One problem that biblical counselors will surely face in their counseling and everyday conversations, regardless of gender, is the addiction and enslavement to pornography. With a problem so prevalent and pervasive in the church, numerous books and articles have been written on the topic. How can biblical counselors contribute to this conversation? Continue reading →
In all my reading about charismatic issues and spiritual gifts, I have seen many lists and definitions of spiritual gifts. There’s one issue though that seems really strange to me, and that’s the question of whether or not the list of spiritual gifts in the New Testament is comprehensive. At my count, the New Testament lists 18 spiritual gifts:
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed by him. It was an important message to the U.S. and the Western world, but it may very well have been missed because of the holidays.
Here are critical excerpts. I commend the entire column to your attention.
“Just after the signing ceremony in Geneva on Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran declared that the world had recognized his country’s ‘nuclear rights.’
He was right.
The agreement Iran reached with the so-called P5+1 — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia, plus Germany — does not significantly roll back Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Iran made only cosmetic concessions to preserve its primary goal, which is to continue enriching uranium. The agreement represents a…
View original post 455 more words
>> UPDATE:Iran on cusp of getting the bomb, ex intel chief says — Amos Yadlin says Tehran now a ‘nuclear threshold state’ and that it made critical advances before deal with West; Likud MK calls interim agreement ‘surrender’
ORIGINAL POST:(Washington, D.C.) — I commend to your attention a column today by Jeffrey Goldberg, a widely respected Mideast analyst. While I don’t always agree with him on policy matters, his six concerns about the Iran deal are right on point.Excerpts:
1). The deal isn’t done. Remember the photos from Geneva of smiling foreign ministers slapping backs and hugging in celebration of their epic achievement? Well, nothing was actually signed. The deal is not, as of this moment, even operational.
View original post 809 more words
Youth revolt. Americans under 30 are concerned about the future and are pointing their fingers at the current occupant of the Oval Office for their bleak outlook, according to a survey conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. In fact, 47 percent of millennials said they would like to throw President Barack Obama out of office, with 52 percent of the youngest members of this group (18 to 24) saying Obama should go. On the topic of Obamacare, 57 percent of millennials disapprove of the president’s signature law, with 40 percent saying it will make their quality of care worse and a majority believing it will end up costing them considerably more. It’s essential for healthy young people to enroll in the healthcare exchanges in order to adequately fund Obamacare, but, according to this survey, less than one-third of those 18 to 29 currently without health insurance plan to sign up for Obamacare.
Many people over the years have proposed that there would be an increase in technology as the end times approach. Among those espousing this view were renowned scientists Isaac Newton and Francis Bacon. On the frontispiece of Bacon’s Instauratio Magna, ships of learning were depicted passing by the limits of human knowledge, with a quote in Latin from Daniel 12:4. In more recent times, this belief has been supported by books like Future Shock by Alvin Toffler and The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin.
In Future Shock, first published in 1970, Alvin Toffler described the results of the rapid advancement of technology he had observed in the 1950s and 1960s. As technology brought ever faster changes in society, certain people were left on the sidelines, unable to cope with the speed of change. That stress and disorientation in people was dubbed “future shock.” Toffler did not attempt to use the Bible in his work, but the concept of future shock was alluded to in works like Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, which was also published in 1970. Mr. Lindsey has made frequent mention of Daniel 12:4 as a prophecy of this rapid technological advance.
The Bible Code was based on the work of Eliahu Rips and others, which proposed that the history of all mankind was encoded in the text of the Torah and could be found by the process of “equidistant letter sequencing.” This concept was first proposed by Rabbi Bachya ben Asher in the 13th century, who is recognized as introducing the use of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) into the study of the Torah. According to this theory, the Hebrew word for “computer” is encoded in Daniel 12:4, thus giving apparent confirmation that technology would indeed have exponential advances with the advent of computers.
With this background information, we are still left with the question, “Does the Bible say that an increase in technology is a sign of the end times?” The short answer is “No.” Working backwards through the previous information, the concept of ELS has been heavily debated in both academic and religious circles. Intriguing discoveries have been made, but the methods by which they appear are suspect at best. The concept proposed by Rabbi ben Asher is related more to divination than to Bible study, and God condemns any method of discerning hidden knowledge (Deuteronomy 18:10, 14).
But as Toffler observed, there certainly has been an exponential increase of technology, and it appears to be gaining ground even faster. So what does the Bible have to say on this matter? Let’s take a look at the text in question, Daniel 12:4, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel was told that the meaning of his prophecy would be sealed until the time of its fulfillment was near. The majority of Bible scholars through the ages have understood the last two phrases to reference the prophecy itself. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s critical commentary (published 1871) identified the meaning as scrutinizing every page to discover God’s purposes in the events foretold. John Darby translated the passage “many shall diligently investigate,” and Samuel Tregelles rendered it “many shall scrutinize the book from end to end.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary (c. 1700) said, “Then this hidden treasure shall be opened, and many shall search into it, and dig for the knowledge of it, as for silver. They shall run to and fro, to enquire out copies of it, shall collate them, and see that they be true and authentic. They shall read it over and over, shall meditate upon it, and run it over in their minds.”
Many passages of Scripture refer to what will happen at the end of the age, but no other passage seems to deal with increasing knowledge or technology as a sign for us. A greater sign is the advancement of the gospel which Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:14 and which He commanded us to proclaim in Matthew 28:19–20. God’s goal for mankind isn’t to advance as far as we can or to know all we can discover, but rather that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Transhumanism is a philosophical and cultural position that encourages human advancement through technology. More specifically, transhumanism encourages the use of artificial enhancements to push mankind towards something “more than” human. Fundamentally, it is a form of Utopianism, the belief that human beings can change themselves and create a heaven on earth. The basic idea of improving the human condition is perfectly compatible with the Bible. In fact, it’s one of the purposes of a Christian lifestyle (John 10:10). But transhumanism contradicts the Bible when it assumes that humanity is completely sovereign and capable of self-directed change without the need for God (Jeremiah 17:9).
Like any other cultural movement, there are subsets and sub-genres of thought under the transhumanist tent. There are some admirable motivations behind transhumanism. For some, the intent is to reduce suffering or improve quality of life (Luke 12:33). Taken to an extreme, though, it can become a pursuit of immortality, an escape from moral boundaries, or a form of religion in and of itself. The ultimate redemption of mankind is something that will be accomplished by God alone (Revelation 21:1), not by technology.
Since God gave mankind dominion over the earth, there are spiritually acceptable means of improving the human condition through technology. That doesn’t mean that humans are fully capable, or even fully free, to change ourselves in any way we choose. Ultimately, God is sovereign over us; we are not sovereign over ourselves. Once a person takes the view that they can re-create themselves, they place themselves in an unrealistic spiritual position and usurp the prerogatives of God. Our knowledge, power and ability simply cannot compare to that of the Creator (Job 38:2–5).
Modern man has technology unimaginable to generations of a thousand years ago, but we’re still human, still flawed, and still in need of a Savior (1 John 1:8). Experience has taught us that human beings tend to be just as immoral with technology as without it. Aldous Huxley noted that “what science has actually done is to introduce us to improved means in order to obtain hitherto unimproved or rather deteriorated ends.” In other words, science doesn’t make humanity less sinful, or more moral; it just makes our sin more sophisticated. Human experience demonstrates that the utopian side of transhumanism is just as fictional as its spiritual side.
The Bible has a great deal to say about death and, more importantly, what happens after death. Physical death and spiritual death are both a separation of one thing from another. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body, and spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God. When understood in that way, the two concepts are very closely related, and both physical death and spiritual death are reflected in the very first references to death.
In the creation account (Genesis 1–2), we read how God created a variety of living beings. These animals had life, an inward element that gave movement and energy to their physical bodies. Scientists are still at a loss to explain what truly causes life, but the Bible is clear that God gives life to all things (Genesis 1:11–28; 1 Timothy 6:13). The life that God gave to mankind was different from that which He gave to animals. In Genesis 2:7, we are told that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Whereas animals have a purely physical life, humans have both a physical and a spiritual element of life, and the death we experience likewise has both a physical and a spiritual element.
According to Genesis 2:17, God told Adam that if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would “surely die.” Some skeptics have tried to use this verse to show an inconsistency in the Bible, because Adam and Eve did not die the very day they ate of that fruit. In the Hebrew, it literally says, “dying you will die.” It indicates a process that has a definite starting point, and continues into the future. When they sinned (Genesis 3:7), Adam and Eve immediately knew their guilt. With that guilt came a shame which caused them to try and hide from God, because they had become spiritually dead, or separated from Him.
In addition to the immediate spiritual death they experienced, they also began the process of physical death, even though it took many years for death to have its full effect. This can be better understood with the example of a flower. When you see a flower growing in a garden, you know it is alive, because it is connected to the stem and the roots, and is receiving nourishment from the ground. When you separate the flower from its life source, it still has the appearance of life, and can maintain that appearance for several days, depending on the conditions. Regardless of the care it is given, though, it is already dying, and that process cannot be reversed. The same is true for mankind.
The physical death that entered into the world with Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12) affected all living things. It is difficult for us to conceive of a world without death, but that is what Scripture teaches was the condition before the Fall. All living things began the process of dying when sin entered the world. When physical death occurs, there is a definite separation of the life force from the body. When that separation occurs, there is nothing man can do to reverse it (even the medical community acknowledges the difference between a “clinical death” and a “biological death”). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and death comes upon all men because all have sinned. Everyone is subject to physical death because of the presence of sin in this world, as well as their own personal sins. From a human perspective, physical death seems to be the ultimate punishment, but the Bible teaches there are deeper meanings of death to be considered.
The life that God breathed into Adam (Genesis 2:7) was more than just animal life; it was the breath of God, resulting in a being with a soul. Adam was created spiritually alive, connected to God in a special way. He enjoyed a relationship with God, but when he sinned, that relationship was broken. Spiritual death has implications both before and after physical death. Though Adam was still physically alive (but beginning the dying process), he became spiritually dead, separated from relationship with God. In this present life on earth, the effect of spiritual death is the loss of God’s favor as well as the knowledge of and desire for God. Scripture is clear that everyone begins life “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1–5), resulting in a life focused on our sinful desires. Jesus taught that the remedy for spiritual death is a spiritual rebirth (John 3:3–5) through faith in Him. This rebirth is a re-connection to the source of life, which Jesus pictured in John 15:1–6. He is the vine, and we are the branches. Without being connected to Him, we have no life in us, but when we have Jesus, we have real life (1 John 5:11–12).
For those who refuse to accept God’s salvation, physical death and spiritual death culminate in the “second death” (Revelation 20:14). This eternal death is not annihilation, as some have taught, but is a conscious, eternal punishment for sins in the lake of fire, described as being separated from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Jesus also spoke of this eternal separation from God in Matthew 25:41 and identified the conscious torment of individuals in the story of rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31). God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), so they do not have to remain spiritually dead. To repent means to turn away from sin, and includes confessing sin to God with sorrow for violating His holiness. Those who have received God’s salvation have turned from death to life (1 John 3:14), and the second death has no power over them (Revelation 20:6).
Gospel-starved North Korea is the target of a Colorado-based ministry and its Bible bombing. The Bibles are dropped by balloon into North Korea and strategic locations through use of tracking devices. …[view article]
Today, we are out of control as we pursue happiness through prosperity in the false hope money and things will satisfy. The problem with prosperity is that one is never satisfied. As the ancient writer said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Who today is satisfied with their income and circumstances?
The same month that Obama tried to wage war on behalf of the jihadi rebels in Syria (citing “human rights” concerns), some of the war’s worst atrocities were committed against that nation’s Christian minority, most notably in Ma’loula, an ancient Christian region where the inhabitants spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
Only 15% of Americans read the Bible’s account of the birth of Christ as part of their Christmas traditions.
Read about the astonishing abandonment of Scripture here.
The new survey commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted online by Harris Interactive in November 2013 among more than 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+ found that while 30 percent make a tradition of watching the 1983 film A Christmas Story and 28 percent look forward to watching a film or TV version of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, just 15 percent say reading the Bible’s account of the birth of Christ is part of their holiday traditions.
“There is nothing wrong with enjoying some of the great Christmas films that have been made over the decades,” says American Bible Society Chief Communications Officer Geoffrey Morin. “It is just important that Christians don’t make holiday celebrations more about Scrooge and…
View original post 12 more words
by Mike Ratliff
1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”(Ezekiel 37:1-3 ESV)
As Christians walk through their days that turn into weeks that turn into months that turn into years that turn into decades that turn into the length and breadth of their lives, they are continually put into circumstances where they must either believe and obey God or disbelieve and disobey Him. Most believers I know have a horrible habit of limiting God by…
View original post 922 more words