Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quicumque vult or "Why the Word 'Persons' Must Be Used When Describing the Trinity"

A dear older saint at Communion Presbyterian brought me something interesting this last Sunday. It is a church bulletin from a church in the area with some strange practices. He pointed me to the church's "Belief Statement" in the bulletin where the church states, "We believe in divine healing, communion, and foot washing." He thought the inclusion of foot washing was pretty funny (I agree, but also told him there are groups out there that view foot washing as another sacrament).

As I read through this bulletin, something else on their "Belief Statement" page caught my eye. Here it is:
  • We believe in one God who is infinite in power, holy in nature, attributes and purposes, as well as omniscient and omnipresent.
  • We believe that He was revealed to us as Father in creation, as Son in redemption, and as the Holy Spirit in His comforting grace that never leaves those who trust Him.

What I find interesting about those statements is this: it is clearly a heretical definition of the Trinity. God has not revealed Himself as Father at one point, Son at another, and Holy Spirit at yet another. Or, if I could rephrase that: God has not manifested Himself as Father at one point, then manifested himself as Son at another, then manifested himself as Holy Spirit at yet another. "Reveal" and "manifest" are not adequate words to describe the nature of the Godhead. "Persons" is. So, when someone says they believe in the Trinity, but they are uncomfortable with the word "person" and instead prefer the word "manifestation" they are espousing heresy. They have not affirmed the God of the Bible, and remain in danger of hell.
1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
 The Athanasian Creed (aka "Quicumque vult")

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Original Westminster Confession of Faith on the Antichrist

Yesterday, during the Sunday School class at Communion Presbyterian, we discussed Chapter 25 of the Westminster Confession, having to do with "The Church". Now, there's lots of great biblical truth in that chapter, but, the American revisions to the Confession deviate from the original text on a pretty major point in Section 6. The original text of the Confession reads:

There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ.13 Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.14
13. COL 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. EPH 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.
14. MAT 23:8-10 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 2TH 2:3-4, 8-9 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. REV 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
The American revisions (such as the PCA, OPC, etc--with the exception of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church) read:

There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof.

And, lastly, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church edition of the Confession reads:

There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can mere man in any sense be the head thereof.
Since one of the things I've tried to do in my Sunday School class is point out the differences between the ARP Confession and other versions of the Confession, I read the text of the original version to my class. I could tell that some folks in the class had no idea that the Reformers considered the Pope to be the Antichrist, the man of sin, etc. So, I told my class I would post some of the reasoning behind that conclusion. Below are the reasons and Scripture proofs David Dickson gives in Truth's Victory Over Error (the first commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith ever written). Read through what he has to say and judge for yourselves if the Reformers got it right.

Question IX. ―Is the Pope that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church of God against Christ, and all that is called God?

Though this be denied by the church of Rome, yet the true description of Antichrist agrees to him.

1st, Because he is not one single man, but an order and race of men, succeeding to one another, in that same state and office; which you will see, by comparing 1 John 4:3; 2 Thess. 2:7-8. together.

2nd, His coming in after the manner of Satan, 2 Thess. 2:9.

3rd, As to his name, he calls himself a Christian, but in very truth, an adversary to Christ; and by consequence, one that denies Jesus to be the Christ, Rev. 17:14; Rev. 19:19; 2 Thess. 2:7-8; 1 John 2:23.

4th, He sitteth in the temple of God as God, 2 Thess. 2:4.

5th, He ruleth in the great city, and exercises dominion over the kings of the earth.

6th, He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, with lying wonders and miracles, 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:14-15.

7th, He causeth all sorts of persons to receive his mark on their right hand, or on their forehead, Rev. 13:16-17.

8th, To him agrees what Paul says, And now ye know what withholdeth (namely the roman emperor) that he might be revealed in his time, 2 Thess. 3:6-7.

Friday, January 27, 2012

TD Jakes, Trinitarianism, and Asking Hard Questions

There is a little bit of buzz around TD Jakes' appearance on (in?) the Elephant Room to answer questions and discuss theology with Mark Driscoll and James McDonald. Some have said that based on Jakes' answer to questions about the Trinity, we should now accept that he has given up his Pentecostal Oneness-ism and embraced orthodox Trinitarianism. I think none of the right questions were asked of Jakes, and a correct definition of the Trinity was entirely missing from the conversation (a transcript of which can be read here), thus making any affirmations of the Trinity meaningless.

Carl Trueman has posted some of his thoughts, which I agree with, here. Only he says them better than I can (and he says Frank Turk says things better than he can, which I guess makes Frank Turk two levels above me :) ). Trueman's conclusion is something we all need to remember: "It is not hateful to press the hard questions, and to do so with appropriate competence and in a suitable context; rather, it is appropriate and necessary."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Does Your Church Believe About the Civil Magistrate?

After seeing my chart comparing the different version of Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 23 section 3, The Aquila Report contacted me and said that if I added a little bit of commentary to accompany the chart, they would like to run it as an article. I did as they asked, and it was the #2 article on The Aquila Report last night.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A New Blog: Cage Free Calvinist

My good friend Joe Young (who recent wrote a guest piece here about the Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus video) has started his own blog: Cage Free Calvinist. Go over and have a look. He's only got a couple of posts up, so far, but I'm guessing we'll see lots of commentary on philosophy, politics, religion, and the nature of discourse. Plus, he's a regular guest on the Apologetics.com Radio show, so I'm sure there will be posts related to the topics he discusses there.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Joe! You are now part of the problem!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Comparison of WCF 23.3 (Of The Civil Magistrate)

Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 23, section 3 is a very interesting section if for no other reason than it has been modified so differently by various American Presbyterian denominations. Below is a link to a PDF I put together with a side-by-side comparison of this section as it appeared in the original Confession, as well as how the ARP, PCA, OPC, RPCNA, EPC, and PCUSA have modified it.

WCF 23.3 Comparison Chart (PDF)

WCF 23.3 Comparison Chart (Word) 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

David Dickson and Exclusive Psalmody

While preparing my Sunday School class on Chapter 22 of the Westminster Confession ("Of Lawful Oaths and Vows"), I came across the following in David Dickson's Truth's Victory Over Error:

"Question 2. "Is an oath warranted by the word of God, under the New Testament, as well as under the Old, in matters of weight and moment?
Answer. Yes...[he then gives a list of reasons why this is so, and the ninth reason is:]
9th, Because we need not fear to imitate any thing which is done in heaven. Our Lord has taught us to pray, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. But the angel, (says John, Rev. x. 5, 6.) which I saw stand upon the sea, and upon the earth, lifted up his hand to heaven, and swore by him that liveth for ever and ever. That angel calls himself our fellow servant, and of our brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book, Rev. xxii. 9. And therefore the angels being of the same fraternity with us, do not act under different dispensations from us."

The verses Dickson cites are: Revelation 10:5-6, "The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer," and Revelation 22:9, "Then he said to me, 'See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.'"

Now, the interesting this about this is:
  1. Dickson was a contemporary of the Westminster Assembly, and his Truth's Victory Over Error is the first commentary on the Confession (and an excellent one, at that!). 
  2. Not only was he a contemporary of the Assembly, but he was also an Exclusive Psalmist as most if not all Presbyterians were at that time. He makes this clear in his commentary on several Psalms. See, for example, his comments on Psalm 150.
  3. Dickson's argument for the validity of swearing oaths runs thus:
    1. We are not to fear imitating anything which is done in heaven
    2. Angels in heaven swear oaths
    3. Therefore, we too can swear oaths
If his argument is valid (which I think it is), can be applied to singing non-psalms just as easily as it could be applied to swearing of oaths. In Revelation 5:8-14, we read: 
"8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying: 'You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.'
11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice: 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!'
13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: 'Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!'
14 Then the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever."

Note that those worshiping the Lamb in heaven sing a "new song" (verse 9. not a Psalm!) and they use harps (verse 8) in their worship.

 Then, in Revelation 14:1-5, we read:
"1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God."

Again, those in heaven worshiping the Lamb sing a new song (verse 3) and their singing is accompanied by harps (verse 2).

Now, if we apply Dickson's argument to the worship we find in Revelation 5 and Revelation 14, we would have an argument like this:
  1. We are not to fear imitating anything which is done in heaven
  2. In heaven, new songs are sung to the Lord, and instruments are used in the worship of God
  3. We, too, can sing new songs to the Lord and use instruments in the worship of God
I appreciate the vigor with which my Exclusive Psalmist brethren defend the worship of God; however, I believe they are inconsistent when applying what Scripture has to say about the worship of God, specifically in singing "new songs" and in using instruments to accompany the singing of the congregation. We are not to fear imitating anything which is done in heaven, and it is clear from Revelation that in heaven more than Psalms are sung, and they are not sung a capella.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Guest Post: A Response to the Video "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus"

Joe Young is a member of Communion Presbyterian Church and a pretty sharp guy! He jotted down some thoughts on the video "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus" which is making the rounds right now on Facebook and other social media sites. You can watch the video here. I think Joe makes some good points, and especially appreciate his call for "deep thinking" about important issues as opposed to just repeating tired old cliches (but, hey, they are set to music and the film is shot so well, it must be true!). I hope you find his post encouraging.

Thank you, Joe for your response!

A response to the video "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus"

Sadly I don't have the cool video effects or catchy soundtrack to go along with what I have to say.  However I think some points of clarification are in order.

1.  Jesus came to abolish religion - What does that mean?  In one sense yes he did.  But this all depends on your definition of religion.  I have always understood it as reverence for the sacred.  So I would say in this sense Jesus came to totally uphold true religion.  And the "religious" leaders in his day were using it to attain power, wealth, and influence.  Not as humble servants of the people directing them to God.  I think this is a statement used to be provocative, and not get to the truth.

2.  Republican doesn't automatically mean Christian. - Of course it does not.  Who makes this argument?  Every Christian I talk to who does vote Republican does so because that party best exemplifies their values. I think the vast majority of Christians would be ecstatic if both parties supported pro-life, traditional marriage, limited government, and religious liberty.

3.  Just because you call some people blind doesn't automatically give you vision. - I think the point he is getting at here is there are Christians who are very judgmental and not full of grace.  So therefore what?  Should we be ungraceful back to them?  Should we mock them and ridicule them to score points with non-Christians?  I know some Christians who say they don't judge, but I think they really use that a pretext not really have to think deeply about an issue and not get truly involved with other people.

4.  If religion is so great why has it started so many wars? - This is such an over simplification and glossing over history I don't know where to begin.  Books could and have been written on this subject.  I will try to winnow my thoughts down to a few.  Is war something that can be totally abolished or is it part of the human condition?  What if some tyrant is exterminating people like a Hitler.  Is war justified then?  The most deaths in human history have been caused by secular movements not religious ones such as communist Russia and China.

5.  Why does the church build huge churches but fails to feed the poor. - I think there are millions of missionaries, doctors, ministers, and other people who would disagree with him.  There are lots of organizations that work tirelessly to feed the poor and help those in need.  But I would say we have been giving up on some of our responsibility to help our neighbor and have given it up to the state to hand out charity.  Also just as people need food to live they need spiritual food as well.  I think people need beautiful things to experience and behold.  Some of the greatest art throughout the history of the world have been churches.  Does he want to just get rid of them?

6.  Tell single moms God doesn't love them. - Who makes that argument?  No responsible minister I have ever seen has made that argument.  Of course there are jerks out there who might say something like this.  But what do we do?  Hunt them all down and excommunicate them?  Shouldn't we be just as loving and respectful to jerks as well as to single moms?

7.  Religion might preach grace but another thing they practice.  -  What is better, preaching something that you don't live up to or living a life where you don't even try to improve yourself?

I could write more but this is a few thoughts I had just on the first minute of the video.

I would like to conclude with this: I am sure this guy has his heart in the right place.  He clearly has a conviction to see the Gospel spread and teach people about Jesus which are both good things.  However, I think using slogans, cliches, and half truths doesn't help spread the Kingdom.  I don't mean this in any way to be a jerk to him or any people who may agree with what he is saying.  All I want to do is encourage deep thinking and digging into God's Word.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Westminster Confession of Faith Sunday School Class: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

Below are my lecture notes for yesterday's adult Sunday School class at Communion Presbyterian Church. We discussed Chapter 22 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, ("Of Lawful Oaths and Vows"). It's a very important chapter that doesn't seem to get much interaction these days. I hope my notes are helpful for you! As always, you can find past notes and handouts for this class by clicking on the Westminster Confession of Faith Sunday School Class label on the left.

Seth Stark
Adult Sunday School Class: Westminster Confession of Faith
Communion Presbyterian Church
Irvine, CA

Preface: Why is this chapter in the WCF? Does it deserve a place next to such weighty topics as “Scripture”, “Justification”, “Baptism”, “The Church”, etc?
Consider the historical setting that the WCF was written in. Consider the Roman church and all here broken oaths to men such as Jan Huss and Martin Luther. Consider also the vows required of the Romanists to enter into the priesthood, and certain orders of monks (Franciscan vow of poverty, for example). Were the men who entered the priesthood or who became monks considered equal to the laity in the Roman system? Or were they thought to be more holy, better examples of Christian living, because of their vows?

First: What is the difference between an oath and a vow?
An oath is a calling upon God to judge (or curse) the one speaking if he has not spoken the truth. A vow is a solemn pledge or promise made to God. In an oath man calls God to witness and to judge what he says or promises to men. In a vow man makes a solemn promise to God.
Marriage vows: oaths or vows? (or both!)

Swearing in of a witness in a trial: oath or vow?
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
Oath of Enlistment in US Army: oath or vow?
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
Source: http://www.history.army.mil/html/faq/oaths.html
The Pledge of Allegiance: Oath, vow, or other?

Second: Do we have biblical warrant for taking oaths? Vows? (See Matthew 5:33-37)
Our Lord teaches us in Matthew 5:33-37, “33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
So doesn’t this text teach us that all oaths and vows are unlawful?

Certainly not! Why?
First, only a few verses earlier, Jesus tells us that He did not come to destroy the Law (Matt 5:17-18, “17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”. Since oaths and vows were permitted (and sometimes required) under the Law, they are still permitted in the New Covenant. What Jesus is preaching against is the perversion of the Law by the Pharisees who would swear by one thing or another in order to not have to keep their word!
Second, there are many biblical examples of lawful oaths and vows, both in the New Testament as well as in the Old.
Hebrews 6:13-18, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. 17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

Isaiah 65:16, “So that he who blesses himself in the earth
     Shall bless himself in the God of truth;
     And he who swears in the earth
     Shall swear by the God of truth;
     Because the former troubles are forgotten,
     And because they are hidden from My eyes.

Jeremiah 4:2, “And you shall swear, ‘The LORD lives,’
     In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness;
     The nations shall bless themselves in Him,
     And in Him they shall glory.’

Galatians 1:20, “Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie.

Romans 1:9, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,

Romans 9:1, “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,”

2 Corinthians 1:18, 23, “But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No....Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.

2 Corinthians 11:31, “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.

Revelation 10:5-6, “The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer,

We conclude then, that our Lord does not forbid the taking of oaths and vows, but the improper taking of oaths and vows!

Third: Are true, that is, proper, oaths and vows religious by nature? Why?
Yes! Oaths may only be sworn by God and vows may only be made to God. (See examples from the Law, the prophets, and the Apostles)
Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.

Deuteronomy 10:20, “You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.

Isaiah 65:16, “So that he who blesses himself in the earth
     Shall bless himself in the God of truth;
     And he who swears in the earth
     Shall swear by the God of truth;
     Because the former troubles are forgotten,
     And because they are hidden from My eyes.

Romans 9:1, “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
NOTE: Once we have established that oaths and vows may only be made in the name of God, Romans 9:1 becomes another proof text for the deity of Christ!

Romans 1:9, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,

Philippians 1:8, “For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

Fourth: Is it permissible to swear by anything other than God?
Examples: “I swear on my mother’s tomb...” or “I swear on my life...”, etc.

Jeremiah 5:7, “How shall I pardon you for this?
     Your children have forsaken Me
     And sworn by those that are not gods.
     When I had fed them to the full,
     Then they committed adultery
     And assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses.

Matthew 5:33-37, “33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Jeremiah 44:25-26, “25 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: ‘You and your wives have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled with your hands, saying, “We will surely keep our vows that we have made, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” You will surely keep your vows and perform your vows!’ 26 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: ‘Behold, I have sworn by My great name,’ says the LORD, ‘that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “The Lord GOD lives.”

Psalm 76:11, “Make vows to the LORD your God, and pay them;
        Let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared.

Fifth: If we are to swear oaths and vows in the name of God alone, what ought our meaning be when we swear an oath? That is, is it permissible for a Christian to swear an oath with some mental reservation or equivocation?
No, because oaths are religious in nature, and because God is called to witness to the truth of what we swear, we must swear without any mental reservation or equivocation. Our yes must be yes and our no, no.

Psalm 24:3-4, “3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
        Or who may stand in His holy place?
        4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
        Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
        Nor sworn deceitfully.

Exodus 20:7, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Leviticus 19:12, “And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

Jeremiah 4:2, “And you shall swear, ‘The LORD lives,’
     In truth, in judgment, and in righteousness;
     The nations shall bless themselves in Him,
     And in Him they shall glory.

Ephesians 4:25, “Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.” [quoting Zechariah 8:16]

Psalm 15:4, “In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
        But he honors those who fear the LORD;
        He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;

Sixth: If oaths and vows are religious by nature, and must be sworn without equivocation or mental reservation, what sorts of things are we to swear to do and what sorts of things are we forbidden to swear to do?
We are to swear to do only lawful things. We are forbidden to swear or vow to do that which is unlawful.
EXAMPLE: A person swears an oath to raise their children in the false system of Roman Catholicism. Years later, they are converted and leave the Church of Rome. Are they obligated to raise their children in that false religion, because at the time of the taking of that oath, they swore it in sincerity?
Reply: An oath is binding only if the thing promised is good and just, that is, agreeable to the Word of God. The reason for this is evident: that which is contrary to the Word of God is sin, and it is man’s duty not to sin; therefore, swearing to sin cannot justify or obligate sin.

Matt 14:1-12, “ 1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus 2 and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. 4 Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.
6 But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. 7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.
8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”
9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. 10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.

Did Herod sin by having John the Baptist beheaded? Answer: YES! The proper thing for Herd to do, in relation to this oath, would have been to repent of the oath.

It was wrong to make such an oath in the first place. It would be doubly wrong to keep it after discovering it was sinful. Herod is guilty of a double sin: the swearing to do sin, and the keeping of his oath.

Seventh: Considering all these things, are the following lawful vows: a vow of a perpetual celibacy? A vow of professed poverty?
Celibacy: Lawful or unlawful?
Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.

1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 9, “1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me:It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband...but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Timothy 4:1-3, “1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Vows of Poverty: Lawful or unlawful?
Ephesians 4:28, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

Proverbs 30:8-9, “8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
     Give me neither poverty nor riches
     Feed me with the food allotted to me;
      9 Lest I be full and deny You,
     And say, “Who is the LORD?”
     Or lest I be poor and steal,
     And profane the name of my God.

Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.

1 Thessalonians 4:11, “that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12, “7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.