How a Jew makes it to heaven. Or anyone, for that matter

The history if Israel (God’s “first-born” and unique son) is something like this:

He ( Israel) is self-willed and with a strong desire to be free to do as he pleases. As a result he nurtures and cherishes the desire to be his father’s enemy. The father desires to rebuke and correct his son. Alas, this affection angers the son and cause him to become more stiff-necked and distant. The son’s aversion grows so strong that he comes to see his father as a bully and a tyrant. The son’s hatred grows so strong that the mere thought of his father makes him ill. His hatred is exacerbated by those of similar dispositions around him. No matter how much the father pleads and tries to show kindness, the son spurns this love. “Tonight, I’m going awhoring.”

Dina, suppose that this enmity continues for months, for years. Do you think the son is able, in a moment, or at any time of his choosing, to turn this ill-will into a godly sorrow and a desire to repent and be reconciled to his father? His father has been pleading with him. “Take out you heart of stone, and replace it with a heart of soft warm flesh.” Or to say it another way: “Circumcise your heart.” “After all, the father says, what I want you to do is not on Mars or under the sea; it’s as close to you as it can get.”

The son is do deep in the mire (“second nature”) of self-love and enmity towards his father that he is unable to change AND doesn’t want to change. Do we exonerate an inveterate criminal because he can’t help doing what he loves doing? No. A large part of the history of Israel is like that of an inveterate criminal. The father alternates between pleading “why won’t you turn?” and venting his hot anger by inflicting the ultimate punishment – mayhem and destruction. The son was unable to change yet was exceedingly culpable – to the point of near annihilation.

This is not the end. If it were, what a sorry tale that would be. The father decides to have mercy on a remnant, so that a stump of a stump of his son remained. And not because of anything good he saw in them.

Renewed Garden of Eden

Jossl – Issy, how did you manage to make it, you were such a schmoozer?
Issy – To you yes. But our father sees more than you can see, and so he saw that I was basically a good sort underneath.
Jossl – Shucks, you’re far better than I. I was the biggest ganef (thief) on earth, right down to my socks.
Issy – How can that be! How did you get in?
Jossl – Simple, for our father. He said he was going to circumcise my heart, and so here I am. You never believed the scriptures.
Issy – No, I do; you’ve got it all wrong; he said you must circumcise your own heart.
Jossl – But later father said, “I will circumcise your heart.”
Issy – Oh. So I suppose a bit of both. You circumcise a bit of your heart – the big bit? – and father will circumcise the other bits.
Jossl – Did you read that in the Talmud? The way I see it, now that father has opened my eyes, when he says he will do something he means HE will do it – ALL; especially when he goes on about it: ” I will…I will…I will…I will…” Amazing! Hey, you know what’s also amazing?
Issy – What?
Jossl – He saved a chochem (wiseacre) like you.

Can you suffer for my sake?

Jason Helopoulis’s “Rejoice in suffering” contains much of value. There is, however, one thing he says that reminds me of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the “Treasury of Merit,” which teaches that the overflow of the sufferings of Mary and the “saints” are stored up and applied to “indulgences.” Helopoulis uses Colossians 1:24 as a key text. Later, we shall see how others interpret this text.

Here is Helopoulis: (I have italicised the salient portion).

Benefits Others

“We can also rejoice in suffering because of the benefit it has for others. One of the most curious texts in the Scriptures is Colossians 1:24 when Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…” Paul is rejoicing in his suffering, because it is not only a benefit to himself, but also to others. Paul is alluding to the fact that the Church must endure a certain measure of suffering before the return of Christ. This suffering has been appointed by God and He has determined its breadth and depth. It appears to be a set and fixed amount and Paul is fulfilling some of this appointed suffering. And any suffering that he can endure lessens the amount left for the rest of the body of Christ. I have often found this truth to be comforting in the midst of trial. My suffering is not just for me, it is also for others. There is an unseen benefit that is accruing for the entire body of Christ. The rest of the Church will suffer less as I endure this trial for the glory of God.”

Here is the Roman Catholic view

The merits of Christ, since they are infinite, comprise most of those in the treasury of merits. By applying these to believers, the Church acts as Christ’s servant in the application of what he has done for us, and we know from Scripture that Christ’s work is applied to us over time and not in one big lump (Phil. 2:12, 1 Pet. 1:9).

“But what about the merits of the saints—by the doctrine of indulgences aren’t the saints made co-saviors with Christ?”

Not at all. At best they would only be saving us from temporal calamities, which any human may do (and should do!) for another without blaspheming Christ.[19] Besides, the saints have the ability to please God because the love of God has been put in their hearts (Rom. 5:5). It is God’s grace that enables them to please to him. His grace produces all their good actions, and his grace is given to them because of what Christ did. The good actions of the saints therefore are produced by Christ working through them, which means Christ is the ultimate cause of even this temporal “salvation.” “Should we be talking along these lines? Isn’t it better to put all of the emphasis on what Christ alone?”

No. If we ignore the fact of indulgences, we neglect what Christ does through us, and we fail to recognize the value of what he has done in us. Paul used this very sort of language: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col. 1:24).

(Jim Aiken “A Primer on Indulgences”).

And a Protestant view:

Fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ (Colossians 1:24).

Paul does not here claim for himself extra merit, to be placed in the “Treasury of Merit” for the assistance of souls in purgatory. He was writing from prison, where he was suffering for preaching the Gospel which his Lord had provided at the cost of His sufferings on Calvary. The Lord Jesus had told His disciples that they would be hated of all men for His name’s sake, and so indeed it came to pass, with them and with Paul. (See II Corinthians 11:23-28 where Paul recalls the suffering he had already endured as a preacher of the Gospel).

(“Against indulgences: Roman Catholicism In the Light of Scripture,” Chapter 15, by F. C. H. Dreyer and E. Weller

I suggest John Gill says it best.

for his body’s sake, which is the church;

not in the room and stead of the church, and people of Christ, as were the sufferings of Christ personal; or to exempt them from sufferings who all have their share in this life; nor for their sins to make reconciliation for them, and procure the remission of them; nor to redeem them, or obtain salvation for them, all which is completed by Christ; but for their good and profit, that the Gospel might continue and be blessed to the conversion of many, for the increase of the church and additions to it, and for the furtherance of the Gospel, and that such who professed it might be established and confirmed in it, by the sufferings of the apostle for it: and such good effects did follow upon his sufferings and afflictions; they were for the consolation of many souls, the strengthening of weak believers, and causing even preachers of the Gospel to wax more confident, and more boldly preach the Gospel without fear of man.

The Torah and the Qur’an for preschoolers

I compare briefly the basic principles of  the Jewish Talmudic view of scripture, the Islamic view of the Qur’an, and the prevalent Western secular view of Islam.

The Torah

What is most important in textual interpretation should be context, that is, a single context – the grammatical-historical (surface) context. The surface text of scripture, namely, its normal linguistic and communicative properties, should be the best guide to its meaning. There are, of course, parts of scripture where the surface text is a hard nut to crack; for example, some of the visions of Ezekiel and parts of the book of Revelation. Those who believe scripture is God-breathed (theopneustos – breathed out by God; divine “expiration”) also believe that there are no deeper meanings lurking below the surface text. So, if one differs in the interpretation of a text, the interpreter is at fault.

In contrast, Rabbi Akiva Tatz  says in one of his lectures, “any six-year-old can understand” the Written Torah. Orthdox Judaism generally believes that one has to enter the pardes (the deeper levels) of Torah to derive any lasting good. These deeper levels are not found in the Written Torah, but in the Oral Torah, which for some Jewish movements is not found deep in the Written Torah but above and beyond it. For Tatz, Kabbalah (means “received”) is the apogee of Oral Torah. It is not always, or perhaps not even often, the case that the Oral Torah and the Written Torah complement each other. Often it is rather that the Written Torah implements what the Oral Torah dictates it to mean. For Tatz, it is the Kabbalah  that dictates the meaning of Oral Torah (See  Christian slave learns Midrash magic, The slaughter of scripture: Let his blood be on us and our children and The Written and Oral Torah: Which is Primary?

Islam and the Qur’an

Islamists (those who know and believe what is written in their texts) say, perhaps not in so many syllables, the Qur’an can be gobbledygook by itself – in Arabic and translation. Anyone who has read the Qur’an – in Arabic or translation – should agree with this view , if not heartlily. In contrast to the Torah or the Bible as a whole, there is no historical context in the Qur’an neither any meaningful connection between chapter and verse. Islam relies on the Hadiths to explain the Qur’an. The Hadiths are a vast collection of the purported deeds and sayings of Muhammad.

There are bits in the Qur’an – for example “kill” doesn’t mean “kiss” –   that any preschooler can understand. For example, after you explain what idolatory, beleagure, and Zakat, Surah 9:5 is a piece of cake- And when the forbidden months have passed, kill the idolaters wherever you find them and take them prisoners, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent and observe Prayer and pay the Zakat, then leave their way free. Surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.

Here is one Muslim’s “proof” that anti-Islamists use this verse to malign Islam: “The verse does not say infidels it says idolaters.” Duh. Merci beaucoup for nothing, says the Great Satan. Which takes us West.

Secular West and Islam

Western politicians and the intelligentsia, for example, in the land of free, are abysmally ignorant of the Qur’an; they swallow everything the Islamophiles feed them. For example, one of many lies is that Muslims don’t hate Jews; all they want is an equitable solution to the Israeli-Arab question. The truth is that Islam’s hatred of Zionism and the Jews are two edges of the same sword. The Imam of the Al-Haram mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayis, said in one of his sermons:

“Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil forefathers of the even more evil Jews of today: infidels, falsifiers of words, calf worshippers, prophet murderers, deniers of prophecies … the scum of the human race, accursed by Allah, who turned them into apes and pigs … These are the Jews – an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption …”

The intense Islamic hatred of the Jew did not originate with the Declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, but with “Allah.” In three places in the uncreated, eternal Qur’an, Allah calls Jews monkeys and/or pigs. For example: Surah 2:65 “And you know well the story of those among you who broke Sabbath. We said to them: “Be apes—despised and hated by all” (Trans. Maududi).”

(Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Qur’an).

When it comes to Islam, Western leaders and journalists are delusional. Here is another bit of hilarity from David Wood – “Pop Quiz for Potential World Leaders.”

The Arabic Issa (Jesus) in the Qur’an: Shouldn’t he be a woman, a Hebrew one?

Michael Heiser is a very good Hebrew scholar. I thank him for his profoundly interesting series on the “Two powers” in the Hebrew Bible (The LORD and THE ANGEL of the LORD). What I want to touch on briefly here is the origin of the Qur’anic name for the Hebrew “Yeshua” (Jesus) with a little (unwitting, if not witty) help from Heiser.

In one of his replies to questions on his blog, he corrects one person referring to Yeshua as Yahusha: “… there is no such word as “Yahusha” in Hebrew. Israel’s Messiah was named “Yeshua” – that is the Hebrew word, if you can read Hebrew; or better yet “Eshoa” if you want to get real technical, since the everyday language and therefore naming-process was in Aramaic.”

In the Qur’an, Yeshua is called Issa. Critics have pointed out (for example, Sam Shamoun of that he doesn’t know where Allah/Muhammad got Issa from, because, Shamoun says, the Hebrew is Yeshua; and the Arabic for Yeshua would be a close equivalent and not anything like Issa. For one thing Arabic would not drop the initial consonant. The Aramaic “Eshoa” set me thinking. Muhammad had contact with the Eastern Syrian church whose Bible translation was in Syriac, a language similar to the Aramaic of Palestine. Actually the more accurate Syriac pronunciation of the Hebrew equivalent Yeshua seems to be “Isho.”

Ergo Isho (Syriac) -> Issa (Qur’an).

Now for proof that the Qur’an is divinely inspired or that Muhammad had a hearing problem:

If it was revealed or if he had heard the name “isha” instead, which is much closer to Issa, it wouldn’t look good calling Yeshua a woman (“isha” in Hebrew). Besides, Arabic is the eternal language of Allah. Also, with a name like Isha, Issa would only be half the man the Qur’an describes, because in Islam the witness of one woman is worth half a man’s.

Can you see it: Isha – “Go into half the world and bear witness to half the good news.”

Inerrancy Summit Mark Dever’s Session: Psalms 119


I think jay Smith very good on Islam. What he said, however in a debate with Shabir Ally on scripture I didn’t find that hot.

He said that the Bible is not the Word of God, Jesus is. Smith says that the Bible is the record of the person, the  Word of God. That is no way to defend scripture. Yes, there are textual variants and linguistic errors in the thousands of documents we have of the NT, but Smith’s way of brushing them off is not the way to go.

Here is Mark Dever on scripture.

Originally posted on The Domain for Truth:

Note: The following are rough notes from the conference.

Mark Dever Shepherds conference

We sometime need to unpack what it means when we say that the bible is true?

Issue: translation, transmission, truth content (teaching)

We want to get to the issue of its teaching

4 questions to help understand God’s Word:

1.) What is God’s Word?

2.) What is God’s word like?

  • True (v.142)
    Good (v.68)
    Ancient (v.152)
    Unchanging (v.160)

Note God’s word is like this because He is like this

To attack the word of God is to attack God

3.) What does God’s word does?
Studying God’s word should not make us morally indifferent
Sir us to holiness? (V.102)
Note if Jesus use the Scripture in temptation why would we think we need it less than Jesus?
Rejoice (v.65)
Understanding (v.105)
Answering prayers (v.66)
Give life!

If God is speaking why would we not read it?

4.) How do we respond?

View original 36 more words

Isis has nothing on the Abortion mills of america

Open air preaching at the Auschwitz of New Jersey?

James White writes: Robert Parker and myself alternated open air preaching at Englewood’s “Women’s Center” (aka the Auschwitz of New Jersey). This mill kills more babies than any other abortion mill in New Jersey. Many women walked in with tears or they just had a somber face. And when they walked out of the mill most of them looked liked zombies. We know why. They know deep down they have committed an evil act against the holy One. God has given each one of them a conscience, though they try to suppress this knowledge. Incidentally, there were Roman Catholic women there who were an obstruction to our gospel proclamation, by handing out rosaries and telling people not to listen to us. Rome’s false gospel will also perish in the day of wrath, along with those who place their hope in its deception.”

The Roman Catholic talks to the security guard about a play she saw (about killing babies?).

Belief and reason: What has Athens (Plato) to do with Jerusalem (Isaiah)? Stacks

A Jew called Concerned Reader asked me on another blog: “Shouldn’t faith be reasoned, and based on a comprehension of the covenant G-d made with Israel? As opposed to just a belief?”

Let’s consider reason without bringing God or religion into it. It is not, logically, possible to use reason to prove that it is rational. Without faith/trust in your reason, you end up in an unreal, relative, random, nonsensical universe. Most human beings refuse to accept this logic. An illogical person will say he reasons well without having faith in his reason.

With regard to the relationship between reason and belief in the God of the Bible (Tanach and New Testament), this God chooses to reveal Himself to humanity. As with Abram, so with every one who accepts God. God of his good pleasure sovereignly, therefore, unilaterally, chose to reveal himself to Abram. No one knows why he revealed himself to Abram, to his progeny and later to the Israelites, or to any one else. “And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’” (Exodus 33:19).

In the scriptures, reason (thought) is the tool God gives us to understand WHO He is; not THAT he is (exists). The revelation at Sinai was a special gift of God’s generosity (mercy, grace) revealing what reason couldn’t discover. The first verse of Genesis says “In the beginning, God…” God’s existence in the Bible is a given (not a “taken”).

The following sounds crazy to most Jews. “I believe that I may understand” (Augustine of Hippo). The Hebrew prophets, indeed, all godly people in the Tanach, would agree with Augustine.

Jews have too much faith in their reason. Many of them believe that reason is all they need to find God. They want to be Jewish Platos (chollile), when in fact they are, as the Tanach emphasises play dough – not play things – in the hand of God.