Daily Archives: September 9, 2013

CARM: Are there are different levels or degrees of sin?

Yes, there are different degrees of sin. Jesus said in John 19:11, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it  had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” The context is that  Judas had betrayed Jesus and so our Lord was before Pilate who said that he had the authority to crucify Jesus.   Jesus said that the one who had delivered him into Pilate’s hands had the greater sin.

There are other verses that imply different degrees of sin.  Please consider the following.

Read More Here: http://carm.org/different-levels-degrees-of-sin

Logos Blog: Why Postmodernism Isn’t New

“Every age has its own outlook,” wrote C. S. Lewis; “We, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period.” But we need more than that—we need books that reach our conclusions long before we do, books that remind us that our new outlook isn’t so new after all.

We call our times postmodern, often with something like fear. But what we call postmodernism is in large part a renovation of ancient ideas—ideas you should know.

Read More Here: http://blog.logos.com/2013/09/why-postmodernism-isnt-new/

Satan vs. Jesus – Tim Challies

Satan bears many names. Satan has many schemes. Satan wears many hats. Satan comes in many disguises. And through it all, one of his favorite tactics and one of his most successful tactics is to be an accuser. The book of Revelation assures us that night and day he stands as our accuser.

accuser (noun)

1: one that charges with a fault or offense 2: one that charges with an offense judicially or by a public process

Satan is an Accuser and you know his accusations. You have heard him charge you with a fault, you have heard him proclaim your guilt. You have heard it in the courtroom of your heart and mind and conscience.

You commit a sin. You fall into that same old sin you’ve been battling, that sin you swore you wouldn’t commit again. You discover a new sin and for a time revel in it. And then you hear the accusation. “You are guilty. You have committed an offense and need to be punished. You have offended God and he wants nothing to do with you. You have sinned beyond his grace. Give up.”

Satan stands between you, the offender, and God, the offended, and cries out that you are guilty, he cries out that you must be punished, he cries out that you deserve to have the consequences of this crime heaped upon you.

There is an Accuser.

There is also an Advocate.

Read More Here: http://www.christianity.com/blogs/tim-challies/satan-vs-jesus.html

These Are the Rebels The President Wants Us To Aid

Zwinglius Redivivus

Rebels who have invaded a Christian village and told the inhabitants to convert to Islam or die.

The village of Maaloula has been taken over by Syrian rebels associated with al Qaeda, who have stormed the Christian center and offered local Christians a choice: conversion or death. A resident of the town said the rebels shouted “Allahu Akhbar” as they moved through the village, and proceeded to assault Christian homes and churches.

“They shot and killed people,” he said. “I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village. Where is President Obama to see what has befallen us?” Another witness stated, “I saw the militants grabbing five villagers and threatening them and saying, ‘Either you convert to Islam, or you will be beheaded.’”

The village is located just 25 miles from Damascus, and sites within…

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Growing number of media stories focus on Isaiah 17 & Jeremiah 49 prophecies on the future of Damascus.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

>> UPDATE: I’m scheduled to be interviewed by Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel at 4:50pm eastern to discuss the Syria crisis.

(Washington, D.C.) — As the crisis in Syria intensifies, interest in Bible prophecies concerning the future of Damascus are growing. People all over the world are increasingly, and understandably, interested in the prophecies found in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49. Do they describe a future judgment of the city of Damascus and its utter destruction?

Now, a growing number of media outlets are covering the growing interest. Most of the articles are dismissive, some are snarky, some find it all ridiculous, but at least the articles are making people aware that these Bible prophecies exist.

Here are a few examples:

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What if I really followed Jesus? If I think about it in daily life, nitty-gritty terms, it would look something like this for me.

I would stop worrying about the church and would not confuse it with Jesus or his kingdom. I would realize that following Jesus is a personal matter and it is my responsibility to live in his ways as I go about my regular daily life. Community is important, but how I follow Jesus is up to me.

I wouldn’t be afraid to “speak truth to power,” whether the “power” is the church the government, the corporate world, or politically correct ideologies. I, also, wouldn’t be surprised if it makes some people really mad.

I would make it a point to seek out those who need a little help, a little love, and be their friend. It would be an intentional daily focus, as I become more aware of the people that I meet in the normal course of life.

I would become an all-out people-person who is highly interested in individuals and their stories. I would become a better conversationalist, a great listener, a good asker of questions, and I would be honest about my own failures.

I would become a big time partyer and attend and host lots of parties and gatherings. I would know how to have a good time and how to help people have a good time.

I would figuratively and literally embrace people.

I would help make their day a little brighter and I would be with them in their darkest moments.

I would become a better storyteller because of the sheer power of a good story.

I would heavily invest in the most important people in my life.

I would look for chances to surprise people with grace.

I would look for new opportunities to connect with people who take me outside of my comfort zone.

I would believe that Jesus is who he said he was and not try to earn his favor, but would bask in his love and grace.

I would devote my life to learning to love people like he did.

Read More Here: http://www.tillhecomes.org/really-followed-jesus/

The Lonely Pastor: Nine Observations

The conversation took place just yesterday. A young man told me his dad, a pastor, recently committed suicide. He talked about the pain his father experienced in ministry as well as the intense loneliness.

Though suicide is not an inevitable outcome, I do know the number of pastors experiencing loneliness is high—very high. I hurt for these pastors, and I want to help in any way I can. Perhaps my nine observations can be a starting point for a healthy discussion on this important matter.

Read More Here: http://thomrainer.com/2013/09/07/the-lonely-pastor-nine-observations/

Pastors’ Forum: Four Approaches to Evangelism Training

We asked four churches to tell us how they equip their people to evangelize. Here are their responses. Answers from University Reformed Church, Sterling Park Baptist Church, the Village Church, and the Church at Brook Hills.

Read More Here: http://www.9marks.org/blog/pastors%E2%80%99-forum-four-approaches-evangelism-training

The Future Restoration of Israel: 12 Points In the Biblical Argument

Scripture Thoughts

From Robert D. Culver’s “Daniel and the Latter Days”, the following list of 12 related points: what the scriptures say regarding “the restoration of Israel to the land and the conversion of the nation, to be followed in the Millennium by the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant promises distinctive to that nation.”

1.  Numerous Old Testament predictions which treat of a repentance and restoration of Israel in eschatological times which is distinct and separate from that which followed the Babylonian captivity.  Reference:  Hosea 3:4-5; Ezekiel 37:11-28

2.  The perpetuity of the nation of Israel, in spite of repeated apostasies and restorations after divine chastening.  Reference:  Lev. 26:44-45; Numbers 23:9; Jeremiah 30:10-11; Jeremiah 46:27-28; Amos 9:8-11

3.  Isaiah 11:1-12:6an Old Testament prophecy which in unmistakable and utterly unambiguous language predicts a national restoration of Israel in yet future Messianic times.

Verses six…

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How Your Preaching Might Increase Sin in Your Church

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering . . .Romans 8:3

We tread lightly here, but I fear we vastly underestimate the spiritual damage inflicted on our churches by “How To” sermons without an explicit gospel connection. The Bible is full of practical exhortations and commands, of course, but they are always connected to the foundational and empowering truth of the finished work of Christ. When we preach a message like “Six Steps to _______” or any other “be a better whatever”-type message — where the essential proclamation is not what Christ has done but what we ought/need to do — we become preachers of the law rather than Christ. (And it is not rare that this kind of message with barely any or no mention of Christ(!) at all gets preached.)

But is it just merely unfortunate? Something that could be improved but not really that big of a deal?

I think the Scriptures show us that this kind of preaching isn’t just off-center, but actually does great harm, actually serves to accomplish the very opposite of its intention. How?

Read More Here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2013/09/09/how-your-preaching-might-increase-sin-in-your-church/

What Zambia and Russia Teach Us About Homosexuality and Gay Rights Debates

First stop: Zambia. It’s actually the third stop in our trip and surprisingly a third stop with some major news item related to homosexuality and gay rights. I was surprised to note during my stay in Zambia an article in one of Lusaka’s newspapers describing an ongoing criminal case regarding homosexual acts. The article appeared on the front page beneath the fold. Two men faced criminal sanction for allegedly offering and engaging in homosexual acts. Zambian law forbids such acts under Cap. 87, Sections 155 through 157 of the Zambian penal code (see here). Section 155 reads:

Any person who: (a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; (b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or (c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature; is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.

Section 156 imposes imprisonment for seven years for any “attempt to commit unnatural offences”. Section 158 addresses “any act of gross indecency” committed between two men, two women, or two children of the same sex, “whether in public or in private”, and classifies such acts as felonies punishable by imprisonment for five years (except in the case of children where “best interests of the child” determines the penalty). All of these codes occur in an “Offenses Against Morality” chapter that criminalizes a range of sexual and related offenses including: rape, abduction, indecent assault and insults against women, defilement of children and people with disabilities, trafficking and prostitution, abortion, incest, and the use of drugs and alcohol to commit or attempt sexual crimes.

Read More Here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2013/09/09/what-zambia-and-russia-teach-us-about-homosexuality-and-gay-rights-debates/

The Temple Mount Treasure

Zwinglius Redivivus

The Hebrew University YouTube channel has just posted this video on the discovery of various items newly discovered at the foot of the Temple Mount by none other than Eilat Mazar:

Download a collection of high-resolution photos at http://bit.ly/mazarpics. The notice from the University continues:

Given the date of the items and the manner in which they were found, Mazar estimates they were abandoned in the context of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem in 614 CE. After the Persians conquered Jerusalem, many Jews returned to the city and formed the majority of its population, hoping for political and religious freedom. But as Persian power waned, instead of forming an alliance with the Jews, the Persians sought the support of Christians and ultimately allowed them to expel the Jews from Jerusalem.

Hanging from a gold chain, the menorah medallion is most likely an ornament for a Torah scroll. In that…

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How to Help a Marriage in Trouble

What do you do when you know a couple has marriage problems, but you have no formal training in how to help? Our work with thousands of marriages in crisis provides us with insight that you can use.

The most important thing is to care enough to do something. Far too often, people do nothing because they fear they might do the wrong thing. While it is possible to do the wrong thing, doing nothing is DEFINITELY the wrong thing.

If you know a couple in trouble, and you care enough to do something, consider this list of things not to do and things to do.

Read More Here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/how-to-help-a-marriage-in-trouble-104041/

Is Ordination Outdated?

An “ordained” minister means someone is designated by a given religious body as approved for ministry: they have been examined, discernment has occurred, and they are then consecrated to perform the duties of ministry. In some groups this means the “ordained” minister can distribute the sacraments; in some it means they can be called “pastor” or “priest”; in some groups pastors, elders and deacons are “ordained.”

Do you think ordination is outdated? 

Read More Here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/09/09/is-ordination-outdated/

Should U.S. Bomb Syria? Evangelical Leaders Take Surprising Vote

As Congress debates whether or not America’s military should intervene in Syria after chemical weapons killed nearly 1,500 people, a survey of evangelical leaders nationwide reveals how they would vote.

On Tuesday, the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents more than 45,000 churches from 40 denominations, asked its board members: “Should Congress authorize direct U.S. military intervention in Syria?”

The result: 62.5 percent said no, while 37.5 percent said yes.

Read More Here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2013/september/syria-military-intervention-nae-evangelicals-survey.html

America’s Bible Hypocrisy: Study Shows Disconnect Between Beliefs and Behavior

The American Bible Society’s annual “State of the Bible” study shows most Americans believe society needs the Bible, but few are finding time to read it.

A majority of people in the United States believe the Bible contains the best advice for a meaningful life, but they also don’t want to take it, and are too busy to read the scriptures.

Read More Here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/americas-bible-hypocrisy-study-shows-disconnect-between-beliefs-and-behavior-103935/

Spiritual Depression: The Dark Night of the Soul – R.C. Sproul

The dark night of the soul. This phenomenon describes a malady that the greatest of Christians have suffered from time to time. It was the malady that provoked David to soak his pillow with tears. It was the malady that earned for Jeremiah the sobriquet, “The Weeping Prophet.” It was the malady that so afflicted Martin Luther that his melancholy threatened to destroy him. This is no ordinary fit of depression, but it is a depression that is linked to a crisis of faith, a crisis that comes when one senses the absence of God or gives rise to a feeling of abandonment by Him.

Read More Here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/the-dark-night-of-the-soul/

Were the Early Christians Really Persecuted? – J. Warner Wallace

In Cold Case Christianity, I discuss the evidential value of the martyrdoms of the original eyewitnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus. When evaluating the reliability of these witnesses, their potential bias can be assessed on the basis of their willingness to die rather than recant their testimony. Many skeptics, however, doubt these martyrdoms occurred in the first place. The deaths of the Apostles are recorded by a variety of ancient authors; some of these accounts are, admittedly, more thorough and reliable than others. Critics of Christianity have accused early Christians of inventing these apostolic martyrdom stories. In fact, some skeptics have denied the systemic persecution of early Christians altogether in the first two centuries. Candida Moss, professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, has written a book, (The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom) challenging the early persecution of Christians (including the Apostles) prior to the 3rd Century. I think her task is daunting, however, given the impressive cumulative case demonstrating the dramatic mistreatment of the earliest Christians:

Read More Here: http://www.christianity.com/blogs/j-warner-wallace/were-the-early-christians-really-persecuted.html

5 Marks That God is Using You in Tremendous Ways – Frank Viola

. . But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

~ 1 Samuel 30:6

1. Many different people tell you that the Lord changed their life through something you’ve written, said, or done.

2. A few falsely attack you out of jealousy, most of whom don’t know you personally. (This is a key evidence that God’s hand is on your life.)

3. You clearly see the evidence of your influence on specific people’s lives, even though they may never mention it to you.

4. The enemy tries to trip you up and cause you to stumble with unusual temptations.

5. God puts you in situations that severely test your faith and reveal (to you) what’s in your heart.

Remember, we are in a spiritual battle . . . a cosmic warfare. So when God is using you powerfully, the enemy will do all he can to throttle it.

This is a back-handed compliment from heavenly realms.

Also, the beginning of the Christian life is easy; the end is joyous. The middle is where the fiercest battles take place and many fall away.

Be encouraged. And keep your eye on the prize.

Source: http://frankviola.org/2013/09/09/5marks/