Friday, August 31, 2012

Jesus Christ Knocks At Your Heart's Door

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

    We all know what it is to have someone knock at our door. It might be someone delivering a pizza. It might be a representative of a church or other religious organization. It might be someone running for political office. It might be a friend or relative. It might be someone else. But when we hear the knock on our door, we have a choice to make: open it, or keep it shut. If we open it, we must make another decision: let them in, or keep them out.
     In a spiritual way, Jesus Christ knocks at our heart's door when we hear the Gospel message. This message is summed up in John 3:16, which says this: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Romans 6;23 says this: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." We will perish in our sins, unless we accept the gift God offers us. This gift is received when we open the door of our hearts to Jesus Christ and receive him as our Savior.
    This truth of the Gospel was well-expressed many years ago in a poem by Ina Duley Ogdon. It was set to music, and has been sung by many thousands of persons, maybe millions, over the years. Her poem is titled "You Must Open The Door." It is presented here for your thoughtful consideration. Please read it carefully, and then do what it says.
You Must Open The Door
By Ina Duley Ogden

There's a Savior who stands at the door of your heart.
He is longing to enter --- why let Him depart?
He has patiently called you so often before,
But you must open the door.
     You must open the door.You must open the door.
     When Jesus comes in, He will save you from sin.
     But you must open the door.
He has come from the Father, salvation to bring,
And his name is called Jesus, Redeemer and King.
To save you and keep you He pleads evermore.
But you must open the door.
     You must open the door.You must open the door.
     When Jesus comes in, He will save you from sin.
     But you must open the door.
He is loving and kind, full of infinite grace.
In your heart, in your life, will you give Him a place?
He is waiting to bless you, your soul to restore.
But you must open the door.
     You must open the door.You must open the door.
     When Jesus comes in, He will save you from sin.
     But you must open the door.
He will lead you at last to that blessed abode,
To the city of God at the end of the road,
Where the night never falls, when life's journey is o'er.
But you must open the door.
     You must open the door.You must open the door.
     When Jesus comes in, He will save you from sin.
     But you must open the door.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Gospel Is For Everyone!

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

     What follows is my poem about the Gospel. May it speak to your heart if you are not a Christian. But I also hope that if you are a Christian it will motivate you to reach out to non-Christians with the gospel. You can be used by the Lord to win others to faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ's Gospel Is For Everyone
By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
Jesus Christ's Gospel is for everyone.
His Gospel has left out none.
It matters not how bad we've been.
Jesus can forgive all our sin.

Salvation is offered full and free,
to those close by and across the sea.
God is love, and he loves you.
Believe the Gospel, and prove it's true.

Our sin debt by Jesus was paid.
The way of salvation has been made.
Let it be known to one and all:
You'll be saved, if on Jesus you call.

Jesus Christ wants no one to perish in sin.
Believe in him, and be born again.
Accept Jesus now, before it's too late.
You might die while you wait.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What Must We Do To Be Saved?

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen And Evangelist John R. Rice

     The world's most important question was asked by a jail-keeper 2,000 years ago. It is recorded in the Bible, in the book of Acts, chapter 16:30. His question was this: "What must I do to be saved?" What he meant was simple: he wanted to know what to do to go to heaven at death. He wanted to know what to do to get eternal life, forgiveness of sins, peace with God.
     Think of each word in his question:
  • "What." We must do something specific to be saved.
  • "Must." If we want to be saved, there is something that we must do.
  • "I." This refers to the fact that being saved is a personal matter.
  • "Do." This refers to the fact that we can't be passive about being saved.
  • "To be saved." This refers to the wonderful blessings given to those who do what must be done to be saved. Some of those blessings are eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and peace with God.
     Now, think of the answer the apostle Paul gave to the jail-keeper's very important question. The answer is found in Acts 16:3. He was told: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ means to put our faith in him as our Savior. It means to trust him to forgive our sins and to give us peace with God.
     Evangelist John R. Rice died in 1980. One of his sermons has led many thousand of persons to find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. This sermon is based on Acts 16:30 and 31. If you are not yet a Christian, read it carefully and believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved at once. Here is a link to this important sermon on salvation:
     If you become a Christian because of this posting, or if you have questions about this subject, please let me know by email at

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Old Testament Speaks Of Jesus Christ

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
The Old Testament is remarkable in many ways.
   For example, the book of Genesis tells us of the divine origin of the universe, the book of Psalms is a great source of comfort for those troubled and tried by the tribulations of life, the book of Proverbs is full of sound advice on many subjects for daily living, and the book of Daniel contains many prophecies already fulfilled, and many that are yet to come to pass.
The most remarkable thing about the Old Testament
      But the most remarkable thing about the Old Testament is its witness to Jesus Christ, who lived many centuries AFTER the Old Testament was written. As J. Vernon McGee put it, Jesus is the centerpiece of Scripture, although McGee, no doubt, correctly meant that Jesus is the centerpiece of both the Old Testament AND the New Testament.
      When we read the New Testament, we find that it emphasizes the fact that the Old Testament does, indeed, speak of Jesus Christ. This emphasis is learned from what others said about Jesus and the Old Testament, and from what Jesus said about himself and the Old Testament. Let us consider some of their statements.
What others said about Jesus and the Old Testament
     Here (in red) is what we read in John 1:43 - 45: 43 "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.' 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.' ”
     If we read the Old Testament with open hearts and minds we will find Jesus in it, just as Philip did. This is especially so if we compare the Old Testament with the New Testament record of his life. And like Philip, we will want to introduce other to him.
What Jesus said about himself and the Old Testament.
       Here is what John 5:39 says Jesus said to some skeptics of his day: "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me." The Lord made it very clear that the Old Testament bears witness to him. And in John 5:45 Jesus made reference to Moses, and said they trusted in him. Then he said the following: "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me." Moses lived many centuries before the Lord walked this earth, and yet he said Moses wrote of him. Remarkable, yet true!
      B. F. Westcott wrote a valuable commentary on John's Gospel. Here is what he said in his commentary on John 5:39: "The teaching of the Old Testament is never exhausted. As we know more of Christ, it reveals more to us concerning him."
      John Gill's commentary says some significant things on the Lord's point in John 5:39 that the Scriptures testify of him:  "as they do of his proper deity and divine sonship, calling him Jehovah, God, the mighty God, and the Son of God; and of his offices as prophet, priest, and King; and of his incarnation of a virgin; and of the tribe, family, and place of his birth; of the miracles which he should work; of the treatment he should meet with from men; of his sufferings and death; of the circumstances leading on to them, and attending them; as his riding on an ass into Jerusalem, the betraying him by one of his familiar acquaintance, the selling him for thirty pieces of silver, the spitting upon, and scourging him, giving him gall for his meat, and vinegar for his drink, and parting his garments, and casting lots for his vesture, and the crucifixion of him, and that between two thieves; and of his burial, resurrection from the dead, ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of God, and of his future coming to judgment." Gill's comments are taken from the commentary section of this website:
     Consider what we read in Luke 24:25 - 27: 25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Now consider what he said in Luke 24:44: 44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
     Can any honest reader of the words of Jesus Christ deny that he emphatically affirmed his belief that the Old Testament speaks of him? That it points to him?
      Here is what Burton Coffman's commentary says on Luke 24:27. In it, Coffman quotes from The Pulpit Commentary. My quote from Coffman is taken from this website:
   "There are one-third of one thousand prophecies in the Old Testament regarding Jesus Christ, and this leads to the conclusion that a measure of hyperbole is in Luke's statement here; but a long walk of some six or seven miles would have afforded time enough for mentioning a very large number of the glorious prophecies fulfilled in Jesus our Lord. Spence has suggested the following as having probably been included in the interpretations given by the Lord:

The promise to Eve (Genesis 3:15)
The promise to Abraham (Genesis 22:18)
The Paschal lamb (Exo. 12)
The scapegoat (Leviticus 16:1-34)
The greater Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15)
The star and scepter (Numbers 24:17)
Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)
"Unto us a child is born" (Isaiah 9:6)
The Good Shepherd (Isaiah 40:10,11)
The meek Sufferer (Isaiah 50:6)
He who bore our griefs (Isaiah 53:4,5)
The Heir of David (Ezekiel 34:23)
The Ruler born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
The Branch (Zechariah 6:12)
The lowly King (Zechariah 9:9)
The pierced Victim (Zechariah 12:10)
The smitten Shepherd (Zechariah 13:7)
The Messenger of the Covenant (Malachi 3:1)
The Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) 
Of course, there were many other things also that could have been included in the Lord's instructions to these two disciples."
    This brief posting is meant to introduce this important subject. And if it causes any readers to study it out in more detail, my goal will have been reached. A simple way to further pursue this topic is to carefully read the New Testament, and pay close attention to its many applications of the Old Testament to Jesus Christ. It is also very helpful to read books about the matter. One good one, which I have read twice, is by A. M. Hodgkin. This old volume gives a brief but interesting survey of each Old Testamant book, and then shows how that book reveals Jesus Christ. Here is a link to one seller of it: If you click on it, you can look at the table of contents.
    If you want to read an excellent article on how to find salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, go to this website: Please contact me if I can be of help to you about salvation. My email address is given above.

    All Bible quotes in this posting are from the New King James Version, and were taken from this website: "Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved." The only exceptions are when I quote authors who might quote from other Bible translations.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bird Feeders And Preachers

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

My subject is "Bird Feeders And Preachers."
    The graphic is of a birdbath, not a bird feeder. But it won't make any difference as far as my point is concerned.
     My church office window faces west. Directly across the street, maybe 100' feet from the church, is a gray-blue house in which live two or three young adults. One of the men is a glassblower for income, and can be seen at work from my window.  
    In their yard are two bird feeders. It is enjoyable to watch the birds of various shapes, sizes, and colors as they go to the bird feeders to eat. Sometimes there will be too many at one time, so they have to wait their turns. But recently the feeders have been  empty. Some birds make a brief stop, and move on to another location to find something to eat.
Empty Bird feeders And Preachers
     This circumstance made me think about us preachers. We are like empty bird feeders, if we have nothing to offer those who come to listen to our sermons. But if we don't want to be that way, we must do our part to have food on hand to offer our listeners. So what should we do? Let me suggest two things.
      We must read our Bibles for our own benefit. It alone is God's written Word.  As we let the Bible speak to our own hearts and minds, it will change us. 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17 tells us that the Bible is profitable for a number of reasons. Re-read those reasons, if necessary. The Lord Jesus Christ himself said, in John 17:17, that God's Word is truth, and that it has sanctifying power.
     We must also read it to benefit others. After all, we are in the preaching ministry to benefit others. Therefore, we should seek personal familiarity with the entire contents of the Bible so that we can use it in our sermons and Bible studies. This familiarity is a result of avid Bible reading. The more we read the Bible from beginning to end, the more its truths will come to our minds when we need it. It is a great advantage to us if we know the Bible well enough to easily draw from its contents for preaching and teaching.
     When I was a teenager, I regularly attended a large gospel-preaching church in downtown Minneapolis, MN. The preacher was a dynamic speaker who preached from the Bible, but whose memory sometimes failed him as he got older. But there was a man who attended the church who was very well-versed in the Bible, and who had a good memory. His name was "Walter." If the pastor would forget a Bible reference in his sermon, he would stop and speak directly to Walter and ask him where the Bible verse was found. After a few seconds, Walter would tell him what Biblical  book, and sometimes even what chapter it was in. Walter knew the Bible so well because he read it frequently, and it was a help to the pastor.
     The application is obvious: let us preachers read the Bible frequently so it will come to our minds when we need it, at least until our memory fails us. Let me suggest reading it at least twice a year, apart from reading it when preparing sermons and Bible studies. This can easily be done if we read only 8 chapters a day. 4 chapters a day will get us through the Bible once a year. Reading 4 or 8 chapters a day can easily be done if we do what I call survey reading. Survey reading is for the purpose of getting an over-all acquaintance with the Bible, not just our favorite parts, such as Psalms, John, and Romans. When we do survey reading, we don't spend much time musing on verses. We just read the Word to learn its contents. But the mind absorbs much more by this method than one might think. So does the heart. And what the mind absorbs by this method will be something the heart can meditate on later that day, that week, or that month.
     We should be avid Bible-readers, first and foremost. But we should also read commentaries, theology books, and other Bible reference works such as Bible dictionaries. These can be very helpful to us in our preaching ministries. The Bible rightly says that knowledge makes us proud (1 Corinthians 8:1), but it does not have to do so. It can make us better and more interesting preachers and teachers  of the Word of God. Some of history's most influential preachers were very educated men, even if it was self-education, such as was C. H. Spurgeon's education. Think, for example, of the knowledge of Biblical subjects revealed in the 10-volume Old Testament commentary set of Keil and Delitzsch, and in the commentaries of F. L. Godet, M. F. Unger, John Walvoord, B. F. Wescott, B. H. Carroll,  F. F. Bruce, and Bruce Waltke. 
     The average person likes to learn something new from sermons and Bible studies.For example, in Luke 24:44 the Lord Jesus made reference to a 3-fold division of the Old Testament. This division was "the law, the prophets, and the Psalms." Our listeners are fascinated to learn that this was not the division of the Old Testament that we normally think of.  Rather, it was the division common among the Jews at the time the Lord was on earth. "The Law" included Genesis - Deuteronomy. "The Prophets" were divided up into two groups: the former prophets and the latter prophets. The former prophets included 6 books: Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings. The latter prophets included 15 books: Isa., Jer. Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. "The Psalms" included 13 books: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.
     We once visited a church on a Sunday morning. During his sermon, the pastor made a point of the fact that he does not like to read. He said he does not like to read books, magazines, newspapers, or anything else, except the Bible. We had visited that same church a few times previously. But now, without realizing it, he told us why his sermons were so shallow: he was not studious.  As one preacher/author,  A. W. Tozer, put it, we cant' preach from empty heads. But if we are not students of God's Word, which involves using books that help us understand the Bible, we will be preaching with empty heads. We will be like empty bird feeders.
      C. H. Spurgeon said "A man who will not read will not be read. And he who will not quote will not be quoted." He also had some strong words of reprimand for those who opposed the use of commentaries. His words can be read at the beginning of his interesting book called "Commenting And Commentaries." The words are found in the section called "A Chat About Commentaries." To read the book on the internet, click on this link:
     We should expound on the less-familiar parts of the Bible. Our listeners won't be so easily bored if we take them into new Biblical territory, so to speak. That is, if we preach on those more-neglected parts of the Bible, such as Daniel,  Esther, and the Minor Prophets. Breadth of exposure to the Bible can vary from one congregation to the next. But many churches, perhaps, have need for their pastors to go through more of the Bible than they do.
     The most important thing our hearers need is truth for salvation or daily living. Although our hearers need to learn new information from us, that is not of primary importance. They need truth that will help them to become Christians, if they are not yet Christians. We need to make the need and way of salvation plain to them, and we need to give them opportunity to be saved at once. And the Christians need to be fed truth from God's Word that will help them in their struggles with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We need to give them comfort from the Scriptures. A bunch of information about the Hebrew, Greek,  and Aramaic languages from which the Bible is translated will not do much for someone dealing with illness, death, divorce, loneliness, persecution, poverty, or some other difficulty. They need practical help from the Bible.
     Help for bi-vocational preachers. Some men in the ministry are bi-vocational, out of necessity. They have less time to devote to in-depth sermon and Bible study preparation. They have a challenge the rest of us do not have. May the Lord bless them in their work. Wise use of time, and concentration on the most important thing, that is, on Bible reading, will help them considerably. But if they have time to use Biblical helps, too, they should do so
   . Though I am not presently bi-vocational, the following practice has been very enriching to me, and it could be a real asset to bi-vocational preachers. Sometimes in my daily Bible reading I read a chapter, and then immediately read a commentary on that chapter. But the commentary is never a real involved one, like The Pulpit Commentary or Keil And Delitzsch. This was done earlier this year when reading the Minor Prophets. The commentary used was by Charles L. Feinberg. It is not too deep, not too shallow. Just right for use while doing daily Bible reading. Many others use J. Vernon McGee commentaries in this way because they are not too deep, and not too shallow. Another good one to use in this way is by William MacDonald. It is called "Believer's Bible Commentary," which covers the whole Bible in one volume. It is also helpful to use study Bibles in this way. Read a chapter in the Bible, and then read the footnotes in the Ryrie Study Bible, published by Moody, or the Zondervan KJV Study Bible, or the NKJV Study Bible, published by Nelson. All three of these study Bibles have extensive notes, and especially the last two.
     May the Lord help us all to put our hearts and minds into God's Word so that we won't be like empty bird feeders when others come to hear us preach and teach.
Holy Bible: Genuine Soul Food


Monday, August 13, 2012

An Important Part Of Pastoral Oversight Of A Local Church

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

     Pastors are responsible for many things related to their churches. One of the most important parts of their job is that of providing oversight of what is being taught by others in Sunday school classes, home Bible studies, home fellowships, discipleship classes for new converts, book discussion groups, or any other settings in which Biblical subjects are being studied as a ministry of the church.
     Pastoral oversight is spoken of in a number of places in the New Testament. For example, Acts 20:17 - 35, the key verses being verses 17 and 28; 1 Timothy 3:1 - 7; and Titus 1:5 - 9. The apostle Peter also wrote specifically about it in 1 Peter 5:1 - 4, quoted here (in red):
    "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away."
      Although not directly related to our subject, you can see in these verses that 3  terms are used regarding pastors of local churches: elders, shepherds, and overseers. "Overseers" are called "bishops" in the King James Version. The word we commonly use is  "pastors," and it means "shepherds." 
      Here (in red) is what Presbyterian Bible scholar Albert Barnes's commentary on 1 Peter 5: 1 - 4 says about these 3 terms: "Bishops. The word properly denotes those who are appointed to oversee, or inspect anything. This passage proves that the name was applicable to elders; and that in the time of the apostles, the name bishop and presbyter, or elder, was given to the same class of officers, and, of course, that there was no distinction between them. One term was originally used to denote office, the other age, and both were applied to the same persons in the church. The same thing occurs in Titus ; 1:5-7, where those who in Acts 20:5 are called elders, are in Acts 20:7 called bishops. See also 1 Timothy 3:1-10; Philippians 1:1."
      Pastors are shepherds of their flocks of Christians, and it is their duty to oversee those flocks. And this involves overseeing what is being taught to their flocks in such settings as those mentioned in the first paragraph of this posting.
      The fact is, pastors cannot assume that the teachers in their churches, as good-hearted and well-intentioned as they might be, will teach what should be taught. Pastors need to make sure they not only teach Biblical subjects, but that they also teach the church's official positions on those subjects.
      To name a few of many subjects, these can include the Trinity; the sinfulness of mankind; the provision of salvation by Jesus Christ;  repentance and faith; baptism and the Lord's supper; the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible; the Holy Spirit's gifts; the security of the believer; end times events, such as the rapture, the Antichrist, the second coming of Christ, the millennium; the resurrection of the dead; heaven and hell.
      If a church has official positions on these subjects, pastors must be diligent to make sure those positions are believed and taught by the church's teachers. If pastors don't do their jobs, it won't take long for a church to drift a long way from what it says it stands for.
      Sometimes this drift comes into a church by members who mean well, but who don't really know what the church stands for, and don't know what it expects them to teach. And sometimes this drift comes into a church through persons who intentionally want to change the beliefs of the church. They might mean well. But they might also be agents of the devil whom he sends to a church to corrupt it by clever means.These kinds of persons were referred to by the apostle Paul, in his words to the elders-pastors-overseers of the church at Ephesus. Here (in red) is what Paul said to them in Acts 2:28 - 30: "28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves."
     There are different ways for pastors to oversee what is being taught in a church. One way is for  them to preach and teach the church's official positions to the church body during regular services of the church, especially at whatever services the majority attend. In many cases that is the Sunday morning service. An informed congregation will more easily detect a departure from the church's doctrines. Another means of doing this is to teach the teachers what the church officially believes, and to insist that they also teach those things. Another way to do this is to preview any material that a teacher wants to use, or to only allow use of material from sources that hold the same positions of the church.
     This aspect of pastoring a church is very important, for the direction a church goes is determined primarily by pastoral leadership. Pastors have their hands on the steering wheel of the local church. If we steer a church in the right direction, we will do it a great service.  It is only to those pastors who do their job faithfully that Peter's words apply:  "....when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." ( 1 Peter 5:4)
      A good book on the local and universal church is edited by Mal Couch. It is from a dispensationalist perspective, which gives it even more value than some other books on the subject. To take a look at it, click on the following link:
    All Bible quotes in this posting are from the New King James Version, and were taken from this website: "Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Did Paul Contradict Moses In 1 Corinthians 10:8?

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen  

An Interesting Subject To Think About
     We have an interesting subject to think about when we compare Numbers 25:9  with 1 Corinthians 10:8. Both verses refer to the same historical events that took place under the leadership of Moses, a man of God known for many things, but especially as the one through whom God gave the Jews the 10 commandments.
Some Facts About Moses And Paul
     For those readers who are not familiar with the Bible, Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament, the 4th one of which is Numbers. Several centuries later, the apostle Paul and some companions preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the city of Corinth. And Acts 18:8 tells us that "many of the Corinthians  hearing believed, and were baptized." This was the start of the Corinthian church. 
     Paul and his companions stayed in Corinth for several months to do follow-up work among those new Christians. Then they moved on to other places to preach the Gospel. But Paul was compelled to send the Corinthian Christians some letters to help them in their Christian lives. We call those letters 1st and 2nd Corinthians. In 1st Corinthians 10:8, Paul made reference to the events recorded by Moses in Numbers 25:9. Paul said the number of persons who died by God's judgment on their sins was 23,000, but Moses said the number was 24,000. The Zondervan KJV Study Bible footnote on 1 Corinthians 10:8 says this: "The Hebrew and Greek (Septuagint) texts of Num. 25:9 have 24,000." So, who was right? Moses or Paul? Did Paul contradict Moses?
Different Ways To Solve the Discrepancy
    This seeming discrepancy of numbers between Moses and Paul is resolved in different ways. This same study Bible resolves the problem with this statement: "It is clear that Paul is not striving for exactness. He is only speaking approximately. First-century writers were not as concerned about being precise as 21st-century authors often are."
     This difference in the numbers between Moses and Paul is thought by many persons to be proof that the Bible contains historical, but not doctrinal, errors in it, and, therefore, it can't always be trusted when it comes to its historical statements. Even many true Christians think this way.
     One example of this is Roger E. Olson. He is a true and dedicated believer in Jesus Christ as his Savior, and is a theologian and prolific author on Biblical subjects. I have profitably read some of his books: "Arminian Theology: Myths And Realities" (read twice); "Against Calvinism" (read twice); "Questions To All Your Answers" (read once, and yes, that is the correct title); "The Westminster Handbook To Evangelical Theology" (partly read); and "The Mosaic Of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries Of Unity And Diversity" (read once). To say I have profitably read these books is not to be understood as a blanket endorsement of everything in them. I reject some of his opinions, especially about some points about the Bible, as the following sentences will show.
     In his book, "The Mosaic Of Christian Belief," Olson has a chapter called "Christian Scripture." Toward the end of the chapter, Olson discusses the numerical difference between Numbers 25:9 and 1 Corinthians 10:8. Then he asks a question and gives an answer to it. Here (in red) is what Olson wrote: "Which is correct? To insist that this kind of minor inconsistency did not exist in the original manuscript (either of Numbers or 1 Corinthians) is completely unnecessary. Scripture's authority does not depend on freedom from such minor discrepancies which --- given the culture and type of literature and the author's intent --- should probably not be called errors. Rather, Scripture's authority depends on the authorship, presence and power of the Holy Spirit communicating spiritual life and truth through it."  
     Let me make a few comments on Olson's statements. For one thing, we must admit that, at  first, there seems to be an inconsistency between what Moses wrote and Paul's reference to it. Remember, I said "at first." Second, Olson says the Bible contains "minor discrepancies," and then says they "should probably not be called errors." I'm not sure what they should be called, if they are, in fact, discrepancies. If Moses was right, Paul was wrong. If Paul was right, Moses was wrong.
Both Moses And Paul Were Right
     It is possible that both men were right. It is very possible that they gave different numbers because they counted differently. Not only is that possible, I believe that was the case. Many Bible scholars have found this to be an easy explanation that proves there is no real contradiction between Moses and Paul.
We Can Resolve The Problem
    In contrast to The Pulpit Commentary's note on 1 Corinthians 10:8, we don't need to leave the problem unresolved. Here is what that commentary says: "The number given in Num. 25:9 is twenty-four thousand. We cannot give any account of the discrepancy, which is, however, quite unimportant.".
How The Expositor's Bible Commentary Resolved The Problem
     Consider what this commentary says: "Paul is speaking about how many died in that one day; he does not include others who were killed subsequently, among them being leaders in the rebellion, whom God ordered Moses to hang (Num. 25:4)."
How The Keil And Delitzsch Commentary On Numbers Resolved The Problem
    This commentary says the following:"The Apostle Paul deviates from this statement in 1 Cor 10:8, and gives the number of those that fell as twenty-three thousand, probably from a traditional interpretation of the schools of the scribes, according to which a thousand were deducted from the twenty-four thousand who perished, as being the number of those who were hanged by the judges, so that only twenty-three thousand would be killed by the plague; and it is to these alone that Paul refers."
How Adam Clarke's Commentary On Numbers 25 Resolved The Problem
    Clarke's commentary says this: "St. Paul, 1 Cor. x. 8, reckons only twenty-three thousand; though some MSS. and versions, particularly the latter Syriac and the Armenian, have twenty-four thousand, with the Hebrew text. Allowing the 24, 000 to be the genuine reading, and none of the Hebrew MSS. exhibit any various reading here, the two places may be reconciled thus: 1, 000 men were slain in consequence of the examination instituted ver. 4, and 23, 000 in consequence of the orders given ver. 5; making 24, 000 in the whole. St. Paul probably refers only to the latter number."
How the Jamieson, Fausset, And Brown Commentary Resolved This Problem
    Here is what that commentary set says on 1 Corinthians 10:8: "If this were a real discrepancy, it would militate rather against inspiration of the subject matter and thought, than against verbal inspiration. The solution is: Moses in Numbers includes all who died "in the plague"; Paul, all who died "in one day"; one thousand more may have fallen the next day [KITTO, Biblical Cyclop√¶dia]. Or, the real number may have been between twenty-three thousand and twenty-four thousand, say twenty-three thousand five hundred, or twenty-three thousand six hundred; when writing generally where the exact figures were not needed, one writer might quite veraciously give one of the two round numbers near the exact one, and the other writer the other [BENGEL]. Whichever be the true way of reconciling the seeming discrepant statements, at least the ways given above prove they are not really irreconcilable."
How John Calvin Resolved The So-called Numerical Error in 1 Corinthians 10:8.
    The long quote is given so readers can see his point in its context. Calvin wrote this:
"8. Neither let us commit fornication. Now he speaks of fornication, in respect of which, as appears from historical accounts, great licentiousness prevailed among the Corinthians, and we may readily infer from what goes before, that those who had professed themselves to be Christ's were not yet altogether free from this vice. The punishment of this vice, also, ought to alarm us, and lead us to bear in mind, how loathsome impure lusts are to God, for there perished in one day twenty-three thousand, or as Moses says, twenty-four. Though they differ as to number, it is easy to reconcile them, as it is no unusual thing, when it is not intended to number exactly and minutely each head,7 to put down a number that comes near it, as among the Romans there were those that received the name of Centumviri,8 (The Hundred,) while in reality there were two above the hundred. As there were, therefore, about twenty-four thousand that were overthrown by the Lord's hand -- that is, above twenty-three, Moses has set down the number above the mark, and Paul, the number below it, and in this way there is in reality no difference. This history is recorded in Numbers 25:9.
There remains, however, one difficulty here -- why it is that Paul attributes this punishment to fornication, while Moses relates that the anger of God was aroused against the people on this account -- that they had initiated themselves in the sacred rites of Baalpeor.9 But as the defection began with fornication, and the children of Israel fell into that impiety, not so much from being influenced by religious considerations,10 as from being allured by the enticements of harlots, everything evil that followed from it ought to be attributed to fornication. For Balaam had given this counsel, that the Midianites should prostitute their daughters to the Israelites, with the view of estranging them from the true worship of God. Nay more, their excessive blindness, in allowing themselves to be drawn into impiety11 by the enticements of harlots, was the punishment of lust. Let us learn, accordingly, that fornication is no light offense, which was punished on that occasion by God so severely and indeed in a variety of ways."
     One thing we learn from these quotes is that some problems in the Bible can be resolved by taking into account all the facts available to us.
     The quotes from the commentaries by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Adam Clarke, Keil and Delitzsch were taken from the commentaries section on this website: The quote from John Calvin was taken from this website: The other quotes were taken directly from the books themselves.
      Another very helpful book is by Gleason L. Archer. It is called "Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties." It can be read online at this website: