The Pen is Mightier than the Penknife

Jeremiah records in chapter 36 the history of King Jehoiakim’s rejection of prophecy. In verses 1-8, Jeremiah asks Baruch, a scribe, to write the prophecies on a scroll and then take them to the temple and read them before the people. Verses 9-19 tell of how one Michaiah heard the prophecy and had Baruch read the scroll before the leaders of the people in the chambers of Elishima the scribe. Upon hearing the message, the leaders desired to tell the king the message. In verses 20-26, the king heard the message and then commanded that the scroll be brought to him. He then took the scroll cut it up with a scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire to be burned. Then he commanded that Jeremiah and Baruch be captured. Fortunately, God had other plans for them and told Jeremiah of what had been done. So Jeremiah re-recorded the prophecies that had been written on the first scroll, to be saved for the ages. Jeremiah’s work is still around today, but who is Jehoiakim?

There have been many efforts throughout the ages to destroy the Bible. Kings and rulers have tried to squelch its message by destroying all known copies only to have those words preserved in the caves and crannies of time. The Roman Catholics chained the Bible to the pulpit in the middle ages to keep the average person from reading it, but Guttenberg’s press set it free. Skeptics have proclaimed its downfall only to see the increase of the Bible and a decrease of their own pathetic words. The Bible has stood the test of time and survived; Jesus’ prophecy continues to hold true today, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

But Satan is crafty and doesn’t give up easily. There is now a new, modern effort, to cause Jesus words to vanquish into obscurity. This modern day effort is more subtle and guised in seemingly honorable intentions. Many have already accepted this effort at destroying the words of God without even knowing that God’s words are being destroyed. To what am I referring? The bane of modern day translations.

Yes, Satan has learned that he cannot destroy God’s word by burning it, chaining it, churning it or spurning it. He hasn’t even been able to use “science” to destroy the Bible. So his methods have shifted from seeking to destroy the Bible from without to seeking to destroy it from within. Satan has learned that if you can convince those who read the Bible that they are too dumb to understand it, then you can get them to ask for an easy-to-read translation. Then, Satan can use translators to make subtle, but critical, differences in translation so that you will believe Satan’s lies instead of God’s truth.

One such example is found in the “Good As New” translation that was recently endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the practical leader of the church of England (the Queen is the official “head of the church”). The “Good As New” translation changes baptism for the remission of sins in Mark 1:4 to baptism to show that one has already been forgiven of sins. It inserts profanities into the scriptures in at least one place. Perhaps most appallingly, however, is that it changes the terms “husband” and “wife” into the politically correct “partner” implying that one may practice fornication or even homosexuality in order to satisfy one’s sexual desires. There are other translations whose changes are not so obvious and much more subtle. We should carefully examine all “new translations” before adopting them wholesale.

Like all other efforts, this new effort on Satan’s part at trying to destroy God’s word will ultimately fail and God’s true word will be glorified. But how many souls will fail to recognize that before it is too late? God never promised that his word would be “easy to understand” in the sense that many today expect God’s word to read like a dime store novel. No. God has always said that His word requires a modicum of effort on our part. Indeed we must “Study” (give diligence) to show ourselves approved unto God, search the scriptures daily to see if what is being taught is truth (Acts 17:11), try the prophets because there are many false teachers in the world (1 John 4:1) and speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). God’s word can be understood (Ephesians 3:3-5), but we must study it, learn it, and live it.

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Why Weren’t Adam and Eve Given a Second Chance

The Israelites were given repentance many times when they sinned against God and God himself even asked them to return to him. My question is this, why weren’t Adam and Eve given another chance when they sinned against him in the Garden of Eden? Weren’t they the first children created by him with his own hands and his breath given to them?

Adam and Eve were given a direct prohibition by God and then warned of the consequences should they violate that prohibition. Genesis 2:16, 17 states, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” God keeps his promises, both promises of reward and promises of punishment. Adam and Eve also had a unique relationship with God in that God walked and spoke with them in a very personal level (Genesis 3:8). But Adam and Eve both ate of the tree and sinned, so they had to be separated from their fellowship with God and ultimately suffer physical death.

But that’s not the end of the story. While God punished Adam and Eve by casting them out of the garden, God didn’t forsake their souls to a Devil’s hell. God made it possible for Adam and Eve along with all others in this world who have sinned to be forgiven by sending His Son Jesus to live a perfect life and die for the sins of mankind on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Yes, God kept his promise, but God also provided a way of escape from eternal damnation. Having done this, God can be both just and the justifier (Romans 3:26).

One must also remember that Israel was a nation, not two individuals. God dealt with Adam and Eve based upon the salvation of individuals; God dealt with the nation of Israel based upon salvation of a nation as a whole. Individual members of that nation lived and died and were judged as individuals, while God was longsuffering with the nation as a whole. So it’s not entirely comparing apples to apples when you compare God’s longsuffering with the nation of Israel to God’s expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden.

So to answer your question, Adam and Eve *were* given a “second chance,” so to speak, in that they were not immediately killed for their error. They died spiritually that day, but in Christ, had the opportunity to be spiritually made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).

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Little Eyes

Sometimes the most sublime truths can be stated in the simplest ways. We have a song that is often sung in our children’s classes and vacation bible schools: “Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.” The song continues and speaks about being careful about what we hear, say, do and where we go. Moreover, it is certainly a Biblical principle that we ought to abstain from the lusts of the world (1 John 2:15-17). One of those lusts is “the lust of the eyes.” So, it comes as no surprise to Christians that a recent study done by the RAND Corporation shows that there is a strong connection between teens who watch and listen to sex and sexual talk on television and teens who choose to engage in sexual activity. The study, published in the September issue of Pediatrics, found that teens that watched and listened to sex and sexual situations on television were TWICE as likely to have sex within the next year as teens not exposed to such. To put it in real numbers, one out of every two teens who watch such on television will end up behaving that way.

Gospel preachers and Bible teachers have been sounding the warning regarding the dangers of television for years now. How is it that they have had advanced information on this subject without the benefit of the RAND Corporation’s study? Simply put, the Bible has told us plainly that we are what we think. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If we allow evil into our heart through the influence of television, then we will allow evil into our life as well. Notice also Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he�.” We are what we think; if we allow evil things to permeate our thoughts, then our ways will be evil as well. Finally, we note what Jesus said on this topic, “But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings: these are the things which defile the man�” (Matthew 15:18-20).

Now, if television can have such a significant affect on the lives of teens when it comes to sex, what about other matters? What about drinking alcohol? What about smoking or using tobacco? What about cursing and using God’s name in vain? What about lying and cheating to get ahead? What are the numbers on these other areas of morality that don’t require a physical encounter with another person, but simply a thought, word, or careless action? My guess would be that the percentage is a lot higher.

When are we going to wake up and realize that we are destroying ourselves with our own devices? Television and movies have an enormous reaching power in our country. They ought to be used for good, not for evil. We saw how television could be used for evil at this past year’s Superbowl half-time fiasco. Voices of good and decent folks around the country were heard in opposition to that filthy display. But it isn’t single events like the Superbowl half-time show that move the hearts and minds of television viewers to practice what they see. It is the litany of daily barrages in the “soaps,” “sit-coms” and evening “dramas” that affect us most. And as long as we allow the television networks to continue to promote such godless activities in our own living rooms, the more debased, degenerate and destroyed we will become as a people. Awake to righteousness! (1 Corinthians 15:34)

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