The Book of Life

Question from a reader:

Dear Owen, We are having a discussion in our Sunday school class, of course with many different opinions. Can our names be taken off the book of life, if so what would be the reasons? Myself, I believe if we are truly saved it cannot. What I mean by that is that I feel that some ask forgiveness through emotions and are not truly saved. One must know that they are truly saved and walk in a new light and not have to feel saved all the time by an up feeling. What are some scriptures I can read on this subject? Thank you so much. 

Thank you for your question. You are correct that a believer’s name cannot be removed from the book of life. Revelation 3:5 says, “The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.”

The judgment from the book of life applies only to unbelievers. Revelation 20:15 says, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Revelation 21 speaks of the “Holy City, the new Jerusalem” (verse 2), and the believers who will inhabit it. Verse 27 says, “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Psalms 69:28 does suggest that it’s possible for a name to be blotted out of the book of life: “May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.” In this context, it could be that the book of life originally contained the names of everyone, and the names of the unbelievers were blotted out.

Throughout the Scriptures, believers are called “children of God” (Philippians 2:14). This fitting analogy suggests the type of relationship that Christians have with God the Father. We are His children–his sons and daughters. Furthermore, just as we are naturally born as a product of our human parents, we are spiritually born as a product of God the Father and His grace. In both cases, the birth establishes a relationship which can never be altered. One cannot undo a physical birth, so neither can he undo a spiritual birth. I can’t decide that I no longer want my parents to be my parents; and, as a father myself, I cannot decide that I no longer want my children to be y children. The eternal security of the believer is thus demonstrated by this analogy of children.

I hope this helps.

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Premature and Preventable Deaths

Many of the premature and preventable deaths in the U. S. include deaths from things such as:  gun violence; unjust wars, like Vietnam; opioid abuse; and, abortion.  Here’s how these deaths appear in graphical format:

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The Synoptic Gospels

Question from a reader:

Could you please help us to answer one of the question below? We often take help from your website in the area of Bible study.

Could you please defend the consistency of the synoptic gospels, including a defense against those who would point to various seemingly inconsistencies. Please give some examples of these in your explanation.

Thank you for your question. I have found the synoptic gospels to be 99.9% consistent in our modern-day translations, and I believe that they were 100% consistent in the original manuscripts. For me, this is amazing consistency, which, rather than dissuading me with a few possible, discrepancies, only strengthens my faith in the canon of Scriptures. The beauty of having the synoptic gospels is that this more completely paints the picture of Jesus for us, through the various viewpoints and writing styles of different men, while the question of writing style one of the most subjective criterion for canonicity. For example, Mark’s writing style manifests itself in somewhat short and choppy sentences, and lacking some elaboration as found in Matthew and Luke. I personally prefer this concise writing style, while others prefer the more expressive styles.

I offer the following two examples of what seem to some as discrepancies across the synoptic gospels:

1) Matthew 10:9-10, and Mark 6:8, and Luke 9:3:

It sounds like Matthew and Luke are saying that Christ told the disciples not to take a staff and sandals, but Mark says they can.

Probable solution: Reading closely, Matthew 10:9-10 says, “… take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals, or a staff; …” Luke 9:3 says, “Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” While Mark 6:8 says, “Take nothing for the journey except a staff–no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.” Again, the only apparent discrepancies here concern the staff and the sandals. The Matthew passage could be interpreted to mean that no extra tunic, extra sandals or extra staff are to be taken. This would imply that it is permissible to take a staff and to wear sandals, as the Mark passages says, but it would not be permissible to take an extra staff or an extra pair of sandals. Since the passage in Luke does not reference sandals at all, the only remaining discrepancy is that Luke sounds pretty adamant about not taking a staff. I would just have to chalk this one up as a transcription error made by some scribe by misapplying the appropriate grammatical rules of the Greek language concerning items in a list. I feel certain that the original manuscripts agreed.

2) Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43:

The passage in Matthew says that two blind men were healed, while Mark and Luke say that one blind man was healed (and Mark calls him Bartimaeus.)

Possible solution: These could be referring to two different events.

Probable solution: I lean on my analytical / mathematical argument. I believe that two blind men were healed, but Mark and Luke are only documenting one. Mark and Luke do not say that ONLY one blind man was healed, so (mathematically speaking) if two were healed, then it is also true that one was healed, so there is no contradiction. It is just that Matthew tells us more about the event. So, this doesn’t appear to be a valid discrepancy.

I hope this helps.

Thanks,

Owen

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Slavery

Comments from a reader:

Here are a few things the bible has to say about slavery: 

It’s OK with God if you slowly beat your slaves to death. After all, they are your money.

And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money. Ex. 21:20-21

It’s okay to beat your slaves; even if they die you won’t be punished, just as long as they survive a day or two after the beating (see Ex. 21:20-21). But avoid excessive damage to their eyes or teeth. Otherwise you may have to set them free. Oh well, it’s a heck of a lot better than what would happen to you if you did it to a non-slave. (See verses 21:24-25)

And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake. And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake. Ex. 21:26-27 

This is another difficult subject, but my view on slavery is that it is wrong today, and it was wrong in Paul’s day, and he knew it, of course. We should only be enslaved to the righteousness of Christ (Romans 6:19). In 1 Corinthians 7:21, Paul says, “Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you–although if you can gain your freedom, do so.” Paul is saying that he knows slavery is an unjust evil.

However, as in dealing with Onesimus in Philemon, Paul recognizes a more explicit biblical principle. Slavery was in common acceptance by the Roman government under which Paul lived. In Romans 13:1-7, we are explicitly commanded to obey our government. Unjustly freeing a slave was against Roman law, so Paul sided with the governing authorities.

Perhaps the closest analogy today is abortion. Since our government condones abortion, are we entitled to stop paying our taxes? Romans 13:1-7 says no, since God has put that government in place for a reason, and we are explicitly commanded to obey it and pay our taxes. Of course there are some limits at which peaceful civil disobedience is in order. For details on this, please see the article “What is the Role of Government” on the main web page.

The question then arises about passages such as Colossians 3:18-4:1 and Ephesians 6:5-9 regarding slaves submitting to their masters, as to whether or not these scriptures are still relevant today. They are indeed still relevant, but in a different context. First of all, this sounds to me like an employer/employee relationship. Secondly, if we should someday find ourselves enslaved (through a rebellion against the government, martial law, etc.), then these would be directly relevant to us.

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God’s Wrath upon the Evil on the Earth

Question from a reader:

Genesis 6-7 God sees the evil on the earth (However it seems the central cause of this is that the “Sons of God” had kids with the “Daughters of man” (which sounds an awful like angels sleeping with humans.) God decides that the earth is evil, has Noah build an ark, and then God kills everyone on earth with a painful death of drowning (that would include children.) Also aside from the fact that this story is completely ridiculous; so much so that it’s laughable; it is a completely evil act on the part of God AND it never mentions in Genesis 6 or 7 that the people of the earth had a choice to enter the ark (something I bet you didn’t know). 

Also, Genesis 12: God sends a plague on the house of pharaoh because the pharaoh believed Abraham’s lie. 

Yes, in Noah’s day there was much evil on the earth, including the physical union of the “Sons of God” and the “Daughters of man.” God’s wrath against this evil was revealed by the worldwide flood, saving only Noah and his family. In fact, we know from Romans 5 that sin entered the world through Adam, and everyone since then has been guilty of sin–both imputed sin and personal sins. So, even Noah and his family were guilty (Romans 3:23, 6:23), and it was only God’s gift of his grace (John 3:16) to Noah and his family that kept mankind from being completed wiped out. The fact that the people (including children) suffered a painful death is reflective of the fact everyone is guilty and deserving of hell. In fact, if I shared your skepticism, I would be more disturbed by the prospect of living forever in hell separated from God than I would be by that of a painful (but relatively quick) death.

I simply don’t share your view that the story of Noah and the ark is ridiculous and laughable. Rather than an evil act by God, I see it as an act of grace that He saved anybody, and this is also how I view salvation through the saving blood of Christ on the cross.

You made a valid point that we’re not told whether or not the people of the earth had a choice to enter the ark. Regardless, however, God chose to establish His covenant with Noah, and God’s will and decisions are sovereign.

You also cited Genesis 12 where God punished the house of Pharaoh because of Abraham’s sin. To me, this just shows how the devastating effects of sin can spread to others, again remembering that nobody is innocent (free from sin).

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Is Trump our 11th Best President?

Is President Trump the 11th best president in our country’s history?  Although it’s early in his presidency, he has certainly made a mark.  This is an objective look at the presidents of the United States and how good of a president each one was. Below is a ranking of the presidents from best to worst.

Continue reading…

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Other Evil Angels in the Future?

I know that God knows everything and that he gives us free choice. So how can you be sure that after Satan is destroyed there wont be other angels that turn evil and rebel against god?

Thanks for your question. The Bible doesn’t give us a definitive answer to your question about other angels rebelling after Satan is destroyed. The Bible addresses what we need to know in the current age. However, please consider the following:

1 Corinthians 15:24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.

This passage says that all enemies and death will be put under God’s feet. All of what makes life imperfect is because of sin and death: Satan rebelled; he tempted man; man sinned; and, sin brought death. In the end, God will have conquered all of these enemies for us, and reconciled us to Himself. This sounds final.

1 Corinthians 15:52b For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

Again, this passage says that death, Hades, and sin will be no more.

Revelation 20:7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[k] the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

This passage indicates that Satan, the beast, and the false prophet will be defeated forever.

Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Again, death, Hades, and unbelievers will be defeated.

Revelation 21: 1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John,[n] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

This passage says that death, sorrow, crying, and pain (the results of sin) will be gone.

I hope this helps.

Love in Christ,

Owen

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David’s Census

In 2 Samuel 24:1 the bible says that God made David want to count the people but in 1 Chronicles 21:1 it says it was Satan so why the huge confusion and why were the people killed and nothing happened to David even though it was his sin?

This is a difficult question because it appears to be one of those rare places where the copies and translations may not been accurately preserved throughout the centuries. However, I believe that we can figure out what the original manuscripts said. As you noted, 1 Chronicles 21:1 reveals that it was actually Satan (not God) who rose up against Israel and incited David to take the census. God apparently allowed Satan to tempt David into this sin for the purpose of punishing the people. So, David committed a personal sin when he conducted the census. This was wrong because it was done in pride and self-glory, so that David could be proud about being the leader of so many people. However, God’s overall purpose here was to punish the people, which He did by taking many lives. However, David was only the tool that He used for this overall purpose.

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Trump’s First Year

B+

Wins:

  • – Court Appointments
    • – Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
    • – 23 Trump nominees have been confirmed for federal appeals and district courts
  • – The Tax Plan
    • – The removal of the ObamaCare Individual Mandate
  • – The defeat of ISIS in Iraq
  • – Cut federal regulations
  • – Speaking directly to the American people
    • – Tweets
    • – Exposing fake news
  • – Immigration
    • – Travel bans
  • – Prolife

Losses:

  • – Couldn’t completely repeal ObamaCare
  • – The Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller
  • – Hiring (and then having to fire) Mike Flynn
  • – His use of vulgarity and profanity
  • – Jeff Sessions – aggressive stand on marijuana

TBD:

  • – The opponents of his strong immigration stance call him a racist.
  • – Russia
  • – Firing Comey
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Why We Can’t Trust the Government

I grew up in the 1960s, watching news reports about the Vietnam War. I was encouraged every night because of the body counts. One day there would be a battle where we (the U. S.) lost 2 marines, and our allies (South Vietnam (SVA)) lost 10 soldiers, but the enemy (North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC)) lost 40 soldiers. The next day, in another battle, we lost only 15 soldiers and the SVA lost 75 men, but the NVA / VC lost 300 men. Although I had family members fighting there, I quickly became numbed to losing 15 soldiers, especially when the enemy lost 300. I got caught up in their game of numbers. I heard these news reports daily about how we were winning the war, day after day, year after year. We didn’t realize, even while this was happening, that we would lose an average of 15 soldiers every single day for ten years.

We praised President Nixon for withdrawing our 500,000 troops, and within two years, South Vietnam fell to the communists. Well, we didn’t win that war. We lost it. Nixon made us feel like we had won by getting (a good number of) our POWs back. Our government and military officials knew for 20 years that we wouldn’t win, but their lying and poor judgment kept us encouraged; that is, until we had lost 58,000 men–then we realized that something fishy was going on.

In 1954, President Eisenhower said, of Vietnam, that “No military victory is possible in this theater.” At the same time, he explained his falling domino principle. At a time when we were all scared to death of communists, he said that if one nation fell to communism, then the next one would fall, and the next one, until the last one fell. In 1957, he said that if South Vietnam fell, “… our prestige in Asia would sink to a new low.”

Then President Kennedy said that if South Vietnam fell, then Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even India would fall to the communists. He used this argument to scale up the war by increasing the number of advisors in Vietnam to 16,000, while being careful to refer to them as “advisors” instead of “combat troops,” even though they were going into combat with the SVA. In 1962, to defend the administration’s decisions for sending so many troops, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said that we were making “substantial progress” in Vietnam. Also that year, General Harkins ignored any negative reports from the combat zones, and he said that we would be victorious in six months.

Still, in 1963, President Kennedy contradicted his own actions by referring to the Vietnam War as “their war,” meaning that it was up to the South Vietnamese to fight it, and we couldn’t be expected to fight it for them. Also that year, he said that he should not have given his consent to support the coup which resulted in the death of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

In 1964, President Johnson said privately that the war wasn’t worth fighting for. Knowing that he would not win the presidential election if he escalated the war, he said, “We still seek no wider war.” Still, he quietly increased the number of “advisors” to 23,000, and he widened the war with the systematic bombing of North Vietnam in secret, keeping the American people unaware of it. Then, after the election, he announced “a graduated response” against the enemy.

In 1965, in an effort to avoid humiliation, President Johnson sent 100,000 combat troops to Vietnam. He would send more and more combat troops into a war that he was secretly told couldn’t be won. Eventually, we would lose 58,000 men in our losing effort. Like today’s leaders, he blamed bad intelligence. In public, he unsuccessfully tried to shift Americans’ attention from the war in Vietnam to his war on poverty, but he eventually lost both.

While the people in charge knew we were losing the war, General Westmoreland publicly declared that we were “on the five yard line,” about to win the war. He said that he was sure we would win the war in three years, if he could get just 200,000 more troops. He pointed to the 10-to-1 kill ratio where for every American who died, we killed ten of the enemy. As I stated above, this worked to fool me, and millions of other Americans. McNamara privately knew by this time that we wouldn’t be able to win the war that he had escalated. Yet, publicly he said that our “military progress exceeded expectations,” and, “We will prevail.”

LBJ thought that all anti-war sentiment was directly inspired by internal communists and the U.S.S.R. CBS aired Morley Safer’s report showing how bad things were on the battlefields. LBJ’s response was to place a disparaging phone call to the president of CBS. LBJ said that Safer was probably a communist.

By 1967, LBJ had more than a half-million troops in Vietnam, and still the public was caught up in the numbers game, where we always killed more of the enemy than we lost. In public, he said that we were making “dramatic progress,” but privately he knew he couldn’t win the war, and that every soldier we lost was in vain. He told the American people, “The grip of the Viet Cong on the people is being broken.” He claimed that we were reaching the crossover point, where the enemy could no longer replace their dead soldiers as fast as we killed them. Meanwhile, no victory seemed to matter, and lower officers were saying, “Victory is not close at hand. In fact, it may be beyond reach. LBJ complained that the war in Vietnam was taking him away from social programs at home, such as the war on poverty.

In 1968, LBJ publicly said that the “enemy has been defeated in battle after battle.” Yet he knew that all of those battle victories would not result in a war victory. He said privately that the bombing of North Vietnam wasn’t working. That year, Westmoreland said that he had “never been more optimistic” and that we were making “real progress.”

Then we began hearing reports about our own officers condoning U. S. soldiers who were raping, mutilating, and murdering women and children. We learned more about the misconduct of our soldiers and officers during the Me Lai Massacre, and that they had lied about it.

LBJ’s claim of victory in the Tet Offensive showed how we had been lied to. Americans began to ask: If we won the Tet Offensive, then why did we need 200,000 more troops in Vietnam? LBJ had so mismanaged the presidency: by sucking Americans into his war effort that he knew we couldn’t win; by sending 2.5 million boys to war; and, by watching and allowing 58,000 of them to be killed. As a result, he withdrew from seeking re-election in 1968 because he had no chance to win.

McNamara became so disillusioned with the war, and so sure that we couldn’t win it, that he quit his Secretary of Defense job and headed the world bank–all put into a positive light by LBJ and other politicians. LBJ’s new Secretary of State, Clark Clifford, also said privately that we could not win the war.

Then, three days before the presidential election of 1968, Richard Nixon underhandedly caused the South Vietnamese to boycott the peace talks. Once elected, Nixon secretly bombed Cambodia. In 1969, he privately agreed that military victory in Vietnam was impossible. In negotiating our withdrawal from Vietnam, Nixon appeased President Thieu of South Vietnam by assuring him that we would re-enter the war if South Vietnam was invaded–obviously a promise he never meant to keep.

Most of this proved to be endless lying. This taught me that we can’t trust the U. S. government. So, when we went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq, I didn’t believe what the politicians said. When they sent “advisors,” I knew what they were doing. They continually said that we were winning these wars–drawn out for 17 years now, and with some 35,000 casualties, and costing $150 million a year. It appears that all presidents lie, whether Democrat or Republican. And with our presidents as our role models, the lying extends to the Cabinet, Congress, the media, military officers, and even enlisted men.

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