Justification: How are we saved?

by Dan Seidelman

by Dan Seidelman

Justification: How are we saved? – Audio.mp3

What is Justification?

”Justification is the article by which the church stands and falls.” -Attributed to Luther

“Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which He (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in His sight.” -Grudem

 

Instantaneous, legal act –

  • Romans 3:20,  4:4-5, 5:1, Gal 2:16, 3:24.
  • Not a process, Justification is a declaration that we are righteous when our lives show otherwise.  God acts as a judge, not a surgeon when justifying.
  • Forensic Righteousness- having legal qualities.

 

Thinks of our sins as forgiven –

  • “Just as if I never sinned.”
  • Past, Present, and Future Sins – we are not held to pay the penalty.
  • Rom 4:6-8, 8:1
  • Forgiveness alone equals moral neutrality – God Requires perfection, not moral neutrality.

 

Gives Christ’s Righteousness –

  • 2 Cor 5:21, 1 Cor 1:30.
  • “It is essential to the heart of the gospel to insist that God declares us to be just or righteous not on the basis of our actual condition of righteousness or holiness, but rather on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which He thinks of as belonging to us.” – Grudem.
  • Gives us assurance since justification is based on Christ’s righteousness and not our righteousness.
  • This puts man higher morally than at creation.

What must I do to be saved?

Not by works but through our faith in Christ.

  • Mark 1:15
  • Repentance – “Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.”
  • Includes the whole person – Emotion, Volition, and Cognition.
  • Faith –
  • Rom 10:14 – requires knowledge
  • Matt 7:22 – Requires trust, not just agreement that facts are good.
  • Faith is a means and not a merit.
  • Faith is the opposite of depending on ourselves. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace – Rom 4:16

What about Works in James?

  • Romans 3:28 – For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
  • James 2:24 – You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

“There is no one doctrine in the whole Bible more fuller asserted, explained, and urged, than the doctrine of justification by faith alone, without any of our own righteousness.” -Jonathan Edwards

 

  • Two Uses of “Justify”: make righteous (Paul) and show righteousness (James, cf Matt 12:37)
  • The example of Abraham explains this, compare Jas 3:21, Gen 15:6, 22:12, and Heb 11:17

What About Old Testament Saints?

  • Romans 3:22-26
  • God allowed Old Testament Saints by passing over former sins.  Jesus paid their price of life.
  • They did not have full understanding, but trusted God.

Implications:

  1. Hope and Assurance – We can be sure of heaven and don’t have to doubt our salvation
  2. Power – We have the power and promise to become what God declares we are
  3. Humility – There is nothing we did to become a Christian, it’s all God.  This should lead to humility.

 

Final reminder: Theology cannot be separated from person-hood.

 

“To say God forgives sin is true.  But in saying it that way, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is sinners from whom the liability of guilt is lifted.  God punishes persons and He forgives persons.  Some try to distinguish between sin and the sinner: “God hates sin; loves the sinner.”  Such a separation isn’t possible.  God sends sinners to hell; they, not their sin, are punished eternally.  Christ, not the sin He bore, suffered and died on the cross.” – Jay Adams (Theology of Christian Counseling, 195)

 

 

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Depravity: Why do we need salvation?

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by Sean Perron

Depravity: Why do we need salvation? – Audio.m3p

 

Depraved, wicked, evil, sinful.This subject is not something to simply store away in our heads. It is serious and must be sensed. If we have never felt the weight of our sin, we have not experienced salvation. If we have never realized our depraved nature, we have never seen Christ. There are many people who sincerely think they are good people. In sharing the gospel, I have been utterly shocked at how many people think they are good. People often have no standard of perfection and therefore make themselves the standard.

Have you given thought to your sinful state apart from God? Have you paused and truly considered the reality that without Christ, you are wicked at your core?

1. Depravity is Wide (Universal)

  • 1 Kings 8:46
  • Psalm 14:1-3
  • Proverbs 20:9
  • Ecclesiastes 7:20
  • Isaiah 64:6-7
  • 1 John 1:8-10

2. Depravity is Deep (Total)

  • Everything an unbeliever does is sin. (1 Corinthians 10:13; Titus 1:15)
  • Depravity has been deep every since the Fall (Gen 6:5)
  • Depravity darkens understanding. (Eph 4:18)
  • Depravity does not mean everyone will become Adolf Hitler.

When we say “Total” depravity, we mean everything is tainted without Christ. There are different levels of sin and different intensities of it’s manifestation. Total depravity is referring to the core of a person and this core is shown in different ways.

3. Depravity is Early

  • Psalm 58:3
  • Psalm 51:5
  • Proverbs 22:15
  • We are sinners by nature and by choice.
  • Romans 5:12
  • Romans 5:18-19

4. Depravity is Deadly 

  • Depraved people desire darkness more than light. (John 3:18-21)
  • Depraved people are unable to change their affections. (Jeremiah 13:23)
  • Only a work of the Spirit can change a depraved heart. (Eph 2:1)
  • Dead hearts can only be made alive by God. Dry bones can only be revived by the breath of life.

We need new hearts. We need hearts of flesh and not of stone. We need hearts that beat for God and that love God at their core. This can only happen by a supernatural work of the Spirit. God must speak and change our affections. Dead hearts can only sin. Sinful hearts are bound by their nature and there is nothing good in them that can bring about self change.

Small Group Discussion:

  1. At the core of your being, do you have a love for God or a love for something else?
  2. How have your affections changed since becoming a Christian?
  3. Why do you think most people view themselves as a “good person”?
  4. In your own words, explain why everything an unbeliever does is sinful.
  5. How does the doctrine of total depravity impact our pride?

Stand Over: March 2014

lasertag2

What: Stand Over at the Dan Seidelman’s place.

Who: Emmaus Guys (6th-12th)

When: March 28nd 7pm – March 29th 10am.

What: Laser Tag ($7 per game), a sleep over, and a devotion on setting the standard for believers in love.

Where: Meet at Lazer Blaze at 7pm and then spend the night at Dan’s Apartment

This is the second in a series on 1 Timothy 4:12

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

Common Questions about the Ark

Ark Cross Section

Emmaus is cancelled due to the weather tonight, but here is a post related to the current topic we were going to discuss. Grad some hot chocolate and check out this article from Answers in Genesis. It is always good to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask about the hope within you (1 Peter 3:15).

Below are some common questions about Noah’s ark. Check out the full article here.

  • How Did Noah Fit All the Animals on the Ark?
  • What About the Dinosaurs?
  • What Did the Dinosaurs Eat?
  • How Did the Animals Breathe?
  • Were Single Pairs Sufficient?

How Old is the Earth?

by Sean Perron

by Sean Perron

Seven Reasons for Seven Days – audio.mp3

There are many Christians who believe God created the world over billions of years. I submit that this is uncritically assumed. Some people view this issue as unimportant. Others view this as the issue to break fellowship over. How should we view this issue? Is it essential or is it a waste of time?

Whether you are going to the movies or whether you are going to school, the issue is bound to surface. The topic of the age of the earth can surface on Fox News or the Discovery channel. It would be odd if Christians never talked about an issue so common in our culture. Christians are not to be ostriches. We are not to drive our heads in the sand. Rather, we are called to think critically and winsomely. We want to be people who bleed Bible and have all of our thinking informed by the Scripture. We want to view life through the lens of the Bible and then proclaim it to the world in a bold and winsome manner.

Seven Reasons for Seven Days:

You can have convictions about secondary issues and still love other brothers and sisters who disagree with you. It is possible to extend fellowship while also discussing controversial matters. Without further ado, here are seven reasons why I believe the days in Genesis are seven literal twenty four hour days.

1. I take the book of Genesis as historical narrative

This all comes down to what type of Genre you are reading. Genesis is different than Psalms. After reading through the book of Genesis, it seems to me that the author is intending to convey a real historical account of real people who lived and died. The book has the markings of historical narrative. Genealogies abound along with specific names and ages of people. It seems out of place to narrow in on the first few chapters and treat them in a different category than the rest of the book. It is true that God creates the world in an orderly and beautiful manner, but it is illogical to think this necessitates inaccuracy. Beauty and order should not be equated with historical inaccuracy. Neither should it be automatically translated into allegory or mere imagery. God can create both in a historical and factual way while also maintaining beauty and symmetry.

2. I am not persuaded by other interpretations of the word “yom” (day)

The number one meaning of the word day is a literally 24 hour day. Only context should cause us to rethink the meaning of a word.

It is true that the word day can mean many different things. “In that day” – meaning a designated time in the future. “Back in the day” – meaning an undesignated time in the past.

The question for interpreters must be, how is the word day being used in a particular context? I have been helped by several articles from Answers in Genesis. Here is a survey of the different uses of the word day:

  • Yom is used 3,000 times in the Old Testament.
  • Yom is used 359 times with a number (1,2,3,4,5,6…) In all of these instances, it refers to a literal day when used with a number.
  • Yom is used 23 times with the phrase “evening and morning.” In all of these instances, it refers to a literal day when used with these phrases.
  • Yom is used 53 times with the word “night” In all of these instances, it refers to a literal day when used with this word.
  • The plural of yom, which does not appear in Genesis 1, can be used to communicate a longer time period, such as “in those days.”
  • There are 9 other Hebrew words that could communicate long periods of time such as “Olam” or “Qedem”
  • What about the fact that the sun is not created until day four? This question does not affect the exegetical nature of the text. The text is still communicating the same reality about “Yom” before day four and after day four.

3. The Torah confirms literal days in the 10 commandments.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, ESV)

It seems that the author of Genesis believed that the days in Genesis should be interpreted as literal days. The fourth commandment would not make sense if the days were actually millions of years. To import millions of years grates against the natural reading of the text. “For” = “just as.”

You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord.Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:14-18, ESV)

The question must be addressed: Why do people struggle so much with Genesis 1? I am not aware of anyone questioning the days Jonah was in the whale or how many days Jesus was in the wilderness. No one is questioning the days Saul ran from David. And yet there is more biblical evidence to show that the days in Genesis 1 are more literal than nearly any other days in the Bible. Why question Genesis 1?

 4. It seems the New Testament assumes a young earth

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:2-9, ESV)

Jesus says that man and women were created from the beginning. This statement fits best with a young earth account rather than a long day account of creation. Now certainly it could be assumed that Jesus is accounting for 13 billion years when he makes this statement, but again, this appears to assume a lot more than the text gives. No matter how you dice it, six days is closer to the beginning than 6 billion years.

5. I am not persuaded there are enough gaps in the Biblical genealogies

Even if you had massive gaps in the biblical genealogies, it would not equal enough years to make the evolutionary time scale work. It would not be in the millions. It would be in the thousands.

6. It is the most natural reading of the text

You would never believe in millions of years if you only read the Bible. It is completely true that everyone who reads Genesis for the first time is a young earth creationist. The only reason we are having this discussion is because of Darwinism. Why would you need millions of years otherwise?

The goal of a Christian is to think through the lens of the Bible. The goal is not to unwittingly think through an evolutionary lens. I submit that most Christians assume that this issue is not important and have adapted a foreign worldview into their reading of the first chapter of the Bible.

The question we should be asking is why did God take so long? I remember Ken Ham quoting Martin Luther on one occasion. Luther aptly said, “If you cannot understand how this could not have been done [creation] in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned that you are… God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His Word in the direction you wish it to go.”

7. Death could not have existed before the fall

This is the central issue.

“The secrets of evolution are time and death.” -Carl Sagan (Cosmos, part 2: One voice in the cosmic fugue)

If you remove death, you remove evolution. The struggle for survival and the need to adapt is at the heart of the evolutionary process. To say that God created through evolution is to say that God used death, disease and destruction in the creation process.

The Fossil Record shows: Death, Disease (Cancerous Tumors) and Destruction (Violence and Thorns)

The fossil record reveals death, cancer, tumors, thorns and bloodshed. These are all fossils that are reportedly millions of years old and existed before man sinned. This is contrary to the Genesis account. Thorns are a result of Adam and did not come into the world before him. How could God permit death, disease and destruction into the world when Romans 5:12 says death came through Adam? How could God have used these death and disease to create when he calls all of his creative works “very good” in Genesis 1:25? What you believe about Genesis 1 affects what you believe about Romans 5. If you compromise in one area (intentionally or unintentionally), you might just be compromising in another.

Practical Applications:

1. You need to major on important doctrine without neglecting “smaller” doctrines.

You should welcome and extend the hand of fellowship to those who disagree with you, but you need to have a firm position about things in life. “Young Earth” creationists get slammed for being narrow minded and majoring on the minors. However, I don’t think they should get slammed for this. Rather, the thrust here is to defend the Bible from the very first verse of Genesis. I think it is a big deal. Not because I want to make it my campaign in life to trumpet literal 24 hours days, but because I want to think critically about the Bible. Christians cannot say a rock with thorns in it existed before Adam. We need to think critically and theologically. If I accept that that rock is millions of years old, I am accepting death existed before Adam existed. This has significant implications.

2. We should trust the Word of God from the very first verse. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

The application is not for us to run out of here and interrogate everyone at our church to find out if they believe that God created the world in six literal days. The application is for us to ground ourselves in the Bible and to trust it with all of our might. I want us to be people to think through the lens of the Bible. I don’t want us to unwittingly think through an evolutionary lens.

 

 

 

Small Group Questions:

1. Did you learn anything tonight that you did not know before?

2. Are you afraid to take a stand on the Bible? Why or why not?

3. Brainstorm. What are some “primary” doctrinal issues that are non-negotiable? What are some “secondary” doctrinal issues that are important but you can still fellowship with each other?

4. Do you ever focus on learning theological issues while neglecting personal spiritual growth? Why or why not? Discuss the relationship between learning about the Bible and growing in love for others.

 

Did God use Evolution?

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by Sean Perron

What is Evolution?

  • Macro – Evolution = Molecules to Man; Species producing new Species)
  • Micro – Evolution = Changes within a “Kind” or Family” – Species

Micro-Evolution is completely legitimate. Macro-Evolution is in conflict with the Scriptures.

Did the God of the Bible use Evolution? – Audio.Mp3

My heart breaks for the Bill Nyes of the world and I want them to repent of their sins and come to Christ. But I am not ultimately shocked by the Bill Nyes. They do not see the things of God nor do they value the Word of God.

I am shocked by the third group of people who were not represented on that panel. There are people who believed that God designed evolution. This group says they believe the Bible while also maintaining that God used evolution during the creation process. My goal is to show you that a middle way is no way. There is no room for compromise. Either his words are trustworthy or they are not. I am going to argue that it is impossible for God to have used evolution (molecules to man) because he says that is not how he created.

1. Darwinian Evolution is Contradictory to Genesis

  • John 5:45-47 – You cannot believe in Jesus and reject Moses. “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
  • Genesis is different than Psalms. This is why it is so important to know how to study the bible. Different genres teach different things. Psalms teaches something different than exodus. Certainly there is poetry in the Torah, but it is markedly different than this. This came up in the Bill Nye Debate – Ken Ham is not arguing for a literal interpretation of every verse of the Bible. Instead, Ham is arguing for literal interpretations in genres that are intended by the author to be literal.
  • Genesis 1:24-26
  • “Kind” =  Family (Feline. Canine.Ect)
  • Genesis 7:14
  • Genesis 1:26-27 (Different categories: Fish, birds, livestock, creeping things)

2. Darwinian Evolution is Contrary to God’s Character

  • “The secrets of evolution are time and death.” – Carl Sagan (Cosmos, part 2: One voice in the cosmic fugue)

Death is essential for evolution. The struggle for survival and the need to adapt is at the heart of the evolutionary process. To say that God created through evolution is to say that God used death, disease and destruction in the creation process.

The Fossil Record shows:

  1. Death
  2. Disease
  3. Destruction
  • The fossil record reveals death, cancer, tumors, thorns and bloodshed. These are all fossils that Theistic Evolutionists have to say existed before man sinned. How could God have used these death and disease to create when he calls all of his creative works “very good” in Genesis 1:25?
  • These are not compatible with the word or character of God
  • Why would Romans 8 say the creation is groaning for redemption if this was what it was like in the perfect Garden of Eden? (Romans 8:18-22)

3. Darwinian Evolution Conflicts with the Gospel

  • Romans 5:12
  • Historical Adam – the New Testament authors assume that Adam was a real literal human being.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:26
  • 1 Corinthians 15:45
  • Adapted from Ken Ham: Death cannot be the penalty of sin if God used evolution. Death certainly cannot be the last enemy – its actually a friend to the theistic evolutionist.

Conclusion:

  • There is no middle ground. You must come to the conclusion that some issues for you are not open to debate. There are some issues that you never have to make a decision on. You will never have to make a definite choice of vanilla over chocolate. You can go back and forth, back and forth, one day this, one day that. However, there are some things in which you need to drive a flag into the ground and stand by it. There are a few things in life that you need to count on. You need to make a decision about whether you will believe God’s Word from the very beginning of Genesis. Either God is who he said he is – or he is not. You cannot sit on the fence on this one.
  • We must trust God from the very beginning. God is the same yesterday and today and forever. We must believe his word and not compromise in any area.
  • We must have faith seeking knowledge. We need to have intellectual answers because this is what God requires of us. To think critically in faith. Not critically against faith. But faith seeking knowledge.
  • Ideas have consequences. What you believe about Genesis 1 affects what you believe about Romans 5. If you compromise in one area, you might just be compromising in another.

Small Group Discussion:

  1. Have you considered the importance of Genesis before? How does our previous study on Genre affect a person’s interpretation of Genesis?
  2. Are you a person with convictions? Do you have a hard time standing for truth?
  3. Are you seeking truth with eyes of faith? Or are you seeking truth with a skeptical heart?
  4. How does the biblical teaching that we are made in the image of God impact how we view ourselves and others? How does this differ from the teaching of Darwinism that we are simply higher animals?

Has the Bible been Altered?

by Joe Bayless

by Joe Bayless

Has the Bible been Altered? – Audio – mp3 [Min 26 – Summary and Q&A Begins]

THE FIRST CLAIM: “The manuscripts of the Bible contain so many errors that it cannot be trusted.”

The Evidence:

  • The Bible we have today came to us through a long process.
  • The Bible began by God inspiring the authors to write down His word without error. The original manuscripts of the Bible were flawless.
  • As Christianity grew, more and more Christians wanted to read these inspired words, so copies had to be made. But, at this time, the printing press had not been invented. Copies had to be made by hand.
  • Scribes could make copies by themselves by looking at a manuscript and then copying what they saw onto a new sheet.
  • Or, a group of scribes could come together and have someone read the manuscript to them while the wrote down what they heard.
  • Sometimes these scribes would misspell or mishear a word or a phrase and write it down wrong. (It’s inevitable that human error would come into play).These small changes would go unnoticed sometimes, but sometimes they would be corrected by the scribe himself or an editor.

Example:

Growing up, one of the ways my mom would punish me was by making me write down huge portions of scripture. I had to copy the Gospel of John one time. So I would look at my Bible, and then write down a section of what I just read. I had so many copying errors. I had misspelled words. I wrote down words twice. Luckily, I did it in pencil, so I could correct a lot of the errors I had. Scribes struggled with the same thing when copying manuscripts of the Bible.

  • Let’s pretend we’re a group of scribes. Copy down what I say. You’re not allowed to ask for clarification on the word. Just write down the word you think I’m saying.
  • Say the word “pen.” If this experiment works, some will think I said “pin” and write that down.
  • There are scholars who dedicate their lives to studying manuscripts of the New Testament, comparing them to one another, trying to figure out what the original writers wrote.
  • They have developed a science to help them determine what was originally written. A lot of this “science” is common sense.

For instance:

Let’s say you read a note from your parents. Let’s say in the note your parents tell you that they’re going to eat at a restaurant for dinner. Let’s say that your parents misspell the word “restaurant.” When you’re reading that letter, will you be able to figure out what they’re saying even though they misspelled the word? They are able to piece together the various manuscripts to figure out what Paul, Luke, and John wrote. We don’t have a copy of the original manuscripts that Paul, Luke, and John wrote. But because we have so many manuscripts and are able to compare them with one another, we can have confidence that we know what the biblical authors wrote.

  • Their studies have shown that NT manuscripts are in 99% agreement as to what words should be there. The other 1% doesn’t affect any doctrine of Christianity.
  • More and more manuscripts are being discovered all the time.
  • 2007 – 5500 manuscripts, 2011 – 5700 manuscripts.
  • Each new manuscript is studied and compared with other manuscripts. So far no manuscript has been discovered that undermines other previously discovered manuscripts. In other words, there’s no silver bullet manuscript that shoots down the claims of Christianity. In fact, new manuscript discoveries have proven time and time again the validity of the Bible as the word of God.
  • Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the late 40s, early 50s.
  • Before their discovery, the earliest OT manuscripts we had were from the 10th century A.D. People said, “Well, how can we trust the OT without old manuscripts?”
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and dated to around 100 BC to 300 BC. It is in agreement with the 10th century manuscripts.

Conclusions:

           

1. All evidence points to the fact that the manuscripts of the Bible can be trusted.

  • A lot of these so-called “errors” are spelling errors and word order errors. But because scholars can use common sense and science to figure out these errors, and because they can compare manuscripts to each other, we can know with confidence what the original NT writers wrote.
  • A lot of these manuscripts are very high quality with no copying errors.

Application:

  • The Bible can be trusted as the word of God.
  • Manuscripts prove the trustworthiness of the Bible time and time again.
  • The Bible you hold in your hand faithfully represents what the New Testament authors wrote down in the Greek Manuscripts.
  • Be thankful for those who have labored to get the Bible from the Apostle John, the Apostle Paul, Luke, Peter, and others down to you.
  • Many of these scribes labored in difficult conditions. (Bad lighting, poor equipment, persecution)
  • They labored so hard and so faithfully because people wanted to hear God’s words. The reason why there are so many manuscripts is because there’s something special about the words that are on the manuscripts; and that something special is the fact that these words are the very words of God.

THE SECOND CLAIM: “The early church altered the manuscripts to create a lot of doctrines.”

The Evidence:

  • A little church history will help us assess this claim.
  • The early church experienced off and on persecution from the Roman Empire.
  • Some early church leaders wrote to Rome to defend Christianity (Justin Martyr and Tertullian).

1) Justin Martyr ca. A.D. 165

2) Tertullian A.D. 220

  • Persecution officially stopped with Constantine the Great when he issued the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D.
  • Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire in 381 A.D.
  • The early church held universal councils in 325, 381, 431, and 451 A.D.

1) The purpose of these debates was to work out doctrinal issues.

2) They didn’t convene together to “create” a Bible.

  • A man by the name of Athanasius wrote a letter in 367 A.D. that contains a list of all 27 books of the New Testament.

Why is church history important in helping us assess this?

  • We see that the early church isn’t creating a conspiracy.
  • They’re genuine believers who have a genuine desire to see people believe in the gospel.
  • When they meet together in councils, they’re talking about issues that affect believers in their churches.
  • We see that the church didn’t “create” or “alter” the Bible during the early church councils.

a) They affirmed what had already been used in churches.

b) Churches had been using letters of Paul and John to edify the church.

c) When church fathers were writing letters and books, they quote the letters of Paul, the Gospel of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and other writings. If we were to take all of their biblical quotations and put them together, we would be able to construct the entire New Testament from their quotations alone. When we compare their quotations to actual manuscripts we have, they have no major disagreement with the manuscripts.

  • Studying the 5700+ manuscripts really helps us in assessing this claim.
  • Let’s say hypothetically that we have only manuscripts that date from 1000 A.D. Let’s also say hypothetically that we discover some manuscripts dating from around 300 A.D.
  • If the early church altered manuscripts to create doctrine, it would show itself somewhere in all of our manuscripts. It would also show itself when we study the biblical quotations of the early church fathers.