Sunday, February 03, 2013

King Saul and Repentance

King Saul started out knowing God's will and following it. Later in life he turned to and continuously sought his own good, even when it was in contradiction to the will of God. He did not completely destroy the Amalekites as he was told to, instead he allowed some of the people to take plunder for their own benefit, though he said it was for sacrifice. Then he sought to kill David - who was to be his successor - though David proved over and over again that he was faithful to Saul's leadership and would be till he died. He continued to ignore God's law. He slaughtered a whole city of priests in his pursuit of David, and even threw a spear at his oldest son, Jonathan, because of his friendship with David. Finally God ceased to speak to him at all. In I Samuel 28, the Philistines gathered their forces to come against Israel. After seeing the army of the Philistines, Saul decided to seek God, presumably because he was afraid they were too much for him. But God did not send any message, not by a dream, or by prophets. Even the Urim, a device used by the priests, was silent. Then Saul went to a medium, a person who talks with dead people. This practice is expressly forbidden in the law of God. That worked, sort of. However, Saul never showed any real repentance for any of his sins and he died in that battle, along with all of his sons.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Musings on Sexual Purity

Perhaps in emphasising physical virginity when talking about purity, some Christians are putting emphasis on the wrong thing. Not that physical virginity is wrong - it isn't. But the gospel is not about the outward law - the law still applies, we ought to be obedient to God and faithful to our wives, whether future or present - but we have to remind ourselves and others two things.

First, purity and obedience are not just about physical virginity - most of us are probably "damaged goods" sexually or relationally in some way. Its not hard for us (Christians) to lust after someone that is not ours, and many Christian men, including me have struggled with the sin of looking at pornography or nude photos of women. Being pure includes our minds and we all have to repent and put the impurities to death.

Second, we have to recognize that there is forgiveness from our sin – when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to our Lord Jesus, He did not ignore her sin or trivialize it, but He did say in John 8:11 “go and sin no more.” This was a common refrain that He told to those He healed and met. He had compassion and then warned them to go but sin no more. This should be common with us as Christians – we ought to warn people compassionately what actions are sin, but the next breath (or paragraph) should remind people that there is forgiveness for them in Jesus' death on the cross.

Third, we should be ready and willing to forgive others of their sin and help them to put it to death, starting with those closest to us – our spouses or significant others.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Five Minutes for Freedom: Oppose the UN CRPD

The UN CRPD vote in the US Senate failed by a vote of 61-38 (by 5 votes) because as a treaty it needed a two thirds majority (66 votes). Thank you for all your calling.

I would like to ask you to take at least five minutes of your time to read this email; your action could help to preserve freedom for coming generations of Americans.

You may have heard of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). The CRPD is a treaty that claims to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Unfortunately it is also dangerous to American Freedom. Currently the US has the strongest laws to protect the disabled of any nation in the world. Currently we have a mix of state and federal laws that protect the disabled. This treaty would change all the applicable laws into federal laws at a time when we ought to be taking power away from the federal government. The US would have to spend millions of dollars every four years to create a report that would be sent to the UN in Geneva. More over by signing the treaty we would be agreeing as a nation to take measures to the maximum of its available resources . . . with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of these rights.”

The proponents of this treaty are claiming that by signing it we will protect Americans traveling abroad. But this is ridiculous – Americans abroad will only be protected by the laws of the countries they travel in not because of US being a signatory to the CRPD.

Proponents have also claimed that this law would not have any effect on US law. While technically no other laws would have to be passed, a treaty once ratified becomes part of the highest law of the land; on par with the Constitution. In fact John Kerry said, “I want real obligations...that is what we're signing onto.” But our nation already has real obligations to disabled persons because of federal and state law, and if the laws aren't strong enough Congress can always make them stronger or we could make a Constitutional Amendment.

On Tuesday at noon there is a vote in the Senate about the ratification of this treaty. Currently there are only 36 Senators who are opposing this treaty – just enough to keep us from ratifying it, but there is a lot of pressure on them from the proponents to change their minds.

Please do three things:
First, pray. God knows our need and that we want to pass freedom down to our children.

Second, call your Senators: The capital switchboard number is 202-224-3121. Let your Senators know that you oppose the treaty because it undermines national sovereignty. You can also go to here to look up your Senators direct contact information.

Third, let your friends and family know about this crisis of freedom, perhaps by sending this email to them.

Thank you,

Caleb Bohon

Additional Resources (follow the link):

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Should Christians Pray to Mary or the other Saints?

The Bible teaches that there is a cloud of witnesses in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1)  If saints of old are watching us, should Christians pray to Mary (the mother of Jesus) or the other saints who have gone before us into heaven?   While the Bible does not directly answer this question, we can infer that we should not.

No example in Scripture
There is no example of it in Scripture. Catholic Answers says that there is a reference to Saints in heaven offering prayers from saints on earth in Revelation 5:8. "And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” But what is seen here is not clearly what they are claiming. This passage could be showing something entirely different. For example, the elders mentioned here could be symbolic of the church as a whole and as such offering the prayers of all the saints. Or they could be saints in heaven offering their own prayers. Revelation is a book full of symbolism and one passage in it should not be used to substantiate a whole doctrine that is found no where else in Scripture.

It is not any more helpful
In the Bible there are cases of men asking someone else to make a request for them. First, in I Kings 2:13-25 Adonijah asks Bathsheba to make a request of her son King Solomon for him. He asked for a woman that had warmed King David and served him. Second, in Matthew 20:20-28, there is a story recorded of the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, going to Jesus with their mother and making a bold request. There are other examples in Scripture of people asking someone else to make a request for them, but I think they are mostly the same. In all cases it seems that the person who makes the original request asks someone else to make it for them because they believed it would be more likely to be answered favorably when coming from the other person. So Adonijah believes that Solomon is more likely to give a favorable answer to Bathsheba, his mother, than to Adonijah himself. But with God, as Christians, we don't have to be afraid that someone else will get a more favorable answer than we will. Actually, the opposite is true: We are God's children and He delights to give us good things. (Matthew 7:7-11)

The difference when compared to a saint on Earth
“But what is the difference between asking a saint who has gone to the Lord and one here on the earth?” Glad you asked:
There IS a similarity – neither of them are omniscient – only God is. Asking someone to pray for you when you don't know if they will get the message is futile. I don't sit here and audibly ask you or my Grandpa or anyone else to pray for me. I only ask someone that I believe is listening to me. That the saints in heaven will be able to hear and present our prayers to God is more than we can deduce from Scripture. It may be that they are watching and offering prayers and praise on our behalf, but we know that Jesus' intercession is sufficient.
The difference is that I ask how I can pray for you because I am interested in your well being and want to share in your sorrow and joy. (Romans 12:15) We are a body of believers here on earth and ought to ask like one – this is continually affirmed in Scripture - and part of that is by praying for each other.  However, how the saints in heaven join in being part of the body is not explained. 

No mere human mediator is necessary
Jesus Himself tells us in John that we will not pray to Him in "that day" but to the Father Himself in Jesus name. (John 16:23-24) I don't think that is a command to cease praying to anyone but the Father, but Jesus is telling us that there is nothing between us and the Father. Do you realize what a blessing that is? For thousands of years men and women had to go before God with a sacrifice or a priest to stand between them and God and offer their requests for them, but now we can go directly to Him because any sin that is between us has been paid for (if we are Christians) by Christ.

Pray to the One who answers
The saints in heaven are witnesses, like the fans in a stadium.  When a player in a game has a problem with a call the referee makes, he doesn't talk to the fans, he talks directly with the referee, or with his coach.  Similarly we should pray directly to God; He is able to answer our prayers.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Scriptures

The Scriptures are important because it is the basis of all a Christian believes and thus all his actions. It is the Word of God, and teaches us all we need to know for Salvation.  The Scriptures are commonly referred to as The Bible, The Holy Bible, or The Word of God.  Christians believe the Scriptures are contained in the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments.

The Bible... a collection of books: One of the questions that people tend to ask about the Bible is about how it was compiled. Here is an article that explains how the Bible was received and compiled. inerrant: Tim Challies has an excellent short series of posts that explains the basics of the doctrine of inerrancy. He repeats Wayne Grudem’s definition from his Systematic Theology.The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.” He lists four things that inerrancy does not mean,

First, inerrancy does not preclude the use of ordinary language...
Second, inerrancy does not preclude the use of loose and free quotations...
Third, the Bible can be inerrant even if it contains unusual grammatical constructions...
Fourth, Scripture is inerrant only in its original autographs...

In his last post he covers some common objections to the doctrine of inerrancy.
We Do Not Have The Original Manuscripts
Inerrancy is a Poor Term
Proving Inerrancy is a Circular Argument
The Bible is Full of Errors and Contradictions

Along those lines, Glenn T. Stanton has an excellent post about why Christians do not take the Bible literally. Rather we believe that everything in the Bible is true. The Bible contains many genres of literature, from biography and history, to poetry and pastoral. Through out the Bible there are metaphors that should not be taken literally but as poetic description. There are also some actual facts which should be taken literally, though they seem imposible.

...ought to be studied: Should Christians read and study the Scripture? Tim Challies gives three reasons why we ought to, then he talks about how to study Scripture.

...deserves to be remembered: In Psalm 119 the Psalmist says that young men may keep their ways pure by hiding God's Word in their heart. Memorizing Scripture is good not only to know the Word better, but to be able to fight temptation. 

...ought to be read in a good translation:

...ought to be cited well: Many times Scripture is used to prove something by citing just a verse that seems to say what the author wants it to say. In some cases such as proverbs this is just fine, as in “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” But most of the time we need to be careful that we use the verse with the meaning it has in context. For example there are many promises in the Bible, but they are all given to specific people or groups of people. We cannot just assume that a promise is given to us without looking at the context and seeing if it applies to us in context. More on using the Bible well in these two posts.

If you would like to listen to a couple of messages about Scripture, here are two:
Is the Bible just Another Book?

[This is the first in a series of posts that will compile the best articles on the web about what a Christian believes.  If you know of other articles that ought to be in this list feel free to link to them in your comment.]

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Justice of the Cross

Recently I read someone explaining how he was no longer a Christian because he did not believe that it was just of God punish even a willing victim to pay for our sin. At the first glance it seems like this man is correct. How could a good God punish one person for another's sin? It seems so unfair. But taking a closer look at a few key things from Scripture reveals how wrong this is.

First, understanding who God is. God is triune. He is three persons yet one God. The three persons of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are one such that seeing one of them act is the same as seeing the others act, thus Jesus says to His disciples that by seeing Him they had seen the Father. (John 14:9) The Trinity is pictured in multiple places, the best of which is when Jesus is baptized. At that time the Father proclaimed that Jesus is His Son and at the same time the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove. (Luke 3:21-22) The Trinity is like a marriage – the relationship between a man and his wife is one of selfless love, and so is God's relationship to Himself. So Jesus when He is faced with the cross goes willingly as He seeks to do His Father's will. (Luke 22:39-46 and Hebrews 12:2)

Second, the definition of sin. Sin is not just bad or wrong things that a person does, but offenses he commits against God. My sins (i.e., lying, lust, hatred, or pride) are all ultimately crimes against the Holy God who made me, and not crimes against my neighbor, even when they are also offenses against my neighbor. (Psalm 51:4)

Third, what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is best illustrated in the parable that Jesus told about the man who owed his king ten thousand talents. (Matthew 18:23-35) In that parable, Jesus says the king is settling all his accounts, and he calls in a servant who owes him the tremendous sum of ten thousand talents. A talent is a weight of gold that was worth approximately twenty years of a laborer's wages. (Ibid.) This is 200,000 years of wages, or about 9 trillion dollars today in 2012. Clearly this man is going to have a hard time paying this debt. Actually I think that Jesus point here is that the man is not going to be able to pay it back. The man however pleads with the king asking for mercy because he says he will pay it back. However the king gives him more than he asks for and tells him that he will forgive the debt. The king gives up whatever he could have done with that money by forgiving the debt. He says in essence, “Whatever project I am working on that needs that money, it is not as important to me as you are.” Forgiveness is saying to someone, “I will cancel the debt that you owe to me.”

But the debt still has to be paid by someone. In the parable the king pays it. Jesus says that the kingdom of Heaven, God's kingdom, is like that parable. The Father has given all authority to the Son, Jesus. (Matthew 28:18 Jesus has been exalted by being given the seat at the Father's right hand. He has been made king over all creation and will come again to judge the world. (Acts 2:33-36 and Matthew 25:31-46) When He returns again He will be the one who publicly pardons the sins of His people. Jesus paid the debts of those who trust in Him, though ultimately the debts are to Himself. (Galations 3:13)

This is not the same as me forcing my child to pay debts owed to me by our neighbor, it is more like my child inheriting my estate after I am gone (remember that Jesus, the Son, is the King now) and in his good will forgiving a debtor who had owed me money. There is nothing unjust about that at all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

All I want is for God to reveal Himself to me. Why doesn't He?

You may expect that if God wants us to believe that He exists, He would reveal Himself to everyone in a supernatural way. However, if He did that then wouldn't He end up revealing Himself the same to everyone? Wouldn't it end up looking natural to many people, just because it would not seem special?

There are three specific ways that God has chosen to reveal Himself. First, in His Word, God proclaims that, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Ps 19:1 ESV) Creation cries out that God exists. The greatness of the universe proclaims the greatness of God just in shear awe. Every living cell proclaims the amazing creative wonder that God is, by the complexity that each cell contains. It seems so simple because it is so small but could a living cell really come about by chance? It has complexities that make it impossible for it to have come about by chance. (See The Design and Complexity of the Cell or Darwin's Black Box)

Second, by sending His only Son to reveal Himself. (John 14:8-11) In sending His Son, the Father not only proclaims His own existence but demonstrates the love that He has for us sinners. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 ESV) That is truly amazing; that while we were still enemies of God, He sent His only Son to die in our place! Then to confirm that Jesus really was the Christ, and to give irrefutable evidence of the resurrection, Jesus was raised back to life on the third day from His death. (To learn more about the actual evidence of Jesus' resurrection, see The Case for Christ.)

Third, He gave us His Word so that we would have all the information we need to believe. As He tells us in II Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV) There is nothing necessary beyond the Scripture. (The Case for Christ looks like it has a good defense of the reasons Christians believe the Bible to be true, or see Is the Bible True … Really?)

In Luke 16 Jesus tells a parable of a rich man and his poor neighbor Lazarus. The rich man had no fear of God and seems to have only lived for himself. When both of them died, Lazarus went to heaven while the rich man went to Hell. In Hell (or Hades) the rich man was so tormented that he wished for just a drop of water to be put on His tongue. Finding that this was not possible, he remembered his unbelieving family, and requested that Lazarus be sent back from the grave to proclaim their danger to them. Abraham told him that if his family would not believe the Law and Prophets then they would not believe a man raised from the dead. (“Law and Prophets” is a way of saying the Old Testament or the part of the Bible that existed during Jesus' life time.)

I encourage you to examine the claims of the Resurrection of Christ for yourself. But at the same time I encourage you to examine yourself and ask if it is because of pride or an unwillingness to give up sin that you will not admit that God has revealed Himself. Jesus wants you to ask Him to pay for your sin so that you can know God yourself. Do not let your imperfection hold you back.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lying when we don't mean to

I am reading Let the Reader Understand, an introduction to biblical interpretation, by Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton.  Though a little on the heavy side for an introduction it seems to be well organized and I am happy to be adding it to our library.
As I read chapter one I was struck by how they make a point to say that bad interpretation is bad:
We have argued that texts are communicative acts, and communicative acts are acts of the will.  Thus, there is a motive behind the production of a text, and motivation can never be morally neutral.  Further, a communicative venture involves not just the utterer or author, but also the hearer or interpreter.  Just as the author's act cannot be morally neutral, neither can interpretation be ethically neutral.  This should be obvious at certain levels.  Deliberately misconstruing a text to misrepresent its author is a morally reprehensible act; it is a kind of lying, a "bearing false testimony."
The ethicality of interpretation is supremely important when it comes to interpreting the Bible.  The Scriptures repeatedly ward that wrong thinking is ethically and morally evil, and ineluctably leads to more evil and less understanding.  Thus misinterpreting Scripture is sin.  Since the Bible frequently addresses questions of behavioral morality, misunderstanding can lead to incorrect behavior, and thus more sin.  Further, since the Bible's subject matter directly addresses our behavior, our interpretation is bound to be heavily influenced by our attempts to justify ourselves.  Finally, biblical interpretation touches directly on questions of truth, and truth and ethics are inseparable.  A false interpretation of a true statement is a lie, and lies are evil.  A false interpretation of a true statement that is a mater of life and death is therefore a great evil.  The Bible even declares that a lie told by the Serpent was the sin that perpetrated the fall of man (Gen. 3), and Jesus castigates the devil as "the father of lies" (John 8:44).  Bad interpretation is bad.
It therefore seems strange that so much of biblical studies and even books of biblical interpretation operate on the assumption that interpretation can be an ethically neutral and value-free scientific enterprise.  There is no escaping the fact that the Bible addresses moral truth, this automatically means that no reader who understands its message can remain neutral in his or her understanding.
Though before reading this I would not have disagreed with their conclusion, their arguments drove home the point better than it was before. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


The great evangelist George Whitefield once received a letter in which he was brutally criticized by a peer. He was called everything but a preacher. Whitefield, with impeccable clarity, penned the best response to criticism I've ever encountered. He wrote his assassin a brief reply: "Thank you sir for your criticism. If you knew about me what I know about me, you would have written a longer letter." Genius. Whitefield got it. _We all deserve longer letters._ If we can ever get here in our hearts, the world will open up to us. The gospel says, "Get here soon." - from "What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him" by Byron Forrest Yawn
We are all sinners.  Let us recognise this and turn to the Lord for Salvation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Are Vaccinations Ethical?

I talked with the chaplain last week about a number of things, including vaccinations and I wanted to share what I have learned in some of my research. There are certain types of them that I believe are unethical and I will not take them. I realize that a topic like vaccinations could get rather heated. This is a matter of conscience - good Christian people could disagree about the ethical concerns of using this type of vaccination. I think it may be possible for Christian people to both use them with a good conscience, but the information should still be put out there for people to make their own decisions.

In a number of vaccines human cell lines are used (usually as the culture to grow the virus in). Both of the lines used are originated from murdered unborn babies.

On the CDC website itself are the following two documents:

These are both directly on the CDC website and can be found by searching for "excipient" on their website.

The second document looks like it was actually composed in 2012. It lists recent vaccines that were made with MRC-5 and WI-38 human diploid tissue. A mere google search will turn up the following about these tissue lines:

"MRC-5 (Lung, diploid, human)

"Derived from normal lung tissue of a 14-week-old male fetus by J. P. Jacobs in September 1966 (Nature 227: 168-170, 1970), the MRC-5 cell line was established in a growth medium consisting of Earle's Basal Medium in Earle's balanced salt solution supplemented with 10% calf serum. Following initial cultivation, subcultures were prepared twice weekly at a 1:2 ratio. When the cells reached approximately the 7th population doubling, the majority of the cultures were harvested to prepare a frozen cell stock. Subsequent observations revealed that the MRC-5 cells are capable of attaining 42-46 population doublings before onset of the decline in proliferation usually experienced with human fibroblast lines. The MRC-5 cell strain (like the WI-38 cell line) is susceptible to a wide range of human viruses." (

(Lung, diploid, human)

"The WI-38 human diploid cell line was derived by L. Hayflick from normal embryonic (3-month gestation) lung tissue of a female (Exp. Cell Res. 25: 585, 1961). The growth medium used was Eagle's medium in Earle's balanced salt solution supplemented with 10% calf serum. The cells have a finite lifetime of 50 (plus or minus 10) population doublings with a doubling time of 24 hours (Exp. Cell Res. 37: 614, 1965). The cell line has been shown to have one of the broadest human virus spectra of any cell population that has been tested and is especially useful for isolation of rhinoviruses." (

Notice they have their own citation for where this cell line originates. I have no way to check theirs, but the information can found on other pages, and is not from a page that is in anyway biased against the use of such cells. (Not that bias is bad.)