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March 2004, Volume IX, Issue 23


Scripture Twisting (4)

Those seduced by feminism twist I Timothy 2:12 which declares (regarding the church institute), "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man." We are told that this was only for their day, as if the ascended Christ was not laying down rules for the governance of His church till the end of the age (6:14). We are told that Paul was a bigot or a male chauvinist, as if "our beloved brother Paul" were not an inspired apostle who wrote "according to the wisdom given unto him" (II Peter 3:15).

Scientism teaches that the universe was formed through a massive explosion billions of years ago and that life evolved from the primeval slime. Those who swallow this false teaching and seek to retain some connection with the Bible then "reinterpret" (i.e., "twist") Genesis 1 and other passages. The fourth commandment’s "in six days the Lord made heaven and earth" goes onto the torturer’s rack, as do the "days" and the "mornings and evenings" of Genesis 1. And, lo and behold, we find that "days" here are millions and millions of years.

Professed Christians twist Scripture when they claim that it does not condemn sodomy, and so we could continue. In fact, some modern hermeneutical theorists are arguing that the reader and not the text determines the text’s meaning!

Against all Scripture twisters, the believer must hold fast the Reformed truth that Scripture interprets Scripture and that "the whole counsel of God" may be "deduced" from Scripture by "good and necessary consequence" (Westminster Confession 1:6). So watch out for Scripture twisting in seminaries and in churches; in books and in tapes; by theologians, by ministers and by professing Christians. Do not be deceived!

People perish in hell for unrepentant Scripture twisting. Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A.113 explains this as a sin against the third commandment which forbids "any way perverting the word, or any part of it." Perverting the Scriptures "enables" a man to reject more of the Word and to live more loosely. Those teachers who twist the Scriptures lead others to perdition for "if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matt. 15:14). The Scriptures which they twisted shall judge them at the last day.

Scripture twisting is a characteristic of the false church. Belgic Confession 29 states, "As for the false church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ." The false church practises Scripture twisting to support her false teaching and her power. Therefore Christ will destroy the false church. Rev. Stewart

Achan’s Sin and Punishment (1)

And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the Lord, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel (Josh. 7:15).

One of our readers asks, "Would you please explain to me what was the accursed thing mentioned in Joshua 8:15, and why the punishment was so severe?" This passage is highly relevant in the twenty-first century so I intend to write several articles on it.

Joshua 7 records Achan’s sin of taking some accursed things from Jericho. In Joshua 6, God gave Joshua and Israel instructions on how to carry on the battle against Jericho. He said in no uncertain terms that Jericho and its possessions were accursed. "And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord" (6:17-19).

The Lord’s command to Joshua and Israel was in keeping with what He had said to them in the plains of Moab on the east of Jordan prior to Israel’s entrance into Canaan. God told the nation in no uncertain terms that if they should find some of their fellow citizens engaging in the abominable idolatries of the Canaanites (Deut. 13:12-14), they should "smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again. And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand ..." (Deut. 13:15-17).

The Lord expressed His fierce anger against those who participated in the abominations of the Canaanites. The command to Joshua just outside Jericho (Josh. 6:17-19) was no surprise to Israel. They knew how the Lord hated those who lived in Canaan, for they had filled the cup of iniquity and were ripe for judgment.

Jericho and everything in it is said to be accursed—with the exception of Rahab and her household. Now that word "accursed" is an interesting one. It means not only "accursed," but also "devoted." These two meanings are not separate and distinct so that sometimes the word means the first and sometimes the second. Both meanings belong together. That which is accursed is devoted. This is why Joshua 6:17 says that "the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord." The margins in various translations even offer the word "devoted" as an alternate translation.

Further, because that which was accursed in Jericho was also devoted to the Lord, verse 19 tells us that God commanded that "all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord." The stuff was accursed and devoted to the Lord—both at the same time.

So crucially important was this that God warned Israel that the people were to keep themselves "from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it" (6:18). Achan had heard these words. He knew exactly what was involved.

Nevertheless, when Jericho fell by a miracle and Israel entered the city to carry out the command of God, Achan transgressed. He took of the accursed thing, brought it back secretly, and buried it in the ground under his tent (7:1, 21-23).

Achan’s bringing an accursed thing into the camp of Israel brought the curse into the camp. Thus he made the camp accursed and so he troubled the nation (6:18).

The trouble that Achan brought upon the nation was Israel’s defeat at Ai. Thirty-six men were killed. If we have any questions about the severity of Achan’s punishment, let us ponder this a moment. Achan was responsible for the death of 36 soldiers. Assuming all these men were married, Achan was to blame that 36 widows now had to live without a husband. Also Achan was to blame that the children in 36 families had to grow up without a father. Achan, in fact, though indirectly, killed those 36 men.

As a kind of sidelight, one can only ponder in our own day the perverted justice of western civilization which favours criminals, no matter how brutal their crimes, and has very little sympathy for those who have suffered because of the sins of lawless men.

However that may be, we must consider one more interesting feature about this history. Achan’s sin was not known to the rest of the nation. That this is true is evident from the fact that lots had to be cast in order to learn who the man was who had brought destruction on Israel.

But even though Achan’s sin was secret, he had brought the curse into the camp and all the nation was guilty for his sin. This kind of language sounds strange to us, but it is emphatically the teaching of the text. We must not forget this. We will return to it in a later article. Prof. H. Hanko

The Lukewarm Church (3)

Having explained the context and refuted the Arminian interpretation in the last two issues, we now come to the positive interpretation of Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

One Calvinistic view of this text identifies the "door" as the church door and, hence, sees the text as a call to church reformation. The Laodicean church, so the argument goes, was well nigh apostate. Christ is outside that church institute and He is calling His faithful to leave and form a new congregation. This interpretation is certainly in keeping with the analogy of faith (i.e. the overall biblical teaching) and does not slide into Arminianism. Also it is held by many solid Reformed men.

Two arguments, however, may be made against it. First, neither the text nor the context provide any information about forming a new, faithful congregation in Laodicea. Second, Christ was not finished with that church. Verse 16 does not state that it was His fixed and unchangeable purpose to vomit it forth, for the word "spue" ("I will spue thee out of my mouth" [16]) is not a future indicative. Rather, Christ is "about to" spue the church out. Then He counsels it (18) and calls it to repent (19). Thus Christ delivers a serious warning and (by implication) teaches that in the way of repentance they will be spared. This conclusion is confirmed in verse 19 where Christ speaks of the sonship of the Laodiceans and His "love" for them: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Hebrews 12:5-8 explains that "sons" and not "bastards" are chastened. Clearly, Christ was not finished with the Laodicean church for in it were His beloved sons.

So what then does the text mean? In verse 18, Christ addresses the church collectively, but verse 20 is a call to the members individually. Not only must the church repent of her pride—thinking that she had "need of nothing" (17)—but each member is called upon to repent and believe.

Francis Turretin (1623-1687) put it very well: "When it is said that ‘Christ stands at the door and knocks’ (Rev. 3:20), it cannot be inferred that sufficient grace is granted to all. (1) He is there treating of those already called who were in the church, not of those about to be called. (2) ... standing and knocking not only designates internal notions, but is properly referred to external exhortations [19] ... Therefore he knocks in different ways at the hearts of the elect and reprobate; at the former externally and internally by the word and by the Spirit so that, by knocking imperatively by the word, he may also open them operatively by the Spirit (as was the case with the heart of Lydia). At the latter, he only knocks externally by the word that they may understand their duty, the promised benefit, the heinousness of their sin and the justice of punishment if they neglect the voice of God ... He does not cease justly to admonish man of his duty and to convict the rebellious of obstinacy" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2, p. 515). Thus, in the way of repentance, God’s beloved sons (19) enjoy covenant fellowship with Christ as they dine with Him as His friends (20). Rev. Stewart

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