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Matt Postiff's Blog

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Posted by Matt Postiff April 6, 2021 under Theology  Bible Texts 

Here is a brief listing of the few papers I have published. I had to consolidate these into one place for another purpose, so I figured it would be good to keep a record here as well.

Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth: A Review Article, DBSJ Vol. 14, 2009, 31-58.

God and Counterfactuals, DBSJ Vol. 15, 2010, 23-73.

From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective: A Review Article, DBSJ Vol. 19, 2014, 95-103.

Cherry Picking Theology?, Inside Sources, July 31, 2015.

Essential Elements of Young Earth Creationism and Their Importance to Christian Theology, DBSJ Vol. 21, 2016, 31-58. This was cross-posted at SharperIron.

Posted by Matt Postiff March 31, 2021 under Theology 

Today's question from an email:

Are elements of race/ethnicity etc. a result of sin?

It is an important question today. I will give you a quick outline of what I see Scripture to teach on this matter.

1. There is a single human race, not multiple races (Acts 17:26). We all descend from Adam and Eve.

2. There are different nationalities, ethnicities, people groups, cultures, etc. The Scripture uses the phrase tribe, tongue, people, nation to refer to this concept (Revelation 5:9, 13:7, 14:6). Other words are used, such as clan and families (Gen. 12:3).

3. Two main points of Babel: a) it was the event that brought different languages into the world; b) God designed it to induce the people to spread out and fill the earth. They had stuck together generally and were not obedient to God's command. So God scattered them (Gen. 11:9).

4. Babel is not firstly about the creation of different ethnicities. However, as people with the same language congregated into small groups and then scattered over the face of the earth and became isolated from one another, they began to become specialized in not only language, but culture and appearance as they intrabred mainly with those in the same group. Thus we have different people groups, and within each group common characteristics like skin color, shape of face and eyes, etc. Cultural differences developed at the same time.

5. God designed this variation into the human DNA from the beginning so that there would be a glorious variety among the human race, even as there are among the various kinds of creatures--so many dogs and cats and fish and horses and so on. Among humans, this variety would have come out without Babel--and even without the fall of Adam and Eve--but it would not have then been found in such pronounced groupings as the language barriers have helped to create. Without sin, the world would be full of all people living together with no negative thought associated with their wide variation in appearance.

Two parents have a child and the child looks similar to them but also different than each one. A child may have blue eyes but have two brown-eyed parents (like in my case, due to recessive genes from the grandparent generation). Even today, a single set of parents can have a white baby and a black baby. See here and here for examples.

6. As for the "Ham curse" as some call it, I wrote about that several years ago. Let me be clear that it is unsupportable from Scripture to suggest that dark skin color is a curse from God.

7. Bottom line: elements of race/ethnicity etc are NOT a result of sin. They ARE a result of God's creative design of the human race. How humans use those things, and twist them, and criticize them, and exalt them, and so on, THAT is a result of sin in the heart of mankind.

Posted by Matt Postiff March 19, 2021 under Theology 

Here is a new installment of Bible literacy in minutes:

According to secular belief, world history started over 4 billion years ago, and the plant and animal creation came about because of evolution—time, chance, and random mutations. The Bible’s record of earth history is very different, although with regard to the last 4,000 to 6,000 years of human history the secular account and the Biblical account overlap very neatly.

The Biblical account of history starts somewhere around 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. In the span of just under a week’s time, God created the world and filled it with plant and animal life. The creation had an appearance of age after God’s work was done, but in reality, creation jump-started world history. God created two human beings to be managers over his creation. They were named Adam and Eve. They lived in an ideal, brand-new world.

Very soon, however, sin entered the world, and with it came death. Over 1600 years passed and a catastrophic flood enveloped the entire earth’s surface as a judgment from God. Out of that devastation one family remained intact—Noah and his three sons, and their wives. From them the earth is now populated.

The first 39 books of the Bible focus on a single people group—the Semite people, starting with Abraham. Later, God used Moses to organize a growing group of Abraham’s descendants into a nation. This nation resided in what we know as Palestine, or Israel. It has existed from around 1440 B.C. to the present. During the 700s B.C., a world power named Assyria harassed the northern tribes of Israel. After them arose the Babylonians, followed soon after by the Medo-Persians. In the fourth century B.C., Alexander the Great raised the Greek empire to prominence, and after that the Roman empire dominated the region.

A rabbi named Jesus was born and lived during the opening years of the first century A.D. He was more than a rabbi, however, and died on a cross at the hands of the occupying Roman government. He was buried, but then many witnesses saw him alive again. He started the church, which has spread worldwide since the first century until the present day.

These are some of the events that the Bible highlights for us as significant in world history. In another video we will consider what the Bible says about the future of our world.

Posted by Matt Postiff March 19, 2021 under Theology 

Today's question came in the email and had to do with whether the mentions of David in Jeremiah and Ezekiel refer to resurrected King David, or to the Messiah.

Jer. 30:9 "And David their king, Whom I will raise up for them."

Ezek. 34:23-24 "I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them--My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken."

Ezek. 37:24-25 "David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statues, and do them. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where you fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children's children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever."

Hosea 3:5 "Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days."

MacArthur consistently takes David to refer to the greater David = Messiah Jesus in all the cases above.

My problem with that interpretation is that there are other easy ways to refer to God's anointed, and I wonder why the prophets say "David" if they meant "Messiah."

David, like all OT saints, will be resurrected and enjoy the millennial kingdom (Dan. 12:2-3). It is very plausible that he will hold a significant place of rule over the kingdom as a prince under the Messiah. Perhaps Solomon will as well. After that, there are only a few historical kings who were "good." Maybe they all will have some sort of role in the millennial kingdom. Obviously Jesus will outshine them all by a large margin!

Posted by Matt Postiff March 4, 2021 under Theology 

My Bible outlines are now available on Kindle.

Bible Outlines Book Cover

Posted by Matt Postiff February 20, 2021 under Theology 

Another installment of literacy in the Bible:

We mentioned in the video about God’s role for government and the video about abortion that God did—and still does—permit society to exercise capital punishment. This is clear from Genesis 9:6. But does this run afoul of another well-known text of the Bible in the Ten Commandments? Look at Exodus 20:13, where the sixth commandment says “You shall not murder.” In saying this, does God contradict himself? Or does Moses contradict God when he wrote “You shall not murder”?

The key to resolving this question is the difference between murder and killing. The old King James version says “You shall not kill.” But that is a bad translation. Murder and killing are two different things. Granted, they have a similar outcome for the person who is dead, but morally they are entirely different. In a just war, for example, people are killed, but the soldiers are not guilty of murder. A policeman who kills a gun-wielding perpetrator at a crime scene is not guilty of murder either. When a home invasion ends in the death of the homeowner, this is murder. When the same home invasion ends with the death of the invader, that is justifiable homicide, meaning that the homeowner is not guilty of murder because he was simply defending himself and his family.

So, the answer to our question is NO—capital punishment is not murder. Instead, it is a justifiable penalty assigned for certain horrific crimes. Otherwise, God himself would be guilty of murder for allowing and even predetermining the death of certain individuals. Even Jesus himself was killed—was God at fault? No indeed. According to 1 Peter 3:18, Jesus died in the place of unjust people so that He might bring us to God. He voluntarily came to the earth to do that. Certain humans were guilty of putting Him on the cross, to be sure. But in effect it was our sins that killed him. So are we guilty of murder?

Posted by Matt Postiff February 18, 2021 under Theology  Society  Bible Texts 

Here is a short "Bible Literacy" video about abortion and capital punishment.

Many people who are in favor of capital punishment are opposed to abortion, including a good number of Christian people. But, isn’t this inconsistent? It is about the same as someone being for abortion but against capital punishment! Those who are opposed to both abortion and capital punishment, or who are in favor of both, seem more consistent from the standpoint of preserving life.

But our interest is not in who is more or less consistent on the basis of a single metric—that is too limited of a view. We are trying to increase our basic Bible literacy by understanding what the Bible teaches about these matters.

We turn to Exodus 21:22-23, where a matter of case law is given in which a pregnant woman is struck by someone. If she gives birth prematurely but the baby lives, it is a civil infraction with a monetary penalty. But if the baby dies, the Law of God in the Jewish theocracy stated that it was to be punished by the lex talionis, “life for life.” The law stated that if the baby died, the perpetrator was to be punished with death. That is how seriously God takes human life. It is precious in His sight, even in the mother’s womb. Abortion is just a “decorated” word for what amounts to exactly the same thing—murder of an innocent human.

The reason that some people take the “inconsistent” position for capital punishment and against abortion is that the Scripture teaches so. Consistency comes to view when you look at the issue through the lens of justice—it is unjust for an innocent baby to be killed, but it is perfectly just for a murderer to forfeit his life. The opposite view—that capital punishment is wrong and abortion is OK is actually inconsistent from this justice perspective—why does an innocent baby deserve to die, but a criminal guilty of a horrific crime deserve to live? Abortion basically is capital punishment…done to an innocent child.

Posted by Matt Postiff February 18, 2021 under Bible Texts 

Read 2 Corinthians 11:2:

For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (NKJV)

Christian, at your conversion, you became engaged (betrothed or promised) to Jesus Christ. You belong exclusively to Him. The wedding of the Lamb is coming. Are you staying pure? Are you getting ready? The symbolism of this is rich. While we await the consummation of salvation, the application of "engagement" touches every area of our lives, just like your upcoming wedding did (or will, if you are yet to be married).

Posted by Matt Postiff February 17, 2021 under Theology 

The Bible has three important sections that explain what God wants government to do.

First is Romans 13:1-7. It says that there is no governmental authority except those appointed by God. The government’s rulers are to oppose evil. The governmental authority (police officer, president, governor) does not bear the sword in vain, because he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

Because of this, God has permitted governments to exercise the authority of capital punishment. Now this has been in place for thousands of years. In the first book of the Bible, for example, Genesis 9:6 says “whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” There is only one punishment that fits the crime of murder, and that is to forfeit the murderer’s life. Our society exercises a great amount of mercy toward such offenders by assigning them life in prison, but this can leave the victim’s family feeling as if justice has not fully been done for their loved one. By the way, the idea is that the corporate body of society as a whole exercises that authority—not individual vigilantes.

The third passage is 1 Peter 2:13-14. It explains that the king and governors are sent by God to punish evildoers and to praise those who do good. There are whole departments of government—like the FBI, department of justice, state attorneys general, and the like which are focused on punishing evildoers. And we are thankful for that because it helps keep law and order in our society so that we can live peacefully. There are no governmental departments I am aware of which are dedicated to praising those who do good! But I am thankful for the recognition that is afforded to good and heroic citizens.

Summarize: the basic role of government is to punish evil and praise those who do good.

Posted by Matt Postiff February 17, 2021 under Bible Texts 

Benevolent giving supplies two things: (1) the material needs of others; (2) a basis for thanksgiving to God, for when the recipients receive the gift, they offer thanksgiving to God not only for the gift but for the people who gave the gift.

BOTH are important results of your benevolence. This principle is found in 2 Corinthians 9:12.

Posted by Matt Postiff February 16, 2021 under Theology 

In the medical community, "SOAP" is an acronym that is a helpful guide for a doctor-patient interaction. The letters stand for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan. The patient comes in with some complaint, the subjective. The doctor looks him or her over very well and makes observations for the objective part. Then the doctor makes an assessment and sets out a plan of treatment. All of this is documented in summary fashion in the SOAP note retained in the patient's chart.

The SOAP Bible study method uses the same acronym, which in this case means Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. An example can be seen here. Basically, you determine the Scripture passage that you will study. It would be good to even write it out. Then you can write down everything you observe about the passage, including questions and relevant leads to other portions of Scripture. Then you can think about how to apply the passage to your own life situation, and pray to ask God for help in following His word.

I think the SOAP method can be very helpful. However, it often leads to superficial Bibles study, as pointed out in this article.

To remedy this deficiency, we should think about the SOAP method as the sOap method, with an emphasis on the letter O. The observation part needs to be much more careful and deep than the example linked above. Without proper observation--in other words, exegesis--you cannot arrive at correct interpretation. And you need a correct interpretation before you can determine the appropriate application.

We have previously discussed the Swedish Method and the COMA Method of Bible study.

Posted by Matt Postiff February 14, 2021 under Theology  Bible Texts 

I taught some recently about the Hebrew Roots Movement--what it is, and why we do not believe it. The following messages were delivered in December of 2020: December 2 December 6 December 13

I received a couple of negative comments on the message. Here is the first:

Moses didn't ever make up his own law. Who's finger do you think wrote the 10 commandments?

I replied:

Hello Mike, the statement and question you write in your comment are not a point of difference between us. That is, we never said or even implied that Moses made up his own law. It was obviously the Law of God; it is called the Mosaic Law for short because God gave it through Moses. And, of course God wrote the tablets (twice--Deut. 9:10/10:2 and Exodus 31:18/34:1). But Moses wrote them again in the manuscripts of Exodus and Deuteronomy which have passed down to us through preservation and translation.

Now, perhaps your question is meant to suggest that GOD wrote the Law, therefore it is eternally binding. That is, it is not man's law, but God's law, and therefore must be followed by all men of all ethnicities at all times. We differ with you very firmly if that is your point. Illustrations: Have you had a son and had him circumcised? Did you do it on the eighth day? If not, you broke the Law of God (Lev. 12:3)--if you believe that God has made it still binding, even upon Gentiles. And if you broke the law in one point, you have broken all of it. The Apostle Paul commanded the Gentiles in Colosse that they were not to accept a man's judgment against them if they did not observe days such as Sabbath, and months, and other sorts of external religious rites. Those rites do nothing to restrain the appetites of the sinful nature of man (Col. 2:16-23). The book of Galatians is clear, as is Acts 15, that circumcision is not necessary for Gentiles to practice. Only if you believe that God's law is like the Law of the Medes and Persians (which cannot be revoked, book of Daniel), could you believe that once God sets an instruction in place that He can never change it again. He is the boss, and can change the terms and conditions whenever He pleases. A great example is found in Ezekiel 40-48 where the temple and its operation have quite a number of differences compared to that given under Moses.

Hope that is helpful. If not, please try to formulate your follow-up question in a way that is a bit more clear, and less adversarial sounding. Thanks, and may God bless you with a clear understanding of His Word!

The writer responded:

OK, brother, at about 10:50, you begin to say that 1 John is not speaking about the law of Moses, but about the "law of Christ" and your own words, "the law of God." It is manipulative. (I don't say you were intentionally trying to mislead). Over time, a little twisting of words and phrases will tend to establish one's viewpoint, but it can be misleading. We can discuss more over email if you prefer.

And I reply again:

Hello again Mike, Thank you for recognizing there is no intent to mislead here. In using the phrase "Law of Christ," I am following the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:2 and 1 Cor. 9:21. I understand this law to be precisely the same as the law of liberty in James 1:25 and 2:12. It is the code given by Christ through His teaching and the writings of His apostles (the New Testament). It is summarized by the law of love for God and neighbor. Indeed, it looks very similar to the Law given through Moses because it comes from the same God. But it is different--circumcision is not required; Sabbath observance is not required; kosher diet is not required; observance of the three major Jewish holidays is not required; animal sacrifice is not required. All these things are abundantly clear in New Testament teaching.

I would offer this rebuttal to the HRM viewpoint: The words I used were not twisting or manipulating the text of Scripture. Rather, something has become twisted in the teaching of the Hebrew Roots Movement. It appears to be going back to something substantially similar to the Galatian error that Paul wrote so strongly against.

There is a certain romantic idea of going back to the early church, but the church had a lot of problems as evidenced in Paul's letters and in the book of Acts. It was not the pristine thing that we might like it to be. Furthermore, we have the benefit of completed written revelation which in the first decades of the church, the believers did not. Finally, in those early years, there was a lot of going back and forth on the Jew/Gentile issue. Acts 15 made clear that the church is not primarily Jewish in flavor. Of course it arises from the Jewish faith in the Old Testament; but it includes the Gentiles as Gentiles.

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