for believers included additional revelation which they were not then ready to receive. This future ministry was reserved for the Holy Spirit. Note two things in this connection: (a) The result would be a complete revelation, i.e., “all truth”; and (b) the human channels were limited in time and number (John 17:8, 18, 20). The context here indicates that the Apostles and their lifetime are directly in view. This would mean that the fulfillment of this promise did not extend beyond John’s death, thus marking the Book of Revelation as closing the canon.[73]

Thus, the miracle of inspiration has ceased. The Holy Spirit no longer directs men to write His Words down. The Bible is the Word of God and it is final. There is no other Word. All of it is the written Word of God and it is all the written Word of God there is, sufficient for godly life and service.

The Apostles Confirmatory Signs

Finally, they had power to work miracles. The writer to the Hebrews cautioned believers to give earnest heed to God’s Word given through the New Testament writers. He stated,

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?[74]

His reasons for the urgency of heeding it are mentioned above. Its source: it was spoken by the Lord. Its confirmation: it was delivered to believers “by them that heard him,” an obvious reference to the apostles. How did God confirm or establish their message? He did it “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.” In a day when the canon of Scripture was not yet established nor complete, God confirmed His message by bestowing His messengers with the power to work miracles. They had God’s “signs of an apostle” and they performed before men “in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” [75] Paul spoke of the “mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God” Christ accomplished through him “to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.”[76] These were necessary in order to testify of the gospel of Jesus Christ to distinguish them from the false teachers who gloried in the flesh.

In these four ways, the apostles were unique. These clearly show Christ’s endorsement over their ministries, thus, pre-authenticating the New Testament documents.

The ramifications of these truths are very serious. This would imply that to attack the Bible is to attack the authenticity of God because Scripture “proceedeth out from the mouth of God.”[77] Questioning the Bible is also tantamount to questioning the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ who pre-authenticated the New Testament. To go against Scripture means to deny the activity of the Holy Spirit who directed its human authors.[78] To assault the Bible is to engage in an all-out war against the Tri-une God!

 

CONCLUSION

The evidences, both external and internal, show that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Because it is inspired, it is therefore inerrant, infallible and authoritative or binding upon all men. The product of inspiration is inerrancy, infallibility and authority of Scripture and the proof of inerrancy, infallibility and authority is inspiration. But the strongest argument for this position is what the Lord Jesus Christ said for if Jesus is who He claimed to be, the incarnate Son of God, then, what He says must be true. The proof of the deity of Christ is the fact of the resurrection. His resurrection vindicated all His claims.

The question now is why would people, even educated ones, disregard all these evidences? If Christianity is rational and true, why would some of them choose not to believe it? The answer is simple. They would not believe the divine origin and inspiration of Scripture because they would not recognize or acknowledge the practical ramifications of Christ’s deity. This is not so much an intellectual issue as it is a spiritual issue. Submitting to the authority of Scripture is not a scholarship issue. It is a Lordship issue. The reason why educated people do not believe it is the same reason uneducated people do not believe it. We agree with Paul Little as he refers to what Jesus said as the real cause of the problem of unbelief. He wrote,

The moral issue always overshadows the intellectual issue in Christianity. It is not that man cannot believe – it is that he “will not believe.” Jesus pointed the Pharisees to this as the root of the problem. “Ye will not come to me,” He told them, “that ye might have life” (John 5:40). He makes it abundantly clear that moral commitment leads to a solution of the intellectual problem. “If any man will [wants to] do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Alleged intellectual problems are often a smoke screen covering moral rebellion.[79]

Refusal to submit to the authority of Scripture is a problem both outside and inside the household of the Christian faith. The liberal or modernist may recognize Scripture as sacred literature, but he regards human reasoning equally authoritative, if not more authoritative than the Word of God. To him, if something does not square with reason, it cannot be accepted as true. The cults may show a degree of respect for Scripture but regards extra-Biblical revelation and writings equally authoritative, if not more authoritative. The neo-orthodox may claim that the Bible is the Word of God but actually means that it contains or becomes the Word of God, rather than believe that it is the Word of God. The Charismatics and Pentecostals may say that the Bible is the Word of God but, in reality, regards their emotional or religious experiences as far more authoritative than the Word of God. The neo-evangelicals may preach that the Bible is the Word of God but will operate on the principle of pragmatism rather than submit in obedience to its principles and precepts. The orthodox, historic position is that which is upheld by historic Christian fundamentalists. The Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. Therefore, all are bound by its precepts and pronouncements. Just like Christ, we need to submit to its God-delegated authority.

The problem of failing or refusing to submit to its authority in varied degrees is not due to a lack of brain power but a refusal to submit one’s will to the Lordship of Christ. The problem of the unbeliever is not his head but his heart. Jesus said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”[80] Each one will have to decide. There is no neutral ground here. Either we obey Him or we stop calling Him “Lord.” Let everyone who opts for the latter beware that there are serious and eternal consequences of their choice. There is a day coming when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”[81] Unfortunately, it will be too late for many. We pray this will not be the case for those who read these pages.


[1] Webster, s.v. “authority,” p. 117.

[2] Romans 13:1

[3] John M. Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 1994), p. 140.

[4] Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1972), p. 36.

[5] Daniel 2, 7, 8

[6] Daniel 9:24-27

[7] Isaiah 11:11

[8] Ezekiel 37:22

[9] Henry M. Morris, The Bible Has the Answer (Nutley, New Jersey: The Craig Press, 1971), p. 2.

[10] Paul E. Steele, On These Truths We Stand (Cupertino, California: Dime Publishers, 1975), p. 44.

[11] Ryrie, pp. 45-46

[12] John Warwick Montgomery, History and Christianity (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1965), pp. 26-27.

[13] Ibid., p. 28.

[14] Morris, p. 1.

[15] Steele, p. 17.

[16] II Samuel 23:2-3

[17] Jeremiah 1:9

[18] Jeremiah 26:2

[19] Exodus 32:16. Note other references to this: Exodus 24:12; 31:18; Deuteronomy 5:22.

[20] II Kings 17:36-37

[21] Hebrews 1:1-2

[22] Acts 1:16

[23] The reference Peter is referring to among King David’s Old Testament writings is Psalms 41:9.

[24] Acts 4:24-25

[25] Psalms 2:1

[26] From Isaiah 6:9

[27] Acts 28:25-26

[28] II Peter 1:19-21

[29] James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984), p. 31 [hereafter cited as NSECB].

[30] I Peter 1:23

[31] I Peter 1:25

[32] I Corinthians 2:10-13

[33] I Corinthians 14:37

[34] Galatians 3:28

[35] Genesis 12:7; 17:7

[36] Galatians 3:16

[37] I Thessalonians 2:13

[38] I Timothy 5:17-18

[39] II Timothy 3:15

[40] II Timothy 3:16

[41] NSECB, p. 36.

[42] Matthew 4:4

[43] Luke 6:46

[44] Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; Luke 4:4, 8

[45] Luke 4:12

[46] Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:9-11

[47] Mark 8:31

[48] Matthew 26:54

[49] I Corinthians 15:3-4

[50] Matthew 12:39-40

[51] Matthew 15:4-6

[52] Mark 7:11

[53] Matthew 19:3-6

[54] Norman L. Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1976), p. 359.

[55] Matthew 22:23-33

[56] Exodus 3:6, 16

[57] John 10:35

[58] Matthew 5:18

[59] Matthew 10:1-4

[60] John 13:20

[61] Luke 6:12-13

[62] Galatians 1:1; Acts 26:17

[63] Mark 3:14

[64] John 15:27; I John 1:1-3

[65] Acts 1:21-26

[66] Galatians 1:11, 12, 17, 18

[67] Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. In SwordSearcher, Version 5.1.1.1 [CD-ROM] (Broken Arrow, OK: Brandon Staggs, 1995-2007).

[68] I Corinthians 9:1

[69] I Corinthians 15:8-9

[70] John 14:25-26

[71] The definitive article is supplied in the Greek: pasan thn alhyeian.

[72] John 16:12-13

[73] Kenneth H. Good, God’s Blueprint for a Church (Des Plaines, Illinois: Regular Baptist Press, 1974), p. 3.

[74] Hebrews 2:3-4

[75] II Corinthians 12:12

[76] Romans 15:18-19

[77] Matthew 4:4

[78] II Peter 1:19-21

[79] Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, 1967), p. 16.

[80] Luke 6:46

[81] Philippians 2:10-11


The question we are trying to answer in this study is this: Is the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) really changing? Is it headed toward a Scriptural direction?

To speak against the predominant religion of this country is no easy task, especially when one considers that 82% of its population are Roman Catholics. But the truth needs to be told, or we allow our people to remain under a religion of good works, sacraments and rituals which offer no assurance of liberation or deliverance from the bondage of sin and hell. Rightly so, for only the one, true, gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to do this.

The Philippines had no Protestant evangelical mission work of any kind during nearly 400 years since 1521 that it was under Spanish rule. Dr. Harold Cummons narrates:

The colonizing agent in all of Spain’s conquests was the Church of Rome. Shiploads of priests and nuns followed the explorers and attempted to Christianize the Filipinos. Customs from the raw heathenism of animistic worship came right into the church and were given Christian trappings. The Bible was a forbidden book. The priests virtually ruled the islands from the fortress-like churches, many of which had towers with narrow slits for gun windows. By the time of the Spanish-American War at the close of the nineteenth century, it was estimated that fully 90% of the population was Roman Catholic. The remaining 10% were animists, who worshipped forest spirits, and the Muslim Moros of Mindanao and the Sulu Islands in the extreme south. (Heritage and Harvest by Commons)

In recent years, the RCC in the Philippines has appeared more “evangelical.” Last year, the RCC declared 1990 “National Bible Year.” Their emphasis on Bible Study and evangelism; their being more informal, less ritualistic; their being more visible in media with more dynamism in their homiletical approach; their use of Christian jargon such as “Bible Study,” “evangelism,” “witnessing,” and the like, which were formerly and noticeably heard only in fundamental and evangelical circles, have made it appear that we differ from them only on minor points of theology and practice. The further global emphasis on ecumenism in the last few decades has led some to think that we have a lot more to agree on than to disagree on. But is this really the case? Have we forgotten that in 1989 the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released a pastoral letter in leading newspapers to counter and expose supposed “fundamentalist errors”?

The reasons why these questions should concern every born-again, blood-washed Christian are obvious. For one, true Christians are hungry for Christian fellowship. Thus, the question: Is it alright, Scripturally, for him to ally himself with and cooperate with the RCC in any Christian endeavor? The obedient Christian desires to uphold the truths of Scripture. Has the RCC shifted to the Biblical position, reckoning man’s fallen, spiritually depraved and sinful state, his need for the Spirit’s regeneration so he would be saved by grace through faith in the all-sufficient, atoning work of Jesus Christ, apart from any human merit, in order to enter the kingdom of God?

To answer these questions, we shall refer to the documents of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) to be more up-to-date. It should be noted, however, that as of this writing of this paper, documents forwarded from the PCP-II are yet awaiting approval from the Vatican. It should also be noted that we are not sitting as judge on the intentions, motives, nor the sincerity of those behind PCP-II. As Bible-believing born-again Christians, we desire to be obedient to God, Who commands us in His Word to “… believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into this world” (I John 4:1). This is being written with the loving concern and prayer that people turn away from error and turn to “… the Way, the Truth, and the Life …” –the Lord Jesus Christ—Who alone can give forgiveness of sins and the promise of everlasting life.

WHAT IS PCP-II?

“Unite All Things Under Christ (Ephesians 1:10)” was the theme of PCP-II, which convened in Manila last January 20 to February 17, 1991, gathering 489 clerical, religious and lay participants. PCP-II, the first was in 1958, takes pride in being the first plenary council held in the Catholic Church after Vatican II (1962-1965). It was a “Filipino first.” The Council was intended to “renew the Church and revitalize the Christian faith of Catholics” (Bacani, p. 2). The CBCP determined seven agenda topics based on five national surveys, namely: 1, Christian Life; 2, Religious Concerns; 3, Social Concerns; 4, Church and Society; 5, Laity; 6, Religious; 7, Clergy. Documents on each of these topics are now bound in what has been called the “Final Draft,” which Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi feels might “become the Magna Carta guiding the evangelizing mission of the Church in the Philippines unto the third millennium” (Bacani, p. 3). Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr. is confident that this one-month gathering “… will deeply affect the future of the Church in the Philippines. What Vatican II is for the whole Cahtolic world, that the Second Plenary Council is going to be for the Church in the Philippines. One need not be a prophet to say this with assurance” (Towards the Third Millennium – The PCP-II Vision, Bacani, p. 1).

In the course of reading PCP-II materials, this writer has seen a number of complex issues raised that need to be addressed. However, rather than looking from the issues to the Bible, we shall take the direction of looking from the Bible to the issues at hand. Let us put on our Biblical spectacles first, state what is Scripturally true, and then use the Bible as a screen to expose the misleading statements of PCP-II.

Roman Catholicism and Fundamental Bible Christianity differ on at least two foundational doctrines – the doctrine of the Bible and the doctrine of Salvation. All other differences stem from the recognition or non-recognition of these. For instance, the RCC believes in papal infallibility, man-made church traditions (e.g., Mariolatry, the Mass, canonization of dead saints, praying for the dead, etc.) and the Apocrypha (additional books in the Bible) and puts them on par with the authority of the Bible. This is so because, although they claim to believe the Bible as the inspired Word of God, to them, it is not all the written Word of God there is. Even when these other bases of authority conflict with the plain teachings of the Word of God, the former is regarded as the one binding in actual practice. Further, while RCC, like Biblical Christianity and unlike most cults, believes Jesus Christ to be the Second Person become incarnate of the Triune Godhead, they belittle His work on Calvary and “… frustrate the grace of God…” (Galatians 2:21) by their teachings such as Purgatory and Transubstantiation; because these deny the Biblical teaching of salvation by grace through faith apart from any human merit or good works in the once-and-for-all atoning work of Jesus Christ (I Peter 3:18).

Let us see how this is reflected in PCP-II.

PCP-II’s TEACHINGS EXAMINED

On the Bible
The Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God written by “…holy men of God… as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:20-21, II Timothy 3:16). This being so, it is therefore inerrant, for the Holy Spirit is God, Who cannot lie and does not commit error. It is therefore our final and authoritative rule for faith and practice, belief and behavior, creed and conduct. The Bible is all the written Word of God there is and is also sufficient to make “… the man of God… thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:17). We are not to add nor subtract from it, for to do so is to invoke God’s judgment or misunderstand the message of God’s Word (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-7; II Thessalonians 2:2).

As pointed out earlier, the RCC regards man-made tradition as being on par with the authority of the Scriptures, thus also implying its insufficiency. The document on “Religious Concerns” says on page 7: “The person who believes accepts the person of Christ, yes, but he also accepts his teachings. These teachings are contained in the Scriptures and the living Tradition of the Church.” (emphasis mine)

In their emphasis for catechesis to be systematic, they specify the limitations and qualifications of the content of their teachings on page 9 of the same document:

“Finally, catechesis must be systematic, i.e., it must present in an ordered and programmed way the whole of the Good News from the Bible and sacred Tradition, and as taught by the Church – without distortion or diminution, but always taking into account the circumstances of the catechized. This systematic catechesis must highlight the basics of Catholic belief and practice.” (emphasis mine)

This means catechesis will be taught not by teaching the Bible and letting the Bible speak for itself. Instead, it will be taught according to Roman Catholic belief and practice. It is clear here that the RCC is not going to change her message, only her approach. Generations ago, the Bible was a forbidden book for laymen to read. Today, we hear of Bible Studies being held in RC circles, which they call base-level ecclesial communities. The shift in approach makes RCC a more deceptive enemy of the gospel since their ongoing Bible Studies are designed to twist the Scriptures to fit their preconceived and biased heretical (and sometimes blasphemous) teachings. We maintain that all teachings and traditions should conform to the immutable doctrines and pronouncements of the authoritative Word of God. When they conflict, the latter should be obeyed.

On Salvation
The Bible teaches that all men are sinners and that the only way we can be saved from the wrath of God is through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ apart from any human merit (Romans 3:23, Acts 20:21, Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:16, John 5:24). No church, no sacrament, no human sacrifice, no amount of good works combined, can in any way satisfactorily atone for man’s sin before the just and holy God. Nothing but “…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). But is this what PCP-II teaches? Let us quote at length and allow their documents to speak for themselves. On page 8 of the document on “Christian Life,” we read:

B. Christian Life Initiated Through Sacraments
1. The Sacrament of Baptism
God did not only share divine life to man. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He provided man the means that will sustain his life and strengthen him in the fact of adversities, manmade and Satan-influenced. The sacraments are entrusted to the Church, so that man will not go wanting. Born to this world, man receives baptism through which he is joined to Christ on the paschal mystery of His death and resurrection. (emphasis mine)

2. Two Other Sacraments
To complete a person’s initiation to the Christian life, man avails himself of the sacraments of confirmation and eucharist. When a person is confirmed the Holy Spirit conforms him more perfectly to Christ so that he may bear witness to Him (Acts 1:8) in building up His Body, the Church. Man, therefore, become Christ’s soldier on earth, ever vigilant of life and faith, all lived and practiced for God and fellowmen. (emphasis mine)

This is entrance into the Christian life by, or salvation by, sacraments, not by faith in Christ as the Bible teaches.

Further, the Bible teaches that sinners need to receive Jesus Christ by faith, that is, by trusting Him in order to become one of God’s own children (John 1:12-13; 3:16, 18, 36). Page 9 of the same document says:

By partaking of the eucharist, the memorial of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples, and of His death and resurrection anticipated in that meal, man is joined to the Body of Christ and becomes a living member of the People of God, in the New Covenant. Man’s regular encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, brings him closer to his Lord and reaffirms his membership in the Mystical Body of Christ.

This is nothing but a reaffirmation of the false doctrine of Transubstantiation, which says that the priest is endowed with power to change the bread and wine of the Mass into the literal body and blood of Christ. Further, while the Holy Scriptures give place to ordinances in the local New Testament church (e.g., Acts 2:41-47), unlike the RCC, the ordinances are to be partaken of by the partaker not as a means to be saved but because he has been saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ. To the RCC, partaking of the sacraments is an “initiation to the Christian life.” To them, it means to be “joined to Christ” and become “a living member of the People of God.” This is again a teaching that encourages people to merit God’s unmerited favor. It frustrates the grace of God, for it implies the insufficiency of Christ’s finished work. Remember, the Biblical passages that give instruction regarding Baptism (Romans 6) and the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11) were addressed to saved people, not to people who needed to be saved.

AFTER PCP-II, WHAT?

Time and space constraints do not allow us to address the many other unscriptural teachings of this religious system, such as the confessional, the Mass, the papacy, and the like. But what we have is enough to clearly show us that the RCC is not “evangelical,” nor is she going to change her teachings.

What can the Christian/evangelical community expect from her after PCP-II?

First, MORE DISTORTION of Biblical truth. Their recent emphasis on evangelism with the goal of reaching the world by the year 2000 has misled many in neo-evangelical and ecumenical circles to think that the RCC preaches the one, true, Biblical gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Many, even believers, fail to realize that the RCC is using evangelical terms baptized with different meanings. We have seen earlier that the gospel they bring offers a salvation earned by sacraments and good works. It does not lead souls to rest in Christ’s finished, substitutionary, saving work. The Bible explicitly condemns anyone who preaches another gospel other than that which the New Testament teaches – see Galatians 1:6-9. In other words, the RCC has God’s anathema upon it.

Further, Bishop Bacani states on page 74 of his book, Towards the Third Millennium – THE PCP-II VISION:

The evangelical and the evangelizing character of religious life is expressed in a special way by missionaries who reach out to other nations to proclaim the gospel (writer’s note: But what is RCC’s “gospel”?). The Philippines today has more than a thousand religious missionaries abroad.

Here in the Philippines that evangelical and evangelizing character shows itself in a preferential option for the poor characterized by passion for justice and compassion for the poor, the weak and the sick. It shows itself in educational and charitable, and pastoral works. But even those who spend their lives in cloistered contemplation and penance likewise make their important contribution to the Church’s evangelizing mission.

So this is what RCC calls evangelization. It is not the proclamation of the good news to hell-bound sinners that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and was raised for our justification, Romans 4:25.

Second, we can expect MORE DELUSION. The Book of Revelation clearly predicts a coming one-world church and one-world government that will eventually be spearheaded by the Anti-Christ. Today, the recent emphasis of the secular media in mobilizing people to achieve the unity of all mankind is getting more and more pronounced. According to pages 62-63 of Bacani’s book, PCP-II has expressed, as one of the “goals of holistic evangelization,” the transformation of society. We read:

And the transformed society we look forward to and wish to create by God’s grace is
…a free nation
where human dignity and solidarity are respected and promoted
where moral principles prevail in socio-economic life and structures;
where justice, love, and solidarity are the inner driving forces of development.

We shall have to build a sovereign nation:
Where every tribe and faith are respected;
Where diverse tongues and traditions work Together for the good of all;
Where membership is a call to participation
And involvement And leadership a summon to generous service.

Ours will have to be a people:
In harmony with one another Through unity in diversity;
In harmony with creation, And in harmony with God.

Ours shall be a civilization of life and love.

What a nice dream – a dream shared by common humanity. These crusaders of Liberation Theology are deluded, however, and do not realize that this will remain a dream, for it neglects the reality of fallen creation and man’s sinful nature. It contradicts the inspired, prophetic pronouncements of the apostles as they describe the moral and spiritual declension in society and the world at large in the last days. The apostles Peter, Paul, and John all bear this out in their inspired writings (II Peter 2-3; II Timothy 3:1-7, 13; 4:1-5; I John 2:18). Contrary to public opinion, these Spirit-led writers did not see this world getting any better. Instead, they saw that things will get worse until it is ripe for judgment.

Unfortunately, the Chrisitan Church has been infected by such thinking. Thus, we see that, because of unholy alliances, neo-evangelicals and pseudo-fundamentalists are being side-tracked from their God-given mission. There can be no peace until the Prince of Peace personally intervenes in man’s affairs. There can be no true unity and harmony unless purity is genuinely upheld. May God spare us from such a delusion.

Lastly, we can expect MORE DECEPTION. They speak of Christ being the focus of PCP-II and that “devotions to the saints or to the Blessed Virgin Mary were not to occupy the center of attention” (Bacani, p. 8). The council’s theme further gives this impression. Yet, the fact remains that they continue to place Mary on a pedestal even higher than Jesus Christ by granting her the unscriptural title, “Mother of God” (Bacani, p. 81). Praying to her and other canonized saints is obviously endorsed and encouraged, although Scriptural teaching is against it (Matthew 6:7; I Timothy 2:5).

Further, the PCP-II emphasized to Roman Catholics that (Bacani, p. 65):

The goals of renewed evangelization are to be pursued with new methods, new expressions, and a new fervor. The proclamation of the good news must be characterized by newness. It is not the content of the good news that must be new, for the substance of the Gospel must remain the same till the end of time. We must proclaim the same gospel proclaimed by Jesus and the apostles. But while remaining the same, it must really become news and news that sounds good to hear.

We have already given citations to expose the “content of the good news” or the “substance of the Gospel” according to the RCC. This they are determined not to change. It is their “methods,” “expressions,” and “fervor” that will change to make their “news” more appealing and “good to hear.”

Dr. Bacani was right after all when he wrote: “What Vatican II is for the whole Catholic world, that the Second Plenary Council is going to be for the Church in the Philippines” (p. 1). Ex-Catholic priest Bartholomew Brewer (now a converted Christian) says, “the changes made by Vatican II were merely cosmetic” (p. 131). Rightly so, for at the opening of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII explicitly stated this (as quoted by Wilson Ewin in You Can Lead Roman Catholics to Christ, p. 12):

The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously…. The salient point of this Council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has been repeatedly taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians … as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican…. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary.

With this in view, PCP-II is nothing but a localized restatement of Vatican II. Unfortunately, many evangelicals all over the world have misinterpreted RCC’s shift of approach, thinking she has turned evangelical. This has led to the breaking down of the walls of Biblical separation, resulting in cooperation with a religious system that preaches a false gospel.

Aware of the impact fundamental /evangelical groups have made in the local mission field, PCP-II is giving this challenge as they see the need for widespread catechesis and apologetics (from the Document on Religious Concerns):

Apologetics has always been part of the pastoral and theological tradition of the Church. We must today be willing and able to defend our teachings in public fora, and we need to equip our faithful so that they may defend their faith. Parish priests must encourage and support the training of lay Catholic faith defenders. (Emphasis mine)

While the first statement is true, the last two make it clear to us that they are preparing laymen skilled in apologetics to defend their teachings. This is understandable. And this is all they will defend – their faith, the Roman Catholic faith. But it is not “the faith which was once delivered to the saints” deposited, inspired, and preserved for us in the Holy Scriptures.

CONCLUSION AND CHALLENGE

God’s instruction for the believer is clearly stated in II Corinthians 6:14-7:1. We are not to be “… unequally yoked together with unbelievers…” of the gospel, for two cannot “… walk together except they be agreed” (Amos 3:3). It is folly to go back to a divinely accursed system of sacramentalism/ritualism teaching a salvation that supposedly can be earned by good works.

Meanwhile, the challenge remains for us to win Roman Catholics to Christ. Remember, many of us – especially Filipino brethren – were delivered from that false religious system. This writer for one was a former altar boy who had his high school training and earned his bachelor’s degree from the prominent Jesuit University of this country; but someone cared enough to deliver the gospel message, which led to his trusting Christ for salvation. We need to bring them the one, true, liberating gospel of Jesus Christ so they, too, can be freed from their bondage.

Romanism is not changing her message, only her methods and approaches. No, she is not headed toward a Scriptural direction. Will you, Christian, heed these Scriptural challenges?

-written in 1991 by Dr. Roberto-Jose M. Livioco

BIBLIOGRAPHY

-Bacani, Teodoro C., Jr. Towards the Third Millennium – The PCP-II Vision. 13 July 1991.
-Brewer, Bartholomew F. Pilgrimage From Rome. Greenville, South Carolina: Bob Jones University Press, 1982.
-Commons, Harold T. Heritage and Harvest. New Jersey: ABWE Insight Series, 1981.
-Ewin, Wilson. You Can Lead Roman Catholics to Christ. Quebec, Canada: Missionary Printing Service, Inc., 1980.
-Final Draft Documents of PCP-II: Christian Life; Religious Concerns; Social Concerns; Church and Society; Laity; Religious; and Clergy.


Convicted rapist Leo Echegaray was sentenced to death by lethal injection last January 4, 1999. While the whole Filipino nation waited, the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued an order temporarily restraining the execution to be set on or before June 15, 1999. Its reason to give time for the Senate and Congress to review the death penalty law. This came as a shock to many. Emotions ran high and reactions from various sectors of our society were unavoidable. While many of the anti-death penalty advocates were celebrating, others among their circle were disappointed. They felt that, regardless of one’s views on the issue, the law and existing jurisprudence had to be implemented nonetheless. Pro-death penalty advocates were furious. Legislators were divided over the wisdom of the Supreme Court’s TRO. Even Roman Catholic Church clergymen were divided. The rapist’s daughter and victim, Miss “Baby” Echegaray, and those sympathetic to her, were heard over the airwaves and seen before national television accusing the Supreme Court and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines as favoring the criminal and being insensitive to her. In just a few moments, the foreign media reported it to the whole world. Page 12 of the January 18, 1999 issue of Time Magazine had this to say:

“Granted stay of execution, Leo Echegaray. Filipino house painter [was] convicted in 1994 of repeatedly raping his 11-year-old daughter, of at least six months; by the Philippines’ Supreme Court. Echegaray’s scheduled execution – the first since the country reinstated the death penalty in 1994 – has split a nation angered by surging crime, but guided by its predominantly Catholic beliefs.”

The writing of this article has been prompted by the above scenario. A society where rules are implemented arbitrarily can only lead to anarchy. King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived was also a ruler of the nation of Israel. He arrived at this inescapable conclusion when he wrote: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil,” Ecclesiastes 8:11. For sure, the debate over the death penalty will continue and both sides of the camp will always find arguments to defend their position. This writer is offering an argument outside of ourselves, outside our fallible, man-made opinions to address the issue for he firmly believes and assumes the divine-inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility, and transcultural authority of the Bible. The article’s purpose, therefore, is to provide a Biblical basis concerning this ethical and legal issue – the death penalty. It is our prayer that this would shed light, not heat, to the current controversy; speak to our consciences rather than our emotions; and provide all of us with an unshakable foundation wherein we can settle our convictions on. May it be heeded by many, especially in a country that professes to be “the only Christian nation in Asia.”

THE AUTHORITY TO EXECUTE THE DEATH PENALTY

The Underlying Basis for Punishment of Evil-doers
Philosophically, the underlying basis for punishing evildoers in society is man’s belief in God – the God Who is sovereign over the universe, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent – the God Who has revealed Himself as moral, having a standard of right and wrong with punishment for the wrongdoer.

The God revealed in Scripture is One Who is perfect in all His attributes, and acts in perfect harmony with all His other attributes. Thus, though He is a God of love, His love is always perfectly just and righteous. And although He is a holy God, His holiness is perfectly loving. His justice is seen in His penalty for sin – “for the wages of sin is death?,” Romans 6:23a. He lovingly deals with the sinner, though, by providing the only acceptable atonement for his sin in Jesus Christ and His substitutionary death on Calvary – “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Romans 6:23b. Yet, He guarantees that the sinner will be punished for his sin if he spurns this gracious offer of forgiveness, cleansing, and salvation received through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ – “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:36.

Note that this punishment is not based particularly on its being a deterrent to wrongdoing, but rather as the wage for wrongdoing.

We find this to be true also in the beginning chapters of human history. God told Adam in his sinless state, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Genesis 2:16-17. It was the devil who first argued by deceiving Eve into believing the intoxicating thought: “Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:4-5. Our first parents yielded to the temptation. This brought the entire human race to fall as well, Romans 5:12. They began to experience the deterioration of the physical body which led to physical death. They also were immediately separated from God, for they were expelled from the garden of Eden (spiritual death). If they had remained in this condition until the point of physical death, they would have spent eternity in hell, separated from God (eternal death). God, in His holiness, did not accept their “fig leaves” as imperfect human coverings for their guilt, Genesis 3:7, but instead, graciously provided them His covering, His “coats of skins, and clothed them,” Genesis 3:21.

Our point? The Bible is clear, explicit as it can possibly be. Even in those times when human government was none existent, God Almighty in all His wisdom and perfection set death as a punishment for wrongdoing. God Himself, in His infinite holiness and love, decreed death was the consequence of sin, which included physical, spiritual, and even eternal death. But He also offers pardon and forgiveness to those who will repent and accept His provision for sin in Christ.

However, today the philosophy of both secular and sacred humanism – the unbelief, rejection and substitution of the one, true, living and moral God for the exaltation of man to a supremacy subject to no higher power than himself – is demanding a hearing in our land. While such a belief is not new, having always been present since man’s fall, our intellectual climate and growing freedom of expression have provided us with liberty to accept or reject the infallible declarations of Scripture. Choosing the latter naturally results in softness on punishment, even to the place of dismissing it altogether!

The Origin of Human Government
Human government began after the days of the world-wide deluge. Until the Flood of Noah’s day, man in his fallen state existed without divinely constituted authorities to establish and enforce laws for the public welfare. God destroyed the anarchal society so that a new order could take place. Immediately after the Flood, among other things, God declared to Noah: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man,” Genesis 9:5-6.

A number of things are worthy of note here:

  • Here, we see God instituting human government just before Noah and his posterity migrated and repopulated the earth: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.”;
  • He authorizes capital punishment as a consequence to the crime of murder; “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed”;
  • Observe also the reason God gives for the implementation of the death penalty: for in the image of God made he man.” This fact is restated in the New Testament where the misuse of the tongue is condemned: “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God,” James 3:8-9. Since the underlying theological reason for capital punishment remains true, there is no reason to believe that the mandate is no longer binding today.

This is important because some anti-death penalty advocates coming from the religious sector use this very argument in support of their position. They reason that since criminals are also created in the image of God, therefore, he should not be executed. Such warped thinking misses the whole point! It is a direct affront to God’s wisdom Who says willful murder ought to be punished by death because man, even in his fallen state, remains created in the image of God. Therefore, he who unjustly kills a man is the one who defaces the image of God and does dishonor to Him.

The Divine Purpose for Human Government
The purpose of civil government is to act as a ruling force over fallen man in his social relationships. Because man by nature is a sinner, his self-centered tendencies often cause him to harm, steal from, or even take the life of his fellow man. Human government is one of the three separate earthy institutions established by God (the family and the New Testament Church are the two others) to regulate man’s relationships with others in society. This is reiterated in the New Testament. God’s Word clearly teaches that all authority comes from God – “…the powers that be are ordained of God,” Romans 13:1. Even the Lord Jesus Christ recognized this. At His mock trial, Pilate asked Him: Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin,” John 19:10-11. This is something every citizen of the state needs to be aware of. Even a bad government that maintains a certain amount of law and order, though with some injustices, is usually better than no government at all. Bear in mind that the context of this epistle was that the apostle Paul wrote, under divine inspiration, to Christians under the autocratic rule of Nero. Yet we read the God-breathed apostolic admonition: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation,” Romans 13:1-2.

But this is also something every human government official should be aware of – from the highest office in the land, the Presidency, down to the smallest Barangay Councilor or policeman. The greatest statesman, Daniel, was fully aware of this for this was what he said before a heathen Babylonian Emperor: “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: and he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up king…,” Daniel 2:20-21a. All in power ought to realize that their authority ultimately has been merely delegated to them by God to carry out the purpose for which He established it. These are:

1. To punish wrongdoers —

“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil,” Romans 13:3. Inclusive of this is the deterrent factor: “Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? … For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake,” Romans 13:3-5

2. To reward the good –-

“do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good,” Romans 13:3b-4a.

The State has the responsibility to enact and enforce laws: “for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil,” Romans 13:4. It also has the right to levy taxation to its citizenry: “For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour,” Romans 13:6-7. These are all divinely intended for the protection and benefits we receive from government such as infrastructure, employment, and other basic services. But in all these, government officials need to carry out these responsibilities hopefully with the awareness that God delegated His powers and that they are accountable to both the people and God for how they use, misuse or abuse it. Failure to fulfill such awesome responsibilities is, plain and simple, disobedience to God!

THE APPLICATION FOR THE EXECUTION OF THE DEATH PENALTY

A survey of Old Testament passages where God’s law was given through Moses will reveal that the following capital offenses were grounds in Israel for the death penalty. This list is not exhaustive:

  1. Idolatry – Exo. 22:20
  2. Enticing to Idolatry – Deut. 13:6-9
  3. Blasphemy – Lev. 24:16
  4. Propagating False Prophecies and False Teachings – Deut. 13:4-5
  5. Working on the Sabbath – Exo. 35:2
  6. Rebellion Against God-Delegated Authority – Deut. 17:8-12
  7. Cursing or Rebelling Against Parental Authority – Lev. 20:9; Deut. 21:18-22
  8. Murder – Exo. 21:14 (committed by man); Exo. 21:28-29 (committed by an ox)
  9. Pre-marital Sex – Deut. 22:23-24
  10. Rape – Deut. 22:25-27
  11. Adultery or Extra-marital Sex – Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22
  12. Incest – Lev. 20:11-12
  13. Homosexuality/Lesbianism – Lev. 20:13
  14. Sex with Beasts – Lev. 20:15-16
  15. Kidnapping – Deut. 24:7

It should be borne in mind that Israel was a Theocracy, unlike any other nation. It would be absurd to incorporate all these in another country’s constitution. For instance, Sabbath-keeping was commanded of God and it was specifically stipulated as a sign between God and the nation of Israel, Exo. 31:12-17. Obviously, these laws are not legally binding upon us. But most of these should provide lawmakers in our country a moral and ethical basis for their legislation in order to have a righteous government under God for they reveal God’s moral standards as well. This study clearly shows us, again, that God included capital punishment as part of their system to be a consequence for heinous crimes.

THE ARGUMENTS ON THE EXECUTION OF THE DEATH PENALTY

Argument Citing the Decalogue
Others argue that God said, “Thou shalt not kill.” How do we respond to this? Nobody questions the fact that this is part of the Decalogue. It is the sixth of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses at Mt. Sinai, Exo. 20:13. But the Hebrew word ratsach means “to murder, slay, or kill.” It is not a prohibition to the State to enforce its laws and implement its penalties over lawbreakers. Rather, it is a God-given command that reveals His moral standards and His abhorrence for the sin of murder! It surprises us to hear some anti-death penalty advocates use this argument when some of the beneficiaries of their cause are the very criminals guilty of disobeying this divine mandate!

Argument Citing the Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” Jesus said. Anti-death penalty advocates quote this statement in the context of the present controversy to anyone who is against their position. They are, in essence, saying: “Because none of us are sinless, then none of us have the right to ‘cast a stone’ or impose capital punishment against any criminal.” But is this what Jesus really meant? The incident is recorded in John’s Gospel (8:1-11). The apostle John narrates of the scribes and Pharisees who one day brought a woman before Jesus whom they allege to have been caught in the very act of adultery. They pose a question before our Lord: “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” v. 5. Why did they bring her to Christ? What was their purpose? The inspired account does not leave us in the dark. “This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him,” v. 6. So, Jesus, who knew their hearts, answered: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” v. 7. Note that it was not addressed to Caesar. Neither did Jesus condemn the law of Moses. Rather, it was spoken to silence the unbelieving, skeptical, hypocritical religious leaders of His day. Thus, it cannot be used as a statement to support the anti-death penalty stance. To do so is to resort to Scripture-twisting, and to quote the Lord Jesus Christ out of context. This would not only be dishonest, but very deceiving.

Argument on Vengeance
But wouldn’t this be vindictive, the eye-for-an-eye principle, which contradicts the New Testament admonition: “avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” Romans 12:19? Not at all! The word “avenge” and “vengeance” here have the same root word for the Greek word translated “revenger” in Romans 13:4. This portion of Scripture, from Romans 12:19-13:4, is simply saying that Christians are not supposed to put the law into their hands because God’s Word guarantees that it is payday someday! Yes, there is such a thing as divine justice. But immediately after stating this, the apostle Paul points out that God established human government as His properly delegated human authority and He may use His “minister [the State, as His instrument, as] ?, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Argument on the Judicial System’s Flaw
Some legislators maintain the anti-death penalty stance because the death penalty is final. They argue that it would be unjust especially if the person executed is not really guilty. But this argument begs the question. The man who uses this argument is barking on the wrong tree. This has nothing to do with the issue at all – that of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the death penalty. The system as it is now, though imperfect, already provides so much protection for the rights of the accused. If the problem is in the judicial system, then it is the system that has to be corrected. We do not deny that history attests to the fact that some “men in robes” have convicted innocent people and that the State has unjustly executed the death penalty on them. And we most certainly concur with all who say that all flaws, such as corruption, should be condemned, and as much as possible removed in the judicial system so that punishment of any kind, for that matter, would never and should never be the lot of the innocent. But the system, no matter how flawless, is just as good as the people running it. If those who are suppose to be implementing the law are respecter of persons given in to cronyism and bribery, then they are the culprit, not the death penalty law. God says: “A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment,” Proverbs 17:23.

Argument on Giving the Convict an Opportunity for Change
Others call this the “humanitarian” argument. It may disarm some who are pro-death penalty because it appeals to the emotions. But it is a smokescreen that shifts the issue and puts the blame on pro-death penalty advocates of allegedly being inhuman, or even bloodthirsty. The truth is, when the State tries to protect itself from criminal elements in society, this is self-preserving and very humanitarian. What and who can be more inhuman than the ones who are guilty of heinous crimes! Whatever happened to the axiom we hear from lawyers – Dura Lex Sed Lex. The law may be harsh, but it is the law!

Argument on Death Penalty Being a Deterrent to Crime
This is probably the argument closest to Scripture but it is not without problems. As pointed out earlier, it is not the reason in which the argument from Scripture rests. Both sides of the camp do cite statistics to prove their position on whether or not capital punishment is a deterrent to crime. But this leads to further unending questions that require an answer if the controversy is ever to be resolved, such as: whose survey is most accurate, credible, and thus, to be believed?

The Biblical Position
God expects us to use our reasoning capabilities. But he desires that we use it in subjection to the absolute and final authority of His Word. Failure to do so leaves us, His finite sinful creatures, on our own whim or caprice in deciding what is right and wrong. Moses, the great law-giver said: “I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he,” Deuteronomy 32:3-4.

It was God Almighty who said: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man,” Genesis 9:5-6. He authorized the death penalty as a consequence for such heinous crimes as murder. God, the Author and Sustainer of life, never holds life cheap. The sacredness of it is the very argument why capital offenses ought to be vehemently condemned to deserve such a punishment. Yes, the Bible is pro-life. And that’s why it sanctions the death penalty for those guilty of heinous crimes.

However, the Bible also recognizes that man is currently in his fallen state. Thus, execution of the death penalty will very likely deter but will not guarantee the elimination of all crimes. God never intended it to be taken as a panacea for evil in society for Jesus says the heart of man’s problem is the problem of his sinful heart: “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man,” Mark 7:20-23. And Christ Himself is the Solution to this age-old problem called sin: “For He [God the Father] hath made Him [God the Son] to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

SUGGESTED COURSES OF ACTION

Challenge for Bible-Believing Christians
The Bible commands that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority.” O, that God give our government officials the wisdom, character and backbone to implement the law, to condemn the lawless, and to boost the morale of the lawful so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth,” I Timothy 2:1-4.

Let us mark government officials who are pro- and anti-death penalty. This will help us exercise our right of suffrage wisely on candidates who hopefully are more aware of and committed to their God-given responsibilities. Hopefully, we now understand better what God means when He used King Solomon to write: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn,” Proverbs 29:2.

All the more, let us preach the life transforming message of salvation in Jesus Christ to a disillusioned citizenry that is fed up with hypocrisy in any casuistic man-made religion; and that is groping for clear-cut, definite answers to questions relating to our sin-cursed world. Let us “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear,” I Peter 3:15, to a population who desperately needs to hear and see an authentic Christianity that offers a coherent world-view and is rightfully anchored in God’s unchangeable Word.

Let us also be reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence,” John 18:36. A government of perfect righteousness will not come through the feeble efforts of men. It will only finally come when the Sovereign Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, establishes His millennial reign here on earth. Meanwhile, we are called to be “salt” and “light” as we continue our pilgrimage to make an impact in the cultural ethics of our society, awaiting His imminent return, for: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people,” Proverbs 14:34.

Challenge to the Rest
In an imperfect world, capital punishment is not a cure-all for crime for there is no guarantee that it will permanently deter nor eliminate it. Neither is the death penalty necessarily a crime in itself, for it is Biblical for the State to enforce penalties on lawless elements, such as capital punishment for capital offenses, as a consequence to evil-doing. According to Scripture, the sacredness of human life – that man is created in the image of God – is the underlying foundation for its divine sanction.

However, there is hope for death convicts like Leo Echegaray. The repentant thief was facing the death sentence when he met Christ. He acknowledged his sin, recognized Jesus Christ for Who He is – the Sinless Son of God – and trusted Him and His once-and-for-all, vicarious, atoning sacrifice. That very moment, Jesus Christ forgave him and promised him: “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise,” Luke 23:43. Although he still faced the consequence of violating the law here on earth, he was forgiven by God of his sin when he genuinely repented and trusted Christ for his salvation. The sin which brought about the consequences was forgiven by God. But He allowed the consequences of sin to continue to take its toll.

God’s verdict for all men is this: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. Thus, all deserve God’s punishment for sin – death. The only was of escape is in Jesus Christ: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit,” I Peter 3:18.

Dear reader, may you heed this personal appeal. Unless you have done so, we urge you to come to Christ and trust Him for cleansing and forgiveness. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.

-written by Dr. Roberto-Jose M. Livioco

Post script note: Mr. Leo Echegaray was executed by lethal injection in February 1999.




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