Daily Archives: May 28, 2013

Church of England Plans to Have Female Bishops by 2015

The Guardian:

The bishops of the Church of England have published a plan to consecrate female bishops by 2015, after the defeat of legislation last autumn. It would end 20 years of bitter struggle with a clear decision in favour of progress.

The proposals, published on Friday and backed by both archbishops, offer a nearly complete victory for the female clergy and their supporters outraged by the failure of the earlier legislation.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/24/church-of-england-female-bishops-2015

“Davos” is a word you should know

Why should you need to be familiar with the word, “Davos?” Because Davos, Switzerland, was the site of the World Economic Forum back in 2008. Before your eyes glaze over, let me open them by sharing something Sarah Leslie, a phenomenal researcher and Emergent expert over at Herescope, shared on our program today.

English: Tony Blair, David A. Harris and Rick ...

English: Tony Blair, David A. Harris and Rick Warren at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Davos, Switzerland, 24 January 2008. Taken during the session ‘Faith and Modernization’. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Davos, the most powerful leaders in the world joined together in a convergence like none other. Who came to the table? Rick Warren and Brian McLaren. These two religious “superpowers” are now actively seeking sizable funding for global unity projects (Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan and McLaren’s brand new “convergence plan,” respectively.

The following article from Sarah is full of links to keep you busy for awhile. But trust me, it is worth the effort you will spend to be informed:

Rick Warren & Brian McLaren at DAVOS

By Sarah Leslie  ~  Originally published at Herescope and reprinted here with permission

Read More Here:

http://standupforthetruth.com/2013/05/davos-is-a-word-you-should-know/

Churches to Have ‘Hard Discussion’ about Scouts

Baptist Press reports:

With the decision Thursday (May 23) to open the Boy Scouts of America membership to homosexual youth, the 70,000 faith-based organizations, including many churches, that have championed the virtues of “duty to God” and moral straightness by sponsoring local troops must decide whether to cut ties with the Scouts or continue their association with evangelistic outreach in mind.

Of the 100,000 chartered Scouting units in the United States, 70 percent are sponsored by faith-based organizations. Some took decisive stands against loosening membership standards, while leadership from other church groups voiced murkier positions. Numerous Southern Baptist leaders voiced opposition to the policy change.

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=40379

Jailed for Facebook comments, Marine sues

Institute attorneys claim the attempt to label Raub as “mentally ill” and authorities’ efforts to involuntarily commit him into custody was intended to silence his criticism of the government. However, they explain the strategy also violated Raub’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.

Read more at

http://www.wnd.com/2013/05/jailed-for-facebook-comments-marine-sues/

How Do I Know? – Tullian Tchividjian

A while back I made the point in this post that confidence in my transformation is not the source of my assurance. Rather, the source of my assurance comes from faith in Christ’s substitution.

As a result, I had a few people raise this question: “But wait a minute…once God saves us and the Spirit begins his renewing work in our lives, shouldn’t that work of inward renewal become a source of our assurance? Isn’t that at least one way we can know we’re right before God?”

To be sure, the sanctifying work of the Spirit in the life of the Christian bears fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). God grows us in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Christ, we have died to sin and been raised to newness of life (Romans 6:4). And this new life shows itself in new affections, new appetites, new habits. We begin to grow into our new, resurrected skin.

But when the Bible specifically speaks about the grounding or the source of assurance, it’s addressing the question, “How then can man be in the right before God?” (Job 25:4). Assurance has to do, in other words, with the conscience’s confidence in ultimate acquittal before God. When we are talking about assurance we are talking about final judgment–what God’s ultimate verdict on us will be. Our assurance depends on how certain we are that God will say at the final judgment: “Not guilty!”

Read More Here:

http://www.christianity.com/blogs/tullian-tchividjian/how-do-i-know.html

Emergent Church finally shows its real intentions!

If your church uses words like “Missional” and “Spiritual Formation,” you’re not going to want to miss today’s program.  And if someone has told you that the Emerging Church is a non-factor, that is an outright lie. (Yes, we need to be this bold.) We believe this is a must-hear interview for every pastor and elder playing with the Church Growth Model.

Today we are going to point you to several articles that you need to see in order to fully grasp the seriousness of this situation:

  1. Donation plea: Brian McLaren Responds 
  2. Emerging Toward Convergence (By Sarah Leslie)
  3. Human “cyborgs” Spiritual Transformation and the 2045 Global Future

No one knows more about where the Emergent Church comes from or where it is going than our guest today.  Sarah Leslie. Sarah is talking about her research into the convergence of the Emergent Church with the New Age. Sarah is the founder of an online journal called Herescope, published by Discernment Ministries Inc. It’s one of the many resources you’ll find on our website, and many of the guests you hear on our program tell us they couldn’t do what they do without her.

Related articles

http://standupforthetruth.com/2013/05/emergent-church-finally-shows-its-real-intentions/

Emerging towards convergence

“After emergence comes emersion.”
—Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (Harper, 1965), p. 309.
This excellent article by Sarah H. Leslie will give you the basis for what the Emergent Church is doing today, especially in light of where Emergent guru Brian McLaren has told his funders he is taking them (See: Donation plea: Brian McLaren Responds), and where the Spiritual Transformation is headed by the year 2045 (See Human “cyborgs” Spiritual Transformation and the 2045 Global Future).

Emerging Toward Convergence

By Sarah Leslie, originally published at Herescope; reprinted with permission

The Emergent/Emerging Church movement is heading towards a crash collision with the New Age movement. In fact, it may already be happening before our very eyes. The Discernment Research Group has reached the inescapable conclusion that this is intentional and it has been planned for over a generation.

Read More Here:

http://standupforthetruth.com/2013/05/emerging-towards-convergence-2/

Is Your Child’s Cell Phone Stunting Their Growth?

“Instead of healthy, functioning adults, are we raising a bunch of co-dependent, anxious, namby-pambies? The article suggests that the cell phone is functioning as an eternal umbilicus that we are all too happy to continue coddling our children through.”

Read More Here:
http://www.housewifetheologian.com/is-your-childs-cell-phone-stunting-their-growth/

How to Survive a Cultural Crisis

Public opinion appears to be changing about same-sex marriage, as are the nation’s laws. Of course this change is just one in a larger constellation. America’s views on family, love, sexuality generally, tolerance, God, and so much more seems to be pushing in directions that put Bible-believing Christians on the defensive.

It’s easy to feel like we’ve become the new “moral outlaws,” to use Al Mohler’s phrase. Standing up for historic Christian principles will increasingly get you in trouble socially and maybe economically, perhaps one day also criminally. It’s ironic that Christians are told not to impose their views on others, even as the threat of job loss or other penalties loom over Christians for not toeing the new party line.

In all this, Christians are tempted to become panicked or to speak as alarmists. But to the extent we do, to that same extent we show we’ve embraced an unbiblical and nominal Christianity.

Here, then, are seven principles for surviving the very real cultural shifts we’re presently enduring.

Read More Here:
http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/tgc/how-to-survive-a-cultural-crisis

The First Word in ‘BSA’ Now Stands for Betrayal

On May 24, 2013, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted to revise its membership policy on the issue of homosexuality. The 1,400 voting members of the BSA voted to allow openly gay boys into its ranks.

Rick Scarborough and Robert Knight are outraged by the decision. They believe “it’s a betrayal of the boys in the Scouts’ care. It’s a betrayal of trusting parents. It’s a betrayal of a 103-year-old institution that has molded millions of boys into men. It’s a betrayal of truth and honor.” Moreover, “It’s a betrayal of God, in Whose name the organization furthered the priceless worth of being morally straight.”

Scarborough and Knight also believe the decision was motivated by the BSA’s greed for corporate dollars and the organization’s fear of being “on the wrong side” of what they deem “an increasingly coarse culture that not only rejects biblical truth but openly attacks it.”

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/05/the_first_word_in_bsa_now_stands_for_betrayal.html

Pope Gets Corrected on Atheists who will stroll into Heaven

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

20130528-091645.jpg

In today’s world it’s common to hear one thing and then before you blink find the statement has been amended. Well we men are fallible are we? A few Atheists were left irked when given a free Papal pass to Heaven by the only “infallible man” on earth the Roman Catholic Pope Francis himself and only to have a mere mortal who called himself a spokesman for the Vatican revoke their free pass the next second:

It’s sort of problematic to contradict someone who’s supposed to be the infallible voice of your religion, but that’s apparently what’s happened here. Refuting Pope Francis’ statements last week that those who “do good” will go to heaven, regardless of faith or lack thereof, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, has corrected his boss, saying those who know about the Catholic Church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain…

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Dispensationalists draw a definite and broad line between Law and the Gospel

Reformedontheweb's Blog

PinkBut surely we must draw a definite and broad line between the Law and the Gospel. It is at this point that the Dispensationalist considers his position to be the strongest and most unassailable; yet nowhere else does he more display his ignorance, for he neither recognizes the grace of God abounding during the Mosaic era, nor can he see that Law has any rightful place in this Christian age. Law and grace are to him antagonistic elements, and (to quote one of his favorite slogans) “will no more mix than will oil and water.” Not a few of those who are now regarded as the champions of orthodoxy tell their hearers that the principles of law and grace are such contrary elements that where the one be in exercise the other must necessarily be excluded. But this is a very serious error. How could the Law of God and…

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Review: The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne

The Domain for Truth

Vine

There are many books out there that concentrates on the topic of how to do discipleship in the church.  Some are exceptionable and some are inadequate and poor.  There are so many notions on how to do discipleship in the church.  Some are business, market, or professionalized-driven raher than Bible-driven.  Discipleship that is Bible-driven is concerned about the glory of God and people’s spiritual well-being/Gospel growth.

If you desire your ministry to operate in the realm of changing lives, rather than meeting the criteria of the world, which is based on success, rather than excellence, I recommend that you read this book.  Some of the major themes that you will be exposed to is the call to be pastor-trainers/trainers for the sake of Gospel.  If you have the ministry mind of a pastor-trainer and the desire to see Gospel growth, then you will have a ministry mind that will help…

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

Without question the greatest reason that we live for God is our unwavering belief in the resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through His resurrection from the grave that we have hope and the promise of life eternal with him. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 the apostle Paul explains that because of these promises of a future resurrection and of living eternally in the kingdom, believers have not only the motivation, but also eternal responsibilities for our lives here on earth.

The apostle Paul touches on such responsibilities in his concluding statement in the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. He declares that if we really believe and if we are truly thankful that our resurrection is sure, we should “therefore” demonstrate our assurance and our thankfulness by “standing firm, letting nothing move us” and “always giving ourselves full to the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). This, then, is the believer’s responsibility, to stand firm in the faith and give ourselves completely to Him.

The Greek for “standing firm” is hedraios which literally refers to being seated, being settled and firmly situated. The Greek for “letting nothing move you” is ametakinetos, and it carries the same basic idea but with more intensity. It means being totally immobile and motionless, indicating that we should not even budge an inch from His will. And with our being totally within the will of God we are to be “always giving ourselves to the work of the Lord,” being careful not to be “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

Why did Paul give us this warning? Simply because if our confident hope in the resurrection wavers, we are sure to abandon ourselves to the ways and standards of the world. Therefore, if there are no eternal ramifications or consequences of what we do in this life, the motivation for selfless service and holy living is gone. In other words, our eternal responsibilities are abandoned.

Conversely, when our hope in the resurrection is clear and certain, we will have great motivation to be attending to the responsibility we have to “always giving ourselves to the work of the Lord.” The Greek for this phrase carries the idea of exceeding the requirements, of overflowing or overdoing. A good example of this is found in Ephesians 1:7–8 where the word is used of God having “lavished” upon us the riches of His grace. Because God has so abundantly provided for us who deserve nothing from Him, we should determine to give of ourselves abundantly in service to Him, to whom we owe everything.

The Bible teaches us that our responsibility as believers is to work uncompromisingly as the Lord has gifted us and leads us in this life. We must fully understand that until the Lord returns there are souls to reach and ministries of every sort to be performed. Our responsibilities with our money, time, energy, talents, gifts, bodies, minds, and spirits should be invested in nothing that does not in some way contribute to the work of the Lord. James tells us: “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).

Our work for the Lord, if it is truly for Him and done in His power, cannot fail to accomplish what He wants accomplished. Every good work believers do has eternal benefits that the Lord Himself guarantees. Jesus tells us: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

Simply put, our responsibility lies in working for the Lord, whether it is in “looking after orphans or widows in distress” (James 1:27), giving to the hungry, the naked, visiting those in prison (see Matthew 25:35–36), in our workplace (see Colossians 3:22), or in whatever we do (Colossians 3:23). And our motivation is that we have God’s own promise that our work “is not in vain” in the Lord “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:24).[1]

 


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

Questions about Cults and Religions: Are Jews saved because they are God’s chosen people? Do Jews have to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved?

Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). The “no one” He referred to includes Jews and Gentiles. Jews are not saved because they are God’s chosen people, but because they believe in Jesus Christ as their true Messiah. There are many Messianic Jews who have accepted Yeshua (the Hebrew word for Jesus) as their Messiah.

However, there is no doubt that the Jews are still God’s chosen people. “For you are a holy people unto the LORD your God: the LORD your God hath chosen you to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers’ ” (Deuteronomy 7:6–8).

From all the nations and people on the earth, why exactly did God “choose” the Jews? John Gill, in his “Exposition of the Entire Bible” says the Jews were “chosen for special service and worship, and to enjoy special privileges and benefits, civil and religious; though they were not chosen to special grace—or eternal glory.” The Jews were chosen to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12). The Jews were chosen to be a light to the Gentiles. So then, are all Jews “saved” just because they are Jews?

According to many modern rabbinical scholars the Christian concept of salvation from sin has no equal in Judaism. Judaism does not believe that man, by his nature, is evil or sinful and therefore has no need to be “saved” from an eternal damnation. In fact, most Jews today do not believe in a place of eternal punishment or a literal hell. The Hebrew root word for “sin” is chayt, which literally means to “miss the mark.” It is a term commonly used in archery, of one who “misses the mark” of the bulls eye. When a Jew misses the mark, and occasionally falls into the sin of failing to fulfill the laws of God, the belief is that one can obtain forgiveness through prayer, repentance and doing good deeds.

The Book of Leviticus (17:11), the third Book of the Torah, clearly gives the prescription for forgiveness. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” The Temple sacrifice was always the centerpiece for Jewish atonement. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Levitical High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the Mercy Seat. Through this yearly act, atonement was made for the sins of all Israel, but the Holy Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and for almost 2000 years Jews have been without a Temple, a sacrifice, and a means of atonement.

The Brit Chadasha (The New Covenant or New Testament) teaches us that the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24) precisely at the time preceding the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. “But when Messiah arrived as a High Priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more complete Tabernacle, not made with hands—that is, not of this creation—and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered into the Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been made common, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?” (Hebrews 9:11–14).

The New Testament teaches that all of us, Jews and gentiles, have “missed the mark.” (Romans 3:23) All of us are under the consequences of sin, and “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23) We are all in need of salvation from our sin; we are all in need of a Savior. The New Testament teaches that Jesus the Messiah is “the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father”, but through Him. (John 14:6) And most importantly, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which it is necessary for us to be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

For the Jews, Jesus the Messiah has come as High Priest, and through His once-for-all sacrifice for sin offers complete atonement to all people. For there is “no distinction” between Jew and gentile. (Romans 10:12) Yes, the Jews are God’s chosen people, and through them come the Jewish Messiah to bless all the nations of the earth. And it is only through Jesus that Jews can find God’s complete atonement and forgiveness.

While individual Jews must come to Christ for salvation, God is still not finished with Israel as a nation. The Bible tells us that in the end times, Israel will finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). Jeremiah 33:8, Ezekiel 11:17, Romans 11:26 predicted that in the end times Israel would be regenerated, restored, and regathered in their homeland. This regathering already took place in 1948 when Israel was recognized as a sovereign country by the United Nations. (Please see our article on Israel’s role in the end times). Clearly, God is not finished with the Jewish people.[1]

 


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

Questions about the End Times: Who are the 144,000?

The book of Revelation has always presented the interpreter with challenges. The book is steeped in vivid imagery and symbolism which people have interpreted differently depending on their preconceptions of the book as a whole. There are four main interpretive approaches to the book of Revelation: 1) preterist (which sees all or most of the events in Revelation as having already occurred by the end of the 1st century); 2) historicist (which sees Revelation as a survey of church history from apostolic times to the present); 3) idealist (which sees Revelation as a depiction of the struggle between good and evil); 4) futurist (which sees Revelation as prophecy of events to come). Of the four, only the futurist approach interprets Revelation in the same grammatical-historical method as the rest of Scripture. It is also a better fit with Revelation’s own claim to be prophecy (Revelation 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18, 19).

So the answer to the question “who are the 144,000?” will depend on which interpretive approach you take to the book of Revelation. With the exception of the futurist approach, all of the other approaches interpret the 144,000 symbolically, as representative of the church and the number 144,000 being symbolic of the totality—i.e., the complete number—of the church. Yet when taken at face value: “Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel” (Revelation 7:4), nothing in the passage leads to interpreting the 144,000 as anything but a literal number of Jews—12,000 taken from every tribe of the “sons of Israel.” The New Testament offers no clear cut text replacing Israel with the church.

These Jews are “sealed,” which means they have the special protection of God from all of the divine judgments and from the Antichrist to perform their mission during the tribulation period (see Revelation 6:17, in which people will wonder who can stand from the wrath to come). The tribulation period is a future seven-year period of time in which God will enact divine judgment against those who reject Him and will complete His plan of salvation for the nation of Israel. All of this is according to God’s revelation to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:24–27). The 144,000 Jews are a sort of “first fruits” (Revelation 14:4) of a redeemed Israel which has been previously prophesied (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:25–27), and their mission is to evangelize the post-rapture world and proclaim the gospel during the tribulation period. As a result of their ministry, millions—“a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9)—will come to faith in Christ.

Much of the confusion regarding the 144,000 is a result of the false doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that 144,000 is a limit to the number of people who will reign with Christ in heaven and spend eternity with God. The 144,000 have what the Jehovah’s Witnesses call the heavenly hope. Those who are not among the 144,000 will enjoy what they call the earthly hope—a paradise on earth ruled by Christ and the 144,000. Clearly, we can see that Jehovah’s Witness teaching sets up a caste society in the afterlife with a ruling class (the 144,000) and those who are ruled. The Bible teaches no such “dual class” doctrine. It is true that according to Revelation 20:4 there will be people ruling in the millennium with Christ. These people will be comprised of the church (believers in Jesus Christ), Old Testament saints (believers who died before Christ’s first advent), and tribulation saints (those who accept Christ during the tribulation). Yet the Bible places no numerical limit on this group of people. Furthermore, the millennium is different from the eternal state, which will take place at the completion of the millennial period. At that time, God will dwell with us in the New Jerusalem. He will be our God and we will be His people (Revelation 21:3). The inheritance promised to us in Christ and sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13–14) will become ours, and we will all be co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).[1]

 


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

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: What does the Bible mean when it says “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ”?

Both Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 read, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.’ ” Some take these verses to indicate that atheists are stupid, i.e. lacking intelligence. However, that is not the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “fool.” In this text, the Hebrew word is nabal which refers more to a “moral fool,” e.g., someone without morals. The meaning of the text is not “Unintelligent people do not believe in God.” Rather, the meaning of the text is “Immoral people do not believe in God.”

Many atheists are very intelligent individuals. It is not intelligence, or a lack thereof, that leads a person to reject belief in God. It is a lack of morals that leads a person to reject belief in God. People do not reject the idea of there being a Creator Being. Rather, people reject the idea of there being a Creator Being who demands morality from His creation. In order to clear their consciences and relieve themselves of guilt, people reject the idea of God as the only source of absolute morality. Doing so allows atheists to live however they choose—as morally or immorally as they desire—with no feelings of guilt for their refusal to be accountable to God.

Several prominent atheists have admitted this. One famous atheist, when asked what he hopes to accomplish through atheism, declared that he wants “to drink as much alcohol and have sex with as many women as possible.” Belief in a divine Being is accompanied by a feeling of accountability and responsibility toward that Being. So, to escape from the condemnation of conscience, which itself was created by God, one must deny the existence of God in order to deny the moral pull of the conscience.

This is not to say that all atheists are immoral people. Many atheists live relatively moral lives. The point of “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God’ ” is that a lack of evidence of His existence is not the true reason people reject belief in God. People reject belief in God due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints He requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them … men are without excuse … their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools … Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:18–25).[1]

 


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

Questions about Eternity: Are books such as 90 minutes in Heaven and 23 minutes in Hell biblically based?

Recent best-selling books 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese are raising the question—is God giving people visions of heaven and hell today? Is it possible that God is taking people to heaven and/or hell, and then sending them back in order to deliver a message to us? While the popularity of these new books is bringing the concept to the forefront, the over-arching claim is nothing new. Books such as A Divine Revelation of Hell and A Divine Revelation of Heaven by Mary Baxter and We Saw Heaven by Roberts Liardon have been available for years. The key question is—are such claims biblically solid?

First, it is important to note that of course God COULD give a person a vision of heaven or hell. God gave the Apostle Paul just such a vision in 2 Corinthians 12:1–6. Isaiah had an amazing experience as recorded in Isaiah chapter 6. Yes, it is possible that Piper, Wiese, Baxter, and others have truly been to heaven / hell and come back. Ultimately, only God knows if these claims are true or the result of misperception, exaggeration, or, worst, outright deception. The only way for us to discern is to compare the visions and experiences with the Word of God.

If God were to truly give a person a vision of heaven or hell, one thing we can know for sure is that it would be in 100% agreement with His Word. A God-given vision of heaven would in no sense contradict Scriptures such as Revelation chapters 21–22. Further, if God were to truly give multiple people visions of heaven or hell, the God-given visions would in no sense contradict each other. Yes, the visions could be different and could focus on different details, but they would not contradict one another.

As with any book written by any author, “test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21–22). If you read these books, read with a discerning mind. Always compare what the author says and claims with Scripture. Most importantly, never allow someone else’s experience and his interpretation of that experience to shape your understanding of Scripture. Scripture must be used to interpret experience, not the other way around. Be blessed and encouraged by what happened to other people, but do not allow their experiences to be the foundation of your faith or walk with God.

Overall, we found 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper to be the most biblical and believable of all the available books. Piper seems to approach the issue with humility and honesty. Whether or not the vision was truly from God, Piper’s experience appears to be miraculous. Again, though, read with a healthy amount of discernment and a commitment to the Bible as the absolute source of truth.

When the Apostle Paul was “caught up to paradise,” he “heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” (2 Corinthians 12:4). Similarly, the Apostle John (Revelation 10:3–4) and the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:26; 9:24; 12:4) were instructed to conceal aspects of the visions they received. It would be quite strange for God to have Paul, Daniel, and John withhold aspects of what He revealed to them, only to, 2000+ years later, give even greater visions, along with permission for full disclosure, to people today. It is our contention that these books claiming visions of and trips to heaven and hell should be viewed skeptically and, most importantly, biblically.[1]

 


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

Questions about Christianity: How do I convert to Christianity?

A man in the Greek city of Philippi asked a very similar question of Paul and Silas. We know at least three things about this man: he was a jailer, he was a pagan, and he was desperate. He had been on the verge of suicide when Paul stopped him. And that’s when the man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).

The very fact that the man asks the question shows that he recognized his need of salvation—he saw only death for himself, and he knew he needed help. The fact that he asks Paul and Silas shows that he believed they had the answer.

That answer comes swiftly and simply: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” (verse 31). The passage goes on to show how the man did believe and was converted. His life began displaying the difference from that day forward.

Note that the man’s conversion was based on faith (“Believe”). He had to trust Jesus and nothing else. The man believed that Jesus was the Son of God (“Lord”) and the Messiah who fulfilled the scriptures (“Christ”). His faith also included a belief that Jesus died for sin and rose again, because that was the message that Paul and Silas were preaching (see Romans 10:9–10 and 1 Corinthians 15:1–4).

To “convert” is literally “to turn.” When we turn towards one thing, we by necessity turn away from something else. When we turn to Jesus, we must turn from sin. The Bible calls the turning from sin “repentance” and the turning to Jesus “faith.” Therefore, repentance and faith are complementary. Both repentance and faith are indicated in 1 Thessalonians 1:9—You turned to God from idols.” A Christian will leave behind his former ways and anything pertaining to false religion as the result of a genuine conversion to Christianity.

To put it simply, to convert to Christianity, you must believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sin and rose again. You must agree with God that you are a sinner in need of salvation, and you must trust in Jesus alone to save you. When you turn from sin to Christ, God promises to save you and give you the Holy Spirit, Who will make you a new creature.

Christianity, in its true form, is not a religion. Christianity, according to the Bible, is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Christianity is God offering salvation to anyone who believes and trusts the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. A person who converts to Christianity is not leaving one religion for another religion. Converting to Christianity is receiving the gift that God offers and beginning a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that results in the forgiveness of sins and eternity in Heaven after death.

Do you desire to convert to Christianity because of what you have read in this article? If your answer is yes, here is a simple prayer you can offer to God. Saying this prayer, or any other prayer, will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. “God, I know that I have sinned against you and deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life! Amen!”[1]

 


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

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

For this month’s column, I thought I would offer a few reflections on Andy Stanley’s recent book, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. Here’s a classic passage which represents in miniature an entire universe of erroneous thinking.

People are far more interested in what works than what’s true. I hate to burst your bubble, but virtually nobody in your church is on a truth quest. Including your spouse. They are on happiness quests. As long as you are dishing out truth with no here’s the difference it will make tacked on the end, you will be perceived as irrelevant by most of the people in your church, student ministry, or home Bible study. You may be spot-on theologically, like the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day, but you will not be perceived as one who teaches with authority. Worse, nobody is going to want to listen to you.

Now, that may be discouraging. Especially the fact that you are one of the few who is actually on a quest for truth. And, yes, it is unfortunate that people aren’t more like you in that regard. But that’s the way it is. It’s pointless to resist. If you try, you will end up with a little congregation of truth seekers who consider themselves superior to all the other Christians in the community. But at the end of the day, you won’t make an iota of difference in this world. And your kids…more than likely your kids, are going to confuse your church with the church and once they are out of your house, they probably won’t visit the church house. Then one day they will show up in a church like mine and want to get baptized again because they won’t be sure the first one took. And I’ll be happy to pastor your kids. But I would rather you face the reality of the world we live in and adjust your sails. Culture is like the wind. You can’t stop it. You shouldn’t spit in it. But, if like a good sailor you will adjust your sails, you can harness the winds of culture to take your audience where they need to go. If people are more interested in being happy, then play to that. Jesus did (Kindle 1216-1234).

Read More Here: http://www.reformation21.org/articles/the-discreet-charm-of-the-bourgeoisie.php