Tag Archives: Bible doctrine

MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS PRAYING TOGETHER

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

I’m proud to be an American, and to live in a country in which religious freedom is one of our cherished rights. (Within reason, of course. We don’t grant the freedom to murder others, even if doing so is part of one’s religion.) Freedom-loving American Muslims should have religious freedom, too, and do have it. Such Muslims are not murderous fanatics. They are peace-loving persons. But Christians need to understand that they do not worship the same God as Muslims. Muslims already know this to be a fact. Christians are Trinitarians. Muslims are not. Christians believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. Muslims do not. Christians pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Muslims do not. So, this is a big problem for Christians in attendance when a Muslim prays at a public event, such as the Republican National Convention, being held this week in Cleveland, Ohio. To endorse such prayers is contrary to Biblical teaching. The Muslim’s god, “Allah,” is a false god, an idol. The Bible, which is the Word of God, says the following in the last sentence of the last chapter of the apostle John’s first letter: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (The quote is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.) One way to guard ourselves from idols/false gods, is to not endorse prayers made to them.

Advertisements

A GUIDING PRINCIPLE HARMING MANY CHURCHES AND MINISTRIES

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
First Baptist Church
Spearfish, SD

WHAT IT IS
A harmful thing has become the guiding principle of many Bible-believing churches, and it needs to be understood and repudiated. It is pragmatism.

THE PRINCIPLE IS NOT ALWAYS BAD
But, first, let me say that pragmatism is not always bad.  For example, a pragmatic person is one who figures out how to get along with others, or how to get something done, or how to reach a goal. So, a pragmatic person knows that, to get along with others, one must not unnecessarily say things in an abrasive manner. And,  a pragmatic person will use a wheelbarrow to move a pile of rocks from one place to another, instead of carrying a few at a time. Therefore,  as stated above, pragmatism is not always bad.

THE PRINCIPLE HAS ITS DOWNSIDE
But it has its downside. And we see its downside at work in Bible-believing churches and Bible-believing ministries in a variety of ways. The goal of these churches and ministries is good: they want to reach as many persons as possible with the Gospel message. But often their mistake is to use pragmatism in ways that contradict Biblical teaching and Biblical principles.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE PRINCIPLE APPLIED BY CHRISTIANS
A clear example of this mistake regarding pragmatism is the fact that many Christians have accepted the false and unbiblical idea that to reach the world with the Gospel, we must use music that conforms to the world’s music. Therefore,  many Christian musicians dress like non-Christian musicians. This is most notable in what are called Christian rock bands. Not only do they deliberately dress like secular rock musicians. Their appearance in other ways also conforms to the world. And although the words to their songs might be good, they use the same techniques as secular rock bands in the presentation of their music, which includes very loud music, unnecessary light shows, and excessive movement on the stage or platform. These techniques are used by Christian bands to give their audiences what they assume is a Biblical worship experience. But, intentionally or not, these bands are manipulating their audiences, just like secular bands intentionally do. This provokes some similar physical responses seen at secular rock concerts.

BIBLICAL TEACHING ABOUT THE MATTER
While these persons intentions might be good, their method is wrong because it is based on conformity to the secular world. The apostle Paul, in chapter 12, verse 2, of his letter to the Roman Christians, said Christians are not to be conformed to this world, but are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. And in chapter 6, verses 14 – 17, of his second letter to the Corinthian Christians,  he made some powerful statements about the fact that Christians are to come out from the world and be separate from it. This applies in many ways to daily Christian living. And it certainly applies to Christian music and Christian musicians. Read, also, verses 13 – 16 of the first chapter of the first letter  by the apostle Peter, and note what he said to Christians about not being conformed to the world, and what he said about our need and duty to be holy. Christian music is supposed to draw us closer to God, which results in our holiness. And this requires it to be unlike the world, which, when given the opportunity, draw us away from him. But the principle of pragmatism, if not under control, makes us think, “If it works, don’t object to it.” But Biblical teaching and principles lead us to sometimes reject what “works.” Such is the case with the kind of music I’ve just brought to your attention.

Something Many English Bible Translations Have In Common

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

You might recall that some weeks ago Presidential aspirant, Donald Trump, spoke at Liberty University. During his speech, he referred to a certain book of the New Testament as “2 Corinthians.” He took some heat over his having called the apostle Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians “2 Corinthians.” It seems some folks thought it revealed his ignorance of the Bible. Well, though I am not a Trump supporter, I want to point out that the objection to his reference to “2 Corinthians” actually revealed the ignorance of those who found fault with it. Here is why: I have been an avid Bible-reader for over 40 years, and I have noticed the very thing for which Trump was faulted. So, I looked at 9 of my English Bible translations, and each one refers to Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians as “2 Corinthians.” Here is a list of the 9 translations I looked at: the King James Version, New King James Version, Modern English Version, English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible (updated edition), New International Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, New Revised Standard Version, and the 1602 edition of the Geneva Bible New Testament. I don’t know what Bible translation Trump referred to at Liberty University, but it must have been one that said “2 Corinthians” at the top of the page he read from that day.

Now, here is another important fact related to this subject: there are several books in the Old Testament and epistles (letters) in the New Testament in which numbers are used by translators to identify them. In the Old Testament we find the books called 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles. And in the New Testament we find the epistles (letters) called 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, 1 and 2 Peter, and 1, 2 and 3 John. But we commonly refer to them as first and second, or as first, second and third. Here’s another interesting fact: in the Old Testament, at first there was one book of Samuel, one of Kings, and one of Chronicles. But each one was divided in half, so to speak, for the sake of convenience. They then were renamed 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 an 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. But the letters of the New Testament were written separately.

NEEDED: MORE MISSIONARIES TO MUSLIMS

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

Since Muslims are so much in the news these days, we need to think about the fact that the ones who get radicalized and become murderers do so because they have allowed hate-filled ideas to poison their minds. But we who are Christians can give Muslims, whether radicalized or not, the Gospel message. And, if they accept it, it will have the opposite effect on them than hate-filled ideas. That is, the message of love of Jesus Christ for them and the rest of the world will motivate them to love others, not hate them and kill them. So, we need to see more Christians become missionaries to Muslims, whether they are here in the USA or elsewhere. Christian young persons, especially, need to consider this need for more missionaries to Muslims. They have their whole adult lives ahead of them, in contrast to older Christians who are nearing the end of their life’s journey.
Many factors keep American young adult Christians from becoming missionaries. One factor is affluence. Many American Christians are accustomed to “the good life,” which includes good incomes, nice places in which to live, and family living close by. “The good life” is hard to give up for the sake of missionary work. But God wants us to be willing to forsake these things in order to bring the Gospel to others, including Muslims. Another thing that hinders young Christians from pursuing missionary work is the fact that many Christian parents don’t want to see their children give up “the good life” in order to go into missionary work, especially if it means moving a long ways from home to work with people whom they don’t trust, such as Muslims. So, sometimes parents will discourage their children from pursuing what might be the call of God into missionary work. This is not good.
What follows is a quote of the Lord’s own words about the need for more missionaries. The quote was taken from the Bible Gateway website: http://www.biblegateway.com. Let’s take the Lord’s words seriously.

The Compassion of Jesus
(Matthew chapter 9, verses 35 – 38.)
35 Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they fainted and were scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send out laborers into His harvest.”

Modern English Version (MEV)
The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.

Walmart And Local Churches

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

WALMART AND LOCAL CHURCHES
Many of you who will read this attend Bible-believing churches. That is a good thing. After all, the Bible alone is God’s Book of truth. Here’s what the Lord said about this in John 17, verse 17,when he was praying to the Heavenly Father: “Father…..your Word is truth.” Every Bible-believing local church, small or large, seeks numerical growth. That, too, is a good thing. But what I have observed over the years is that many of the large Bible-believing churches are not large because they have won a lot of new persons to the Lord and then gotten them into their churches. Instead, many of them are large because they have drawn people away from other Bible-believing churches. This might or might not be intentional. But the effect is similar to the effect that Walmart has had on many smaller businesses in many communities. Walmart moves in, and after a period of time, many smaller businesses close down. Whether or not we should excuse this when it comes to a business is open for discussion. But we shouldn’t excuse it when it comes to Bible-believing local churches. It is not an honorable thing to build a Bible-believing church by drawing people away from another Bible-believing church. Not only is it not an honorable thing to do. It is not really an accomplishment to do it. It is simply a transferring of church people from one church to another. And many times those who leave one church for another do so for poor reasons. In some cases it is to make more business contacts. In some cases it is to find daycare for one’s children, or to get handouts of one kind or another. Some persons make how often a church has potluck meals a criterion for whether or not they will stick with a given church. Some persons leave one church for another because they are running from accountability for sinful behavior. A church should seek to grow primarily by winning people to faith in Christ, and by drawing in those who claim to be Christians but who are not plugged into a Bible-believing church. So, Bible-believing churches should make it plain to their regular attendees who they want to get into their churches. It might well mean slower growth than they desire, but it will be the Biblical and honorable way to grow.

Questions And Answers About The Bible

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

1. IS THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes, and there are many good reasons to believe it is the Word of God. Instead of listing some of the reasons, here is a suggestion: read it with an open mind and discover its contents for yourself. I suggest you start by reading the New Testament, and then read the Old Testament. Note the many statements affirming it to be the Word of God. One of the most well-known is 2 Timothy 3:15 – 17. If you want to read a good article on this subject, read R. A. Torrey’s article called “Ten Reasons Why I Believe the Bible Is The Word Of God.” It was written in 1898. It is still in print, and can be read on the internet from a variety of sources.
2. WAS THE BIBLE (the Word of God) IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION IN 1611?
Yes. Two examples are the Wycliffe Bible and the Geneva Bible. These and some other pre-King James Version translations are still in print, and some, and maybe all, are also available on the internet. One of many interesting books on the history of old English Bible translations is by David O. Beale. It is called “A Pictorial History Of Our English Bible.” I have profitably read it two times.
3. SINCE THE BIBLE (the Word of God) WAS IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION, ARE THOSE TRANSLATIONS STILL THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes, of course. The Bible never ceases to be the Word of God.
4. WHAT, THEN, OF THE CLAIM MADE BY MANY SINCERE CHRISTIANS THAT ONLY THE KING JAMES VERSION IS THE WORD OF GOD IN ENGLISH?
Such a claim is plainly false, and should not be accepted. The King James Version is the Word of God in English, but so are the English Bible translations that preceded it. The publication of the King James Version did not in any way cause those translations to become less than the Word of God. The Bible is always the Word of God.
5. SINCE THE BIBLE (the Word of God) WAS IN ENGLISH PRIOR TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE KING JAMES VERSION, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT ENGLISH BIBLE TRANSLATIONS PUBLISHED SINCE THE KING JAMES VERSION ARE ALSO THE WORD OF GOD?
Yes. Absolutely. There is no logical, defensible, justifiable reason to say this cannot be possible. But it is more than possible. It is a provable reality. There is no evidence whatever that the translators of the King James Version believed their translation was the final translation of the Word of God into English. They did not believe, as many wrongly believe in our day, that their translation alone was the Word of God for the English speaking people of the world. Nor should we. Good translations of the Bible into English have been made since the publication of the King James Version. Some examples are the New American Standard (updated in maybe 1995), the English Standard Version, the New King James Version, and the Modern English Version.
6. WHAT IF ONE HAS A STRONG PREFERENCE FOR THE KING JAMES VERSION, BUT WOULD LIKE TO READ A MODERN ENGLISH TRANSLATION THAT IS VERY SIMILAR TO THE KING JAMES VERSION AND THAT IS BASED ON THE SAME ORIGINAL-LANGUAGE TEXTS AS THE KING JAMES VERSION?
In that case, I recommend at least two translations: 1) The New King James Version (NKJV). 2) The Modern English Version (MEV). The NKJV has been in print for many years, and the MEV was published in 2014. I have been reading the NKJV for several years, and I have been reading the MEV for several months. I have read the old KJV at least 40 times, and as I read the NKJV and the MEV, it is easy to see the similarities they have to the KJV, and their differences from it. But their differences are not so great as to keep one from reading the NKJV and the MEV. If you don’t want to buy these translations, both of them can be read on the Bible Gateway website, and perhaps on other websites. I have a preference for the KJV, NKJV, and the MEV. But I refuse to make this preference a test of fellowship with other Christians.

Dad Taught Me To Walk On Water

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

Dad was a remarkable man in a number of ways. Here are a few examples: He liked to read……. dictionaries and encyclopedias. He was also gifted in using a lathe to make wood objects. In very recent years, I learned that he had an unusual memory. My oldest brother, Dean, said that when he was young he went with Dad on one his jobs to lay either carpet or linoleum. They went to a house to measure the rooms in which the material was to be laid. Dad measured the rooms, but did not write down the measurements. They then drove back to the shop to cut the material. From memory, Dad cut it out, and they then brought it back to the house, and laid it. 

After we moved from a farm to Minneapolis, MN, when he was well into his sixties, he got a job as a custodian at a small college on Nicollet Avenue in south Minneapolis. One spring, he, the custodian, was the speaker at the graduation. How often does that happen? But let me go back to when I was in grade school on the farm. One of my memories of Dad was that he taught me how to walk on water. Our farm was lakeside property, with the house being about 300′ from Drywood Lake. One day, Dad told me we were going to visit neighbors on the other side of the lake, and he said we were going to walk on the lake to get there. Fortunately, it was in the cold of winter, and the lake was frozen. But even so, I was apprehensive about walking across the frozen lake to visit neighbors because I had never done so before. I knew we could fall through the ice and drown. However, I followed Dad onto the lake, and we began the  walk to the neighbors. As I walked behind him, I could see and hear the ice crack, and I could feel it sometimes dip a little under our weight. It was somewhat scary, though it did not cause me to panic. Dad seemed confident that we were not in danger, and that gave me confidence to follow along.
We can draw a practical spiritual lesson from this experience that happened in the early 1960s. It is this: sometimes God asks us to follow him as he leads us into experiences in life that can cause us some or much anxiety. It can cause anxiety because it means following him on a path not known to us, and which might seem dangerous. He knows what lies ahead, but we do not. But, just as I had to trust Dad on that frozen lake many years ago, so we must trust God to never make a mistake about the path on which he chooses to take us. Therefore, whether the path is smooth or rough, harmless or dangerous, God can be trusted to get us to his chosen destination. All will turn out well in the end.
Psalm 56 has a statement that applies directly to this matter of trusting God even when we are fearful as we follow him. Below is Psalm 56 from the Modern English Version (aka The MEV). It was taken from this website: www.biblegateway.com.  Verse 3 is the key verse, and is in bold print.

Psalm 56

For the Music Director. To the melody of “Silent Dove at a Distance.” A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.

Be gracious to me, O God, for man would crush me;
    all day long he who battles oppresses me.
All day long my enemies would crush me,
    for there are many who arrogantly battle against me.

3 In the day when I am afraid,
    I will trust in You.
In God whose word I praise,
    in God I have trusted; I will not fear.
    What can mere flesh do to me?

Every day they twist my words;
    all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk,
    they watch my steps,
    when they wait for my life.
Should there be deliverance for them on account of wickedness?
    In Your anger cast down the peoples, O God.

You take account of my wandering;
    put my tears in Your bottle;
    are they not in Your book?
In the day I cry to You,
    then my enemies will turn back;
    this I know, that God is for me.

10 In God whose word I praise,
    in the Lord whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust, I will not fear;
    what can a man do to me?

12 Your vows are on me, O God;
    I will complete them with thank offerings to You;
13 for You have delivered my soul from death,
    even my feet from stumbling,
to walk before God
    in the light of the living.

Modern English Version (MEV)The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.