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NGJ BIBLE STUDY (Dr. Gary S. Day)

fragment 2SHOULD THE APOCRYPHA BOOKS BE PART OF THE BIBLE?

Written by Dr. Gary S. Day, Pastor

Many make the common mistake in thinking that the eighteen Apocryphal Books found in the Roman Catholic Bibles (and others) were originally part of the Bible, and that the Protestant Reformers in the 16th century were the ones who took them out of the Bible.  Because of this mistaken thought, many may question if there were other “legitimate” books of the Bible left out, like the Gospel of Thomas and other such writings. 

The word Canon means ‘a measuring rod’ and is the standard by which other like things is measured against.  The thirty nine Old Testament books make up the Hebrew Canon, and the 27 New Testament books complete the Biblical Canon.  Thus the word Canon now is often meant to represent the whole Bible. 

The Old Testament was written between 1,400 years before the birth of Christ to about B.C. 400, and is considered the inspired Word of God for the Jewish leaders recognized these sacred books as having Divine Origins.  The Apocrypha and other books were written between about BC 300- AD100.  Many of these entertaining, but spurious books began to claim divine inspiration, usually by asserting it was written by some great biblical person, such as Moses or Abraham.  These Jewish writings are part of a collection of writings know as Pseudepigrapha writings.  So, where does the Apocrypha, which means “hidden things,” fit in?fragment

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew primarily.  But by the 3rd century BC Greek became the language of the day and the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek. That translation is known as the Septuagint and is often represented by the Roman numerals LXX.  This is because seventy Jewish scholars is said to have been brought together by the Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247BC), to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek for the library in Alexandria.  Some believe that these translators felt that additional books would benefit readers by providing historical and background information about the Jewish people and their culture, so some of the Apocrypha were appended to the Septuagint.  However others claim that there is no evidence of their inclusion into the Septuagint for the codices which attest an Apocryphal collection are late, between the 4th and 5th century A.D.  Regardless, the Apocrypha was never seen as additions to the Canon, but as study helps, much like the articles and information in modern day Study Bibles.  No claim of Divine Origin was ever given to these books by the Jewish people or by the Christian community for over 1500 years. 

At about A.D. 400, the Bible was translated by Jerome into Latin and is known as the Vulgate.  This Latin translation was commonly used by the Roman Catholics and it contained the Apocryphal books.  Yet, the Apocryphal books were not accepted as part of the Canon by the Catholics.

During the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century the Catholic Church was challenged to prove their doctrines by Scripture only (Sola Scriptura).  To their amazement Roman Catholics found that many of their doctrines were not supported by the Canon, the Bible.  But they did find that some of their erroneous doctrines were supported by the Apocrypha.   For survival’s sake it became necessary for the Roman Catholics to add the Apocrypha to the Canon.   So, during the midst of the Reformation, in 1545, the Roman Catholic Church convened what is called the Council of Trent and in April of that year the Council declared that the Apocrypha books was also part of the Bible.   So, for the first time in history, because the Roman Catholic Church could not be seen as being wrong and to justify their doctrinal errors, the Apocrypha books became part of the Canon, dubbed as Deutero-canonical Books (second Canon) because they came later.

The following are some of the historical, chronological and doctrinal errors that the Apocrypha books submit and the Catholic Church accepts:

1. Prayers and Offering for the Dead                              2 Maccabees 12:41-46

The Catholic Church collects millions of dollars each year from this un-biblical practice on the pretext that the people whose souls are being prayed for might be “loosed from sin” and be transferred to heaven.

2.  Atonement and Salvation by Almsgiving          Ecclesiasticus 3:33; Tobit 4:11

Although the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace alone, the Roman Catholics add “good works” as a collection, and collect multiple millions and perhaps, billions worldwide, from people seeking salvation through good works.

 3.  Pre-existence of Souls                                                      Wisdom of Solomon 8:19-20

This Apocrypha teaching says that souls have always existed and that the human body receives a pre-existing soul.  The Bible does not teach this.

 4.  The Doctrine of Emanations                                       Wisdom of Solomon 7:25

The Bible teaches that out of nothing God created the heavens and the earth.  Emanation is the theory that, like a spider’s web which comes from its body, the universe and everything in it is an emanation from God. 

 5.  Suicide is Justified                                                              2 Maccabees 14:41-46

Life is sacred in the Bible and the taking of it is not accepted, “Thou Shalt not Kill” is one of the Ten Commandments.

 6.  Cruelty to Slaves Justified                                             Ecclesiaticus 33:25-29

The Bible says to be merciful to slaves (Deuteronomy 23:15-16).

 7.  Other Errors

Time and space does not permit a full covering of all that the Apocrypha falsely teaches and the Roman Catholics, and others, accept.  A short listing of some can only be given: The Sanction of lying; Hatred for the Samaritan people; The encouragement of magical incantations; The acceptance of assignation; Interceding angels in man’s affairs; and perhaps the worse, the doctrine of Purgatory.  None of these are found in the Bible.

Many claim that the Biblical books have been altered and manipulated, but the historical data disposes of such thoughts.  The Canon has received special preservation and protection by the Jews and Christians alike.  But not until the Council of Trent in 1545 has the Apocrypha books been admitted into the Canon, as a reaction against the Protestant Reformers.  The Canon of God, the sixty-six books of the Bible is pure, without error free, and preserved for the edification and instruction of all humankind.

Dr. Gary S. Day

Oct. 28, 2009

♦♦♦

The Word of God and Other Religions

By Dr. Gary S. Day

The quest for the knowledge of God began at the beginning of human creation, and people have sought God through multiple self-oriented human speculations, such as meditations and mystical experiences.  This speculation brought forth writings, which every religion touts as holy.  Yet, they could not find God through these things.  But God didn’t keep aloof, for He made Himself known from the beginning in nature, which is the knowing of God through General Revelation.  He also made Himself known in the Bible and this is called the knowing of God through Special Revelation. 

Human speculation can not apprehend God because mans’ wisdom and mind has been corrupted by sin, insomuch that no conclusions about God and His actions can be obtained.  Since this is so, both the speculations and the books containing those speculations are erroneous.

General Revelation reveals the God of Creation through human observation.  This makes people aware and desirous to know God, but contains no information about the Gospel of Christ.  Thus salvation is not obtainable through General Revelation.

Special Revelation comes directly from God.  It is not received by human speculation, insight or actions of mankind.  Only God’s people spoken of in the Old Testament and the New Testament were entrusted with Divine Revelation, who in turn passed it on through the written word that became those Testaments.  What people in other religions discover on their own without God can not be equated with Divine Revelation, nor are similar statements in the Bible and in other religious writings equated.  This is true because the human mind is totally blinded by sin.   This fact is the “T” in Calvinism’s theological mnemonic known as TULIP.  Total Depravity is represented by the first letter of the word tulip, meaning that humankind is totally depraved and cannot know God or be morally good by their efforts or in their choices.  It takes an act of Divine Grace to open the spiritual eyes of a human being, and that through the means of the Special Revelation of God’s Word, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit.

Any similarity in wording between the Biblical text and other religious writings is mere coincidence.  To claim that another religious text is inspired by God like the Bible, is heresy, and such thoughts should be addressed and suppressed in the pulpits and in the theological classrooms, for information about Jesus Christ and salvation is available through no other text than the Bible.

Increasing world social contact in the past (and present) has brought with it more general knowledge about non-Christian faiths, and with that came inter-faith comparisons.  The reason for the comparisons is that nearly all religions talk about the same subjects; God, sin, punishment, salvation, afterlife and good deeds.  In examining these things, some have come to the conclusion that all religious teaching comes from the same source.

Eventually many thinkers, including heretofore Christians, leaped to claim that both the Bible, as well as non-Christian scriptures, is equally inspired.  From this, another leap in thought concluded that because salvation is universally taught in religion, all religious roads lead to salvation as long as you understand and follow a religious belief system. 

The above thinking has led to the stand that evangelism is unnecessary and even sinful.  This error goes against the Bible that says, “go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Matthew 16:15).  The reason for this Biblical command is that besides Jesus, “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved: (Acts4:12).

Fast paced societies, like ours and the Egyptian and Canaanite societies at the time of Moses allow little time for reflection about spiritual realities.  And like in the days of Moses, our society is undergoing fast paced changes and experiencing great attractions to pagan religions and philosophies, due to social and intellectual mingling.  The internet itself may be contributing to this mingling and pagan attraction.  Yet, the believer should instinctively know that this is wrong and contrary to the inspired Canon.  However, like moths to a flame, the pagan fires continue to draw professing Christians into its flames.  Why is this?  

God knew the attraction to paganism would be strong, so over 400 places in the Bible warn against such attraction to these faiths, for an attraction and appreciation of such faiths is the first step towards worship.  See Exodus 20:3; 23:13 and 34: as an example of God’s warnings about being attracted to pagan religions.

And, because of this strong attraction: 1) God openly declared in the Old Testament that only He is God, for there were multiple oracles of the pagan gods; 2) The Lord affirmed that His Word was given only to and through the Jewish people; and 3) That though the Apostles speak about the progressive nature of revelation (Hebrews 1:1), they also recognized only the Biblical revelation about God.

Some assert that Revelation 22:18-19 applies to the whole Bible, when in fact the verses only speak to the book of Revelation.  It can only apply to the whole Bible by extrapolation, because of the many other verses that speak to the inspiration and authority of the Biblical Canon.  But whether this is a good hermeneutic (method of interpretation), or not, is open to question.

Only the books of the Bible are identified by God as being inspired by the Holy Spirit.  All other religions’ books are resultant from human wisdom or from the influence of demons (1 Timothy 4:1), such as many books produced by the Theosophical Society that are said to be dictated by a demon named Dhwaj Khul.  This should ring a bell to those of the Mormon persuasion.

Human religious systems, gods and goddesses are to be rejected by Christians, for God says, “make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth” (Exodus 23:13).

Some Christians may think that, though not God inspired, other religious books have spiritual merit.  However, this cannot be for “the natural man receives not the things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14), and, “there is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God” (Romans 3:11).

Unfortunately, many Christians are studying for spiritual insight the plethora of non-Christian religious books on the market. (It should be noted here that these unchristian ‘insights’ have been included in many ‘Christian’ books today.)  Two groups that support this type of study are the radical theologians and the universalistic Hindus.

 Theological radicalism developed out of the church-state marriage in Germany, whose theological institutions were run by the state and whose professors, though greatly learned did not profess Christ Jesus.  These professors have written many books that have affected and infected theological students worldwide.

 One contention of this radical movement was that there was nothing original nor Divine about the Biblical writings, so they spend much time studying the books of other religions.  This has brought non-Christian religious books into the churches, along with their pagan symbols.

 The idea behind Hindu universalism is that since all religions lead to the same place, all religions should be accepted and respected.  So, many Hindus can be found quoting the Bible to justify their own brand of philosophy.  Also, Hindu texts have crept their way into Christian churches.  The falsity here is the belief that if passages in non-Christian books are similar to Biblical passages, then they are proclaiming the same truth.  But is this so?

First of all, some of the similarities are only coincidences, as was mentioned earlier.  Considering the volume of religious literature written, it would be impossible for there not to be similarities, for they often discuss the same subject.  Because the wording is similar doesn’t mean that the ideas the words are conveying are the same.  In fact, they are not.  For example:  For the Hindu, God is impersonal and salvation is a going out of a personal existence.  The Biblical God is personal and salvation is the rising to the most blessed personal state, both here on earth and in the afterlife, because of a personal relationship with Jesus our Lord. 

Secondly, the similarities disappear when the passages are seen in context.  Often only one to three words are pulled out of the Hindu Sanskrit texts and presented as similar to the Biblical text.  This is the result of deliberate deception, either by the Hindus or the deceived radical theologians and their followers, who spend multiple pages interpreting the ‘similarities’ of these text fragments.  If read in their entirety, these Sanskrit texts would not read like the Biblical texts.

Thirdly, similarities are because of spiritual blindness or an imposed Christian hermeneutic upon the texts of other religions and visa versa.  But it is to be remembered that statements have context, and that context has to be understood to properly interpret those statements.  For example: A verse in the Bible must be seen in the context of the verses preceding and following, which in turn must be seen in the context of the chapter it is in and the book it is in, and finally the statement or verse is to be filtered by the context of the whole Bible.  That is why “no scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20).  This type of contextual study takes time to do correctly.  Too many Christians do not regularly read their Bibles, let alone do any in depth study.  And too many are not willing to devote themselves to the study of the one book that is the truth, the Bible.  Because of this spiritual laziness, many fall away from the true faith in Christ Jesus and become bound into the spiritual slavery of the false doctrines of other religions.

Jesus did not say in vain, “I am the way the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6).  Christ Jesus is the only way mankind receives salvation, and the only place you find truth about God is in the Bible.

♦♦♦

IS THE BIBLE A RELIABLE TEXT?

 

It’s interesting to know that the reason why many today disregard the Bible is because it is an ancient text.  It is written so long ago, these dissenters of the Word of God say, that besides being inaccurate it is irrelevant to the modern age.  Though many other books, such as the Hindu Vedas, do not deal with verifiable history and faith as the Bible does, nor is their antiquity proven, yet many would laud them as pertinent for today.  In this writing the accuracy of the Biblical text will be shown, which will reflect upon the pertinence of its use for today, because the Bible is historically based.

In fact, it is the historical reality of the Biblical narratives that are viciously attacked because the Christian faith is bound to the veracity of the historical content of the Biblical text.  If the historical content can be proven incorrect, then the Christian faith can be seen as incorrect also.  Yet it is in this very area, the subject of history, which is more verifiable than philosophical thought that Christianity can be strongly defended, for the historical facts the Bible portrays actually happened, as is born out in many areas of investigation, including archaeology.  The measure of the accuracy of the Biblical text is called Canon, meaning ‘measuring rod,’ and often the Bible is called the Canon in theological and apologetic writings.  Attacks against the Canon are primarily aimed against its reliability.

Attacks in the past three hundred years have been aimed at the accuracy of the information in the Canon, and for some time those who opposed the Bible seemed to be winning their points, but since the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries literally thousands of manuscripts and tens of thousands of references to the history recorded in the Bible have been discovered, by God’s grace.  This includes national libraries.  So much so, that today the Bible stands as the most verifiable of ancient books.

Even though the Bible has been proven to be a reliable text, many still say that there are many errors in the text that make it unreliable.  This error in thinking comes from outright deceivers of the truth of the matter or those who are too lazy to investigate the facts for themselves. 

On a practical level, the Biblical texts were passed down for generations, this being the job of the Hebrew priests, such as Ezra.  But after the Babylonian exile professional scribes whose job it was to preserve, copy and transmit the Hebrew text and other writing such as commentaries, became numerous.  They became known as the preservers of the Law during the Hellenistic period and developed rules that stipulated the way the Biblical manuscripts were to be handled, as well as their personal behavior as handlers of the
Word of God. 

During the time since the Babylonian and Assyrian exile of the Jews and through the Hellenist period, the Jewish peoples were dispersed to every known nation of the world.  The common language of the Hellenist period was Greek, and many of the Jewish people were forgetting the Hebrew language.  The Hebrew text of the Bible was translated into the Greek language for common use.  That text is called the Septuagint until this day, but the scribes continued to copy the Hebrew text as they always had, using capital letters only and no vowels, until about AD 500.  Until then the vowels were supplied in the reading of the text.  Because of the loss of the spoken common Hebrew it became feared that the Biblical text would not be known how to be read, so the Massorites scribes carefully compared the handwritten copies of the Old Testament, developed and introduced vowel marks so that there would be no confusion what a word meant in its reading.  Very strict rules were applied to the whole process of copying the Biblical text.

Though the Massoritic Text (MT) was produced 1,000 years after the original Biblical texts were written, and whose text were constantly debunked by atheists and others, the finding of hundreds of Hebrew Biblical manuscripts and fragments in 1947, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, proved the incredible accuracy of the Biblical text that the Massorites preserved.  The comparison of the Massoritic Text with the Dead Sea Biblical manuscripts, some which are as much as 1,200 years older than the Massoratic Text, demonstrated the purity of the Biblical text once again.

As far as the New Testament goes, suffice it to say that numerous copies, over 40,000 Greek manuscripts, copies and translations of early versions survive unto today.  Because of the overwhelming number of ancient NT manuscripts, the purity of the Greek New Testament Canon is undeniable.  The assurance of the accuracy of the Old and New Testaments far out weighs the accuracy of any other ancient writing, including Shakespeare.

During the intertestamental period, the time between when the last Old Testament book was written and the first New Testament book was written; the Jewish people felt the need to distinguish what books were the ones of Divine Origin and so the Canon was spelled out.  This was necessary to do because of the lapse of time and the possibility of usurpers and forgeries, not to mention the deliberate attempts to destroy the Word of God.  For instance, the Roman Emperor Diocletian, ruling from 20 Nov AD284-1 May AD305, ordered that all religious books be burned.  If the Canon of the Old and New Testaments had not been set, it would not be known which books to hide in such times.

Other practical considerations contributed to the demand to spell out the Canon, such as when the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek, the translators needed to know which ones to translate.  The recognition of the Canonical books was not done randomly or arbitrarily, but strict rules of recognition were applied, as well as traditional understanding taken into consideration concerning the circumstances the children of God received the texts, e.g., the Exodus and the Law books of Moses.  An example of the stringency of examination each Biblical text underwent to be included into the Hebrew Canon is the well know story about the book of Ezekiel.   Because of some of the theological teaching found in the book, a Hebrew scholar spent 150 nights studying the book of Ezekiel trying to determine whether it should be entered into the Biblical Canon before it was approved as a book inspired by God and thus entered into the Canon.

What this all means to us today is that the Hebrew and Greek Biblical texts that we have today is the reliable and authoritative Word of God that we can trust.  Many translations into other languages are good, but must conform to the original Hebrew and Greek texts.

Bible translations from the Mormons, 7th Day Adventist and Jehovah Witnesses and other cults are translations which should be ignored because they do not conform to the original texts of the Biblical Canon.

***

MODERN DAY MONASTICISM

By Dr. Gary S. Day

About four hundred years after the resurrection of Christ Jesus, Monasticism came to the forefront of Christian spirituality.   It was thought that the only way to become fully committed and attain righteousness was through seclusion in a monastery.   Good works were espoused by hard labor in the upkeep of the monastery grounds, often times the Monks who were part of a Monastic Order (and there were several varieties) grew their own food and developed a self-sufficiency unparalleled.   Great scholarly works were achieved within the walls of these Monasteries, including the transmission of the Biblical texts and other ancient writings.   The Celtic Monasteries produced many of these works and are noted for saving many ancient writings that otherwise would not have survived through the ages.

One of the unwritten, yet well known, tenets of the monastic system was the pursuit of personal righteousness though meditation in solitude.   Poverty or no personal wealth was also the common rule.  The drawback was that this monastic system was not for the common people.  It was exclusive of them, though the people could join them and remove themselves from the general society and its problems.  It was righteousness in a room, much like that comic prayer that says something like this, “Lord, I have not done anything wrong today, nor have I had any arguments or bad thoughts.  Thank You for granting me your favor today.   I am about to get up now…”   Righteousness in seclusion is a delusion.   This is why Hebrews 10:25 encourages us to not neglect “the gathering of ourselves together… and when we see that Day approaching, even the more so” (KJV).

Modern day Monasticism is not enclosed within the borders of castle like structures, nor is it exclusive to the few.   Many have joined this order of rebellion, treating the Church like it is something of the past and not necessary.   Many who belong to this order never darken the doorsteps of the Church.   The mantra spouted is that God is everywhere, and is where they are; after all they are listening to the word of God, but on their turf.   Often these serfs of island spirituality listen to false doctrine and all kinds of things that present themselves as the Gospel, when in fact they are actually “another gospel,”  and they haven’t the spiritual discernment to tell the false from the true.  These are couch potato “Christians” who do not obey the Word of God.

Christianity is a community religion, not an individual pursuit.   We are called the body of Christ, the brethren or brothers, evoking a family situation.   We can not grow in Christ without the body of Christ.   We are not a part of the family if we are not participating with the family of God.   In Christianity, the practicing and measure of out righteousness is first evaluated in our treatment of our brothers and sisters in Christ.   If we cannot treat our Christian family the way Christ want us to, then our righteousness is nothing.   This participation is not done alone.   It is done with other believers.

The Devil “roams around like a lion seeking whom he may devour,” the Bible tells us.  This is a great image for what does a lion do.   He hunts for the lone gazelle or water buffalo and runs them down, because they do not have the protection of the herd.   When a person is alone in their faith they are weak.  Modern day Monasticism is the television, I-pod or internet Christianity.   These venues have their purpose, but when you replace the social aspect of Christianity with individual isolation and you fail to make attending Church as your primary place of spiritual growth. you are not following God’s plan of sanctification in your life.  The Christian is called upon to love the Lord.   In John 15 He says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”   His commandment on this issue is, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:25 NASB)  You cannot encourage one another if you are alone in front of your television or computer.  Find a good Bible believing Church to call your own, and get involved with your brothers and sisters where you can practice your Christianity together.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rich Poliska permalink
    March 12, 2013 2:20 am

    Would like to correspond with Dr. Gary S. Day directly. Rich Poliska, Duke of Stonewall, Conroe, Tx.

  2. F. David Anderson permalink
    March 19, 2012 9:10 pm

    What is the academic background of Dr. Gary S. Day?

    • March 20, 2012 4:09 pm

      Ministry Experience: 16+ years

      Education:
      College:
      • Northeast Bible College, Graduated 1976, B.S. in Bible

      Seminary:
      • AGGS, Graduated 1978, M.A. Cross-cultural Communications
      New York Seminary-New Brunswick Seminary-Princeton Seminary joint Masters of
      Divinity program 1984-87

      Doctorate:
      • American Seminary, Graduated 2003, D.Min
      • Trinity Seminary, candidate, ThD Apologetics
      Christian Seminary, candidate, ThD Theology

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