“Though he were dead” – A Controversial Understanding of John 11:25-26

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Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life:
 a. he that believes in me, though he were dead [i.e. 1st Death], yet shall he live [i.e. 2nd Life]:
 b. And whosoever liveth [i.e. 1st Life]and believes in me shall never die [i.e. 2nd Death].
 Believest thou this?

John 11:25-26 KJV

John 11:25-26 – The Problem of a Superfluous Verse

Like many other verses in the bible, John 11:25-26 uses certain words in multiple senses. This means that the reader needs to be extra careful when trying to understand such verses in order to avoid ending up with the wrong interpretation. What I am about to say will no doubt shock many readers, but after much study, I strongly believe that John 11: 25-26 is referring to the idea that it is possible for (at least some of) the dead to believe the gospel in that state. I hope to demonstrate this discovery by carefully revealing what I believe to be the true meaning of key terms in this passage. Specifically, I believe that the term “dead” (in v.25) does not mean the same as “die” (in v.26) nor does “live” (in v.25) mean the same as “liveth” (in v.26). In other words, the verbs die and live are words to which these two verses have ascribed multiple meanings. Of course, when John 11:25-26 employs different meanings for the same word, this is not done in order to engage in equivocation (i.e. the accidental or deliberate use of a key term in an ambiguous way) but for the sake of achieving contrast through the use of a biblical literary device known as an antithetical parallelism. According to Biblical scholar E.W. Bullinger’s Figures Of Speech Used in the Bible, the antithetical parallelism is used to demonstrate an antithesis, or contrast between certain words in each part of a symmetry . Verses which comprise an antithetical parallelism will therefore join opposing ideas in a noticeable contrast. Instead of repeating the same thing twice (as is done in a synonymous parallelism), an antithetical parallelism will say one thing in the first line and then a different thing in the next. Yet, most explanations of John 11:25-26 which I have encountered miss Christ’s glaring attempt at creating a contrast, and end up with what is effectively the same proposition for both verses. For instance, respected Bible commentators Albert Barnes and Adam Clarke both suggest that John 11:25 refers to the granting of eternal life to those who happen to die in a state of belief, while John 11:26 refers to the granting of eternal life to believers who are currently alive (but will also eventually die) [ref]. But if this is the case, then why is Jesus saying what is effectively the same thing, twice? What is the difference? No, there has to be something else going on in this passage. It is for these reasons that I have concluded that John 11:25-26 requires greater scrutiny.

Because the usual meaning of the verbs “die” and “live” seem inadequate to account for the contrast required between verses 25 and 26, we need to consult the Scriptures for more guidance. It’s as if the word “dead” (in verse 25) and “die” (in verse 26) require two different types of death, and the words “live” (in verse 25) and “liveth” (in verse 26) require two different notions of what it means to live.

Interestingly enough, the bible does tell us that there are actually two types of life and death that a person can experience. Let us first examine the two deaths. Continue reading

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Were there drunk people at the wedding when Jesus turned water into wine?

Some co-workers and I were opining on the second chapter of John in a recent bible study that I participated in, when I uttered my contentious observation that the feast governor’s speech in John 2:10 seems to imply that there were intoxicated people at the wedding. Most of the bible study participants disagreed with my observation and instead claimed that there was no such implication given by the verses in question. Now, in a logic course that I took a while back, I remember the instructor saying that If you cannot translate an English sentence into a proposition’s categorical form then you really don’t know what the sentence means. This does make sense if you think about it; after all, a proposition is the simplest unit of thought. When you convert what is being said into propositions, you are clarifying and simplifying the contents of each sentence. Continue reading

Will God Ensure that Everyone gets a Chance to Hear the Gospel—Even the Aborted Baby?

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Unless otherwise noted, all verses below are taken from the King James Version of the bible.


Election According to Foreknowledge is the Key!

Was the Gospel, as the Bible claims, really preached to every creature which is under heaven? Or should we, like many other Bible teachers, conclude that these words spoken by Paul are merely hyperbole? Curiously, one way to confirm the seriousness of this claim lies in one’s understanding of the doctrine of election. According to the Bible, before Christ created the world, He wrote down the names of several people in His [i.e. the Lamb’s] Book of Life (Revelation 13:8; 3:5; 17:8, 20:15; Luke 10:20, Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). It turns out that this book contains the names of all those who are considered ‘elect.’ Elect is a term which refers to those persons whom God has chosen ahead of time to inherit salvation. In Bible verses such as 1 Peter 1:2 and Romans 8:29, the Bible tells us that God’s choices about who to elect were based upon His foreknowledge or His knowledge-known-ahead-of-time. This is what is known as the doctrine of election.
(Also see What Does The Bible Mean By Election?Elect according to the foreknowledge of God & Fore knowledge is a Condition)

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2)

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [i.e. elect] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

But what exactly did God know ahead of time and how does this foreknowledge fit into God’s rationale for choosing one person but not another? The Bible tells us that God is not a respecter of persons (Deuteronomy 10:17; Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34) so we know that God’s foreknowledge has nothing to do with one’s physical appearance, nationality or one’s efforts of any sort. If Hebrews 11:6 is right regarding the claim that God rewards those who diligently seek Him, then the only logical and biblical conclusion regarding the criteria which God used when choosing His elect is faith (i.e. whether a person, if given the chance, would obey the gospel). Continue reading

Does the Old Testament condone polygamy?

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While I was reading an NPR article entitled: Same Bible, Different Verdict On Gay Marriage I ran across a claim that I have encountered one to many times and that has galvanized me into responding with this blog entry. An excerpt from the article states:

LaBerge resigned her post as minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) after the denomination voted last year to ordain non-celibate gay clergy. She says the Bible is clear.

“From the Old Testament and throughout the New Testament, the only sexual relationships that are affirmed in scripture are those in the context of marriage between one man and one woman,” she says.

Actually, the Old Testament does condone polygamy. Still, LaBerge says, from Leviticus to Paul’s writings in Romans and First Corinthians, homosexual acts are called vile and detestable, and legalizing same-sex relationships does not change the sin.

As the author (Barbara Bradley Hagerty) interjects the phrase: “Actually, the Old Testament does condone polygamy,” I am left thinking to myself, Really? Where in the Old Testament is the reader told that God allows polygamy? To be sure, there are several accounts of Old Testament men who had multiple wives (1 Samuel 1:1-2, 2 Samuel 5:13, Judges 8:30, 2 Chronicles 11:21, 13:21, 1 Kings 11:3 etc.) but then there are also several accounts of Old Testament men who worshiped idols (1 Kings 11:5, 1 Kings 16:30-31, 2 Kings 21:1-3, Judges 2:11-13, Hosea 13:2 etc.), yet no one in their right mind would claim that the Old Testament condones idol worshiping. Continue reading

Is HE BIASED? – 10 Questions about the “Hell Exemption Solely Based on Infancy, Age or Special needs Doctrine”

What does HE’S BIASED mean?

HE’S-BIASED (Hell Exemption Solely Based on Infancy, Age, or Special-needs) is an acronym that I coined to represent the unbiblical doctrine which maintains that those who die in their infancy, at a young age, or those deemed mentally incapacitated are automatically exempt from the need for salvation because the blood of Jesus is somehow already applied to them in spite of God’s foreknowledge of their obedience or lack thereof. The acronym is admittedly rather awkward and contrived but I purposefully stuck with it to help the reader understand the underlying implication of this doctrine which becomes evident upon enunciating the acronym.

To quote someone who states the HE’S-BIASED doctrine more eloquently:

“[T]here must be a clear cognitive hearing of the information in the bible about Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His deity, His sinless life, His death on the cross, His blood payment for our sin, His resurrection, before a person can believe right and call on the name of the Lord right and be saved right. Now there is an exception, the exception is for people who are incapable mentally of responding to the gospel. Children who die in infancy, children who die in the womb, people like my daughter Jill who’s severely mentally retarded, and simply incapable of integrating and understanding the facts of the gospel and responding. In those cases the bible says, yes, God in His mercy does credit the blood and the death of Christ to these people. 2 Corinthians 5:14 – Christ died for all. And if you’re a person that is mentally incapable of believing you get the mercy of God. But friends, for anyone that is mentally capable the bible is airtight, cognitive, volitional, faith in Jesus Christ that’s based on hearing and believing the bible’s information about Him, that is the only way to get into heaven, period, period, exclamation point. Friends, this is what the true church has believed for 2000 years, this is what the true church has preached for 2000 years.” – My pastor, Lon Solomon

According to some limited research, other notables among those that espouse the HE’S-BIASED doctrine (at least in part) also apparently include: John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, B.B. Warfield, Charles Hodge, Charles Spurgeon, and Billy Graham.

As the name of the acronym suggests, such a doctrine portrays God as a biased respecter of persons willing to overlook the demands of justice in some cases but not in others. According to proponents of the HE’S-BIASED doctrine, God gives special treatment to individuals who happen to fall into certain categories, categories which are ultimately irrelevant to His criteria for electing the redeemed and categories that do not address the indwelling sin which these eligible persons have by virtue of being descendants of Adam. These eligible persons end up going to heaven in spite of whether or not they would have chosen to obey the gospel. Certainly, there is a problem with this biased approach to judgment. The problem lies not in the sovereign God’s prerogative to choose whom He lets into heaven, but rather His purported decision to let in those who will potentially hate Him and have no desire to surrender their will to His Gospel or Holy commandments. How can God allow HE’S-BIASED eligible persons to come to Him when they potentially do not believe in Him (in violation of Hebrews 11:6)? This behavior (if it were an accurate description of God’s actions) would portray God as a highly inconsistent judge; on the one hand declaring that the redeemed will only include those who have obeyed the gospel (1 Peter 4:17) while on the other hand allowing some potentially disobedient and unbelieving persons who fit the HE’S- BIASED criteria to comprise and defile the total number of redeemed souls (against His own proclamation to do otherwise in Revelation 21:8, 27).

God, however, in Proverbs 24:23-24 says the following:

It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him

One would think that establishing from Scripture that God isn’t biased nor a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35, 2 Chronicles 19:7, Job 34:19, Galatians 5:6, 1 Peter 1:17) would suffice in discrediting the HE’S-BIASED doctrine, however, some proponents of the HE’S-BIASED doctrine respond by suggesting that a God who does not take into account the age and/or mental state of an individual when judging sin is in fact biased or unfair . But isn’t this is akin to a doctor saying the following to a child born with the AIDS virus that he inherited from his prostitute mother:

Child, in my eye’s you do not have HIV because you never had the opportunity to make a cognitive, volitional choice about whether or not your mother’s prostitution was right or wrong.

Unfortunately, the doctors opinion does not change the fact that the child still has HIV. Much in the same way, being born with a severe mental ailment or merely dying in infancy, while unfortunate, does not change the fact that all individuals are sinners from birth. Now, before I descend into other reasons why this doctrine is not supported by Scripture, I would like to warn the reader that merely pointing to any one occurrence of God’s election of an infant and extrapolating that instance to assert that this must occur in all situations (or generally) is a classical fallacy. This fallacy is known as the Fallacy of Induction; it is always erroneous to argue from the specific to the general unless you can complete the induction. In this case, it is impossible for one to complete the induction since it requires omniscience. This warning may not seem relevant right now but I urge you to keep this in mind when you hear proponents of the HE’S-BIASED refer to (foreordained or set apart) prophets like Jeremiah or Paul as proof for the HE’S-BIASED doctrine. Okay, let’s look at some of the traditional verses that are used as proof texts for this doctrine:

Objection 1: God is simply too nice to do such a horrible thing!

First, the grace, goodness and mercy of God would support the position that God saves all infants who die. This is the strongest argument and perhaps the decisive one. God is love (1 John 4:8) and desires that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). God is love and His concern for children is evident in Matthew 18:14 where Jesus says, “Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” People go to hell because they choose in willful rebellion and unbelief to reject God and His grace. Children are incapable of this kind of conscious rejection of God. Where such rebellion and willful disobedience is absent, God is gracious to receive.” — R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin

God does desire that none would be lost (1 Timothy 2:4), not just the little ones (Matthew 1:14); however, even God admits that some of these “little ones” will stumble (Matthew 18:6-7). This fact is so unfortunate, that God pronounces a very grim judgment on the individual that causes a little child to stumble (Matthew 18:7).

It is true that God is good but it is also true that God is just, in fact, He delights in His justice (Jeremiah 9:24). In light of this latter truth, we must remind the proponents of the HE’S-BIASED doctrine that the ultimate reason why unbelievers go to hell is because they choose to reject God. The reason why unbelievers die is because they are sinners from birth (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23). Until an unbeliever addresses their indwelling sin problem, his or her name is absent from the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 20:15). The indwelling sin problem of course is only remedied by obeying the Gospel. The Gospel then (among other things) declares that the penalty for our sins was paid in full by Christ on the cross and we are now able to become God’s children if we’re willing to accept “the love of the truth.” Therefore, every sinner that is redeemed is only redeemed because they have obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Incidentally, obeying the gospel is synonymous with believing in Christ and the things said about Him in scripture (See To Love God = To Believe in His Word = Believe in God).  In Romans 10:16, Paul equates obeying the gospel with believing the truth mentioned about Christ in the scriptures.

It is commonly argued that since sinners who die during infancy did not have the chance or the appropriate cognitive state to choose obedience over disobedience, they are thereby given an exemption (e.g. HE’S-BIASED), however, this conclusion is not required since God’s election (or selection) of the saved vs. the unsaved is solely based on His foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2, Romans 8:29) of their obedience.

Examine the following verses:

Romans 8:29
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

1 Peter 1:2
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

[July 3rd,2011 update – After speaking with a Calvinist-minded friend of mine regarding the Romans 8:29 verse, he brought it to my attention that the word foreknow may mean “for-love” (or loved ahead of time) since the word “know” (“yada” in Hebrew, “ginosko” in Greek – both words can imply “to make love” or “to have sexual relations with”) appears euphemistically throughout scripture (e.g. Genesis 4:1, Matthew 1:25, Luke 1:34). My friend was merely suggesting this idea in a noncommittal way, nevertheless, I decided to address it so that it is abundantly clear to the reader that this suggested interpretation is not in scope. To be certain, the particular Greek word “proginosko” interpreted as “foreknowledge” and “foreknow” (in 1 Peter 1:2 and Romans 8:29 respectively) is never used euphemistically in all of the six times it appears in the Greek scriptures. As a result, there is no precedent that would justify including “for-love” within proginosko’s semantic range. Moreover, the word “know” was a euphemism for “having sexual relations” and not a euphemism for the agape love that is implied by the peculiar term “for-love.” Foreknowledge is the only valid meaning that the text allows so we must conclude that election is dependent upon something that God knows will happen before it happens.]

This foreknowledge is not only constrained to events that will definitely occur, but also includes events that would have definitely occurred (Matthew 11:21, Matthew 24:22). For example, in Mark 13:19-20 we’re told of an event that definitely would have occurred (the complete annihilation of those living during the Great Tribulation) but will definitely not occur. Therefore, God’s omniscience is not only limited to actual scenarios but also to potential scenarios. Acts 15:18 also affirms that God knows (or already knew) all of His creation (including what they will or will not do) before the world was created. The next question which invariably follows is: what exactly did God foreknow that prompted Him to elect one person and not another. Since the only way that anyone can attain salvation is through obeying the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Peter 4:17, Hebrews 5:9), and the only way God elects is according to His foreknowledge, then, the only logical conclusion which one can deduce from Scripture (that does not create a contradiction) is that God’s foreknowledge is of man’s obedience to the Gospel. 

Let’s apply this truth to a pair of hypothetical participants that fit the HE’S BIASED criteria:

What I’m saying is that God knows that baby John Doe would have obeyed the gospel though baby John Doe may never get an opportunity to obey the gospel during his time in the body (on earth). Therefore, baby John Doe is elected to go to heaven because he has in God’s foreknowledge already obeyed the gospel though he may never get a chance to actually realize his decision to do so. On the other hand, Jane Doe in God’s foreknowledge will engage in life long disobedience to the gospel. So, though she may never make it past the first trimester, Jane, according to God’s foreknowledge is a “vessel of wrath fitted unto destruction.”

There is another way of explaining this truth which may provide further clarity. In Revelation 13:8 we read that “the Lamb [i.e. Christ] was slain from [i.e. before] the foundation of the world.” Isn’t it profound to discover in Scripture that Christ’s crucifixion had in one sense, already occurred outside of time and more importantly, before time began? If Christ’s death on the cross for our sins occurred before the world began (Revelation 13:8) and the recording of all the names of the redeemed in the Book of Life occurred before the world began (Revelation 17:8) then why is it so difficult to posit that our decision to obey or disobey the gospel also occurred before the world began and was privy to God even before He created us? Is this not the good and necessary consequence of Revelation 17:8 and Romans 10:13-14 when combined? Foreknowledge does not preclude our ability to choose but rather reveals God’s ability to know what we will choose.

Furthermore, it is important for the reader to understand that obeying the gospel is not works. Romans 4:5 states: “But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Notice how works and faith are contrasted with one another. Another way to demonstrate this truth is through the following syllogism:

Major Premise: All who obey the truth (gospel) consequently have salvation (2 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Peter 4:17, 1 Peter 1:22, Hebrews 5:9, Romans 6:17, Act 5:32)
Minor Premise: All who have salvation are saved apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Conclusion: (it must follow by good and necessary inference that) All those who obey the truth (gospel) which consequently leads to salvation are saved apart from works.

Therefore, logically speaking, obeying the Gospel cannot fall into the category of works. Anticipating and refuting this claim is necessary because some readers will invariably claim that since God chooses based upon obedience that He therefore is saving us according to works. Obviously, to believe (and thus obey) the Gospel is not an example of works, since it does not directly address the wages or penalty of our sins nor does it contrast what Christ did to address the penalty of our sins. To correct the trite yet flawed courtroom analogy, the Judge has indeed paid the penalty that the sinner was found guilty of, but since the sinner is currently incarcerated the judge simply demands that the sinner, as a condition of release, first admit that (1) he is guilty and (2) that it was the Judge (and not someone else) who paid the penalty (in full) and enabled the sinner to be in this position where he is able (upon obeying these mandatory conditions) to walk free.

Also, obedience could never fall under the category of works since obedience is the ONLY criterion for salvation and the only offering which God will accept (John 6:28-29). In fact, through out Scripture, obedience is contrasted to works (See 1 Samuel 15:22, Jeremiah 7:22-23, Mark 12:33, Micah 6:6-8, and Hosea 6:6).

Another objection that is raised in opposition to the biblical requirement that obeying the Gospel is a prerequisite for salvation is that there is no one that seeks after God or that understands (Romans 3:11) and thus regeneration must precede faith.

In his Homilies on the First Epistle of John, St. Augustine is said to have uttered the following:

Therefore do not seek to understand in order to believe, but believe that thou mayest understand
Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John Tractate XXIX on John 7:14-18

Using the same concept, we can answer this objection by pointing out what the Scriptures tells us about faith. In 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 the Bible implies that one must believe (and thus obey the gospel) before one can receive the Holy Spirit and (really or fully) understand the “deep things of God” and all their implications. To be sure, properly understanding a proposition precedes assenting to its meaning; however, there is a vast difference between believing (as a babe in Christ) that Jesus died for one’s sins according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3) versus (as an approved workman) possessing the ability to rightly divide the words of scripture (2 Timothy 2:15), of which the latter is essential in making one’s election sure (2 Peter 1:10). In John 14:22-23, Thaddeus, one of Christ’s disciples, more or less asks a similar question which (if I may paraphrase) is: Why do You give us understanding (by revealing yourself to us) and not also to others (in the world)? Christ responds by putting forth the notion that we first must obey God’s words (particularly the John 8:24 mandate) before God can indwell us. (See John 14:22-23: Why us and not everyone else? for more information). John 7:17 tells us that if any man desires to do the will of God, by doing so, he will know whether the doctrines of the bible are true. Again, in John 8:31-32, Christ states that if one first “continues in His word [by obeying the gospel]” then that person will “know the truth, and the truth shall make [that person] free.” Bludgeoning a dead horse, again, we read in John 1:12 that first “[the person] receives [or believes in] Him” then Christ gives the person “the power to become [a] son of God.” Hence, belief precedes regeneration.

Finally, I must make a firm distinction between (1) having the penalty for our sins paid for by Christ on our behalf vs. (2) attaining salvation by obeying the gospel; these two actions while related are not the same thing and mixing the two together as if they were one and of the same can result in utter confusion about which transaction has already occurred (i.e. having the penalty for our sins paid for by Christ on our behalf) and which transaction still needs to occur (i.e. attaining salvation by obeying the gospel).

The first transaction, having the penalty for our sins paid for by Christ on our behalf, has already occurred; trying to resubmit this transaction using your own efforts instead of or in combination with Christ’s sacrifice (as the Roman Catholic Church does and teaches) will end up voiding the entire transaction, leaving you back where you started, headed for hell without a valid way to satisfy the debt.

The second transaction, which depends on the valid submission of the first transaction, only goes through when one decides to exclusively follow Jesus by obeying the gospel. This article encumbers itself with the second transaction and not the first. There is no substitute for Christ sacrifice on the cross, it is already finished but everyone must obey the Gospel to activate what Christ has done for them; there are NO exceptions (John 14:6).

Answer: In summary, why can’t a good gracious God who chooses based on foreknowledge foreknow the decision of the HE’S BIASED person instead of disregarding His own foreknowledge and automating the salvation process? If God automatically grants salvation to Jack (a HE’S BIASED eligible person) despite His foreknowledge that Jack will ultimately disobey the gospel how can God “justly” condemn Jill (a non-HE’S BIASED person) who also disobeys the gospel?

Objection 2: God has chosen or purified babies in the womb before, therefore maybe he does this for all babies?

“Some in Scripture are said to be chosen or sanctified from the womb (1 Samuel 1:8-2:21; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:15). This certainly affirms the salvation of some infants and repudiates the view that only baptized babies are assured of heaven. Neither Samuel, Jeremiah or John the Baptist was baptized.” — R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin

Incidentally, baptism is not a requirement for salvation so any view (especially the oft-quoted yet misinterpreted John 3:5) asserting that baptism is required is not based on teaching from scripture. Secondly, one may argue that since God has provided a precedent (in Romans 9:21-22) for executing His just prerogative to choose or set apart some persons for destruction (Romans 9:12, 17), it is thus irrelevant that He sets some people apart for salvation. Since this is the case, then the “salvation” of some infants is not compelling enough to warrant the HE’S BIASED.

Now let’s examine the following verse:

Jeremiah 1:5
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

The Hebrew word transliterated as “qadash” and pronounced “kaw-dash” means “to sanctify” and has the following semantic range:

a primitive root; to be (causatively, make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally):–appoint, bid, consecrate, dedicate, defile, hallow, (be, keep) holy(-er, place), keep, prepare, proclaim, purify, sanctify(-ied one, self), X wholly. (Strong’s Hebrew Bible Dictionary)

Answer: As one can see, in the context above, the word sanctified means to set apart or to consecrate. Some proponents of the HESBIASED have argued that “sanctified” here means “to purify” and thus Jeremiah was “purified” coming out of the womb. Even if this was the case, why is it warranted to extrapolate this occurrence to include all infants in the womb? Isn’t arguing like this an example of the fallacy of induction?

Objection 3: The HESBIASED doctrine is true because David said so!

“[W]hen the baby boy who was born to David and Bathsheba died (2 Samuel 12:15-18), David did two significant things: 1) He confessed his confidence that he would see the child again and, 2) he comforted his wife Bathsheba (vs. 23-24). David could have done those two things only if he was confident that his little son was with God. Any other explanation does not do justice to the text.” — R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin

Let us examine the verses in question:

2 Samuel 12:21-23
Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

The key to understanding the validity of this proof text as support for the HESBIASED is to ask whether these verses require the HESBIASED proposition (stated above) by good and necessary consequence. For instance, what does David mean when he says “I shall go to him?” Does he mean he will join his son in the grave, the afterlife or in heaven?

Does the fact that David comforted Bathsheba mean that he must have been confident of his deceased son’s eternal destiny? Not necessarily, and to assert as such is to commit a logical fallacy called “asserting the consequent.” This is designated as an error in reasoning because there are an infinite number of other plausible reasons why David comforted Bathsheba (i.e. David was simply being a nice guy); the reason provided is therefore not necessary.

Answer: In summary, even if David means that he will join his son in heaven, is it warranted to extrapolate this to mean that all children who die as infants will go to heaven?

Objection 4: God does not send you to hell for “original sin” only “actual sin”, after all, “sin is not imputed when there is no (knowledge of the) law.”

“[I]n James 4:17, the Bible says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” The Bible is clear that we are all born with a sin nature as a result of being in Adam (Roman 5:12). This is what is called the doctrine of original sin. However, the Scriptures make a distinction between original sin and actual sins. While all are guilty of original sin, moral responsibility and understanding is necessary for our being accountable for actual sins (Deuteronomy 1:[39]; Isaiah 7:16). It is to the one who knows to do right and does not do it that sin is reckoned. Infants are incapable of such decisions.” — R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin

The scriptures do distinguish between original and actual sin, however, death is imputed to all sinners not primarily because we have actually sinned but primarily because we are children of Adam bearing his original sin (Romans 5:12, 14, 1 Corinthians 15:22). In fact, every creature in this world (including the actual world itself) suffers from the consequences of original sin in Genesis (Romans 8:22). Therefore, original sin is imputed to every descendant of Adam (except for Christ who was conceived of the Holy Spirit). Though condemnation is imputed to every child of Adam, we must be clear about what this condemnation is. We are all born under the condemnation of the First Death (the death of our mortal bodies) because of Adam’s original sin. On the other hand, the Second Death (i.e. the Lake of Fire punishment) is only imputed to those sinners who rejected the Gospel because they loved darkness rather that light (John 3:19)

Examine the following passage:

Romans 5:12-21
12 Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verse 12 of the above passage informs us that we have all sinned by virtue of being Adam’s descendant. To elaborate, if both the text and it’s tense are God breathed (which they are) then the word “all” means every human (except Christ); the words “have sinned” being in the past tense means “the sin has already occurred”; therefore, we all have sinned because Adam sinned.

Verse 13 then asserts that actual sin is not imputed without the law. Let me stop at this point and remind the audience that the scriptures also assert that the works of the law of God are written on (or in) all hearts in case someone were tempted to conclude that those without the law do not have any imputed sin whatsoever (read Romans 2:12-15).

Moving right along, Verse 14 states that death even passed to those who sinned in a different way than Adam; meaning, death even passed to those who sinned without the law (as opposed to Adam who sinned with the law). So from Adam to Moses, even though death reigned, (actual) sin was not “imputed” because the law was not yet given until the time of Moses. Yet, despite the fact that God did not impute (actual) sin to this subset of people, they are identified as sinners because of their inherited sin. Furthermore, since death is the result of sin (Romans 6:24) and it is appointed unto (all) men to die (Hebrews 9:27, Ecclesiastes 9:5), then it follows that all men are sinners despite the imputation of actual sin (Romans 5:19).

More verses to examine:

Deuteronomy 1:39
Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

Isaiah 7:15-16
15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Romans 9:11
For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil.

The passages above are often cited by HESBIASED proponents in order to establish the notion that there exist people (i.e. infants) that do not know how to choose between right and wrong. It is important to note that scripture certainly affirms this point of view; but, as pointed out earlier, sinners are not ultimately condemned because of what they actually do (whether right or wrong); rather, sinners are ultimately condemned because of who they are, descendants of Adam and thus partakers in his sin nature (Romans 5:19).

Also, note that the scriptures above do not say that the children or infants refrain from evil (except of course for Christ); in fact, they most certainly do not refrain from committing evil (Psalms 58:3, Isaiah 48:8, Psalms 22:15, Ephesians 2:3); the Scriptures only suggest that they did not yet know how to refrain from evil. Tangentially, it is interesting to note that Scripture, in light of the above, does suggest that there are different “degrees” of punishment in hell.

Examine the following:

Matthew 11:21-24
Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Matthew 23:14-15
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Luke 12:47, 48
47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

See also (James 3:1, Luke 10:14)

Incidentally, the unrepentant reader should not derive any comfort from this fact; if you can read and comprehend this article; chances are you are probably not a candidate for tempered judgment. Furthermore, if the baseline or starting point for punishment is a lake of fire (Revelation 20:15), I’m not sure I want to know how much worse it gets for those individuals deemed worthy of greater condemnation. Finally and to quote the apostle Peter, “if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Answer Summary: In summary, since sin is also reckoned to all despite any actions done in the body (on this earth) how is the observation that infants may not have “actual” sin relevant to God’s execution of His judgment on sinners?

Objection 5: Didn’t Jesus hint that all children are of the kingdom of God?

“Jesus affirmed that the kingdom of God belonged to little children (Luke 18:15-17). In the passage he is stating that saving faith is a childlike faith, but He also seems to be affirming the reality of children populating heaven.” — R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin

Let’s examine the passage:

Luke 18:15-17
And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Jesus does not endorse the HESBIASED in these verses. Consider, verse 17 in particular; according to scripture, receiving the kingdom of God as a child is analogous to natural humility and a belief that is not doubtful, wavering, or double-minded. This full and helpless reliance upon one’s parent (in this case God), is what Christ is talking about.

In summary, Christ DOES say that the kingdom of heaven is populated with persons that are (in some respects) similar to children but He DOESN’T say that the kingdom of heaven is populated with children.

Answer Summary: A somewhat related question that follows is: If HESBIASED children are all of the kingdom of heaven, then were all the HESBIASED pagan children of the Amalekites (whose destruction God ordered in 1 Samuel 15:18) also of the kingdom of heaven?

Objection 6: Since there is a great multitude of people in heaven, most of them must be infants because the world has only produced a “few” Christians.

Scripture affirms that the number of saved souls is very great (Revelation 7:9). Since most of the world has been and is still non-Christian, might it be the untold multitude who have died prematurely or in infancy comprise a majority of those in heaven? Such a possibility ought not to be dismissed too quickly. In this context Charles Spurgeon said, “I rejoice to know that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them.” — R. Albert Mohler, Jr. and Daniel L. Akin

Yes, it possible that infants and/or special needs individuals comprise the greatest number of that multitude in heaven, however, since it is equally plausible to assert the converse, (adults comprise the greatest majority) such speculation is meaningless.

Another meaningless speculation goes like this: since Revelation 7:9 states that all those in this great multitude were standing, doesn’t this mean that none of them could have been infants, after all, infants can’t stand? This is meaningless for many reasons, one of which is, the great multitude does not necessarily account for all of the redeemed. Furthermore, earthly bodies do not equate to heavenly bodies (1 John 3:2), and thirdly, unless the bible asserts that glorified (heaven-dwelling) infant’s can’t stand, to suggest as such is to merely speculate without verification from God who is the only source of truth.

The following questions are a summary of other difficulties involved in trying to reconcile the HESBIASED doctrine with scripture:

6. If a human is exempt from judgment merely based upon when he/she was introduced into this world then why didn’t God just take our lives sometime at or around birth so that His desire that all may be saved would be met by this technicality? Furthermore, if the HESBIASED doctrine is true then doesn’t it follow that Hitler and other devilish individuals (perhaps even the devil himself) could have avoided eternal damnation by merely dying in infancy?

7. Are the purveyors of abortion on demand’s actions justified since by their efforts numerous children that would otherwise be hell bound (Matt 7:13-14) are now in heaven?

8. Since the bible says that “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11); then why are sinful infants (Psalm51:5) anymore helpless than sinful adults?

9. The scripture proclaims that God choose us according to His foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2, Romans 8:29). Isn’t it wiser to make a scriptural deduction that God foreknew those that would obey His gospel in light of 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Peter 4:17 and Hebrews 5:9 instead of introducing contradictions by maintaining that salvation is also based on one’s age at death or one’s physical disabilities?

10. Since obeying the gospel is not works, but it is the one and only prerequisite for salvation (2 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Peter 4:17, Hebrews 5:9) how is the blood of Jesus applied to all infants without exception when they have clearly not obeyed the gospel? Wouldn’t foreknowledge solve this alleged problem?

The Bible and Slavery

Below is an email thread on the topic slavery in the bible.

 

Andre  (in response to Paul Taylor’s article “A Leader for Biblical Equality”):

Just because human beings are from “one blood” doesn’t mean that the bible is anti-slavery. The bible supports and regulates slave ownership and doesn’t say that owning a slave is wrong. White Christians have often used the bible to convince themselves that owning slaves is OK and the slaves should obey their “earthly masters”. White Christians also owned white slaves during and after the fall of the Roman Empire. So to say that White Christians need to believe that their slaves are inferior to them in order to justify slave ownership is also false. A slave is slave in the mind of White Christians that have owned them and the bible supports slave ownership.

Find me one verse in the bible that condemns owning a slave. I dare you. I’ve already found several that support it. Your “god” should be destroyed. Here are Bible verses in support of slave ownership new and old testament (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT), (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT), Jesus Christ thinks slaves should be beaten too (Luke 12:47-48 NLT), (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT), (Ephesians 6:5 NLT), (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB).

 

James:

The AIG response to this uninformed diatribe is:
http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/feedback/2007/0202.asp

 

JB:

James,

Not sure about the context of this, but the Bible supports slavery. However, the thing to discuss is the treatment of slaves. Also, slaves were more like indenture servants.

 

James:

For being a stickler, I must apologize; however the bible does NOT support or endorse slavery (whether bondservants, indentured servants, or the historically harsh UK/US/ [insert name of virtually any other nation] chattel slave trade, BTW there are stark differences between these three forms) in any sense; however, the bible does tolerate (and restricts the abuse of) the practice of bond-servitude both debt and chattel, much in the same way that the bible tolerates (and restricts the abuse of) divorce.

This phenomenon of the bible guiding the usage of but not endorsing a controversial practice is not unprecedented. In fact, the bible provides all sorts of examples where God gives guidelines regarding a practice even though the practice is discouraged or even forbidden. Examples would include: divorce, polygamy, and adultery. It is therefore absurd for someone to suggest that just because we are given rules regarding the treatment of slaves in scripture that somehow God or His word are encouraging or supporting of slavery. This line of thinking would equate toleration with encouragement when, in fact, they’re very different.

Divorce and Slavery and are both a reality in this sin-filled world and we told that the latter is a direct result of the hardness of men’s hearts; but, God does not ignore the reality of either. Instead, He allows Moses in the law to restrict the usage of both practices. In light of what is demonstrated below, some may even argue that ‘biblical-era’ slavery was not a sinful practice, and while this argument is not without merit, we must admit it’s at least somewhat unattractive. The diligent reader (in regards to scriptural exegesis) will realize that in the biblical-era context, owning a slave (in most cases) was not wrong regardless of the fact that there was and is a better way (Deut 23.15-16, 1 Cor 12:31 -1 Cor 13).

In Matthew 19:3, when the Pharisees asked Jesus whether they could divorce and remarry for whatever reason, Jesus told them that the reason why divorce existed was because of the hardness of their sinful hearts and reminded them that just because Moses allowed them to do so in the Mosaic law, that did not nullify the original command by God in Genesis where He says the man “shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” In Christ’s answer to the Pharisees, He reminds them that “what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” and gave adultery as the only allowable grounds for divorce. The relatively easy divorce allowed in the Mosaic Law was not what God originally intended, therefore, the point to remember is that even though God’s attitude toward sin doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17) his flexibility in terms of relations with human beings may. In summary, Jesus gave the Pharisees provisions for divorce (just as Moses did) but no one would argue that the Bible therefore ‘supports’ divorce. One may chose to challenge the claim that divorce is a sin, but in light of the knowledge that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) engaging in such after the fact can only be classified as sin.


One may also say that the Bible does not condemn or discourage slavery but in light of 1 Timothy 1:10, Exodus 21:16 and Deut 23.15 it will be evident to the poser of such a question that he or she must define the term ‘slavery’ before making such an assertion. Furthermore, when the questioner reads Deut 15.13, Lev 22.10, and other likeminded passages he/she realizes that even though ‘biblical-era’ slavery is never encouraged, it certainly would not be criminal if the opposite were the case. We must also keep in mind that, historically and statistically (in the biblical era), the dominant motivation for slavery was economic relief of poverty (i.e., ‘slavery’ was initiated by the slave and never by the owner–and the primary uses were purely domestic). I don’t know about the rest of you but if I had a debt that I wanted expunged I must admit that I would strongly consider the ‘slavery’ described in the Mosaic Law as a viable alternative to death by starvation or imprisonment. Consider the following excerpt adapted from a longer yet excellent article by Glenn M. Miller of The Christian Think Tank. In the article he refutes all of the common and not so common attempts to vilify ‘biblical slavery’

One of the more amazing things about Hebrew servant-status was how ‘easy’ it was to get free! (There might be a message in there about God’s attitude toward it, smile).

Freedom could be bought by relatives (Lev 25.49)

The servant could buy his own freedom, whether the master WANTED to let him go or not (Lev 25.49)

Every 7th year (the Sabbath year), all servants were to automatically go free–without ANY payment of money to the master:

“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. (Ex 21.2; Deut 15.12)

Minor injuries due to abusive treatment automatically resulted in immediate freedom (this is actually labeled as ‘to compensate’, implying rights/duties/debt):

“If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth. (Ex 21.26)

When freedom was granted at the Sabbath year or Year of Jubilee, the master was obligated to send them out with liberal gifts–to allow them to occupy the land in sufficiency again (Deut 15.13)

To further illustrate my point, in Exodus 20:14 the Israelites are told not to commit adultery and in Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 the law only condemns a married man (or woman) of ‘external’ adultery if he ‘actually’ engages in intercourse with another woman; yet, we also know by Matthew 5:28 that if he simply looks at her and lusts in his heart he has already committed ‘internal’ adultery. Is it correct to say that God supported the ‘internal’ act of adultery because he did not speak out against it in the law? Or, is it correct to say that God tolerated (i.e. did not kill us immediately in light of – Romans 9:22) ‘internal’ adultery, all the while acknowledging both kinds of adultery (‘internal’ adultery in Proverbs 6:27 and later in Matthew 5:28, ‘external’ in Exodus 20:14) as sin? Obviously only the latter assertion is correct.

[This section is especially for Travis]
Again, consider the verses (Ex.21:10, Deut.25:5-10) in scripture that give provisions for polygamy. Exodus 21:10 does not encourage the practice as is evidenced by the word “if”; in fact, upon a careful analysis of this verse, one understands that its motive is to discourage polygamy by increasing the obligations of the husband towards the additional wives. In the case of Deut.25:5-10, we realize a legal exception to monogamy sometimes called ‘The Law of Levirate’ or ‘Levirate (derived from a Latin word meaning “brother-in-law”) Marriage’ which required a dead man’s brother to marry his childless widow and father a son who would assume the dead man’s name and inherit his portion of the Promised Land. Neither exception modifies the behavioral norm required by God in Genesis 2:24. Skeptics often make references to Biblical patriarchs (Abraham, David, Solomon, etc) having many wives as proof of biblical support for polygamy but Christians that are less careless with the words of scripture understand that not everything recorded in scripture is endorsed by scripture. Christians who would seek to invalidate God’s will, commands or promises by invoking exceptional conditions are in error because an exception can never nullify or modify the rule. In fact, if both are ordered by the same person then both are equally valid. For example, in John 6:37-39 Jesus promises that no one the Father gives him will be lost; yet, in John 17:12 Jesus says that no one will be lost except the ‘son of perdition’ (who is Judas) ‘that the scripture might be fulfilled.’ The exception (losing Judas) in this scenario is allowed in order to fulfill the scripture (Psalm 109:6-19; Act 1:16-20, 25). Thus we see that ‘fulfilling scripture’ (Isaiah 55:11), when juxtaposed with the ‘eternal security’ of our salvation (none will be lost), is higher in the sense of “moral hierarchy” (also called “graded absolutism”). For more depth and detailed refutations of the common and not so common attempts to justify polygamy using scripture I urge interested parties to visit
Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s article, JP Holding’s article and Glen Miller’s article on polygamy in the bible. In summary, not only does scripture militate against the idea of polygamy, most verses pertaining to marriage become meaningless or contradictory when read through the ‘glasses’ of one that espouses the idea that the practice of polygamy is encouraged in the bible.

Hopefully, from the above, it should be quite clear that the institution of slavery in the Mosaic law involving voluntary, fixed-term, flexible, and protected servant-laborer roles was unlike “western”, chattel labor in almost all repects. To label it as ‘slavery’, except in the most general/metaphorical sense of the word, is significantly inappropriate. God’s intent in Levitus 25.39f of protecting their status and self-image was very clear: “”`If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you.” The AnswersinGenesis.com article was simply making this point to the gentleman that suggested otherwise in his feedback.