Daily Archives: August 24, 2013

Facebook Theology That Makes Me Sigh

Zwinglius Redivivus

Saw this on facebook and have to say, um, no.

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There’s no indication whatsoever in the Hebrew text that Cain killed Abel with a rock.  David killed Goliath with one (or more precisely, knocked him cold with one and then hacked his head off with his own sword).  But the Bible doesn’t say how Abel was killed (though strangulation is a possibility, given the verbs used in the story).

This is some more facebook theology that makes me sigh.

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False doctrine…worse than Division.

A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion. They weaken the cause of true Christianity.- But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved. False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism. If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved. In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin.
The old saying must never be forgotten, “He is the schismatic who causes the schism”… Controversy in religion is a hateful thing… But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation. …~Iain Murray

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Counseling Related Questions: What Does the Bible Say about Insecurity?

To be insecure is to lack confidence or trust, whether in ourselves or someone else. There are many causes of insecurity, but chief among them is our failure to fully trust God (Jeremiah 17:7–8). As believers, we have this assurance: “And those who know Your name put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10; also see Deuteronomy 31:8; Lamentations 3:57). If we know God is with us, why do we still experience feelings of insecurity, doubts, and fears? Why does God seem so far away?

In Satan’s arsenal, one of his biggest weapons is doubt. Satan loves for us to question who we are and how we measure up to others (Ephesians 2:1–2; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Samuel 16:7). He wants us to feel insecure over the meaning and purpose of our lives, where we’re going, and how we’ll get there.

Another cause of feelings of insecurity is reliance on wealth and possessions instead of God. The world encourages us to strive to be “number one” and promotes the adage “he with the most toys wins.” If we don’t have the latest iPhone, fastest car, biggest house, or largest paycheck, we are failures. Yet the Bible teaches us not to set our hopes on earthly riches but on God: “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17, emphasis added; see also Mark 10:23–25; Luke 12:16–21). Riches, being uncertain, will certainly bring insecurity to those who trust in them.

Many times, insecurity takes the form of worry about the future. Jesus was empathic when He said, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow.…” (Matthew 6:31–34). Worrisome fears about the future are rooted in a doubt of God’s provision. This breeds strong feelings of insecurity and a lack of peace, resulting in fear and depression. When we doubt God, Satan wins (Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:8).

Insecurity may also result from being preoccupied with the things of the world: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Security is not to be found in this world’s people, things, or institutions, including government institutions. Some people become obsessed with having the right leaders in government, the right laws, and the right policies. When the government is in the wrong hands, they contend, the nation is doomed. However, the Bible teaches us that God is in control and His sovereignty extends to governmental leaders (Proverbs 21:1; Daniel 2:21). While we should practice good citizenship and vote our conscience, we must also recognize that government policy cannot save us. Only God can do that (Isaiah 33:22; Psalm 143:6; Jeremiah 17:5–6).

Others place their trust in their pastor or other church leaders. However, men can and will let us down. Only Christ is the sure foundation. “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic’ ” (Isaiah 28:16). Jesus is the solid rock and our only hope of security (Matthew 7:24).

Often, the reason for our insecurities is an undue preoccupation with our own selves, an “it’s all about me” mentality. The Bible warns us about self-absorption and pride (Romans 12:3). God’s work will be done “ ‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6).

True security comes when you recognize that “God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). When struggling with feelings of insecurity, never forget God’s promise: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (Isaiah 26:3).[1]

 


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

Bible Commentary: What Did Jesus Mean When He Said the First Will Be Last and the Last Will Be First?

Jesus made the statement “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” in His response to the disciples’ asking what reward they would have for giving up everything to follow Him (Matthew 19:27–30; Mark 10:28–31). He reiterated this truth in Matthew 20:16 at the end of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. This statement is not, as many believe, a description of the reversal of earthly roles in heaven. There is no hierarchy in heaven wherein the poor and oppressed will rule over the rich and powerful when we get there. Nor will those believers who enjoy wealth and prestige on earth be somehow abased in heaven. Earthly rank will not automatically translate into heavenly rank.

When Jesus told the disciples they would be greatly rewarded in heaven for what they had given up on earth (Matthew 19:27–29), He was making a contrast with the rich young ruler, who was unwilling to give up much of anything for Christ’s sake (verses 16–22). The “last” in this world—the disciples in their poverty—would be “first” in the kingdom of heaven. Conversely, the “first” in this world—the self-sufficient rich—would be the last to find the kingdom.

In Matthew 20, Jesus’ parable concerns some hard-working individuals who complain that others, who did not work as long, were paid an amount equal to what they received. In other words, they saw their own labor as worthy of compensation, but considered their companions’ labor to be inferior and less worthy of reward. Jesus ends the parable with the statement, “The last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). The most direct interpretation, based on the content of the parable, is that no matter how long or how hard a believer works during his lifetime, the reward of eternal life will be the same given to all—an eternity of bliss in heaven in the presence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The thief on the cross (Luke 23:39–43), whose life of service was limited to a moment of repentance and confession of faith in Christ, received the same reward of eternal life as the apostle Paul. Of course, Scripture also teaches that there are different rewards in heaven for different services, but the ultimate reward of eternal life will be achieved by all equally.

Many commentators point out that Jesus’ statement in Matthew 20:16 can be applied to the Jewish/Gentile cultural milieu. Based on the terms of the New Covenant, the Gentiles had equal access to the kingdom of heaven, although they had not “served” God under the Old Covenant. The Jews, who had labored long under the Old Covenant, were jealous of the grace extended to the Gentile “newcomers.” Elsewhere, Jesus makes it clear why the “sinners” were being saved ahead of the pious: because of their repentance and faith, “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matthew 21:31–32).[1]

 


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

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Is the Love of Christ?

The phrase “love of Christ,” as opposed to “love for Christ, refers to the love that He has toward mankind. His love can be briefly stated as His willingness to act in our best interest, especially in meeting our greatest need, even though it cost Him everything and even though we were the least worthy of such love.

Though Christ Jesus, being God in nature, existed from the beginning of time with God the Father (John 1:1) and the Holy Spirit, He willingly left His throne (John 1:1–14) to become a man, that He might pay the penalty for our sin so that we would not have to pay for it for all eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15). Because mankind’s sin has been paid for by our sinless Savior Jesus Christ, God who is just and holy can now forgive our sins when we accept Christ Jesus’ payment as our own (Romans 3:21–26). Thus, Christ’s love is shown in His leaving His home in heaven, where He was worshipped and honored as He deserved, to come to earth as a man where He would be mocked, betrayed, beaten, and crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin, rising again from the dead on the third day. He considered our need of a Savior from our sin and its penalty as more important than His own comfort and life (Philippians 2:3–8).

Sometimes people may give their lives willingly for ones they deem as worthy—a friend, a relative, other “good” people—but Christ’s love goes beyond that. Christ’s love extends to those most unworthy of it. He willingly took the punishment of those who tortured Him, hated Him, rebelled against Him, and cared nothing about Him, those who were most undeserving of His love (Romans 5:6–8). He gave the most He could give for those who deserved it the least! Sacrifice, then, is the essence of godly love, called agape love. This is God-like love, not man-like love (Matthew 5:43–48).

This love which He demonstrated toward us on the cross is just the beginning. When we place our trust in Him as our Savior, He makes us God’s children, co-heirs with Him! He comes to dwell within us through His Holy Spirit, promising that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5–6). Thus, we have a loving companion for life. And no matter what we go through, He is there, and His love is ever available to us (Romans 8:35). But as He rightfully reigns as a benevolent King in heaven, we need to give Him the position He deserves in our lives as well, that of Master and not merely companion. It is only then that we will experience life as He intended and live in the fullness of His love (John 10:10b).[1]

 


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

Muslim Questions: Do Muslims Call Allah ‘Father’? How Can We Come to God as Father?

Islam gives Allah 99 names, but not one of the names is Father. Jesus, however, called God Father and taught His disciples (meaning “followers”) to pray to God as Father (Matthew 6:9).

How can you be a disciple of Jesus? And how can you come to God as Father? Find out by reading the Scripture passage John 8:31–59. Yes, go ahead and read now.

From that passage, we find out the following:

•     To be a disciple of Jesus, you must hold to His teaching (John 8:31).

•     The truth of Jesus’ teaching sets His disciples free (John 8:32).

•     Jesus, the Son of God, can set free those who were slaves to sin (John 8:34–36).

•     Those who refuse to hear, love, and believe Jesus—the truth—show that they belong to the devil—the father of lies (John 8:42–47).

•     Those who keep Jesus’ word have eternal life (John 8:51).

•     God glorifies Jesus (John 8:54).

•     Abraham looked forward with joy to the coming of Jesus (John 8:56).

•     Having existed before Abraham was born, Jesus is the eternal Son of God (John 8:58).

How do you respond? The Jews who heard Jesus responded by trying to stone Jesus, thinking He was guilty of blasphemy. Muslims, too, would say a man claiming to be God would be guilty of “shirk.” But Jesus is not a mere man claiming to be God. He is the Son of God!

The Son of God is the only one who can set you free from slavery to sin. Although the punishment for sin is eternal death in hell, Jesus died on the cross in the place of believing sinners to give them eternal life in heaven (Romans 6:23; John 3:16).

Those who receive Jesus as the Savior from sin and Lord of life become children of God the Father. “He [Jesus] was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:10–13; see also Ephesians 2:1–19).

Jesus is the only way to God the Father in heaven. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ ” (John 14:6).[1]

 


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

Questions about Humanity: What Does It Mean to Believe in the Sanctity of Life?

The phrase “sanctity of life” reflects the belief that because people are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), human life has an inherently sacred attribute that should be protected and respected at all times. While God gave humanity the authority to kill and eat other forms of life (Genesis 9:3), the murdering of other human beings is expressly forbidden, with the penalty being death (Genesis 9:6).

Humanity was created in God’s image, but sin has corrupted that image. There is nothing inherently sacred in fallen man. The sanctity of human life is not due to the fact that we are such wonderful and good beings. The only reason the sanctity of life applies to humanity is the fact that God created us in His image and set us apart for all other forms of life. Although that image has indeed been marred by sin, His image is still present in humanity. We are like God, and that likeness means that human life is always to be treated with dignity and respect.

The sanctity of life means that humanity is more sacred than the rest of creation. Human life is not holy in the same sense that God is holy. Only God is holy in and of Himself. Human life is only holy in the sense of being “set apart” from all other life created by God. Many apply the sanctity of life to issues like abortion and euthanasia, and while it definitely applies to those issues, it applies to much more. The sanctity of life should motivate us to combat all forms of evil and injustice that are perpetuated against human life. Violence, abuse, oppression, human trafficking, and many other evils are also violations of the sanctity of life.

Beyond the sanctity of life, there is a much better argument against these things: the greatest commandments. In Matthew 22:37–39 Jesus says, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” In these commandments, we see that our actions are to be motivated by love for God and love for others. If we love God, we will value our own lives as part of God’s plan, to do His will until it comes about that His will is better served by our deaths. And we will love and care for His people (John 21:15–17). We will see to the needs of the elderly and sick. We will protect others from harm—whether from abortion, euthanasia, human trafficking, or other abuses. While the sanctity of life can be the foundation, love must be the motivation.[1]

 


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

Questions about Prayer: Why Do We End Our Prayers With Amen?

The Hebrew word translated “amen” literally means “truly” or “so be it.” “Amen” is also found in the Greek New Testament and has the same meaning. Nearly half of the Old Testament uses of amen are found in the book of Deuteronomy. In each case, the people are responding to curses pronounced by God on various sins. Each pronouncement is followed by the words “and all the people shall say Amen” (Deuteronomy 27:15–26). This indicates that the people applauded the righteous sentence handed down by their holy God, responding, “So let it be.” The amen attested to the conviction of the hearers that the sentences which they heard were true, just, and certain.

Seven of the Old Testament references link amen with praise. The sentence “and all the people said, Amen, and praised Jehovah” found in 1 Chronicles 16:36, typifies the connection between amen and praise. In Nehemiah 5:13 and 8:6, the people of Israel affirmed Ezra’s exalting of God by worshipping Him and obeying Him. The highest expression of praise to God is obedience, and when we say “amen” to His commands and pronouncements, our praise is sweet music to His ears.

The New Testament writers all use “amen” at the end of their epistles. The apostle John uses it at the end of his gospel, his three letters, and the book of Revelation, where it appears nine times. Each time it is connected with praising and glorifying God and referring to the second coming and the end of the age. Paul says “amen” to the blessings he pronounces on all the churches in his letters to them, as do Peter, John and Jude in their letters. The implication is that they are saying, “May it be that the Lord will truly grant these blessings upon you.”

When Christians say “amen” at the end of our prayers, we are following the model of the apostles, asking God to “please let it be as we have prayed.” Remembering the connection between amen and the praise of obedience, all prayers should be prayed according to the will of God. Then when we say “amen,” we can be confident that God will respond “so be it” and grant our requests (John 14:13; 1 John 5:14).[1]

 


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

Pat Buchanan: U.S. has been ‘de-Christianized’

The United States has lost one of its core guiding lights — its Judeo-Christian focus — said one conservative pundit, reflecting on the tragic and senseless shooting death of an Australian man in Oklahoma on a baseball scholarship, whose life was allegedly snipped by three self-proclaimed bored teens.

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Defense Department Education Materials Warn of ‘Extremists’ That Speak of ‘Individual Liberties, States’ Rights, and How to Make the World a Better Place’

U.S. Department of Defense education materials obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, warn of “extremists” that will “talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.” Judicial Watch and other conservative media outlets claim the disclosure indicates the department is teaching that conservative views are “extremist” in nature.

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Love the Church, Love Christ

airō

We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. We strive for this by the help of the Holy Spirit, but our sin-stricken flesh prohibits us from loving Him perfectly. But one thing we can be certain, strive as we might, our striving will fall that much more short if we are not faithfully committed to the Body of Christ expressed in the local church.

I dare say, our love for God is tainted the further detached we are from His Bride in the local church. Sin keeps us from loving God with all of our hearts, and lack of love for God’s people is certainly sinful, and hampers our “love potential” for Christ.

However much we think we love God, we do not love Him as much as we can and should the more distanced we are from His local body. We might even…

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