About the Author

Thomas Ray Floyd was born in 1953 in Simpson County, Mississippi, the son of Roy Thomas Floyd and Lina Sue Shows Floyd. Thomas Ray's mother was a member of a Primitive Baptist church, and he cut his teeth on the doctrines of distinguishing grace.

When he was a small boy, his father was converted to Christ and became a member of a Missionary Baptist Church. Thomas Ray joined the church of his father when he was 13 years old, and thought of himself as a Christian. The doctrines of grace that he had heard as a child continued to be precious to him and when he became an adult, he joined a Primitive Baptist Church. When he was 27, Thomas Ray made his first effort to preach the gospel in public and was ordained to the full functions of the ministry in 1985. In 1986 he was convinced under the preaching of Rolfe Barnard (by tapes from Mt. Olive Tape Library), the written sermons of Spurgeon, and the ministry of Elder Zack Guess that he had been a false professor and cried out in agony of soul to the Lord Jesus Christ to have mercy and truly save him. And He did! Floyd then began to preach the gospel as he had been taught of the Lord.

Floyd has pastored churches in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee and until recently was pastor of a church plant known as "Particular Baptist Fellowship." He and his wife Brenda presently attend Zion Baptist Church at Polkville, Mississippi, pastored by Elder Glen Hopkins. The pulpit ministry of Zion Baptist Church can be heard at Sermonaudio.com.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Canon of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 12-30-2009 AD)

By the "canon" of scripture we mean that list of books that are inspired of God and are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16). We mean those books which concern Christ (Luke 24:44). The Bible contains sixty-six books that are inspired of God. Our Lord and His apostles quoted from virtually all the Old Testament books and never questioned the authority of any of the scriptures that were received by the Old Testament Church. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament were received by the first century churches and were confirmed by the apostles and extraordinary signs and wonders. Church councils did not "canonize" the Bible; they simply confirmed that which had already been received by the Church (I Thessalonians 2:13).

There is a group of writings of human production known as the "Apocrypha". These books are not inspired of God and should be treated as all works of men. These books were erroneously and sadly included in some early printings of the Bible, and some of them are received as "canonical" by some groups that profess to be Christian. Christians need to be informed on this subject, so let us consider a few facts concerning the apocryphal books.

First of all, the papists did not "canonize" the apocrypha until the year 1546 with the Council of Trent. They no doubt "canonized" these books because they have references to purgatory, salvation by works, and praying for the dead. These vile doctrines do not consent with the other scriptures and do not testify of Christ so we know they are uninspired. By the way, Rome has never repealed the Council of Trent, and so it remains a vital part of their teaching. A reading of the Council of Trent will show you why true Protestants will never rejoin Rome.

Secondly, the early church theologians rejected the apocrypha. It is true that Jerome included it in his translation, but he denied its authority and counted it as any other uninspired writings, that is there are some historical use of the apocrypha, but no Divine Authority for it. Although Augustine gave some credence to the apocrypha in his earlier years, he later rejected it as being inspired of God. Nor did Josephus, the Jewish historian include the apocrypha in his list of canonical books.

Thirdly, the apocryphal books themselves make no claim for inspiration. You do not find the language of the prophets like "the burden of the Lord". The writer of the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus (not to be confused with the inspired book of Ecclesiastes) plainly denies being inspired of God. Notice in the prologue to this apocryphal book there is a begging of the reader's pardon where he may find mistakes in this book. You have no such language in the sixty-six inspired books. To the contrary, the inspired writers speak as the oracle of God.

Whatever use we may find in the apocrypha for our study of history or philosophy, we are not to regard these books as inspired of God. They have no authority over us. Let us study the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments for they testify of our Lord Jesus Christ and are effectual in the salvation of our souls.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Identity of the New Testament

(Article for publication week of 12-23-2009 AD)

"And account that the longsuffering of God is salvation; even as our beloved Brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (II Peter 3:15-16).

Last week we wrote to you concerning the identity, or (as some would say) the "canon" of scripture, the Old Testament particularly. This week we will take up the identity of the New Testament. We see in our text that Peter accepted the Pauline epistles as inspired, along with the "other scriptures." Thus we see the first way that we identify the canonicity of the New Testament, by Apostolic confirmation. The Twelve Apostles were given special authority by Christ Himself to write the New Testament and to oversee the New Testament Church in her founding era of the first century (John 14:26; John 16:12-15; II Thessalonians 2:15).

The scriptures were never "canonized" by a church council as some vainly imagine, but rather they were received by the early Church that was then endowed with extraordinary powers. Church councils simply recognized what was already true and already understood by God's people. The early church, as already pointed out was under the oversight of the Apostles (see also I Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 2:20). God gave the early church extraordinary gifts until the New Testament was completed, but after the church had the perfect and entire scriptures we would not need or have the extraordinary gifts any more (I Corinthians 13:10). But during this founding era of the New Testament Church the Lord confirmed the word by "signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost" (Hebrews 2:4).

One of the gifts of the Holy Ghost that was given to the early church was the gift of prophet. (Apostles, prophets and evangelists are not extant offices. The only extant offices in the church are elder and deacon.) The prophets were given to confirm the word of the apostles and their assistants. In I Corinthians 14:37 we read, "if any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." The prophets were endowed by the Holy Ghost with the power to recognize which writings of the apostles and their deputies were inspired of the Holy Ghost and to be accepted as the word of God.

Therefore when the early churches received an inspired epistle from Paul they were able to immediately recognize that it was the inspired word of God. Notice for example I Thessalonians 2:13, "for this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." When the church at Thessalonica received this epistle from Paul (which incidentally was probably the first of Paul's epistles), they did not have wait for a church council to "canonize" I Thessalonians. They knew it was the word of God by Apostolic confirmation and the Holy Ghost giving witness through signs and wonders. Later councils only recognized what was a given in the early church.

Don't you just love the Bible?!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Identity of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 12-16-2009 AD)

"And He said unto them, these are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me" (Luke 24:44).

In this verse our risen Lord showed the disciples the canon of scripture. This three fold division of the Old Testament, the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms was one with which the Old Testament Church was familiar. The Old Testament Church had the Old Testament scriptures exactly as we have them today. They combined several of the Books into one, for example the first five books of the Bible was in the days of our Lord combined into one book called the Pentateuch. The first century Old Testament was in twenty-two books instead of our thirty-nine due to this grouping, but it was the same scripture as we have today.

The arguments for the canon of scripture are closely connected with the arguments for inspiration and authority of the scriptures. We receive as the word of God those writings that contain heavenly matter, those that have been effectual in conversion and sanctification, those that are majestic in style, those that consent to one another, those that give all glory to God, those that are self authenticating, those that are confirmed by the faith of God's elect, and above all those that lead us to Christ. This is what the Lord told these disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Old Testament in all its parts concerned Himself.

Reading through the four gospels we find that the Lord Jesus Christ quoted from Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, the Psalms, and Isaiah. By quoting these scriptures for authority our Lord was showing that he accepted all the Old Testament as "canonical". Nowhere do we find the Lord questioning any of the Old Testament as being inspired of God. Those who call the Old Testament into question are simply calling Christ a liar and prove themselves to be in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.

As we read the Book of Acts and the New Testament epistles we find the apostles and their deputies quoting from these Old Testament books: Micah, Malachi, Zechariah, Numbers, Amos, Habakkuk, Proverbs, Ruth, II Chronicles, Jeremiah, Job, Daniel, Jonah, Joel, and Hosea. By seeing how these books were unitized in their respective divisions at that time, we see, that our Lord and His apostles accepted all of our present Old Testament as "canonical." In Acts 7, as Stephen defended the faith, he took his hearers to Genesis, Exodus, I and II Samuel. I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles and Isaiah. In Hebrews eleven, Paul refers to Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges and the Prophets. Gary Crampton says in his fine book on the doctrine of scripture that there are over five hundred places where the New Testament writers refer to the authority of the Old Testament. Christ and the Apostles accepted our thirty-nine Old Testament books as "canonical."

Lord willing, next week we will take up the identity of the New Testament.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Illumination of Scripture

(Article for publication week of 12-9-2009 AD)

"Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth:" (John 16:13a).

We have shown in previous articles that the scriptures are clear concerning creation, the law and the gospel. And it is possible to come to the true meaning of scripture by taking them in their plain sense, in their context, and by interpreting hard texts in the light of clear texts. However, the scriptures cannot be understood by intellect alone. There must be enlightenment by the Holy Spirit.

I Corinthians 2:14 tells us, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The scriptures are the revelation of spiritual things, not natural things, and so only a person with a spiritual mind can understand them. Our Lord said in John 3: 3, "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The unregenerate mind has no spiritual perception. The way of salvation is so clear that a little child can be converted, when the Holy Spirit quickens him, but the proud wisdom of man will never perceive of spiritual realities.

Again, we read in I Corinthians 1:21, "for after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Also in I Corinthians 1:18, "the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish." The gospel message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone is so much foolishness to the unregenerate intellect.

Again, our Lord said in Matthew 11:25, "I thank Thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Oh! How wonderful! God in His Wisdom and Sovereignty has hid the truth of salvation from the reprobate and has revealed it to His elect! This is the reason very few intellectual people are ever saved; they are too "smart" to be saved by free grace. But God in His sovereign grace has revealed His truth to those who are "babes". (That is those who see themselves as little children who need the teaching from a Wise heavenly Father and see themselves as helpless as babes to save themselves.)

In order for you to understand the Holy Scriptures you must be born again. You must have your mind renewed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. And those who are born again continue to need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand the spiritual realities of the Bible. We must be taught of God (John 6:45).The Holy Spirit is the ultimate and true Teacher of the Lord's people. He uses the instrumentality of preaching, but it is Himself that actually does the work. When you open your Bible today, pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to lead you into the Truth. May the Lord bless you all.