Archives for July 2013

Bible Translations

I gave a bible to a lady who had just joined our small group at church a couple weeks ago. She didn’t ask any questions, she just said thank you and smiled. She has since been varying and using that Bible ever time I have seen her.

About that same time my wife wanted to give a Bible to a coworker of hers. She and I talked about it and she too purchased and gave the Bible to her coworker who was thankful and has since started reading it.

It is encouraging to see people use and enjoy any gift you give them, but it is particularly true of a Bible.

Soon there after I realized something though. We had intentionally chosen to give ESV Bibles. But I don’t use an ESV myself. So I went back through our rational and share it with you here:

NIV- No: Many conservative churches will reject it as overly liberal in translation practices.

KJV – No: It is too hard to read for those who are not accustom to the style and can accidentally encourage wrong thinking about the Bible such as ‘Jesus spoke old English,’ or the King James is more authoritative than other more accurate translations because its ‘the original.’ (Those ideas simply are not true.)

HCSB – No: I use it as a reference and it has helped me to gather a better understanding of certain passages. But there are just to many passages that have been translated in a very vague manner. (In my opinion admittedly.)

NASB – No: I actually use this one myself. It is known by many as the most literal English translations, and as I speak to and listen to Greek and Hebrew scholars, i am sure it is. But I know the sentence structure is more difficult to read than many others.

ESV – Yes: it is not as literal as the NASB but it is close. And it is easy to read, giving it an advantage as we hand it to those who are learning the Bible. It is also widely accepted by many Bible believing Protestant churches. It is used by those who are educated in the faith as well as those who are new to it.

So we are giving out ESV Bibles. My conclusion is that if I am going to be giving the ESV away, I should be preaching and teaching from it as well for the sake of unity and consistency. I would hope our teachers would adopt these same efforts.

Allow for and respect other honest translations, but let us present a unified and consistent understanding of the scriptures.

Check out this short explanation of the History of the English Bible.


What happens when a child dies

Children and Death

“…Hear the word of the LORD O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle. Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever know, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind….” – Jeremiah 19:3-5 (NASB)

                What happens to children when they die? What happens to infants born in delivery, and what about those who are aborted? I mean after all, God did say tell Jeremiah that before he was formed in the womb, He was known. (Jeremiah 1:5) Is there anything in the Bible that can answer this question? In short, there is very little in the scriptures about this. There is however some. And because of the limited amount of writing that directly concerns these little ones, we must pay close attention to what we do have. The obvious concern for those of us who are people of faith is – do these little ones spend eternity in hell, or are they with God in heaven? All of us have our opinions, and many have been taught varying things from previous generations. But no opinion is right that is Biblically wrong. And so we must be open to submitting our thoughts to being changed, molded, into what we find described in scripture.

                First, how does God view little ones? Two things we have to see in scripture are that these little ones are His and they are viewed as innocent.

                God views children as belonging to Himself, not us. In Ezekiel 16:20-22 we see God refer to the children that the people had surrendered to idolatrous sacrifice as His own. And then He reminds the people of their past, how He (God) had saved them as a people and He had saved them when they were just infants in their own blood. This shows us how God views children as a whole. He views all children as His. Look closely at the wording, “…your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me…” and “You slaughtered My children.” He doesn’t leave room for us to say, “well actually Lord, they were ours to do with as we chose…” No, God says they are His.

                God views children as innocent. Even if the parents are unbelievers, God views children as innocent. Look at Jeremiah 19:4. It is part of the opening scripture of this paper. God talks about the blood of children as “the blood of the innocent.” From this we see that God views children as innocent. Many times the question will come up then about an age of accountability. The Bible does not give a defined age, but as we read in the book of Jonah, we see that God reasons with Jonah about the city of Nineveh that He was right to offer repentance to those people for the sake of the 120,000 ‘who do not know their right from their left.’ When taken literally, this clearly refers to little ones and those who are mentally disabled. In other words, there is no direct age of accountability but as John MacArthur puts it a state of culpability. In other words the time when a person grows to a point mentally and spiritually where he or she can know right from wrong, sin from obedience, the difference in law and grace.

                Christ holds children up as the example to us all. In Matthew 18:3-4 we read the words of Jesus, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The only lesson here is that Jesus didn’t ask the child questions. He simply used the child as an example of open trust in the Father. That is our lesson, but the child was already there.

                So what is it that determines what happens to a child when he or she dies? First, what is it when a person experiences deliverance into God’s hand for eternity (Heaven)? – Salvation. And what is it when a person experiences expulsion from the presence of God for eternity (Hell)? – Damnation.   So when we look at Salvation and what causes it we see that it does not start with the cross. In fact it was on the cross that Jesus said the wonderful words, ‘it is finished.’ The cross is not the start of our Salvation, grace is. Ephesians 2:8-9 say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Notice the emphasis is on grace. Not on what a person did or didn’t do. Grace is often defined simply as ‘unmerited favor.’ And that is what we are talking about here. No baby can do anything to earn God’s favor or forgiveness. Many of us adults like to think we are more in charge than we really are. We like to think that God needs us for his plans. But He doesn’t. He saves us just because He loves us. Only God’s grace brings us salvation, we do nothing to deserve, earn, get or receive it. It is a gift. It is made possible through the sacrificial work done by Jesus at the cross. But all that is prompted by grace.

                What of Damnation? The bible is clear that we all have a sin nature and that we were born with it. We also see in the bible that the most common damning sin is that of unbelief. (for an example read John 3:18.) So what hope is there for children? What does the Bible say? Let us read directly about divine, eternal judgment and see.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, everyone of them according to their deeds.
Then death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:11-15

                The book of life refers to those who are saved from the lake of fire. They are the saved. They are the ones who have received God’s gift and will live with him for eternity. So we see (again) their salvation is a result of God’s grace.

All those who are thrown into the lake of fire were judged. What are they judged upon? They are judged upon their deeds. You and I have deeds. We have a track record of self-centered behavior. But babies, the unborn, they have no record of deeds or unbelief to be judged upon. They are the prime example of the child Jesus used to show us what we must become. There is no rebellion in them. And just like many will say, ah but they have not believed… the same is true regarding sin. They could not believe or not believe. Neither could they choose to sin. They are guilty of neither unbelief nor willful sin and therefor innocent as God said in Jeremiah 19:4 and Jesus points us to in Matthew 18:3-5.

Salvation is by grace. Damnation is by works. What of the sin nature we are born with? No one can deny it is there. And we shouldn’t even try to deny it. We all will by nature choose to rebel from God given enough the chance. But “nowhere in the Bible is anyone ever threatened with hell merely for the guilt inherited from Adam. Instead, whenever Scripture describes the inhabitants of hell, the stress is on their willful acts of sin and rebellion (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:6; Rev. 21:8; 22:15). Scripture always connects eternal condemnation with works of unrighteousness – willful sin.” (MacArthur. P.80)

The conclusion is that children who die before they honestly can choose right from wrong (this example is also included in the prophesies of Christ in Isaiah 7:15-16.) will be with God in heaven for eternity. To argue otherwise is to argue that God will condemn a person to hell due to no sin or unbelief on their part.

So if a child is with God in Heaven, can a parent expect to see their child again? King David in 2 Samuel once had an affair with a married woman. She became pregnant and in David’s attempts to cover up his sin he wound up having her husband abandon on the battlefield and put to death. When the time for the child to be born came, the boy was born very sick. While he was sick, David prayed and fasted. He would not eat even when encouraged to do so. His servants became worried about him. There was apparently no dealing with the king during this time. Then the servant got word that the boy had died. As they discussed it amongst themselves, they did not want to tell the king because if he was behaving this way while the boy was sick, they wondered how much worse would his reaction be when he learned his infant son was dead?   But David perceived that they were discussing this and asked if the boy had died. They told him he had. From that point David does something amazing. He stands up, cleans up and goes to dinner. His servants were amazed and confused. Why had David been so upset when the boy was sick, but was willing to go about his life once the boy had died? They asked and David answered their question.

21 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. 22 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? 23 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.
-2 Samuel 12:21-23

David also lost another son while he was king. This son was named Absalom. Absalom was in line to be king. But He was in a hurry. He lead a rebellion against his father David. David was unwilling to hurt his son, and so he withdrew from the city of Jerusalem and let Absalom have it. But as the battles continued, Absalom in his desire for power continued to pursue his father. David told the general of his army, Joab, not to hurt Absalom. But Joab could not stand for this rebel to be allowed to live. Eventually Absalom had an honest accident in the woods and Joab caught him there and killed him. When David heard of the death of his son, he wept uncontrollably.

32 The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”
33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”
19]Joab was told, “The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” 2 And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, “The king is grieving for his son.” 3 The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. 4 The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!” – 2 Samuel 18:32-33 & 19:1-4

Consider here the contrast between David’s reaction to the death of his infant son and that of his adult son. Why were they so different? Because David knew that Absalom, his adult, responsible, rebellious and wicked son was now separated not only from Him, but also from God. But look at the words David offers while explaining his reaction to the death of his infant son. David told us in 2 Samuel 12:23 that where as He cannot bring him back, David can go to him.

That is what we need to remember. We cannot, nor if we really understood God’s grace and glory, bring back those who have gone before us to be with Him. David never said he was going to the place his infant son went in general terms. He was specific and personal. David was a man after God’s own heart. His repentance had already occurred at the birth of this infant son. David knew he was on his way to be with God. And his statement was personal concerning his son. “I shall go to him.” That is something we all will face. Even if we didn’t lose a child, we will all get to meet them and know them. Like the Bible tells us how we will sit around the table with Abraham, so we shall sit with each other and with those we have never before known.

The conclusion is this; all children belong to God. They have a sin nature, but it is the willful act of sin that condemns a person. Hence, by God’s grace children are spared. God views them as innocent and His. We have no real age of accountability, but rather a state of culpability where we become both aware of and responsible for our sins. Before that time, God views us as innocent. And so the good news is all the infants, all the aborted, all the toddlers who have lost their lives are safe in the hands of God today.





–          What is Heaven like for them? Full of Joy: Isaiah 35:10, Honor: Revelation 6:11, Pleasure Psalm 16:11

–          Is there a waiting period? No: 2 Corinthians 5:8

–          How old will my child be in heaven? (aka, “are there strollers in heaven?”) No, we are conformed to be like Christ. Romans 8:29 and 1 John 3:2

–          Will my child know me? Yes, remember David’s plan in 2 Samuel 12:23

–          Are children responsible for the sin of their parents? No. Deuteronomy 24:16. (how does this coincide with Deuteronomy 5:9? No child is held responsible for their parents sin, but the children of a sinful generation are greatly affected by the consequences of the sins of a society.”)

–          Does this understanding of “innocents” discussed in this paper apply to adults who have never heard the Gospel? No. Romans 1:18-20 (for a broader view read Romans 1:16 thru 2:1)

–          What about the times when death of little ones is allowed or even appointed by God in the O.T.? Doesn’t this show He condemns them? No, But that he spares them from a life of rebellion and idolatry. Example: See Job 3:11-19. In it, Job believes it is better to die at birth then to suffer in some ways. Why does he believe this? Because he believes what he says in Job 19:25.