In her book, “The Envy of Eve,” Author Melissa Kruger helps us understand how seemingly harmless desires and questions like this grow into the sin of covetousness. Envying the relationships, circumstances, possessions, and abilities of others chokes out the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives, allowing discontentment to bloom. The key to overcoming is to get to the root of our problem: unbelief—mistrusting God’s sovereignty and goodness. (“The Envy of Eve,” Christian Focus 2013)
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” —Luke 15:10 Notice, next, that the rejoicing is “over one sinner that repenteth.” To repent is to be sorry for sin, — to undergo…
Any pastor who regularly addresses even a handful of souls from God’s word, knows the burden of wanting to be faithful with communicating accurately what God has said to His people. Every preacher feels the weight of Paul’s injunction,
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2:15)
This is why seminaries offer four year degrees that cover Greek and Hebrew, Theology and Counseling, Preaching and Pastoral Care. The more training preachers get, the better. Now, I agree that formal theological training at seminary level is not a biblical prerequisite for being a preacher of God’s word. The Apostle Peter, for instance, had no MDiv degree hanging on his office wall. But I’m sure we all agree that his 24/7 intensive, three year internship with Jesus was, um …adequate preparation. But if an excellent theological education is available to you, there is wisdom in being a good steward of that opportunity.
Should you eschew a formal course of training, and rely instead on your gift of gab, you may end up being outed as a theological neophyte on global TV, like Joel Osteen.
OSTEEN: “I don’t know”
Bestselling author Joel Osteen is the preaching pastor of the biggest church in America. There are regularly 30,000 attendees who pitch up to hear his sermons. This is quite a responsibility. Especially considering Hebrews 13:17 warns that pastors will give an account for each soul in their flock.
And I’m not even referring to the zillions who plug into the televised programming, nor the touring success of sold-out stadiums that hold 60,000 fans (at $10 a ticket).
But when he was interviewed on the Larry King Live show, the result of being ill-prepared for ministry was painfully obvious. I feel for him as Larry grills him on this sensitive topic.
The National Cathedral is pealing its church bells, along with some other Washington churches, to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage.
Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg said the bells rang at noon Wednesday for 45 minutes to an hour. Bells also rang at other Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian and other Christian churches.
The cathedral scheduled a prayer service for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families Wednesday at 7 p.m. to celebrate the ruling.
In a statement, the cathedral’s dean, the Rev. Gary Hall, says the church is ringing its bells “to celebrate the extension of federal marriage equality to all the same-sex couples modeling God’s love in lifelong covenants.”
(NaturalNews) Here are 20 questions that engage smokers and help them consider why they smoke cigarettes, just what they are really smoking, and why they can’t quit. These questions are posed to students of the one-hour class “14AndOut,” and then those answers are reflected upon and/or corrected by the teacher and inventor of the program, who reveals exactly how to quit in 14 days or fewer, naturally, without medications and without hypnosis. The 20 questions invite any and all smokers to think about the chemical knowledge associated with the addiction, consider the most common and popular behavior rituals to change, and finally to engage nutrition in order to “replace and replenish” a broken down digestive, breathing, and cleansing system, so you have energy and a positive outlook when you quit cigarettes for good.
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday hosted Investor’s Business Daily writer John Merline to discuss a potentially disturbing aspect of “Obamacare.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, a “big data system” will be created to track millions of Americans’ information, including tax and Social Security information, according to Merline.
The ramifications of that move are stunningly far-reaching. The argument that gay marriage doesn’t affect straight marriages is a ridiculous red herring: Gay marriage affects society and law in dramatic ways. Religious groups will come under direct assault as federal and state governments move to strip them of their non-profit statuses if they refuse to perform gay marriages. Public schools across the country will be forced to teach homosexual marriage alongside traditional marriage. Religious business owners will be leveraged to pay for benefits for same-sex spouses.
How many people do we hear in the ‘Christian’ community mock us for looking towards our “Blessed Hope?” The vast majority of churches in America rarely preach the simple gospel message, much less the more advanced teaching of the rapture of the church. Therefore, we who long for and wax poetic about it are looked at as ignorant, fringe lunatics who have an escapist mentality.
Well, you’d better believe I have an escapist mentality! You’re the ones who are nut-cases! Talk about ignorant, you have NO idea what lies directly in your path.
The NRB Network gives viewers a historic and sobering opportunity to remember the Holocaust in July when, for the first time ever, it airs the state of Israel’s official Holocaust remembrance ceremony from Jerusalem. The two-hour TV program, “A Nation Remembers,” airs Saturday, July 6, at 8pm Eastern and Sunday, July 14, at 11pm Eastern.
“A consistent theme of Scripture is remembering,” says Dr. Frank Wright, president & CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters. In his special introduction to “A Nation Remembers”, Dr. Wright points out that “remembering the past — especially when evil goes infamously unopposed — is our best hope for the future. As the philosopher reminds us: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'”
Want to see what Jesus saw? There’s an app for that. A team of entrepreneurs, tech innovators and archeologists have teamed up to create Architip, an augmented-reality program that brings Israel’s ancient sites to life before your eyes — on your smartphone screen, of course …. Click here for full story
One-hundred-thousand Christians are murdered because of their faith each year. In many cases, governments are to blame because they pass laws that restrict religious freedom …. Click here for full story
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam…
Imagine powerhouse theologians Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols, Richard Pratt, and R.C.Sproul all in one place having a discussion about Christology today! Now watch this video.
I appreciated the Presbyterian Church of America and Ligonier making this available!
(HT: Jeff Downs)
Satan wants to keep you from worshipping the One he hates. He wants to keep you from doing the right thing, whether that is spending time alone with the Lord in Scripture and prayer, attending and participating in public worship services, or any other thing that will draw you closer to the Lord. Here, courtesy of Thomas Brooks, are eight ways Satan will keep you from worship.
Here’s how I would encourage you to use the list. Think of the times that you decide to stay in bed instead of getting up to read the Bible; think of the times you scrapped family worship for no good reason; think of the times you stayed home from church instead of going to worship. Think of those things, and see which of these temptations is the one Satan brings to you.
“For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not…
It’s well beyond the finite capacity of our minds to comprehend the perfection of heaven. The best we can do is attempt to understand it in terms of this life. All that’s good and God honoring here will be perfected in heaven; everything else will pass away.
In heaven there will be no sin, suffering, sorrow, or pain. We will never do anything to displease God. There will be no temptation because the world, the flesh, and the devil will all be conspicuously absent. There will be no persecution, division, disunity, or hate. In heaven there will be no quarrels or disagreements. There will be no disappointments. Prayer, fasting, evangelism, repentance, and confession of sin will cease because the need for them will cease. There will be no weeping because there will be nothing to make us sad. With sin and its effects erased forever, it will be a life of unimaginable blessing!
We will then know perfect pleasure. In Psalm 16:11, the psalmist addresses God: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In heaven, everything that now makes us groan will be done away with. We will find ourselves in the very presence of God, where the purest and truest kind of pleasure is possible. Whatever pleasures we have known here on earth while living under the curse of sin will seem trivial, paltry diversions compared to the pure delights of heaven. When our souls are made new we will finally be able to glorify God perfectly and enjoy Him perfectly, as He intended. Since nothing is better or greater than God, the pure enjoyment of Him must be the very essence of bliss.
In heaven we will also have perfect knowledge. Paul writes, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Since we are known comprehensively by God (Psalm 139:1–3), this must mean that in some sense we will have comprehensive knowledge. It cannot mean we will have absolute omniscience, for omniscience is one of the incommunicable attributes of God. To embrace all knowledge, one would have to be God. But it does indicate that our knowledge will be as complete as we could ever desire. We will have no more unanswered questions, no confusion, no ignorance, and no more need to walk by faith rather than by sight.
We will live in perfect comfort. We will never experience one uncomfortable moment. In Jesus’ account of the beggar Lazarus and the rich man, Abraham says to the rich man in hell, “Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish” (Luke 16:25). Hell is agony; heaven is eternal consolation.
We will finally know perfect love. First Corinthians 13:13 says, “Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Why is love the greatest of virtues? Because it is eternal. In heaven all our hopes will be realized. “Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24). And all that we have laid hold of by faith will be ours to enjoy forever. Faith will be swallowed up by sight. But we will love perfectly and will be loved perfectly for all eternity. John 13:1 says Christ loved His disciples eis telos—literally, “to the end,” to utter perfection. That same love will engulf us forever. And we will finally be able to love perfectly in return.
We could summarize by saying that heaven is a place of perfect joy. Our joy in this life is always mixed with sorrow, discouragement, disappointment, or worry. Sin, grief, and sorrow inevitably dampen happiness. An honest look at life in this world produces more tears than real joy. Our lives here begin with the joy of childbirth, but are marked by trials throughout and inevitably end in the sorrows of death and separation. In heaven things will be different. Heaven is a place of undiluted joy. At the end of the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the master tells the faithful steward, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the joy of your master” (v. 23).
Jesus’ choice of that terminology indicates that one of the dominant characteristics of heaven is joy. Best of all, it’s an unending and never-diminishing joy. It must be, because heavenly perfection is never altered.
Heaven is a place of utter perfection, but that perfection isn’t limited to the mental and emotional realms. It is also a real place where real people will live in real bodies. And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time.
(Adapted from The Glory of Heaven; all Scripture references are taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)
Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B130627 COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You
A. Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to himself, (Psalm 110:3) in ruling and defending us, (Matthew 2:6; 1 Corinthians 15:25) and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon-A Puritan Catechism
Can an atheist act in moral and ethical ways? Certainly, he can. All humans still retain the image of God upon them, even after the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. The image of God was effaced at the fall, but it was not erased, and so man still understands right and wrong no matter how many try to say otherwise. Even atheists react to this inherent knowledge of right and wrong, some even to the extent of living exemplary lives.
C.S. Lewis put it this way: if a man sees another in danger, the first instinct is to rush to help (altruism). But a second voice intervenes and says, “No, don’t endanger yourself,” which is in keeping with self-preservation. But then a third voice comes into play and says, “No, you ought to help.” Where does that third voice come from, asks Lewis? This is what is referred to as the “ought-ness” of life. Morality is what people do, but ethics describe what people ought to do. And yes, people know what they ought to do, but that doesn’t mean that they always act according to that knowledge.
The difference between the atheist and the Christian in this sense is that the atheist may act ethically for certain reasons (e.g. not wanting to go to jail, it disrupts social order, it makes them look good to others, etc.), but he has no ultimate reason for acting ethically because there is no ultimate moral authority that exists over each sphere of his life. Without this ultimate authority, each atheist defines morality on his own terms, although his morality is influenced by the remnants of morality from the image of God within, along with the strictures and constraints of the culture and society in which the atheist exists.
The Christian, on the other hand, acts morally out of the knowledge of the moral law given by God in His Word and a love for the Law-giver Himself. In addition, that knowledge is continually increased and personalized by the indwelling Spirit of God, whose task it is to bring the Christian “into all truth” (John 16:13). From within believers, He directs, guides, comforts, and influences us, as well as producing in us the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). To the atheist who is without the Spirit, God’s truth is “foolishness,” because it is “spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14), and the only fruit of righteousness is self-righteousness, not the righteousness of Christ.
When confronted with a situation that demands both the Christian and the atheist to make moral choices, a situation in which societal constraints are removed, the reaction of each will be vastly different. If a society deems it morally acceptable to kill unborn babies, for instance, the atheist sees no reason to oppose the practice. His own “moral law” even tells him it’s the compassionate thing to do in cases where the child is the result of rape or incest. The Christian, however, knows abortion is wrong because his moral choices are built upon the moral Law-giver who has declared all human life to be sacred because it is created in the image of God. The Law-giver has proclaimed “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13) and, for the Christian, there’s the end of it.
So can an atheist act ethically? Certainly, but he has no ultimate reason to do so and no ultimate authority to look to in order to ensure his line is indeed straight and unbendable.
Hebrews 12:1 states, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses …” Some understand the “cloud of witnesses” to be people looking down on us from heaven. That is not the correct interpretation. Hebrews chapter 11 records many people whom God commended for their faith. It is these people who are the “cloud of witnesses.” They are “witnesses” not in that they are watching us, but rather in that they have set an example for us. They are witnesses for Christ and God and truth. Hebrews 12:1 continues, “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Because of the faith and diligence of Christians who went before us, we should be inspired to follow their example.
The Bible does not specifically say whether or not people in heaven can look down on us who are still on the earth. It is highly unlikely that they can. Why? First, they would sometimes see things that would cause them grief or pain, namely, acts of sin and evil. Since there is no grief, tears, or unhappiness in heaven (Revelation 21:4), it does not seem that observing earthly events would be possible. Second, people in heaven are so preoccupied with worshipping God and enjoying the glories of heaven that it does not seem they would have significant interest in what is happening here on earth. The very fact that they are free from sin and experiencing God’s presence in heaven surely is more than enough to captivate their attention. While it is possible that God allows people in heaven to look down upon their loved ones, the Bible gives us no reason to believe this actually occurs.