“I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.” 1 Cor. 4:16 While reading the New International Version of the Bible, I noticed a rather disturbing and disillusioning fact. What ought to be the word “exhort” for the Greek word parakaleo, was often exchanged for a less urgent, non-imperative word that weakens the authors intent. In many instances, “encourage” is employed, substituting exhort into many modern English translations of the Bible. In certain passages, the word parakaleo in the original Greek language, was intended as a “calling out” or “admonishment”, to its recipient and therefore, should not be substituted with a word that removes the author’s intent. If you use encourage for instance, you will not be conveying an admonishment to someone and the power of the passage is lost. Therefore, all believers should be familiar with the word exhort or exhortation, because it conveys a truer context to a specific passage of Scripture. This is vitally important, when warning the flock of false teachers who threaten the church with pernicious doctrines. If you juxtapose the words encourage and exhort, you will discover a significant difference in their meaning. For instance, the definition of the word encourage according to the Random House Dictionary, is defined; “To inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence“; “to stimulate by assistance, approval, etc“; “to promote, advance, or foster.” The word exhort, on the other hand, is defined: “to urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently.” As used in such texts: Acts 2:40, 20:2, 1 Cor. 1:10, 4:16, 1 Thess. 4:1, 2 Thess. 3:12, 2 Tim. 4:2, Ti. 1:9, 2:15, 1 Pet. 5:1; Jude 3-KJV). Notice the significant diversity between these words in the definitions. Please understand, “encourage” and “exhort” are interchangeable in many verses of the Bible. For example, the same Greek word parakaleo is used to “encourage” in the following verses: Acts 11:23, 14:22, 16:40, 20:2, 27:34, 1 Cor. 14:31, Col. 2:2, 4:8, 1 Thess. 3:2, 5:11, or Heb. 3:13. Or, it is also used to “comfort”, as in: Matt. 2:2, 5:4, Luke 16:25, Acts 20:12, 2 Cor. 1:4, 7:6, 7:7, Eph. 6:22, 1 Thess. 3:7, 4:18, 2 Thess. 2:17. But, when parakaleo was meant to convey solemnity, caution, warning, or urgency; the English word exhort is the more accurate and appropriate word choice. It is extremely important to accurately represent God’s intended meaning, when translating the original language into various languages. Many times it is extremely difficult or virtually impossible, to translate certain Hebrew of Greek words or phrases exactly; in this case, into English. Therefore, it was essential to utilize the most fitting word or phrase to translate God’s...Read More
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” John 8:58 “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!'” Matt. 14:33 Much ink has been spilled on whether or not Jesus Christ is God, especially since He never proclaimed the exact words, I am God in any of the four Gospels. It is however, understandable that the unregenerate man doubts and opposes Christ’s deity, because they know not the things of God and considers them foolishness (1 Cor. 2:14). But, what I find extremely disconcerting, is the fact that there are many professing Christians who deny Jesus’ deity, whether out of ignorance or blatantly. I can understand those who are ignorant of the truth and pray they soon become enlightened. But, it is those who are exposed to the truth and still deny it. Tragically, many of these deniers or heretics as they should be referred; teach at Christian seminaries, churches; engage in debates, make public assertions, publish literary and video works, pervert the teachings of Christ; all under the guise of Christianity. Such pseudo-Christians are the most pernicious to the church, because they assume a certain amount of credibility within the evangelical realm. This makes their erroneous assertions difficult to disprove because they have duped minds. Such pseudo-Christians do the most destruction, because they pollute pure innocent minds with cleverly-plotted deceptions (2 Cor. 11:14-15); even some true Christians are led astray by lies regarding Jesus. Interestingly, even Satan and his demons recognized Jesus as the “Son of God.” (Matt. 8:29, Mk. 5:7, Luke 4:3, 4:9, 4:34, 4:41, 8:28). As the book of James states; “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble” (James 2:19). If only believers would discipline themselves to thoroughly search the Scriptures, saturate their minds with the published works of reputable theologians, and study church history; they would be virtually impervious to the trappings of false teachers. (Acts 17:11, 2 Tim. 2:15). However, if the whole of Scripture is considered, we can easily determine by the sheer weight of evidence pointing to Jesus Christ’s deity, it is indeed a biblical truth. In his book, The Forgotten Trinity, Dr. James White wrote; (1) “There are literally hundreds–no thousands–of passages that testify to the deity of Christ once we understand that no creature could possibly do or say the things that the Lord Jesus did. we would not be able to catalogue them in this brief work”. Jesus’ claim to deity was not only overt by His many proclamations, but also...Read More
“A Christian Witness To Roman Catholics”-Apologist Rob Zins-Defending The Truth Will Elicit Persecution!
I think we would all agree that the word “persecution” brings to mind a variety of thoughts. There are many kinds of persecution. I can remember in the early years of desegregation how often the word “discrimination” was used in the media. Like the word persecution the word discrimination brings to mind various kinds of discrimination. However the Word of God is interested in one main category of persecution and discrimination. It is the oppression and torment associated with standing for the Word of God over and against false gospels. We often get criticized for our stance against the false hopes of the Roman Catholic religion. We do not believe in the dual errors of ‘go along to get along’ and ‘Christianity is a big tent with many kinds of gospels’. Either of these two ideas will ruin the gospel. Sometimes the denigration of our outlook brings out some severe chastisement. Here is an excerpt from a recent e-mail sent to me from a Roman Catholic: “Over the years I have studied the Christian faith and the arguments utilized by proponents and opponents of Roman Catholicism, and among the individuals who possess the lowest caliber of intelligence and ability to think critically would be yourself as well as a few other such Protestant apologists.” This is a pretty typical response from those who are upset with this ministry. This of course stings a little bit but it hardly qualifies for the persecution and discrimination that some of our brothers and sisters are experiencing all over the world. We take this in stride and try to give a level headed response. We understand that the gospel has a cutting edge to it that makes it the focal point of anger for those who reject it. We also take encouragement from Scripture that promises those who are persecuted and slandered for the sake of the gospel are blessed. But straight forward antagonism and insult form only one small piece of the persecution pie. We as Christians need to take into account the cost of being Christian. We lose family members and friends who simply do not understand or want to understand the gospel. We live in a world within a world whereby Christian values and ethics can raise the ire of the general worldview of an anti-Christian society. We find ourselves swimming against the current of modern affairs. We are constantly being pushed to the edge of marginalization by the vanity fair of the worldly wise. Our Lord reminds us to rejoice and be glad for great is our reward in heaven for in the...Read More
To Rome, Roman Catholics and those praying for them. “A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicism”~Guest writer and apologist, Rob Zins Dear Friends of His Word, It seems that the apostle Paul has made it perfectly clear that all Christians are to understand that we live in a “world” within a “world”. Listen to his advice to those Christians at Corinth. “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 In the light of all the flak flying around the Indiana state legislature and governor perhaps we should step back and reflect a bit on the basics. Christians are called to live in the sphere of biblical ethics and morals governed by the Word of God in community with other Christians. This is where we live, move, and breathe so to speak. It is the world created by the Word of God and all true Christians are a part of this world. It is the Body of Christ. However, as the apostle notes, we are a part of a broader context which Paul calls “the world.” By this he means those outside of Christ. One is either governed by being in Christ and His world or dominated by the wider more general “world” when it comes to living out one’s life and following principles of belief and conduct. Christians must learn to cope with and “associate” in the domain of the secular world. We cannot escape the secular world. If we keep this straight we can be comforted. We can rest in this truth and make our way knowing that we are strangers passing through. Christians are free to do at least two things that seem on the surface contradictory but are in fact harmonious. The first is freedom to associate with people of this world. By association I do not mean endorse or become like. The danger for Christians is not in selling wedding cakes to Lesbians. The danger is in selling cakes and not speaking the truth. Christians cannot stop selling cakes to sinners. And Christians dare not stop speaking the truth to sinners. Second we are free to live by God’s definition of right and wrong, good and evil, and speak publicly of these things despite the wrath of the secular world. Christians must serve the cake, cobble the shoe, deliver the mail, fix the air conditioning, and sell the car...Read More
God’s Love Is Unconditional! Recently, while studying God’s love, I meditated on the vastness of this divine characteristic and was overcome with emotions of joy and hope. Overwhelmed with the incredible depth and breadth of the love that God exhibits toward His elect, is utterly astonishing. As I pondered the love of God I began to recognize how replete this subject is throughout the Bible, and one word continuously came to mind– “unconditional”. We know that God exhibits love to the unregenerate man and even blesses them despite their lack of worshipping Him as Creator. (Matt. 5:45, Acts 14:16-17). But, He only bestows “unconditional” love on those who are His chosen. Amazingly, we are not a special class of people, nor did we accomplish anything special to earn His unconditional love. (Deut. 7:6-7, John 3:16, 6:37, 19:28-29, 17:6, 9, 12, 23, Rom. 5:8, 8:32-39, 1 Tim. 2:19, 1 Pet. 2:9, 1 John 3:16, 4:9-10). The word “unconditional” is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, as: without conditions or limitations; absolute. If we apply this definition to describe God’s love, it defines a limitless and perfect love. God’s love is an inconceivable and mindboggling concept to Christians. And because of its immeasurability many are uncomfortable trying to accurately convey His love, because it is so unexplainable. Scripture states for example”…How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out”. (Rom. 11:33b). Or, “to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge…” (Eph. 3:19a). These verses communicate to a finite creation (mankind), the unfathomable and inscrutable ways of an infinite God (Isa. 55:8-9). Therefore, it would be preposterous and pointless to even try to exhaustively comprehend His ways, because of that limited knowledge. The mysteriousness of God ought to evoke us to praise and worship Him. No matter how much knowledge we attain, we still are required to live by faith (Hab. 2:4, Rom. 1:17, 2 Cor. 5:7, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:28). Because there is so much about God that we cannot comprehend, so we must believe on what we do not see (Heb. 11:1). Sadly, we live in a society where every aspect of life is based on conditions and limitations. For instance, when we purchase a product that promises a lifetime warranty; the warranty is not for the duration of your physical lifetime, but rather, for the average lifetime of that particular product. Therefore, the product has a conditional and limited warranty. Debts are other typical conditions which play a vital part in all our lives. If a debt or installment is not paid by a specific payment date, it may incur interest or go to...Read More
Be “Salt” And “Light” amidst persecution! “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great…” Matt. 5:12a The glorious promises of God that come through belief in Jesus Christ, may indeed be costly for the children of God; a cost that could entail severe persecution. The Apostle Paul wrote that persecution of Christians is inevitable (2 Tim. 3:12) and can manifest itself in various forms. Such as: mockery, ridicule, slander, false accusations, ostracization from family or friends; reviling, scorn, resentment, hatred. Being fined, imprisoned, abused, castigated, tortured, and even martyrdom. No matter what the cost, we should be willing to pay the price. In order to pay that hefty price, we must learn to cultivate: love, patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, diligence, tenacity, fortitude; or in other words, a Christ-like heart and mind. These disciplines do not result from a superficial understanding of God’s word and an attitude of indifference toward holiness and obedience. In most of today’s American churches, the fabricated atmosphere encourages congregants to relax and enjoy comfort while being “entertained”. During worship services, if I may call it that, all solemnity and fear of God is eviscerated and superficiality is promoted as the norm. Congregants are accustomed to undergoing insignificant amounts of persecution, if any at all, in their lives and therefore are incapable of comprehending the concept of true persecution. That is why it is essential to saturate one’s mind with Scripture and to spend ample time studying it (Rom. 12:2). I cannot emphasize enough, the importance of being in constant commune with God! Additionally, one must always keep in mind Jesus’ instruction in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden…”Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:11-16). Therefore, when persecution arises we must not cower or become timid recluses, but rather be strong and bold witnesses of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 1:7). This, mind you, gives evidence of a mature Christian firmly rooted...Read More