Daily Archives: January 13, 2014

The Final Episode of ‘Bible Secrets Revealed’

Zwinglius Redivivus

Sex and the Scriptures

Premiere Date: January 23, 2014 – 01:00-02:00 PM ET

Millions of people around the world look to the Bible for moral guidance about marriage, faith and family. But could the Bible contain contradictions, or hidden meanings, that challenge our beliefs about what is right–and what is wrong–when it comes to human sexuality?

TV14 S-D

Talk about a weird time. With thanks to Candida Moss and Mark Goodacre for mentioning it on FB.

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Preach the Word: Because It Is the Good News of Salvation – John MacArthur

 

You wouldn’t withhold the cure for cancer from someone in desperate need of it. Nor would you offer a home remedy in its place. And yet that’s what many pastors do when they substitute their own opinions and wisdom for the life-transforming truth of God’s Word.

We’re looking at some specific reasons I still preach the Bible after more than four decades of pulpit ministry. Last time we discussed how the message of Scripture is timeless and truly powerful.

A second reason to faithfully preach the Word is that Scripture alone unfolds God’s plan of salvation. As Peter said to Jesus, “To whom [else] shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Why would I ever go anywhere else for spiritual answers than to the inspired revelation of Jesus Christ? Scripture reveals “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). I certainly don’t have the words of life; nor does anyone else. Only He does.

The Bible makes it clear that no matter what people’s “felt needs” may be, their real need is for forgiveness and salvation from sin, so as to escape eternal hell and enter the bliss of heaven. A fulfilled life, a happy marriage, a loving friendship, a successful career—those “needs” pale in comparison with the eternal issue facing every human being. It does not make any sense, then, for pastors to focus all of their energies on temporal surface attitudes while leaving the most profound eternal needs unaddressed. Besides, a true understanding of eternal life changes how you react to the passing troubles of this life.

The Bible also makes it clear that genuine belief includes more than just mental assent (cf. James 2:19). Biblical faith is more than just a profession of faith; it is a change of allegiance—from the mastery of sin to the lordship of Christ. It certainly would be convenient for me to preach a gospel that says, “If you’ve ever made a profession of faith in Jesus, then you’re saved, even if there’s nothing in your life to validate that claim.” But I can’t do that, because that’s not the true gospel. The true gospel repeatedly commands unbelievers to repent (Matthew 4:17; 11:20–21; Mark 6:12; Luke 5:32; 13:3, 5; 15:7, 10; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 2 Corinthians 7:9–10; 2 Timothy 2:25) and declares, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). It urges you to “test” yourself “to see if you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5), and reminds you that believers will be known “by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16-18; cf. Luke 6:43–44). So I preach the Bible because I want to make sure I’m preaching the true gospel, not a gospel of my own imagination.

When I came out of seminary, I really did not expect to fight the battles I have fought over the last several decades. I knew I would face some different paradigms of ministry and opinions about ecclesiology. I understood that there were various views of eschatology, biblical inspiration, etc.  But I never thought I would spend most of my life on the broader evangelical front defending the biblical gospel and sound doctrine from so-called believers who attempted to undermine both. The Word of God, rightly interpreted, defines the truth.

 

(Adapted from The Master’s Plan for the Church.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B140113     COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

Questions about Family / Parenting: What Is the Biblical Stance on Artificial Insemination?

 

Artificial insemination, also known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), is a medical procedure in which a man’s sperm is implanted in a woman’s uterus at precisely the right time and in precisely the right location in order to increase the chances of pregnancy. While it is usually used in conjunction with fertility medicine in women, this is not always the case. Artificial insemination is different from in-vitro fertilization in that fertilization occurs inside the woman and in a more natural way, while in-vitro fertilization occurs outside the womb, and then the fertilized egg(s) are implanted in the woman’s uterus. Artificial insemination does not result in unused or discarded embyros. Artificial insemination does not have as high a success rate as in-vitro fertilization, but many Christians view it as a much more acceptable alternative.

Should a Christian married couple consider artificial insemination? The Bible always presents pregnancy and having children positively (Psalm 127:3–5). The Bible nowhere discourages anyone from seeking to have children. The fact that artificial insemination does not have the moral dilemmas of in-vitro fertilization would seem to make it a valid alternative. So, if artificial insemination increases the chances of an otherwise infertile couple having children, it would seem to be something a Christian married couple can prayerfully consider.

Some object to all fertility options due to the fact that such procedures supposedly do not take into account God’s sovereignty. But God is just as capable of preventing pregnancy after artificial insemination (and in-vitro fertilization, for that matter) as He is of preventing pregnancy after normal sexual intercourse. Artificial insemination does not “overrule” God’s sovereignty. Nothing overrules God’s sovereignty. As proven by the account of Abraham and Sarah, God is capable of enabling a reproductively dead woman to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. God is absolutely sovereign over the reproductive process. If it is God’s sovereign will for a woman to get pregnant, she will get pregnant. If it is not God’s sovereign will, she will not get pregnant, no matter what methods the couple attempts.

Yes, a Christian married couple can prayerfully consider artificial insemination. As in all things, a couple considering artificial insemination should ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) and very clear leading from the Holy Spirit.[1]

 


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

Questions about Theology: What Are Articles of Faith?

 

Articles of faith are the summary statements of foundational beliefs held by individuals, churches, or ministries. They set forth the essential truths which guide every area of belief and practice. Sometimes articles of faith are called a doctrinal statement, statement of faith, or statement of belief. Believers throughout the ages have crafted these statements which have often been memorized in the form of creeds. One of the earliest articles of faith was set forth in Deuteronomy 6:4–7: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” This is known to Jews as the “shema,” and is the foundation of all the commandments of God. It establishes the unity of God, the supremacy of God, and the priority of serving God. The Ten Commandments are another part of those early articles of faith.

An early Christian creed is set out in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4. “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This article of faith declares the bare essentials for saving faith in Christ. Statements like this set up a common core around which people can gather and have unity in the faith (1 Corinthians 1:10).

In the early church, the development of creeds and articles of faith was often driven by the rise of false teachers. Simple statements of faith are lacking in detail, and as a result, allow for wide variance in their application. As questionable teachings and practices appeared, the leaders of the churches gathered to search the Scriptures and set forth the true, or orthodox, beliefs of the church. This process is seen in Acts 15:1–29, when some teachers said that Gentiles had to be circumcised in order to be saved. The apostles and elders in Jerusalem met to discuss the issue, and wrote a letter to inform the churches that keeping the Mosaic Law was not necessary for salvation. The Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and others were created in response to similar challenges to orthodox beliefs.

Today, most articles of faith are arranged in topical order, listing the primary areas of doctrine with pertinent details below. Some of the key topics usually included in Christian articles of faith are: Bibliology—Doctrine of the Bible; Theology—Doctrine of God; Anthropology—Doctrine of Man; Hamartiology—Doctrine of Sin; Christology—Doctrine of Christ; Soteriology—Doctrine of Salvation; Pneumatology—Doctrine of the Holy Spirit; Ecclesiology—Doctrine of the Church; Eschatology—Doctrine of Future Things. Within each of these categories are many sub-categories, and churches vary significantly on their beliefs in each area. Sometimes the articles of faith are written in very simple form, allowing for a wide spectrum of specific beliefs, and other times the articles are very detailed, so as to narrow the scope of accepted beliefs and practices.

Church history has taught us that the more open and general the articles of faith, the more likely that false teaching will appear and gain a foothold. History has also taught us that no matter what the articles of faith say, they are essentially useless unless they are known and followed by churches and individuals. In the past, it was common for believers to memorize catechisms and creeds, giving them a solid foundation from which to examine new ideas. Today, the prevailing trend seems to be openness or ignorance regarding doctrine. Most Christians would be hard pressed to express what they believe in any depth, and the result is a patchwork of beliefs which are sometimes contradictory. The Word of God tells us to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This means to examine things for soundness, in order to know whether to receive or reject them. This is what led to the great creeds and articles of faith in the past, and it is what will help us know what we believe and why we believe it today.[1]


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

Miscellaneous Bible Questions: What Was/Is the Tabernacle of David?

 

The Hebrew word translated “tabernacle” is ohel which means “a tent (as clearly conspicuous from a distance): a covering, (dwelling) (place), home, tabernacle, tent.” There are three main references to the Tabernacle (or Tent) of David: Isaiah 16:5, Amos 9:11, and Acts 15:16, in which the apostle James repeats the passage from Amos. The reference in Isaiah 16:5 is not really about the tabernacle of David itself, but rather to the One from the line of David who would someday sit on the throne and rule over all. This is referring to Jesus.

That leaves two references to the tabernacle of David. In Acts 15:16, while speaking to the Jews, James uses Amos 9:11 to give credence to the recent conversion of the Gentiles in the early church. Many Jews were objecting to this because there was uncertainty as to how the Gentiles were to now keep the Law of Moses. The essential argument from Peter’s earlier experience with Cornelius, a Gentile, was that God was also calling Gentiles to Himself. The apostles were not to put on them a burden that no one could ever keep (i.e. the Law of Moses).

From James’ words alone it is clear that God’s promise through the prophet Amos—that He would “build again the tabernacle of David”—was related to what He was just then beginning to do, namely, visiting the Gentiles to take out from among them a people for His Name. After rehearsing what Simon Peter had just told them—that God had chosen that apostle as the instrument whereby He, for the first time, opened the way of salvation to the Gentiles—James plainly declared that this (God’s visitation of the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His Name) agreed with the words of the prophets (in general), and those of Amos in particular. The “tabernacle” referred to here, then, is the house of God open to all, both Jew and Gentile, who seek Him in order to worship in truth.

Amos 9:11 says: “In that day will I raise up again the tabernacle of David, that is fallen.” There seems to be reference here to a restoration of the Jewish nation to spiritual life in the end time. There might also exist, during that end time, or into the 1,000 year reign of Christ, a tabernacle like the one during David’s day. During David’s time the tabernacle (or tent) housed the Ark of the Covenant and was a precursor to the temple that Solomon would build. It was a rectangular house of worship, made with elaborate design. Its presence and functionality, with priests, was a sign of God’s favor and presence. When Israel fell away from following the commandments of the Old Covenant, the temple was desecrated and needed to eventually be rebuilt, as described in the book of Ezra.[1]

 


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

The Number Of Working Age Americans Without A Job Has Risen By Almost 10 Million Under Obama

That headline is not a misprint. The number of working age Americans that do not have a job has increased by nearly 10 million since Barack Obama first entered the White House. In January 2009, the number of “officially unemployed” workers plus the number of Americans “not in the labor force” was sitting at a grand total of 92.6 million. Today, that number has risen to 102.2 million. That means that the number of working age Americans that are not working has grown by close to 10 million since Barack Obama first took office. So why does the “official unemployment rate” keep going down? Well, it is because the federal government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed workers have “left the labor force” over the past few years and do not want to work anymore. The government says that another 347,000 workers “left the labor force” in December. That is nearly five times larger than the 74,000 jobs that were “created” by the U.S. economy last month. And it is important to note that more than half of those jobs were temporary jobs, and it takes well over 100,000 new jobs just to keep up with population growth each month. So the unemployment rate should not have gone down. If anything, it should have gone up. (Read More….)

Evolution and the Secular Worldview—The Fury of the Elites on Display – Mohler

The Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project recently released data indicating that the issue of evolution still divides Americans. According to the research, about 60 percent of Americans indicate a belief in evolution, while just over 30 percent reject evolution as an account of human origins. A closer look at the data reveals that almost half of those who say they believe in evolution also believe that a Supreme Being guided the process. In other words, far less than half of Americans believe in a purely naturalistic version of evolution, the mainstream theory as held by evolutionists.

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6 Deadly Enemies of Marriage – Challies

Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage, and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian. Marriage, after all, is given by God to strengthen his people and to glorify himself; little wonder, then, that it is constantly a great battleground.

I have been thinking recently about some of the foremost foes of Christian marriage and, really, the foremost foes I see creeping up to assault my own marriage. Here are 6 deadly enemies of marriage, and Christian marriage in particular.

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Albert Mohler Blog: “The End of Morality Laws? Not Exactly”

In his latest Blog Essay, “The End of Morality Laws? Not Exactly,” Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. comments on the recent celebration over the so-called demise of morality laws.

Some see a national trend away from laws that impose a moral code. But Dr. Mohler reminds us that a change in laws means a change in morality, not the lack of it.

Click here to read why Dr. Mohler concludes, “The law will continue to embody a morality code, just a very different code from the Christian moral system that undergirded Western law for more than a thousand years.”

Missing Our Moment – Church & Culture Blog

The Atlantic ran an interesting article on “messaging” guru Frank Luntz on why he has lost faith in his ability to persuade the American people.

Since the interview, he has moved out of the Beltway and sold his consulting company.

“I just gave up” he said.

Why?

Called “America’s best-known public-opinion guru,” Luntz runs the focus groups on Fox News after presidential debates and has been a political consultant and TV fixture whose word has been law in Republican circles since he helped write the 1994 “Contract With America.”

He hasn’t lost faith because Romney lost the last election, or because it’s been a tough run for Republicans of late.

It was what Luntz heard from the American people that scared him.

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Praying the Lord’s Prayer – Pastor Colin Smith

Pray in the Holy Spirit…Jude 20

One way to pray in the Spirit is by using the Lord’s Prayer. Martin Luther structured his entire prayer life around the Lord’s Prayer:

1. Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name:
He prayed that God would be honored in his own life, and in the church, and in the nation where he lived.

2. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven:
He prayed for the advancement of God’s kingdom, and he prayed for what is true, just, and right.

3. Give us this day our daily bread:
He prayed about his own daily needs, and for the needs of others that he was aware of: Money, energy, peace, direction, patience, and guidance.

4. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us:
He prayed about his own sins, and he asked for God’s help in forgiving the wounds that were inflicted on him by others.

5. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil:
He asked God to help him identify, and then he called on God against all that he was able to see of the activity of Satan.

That covers the whole of life. You could pray these five headings every day for the next year and you would always find something fresh, and you would be praying in the Spirit because you’re praying in line with Jesus Christ.

Take a few moments and try praying through the Lord’s Prayer yourself. Compare and contrast this with your normal routine for prayer.

That’s this week’s LifeKEY!

Colin S. Smith
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This LifeKEY is from the sermon, Pray in the Spirit, from the series Keeping Yourself in Spiritual Shape. It was originally preached on May 11, 2003.

8 Characteristics of Sanctification

One of the things I enjoyed most about my previous job was the direct connection between how hard I worked and the results I saw. If I just put my head down and pushed hard I could get where I wanted. It was an independent role and I liked the fact that my production rested on no one’s shoulders but my own.

Much of my frustration in growing as a Christian is because sanctification isn’t exactly like my job. Yes, my effort does affect my growth but I can’t simply produce the desired outcome from my performance alone. I’m learning that while I certainly play a part in my maturity I can’t just will it through hard work. This has not only shaped my own spiritual formation but it changes how I encourage other believers. When a brother comes to me sharing a struggle with sin I realize I can’t just take him to the mat for not working hard enough but I must take him to the cross to rest in Christ’s work for him. I find many Christians genuinely desiring to grow but they end up throwing up their hands in discouragement saying, “I’m trying but things don’t seem to be changing.” I think as weary believers, we can go from feeling frustrated to feeling free as we take the yoke off our own backs and place it on Jesus.

Gospel-centered sanctification tethers becoming (growing) to being (identity) by making Christ’s accomplishments and provision for us the catalyst of our lives. Here are eight characteristics of gospel-centered sanctification that frame our theology of the doctrine while also steering our practice.

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As For The One Who Is Weak In Faith, Welcome Him, But Not To Quarrel Over Opinions

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. (Titus 1:15 ESV)

I am constantly amazed at the diversity I witness in the believers who interact with this ministry. This, of course, displays Christ’s power to bring together in unity dissimilar people from every place on this planet and from all walks of life. Part of our sanctification is dealing with our unredeemed flesh. God uses it to humble us as well as teach us to fight the good fight. We will never be totally sinless as long as we have our flesh within us. Our enemy also works within our flesh to create division in an effort to split what God has unified. Much of the attack from him and his minions will be to foment conflict between mature…

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