Rescuing Verses . . . “Where there is no vision” . . .

© Rev. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.

Proverbs 29:18 from the old KJV reads:

 “ Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (Prov. 29:18 KJV)

How many times have you and I heard people say something like “unless we have a goal in mind, we will fail”. They are used to the KJV where is says “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” But is that what it is really saying?

Of course, it is true that we must have a “vision” or “goal” to pursue something successfully, BUT that has nothing to do with this verse. The Hebrew word for “vision” is “ha-zon” in the sense of prophetic vision. A different word means “seer”. Actually, the old KJV was not far off, but the problem is that we have misunderstood the word “vision”. It does not mean a goal but refers to revelation from God. In other words, where there is neglect of revelation from God, the people “perish”. Then the word for “perish” really means to “cast off restraint”. Thus the ESV gives a more accurate translation:

“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Prov. 29:18 ESV)

When I was in high school, we had the Ten Commandments posted in the homerooms, and since the school was basically Christian and Jewish, we could agree on those Ten Words! But when people get rid of the Holy Scripture in public, they cast off restraint, which means they sin without restraint. Our whole society hates God’s written word because they hate the Triune God, and they especially hate His character as revealed in His commandments. We have fallen prey to values instead of loving His law. (Read Psalm 119, all of it!) We now want to suppress God’s words, such as homosexuality; choice instead of killing; we redefine marriage. In other words, the visible and audible presence of God’s word is being removed and so restraint not to sin is being removed.

AMEN

Whose Word Is Law?

(The Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw, Th.D.)

In this day when some churches are turning away from the Bible, it is refreshing to know that many are not. Those who reject the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself to us must have a new concept of God. And where do they get this standard? They must invent it. Often I hear these people say God is like . . ., and they rattle off something. But how do they know God is like whatever they say? And how can we know the details of what God is like unless He tells us? Indeed, how can we know anyone unless that person reveals himself or herself to us?

Many years ago I worked at an investment and insurance firm while I was helping to start a church. The man who hired me claimed to be a Christian, knew the language of Christians, and could pray quite well. (He prayed in order to prey on Christians.) After a short period, I discovered that he was a con man, selling faulty investments to those he could deceive. I and others thought we knew him, but he had not revealed his true self. Likewise, we cannot dream up concepts of God, and say what He is like, for that would be creating a god after our own image. The only way we can know Him is if He reveals Himself to us, and the Bible makes that claim hundreds of times. Of course, in theory the Bible could be wrong in its claim—but that is way beyond this article—but at least we must see that the Church has also presented the Bible as God’s revelation for 2,000 years, and it has challenged anyone to show its errors.

Then there are those who say the Bible is only infallible in theological matters but not in history, science, and so forth. But like those who invent a concept of god, these people transfer infallibility to themselves, for they assume that they can infallibly discern which portions of the Bible are infallible and which are not. In other words, infallibility does not go away; it only gets moved around.

And what does the Bible say about itself? There are two passages in particular that are key in the Bible’s presentation of inspiration. First, is 2 Peter 1:20-21:

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

There are several points here. Peter is emphatic that God is the source of Scripture even while men wrote them. Moreover, God used their human personalities to accomplish an infallible result. In other words, the Bible is both human and divine. Like the Son of God who was both God and man in one person, so the scriptures are both human and divine, yet one, and infallible. Furthermore, Peter says that the scriptures were not “private interpretation,” which means not initiated by men for their own personal doctrines. No, they received them from God Himself. Peter is not saying they were passive pens so that God dictated every word, but that the source was from God. This indicates that the human authors did not originate the message, but rather they were carried along by the Holy Spirit when writing Scripture, receiving the message from Him. They were passive in the message, but active in the writing, using their own vocabulary and personalities.

The second key passage of the Bible regarding its own inspiration is: 2 Timothy 3:16:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”

The word “inspired” means “God-breathed” in the sense that God is the source. It does not carry an active idea so that Scripture is inspiring (though surely it is!) but the passive sense means “inspired,” a body of truth that is fossilized. Nor does it mean “every Scripture inspired by God is . . .” so that there may be some Scripture not inspired by God, as the RSV so wrongly translated some years back. The idea is that every part of the Bible is equally inspired, breathed out from God Almighty, and therefore infallible.

Moreover, Christ agreed that the Bible was infallible when He spoke about the Old Testament.

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18).

The word “jot” most likely means “yod,” the smallest Hebrew letter, and “tittle” means part of a Hebrew letter, perhaps the difference between similar letters, like the cross on a vertical line in English that distinguishes the letter “l” from the letter “t”. But the Lord’s view was that Old Testament’s infallibility was clearly down to the very words and letters. Also, in John 10:35, He stated:

The Scripture cannot be broken.

He often rested His final argument on the infallible authority of the Old Testament (see John 5:39; Luke 24:44-45; Matt. 22:29; John 7:19; Matt. 4:1-11).

Let us confess with our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the Church of all ages, that the Bible is God’s gift to us, that we know God because in its pages is revealed this one, Triune God. Let us not seek to invent a god who is more palatable to modern people.

So what are some implications of the Bible being objective and infallible? We must honor it as we honor Him. We must seek its truth with our whole hearts, and delight in obeying His commands. We Christians do not have to wonder what is right and wrong because it is clearly spelled out in Holy Scripture. At one time, our whole culture believed that.

As a man who has been involved with selling and promoting good Christian books virtually all my life, both inside and outside the church, I can tell you what sells. It is not books on God’s commands, such as my 400+ page work on the Ten Commandments. People want health and wealth, not holiness. If you can make people—not God—the center of attention, you will build a large church. I did my ThD thesis on the word-faith movement, and one of the main leaders wrote a little book that sold by the untold thousands, perhaps millions. The title tells it all: How to Write Your Own Ticker with God. He said that Jesus knocked on his door at home, and this “prophet” of God invited Him in. Jesus then allegedly told him four things (or was it five) that anyone can do to get what he wants from God the Father. Where is the Bible in this? Why can’t we just obey God and not worry about how much money we can con out of Him? Why can’t we be content with what He gives us and not complain for more?

Moreover, just as we cannot create physical law into existence, so we cannot create moral law into existence, and to think that we can only reveals that we believe the lie of the devil to Eve:

You shall be as God, knowing [or determining] good and evil (Genesis 3:5).

Since the fall of man into sin in the garden in Eden, man has deceived himself into thinking that he can make up his own ethics without incurring consequences, but the past few thousand years demonstrate otherwise. Nevertheless, he continues his restless pursuit of private morality independent from God, so that he does not have to give account. This is why we find people engaging in rationalizing and self-justification when they are caught doing something wrong; they think they are above judgment, living under the system of morality they allegedly created. Their judgment will be severe. AMEN.

 

The Harbinger

Jonathan Cahn, The Harbinger

The Harbinger: The ancient mystery that holds the secret of America's future

Many of the things Cahn says that are wrong with the USA are on target, but it does not take a “secret” prophecy to reveal them.  I have most of the same things―and many more―in my book on the ten commandments (go here). The USA is in serious trouble BECAUSE the Church has apostatized, mostly, in the West. The Church controls the light, not the politicians in Wash, DC, or anywhere else. The parallels between Northern Israel in Isaiah 9:10-11 and our situation are interesting, but they are not prophecies of the USA. If there are parallels, it is because of moral principles, not prophecies, and Cahn has to stretch the Hebrew out of shape to make it say such. How many people have to be wrong in their end time predictions before we stop listening to them? Of course, we are in serious trouble, but that is because the Church has been disobedient to her covenant, and to His Ten Commandments. Our disobedience spills over into the society as a whole, but that is not a specific prophecy but what happens to any country where the Church is disobedient. The Church controls the light and the darkness, not the culture.

As for stretching the Hebrew, he looks up the Hebrew word for stone in Isa. 9:10, which he says means a “hewn stone,” which is possible, but one of the latest Hebrew lexicons translates “dressed stone” (HALOT). From that Cahn concludes that it must have been hewn from a mountain, and from that it must have been a mountain close to ground zero and from that the stone was the stone laid for the new tower. That’s too many if’s for me.

My personal opinion is that in the USA we have crossed the line, and all we have waiting for us is final judgment, but I’m not going to make that a prophecy to sell a million books.  In fact, if you have eyes to see, His judgment has begun and is all around us. (See the link above and my book on the Ten Commandments.)  Yet Jesus is infinitely more merciful than we think. After all, I’m not in hell, and I don’t mean that as a joke. When or if the Lord God may lower the whammy on us with some cataclysmic judgment (or slowly let us boil to death in the water as the proverbial frog), no one knows, not even Cahn.  The northern ten tribes were taken into captivity by Assyria in 722 B.C., as Cahn said. Judah was taken away twice, first in 605, when most likely Daniel and Ezekiel were taken to Babylon, and again in 586. That is over 100 years from the time of 722 to 605, and Jeremiah kept talking about it. No one listened, but God’s patience waited for over a century. Cahn is saying we might have 20 years from the original 9/11, but that will be an embarrassment if it does not come true. It is presumptuous to set dates. It sells books, though, and makes big money. I could not tell you for sure that we’ll have a severe judgment, but I can tell you that His judgment is already here, all around us and happening now, if you have eyes to see.  To keep saying it is future puts people to sleep.

One can tell that Cahn is not a dispensational scholar for they don’t set dates. The lay people with little theological understanding set dates, such as Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, and the man who set the exact day several times. End time hysteria sells, especially if you set a date, or at least set a  time period.

Another point, God is not in the secret business but in the revealing business. I deny all books that talk about “secrets” that God has just now revealed. Christianity is the transparent religion, not the secret one. We have a Book open to all. We are not Masons with secret handshakes and secret doctrines. The prophecy of America has apparently been locked up in Isa. 9:10-11 for all these centuries, but now Cahn has finally unlocked the mystery. He does so by stretching the meanings of Hebrew words and by doing what all the other end time prophets do: reading the news back into the Bible. This is called eisegesis, not exegesis. If we read it as fiction with some principles of judgment that apply to all nations, it has some profit; but if you read it as prophecy, you’re dealing with another nut.

Moreover, the whole book is predicated on the USA government being in covenant with God (p. 19), but we are not. The founding fathers of the USA could not have made a national covenant with God if they had wanted to, because that is over. I just think they wanted a nation founded on the Gospel and Holy Scripture. The national covenant with Israel has become the “national” covenant with the Church (1 Peter 2:1-10). Israel has been upgraded to the Church, and the church is in every political nation on earth, and now the Church is the holy nation, as Peter explicitly states (1 Peter 2:9). As I said in my book on the Ten Commandments, and as I said recently (few Sundays ago) in one of my sermons, the USA is not in covenant with God; the Church is. Israel’s national covenant was unique. I wrote a whole book on this that has been out of print (refutation of dispensationalism), but I’m trying to update it and republish it.  They are back in the land as apostates who deny the Triune God and deny their Messiah and persecute Christians.  We are now the fulfillment of Israel, whereas modern day dispensationalists make the Church the replacement of Israel, and then after the so-called rapture, they make Israel replace the Church. I’m not into replacement theology but fulfillment theology. Our kingdom is not politics, but the Gospel and the Church are the kingdom, and as I’ve said in many sermons and in the latest pastoral letter (on this blog, titled “Obama Won―So What?”), the man in the Oval Office does not rule, Jesus does, NOW, by virtue of His Ascension.  He does not have to be on earth to rule. He said just before His Ascension that “all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth,” NOW (Matt. 28:18-20). He was enthroned at His resurrection and Ascension, as we specifically see in Psalm 2 and Acts 1 and 2.

Whether anything more happens to the USA is determined by the Church, whether we will stand for righteousness or not.  The Church is in process of being judged, and the culture hates us, and we deserve it. Sutton’s recent meeting with the Pope and with the number two Russian Orthodox bishop in Russia (representing the ACNA) recently was because they see what we see: the West is heading for destruction. They are very concerned to preserve the West, but it does not take a secret prophecy to see this. It just takes discernment. The discernment is written for all to see in God’s Book. I’ve been talking about it for 20 years, and especially the last 10 years. We are in free fall, and God won’t rapture us out.

Another concern is that though I did not read the whole book, yet I searched the book on Google books, and there were only three times the name Jesus was mentioned and none for the Holy Trinity.

Bottom line is that I can’t really recommend The Harbinger.

Good Bye to Judgment

This is an excerpt from my book NOT Ten Suggestions.

The first things to go when liberal preachers gain dominance are sin and judgment. You can’t build a mega-church by preaching sin and judgment, or the Ten Commandments, so these ministers, often untrained in good seminaries, promise not to preach on sin. I heard one such preacher in Texas say on TV that he would never preach on sin but always affirm his people. Another one in California stated that Jesus never mentioned sin, which is incredibly false, and this minister built a large glass church. More than ever, Christians today want to have their ears tickled, to be told they are fine, that God does not judge. Here is the way Jeremiah put it in his day:

30 “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: 31 the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31, ESV).

Notice the bold, underlined words: “My people love to have it so.” False prophets are characterized by giving the people what they want to hear. Similarly, we read:

9 They are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the law of the LORD; 10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11 leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 30:9-11, ESV).

When the Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11/2001, do you remember how the liberal news media interviewed liberal preachers who stated that it was not the judgment of God? At all costs, they wanted God, His Ten Commandments, and His judgment removed from the picture. There are many ministers who are for hire (“Have Preacher Will Travel”), who will say what the people want to hear.

16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You shall have peace” ’; and toeveryone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you’ ” (Jeremiah 23:16-17).

There comes a point in time when the Triune God will not want to hear our dead worship services anymore:

10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah: 11 “To what purpose isthe multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. 12 When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:10-15).

Surely the Triune God is sick of our “worship” services here in the USA. We come into His presence with sin that we have no intension of repenting of and expect Him to bless us. People take God for granted, or else don’t take Him at all, but He is the holy God who will not tolerate people claiming to know Him while not repenting of their sins:

8 Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, 10 and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered to do all these abominations”? (Jeremiah 7:8-10).

There is one Episcopal denomination that has consecrated bishops who are gay, one priest elected to be bishop who is Buddhist, another priest who is Druid, another who is (or was) a priestess and at the same time Islamic, and clergy who deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. The first commandment says we are to worship “only” the one God, not Him and false gods. If the pulpit is so unreliable, what can we expect of the pew?

One of the worst sins today among Christians is either denying what God says in His holy and infallible written word, or adding to it with “God told me this.” People, Christian people, are inventing things that God allegedly says to them. But listen to what God says about this:

19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:19-20).

16 All Scripture isgiven by inspiration of God, and isprofitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

These passages could be repeated many times, but we see that God says His written word is all we need from Him for the content of our faith and for godliness. In other words, the Bible is not only necessary, it is enough. I’ve always used the following as a plumb line for the extra revelation that allegedly comes from God apart from the Bible: if it contradicts the Bible, it is wrong; if it says the same thing as the Bible, it is not needed; if it goes beyond the Bible’s statements, it has no authority.

Indeed, there are two ways to apostatize: (1) formally in what one believes and (2) morally in what one practices. Formally, there are so many heresies today that we need another Reformation more than the first one under Martin Luther in the 1500s. Ministers and parishioners deny the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the deity of Christ, His death on the cross for our sins, His bodily resurrection, and His coming again in judgment at the Last Day. And now there are two revisited beliefs that have been consistently condemned by the Church over the centuries: that God is not omniscient (called the openness of God movement), and that all will be saved (universalism). Those who deny eternal punishment especially hate the Athanasian Creed with its doctrine of hell, even saying it is not a creed. In the days of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, these truths were believed by all major parties. But today we need a new Reformation of all Christianity—Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestant.

Also, we know of the terrible immoral problems among the clergy, such as the pedophilia of the Roman Catholic priests, the adultery among Protestant ministers, and I’m sure Eastern Orthodoxy has not been spared. The Episcopal Church consecrates homosexual bishops. Many ministers and members have given themselves over to ungodliness, such as sexual sins, covetousness, exploiting others for money, and so forth. Just read what the Apostle Peter wrote not long before the Lord took Him home:

1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority (2 Peter 2:1-10).

In 1958 when I was 13, I had a step-father who was a preacher. He tried to murder my mother, who was pregnant with his son, so he could marry another woman in his congregation who had suddenly come into a lot of money. He began having sex with this woman. Unknown to my mother, he had gotten into sexual problems in another state in a former church before they were married. His murderous plot did not work, but he was never prosecuted. He broke the entire law of God and never repented, revealing that he was not the minister of Christ, but of the devil:

13 For such arefalse apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

And the Lord Himself stated regarding those who pretend to be ministers but who hate His commandments:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23).

But all true Christians know that they are sinful, that God’s law reveals the holiness of God, and that they fall short of His standard. We know that since God is infinite, sin has infinite implications. We know that we cannot offer anything to God to make Him accept us, which is where Christ comes in. Christ, as the infinite Son of God, has obeyed the law for us and has died on the cross to take our penalty for breaking God’s law. He is our only hope, and He is acceptable to the Father!

Fickle vs. Fixed, Values vs. Absolutes (I am my own god)

Today our culture is absorbed with “values.”  We even hear a lot from the Christian community about “values.”  The idea from both culture and Christians is that one can choose whichever he likes, and it may or may not matter.  “Values” connotes that which is not absolute but just a matter of personal taste.  I keep hearing on Christian radio about Christian values.  I would like to proclaim from the roof top that there are no values, just God’s law.  There are no values for Christians and different values for the world.  There is only God’s law word, the same commandments for the world as for Christians.  I keep hearing from Christians that our values are being set aside by our culture, but we don’t make up our own morality, we Christians don’t have values, unless we’re in rebellion.  There is only one morality that exists because there is only one God who exists, and we can’t change His morality.  Here is the table of contents for a free chapter from my book that discusses these matters in some detail:

Chapter 2—God’s Law… 1

Introduction.. 1

I. Morality Implies Persons. 1

II. Morality Implies Principles. 6

III. Morality Implies Personal Responsibility. 7

IV. How Many Moral Systems Are There?. 8

A. Humans Cannot Create Moral Law.. 9

B. Only One Law-Giver. 10

C. No Values. 12

D. Only One Moral Law.. 13

V. Is There Natural Moral Law?. 16

A. What Is Human Natural Law?. 17

B. What Is Biblical Natural Law?. 19

VI. Law and Love. 23

VII. What Is Sin?. 25

VIII. How Universal Is Sin?. 26

Conclusion.. 29

Here is the free chapter in pdf format.