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Cussing Pastor Response

Todd Rhoades over at MMI admonishes Ed Young Jr. for his video rebuke to pastors. While Ed makes some good points, I tend to agree with Todd – you don’t need to cuss to tell people not to cuss.

Check it out at:

What the @$&*? Ed Young Swears to Prove a Point: Don’t Swear

The Cussing Pastor

Interesting take by Ed Young Jr on how the new mind should lead us to communicate.  I know “grace” means we’ve been forgiven and free to live without the wrath of God.  But when we use vulgar and abusive language, there’s a heart issue involved.  I’ve heard preachers and church leaders curse, even from the pulpit.  Some even look on it as a freedom they have in Christ.   If you think this is a privilege, you not only need to clean up your speech, you need to take a hard look at cleaning up your doctrine.

(Matthew 15:18) But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

Reason #5 – Spiritual Death In Ezekiel 18 Means A Contradiction Between Ezekiel and Christ

If Ezekiel 18 contains the “plan of salvation” for the OT saint, then there is a contradiction between the book of Ezekiel and the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When it comes to understanding the covenants of God, most honest Bible students will agree the “Old Testament” was still in effect during the time of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).  In fact, it was impossible for the New Testament to be activated until the Lord Jesus Christ died.

(Hebrews 9:16-17)  For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.   For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

If the Old Testament was still in effect during the earthly ministry of Christ, we would expect the mechanics of salvation to be the same as the time of Ezekiel.  Note we did NOT say the “message” of salvation.  It is important to make the distinction.  We see an abrupt change in the message given to Israel when John the Baptist arrives on the scene:

(Matthew 3:1-2)  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Even the brethren who claim man was saved by works in the Old Testament concede the point there is a new message when John starts preaching.  These brethren also claim Mark 10 and other passages demonstrate man was saved during the time of the earthly ministry of Christ by repentance, baptism, and following the commandments.[1] If we can agree the mechanics of salvation remained the same (again, please note I did not say “message”), we must also agree the mechanics of eternal security remain the same.  In other words, God saved people either by faith plus works or faith alone in BOTH the time of Ezekiel and the time of the earthly ministry of Christ.

By necessity, the brethren who believe in faith plus works also believe Ezekiel 18 proves people lost their salvation when they sinned and failed to bring the appropriate sacrifice resolving to keep the Law.  I recently heard a preacher use Ezekiel 18:24 to “prove” a man lost his salvation in the OT when he didn’t keep up works under the Mosaic Law.

(Ezekiel 18:24)  But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.

But how does this compare with the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ?  Does Jesus Christ teach a man must “keep up” the commandments in order to remain eligible for eternal life?  Without even examining the faith plus works vs. faith alone issue, examine the aspect of security in the following verses:

  • (John 6:47)  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
  • (John 3:18)  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
  • (John 5:24)  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
    • If a person passes from death to life, does the failure to “keep the commandments” pass him back from life to death?
  • (John 10:27-29)  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.   My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
    • If “any man” cannot pluck the sheep out of Christ’s hand, and “no man” is able to “pluck” them out of the Father’s hand, how could a man’s failure to obey the Law remove him from the hand of both the Son and the Father?

The Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that those who are saved are eternally secure.  This presents a major problem for those who believe Ezekiel’s message “proves” man lived under a conditional salvation in the Old Testament based on human performance.  God dealt with Israel under the same covenant both in Ezekiel 18 and during the earthly ministry of Christ.  There cannot be a contradiction in the Word of God so the problem must be with understanding.  Either man was eternally secure in Ezekiel 18 and the faith plus works interpretation is wrong, or man was not eternally secure and there is a contradiction between the words of Christ and the words of Ezekiel.

In case some are wondering, it is important to clarify before becoming mischaracterized.  Please also note I DID NOT STATE:

1) The message of salvation was the same for those prior to the dispensation of grace as those living in the dispensation of grace.

2) The mechanics of eternal security was the same for the Old Testament saint as it is today.

3) The ministry of the Holy Spirit was the same in the Old Testament as it is today.

God operates with man on the basis of 2 or 3 covenants (Covenant Theology)


[1] See the article Old Testament Salvation and The Rich Young Ruler for my commentary on that passage

Reason #4 – No One Could Every Perfectly Comply With The Law

Man has never been able to live a righteous life on his own.  If man was capable of living a life that satisfied God’s Holiness, the death of Jesus Christ would not have been necessary.  But those who claim Ezekiel 18 presents the terms of salvation for the Old Testament saint must admit they believe man was at some point capable of fulfilling the terms of the Mosaic Law.  If a man was to obtain or re-obtain eternal life based on his Law-keeping, then it must have been possible at some point in his life to stand before God with all of it fulfilled.  Those holding this position must admit this based on their interpretation of this verse:

(Ezekiel 18:21)  “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.”

On the other hand, the position of faith states that man was never and could never keep all the Law.  Man could never do that which is lawful and right.  The law was never made for those who could perform it.  As the Apostle Paul states,

(1 Timothy 1:9)  “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,”

Those who claim life and death in this passage are spiritual not physical must accept it was possible at some point for an Old Testament person to keep all the Law.  To this, we must say – Impossible! It insults the very nature and character of God and is an insult to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to imply that man could ever stand righteous based on his performance.  Additionally, those who hold this position must also believe people without the permanent indwelling Holy Spirit were able to do something those who are indwelt permanently today could never do:  Keep the whole Law.

Reason #3 – The terms of the contract between God and Israel in the context of Ezekiel 18 refer to physical punishment.

The phrase “house of Israel” occurs 140 times in the Old Testament.  In the Book of Ezekiel, we find this phrase an amazing 79 times!

Here are the occurrences in Ezekiel 18:

(Ezekiel 18:6)  And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,

(Ezekiel 18:15)  That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife,

(Ezekiel 18:25)  Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?

(Ezekiel 18:29)  Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?

(Ezekiel 18:30)  Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

(Ezekiel 18:31)  Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

This is a prophetic book about a nation – the house of Israel!

Terms of the Contract = Physical

Ezekiel is a book about the consequences of a broken contract between Jehovah and Israel and the restoration of the nation.  In Leviticus 26, a series of blessings and curses upon the nation Israel are laid out in orderly fashion.  Verses 1 through 13 detail the blessings while verses 14 through 39 list the curses.  These are conditional blessings and curses.  Israel contracted to receive them based on her performance in obedience or disobedience to the commandments of God. Israel’s heart as God’s chosen people turned against God.  The curses, given in five separate courses, turn out to be a prophetic history of the nation.  Ezekiel’s ministry occurred in the beginning of the 5th course of punishment.  This is THE KEY to understanding why Ezekiel prophesied such condemnation against Israel.  Ezekiel prophesied the details of the curses Israel agreed to in her contract with God!

God uses Ezekiel the priest (Ezek 1:3) to prophesy using the contract found in Leviticus, the book of the priesthood.  Leviticus is a book about God’s holiness.  Ezekiel is a book about Israel’s ungodliness.  Leviticus presents a sacrificial system which outwardly demonstrates an inward communion between God and His people.  Ezekiel condemns the nation because their sacrifices are a false manifestation of broken communion.

The curses in Leviticus 26 do not reveal individual condemnation for failure to perform the Law.  It’s important to remember these punishments resulted from a corporate agreement between Jehovah and Israel.  While there were certainly righteous individuals in the nation at any given time, Israel as a whole continued to prove they were a hard-hearted and disobedient people.  Just as the four courses of punishment are given in a series of cumulative installments, the fifth course of punishment itself is in cumulative installments.  Without going into much more detail, here are just a few examples of the parallels between Leviticus 26 and the prophecy of Ezekiel.

Prophecy

Leviticus 26

Ezekiel’s Prophecy

Famine (Leviticus 26:26)  And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. (Ezekiel 4:16)  Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment:
Cannibalism (Leviticus 26:29)  And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. (Ezekiel 5:10)  Therefore the fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments in thee, and the whole remnant of thee will I scatter into all the winds.
Slain men’s carcases laid upon the destroyed idols (Leviticus 26:30)  And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. (Ezekiel 6:13)  Then shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.
Cities laid waste, idolatrous temples destroyed, refusal to accept offerings (Leviticus 26:31)  And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours. (Ezekiel 6:6)  In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.
Judgment in a foreign land (Leviticus 26:33)  And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. (Ezekiel 5:2)  Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.

(Ezekiel 12:14)  And I will scatter toward every wind all that are about him to help him, and all his bands; and I will draw out the sword after them.[1]

The Book of Ezekiel is about a nation (Israel) who broke her vows to Jehovah in the contract she agreed to fulfill and was destined to destruction as a result.

(Leviticus 26:46)  “These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.”

In the chapters leading up to Ezekiel 18 and those immediately after, page after page is filled with promises of physical destruction because of Israel’s disobedience to her covenant vows.  The wrath of Jehovah has already been executed in some course, but much still remained as Ezekiel penned the book.

But, just as Leviticus 26 concludes with the promise of restoration with repentance in verses 40-45, Ezekiel also looks forward to the time when Jehovah Himself will fulfill the promises that Israel could never keep.  There will be restoration and blessing because Jehovah’s mercy and grace will replace the blind attempt of a sinful nation to maintain a righteous standing before Him.  This is the context of the book of Ezekiel, including chapter 18.

Therefore, we must keep in mind the contractual blessings and curses in Ezekiel are physical in nature as a result of a physical contract with physical consequences.  It is recommended the Bible student go back to Leviticus 26 to find anything except physical blessings and cursing promised.  Throughout history, this is the way the Lord manifested Himself to His nation.


[1] In all four OT occurrences of the phrase “draw out the sword” (here, Ezek 5:2, 12; 12:14), it is preceded by the use of “scatter” and it is always a reference to Israel.  It is in three other passages but always in reference to the judgment of a nation outside Israel (Egypt: Exod 15:9, Ezek 30:11; Tyre: Ezek 28:7).

Reason #2 – “Soul” in Ezekiel refers to the whole person, not just the spirit of man, and so does not refer to eternal death.

Those who wrongly assume “death” means spiritual death in Ezekiel 18, make the same wrong assumption where the “soul” is mentioned.  An erroneous understanding is built from the first assumption.  It is reasoned that if this passage presents spiritual life and death, then the word “soul” must be the part of man subject to spiritual life and death.  And if works play a part in this spiritual life and death, then it is reasoned this must confirm works play a part in the salvation of Old Testament people.  Here it is presented in another way.

Assumption #3 Works leading to life or death must be the Old Testament plan of salvation
Assumption #2 “Soul” must be the part of man subject to spiritual death
Assumption #1 “Death” must be spiritual

This reasoning is a “house of cards.”  Once it is understood that Ezekiel 18 refers to physical life and death (Assumption #1), then it is easy to understand why the works produced in the context of this passage have nothing to do with justification unto eternal life.

By necessity, those who see the passage in terms of spiritual life and death believe the word “soul” must refer to the second part of man’s trichotomy (spirit, soul, body – cp. 1 Thessalonians 5:23) or a combination of soul and spirit.  However, once again, this forces a meaning on the passage without consideration of the context.  The Hebrew word “nephesh” is often, but not always, translated into the English word “soul.”  It is used in a variety of contexts in the Old Testament.  Here are a few examples of places where it is translated “soul” in the Old Testament.

In some places it refers to the individual man.

(Exodus 1:5)  “And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.”

(Exodus 12:4)  “And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.”

(Ezekiel 13:18)  “And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?”

In other places, it is translated “soul” where man exercises certain powers or performs certain actions.

(Genesis 27:4)  “And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.”

(1 Samuel 1:26)  “And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD.”

(Ezekiel 4:14)  “Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth.”

And yet in other places, “nephesh” is translated “soul” to refer to mortal man, subject to physical death, salvation, and prolonged life.

(Genesis 12:13)  “Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.”

  • Notice Abraham’s soul referred to his physical life in this context.

(1 Samuel 24:11)  “Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.”

  • Notice David is referred to his physical life.

(Ezekiel 18:27)  “Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.”

  • Notice it is the wicked man who turns away from his wickedness that saves his soul alive.

It is entirely consistent with the system of physical promises and physical punishments given to the nation Israel for death of the “soul” in Ezekiel 18 to mean physical death.  Even if one would like to take the contrary position, there is little if not less evidence, to support the concept of “soul” being the part of man subject to spiritual death in this context.

Off The Road Again

I’ve been “on the road” the past two weeks.  Although the current series on Ezekiel 18 has been written for a while, I still like to fine tune it right before posting.  I apologize for the long delay and plan to churn out several posts in the next few days.  Thanks for your patience!