Daily Archives: September 24, 2013

Do we need to earn salvation?

Rather than just answering that question up front, why don’t we take a look at what the Bible says about this question. Depending on what theological background you come from, you may have a different answer. However, there seems to be only one answer that fits with biblical, orthodox Christianity.

Two main passages will be looked at to answer this question. One passage is used to favor the concept of what is called “works-based righteousness.” The other is often used to refute the idea of works as it relates to salvation. In the end, what we get out of this is a couple of passages where one seems to indicate that works are required, another that seems to say they’re not and the concept that people will claim that the Bible contradicts itself.

Read More Here: http://askingthegodquestions.blogspot.com/2013/09/do-we-need-to-earn-salvation.html

Justification by Faith Alone: Martin Luther and Romans 1:17

In this excerpt from Martin Luther and the Reformation, R.C. Sproul describes the moment of awakening Martin Luther had as he read Romans 1:17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

Read More Here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/justification-faith-alone-martin-luther-and-romans-117/

God Will Save Anyone But Not Everyone

There is a reason why Jesus is called “the Savior of the world,” and not merely “the mentor” or “the example.” Jesus Christ literally saves people from their sins. But not everyone. Only anyone.

Many don’t want to be “saved.” They don’t think they need “salvation.” It’s not that God doesn’t want to save them. It’s that they don’t want God in that way. Instead, they just want Him around in case they need to ask for something else.

Personal salvation is a free gift, but there are many who decide to turn away from this gift. They honestly don’t see the importance of this offer of grace. It’s like a person who has a deadly disease, but is unaware of his condition. He thinks everything is just fine. If he only knew.

Read More Here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/god-will-save-anyone-but-not-everyone-104635/

Why “That’s True for You, but Not for Me” Isn’t True for Anyone

I am not a rabid anti-postmodernist; there are aspects of postmodernism that I find very helpful when talking and writing about faith. Relativism, however, is not one of them.

One of the best examples of postmodern relativism is the catchphrase “that may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” Often, this phrase is  heard in the context of a conversation between a Christian (or other person of faith) and an atheist or agnostic. The person of faith says something that makes the other person uncomfortable, so he responds by saying “that may be true for you, but not for me.”

My guess is that at least half of the time, the person mouthing this slogan is not making a statement about deeply held philosophical beliefs, but is just trying to end a conversation without actually having to come right out and say “I think you’re wrong.”  In many cases, I suspect that the person saying it has never taken the time to think through the logical ramifications of his position; he just likes the fact that it makes him sound deep and tolerant and all the other things people like to think of themselves as being.

And, as often as not, it does effectively stop the conversation.

Read More Here: http://www.christianapologeticsalliance.com/2013/09/24/why-thats-true-for-you-but-not-true-for-me-isnt-true-for-anyone/

Soli Deo Gloria: To God Alone Be the Glory – R.C. Sproul

Soli Deo gloria is the motto that grew out of the Protestant Reformation and was used on every composition by Johann Sebastian Bach. He affixed the initials SDG at the bottom of each manuscript to communicate the idea that it is God and God alone who is to receive the glory for the wonders of His work of creation and of redemption. At the heart of the sixteenth-century controversy over salvation was the issue of grace.

It was not a question of man’s need for grace. It was a question as to the extent of that need. The church had already condemned Pelagius, who had taught that grace facilitates salvation but is not absolutely necessary for it. Semi-Pelagianism since that time has always taught that without grace there is no salvation. But the grace that is considered in all semi-Pelagian and Arminian theories of salvation is not an efficacious grace. It is a grace that makes salvation possible, but not a grace that makes salvation certain.

Read More Here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/soli-deo-gloria-god-alone-be-glory/

John MacArthur on Signs and Wonders

In the following audio clip, John MacArthur explains the significance of the signs and wonders of Jesus and the apostles.

There is an obvious difference between, say, a tourist attraction and a road sign directing you there. The sign merely points to what is ahead—it’s not the destination itself. In much the same way, the miraculous signs performed by Jesus and the apostles were never ends in themselves but pointed to the authority of what they proclaimed (Hebrews 2:1–4; Acts 2:22). Throughout Christ’s and the apostles’ ministries, people often fixated on their miracles and missed their messages. In Matthew 16:4 Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” His point is clear: Seeking after signs means missing—or worse—ignoring what those signs point to.

The signs and wonders performed by the Lord and His apostles were not intended to be the focus—they served to validate the teaching they accompanied. Even Peter—who heard the audible voice of the Father, saw the revealed glory of Christ, and performed countless miracles himself—did not put his confidence in those experiences but in the “more sure” Word of God (2 Peter 1:17­­–19).

In absolute contrast to phony sideshow miracles, the greatest wonder on display today is the perfectly preserved, fully sufficient, and totally inerrant Word of God.

That truth is the driving force behind the Strange Fire conference. For more information, please visit our conference website.

GTY Staff


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B130924     COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You

Questions about Prayer: What Are Prayer Beads? Is It Okay to Use Beads While Praying?

Prayer beads, sometimes called rosary beads, are used in the practice of meditation and prayer. Prayers are repeated a number of times corresponding with the number of beads. Prayer or rosary beads have traditionally been associated with Catholicism, but the use of prayer beads is widespread with many religious traditions incorporating them.

The basic rosary is made up of 59 beads linked together in a shape that looks like a necklace. Each of the beads on the rosary is intended to have a prayer said while holding the individual bead. Of these beads, 53 of the beads are for “Hail Mary’s” to be said on them. The other six are intended for “Our Fathers.” These beads provide a physical method of keeping count of the prayers as the fingers are moved along the beads as the prayers are recited.

The history of the rosary in Christian circles has been traced back to the Crusaders. It is thought by historians that the Crusaders had adopted this practice from the Arabs, who, in turn, copied the observance of using beads from India. Recent archeological findings reveal that the ancient Ephesians made use of such beads in their worship of Diana, also known as Artemis, whose temple was one of the seven wonders of the world (Acts 19:24–41).

Prayer beads are also used by Roman Catholics to help the practitioner keep track of some 180 prayers which make up the rosary. Examples of such prayers are Our Father, Hail Mary, and Gloria. The practice of the rosary is based on the assumption that repeating these prayers over and over enables the petitioner to secure merit or favor from God in order to escape from the punishment of the fires of purgatory.

The use of prayer beads is not scriptural. Jesus Himself chastised the religious leaders of His time for repeating their prayers over and over. In fact, He told His disciples not to emulate them by using “vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Prayers are not to be merely recited or repeated mindlessly as though they are automatic formulas. Many who use prayer beads today claim that the rosary helps them take the focus off themselves and onto Christ, but the question is really one of the efficacy of repeating the same phrases over and over in a mantra-like manner.

Prayer is an incredible privilege for the Christian, as we are invited by the Creator of the universe to come “boldly” into His presence (Hebrews 4:16) and communicate with Him. Prayer is the means by which we praise Him, adore Him, give thanks to Him, submit to Him, and bring before Him petitions for ourselves and intercessions for others. It’s hard to see how that intimate communion with Him is enhanced by repeating simple prayers over and over again via prayer beads.[1]

 


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

Questions about Marriage: What Should Be Different about a Christian Marriage?

The primary difference between a Christian marriage and a non-Christian marriage is that Christ is the center of the marriage. When two people are united in Christ, their goal is to grow in Christlikeness throughout the life of the marriage. Non-Christians may have many goals for their marriage, but Christlikeness is not one of them. This is not to say that all Christians, when they marry, immediately begin to work toward this goal. Many young Christians don’t even realize this actually is the goal, but the presence of the Holy Spirit within each of them works with them, maturing each one so that the goal of Christlikeness becomes increasingly clear to them. When both partners make becoming more like Christ their individual goal, a strong, vibrant Christian marriage begins to take shape.

A Christian marriage begins with the understanding that the Bible gives a clear description of roles of husband and wife—found primarily in Ephesians 5—and a commitment to fulfilling those roles. The husband is to assume leadership in the home (Ephesians 5:23–26). This leadership should not be dictatorial, condescending, or patronizing to the wife, but should be in accordance with the example of Christ leading the church. Christ loved the church (His people) with compassion, mercy, forgiveness, respect, and selflessness. In this same way husbands are to love their wives.

Wives are to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22), not because she is to be subservient to him, but because both husband and wife are to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) and because there is to be an authority structure within the home, with Christ at the head (Ephesians 5:23–24). Respect is a key element of the desire to submit; wives must respect their husbands as husbands are to love their wives (Ephesians 5:33). Mutual love, respect, and submission are the cornerstone of a Christian marriage. Built upon these three principles, both husband and wife will grow in Christlikeness, growing together, not apart, as each matures in godliness.

Another key component in a Christian marriage is selflessness, as described in Philippians 2:3–4. The principle of humility outlined in these verses is crucial to a strong Christian marriage. Both husband and wife must consider their partner’s needs before their own, which requires a selflessness that is only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells them. Humility and selflessness do not come naturally to the fallen human nature. They are traits only the Spirit of God can produce, nurture, and perfect in us. That’s why strong Christian marriage are characterized by the spiritual disciplines—Bible study, Scripture memory, prayer, and meditation on the things of God. When both partners practice these disciplines, each is strengthened and matured, which naturally strengthens and matures the marriage.[1]

 


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

Questions about Relationships: How Important Is Physical Attraction When Looking for a Spouse?

There is no doubt that God created men and women to be physically attracted to one another. The sexual component in marriage is important for intimacy between husband and wife and for procreation and the survival of the human race. At the same time, arranged marriages—those in which the couple do not even see each other until the wedding—were the norm in centuries past and are still practiced today in parts of the world.

Solomon described the attraction of the bridegroom for his beloved in chapters 4 and 7 of Song of Songs. He describes her physical beauty and his desire for her. She reciprocates in chapter 8, describing her passion for him and her desire for his embrace. Song of Songs is a beautiful depiction of conjugal love in which physical attraction is a component.

This is not to say that physical attraction is the most important aspect to be considered when looking for a husband or wife. For one thing, beauty should not be defined by the world. That which the world finds beautiful falls well below the standard of beauty described in Scripture. Physical beauty fades with time, but true inner beauty shines forth from a woman who loves God (Proverbs 31:30). Peter encourages women to develop inner beauty that comes from “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful” (1 Peter 3:3–5). Outer beauty is fleeting; inner beauty is eternal.

The attractiveness of a man should also be that which comes from within. The most obvious example in Scripture is Jesus, who “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). Yet the beauty of His glory and grace, as the incarnate Son of God, shone forth from within Him to all who saw Him. The exact opposite is Lucifer/Satan who is described as “the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). In spite of his outward beauty, Lucifer was the embodiment of evil and ungodliness.

Outward beauty is not only fleeting, but unlike men and women whose judgment is impaired by sin, it is not the trait that God looks upon as important. “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). A prospective husband or wife should be a genuine born again Christian who is growing and maturing in the faith and who is obedient to Christ. Two people having the same purpose in life—to glorify God in all they do—will find that their physical attraction to one another increases daily and lasts for a lifetime.[1]

 


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

20 Ordinary Americans Talk About The Economic Despair That Is Growing Like A Cancer All Around Them

There are hundreds of formerly prosperous communities all over America that are being steadily transformed into rotting, decaying hellholes. The good paying middle class jobs that once supported those communities are long gone, and they have been replaced with low paying service jobs if they have been replaced at all. When you visit those communities, it is almost as if all of the hope has been sucked right out of the air. It can be absolutely heartbreaking to look into the hollow eyes of someone that has totally given in to despair, but unfortunately the number of Americans that are giving up on the economy continues to grow. Today, the labor participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 35 years, and more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program. It is easy to say that they should just “get a job”, but as I have written about repeatedly, our economy simply is not producing enough jobs for everyone anymore. The percentage of working age Americans with a job has remained at the same level that it was at during the worst days of the last recession, and meanwhile the quality of our jobs has continued to steadily decline. Median household income has fallen for five years in a row, but the cost of living continues to rise rapidly. The middle class is being systematically shredded, and poverty is growing at an alarming rate. The U.S. economy has been in decline for a long time, and the really bad news is that it appears that this decline is about to accelerate. (Read More….)