Archive for year: 2017
The King James Version of the Bible is an excellent translation. There is so much about it to be commended. It was my first ever Bible and I am indeed glad for that. However, it is not the only version one should ever use. We have learned much about the original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible since the 17th century and these insights have shaped many of the modern translations, helping us understand the original words God inspired. Just saying this is anathema to some people caught up in what is called ‘King James Only’.
I very much appreciate Pastor Tim Conway’s teaching here (below). This is a controversy that has caused untold damage and division in so many friendships and families and very sadly, has even split entire churches. He addresses this vital issue in terms that hopefully all can follow. – Pastor John Samson
Grace Community Church’s website (gccsatx.com) reads: “Many adamantly hold to the ‘KJV Only’ as being the only translation of the Bible to use. It seems that constantly new believers are running into this question and wrestling with the evidence of whether it is a valid argument or not. In this Bible Study Tim seeks to put forward the evidence that convinced him that the ‘KJV Only’ position is not a stance that is being faithful to the evidence.
It is because of emails that we have received, like the following, that it was apparent there was a need to put something up on the KJV Only controversy. For example, at the beginning of 2012 someone emailed in saying:
“Exactly what part of “ANYONE WHO ADDS OR TAKES AWAY FROM THIS BOOK” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? IT IS INDEED NO different than “WHICH PART OF THE WORD “NO” DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND???? I was at a loss as to why almost everyone was reading from every other so called new and improved versions of the bible. All Reading from any and every other version EXCEPT the true Old King James……Why Why why would you want to change God’s word to suit the brethren. It ought to be rather, The brethren adapting to the grand language of the Old King James not all changing the word to suit the brethren !!!! The old King James Version has the SALT. All the rest are simply put…without SALT. I am just shocked though I know Our King of King’s Christ Jesus says I should think it strange. Go ahead brethren. GO ON… explain away. Many others will be led astray by you and yours. I am grateful to God evermore I remain wide awake.”
Two years later this same person emailed back saying:
“I have repented to God & have ceased from my ridiculous King James only attitude. I greatly appreciate your sermons & wish to apologize for my previous high minded opinionated foolishness. I hope you can graciously forgive me for lashing out the way I did.”
Our desire, as Tim says at the start of the study, is not to take away from God’s Word, but to see people, like the person above, come to recognize that the evidence does not support the KJV 1611 as being the only translation we should use.”
“Multiple translations don’t make a text more or less reliable. But it’s interesting that there’s kind of an underlying assumption when people make that statement and it feels something like this: well, the Bible has been translated and once it got translated, people have revised the translation without going back to look at those early manuscripts. And so, I thought that when I was in junior high school but I got past that relatively early. The reality is that the King James Bible, when it was translated in 1611, the New Testament was essentially based on seven Greek New Testament manuscripts, the earliest of which went back to the 11th century. We still have those manuscripts and we have almost 6,000 more manuscripts. So, we have almost a thousand times as many manuscripts as the King James New Testament was based on and our earliest don’t go back to the 11th century but so far as what’s been published, they go back to the second century. So they go back almost a thousand years earlier. So as time goes on, we’re not actually getting farther and farther away from the original text, we’re getting closer and closer.” – Dr. Daniel B. Wallace, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.
Everything God’s people Israel had received by way of revelation, pointed to Him… and yet, we read, “his own people did not receive him.” (John 1:11)
What an indictment that is!
How on earth did the very people awaiting the arrival of the Messiah, miss Him when he came?
Jesus, in John 5:39,40 declared, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
After the resurrection – Jesus encountered two very despondent disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were struggling to make sense of all that had taken place in Jerusalem…
Luke 24: 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Later on, He appeared to His disciples:
In Luke 24:44, 45 He talked about “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…”
Again, how did they miss Him, when He is the main subject matter of the Old Covenant?
WHO IS THIS JESUS?
In Genesis … He is the Lord God who formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into him;
the One who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day;
He is the Seed of the Woman;
He is Noah’s ark of refuge;
He is a priest in the order of Melchizedek
He is Abraham’s ram caught in the thicket;
He is the King in royal Judah’s line…
In Exodus… He is the One calling out from the burning bush – the great I AM;
He is the Passover Lamb;
and the Rock which followed His people in the wilderness.
In Leviticus… He is the Tabernacle;
He is the Altar; the Great High Priest, and the Lamb for Sacrifice.
In Numbers… He is the brazen serpent lifted up for the healing of all who will look to Him;
He is the Tabernacle’s cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night.
In Deuteronomy… He is the Prophet like unto Moses.
In Joshua … He is Lord of heaven’s armies, the Captain of our Salvation.
Judges … He is the angel of the Lord; our Judge and Law-Giver.
Ruth … He is our Kinsman Redeemer.
1 & 2 Samuel … He is our trusted Prophet who sits on David’s throne forever.
Kings & Chronicles … He is our reigning King; one greater than even Solomon.
Ezra … He is the Faithful scribe.
Nehemiah … He is the Restorer of broken walls.
Esther … He is our Advocate Mordecai.
Job … He is our Ever-Living Redeemer who will take His stand upon the earth.
Psalms … He is the Lord our Shepherd.
Proverbs … He is our Wisdom.
Ecclesiastes … He is our sure Hope of Resurrection when all else is vanity and futility.
Song of Songs … He is our loving Bridegroom.
Isaiah … He is born of the virgin, He is Immanuel;
the Lord of glory, high and lifted up in the Temple;
the wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace.
the suffering Servant of Yahweh;
the sin bearing Savior – wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, the punishment due to us was upon Him and by whose stripes we are healed;
cut off from the land of the living, stricken for God’s elect people;
yet will be resurrected and live forever
Jeremiah … He is the Righteous Branch; the Lord our Righteousness.
Lamentations … He is our Weeping Prophet.
Ezekiel … He is the Son of man.
Daniel … He is the fourth man in the fiery furnace; the Ancient of Days, the One who comes in the clouds of heaven.
Hosea … He is the Faithful Husband.
Joel … He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Amos … He is our burden bearer.
Obadiah … He is Mighty to Save.
Jonah … He is our great foreign Missionary; the One who will be three days and nights in the belly of the earth.
Micah … He is the eternal ruler of Israel, born in Bethlehem.
Nahum … He is the avenger of God’s elect, our Stronghold in the day of trouble.
Habakkuk … He is the Great Evangelist
Zephaniah … He is the Restorer of the Remnant
Haggai … He is the desire of all nations, the cleansing Fountain.
Zechariah … He is our humble King riding on a colt; the pierced One, wounded in the house of His friends.
Malachi … Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness, risen with healing in His wings.
Question: Pastor John, what are the marks of a true church? I have heard people say there are three: 1. The preaching of the gospel takes place. 2. The sacraments are rightly administered. 3. Church discipline is exercised. Read more
King’s Church is committed to the primacy of corporate worship. We believe God sovereignly establishes and increases faith through the ordinary means of grace: the preaching of the Word of God in the gathered assembly, prayer, and the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Regular attendance to these means is vital for believers’ spiritual nourishment and growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. God’s people are therefore called to participate regularly in Lord’s Day corporate worship, in dependence upon God’s Spirit, who applies these benefits through these God appointed means.
As such, we encourage you and your family to consider the various ministries, fellowship events, and educational opportunities, such as weekly Bible studies and Sunday school classes, as supplements to corporate worship, but never as replacements of corporate worship.
“Many persons row hard to get the ship to land by a notional belief in orthodox doctrine. This superstition is harder to deal with, but quite as dangerous as the belief in good works. It is quite as legal an idea for me to think to be accepted by believing good doctrine as to expect to be pardoned for doing good works. Yet we have scores of people who if they can get hold of the Calvinistic creed at the right end; if they become masters of it and know how to argue against Arminianism; if they become not only sound Calvinists but a little sounder still, having not only the sixteen ounces to the pound but two or three ounces over and above, so as to make them ultra-Calvinistic; why then they fancy that all must be well. ‘I never can hear a preacher,’ this man will say, ‘who is not sound. I can tell at once when there is a grain of free will in the sermon.’ This is all very well, but he who boasts thus may be no better than the devil; nay, he may not be so good, for the devil believes and trembles, but these men believe and are too much hardened in their own conceit to think of trembling. Away with the idea that believing sound doctrine and chaining ourselves to a cast-iron creed is vital godliness and eternal life. Orthodox sinners will find that hell is hot, and that their knowledge of predestination will not yield a cooling drop to their parched tongues. Condemning other people, cutting off the saints of God right and left, is but poor virtue, and to have these blessed doctrines in the head while neglecting them in the heart is anything but a gracious sign. If ye can “a hair divide betwixt the west and north-west side,” do not therefore fancy that your fine gifts and profound orthodoxy will ensure you an entrance into the kingdom of heaven, Ah! You may row with those oars, but you will not get the ship to land, ye must be saved by sovereign grace, through the operation of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, or you will not be saved at all. As it is not by doing that we are saved, neither is it by subscribing to creeds; there is something more than this needed ere the ship reach the port.”
– C. H. Spurgeon – From A Sermon Delivered on May 1, 1864, Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
A Statement from the King’s Church Elders:
Concerning Chapter 22 of the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689: OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP AND THE SABBATH DAY
At the Diet of Worms in 1521, Martin Luther declared “to act against conscience is neither right nor safe.” How true this is! It is a concept drawn from the Bible itself. “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).
It needs to be said, with great emphasis, that there are wonderful, genuine Christians, who truly love God’s word who come to differing conclusions on this issue of the Sabbath. This is not a new phenomenon in any way. This was the case even in New Testament times. Romans 14: 5, 6 says, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.” In this chapter (Romans 14), the Apostle Paul outlines how we are to handle these kind of differences in the setting of the local Church, and rather than breaking fellowship with each other, exhorts us to walk together with our fellow Christians in love and understanding, believing the best of each other, while at the same time, never violating our individual conscience.
In the context of outlining what Christ accomplished for His people on the cross, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath (literally, ‘sabbaths’ plural). These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16, 17) Christians are told to never let anyone judge them concerning Sabbath observation. When Church leadership tells another Christian “we cannot walk with you because of your view of the Sabbath” this is a clear violation of Paul’s apostolic command. Such should never be the case.
The Bible alone is the word of God – the sole infallible rule of faith for the people of God. Historic creeds and confessions of the Church, while having great weight and significance, never rise to the level of God breathed Scripture. Only Scripture has the authority to bind the conscience absolutely. This also means that every creed and confession must therefore be in agreement and alignment with the Bible to be true.
As elders at King’s Church, our study of the Scriptures has brought us to the conclusions outlined here below. Yet even as we make our position plain, we wish to make clear that those who hold a strong Sabbatarian view are very welcome at King’s Church. Please know that! We simply ask that they do not seek to promote or push that view on others in the flock. To these precious people we say “we can live with you as long as you can live with us.”
As to the question, “ARE THE SABBATH LAWS BINDING ON CHRISTIANS TODAY?”
We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are typological and associated with the Mosaic Covenant, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have been fulfilled along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses’ law that prefigured Christ. Here are the reasons we hold this view.
1. In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul explicitly refers to Sabbaths as a shadow of Christ, which is no longer binding since the substance (Christ) has come. It is clear in those verses that the weekly Sabbath is in view. The phrase “a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” refers to the annual, monthly, and weekly holy days of the Jewish calendar (cf. 1 Chronicles 23:31; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezekiel 45:17; Hosea 2:11). Paul is referring to all kinds of Sabbaths, which is why he used the Plural.
2. The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:16-17; Ezekiel 20:12; Nehemiah 9:14). Since we are now under the New Covenant (Hebrews 8), we are no longer required to observe the sign of the Mosaic Covenant.
3. The New Testament never commands Christians to observe the Sabbath.
4. In our only glimpse of an early church worship service in the New Testament, the church met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
5. Nowhere in the Old Testament are the Gentile nations commanded to observe the Sabbath or condemned for failing to do so That is certainly strange if Sabbath observance were meant to be an eternal moral principle. Also, a Gentile cannot be expected to practice a sign of a covenant of which he is not a member; thus requiring Sabbath observance by Gentiles makes no sense. It’s like requiring unbelievers to attend the Lord’s Supper.
6. There is no evidence in the Bible of anyone keeping the Sabbath before the time of Moses.
7. When the Apostles met at the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), they did not impose Sabbath keeping on the Gentile believers.
8. The apostle Paul warned the Gentiles about many different sins in his epistles, but breaking the Sabbath was never one of them.
9. In Galatians 4:10-11, Paul rebukes the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days (including the Sabbath).
10. In Romans 14:5, Paul forbids those who observe the Sabbath (these were no doubt Jewish believers) to condemn those who do not (Gentile believers).
11. Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath. Rather the Lord’s Day is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).
So while we still follow the pattern of designating one day of the week a day for the Lord’s people to gather in worship, we do not refer to this as “the Sabbath.”
Note on Col. 2:16
A. Why do some translations translate the last part of vs. 16 as “or a sabbath day” (using the indefinite article and render “Sabbath” as singular), while others translate “or sabbaths” (not using the indefinite article but render “Sabbath” in the plural)?
It seems to us that the original intent of Paul, using the plural without the definite article, was to refer to multiple “kinds” of sabbaths – i.e. weekly, seasonal, etc. – which were commanded in the mosaic covenant.
To illustrate in English, using the term “holiday” – if we said, “let no one judge you in regard to a holiday” (using the indefinite article and singular noun) – we would mean, let no one judge you in regard to all of the days we classify as holidays – i.e. 4th of July, Memorial Day, Easter, Christmas, etc. Also, if we said, “let no one judge you in regard to holidays (omitting the indefinite article and using the plural noun) we would understand the same thing – i.e. let no one judge you in regard to any days we classify as holidays since there are different types of holidays.
The fact that Paul used the plural can only mean one of two things.
1. Either the thought is since the weekly Sabbath is repeated he put it in the plural because he wanted to say let no one judge you in regard to any particular week’s Sabbath. We do not think he meant this – but if he did it supports the non-sabbatarian position.
2. If the reason for the plural is not #1, then the plural must be being used as in the “holiday” illustration above – i.e. there was more than one type of “Sabbath” and Paul wanted to address them all.
Now if we are to be Sabbatarians we must go further in explaining Paul’s use of the plural. We must say he wanted to address more than one kind of Sabbath (the non-weekly ones) but not all kinds of Sabbaths (i.e. not the weekly)! And we would need to say that his readers (mainly Gentile Christians) could be expected to conclude this!
In summary, it may be clarifying to ask (and answer) this question:
What did the 4th commandment mean to the Israelites to whom it was given?
The fourth commandment was to be observed as a sign of the Mosaic Covenant the Israelites had just entered:
Exodus 31:12 And the LORD said to Moses, 13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.
Ezekiel 20:9 But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. 10 So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. 12 Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them… 19 I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, 20 and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.
Sabbath observance was to remind Israel that they were in covenant relationship with Yahweh. The reason the sign was a day of rest was to remind them that Yahweh redeemed them from the house of bondage and gave them rest.
Deut. 5:12 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
Israel practiced this command because they were a redeemed-by-Yahweh-people. This is what the Sabbath in the Decalouge, in the Mosaic Covenant, is about. This is not a natural law matter written on all human consciences. It’s a redemptive revelation revealed in the “gospel” in the law – God giving His people rest and rolling back the curse.
None of the Israelite observance was applicable to non covenant members, i.e. Gentiles. Actually it would be a misuse of the command for Gentiles to practice this Sabbath as if they were one of Yahweh’s people (much like an unbeliever practicing the Lord’s Supper in our day).
*The WCF/LBCF sabbatarian needs to show that 1) Non covenant members were required to keep the 4th commandment and 2) when they do keep it, keeping it means something different for them from what it means for covenant members.
Concerning Chapter 26 of the Confession: OF THE CHURCH
Paragraph 4 – we revise to say:
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the church, in whom, by the appointment of the Father, all power for the calling, institution, order or government of the church, is invested in a supreme and sovereign manner. As the Lord Jesus is the single head of the universal church it is impossible that any person has been or ever will be the single head of the universal church on earth.
During a recent sermon series at King’s Church, we have been taking a fresh look at the Five Solas of the Reformation. In that time, we have drunk deeply at the well of salvation and seen the Lord Jesus Christ and His power to save in new and fresh ways. It has been a joy!
I hope the series can be a blessing to others also, and so make these sermons available here.
Sola Scriptura: Sermon: The More Sure Word
Sola Fide: Sermon: The Heart of the Gospel
Sola Gratia: Sermon: Every Christian is a Miracle
Solus Christus: Sermon: Federal Headship – Adam and Christ
Soli Deo Gloria: Sermon: The Meaning of Life
The eBook and Audio Book Version of my new book is also now available at this link.
IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY – WHY EVOLUTION WON’T WORK
Rev. John Samson
What “science” once thought of as the “simple cell” is now understood to be far more complex than all the goings on in a large city! ALL the mechanisms would need to be in place and functioning perfectly at the very start, or else the cell would die. This is called “irreducible complexity”, and forever destroys secular atheistic evolution as an intellectually viable option.
From the article found here: concerning the 5 part mouse trap… “an irreducibly complex system cannot come about in a gradual manner. One cannot begin with a wooden platform and catch a few mice, then add a spring, catching a few more mice than before, etc. No, all the components must be in place before it functions at all. A step-by-step approach to constructing such a system will result in a useless system until all the components have been added. The system requires all the components to be added at the same time, in the right configuration, before it works at all…. the complicated biological structures in a cell exhibit the exact same irreducible complexity that we saw in the mousetrap example. In other words, they are all-or-nothing: either everything is there and it works, or something is missing and it doesn’t work.”
.. and remember that in the cell, we are talking about a system FAR more complicated and complex than that of an entire city!!!
“Darwinism has no mechanism for adding all the components at once. Remember, Darwin’s mechanism is one of gradual mutations leading to improved fitness and survival. A less-than-complete system of this nature simply will not function, and it certainly won’t help the organism to survive. Indeed, having a half-formed and hence non-functional system would actually hinder survival and would be selected against. ”
The bacterial flagellum is a cellular outboard motor that bears the marks of intelligent design. Taken from http://www.arn.org/docs/mm/motor.htm.
“Evolution simply cannot produce complex structures in a single generation as would be required for the formation of irreducibly complex systems. To imagine that a chance set of mutations would produce all 200 proteins required for cilia function in a single generation stretches the imagination beyond the breaking point. And yet, producing one or a few of these proteins at a time, in standard Darwinian fashion, would convey no survival advantage because those few proteins would have no function – indeed, they would constitute a waste of energy for the cell to even produce. Darwin recognized this as a potent threat to his theory of evolution – the issue that could completely disprove his idea. So the question must be raised: Has Darwin’s theory of evolution “absolutely broken down?””
The answer seems to be a resounding “yes.”
Evolution is a theory in absolute crisis, yet for many, the alternative (Creation by God) is so utterly distasteful, it is dismissed out of hand.. but even as they do so, their conscience screams “there is a God.”
All of this is significant because according to the Bible, this is not a morally neutral issue without consequence. God is angry when the truth He has made manifest (of His existence) is suppressed.
Romans 1:18 – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools…
Dr. James White remarked, “The progress in our knowledge of the irreducible complexity of life has rendered us truly “without excuse” when it comes to our attributing to the natural order that which God reserves for himself. Any person who can look at the mechanics of the cell, realize the order, the information, the complexity that makes any computer you are using to read this post look like a stick and a rock in comparison, and yet continue in the suppression of the God-instilled knowledge of His own existence is a person remaining in utter rebellion.”
The more we learn of science, the more we are “without excuse.” God does not believe in atheists.
Pastor John Samson
The chief reason for me being a Reformed Christian is not a heartfelt devotion to the Magisterial Reformers like Martin Luther or John Calvin. No, the main reason is that the Reformed message thunders out from the pages of Scripture when the principles of hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) are applied. When the Biblical text is left to speak for itself, within its own context, the truth is clearly seen. Texts taken out of their setting can be made to support many erroneous views and heresies. Surely, a text out of context is a pretext for all false doctrine. However, error is exposed when individual texts are subjected to analysis such as identifying the background, use of words, context, syntax, etc.
Some people are very quick to say that “the Lord” showed them the meaning of a verse. Yet it is often the case that the context of the verse totally repudiates the interpretation given. To fail to study the text’s context is not a mark of spirituality, but the exact opposite – a failure to honor the Holy Spirit who inspired the original words. We would never wish for our own words to be treated this way. How much more should this be the case when it is God the Holy Spirit who has inspired Scripture?
An old heresy, based upon a misinterpretation of John 10:34, suggests that men can become gods. This is the doctrine espoused by the LDS (Mormons) and other cult groups. I will let an excerpt from Dr. James White’s book “Is the Mormon my Brother?” show the context and true meaning of John 10:34.
– Pastor John Samson
Dr. White writes:
John chapter ten is one of the most beautiful in all of Scripture, for it speaks of the Lord Jesus’ relationship to His people in the terms of the Shepherd and His sheep. In the midst of talking about the glorious salvation that belongs to those who know and trust Christ, Jesus asserts that He and the Father are one in their bringing about the final and full salvation of all those who are given by the Father to the Son (vv. 28-30). When the Lord says, “I and the Father are one,” He offends the Jews, who realize that such a claim implies deity. No mere creature can be fully one with the Father in bringing about redemption itself! This prompts the dialogue that concerns us here:
“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:30-36)
The use of this passage in LDS literature is widespread. “I said, you are gods” is used to substantiate the idea of a plurality of gods, and men becoming gods. Yet, even a brief review of the passage demonstrates that such is hardly a worthy interpretation, and some of the leading LDS apologists today avoid trying to press the passage that far, and for good reason. The unbelieving Jews seen in this passage, with murder in their hearts, are hardly good candidates for exaltation to godhood. What is more, the Lord Jesus uses the present tense when He says, “You are gods.” So, obviously, He is not identifying His attackers as divine beings, worthy of worship by their eventual celestial offspring! What, then, is going on here?
When we allow the text to speak for itself, the meaning comes across clearly. As usual the context is determinative. The Jewish leaders were acting as Jesus’ judges. They were accusing Him of blasphemy, of breaking God’s law. Their role as judges in this instance is determinative, for the Lord is going to cite a passage about judges from the Old Testament. The Jews make it plain that they understand Jesus’ words to contain an implicit claim of equality with God (v. 33). It is at this point that the Lord quotes from Psalm 82:6, which contains the important words, “I said you are gods.” But when we go back to the passage from which this is taken (and surely the Jewish leaders would have known the context themselves), we find an important truth:
God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. They do not know nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:1-6)
Here we have the key to the passage, for this is a psalm of judgment against the rulers of Israel. God takes his stand in His own congregation, that being His own people, Israel. He judges in the midst of the “rulers.” The Hebrew term here is “elohim,” which could be translated “gods.” The NASB however, recognizes that the context indicates who is being discussed, for the next verse reads, “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked.” Who judges unjustly and shows partiality? Human judges, of course, human rulers amongst the people. Hence, the NASB rendering of “elohim” as “rulers.” It is important to recognize the use of the term elohim in verse 1, for the very same term appears in verse 6, and is what lies behind Jesus’ citation in John 10:34. Before moving on in the text, it should be noted that even at this point recognizing that this passage is talking about unjust human rulers removes this passage from the realm of possible passages to cite in support of a plurality of gods, and certainly, Jesus was not, by citing this passage, calling His accusers true divine beings.
When we get to verse six, we find that God has placed the judges of Israel in a position of being “gods” amongst the people. They were entrusted with the application of God’s law. God calls them to vindicate the weak and fatherless and to do justice to the afflicted and destitute (v. 3). This is their task, their duty. But they are failing that duty. They are not acting as proper, godly judges. Verse six, then, begins the pronouncement of judgment. Jesus only cites the beginning of the judgment-which was enough to make His point. But since many today do not immediately know the context the way the Jews did, we need to point it out. The rest of the phrase Jesus quotes is this: “Nevertheless you will die like men and fall like any one of the princes.” Such is hardly the terminology one would use of divine and exalted beings! And this explains the use of the present tense verb “You are gods” in John 10:34. Jesus is saying His accusers are, right then, the judges condemned in Psalm 82. And what kind of judges were they? Unrighteous judges, who were judging unjustly. Jesus was calling His accusers false judges, and they well knew it.
That this is the meaning of Jesus’ use of the passage is seen by going back to John chapter ten. Jesus refers to these rulers as those “to whom the word of God came.” Surely this is an apt description of the rulers who were set to judge in God’s place. Once He has made His application, and identified His accusers as false judges, He then asks, “Do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Here He points to their judgment of blasphemy and contrasts their errant decision with the Father’s sanctification and sending of the divine Son. The folly of their false judgment is manifest to all. This is the meaning of the passage, and pressing it to support the idea that men can, after aeons and aeons of evolution, become gods, only shows how far removed the LDS position is from biblical Christianity.
1) We should note that this passage is not teaching that the Father is the Son. The doctrine of the Trinity expressly denies the identification of the Father and the Son as one Person. The verb used in this passage is plural; hence, it can literally be translated “I and the Father, we are one.” LDS often assume that Christians are modalists, who believe the Father and the Son are one person, when this is untrue. The issue is always one Being shared by three Persons.
2)In fact, the common LDS usage of the passage is directly contradicted by a leading LDS authority, James Talmage, in his book, Jesus the Christ, 15th ed., rev. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977), p. 501, LDSCL. Note Talmage’s words:
“Divinely Appointed Judges Called “Gods.” — In Psalm 82:6, judges invested by divine appointment are called “gods.” To this scripture the Savior referred in His reply to the Jews in Solomon’s porch. Judges so authorized officiated as the representatives of God and are honored by the exalted title “gods.” Compare the similar appellation applied to Moses (Ex. 4:16; 7:1). Jesus Christ possessed divine authorization, not through the word of God transmitted to Him by man, but as an inherent attribute. The inconsistency of calling human judges “gods,” and of ascribing blasphemy to the Christ who called Himself the Son of God, would have been apparent to the Jews but for their sin darkened minds.”
(“Is the Mormon my Brother?” pp. 155-158 by Dr. James R. White)