Daily Archives: May 23, 2013

Questions about Salvation: How can I become a child of God?

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

“You must be born again”

When visited by the religious leader, Nicodemus, Jesus did not immediately assure him of heaven. Instead, Christ said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).

The first time a person is born, he inherits the sin nature that stems from Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. No one has to teach a child how to sin. He naturally follows his own wrong desires, leading to such sins as lying, stealing, and hating. Rather than being a child of God, he is a child of disobedience and wrath.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1–3).

As children of wrath, we deserve to be separated from God in hell. Thankfully, the passage continues, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4–5). How are we made alive with Christ / born again / made a child of God? We must receive Jesus!

Receive Jesus

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ ” (John 1:12). This passage clearly explains how to become God’s child. We must receive Jesus by believing in Him. What must we believe about Jesus?

First, we must recognize that Jesus is the eternal Son of God who became man. Born through the power of the Holy Spirit by the virgin Mary, Jesus did not inherit Adam’s sin nature. Therefore, He is called the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22). While Adam’s one disobedience brought the curse of sin on the world, Christ’s perfect life can cover our sinful ones. Our response must be to repent (turn from sin), trusting His perfect life to purify us.

Second, we must have faith in Jesus as Savior. God’s plan was to sacrifice His perfect Son on the cross to pay the punishment we deserve for our sin: death. Christ’s death frees those who receive Him from the penalty and power of sin.

Finally, we must follow Jesus as Lord. After raising up Christ as the Victor over sin and death, God gave Him all authority (Ephesians 1:20–23). Jesus leads all who receive Him; He will judge all who reject Him (Acts 10:42). By God’s grace giving us repentance and faith in the Savior and Lord, we’re born again to new life as God’s child. Only those who receive Jesus—not merely knowing about Him but relying on Him for salvation, submitting to Him as Master, and loving Him as the supreme treasure—become God’s children.

Become a child of God

Just as we had no part in our natural birth, we cannot cause ourselves to be born into God’s family by doing good deeds or conjuring up faith of our own. God is the one who “gave the right” according to His gracious will. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1, emphasis added). Thus, God’s child has nothing to be proud about but boasts only in the Lord (Ephesians 2:8–9).

A child grows up to look like his parents. Similarly, God wants His children to become more and more like Jesus Christ. Although only in heaven will we be perfect, a child of God will not habitually, unrepentantly sin. “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:7–10).

Make no mistake—a child of God cannot be “disowned” by sinning. But someone who “practices” sin (i.e. consistently enjoys sin without heed for following Christ and His Word) reveals that he was never born again. Jesus told such people, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire” (John 8:44). God’s children, on the other hand, no longer crave the gratification of sin but desire to know, love, and glorify their Father.

The rewards of being God’s child are immeasurable. As God’s child, we are a part of His family (the church), promised a home in heaven, and given the right to approach God in prayer as Father (Ephesians 2:19; 1 Peter 1:3–6; Romans 8:15). Respond to God’s call to repent of sin and believe in Christ. Become God’s child today![1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Topical Bible Questions: What does the Bible say about attitude?

Writing from a prison cell in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote about the attitude a Christian should have: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). He’s telling us that no matter what unexpected disruptions, frustrations, or difficulties come our way, we are to respond with a Christ-like attitude. Paul later writes, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 2:5). He also encourages us in Ephesians 5:1 to be “imitators of Christ as dearly beloved children.” As children love to imitate what they see and repeat what they hear; we also are charged to imitate and model Christ’s behavior and to be clear reflections of the Lord (Matthew 5:16).

Jesus maintained a perfect attitude in every situation because He prayed about everything and worried about nothing. We too should seek God’s guidance about every aspect of our lives and allow Him to work out His perfect will without interference. Jesus’ attitude was never to become defensive, discouraged, or depressed because His goal was to please the Father rather than to achieve His own agenda. In the midst of trials, He was patient. In the midst of suffering, He was hopeful. In the midst of blessing, He was humble. Even in the midst of ridicule, abuse, and hostility He “made no threats … and did not retaliate. Instead He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

When Paul tells us that our “attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus,” he summarized in the previous two verses what such an attitude was: selflessness, humility, and service. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3–4). In other words, the attitude a Christian should reflect is one that focuses on the needs and interests of others. Without question that does not come naturally to us. When Christ came into the world, He established a whole new attitude to relationships with others. One day when His disciples were arguing among themselves regarding who was to be greatest in his kingdom Jesus said: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25–28). Jesus is teaching us that when we become preoccupied with our own things, it can cause conflicts and other problems with people we know. Instead, God wants us to have an attitude of serious, caring involvement in the concerns of others.

Paul speaks more about this Christlike attitude in his letter to the church in Ephesus: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24). Many religions of today, including the New Age philosophies, promote the old lie that we are divine or that we can become gods. But the truth of the matter is that we will never become God, or even a god. Satan’s oldest lie was promising Adam and Eve that if they followed his advice, “you shall be as gods.” (Genesis 3:5 KJV)

Each time we try to control our circumstances, our future, and the people around us, we’re only demonstrating that we want to be a god. But we must understand that as creatures, we will never be the Creator. God doesn’t want us to try to become gods. Instead He wants us to become like Him, taking on His values, His attitudes, and His character. We are meant to “be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (vv. 23–24).

Finally, we must always keep in mind that God’s ultimate goal for His children is not our comfort, but the transformation of our minds into the attitude of godliness. He wants us to grow spiritually, to become like Christ. This doesn’t mean losing our personalities or becoming mindless clones. Christlikeness is all about transforming our minds. Again, Paul tells us: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

It is God’s will that we develop the kind of mindset described in the Beatitudes of Jesus (Matthew 5:1–12), that we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), that we emulate the principles in Paul’s great chapter on love (1 Corinthians 13), and that we strive to pattern our lives after Peter’s characteristics of an effective and productive life (2 Peter 1:5–8).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Cults and Religions: Are faith healers for real? Does a faith healer heal with the same power as Jesus?

There is no doubt that God has the power to heal anyone at any time. The question is whether He chooses to do so through those who are called “faith healers.” These individuals typically convince their audiences that God wants them to be well and that through their faith—and usually a financial offering—God will reward their faith by healing them through the power of Jesus.

By comparing the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus to that of the modern faith healers, we can determine whether their claims have any basis in Scripture. If, as they say, they heal through the same power and in the same way that Jesus healed, we should be able to see marked similarities between them. However, just the opposite is true. Mark 1:29–34 gives us a description of just one day of Jesus’ healing ministry. His power to heal—and to do all kinds of miracles—was evidence that He had power over both the physical and spiritual effects of the curse of sin. He healed those afflicted with physical diseases, illnesses, and injuries, even raising the dead, and He cast demons out of those who were possessed by them. Only God can rescue us from the results of the Fall of man into sin—disease and death, and by His miracles, Jesus proved His deity.

There are several distinctives in the way Jesus healed that are not characteristic of the modern faith healers. First, He healed instantly. Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:31), the centurion’s son (Matthew 8:13), Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:41–42), and the paralytic (Luke 5:24–25) were all healed immediately. They did not have to go home and start to get better, as is the advice from many faith healers. Second, Jesus healed totally. Peter’s mother-in-law was fully functional after being healed from an illness so severe she was bedridden, but when Jesus healed her, she rose immediately and prepared a meal for all who were in the house. The blind beggars in Matthew 20:34 were given instant sight. Third, Jesus healed everyone (Matthew 4:24; Luke 4:40). They were not required to be pre-screened by the disciples before coming to Jesus for healing, as is the standard procedure with the healers today. There was no healing line they had to qualify for. Jesus healed all the time in many places, not in a studio with carefully-controlled circumstances.

Fourth, Jesus healed actual organic diseases, not symptoms as the faith healers do. Jesus never healed anyone of a headache or back pain. He healed of leprosy, blindness, and paralysis, miracles that were truly verifiable. Finally, Jesus healed the ultimate disease—death. He brought forth Lazarus after four days in the grave. No faith healer can duplicate that. In addition, His healings did not require faith as a precondition. In fact, most of those He healed were unbelievers.

There have always been false healers who prey on the suffering and the desperate in order to pad their bank accounts. Such behavior is the worst kind of blasphemy because many whose money is wasted on false promises reject Christ outright because He does not do what the healer has promised. Why, if faith healers have the power to heal, do they not walk the halls of the hospitals healing everyone and releasing them all? Why do they not go to Africa and cure all the AIDS cases? They do not because they cannot. They do not have the power of healing that Jesus possessed.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: What is the mark of the beast (666)?

The main passage in the Bible that mentions the “mark of the beast” is Revelation 13:15–18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This mark acts as a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries.

The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13. It is possible that the technology we are seeing today represents the beginning stages of what may eventually be used as the mark of the beast. It is important to realize that a medical implant chip is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be something given only to those who worship the Antichrist. Having a medical or financial microchip inserted into your right hand or forehead is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be an end-times identification required by the Antichrist in order to buy or sell, and it will be given only to those who worship the Antichrist.

Many good expositors of Revelation differ widely as to the exact nature of the mark of the beast. Besides the implanted chip view, other speculations include an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being faithful to the Antichrist’s kingdom. This last view requires the least speculation, since it does not add any more information to what the Bible gives us. In other words, any of these things are possible, but at the same time they are all speculations. We should not spend a lot of time speculating on the precise details.

The meaning of 666 is a mystery as well. Some have speculated that there was a connection to June 6, 2006–06/06/06. However, in Revelation chapter 13, the number 666 identifies a person, not a date. Revelation 13:18 tells us, “This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.” Somehow, the number 666 will identify the Antichrist. For centuries Bible interpreters have been trying to identify certain individuals with 666. Nothing is conclusive. That is why Revelation 13:18 says the number requires wisdom. When the Antichrist is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4), it will be clear who he is and how the number 666 identifies him.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Will It Be Inflation Or Deflation? The Answer May Surprise You

Is the coming financial collapse going to be inflationary or deflationary? Are we headed for rampant inflation or crippling deflation? This is a subject that is hotly debated by economists all over the country. Some insist that the wild money printing that the Federal Reserve is doing combined with out of control government spending will eventually result in hyperinflation. Others point to all of the deflationary factors in our economy and argue that we will experience tremendous deflation when the bubble economy that we are currently living in bursts. So what is the truth? Well, for the reasons listed below, I believe that we will see both. The next major financial panic will cause a substantial deflationary wave first, and after that we will see unprecedented inflation as the central bankers and our politicians respond to the financial crisis. This will happen so quickly that many will get “financial whiplash” as they try to figure out what to do with their money. We are moving toward a time of extreme financial instability, and different strategies will be called for at different times. (Read More….)

Following in Rome’s footsteps

Will America’s decline be the catalyst for a new dark ages?

There has long been talk of America, like ancient Rome, destroying itself from within. Little wonder, considering that most Americans, like their Roman predecessors, show little concern for their country’s demise.

In addition, politicians and the media keep them distracted with a steady stream of manure-coated “news” – from the Benghazi cover-up to North Korea’s incessant huffing and puffing … from Fast and Furious to immigration “reform” (i.e., amnesty) … from the record Powerball lottery jackpot to the IRS’ targeting policies … the stream of manure-coated “news” has no end.

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Fire in My Bones

Just take a stroll through your local bookstore. Notice that in the Christian section, there are dedicated shelves upon shelves filled with book after book, all about making you a better a you. Pastor and teachers, feeding the flock humanistic feel-good philosophy. They’re all basically the same book as Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”, but just with a different face on the cover. Now, compare them to your favorite eschatological teacher and you’d see the vast difference in the sheer number of books that move off the shelves.

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Tyranny Around the Corner

A few weeks ago, President Obama advised graduates at Ohio State University that they need not listen to voices warning about tyranny around the corner, because we have self-government in America. He argued that self-government is in and of itself an adequate safeguard against tyranny, because voters can be counted upon to elect democrats (lowercase “d”) not tyrants. His argument defies logic and 20th-century history. It reveals an ignorance of the tyranny of the majority, which believes it can write any law, regulate any behavior, alter any procedure and tax any event so long as it can get away with it.

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The Fatal Flaw of the Charismatic Movement – R.C. Sproul

The Strange Fire conference represents a thorough, biblical response to the errors and excesses of the charismatic movement. It will be comprehensive both in its scope of content and breadth of teaching. On that note today we wanted to let you hear from another of our keynote speakers.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is a voice you’re probably familiar with from his daily radio broadcast, “Renewing Your Mind.” He has stood shoulder to shoulder with John MacArthur for many years in uncompromising faithfulness to the gospel. Dr. Sproul is a prominent pastor, theologian, teacher, and author who will bring valuable insight and perspective to Strange Fire.

In preparation for the conference, we asked Dr. Sproul what concerns him about the charismatic movement. His answer drives us to the inseparable relationship between the Word and the Spirit, and to what he calls the fatal flaw of charismatic teaching and practice.

For more information about Strange Fire, please visit the conference website.

GTY Staff

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Brian McLaren ask for significant cash for mystery project

On his blog, Brian McLaren is making a mysterious appeal for money. Not just a few dollars, but big, bodacious financial support from those with deep pockets. What’s it for? Brian won’t say, but if you want to contribute, you could email him at a special “happy to help” address and let him know you’re rich, and he’ll get back to you by this weekend.

He explains that his calling as a “movement person” has been supporting broad-based movements that embody a “Christ-like ethos and leads to Christ-like action for the good of the world.” But he leaves out the part where he denies the substitutionary atonement of the cross and what Christ did to fully pardon our sins.

What I’m looking for is a team of partners to join me in a generous and strategic impulse.

If you believe in the kinds of things I write, say, and do, and would like to join me in making a significant financial investment over the next three years – to help a broad-based, diverse, and deep Christian movement rise to the next level, I am hoping we can come together in a joint project.

You might be able to give in the four, five, six, or seven figures. Or you might know a person, foundation, or other donor who can. Or you might be willing to start giving a smaller amount on a regular basis for the long term.

Source

Who is Brian McLaren?

http://standupforthetruth.com/2013/05/brian-mclaren-ask-for-significant-cash-for-mystery-project/

Evangelicals & the Eucharist (Part 1)

Over the past few weeks, I have received no less than three inquiries regarding the early church’s celebration of the Lord’s Table and its implications for the evangelical church today. Two of these inquiries have come from Roman Catholics, each of whom has suggested that the Roman Catholic practice of transubstantiation best represents the way the Lord’s Table was observed in the first few centuries of church  history.

This two-part post is intended to provide an initial response to such assertions.

http://thecripplegate.com/evangelicals-and-the-eucharist-part-1/

Speaking of Introverts – (Book Review)

Every now and then a book comes along and I say, “Wow, that’s a great idea for a book!” Adam McHugh’s book, Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture, is that kind of book. We need this book, and every (especially an extroverted) pastor needs to read it. McHugh is a Presbyterian and an introvert and he has struggled mightily with his introversion, and this book examines and illuminates the many, many ways the (especially evangelical) church is shaped by extroverted personality styles and behaviors.

One way of framing extraversion vs. introversion is to say that the extravert is energized and motivated by social interaction while the introvert is depleted by social interaction. If after a group meeting or a social event you are charged you are an extravert; if you are depleted and just wanting to find a quiet place you are probably an introvert.

Churches are not as alert to this issue as they could be. Churches, in fact, are shaped toward the extravert.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/05/23/speaking-of-introverts/

Damascus Countdown: Syria is “breaking up,” reports NYT. Ominous trend lines.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Syria-mapSeveral years ago, when I mapped out the plot for my novel, Damascus Countdown, I tried to imagine a scenario in which Iran and its agents would attempt to take over Syria, attempt to make it a fully-owned and operated province of the Islamic Revolution, and then try to use Syrian territory to launch a “War of Annihilation” against Israel.

What once seemed fictional premise now seems increasingly plausible.

The chaos, carnage and bloodshed in Syria continues unabated. Chemical weapons have been used in limited amounts but with tragic effect. But as bad as it has been so far, I don’t think we’ve seen the worst yet. As I have stated on this blog for months, the countdown to something worse appears to have started.

A growing number of analysts agree that Syria is imploding. Now, some very hard questions need to be asked:

  • How much longer can Assad and his regime hold on?
  • Will Syria completely collapse?
  • Can Syria ever really be put back together?

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