Daily Archives: October 7, 2013

Beware of: Jakes, Osteen, and Meyer

Reformed Nazarene

What if a Bible teacher:  teaches that there are many paths to God; does not know whether Muslims will go to heaven or not; and does not believe in the proper biblical teaching of the Trinity,  but instead teaches that the Trinity is “God manifesting Himself in three different ways, or “modes.”​​

What if a Bible teacher:  refuses to answer whether homosexuality is sinful; refuses to say whether homosexuals will not go to heaven; and cannot say for sure who goes to heaven or not, even atheists;  and teaches that “following your dreams” is what will make your life happy.

What if a Bible teacher: teaches that Jesus was tormented in hell by demons; believes he/she believes they do not sin anymore; and that you cannot be saved unless you believe that Jesus went to hell.

Would you accept any of these teachers as legitimate Bible teachers?  Would…

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Menn0Knight’s Top 50 Churches Charismatic Super Primer

hipandthigh

charismaticcrowdLyndon Unger, who blogs at his personal site Menn0knight, has done a yeoman’s job over the past few months of helping us folks here at Grace to You prepare for our Strange Fire conference which begins next week. He has primarily helped us with our research into various charismatic personalities and churches found within the movement.

A good bit of that research can be accessed in a series of on-line charismatic primers he has published at his blog reviewing and critiquing Outreach magazine’s top churches in America.  Some of the articles are short, but for the most part, as Lyndon states, they are not meant to be little “read this in ten minutes and be blessed the rest of the day” style posts you get over at the Gospel Coalition.  They are to serve as an excellent resource for those who want solid information about what makes a church…

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Is The Lord Adding To His Word Today?

Settled In Heaven Blog

We have seen in our previous 3 part series “Personal Experience Or God’s Word Which Is Our Standard?” that the Word of God is clearly presented as the standard for us to judge all of our human experiences.

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Now Ligonier Ministries addresses the next important question we all must consider…. Do we have a completed standard (His Word) or is God still adding to that standard?  Please take 5 minutes to listen to this very important and clearly explained principle found in God’s Word….

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Heaven’s Perspective on the Cross: Sonship – by John MacArthur

How a person views the life and death of Christ is not a question of subjective preference or perspective. The issues are objective and bear eternal consequences. And it is incumbent on believers—who have already experienced the life-transforming power of God’s truth—to proclaim it boldly and warn others against believing a lie, instead.

To that end, over the last couple weeks we’ve been examining Christ’s cross from heaven’s perspective. What did the Lord’s death accomplish in God’s eternal plan? So far we’ve seen His death as a sacrifice, submission, substitute, satisfaction, and salvation.

By fulfilling those aspects of God’s redemptive plan, Christ provides all that is necessary for believers to become sons of God. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God welcomes us into His most intimate, familial relationship and fellowship. Put simply, Christ’s death is the means of our sonship with God.

Sonship doesn’t merely refer to the heavenly blessings believers will receive from God—it’s a comprehensive term that defines our reconciliation to Him. In Romans 5:10, Paul writes, “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” That reconciliation isn’t just the removal of sin and guilt—it’s full adoption, through which we’re grafted into His eternal family.

In Hebrews 2:9-10, the author of Hebrews beautifully sums up the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf, and the blessings we can enjoy because of it.

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

In Colossians 1:21-22, Paul vividly describes our reconciliation: “Although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” God treated Christ as if He had lived our lives so He could treat us as if we lived Christ’s. That’s sonship—that’s what Christ accomplished on the cross.

Too often today, evangelistic methods overemphasize a person’s feelings. But the gospel is not just about loving or hating God. The good news isn’t that God is extending His love and friendship toward us, hoping we’ll love Him in return. Rather, the good news is that God is no longer angry with us. The good news is that God’s righteous wrath has been satisfied through the death of His Son, and that all who believe in His Son are welcomed into His family.

What Christ did on the cross was not intended to change the way man feels about God but to satisfy and remove God’s enmity toward man. In one decisive act, Christ was able to exhaust God’s wrath for all who believe, and establish a new relationship between the Father and sinners. It’s only through the cross that we’re able to be adopted into God’s eternal family.

With that in mind, we join Paul in saying, “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14).

 


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B131007     COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: Why Do Christians Try to Impose Their Values on Others?

Christians are frequently accused of trying to impose their values or their beliefs on others. The oft-heard accusation is that Christians are trying to “shove their religion down our throats.” In addressing this question, we must also address the implied accusation that Christians are an authoritarian group that seeks to impinge on the rights of others. Of course, there have been tyrants who were professed Christians, but true followers of Jesus Christ do not seek to infringe on anyone’s basic human rights. The same God who granted volition to the believer also granted volition to the unbeliever.

God extends His general blessings to everyone (Matthew 5:45); therefore, freedom for all is a Christian value. Man is a special creation of God (Genesis 1:27); therefore, human dignity and respect for the individual are Christian values. The application of these values in Western society has benefitted everyone. After all, who enjoys more freedom: the atheist in America, or the Christian in Communist China?

Some say that it is wrong to try to “legislate morality.” We say that it is impossible not to. Every law “imposes” someone’s moral “values” on someone else. A law that prohibits murder, for example, imposes a belief that murder is wrong and upholds the Christian tenet that human life has intrinsic worth. Doubtless, society is better off with such a law in place.

Almost everyone agrees that murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and greed are wrong. Most people agree that respecting one’s parents is right. This sense of right and wrong, woven into the fabric of our society, reflects six of the Bible’s Ten Commandments. Those who object to the “imposition” of Judeo-Christian values should perhaps work to repeal the laws against murder, perjury, and theft.

Christians don’t want to impose their values, but they do recognize that, in every society, someone’s values must reign supreme. The question is whose values will predominate? There is no such thing as a neutral value system. Therefore, Christians work to advance their values in the sincere belief that, in a world of competing convictions, Christian values best promote the general welfare and preserve the domestic tranquility.

Christians don’t want to impose their values, but they do see the importance of having an authority higher than ourselves. Societies which attempt to produce a moral code based solely on human rationale can be manipulated by whoever has the most votes or the most weapons. Whether it’s the case of a humanistic despot such as Joseph Stalin or a collective tyranny such as the French Revolution, the exclusion of Christian principles leads to less freedom, not more.

Christians don’t want to impose their values, but they do want to live peaceably in whatever society they dwell (Romans 12:18; 1 Timothy 2:2). Christians are obligated to do good to all (1 Corinthians 6:10) and to pray for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1). Christ taught His followers to return blessing for cursing (Matthew 5:44), a teaching which He modeled perfectly (1 Peter 2:23).

There are some who wish for a purely “secular” society where religion is relegated to its cloister and all Christian opinion is silenced. To those individuals, we offer these reminders:

1) Christians in a representative democracy have as much right to be involved in the political process as anyone else. This means they may vote, rally, lobby, caucus, and hold office just like any other American—all the while promoting laws that reflect their own values. Christians do not seek to subvert the political process; they engage it, as it is the right of every American.

2) Christians in a pluralistic society have as much right to voice their opinions as anyone else. This means they may broadcast, write, speak, publish, and create art as they will—all the while voicing their own view of morality. Christians are sometimes accused of censorship, on the basis that they have criticized a certain book or have objected to their tax dollars funding anti-Christian speech, but they are not burning books. The reality is that freedom of expression is a Christian value.

3) Christians in a religiously free society have as much right to live out their beliefs as anyone else. This means they may preach and teach the gospel and live according to the Bible and their conscience. When a Christian says, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), he is not trying to impose his values; he is speaking the truth, which anyone is free to accept or reject.

There is no doubt that when Christians share the joy that comes from faith in Christ, some see that as an attempt to impose Christianity on others. But the truth is that as Christians, we know that we have the antidote for human misery in this life and an eternity in hell in the next. To not share that cure with others, as we are commanded by Christ to do (Matthew 28:18–20), would be like knowing the cure for cancer and refusing to share it with the rest of the world. We can’t force our beliefs on anyone; all we can do is offer them the cure and pray they will accept it. If some see that effort as “imposing” our beliefs on them, that is a matter of their perception, not a reflection of reality.[1]

 


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

Questions about Eternity: What Are the Heavenly Crowns that Believers Can Receive in Heaven?

There are five heavenly crowns mentioned in the New Testament that will be awarded to believers. They are the imperishable crown, the crown of rejoicing, the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory, and the crown of life. The Greek word translated “crown” is stephanos (the source for the name Stephen the martyr) and means “a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally.” Used during the ancient Greek games, it referred to a wreath or garland of leaves placed on a victor’s head as a reward for winning an athletic contest. As such, this word is used figuratively in the New Testament of the rewards of heaven God promises those who are faithful. Paul’s passage in 1 Corinthians 9:24–25 best defines for us how these crowns are awarded.

1) The Imperishable Crown—(1 Corinthians 9:24–25) “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate [disciplined] in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (NKJV). All things on this earth are subject to decay and will perish. Jesus urges us to not store our treasures on earth “where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). This is analogous to what Paul was saying about that wreath of leaves that was soon to turn brittle and fall apart. But not so the heavenly crown; faithful endurance wins a heavenly reward which is “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–5).

2) The Crown of Rejoicing—(1 Thessalonians 2:19) “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4 to “rejoice always in the Lord” for all the bountiful blessings our gracious God has showered upon us. As Christians we have more in this life to rejoice about than anyone else. Luke tells us there is rejoicing even now in heaven (Luke 15:7). The crown of rejoicing will be our reward where “God will wipe away every tear … there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

3) The Crown of Righteousness—(2 Timothy 4:8) “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” We inherit this crown through the righteousness of Christ which is what gives us a right to it, and without which it cannot be obtained. Because it is obtained and possessed in a righteous way, and not by force and deceit as earthly crowns sometimes are, it is an everlasting crown, promised to all who love the Lord and eagerly wait for His return. Through our enduring the discouragements, persecutions, sufferings, or even death, we know assuredly our reward is with Christ in eternity (Philippians 3:20). This crown is not for those who depend upon their own sense of righteousness or of their own works. Such an attitude breeds only arrogance and pride, not a longing, a fervent desire to be with the Lord.

4) The Crown of Glory—(1 Peter 5:4) “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Though Peter is addressing the elders, we must also remember that the crown will be awarded to all those who long for or love His appearing. This word “glory” is an interesting word referring to the very nature of God and His actions. It entails His great splendor and brightness. Recall Stephen who, while being stoned to death, was able to look into the heavens and see the glory of God (Acts 7:55–56). This word also means that the praise and honor we bestow to God alone is due Him because of who He is (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11; Galatians 1:5). It also recognizes that believers are incredibly blessed to enter into the kingdom, into the very likeness of Christ Himself. For as Paul so eloquently put it, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 NKJV).

5) The Crown of Life—(Revelation 2:10) “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” This crown is for all believers, but is especially dear to those who endure sufferings, who bravely confront persecution for Jesus, even to the point of death. In Scripture the word “life” is often used to show a relationship that is right with God. It was Jesus who said, “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Just as things such as air, food, and water are vital for our physical lives, Jesus provides us what is required for our spiritual lives. He is the One who provides “living water.” He is the “bread of life” (John 4:10, 6:35). We know that our earthly lives will end. But we have the amazing promise that comes only to those who come to God through Jesus: “And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life” (1 John 2:25).

James tells us that this crown of life is for all those who love God (James 1:12). The question then is how do we demonstrate our love for God? The apostle John answers this for us: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). As His children we must keep His commandments, obeying Him, always remaining faithful. So, as we endure the inevitable trials, pains, heartaches, and tribulations—as long as we live—may we ever move forward, always “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and receive the crown of life that awaits us.[1]

 


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

Questions about Christianity: What Is Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA), and What Do Seventh-Day Adventists Believe?

There seem to be different “degrees” of Seventh-day Adventism. Some Seventh-day Adventists believe identically to orthodox Christians, other than believing that worship should be held on Saturday and that the Saturday Sabbath should still be observed. If these are the only differences, then, yes, a person could be a Seventh-day Adventist and still be a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, some Seventh-day Adventists believe in much more than a Saturday Sabbath / worship day. Seventh-day Adventists have been known to believe in the annihilation of the wicked instead of an eternal hell, and believe that believers who die enter a state of soul sleep and that a person must observe the Saturday Sabbath in order to be saved. Other problems with some Seventh-day Adventists are belief in Ellen G. White, the founder of Seventh-day Adventism, as a true prophet of God, even though many of her “prophecies” failed to come true, and that Jesus entered a second phase of His redemptive work on October 22, 1844, as “prophesied” by Hiram Edson.

So, what is Seventh-day Adventism, and what do Seventh-day Adventists believe? Should a Christian attend a Seventh-day Adventist church? Due to the potential doctrinal issues mentioned above, we would strongly encourage believers to not get involved in Seventh-day Adventism. Yes, a person can be an advocate of Seventh-day Adventism and still be a believer. At the same time, there are enough potential issues to make attending a Seventh-day Adventist church questionable at best.[1]

 


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

Learning to Love Others Through LOST

Though we were made to live in relationships with others, many people go through life alone. They have jobs and friends and interact with others, maybe on a daily basis even, but they never really let anyone close to them. No one knows their secrets, and they face all of their struggles, internal and external, on their own. But this is no way to live. God created us to live in harmony together, helping one another and loving each other through everything. When you already feel that you’re facing life alone, it can be hard to trust others and learn how to be loved, as well as learn how to love others. Yet if you learned this seemingly simple lesson, life would be so much richer. One of the greatest examples of this can be found in the television series LOST.

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