Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Refuting Shepherd's Chapel - Hell (Matthew 10:28)

Shepherd's Chapel denies eternal punishment in hell (Matthew 25:46). This view is commonly called annihilationism and is very popular in heretical groups (Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah Witness, etc.). Although it is a deep topic and needs much to be said, in this post I want to address just some of the errors that Shepherd's Chapel teaches. 

If one discusses the subject of hell with a student of Shepherd's Chapel probably the first verse that they will quote to defend annihilationism is Matthew 10:28. 
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28, KJV)
 Arnold Murray along with his followers will latch on to the word "destroy" in this verse and claim that it means blotted out or annihilation. Thus, to them, this verse teaches annihilationism straight from Jesus' mouth. The word destroy used in this verse is the Greek work apollymi (#G622). A few words must be said about this word. First, as used in Scripture the words “destroy,” “destruction,” “perish” etc. never signify cessation of existence. Second, you can go back in this same chapter in verse 6 and see how this word is used:
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matt. 10:6, KJV)
 The word "lost" used in this verse is the exact same Greek word apollymi that is used in verse 28 for "destroy". As you can tell the word does not mean blotted out or annihilated. These sheep (Israelites) that Christ is talking about were not obliterated or blotted out, they were rather lost or separated from the true Shepherd (Christ). This is similar to those "destroyed" in hell, they are separated from Christ for all eternity (Rev. 22:15). This refutes Shepherd's Chapel's claim that the meaning of apollymi in Matthew 10:28 teaches annihilation. The Greek word apollymi is also used in the following verses (the bolded word is the Greek word apollymi):
 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (Matthew 18:11, KJV)
What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? (Luke 15:4, KJV)
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.(Luke 15:24, KJV)
As can be seen the Greek word apollymi does not mean total annihilation, blotted out, or cessation of existence. Arnold Murray, as he has done many times, misuses the Greek or shows lack of understanding of how the Greek language works.

So, briefly, what does the Bible teach on hell? Well here is one thing that Christ said about it:
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matt. 25:46, KJV)
This punishment of hell Christ describes as everlasting. I have heard Shepherd's Chapel students claim that since annihilation is everlasting then it is everlasting punishment. This is not possible in the Greek syntax. the word for everlasting is aionios in the Greek and it modifies the nature of the punishment, not the results of the punishment. In this verse aionios modifies kalasis "punishment", which is an action noun. Greek nouns that end with –sis will focus on the action of the noun and not it's results. You can compare 2 Thess. 2:16 to see a parallel. In that verse aionios modifies paraklesis “comfort”, another –sis ending action noun. So this verse proves that Christ taught an everlasting hell of punishment. Also we have this:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Rev. 14:11, KJV)
This again is another favorite verse for Shepherd's Chapel. When you use this verse to prove the Biblical view of everlasting hell then they will jump on you and say "look it says the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever. Only the smoke.". Ha! Gotcha right? Well no.

First, what is the smoke? It is of their "torment". It doesn't say it was the smoke of their annihilation, but the smoke of their torment. If the smoke ascends forever and ever, and the cause of the smoke is the torment, then it stands to reason that the torment lasts forever and ever. Second, if you continue to read this verse it states clearly that they have no rest day nor night. It does not say they were annihilated and the smoke rose for eternity. This verse clearly teaches that they are tormented for eternity and have no rest day or night.

This verse is very similar to Revelation 20:10
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Rev. 20:10, KJV)
After judgment is passed down to Satan and his minions they are all thrown into the lake of fire and tormented day and night forever and ever. If this verse teaches anything, it at least teaches that Satan is tormented in hell for eternity. If you continue reading Revelation chapter 20 then you will see that all those in hell are cast into this exact same lake of fire (Rev. 20:14, also Matt 25:41). Again since they are cast into the same lake of fire the Devil is then the same punishment is dealt out. Also if you continue reading Revelation and in the last chapter (after all this has taken place) you see that the unsaved were not annihilated in Revelation chapter 20 but cast outside the Great City:
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Rev. 22:14-15, ESV)
I have heard the students of Shepherd's Chapel claim that "forever and ever" does not mean eternity but simply a period of time. This is absolutely impossible in the Greek. The Greek phrase is eis tous aionas ton aionon and is often translated as forever, forevermore, and forever and ever. It is also used of the attributes of God which we know are unchangeable and are eternal. Please compare how this Greek phrase is used in the following verses of Scripture especially the ones in Revelation: Gal. 1:5, Phil. 4:20, 1 Tim. 1:17, 2 Tim. 4:18, Heb. 13:21, 1 Pet. 4:11, Rev. 1:6, Rev. 1:18, Rev. 4:9, Rev. 4:10, Rev. 5:13, Rev. 7:12, Rev. 10:6, Rev. 11:15, Rev. 15:7, Rev. 22:5

If you do your research and actually read those verses you will see that eis tous aionas ton aionon does not mean a temporary amount of time, but is basically the Greek way of saying eternity.

 One last note, even Daniel in the Old Testament saw that evil people are not annihilated at end of this age:
 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2, KJV)
Notice this verse says that in the end at the resurrection and judgement (Revelation 20) the saved receive everlasting life and the damned everlasting contempt (not annihilation).

So in conclusion we have shown that Shepherd's Chapel view of hell cannot be supported exegetically nor systematically from Holy Scripture.

Soli Deo Gloria! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Refuting Shepherd's Chapel - Good & Bad Figs (Jeremiah 24)

In continuing my critique on Shepherd's Chapel teaching, I'll be turning my attention to the Good and Bad Figs. A basic rundown of this teaching of Shepherd's Chapel is that the Good & Bad Figs of Jeremiah chapter 24 is talking about Kenites1 (the bad figs) and true Jews2 (the good figs) returning to the land of Israel (which they say happened in 19483) thus beginning what they call "the generation of the figtree4". Of course this is pure eisegesis and a real exegesis of the text shows that nothing of this sort is taught in Jeremiah chapter 24.

First let's just take a quick read of Jeremiah 24:
Jeremiah 24
The Good Figs and the Bad Figs 
24 After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. 2 One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. 3 And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 5 “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
8 “But thus says the Lord: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. 9 I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.” (ESV)
A brief overview shows a vision of two baskets of figs. The basket of good figs represents those that were exiled to Babylon. The basket of bad figs represents those that will resist the exile. It also shows that the Lord's purpose of the exile is for judgment and salvation. This prophecy simply shows that it is too late for repentance to change the course of what God has planned for the exile. (compare to Jeremiah 21:9).

Now let's break this down, as they say, verse-by-verse:

Verse 1 - shows us that Nebuchadnezzar had taken the king and useful persons (officials, craftsmen and metal workers) into exile (597 b.c.). Then the Lord showed Jeremiah a vision of two baskets of figs (cp Jer. 1:11-16).

Verses 2 and 3  - Jeremiah describes the condition of these two basket of figs. One basket containing good figs (the exiles, v. 5) and one containing bad figs (those that remain in the land, v.8).

Verses 4 and 5  - The Lord identifies that the good figs are those whom He sent away to exile in the land of the Chaldeans. (cp Jer. 29:10-14).

Verse 6  - The Lord promises to restore the exiles. (cp Jer. 1:10; 12:2; 18:9).

Verse 7 - God promises to sovereignly dispense His grace on them so that they will repent and turn to Him. God will again have a covenantal relationship with His people.

Verse 8 - The Lord identifies the identity of the bad figs as the king of Judah, his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem who remained in the land. Notice that it is not Kenites.

Verse 9 and 10 - The Lord describes the punishment of those that remained as well as those in Egypt. (cp Jer. 15:2-4)

So, as long as somebody does not import their false presuppositions into the text, this text is not describing Kenites and true Jews returning to Israel in 1948. The text is simply explaining the judgment upon those that refused to go into exile as well as the repentance and restoration of those that did go into exile.

Soli Deo Gloria!


  1. Shepherd's Chapel teaches that kenites are the sons of cain that are alive today claiming to be Jews.
  2. Shepherd's Chapel follows the false doctrine of British-Israelism and claim that real Jews (or the 10 lost tribes) are from European Caucasian descent. 
  3. They also claim this may have happened in 1967 after the Six-Day War.
  4. This is the final generation before the second advent according to Shepherd's Chapel teaching.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Refuting Shepherd's Chapel - Katabole and 3 Earth Ages

A couple of years ago I posted some videos on YouTube. In those videos I tried to show some of the errors of Shepherd's Chapel teachings. I also have a post on this blog where I briefly list and refute the false teachings of Arnold Murray. I believe more needs to be said to refute their claims more clearly. I have some posts that deal with their doctrine on Hell and Kenites (serpent seed) in more depth. In this post I want to discuss their doctrine of the Katabole and the Three Earth Ages.

One of the big oversights I can point out is how Shepherd's Chapel followers misuse the Greek word katabolē (Strongs #G2602). Using hyper-dispensationalist E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible, Arnold Murray weaves a false system of belief that there was an "earth age" before the one we live in now and in that age Satan rebelled and caused God to destroy it in what they call the "katabole" or the "destruction of the world that was".

In the New Testament, Arnold Murray claims that when the word katabolē is used in the Greek it is actually a mis-translation in the KJV and should be translated as "destroyed" or "overthrow". For example in Ephesians 1:4 when you see the word foundation (which in the Greek is the word katabolē) used in "before the foundation of the world" it should be translated as "before the overthrow (or destruction) of the world". This, to them, validates their aberrant doctrine.

In the New Testament the word katabolē is used 11 times. 10 of those times it is translated in the KJV as foundation. The other one is the most interesting to our discussion and it appears in Hebrews 11:11.
Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11 KJV)
The word translated as conceive in this verse is the same Greek word katabolē that Shepherd's Chapel claims should be translated "overthrow" or "destroyed". This verse shows that the proper understanding of katabole does not follow Shepherd's Chapel view but instead is consistent with the traditional renderings.

In the other uses of katabolē in the New Testament it is translated as foundation and is always in connection with the world. In Hebrews 11:11 when the word is used in connection with the birth of a child it carries the meaning of conceive. When used in the connection with the world it carries the meaning of founding or creating (conceiving the world). It does NOT carry the meaning of destruction, overthrow, destroyed, or ruin in any circumstance. The use of "laying down" or "throwing down" is only correct in the connotation of laying a foundation or creating not in the sense of destroying or judgment.

In fact the proper Greek words used for "destruction" is apōleia (#G684) and the Greek for "overthrow" is either katastrophē (#G2692) or anatrepō (#G396). In Luke 6:49 we have the Greek word rhēgma (#G4485) used for "ruin". If Paul wanted to stress some sort of judgment, satanic overthrow, or ruined state he would have used one of those Greek terms.

Also see HELPS word studies entry on the use of Katabole:
katabolḗ (from 2596 /katá, "exactly according to," down from the most general to the most specific detail, "following all the way along," and 906 /bállō, "to cast") – properly, a foundation, cast according to a blueprint (original design); the substructure which determines the entire direction (destination) of all that follows; the foundation-plan, upon which the entire super-structure is built; (figuratively) the beginning (founding) that purposefully designs all that follows.
A simple survey of how the word katabolē is used in the New Testament gives us a very clear understanding of its meaning.

All verses that use the Greek word katabolē in the New Testament:
Mat 13:35, Mat 25:34, Luk 11:50, Jhn 17:24, Eph 1:4, Heb 4:3, Heb 9:26, Heb 11:11, 1Pe 1:20, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8 
Here are some notes concerning the supposed "gap theory" of Genesis 1:1-2:

Shepherd's Chapel students often argue that the word translated as “was” in the KJV and most English Translations of Genesis 1:2 should actually be translated “became” as in “the Earth became formless and void.” This, to them, proves the supposed katabole.

This theory of creation is commonly called the gap theory and it suffers from a number of hermeneutical problems:

Time cannot be inserted between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 because verse 2 does not follow verse 1 in time. Verse 2 uses a Hebrew grammatical device that is called a waw-disjunctive. This is where a sentence begins with the Hebrew word for and (waw) followed by a noun such as the earth (erets). A waw-disjunctive indicates that the sentence is describing the previous one and does not follow in time. In other words, verse 2 is describing the conditions of the earth when it was first created. Hebrew grammar simply will not allow for the insertion of vast periods of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 in which a supposed satanic fall took place.

Exodus 20:11 clearly teaches that everything was created in the span of six literal days. This passage  refutes any possibility of vast periods of time between any of the days of creation. This theory suffers from the problem of death and suffering long before Adam’s sin. Romans 5:12 teaches that death came by Adam’s sin. God himself said on the sixth day that creation was very good (Gen. 1:31), how could it be very good if there was sin and death before the fall of Adam?

Another argument you may encounter when dealing with Shepherd's Chapel students is they will claim Isaiah 45:18 substantiates their view:
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:18 KJV)
The word in vain is the same Hebrew word tohu as used in Geneses 1:2 "without form". Shepherd's Chapel students will claim that God didn't create the earth tohu but it became tohu (that is it became tohu "vian / without form" by the Katabole). But we must look at the context. The context here requires us to translate tohu as "in vain" instead of "without form". Isaiah's point here is that God did not create the earth without a purpose; He formed the earth to be inhabited by man. Genesis chapter one goes on to tell us how God formed the earth and created man and living creatures to fill the earth. Genesis chapter one records for us the whole act of creation and it was not completed until after the 6th day. Isaiah is not saying that God didn't originally create the earth tohu "without form" on the first day, as Genesis 1:2 states, but that he didn't create it without a purpose. God didn't let the earth stay tohu but had a purpose and formed the earth for that purpose. The whole act of creation (from day 1-6) had a purpose and was not vain "tohu".

The word tohu is used in several places in the Old Testament and it is translated 10 different ways in those places. In the Hebrew language it depends on the context as to how to precisely translate a word. Tohu is no exception. In Genesis 1:2 the context shows that the earth had no form to it yet so tohu is use to describe this state. In Isaiah 14:18 tohu is use to show that the whole act of creation had a purpose and was not in vain. There is no contradiction and this verse does not prove there was an earth age prior to this one.

*updated 8/28/2015

Soli Deo Gloria! 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Whosoever Will?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 KJV

In John 3:16 Jesus loved the world (all mankind including Jew and Gentile) in such a way that he redeemed a particular people (Titus 2:14, Heb. 10:14) for himself that includes all people from all nations and tongues (Rev. 5:9). John 3:16 does not say "whosoever will", it simply says whosoever or whoever believes. This "whosoever" (KJV) is best translated as "whoever believes" (NKJV, ESV, NASB, et al.) or "the believing ones". This verse in no way is teaching universal atonement. It is true that all that believe in Christ will be saved, both Reformed and Arminian are in agreement with that. Those of us that are Reformed truly believe in the free offer of the Gospel, and are commanded to share the Gospel with all sinners. Any sinner that repents and turns to Christ will be saved!

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. – John 6:44 KJV

The question is how do sinners get to the point of belief? Is it free-will (Arminian) or sovereign election (Reformed)? The Bible makes it very clear it is not the will of man (John 1:13, Rom. 9:16) but the divine choice of God (Rom. 8:29; 9:15, Eph. 1:4-5; 11) as to who gets saved. Man is unable to seek God (Rom. 3:10-18), cannot come to Christ (John 6:44, 65), and is dead in sin (Eph. 2:1). Since we are in such a dire situation the only hope for salvation is God changing our hearts (Eze. 36:26) and doing all the work of salvation for us. We can not boast in our own works and even the faith we have is by grace and is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-10). We do come to Christ freely, not forced, but it is God that gives us the ability to come to Christ freely. Just like how God had to first opened Lydia's heart before she could believe (Acts 16:14), he must do the same for all of us. As John 6:37 states, all that the Father gives to Christ will come to Christ. Verse 39 shows plainly that those given to Christ will be raised up on the last day, and verse 40 shows it is the Fathers will that those that believe on Christ get raised up. All those that receive this changed heart and work of the Spirit will come to Christ, it is guaranteed (John 6:37).

So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills – Romans 9:18 ESV

It is only Christ's "sheep" that can hear his voice and those that are not of his "flock" do not have the ability to believe (John 10:26-27). Paul in Romans 9:19-23 explains after answering an objection, similar to the one Arminians ask, that God makes one people for "honorable use" and another for "dishonorable use" (v. 21). He explains that certain people are "prepared for destruction" (v. 22), and others "prepared beforehand" for glory (v. 23). This is how God can hate Esau and love Jacob (Rom. 9:13) even before they are born or done good or evil (Rom. 9:11). Paul even explains that this is the case "in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls" (Rom. 9:11). Peter also says that those that reject Christ do so because they were destined to (1 Peter 2:8). Jude even mentions people "ordained" to condemnation (Jude 1:4 KJV), and Acts mentions those "ordained" to eternal life (Acts 13:48 KJV).

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: – Isaiah 46:9-10 KJV

I believe the problem lies in the inability of people to grasp God's sovereignty. Ask any Christian (Arminian or Reformed) if they believe in God's sovereignty and both would agree wholeheartedly. Ask them if they believe that God knows all events past, present and future and both will still agree. Ask them if God ordains every event that comes to pass and they might agree (some Arminians would say yes and all Reformed would say yes). Ask them if God ordains the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the reprobate and you will get a heated debate (Arminians saying no and Reformed saying yes). The Bible teaches us in Isaiah 46:9-11 that God declares the "end from the beginning" (v. 10) and that he will bring to pass all that he purposed (v. 11). There is simply no event in time or space that has come to pass unless the Lord has ordained it and given a purpose for it. As Romans 9 and others declare that even includes the reprobate (those going to hell).

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory – Romans 9:22-23 ESV

You must understand that even those that believe in an autonomous "free-will" have a problem with those destined for hell. Since God knows all things even before one molecule of the universe is created then he must know who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. Could not God have only created people that would choose him out of their free will? Since God created people that he knew would not free-will love him, then he still created people knowing beforehand they would go to hell. God could have chosen not to create these people but he did. In the Reformed view we see a purpose in the reprobate. God, from eternity passed, elected some to salvation and others to reprobation. He actively works faith and salvation in the elect, but passes over the reprobate so that they will stay in their sins. God is not producing unbelief in the reprobate, since we all reject Christ by nature (Eph. 2:3), he is simply leaving them in their sins and rebellion. God actively works in the elect, passively works in the reprobate. The elect receive mercy, the reprobate receive justice. Nobody gets injustice.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. – 2nd Peter 3:9 KJV

Alas the problems of taking a verse out of context! 2nd Peter 3:9 seems to be the go-to Arminian verse. There are some questions and context that need to be resolved. First who is Peter talking to? The answer is the "beloved" (v. 3:1, 8, 14) or "those who have obtained faith" (1:1) in other words believers. So in 2nd Peter 3:9 when it says God is not willing that "any" should parish and "all" come to repentance who is the "any" and "all"? The answer is quite simple. It is the ones that he is “longsuffering” for, the "you" or "us-ward" (KJV), in other words believers. In following the context and seeing who Peter is talking to it is easy to see that he is addressing believers here. 2nd Peter chapter 3 is stating that God is willing to wait millennia (v. 8) until all the elect are brought to faith (v. 9) before the second coming of Christ (v. 10-13).

In conclusion we as Reformed believe the Gospel message is open to all. We don't know who the elect are and so we proclaim the Gospel liberally to all sinners everywhere (Matt. 28:19). God has ordained the method in which people are drawn to faith and that is through the preaching of the Gospel (Rom. 10:14-17). We can join our Arminian brothers and sisters in proclaiming that whoever believes in Christ will be saved (John 3:16)!

To the Glory of God,

Colby Braden