Is this interpretation biblically sound?

Pastor Chris, I listened to a recording that put forth the idea that Barack Obama could be the antichrist. Here is the link to that message: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXMAnlMmEPw. The speaker referred to Luke 10:18 and said that since Jesus spoke Aramaic, the words He used could be pronounced the same way as Barack Obama’s name even though the verse was written in Greek. He further stated that Jesus might be trying to identify the name of the antichrist in this verse. Is this interpretation biblically sound? –    Kathy

Kathy,

I clicked on the link you sent and watched the video. It is true that the Bible has predictive prophecy that is 100% accurate. The most notable example of that are the prophecies concerning the Messiah (over 200). Jesus is the only person in history that fulfills ALL of those prophecies.

However, Luke 10:18 is not spoken by Jesus as predictive prophecy. He speaks a word about His observation concerning the work of the disciples. The demons were subject to the disciples and Jesus comments on that by saying that He “…saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” It does not appear from the text that Jesus is intentionally trying to give us the name of the antichrist.

Furthermore, when I checked out the Hebrew word for “lightning” I found four different Hebrew words that can all be translated “lightning.” Only one of them has the pronounciation “baw-rawk” (Strong’s Concordance, word #1300, “baraq”). The other numbers for Hebrew words for lightning from Strong’s are: #216 (“owr”); #965 (“bazaq”); and, #2385 (“chaziyz”). Jesus could have spoken any one of these four words to refer to lightning if He was speaking Hebrew, but He was actually speaking Aramaic. Aramaic is close to Hebrew and Jesus may very well have said the word and the pronunciation “baw-rawk” but there is no way to know exactly which one of the four words He used. An Aramaic scholar would be needed tell us if the words for lightning in Aramaic are exactly the same in Hebrew.

The word given in Greek for “heaven” in Luke 10:18 is “ouranoú.” Again, the Hebrew has more than one word for heaven. There is Strong’s #8064, “shamayim.” This is by far the most often used Hebrew word for heaven. There is also #1534, “galgal” and #7834, “shachaq” and #8065, “shamayin.”

The speaker on the video uses the Hebrew word for “heights” (Strong’s #1116, “bamah”). I checked the definition of “bamah” and it does not include “heaven.” Strong’s Concordance says that “bamah” means “an elevation, height, high place, wave.”

It is difficult for me to believe that if Jesus wanted to communicate the word for “heights” (“bamah” in Hebrew; not sure in Aramaic, which again Jesus would be speaking) that He would use the word for “heaven.” Why wouldn’t Luke use the Greek word “hupsoma” for Jesus’ expression, which (according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 211) means, “height, as a mountain or anything definitely termed a height…a high thing lifted up as a barrier or in antagonistic exaltation, 2 Cor. 10:5.” Again, Luke used the Greek word “ouranoú” which simply means “heaven.”

CONCLUSION: I do not think that Barack Obama is the antichrist. I do not think that Jesus is alluding to him or trying to name him. If I am wrong on this then we will not have to worry about it anyway, because the true believers will be taken to heaven before the antichrist is revealed to the world (1 Thess. 4:14-17; Rev. 11, 13). Rev. 11 and 13 reveal the antichrist to the world during the mid-point of the Tribulation. We (those that are the true believers) will have been in heaven for 3 1/2 years by that time.

God bless you! Keep digging! The Word of God is a gold mine!

Sincerely,
Pastor Chris

How deal with a disrespectful son?

Pastor Chris,
My wife and I are raising a teenage boy and an elementary school daughter. We have been encountering some “respect” issues recently between my wife and my son. Currently my wife and I are not on the same page with handling our son’s perceived disrespect towards her. I am usually not there to witness it. Once she explains to me the circumstances, we normally talk it out between the two of us to set a course of action (or not) or I talk to our son. This will work once in a while, but like most things it fades away over time. Rarely do I feel the need to act physically towards our son as I don’t believe that is an effective course of action…especially when I am not there to interpret the context of the event. My wife feels that I need to be more physical towards him even though she is the one being disrespected. My bottom-line feeling is that our son will respect her even less if I handle those situations on her behalf. I believe she also feels that I don’t support her assertions of his disrespect once she explains them to me.

We want to lean on our faith as guidance. Thank you! — Stan





Stan,
Parenting is a difficult task! It sure keeps a man on his knees! Moms too!

Your children must know that Dad and Mom are a team. If one of you is disrespected then the other one has been disrespected, too. You must back your wife.

Have a family conference with you, your wife, and your son. Ask each of them to tell their side of the story in front of you and in front
of each other. Tell your son that when he disrespects his mother he is disrespecting you and that you will not stand for that. Give him one warning and that is all. The family conference is that warning. Tell your son that if he disrespects his mother again that you will take away one of his privileges. Name one or two privileges that you might take away. (Corporal punishment is usually not the best way to discipline a teenager.) If he disrespects his mother a second time, take away a different privilege plus the original privilege. Each time it occurs, increase the cost to him.

The point is, make the punishment fit the crime. Too harsh is unfair. Too lenient will encourage the disrespectful behavior. When you take away one of his privileges make it something that is meaningful to him and something that will not punish you or your wife. Set a time limit
on it. Follow through with it. Make a believer out of your son. Help him to see that you will follow through with what you say you will do.

Remember to love, respect, and cherish your wife in front of the children. Hold the door for her. Help her be seated at the table by assisting her with her chair. Hold her hand when you sit on the sofa together. Your children need to know that their mother is first in your life after the Lord Himself. The best way to show love to your kids is to show love to their mother.

Here are some verses from the Bible for you to ponder as you seek to guide your son and support your wife: Proverbs 3:12; 22:6; 27:17;
29:17; 31:10-31; Ephesians 5:25-33; 6:1-4. You can look them up on www.biblegateway.com.

Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,
Pastor Chris

Should Christians read the Qur'an?

Pastor Chris,
I found out that a Christian friend was reading the Qur’an and I was dismayed that a Christian would read teachings such as this. I encouraged this person to stick to God and read the Bible rather than read teachings such as this. Should Christians be reading these false teachings to better know what these other religions are about and maybe to better witness to these folks? Thank you,
Daniel

Daniel,
Thank you for your question! The Bible speaks to this issue in many places where it warns us against following false religions and the doctrines of demons. 1 Timothy 4:1-2, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” Our enemy, the devil, is always busy. Prowling around like a roaring lion, he is always seeking those whom he might devour (1 Peter 5:8). Deceit is one of the primary ways the devil devours his victims. The devil’s tactic with Adam and Eve was deceit. He deceived them by tempting them to doubt God’s word, thereby influencing them to doubt God Himself.

The Bible says in 2 John 7-11, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.”

A case in point is the nation of Israel itself. Throughout its existence, Israel was warned by God not to involve themselves in the religions and false deities of the nations nearby. They did so and became infected with false worship and false teachings. These actions broke the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-6). God judged them by sending them away into captivity when Assyria defeated the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. and then Babylon defeated the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 586-587 B.C.

It is interesting to note how the FBI catches counterfeiters. The FBI has the agents in the counterfeit department study genuine currency. By thoroughly studying genuine currency, they are readily able to spot the false currency. If a person masters the truth that is found in the Bible, he will be able to refute whatever heresy the devil throws at him.

It is not necessarily wrong for someone to learn something about another religion for the purpose of looking for ways to witness to them about the truth of Jesus Christ. Extreme caution must be advised, however, because when you are encountering the devil’s lies there is always the danger of being deceived yourself.

– Pastor Chris

What is Gods way of conquering debt?

Pastor Chris,


What is Gods way of conquering debt? Thank you.– Anonymous

 

Answer

 

Dear Friend,

 

The best resource I know of regarding conquering debt is from Bruce Ammons. Click below to view it on Amazon. It is chock full of helpful information and resources.

— Pastor Chris

When it was biblically ok to give up on a marriage if ever?

Pastor Chris,
I wanted to know when it was biblically ok to give up on a marriage if ever.


– Marguerite






Marguerite,
The Bible is clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). His ideal has always been that marriage would consist of one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2:24).


That being said, God’s ideal and sinful man’s reality often clash. Therefore, God calls us to strive for the ideal; but, when two people cannot meet the ideal God regulates their separation through the process we call divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 19:8).


The question then is when is divorce permitted? Obviously, divorce is permitted in cases of adultery (Matthew 19:9). The word translated “marital unfaithfulness” is the Greek word porneia. Porneia actually includes a wide range of behaviors that mean a person who is out of control and is compulsively preoccupied with self-gratification.


Another difficult case is that of abandonment. What if a wife finds herself abandoned? Can such a woman seek divorce? Yes, she can. What else is she to do? The wives referred to in Malachi 2:16 were being “put away” (lit. “abandoned”).


Another situation is that of a believer being married to an unbeliever. I Corinthians 7:12-16 tells us that if the unbeliever wants to remain married to the believer, then the believer must not divorce the unbeliever. However, if the unbeliever wants to leave (seek a divorce) then the believer is not bound in such a case.


There are other situations that are difficult, too. These situations include such things as cruelty, indecency, incest, law breaking, insanity, various mental health issues, and other sordid behaviors that can make a marriage unbearable and divorce necessary.


Even though a person has biblical rights to divorce, it does not mean that they have to get the divorce. I know cases where a person has chosen to forgive the offender and the marriage has remained intact. This presupposes repentance and a commitment to mature on the part of the offender. Often this requires professional Christian counseling in order to build new behaviors in the offender’s life.


So, for a person wondering if he or she is at a point of “giving up” on his or her marriage he or she would do well to consider these thoughts:
•    Is my own heart right with God?
•    Am I seeking God’s glory and not my own comfort?
•    Am I ready to pay the price, emotionally speaking?
•    Am I ready to exchange one set of problems for another set of problems?
•    Do I have biblical reason?
•    Can I forgive my spouse?
•    Can I forgive myself?
•    What is best for the children?
•    Have I truly tried to make this marriage work?
•    Have I taken the time to really think this action through?
•    Have I prayed until I have received God’s peace about this action?
•    Have I counseled with wise Christians who have nothing to gain by my decision?


A person needs to be careful not to seek divorce on a whim or for flimsy reasons (burning the toast, lusting after another person, he’s messy, she talks too much, etc.). Many marriages will improve if the partners will start working together and begin seeking Christ together. When that is not realistic, God regulates divorce and extends His hand of forgiveness and compassion. ~ Pastor Chris

What are the two greatest commands/instructions that Jesus gave us and in what order would you place them as to importance?

Pastor Chris,
What are the two greatest commands/instructions that Jesus gave us and in what order would you place them as to importance? Thanx!
~ Dan

Dan,
Jesus was asked this very question by one of the teachers of the law as recorded in Mark 12:28-31. “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

As you can see, Jesus said that loving God is the number one commandment or instruction. Loving your neighbor is number two. Certainly Jesus has the order correct. If we love God with all that we have and all that we are, then loving our neighbor will naturally follow.
 

~ Pastor Chris

Are you familiar with the Bible translation The Message? What is your opinion of it?

Question about a Bible translation… {10-5-2009} Topics:

Pastor Chris,

Are you familiar with the Bible translation The Message? What is your opinion of it?
~  Aaron

Aaron, Yes, I am familiar with The Message. It is important to understand that The Message is not a translation of the Bible. It is a paraphrase.

What is the difference between a translation and a paraphrase? A translation tries to bring the writings or spoken words of one language into another language as precisely and literally as possible. A paraphrase puts the text into the writer’s own words. A paraphrase often takes a certain amount of liberties with the text. For example, look at John 5:24 from The Message and then compare it to several translations.

“It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.” (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (King James Version)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (New American Standard)

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (New International Version)

It is easy to see from John 5:24 that The Message adds words to the text (it is two lines longer than the translations). This is not necessarily wrong if an author is trying to add clarity, explain a concept, or communicate a cultural idiom from antiquity that is contained in the text. If an author is intentionally distorting the text then he is guilty of the grave error of misleading the reader.

The good news concerning The Message is that the author, Eugene Peterson, is a reputable Christian scholar whose intention is to make the Bible easily readable and understandable. He is a brilliant communicator who thoroughly understands and embraces the historic Christian faith which teaches that Jesus Christ is God’s only Son, the Savior of the world. As far as I know, there is no heresy or deliberate distortions contained in The Message. There is no doctrine of the Christian faith that is called into question through this paraphrase.

Eugene Peterson has a gift when it comes to the use of words. You will benefit from his work. You will be encouraged by it. It will speak to your heart. Use it. Read it.

Having said all of that, I recommend that you read The Message (or any other paraphrase for that matter) alongside a good, solid translation of the Bible. Do not try to prove a theological point using a paraphrase. A translation is necessary for that.

Sincerely,
~ Pastor Chris

What does “bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” mean? I thought we were already saved when we accepted Jesus as our Savior.

Pastor Chris,
Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” What does “bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” mean? I thought we were already saved when we accepted Jesus as our Savior.

~ Pamela

Pamela,
You have asked an interesting question. It is true that we are saved the instant we give our lives to Jesus Christ. It is also true that our salvation has a future element to it. We are not yet in heaven and we have not yet been given our new bodies. Paul speaks of this in Philippians 1:6 when he writes, “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

There are three aspects of salvation: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification occurs when I receive Christ as my Savior. At that point, it is “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned.” I am justified or made right with God. I am saved. My sins are forgiven and I have begun a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Sanctification refers to the process of maturing in Christ or growing in grace. The word sanctify comes from the same root word as holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). It carries with it the idea of being set apart for God’s use. Glorification refers to the time when we are given new bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) and we live with Him forever in heaven.

So there is a sense in which a believer in Christ may say “I have been saved” (justification); “I am being saved” (sanctification); and, “I will be saved” (glorification). We might also say that there is past, present, and future aspects to our salvation. The fact that you are in Christ (justified) guarantees that you will be glorified in the future. Jesus is now living in us through the power of His Spirit and as we grow in Him we are becoming more and more useful to Him for His purposes in this world (sanctification). We are now waiting for the consummation of our salvation that Jesus will complete when He returns.

~ Pastor Chris

What does “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” mean?

Pastor Chris,
What does “we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses” mean? Are people watching us from heaven? Can my mother and my grandparents see me since they are already in heaven?

Sincerely, Naomi

Naomi,

The verse you are referring to is found in Hebrews 12:1. The word translated “surrounded” (NIV) is perikeimenon. This is a compound word from peri “around” (Gingrich, p. 169) or “to be completely encircled by something” (Renner, p. 45); and keimai “lie, recline, be laid out” (Gingrich, p.114) or “to lie down” (Renner, p. 46). When you put the two words together into their compound form, “they mean to lie around, as if something has been piled high and is lying all around you on every side. This is the portrayal of being completely encircled by something that is stacked high on every side” (Renner, p. 46).

The word “therefore” (NIV) in Hebrews 12:1 refers to that which has been written before, namely, chapter eleven. When you consider Hebrews 11, you see that there were many people in the past who were faithful. Although they are now dead, their lives are an encouragement to us to be faithful, too. Their lives can be stacked up all around us as evidence to persevere in the faith. There is no indication here that the deceased can see us, observe our activities, or fellowship with us.

Renner translates Hebrews 12:1 in two ways, “Wherefore seeing we have lying around us on every side…” and “Wherefore seeing these biblical examples are piled up and lying all around us…” (p. 46).

The MacArthur Study Bible (footnote, p. 1889) says, “The deceased people of chap. 11 give witness to the value and blessing of living by faith. Motivation for running “the race” is not in the possibility of receiving praise from observing heavenly saints. Rather, the runner is inspired by the godly examples those saints set during their lives. The great crowd is not comprised of spectators but rather is comprised of ones whose past life of faith encourages others to live that way.”

It occurs to me that if people in heaven could see us down here on earth that it would not be heaven for them. To look down and see the vices of mankind would cause a pure heart to weep and experience sorrow. Revelation 21:4 tells us that in heaven there will be “…no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”

In short, I do not believe that the saints in heaven are watching us. They are surely preoccupied with Jesus and their glorious home!

My understanding of the “communion of the saints” is the fellowship we experience together while we are on this planet. No doubt we will experience a greater fellowship in heaven, but there is no mixing of the two.

I do not know where the thought that “loved ones are up in heaven looking down on us” originated. It is possible that it comes from a misinterpretation of Hebrews 12:1. I do know that the enemy of our souls loves to deceive and thereby ruin lives. Satan will distort Scripture if it suits his purpose. If the devil can get people to think that their loved one is “up there” watching when their loved one was not a person who trusted in Christ, then the enemy can steal another soul. Such a person might think that she will also go to heaven just because she thinks a relative or friend is there. She might even desire to go to heaven, but the reality is that if she has not been born again by a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit in her life she will not get there. Such a person is living on sentiment instead of acting on the facts of the Bible. Emotions can lie.

~ Pastor Chris

Jesus tells his followers to buy a sword. Why does Jesus say that? I thought Jesus was the Prince of Peace.

Pastor Chris,
In Luke 22:35-38, Jesus tells his followers to buy a sword. Why does Jesus say that? I thought Jesus was the Prince of Peace.
~ Don

Don,
Thank you for your question. This is a passage that is easily misunderstood because we have such a different culture than first century Israel. A look at the Jewish cultural background is helpful to interpret these verses. It is also useful to study the “sword” that Jesus is referring to.

To put The Pulpit Commentary (an old standard, scholarly, multi-volume set, with somewhat archaic English) into my own words, Jesus was focused on the fact that He would soon be leaving this earth and the disciples would now be facing intense trials in the form of persecution. Whereas, before, when Jesus was physically with them, they were favorably received by the populace. After He (Jesus) leaves, they would need to be prepared for tough times. This commentary also says, “Of course, the advice as to the sword was not meant to be taken literally. It is one of those metaphors the Lord used so often in his teaching. For a similar metaphor still more elaborately developed, see Eph. vi. 17, and following verses” (Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 16, Luke, p. 201).

The MacArthur Study Bible says on a footnote on page 1527, “When Christ sent them out before, He had sovereignly arranged for their
needs to be met. Henceforth they were to use normal means to provide for their own support and protection. The money bag, knapsack, and sword were figurative expressions for such means (the sword being emblematic of protection, not aggression). But they mistakenly took
His words literally” (v. 38).

The disciples misunderstood Jesus. They took His words literally when He meant them figuratively. Jesus’ use of the word “sword” should not be taken literally because the Greek word used here means a short, dagger like instrument that was like an everyday knife. It would not be much of an offensive weapon. It was not the long battle sword we usually think of that conjures up pictures of knights going at each other during the Middle Ages. This small “sword” would be used more for practical purposes like slicing bread or even applying a condiment to your slice of bread. There was nothing unusual about carrying such knives in that culture. I remember my Grandfather always carried a small pocketknife. It was a useful tool for him, not really a weapon, although it could be used that way if needed. Also, Jesus Himself spoke out against Peter when he used his small knife to cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in the Garden of Gethsemane. You find it in this same chapter of Luke in verses 49-51. Therefore Jesus was not thinking about swords for offensive purposes. Jesus was thinking of the practical things the disciples would need when He was gone. The disciples missed the point, so Jesus says in effect “Enough of this” because they were not getting His intended meaning.

I wonder how much we continue to misunderstand Jesus today.

~ Pastor Chris