Easter in Acts 12.4

There is a small, albeit outspoken, minority of Baptists who are confused on an important issue. With great conviction, they purport what they believe to be a biblical truth. Unfortunately, they do so with no biblical evidence. This doctrine that they preach with great exuberance has found a name in fundamentalist circles: "King James Onlyism."

This should be of great concern to anyone who is adamant about the authority of the Word of God.

Independent Baptists have consistently been reactionary preachers. When some new evil has found its way into modernity or post-modernity, we have been militant in our stance against it. We are not called "fighting fundamentalists" for nothing. And throughout the years, our stance has often been correct and necessary.

And in the last few decades, the Christian market has been flooded with numerous new Bible translations. Only a very few have been good literal translations. Some have been very poor. It has become imperative that pastors and church leaders clearly teach the difference between the two.

However, some Baptists have decided to forgo teaching the difference between good and poor translations, and have adopted a more severe stance; namely, that the King James Version is the only perfect translation of the Bible.

The KJV only stance is not very old. In my library I have a book by Jack Hyles, a very influential Baptist pastor in the late 20th century. In this book "Let's Study the Revelation", Pastor Hyles corrects the King James Bible with phrases like "better translated." The book was written in 1967. Pastor Hyles later changed his position, and in the last two decades of his life, was one of the most vocal leaders of the KJV only charge. He took the position to the extreme that an English speaking person needed to hear a gospel presentation from the KJV to be saved.

His conversion, and the conversion of many others, to the KJV only position was an overreaction to the introduction of some poor modern translations—the NIV is an example. They were correct in pointing out the errors in the NIV, just as we should be cautious of the TNIV, NLT or The Message. The Message is a paraphrase and should be read as such.

King James Onlyism has evolved since its inception around 30 years ago. In the small Baptist circles where it is perpetuated, it has become something of a litmus test, unfortunately. KJV only churches are known to spend extraordinary amounts of preaching and teaching time defending the honor of their favorite translation and less time on things of more importance, i.e. the gospel of Jesus Christ. They routinely break fellowship with other believers over this singular issue, and end up doing more harm than good.

They label anyone who retranslates the KJV into more accurate and clear wording a "bible corrector." This is both a serious, and usually unsubstantiated, claim.

The point that needs to be understood and emphasized is that the teacher is not correcting the Bible—he is correcting the particular word selected by the translation committee.

Furthermore, 400 years have passed since the translators converted the ancient Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic words into the Queen's English. The English language is a constantly evolving organism. 400 years has produced countless significant changes in our figures of speech, colloquialisms, and common definitions. These changes must be accounted for. That is what a preacher, who wants to accurately teach the inspired Word of God, must do.

And sometimes the Bible teacher must say "No, the translators were not perfect; they were not inspired, and they didn't get it right." We are on very dangerous ground when we elevate the translation of a 17th century linguist over the original intent recorded by the Apostle Paul.

John R. Rice repeatedly pointed to Acts 12.4 as a classic example where the translation scholars were not perfect and chose to translate the Greek word pascha which means "Passover" as "Easter."

We can't go back and ask them why they did this. We know that pascha occurs 29 times in the KJV New Testament and 28 of those times it was rendered Passover. We also know that when we examine the same verse in any other Bible it is not rendered "Easter."

Now this is what it comes down to this for the reasonable person—there are only two possible scenarios.

1. A person believes by faith that the translators and everyone who subsequently has been involved in the changes that have occurred with the AV, since 1611, have all been inspired and uniquely led by the Holy Spirit unlike any other group of translators.


2. These godly scholars made a mistake and should not have selected the word Easter for the Jewish Festival of Passover.

The extreme minority position clings tightly to the first scenario. "Easter" for some reason was the perfect choice and not a single group of translators since 1611 have got it right. In this case, the KJV corrects the Greek NT and it is now held in a higher position of authority. The BBC Articles of Faith do not support scenario 1 because the church articles of faith state that the original manuscripts were inspired and we don't have any manuscripts that contain a Greek word for the holiday "Easter."

Therefore, scenario two is the only position acceptable for BBC. The Bible is perfect, preserved and prized, BUT the translators were not perfect and did not get it right in Acts 12.4.

Passover is the right word and anyone who teaches Acts 12.4 as the holiday Easter is not teaching the Word of God—they may be reading from the Word of God but if they let their people walk away with the understanding of a pagan holiday involving bunnies and eggs, instead, of the correct word Passover—they have not delivered the Word of God.


A Theological Book Critique


Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament


Sean Harris


Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, by Dr. Christopher J.H. Wright, is a thorough analysis of the role the law and prophets had in fully developing Jesus
' understanding of Himself. Wright is an Old Testament scholar and the International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership International who has a "passion to bring to life the relevance of the Old Testament to Christian mission and ethics." He appears to write from an amillennialist perspective and rejects any eschatological distinctions between Israel and the church. He is fully convinced that God the Father used every dimension of Israel's history, as recorded in the Hebrew Bible, to reveal Christ's identity, mission, and values. Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament is an exceptionally profitable read in showing the connectivity between Jesus and Israel. However, Wright writes fails to prove that it was the Hebrew Bible and not Christ's divinity that had the greatest impact on Jesus' understanding of His identity, mission, and values. Wright does not wrestle with the difficulty of uniting divinity and humanity in one person and what the limits of each were in the natural maturation process of the Son of Man. At times, the reader wonders if Wright believes Jesus maintained any attributes of God while He was on the earth.

Brief Summary

Wright divides Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament into five chapters without an introduction or conclusion. Each chapter presents a plethora of Old Testament verses with a reasonable amount of correlating gospel references with goal of showing the reader the connectivity between the two. Wright's work is very atypical if one has a stereotypical expectation for Old Testament books about Jesus. Wright does not make any attempt to show how Jesus can be found in all the Old Testament books or in the majority of the stories. In fact, Wright finds these typological techniques of finding Jesus in the Old Testament less preferred. He writes "typology is not the way of interpreting the Old Testament for itself" instead it is "a way of helping us understand Jesus in the light of the Old Testament." Dr. Philips Long, writes on the back cover of the book, "This book is not merely a survey of OT Messianic proof-texts lifted out of context, nor is it an attempt to 'find Jesus' on every page of the OT by fanciful interpretations."

    Wright begins by showing how Matthew was very intentional in starting his gospel with seventeen verses of names from Abraham to David to Jesus. Based on this premise, he devotes a considerable portion of the text to teaching the reader Israel's history beginning with Abraham. However, before he does that, Wright ensures his reader knows Jesus was a Jew. The text rejects the idea that because Christ fulfilled the promises of God, the Old Testament is of "little value." Instead, Wright emphasizes the "double benefit" that studying the Hebrew Bible brings to the degree one understands the entire Bible.

The idea that the life of Christ is nothing but a series of fulfillments of Old Testament prophecies is rejected by Wright. He writes, "[I]t is clearly mistaken to say that the narratives Matthew tells are fulfillments of Old Testament predictions." According to Wright, "Promise involves commitment to a relationship [and] a response of acceptance." Wright illustrates the manner in which God has fulfilled his promises in Christ as a "historical flight path" from Abraham to Exodus to Sinai to Conquest to David to Exile to completion.

Wright devotes the majority of his energy to showing how God used the Hebrew Bible to reveal Christ's identity, mission, and values. Wright presents Jesus as the son Israel was not, and then he points to Christ's baptism as the greatest event that influenced or confirmed his self-understanding of his identity. Chapter three concludes with "the Old Testament provided the models, pictures, and patterns by which Jesus understood his own essential identity and especially gave depth and color to his primary self-awareness as the Son of his Father God."

The remainder of the book focuses on how the Hebrew Bible influenced Christ's understanding of the mission the Father gave Him and the values He should have as God's Son. Wright discusses the influence in the descriptions of Jesus as the Messiah, Son of Man, and the Servant of Israel. Wright believes that Jesus accepted "that the values, priorities and convictions of his own life must be shaped by the words of Moses to Israel; words in which he heard the voice of his Father God as surely as he did when he stepped out of the Jordan."

The Author's Perspective

    Wright writes from a perspective that without the Hebrew Bible and the experience of events like the baptism of Christ, Jesus may have missed His identity and failed to accomplish His mission from the Father. The divinity of Christ does not seem to factor into Wright's perspective. He emphasizes the synoptic gospels and fails to explain the John 1:1 perspective of Christ with his frequent use of the word "influence" throughout the text to communicate his understanding of what happened when Christ read from the law or prophets. Wright states: "Leviticus 19, in fact, appears to have had a major influence on the teaching of Jesus…" Wright does not explain when this major influence occurred. In another section, Wright believes that the servant pattern presented in Isaiah deeply influenced Jesus. Is he suggesting that the first time Christ read from Leviticus 19 as a boy it influenced him as a boy or is the reader to understand that Leviticus 19 was formative in the development of what Christ would teach? This is a very difficult issue because man does not (and perhaps cannot) understand how the divinity and humanity of Jesus co-existed in the body of Christ. Wright does not explain how Jesus knew the thoughts of man (John 2:24) but needed to read the Torah in order to be influenced by its contents. He does not explain how according to John 6.64, Jesus knew from the beginning those who would betray Him but did not know what He would teach on the Sermon on the Mount (as an example) until He studied the Old Testament. Certainly it is reasonable to suggest that Jesus had to learn like any other child; however, Wright seems to ignore the fact that the boy growing up in the house of a carpenter was the Son of God from birth. Furthermore, Wright does not explain why he ignores the divinity factor or influence.

    Throughout his book, Wright makes reference to the significance of John the Baptist's baptism of Christ and refers to it as a climatic event. Wright suggests that it was not until Jesus was thirty years old that He received a "full confirmation of his true identity and mission from the mouth of his Father." Wright does not explain why Jesus insisted that John the Baptist needed to baptize Him if He was not completely sure of His mission in life until He heard from the Father. Wright also contends that Jesus "accepted John's baptism." He does not explain what He means by "accepted." According to John chapter 1, Christ's baptism was a sign to confirm to John the Baptist that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Later in Jesus' ministry, a voice speaks from heaven and Jesus makes it clear that the voice was not for His sake but for the sakes of all those who could hear the voice (John 12:20). Furthermore, Wright does not address how the boy Jesus is conversing on a very adult level at a young age with the Doctors of the Law in Luke 2. Shepard in The Christ writes, "Theologians have speculated as to when Jesus first became conscious of the fact that He was God's son in a peculiar sense and of his Messianic mission. We turn to these words as the sole. clear, self-revelation of Jesus in His boyhood years." However, according to Wright, it takes about eighteen more years of living and a voice from heaven to fully confirm His identity as the Son of God. Wright believes "Jesus understood his own identity and mission through reflection on his scriptures." Pentecost would sharply disagree with Wright's interpretation; he writes, "There never was a time when Jesus did not know who He was, who His Father was, and why He had come into the world." Pentecost clearly implies here that Jesus did not need to read the Hebrew Bible to discover or be influenced as to his identity, mission, or values.

    Although one must always be careful in attempting to put a scholar in a particular theological box, Wright seems to subscribe to a type of replacement covenant theology. Wright does not make any significant distinctions between Israel and the church. He states, "Israel had been redefined and extended, but the Jewish roots and trunk were not replaced or uprooted." The reader of the text needs to be aware that there are those who would disagree with Wright's understanding. Wright correctly encourages the reader of the necessity to witness to the Jew; however, he does not believe, as some theologians, that God temporarily "put Israel aside corporately." From Romans 11, dispensationalist theologians like John MacArthur would certainly make reference to the corporate blindness that God has put Israel under until such a time in the future as God returns His focus upon Israel. Wright does not even consider such a distinction.

    Finally, Wright needs to write with a greater clarity concerning the implications and importance of the New Covenant. Wrights states that the new covenant is one God will make "with the house of Israel and the house of Judah" yet later in the text he suggests that God is fulfilling these promises to Israel presently through the church. This can only be possible if Wright does not believe that when God said "house of Israel" he was referring to the corporate body of Jews and not a combination of saved Jews and Gentile believers. Wright believes that the new covenant is primarily for a "restored Israel" Wright contends that this restoration occurred when Christ was resurrected but this is not a universally held position; Thomas (and others) suggest that Peter's message that Jews needed to repent so a period of refreshing could occur (Acts 3:19-21) shows that the Apostles were not convinced Israel had been restored.

    Wright does not speak to the degree to which Jeremiah and Ezekiel were prophesying about a future New Covenant. The opening sentence in the sub-section on the New Covenant speaks of ceremonies of covenant renewal. In another section Wright states that Jesus "was claiming to inaugurate the new covenant." Yet Wright refers to Jesus as the Servant Kingthe servant king does not claim to do anythingHe does it. The prophet Jeremiah does not see the religious deterioration of the society around him and determine that there is a need for a new covenant. According to the Apostle Peter "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit of Christ indwelling individuals in the New Covenant is perhaps that which make the New Covenant more radically different than the other four covenants found in the Hebrew Bible, yet Wright makes no reference to the promise of the Holy Spirit to those in the New Covenant. However, he is very thorough in explaining many of the other dimensions of the covenant.


    Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament is a profitable contribution to a biblical academia. However, it certainly would not fall into the must read category for a new student of the Word of God. The primary value of Wright's work is to show that benefit of studying the Old Testament to enhance one's ability to understand and teach the especially Jewish portions of the New Testament. Wright's failure to even consider any distinctiveness between the church and Israel and his choice to ignore the potential influence Christ's divinity must have played in His life as the Son of Man limits its value. Christians who are grounded in their understanding of uniqueness of the God-Man, their eschatological persuasion, and the New Covenant are the right target audience for Wright's work. All others should approach with caution. Pastors and Bible teachers will find Wright's work a good refresher in Hebrew history, as well as a better understanding of Matthew. Finally Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament has great potential in the evangelism of Reformed and Orthodox Jews; Wright's emphasis on Hebrew Bible and the manner in which he establishes the connectivity between the New Testament and Old Testament has the potential of influence a Jew to reconsider whether Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah and his forefather missed it.


    The depth of Wright's knowledge of the Hebrew Bible and his ability to convene this is what makes Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament a unique analysis of how one can find Jesus in the Old Testament. Wright's thoroughness in most areas and depth of instruction is commendable. The correlation Wright establishes between the identity, mission, and values of Jesus in relationship to that of Israel significantly reinforces the reality that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah the Jewish nation should not have rejected. The substantial degree to which Christ's words and works synchronize with Jehovah's message in the Hebrew Bible, as demonstrated by Wright, prove that Jesus was not just another great teacherHe was the Son of God. Perhaps evangelicals who see a clearer Scriptural separation between Israel and the church with regard to the rapture, the millennial kingdom, and the fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham and David would be less reserved in promoting Wright's work if he would have been more forthright with his bias or more balanced in his approach. Finally, in a period of time when the deity of Christ is still being attacked more emphasis on Jesus as God is needful. Wright's overemphasis on the humanity of Jesus as it relates to the influence the law and prophet could have had on Jesus is not proven effectively enoughespecially considering his failure to explain how John 1:1 and 1:14 align with his thesis. Wright should have anticipated that mainstream conservative evangelical pastors and scholars would question how he reconciles the deity of Christ and the significant emphasis he places on how the Hebrew Bible and Christ's life events factor in influencing Jesus. Another chapter addressing this issue would considerably increase the value of Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament.


End Notes

What an Awesome Sunday

Sunday at Berean was awesome; it was awesome for several reasons for many different people. Let me tell you why it was awesome for me.

God answered my very specific prayers and I want to praise and thank Him for doing that. I have been praying and do pray that God will direct people to our church via the Internet and simply by driving by.

Sunday God did that in a BIG way—we had visitors everywhere. We had local couples looking for a solid church.

We had new to Fayetteville families looking for a church; we had single adults.

God chose in His Sovereignty to answer the prayers of one, striving to get it right preacher, in the sand hills of NC. Several of the v-cards indicated that it was the Internet—our website that brought them to Berean.

That is to say God used www.bbcfnc.org to direct them to Berean. Others said they drove by and chose to visit.

Yes they chose to visit and God chose to use the signage, campus and "that still small voice" to direct them.

I hope every member of Berean rejoices in God's good blessing of guests and visitors in the same way the preacher does.

These people are men and women created in the image of God—they are sheep; some are potential sheep.

Some need the Lord and all need a good fundamental Bible believing LOVING church, where Christ is exalted and God is glorified. We must show them that love!

Please reach out, please leave your comfort-zone and do what Jesus would do if He were a member of Berean—can't you see Him greeting people, smiling, shaking hands, befriending others and going out of His way to make some feel comfortable in this big intimidating place called BBC.

This Sunday and every Sunday please do what Jesus would do with respect to visitors and guests.



An Inexcusable Omission

Last night I was surfing the internet looking at fundamental Baptist church websites and I was quite frankly amazed at what I saw.

How can a fundamental church present the good news of God's plan of salvation and not mention the biblical necessity to REPENT?

You find yourself wanting to use the modern vernacular of: "What's up with that?"

The Norm

Typically the website presentation begins with,"Have you ever received Jesus as your personal Savior? "

Where does this come from? Why aren't we asking:

"Has there ever been a time in your life when you repented of your sins and placed your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?"

How is it that a fundamental Baptist church is ignoring the biblical mandate to repent? One may ask, "What sin or sins must be repented of in order to be saved?" First and foremost the sin of unbelief must be repented of—that is I must confess that it was a sin not to believe and I now believe.

The message of the apostles was not "pray this prayer." A study of the book of Acts will reveal God's plan of salvation or conversion involved repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Christ Jesus (Acts 20.21).

Some seem to present some understanding that repentance was for a particular dispensation period of time; however, how is this idea reconciled with Acts 17.30-

"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:"

In the past God winked, but in the church age (the current age in which we are living) God commands all people everywhere to repent.

The Good News

The good news, in the dispensation of grace or church age, is that repentance and faith are both gifts of God—I am not expected to repent of my sins so that I can be saved. I am granted the ability to repent as a gift of God. That which I could not do on my own God makes possible.

Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

God is being praised from a position of overjoyed to the point of silence in Acts 11.18 because they realized that God was granting Gentiles (that's us) "repentance unto life."

How is it that those who prided themselves on their purely biblical theology just 40, 50, 60 years ago are now ignoring a full and complete presentation of the gospel?

Jesus was as clear as it gets in Luke 17.3: "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Those under the sound of our Lord on that day clearly understood that if they didn't repent they were going to perish. Christ said it twice for emphasis and we have some today who are not saying it even once on their church web pages and in their tracts.

It is belief in Christ that saves—not the mere articulation of words—we need to be preaching what the apostles preached "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." This belief is always accompanied by repentance/obedience to the revealed Word of God.

AW Tozer said it like this, "The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin."

The good news is that the grace of God in the New Covenant makes this faith and obedience possible. The good news is not that when man says these words, God is obligated to do something. No man obligates the Sovereign God of the universal to do anything—we petition.

Romans 10:13

Don't take Romans 10:13 out of its context—the context of "whosoever" is built upon verse 12: "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."

In verse 13, the word "whosoever" deals with the acknowledgement and proclamation that there is "no difference between the Jew and the Greek," [or Gentile] with regard to calling upon the Lord. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, Jews, Greeks, Italians, Persians, etc. etc. can all be saved by the same Lord.

If "whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved" simply meant the mere articulation of words without repentance and faith, then we would have a significant conflict with the words of our Lord in Matthew 7:21-22:

Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

I firmly believe that the inadequate and incomplete gospel presentations found in tracts and many web sites are contributing to a growing number of people each day that will fall into the Matthew 7.21 category.

I am fully convinced that we will learn of many who will be arguing with our Lord in that day because they prayed a prayer found on a website that failed to mention that true conversion involves repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

What was the first word out of Peter's mouth when the crowd that crucified Christ asked, "Men and brethren what shall we do?"

At that moment according to the previous verse, the convicting power of the Holy Spirit was overwhelming and we know from John 6.44 that God the Father was drawing men and women to the Son and the Spirit of Christ inspired and led the Apostle Peter to say:


When you are deciding whether a particular church is the right church for you—a good place to see what kind of church you are joining is their gospel presentation or plan of salvation webpage. If their plan of salvation omits key doctrines, what else will be omitted from the pulpit?


The Source of Glory

In John 17.22, Jesus communicates very subtly an important truth. We know from our study of the entire Bible that Jesus was involved in the creation of the world and has always existed as God the Son. We know He is not a created being—Jesus is just as much the "I AM that I AM" of Exodus as God the Father.

Yet the opening words of John 17.22 states that Jesus received glory from the Father.

"And the glory which thou gavest me…"

Notice the acknowledgment of the father-son relationship and the incredible example Jesus provides. From all eternity Jesus has always seen His Father as the source of glory.

Jesus uses the single word "glory" to describe every unique and distinct attribute that makes God awesome, excellent, and indescribable.

Powerful, wise, merciful, loving, compassionate, just, perfect, truthful, without sin, eternal and on and on would all fall under the word "glory."

Glory is what makes God God. Take any adjective listed above and when it comes to God it is perfectly manifested. For example I said truthful—but the reality is that God is truth. So He is truthful but to a degree that humans can never obtain because He is the Truth.

James 1.17 says it like this, "every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of Lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

Take an attribute like compassionate and make it perfect—that is no variableness—by this I believe James means when it comes to compassion God is perfectly compassionate. There is never a time when he isn't compassionate and He perfectively balances compassion with His other attributes.

We must follow the Son of God's example and acknowledge that anything that resembles the glory of God—wisdom, strength, mercy and honor, etc. in our lives—all comes from the Father.

When we do this He is most appropriately glorified—He increases and we decrease.