Did you know that you are involved in the most massive Ponzi scheme that has ever existed? To illustrate my point, allow me to tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there was a man named Sam. When he was younger, he had been a very principled young man that had worked incredibly hard and that had built a large number of tremendously successful businesses. He became fabulously wealthy and he accumulated far more gold than anyone else on the planet. But when he started to get a little older he forgot the values of his youth. He started making really bad decisions and some of his relatives started to take advantage of him. One particularly devious relative was a nephew named Fred. One day Fred approached his uncle Sam with a scheme that his friends the bankers had come up with. What happened next would change the course of Sam’s life forever. (Read More….)
Christian Today – June 24, 2013
“Giving guns to the opposition will prolong the war; and unfortunately, the opposition is no better than the present government – in some ways it may even be worse,” Graham wrote in the letter dated June 14. “Mr. President, I would strongly urge you to keep America out of the Syrian conflict. In my opinion, the best thing that we can do is to help bring both sides to the negotiating table.”…[view article]
Let’s look together at what He has to say about the Land of Israel, the people He chose to possess it, and why:
Key #1: The Land of Canaan, renamed Israel by the Lord, was given by God to Abraham and his descendants as an everlasting possession.
In Genesis 12:7a, we read: “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.'”
In Genesis 13:15, He repeated His promise when He said, “for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” He said the same thing in Genesis 15:18, “To your descendants I have given this land.”
The Bible warns that someday a period of unparalleled calamity will sweep over this planet. During the time commonly known as the Tribulation, the loss of life will be so great that nearly all the inhabitants of the earth will perish. With the Word of God making such a dire prediction, you would think that Christians would be extremely sensitive to any events that seem to match prophecy.
According to Barna Research, 70 percent of the U.S. population believes that someday Jesus is coming back to earth. The same number of people are familiar with terms like: Tribulation, Antichrist, 666, or Armageddon and they realize their negative connotations.
Like with all parables, the purpose of the Parable of the Mustard Seed is to teach a concept or “big idea” using elements or details like birds, weeds, and growth, that are common, easily recognized, and are usually representational of something else. While the elements themselves do have importance, an overemphasis on the details or literal focus on an element usually leads to interpretive errors and missing the main point of the parable. One of the possible practical reasons that Jesus used parables, is that parables teach a concept or idea by using word pictures. By depicting concepts, the message is not as readily lost to changes in: word usage, technology, cultural context, or the passage of time as easily as a literal detailed narrative. Two thousand years later, we can still understand concepts like sameness, growth, the presence of evil influence, etc. This approach also promotes practicing principles rather than inflexible adherence to laws. Further emphasis on a singular point is given when multiple parables are given consecutively on the same subject as is the case with the parable of the mustard seed.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed is contained in all three of the synoptic gospels. However, the Gospel of Matthew provides us with the most peripheral information, as it includes one parable before and after the mustard seed parable, each teaching on the same subject. Each of the three parables: the weeds among the wheat, the mustard seed, and the yeast, have six common elements in them providing structure which helps us to interpret the individual parables. The common elements are: (1) a similitude about “the kingdom of heaven,” the earthly sphere of profession both true and false, (2) “a man,” Christ, (3) “a field,” the world, (4) “seed,” the Word of God or its effect, (5) “growth or spreading,” church growth, and (6) “the presence of evil,” weeds, birds of the air, and yeast.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed was taught in rhetorical hyperbole. Here Jesus uses a shrub/tree coming from a seed (John 12:24) to represent kingdom growth, consistent with other tree/kingdom references (Ezekiel 17:23 and Daniel 4:11–21). With the seed’s growth, it attracts the presence of evil—depicted as birds (Matthew 13:4, 19; Revelation 18:2) to dilute the church while taking advantage of its benefits.
So the picture painted in the Parable of the Mustard Seed by Jesus is of the humble beginnings of the church experiencing an explosive rate of growth. It grows large and becomes a source of food, rest, and shelter, for both believers and false professing individuals that seek to consume or take advantage of its benefits while residing or mixing among what was produced by the seed (1 Corinthians 5:1, 6:7, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Galatians 1:7). In other words, Jesus predicts that while the church will grow extremely large from just a small start, it will not remain pure. While this is not a condemnation of the “bigness” of modern Christianity, it does show us the greatest burden that comes with it. The Parable of the Mustard Seed is both a prediction and a warning. May we listen to its message.
The gospel of Thomas is a Coptic manuscript discovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. This manuscript contains 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Some of these sayings resemble sayings found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Other sayings were unknown until their discovery or even run counter to what is written in the four Gospels.
One December day in 1945, far up the Nile Valley, two Egyptian peasants were looking for a local variety of crumbly nitrate rock used as fertilizer. They came across a large jar, about a meter tall, hidden by a boulder. Inside they found a collection of ancient leather-bound books or codices. The spot where the books were found is within a few miles of the site of an early monastery, established by the founder of Christian “cenobitic” monasticism in Egypt, Pachomius. Nag Hammadi, a nearby village, has given this remarkable collection its name.
The Nag Hammadi Library consists of fifty-two texts or “tractates” written in Coptic on papyrus and gathered in thirteen volumes, twelve of which have separate leather bindings. Forty of the texts had previously been unknown to modern scholars. Most of the writings are of a Gnostic character. Scraps of paper found in the binding of eight codices bear dates indicating that the books were made in the mid-fourth century, and at least one of these clearly appears to have come from a monastery. Efforts to date the books more precisely continue. In general, it can be said the collection dates from about the middle of the fourth century. The Coptic texts could be many years earlier, and the originals (probably written in Greek or Aramaic) from which the Coptic translations were made could have been still earlier.
To understand how we got the Bible as we know it, please see the following two articles: What is the canon of Scripture? and How was the Canon determined?
Should the gospel of Thomas be in the Canon?
The early church councils followed something similar to the following principles to determine whether a New Testament book was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit: 1) Was the author an apostle or have a close connection with an apostle? 2) Was the book being accepted by the Body of Christ at large? 3) Did the book contain consistency of doctrine and orthodox teaching? 4) Did the book bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit?
The gospel of Thomas fails all of these tests. The gospel of Thomas was not written by Jesus’ disciple Thomas. The early Christian leaders universally recognized the gospel of Thomas as a forgery. The gospel of Thomas was rejected by the vast majority of early Christians. The gospel of Thomas contains many teachings that are in contradiction to the biblical Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. The gospel of Thomas does not bear the marks of a work of inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Are there any other arguments that preclude the gospel of Thomas from being included in the Bible? If we examine the 114 sayings in this writing, then we find some that are similar to existing sayings, some that are slightly different, but the majority cannot be found anywhere in the entirety of Scripture itself. Scripture must always confirm itself, and the majority of sayings in the gospel of Thomas cannot be confirmed anywhere else in Scripture.
One argument for precluding the gospel of Thomas from the Bible is found in the overt “secretness” attributed to these 114 sayings by the work itself. Nowhere in Scripture is God’s Word given “in secret” but is given for all to read and understand. The gospel of Thomas very clearly tries to maintain an air of secrecy in its words.
The gospel of Thomas is a Gnostic gospel, espousing a Gnostic viewpoint of Christianity. The gospel of Thomas is simply a heretical forgery, much the same as the gospel of Judas, the gospel of Mary, and the gospel of Philip. Perhaps the disciple Thomas’ nickname of “doubting Thomas” is appropriate here. We should all be doubting the gospel of Thomas!
This one ranks right up there at the top of the list of depraved pastoral misconduct:
A community in Manchester has been left in a state of shock when a male pastor and a deacon were caught having sex inside the church. A church member who spoke to THE WEEKEND STAR said that the men were discovered having sex when a young church brother, who had been suspicious of the pastor’s ‘undercover activities’, one night came across his vehicle at the church. His suspicions were further fuelled by the realisation that there were no scheduled meetings that night, and that the grill to the front of the church was also closed. It was said that the church brother decided to ‘screechie’ into the church from a window at the side of the building. On entering the church, the young man was hit with the sight of the men in a…
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Is there a difference between “teaching” and “preaching” the message of Salvation? Why is it so much harder to “inspire” someone than it is to “instruct” them?
Despite the Western media’s insistence that Iran’s President-Elect, Hassan Rouhani, is a “moderate” and a “reformist,” the evidence is clear: Rouhani is actually a high-ranking Radical Shia cleric who fundamentally agrees with the terrorist and repressive policies of the Ayatollah Khamenei and has been faithful in supporting such policies. Rouhani’s son reportedly even committed suicide because of the shame he felt that Rouhani was so supportive of Khamenei’s evil ways.
The central question I have been curious about since the rigged election is whether Rouhani shares the Supreme Leader’s eschatology. Namely, is Rouhani a “Twelver”? Does he believe as Khamenei does that the End of Days has come, and that the Twelfth Imam (or Mahdi) is going to appear at any moment to destroy the infidels and establish a global Islamic caliphate, and that Iran’s regime can and must hasten the arrival of their so-called messiah by annihilating America (which they…
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I have noticed over the years that some ministries, in their effort to stress holiness of life, do not put a great deal of emphasis on God’s gracious acceptance of us despite our sins. And other ministries, in their effort to avoid legalism and rejoice in grace, are reluctant to call people to close, exacting self-examination and deep repentance. But the 18th-century pastor John Newton is remarkable in giving equal weight to self-examination and grace.
by Mike Ratliff
6 ἡ δὲ ἐκ πίστεως δικαιοσύνη οὕτως λέγει· μὴ εἴπῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου· τίς ἀναβήσεται εἰς τὸν οὐρανόν; τοῦτ’ ἔστιν Χριστὸν καταγαγεῖν· 7 ἤ· τίς καταβήσεται εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον; τοῦτ’ ἔστιν Χριστὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναγαγεῖν. 8 ἀλλὰ τί λέγει; ἐγγύς σου τὸ ῥῆμά ἐστιν ἐν τῷ στόματί σου καὶ ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου , τοῦτ’ ἔστιν τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως ὃ κηρύσσομεν. 9 ὅτι ἐὰν ὁμολογήσῃς ἐν τῷ στόματί σου κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ πιστεύσῃς ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου ὅτι ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν, σωθήσῃ· 10 καρδίᾳ γὰρ πιστεύεται εἰς δικαιοσύνην, στόματι δὲ ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σωτηρίαν. 11 λέγει γὰρ ἡ γραφή· πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐπ’ αὐτῷ οὐ καταισχυνθήσεται. (Romans 10:6-11 NA28)
6 But the righteousness of faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart , ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ Christ up from the dead). 8…
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Across the country, congregations are whipping members into shape with highly marketed, faith-based health programs. What’s right—and troubling—about the trend.
(CN) — Fresh findings in the field of genetics have directly challenged yet another key evolutionary hypothesis by showing that the differences between humans and apes cannot be easily accounted for under the theory of evolution.
A recent 12-page journal article, written by three scientists in Spain and published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, details the results of careful analysis of human and chimpanzee DNA. After comparing and contrasting thousands of orthologous genes from humans and chimps, the scientists found their final data to be very much at odds with evolutionary theory. In fact, they even titled their article “Recombination Rates and Genomic Shuffling in Human and Chimpanzee—A New Twist in the Chromosomal Speciation Theory.”