In his latest Blog Essay, “‘Leisure & Labor—Two Gifts from God,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. discusses the “theological lag” we wrestle against in our conception of labor and leisure. Do you enjoy your labors or begrudge them? Do you delight in your leisure time or make work of it? Dr. Mohler reminds us to understand them both rightly, which is to understand them theologically, as gifts from God. You can read Dr. Mohler’s full essay here.
As Egypt plunges into unrest amid the military-backed government’s crackdown on demonstrators, the country’s Christian minority has been targeted by Islamic extremists. Dozens of churches have been burned, ransacked and looted since the government began fighting against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohammed Morsi two weeks ago……… Click here for full story
Des Moines activist Midge Slater took the podium and spent five and a half minutes thanking God for abortion rights, abortion doctors and taxpayer funding for abortions. She also referred to the decision to have an abortion as “a blessing” and asked such services to spread worldwide ……. Click here for full story
Why is the Obama administration so determined to have the U.S. military help al-Qaeda win the civil war in Syria? Why are we being told that the U.S. has “no choice” but to help rabid jihadist terrorists that are slaughtering entire Christian villages, brutally raping Christian women and joyfully beheading Christian prisoners? If you are a Christian, you should not want anything to do with these genocidal lunatics. Jabhat al-Nusra is a radical Sunni terror organization affiliated with al-Qaeda that is leading the fight against the Assad regime. If they win, life will be absolute hell for the approximately two million Christians in Syria and other religious minorities. According to Wikipedia, Jabhat al-Nusra intends “to create a Pan-Islamic state under sharia law and aims to reinstate the Islamic Caliphate.” As you will see below, many members of the U.S. military understand this, and they absolutely do not want to fight on the side of al-Qaeda. (Read More….)
No, Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. There are similarities in their views of God, but there are also distinct differences.
As you can see in the chart below, each affirms that there’s only one God, and that he is eternal, knows all things, is omnipresent, and omnipotent. However, Christianity is radically different from Islam in its affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity where God consists of three distinct and simultaneous persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Islam denies this and accuses Christians of teaching polytheism.
Read More Here: http://carm.org/do-christians-muslims-worship-same-god
During the month of September, Reformation Trust is giving away the eBook edition of Blood Work. In this book, Anthony Carter traces the theme of the blood of Christ through the New Testament, showing how the biblical writers used the powerful metaphor of the blood of Jesus to help Christians grasp the treasures Jesus secured for them in His death on the cross.
How diverse is your neighborhood really? This map by Dustin Cable at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service displays the population distribution of every person in America (as of the 2010 census) along racial and ethnic lines. The map features 308,745,538 dots, each smaller than a single pixel and each representing one person: Caucasians are blue, blacks are green, Hispanics are orange, Asians are red, and other races are brown.
The vast swaths of purple appear to show the racial diversity of some of America’s biggest cities. But if you zoom into the map and break these cities down at the neighborhood level, patterns of segregation become much clearer.
The word halal means “permissible” in Arabic. It refers to food, objects, or actions that are allowed in Islam. Among other things, halal meat must be killed with a sharp knife and drained of blood. No carnivorous animals, birds of prey, or meat contaminated with non-permissible substances can be used. This, in and of itself, is a healthy way of preparing meat. The problem comes when Allah’s name is pronounced over the meat during the butchering process. Many interpret this to mean the animal was sacrificed to a false god—an idol.
Nearly two thousand years ago, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth regarding the permissibility of eating meat sacrificed to idols, because the Corinthians also struggled with this issue. In Corinth, as in many Roman cities, the only meat available at markets was that which had been sacrificed to a pagan idol. Paul told the Corinthian Christians that a false idol is nothing. It has no authority. It did not create the animal or provide the owner with it (1 Corinthians 8:4). The point, then, becomes not the food or the idol it was sacrificed to, but concern for other people. Mature Christians realize that food, sacrificed to an idol or not, is a neutral entity. Believers have freedom in Christ to eat or not, as they choose. But freedom is useless without love. And if eating meat sacrificed to idols is harmful to another believer, it should be avoided. Many of the poorest in Corinth could only afford to eat meat in the context of a pagan ritual—to them, meat was equated with their previous life. These “weaker” brothers were not yet free of the religious connotation that meat carried. Therefore, a “stronger” brother indulging in meat-eating could entice the weaker into an action that he believed was wrong, and was therefore sin (Romans 14:23). To Paul, another believer’s walk was far more important than what he ate.
Paul continues the discussion, giving specifics: If you’re buying meat at the market, don’t ask where it came from. If you’re invited to a friend’s for a meal, don’t ask where it came from. If the information is volunteered that the meat was sacrificed to an idol, refrain (1 Corinthians 10:23–33). But, Paul says, do not refrain from eating because of your conscience—your conscience should understand that you are free to enjoy God’s provision (1 Corinthians 8:7)—but for the conscience of the one who provided it. If a weak brother is offering, you may lead him into sin. If an unbeliever is offering, you may be seen as tacitly endorsing the god to which it was sacrificed. Either way, it doesn’t become an issue until the other person brings it up.
Acts 15:23–29 puts a different spin on things. Here, the Christian elders in Jerusalem sent a letter to the new believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, giving them certain guidelines: “… that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication.” Why the discrepancy? One possibility is geography. Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia are much closer to Palestine than Corinth. The new Gentile believers would have had much more contact with Jewish Christians who still identified with Jewish law. Like the circumcision issue in Acts 15:1–12, the food regulations would have promoted unity in the church. Corinth, conversely, is in Greece. Meat not sacrificed to idols would have been very hard to find.
Halal food is no different. There is one God who provides for us. Claiming the name of a false god does nothing to the food physically or spiritually. But, like the Corinthians, we should always act out of love. If we are with others who believe halal food is wrong to eat, we should refrain out of concern for their conviction. If we are served food by someone who makes a point that it is halal, we should refrain as a quiet sign that we do not accept the authority of the false god to which it was dedicated. If we are in a restaurant or market or school or home that, we suspect, is serving halal food, we should eat and give thanks to the true God who provides.
Kinism is one branch of a diverse series of religious movements that promote racial segregation. This movement is based in Christianity and, for the most part, is populated with people who are historic, Calvinistic, orthodox and Reformed in their doctrinal views. The tendency to adhere to some true doctrines, however, does not mean that Kinists are orthodox in belief and practice. In fact, their adherence to true doctrines, and the extensive theological knowledge of some of the followers of Kinism, makes this legalistic cult all the more dangerous.
It is difficult to get a direct answer about Kinism, because the movement is relatively new and “un-formed” and also because Kinists themselves tend to be quite scholarly and esoteric. But a few things are clear. Unlike the Christian Identity Movement, or the Aryan Nation, Kinists do not believe that non-white races cannot be saved. Also, unlike Anglo-Isrealists, they do not believe that national Israel’s true descendents are the British and American people groups.
What makes Kinism different is the belief that God has ordained an order for mankind that goes beyond personal and individual worship. They believe that God has set boundaries for groups of human beings and that human beings should respect those boundaries by maintaining a tribal order. What this means is that you could have a group of white Kinists, and a group of black Kinists, but they would not worship together. They believe that man is usurping God’s authority when they “co-habit” with different races, when (as they say) God has ordained a necessary distinction. In the words of one Kinist, “This [belief] affects our ecclesiology since it would consider a multi-racial, drum-banging mega-church to be a foul stench in God’s nostrils.” Besides being unloving, this assertion is simply un-biblical, promotes a racist point of view, and is a platform for pride and legalism.
Kinists insist on racially segregated churches and communities, and of course, families. They believe that Christians should still adhere to the Old Testament Laws that forbade Jews to intermarry with other tribes / families. They also say that God “separated” the races at the Tower of Babel, and that to “re-integrate” is an affront to the order for mankind that He has ordained. Both of these beliefs, despite having a copious amount of scholarly support in Kinist camps, can be easily dismantled with Scripture.
First, to determine whether Old Testament law regarding segregation pplies to the New Testament church, we should ask what the reason for segregation was in the Old Testament. God’s reason for this law was very clearly to avoid the introduction / assimilation of pagan idolatry into Jewish society (Malachi 2:11; Deuteronomy 7:3). In the New Testament, with the introduction of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the command to take the good news to the Gentiles, we see a switch from Israel being the only nation acceptable to God, to “any nation that fears Him and does what is right” being acceptable to God (Acts 10:34–35) and is part of the body of Christ. The Kinist will agree with this, saying that any person of any race can be a Christian. But they still say that intermarriage is forbidden, although there is no biblical reason for this.
Though national Israel will be restored to God’s favor after the Gentiles have been brought to Him (Romans 11:11–12), the law which says “don’t intermarry with foreigners, lest they draw your heart away from God” (Deuteronomy 7:3) is no longer valid because a person could marry a Christian of another race and not be in danger of being drawn away after foreign gods. So, the new command is: “don’t intermarry with unbelievers, lest they hinder your walk with God” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Racial segregation is simply no longer necessary, because the church now consists of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ for salvation; in other words, all who have the Spirit are, in a real sense “one brotherhood” (Luke 8:21)
As for God’s action at the tower of Babel being taken as His ordaining racial segregation, the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9) is about God confusing the languages of men so that they would not be able to work together to accomplish evil against Him. It is not about racial segregation. This is proved by Galatians 2:11–14, where Paul opposes Peter for separating himself from the Gentile believers in their church. Another example would be Paul’s ordaining as a Christian pastor the Greek-born Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6). He even calls Timothy “my true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Timothy’s mother was Jewish and a woman of the faith. This implies that Timothy lived and ministered in a community that was both Jewish and Gentile. Did his own mother not attend his church? And, if God wished the races to be segregated, which church would he, being half Jew and half Gentile, be able to pastor? And what about Paul himself, who was a self-proclaimed “preacher, apostle … and teacher of the Gentiles” (1 Timothy 2:7)? If Kinism were true, would not God have sent a Gentile to preach to and teach the Gentiles?
In short, Kinism is simply another attempt to be justified by Law, rather than by the gospel of God’s grace. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16, emphasis added.)
God tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem in Psalm 122:6–9: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.’ For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’ For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity.” From this passage, we see that praying for peace and good to come to God’s holy city benefits those who pray. God promised blessings on those who bless Israel and curses on those who curse her (Genesis 12:3), and since Jerusalem is depicted as the center of Jewish life, it follows that those who pray for her peace and security will be granted peace themselves.
Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is most appropriate for a city whose name literally means “peaceful” and which is the residence of the God of peace. The phrase “peace be upon Israel” is found also at the end of Psalm 125:5 and 128:6, indicating that it was a common farewell blessing. Further, Jerusalem will be the scene of Christ’s return (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4), and at that time He will establish permanent peace with its walls. All Christians should be eagerly awaiting His return and praying for the time when the Prince of Peace will reign in Jerusalem.
Jesus also said that we should be peacemakers, which would include praying for peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). And we are commanded to do our best to live at peace with others. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). So, God wants us to seek peace among all people, and that would include praying for peace in Jerusalem, especially because of its special place in His heart.
Who is against us? Who will condemn us?
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
For the Apostle Paul, they’re rhetorical questions.
They’re Paul’s way of implying that if you sense any ambiguity about the answer, if you feel any uncertainty about the conclusion, then you should go back to chapter 1, verse 1 and start over.
Reread his letter to the Romans-because Paul’s left you no room for qualification. There’s no grist for doubt or debate or indecision.
Don’t left the punctuation marks fool you because there’s only one possible way to answer the questions Paul’s laid out for you.
No one is against us.
No one will condemn us.
No one- no thing- nothing can separate us from Christ’s love.
Of course, as a preacher, I know first hand the danger in asking rhetorical questions is that there’s always one or two listeners in the audience who don’t realize that the question you’re asking has no answer but the obvious one.
The danger in asking rhetorical questions is that there’s always one or two people who mistakenly think the question might have a different answer.
For example, take this response to Paul’s rhetorical questions from Mark Driscoll: Play Clip from ‘God Hates You.’
I thought that would get your attention.
Or at least make you grateful I’m your pastor.
Just think, I make a single joke on my blog about Jesus farting and some of you write letters to the bishop; Mark Driscoll preaches an entire sermon about how ‘God hates you’ and thousands of people ‘like’ it on Facebook.
If you read my blog, then you know I feel about Mark Driscoll the same way I feel about Joel Osteen, Testicular Cancer and Verizon Wireless.
But he’s not an obscure, street-corner, fire-and-brimstone preacher.
He’s a best-selling author. He’s planted churches all over the world.
The church he founded in Seattle, Mars Hill, is one of the nation’s largest churches with a membership that is younger and more diverse than almost any other congregation.
Ten thousand listened to that sermon that Sunday.
And that Sunday ten thousand did NOT get up and walk out.
That Sunday ten thousand listened to the proclamation that ‘God hates you, God hates the you you really are, the person you are at your deepest level.’
And that Sunday at the end of that sermon somewhere near ten thousand people said ‘Amen.’
Which, of course, means ‘That’s true.’
Except it isn’t.
BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Three in a three-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Biblical Counseling and Sexual Abuse/Assault. You can read Part One by Justin Holcomb, What Does the Bible Say about Sexual Assault? and Part Two by Amy Baker, What Do You Say to a Woman Filled with Hate From Past Sexual Abuse?
The Bible and Sexual Abuse Recovery
The Bible has a rich, robust, relevant, and relational approach to helping people to find hope and healing in Christ after sexual abuse. To illustrate that richness, we’ll consider just a few ways that 2 Samuel 13 provides wisdom and healing for sexual abuse. In 2 Samuel 13, we learn of the rape of Tamar by her half-brother, Amnon. But we also learn of healing hope.
A growing number of professing Christian theologians in our day are questioning the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. One has gone so far as to describe such a concept as “a form of cosmic child abuse.”
Last week we published an article from R.C. Sproul on the blog that addressed the importance of the satisfaction view of the atonement. Beginning today, we’re making his teaching series on The Atonement of Jesus free for you to listen to and share. In this 10-part series, R.C. Sproul explains the biblical doctrine of the atonement and answers questions such as:
- Why did God choose the means of the crucifixion to redeem His people from their sins?
- Was the cross of Christ necessary in order for God to forgive sins?
- Was Jesus really forsaken by the Father as He bore the sins of His people?
- For whom did Christ die?
This important series dispels various misunderstandings of the atonement and demonstrates why Jesus is the only one who could atone for our sins.
We’ve embedded the first lecture below. Listen to the entire series here or use the links at the bottom of this post. Note: If you’re on a smartphone or tablet, we have a mobile friendly version of the series.
Listen to the Lectures in this Teaching Series:
- The Symbol of the Cross
- The Necessity of the Cross
- Why the God-Man?
- The Meaning of the Cross
- The Substitute
- A Ransom Paid
- The Redeemer
- The Curse of the Cross
- For Whom Did Christ Die?
- Questions and Answers
Please share this series with your friends. As R.C. Sproul has previously said, “If you take away the cross as an atoning act, you take away Christianity.”
Mez McConnell: “Every morning in Niddrie, without fail, we will see a steady stream of pale, (many) toothless, shuffling, hopeless humanity trudging, zombie like, to their local chemist to pick up their ‘script’. It is a depressing sight to see.” He asks if and how the gospel speaks to drug addiction.
NORWICH – A pastor in the United Kingdom was recently visited at his home by police and is now under an official criminal investigation after he sent an email to organizers of a homosexual pride event expressing his concern over what he called an “unashamed carnival of perverted carnality.”
(CN) — Controversy is stirring over a professing Christian website that provides a venue for married couples to hook up with other partners to find ‘free love.’
The term swinger is defined as “a person who swaps sexual partners in a group” or “who engages freely in promiscuous sex.” It has been virtually unheard of in Christian circles–until now.
(CN) — Washington Attorney General Robert Ferguson and Deputy Solicitor Alan Copsey recently released an opinion outlining that state law requires publicly-funded hospitals to provide abortion services if they also offer maternity care.
“I fully expect all public hospital districts to comply with this opinion,” Ferguson stated at a recent news conference.
(CN) — A Pennsylvania pastor is responding to a lawsuit filed by a prominent atheist activist group surrounding the presence of a Ten Commandments monument at a local junior high school by installing numerous other monuments throughout the community and surrounding area.
As previously reported, Thou Shall Not Move, led by Pastor Ewing Marietta of Liberty Baptist Church, was founded as an effort to help support the Connellsville School District after it was sued by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) last year over a Ten Commandments monument on school property. The Wisconsin-based atheist group had filed the lawsuit against the district on behalf of a woman and her daughter who claim that they are disturbed by the monument’s presence.
(CN) — A prominent Christian legal organization representing a New Mexico photographer that was was recently forced by the state Supreme Court to “compromise … to accommodate” requests to shoot homosexual dedication ceremonies is warning that similar cases are presenting a “real threat” to Christians across the country.
As previously reported, Elane Huguenin and her husband Jon, who operate run Elane Photography in Albuquerque, found themselves having to answer to the New Mexico Human Rights Commission in 2006 when they turned down a lesbian who wanted Elane to photograph her upcoming ceremony with her partner.
A recent study conducted by Duke University revealed a phenomenon that will not surprise those of us in vocational ministry, but may shock a few of you looking in from the outside.
The title of the news release said it all: “Clergy More Likely to Suffer from Depression, Anxiety.”
The study, published in the Journal of Primary Prevention, compared the mental health of 95 percent of the United Methodist clergy in North Carolina (1,176 pastors) to a representative sample of Americans.
“The demands placed on clergy by themselves and others put pastors at far greater risk for depression than individuals with other occupations.”
“Greater” as in double the national rate.
It reminds me of one of the wisest adages about ministry I’ve ever read (from the wit of Stuart Briscoe). The three qualifications of a pastor are:
“The mind of a scholar,
the heart of a child,
and the hide of a rhinoceros.”
That pretty much covers it.