The Lord's Prayer: "And Lead Us Not Into Temptation"

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 10, 2021 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

We are into the last verse of the Lord’s Prayer today: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). Today, we’ll look at the first phrase of that verse - “and lead us not into temptation.”

This phrase is a tricky one for us to understand theologically. Remember that this whole prayer is addressed to God (“Our Father in heaven”). Do we believe that God would actually lead us into temptation, that we need to ask Him not to do so? What is Jesus telling us by giving us this phrase in this model prayer?

First, let’s look at the verb - lead. In the original Greek, this verb has a wide range of meanings and is used in a variety of contexts. It can mean to lead into, bring into, etc. It’s a compound verb, meaning that it’s a root verb plus a preposition that makes a new verb. The preposition part of this verb is commonly translated as “in” or “into,” and the rest of it commonly means to bring, lead, bear, or carry. This compound verb can also have a causative idea to it, like to cause someone to lead into or bring into. In some contexts, it could even mean to announce or to drag into. So, it’s not necessarily an easy verb to translate.

The potential translations of this verb cause a theological dilemma for us. Does God actually cause us to be tempted and put us to the test to see if we’ll obey Him? We do see God testing Abraham when He commanded him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son (Genesis 22:1-18). We also see in Exodus 16:4 that God tested the people of Israel by giving them manna each day, to see if they would obey His very specific instructions to trust in Him for provision. In the New Testament, we read 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” God won’t let us be too tempted, and He will give us a way out.

Some Biblical scholars have suggested that these words of Jesus had a different meaning when He originally spoke them. It is likely Jesus would have spoken this in Aramaic, which was the commonly spoken language of the day, whereas the gospel accounts were written in Koine Greek; the two are very different languages, both in alphabet and in structure. There is speculation that the Aramaic would have been causative or permissive - “and cause us not to enter…” or “allow us not to enter…” But since we only have the Greek text, we cannot know if that was the intention.

The next main concept in this phrase is the word “temptation.” This is another word that can have a variety of meanings in different contexts. It can also mean a trial, persecution, a test, enticement, etc. A test or a trial has the idea of attempting to learn someone’s character by seeing how they react to a particular situation, whereas temptation or enticement is the idea of luring something into doing something they should not do. Which one of these meanings is correct here?

We do not have a solid answer on that from the text of this passage. This phrase could indicate that we’re asking God to not cause us to be tested to check our character, or it could indicate that we’re asking God to not allow us to be led into doing something that would be disobedient to Him.

Since we know that all of Scripture agrees with itself, let’s look at James 1:13-14 to help us with this. That passage tells us, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” Based on that, we see that God does not tempt anyone, so the translation of our phrase in the Lord’s Prayer cannot indicate that God causes temptation to happen in our lives. It’s our own evil desires, the sin that lives inside each of us, that causes temptation in our lives, not God. So praying that God would not cause us to be tempted is like praying that God would not sin, which we know is true. So perhaps this word should be translated in the Lord’s Prayer with the idea of testing rather than temptation.

But this translation also causes difficulty for us. We know that we will face testing or trials of many kinds, and that we should face them with joy. James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” The word translated here as “trials” is the same Greek word as the one we’re looking at in the Lord’s prayer.

Jesus Himself, earlier in the sermon where we find the Lord’s Prayer, told us, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12). We will be blessed when we experience persecution, which is definitely a type of trial.

So if we need to experience trials in order to produce perseverance and maturity as James says, and Jesus Himself tells us we will be blessed for being persecuted, why would Jesus tell us a few verses later to pray that we don’t experience trials? As humans, our innate desire is to live an easy life, free of difficulties. Jesus knows that; He lived a human life as well. But, we also know that in this sin-filled world, we will not live a life free of difficulties, especially when we commit our lives to following Jesus.

Our prayer to “lead us not into temptation” is a prayer asking God to spare us from the trials of life, whatever they may be; but when they do come into our lives, those trials should be faced with joy and the realization that they are helping us mature in our walk with God. Whether God causes temptation or testing in our lives or not, we know that He is sovereign and will be there to guide us through whatever He has in store for us.

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The Historicity of Scripture

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, May 7, 2021 1 comments


by Charlie Wolcott

The Bible is unique, more than any other “religious” book. The Bible is rooted in history. The Bible is the only book whose claims about the core worldview questions are rooted in history. It’s the only holy book that is actually rooted in reality. The Bible doesn’t merely record history with perfect accuracy; it showcases God’s direct involvement with history.

Archaeology is a study of the past through physical artifacts. So far, we have found a minimum of 25,000 archaeological finds in the Middle East, and not one of them disagrees with any statement made by Scripture. We’ve found countless things that perfectly match the Biblical account. We have a tomb that matches Joseph in Egypt. We have Jericho in the exact condition Joshua describes. We have found historical records of the people and places Luke describes including the officers as they climbed their ranks. Now we haven’t found absolutely every little thing, obviously, but there is not one thing we have found that contradicts the Bible. Any claims of contradictions nearly always deal with the dating, which is actually the least reliable aspect of archaeology. Everything about that find matches the Bible perfectly, except the date. Well, perhaps the date should be re-evaluated.

The skeptic often will then pull the “Spiderman Fallacy.” The Spiderman Fallacy is this: Spiderman takes place in New York City; we have a real New York City, therefore, Spiderman was a real person. So, the argument thus says: “So what that we found Jerusalem, or a coin with David’s sign on it? That doesn’t mean it actually happened.” The Bible has a history that could be compared with Tolkien’s Middle Earth. It’s got the full genealogies, the royal lineages, prophecies, a “Christ-figure” (Gandalf), a Satan-figure (Sauron or Morgoth if you go further), an origins myth, an ending, just about everything. So skeptics try to compare the Bible to these fictional narratives in order to discredit it and dismiss it. But there is a major problem with this thinking. None of these fantasy stories ever reference real people or real events. On occasion a fiction story may describe pop-culture such as a movie or a book, but it will not cite a real person or a real historical event. Any that do are called “non-fiction” books. The Bible records the history of His dealings with man. God is the main character of this grand story called history.

When I deal with origins, this is one of the key issues I face with atheists and old earthers. There is an adamant stance against treating Genesis 1-11 as history. And the few old earthers who do treat parts of it as history diminish the claims it makes about history. Where do they get these ideas from? The answer is simple: false scholars who try to use the Ancient Near East mythologies to say the Bible’s origins story is also a mythology, not history. Then, they try to play educated with us and try to tell us we need to look at the culture back then and try to understand how the Ancient Near East would have understand the passage, not in our modern 21st century scientific mindsets. Let me say this straight up: these people are liars and they are doing the exact opposite of what they claim. THEY are the ones looking at Genesis from a 21st century mindset (thinking our modern science should make us re-think what the Bible actually says). What is more is that by these arguments, they show they have NEVER studied the Hebrew culture, the primary audience who heard and read Scripture. They studied the Babylonians, the Persians, the Hittites, the Egyptians, but not the Hebrews.

If you want to know what the Hebrews thought, try reading their Holy Books. Read the Bible. It tells you how they thought. And a key to their thinking is everything about their faith is rooted in history. Their image of God being a Savior, a saving God, is rooted in the REAL Exodus from REAL slavery from a REAL Egyptian power. They considered themselves as God’s people because of a real, physical father of their faith, Abraham. They believed in a real Creator with a real Creation, and to this day they run their calendar as though Genesis 1-11 is actual, literal history.

The Hebrews then took it further. All the spiritual truths they believed and taught flowed out of the literal, historical events. This is what the skeptics and OEC teachers don’t see. Their arguments say that we need to look at the spiritual side of things and ignore the history. All that matters is the spiritual lessons. Really? This is actually a variation of Gnostic teachings that the physical reality is bad, and the spiritual reality is good. It puts everything in the ethereal and “out there,” but nothing concrete, tangible, and something we can grip. Now, we are to live by faith and not by sight, but faith is something concrete. It comes with evidence and it’s something firm we hold onto.

The Hebrews didn’t just tie their spiritual understandings to history, they also used their history as images and as pictures of their future. That’s why they looked to a military commander to rescue them from Rome – because all their saviors in the past saved them from physical enemies. They thought Rome was the next one to be taken out. They failed to see the spiritual images involved with their history. Todd Friel has a spectacular book called Jesus Unmasked, and in it he goes through the Old Testament – the history, the Tabernacle, the miracles, the Exodus, the manna, the Temple, everything – and shows how all of it is pictures and images of Jesus. God used the Hebrew understanding of how their history played a big role in how they thought to present Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

Now let me make this clear. The spiritual meanings in Scripture DO NOT work unless you understand the physical meaning first. Jesus told that to Nicodemus. If I speak to you of earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I speak about heavenly things? A number of the Young Earth Creation organizations use this verse to point out that if we don’t understand Genesis, how can we understand the cross? There is validity to this. The physical images are what makes the spiritual images concrete, and they also keep the spiritual lessons from getting off base.

I will also ask this to those who only want the “spiritual lessons” out of Genesis: “Is your salvation just spiritual? Or is it real?” It is a real Creator, with a real historical creation, who dealt with a real Adam and Eve who committed a real original sin, who issued a real divine judgment and curse upon creation and man, and who then set out the chain of events to establish His plan for a real salvation, by sending Jesus as a literal man, to die on an actual cross, to pay for the actual sin debt, taking on the real wrath of God, and making a real salvation available to all man. He is also going to bring all real things to a close, make every person face real judgment, and then set our fate to a real Heaven or a real Hell. Everything about the Bible is real because its Author is real. The Author of Scripture, God, is not a distant idea out there. He is a real, actively and intimately involved, sovereign God, who loves us and holds us responsible for our choices and actions.

We are called to a real faith. To be actually saved. To be a literal new creation. To be reconciled to the real God. We live in a real world, under the authority and sovereignty of a real God, who recorded actual history through actual authors of Scripture. Is your faith real? Or is it some distant quasi-religious feeling? I preach a message on reality and I proclaim a real, historical Jesus who is still real today. And I proclaim a real salvation from a real Hell, because that is what the Bible teaches. Is your faith real? Is it rooted in history? Or is it just a “spiritual experience”?

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The Lord's Prayer: "As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors"

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 3, 2021 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

With this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, we’re jumping into the middle of a sentence. The whole sentence is, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). To get the context of the first phrase, check out last week’s post.

Asking God to forgive our debts (our sins, our disobedience, our wrongdoing) is only half of the whole concept of forgiveness. We sin, make mistakes, and disobey God, but others also sin and make mistakes against us. How do we handle those who have sinned against us?

The key is in the conjunction. Asking God for forgiveness when we sin against Him is great, because we know that He is faithful and will forgive us when we are truly repentant of those sins. But the important conjunction here is the word “as.” It also means like, according to, in the same way, or just as. Notice how emphasizing the conjunction highlights the meaning: “Forgive us our debts, in the same way as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Well, that just got more difficult!

How are you doing at forgiving others? Perhaps you need to forgive someone for a direct sin against you. Perhaps you need to forgive someone for a way they sinned against God, where you also felt the negative consequence of that sin. Perhaps you need to forgive yourself for wrongdoing that you know you committed or negative feelings you’re harboring against someone else. Any of those situations require us to be the one doing the forgiving of the wrongdoing.

When we put this whole verse together, we see that we cannot separate God forgiving us of our sins from us forgiving those who have wronged us. We would all love to always be on the receiving end of God’s forgiveness, but it’s much more difficult to be on the giving end of forgiveness to others.

Notice the timeline of verbs in this verse. The first half is us commanding God to forgive us (an action in the future), while the second second half says that we “have forgiven” our debtors (an action in the past). That appears to indicate that we must forgive others in order to earn God’s forgiveness, but I do not believe that’s how our loving God works. We know that being forgiven is not based on our work, but on the work of Jesus Christ in the cross. Ephesians 1:7 tells us plainly, “In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

While this was originally written in Greek, it is believed that Matthew (who wrote this gospel) was Jewish, so he would have spoken Aramaic in daily life. Early Christian scholars believe that Matthew actually was thinking of an Aramaic verb tense here in this second half of the verse that would be more accurately translated like a present perfect - as we should forgive our debtors in the way that God forgives us. The verb tense used in Greek often indicates past action, but it can also mean habitual action in the present. This means that it could be translated “as we habitually forgive,” which lines up with the Aramaic thought that Matthew may have had.

Another school of thought is that it’s all about our attitude. We do not need to earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving others, but we need to demonstrate an attitude that would make forgiving others possible. If we are truly repentant of our sin and we see how badly we have been disobedient to God, then the sins of others to us are really quite small in comparison. When we realize that we are asking God to forgive an enormous sin - what we have done that’s disobedient to the God of the universe - anything that any human can do against us is miniscule in importance.

Sure, it hurts me that someone told a lie to me. But it hurt Jesus even more that all of humankind sinned against God, and all of that punishment was heaped on Jesus on the cross. While all sin is sin, the magnitude of sinning against God is so much greater than offenses between humans. Surely we can forgive what that person has done to us if Almighty God can die for the forgiveness of all of humanity’s sins against Him!

God’s Word has much to say about forgiveness that helps us interpret this section of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gives additional teaching on forgiveness in Matthew 18:15-22. This phrasing of the Lord’s prayer is echoed by Jesus in Mark 11:24-25, where Jesus is teaching after HIs triumphal entry into Jerusalem: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

The Apostle Paul also teaches us about forgiveness. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” John echoes these thoughts in his first letter. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Does being forgiven by God depend on us forgiving others? No, it depends on the work of Jesus on the cross that has already been accomplished. But, we do need to be truly repentant of our sin in order to receive that forgiveness, and if we truly have a repentant heart, then we should not be harboring grudges or ill will against others who have sinned against us.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

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