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October 22, 2000

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Q/A Topics:
Canon of Scripture?

QUESTION:
I have been on your mailing list for a few months now, at least, and have found you to be among the few that seem to approach the Scriptures in an unbiased manner. Because of this, I feel I can ask you a question such as the one I have, concerning the present canon of Scripture we have, which we call 'the Bible'.

My question is this: Do you believe that we can be sure that what we have as our Bible, contains each book, or letter, &c, that the Lord 'breathed', and gave to us through His various writers? I have, in the 3 years I have been Christian, often thought about this. Don't get me wrong, brother, it is not a doubting heart that raises this question, but rather a honest, and curious heart. For instance, what of the book of Enoch? Jude references it. I have read a good portion of Enoch, and while I do not take what it says as seriously as what Romans says (per se), I have noted that it does not seem to contradict the Bible, only add to it. (If it is indeed wholly inspired, it would bridge a huge gap that the canon we have does not show!) Or could it be that the Holy Spirit simply used a portion of the writing which is indeed true? To be brief, I have been reading Eusebius's History of the Church, and even in his time, around 300 AD, certain books which are in our Bibles were still disputed, namely, (as I recall) 2 and 3 John, Revelation, 2 Peter, James and Hebrews. I thought you may have looked into this, and could provide some insight into how and who ultimately decided which books were canonical, and which were not.

ANSWER:
This is a subject in which I am not a scholar. The scholars will point to various "councils" that decided things. Catholics who write to me, throw in my face the notion that if it hadn't been for the "church" (catholic), we wouldn't even have the Scriptures. And when they do that, I am simply reminded of Rom3:2... that God also used rebellious Israel to keep/guard the Scriptures. God had various "servants" (Jer25:9), Babylon, who were unregenerate. If God called Nebuchadnezzar His "servant" in order to accomplish Israel's discipline, it is also not beyond His Sovereignty to use the RCC to preserve His Word. And like I've said to at least one of the RCs who have written... since they have had God's Word in the manner they have, they are even -MORE- "without excuse" for their paganism and error. They pride themselves in being the guardians of God's Word, but "distored it to their own destruction" (2Pt3:16)

[Editor: just a bit of trivia on Bible reference 'numbers' like we observed not long ago. Notice in this case the number set of "3:16". God sent His Son to provide salvation. Jn3:16 The Scriptures (since the "word was God", Scripture is part of God's essence) are our plumbline for "instruction in righteousness" 2Tim3:16 But those who do not receive the Son God sent, pervert it, and rather than receiving "everlasting life", pervert it to their "own destruction". 2Pt3:16 Well... I thought it was interesting, anyway...]

The simplest explanation for -which- books make up the "canon" of Scripture, and that which makes the most sense to me, goes something like... when these councils met to 'decide', by predominant use and general concensus of Believers it had -already- come to be known which ones were, and which weren't.

Personally, I rely on the Holy Spirit, and God's sovereignty to see to it that His Word has not "returned void". (Is55:11) "Your Word is settled in Heaven forever, O Jehovah." (Ps119:89) "But the word of our God stands forever." (Is40:8) It was the Holy Spirit who "bore along" [vehemently propelled] the writing of Scripture. (2Pt1:20-21) It is also the Holy Spirit who breathes that Word into the individual's heart. If the "Spirit bears witness" about being a believer or not (Rom8:16), He also bears witness regarding God's Word.

Not that my word necessarily has any credibility in this, but I can share my own experience. In Bible school, I forget now which class, likely one on Bible apologetics and canonicity, or something like that... we were assigned to choose and read a couple books out of the Apocrypha. While it had the same KJ-eze 'feel' to it, there was never any witness to my heart that I might be reading the Scriptures. There was 'no question' to my heart that it was NOT the Scriptures.

For a few years (20!) I had switched from KJV to NASB. The scholars said it was "most accurate" to the "older manuscripts". I remember it 'feeling' a little odd when I first started reading from it, but, the 'experts' said it was "best"... so I read from it. (After all, I wanted to be the "closest" to God's Word that I could be!) Then, I became aware of something those experts never told me...that those "older manuscripts" were from corrupt apostate sources. And in looking for something in a bit more modern English, discovered the NKJV. Its basic text does not come from those 'older' manuscripts. AS SOON AS I began reading from it, a 'peace' settled into my spirit that I was "back Home" ...in God's Word. And now, I am using MKJV and LITV, which are even better. [Link: VW & Translations]

Now, this latter "witness" was merely in the matter of translations/versions of the canon we use. The difference when reading those Apocryphal books was even greater... and that was even when I was young and naive, believing the things the experts were telling me.

So...yes...the Holy Spirit has made sure we have God's Word...I am convinced. As to the matter of there being other books that 'should' be in the canon...I guess I trust God's Sovereignty to have seen to it that we have what He wants us to have. This might not be a very "scholarly" answer, but then, we are dealing in matters of the Holy Spirit, aren't we. (1Cor ch2)

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Why is the new temple necessary?

QUESTION:
What would the significance be of Israel rebuilding the temple for the worship of God. Since God does not want that kind of worship, since the veil has been rent to signify that the dispensation for that kind of rudimentary worship is no longer meaningful, since type and shadow have been replaced by real worship in spirit and in truth?

ANSWER:
The short answer: I don't know.

After all, Paul says, "Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness for everyone who believes" (Rom10:4) Jesus said, "I came...to fulfill the Law" (Mt5:17) And when Christ instituted the Lord's Supper, He proclaims His "blood of the -NEW- covenant" (Mt26:28) And thus, it is no longer necessary to go behind the veil yearly to sprinkle blood in the Holy of Holies. (Heb9-10)

However, there is also going to be a new covenant with Israel, not like the old one. God is going to write His Law on their hearts. It will not be necessary for them to teach each other to "know the Lord". (Jer31:31-34) This is obviously a different covenant than the one for the Church, because we, still, speak to one another to reason with people to 'know the Lord', to get them saved. The command today is to "repent" for the remission of sins. (Lk24:47) God is going to perform something special and new with Israel in that day. Thus, it would not be surprising that the worship ritual would also become revised.

While I don't know "why", we do know from Scripture that it -will- be so. For instance, Passover was given to Israel as "a law forever". (Ex12:14) And as Ezekiel is shown the plans for the new temple, he is also told how they will keep the annual feasts: Passover (Eze45:21, Atonement (45:25)

And then, for ALL NATIONS, it will be required to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zech14:16-19) Now, of course, at that time the world will be living the fulfillment of Tabernacles, "God with us".

As Israel observed a -foreshadowing- of Christ's crucifixion in the O.T. when they observed Passover, is it possible that they will be celebrating it in -retrospection- during the Millennium? Remember that one of the features of Christ's second coming is that Israel will at long last recognize "Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son..." (Zech12:10) While the Church (made of believing Jews and Gentiles) remember Jesus' blood in the Lord's Supper, the national -entity- called "Israel" has not yet acknowledged their Messiah. So, it is a "New Covenant" that will be coming about for them.

I expect the details of what the temple worship will be will become manifest when Christ actually comes and has set up His rule from the temple in Jerusalem. Typically, God has not given out the details of a new era until that era arrived. I don't see why the details of the Millennium should be any different. We are given hints. We know there will be a temple. We know that present Believers will be reigning with Him during that time. (Rev20:4) But even those details we don't know. We have not yet stood before the "judgment seat of Christ" (Rom14:10) and we have not yet heard the Master's summation of our stewardship regarding the talents He gave us to work with. (Mt25, etc) The rewards and duties given to us then, will be based on our faithfulness now.

Why the Feasts & Sabbath during the Millennium?
False Wailing Wall
Temple Not Necessary
Q/A -Man-of-sin in the Temple of God?

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