Sunday, March 29, 2009


By W.F. Bell

These are the three R's of the Christian Faith: Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration . A proper understanding of these terms is essential to a proper understanding of the true Gospel. Man's "ruin" is the malady; "redemption" and "regeneration" are the remedy for man's sinful condition.

Ruin by Sin

Before one can ever come to appreciate and magnify God's grace in salvation, there must first be some realization of the awful fact of man's complete and entire ruin by his own sin. It is absolutely necessary, under the illumination of the Holy Ghost, to see oneself as horribly, hopelessly, and helplessly lost!

The first major concern of the Gospel is to reveal man's need of salvation. This need arises from the fact that sinners are under God's judgment and condemnation, due to the fall of man in the person of Adam. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). There is a world of deep theology in this one verse! How often preachers are guilty of not declaring with clarity the truth of man's total and complete fall. Men are sinners because of Adam's sin! Men are sinners because there is a sin nature in every son of Adam! The entire human race has been ruined by man's fall in Genesis 3.

Men are now by nature dead, lost and blind. Our condition by nature is indeed incurable, at least from the standpoint of Man! "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). There is no hope for any sinner within himself; there is no hope for any sinner in another human; there is no hope for any sinner apart from the God of glory in the person of the God-Man, Christ Jesus. We are in ruin by our own sin, by the association we have with other sinners, by the work of Satan, and by the power of deceit of self.

Redemption By The Savior

With this deplorable background, we now come to the good news of the glorious Gospel. The good news out of heaven is that the infinite and eternal God (Yahweh or Jehovah) has come to man's rescue! "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him" (1 John 4:9). What mystery! What condescension! God Almighty, the mighty Sovereign, has willingly and graciously come down to the level of His inferiors, in that He sent His very Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world! All glory to this great God!

Here, dear reader, is our only hope: it is in the good news that Christ has come to redeem sinners by the giving of Himself on the cross. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Redemption means to buy back, to purchase by payment. So, the God of heaven has come to rescue a great multitude of Adam's fallen race, by the bloodshedding of His dear Son at Calvary. Redemption is only possible by the blood of Christ. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Christ's blood has actually procured redemption for all the elect of God, which assures the victory of the Saviour over all the efforts of Satan and sinners (Isaiah 53:11,12; Revelation 5:9).

Christ came to the manger; He lived a sinless life; He performed mighty miracles; He died a vicarious (substitutionary) death; He arose and ascended back to His Father; He is now exalted and intercedes for His own; some blessed day this Redeemer will come again to redeem the bodies of all His chosen, and bring retribution on the ungodly. "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28).

Regeneration By The Spirit

Men who are ruined by sin can only be regenerated by the Spirit of God. "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life" (2 Corinthians 3:6). Regeneration means the making new of sinners by a sovereign act of God the Holy Ghost (John 3:8; Titus 3:5). As man could not redeem himself, so neither can man regenerate himself. This is all in the good pleasure of our glorious God: He alone must quicken the dead, and give life to whom He will (John 5:21; 6:63).

The Gospel comes to us as lost, guilty sinners, in need of salvation. The Holy Ghost accompanies the Gospel for many, and opens their eyes to see the Lord Jesus as the only suitable and sufficient Saviour. When we see Christ we gladly repent of our sins, and trust the matchless Lord. When God Almighty acts upon man, then man can and will act! When the Holy Spirit regenerates us, then we are given repentance and faith (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 14:27). Thus, from start to finish, salvation is all of God's free and superabounding grace! All glory to God and the Lamb forever. "Worthy is the Lamb" (Revelation 5:12). This is the song of the redeemed both now and in glory!

He Lives

I know that my Redeemer lives;

What joy the blest assurance gives!

He lives, He lives, who once was dead;

He lives, my everlasting Head!

He lives, to bless me with His love;

He lives, to plead for me above;

He lives, my hungry soul to feed;

He lives, to help in time of need.

He lives, to grant me daily breath;

He lives, and I shall conquer death;

He lives, my mansion to prepare;

He lives, to bring me safely there.

He lives, all glory to His Name;

He lives, my Saviour, still the same;

What joy the blest assurance gives,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God

(Romans 3:11).

In the classic western from 1956, directed by John Ford, titled The Searchers, the story is told of a young girl kidnapped by hostile Indians in Texas. Her entire family was attacked and killed. Only this little girl named Debbie (Natalie Wood) was unaccounted for. Her uncle, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), spent years searching for her, accompanied by his slain brother Aaron’s half breed adopted son, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter). Edwards has deep prejudice for Indians, and even though the Texas Rangers had sworn in Martin as one of many deputies to search for Debbie, Ethan resents him. As the movie goes along it winds up being only Ethan and Martin searching for Debbie all over the west. There is so much more in the movie, and is likely John Wayne’s best movie. It is worth seeing, and is not loaded with cursing and sexual incidents like the modern films of today. But it is reel life only

In real life, man will search for many things. It may be a missing loved one, as in the movie I mentioned. It may be for the right person to marry, or the best job, or the best place to live, the right car or boat. It can be searching for something stolen from you, as household possessions or a car. I remember years ago a young man in our church in Atlanta had his buff ’55 Chevy stolen. He was upset and looked for it for some time. The police had been notified and they evidently searched for it also. Friends kept “their eyes peeled” for it, but no one ever found it. It likely got into the stolen car underground, and was altered, had the serial numbers changed, and became extremely hard to trace. Anyway, searching did not find it.

Why am I relating these things to you? Because many preachers and Christian workers will tell you that all men are searching for God. They want to help you find Him. But they are wrong. The natural man does not seek after God. They are not like my friend and his stolen car. Nor are they like Ethan and Marty in the movie searching endlessly for Debbie. There is scripture that might be applied to the natural man urging him to seek God as “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” ( Isaiah 55:6). I suppose this could be directed at an unregenerate man or woman, if either could “have ears to hear”, in other words, if they could receive this directive in their heart. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”(1 Corinthians 2:14).

Just as when the apostle Paul was in Athens near Mars Hill and saw: “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:23). As Paul spoke to the people there he told them that this true God he represented 1) made the world. 2) is Lord of heaven and earth.3) doesn’t dwell in man-made temples.4)is not properly worshiped with man’s hands. 5) has need of nothing. 6) this God gave life and breath to all, and all other things that mankind interacts with. 7) gave all mankind (all nations and races), the same blood. 8) predetermined their times. 9) predetermined their boundaries.

After saying all that, Paul says: “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27). All I can say is WOW! There is such astounding truth here. I can’t wait to focus on, and preach on this chapter once again, but for now my focus is on this truth; man is told to seek God, but men and women cannot, and will not, seek God on their own volition. But you may object! In Revelation 22:17 doesn’t it say “whosoever will”? In John 3:16 doesn’t it say “whosoever believeth”? Yes it does, but who is it that will come? How do they get this willingness? The natural man does not have it. Jesus said “And ye will not come to me that ye might have life” (John 5:40) This is the condition of the natural, unsaved man or woman -- he or she will not come. If he would he could, and would be saved, yet he will not. God said to His ancient people, Israel “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). The heart in scripture is the innermost being, or innermost understanding. We are not discussing a mere intellectual knowledge here, but with everything you have inside, you must seek Him. But you cannot within your own human power do this. You can’t merely “make a decision”. The will is involved, but first there has to be a quickening ( a giving of life). The same one who gave us physical life, without our help, must give us spiritual life, without our help. You see, we are dead in trespasses and sin. He must make us alive. (see Ephesians 2:8,9). We will not seek Him in reality until He quickens us. Before a sinner can really hear the gospel, much less seek Christ, God must first seek him. That is why we say “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). I wasn’t searching for God -- He wasn’t lost! But I was, and He came to me and found me.

The Lord often said “Him that hath an ear, let him hear” (see Revelation 2:17). You won’t hear until He gives hearing ears. You won’t see until He gives you seeing eyes. You won’t come to Him until the Lord draws you. In John chapter six, there were those who searched for Jesus for the wrong reasons. “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (John 6:26). It doesn’t happen so much in our day, but in an earlier time many joined a church to have a position in the community, a position of respect. Many of them were not seeking Christ. In our day not many people respect the church. We are in a day of apostasy where the true gospel is scarce. But God is still saving sinners here and there. In the same chapter six, Jesus Christ shares how this is done. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” (Psalm 110:3a).

Saturday, March 07, 2009



"God was manifest in the flesh". Is this the correct reading of 1Timothy 3:16? Most of the modern translations in following Greek critics, including Westcott and Hort, have the verse "He who was manifest in the flesh", not showing directly that the "He" is God Almighty. But the Authorized King James Version reads "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory."

English versions before the King James (such as the Geneva and Bishops Bibles), read "God". Of better known modern versions, only the NKJV, MKJB , 21st Century King James, Darby, Young's Literal Translation, New Millennium Bible and English Majority Text have "God". The rest including NIV, NASB, ESV, NRSV,RSV, ASV, Phillips, and most others go with "He". Scrivener's Greek New Testament (1894, Textus Receptus), has
θεος (Theos = God).

This is not the only verse that has controversy regarding the proper translation. It is one of the most important, but there are many. My son, Mark, presently doing a verse by verse exposition on 1 John came across 1 John 5:7, which may be the most controversial verse of all. Most of the modern critics say it does not belong in the Bible. Yet both of these verses are so important regarding the deity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. Another important controversy regards the last twelve verses of Mark. These are substantial verses on the resurrection of Christ, along with the Great Commission, as well as apostolic signs and confirmation. Then John 8:1-12 is questioned because (supposedly), Jesus was too easy with an adulterous woman. Yet His answer "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8 :7b) indicates clearly that Christ did not condone sin. After all, Christ is the giver of the law and it requires both man and woman caught in the act of adultery to be stoned.

Now my question and discussion on 1 Timothy 3:16 does not mean that I regard Christians who use versions that omit that verse as inferior or as unbelievers. No, I only believe they are the losers for letting the higher critics convince them that we can "throw out" a number of verses because of "older manuscripts". It is said that Constantin von Tischendorf found Codex Sinaiticus in 1844 in a waste basket in the Convent of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai. Codex Vaticanus was found in 1481 in the Vatican Library in Rome where it still is held. The following scholars have this to say regarding it: “The corrupt and unreliable nature of Codex B is best summed up by one who has thoroughly examined them, John W Burgon: ‘The impurity of the text exhibited by these codices is not a question of opinion but fact...In the Gospels alone, Codex B(Vatican) leaves out words or whole clauses no less than 1,491 times. It bears traces of careless transcriptions on every page…’"

According to The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, "It should be noted . . . that there is no prominent Biblical (manuscripts) in which there occur such gross cases of misspelling, faulty grammar, and omission, as in (Codex) B."

These two codexes were the basis of the most of 36,000 changes from the majority text. These admittedly old, and very rare manuscripts are the working basis of the changes against the thousands of copies of later manuscripts known as majority text. The theory is "older is better". It ain't necessarily so! Could it be that these obscure texts were obscure because they were corrupt texts meant to be discarded? I am no Greek scholar, that is certain! But, using common sense in light of the statements by John Burgon, and the Westminster Dictionary, not to mention statements by many others, including David Brown, one of the writers of the Jamison, Faussett and Brown Commentary. He says in this article regarding Vaticanus : “The entire manuscript has been mutilated...every letter has been run over with a pen, making exact identification of many of the characters impossible. Dr. David Brown observes: ‘I question the 'great witness' value of any manuscript that has been overwritten, doctored, changed and added to for more than 10 centuries."’ (The Great Unicals).

There is so much more information you can study on this subject, and if you are interested just email me for some site information. I don't know about you, but I have told some of my friends that I am too old to change versions now. Some of the language is difficult, although poetic, in the KJV, I know that. If I was going to "update", I would use the NKJV or the New Millennium Bible. I would not go to a Bible that did not use majority text as its basis.

If you are not tired of reading, you may want to read the following on God Manifest in the Flesh.


"‘God manifested in the flesh.’ The Vulgate’s translator (i.e Jerome, ed.), by leaving out the name of God, refers what follows to ‘the mystery,’ but altogether unskillfully and inappropriately, as will clearly be seen on a bare perusal, though he has Erasmus on his side, who, however, destroys the authority of his own views, so that it is unnecessary for me to refute it. All the Greek copies undoubtedly agree in this rendering, ‘God manifested in the flesh.’ But granting that Paul did not express the name of God, still any one who shall carefully examine the whole matter, will acknowledge that the name of Christ ought to be supplied. For my own part, I have no hesitation in following the reading which has been adopted in the Greek copies. In calling the manifestation of Christ, such as he afterwards describes it, a ‘great mystery,’ the reason is obvious; for this is ‘the height, depth, and breadth of wisdom,’ which he has elsewhere mentioned, (Ephesians 3:18,) by which all our senses must unavoidably be overwhelmed.”

“Let us now examine the various clauses in their order. He could not have spoken more appropriately about the person of Christ than in these words, “God manifested in the flesh.” First, we have here an express testimony of both natures; for he declares at the same time that Christ is true God and true man. Secondly, he points out the distinction between the two natures, when, on the one hand, he calls him God, and, on the other, expresses his “manifestation, in the flesh.” Thirdly, he asserts the unity of the person, when he declares, that it is one and the same who was God, and who has been manifested in the flesh.”

“Thus, by this single passage, the true and orthodox faith is powerfully defended against Arius, Marcion, Nestorius, and Eutyches. There is also great emphasis in the contrast of the two words, God in flesh. How wide is the difference between God and man! And yet in Christ we behold the infinite glory of God united to our polluted flesh in such a manner that they become one.”

“By the word flesh Paul declares that Christ was true man, and that he was clothed with our nature; but, at the same time, by the word manifested, he shows that there were two natures. We must not imagine a Jesus Christ who is God, and another Jesus Christ who is man; but we must know that he alone is both God and man. Let us distinguish his two natures, so as to know that this is the Son of God who is our brother. Now I have said that God permits the ancient heresies, with which the church was troubled, to be revived in our time, in order to excite us to greater activity. But, on the other hand, let us observe, that the devil is constrained to do his utmost to overthrow this article of faith, because he sees clearly that it is the foundation of our salvation. For if we have not that mystery of which Paul speaks, what will become of us? We are all children of Adam, and therefore we are accursed; we are in the pit of death; in short, we are deadly enemies of God, and thus there is nothing in us but condemnation and death, till we know that God came to seek us, and that, because we could not rise to him, he came down to us. Till we have known this, are we not more than wretched? For this reason the Devil wished, as far as he could, to destroy that knowledge, or rather to mix it with his lies, so as to be perverted.

On the other hand, when we see that there is such majesty in God, how shall we dare to approach unto Him, seeing that we are full of misery? We must therefore come to this union of the majesty of God with human nature. And thus, in every respect, till we have known the divine majesty that is in Jesus Christ, and our human weakness which he hath taken upon him, it is impossible for us to have any hope, or to be capable of having recourse to the goodness of God, or of having the boldness to call upon him, and return to him. In a word, we are entirely shut out from the heavenly kingdom, the gate is shut against us, and we cannot approach to it in any way whatever.” ( some emphasis mine(cw)