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Who decided what's in the Bible?

I have been asked variations of this question several times. It is disturbing because implied in the question is the real question of - "Has someone kept 'stuff' from us that is really important which would change what I presently know?" Or: "Do we really have what God wants us to know?" Or: Just who made these decisions anyway - who are they?

I finally realized that this question, in various forms, is more ancient than the Bible.

In Genesis 3:1 we find one variation. "Did God really say. 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'" (NIV) Here satan implied that either God has made an arbitrary rule - or Adam has been mistaken in what he told you - Eve! In either case Eve is the victim of a conspiracy to keep good things from her. The real culprit is the same now as with Eve, that the "spirit of this world" is causing doubt to reign just as he did in the beginning. We know how that all turned out!

First, all of these 'questionable' books either have been or are currently being considered by Bible scholars or apologists. (See definitions below.)   Remember, the Bible is the most researched and critically analyzed book in the history of mankind. This analysis has been done by both believers and non-believers - yet survives.
Contrary to what you may have heard, many of these books are available through libraries or the Internet for you to read for yourself. An excellent place to start is with the 'Apocrypha' (See definitions below.)   books that are contained as additions to Roman Catholic Bibles, but not Protestant Bibles. They are readily available, and you can see for yourself if you believe they are of the same quality and inspiration as the rest of the 'canon'. (See definitions below.)  

Second, if you are not a Christian my challenge to you is "go read what is presently there - it could change your life, eternally." (Start in the Gospel of John, that's a good place.) I know this sounds hard - but "why are you finding fault with a book you have never read?" If you are just doing what's popular - remember - popular movements have been wrong before; Nazism and Fascism to name two. You owe it to yourself to discover if Christianity fits that mold - right?
If you are not willing to read the Bible, or have read it and don't believe it, then my question is "why do you care?" You might as well be asking if there is a conspiracy to hide certain writings of Shakespeare, or Agatha Christie; or possibly worry if there is a worldwide effort by someone to keep certain critical information out of the Encyclopedia. After all, the Bible is just literature to you - as you have not experience the reality of a personal relationship with God which the Bible promises in its present form.

Third, if you are a Christian and have been having these thoughts, my question is: "What more do you need to read that might improve your salvation through Jesus Christ?"
    · If you say "most anything" - then my guess is that you aren't reading the present Bible enough as it is - and wouldn't read additional books even if they were inside the covers of your Bible. That sounds hard, but I have found that most Christians are not reading as they should - and are far from being 'students of the Word.'
    · If you say "nothing, just curious" - then go do your homework. As I said above, these books are available; or there are many commentaries that address this subject. If you don't know where to start, try a Josh McDowell book - readily available in your Christian book store or at
Christian Book Distributors. Go satisfy your curiosity.
    · Or, barring all that accept 2 Peter 1:20 - 21 that Godly people have listened to God's Spirit and written these words we have. And 2 Timothy 3:16 - 17, that the words they have written, if believed, will thoroughly equip us for the task ahead. Remember, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17

"Apologists" are people who dedicate their lives to understanding the arguments for or against the Bible. Josh McDowell is a current, and famous apologist."
"Apocrypha" means "hidden" or "away from sight." These are writings that the Roman Catholic Church does not consider scripture, but thinks 'may' contain something of value to the believing reader. Certainly, the books of the Maccabees contain good historical accounts - such as the origin of 'Hanukkah.'
"Canon" is the English spelling of a Greek word meaning "rule" or "straight edge". Writings contained in the Bible have always had to pass very strict rules before being considered scripture. See 'Apologists' above.

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DaVinci Code

The DaVinci Code is a murder mystery that uses settings and characters from the Bible as a starting point toward murder. Though it belongs in the fictional section, it presents itself as a "non-fictional" work and because of that has upset a lot of people.

The author writes that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child with her, and that she, not the chalice from the last supper, is the ‘Holy Grail’ for which everyone is searching. Supposedly researchers are searching for her grave in what was ancient Gaul [modern France] and England. Jesus is supposed to have sent her away because she was pregnant and to protect her from the terrible things that he would have to endure.

Further more, the author contends that "organized church" suppressed this information and burned other "gospels" and data pertaining to the truth. In order to protect the surviving information from further destruction a secret society (Priory of Sion) was formed in 1099. Supposedly, Leonardo da Vinci was a member of this group.

First, the author's "facts" about the Priory of Sion have been proved to be a hoax, see Priory-of Sion Debunked. Since the basis of the story is based on a lie, can we expect the rest of the book to contain any truth? No, it's just another fiction thriller, but without the integrity of the author to say that in the forward.

Secondly, The Bible says that Mary Magdalene was at the cross when Jesus died. (John 19:25-27) Jesus made arrangements from the cross for his mother's care, but there is no mention of care for Mary Magdalene. Secondly, Mary Magdalene was at the tomb on the first Easter morning and witnessed to Jesus’ disciples that he was risen. (See: Matthew 27:59-61; Luke 24:9-12; John 20:18)

There are many other points, though presented as fact are truly fiction. If we read the Bible and are strong in our faith no book or movie is going to alter our beliefs. In fact, Paul writes in Ephesians 4:14 that if we have "matured" we won't be having these problems.

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Positive Confession

I have been confronted by a former student who became disillusioned by the teaching of the “positive confession” movement. This resulted in wanting to know my position on this movement and its teaching. Another name for this teaching is “word/faith” or "Prosperity Doctrine." Also and possibly by disparaging parties it is called “name it/claim it” or possible "you get what you say!"

The subject is far to large and subtle to address specifics - so - it is hoped that the following list of scriptures demonstrate that as Christians we will not enjoy life without problems, trials, or in general 'tribulation'. Most of these scriptures contain the word ‘Tribulation’ as listed in Strong’s Concordance reference – NT2347 which I encourage you to look up and see the definitions and the many other references involved for yourself.

In preparing this subject I came across an article originally published in the Pentecostal Evangel® by Dr. Gordon Fee entitled "The 'Gospel' of Prosperity - an Alien Gospel"©.  Dr. Fee has graciously granted permission to share that article with you - please request by
emailClick!

I also found an old cassette by Walter Martin on this subject. I would like to express my gratitude for his teaching and the encouragement it gave to show that the Positive Confession tenets are false.

The underlining is mine - in hopes of promoting clarity.

Positive confession relies heavily upon Matthew 21:22:
“And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (NKJV)

  • First, the context of this passage is that Jesus was teaching the disciples about ‘prayer’ & ‘faith.’ Jesus emphasis was not on “you will receive” but on “prayer” &“faith-ing.” (the literal Greek meaning of the word translated 'believing').
    Second, carte blanche use of this verse denies the sovereignty of God. "It makes us in control, not him" – to quote Walter Martin.
    Satan would like nothing better than for us to deny the Lordship of Jesus and take control for ourselves. It is the very thing that caused his fall, and he would like for us to follow his lead.
    Third, Jesus taught that we should continue to pray about problems, but never tells us to pray, believe, then confess that we have what we prayed for. This process is never defined in scripture, and cannot be inferred.

John 16:33
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (KJV)

  • We begin with a ‘precious promise’ that you never hear positive confession teachers mention. In truth, few pastors and teachers ever come close this verse, fearing that it will ‘scare’ the listeners. It is no wonder there are so many ‘babes’ sitting in the congregations. The message from Jesus is clear, we will have tribulation, our life will not always be healthy, prosperous, and successful.

Acts 14:21-23
"They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. 23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders a for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust."

  • Here Luke tells us that the teaching of Paul was that Christians “must go through tribulation …” in order to enter the kingdom. It is not the tribulation that saves us, or ‘makes us eligible’ to enter the kingdom but God knows that when we become children of God that we will become targets of the evil one – and he will cause problems, regardless of our stand with God in faith. No servant is above his master, and Jesus had continual problems with Satan trying to disrupt his ministry.

Romans 5:3-5
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

  • Here Paul tells us that “suffering produces”. What does it produce? It produces three things when the process is complete: perseverance; character and hope. These are all to be deeply desired and valued by the Christian. However, they cannot be achieved without tribulation. It is the hard winter growth in a tree that gives it strength not the wonderful spring.
  • The word translated "character" in verse 4 is interesting. It has the idea of character which is "approved by God."* It is God's approval that we experience in persevering, and it is that approval that results in hope springing up in our hearts. * see New Testament Lexicon by Joseph H. Thayer D.D. - or - Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words by W.E. Vine, M.A.

Romans 8:35-39
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long;we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

  • Paul again implies that we will face trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, angels and demons, powers, and much more, but that none of these can separate us from the love of Christ.
    Notice, v.37 that he says: “… in all these things …” we become conquerors, not by avoiding these things or not experiencing them.
    If by positive confession we can avoid all these why does Paul spend time to encourage us with the love of Christ? It is because that these things can come upon us regardless if our faith is strong and we are in the center of God’s will. The positive confession teaching is that there is something wrong with either your faith or that you have somehow missed God’s will for your life if you experience any of these. This is simply not true.

2 Corinthians 1:3-9
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."

  • Paul, whom we know was in God's will and had great faith, experienced suffering. In v.8 “hardships” is our reference word, ‘tribulation.’ This was so great that they thought they would die – but by relying upon God’s grace they were spared. It is not true that they avoided the tribulation, but by God’s grace they had strength to endure, persevere, have hope and became conquerors. But, when finished, they had the scars to prove they had been in the battle - they had not avoided it by faith.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5
"And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.

  • Here the churches and their congregations were in ‘extreme poverty’ and were experiencing ‘severe trial’ but still endured and gave to help others. Positive confession teachers would tell you that these churches were either without faith or had missed God’s will – yet Paul is extolling them as being and doing exactly what they should be doing.

There are many other references that tells us that we will have ‘tribulation’ while being Christians just as was mentioned above that Jesus promised. However, these few are sufficient to tell us that the positive confession teaching is not what the scripture teaches.

Yes, there is healing in Jesus’ atonement; Yes, there is God’s provision for his people; Yes, miracles do occur according to God’s will when we ask – but we cannot presume that all these things will be ours, continually. Even Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount indicate that we will have deep problems while being disciples:
"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me 12 Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
"   Matthew 5:10-12

  • Here it is Jesus telling us to "...rejoice and be glad ..." for if you are a child of God you are blessed - regardless of the troubles.

Something to remember:
If you are not a child of God, this life, even if it is problem free, is as good as life gets.
Conversely, if you are a child of God, this life, even if filled with many problems and suffering is as bad as life gets. So, continue to look up, the best is yet to come.

Summary:  There is no doubt that most of the pastors and teachers of 'Positive Confession' desire to see people saved, and living victorious lives. However, when the problems come into life - and they surely will - many Christians are 'blind-sided' and become desperate to know what to do. Some have left the faith because the message they received from these pastors and teachers is "... you're doing something wrong; -or- there is secret sin in your life; -or- your faith has failed; -or- you're out of God's will; -or-   etc. etc. etc ..." One well know pastor I know lied about pain and suffering he experienced because he was afraid of the aforementioned accusations being leveled at him. Yet during this time he continued teaching the positive confession material as being God's Word and God's plan . May God's mercy prevail!

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Grace for the Day

In our struggle to follow Christ, God strengthens his children in the same way he strengthened Jesus during his perilous times. To whom much is given, much is also expected ... therefore:

There are no easy paths in following Christ. However, we have God's promise: "I will never leave you or forsake you."Deuteronomy 31:6 &Hebrews 13:5

To quote C.S. Lewis: "If and when a horror turns up you will then be given grace to help you." This leads us to the "Lord's Prayer" - which really should be called the "Disciples Prayer" - which says in part; "... give us this day our daily bread ..." That means, sustenance for the soul; sustenance for the body; and grace to face that "horror" that has reared its ugly head.

Seldom are we given grace in advance, but always, as we trust, grace for our daily need. His grace is sufficient - but it is not carte blanche, so that one serving meets all needs. It is this "daily grace" that "living by faith" is all about. "By grace we are saved, through faith ..." from the consequences of our sin, and for the horror we may face today.     So we can say will confidence: "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid ..." Hebrews 13:6

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Attitude of "Yeah - But!"

Have you ever run into the spirit or attitude of "Yeah - But!"
A couple of times, during the last year, I have met this attitude head on in teaching. It shows itself like this - I may start with - "The Bible says ..." and read some scripture - then, someone in the class responds "Yeah - But ..." and then supplies something they think refutes the scripture, or jumps to another related topic with what appears to be a question, but is really a statement which denys or questions what came before.
It is such a subtle thing, that we are all susceptible to experiencing its effect. We can be enjoying a sermon and have the pastor say something, and in our mind we go there with "Yeah, but what about ...?" and we probably miss the point he was trying to make. Worst case, it can come to the point of "... always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth." 2 Timothy 3:7 That is just the way the ones I encountered presented themselves. They appeared to be students of God's Word - however, 'Yeah - but' is keeping them from acknowledging the truth.

Update: Pastor Steve Smothermon, Senior Pastor at the
Legacy Church in Albuquerque, says that there are two catagories of people in a church. There are Believers & Followers. 'Believers' are those that believe in God and Jesus, but have made no commitment of faith. These people tend to "buck" the word of God, (Yeah - But ...) and though they appear religious and may even be workers in a church, they really don't have a personal relationship with Christ. 'Followers', on the other hand, seek to let the word dwell within them and obey it. They strive to know everything they can about the God they worship, and desire to please him in all they do.

The really bad news is that 2 Timothy 3 begins with the warning that we are going to see more of Smothermon's definition of 'believers' - and even worse. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus!

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The Biggest Logistics Miracle of all time.

Moses and the people were in the desert, but what was he going to do with them? They had to be fed, and feeding about 3 million people requires a lot of food.
According to the Quartermaster General in the Army, it is reported that Moses would have to have had 1500 tons of food each day. This is "survival rations" of a pound of food per day per person.
To bring that much food in each day would require a freight train 15 to 30 cars long. A "max-ed out" big (60 foot) freight car can carry about 100 tons. A 50 footer about 70 to 100 tons depending on packaging.
We must remember, they were out in the desert, so they would have to have wood to use in cooking the food. This would require about another 40 big freight cars each day. Now our train is a minimum of 3300 feet long.
Oh yes! They would have to have water. We know God provided this from the ground more than once, but when traveling they would need at least 91 more tanker cars, each carrying 33,000 gallons to give each person just a gallon a day.
Have we thought about crossing the Red Sea? To cross in one night the pathway would have to be a mile wide, at a minimum, for just people. Adding cattle of all kinds would increase this. Crossing with 1700 people abreast the line would still be nearly two miles long. Much longer with cattle.
Think of the huge space needed each night for camping. A huge stadium may hold 85,000 people all sitting close together in chairs. They would need over 35 stadiums to just sit - with campfires and sleeping the area gets a lot bigger. This happened each and every night for 40 years.
The reason all this was possible isn't because Moses was terrific at logistics. Moses was sent on this mission by God with the promise "I will be with you." God took care of all the logistics, for these were his people and he loved them. He loves you too - so do you think God will have any problem taking care of all your needs? The math says, probably not!

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