Monthly Archives: August 2013

Who is it That Truly Has Fellowship With Christ?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?  (2 Corinthians 6:14-15 NASB) 

Contrary to what most believe about Christianity, what one’s own framework is of their conception of salvation and having fellowship with Jesus Christ is irrelevant. Unless this ‘understanding’ is totally submitted to the Word of God and the authority of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit then it will be according to the counsel of the individual’s own conscience. This counsel is according to the value system of the individual not according to what God has revealed. It creates its own image of God and holds that image accountable to the individual’s value system.

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Questions about the Bible: What Is the Green Bible?

The Green Bible, published in 2008 by Harper Collins Publishers, is not a new translation. The publishers use the New Revised Standard Version as their text. The whole premise of this version is similar to the “red-letter” editions of the Bible where the words of Christ are printed in red ink. Following this approach, the Green Bible prints in green ink verses and passages which, according to the publisher, deal with environmental topics or creation care. They break this down into four categories: 1. How God and Jesus are involved in creation; 2. How all elements (land, water, plants, humans, animals) are interdependent; 3. How nature responds to God; 4. How we are called to care for creation. The Bible itself is printed on recycled paper using soy-based ink with a cotton/linen cover. There is also a foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as several essays by various people including Brian McLaren, of emergent church fame, and Pope John Paul II. Other features include a topical index, a personal “trail study guide,” and an appendix with information on further reading, how to get involved, and practical steps to take.

The idea of a “green” Bible may have merits. The Green Bible can serve as a reminder to believers who are overly critical of today’s modern “green” movement that the Scriptures do speak on the subject of the environment. The heavens, air, oceans, rivers, seas, plants, and animals are all wonderfully created by God. Some need to be reminded that God’s magnificent creation is something to behold, appreciate, respect, and preserve (Genesis 1:26–28). Of course, God’s command to mankind to rule over and subdue the earth does not mean we can abuse it. Rather, God has given care of the environment to mankind to nurture and use with respect, always mindful of our great God as the force behind its creation.

At the same time, there are negative aspects of the Green Bible. A statement by Eugene H. Peterson, author of The Message, explains the whole purpose of the Green Bible: “The Green Bible sets out an urgent agenda for the Christian community.” It seems clear that the main goal and purpose is to promote the “green” agenda and implies that God in His Word confirms this as a primary theme. However, the “urgent agenda” for the Christian community is not the reclamation of the earth, but the reclamation of souls destined for an eternity in hell. Anything that distracts Christians from this most basic reason for our existence is antithetical to God’s plan for His people. Interestingly, the Green Bible does not seem to be prominently used as a tool by those who support today’s “green” movement, no doubt because there are too many other truths in God’s Word that contradict the basic philosophies of the “green” agenda. The Green Bible in reality is a perfect example of what the Apostle Paul speaks about in Romans: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25).

The Green Bible goes beyond just advocating an agenda and actually is teaching false doctrines. This becomes evident in the “Green Bible Quiz,” which has seven questions with three multiple-choice answers for each question. Question #2 asks, “Which verse praising creation is from the Psalms?” and gives Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands,” as the correct answer. The problem here is that this verse does exactly opposite of what the question asks. The verse is not “praising creation” at all; rather, it speaks of the creation praising the Creator, God. Question #4 in the Green Bible Quiz asks, “Where did Jesus go to commune with nature?” The “correct” answer given is Matthew 4:23, but apparently this was a typo and no doubt should have been Matthew 14:23, “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” This verse definitely does not say that Christ went up to the mountain “to commune with nature.” He went up to pray, literally to commune with His Father, God. This goes far beyond stretching the meaning of a verse and actually amounts to deifying nature, which is nothing short of idolatry.

There is nothing wrong with Christians being involved in a conscious effort to appreciate and even preserve God’s wonderful creation. But any effort directed at preserving the planet forever runs counter to God’s revealed plan. He tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 that at the end of the age, the earth and all He has created will be destroyed with fire. The physical, natural earth in its present form, along with the entire universe, will be consumed, and God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). As believers, our focus has to be living for the Savior and, in what the Scriptures call the “last days,” to be about the business of sharing the good news of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ with as many people as possible.[1]

 


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

Questions about Angels and Demons: What Is a Succubus? What Is an Incubus?

According to medieval folklore, a succubus is a demon that takes the form of a woman in order to have intercourse with a man in his dreams. The name comes from Old Latin, and means “to lie under.” In Islamic superstition, there is a similar demon called the qarinah or karina, and in ancient Middle Eastern cultures Lilith was the night demon’s name. Whichever name is used, the essential qualities are the same: a demon who tempts men sexually at night and who tries to kill infants at birth.

There are two biblical passages that may refer directly to this kind of demon. One of the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q184) depicts a being called “the seductress” who has horns and wings and a multitude of sins in her wings. This being tempts men into sin and ultimately drags them into the Pit. The passage is quite similar to Proverbs 2:18–19, which describes the dangers of the seductress or “strange woman.” In describing the results of God’s judgment on Edom, Isaiah 34:14 (KJV) says, “the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.” The American Standard Version translates “lilith” as night demon or monster, and the Revised Standard Version uses the name “Lilith.” Some commentators have proposed that primitive cultures heard the cries of nocturnal animals and attributed them to demons because they had no knowledge of those animals.

Are succubi real? If we grant any credence to the widespread beliefs of ancient cultures, the answer would have to be yes. If we confine our search to biblical writing, the answer becomes more difficult. To be sure, the name has been associated with a demonic presence for several thousand years and fits in that context in the Bible. It is also certain that the Bible deals with demons as very real, very powerful beings which have dealings with mankind. Second Peter 2:4 speaks of angels who sinned and were cast down to hell in judgment. Jude 6 (KJV) likewise speaks of angels who “kept not their first estate,” and are awaiting the last judgment. Jesus cast demons out of people, as did His disciples. Whether or not we accept the idea of sexual tempters, there is no doubt that demons themselves are real.

The male counterpart of the succubus is the incubus, from the Latin incubo for “nightmare.” An incubus was supposedly a male demon who would lie with sleeping human women in order to have sexual intercourse with them. Incubi were thought to be able to father children, and the half-human offspring of an incubus was called a “cambion.” Merlin, the legendary wizard from the King Arthur legends, was supposedly sired by an incubus, from whom he received his supernatural powers and abilities. Both succubi and incubi were the products of medieval superstitions and were most likely efforts to explain the natural phenomena that occur during sleep—nightmares, sexual dreams, sleep paralysis and night terrors. They are also thought to have been efforts to explain away nighttime rapes and other assaults on women by friends, relatives and even the clergy. It would have been easier to attribute such attacks to the supernatural than to admit they came from some person in a position of trust.

As Christians, we are warned against worshiping demons (Leviticus 17:7), and even their names should be forgotten (Zechariah 13:2). Some people study demons thinking that will help them carry on spiritual warfare. All we really need to know about the enemy is this: “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God” (1 John 4:3, NKJV). Our focus should be on learning more about the One who “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13–14, NKJV). When we hide God’s Word in our hearts, it keeps us from sinning against Him (Psalm 119:11) and gives us the weaponry to fight off any attack of Satan or his demons (Ephesians 6:17).[1]

 


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

Questions about False Doctrine: Is Pleading the Blood of Jesus Biblical?

“Pleading the blood of Jesus” in prayer is a teaching that can be traced to some of the early leaders of the Word of Faith movement. When people speak of “pleading the blood of Jesus in prayer” they are referring to the practice of “claiming” the power of Christ over any and every problem by using the phrase “I plead the blood of Jesus over _______.”

“Pleading the blood of Jesus” has no basis whatsoever in Scripture. No one in the Bible ever “pleads the blood” of Christ. Those who “plead the blood” do so as if there was something magical in those words or as if by using them their prayer is somehow more powerful. This teaching is born from the misguided and heretical view of prayer that prayer is really nothing more than a way of manipulating God to get what we want rather than praying for His will to be done. The whole Word of Faith movement is founded on the false teaching that faith is a force and if we pray with enough faith, then God guarantees us health, wealth, and happiness and will deliver us from every problem and every situation. In this view, God is simply a way to get what we want instead of being the holy, sovereign, perfect and righteous Creator that the Bible reveals Him to be.

Those who teach this Word-Faith falsehood have an exalted view of man and our “rights” to plead what we want and get God to respond the way we want. This is in opposition to true biblical faith exemplified by Paul’s life and his approach to suffering and trials. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). But Word of Faith teaches that if we suffer or are sick or struggle with sin, it is because we do not have enough faith or that we are not pleading the blood of Jesus to claim what is rightfully ours. But we do not see Paul pleading the blood of Christ or claiming what is “rightfully his” when he was faced with trials and persecution. Instead we see his unwavering faith in Christ no matter what the situation: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 2:12).

Paul had “learned in whatever state I am in to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11–13). Paul’s faith was in Christ alone, and he could say with conviction “the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever, Amen!” (2 Timothy 4:18).

“Pleading the blood” as it is commonly practiced has more in common with mysticism—reciting a magical formula and hoping it works—than it does with biblical prayer. Saying certain words does not make our prayers magically more powerful. Furthermore, “pleading the blood” of Christ is not needed to defeat Satan. He has already been defeated, and if we are truly born-again, Satan has no power over us other than what God allows for His purpose and glory. Colossians 1:13 makes this perfectly clear: “For He has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins.”

Rather than “pleading the blood” of Christ for protection or power, Christians should obey the command in James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Rather than practicing an unbiblical model of prayer, we are to follow the simple precepts of Scripture—leading a pure life before God, taking captive all our thoughts to avoid giving sin a place, confessing our sins when we fail those first two precepts and putting on the full armor of God as outlined in Ephesians 6:13–17.

The Bible gives us numerous instructions in victorious living in Christ, and pleading “the blood of Jesus” is not one of them. We have been cleansed by the blood of Christ and He is our High Priest and mediator who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25). As His sheep we are already under His protection, we simply need to live day by day trusting in Him for what He has already promised and provided.[1]

 


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

Analysis: How should the US respond to Assad regime? Experts fall into four basic camps.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

UScapitol-night

>> UPDATE: More than 110,000 dead in Syria conflict; Among victims 40,146 civilians including 4,000 women, 5,800 children, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says

>> UPDATE: Kerry: Samples from Syria tested positive for sarin

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UPDATED:(Washington, D.C.) — President Obama on Saturday announced that the U.S. should take military action against the Assad regime in Syria, and that he believes he has the Constitutional authority to move forward, but that he wants a Congressional discussion, debate and vote to authorize the use of force.

“Over the last several days, we have heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard — I absolutely agree,” said the President, addressing reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Congress is expected to return to Washington from its summer recess on September 9th.

Thus, U.S. military force will be delayed at least until then. If Congress votes “no,” as the British parliament just did…

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It is the Christian’s Duty to Defy the Government…

Zwinglius Redivivus

When the government renounces God-

Earthly princes lay aside all their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy of being reckoned in the number of mankind. We ought rather utterly to defy than to obey them whenever they are so restive and wish to spoil God of his rights, and, as it were, to seize upon his throne and draw him down from heaven. — John Calvin (in his commentary on Daniel, 6:22).

As true now as then.

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A Charismatic Primer #2 – The Outreach Top 50 (#1-5)

Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely...

Okay, with regards to all the artillery exchange between the Cessationist and Charismatic camps in anticipation of the upcoming Strange Fire conference, there have been some accusations lain back and forth that the Cessationists are misrepresenting the Charismatics, and the Charismatics are likewise misrepresenting the Cessationists.  So, I’ve decided to put together a (sort of) guide on the issue (this whole “Charismatic Primer” series) that should help those who are honestly interested in the differences between both positions and want to make some sort of informed decision on the issue.

Also, like my previous post, this series won’t be a “read this in 10 minutes” post, but rather a resource post that you can come back to and use again and again (though I suspect that within 1-2 years, some of the links will be dead).

I’ve compiled some stuff that should be both fairly up to date and…

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