Job 1:1-5

Introduction

Was Job a real person? Scholars have debated whether or not he was, but other parts of the Bible teach that he was indeed real. In Ezekiel 14:14, 20, Ezekiel places him alongside of both Noah and Daniel as a man who really existed. James also makes reference to him in James 5:11 where we are reminded of his patience. But perhaps the greatest evidence of his existence is the plain statement of fact we find in the beginning of the book. Job 1:1 matter-of-factly states, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job . . . .”

When was the book written? The events of the book appear to have taken place during the time of the Patriarchs. Some conservative scholars suggest that it was during the time of Terah, Abraham’s father.

Who authored the book? While the Holy Spirit authored the book of Job (2 Peter 1:20, 21), the penman is not specifically stated. It could have been Job himself or some other poet of whom we are now unaware. That the book is part of Hebrew tradition indicates that the author may have had some distant relationship to Abraham.

Why was this book written? The book of Job was written to answer the question, “Why do the righteous suffer?” It is a question that many ask, even today, and its content is directly relevant to any righteous person who has experienced suffering. When one reads Job, if one who is righteous has suffered, one is expected to find one’s self in Job’s situation asking the same questions that Job asks and wondering the same things that Job wonders. One has the added advantage, however, of knowing what the true background of Job’s sufferings was. While Job and his friends struggle with the problem, the reader, knowing what he knows, is supposed to understand the incorrect assumptions that each make and be able to answer his own questions as he endures suffering himself.

Where did these events take place? Again, Job 1:1 says “in the land of Uz.” While we don’t know exactly, this was likely somewhere in the northwestern part of Iraq. Tradition states it was northeast of Idumea. This may put the land of Uz somewhere around the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the vicinity of Haran. It is unknown.

The book of Job is divided naturally into four sections. I. Chapters one through three comprise the prologue (introductory matters and Job’s opening statement). II. Chapters four through twenty-six comprise the dialogues (between Job and his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar). III. Chapters twenty-seven through forty-one comprise the monologues (Job, Elihu, and Yahweh). IV. Chapter forty-two comprises the epilogue.

The prologue sets the stage for the dialogues and monologues. It answers the following questions: What did Job lose? Why is he sick? Why is he really suffering? Who is really behind Job’s sufferings? The reader is supposed to know the answers to these questions before he begins reading the dialogues and monologues so he can know what both Job and his friends assume about his situation that isn’t true.

In the dialogues, Job complains regarding his physical suffering and states that it is without cause. Job’s friends state that Job has obviously sinned grievously against God and that he needs to repent to have his situation restored.

In the monologues, Job demands that God explain to him why he is in this situation. Elihu rebukes Job for taking such a haughty position; then God himself rebukes Job for his haughtiness as well.

The epilogue tells us what Job’s response was to God, who was right in the discussion (Job or his friends) and what happens to Job after this ordeal is over.

Job 1:1-5

Vs. 1 – We’re introduced to Job and where he lives (see introduction). We’re also told of his character. While the KJV says “perfect” the word is blameless. No man is perfect in the sense of sinless, however, we can live our lives in such a way so as not to give occasion to any man to blame us concerning our behavior. Such ought to be the goal of each man seeking to be pleasing to God. Upright has reference to Job’s relationships to his fellow men. He was honest and fair in his business dealings and respectable among his peers. Job feared God. Here is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, the proverb writer states (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). Job also turned away from evil. He shunned it; refused it; neglected it. This reminds us of Joseph and his rejection of Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:9). It reminds us of Jesus rejection of Satan (Matthew 4:1-10). And it ought to remind us that God has provided a way out of escape for each temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can shun, reject, and turn away from evil.

Vs. 2 – Job had seven sons and three daughters. Some commentators have seen numerology in this verse, seven being a frequent number in the Bible to reveal that which is perfect and three being the number of the Trinity. Hence seven plus three would be God’s perfect man. However, there is no indication in the text that we should thus consider the number of Job’s children as significant in any way other than that was the number.

Vs. 3 – Job’s wealth is enumerated in this verse. There does not appear to be anything significant about these numbers other than the number itself. Here is another reason for rejecting their significance in verse 2 as well. Job’s wealth was comparable to that of Abraham’s (Genesis 13:6). The author mentions that Job was the greatest in the “east” indicating that he was writing from a perspective west of Job. This may put the place of writing in the general vicinity of Palestine

Vs. 4 – This verse sets the stage for why the sons and daughters were all in the same place when they died. The “day” of the sons may have been their birthday or some other day of honor. That they invited each other for such a celebration indicates that the family was full of fellowship and filial love. To this day, the thought of feasting with family continues to warm the cockles of the heart. God’s family observes the pinnacle of such a feast in the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 11:23-27).

Vs. 5 – Seemingly this verse is also explanatory of what Job’s coming situation would be. Some may think that perhaps it was because of the sin of his children that they suffered calamity. Such is suggested by Bildad in Job 8:4. So, here the writer let’s us know that Job had been performing the necessary sacrifices in order to maintain peace between his family and God. Like Abraham, Job was the patriarch of his family and so served as family priest in offering up the sacrifices on their behalf. It couldn’t be properly suggested, therefore, that it was due to Job’s family’s sin that Job had such calamity come upon him.

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The Argument Against the False Doctrine of Original Sin

There is no greater threat to practicing true Christianity than the doctrine of original sin (also known as the doctrine of total hereditary depravity). Briefly, this is the teaching that all people born inherit the sinful state into which Adam and Eve passed due to their sin within the Garden of Eden. As a result of being born in sin, all humans are depraved and have a corrupted nature. There are only two possible ways that one can say one inherits depravity from Adam. Either the spiritual soul is depraved at birth as a consequence of heredity, or the physical body is depraved at birth. I will argue in this article that it is false to say that either is the case, and therefore that the doctrine must be false.

Can one who affirms this doctrine say that it is the newly created human soul (a spiritual entity) that is plagued with the problem of sin? There are only four possible ways that they could say this occurs. 1) That God creates the soul in a sinful state upon conception thereby forcing Adam’s sinful state upon man, 2) That the soul inherits sin from Adam through heredity, 3) That the soul develops a condition of sin by being in proximity to another sinful soul or 4) That the soul is corrupted by coming into contact with a sinful body. I submit to you that they cannot affirm any of these things for the following reasons. 1) God directly creates the soul of man (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 42:5; Zechariah 12:1; Hebrews 12:9). Can God create anything that is inherently sinful? Of course not (Psalm 5:4; Habakkuk 1:13) in fact, God can only create that which is good and perfect (James 1:17). Therefore, the soul cannot be created evil. 2) It is ridiculous to say that the soul can inherit, through heredity, sinfulness from Adam. The soul is an autonomous spiritual thing created by God and would not be subject to anything that would come physically as a result of being descended from Adam. In other words, we do not inherit part of Adam’s soul, but his physical body-his DNA. The question of whether sin is contained within the physical body will be examined in the next section. 3) Perhaps, the soul of the child is affected by the soul of the mother during the pregnancy process? So that in essence, one sinful soul by its proximity can deprave another soul that has not already been depraved. However, we read in the scriptures that the soul is autonomous; it independently corrupts itself through sin. James writes, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15). The autonomy of the soul is affirmed in many other passages of scripture (Ezekiel 18:4, 20 Deuteronomy 24:16, Jeremiah 31:30; and Galatians 6:7). 4) The body cannot corrupt the soul merely because the soul is placed within it. Jesus says that sin does not originate from outside the soul, but from within (Mark 7:14-23). There is no possible way that those who affirm the doctrine of total hereditary depravity can say that the newly created human soul is plagued with the problem of sin and be scriptural.

This leaves the proponents of this doctrine with only the possibility of the physical body plagued with the problem of original sin, i.e. those who affirm the doctrine of original sin MUST, in fact, believe that it is the physical body of man that is inherently depraved. However, it is impossible that sin could be transferred through genetic material. What genetic marker are we going to point to and say, “Aha! There is the sin gene?” Genetic material can only produce physical qualities. Sin is not a physical quality. Sin is a spiritual quality; it cannot be physically passed from one human to another as a disease or as one’s eye color can be passed from one human to another. Who can look at another person’s body and point out something and say, “There, that part of your body is sin”? To even suggest such would be the height of folly. Sin (a spiritual choice) corrupts the soul (a spiritual entity) and separates man from God (a spiritual relationship). Sin itself, is not physical, but spiritual in nature (Isaiah 59:2). Sinful acts may be physical, but the sin itself is a spiritual choice made in the mind (Mark 7:14-23) and as such, is not subject to physical traits or attributes such as would be found in genetics.

Below I have summarized the argument and put it into a more logical form.

1. If a person is born inherently depraved, then that depravity must either be the result of depravity of the spiritual soul at birth or depravity of the physical body at birth. (There are no other alternatives.)

1.1 If the spiritual soul is inherently depraved at birth, then it must be that way either by 1) creation, 2) heredity, 3) proximity to another soul, or 4) corruption from the physical body. (There are no other alternatives.)

1.1.1 It is not the case that the soul is created depraved.

1.1.2 It is not the case that the soul can hereditarily inherit depravity.

1.1.3 It is not the case that the soul can be corrupted by proximity.

1.1.4 It is not that case that the physical body (intrinsically) can corrupt the soul.

1.2 Therefore, It is not the case that the spiritual soul can be inherently depraved at birth. (This negates the first half of the proposition in line 1.)

1.3 If the physical body is inherently depraved at birth, then it must be that way either by 1) receiving depravity from the mother’s DNA or 2) receiving depravity from the father’s DNA.

1.3.1 It is not the case that depravity is received through the mother’s DNA.

1.3.2 It is not the case that depravity is received through the father’s DNA.

1.4 It is not the case that the physical body could be inherently depraved at birth.

2. Therefore, it is not the case that a person is born inherently depraved.

As was mentioned earlier in this article, the doctrine of original sin lies at the heart of almost every false doctrine in the “Christian” religious world today. The Bible does NOT teach this false doctrine. Reason will not support this false doctrine. Genetic science will not prove this false doctrine. God will not tolerate this false doctrine! It and its implications must be abandoned.

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The Ancient Doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved”

We all know people who believe the doctrine of “Once saved, always saved.” This is the idea that once a person becomes a child of God, there is no sin that they can commit to lose their salvation. Many people today find this doctrine to be of great comfort, because it in essence relieves them of all personal responsibility in their relationship with God. After all, if I am saved, and there is nothing that I can do to be lost, then it doesn’t really matter how I behave or act, so I need not worry that much about it. The truth is that this is a most dangerous doctrine when it comes to matters of religion, because it deceives people into thinking that their relationship with God is secure, when it really is not.

Interestingly enough, this false doctrine has been around for quite a long time. In fact, early Christians had to deal with it in the 1st and 2nd centuries. During that period of time, there was a false doctrine known as Gnosticism. Of the Gnostics, one sect taught the doctrine of once saved, always saved. A Christian named Irenaeus lived during the 2nd century A.D. (130-202). He wrote a book titled, “Against Heresies” in which he called attention to this particular fact. In this work (Book I Chapter 6) he said the following regarding Gnostic teaching:

But as to themselves, they hold that they shall be entirely and undoubtedly saved, not by means of conduct, but because they are spiritual by nature. For, just as it is impossible that material substance should partake of salvation (since, indeed, they maintain that it is incapable of receiving it), so again it is impossible that spiritual substance (by which they mean themselves) should ever come under the power of corruption, whatever the sort of actions in which they indulged. For even as gold, when submersed in filth, loses not on that account its beauty, but retains its own native qualities, the filth having no power to injure the gold, so they affirm that they cannot in any measure suffer hurt, or lose their spiritual substance, whatever the material actions in which they may be involved.

Wherefore also it comes to pass, that the “most perfect” among them addict themselves without fear to all those kinds of forbidden deeds of which the Scriptures assure us that “they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

And committing many other abominations and impieties, they run us down (who from the fear of God guard against sinning even in thought or word) as utterly contemptible and ignorant persons, while they highly exalt themselves, and claim to be perfect, and the elect seed. For they declare that we simply receive grace for use, wherefore also it will again be taken away from us; but that they themselves have grace as their own special possession, which has descended from above by means of an unspeakable and indescribable conjunction; and on this account more will be given them.

Now, let’s compare what was stated regarding Gnosticism with some more recent quotes. Notice the following quotation from Billy Graham in answer to the question, “Will I lose my salvation if I sin?”

When we do sin, God does not reject us or disown us. Our fellowship with Him may be broken, but our relationship is not; we are still members of His family if we have truly committed our lives to Christ”

(h**p://www.billygraham.org/qna/qna.asp?i=484)

In response to another question, “How big a sin do you have to commit before you lose your salvation?” Billy Graham said:

I am convinced that once a person sincerely and honestly trusts Christ for his or her salvation, they become a member of God’s family forever — and nothing can change that relationship.

(h**p://www.billygraham.org/qna/qna.asp?i=1777)

Edward Hiscox in “The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches” says it this way:

We believe that the scriptures teach that such as are truly regenerate, being born of the Spirit, will not utterly fall away and perish, but will endure unto the end; that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors; that a special Providence watches over their welfare; and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (Hiscox, pg. 67, 1939).

The Westminster Confession of Faith states regarding the perseverance of the saints:

I. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.

II. This perseverance of the saints depends, not upon their own free-will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.

III. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevelancy of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their perseverance, fall into grievous sins; and for a time continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit; come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

The point of these quotations is not to prove that Calvinists teach this doctrine, because they freely admit it. The point is to show the similarities between what the Gnostics taught and what Calvinists teach. There are some differences, but the essence of the teaching is the same.

  • If a person is saved, it is not by means of his own conduct, but on account of his nature. While Gnostics and Calvinists differ in the origin of that nature, the doctrine is still the same. Gnostics say that it is due to a special spiritual nature. Calvinists say that they are infused by the nature of Christ.
  • One is saved on account of one’s election to be saved. The Gnostics said that they were of the “elect seed.” Calvinists say that they are elected by God. Both agree that being elected precludes their actions from affecting that election in a negative way.
  • While one may willfully sin in the flesh, that does not affect the relationship that one has to God and salvation. The third part of the Westminster Confession of Faith (as quoted above) makes it plain that Christians may even live in sinfulness, yet not affect their salvation. The Gnostics just went one step further and stated that it was their desire and practice to do so.
  • Grace overcomes all sins regardless of the individual’s attitude toward sin. Calvinists state that grace is irresistible and the Christian cannot help but fall under it. Gnostics say that regardless how much sin they willingly commit, grace flows upon them freely for every sin they commit.
  • Both agree that there is nothing that can cause the one who is saved to lose their salvation. Gnostics take this to the ultimate conclusion and pursue their own lusts and passions without constraint. Calvinists, however, take another approach. They say that the Christian who is saved generally won’t choose to live like that, even though if they did, they couldn’t lose their salvation. In essence giving mere lip service to practicing righteousness.

The parallels are striking. How many times have we heard the person who believes in this doctrine of “once saved, always saved” say that the child of God cannot fall from grace? How many times have we heard those who believe this doctrine say that the child of God cannot lose their spirituality? How many times have we heard them say that the child of God cannot sin in such a way so as to lose his salvation? The similarities between this form of Gnosticism and the doctrine of “Once saved, always saved” are too numerous to ignore.

It was indeed the teaching and practice of the apostles to reject the doctrines of Gnosticism, including this doctrine. The book of Colossians was written by Paul in rejection of Gnosticism. John’s account of the gospel of Christ and his epistle of 1 John were also written as a response to the doctrines of Gnosticism, and particularly, 1 John was written to refute the idea of once saved, always saved. One cannot honestly read through this book and ignore that conclusion. In addition, the following passages in the New Testament clearly indicate that Christians may sin so as to fall from grace: Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26; 2 Peter 2:20-22.

If you know of someone who believes this doctrine, then I urge you to take this article to them, invite them to study it with you and help them to come to understand that believing this doctrine is not in harmony with God’s word. If one truly believes this doctrine they will be eternally lost, because they will not regard sin as the awful and terrible thing that it truly is. A Christian may be forgiven after having committed sin based upon repentance and confession, but one will not be forgiven while actively pursuing a life of sin. Yes, friends, the Christian can so sin as to fall from grace.

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