Thank you all who have been following me her at They Call Me Pastor.  I have recently moved to a new site – stevespurlin.com.  I am still working on it, but you can see all of my older posts there as well as new ones that I will be working on in the near future.


“Trans-speciesism”: Tree huggers’ new progressive frontier | Earth Rising – An Alternative Environmental Commentary

Oh my goodness!  We have really lost our minds.  Romans 1:18ff being fully displayed in this day and age.

Source: “Trans-speciesism”: Tree huggers’ new progressive frontier | Earth Rising – An Alternative Environmental Commentary

Does God Still Speak to Us Today? – Randy White Ministries

This is a helpful article from a friend of mine.  Please read and enjoy … or don’t enjoy.

Does God talk to people today? Let’s check the facts!

Source: Does God Still Speak to Us Today? – Randy White Ministries

He Does Too

Wow!  The following poem was something that I, as a pastor, needed to hear today.  Pray for your pastor today and every day.

When you’re feeling lonely, remember, he does too. When you’re feeling depressed, remember, he does too. When you’re feeling your inadequacies, remember, he does too. When you get…

Source: He Does Too

The Canon According to Jesus

It has been a very long time since I last wrote.  I have been very busy with teaching, family, and taking courses myself.  I must also admit that I simply haven’t had anything to say.  However, I have just finished a course on Canon and Criticism and had to do some writing (and still have some to go), and thought that I would share with you what I have written.  I pray that this is insightful and helpful.

Hoky Bible

The canon of Christian Scripture is the foundation of the Christian system.  Therefore, it is the final authority for Christian thought, belief, and action.The question that must follow concerns authority: by what authority has this canon been determined? Men have put forth great effort into determining exactly which books belonged in the canon, but fallen man is not the final authority on such issues. If the books contained in the canon are indeed God-breathed, then He is the Authority to which man must turn to determine the canon of Scripture. This paper will examine the testimony of Jesus Messiah, the second person of the triune godhead, in order to argue that Scripture’s own testimony settles the debate over canonicity. In the end, the reception or rejection of the canon, and thus the testimony of Jesus, will depend on the faith, or lack thereof, of the reader.

Two Expectations

The apostle Paul informed Timothy that all of the “sacred writings” are profitable the end result being that “the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17, NASB) This flows well with his teaching that believers are God’s workmanship “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB) Since Christians are the result of God’s workmanship, and He has prepared works for them to complete, then it is reasonable to believe that the sacred writings that He supernaturally delivered to man, and providentially preserved through the centuries contain what must be known by His people in order to complete their work. To this end, it is also reasonable to believe that He gave and preserved His own testimony concerning what writings constitute the sacred writings. Jesus offered such testimony concerning both the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.

Jesus and the Hebrew Canon

That the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures was unquestioned in the early Church is settled fact. As F.F. Bruce wrote, “They accepted the Old Testament scriptures as they had received them: the authority of those scriptures was sufficiently ratified by the teaching and example of the Lord and his apostles.”[1] However, as has already been stated, it is Jesus’ own testimony that gives the final, authoritative stamp upon the Hebrew Scriptures. When Jesus testified concerning Scripture He was offering God’s own perspective and stamp of authority on the words of the Old Testament. As John wrote, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God” (John 3:34).

There are three traditional divisions of the Hebrew Scripture, the Torah (also known as the Law of Moses, or the Pentateuch) the Nevi’im (the prophets), and the Ketuvim (the writings). These three divisions consist of the same basic books that are in the present day canon the only difference being the divisions in two books that were originally combined, i.e. Samuel (1 & 2) and Ezra-Nehemiah. Although this is not the focus of our investigation, it is necessary to understand in order to properly interpret Jesus’ testimony concerning the Scriptures for this division comprises the Hebrew Scriptures to which Jesus consistently turned during His earthly ministry. Jesus directed His disciples to this division as “the key to the Scriptures…all that which concerns Himself in the Law of Moses, the Psalms and the Prophets.”[2] Luke 24:44 reads “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”[3] In fact, the recorded words of Jesus are filled with references to or quotations from these three sections. Rene Pache states that “One tenth of His words were taken from the Old Testament….180 of 1,800 verses which report His discourses are either quotations of the written revelation or else direct allusions to it.”[4]

Further, when one looks more closely the quotes and allusions may be seen to identify each of the divisions separately. First, in Jesus’ confrontation with Satan three times He quoted from the Torah, in particular from Deuteronomy (8:3; 6:16; 6:13, cf., Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). He also validated the Genesis account on multiple occasions as well as the creation of Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4-5). In these two accounts alone He addressed the beginning and completion of the Torah. Second, Jesus identified Jonah as a prophet and used Jonah’s time of being swallowed by the great fish as an illustration of His own impending death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 12:40-41). In doing so Jesus validated the latter prophets. Jesus also did the same for the former prophets when He used the example of Elijah and the widow, Zarephath, in Luke 4:26. Finally, Jesus included the Ketuvim, the writings, as He quoted from the Psalms on numerous occasions, as well as quoting Daniel including His favorite title for Himself, “Son of man.” Each of these quotations, or allusions serves to demonstrate that Jesus viewed the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures as the God-breathed, authoritative canon.

It is easy to accept that Jesus identified the Torah and Nevi’im, but the question of the Ketuvim may need more explanation. In Matthew 21:42 Jesus asked the religious leaders if they had never read a particular passage from “the Scriptures.” He then quoted from Psalm 118:22-23. This illustrates Jesus’ words to the disciples in Luke 24:44 when He referred them to His teaching from the Psalms. The Jews often used the first words of a Hebrew book as its title, which is similar to what Jesus did by using the term Psalms. In fact this form of shorthand was quite common, as Greg Gilbert has described it, “the Jews often used a shorthand to refer to the books of their Old Testament, either “the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings” or, more simply, ‘the Law and the Prophets.’…(the book of Psalms representing the Writings as the largest book in that collection).”[5] And when using this form in His teaching Jesus “was endorsing and ratifying the authority of the entire Old Testament from start to finish.”[6] Dr. Chris Cone concurs with Gilbert, asserting “Psalms is the name of the first book of the section called the writings, and it would be consistent with the practice of using that as the name for the entire grouping of books. In other words, Psalms would be the title for the entire section called the Writings, the Ketuvim.”[7]

It is clear from this short examination of Jesus’ view of the Hebrew canon that one may conclude that the existing canon found in Protestant Bibles is the same as that of Jesus’ day. Gilbert offers a fitting conclusion; “Here’s why all those large books [on topics such as transmission, canonization, etc.] will begin with the belief that the Old Testament is the Word of God: because Jesus, the resurrected Messiah, said it was. And therefore we believe it.”[8]

Jesus and the Greek Scriptures

Jesus told the eleven disciples that He was going to send “the Spirit of truth” who would “guide you into all truth” (Jn. 16:13). He, in turn, sent them out to make disciples using what He had taught, and what the Spirit would teach (Matt. 28:19-20). The disciples were given apostolic authority in the new entity, the Church. New Testament scholar N. B. Stonehouse addressed the topic of apostolic authority:

“[apostolic authority] which speaks forth in the New Testament is never detached from the authority of the Lord. In the Epistles there is consistent recognition that in the church there is only one absolute authority, the authority of the Lord himself. Wherever the apostles speak with authority, they do so as exercising the Lord’s authority. Thus, for example, where Paul defends his authority as an apostle, he bases his claim solely and directly upon his commission by the Lord (Gal. 1 and 2); where he assumes the right to regulate the life of the church, he claims for his word the Lord’s authority, even when no direct word of the Lord has been handed down (1 Cor. 14:37; cf. 1 Cor. 7:10)…”[9]

 Jesus passed His authority to the Apostles, and Paul’s testimony is only a sampling displaying the same authority given to the others. Thus, as Paul’s writings carry the authority of Jesus Christ, so, too, the writings of the others of whom we have the written messages. Therefore, when one reads the Gospels of Matthew and John, or the letters of John and Peter, or the Revelation of Jesus Christ given to the Apostle John he may be sure that he is reading the inspired word of God with all of the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures. This is the “amazing chain of authority”[10] that Jesus described in the aforementioned passage in John’s gospel. When an Apostle wrote under the leading of the Spirit what he wrote was God-breathed and authoritative, and therefore, must be accepted as canonical. how to handle the influx of Gentile believers (Acts 15:13-22). Further, Paul confirmed James’ apostolic authority in his letter to the Galatians (1:19). It should also be noted that both James and Jude were present in Acts when Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come upon them all (1:13-14).

That leaves the question of the Gospels of Mark and Luke, and Acts. Although neither Mark nor Luke were Apostles, both received endorsements from Paul. For instance, Paul said “Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service” (2 Tim. 4:11), thus commending Mark’s ministry and, by implication, his writing. Paul also affirmed Luke in the same passage when he identified Luke as the last man standing with him at the end of his ministry. Paul’s authority was directly from Jesus (Acts 9:4-6, 15-16), and it was in Paul’s warning to Timothy concerning false doctrine that he offered these commendations. At this point, one must reiterate that this is the chain of authority that had been established by Jesus, through Paul, and down to Mark and Luke.

However, there remains one book that has not been established as authoritative, and thus canonical. That is the book of Hebrews. The great difficulty lies in the fact that the author is unknown. What may be stated as fact about the author is he must have been a second-generation believer (Heb. 2:3).  Many arguments have been made in attempts to promote various biblical figures as the author, but without historical confirmation, all of these arguments are merely conjecture.  Beyond this point, the only argument that may legitimately be made is that the Christology and other doctrines addressed in the letter are completely in line with the other authoritative, canonical writings.  Based on that fact alone may it be deemed canonical.


Peter offered an excellent example of the Church’s recognition of canonicity in his remarks concerning Paul’s letters; “and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Peter clearly understood that when Paul spoke he spoke with the authority of Christ Himself. As stated in the opening remarks of this paper, in the end, the reception or rejection of the canon, and thus the testimony of Jesus, will depend on the faith, or lack thereof, of the reader. However, acceptance of the Bible is not founded on blind faith for the Bible attests to its authenticity and authority in many ways, but none more authoritative than that of the Savior Himself. Because of this, we can agree with Gilbert’s summation; “In the end,…the answer a Christian will give to the question, “Why do you trust the Bible?” is, “Because King Jesus the Resurrected endorsed the Old Testament and authorized the New.”[11]

[1] F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1988), 255.

[2] Rene Pache, The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969), 215.

[3] All Scripture quotes from New American Standard Version, 1995 Update.

[4] Pache, Inspiration and Authority, 221.

[5] Greg Gilbert, Why Trust the Bible? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 135.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Christopher Cone, “Old Testament Canon, Part II” unpublished lecture notes.

[8] Gilbert, Bible?, 138, italics in original.

[9] Ned B. Stonehouse, “The Authority of the New Testament.” The Infallible Word (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1946), 117-118. Quoted in Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. 1972), 41.

[10] Gilbert, Bible?, 139.

[11] Ibid., 141.



The Fallacies with “The Circular Argument” Against Presuppositionalism

Excellent article, well worth reading.

If you notice in the replies at the end, one skeptical of this approach, and of the Bible in general it seems, actually illustrates the argument being made by the author by unknowingly admitting that what he “believes” is by faith; faith in the “thousands of learned professors, scientists and teachers…” in whom he places his faith. Also, in the respondent’s words, “Historic evidence by first hand witnesses…,” etc. reveals that it is not more evidence that the reader needs since the Bible is the product of 39 first-hand accounts (40 including Moses, who was given the account of the creation by the Creator) all of whom were carried along by God Himself to write an infallible, completely accurate account of God’s revelation to man through history.

I recommend that you read all the way through this excellent article including the responses.


This will be a geeky post, sorry.

Occasionally, I like to write on topics pertaining to apologetic methodology. My primary purpose is to sharpen my personal thinking in the matters of how my exegesis and theology shape my overall approach in apologetics and evangelism. My objective has always been two-fold: I want to make sure I am defending the faith accurately as well as engaging unbelief effectively.

I approach the subject of apologetics as a presuppositionalist as opposed to one who would consider himself a classic apologist or an evidentialist. Most Christians who fancy the subject of “apologetics” operate in the matrix of classical/evidentialist apologetics. That is because the classic/evidential apologetic is the most popular and the one the average church-going red state evangelical Christian is familiar.

Proponents of the classical approach are also known to have a disdain toward presuppositionalism. Their blog articles and lectures will often times offer…

View original post 1,792 more words

A Dispensational View of the Christian Life, Part 7

It has been some time since my last post.  I have been busy with teaching, pastoring, studying, and most importantly, being a husband and father.  Recent events in our nation have introduced changes to cherished, God-ordained patterns, as well as stealing individual freedoms once protected by our nation’s Bill of Rights, and overstepping the explicit He That Is Spiritualdictates of our Constitution.  However, these changes, abuses of power, and wanton acts of hubris on the part of many do nothing to change God’s plan, or diminish biblical truth.  With this in mind we continue, and conclude our study of true Christian spirituality as set forth in the pages of Scripture.

In our last outing we examined Scripture’s two negative imperatives, namely do not grieve the Spirit, and do not quench the Spirit, and also the positive assertion that we must walk by means of the Spirit.  The key to obeying these scriptural instructions is found only in Scripture itself.  That will be our focus as we close out this series.

The Word

Paul makes reference to the fact that there is a state of the Christian walk that corresponds to that state of an infant. Returning to his letter to the Corinthians Paul states, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able for you are still fleshly. . . and are you not walking like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-3). The criticism that Paul levels at them is based upon their “jealousy and strife” (v. 3). They were grieving the Spirit by their sinfulness and quenching the Spirit through their rebellion and thus they were infants in need of milk and not able to take in the meat of God’s word. From this testimony it is easily seen that believers go through stages of growth, but those stages of growth do not come without the cooperation of the believer himself. To state it a different and somewhat controversial way, growth is not automatic nor is it guaranteed.

Again, when we turn to the book of Hebrews we see a very similar chastisement. The writer states,

…you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their sense trained to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:11b-14)

In carefully reading this rebuke it becomes obvious that these Jews were believers who had regressed in their walk. Instead of growing upward they had actually gone backward. They had been believers long enough that they should have been teaching others. Contrariwise, those who are mature are so because they have practiced faith and obedience in the word. The result is that they have had their senses trained to judge between that which is good and that which is evil. However, they needed kindergarten remedial classes in the truth of God’s revelation. Just as Paul had described the Corinthian church and the writer of Hebrews identifies his Jewish audience, believers today can be immature infants not actively engaged in the growth process. Just as the lack of growth signifies a serious problem in the natural child so it is with the spiritual child. Peter gives a good directive as to the correction of this problem.

In First Peter 2:2 he wrote, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” Peter identifies the fact that growth depends on the intake of the word and gives the imperative to long for God’s word for it is the “mother’s milk” that nourishes baby believers allowing them to grow to maturity in the Christian walk.

These three biblical examples identify the fact that maturity depends on the knowledge of God’s will and “spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that (believers) will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10). The believer is like a well from which the Holy Spirit draws in order for the believer to receive His direction. Without the water of the word (Eph. 5:26) filling the mind of the believer the Spirit’s work is hindered seeing that the believer’s “well” is empty. Thus, maturity is in part dependent upon the knowledge and understanding of the revealed will of God, His word.

The Filling of the Spirit

The filling of the Spirit is, if not synonymous with, closely related to walking by the Spirit. It is not to be confused with the baptism of the Spirit, which is a one-time act, for the filling of the Spirit is a repeated occurrence.[i] The filling of the Spirit occurs when He exercises control over the direction of and actions in the life of the believer. When this is accomplished through His empowerment and the believer’s cooperation the believer lives the Christian life and grows towards maturity.

In the closing statements to the church in Ephesus Paul wrote, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). The clear comparison that Paul made centers on the issues of control and influence. To be Spirit-filled is to be controlled by the Spirit, or, just as one can be under the influence (control) of alcohol, the Christian is to be under the influence (control) of the Holy Spirit. It must also be noticed that the one who has come under the control of alcohol has done so voluntarily. Likewise, the believer who would be controlled by the Spirit must voluntarily submit himself to the Spirit’s influence. Many refer to this as yielding to the Spirit while others prefer to refer to it as depending on Him. This decision to yield to, or depend on the Holy Spirit is a matter that the believer faces following the decision to dedicate oneself to God. It is an ongoing issue in the believer’s life since the filling can only be accomplished when not in a state of grieving or quenching the Spirit and thus must depend upon the consistent confession of sin (1 John 1:19) and obedience to the word of God (John 14:15, 24).

To be Spirit-filled the believer must also know and obey the will of the Lord meaning that knowing the revealed will of God in Christ, is a necessity (Eph. 5:15,17,18ff cf. Col. 3:16ff). Remaining in the state of being Spirit-filled is to abide in Christ and in His word (John 14). Jesus told His disciples that in order for them to bear fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, they must abide in Him for, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). To abide means to reside or remain in a certain location or sphere.[ii] In this passage it refers to remaining in fellowship with Christ by being obedient to His commands[iii] (John 15:7,10,14). John explained this very verse in 1 John 3:24; “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” When a believer is not in fellowship with Christ he is no longer being filled by the Spirit. When a believer is abiding in Christ’s words then the Spirit is able to direct him in the Christian walk.


There is so much more to be discussed and what has been discussed deserves a much greater treatment than what has been given here. I would recommend that each reader take the time to examine thoroughly the references given in this chapter because the Christian life is a vast and deep subject, and we have barely scratched the surface. We have seen God’s provision for the Christian life in regeneration, justification, sanctification, baptism into Christ, and the indwelling of the Spirit. We have seen the importance of the believer’s position in Christ, the problems that the Christian faces both externally and internally as well as what it takes to progress in the Christian life. And all of this has been viewed from a Dispensational perspective. Seeing that we are meant to live “in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God,” (Co. 1:10) it would behoove us to have a firm grasp of what the Christian life is and how we are to live it. I pray that God grace will continue to guide you in your studies.

[i]For a more in-depth treatment of this subject the reader is directed to Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life, 112-114.

[ii] William Arndt and Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000) Logos Bible Software.

[iii]For an excellent discussion of this conclusion the reader is directed to Robert Dean, Jr., “Abiding in Christ: A Dispensational Theology of the Spiritual Life (Part 1),” CTS Journal 7, no. 1 (January-March 2001), http://chafer.edu/content.cfm?id=367#01 (accessed July 10, 2012).